A fool and a liar. He was begged by his colleagues during his American tour in 1939 to not remain in Nazi Germany, but immigrate to the U.S. or any other Western democracy, just don't work for Hitler because it was discovered that year that atoms could split and a terrible bomb could theoretically be possible. But Heisenberg was another patriotic German still traumatized after WWI, and he stayed in his Fatherland while all his Jewish friends and colleagues were fired from German universities and had to seek employment -and safety - in other countries.
He and his team of German physicists attempted to make an atomic pile, but really got no where. Enrico Fermi, whose wife was Jewish and their two children were therefore half Jewish immigrated to the U.S. and Fermi created the first fission reactor underneath Stagg Stadium in Chicago in 1942. Heisenberg's team never got anywhere close to what Fermi's team accomplished that day in Chicago, but their arrogance was such that they never dreamed that atomic bombs could be created in the U.S.
After Germany surrendered in May, 1945, Heisenberg and the other leading German physicists were rounded up and sent to England to a very well bugged residence, and their conversations were all recorded. It was Heisenberg's opinion that Americans were very good at making things like cars, but they weren't up to making such as advanced things like A bombs. In fact, the German physicists were confident that they had a lot to teach the Allies about their research, and that could be a sort of a bargaining chip for them.
Their world crashed in around them when the news came that the U.S. had A bombed Japan twice. The German scientists tried to believe those weren't A bombs because it made them look so inferior. Finally Carl Friedrich von Weizecker (a German diplomat's son) began suggesting that they could have made A bombs for Germany but they were too moral to do so. Any transcript of the tape recordings made of the German physicists held in England show that the Germans - led by Heisenberg - just weren't up to it. But they had their alibi and they all stuck with it trying to cling to the moral high ground until their deaths.
Their world crashed in around them when the news came that the U.S. had A bombed Japan twice. The German scientists tried to believe those weren’t A bombs because it made them look so inferior.
Heisenberg wasn’t right or wrong until he opened his mouth.
Classic historical post with details I had never heard before.
So, what exactly did the German pilot Hans Zinsser see on that night of October, 1944, as he flew his Heinkel bomber over the twilight skies of northern Germany? Something that, had he known it, would require the previous badly written Wagnerian libretto to be almost completely revised.
His affidavit is contained in a military intelligence report of August 19, 1945, roll number A1007, filmed in 1973 at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. Zinsser’s statement is found on the last page of the report:
47. A man named ZINSSER, a Flak rocket expert, mentioned what he noticed one day: In the beginning of Oct, 1944 I flew from Ludwigslust (south of Lubeck), about 12 to 15 km from an atomic bomb test station, when I noticed a strong, bright illumination of the whole atmosphere, lasting about 2 seconds.
48.The clearly visible pressure wave escaped the approaching and following cloud formed by the explosion. This wave had a diameter of about 1 km when it became visible and the color of the cloud changed frequently. It became dotted after a short period of darkness with all sorts of light spots, which were, in contrast to normal explosions, of a pale blue color.
49.After about 10 seconds the sharp outlines of the explosion cloud disappeared, then the cloud began to take on a lighter color against the sky covered with a gray overcast. The diameter of the still visible pressure wave was at least 9000 meters while remaining visible for at least 15 seconds.
50.Personal observations of the colors of the explosion cloud found an almost blue-violet shade. During this manifestation reddish-colored rims were to be seen, changing to a dirty-like shade in very rapid succession.
51.The combustion was lightly felt from my observation plane in the form of pulling and pushing.
52.About one hour later I started with an He-111 from the A/D at Ludwigslust and flew in an easterly direction. Shortly after the start I passed through the almost complete overcast (between 3000 and 4000 meter altitude). A cloud shaped like a mushroom with turbulent, billowing sections (at about 7000 meter altitude) stood, without any
24. “A/D” probably “aerodrome”.
seeming connections, over the spot where the explosion took place. Strong electrical disturbances and the impossibility to continue radio communication as by lightning, turned up.
53. Because of the P-38s operating in the area Wittenberg-Mersburg I had to turn to the north but observed a better visibility at the bottom of the cloud where the explosion occured (sic). Note: It does not seem very clear to me why these experiments took place in such crowded areas. 
In other words, a German pilot had observed the test of a weapon, having all the signatures of a nuclear bomb: electromagnetic pulse and resulting malfunction of his radio, mushroom cloud, continuing fire and combustion of nuclear material in the cloud and so on. And all this on territory clearly under German control, in October of 1944, fully eight months before the first American A-bomb test in New Mexico! Note the curious fact that Zinsser maintains that the test took place in a populated area.
There is yet another curiosity to be observed in Zinsser’s statement, one that his American interrogators either did not pursue, or, if they did pursue it, the results remain classified still: How did Zinsser know it was a test? The answer is obvious: Zinsser knew, because he was somehow involved, for clearly the Allies would not have control over a test site deep in Nazi Germany.
Earlier in the same report, there are clues that unravel the mystery:
14. When Germany was at this stage of the game, the war broke out in Europe. At first investigations on this disintegrating of [235U (sic) were somewhat neglected because a practical application seemed too far off. Later, however, this research continued, especially in finding methods of separating isotopes. Needless to say that the center of gravity of Germany’s war effort at that time lay in other tasks.
25. The entire documentation of this report is as follows: “Investigations, Research, Developments and Practical use of the German Atomic Bomb,” [A.P.I.U. (Ninth Air Force) 96/1945 APO 696, U.S. Army, 19 August 1945.” The report is classified secret. Note that the report begins in no uncertain terms: “the following information was obtained from four German scientists: a chemist, two physical chemists, and a rocket specialist. All four men contributed a short story as to what they knew of the atomic bomb development.” (Emphasis added). Note also the suggestive title of the report.
Thanks for that bit of rich history.
I understand Edward Teller (The father of the H bomb) was also close to Enrico Fermi. I cannot imaging the outcome of W.W. 2 if the Germans had gotten hold of Teller.
Although the Germans were so arrogant and filled with race superiority syndrome, they would not have listened to such a “stupid Jew”.
Interesting post, good enough place to bookmark this thread.