The Race for the Bomb: Things You Didn't Know

Watch an all new episode of "War Stories: The Secret Race for the Atomic Bomb" Sunday at 8 pm ET.

• The atom was split for the first time in Germany.

• Albert Einstein was extremely worried about the prospect of a nuclear bomb in the hands of the Nazis, so he sent an urgent letter to President Roosevelt in 1939.

• The Nazis had 200 scientists working full speed, and a three-year head start over the allies.

• A crucial meeting with FDR concerning secret plans for the atomic bomb project was held the morning before Pearl Harbor.

• The American bomb effort under the tutelage of Gen. Leslie Groves and scientific director J. Robert Oppenheimer took a grand total of a thousand days to accomplish and cost upwards of $2 billion.

• Oppenheimer was interrogated for suspected Communist ties, and was determined to be "potentially dangerous."

• The British were tipped off before the Americans as to how far the Germans were coming with their project by a German spy code-named "The Griffin." This spy also helped a German physicist flee Germany. He knew all the top scientists in Germany and didn't want Hitler to get the bomb.

• The BBC embedded a code in its nightly reports to let the German spy (The Griffin) know whether they had received his information about the German bomb project.

• Adolf Hitler loved rockets and was not terribly interested in the bomb.

• A former beer cellar in Haigerloch, Germany is where the Germans hid their nuclear reactor, and their stash of uranium.

• Despite a widespread espionage ring, the Americans didn’t know exactly how far along the Germans had gotten. A special task force was dispatched to find out once and for all what they had. This mission was called “ALSOS”, the Greek word for “groves.”

• ALSOS had two commanders. The military officer in charge was a tenacious Army colonel, Boris Pash. The scientific leader was Dr. Samuel Goudsmit, whose parents had perished at Auschwitz.

• Team ALSOS rounded up a total of 10 German scientists and seized almost 1,200 tons of uranium, which had been hidden in various warehouses around Europe. It was truly an example of finding a needle in a haystack.

• When the uranium arrived in Oak Ridge, Tennessee it was made part of America's first atomic bomb, " Little Boy."

• "Little Boy" exploded over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 at 8:15 am.

• Three days later, Nagasaki was hit by the plutonium bomb, "Fat Man."

• In addition to trying to find Germany’s nuclear secrets, ALSOS was always in high gear, trying to beat the Soviets to the finish line. Although they were America’s allies, the Cold War had already begun.

• The Soviets kidnapped two German scientists off the street to work on their nuclear bomb project.

• Germany’s top scientist, Werner Heisenberg, narrowly escaped Col Boris Pash’s arrival in Haigerloch where the Germans had built a nuclear reactor. How did he do it? He got on his bicycle and peddled for 300 miles until he reached his family cabin in a remote little town in the Alps: Urfeld.

• A German spy, Erich Gimple, "Agent 146" tried in vain to locate the Manhattan project.