Stephane Groueff: Dr. Raymond Grills, DuPont, Wilmington.
Race for the Atomic Bomb
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?
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.
Hans Bethe: The other was M - A - D, MAD [Mutually Assured Destruction], which essentially says that nuclear weapons make sense only as a safeguard against nuclear weapons. As [Wolfgang] Panofsky has said recently, and there is actually an article by him, "It is not a doctrine. It is a fact of life. Nothing else is possible, whatever you might wish.” So I think you should not present it as something really unavoidable, without any movements in the opposite direction.
Martin Sherwin: This morning I am making arrangements to interview Norris Bradbury in Los Alamos, New Mexico. January 10, 1985.
How would you characterize the major problems that [J. Robert] Oppenheimer had when he first got the job as the administrator for Los Alamos? Or at least, when you came on?
General Kenneth Nichols: —found we did not have the authority to satisfy DuPont.
Stephane Groueff: But why did DuPont challenge your authority?
Nichols: Because they had trouble, in World War I, being called munitions makers and investigated after World War I, so they are more conservative than most companies. And they wanted to have in their files copies of our authorities. And what we had, which I have shown you, and that is satisfactory to them.
Groueff: I see.
Martin Sherwin: This is Martin Sherwin. I'll be interviewing Sir Rudolf Peierls at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Today's date is June 6th, 1979.
You first met [J.Robert] Oppenheimer in Zurich in 1929?
Rudolf Peierls: Right, yes.
Sherwin: At that time, I think you mentioned you were working with [Wolfgang] Pauli's group?
Sherwin: Who else was there in that group?
Walt Grisham: Okay, what you’re looking at is our old family well. It’s a little different than it used to be, because it’s sitting kind of up on the top of a bank here. After the project was built, they did a little roadwork out here and cut it way down. But where I am at the present time is the meadow of our front yard. The old dead trees off to this side were cherry trees. We used them not only to produce the cherries, but also as shade trees in the front lawn. The house sat back in this direction.
Isabella Karle: Isabella Karle. I-S-A-B-E-L-L-A K-A-R-L-E
Cindy Kelly: Terrific. Could you tell us how you happened to become part of the Manhattan Project?
Ralph Lapp: I am Ralph Lapp, L-A-P-P. I am a physicist, nuclear physicist, an author, and a consultant. I have engaged in finance and technology.
Interviewer: Great. What can you tell us about your role in the Manhattan Project?