Germany and the Bomb


I saw a presentation of Copenhagen on campus tonight. It was a presentation of a play about the meeting between Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr when Heisenberg traveled from Berlin to Copenhagen to meet with his friend Bohr in 1941-09. It seems complement the previous documentary I saw on the development of nuclear fission.

Copenhagen tries to figure out what happened in this meeting between Heisenberg and Bohr. I didn’t grasp the answer to this question either because the film was too artsy for me to understand, or because no one really know what happened between Bohr and Heisenberg. It did seem to clarify what has happening with the German atomic bomb program at the time. The short answer seems to be “practically nothing”.

Let me recap my understanding.

  1. Leo Szilard discovers that 235U could be used to create a nuclear fission chain reaction, and a weapon.
  2. Szilard fears that if he can figure this out, so could the Germans.
  3. Szilard instills this fear in Einstein and uses Einstein’s influence to convince the US to start their own atomic bomb program.
  4. In reality Germany had already decimated its own physics program by exiling all its jewish physicists—Einstein, Szilard, etc.
  5. Heisenberg hadn’t even thought of using 235U. He had thought of using plutonium. Plutonium would have been generated by the nuclear reaction research he had been doing, but he hadn’t told anyone about that.
  6. Germany is defeated.
  7. The US completes the bomb.
  8. The US uses the bomb!
  9. And for God’s sake, they use it again!!

I am so angry. There was no German atomic threat. The only pressure that Germany had to create a bomb was because they feared, rightly, that the US was developing a bomb and were willing to use it against them. The US started it all! They imagined the threat, became a threat, and created their threat! And they used the bomb!

I’m not angry so much that they used the bomb, but that they have no shame in it. At least Germans are ashamed of Hitler’s regime. But (in general) (North) Americans have no shame in their creation, maintenance, and use of the atomic bomb. Were you taught that the US atomic bomb was the biggest mistake of mankind to this date, or were you taught that it was an unfortunate event that had to be done?

I am so angry. And because Americans have no shame, they let the US get away with it again. They used the fear of a foreign nuclear weapon, one that never existed, to decimate another 100 000 people.

I am so angry. The axis and the allies, both make me sick to my stomach.


, ,

Russell O’Connor: contact me