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Norsk Hydro hydraulic power plant at Vemork, NorwayScience, Spies and Sabotage in a Real Life Thriller Sometimes real life offers up stories that trump the finest thrillers, and the story of the struggle between the Allies and the Reich over an essential ingredient for the manufacture of atomic bombs heavy water is just such a tale.At the end of the 1930 s, when Hitler had already annexed Austria and swallowed up Czechoslovakia, the fearsome power leashed within the isotope U 235 had become Norsk Hydro hydraulic power plant at Vemork, NorwayScience, Spies and Sabotage in a Real Life Thriller Sometimes real life offers up stories that trump the finest thrillers, and the story of the struggle between the Allies and the Reich over an essential ingredient for the manufacture of atomic bombs heavy water is just such a tale.At the end of the 1930 s, when Hitler had already annexed Austria and swallowed up Czechoslovakia, the fearsome power leashed within the isotope U 235 had become clear to a double handful of physicists around the world and a trigger slow moving neutrons had been found for unleashing that power On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and just a few weeks later had set up its atomic bomb program headed by Kurt Diebner, a physicist of theretofore unimpressive accomplishments, but seconded by extremely capable men such as Werner Heisenberg and, reluctantly, Otto Hahn Very quickly they determined that the best means to slow the neutrons released during atomic fission to the velocity required to assure that the fission process continued was to surround the uranium with heavy water, water in which the hydrogen had been replaced by a heavier isotope of hydrogen deuterium The only industrial source of that seemingly essential ingredient of an A bomb was a plant in the wilds of Telemark, Norway, perched precariously on a mountain slope at Vemork.There most of the power produced by the largest hydroelectric plant in the world at that time was expended to distill heavy water from ordinary water in yet another plant further down the slope Norsk Hydro heavy water electrolysis production plant at Vemork, NorwayBoth sides wanted that heavy water for themselves or, failing that, wanted to deny it to the enemy The stage was set for a critical struggle carried out primarily within the shadows.In The Winter Fortress 2016 , Neal Bascomb grippingly and rather thoroughly relates the arc of that struggle, from the initial smuggling of all the stores of heavy water then available from Vemork to Paris by French secret service operatives with the cooperation of the Norwegians under the eyes of the German Abwehr in March of 1940 , through the German invasion of Norway on April 9, 1940, and their demand for an enormous increase of production at Vemork the early activities of the British secret service and the Norwegian underground resistance to track the activities at Vemork and to plan a strike while the Gestapo was arresting, torturing and executing their colleagues to the first attempted attack that resulted in the death of all the British involved due to misadventure caused by foul weather, capture, torture and execution The second attempt was up to a small band of Norwegian commandos, four already in place and barely surviving in the sub Arctic winter while the Germans sought for them and desperately rolled up the local resistance after the first, failed effort, and six others in England trying again and again to parachute by full moon into marshes close to Vemork These ten men overcame incredible obstacles related with relish and great detail by Bascomb to successfully destroy the heavy water distilling portion of the plant and to escape the Germans But by the summer of 1943 the plant was repaired and ready to produce again An air strike on Vemork had been considered over a year ago and rejected since it was not clear that the bombs would penetrate the eight story building into the basement where the heavy water was produced and because it was very clear that such a strike would result in the destruction of many civilians But over the Norwegians objections the US Air Force mounted an air raid The result was just as anticipated earlier Nonetheless, the Norwegian plant owners refused to continue the production, and, curiously enough the previous plant director wanted to stop production after the first attack as answer the Germans sent him to a concentration camp , the occupiers agreed Diebner wanted the production set up deep within the Reich The distilling appliances and heavy water were to be transported from Vemork at once But the underground hastened into action and sank the railway ferry carrying the heavy water.The Germans were out of time it was too late to set up a sufficiently productive heavy water plant from scratch, and the Allied air forces bombed the sites where the large scale experiments were being carried out, delaying progress even further Germany surrendered before the fruits of the Manhattan Project tore asunder the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 4 Upon which, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany the official beginning of World War II Both sides soon found out that the use of plutonium would sidestep the nasty problem of separating the rare U 235 from U 238 and that heavy water was very useful for the production of plutonium This included a bait and switch at the Oslo airport, where the Abwehr were tricked into believing that the heavy water was on one plane to Amsterdam but was actually on another to Perth Even though at that time both Norway and the Netherlands were neutral states, the Luftwaffe forced the Amsterdam plane to land in Germany, where they found crumbled granite instead of the hotly desired heavy water in the plane s luggage hold The 185 kg of heavy water was subsequently secreted from Joliot Curie s institute and temporarily hidden in Windsor Castle when France was invaded 4 Side note The seemingly unimpressive Diebner had stumbled upon the principle of fusion bombs too late to do anything about it.NNNNNNNNNNNNNNHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT (((FREE BOOK))) ☔ The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler’s Atomic Bomb ☠ From the award winning and best selling author of Hunting Eichmann and The Perfect Mile an epic adventure and spy story about what many consider the greatest act of sabotage of World War II, based on a trove of exciting new researchIt sand the Nazis are racing to build an atomic bomb They have the physicists They have the will What they don t have is enough heavy water, an essential ingredient for their nuclear designs For two years, the Nazis have occupied Norway, and with it the Vemork hydroelectric plant, a massive industrial complex nestled on a precipice of a gorge Vemork is the world s sole supplier of heavy water, and under the threat of death, its engineers pushed production into overtime For the Allies, Vemork must be destroyed But how would they reach the castle fortress high in a mountainous valley The answer became the most dramatic commando raid of the war The British Special Operations Executive together a brilliant scientist and eleven refugee Norwegian commandos, who, with little than parachutes, skis, and Tommy Guns, would destroy Hitler s nuclear ambitions and help end the reign of the Third Reich Based on exhaustive research and never before seen diaries and letters of the saboteurs, The Winter Fortress is a compulsively readable narrative about a group of young men who endured soul crushing setbacks and Gestapo hunts and survived in one of the coldest, most inhospitable places on earth to save the world from destruction Rating 4 of fiveI voted for this book in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards I won the book in a Literary Hub Daily Giveaway, for which I thank them.The beginning, for once, is the fifth star s vanishment The physics lesson went on too long Yes, I agree that it was needed This being a popular history book, however, a lesson of half the length and a quarter the depth would ve beenappropriate, not to mentionpalatable.But the tale itself is exciting and engrossing and, if over detail Rating 4 of fiveI voted for this book in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards I won the book in a Literary Hub Daily Giveaway, for which I thank them.The beginning, for once, is the fifth star s vanishment The physics lesson went on too long Yes, I agree that it was needed This being a popular history book, however, a lesson of half the length and a quarter the depth would ve beenappropriate, not to mentionpalatable.But the tale itself is exciting and engrossing and, if over detailed at times, sets a spanking pace We owe a lot to the Norwegian resistance movement Does anyone still know, or use, the noun quisling, I wonder It s Norway s other huge contribution to world culture Oh yeah, some Brits were involved as well In minor roles.Heh An absolutely engrossing bookwell written and researched, it tells the story of the brave Norwegian underground and their efforts to sabotage the production of heavy water being used by the Nazi occupiers to develop a nuclear bomb It is unfortunate that this extremely important operation does not get much attention in the overall history of WWII, since the war may have turned out very differently if Germany won the nuclear arms race.The initial chapters deal with how nuclear fission is An absolutely engrossing bookwell written and researched, it tells the story of the brave Norwegian underground and their efforts to sabotage the production of heavy water being used by the Nazi occupiers to develop a nuclear bomb It is unfortunate that this extremely important operation does not get much attention in the overall history of WWII, since the war may have turned out very differently if Germany won the nuclear arms race.The initial chapters deal with how nuclear fission is attained and explains the use of heavy water It is a little slow but necessary in understanding a process of which few readers are familiar and why it was so important to destroy the manufacture of heavy water coming out of Norway.Along with King Haakon and his government, many Norwegians fled to Britain when the Nazi occupation of their country began and formed an army to infiltrate their country One of their major tasks was to destroy the hydroelectric plant at Vemork although only the top leaders were aware of why it was so important Thus began one of the most heroic adventures of WWII and the bravery of these Norwegian freedom fighters is almost beyond understanding Against all odds, they took on the task of the destruction of a huge and heavily guarded industrial complex It is, in a word, amazing and so is the book I highly recommend it After rather a slow start, once the action gets started this is edge of your seat stuff It seems to lose focus from time to time after the first successful mission, but still has enough narrow escapes to hold interest It would have been fascinating to have had acomplete juxtaposition of the Manhattan Project with the Nazi efforts. JUST GET DOWN TO IT, DARN IT Now, I understand the trend of modern historians to make the storyhuman It is actually a real need, after decades of dry historiography It makes reading easier and, if successful, gives insights that may not be of primary importance but nonetheless offer valuable glimpses of the world and persons described in the particular story.But this seriously, is the childhood life of a character whose name you ll forget right after the chapter have any interest T JUST GET DOWN TO IT, DARN IT Now, I understand the trend of modern historians to make the storyhuman It is actually a real need, after decades of dry historiography It makes reading easier and, if successful, gives insights that may not be of primary importance but nonetheless offer valuable glimpses of the world and persons described in the particular story.But this seriously, is the childhood life of a character whose name you ll forget right after the chapter have any interest The book drags on soooo slowly with inane details it gets downright boring Not to mention the so la mode practice of writing as if the author was right there with, say, the parachutists in the glider plane and can recite all the details, even those in the minds of the characters It gets silly real fast.It s a shame that such an interesting story would need so much padding and page filling to become a book My suggestion Start reading from the middle of it, you ll be much better off An interesting read on an act of sabotage during World War II when Norwegian commandos infiltrated and destroyed the atomic plant the Germans set up at Vemork The Germans were planning to produce an atomic bomb But through sacrifice, Gestapo manhunts, and torture when some were captured, They manage to destroy the atomic plant and dramatically change the course of the war Part spy thriller and part sabotage thriller this book will not disappoint. 3.5 starsWhile I liked Bascomb did it again I cried The book starts slowly with laborious explanation of physics level knowledge on the atomic fission Then things get fun This book reminds me of the great sacrifice made 75 years ago and inspires me to be great Wonderful read for those who enjoy the unsung heroes The book presents a background, the development of the nuclear race in World War II, Nazi Germany, England, and the United States at the same time The main story is the race for heavy water produced in Norway and efforts to prevent it of the Nazis This is a heroic epic of fighters of various kinds It is a well written story The writer manages to bring the harsh conditions of survival in the Scandinavian winter with improvisation that stems from a lack of supplies and the fear of being discov The book presents a background, the development of the nuclear race in World War II, Nazi Germany, England, and the United States at the same time The main story is the race for heavy water produced in Norway and efforts to prevent it of the Nazis This is a heroic epic of fighters of various kinds It is a well written story The writer manages to bring the harsh conditions of survival in the Scandinavian winter with improvisation that stems from a lack of supplies and the fear of being discovered However, somehow the book could not make me keep my eyes fixed to the pages and occasionally found myself thinking about extra things as I read