WWII Hero Credits Luck and Chance in Foiling Hitler’s Nuclear Ambitions

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tags: nuclear weapons, Hitler, WWII



Thumbnail Image - The Vemork hydroelectric plant in 1935. The heavy water was produced in the front building (the Hydrogen Production Plant). "Vemork Hydroelectric Plant 1935" by Anders Beer Wilse - Galleri Nor Tilvekstnummer: NF.WF 00570 Internnr: NBR9204:00618. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

For a man who saved the world, or at least helped ensure that Adolf Hitler never got hold of a nuclear bomb, 96-year-old Joachim Ronneberg has a surprisingly unheroic view of the forces that shape history.

“There were so many things that were just luck and chance,” he said of his 1943 sabotage mission that blew up a Norwegian plant vital to Nazi Germany’s nuclear program. “There was no plan. We were just hoping for the best,” Mr. Ronneberg, Norway’s most decorated war hero, added.

The leader and only living member of a World War II commando team that destroyed the Nazis’ only source of heavy water, a rare fluid needed to produce nuclear weapons, Mr. Ronneberg has had his exploits celebrated in a 1965 blockbuster movie, “The Heroes of Telemark,” starring Kirk Douglas, been showered with military medals and been honored, belatedly, with a statue and museum display in his hometown here on Norway’s west coast.




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