The story of a daring 1943 commando raid to stop Germany from getting an atomic bomb


Originally published at:


The written account of this story in The Making of The Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes is fantastic as well.


Was made into a decent film with Kirk Douglas


Seconded. For anyone interested in the history of the bomb I also recommend Rhodes’ companion book, Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb.



Though his two later follow-on books, ‘Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race’ and ‘The Twilight of the Bombs’ aren’t quite as readable and in places a bit of a slog.


There was a Norwegian drama about this on Netflix. Those Norsk commandos were badass, parachuting in and skiing for many miles, then having to hole up in a shack for weeks starving till getting the green light.


I like the part where their inside man demands they fetch his glasses before blowing that mother up (because they’d be difficult to replace)


Never realized the player required connecting to facebook. Oh well. So long Futility Closet.


You can subscribe in most podcast apps w/o. I get them on my iPhone w/o any FB


Makes sense. Thanks.


Can recommend Knut Haugelid’s ‘Sites Against the Atom’ too, first hand account of the raid, its build up and aftermath


Skis, not Sites !


My notes on Skis Against the Atom are at


I worked at Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk in Norway with the son of the guy who led the raid. He described his father as “the guy played by Kirk Douglas” (who, by the way, has just turned 101).


Also a very good recent mini series:


So apparently the actual heroes of the Telemark really didn’t like that film, primarily because it was too noisy, with shooting and explosions etc, whereas they operated much more stealthily. The saboteurs actually starred in their own film Kampen om tungtvannet, a joint French and Norwegian production from 1948. The whole thing is on Youtube with reasonable English subtitles. It goes without saying that these guys were utter utter heroes - amazing bravery.


I watched that mini-series. The SOE offices were decorated with small reproductions of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster,, which was not widley distributed during the war and was never seen again until it was rediscovered early this century.


Of course Hollywood was not going to get it right. Especially after Guns of Navarrone practically created the “Commando Raid Blockbuster genre” a few years back and every studio was doing their own version of one.

Reminds me of a quote by Samuel Fuller, “The only way to bring the real experience of war to a movie audience is by firing a machine gun above their heads during the screening.”

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