Louis Hempelmann: He [J. Robert Oppenheimer] just told me what the situation was. He did not ask me, which is the same thing when he got sick because I was in the radiology department here and I knew something about it. He would call me up, tell me what he had done, and then say “What do you think of it?” By that time, the only thing I could say was, “That was fine.”
Martin Sherwin: Was there a lot of effort to trying to figure out the psychology that the people who were sitting in judgement [at J. Robert Oppenheimer’s security hearing] would have? That “They will probably be thinking this, so therefore we should do that?” Do you recall any of that?
Verna Hobson: No. I remember that after the first—they came back, I suppose, the weekend in the middle of the hearings. I think they had a few days, and then they came back, and then they went to Washington again for the rest of it.
Jean Bacher: Ruth Valentine said, “I shall take Ruth [Tolman]’s desk.” She always saved letters. She had marvelous long letters from Robert, you know, especially at the time of the hearings. I knew they were just terribly close and shared a great deal. On the drawer of the desk, she’d said, “Destroy these.”
Martin Sherwin: You saw it happen?
Bacher: I didn’t see her burn it, because at that time we still burned and they just threw them out in the burner in the back yard.
Martin Sherwin: How much were the dues [to the Communist Party]?
David Hawkins: God, I don’t remember. Not very much, or I wouldn’t have been able to afford them.
Sherwin: Two bucks, five bucks?
Hawkins: Yeah, something like that.
Sherwin: A month?
Cindy Kelly: It is Sunday, May 15, 2016, and we’re in Houston, Texas. I want to start by asking you to tell me your name and then spell it.
Dorothy Ritter: My name is Dorothy Oley Ritter. D-O-R-O-T-H-Y O-L-E-Y R-I-T-T-E-R.
Kelly: All right. Dorothy, why don’t we begin by having you tell us something about your family, when you were born, your childhood?
Martin Sherwin: This is Martin Sherwin, I’m on my way to interview William Fowler at Caltech in Pasadena. Today is March 29, 1983.
Martin Sherwin: At the Stanhope Hotel in New York, June 15th, 1979.
David Bohm: I met him in about 1941. I went to Caltech to do graduate work, and I wasn’t very satisfied there. It was much too limited technically.
Sherwin: Where did you do your undergraduate work?
Martin Sherwin: You must have met the Oppenheimers when Murph [her husband, Marvin Goldberger] met them?
Mildred Goldberger: No.
Goldberger: No, Murph met [J. Robert] Oppenheimer quite early on, I think. Not during the war. But he was an early invitee to the Rochester Conferences. I am sure Oppenheimer was there. In any case, they were known to one another.
Sherwin: Right, I had known that in ’48—
Goldberger: Yeah, right.
Though not a Manhattan Project location, the island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands played an important role in the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Soon after he was stripped of his security clearance in the infamous Atomic Energy Commission hearing, Oppenheimer and his wife Kitty began spending time on the island. They bought a strip of land in the Hawksnest area from the Gibney family, and built a house there. Robert and Kitty became fixtures of island social life, throwing parties on a regular basis.
Martin Sherwin: Today is July 31, 1979. This is an interview with Verna Hobson in New Gloucester, Maine.
I think the best way to proceed is probably to start with when you first met [J. Robert] Oppenheimer and how you got the job.
Verna Hobson: Okay. We were living in Princeton. My husband commuted to New York, and we had two little children. I was beginning to think about when I could go back to work or maybe take some more training. In other words, getting on with my own life.
Sherwin: This was when?