11. The Vemork Sabotage
As touched upon in the introduction, everybody knows about the atomic bomb and the devastating impact that it had on Japan. No such weapons have ever been used since, though for 45 years the world lived in fear of the Mutually Assured Destruction brought about by the American and Soviet nuclear arsenals.
Less known is the story of how the bomb came to be. Throughout World War II, both the Allies and Axis committed to huge-scale programs in order to bring about its development, with the former headed by J. Robert Oppenheimer (known for the quote, "Now I am become death. The destroyer of worlds") and the latter involving highly renowned physicist Werner Heisenberg (known for being the inspiration of Walter White’s alter ego in Breaking Bad).
Key to the bomb’s development was heavy water, essential for the creation of nuclear reactors. The Allies constructed three heavy water plants in America, whilst the Germans were reliant on just one, located in Vemork in occupied Norway, whose stocks had been smuggled to France before the country’s invasion.
The occupation of Norway (and other countries like the Netherlands) is often forgotten about, but the systematic sabotage of the plant by the Norwegian resistance (including treacherous commando raids and the sinking of the ship used to remove stocks to Germany) should never be ignored. It constantly set back the Axis program, which was always behind the Allied equivalent and never truly capable of producing a weapon.