Hitler’s Sunken Secret – NOVA

29 Mar

In 2006, I was planning for a different trip.  This one was to Puerto Rico with a few friends.  In anticipation, I checked out a few guidebooks, a book about the Muppets and Jon Stewart’s “Naked Pictures of Famous People”.  Due to the time it took me to return these tomes, they are now mine.  That doesn’t have anything to do with this trip or Hitler.  What does have to do with this trip was that I finally walked into a library and paid my fines.  Upon doing so I checked out a few DVDs, some CDs with music from different countries we’d be visiting and two giant art books.  As you’ve probably guessed, NOVA’s “Hitler’s Sunken Secret” was one of the DVDs.

Kicksled sans Norwegian

The secret involves the sourcing of large amounts of something called heavy water from Norway in hopes of moving it to Berlin.  Why would this be a big deal?  Well, heavy water is used in nuclear power plants to prolong the splitting of uranium atoms.  And since we’re talking about the Third Reich we can imagine that they aren’t hoping to solve some energy crisis but instead aiming to win WWII.  It’s this assumption that leads to some very brave Norwegians sinking a shipment of heavy water.  They do so at the expense of sinking a ferry, one that they knew would hold innocent civilians.  I marvel at that.  I’m not sure what I’d do in their situation, especially since their allies, the Brits, kept them largely in the dark as to the necessity of this action.

NOVA has a really detailed site on this event and more about how heavy water came to be discovered (it’s in that bottle your drinking, right now!).  You can even look at the telegrams that went between Norwegians and Brits as they planned their action to prevent nuclear war.  In the end, we wouldn’t have had the bomb if we didn’t think that Hitler was making it.  And Hitler could have made it.  Both sides had physicists that guaranteed that a nuclear bomb was possible and that it would take about two years to produce.  The difference was that the Third Reich assumed that the war would be short and that they would not have the bomb in time.

I thought that this DVD was fantastic.  Seeing the Norwegian heroes and the survivors from the ferry explosion was really touching.  And what I mean by that was that it made me cry.  That and it’s super enchanting to see a guy in his late 70s working a kicksled, isn’t it?

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One Response to “Hitler’s Sunken Secret – NOVA”

  1. bigcatmpls 2011/03/29 at 11:05 #

    One of my favorite documentaries

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