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Nazi Atom Bomb Files To Be Opened

December 17, 1998

MUNICH, Germany (AP) _ Once top secret, files on Nazi Germany’s unsuccessful race to build an atomic bomb are being opened to the general public for the first time.

Among the materials received Thursday by Munich’s German Museum are research notes by famous German physicists who took part in the program, such as Werner Heisenberg and Otto Hahn, as well as notebooks, photos and correspondence between scientists and Nazi authorities.

The documents suggest that German research into the atomic bomb was ``nearly parallel″ with efforts in the United States, but that the Third Reich lacked materials to build one because of wartime destruction, said the museum’s archivist, Wilhelm Fuessl.

A November 1945 report by two U.S. investigators, six months after the Nazi defeat in World War II, says ``only the lack of plutonium″ kept Adolf Hitler from building an atomic bomb, Fuessl said.

U.S. forces seized the files at the war’s end. They were returned to a research center in Karlsruhe, Germany, in the 1970s, but access there was largely restricted to academics, Fuessl said.

No exhibit is planned for now at the Munich museum, but Fuessl said the files will be open to the public.

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