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1938 Oct 01, Germany begins annexing the Sudentenland. 1939 Mar 15, Germany invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia.

There is a mine, far on the western border, called the Joachimsthal Mine.

enter image description here

Today it is called Jáchymov, but back then was known as Joachimsthal. This place had a silver mine dating back to the 1500's. It also produced Uranium. In fact, when Martin Klaproth first identified Uranium in 1789, I believe that Uranium came from the mine in Czechoslovakia.

I would like to know if Germany, at any point from 1938 to 1945, mined Uranium from this mine. If so, how much, and what concentration of Uranium did it have.

I'm aware that Germany never had a serious atomic bomb project comparable to the Manhattan Project. I would nevertheless like to know if they ever tried to mine Uranium from here.

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    Two small additions : 1.When Marie Curie discovered radioactivity, she was also working with uranium from Joachimsthal. 2.Surprisingly enough, the silver from Jachymov is also the etymological origin of the word "Dollar" (through Joachimstahl -> Thaller -> Dollar). – Evargalo Mar 8 '18 at 8:57
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    Note it was named Jáchymov (as well as Joachimsthal) even in the 1930s. I have a book in my hand right now with a chapter named "Dobývání radia v Jáchymově" = "Radium mining in Jáchymov". During the war it was annexed by Germany and obviously named in German only. So it is not as in the close Falkenau/Falknov which was renamed to Sokolov only after the war. – Vladimir F Mar 8 '18 at 10:09
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    This note on the attempted shipment of Uranium from Germany to Japan in 1945 may be of interest. – Pieter Geerkens Mar 8 '18 at 12:43
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Apparently, yes.


This site states (translation mine):

Während des Zweiten Weltkriegs, St. Joachimsthal war damals Teil des ans Deutsche Reich angeschlossenen Sudetenlands, wurde in den Gruben Uran für Forschungszwecke der deutschen Wehrmacht abgebaut.

"During World War II, St. Joachimsthal being part of the Sudetenland incorporated into the German Reich back then, Uranium was mined for research purposes for the German Wehrmacht."

The website was produced by the German-Czech Textbook Commission.


This site states (translation mine):

Im Zuge der Umsetzung des 1941 erarbeiteten "Göring-Programms" wurden zuerst französische, später sowjetische Kriegsgefangene in den Minen von Sankt Joachimsthal eingesetzt.

"In the course of implementing the 'Göring program' compiled in 1941, first French, later Soviet POW's were employed in the Sankt Joachimsthal mines."

The website was produced by the University of Oldenburg.


As an update to a question in the comments as to how much Uranium was mined, via the German WP article on the Uranprojekt I found this Spiegel article, translation mine (as much as I loathe citing David Irving for anything):

Auer beutete seit der Einverleibung der Tschechoslowakei im März 1939 die Uranbergwerke in Sankt-Joachimsthal aus, und der Laborleiter Nikolaus Riehl erachtete das Uranprojekt als so vielversprechend, daß er selbst die Leitung der Uran-Produktion übernahm und innerhalb weniger Wochen in Oranienburg einen Betrieb aufbaute, dessen monatliche Produktionskapazität etwa eine Tonne Uranoxyd betrug.

"Since the annexiation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, Auer [company] exploited the Uranium mines in Sankt-Joachimsthal, and the laboratory supervisor Nikolaus Riehl deemed the Uranprojekt so promising that he himself took control of the Uranium production. Within a few months he did built a factory in Oranienburg capable of producting about one [metric] ton of Uranium oxide per month."

Note that the connection between the Oranienburg factory and the Joachimsthal mines is a rather loose one; the same article also mentions that Germany took hold of 3500 tons of Uranium minerals from the Union Minere in Belgium, and that the Auer company used (mainly?) those to satisfy their demands.

  • Thanks. Any mention of how much Uranium was mined per year, and for how long? – DrZ214 Mar 8 '18 at 8:16
  • @DrZ214: Not in the online sources I could find ad-hoc. Looking at how little Uranium actually found its way to relevant researchers in Germany, I would say "not a lot", but that is just me guessing. – DevSolar Mar 8 '18 at 8:17
  • @DrZ214: Found something, but it's not much. See updated answer. – DevSolar Mar 8 '18 at 8:42
  • I found a somewhat corroborating source here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olen,_Belgium It says that Olen had a refinery for Uranium Ore (citation), but also says 1200 tonnes were captured by Germany (no citation). However, I suspect the refinery there was for extracting radium rather than concentrating Uranium. They are not necessarily the same thing even when dealing with a Ra-U orebody. Mining is a complicated business. BTW thank you for quoting things in the original language. It seems very few people take care to do that these days. – DrZ214 Mar 8 '18 at 8:58
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    @DevSolar: Then what about "to incorporate"? That's pretty neutral and doesn't imply that the incorporated "body" did so voluntarily. – David Foerster Mar 8 '18 at 13:06

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