The bizarre life of Communist Party affiliate, J Robert Oppenheimer~
Julius Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967) was an American theoretical physicist and director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of four laboratories involved in the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bomb. He was also a secret member of the Communist Party.
Oppenheimer was born in New York in 1904, the eldest son of Julius and Ella (née Freedman) Oppenheimer. His father was a wealthy textile importer who had immigrated from Germany in 1895, his mother a scion of Philadelphia society who had studied painting in Paris. They collected original art, including a Renoir and three Van Goghs; they also owned a 40-foot yacht, and his father gave him his own 27-foot sloop. Precocious but socially backward, Oppenheimer began collecting minerals at age five, was elected to the New York Minerological Club at eleven, and delivered his first paper there at age 12. His shy awkwardness earned him the nickname "Booby" Oppenheimer among his peers; he was bullied, culminating in being locked naked in an icehouse overnight as retribution for alleged tattling.
Oppenheimer's parents were of Jewish descent, but did not observe religious traditions, sending him (via limousine) to New York's elite Ethical Culture Society School. Ethical Culture, a secular humanist religion, is indifferent to the existence of God, replacing the Ten Commandments with a commitment to "social justice." Such an education conditions students to yield to "the totalitarian temptation," as Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek observed:
“ 'Social justice' can be given a meaning only in a directed or 'command' economy (such as an army) in which the individuals are ordered what to do; and any particular conception of 'social justice' could be realized only in such a centrally-directed system. ”
Oppenheimer never did embrace Judaism, turning instead to philosophical Hinduism. He apparently never studied Hebrew but learned Sanskrit and read the Bhavagad Gita in the original language; he would later list it as one of the the ten books that did most to shape his “philosophy of life.” What flashed through his mind upon witnessing the Trinity explosion, he said, was a line from this Hindu scripture:
“ I am become death, the shatterer of worlds. ”
Oppenheimer attended Harvard University, where he majored in chemistry, graduating summa cum laude in just three years. One of his physics professors, Percy Bridgman, noted in his graduate-school recommendation that "it appears to me that it is a bit of a gamble as to whether Oppenheimer will ever make any real contributions of an important character." Oppenheimer went to England for postgraduate study at Cambridge University, where he hoped to work under the Nobel Prize winner Ernest Rutherford. "But Rutherford wouldn't have me," according to Oppenheimer.
At Cambridge, Oppenheimer became deeply depressed and jealous of the success of some of the people around him, particularly of his tutor, the future Nobel laureate Patrick Blackett, three years his senior. According to Oppenheimer's friend John Edsall:
“ Oppenheimer's feeling toward Blackett was one of intense admiration, combined perhaps with an intense jealousy—jealousy because of his feeling that Blackett was brilliant and handsome and a man of great social charm, and combining all this with great brilliance as a scientist—and I think he had a sense of his own comparative awkwardness and perhaps a sense of being physically unattractive compared to Blackett and so on. ”
In the fall of 1925, Oppenheimer left a "poisoned apple" laced with chemicals (possibly cyanide) from the laboratory on Blackett's desk. University authorities immediately informed Oppenheimer's parents (who were visiting Cambridge at the time) what had happened. According to a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Oppenheimer:
“ His father frantically—and successfully—lobbied the university not to press criminal charges. After protracted negotiations, it was agreed that Robert would be put on probation and have regular sessions with a prominent Harley Street psychiatrist in London. This Freudian analyst diagnosed dementia praecox, a now archaic label for symptoms associated with schizophrenia. He concluded that Oppenheimer was a hopeless case and that "further analysis would do more harm than good". ”
Oppenheimer went to Paris for a rest. His boyhood friend Francis Fergusson visited him there, and mentioned that he had become engaged. For the second time, Oppenheimer committed an apparent attempted murder:
“ "I leaned over to pick up a book," Fergusson recalled, "and he jumped on me from behind with a trunk strap and wound it around my neck. I was quite scared for a little while. We must have made some noise. And then I managed to pull aside and he fell on the ground weeping." ”
In 1926, Oppenheimer left Cambridge for the University of Göttingen in Germany. He developed a reputation for obnoxiousness, once chiding a graduate student couple for what he called their "peasant" ways in not being able to afford a baby-sitter. He had a habit of interrupting others (including his professor) and commandeering the blackboard; the future Nobel Prize-winner Maria Göppart once presented Oppenheimer's faculty adviser, Max Born, with a petition threatening a boycott of his seminar unless the "child prodigy" were reigned in. Oppenheimer obtained a Ph.D. in physics in 1927, then obtained a National Research Council fellowship funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. He did post-doctoral work at Harvard, then the California Institute of Technology, finally taking a position as an associate professor of physics at the University of California at Berkeley.
Oppenheimer worked with other scientists such as Hans Bethe, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi, Richard Feynman, Willard Libby, and Eugene Wigner, who won Nobel prizes, although Oppenheimer never did. Oppenheimer's best-known scientific contribution was to suggest a limit to the size of neutron stars; larger neutron stars would collapse into black holes according to the theory of relativity. But Oppenheimer is best known not for any scientific contribution, but for his managerial role as scientific director of the Manhattan Project, under the supervision of project director Gen. Leslie Groves.
Personal life and Communist affiliation
At Caltech, Oppenheimer had befriended the "long-serving Soviet tool" Linus Pauling, and wrote him poems Pauling found "troubling," which included allusions to pederasty. Pauling broke off the friendship after Oppenheimer made a pass at his wife, Ava Helen Pauling, who told her husband, "I think he was in love with you." At Berkeley, rumors circulated of an affair between Oppenheimer and a homosexual student who lived with him, but in 1936 he began an affair with Jean Tatlock, a medical student at Stanford and daughter of Oppenheimer's fellow Berkeley professor John S.P. Tatlock, a contributor to The Nation.
Oppenheimer's mistress Tatlock was a Communist. In 1939, Oppenheimer began an affair with another Communist, the German-born Katherine "Kitty" Puening Dallet Harrison, widow of Communist political commissar Joe Dallet, killed in the Spanish Civil War. After moving in with Oppenheimer and becoming pregnant, Kitty abandoned her third husband, a cancer researcher at Caltech, to marry Oppenheimer in 1940, though he continued his affair with Tatlock until at least June 1943. (In January 1944, Tatlock would be found drowned in her bathtub, in circumstances termed "suspicious.") During the war, while married to Kitty, Oppenheimer began an affair with another married woman, Ruth Tolman, the wife of Caltech physicist Richard Tolman, whom Oppenheimer testified was "a very close and dear friend of mine." The affair "devastated Richard Tolman," who died, according to Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ernest Lawrence, "of a broken heart." Kitty took to drinking.
Oppenheimer’s brother Frank, and Frank’s wife Jackie, were also active members of the Communist Party, as was even Oppenheimer's landlady; in addition, several of Oppenheimer’s closest friends and protégés among his graduate students at Berkeley, including Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz, Joe Weinberg, David Bohm, Philip Morrison and Bernard Peters were Communist Party members.
During the Nazi-Soviet pact (August 1939-June 1941), the Federal Bureau of Investigation expanded its surveillance of suspected Nazis to include Communist Party leaders. In 1940, William Schneiderman, the California state chairman of the Communist Party, met with Isaac Folkoff, West Coast liaison between the Communist Party and Soviet intelligence, at the home of then-secret (later confessed) Communist Haakon Chevalier. Also present at this meeting, according to FBI surveillance, was J. Robert Oppenheimer. The following year, Oppenheimer was added to President Franklin Roosevelt's Custodial Detention Index, listed as “Nationalistic Tendency: Communist.”
Communist front activity
Upon his father's death in 1937, Oppenheimer inherited over $300,000 (equivalent to more than $4.5 million today), and began contributing approximately $150 a month (equivalent to more than $2,000 a month today), at first via Communist fronts such as the Spanish Aid Committee (aiding the Soviet-armed forces in the Spanish Civil War), then directly to Folkoff or Communist Party official Thomas Addis.
When he joined the Manhattan Project in 1942, Oppenheimer wrote on his personal security questionnaire that he had been "a member of just about every Communist Front organization on the West Coast." In September 1943, he repeated to Gen. Leslie Groves, head of the Manhattan Project, that he had "probably belonged to every Communist-front organization on the west coast." Later that month, Lt. Col. John Lansdale, Jr., head of Security and Intelligence for the Manhattan Project, interviewed Oppenheimer, stating: "You've probably belonged to every front organization on the coast"; Oppenheimer reiterated: "Just about."
More than a decade later, when the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was considering whether to renew his security clearance, Oppenheimer would change his story, writing that he did not remember saying this, that it was not true, and that if he had said anything along those lines, it was “a half-jocular overstatement.” Yet less than four months after writing this, when the AEC got Oppenheimer on the witness stand, he would again change his story: Asked, “If you said that to Colonel Lansdale, were you jocular?” Oppenheimer would admit under oath, “I don’t think I could have been jocular during this interview.”
Oppenheimer confessed, "I was associated with the Communist movement," and admitted having subscribed to the Communist Party organ People's World "for several years." Throughout the Nazi-Soviet pact, when many other formerly stalwart Communists dropped out of the movement in disgust, Oppenheimer was, by his own admission, active in a number of Communist fronts. He admitted having been a member of the western council of the Consumers Union (according the FBI, he actually became a member of the Board of Counselors of this organization), which was designated as subversive by the Dies committee in 1939, during the pact. In addition, from 1939 until at least 1942 (throughout the duration of the pact), admitted Oppenheimer, he was a member of the American Committee for Democracy and Intellectual Freedom, which was identified by HUAC as a Communist front in 1942 and by a special subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations as subversive and un-American the following year. Oppenheimer claimed not to remember sponsoring the American Friends of the Chinese People (identified as a Communist front by HUAC in 1944), but the organization listed him as a sponsor in 1940, during the pact.
In addition, according to the FBI, Oppenheimer reportedly co-founded the Berkeley Conference for Civic Betterment (identified by the FBI as a “front group”); was “a member of the Executive Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union, a Communist Party front group [in 1939, during the pact]”; a member of the Medical Bureau to Aid Spanish Democracy (identified by HUAC in 1944 as one in a "series of Communist enterprises"); a member of the National Emergency Conference for Democratic Rights (identified as as subversive and un-American by a special subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations in 1943, and as a Communist front by HUAC the following year); and a donor to the Spanish Aid Committee, identified as a Communist front by HUAC in 1944 and as Communist by Truman administration Attorney General Tom Clark in 1949.
Communist Party membership
But Oppenheimer “was not simply a casual Popular Front liberal who ignorantly bumped up against the CPUSA in some of the areas in which it operated," according to John Earl Haynes, a Soviet espionage expert in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress: "He was, in fact, a concealed member of the CPUSA in the late 1930s,” write Haynes, Emory University Professor Harvey Klehr and ex-KGB agent Alexander Vassiliev. “Robert Oppenheimer was a member of a so-called closed unit of the Communist Party's professional section in Berkeley, from 1938 to 1942,” agrees Gregg Herken, a former senior Historian at the Smithsonian Institution. Stanford University historian Barton Bernstein, an expert on Oppenheimer, concurs that "it seems to me far more likely than not from the amalgam of evidence that Oppenheimer was a member, at least covert, for a few years."
If Oppenheimer was not a Communist, he fooled Communist Party officials into thinking he was. Paul Crouch, Communist Party organizer for Alameda County in 1941, testified that Oppenheimer had been a Communist at that time, and even described the interior layout of his home:
“ Chairman: Is there any doubt in your mind that Oppenheimer was a member of the Communist Party?
Crouch: No, sir, none whatever. I met him in a closed meeting of the Communist Party in a house which was subsequently found to have been his residence at the time... and following that I met him at quite a number of Communist Party affairs in Alameda County.
In 1945, in an Executive Committee meeting of a Communist Party branch in Alameda County, both the Communist Jack Manley and his wife, Communist Party functionary Katrina Sandow (alias “Katherine Sanders”), according to FBI surveillance, “stated that Oppenheimer was a Communist Party member.”
If Oppenheimer was not a Communist, he not only convinced the Communist Party he was, he convinced Soviet intelligence itself. A 1944 report by NKVD San Francisco rezident (station chief) Grigory Kheifetz states: “According to 'Uncle' (Isaac Folkoff), both brothers [Robert and Frank Oppenheimer] were associated with the fellowcountrymen," NKVD code name for the Communist Party. That year, NKVD agents Gaik Ovakimian and Andrei Graur reported to NKVD chief Boris Merkulov, identifying the code name "Chester" as "Robert Oppenheimer, b. 1906, an Amer. Jew, secret member of the fellowcountryman org., a professor at the U. of California, works on ‘En-s’," i.e., 'Enormoz,' Soviet code name for the Manhattan Project. Merkulov, reporting in turn to Soviet Commissar for Internal Affairs Lavrenty Beria, identified “one of the leaders of scientific work on uranium in the USA, Professor R. Oppenheimer,” as “an unlisted member of the apparatus of Comrade Browder,” General Secretary of the CPUSA.
During 1938-42, throughout the Hitler-Stalin pact, Oppenheimer was a member at Berkeley of what he called a "discussion group," which was later identified by fellow members Chevalier and Gordon Griffiths as a “closed” (secret) unit of the Communist Party for Berkeley faculty. If Oppenheimer was not a Communist, he was the only member of this group who was not.
In addition, if he was not a Communist, Oppenheimer fooled not just Soviet intelligence and the Communist Party, but even his close friends in this small, secretive group into thinking he was. According to Chevalier, “O. had been, from 1937 to 1943, a CP member, which I knew directly.” He added that he and Oppenheimer belonged to “the same unit of the CP from 1938 to 1942.” Griffiths, who served as the Communist Party's “liaison with the Faculty group at the University of California,” confirmed that among the “members of the communist group” at Berkeley were “Haakon Chevalier of the French Department and Robert Oppenheimer of Physics.”
Oppenheimer was the primary author of a report signed “College Faculties Committee, Communist Party of California,” which he also paid to have printed, said Chevalier. It defended the Soviet invasion of Finland (during the Nazi-Soviet pact), calling President Roosevelt a "counter-revolutionary war-monger." The report contains unusual wording characteristic of Oppenheimer’s writing, suggesting that Oppenheimer might at least have "had a hand in editing a draft," according to historian Martin J. Sherwin. MIT physics professor emeritus (and former Oppenheimer pupil) Philip Morrison, an ex-Communist, confirmed that in 1939 (during the Pact) he delivered to the printers a pamphlet Oppenheimer wrote (and paid for) taking “the strict Party line in defending the Soviet invasion of Finland.”
In April 1942 Oppenheimer's name was formally submitted for security clearance for the Manhattan Project; the following month, observed William L. Borden, executive director of the congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy (JCAE), Oppenheimer "either stopped contributing funds to the Communist Party or else made his contributions through a new channel not yet discovered." Oppenheimer "appears to have dropped out of the party in early 1942,” write Haynes, Klehr and Vassiliev. According to Jerrold L. Schecter, spokesman for the National Security Administration in the Carter administration, “Robert Oppenheimer’s long time membership in the Communist Party of the United States was made secret in 1942.”
FBI surveillance in 1942-43 reported that Alameda County Communist Party Secretary Bernadette Doyle told John Murra, a “suspected intelligence agent of the USSR,” that “OPPENHEIMER was a party member but that his name should be removed from any mailing lists in John Murra’s possession and he should not mention it in any way,” and told Nelson (according to a telephone intercept) “that she believes the matter should be taken up with the state committee regarding the two OPPIES, inasmuch as they were regularly registered [as members of the Communist Party] and everyone in the county knew they were Communists."
According to Kheifetz, "due to their special military work, the connection with them [Robert and Frank Oppenheimer] was suspended.” Ovakimian and Graur reported to Merkulov: “In view of the special significance and importance of the work he does... the fellowcountryman organization received orders from its center to break off relations with ‘Ch.’ [i.e., "Chester," Oppenheimer's code name] to avoid his exposure.” Merkulov summarized:
“ Due to complications of the operational situation in the USA, dissolution of the Comintern and explanations of Comrades Zarubin and Kheifets on the Mironov affair it is expedient to immediately sever contacts of leaders and activists of the American Communist Party with scientists and specialists engaged in work on uranium. ”
A 1945 Soviet code-message refers to instructions to “send GURON [‘Huron’] to CHICAGO to re-establish contact with VEKSEL….” The National Security Agency’s Venona project analysts identified VEKSEL as “Probably Dr. Julius Robert Oppenheimer.”
Espionage at Los Alamos
In testimony before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), Crouch was asked about Oppenheimer:
“ The CHAIRMAN. ...Is there any doubt in your mind... [that] Oppenheimer was under Communist party discipline at the time you were attending these Communist meetings with him?
Mr. CROUCH. No, sir, none whatever.
The CHAIRMAN. And if he were under Communist party discipline, he, of course, would be bound to turn over any atomic secrets to them that he had available?
Mr. CROUCH. That the party directed.
The CHAIRMAN. And naturally they would be interested in any atomic information he had?
Mr. CROUCH. Yes, sir. Just as a matter of fact, the Communist Party might have chosen to direct him to turn over the information; they might have chosen to direct him to appoint other Communists to key positions who would in turn, turn over the information. It is a matter of record that Dr. Oppenheimer has appointed many Communists to key positions to the atomic energy program..."
Among those Oppenheimer brought into the project were his former grad students Bohm, Peters and Lomanitz; his brother Frank; and David Hawkins—all of whom were well known to him to be “members of the Communist Party or closely associated with activities of the Communist Party.” Frank testified that he was a member (under the cover name "Frank Fulsome") from 1937 until 1940 or '41; Hawkins testified that he was a member at Berkeley from 1938 to 1943; Bohm officially joined the Communist Party in 1942 and later testified that he was a member at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory during World War II.
In 1942, FBI surveillance recorded Lomanitz telling Nelson he was working on a highly secret weapon; Nelson advised Lomanitz to keep his Party activity quiet as he was now considered a member of the underground. Oppenheimer said he knew "for a fact" by August 1943 that Lomanitz was a Communist Party member. Yet when, following an espionage investigation, the Army released Lomanitz from Berkeley, causing him to lose his draft deferment, Oppenheimer sent an "urgent request" by telegram, urging Lomanitz' "continued availability to project," and subsequently attempted to get the Army to release Lomanitz to return to the Radiation Laboratory.
In 1949, just before Lomanitz was to testify before HUAC, Oppenheimer met him on a sidewalk in Princeton, N.J., (where presumably "the FBI found it difficult to monitor his conversations"), and discussed what he would say to the committee. Oppenheimer testified that the meeting was by chance, and that he only advised Lomanitz to tell the truth. But when he testified, Lomanitz refused on grounds of potential self-incrimination to answer whether or not he had been a Communist.
Oppenheimer also testified that he knew "for a fact" by August 1943 that Weinberg was a Communist Party member and had heard even at Berkeley that Weinberg had been a member of the Young Communist League. FBI surveillance recorded Weinberg, who had gotten into the Manhattan project using Oppenheimer as a reference, telling Nelson he had been a Communist Party member since 1938. Nelson warned Weinberg to burn his party membership book. In 1943, FBI surveillance recorded Weinberg ("Scientist X") reading to Nelson "what appeared to be a technical formula used in the Project," which Nelson copied down. Weinberg told Nelson he had to return the formula to the University of California Radiation Laboratories in the morning. Several days later Nelson met with Peter Ivanov (a GRU agent operating out of the Soviet consulate in San Francisco, where Kheifetz was under cover as vice consul), and gave him a package. A few days later, "Zubilin" (Vasily Zarubin, NKVD station chief in the U.S. from 1941 to 1944) was transferred from the Soviet Embassy in Washington to the San Francisco consulate. Shortly thereafter, Zubilin gave Nelson ten bills of unknown denominations.
At least three of the five scientists under Oppenheimer's direct supervision leaked secret information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. These include Klaus Fuchs, Theodore Hall, and David Greenglass. KGB archival data smuggled out by Vassiliev reveal that two more spies, Boris Podolsky (code-named Quantum) and Russell McNutt (code-named Fogel, later changed to Pers), were also at Los Alamos during Oppenheimer's tenure.
Allegations against Oppenheimer
According to Herbert Romerstein, former chief of the U.S. Information Agency's Office to Counter Soviet Disinformation and Active Measures: "Atomic scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer performed work on behalf of the Soviet Union." Oppenheimer supplied the Soviets with classified reports on atom bomb development—in part via Elizabeth Zarubina (wife of Vasily Zarubin), who was in direct contact with Oppenheimer's wife, Kitty—according to Pavel Sudoplatov, Moscow-based overseer of Soviet atom-bomb espionage. In his 1994 memoir, Sudoplatov wrote:
“ I set up a network of illegals who convinced Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, Leo Szilard, Bruno Pontecorvo, Alan Nunn May, Klaus Fuchs and other scientists in America and Great Britain to share atomic secrets with us..... We received reports on the progress of the Manhattan Project from Oppenheimer and his friends in oral form, through comments and asides, and from documents transferred through clandestine methods with their full knowledge that the information they were sharing would be passed on. One agent cited Oppenheimer's stressing that information should be leaked so as not to be traceable to those who worked in Los Alamos. In all, there were five classified reports made available by Oppenheimer describing the progress of work on the atomic bomb. ”
Sudoplatov's allegations are corroborated by a 1982 letter he wrote to then-Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov, stating: "Department S [Sudoplatov's department] rendered considerable help to our scientists by giving them the latest materials on atom bomb research, obtained from such sources as the famous nuclear physicists R. Oppenheimer, E. Fermi, K. Fuchs and others." Romerstein and Breindel comment: "It would have made no sense for Sudoplatov to lie to Andropov, the former head of KGB and dictator of the Soviet Union, who would have easily found him out."
According to FBI surveillance in 1943, Nelson (who often visited Oppenheimer's wife in Berkeley) advised Weinberg "that OPPENHEIMER had indicated to him the basic idea of the project"; in 1945, Jack Manley would state that “Oppenheimer told Steven Nelson several years ago that the Army was working on the atomic bomb.”
Merkulov reported to Beria, "In 1942 one of the leaders of scientific work on uranium in the USA, Professor R. Oppenheimer... informed us about the beginning of work. On the request of Comrade Kheifitz, confirmed by Comrade Browder, he provided cooperation in access to research for several of our tested sources including a relative of Comrade Browder." (Browder's niece, Helen Lowry, was a Soviet agent married to Iskhak Akhmerov, the leading NKVD "illegal" in the United States.) Schecter concludes that Oppenheimer “was being used as a Soviet intelligence asset by the Communist Underground to help obtain atomic secrets.”
The Chevalier incident
In 1943, the Soviets tried to establish direct contact with Oppenheimer. Ivanov instructed George Eltenton (a British-born Soviet intelligence source code-named “Dorin”) to feel Oppenheimer out about covertly leaking American nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union, according to Eltenton’s statement to the FBI. Eltenton said he asked Chevalier to pitch the idea to Oppenheimer. Chevalier approached Oppenheimer in February or March 1943, but Oppenheimer failed to report the incident for some eight months.
Approximately six weeks after Oppenheimer's security clearance came through, on August 25, Lieutenant Lyall Johnson, the security officer at Berkeley, questioned him about Lomanitz, whom Oppenheimer had tried to keep on the Manhattan Project, even though he had supplied highly sensitive information to the Soviets. Oppenheimer stated that he had heard that Eltenton, too, had offered to supply technical data to the Soviets. Johnson immediately called Lieutenant Colonel Boris T. Pash, Chief of Counter-Intelligence for the Ninth Army Corps on the West Coast. The following day, Pash and Johnson interrogated Oppenheimer about Eltenton. Oppenheimer stated:
“ I think it is true that a man, whose name I never heard, who was attached to the Soviet consul, has indicated indirectly through intermediary people concerned in this project that he was in a position to transmit, without any danger of a leak, or scandal, or anything of that kind, information, which they might supply. ”
Oppenheimer then named Eltenton, stating:
“ He has probably been asked to do what he can to provide information. Whether he is successful or not, I do not know, but he talked to a friend of his who is also an acquaintance of one of the men on the project, and that was one of the channels by which this thing went. ”
Johnson asked whether "there was a particular person, maybe a person on the project that they were trying to pump information from."
Oppenheimer answered, "I have known of 2 or 3 cases, and I think two of the men were with me at Los Alamos—they are men who are very closely associated with me." Eltenton, he added, "had very good contacts with a man from the embassy attached to the consulate who was a very reliable guy (that's his story) and who had a lot of experience in microfilm work, or whatever the hell." Eltenton did not contact anyone on the Manhattan Project directly, said Oppenheimer, but through an intermediary, "a member of the [Berkeley] faculty, but not on the project."
The following month Colonel Lansdale told Oppenheimer that "we have known since February that several people were transmitting information about this project to the Soviet Government." Oppenheimer said the intermediary, whom he still refused to name, was "an acquaintance of mine, I've known over many years," adding, "I know him as a fellow traveler." Lansdale confronted Oppenheimer, stating: "I have reason to believe that you yourself were felt out, I don't say asked, but felt out to ascertain how you felt about it, passing a little information, to the party." Then Lansdale struck home:
L. [Lansdale] How about Haakon Chevalier?
O. [Oppenheimer] Is he a member of the party?
L. I don't know.
O. He is a member of the faculty and I know him well. I wouldn't be surprised if he were a member, he is quite a Red.
Oppenheimer refused to admit Chevalier's involvement for ten months. Finally, in December 1943, Groves told Oppenheimer to divulge the name. "I told him if you don't tell me, I am going to have to order you to do it," Groves would later testify. Oppenheimer promptly answered that it was Chevalier. When Groves asked the names of the three people Chevalier had approached, however, Oppenheimer changed his story: there were not three people, but only one—Oppenheimer himself. From what Oppenheimer told him, Groves concluded:
that there was an approach made, that Dr. Oppenheimer knew of this approach, that at some point he was involved in that the approach was made to him—I don't mean involved in the sense that he gave anything—I mean he just knew about it personally from the fact that he was in the chain, and that he didn't report it in its entirety as he should have done.
Germany's unforgivable crime before the Second World War was her attempt to extricate her economy from the world's trading system and to create her own exchange mechanism which would deny world finance its opportunity to profit.
— Winston Churchill