Notes for Chapter Five
1. In making presentations at Regents meetings, Underhill advised his successor to do what he did–-“write it down and don‟t
look up.” Transcript of Underhill interview, box 2, Underhill papers, Bancroft Library.
2. The first agreement between the Army and the University, written on War Department stationary, was signed on April 7, 1943, by Underhill and Army Col. J. C. Marshall. It reads: “The Secretary of War finds that it is in the interest of the War effort that this work be not delayed awaiting the negotiation of a formal contract.” Marshall to Underhill, April 1, 1943, Official File, Contract 48 records, SBFRC.
3. Serber (1992), 3.
4. Serber (1998), 104.
5. Hoddeson et. al., 86.
6. Tolman to Oppenheimer, Mar. 27, 1943, Design and Testing Bomb folder, MED history, Army/NARA; Serber (1998), 72.
7. Serber (1998), 104.
8. Oppenheimer subsequently reported to Groves that the gun-type bomb would probably be 20 feet long and might weight five tons. When it was pointed out that the cannon only needed to be fired once, the weight came down to two tons. Serber (1992), 33; Oppenheimer to Groves, June 21, 1943, Design and Testing Bomb folder, MED history, Army/NARA.
9. Hoddeson et. al., 65.
10. “Notes on Los Alamos Meeting,” April 26-29, 1943, Tolman
folder, MED file, OSRD/NARA.
11. Davis, 177. Groves dated the enmity between Oppenheimer and Teller to Oppie‟s decision to make Bethe head of T Division.
12. One idea, reported promoted by Teller, was that of using “boron bubbles” as neutron absorbers in the bomb. As the bubbles were compressed by the explosion, their ability to absorb neutrons would decrease. Since such a bomb would require three times the amount of enriched uranium believed necessary for a “standard” atomic bomb, the idea was rejected. Compton to Conant, Dec. 8, 1942, box 99, LLNL.
13. Teller wrote one of the first Los Alamos reports on the hydride bomb and later attempted to take out a patent on his
invention. “Controlled Hydride Explosion,” n.d., LAMS-125;
Teller to Lavender, July 17, 1944, LANL. Hydride: Hoddeson et. al., 136; Albright and Kunstel, 113-114. Serber claimed that Teller raised the question of the hydride bomb even before the Super at the Berkeley seminar. Serber interview (1992). 14. The plant began operations in April 1944 but was shut down the following September, when Long was transferred to work on the gadget. Fitzpatrick, 111.
15. Hoddeson et. al., 75.
16. “Report of Special Reviewing Committee on Los Alamos Project,” May 10, 1945, Tolman folder, MED file, OSRD/NARA.
17. Oppenheimer to Groves, June 21, 1943, Design and Testing Bomb folder, MED history, Army/NARA.
18. When Oppenheimer tried to make a light of a simple mathematical error in Teller‟s presentation on the hydrogen bomb,
Edward became suddenly silent and pale–-reminiscent of his
reaction when reprimanded by Bohr a dozen years earlier. Davis, 180. “It would be much more comfortable to like everybody. Before I got to Los Alamos I even managed to do this–-at least
approximately,” Teller wrote to Maria Mayer in 1946. Teller to Mayer, n.d., box 3, Maria Mayer papers, Special Collections, UC San Diego.
19. In February 1944, Teller admitted to Oppenheimer that building the Super would be a more difficult task than he had originally estimated. Fitzpatrick, 110.
20. Radiological warfare: Smyth (1989), 65; Barton Bernstein, “Radiological Warfare: the Path Not Taken,” Bulletin of the
Atomic Scientists, Aug. 1985, 44-49.
21. Groves was concerned that the Germans might use radioactive waste to thwart the pending Allied invasion of Europe. Hamilton had earlier raised the issue of radiological poisons with Oppenheimer; the Berkeley physician had already written a paper on the topic, at Lawrence‟s urging. Hamilton‟s primer came to
the attention of Oppenheimer, who wrote to him that spring regarding “some questions that have come up in connection with the ingestion of fission activities which I should like very much to talk over with you.” Oppenheimer to Hamilton, May 24, 1943,
folder 8, carton 5; and Hamilton, “A Brief Review of the Possible Applications of Fission Products in Offensive Warfare,” n.d., folder 25, carton 8, EOL.
22. Oppenheimer to Fermi, May 25, 1943, LANL.
23. Davis, 182.
24. Fitin: John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr (1999), 391-92. 25. Soviet atomic espionage: Benson and Warner (eds.), x; Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev, The Haunted Wood: Soviet
Espionage in America–the Stalin Era (Random House, 1999), 182-83. 26. Trotskyists, for example, were referred to as khorki--
27. Silvermaster, who also went under the codename Pal, worked
for a number of different federal agencies, starting in 1935 with the Department of Agriculture‟s Resettlement Administration, and moving on to the U.S. Maritime Labor Board, the Farm Security Administration, the Board of Economic Warfare, and, late in 1944, Treasury‟s War Assets Division, which was later transferred to the Commerce Department. Although primarily civilian, Silvermaster‟s spy ring also provided U.S. military secrets to
the Soviet Union. Silvermaster group: Haynes and Klehr, 131-2, 191-207; Weinstein and Vassiliev, 151-71; Nigel West, Venona: The
Greatest Secret of the Cold War (HarperCollins, 2000), 289-316;
and Nathan G. Silvermaster file, #65-56402, part 1, FBI. 28. White went on to become director of the International Monetary Fund; he also had the codenames Jurist and Lawyer.
Currie was FDR‟s special representative to China and deputy administrator of the Foreign Economic Administration. Haynes and Klehr (1999), 346, 369.
29. Crook, Morris Dickstein, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1923 and subsequently served eleven terms in Congress. Liza was Martha Dodd, who was recruited as an agent in the 1930s. Ernst was Noel Field, who was likewise recruited by the Russians in the thirties. Frank was Laurence Duggan, a Latin
American expert who also went by the codenames Prince and
Sherwood. Ales is believed to be Alger Hiss. Weinstein and Vassiliev, 140-50, 57-60, 18-20, 44-49; Haynes and Klehr (1999), 269-73, 201-204, 167-71.
30. “There were at least fifteen Soviet agents inside the OSS, with the actual number probably being about twenty.” Haynes and Klehr (1999), 196. One OSS agent, Jane Foster (Slang), was a
friend of Haakon Chevalier‟s and spied for the so-called Perlo
group. A Mills College graduate from a prominent Bay area family–-her father was a director at Shell–-Foster was a free
spirit who had little patience with Party dogma: she sold copies of the Daily Worker on Greenwich Village street corners while wearing a mink coat. Stationed in Ceylon during the war, Foster sent classified OSS reports on Indonesia to the Soviets. Slang
appears in Venona messages from New York to Moscow on June 21, 1943 and May 30, 1944. Foster: Haynes and Klehr (1999), 272-73;
Jane Foster, An UnAmerican Lady (Sidgwick and Jackson, London,
31. A Venona cable sent from San Francisco to Moscow in March 1944 showed that, unbeknownst to them, the watchers, too, were being watched: “According to information from Brother-in-Law, the
chief of Salt in Babylon, Lieutenant Colonel Pash, left for Italy at the end of December.” Haynes and Klehr, 447 fn.
32. As early as that summer, Anton was passing atomic secrets to Moscow. In June 1943, these included a detailed description of the gaseous diffusion process from a still-unidentified American scientist codenamed Quantum. Venona decrypts: New York to
Moscow, June 22 and 23, 1943. Quantum: Albright and Kunstel, 77.
33. The Russians regularly sent a flight out of Great Falls, loaded with as many as fifty diplomatic “pouches”--actually
sealed black suitcases--and escorted by two or three couriers. Gore Field: Rhodes (1995), 96-100; George R. Jordan, From Major
Jordan’s Diaries (Harcourt, Brace, 1952).
34. Although not declassified until July 1995, the Venona
decrypts have already spawned an extensive literature. See Benson and Warner (eds.), and others, above. As of this writing, the decrypt are also available on the National Security Agency‟s
Web site, www.nsa.gov.
35. The illegal radios may also have been meant as a backup, should cable traffic be suspended. The broadcasts were directed to Moscow and to a receiving station in Siberia. New York‟s radio began broadcasting in December 1942 and San Francisco‟s in late March 1943; the illegal transmissions were immediately detected by the FCC and FBI. Bowser interview; Lou Benson, April 29, 1996, personal communication. Both transmitters fell silent in fall 1943, days after a newspaper story reported their existence. “Probe to Bare Reds‟ Illegal Radios in U.S.,” Oct. 17, 1943, N.Y. Journal-American. My thanks to Jim David for
uncovering the facts about the Soviet radio transmitters. 36. The Soviets‟ top spy in the U.S., Gaik Ovakimyan, had been
arrested in May 1941 and deported. Soviet espionage in England: Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield:
the Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB (Basic
Books, 1999); West (2000), 52-94.
37. Gorski learned of the M.A.U.D. report from a member of the so-called Cambridge Comintern, the five agents recruited during the 1930s while still undergraduates by their fellow student, Guy Burgess. Gorski‟s source, John Cairncross, was private secretary to Lord Hankey, a minister in Churchill‟s War Cabinet and head of the scientific panel that reviewed the work of the M.A.U.D.
Committee. David Holloway, Stalin and the Bomb (Stanford Univ.
Press, 1994), 82; Rhodes (1995), 52.
38. Fuchs: Robert Chadwell Williams, Klaus Fuchs: Atom Spy
(Harvard Univ. Press, 1987), 21-30, 38; Rhodes (1995), 108; Andrew and Mitrokhin, 114-116. Fuchs had begun work at Birmingham in late May 1941. By August, he was passing information on atomic research there to his Soviet contacts. Benson and Warner (eds.), 201-202.
39. Rhodes (1995), 53-54; Holloway (1994), 84.
40. A translation of Beria‟s memo to Stalin appears in Pavel Sudoplatov et. al., Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness--a Soviet Spymaster (Little, Brown, 1994), 441.
41. Holloway (1994), 40.
42. The Nazi attack had the effect of shifting research into areas that had a better chance of showing short-term results. Kurchatov and others at Leningrad‟s institute were put to work at demagnetizing ships to protect them from mines.
43. Based upon this information, Kurchatov evidently concluded that an atomic chain reaction was impossible in a mixture of uranium and heavy water. Sudaplatov, et.al., 448. 44. Holloway (1994), 70.
45. Holloway (1994), 91-94. The translated memos of March 7 and March 22, 1943, are reprinted in Special Tasks, 446-453.
46. Sudaplatov et. al., 454.
47. Details of Fermi‟s December 1942 experiment apparently reached Moscow in late January 1943. Albright and Kunstel, 75-76. 48. Before the Soviet bomb project had even gotten underway, in late 1940 or early 1941, Kurchatov had assigned a colleague and friend, Soviet physicist Lev Artsimovich, the task of investigating electromagnetic separation at Leningrad‟s institute. The mistake in Kurchatov‟s summary suggests that Artsimovich had not made much progress by the spring of 1943. Holloway (1994), 68.
49. Kurchatov noted that it would be at least another year before the Soviet Union could carry out the kind of research on plutonium that was then underway at Berkeley, since Russia‟s cyclotrons had been put out of operation by the war. 50. Schwartz, 226-32.
51. Kheifets reportedly got a degree in physics from the Jena Institute in Germany in 1926. Schwartz, 338. Kheifets: Sudaplatov et. al., 84-85; “COMRAP” memo, Feb. 6, 1948, Benson and Warner (eds.), 105; “Report on Soviet Espionage in the United States,” Nov. 27, 1945, entry 11, Record Group 233 (Dies Committee records), National Archives. The November 1945 report was an extensive compendium of what was known about Soviet spying to date, based upon FBI files.
52. Dolly Eltenton described Kheifets to the FBI as a “very lonely, sad-looking Russian.” George Eltenton remembered him as “having a rather sinister appearance.” Eltenton-Kheifets
meeting: Eltenton interviews, June 26 and June 29, 1946, George Eltenton FBI file, #100-5113, box 6, JRO/AEC. Eltenton said that he was uncertain whether he first met Ivanov on this occasion or subsequently, through his wife, who knew the Russian from a benefit party held “in the Cragmont District of Berkeley,” where Chevalier lived.
53. The FBI hoped to find out more about Kheifets from a surreptitious entry of his apartment. But the Bureau‟s “black-
bag job” yielded disappointing results. “Eager hands reached” for the diplomat‟s address book, recalled Robert King, but its pages were found to be virtually blank. “It was a sterile apartment...It was just like somebody had moved in that weekend and never got unpacked.” Author interview with Robert King,
March 26, 1997, Eugene, Oregon.
54. Peter Ivanov was almost certainly the consulate‟s GRU representative. His arrival at the consulate predated Kheifets, and he was ordered back to Moscow early in 1943. Ivanov: Haynes and Klehr (1999), 325. “Finding new recruits for a Soviet
intelligence service within either the open section of a national Communist Party or within its secret cells or study groups is one of the duties of the Party liaison agent himself, but he may also have trusted Party members scattered throughout the Party organization who help him with this work,” noted a CIA memo on “talent spotting.” “Exploitation of the International Communist Movement by the Soviet Intelligence Services,” July 1954, file 13, box 78, Record Group 263 (Central Intelligence Agency records), National Archives.
55. Eltenton and Kheifets: interviews, June 26 and June 29, 1946, Eltenton FBI file, box 6, JRO/AEC. Another possible early recruit was Paul Pinsky, whose visits to Ivanov at the Soviet consulate were duly recorded by FBI agents. Pinsky later claimed that his meetings with Ivanov were in his capacity as a representative of the CIO, which wanted a speaker on the topic of women‟s labor in the Soviet Union. Pinsky interview (1997).
56. Eltentons: Eltenton interview, June 26, 1946, 11-12, Eltenton file, FBI; Dorothea Eltenton, Laughter in Leningrad: An
English Family in Russia, 1933-1938 (privately published, London,
1998); summary report, Dec. 15, 1944, 39-40, COMRAP file, #100-17879, FBI. The author thanks Priscilla McMillan for bringing Dolly‟s book to his attention. Dolly‟s mother was a Labour member of Parliament and a notorious “firebrand,” according to her grandson‟s introduction to the book.
57. The credulous Ms. Eltenton remain a true-believer even after a close friend–-her children‟s nanny–-was arrested and
disappeared into the Soviet gulag.
58. Eltenton FBI interviews.
59. FBI agents witnessed several meetings in 1942 between Eltenton and Ivanov, who was on the Bureau‟s active “watch” list. Haynes and Klehr, 329.
60. Eltenton FBI interviews. The reception was the subject of an Associated Press story that an alert Bureau agent sent to J. Edgar Hoover. Conroy to Hoover, Aug. 14, 1943, section 6, COMRAP file, FBI. The following November, Lawrence, Gilbert, and Cannon served as honorary chairmen of a science panel at the Congress of American-Soviet Friendship in New York. Kuznick (1987), 266. Lawrence liked to boast that his honorary membership in the Soviet Academy allowed him free passage on Moscow trams and the subway. Arnold Kramish, May 17, 2000, personal communication. 61. Eltenton FBI interview, June 26, 1946.
62. Eltenton FBI interview, June 26, 1946. Other evidence which suggests that either Eltenton or Chevalier attempted to recruit Oppie comes from a report that NKVD agents in the U.S. sent to Moscow in February 1944. The report noted that Oppenheimer “has been cultivated by the „neighbors‟ [GRU] since June 1942.” Weinstein and Vassiliev, 184.
63. Eltenton FBI interview, June 29, 1946.
64. Louise Bransten: “Rich Woman Balks at Reply on Spying,” Sept. 20, 1948, New York Times; “Apricot Heiress,” Nov. 8, 1948, New York Mirror; “Biography,” n.d., and “Statement of Louise R. Berman to Committee on Un-American Activities,” Sept. 20, 1948,
Louise Berman papers, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis. Louise married Lionel Berman in 1947 and changed her name.
65. Richard Bransten was heir to the MJB coffee-importing business founded by Morris J. Brandenstein. Bransten later became a successful Hollywood script writer, providing financial backing to the magazine New Masses. He also used the Party alias Bruce Minton. Bransten had been the subject of an FBI
investigation since 1941. Summary report, n.d., 444-445, part 6, Nathan G. Silvermaster file, FBI.
66. Bransten and Silvermaster: Summary report, Dec. 15, 1944, #100-17879, COMRAP file, FBI; Weinberg and Vassiliev, 158. In November 1945, the FBI obtained a copy of a lengthy autobiography that Bransten had prepared for Mikhail Vavilov, then the Soviet consul in San Francisco. Bransten wrote that, during the 1934 waterfront strike, she and her husband “performed tasks for the Communist Party...and I worked with Earl Browder...” She also wrote of taking Silvermaster‟s course. Preparation of such an autobiography was one of the final steps in the recruitment of an agent. Summary report, April 22, 1947, COMRAP file, FBI. 67. Shortly after America‟s entry into the war, the American-
Russian Institute was taken over by the Council of American-Soviet Friendship, which served as a front for Soviet espionage. The director of San Francisco‟s ARI at that time, Rose Isaak, resigned in protest. Bransten had tried to moderate in the dispute. San Francisco field report, May 31, 1944, section 44, COMRAP file, FBI.
68. Bransten‟s Rosenberg Foundation also bankrolled the publication and distribution to Bay area schools of a children‟s book that Dolly had written while in Russia, The Boy from
69. “I know that when a progressive Berkeley hostess was going to give a cause party, if she could get Oppenheimer that was good; if she could get Bridges that was big; but if she could get both of them, she had the world by the tail.” Transcript of Louis Goldblatt interview, “Working Class Leader in the ILWU, 1935-
1977,” vol. 2, 959-60, Bancroft Library.
70. Louise Bransten was the subject of two lengthy COMRAP reports, in 1944 and 1947. The former describes her as “of primary importance in the Comrap case” and “almost as the hub of
a wheel, the spokes thereof representing the many facets of her pro-Soviet activities, running from mere membership in the Communist Party and its successor, the Communist Political Association, to military and industrial espionage and political and propaganda activities.” Summary report, Dec. 15, 1944, COMRAP file, FBI.
71. The tight joinery in Bransten‟s home initially frustrated the efforts of two FBI agents sent to install the bugs. The microphones that they finally installed near the dining room and in the library would later pick up dinner conversations between Bransten, Eltenton, and Chevalier. “There was little conversation, but lots of activity,” King recalled of what was gleaned from the bug in Bransten‟s bedroom. Interviews: King and
Bowser. A May 1943 FBI report, noting the “illicit
relationships” between Bransten and Kheifets, concluded: “These possibilities will be borne in mind in future investigations.” San Francisco field report, May 7, 1943, Steve Nelson file, vol. 1, FBI.
72. According to a controversial book published in 1994 and based, in part, upon interviews with a former Soviet spymaster, Kheifets first met Oppenheimer in early December 1941. Kheifets supposedly also had lunch with Oppenheimer later that month. The book claims that Oppenheimer informed Kheifets of the Einstein-Szilard letter and of Oppie‟s own concern that the United States was moving too slowly on the atomic project--information which Kheifets promptly passed along in a coded cable to Moscow. While it is true that Kheifets was in San Francisco by December 6, and it is almost certain that he attended this benefit, it is impossible to know what credence to give this account without further evidence, including the cable in question. The book by the Sudaplatovs and the Schecters leaves it unclear whether additional information supposedly gained by Kheifets from his meetings with Oppenheimer--including the fact that American scientists “were planning to move from Berkeley, California, to a new site to conduct research in nuclear weapons”--was from this
December meeting or a subsequent alleged rendezvous. By December 1941, neither the Met Lab at Chicago nor the laboratory at Los Alamos could have been discussed by Oppenheimer or anyone else. Pavel Sudoplatov et. al., 174-75.
73. In the winter of 1942-43, the Chevaliers‟ hosted another
party for Russian war relief which Robert and Kitty Oppenheimer attended. “And of course the Soviet consulate was represented.” Chevalier (1965), 51.
74. Chevalier‟s sabbatical was ostensibly to write a book on “French Intellectual Currents in the 20th Century.” San Francisco field report, n.d. section 5, Haakon Chevalier file, FBI.
75. Oct. 13, 1942 entry, “Snipe‟s Diary,” Chevalier papers.
76. “These things take a lot of time, and there is the business of „investigation,” Haakon wrote. Chevalier to “Snipe,” April 4, 1943, “Snipe‟s Diary–1935,” Chevalier papers. Chevalier was hoping to get a posting in North Africa, which was reportedly “then a major target of the KGB, as revealed in the Venona
traffic.” Chevalier (1965), 55; Schwartz, 410.
77. George Eltenton told the FBI that he had arranged Chevalier‟s meeting with Lattimore. Eltenton interview, June 26, 1946, Eltenton FBI file, box 6, JRO/AEC. In spring 1950, Senator Joseph McCarthy accused Lattimore of being a top Soviet agent. McCarthy said that his reputation “would stand or fall” on the Lattimore case. Called before a Senate internal security
hearing, Lattimore admitted to having lunch with Chevalier early in 1943, but said that he had discouraged Chevalier from applying to OWI because the latter lacked a Far East background. Lattimore failed to mention writing a letter introducing Chevalier to Currie. The FBI eventually complied a 180-page dossier on Lattimore, whose career became of personal interest to Hoover. “This is shocking. Press vigorously investigation of Lattimore,” reads a handwritten note from the FBI director in the China expert‟s FBI file. Lattimore: “Statement before Foreign Relations Committee,” Senate Hearings folder, box 33; and Ladd to Hoover, Oct. 25, 1949, Correspondence, April 1944-June 1952 folder, box 28, Owen Lattimore papers, Library of Congress; Owen Lattimore file, #100-24628, FBI; Ellen Schrecker, Many Are the
Crimes: McCarthyism in America (Little, Brown, 1998), 248-50.
78. In November 1942, FBI agents tracked collect calls from Room 707 of the Albuquerque Hilton--where Oppenheimer stayed on his way to Los Alamos–-as well as from the Quadrangle Club at the University of Chicago, where he had gone during his recruiting drive. Subsequently, they followed Oppenheimer‟s trail from Washington D.C., to Boston and back to New Mexico. King interview.
79. Fidler claimed that he could not tell the agents more about the project because he himself did not yet know its goal. He said that he learned the secret by accident–-during a briefing of
Stone and Webster draftsmen later in the year. Harold Fidler, Feb. 20, 1997, personal communication.
80. Pash inherited his father‟s strict views on both religion
and politics. “He was a bear about Communism,” remembered Lyall Johnson. Pash: “Biography” folder, box 1, and “Colonel Boris T. Pash--Teacher, Solder, Dedicated Worker for the Orthodox Church,” The Russian Orthodox Journal, Feb. 1971, 6-11, photo box, Boris Pash papers, Hoover Institution, Stanford, Calif.
81. In coded letters sent back to the Presidio, Pash‟s agents reported on bad roads, spicy food, and rival operatives--from the Office of Naval Investigation and the FBI--but no saboteurs. Pash instructed an agent identified as “Coney” that he was to refer to landing fields as “baseball diamonds,” aircraft as “gloves or mits,” and enemy agents as “umpires” in subsequent reports. Pash to “Coney,” June 9, 1942, Correspondence folder, box 3, Pash papers.
82. Despite Pash‟s precautions, he was recognized at Berkeley by a former student and Hollywood High alumnus, who asked: “Coach, what are you doing here?” Fidler interview (1992). After the war, Pash went to work for the CIA‟s Directorate of Plans.
83. Robert King, Feb. 6, 1997, personal communication.