Top: Jewish Criminals & Spies: Theodore Hall (Hallsberg) -- Anti-American Jewish-Zionist-Soviet Spies
Secret Story of Theodore Hall
Theodore changed his Jewish name "Hallsberg" to "Hall" at his Bar Mitzvah according to the Documentary Film shown on The History Channel on August 6, 1998, the anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima. Little Theodore was always interested in science, and he was a smart Jewish boy who worked at Chicago University and at the Tennessee Nuclear Secrets Sites with Enrico Fermi (an Italian person), Dr. Teller (a Jewish person), and Robert Oppenheimer (a Jewish person & spy). Theodore Hall was arrested for spying and was sentenced to federal prison. Now living in England, Theodore's life is "going public" for your entertainment and education. The new official Theodore Hall site, totally cleansed of any knowledge of his Jewishness, is located at Bombshell and contains a great deal of information of Hall's treachery and pro-Soviet agenda with little or no mention of his Jewish/Anti-American cabal connections.
Kunstel recently completed a four-year assignment as the Moscow correspondents of the Cox Newspapers. This article is based on their book "Bombshell: The Secret Story of America's Unknown Atomic Spy Conspiracy," to be published next month by Times Books/Random House.
On a late winter morning, we were settling once again around the kitchen table at Theodore and Joan Hall's pleasant brick row house near Cambridge University. Outside the sliding glass doors to their back garden, a feeble sun was making no headway against the gray English day. But it was light and warm enough inside, and the wall of snapshots overlooking the table -- children and grandchildren, siblings and friends -- generated a cheery warmth of family love.
Hall, who is a little bent at age 71 and forced by illness into a slow, shuffling walk, had just finished a bowl of what his wife calls the "cardboard corn flakes," the cheapest house brand from Sainsbury's market. "The good thing about them," he liked to say, "is that if you run out of the cereal, you can cutup the box, add some milk and you won't know the difference."
Parkinson's disease and kidney cancer have taken a toll, but the retired American biophysicist remains wry and sharp. But we were not there on a social call. Almost two years before, in mid-1995, "Teodor Kholl" had turned up in decrypted Soviet intelligence cables released by America's National Security Agency.
Drawing on intelligence sources in Russia and the United States, we had identified Hall as an atomic spy, the long-rumored third spy at America's Los Alamos bomb laboratory. The only people at Los Alamos known and convicted as Soviet agents were the German Klaus Fuchs and the American David Greenglass, whose espionage led to the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. But Hall, who was then a conscience-driven idealist of 19, was the first to provide the Soviets with the crucial information that helped them build the bomb.
We assembled his story from archival research and interviews in America, Russia and Britain -- sometimes with the help of the Halls, sometimes in spite of them. In 100 hours of interviews over 18 months, Hall was cagey, fearing the F.B.I. might reopen its long-dormant espionage investigation. Never once did we hear a direct, on-the-record acknowledgment from Hall himself. He needed more time to think about it, he said, more time to fill in the blanks in his memory: to ponder what he had done during World War II, back when his precocious gift for quantum mechanics got him recruited from Harvard's senior class to become the youngest physicist at Los Alamos.
Finally, after morning kitchen duties were finished on that drizzly day, Hall handed us a statement that he and his wife had composed on the old computer they keep upstairs in her art studio. Seeking to justify his deeds without confessing to specific acts of espionage, Hall had chosen his words with the care of a diamond sorter.
Frugal as always, the Halls had printed out the document on the backs of two spoiled pages of a philosophical essay a friend had supplied from a Cambridge print shop. After allowing us time for the words to sink in, Hall found a fine-tipped pen on a kitchen shelf and signed the document in his neat, minuscule handwriting.
This is part of what Hall wrote: "During 1944 I was worried about the dangers of an American monopoly of atomic weapons if there should be a postwar depression. To help prevent that monopoly I contemplated a brief encounter with a Soviet agent, just to inform them of the existence of the A-bomb project. I anticipated a very limited contact. With any luck it might easily have turned out that way, but it was not to be. Now I am castigated in some quarters as a traitor, although the Soviet Union at the time was not the enemy but the ally of the United States; the Soviet people fought the Nazis heroically, at tremendous human cost, and this may well have saved the Western Allies from defeat.
"It has even been alleged that I 'changed the course of history.' Maybe the 'course of history,' if unchanged, could have led to atomic war in the past 50 years -- for example the bomb might have been dropped on China in 1949 or the early 50's. Well, if I helped to prevent that, I accept the charge. ..."
The son of a Jewish furrier who had fled Russian pogroms, Ted Hall demonstrated his extraordinary intellect early on. He made quick work of P.S. 173, the public school in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City where he grew up during the Depression. By junior high, he had not only skipped three grades but was a teacher's helper in algebra class. In 1937, the chubby-cheeked boy of 11 sat through citywide examinations and won one of about 80 places in Townsend Harris High School, then an elite public school for boys. Influenced by left-wing literature that his older brother brought home from City College of New York, Ted joined the leftist American Student Union when he was 12 or 13. He soon envisioned a two-track career for himself. In addition to pursuing theoretical physics, he says, "I also felt that I had a social debt, that people should do things which would benefit humanity." Impressive scores on New York Regents exams propelled him on his way. In 1940, he was tentatively admitted to Columbia University, but then turned away because he was only 14. He enrolled at Queens College and, in 1942, transferred to Harvard. The deadline for Harvard had passed, but Hall applied anyway. Seeking scientific whiz kids for the war effort, Harvard accepted the tall, slender 16-year-old and made him a junior.
He was assigned to Leverett House, a magnet for leftist intellectuals that was widely known as "Moscow on the Charles." Of the 3,494 Harvard undergraduates in the fall of 1942, no more than a dozen were active participants in Harvard's main pro-Communist organization, the John Reed Society. Hall's two roommates that first year happened to be among its leaders. Both were so witty and articulate that their influence on Hall was instantaneous.
"My roommates as a matter of fact are quite brilliant," Ted wrote to his brother Ed. The deeper that Hall dug into Harvard's curriculum of advanced math and physics, the more captivated he became -- and the more his talent became evident to his professors. With the nation running short of physicists for myriad war projects, it was natural that the Harvard physics department suggested Hall when Washington requested four candidates to work as junior physicists at Los Alamos.He was interviewed for a position sometime around his 18th birthday, on Oct. 20,1943. After the interview, Saville Sax, his leftist, literary-minded roommate, murmured a startling thought: "If this turns out to be a weapon that is really awful, what you should do about it is tell the Russians." Ted immediately took him aside and told him never to say such a thing, not even as a joke. But Hall wasn't too harsh; he had been thinking the same thing.
Within months of his arrival in the high desert of New Mexico on Jan. 27, 1944, Hall was stewing about the moral and political implications of the super weapon. The intellectual climate there was far more favorable to the Soviet Union and globalist musings than administrators would later acknowledge. Behind closed doors, conversations were spiked with discussions on the politics of the bomb, with participants including the Nobel Prize-winning Danish physicist Niels Bohr and the future Nobel Peace Prize winner Joseph Rotblat. Often, Rotblat remembered, these conversations revolved around the same question bothering Hall: Wouldn't the postwar world be more stable if the bomb were shared with the Russians?
At Los Alamos, Hall would earn a reputation as a rebel. Once drafted, he became Private Hall. But he never learned to salute properly and frequently forgot to say "sir." One time he was reported AWOL for 10 days after he decided to stay with civilian friends rather than in his barracks. Hall hated hats, and once tried to destroy his regulation Army cap with a band saw. (The material was too tough.) He won a ruling from the base legal officer that he could wear a yarmulke instead of the cap.
"He was the least religious Jew you can imagine," says a former colleague at Los Alamos, Sam Cohen, "but he found a way to tweak them at every opportunity."
In October 1944, Hall used his two weeks of annual leave to return home to celebrate his 19th birthday with his family in Forest Hills. By that time, he had decided he would try to inform the Russians about the atomic bomb project. In New York, he looked up his old Harvard roommate, Saville Sax, the ideological soul mate Hall knew he could rely upon. The two devised a plan that led Hall eventually to the purchasing office of Amtorg, the Soviet trade company located at 238 West 28th Street. There, he told the Russians he had information to volunteer and was directed to his first Soviet control officer, Sergei Kurnakov,a Russian working as a journalist for left-wing publications. Kurnakov accepted them both -- Hall as informant and Sax as his courier.
About two months later, Hall and Sax arranged a rendezvous in Albuquerque so amateurish it would have made their controller cringe. Soviet spies were trained to scour the streets for surveillance before risking any clandestine encounter. Instead of converging on the meeting place, Hall and Sax both approached from the same direction. To make matters worse, they accidentally bumped into each other in the street some distance from their meeting spot. Luckily for them, nobody was watching. After reaching a private place, Sax took out a single piece of paper he had brought in his shoe from New York. The Soviets had posed a technical question involving the use of sulfur dioxide, possibly to test Hall's bona fides. Sax carried back to New York a piece of paper far more important. It was only a page or two, something Hall had written by hand during breaks from his work. What Hall gave his Harvard roommate was the "implosion principle," a radical departure from previous designs for igniting a nuclear explosion. Scientists at Los Alamos had been testing various explosive methods to produce the pressure in the bomb core needed to achieve critical mass -- and thus set off a nuclear blast. But none of these worked well with plutonium, which was the primary bomb fuel available to them. So they turned to implosion, in which critical mass is attained so rapidly that the risk of a misfire is eliminated. Hall's paper included a description in the form of equations of how a plutonium implosion bomb might work. On Feb. 28, 1945, Moscow's N.K.G.B. headquarters finished its first comprehensive report in two years on atomic intelligence.
"The materials are of great interest," responded the head of the Soviet bomb project, Igor Kurchatov, after reviewing the report. Kurchatov had never heard of implosion and didn't even have a Russian word for the concept. He had to call it "explosion toward the inside." Until now, historians have assumed that one of two convicted spies, Fuchs or Greenglass, supplied this first crucial information on implosion. But Greenglass was just a machinist without clearance for the implosion secret. And declassified Soviet cables now prove that Fuchs had been out of touch with Moscow for months. One day before the Soviet intelligence summary was completed, a cable from Lubyanka about Fuchs demanded that its New York agents immediately report "what he has been doing since August."
Documents indicate that twice more in 1945, first in the spring and then in August, the agent "Mad" shared with the Soviets details of bomb development on the mesa. With the exception of one early cable, Hall's Soviet handlers called Hall by this code name, which is derived from a Slavic root meaning "young." (Sax was code-named "Star," meaning "old.") After Sax went back to Harvard, Hall's new courier became a wily young woman who had been a radical since she was 13 and working in a New York garment factory. She was Lone Petka Cohen, the daughter of Polish Catholic immigrants in the dour mill town of Adams, Mass. Cohen was far more professional than either Hall or Sax. When Hall showed up three weeks late for their August meeting in Albuquerque, she warned that they were involved in a dangerous business and "things might turn out to be pretty hot." Hall scarcely found reassuring Cohen's promises that the Kremlin would rescue him to a great new future in Moscow, should the need arise. But they hadn't come to debate the merits of life in Russia, so Hall passed his papers to Cohen.
There were five or six handwritten sheets-- that is what stuck in Ted Hall's memory. On one page, he had drawn an actual diagram of a dummy bomb. Later, Soviet officials assessed what Cohen brought back from Los Alamos as "priceless" and "urgently needed in Moscow." The fact that it neatly paralleled what Klaus Fuchs was delivering relieved Moscow of almost paralyzing fears that it might be the victim of a disinformation campaign. For nearly a decade, Sax, Cohen and her husband, Morris, also a Soviet intelligence recruit, would weave in and out of Ted Hall's life as he wavered in and out of the spy network. Hall escaped prosecution precisely because of the irregular pattern of his spy contacts after the war's end.
At the very time a decoded Soviet cable made him the target of an F.B.I. espionage investigation in 1950, Hall had just departed the network so he could campaign in Chicago parks and street corners for progressive causes. Hall and Sax and their young wives were living like typical grad students with garden-variety radical ideas. Intense surveillance produced no sign of ongoing espionage, and F.B.I. interrogators failed to extract a confession from Hall or Sax. Unable to use the top-secret decrypted Soviet cable in court -- intelligence agencies didn't want the Soviets to know their code had been broken -- the F.B.I. never could build a prosecutable case. But the menacing prospect of arrest was enough to drive the Halls back into the arms of a Soviet agent, who around the end of 1951 again offered to help them flee America whenever necessary. Hall left the University of Chicago's prestigious Institute for Radiobiology and Biophysics for a quiet research post in biophysics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York.
There, he and his family could more easily slip away, if the need should arise. As it turns out, by the time the Halls bolted to New York the F.B.I. had just downgraded Hall from its list of the most-urgent espionage suspects. After more than a year without F.B.I. tails or interrogations, Hall abandoned the Soviet network for good in 1953. Yet he and Joan remained uncomfortable in the United States. The chance of renewed investigation always nagged at them, and besides, they found the political climate of 50's America unpalatable. When an opportunity came in 1962 to spend a year at the Cavendish Laboratory of Cambridge University, the Halls gratefully boarded the Queen Mary. Cambridge is where they stayed, and where Hall won international acclaim for developing the "Hall Method" of using an electron microscope to map minute concentrations of trace elements within a cell. In 1995, the National Security Agency released the decrypted November 1944 cable naming "Teodor Kholl" and "Savil Saks" as volunteer Soviet informants.
Within weeks, visitors and phone calls pierced the Hall's quiet retirement, destroying their hopes that they had outlived the risk of a public accounting. No American or British authorities came calling, however. With the deaths of Sax, the Cohens and four of Hall's Soviet overseers, the F.B.I. had little prospect of finding a living eyewitness who could directly tie Hall to espionage. Of course, there is a personal accounting for Hall to render. In one reflective moment, he acknowledged having had some second thoughts following disclosures of the brutality of the regime he had aided. "I think my emotional revulsion against Stalin's terror would have stopped me in my tracks," he said. "Simple as that."
Back in 1945, however, Hall was more worried about the consequences of an American monopoly of the bomb. "I had been thinking and reading about politics since an early age," he wrote in an early draft of his statement, "and had seen that in a capitalistic society, economic depression could lead to fascism, aggression and war -- as actually happened in Italy and Germany. So as I worked at Los Alamos and understood the destructive power of the atomic bomb, I asked myself what might happen if World War II was followed by a depression in the United States while it had an atomic monopoly? "In fact, I was very optimistic. I didn't believe that there would necessarily be a depression, or that a depression would necessarily lead to war. But it seemed to me that an American monopoly was dangerous and should be prevented. . . ."
In any event, Hall expressed no apologies. "In 1944 I was 19 years old -- immature, inexperienced and far too sure of myself," he wrote. "I recognize that I could easily have been wrong in my judgment of what was necessary, and that I was indeed mistaken about some things, in particular my view of the nature of the Soviet state. The world has moved on a lot since then, and certainly so have I. But in essence, from the perspective of my 71 years, I still think that brash youth had the right end of the stick. I am no longer that person; but I am by no means ashamed of him."
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