The Manhattan Project

J. Robert Oppenheimer

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.

Haakon Chevalier's Interview - Part 2

Martin Sherwin: You mentioned a point that others have mentioned that intrigue me: [J. Robert] Oppenheimer’s summer in Corsica. You said that Oppenheimer had once told you that reading [Marcel] Proust’s Memory of Things Past was one of the great experiences of his life.

Haakon Chevalier: Yes.

Sherwin: I have two questions about that. One, could you elaborate on that? Anything that you recall he said and why. The second has to do with whether you know anything else about that summer in Corsica.

Robert Serber's Interview (1982)

Martin Sherwin: I’m interviewing Robert Serber at his home in New York City. Date is January 9th, 1982.

Let me just begin at the beginning and ask you, how did you get to Berkeley? Why did you go there?

Serber: I got my degree at Wisconsin with [John] Van Vleck, and that was ’34. You didn’t have very many choices of what you can do. But I got a National Research Fellowship, which, if I recall, there were only five of them available that year. That was a year when the new membership of the American Physical Society was thirteen.

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.

David Bohm's Interview

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?

Mildred Goldberger's Interview

Martin Sherwin: You must have met the Oppenheimers when Murph [her husband, Marvin Goldberger] met them?

Mildred Goldberger: No.

Sherwin: 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.

St. John, VI

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.

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