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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: Surely you are not in favor of such an inhuman weapon as the uranium bomb?

GERLACH: No. We never worked on the bomb. I didn't believe that it would go so quickly. But I did think that we should do everything to make the sources of energy and exploit the possibilities for the future. When the first result, that the concentration was very increased with the cube method, appeared, I spoke to SPEER's right hand man, as SPEER was not available at the time, an Oberst GEIST first, and later SAUCKEL at WEIMAR asked me: "What do you want to do with these things?", I replied: "In my opinion the politician who is in possession of such an engine can achieve anything he wants". About ten days or a fortnight before the final capitulation, GEIST replied: "Unfortunately we have not got such a politician".

HAHN: I am thankful that we were not the first to drop the uranium bomb.

GERLACH: You cannot prevent its development. I was afraid to think of the bomb, but I did think of it as a thing of the future, and that the man who could threaten the use of the bomb would be able to achieve anything. That is exactly what I told GEIST, SAUCKEL and MURR. HEISENBERG was there at STUTTGART at the time.


Tell me, HARTECK, isn't it a pity that the others have done it?

HAHN: I am delighted.

GERLACH: Yes, but what were we working for?

[ . . . ]

GERLACH: We must not say in front of these two Englishmen that we ought to have done more about the thing. WIRTZ said that we ought to have worked more on the separation of isotopes. It's another matter to say that we did not have sufficient means but one cannot say in front of an Englishman that we didn't try hard enough. They were our enemies, although we sabotaged the war. There are some things that one knows and one can discuss together but that one cannot discuss in the presence of Englishmen.

HAHN: I must honestly say that I would have sabotaged the war if I had been in a position to do so.

7. HAHN and HEISENBERG discussed the matter alone together. HAHN explained to HEISENBERG that he was himself very upset about the whole thing. He said he could not really understand why GERLACH had taken it so badly. HEISENBERG said he could understand it because GERLACH was the only one of them who had really wanted a German victory, because although he realized the crimes of the Nazis and disapproved of them, he could not get away from the fact that he was working for GERMANY. HAHN replied that he too loved his country and that, strange as it might appear, it was for this reason that he had hoped for her defeat. HEISENBERG went on to say that he thought the possession of the uranium bomb would strengthen the position of the Americans vis–a–vis the Russians. They continued to discuss the same theme as before, that they had never wanted to work on a bomb and had been pleased when it was decided to concentrate everything on the engine. HEISENBERG stated that the people in Germany might say that they should have forced the authorities to put the necessary means at their disposal and to release 100,000 men in order to make the bomb and he feels himself that had they been in the same moral position as the Americans and had said to themselves that nothing mattered except that HITLER should win the war, they might have succeeded, whereas in fact they did not want him to win. HAHN admitted however that he had never thought that a German defeat would produce such terrible tragedy for his country. They then went on to discuss the feelings of the British and American scientists who had perfected the bomb and HEISENBERG said he felt it was a different matter in their case as they considered HITLER a criminal. They both hoped that the new discovery would in the long run be a benefit to mankind. HEISENBERG went on to speculate on the uses to which AMERICA would put the new discovery and wondered whether they would use it to obtain control of RUSSIA or wait until STALIN had copied it. They went on to wonder how many bombs existed.

[ . . . ]

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