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Brits held Nazi nuke experts in bugged country mansion; MI6 hoped 10 scientists would reveal Hitler's A-bomb secrets.

Byline: EMILY RETTER

HITLER'S top nuclear scientists were captured and held in an idyllic English retreat at the end of the Second World War in a bid to get them to give up Nazi atom bomb secrets.

The group enjoyed bacon and egg for breakfast and played volleyball in the grounds - but MI6 bugged the building to listen to their conversations.

A new book reveals the 10, including three Nobel prize winners and dubbed Hitler's Uranium Club, were treated to a luxury life in the hope they would relax and reveal Hitler's nuclear plans.

But they were also horrified to discover the US had dropped an atom bomb in Japan, with one blaming himself for the atrocity and ending up suicidal. Author Colin Brown said: "Otto Hahn wanted to end it all that night. He was very depressed, he had brought it into being, he was the discoverer of nuclear fission in 1939 and was shattered by the news.

"He never thought his discovery would lead to such an appalling weapon. They had to calm him down with a lot of gin."

The moment they heard on the radio about the first A-bomb was captured by their MI6 handlers.

Colin added: "At first you can hear they didn't believe the news. They thought they were in the lead. Then they began to believe it and are saying they could have done it, but didn't for moral reasons.

"Those recordings would have been sensational if they had got out at the time, that the German scientists didn't believe in building a bomb to use. They were about a year from creating a bomb."

The scientists were also unaware their captors had uncovered 31 tons of uranium in a warehouse in Toulouse, France, they had stored - which was later used in the bomb that dropped on Hiroshima. They were holed up at Farm Hall in Godmanchester, Cambs, for six months after the US mission Operation Big hunted them down across Germany in 1945.

After being interrogated in Paris, they were sent to the MI6 safe house because the Americans did not want their secrets to fall into Russian hands. Colin, whose book Operation Big: The Race To Stop Hitler's A-Bomb is published by Amberley, said: "They were waited on by German servants who fed them eggs and bacon for breakfast and steak for dinner."

The group, which also included Werner Heisenberg and Max von Laue, were eventually released when the recordings of their chats revealed nothing of use.

Farm Hall owner Marcial Echenique learned the truth after he found recording wires during refurbishments in the 80s.

emily.retter@trinitymirror.com

CAPTION(S):

EVIL Hitler

UNCOVERED Wires found in house

URANIUM CLUB Heisenberg, Von Laue and Hahn

SAFE HOUSE Farm Hall where the 10 were housed

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 12, 2016
Words:463
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