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Transcript of Surreptitiously Taped Conversations among German Nuclear Physicists at Farm Hall (August 6-7, 1945)

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HAHN: I was consoled when, I believe it was WEIZSÄCKER said that there was now this uranium – I found that in my institute too, this absorbing body which made the thing impossible consoled me because when they said at one time one could make bombs, I was shattered.

WEIZSÄCKER: I would say that, at the rate we were going, we would not have succeeded during this war.

HAHN: Yes.

WEIZSÄCKER: It is very cold comfort to think that one is personally in a position to do what other people would be able to do one day.

HAHN: Once I wanted to suggest that all uranium should be sunk to the bottom of the ocean. I always thought that one could only make a bomb of such a size that a whole province would be blown up.

[ . . . ]

WIRTZ: We only had one man working on it and they may have had ten thousand.

[ . . . ]

HEISENBERG: There is a great difference between discoveries and inventions. With discoveries one can always be skeptical and many surprises can take place. In the case of inventions, surprises can really only occur for people who have not had anything to do with it. It's a bit odd after we have been working on it for five years.

[ . . . ]

HARTECK: One would have had to have a complete staff and we had insufficient means. One would have had to produce hundreds of organic components of uranium, had them systematically examined by laboratory assistants and then had them chemically investigated. There was no one there to do it. But we were quite clear in our minds as to how it should be done. That would have meant employing a hundred people and that was impossible.

HAHN: From the many scientific things which my two American collaborators sent me up to 1940, I could see that the Americans were interested in the business.

WEIZSÄCKER: In 1940 VAN DER GRINTEN wrote to me saying that he was separating isotopes with General Electric.


WEIZSÄCKER: He wasn't really very good but the fact that he was being used showed that they were working on it.

HAHN: That wicked BOMKE was in my Institute.

HARTECK: I have never come across such a fantastic liar.

HAHN: That man came to me in 1938 when the non-aryan Fraulein MEITNER was still there – it wasn't easy to keep her in my Institute. I will never forget how BOMKE came to us and told me that he was being persecuted by the State because he was not a Nazi. We took him on and afterwards we found out that he was an old fighting member of the Party.

WEIZSÄCKER: Then we might speak of our "BOMKE-damaged" Institutes. (Laughter).

3. All the guests assembled to hear the official announcement at 9 o'clock. They were completely stunned when they realized that the news was genuine. They were left alone on the assumption that they would discuss the position and the following remarks were made.:–

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