Britain Planned to Threaten Nazis with Nuclear Bomb
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain had plans to threaten Germany with a nuclear bomb during World War II to prevent Hitler launching V2 rockets at London, newly released files showed Sunday.
The threat was mooted in the summer of 1944, two years after the development of nuclear bombs had begun but a year before any had been tested.
The intention to bluff the Nazis out of using the supersonic V2 rocket failed. In the last seven months of the war, over 3,000 V2s were launched, killing some 2,700 people in Britain.
The nuclear idea was put forward by Guy Liddell, head of MI5's counter-espionage branch during the war, whose diaries have been released by the Public Records Office and carried by newspapers Sunday.
It came in an entry in which Liddell recorded a conversation with Sir Stewart Menzies, then head of MI6.
"I saw (Menzies) today about the uranium bomb and put to him the suggestion that it should be used as a threat of retaliation to the Germans if they used the V2," Liddell wrote in August 1944.
"He felt...that there was nothing to be lost and said he would put the suggestion to the Prime Minister..."
Prime Minister Winston Churchill was due to visit U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt the following month, although there was no evidence that the idea was discussed.
Less than two weeks after Liddell's diary entry, Hitler began launching the V2 against Britain.
In the event, atomic weapons were not used in World War II until August 1945, at Hiroshima when 200,000 Japanese were killed.