During the hearings before the AEC Personnel Security Board (Gray Board) April 12-
May 6, 1954, a succession of distinguished character witnesses testified regarding their
confidence in Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer. As the Paul Crouch narrative is unfolded during
fhe next few months, FACTS FORUM NEWS will publish contrasting statements by leading
scientists and government officials who worked with Oppenheimer. The first of these is the
famous scientist Dr. Hans Bethe. Future issues will include statements by David E. Lilienthal,
George F. Kennan. John J. McCloy, and James B. Conant.
// iiness: Id. II,in- Bethe
Intern,cult,r: Herbert S. \leuks
Date: Vpril 19, 1954
Q. lb. Bethe, will wen please identify
yourself ami give a little account of
your professional background?
\. I am a professor of physics. I have
'"''■ii a professor eel I lornell I niversity
»inee 1935. I have hen at Cornell ail
uie time except during the war years
)vlien I was absent em war work, includ-
">g ei prolonged stay al Los Uamos
I .mi also Ihi- year the presidenl of
""' American Physical Society.
Q. A eeu ail' a member also ol the
''ti'eu.il \< euleiin nl Science?
\. I am.
7 An- you an American <ii izen ?
V- Bv naturalization ?
Q. \\ hen did you come to ihis country?
A. In 1935.
V And where eliel you come' from?
. v I came originally from Germany.
'''ft Germany in 1933 because eel the
'"i persecutions when I knew lhal I
'""I'l ne,i hold office under lhe' Nazi
'"-iine-. I firsl wenl to England and then
';i111'' te. ihis country.
V- Since' the weir years llelM' you held
connection with the atomic energy
A- Yes, I have. I have been a con-
'■'''I'j *u«anl i.e several laboratories of lhe
w" ' ^'"iiiir Energy Commission. I have
,l"''il nuisi e.f mv consultations for Ihe
'"" Vlamos Laboratory. I have almost
pSularly spent summers ai I.e.- Uamos
**<* 1949, I believe. 1 have taken off
* *J»oIe semester in the spring of 1952
help the I..is Alamo- work.
•'• Ih.ve would you describe your
"'"■ as thai of a consultant ?
A('Ts FORUM NEWS, April, 1955
\. I .tin a consultant on matters of
theoretical physics. I believe I am one
of the chief consultants in theoretical
physics lo Los Alamos.
Q. What was your firsl acquaintance
w ith Dr. Oppenheimer?
\. I first mcl Dr. Oppenheimer very
briefly during ;i meeting of the German
Physical Society al a regional section
of il in 1929.
Q, Whim was your next connection
V. The lust that I remember was in
1910 on the occasion of a meeting of
the American Physical Society al
Q. What have been your associations
in contacts with him since' thai time?
A. I have seen him quite frequently,
especially we had a very deep association during the Los Alamos time, during the weir, when he weis the director
of the laboratory, and I weis the leader
of the theoretical division of Los Ala-
How often bene vo
since the war'.''
A. I would say an average of perhaps
three lime's a year, some years more.
senile' years less.
Q. Have these contacts since' the war
hail anything lo do wilh your official
connections wilh lhe atomic energy program ?
A. Acs. many of the contacts had.
Some wile- purely on matters of physics
outside lhe eilomir energy program, bul
many of our contacts have been connected wilh the alomie energy program
I in my capacity as consultant to Los
Alamos, and he in his capeirii\ .is chairman of ihe General Advisory Committee nol that these contacts were' also
formal in a meeting of the \dvisorj
Committee, bul we often talked about
—Wide World Photo
Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer
Q. Mow far back does your own familiarity with Dr. Oppenheimer's political associations ami activities go?
A. I heard aboul his political inclination in 193,S from some good friends of
ours, Dr. Weisskopf ami Dr. Placzek,
who is mentioned in Dr. Oppenheimer's
euiseee'i letter, and I understood from
them lhal lie was inclined rather far tee
Q. Coming le. the weak em lln- atomic
bomb, would you tell us briefly aboul
the pari lhal you ami In- played in the
work on ihis subject before I.os Alamos
was formed and then subsequently during lhe I.os Alamos days?
A. Our association began in 1942, on
ihis mailer. Dr. Oppenheimer called together ei group "I ii e'lireil physicists,
to eliscuss the w.i\ hi.w an atomic bomb
could he' assembled. This weis ;i small
group of about seven people' or so. \\V
met in Berkeley for lln- summer of 1912.
We firsl thought it would In' a very
simple thing lo figure mil ihis problem.
and we soon saw lu.w wrong we were'.
Q. Whal aboul 1...- Uamos? When
did you join lhe I.os \leimi.s group?
A. Between thai time and I.os Alamos, the' firsl was the time when Los
Alamos weis being created. 11 was a very
hard task lo create ihis laboratory. Mosl
scientists were already involved in wen
weak very deeply and it required somebody of very greal enthusiasm lo per-
suade them to leave their jobs and lo
join the new enterprise of Los Alamos.
I think nobody else could have done
ihis than Dr. Oppenheimer. He wassuc-
cessful in gelling together ei group of
really outstanding people.
At Los Alam.es. as I mentioned be-
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