The Manhattan Project

Los Alamos

Arno Roensch's Interview

Theresa Strottman: We are speaking with Arno Roensch.  We thank you for coming this morning.  To start off the interview, I was wondering if you could briefly tell me when and where you were born and something about your early education and training.

Arno Roensch: I was born in Berlin, Germany—1918. We came to this country in 1922.  I remember the boat we came on, it was called the S.S. Orbeta; it was a British vessel.  It took 21 days to cross the Atlantic.

Eleanor Roensch's Interview

Theresa Strottman: It’s Saturday March 21, 1992, and it’s approximately 10:20 in the morning.  We are speaking with Jerry Roensch.  We thank you so much for coming this morning.

Eleanor (Jerry) Roensch: My pleasure.

Strottman: To start off the interview, I wonder if you could briefly tell me when and where you were born and a little something about your early education and training.

Jay Wechsler's Interview

Jay Wechsler: Well, my mother was visiting her folks in New York when she decided that it was time, and I was the first child, and I guess she was a little surprised. So I was born in New York even though we didn’t live there. And as soon as we were able we were back in New Jersey, where she and my father lived. My father was a chemist and even at a young age he was always taking me into the plant where he worked, showing me things. And I kind of had a mechanical bend or bent.

Ben Diven's Interview

Ben Diven: All right. I’m Ben Diven. That’s spelled D-I-V-E-N. I was born and raised in northern California, and I went to school in my hometown of Chico, and fortunately there was a state college there so I could start college in my hometown. I took the two and a half years of physics and mathematics that they taught there. And then, after a break of a couple years to save enough money to be able to go to Berkeley, I then transferred to University of California at Berkeley. 

Gun Site

The Gun Site (TA-8-1) was where Manhattan Project scientists and engineers developed and tested the gun-type weapon design. The design for the “Little Boy” bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, was developed here.

The gun design was straightforward. Basically, a “bullet” of nuclear material was fired at very high speed into a second nuclear mass, creating a critical mass. This released enormous energy with an immense explosion. Scientists were confident the design would work and the gun-type bomb was not tested before it was used against Japan.

Los Alamos Ranch School

In 1918, entrepreneur Ashley Pond began an "outdoor school" at Los Alamos to provide boys a chance to gain health, strength and self-confidence. The Los Alamos Ranch School combined a rigorous outdoor experience with a college preparatory education.

Los Alamos, NM

Los Alamos, New Mexico, was the site of Project Y, or the top-secret atomic weapons laboratory directed by J. Robert Oppenheimer. The site was so secret that one mailbox, PO Box 1663, served as the mailing address for the entire town. The mountains allowed the scientists ample opportunity to relax, by skiing, swimming, and hiking. But they spent most of their time in laboratories, overcoming challenge after challenge to develop the Littly Boy (gun-type) and Fat Man (implosion) atomic bombs.

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