German nuclear energy project

German Nuclear Energy Project

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German nuclear energy project

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The German nuclear energy project in Nazi Germany, informally known as the Uranverein (Uranium Club), began in April 1939, just months after the discovery of nuclear fission in January 1939. The first effort ended in months, but the second effort began under the auspices of the German Army Ordnance Office on the day World War II began, 1 September 1939. The program eventually expanded into the following main efforts: the Uranmaschine (nuclear reactor), uranium and heavy water production, and uranium isotope separation. The zenith of the effort came when it was realized that nuclear fission would not contribute significantly to ending the war. In January 1942, the Army Ordnance Office turned the program over to the Reich Research Council, but continued to fund the program. At this time, the program split up between nine major institutes where the directors dominated the research and set their own objectives. At that time, the number of scientists working on applied nuclear fission began to diminish, with many applying their talents to more pressing war-time demands.

The most influential people in the Uranverein were Kurt Diebner, Abraham Esau, Walther Gerlach, and Erich Schumann; Schumann was one of the most powerful and influential physicists in Germany. Diebner, throughout the life of the nuclear energy project, had more control over nuclear fission research than did Walther Bothe, Klaus Clusius, Otto Hahn, Paul Harteck, or Werner Heisenberg. Abraham Esau was appointed as...
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