Murray Peshkin: Well, how did I get involved in the Manhattan Project? I was an undergraduate student at Cornell University. A group of about ten, who were studying physics. It was clear that we could not be kept out of the Army very long. They were looking for programs in which we could serve usefully. I really believed that there was something else behind it.
Race for the Atomic Bomb
Murray Peshkin is a Manhattan Project veteran and a physicist. He was recruited by the Army to assist the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos when he was an undergraduate student studying physics at Cornell.
Anthony French: This Anthony French. I was born and raised in Brighton, England, south of London. I went to Cambridge as a student in Upping, which is more or less northeast of London in 1939, just a couple of weeks after the war was declared.
Stephane Groueff: Now, we could start with a letter of [Enrico] Fermi and a letter of [John] Dunning, because the way Dunning explained the thing that he had the idea that uranium-235 was—
Alfred Nier: The one that was responsible, yes.
Stephane Groueff: Hello, Dr. Wigner?
Eugene Wigner: Yes.
Groueff: Good morning sir. I am calling from New York. I am the correspondent of “Paris Match” magazine. My name is Groueff.
Groueff: Groueff, G-R-O-U-E-F-F.
Wigner: I see, Mr. Groueff.
Freeman Dyson: I’m Freeman Dyson, F-R-E-E-M-A-N D-Y-S-O-N, retired professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
Cynthia Kelly: Why don’t we start with your experience in World War II? Maybe you could tell us what your role was.
Stephane Groueff: Mr. Gary, what was your job at that time here?
Tom Gary: Head of the design division. The engineering department had five divisions: design, construction, engineering services—that’s a division of consultants and they have young engineer’s resident on many of the DuPont plants. The fourth one was control, which is to take care of the payroll and all of that stuff, sort of like Ashton General in the army. And then the fifth one was the engineering research division. I headed the design division.
Val Fitch: My name is Val Logsdon Fitch. It’s V-A-L L-O-G-S-D-O-N F-I-T-C-H. And the Logsdon is my mother’s maiden name. Where Val comes from, I have no idea. Except it was a favorite name of my mother’s.
Cindy Kelly: Tell us a little bit about your background and how you happened to end up at Los Alamos during the war.
Arthur Squires: Keith is a personality.
Stephane Groueff: He is kind of a personality.
Squires: Keith is a personality and I worked with this man seventeen years, shy two weeks.
Groueff: So you know him very well.
Squires: I know him very well.
Groueff: Would you describe him, during the war especially, because he’ll be one of my main heroes and I want to present him as colorful as possible.
Arthur Squires: And I probably did not appreciate, during the war itself, the extent to which this was such a remarkable effort. Kellex – I am sure some of this you have already heard. Kellex was put together by M.W. Kellogg Company pretty much on a command basis. They just went to the top people all over the industry and got the top instrument man, the top man in the power field, and top people in compressors and all the various phases of the project.