The Manhattan Project

Life in the Secret Cities

Jean Bacher's Interview

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.

Stanislaus Ulam's Interview (1979)

Stanislaus Ulam: You know, after forty-five years in this country, my accent is still very hard.

Martin Sherwin: That’s all right. I still have a Brooklyn accent.

Ulam:  Oh, you do?

Sherwin: I left Brooklyn twenty years ago. I think even though I do know a lot of the answers to some of the questions I’m going to ask you from your book—

Ulam:  Yes.

Joseph Rotblat's Interview

Martin Sherwin: This is an interview with Professor Joseph Rotblat, R-O-T-B-L-A-T, at his office in London. Well it really was quite a production. Seven hours!

Joseph Rotblat: Yes, oh yes, quite a production.

Sherwin: I thought Sam Waterston played a marvelous part.

Rotblat: Who?

Sherwin: The person who played [J. Robert] Oppenheimer.

Louis Hempelmann Interview - Part 1

Martin Sherwin: Martin Sherwin, I am about to interview Dr. Hempelmann at Strong Memorial Hospital.

You know, simply from all of the Los Alamos records, but who told me you were at Strong? That was, I think, Dorothy McKibbin.

Louis Hempelmann:  Oh yeah.

Sherwin: No, she confirmed it. She said you were coming out to Santa Fe.

Hempelmann: Yeah.

Alice Kimball Smith's Interview

Martin Sherwin: I am in Cambridge, Massachusetts on April 26, 1982. Were you married when you were in Los Alamos?

Alice Kimball Smith: Yes. We had been married for twelve years.

Sherwin: I see. So you and your husband, Cyril Smith, went to Los Alamos and you were promptly put to work as a schoolteacher. Is that correct?

Kimball Smith: That is right, yes.

John DeWire's Interview

Martin Sherwin: This is an interview with John DeWire at Cornell University in his office at Newman Hall 228, Newman. Today is May 5, 1982.   

You were with Robert Wilson’s group from Princeton that was recruited by [J. Robert] Oppenheimer in ’43, right? Late ’43, was it?

John DeWire: Early ’43.

Sherwin: Early ’43.

DeWire: I went to Princeton in February ’42.

Sherwin: From where?

Donald Ross's Interview

Donald Ross: My name is Donald Ross, and I am about to begin my eightieth year on this planet. I was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and I left there with my parents at an early age. We moved to the southern tip of Texas, and had a little farm not too far from Edinburg, Texas, where I grew up.

Gerhart Friedlander's Interview

Gerhart Friedlander: My name is Gerhart Friedlander.

Interviewer: What was your role in the Manhattan Project?

Friedlander: I got into the Manhattan Project very early; in fact, before there was an official Manhattan Project. I was a graduate student at Berkeley at the University of California. My thesis advisor was Glenn Seaborg, who later on got a Nobel Prize and became chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, but at that time he was just a new instructor and I was his first graduate student. 

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