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Farm Hall

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Farm Hall transcripts

The results of the transcripts were inconclusive. On July 6, the microphones picked up the following conversation between Werner Heisenberg and Kurt Diebner, both of whom had worked on the German nuclear project and had been seized as part of the Allied Alsos Mission, Diebner in Berlin[6] and Heisenberg in Urfeld:

Diebner: 

I wonder whether there are microphones installed here?

Heisenberg: 

Microphones installed? (laughing) Oh no, they’re not as cute as
all that. I don’t think they know the real Gestapo
methods; they’re a bit old
fashioned in that respect.

All of the scientists expressed shock when informed of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Some first doubted that the report was genuine. They were told initially of an official announcement that an “atomic bomb” had been dropped on Hiroshima, with no mention of uranium or nuclear fission. Harteck said that he would have understood the words “uranium” or “nuclear (fission) bomb”, but he had worked with atomic hydrogen and atomic oxygen and thought that American scientists might have succeeded in stabilising a high concentration of (separate) atoms; such a bomb would have had a tenfold increase over a conventional bomb.

The scientists then contemplated how the American bomb was made and why Germany did not produce one. The transcripts seem to indicate that the physicists, in particular Heisenberg, had either overestimated the amount of enriched uranium that an atomic bomb would require or consciously overstated it, and that the German project was at best in a very early, theoretical stage of thinking about how atomic bombs would work.

Some of the scientists indicated that they were happy that they had not been able to build a nuclear bomb for Adolf Hitler, while others more sympathetic to the Nazi party (Diebner and Gerlach), were dismayed at having failed. Otto Hahn, one of those who were grateful that Germany had not built a bomb, chided those who had worked on the German project, saying “If the Americans have a uranium bomb then you’re all second-raters.”

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