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Robert Oppenheimer

Special Tasks : The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness-A Soviet Spymaster by Pavel Sudoplatov, Anatoli Sudoplatov, Schecter L., Jerrold J. Schecter Paperback Updated edition (June 1995) Little Brown and Company; ISBN: 0316821152; Dimensions (in inches): 1.42 x 9.25 x 6.12 Reviews From Booklist , 05/15/94 This secret policeman's memoir contains explosive material. The atomic bomb secrets were betrayed not by the Rosenbergs but by none other than Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi. The motivations of octogenarian Sudoplatov, who managed the Soviet nuclear intelligence effort, in choosing to divulge this information now are less important than the news about the services he performed for Stalin and the damage he inflicted on the West. A skilled operative and admitted murderer-whose assassination in 1938 of a Ukrainian nationalist was rewarded by Stalin with his personal summons and then his direct order to liquidate Trotsky-Sudoplatov coldly records killing as a method of rule. The Kremlin intrigues he details will inspire major historical revision, damning, particularly, Khrushchev (here fingered on a few homicides) and, yet again, Beria. Sudoplatov's insights into the Kremlin's intrigues of the 1940s and 1950s, combined with the inevitable reappraisal of the Oppenheimer cause c{‚}el{Š}ebre (when the physicist was branded a security risk), are astonishing evidence of secret influences in the domestic politics of both the U.S. and the USSR. Espionage buffs and historians mulling recent NKVD/KGB disclosures (e.g., Tsarev and Costello's Deadly Illusions ) here have their most sensational allegations to date. Gilbert Taylor

Copyright© 1994, American Library Association. All rights reserved-This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Synopsis Sudoplatov's book-the first full-scale memoir by a high-level Soviet intelligence official from the Stalinist period-set off a firestorm of controversy in the U.S. when it was published in 1994. This updated edition answers critics and provides new evidence, including recently released documents, that bolsters his accusations about atomic espionage. 10 pages of photos.

Research Trials, Triumphs and Tragedies: 
Episode 3: 
From Astronomical Black Holes to Political Black Listing 
From Rod Olsen Research Services presents

This article on Oppenheimer found at on July 2, 1998 and is reproduced here in case this link lapses in the future.

This week's featured researcher is (Julius) Robert Oppenheimer, quantum physicist and the Director of the Manhattan Project in World War Two to develop the atomic bomb.

Oppenheimer was a theoretical physicist in quantum mechanics who contributed to the discovery of positrons, the possibility of astronomical black holes, and the development of nuclear weapons. When he saw the devastating use of atomic bombs, Oppenheimer became opposed to the further development of the next stage - the hydrogen bomb. His opposition led to his public humiliation in 1953 due to the anti-communist hysteria of Senator Joe McCarthy and the United States House of Representatives "House Committee on UnAmerican Activities".

Oppenheimer studied quantum mechanics in Europe in the 1920s. He learned from Ernest Rutherford, one of the pioneers of atomic theory; and from Werner Heisenberg and Paul Dirac, pioneers of quantum mechanics. On returning to the US, Oppenheimer pursued his study of Dirac's theory of the electron - proposing the existence of an anti-electron (equal in charge but positively, not negatively, charged) - a "positron", first seen by Carl Anderson in 1932. During the 1930s, Oppenheimer held positions at both the University of California, Berkeley and at the California Institute of Technology, enabling him to gather together a team of highly talented, young theoretical physicists. In 1939 he took quantum mechanics into astronomy, proposing that the largest stars could collapse into "black holes" from which not even light could escape.

As World War Two began in Europe in September 1939, Albert Einstein (a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany as well as world-famous scientist) wrote to US President Roosevelt to warn of Nazi attempts to develop the atomic bomb. Roosevelt responded by ordering the Manhattan Project, development of the atomic bomb. From an initial budget of $6,000 the Project grew to cost $2,000,000,000 (in 1945 dollars - approximately $50 billion now). From a small US research effort in 1939, the Project in 1943 involved hundreds of scientists from the US, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and other Allied countries - along with many Jewish scientists who had fled persecution in Nazi-occupied Europe. To head the key bomb assembly installation at Los Alamos was the leading US physicist, J Robert Oppenheimer. The installation was located at Los Alamos because Oppenheimer knew the remote location as a holiday spot to "get away from it all". The scientists succeeded. On 16 July, 1945 the Project team exploded the first test bomb at Alamogordo, 400 km south of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The explosion was equal to 20,000 tonnes of TNT. Oppenheimer said: "I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds". On 6 August, 1945 the people of Hiroshima, and three days later the people of Nagasaki, felt the force of Oppenheimer's words. Six days later the Japanese surrendered and the War was over. Development of atomic weapons was not. Oppenheimer resigned in October, 1945.

"The physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge they cannot lose", J Robert Oppenheimer, 1947

Oppenheimer served as Chairman of the General Advisory Committee of the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) from 1947 to 1952. After the Russians exploded their own bomb in 1948, Edward Tellar, one of Oppenheimer's former Manhattan Project scientists, proposed the US develop the Super, the hydrogen bomb. Oppenheimer and the General Advisory Committee opposed it. Atomic bombs were powerful enough. At the time Senator Joe McCarthy led the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities in a witch-hunt to expose all the "Communist" Americans "threatening" national security not only in Government but anywhere, even in Hollywood (some film directors and screen writers were "blacklisted" and could not work there for many years). Oppenheimer became suspect because of his opposition to the Super and because members of his family were alleged to have Communist sympathies. He was tried by a security hearing but found "Not Guilty of Treason". Nevertheless, in 1953, President Eisenhower dismissed Oppenheimer, blacklisting him to deny him any government work. Scientists around the world protested about his trial, but to no avail.

However, in 1963, President Johnson awarded Oppenheimer the AEC's Fermi Award of the in public recognition for his contribution to the US as Manhattan Project Director, ending the ten-year disgrace of the McCarthy black listing.

based on the Oppenheimer references in: Millar D, Millar I, Millar J and Millar M, The Cambridge Dictionary of Scientists, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (UK), 1996, and Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica Inc, Chicago, 15th ed, 1985.


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