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

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HEISENBERG: We wouldn't have had the moral courage to recommend to the Government in the spring of 1942 that they should employ 120,000 men just for building the thing up.

WEIZSÄCKER: I believe the reason we didn't do it was because all the physicists didn't want to do it, on principle. If we had all wanted Germany to win the war we would have succeeded.

HAHN: I don't believe that but I am thankful we didn't succeed.

[ . . . ]

HEISENBERG: It is possible that the war will be over tomorrow.

HARTECK: The following day we will go home.

KORSHING: We will never go home again.

HARTECK: If we had worked on an even larger scale we would have been killed by the 'Secret Service'. Let's be glad that we are still alive. Let us celebrate this evening in that spirit.

DIEBNER: Professor GERLACH would be an Obergruppenfuehrer and would be sitting in LUXEMBOURG as a war criminal.

KORSHING: If one hasn't got the courage, it is better to give up straightaway.

GERLACH: Don't always make such aggressive remarks.

KORSHING: The Americans could do it better than we could, that's clear.

(GERLACH leaves the room.)

HEISENBERG: The point is that the whole structure of the relationship between the scientist and the state in Germany was such that although we were not 100% anxious to do it, on the other hand we were so little trusted by the state that even if we had wanted to do it, it would not have been easy to get it through.

DIEBNER: Because the official people were only interested in immediate results. They didn't want to work on a long-term policy as America did.

WEIZSÄCKER: Even if we had got everything that we wanted, it is by no means certain whether we would have got as far as the Americans and the English have now. It is not a question that we were very nearly as far as they were but it is a fact that we were all convinced that the thing could not be completed during this war.

HEISENBERG: Well that's not quite right. I would say that I was absolutely convinced of the possibility of our making a uranium engine but I never thought that we would make a bomb and at the bottom of my heart I was really glad that it was to be an engine and not a bomb. I must admit that.

[ . . . ]

(HAHN leaves the room)

WEIZSÄCKER: If we had started this business soon enough we could have got somewhere. If they were able to complete it in the summer of 1945, we might have had the luck to complete it in the winter 1944/45.

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