National Geographic : 1999 Oct
my office, and lose my address!" Tidwell walks out on deck and chucks the camera overboard. But cooler heads prevail, and we avoid Christmas in Russia. One evening Tidwell says to me, "In a way I'm glad we didn't recover any gold, because it would tarnish the trip. I can walk away proud because I was able to put the flag on. That meant a lot to me." Exhaustion peers from his eyes, exposing the truth: For him the treasure hunt has turned into a voyage of contrition. The killing fields of another Asian nation haunt Paul Tidwell. He has done some of the killing. Is it absolu tion he seeks? "I'm a nice, slow-talking southern boy," he says softly, "but when I was in Vietnam, I was a different person. Some of my buddies didn't make it back, and I had to write to their moth ers. For any country to send out their youth to be killed in wars is terrible. This flag was my letter to those families in Japan." 1944 Before they fled Lorient, German troops destroyed much of the cargo intended for the 1-52. But one item was not spelled out on the destruction list, which said simply, " oxide 500 kilograms." "Obviously uranium oxide," says Tidwell, filling in the blank. If the 1-52 had picked up its cargo, the uranium could have reached Japan by the winter of 1944 and been used in weapons development, though not to build an atomic bomb, as some feared at the time. Both the Germans and the Japanese had atomic research initiatives, but Hitler curtailed Germany's efforts because he foresaw a quick victory and felt the program would be too costly. The Japanese were trying to find a method to enrich uranium but were in a very early state of this research. Neither was close to building a bomb. Still, Japan wanted high-grade uranium oxide and depended on Germany to get it. There is evidence that in 1944 a German sub marine delivered 500 kilograms of the mineral, but another 500 kilograms was lost at sea on its way to Japan. The last shipment of uranium left from Kiel March 25, 1945, in a large mine-laying German submarine, U-234, under Lt. Johann-Heinrich Fehler. It carried the last of the Yanagi ship ments out of Europe-weapons, ammunition, metals, and a disassembled Messerschmitt 262 jet fighter. Mercury and lead were packed in as keel ballast, and in the bow were ten cylinders of uranium oxide. Among the 12 passengers was Luftwaffe Vice General Ulrich Kessler, the new air attache to Tokyo, as well as two Japanese technical offi cers, Comdr. Genso Shoji and Comdr. Hideo Tomonaga, who had been with the delegation sent to Lorient to greet the 1-52. On May 8, after the U-234 had passed from the Norwegian Sea into the North Atlantic, Ger many surrendered, and the order came to turn water," sys hotgraper onatan lr,^K^ ^^H^H ^^ "Climbing abordth Mir was like saying goody6. te w. Ad o GRAPIC or m re han30 yarsandcall ths "te taught tickI'v eve tred. To make pictur5^eat hisdept and prssureBai mounted a ^hvy-duty Benthos^ camer ~loaded wih fast io oeofMr mnpla^^HB^^f'tarms.Using a ieo ^^^^ Expers stuingBa'i ctureB^s be ^HBB^fliev hyhv eemn the exct equence ^ of 0xlsin that bruh dow th sub.