Ian Fleming's real SPECTRE: Did Churchill use Nazi gold to finance Britain's atomic bomb?





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Published on Oct 23, 2015

Did Churchill use Nazi gold to finance Britain's atomic bomb?
- Laurence De Mello - www.thisweek.org.uk Friday 23rd Oct 2015

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We smuggled Hitler's treasurer Martin Bormann out of Berlin: WWII MI6 spy John Ainsworth-Davis

Churchill's Bomb: How the United States Overtook Britain in the First Nuclear Arms Race – 1 Sep 2012
by Farmelo Graham
Anyone interesting in Britain's development of nuclear weapons should also read Clark & Wheeler's great work, The British Origins of Nuclear Strategy 1945-1955 (Clarendon Press, 1987) and Robert Paterson's Britain's Strategic Nuclear Deterrent (Cass Books, 1997). A decent book (though from America's left-wing) is Michael Gordin's Red Cloud at Dawn: Truman, Stalin and the End of the Atomic Monopoly (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009), which ties together the WW II era nuclear-related activity of the US, USSR, Nazi Germany, Canada, and UK. As Gordin points out, a huge irony is that the various security mistakes and breaches allowed by the USA and UK helped the USSR develop the bomb years before the UK, as the US shunted Britain off in 1946.

In the early evening of March 15, 1933, a group of London socialites gathered in a Westminster mansion to hear a special lecture on the latest developments in nuclear science. The talk was chaired by Winston Churchill. The speaker—Churchill’s friend Frederick Lindemann, a friend of Einstein’s and a professor of physics at Oxford University—discussed John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton’s recent artificial splitting of the atom and James Chadwick’s discovery of the neutron. Churchill had foreseen an important role of this subatomic particle fifteen months before in his essay “Fifty Years Hence,” read widely in Britain and North America. He had told his readers in this article that scientists were looking for “the match to set the [nuclear] bonfire alight.”

“Fifty Years Hence” was by no means the only article in which Churchill looked forward to the nuclear age. He first did so in 1927 in another popular article, “Shall We All Commit Suicide?” where he alluded to the weapon envisaged by his friend H. G. Wells in the novel The World Set Free, where the term “atomic bomb” first appears. A decade later, Churchill warned four million readers of the News of the World in Britain that nuclear energy may soon be harnessed. He was right: Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann, working in Hitler’s capital, discovered nuclear fission eight weeks after Churchill’s piece appeared.

Of all the international leaders who were to become involved in the early development of nuclear weapons, none was better prepared than Churchill. He had foreseen them, warned of the challenges they would pose to international leaders, and had a strong record of encouraging the military to make the most of new science. His nuclear scientists were behind him, more than willing to drop their research and join the fight against Hitler. Soon, Churchill became the first national leader to be advised by his scientists that nuclear weapons could be built—a way of making such a bomb was first discovered in March 1940 by two physicists at Birmingham University, both officially classified as “enemy aliens,” less than two months before Churchill became Prime Minister.

In “Fifty Years Hence,” Churchill had doubted whether politicians would be equal to the challenge of such powerful weapons:

Great nations are no longer led by their ablest men, or by those who know most about their immediate affairs, or even by those who have a coherent doctrine. Democratic governments drift along the line of least resistance, taking short views, paying their way with sops and doles, and smoothing their path with pleasant-sounding platitudes.

Now, under pressure of leading a country at war, he himself was about to see whether he would be up to that challenge. Given his familiarity with the concept of nuclear weapons, it was remarkable that he recognized the importance of working closely with the United States in building the first ones, only three years later, in April 1943. By then, it was obvious that the British could not possibly build the Bomb alone during the War, and the gargantuan Manhattan Project was surging ahead, with the British playing only a relatively minor role. Churchill had been able to make only very limited political use of the nuclear bomb established by his nuclear scientists. He did, however, strike a secret deal with President Roosevelt at Quebec in August 1943 that required both British and American leaders to approve the first use of the weapon. Churchill later agreed that the Bomb could be used on Japan, a decision he never regretted.


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