19 The Winter Fortress

In this episode we’re looking at the attempts to disrupt and destroy Germany’s access to heavy water, which was essential for their atomic research.

If that sounds familiar that could be because you’ve seen the film The Heroes of Telemark or watched one of the many documentaries on the operations against the Norsk Hydro plant at Vemork.

The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler's Atomic Bomb
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From the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of Hunting Eichmann and The Perfect Mile, an epic adventure and spy story about the greatest act of sabotage in all of World War II.   It’s 1942 and the Nazis are racing to be the first to build a weapon unlike any known before. They have the plike any known before. They have the physicists, they have the uranium, and now all their plans depend on amassing a single ingredient: heavy water, which is produced in Norway’s Vemork, the lone plant in all the world that makes this rare substance. Under threat of death, Vemork’s engineers push production into overdrive.
For the Allies, the plant must be destroyed. But how would they reach the castle fortress set on a precipitous gorge in one of the coldest, most inhospitable places on Earth?
Based on a trove of top secret documents and never-before-seen diaries and letters of the saboteurs, The Winter Fortress is an arresting chronicle of a brilliant scientist, a band of spies on skies, perilous survival in the wild, sacrifice for one’s country, Gestapo manhunts, soul-crushing setbacks, and a last-minute operation that would end any chance Hitler could obtain the atomic bomb—and alter the course of the war.


I talk to Neal Bascomb, his new book The Winter Fortress is painstakingly researched, with access to the diaries of some of the men involved. It sheds light on a remarkable series of operations in Norway where the weather was as big a threat as the Nazi’s

Neal Bascomb is a national award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of a number of books, all non-fiction narratives, all focused on inspiring stories of adventure or achievement.