tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 3, 2015 11:00pm-12:01am EDT
teachers. i think the school was set up by a chicago -- i don't know whether it was a private school, a lab school, something like that. but they send a whole batch of teachers, and they had built a nice, instead of the junky apartments and quonset huts, we had a nice school. >> and where was the school located? >> well, i don't know. i just walked there every day. and then usually rode after school. so my mother could come. en one of the dogs would sometimes come with us on the rides. and i hung around the stables a lot. the stableboys were extremely friendly and pleasant.
and the horses, except for histikowski's horse. >> was his a different horse? >> the story was that he was castrated late in life. he was either angry about it or still had the charge. you stayed away from him. and mares with foals he would not be very nice to the foals. so i suspect that's as good as an explanation as any. but, histi liked him, so. >> alice, do you have any questions you'd like to ask?
>> could you maybe talk a little bit about how your father became such an expert in ordinance? do you know anything about that? >> well, he was a regular line officer in the navy and eventually had a cruiser division. but he was, he was very bright guy in the science over the, over literature. and i think he taught that at the post graduate school of annapolis when he and my mother first met. and certainly, when they needed someone to work on the proximity fuse, and he was the naval proving ground in dalgran, you're ordered to go up, and he drove to washington every day, which was no mean feat in those
days, so i saw very little of him. and then, because of that, he was picked for los alamos. and when he died, he was deputy chief of the bureau of ordinance, so it all came together. so, do you think we've covered everything? >> certainly everything i can think of. >> you did a wonderful job. >> well, anecdotes. >> yeah. this is nice. it helps create a nice portrait of los alamos. >> and i was, you know, a month or so short of my 11th birthday when we left, so it, i think your memories are skewed a bit, but i, i remember a lot. i asked my sister if she would be interested, and she said no.
it was too early in her life. she wouldn't, he wouldn't remember stepping on the devilled eggs, i'm sure. she's blocked that out. >> you had said the d-day and japan was a big day. >> yeah. >> were you aware of what your dad's involvement was? how long after? i guess my mother told me. but it was matter of factly. but vj-day was, first all these false vj-days. and then finally the real one. and fireworks. i mean, that was, that was it. i probably still had wiped that jap off the map on the wall behind my bed.
so. but, you know, when you're a kid, you're so involved in your own life. you don't sort of, and what your mother says goes, and your father comes and goes. so i do remember when he went to the tests at bikini after world war ii was over, i've forgotten when the bikini tests were. and we were in maine that summer. and we didn't have a telephone. but we went to the little store that was a short walk away, and there was a telegram. and the poor man at the store knew our family well. and the ranking naval officer, i guess, at the bikini tests was
an admiral blanding, and the telegraph operator who sent the telegram that the poor man had to hand to my mother, it said flying east with blondie. and my mother thought nothing of it. she figured out what it was, but the poor man just, he was so embarrassed. he thought my father was flying east with a bimbo. i remember his embarrassment. a nice, maine guy having to deliver this awful news. and friday night on american history tv, oral histories from the u.s. holocaust memorial museum, 70 years after allied forces liberated the nazi concentration camps, including an interview with leslie swift, the museum's chief of film, oral history and recorded sound.
then curt kline talks about escaping in the 1930s. gerta klein recalls being sent on a death march. all of this on american history tv tomorrow night, here on c-span 3. c-span cities tour continues friday night with the literary life of st. augustine, florida. we'll hear from the editor of a book about the san fris can monks. and a professor who wrote about the civil rights movement in florida. that's all tomorrow night at 6:00 eastern on our companion network, c-span. the c-span cities tour,
working with our cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. this weekend we're joined by charter communications to learn more about the history and life of grand junction, colorado. mining had a certain importance in this part of colorado. >> all over the colorado plateau and outside of grand junction we are surrounded by morrison wrong. and -- rock. and we find a lot of dinosaur bones and fossils. the other thing we find is a rock called karnetite. it contains ven aid yum, which is used to strengthen steel. so during the buildup to world war ii and during world war ii itself, ven aid yum was of
extreme value. and it also contains uranium. >> colorado congressman wayne as pin all was widely credited. >> he made sure that we got our fair share. how did he do that? well, beginning in his state career and then going on to his federal career, he climbed up the ladder of seniority and was able to exercise, i think, more power than you might normally have. certainly, in the united states congress where he was able to make sure colorado and western colorado would be treated fairly in any divisions of water. his first major success was the passage of the colorado river
storage project in 1956. >> see all of our programs from grand junction saturday on c-span, and sunday afternoon at 2:00 on c-span 3. 70 years ago, american forces dropped two bombs in japan, one in hiroshima and one in nagasaki. up next, we hear about the manhattan project to build an atomic weapon. he served as an assistant to leslie droves. he recalls going behind european enemy lines to determine nazi germany's atomic bomb capabilities. robert furman died in october 2008 at the age of 93. this 90-minute oral history is from the voices of the manhattan
project, created by the atomic heritage foundation and the los alamos historical society. the war came along and in 1940 i was drafted in. well, i was asked to join. and i came in as a second lieutenant in ft. dix. and the draft occurred, and we had processed all the people from several states through ft. dix, put them in uniforms and sent them off to training camps. wasn't long before i got transferred to washington, where i picked up, i was employed by the same people who quite had eventually had charge of building all the camps and hospitals and airfields in the
united states and the pentagon. and i went over, i became the, one of the five subordinate officers that colonel renshaw. the army supervised 40 or 50 k architec architects, and a great big team of contractors in the building of the pentagon. our job was to try to stay on top of all that. when the pentagon was finished, general groves picked me up, and i went into the manhattan district, which is his atom bomb project, very quiet, very secretive. and everything was so secretive that it was five or ten years after the war that i began telling people what i really should have told them at the outset to get the job done.
after the war, i picked up, i went into the construction business on my own. worked at that for 50 years. built about 800 buildings. most of them are still standing. if one of them is leaning, we go prop it up, you know, and try to cope it from collapsing. we quit that just recently, and i still have paperwork that i do as a result of that work, that general contracting work. but at times, we had as man owe -- many as 250 people on the payroll, most of the time it was 70 or 80. we built churches and hospitals and gas stations and whatever came along. schools. lots of schools. still have a lot of friends out there that i hear from
occasionally. now i'm retired. i moved into a retirement center in frederick, where they provide me with everything i need. and i work about a 12 or 15-hour week. most of the time i'm playing tennis, if i can. and here i am today, talking with you people here, running the world while i'm sitting out there doing nothing. that's a brief history. >> i love the way you've begun this little story. could you kind of tell us that in those words of love and war? >> what? >> your little piece. offen. >> you describe it love and war. >> love and war don't mix, i can tell you that from experience. at the very beginning of the war
i got engaged. and that poor lady, girl, suffered greatly. and finally, because i went into the manhattan district, she couldn't, i couldn't tell her what i was doing or where i was. i traveled everywhere. finally, that broke up, and we had, i waited till i was, waited another six or eight years before i got married. but war was a, for many people, a stressing, very stressful point of the many of the men overseas stayed overseas five years without seeing their wife and children. both of them often forgotten. they never intended, they didn't anticipate, i should say, that such, that there would be such a division in their lives.
but we got through it. we managed. general groves put me in, brought me in to try to calm down the scientists who were, he had working on this project to develop the bomb. the scientists wouldn't concentrate on their work. they were scared that the germans were years ahead of us and would bomb us. but would know almost immediately. my job was to work with them and try to bring them information that would calm them down and get them back at their, in their laboratories and at their desks. the, this meant that i had to work with these scientists and take them with me, occasionally, overseas. this meant that i had to
struggle between immense power that the army had and the money they had to get this project done by scientists who were not related to them at all and didn't really see the need to have an army doing anything. they thought they could do it all by themselves. and tremendous friction between the two elements. but in spite of that, the job got done, mainly because general groves at the top worked so well with oppenheimer. and its with a tough job for him to do. we, i went overseas the first time to meet with the british, who had all the intelligence on what was going on on the german
side. if there was anything, they knew about it, and we, in america, had no real good intelligence services. and so we had, we relied on the british as a major source. eventually, by, i went around and talked to all the various army, arm hey headquarters and y headquarters to let them know what we wanted to know without them knowing. and eventually some reports trickled back to me. but for the most part, they were interested in the great major buildup of armaments and military troops and supplies. and they didn't have much time for intelligence. we did peck up some very interesting information from
them. and we picked up information from dupont and a lot of the larger corporations who had corporate intelligence services that they kept in touch with around the world. this, eventually, well, i should say that you might say the whole project, the manhattan project was built on fear, fear that the enemy had the bomb or would have it before we could develop it. and this, they knew to be the case, the scientists did, because they were refugees from germany, a large number of them. and they had studied under the german, germans before the war
broke out. we knew, as a result, i knew of 40 different german scientists that could be involved in a project that could develop a bomb. and during the rest of the whole time i was there, we were constantly looking for those names to appear in publications or whatever reports we could find. so that we, we knew, if we knew what they were doing we could better assess as to whether they were on track for developing a bomb. very serious business. eventually, as the war progressed, general groves decided to put a mission following the armies in europe,
it would be a scientific mission. it would be a mission of composed of scientists representing all of the various scientific tracts. and buried into it would be two or three atomic scientists. and this mission would be there to answer questions by the major, by the generals as they went forward, who were constantly receiving threatening reports of devastating weapons which might be thrown against them. the mission was called the awlsauce mission. it was put together in g-2. that's the army intelligence department. the name was a mystery name for
the whole war and for ten years after the war nobody could figure out why, where the name came from. eventually, i have to tell them that the colonel that i worked with was a greek student, and allsauce is a greek word for grove, grove of trees. now if general groves had known that, i would have been put up to the firing squad, because he didn't want any secret like that. but sort of an interesting little quirk of how this colonel got the project properly named after all. anyway, this scientific mission was very effective, and, as the army moved forward, it interviewed german scientists, all kinds of scientists. french.
and to pick up information as to what the germans were doing. one of the most important reports that broke was called the straussburg report which really told general groves and president roosevelt that the project, that they didn't have a project, they were focussing on rockets. and of course, i must say, we focussed very, focussed our attention on heisenberg who was the chief scientific atomic scientist in germany, and we knew that wherever he would be that that's where the project would be. later on, when the bomb was
ready, general groves sent me out to pick it up in arizona, new mexico, rather. at los alamos, and i traveled with the bomb, took it all the way over to tin nian. and i waited there until the bomb was dropped. after that, i went into japan on a special mission that general groves set up to look at all the universities, all the colleges, factories, to see if we could determine what the capacity of the japanese were. whether they had something going or not. and i came home and very soon
got out and started my construction business. and that's briefly, is my war story. and are and i think the bomb was -- it's a miracle the bomb was developed. it's wonderful that we were able to use it to end the war. if it had not, if the bomb had not been dropped and the war had continued, thousands of people would have died on both sides, particularly if we had invaded japan. like we might be talking about a million people in such a terrible invasion process. the miracle, the biggest miracle is that after the war we had,
after 60 years now, we have not had another atomic bomb incident. it's been lucky. and we should direct our attention to every effort to prevent any possible occurrence, such as a war which might use nuclear weapons. the mission to japan was divided into three parts. there was a medical mission and million mission that went directly to hiroshima. another similar group went to nagasaki. what's the other city? >> nagasaki. >> nog salk eagasaknagasaki. and then the third was the one i had, which went to all the
factories and universities in japan and korea, looking for a trace of nuclear action. the people in these missions was really composed of those already at team, you know, a tremendous team of technical people. medical people there and, and interpreters. so each team had medical people and had interpreters. and scientists. philip morrison went with me. philip morrison recently died. he was a professor of physics at cornell, i think, when he died. but this, this is where they
covered all the fronts. and those reports are available, and they completely tell the story of what was found when, when these, the americans first arrived at hiroshima and nagasaki and what i found in the various university towns. one of the things we forget or we're apt to forget is the tremendous and important role that the emperor of japan, hi h hirohito played in ending the war, in front of his army he got on the radio and called the war off. it was not easy.
now the people where i went did not complain about the war being over. i can remember that. there was no, they did not express complaints about the use of an atomic bomb. the general impression i got was that they needed to get reorganized and back up on their feet, and i think that sums it up, really. in other words, there was no, i didn't experience any great hatred for americans. as we proceeded with the, into the peacetime.
and well, that's about all i can say about that. the. >> are there, have you, i assume ben been in contact with japanese on and off over the last 60 years. i'm presuming you've had some contact with japanese, have you had some impressions? no? >> no, i have not had any -- never traveled in that direction. got as far got as far as alaska. >> how many weeks after the bombing did you have that mission? how long ago was that? >> well, the bomb was, the first
bomb was august 6, second bomb about six or eight days later. the mission was formed early in september. we got back to the states in late november and i got out maybe about the first of january, something like that. >> so you were in japan about two months? >> yes. >> tell us more about your mission and was it like the allsauce in looking to see if the japanese had develop add atomic bomb? >> in order to determine whether there was a project or not, we went to the universities, because we knew that the, that if there was a project, the scientists had to come from the universities. this was, it would be a scientific project. physicists would be involved. we had the names of eight, about
eight japanese scientists who had studied in japan, studied in germany, and were capable of running, possibly capable of running a project if japan had one. so then we went to the big corporations, and to look, just to inquire about their facilities. and went into their research departments. quizzed people. went out into the field. looked at properties. went to, went to korea. don't forget, if they had a project, we knew it would have to be a tremendous project like
our, like oak ridge. if somebody showed us a 40,000 footwear hou foot warehouse and said that that was their project line, we felt pretty safe, because oak ridge was 1 million feet. our project, half the size of the state of rhode island. and we, as far as we knew, nobody could do it any quicker or any faster, although, that was one of our fears, that maybe somebody would figure out a way to produce an atomic bomb in a different way than we were doing it. so that's about what we did. and we also and teparticularly korea, where they had mineral
resources. we checked out all the mines to see if theres with an interest in mining uranium, radium, which they'd have to start. and from our report, from this, we could make our report back that there was no serious project, and i think that report has stood up under questioning over the years. every once in a while somebody wants to write an article saying that a secret plant was producing atomic bombs and this we could easily check out. force them to remove the report. >> i'd like to go back to, one
of the things that stan morris says about you is that you were at the first atomic intelligence unit. is that what they called it? or what was your title? >> well, general groves faced this problem with the scientists. who had this tremendous fear of the germans having a bomb well ahead of us, since most of his, his team of scientists had studied under the germans, and the germans were still there. and we didn't have any reports saying that denying that they weren't busy and active.
so until i came on board, there wasn't, there wasn't any effort, hadn't been any effort to try to find out more than they had, more than they knew at that time, find out more about what was going on in germany. and general groves' intention was to find out as request ec y -- quickly as possible to calm down his team on the job and not be scared all the time. so we, there was a group of scientists that i met with, major people that were involved with the project, compton in
chicago, and uri up in new york, and lawrence out in california and oppenheimer. and they fed me some names to, that i could work with. and we, this team of scientists suggested that we, for one thing, that we would go try to get scientific publications out of germany and let them look at them. because if the scientists that we knew, i would say going back to the 40, we knew of the 40 german scientists that were nuclear sign fircientists and w involved in a project. if they were publishing, this would give us some idea what they were thinking about.
so through switzerland, mainly, we obtained scientific reports and i passed them on to this committee. they read them and made their comments. and passed them out among the oth other scientists, all in avenue or the to calm down the scientists there. and also, if we found something important, we would be gratified. but we never did. we never found anything. except negative stuff. negative by means that these 40 scientists that we knew were not in any big nuclear bomb project. then the allsauce mission, he got reports back from the german
scientists as the armies went through eastern france and over into germany. the scientists were pecked icke and talked to, and these reports went to groves and he got it out to all the scientists on the project, which gave the project scientists some relief to know that there probably wasn't a project going on. now, what we didn't know was, we didn't know that the british had broken the code and that the british, the british, of course, weren't willing to tell us they had broken the code, for fear that this would leak out back to the germans. so we, the british them selves
were kind of quiet, they passed on information carefully to us to make sure that we, nothing could be tied back to this fact that we picked, that they had picked it up off the code break. and so right to the end of the war, there was a gap there that we never knew about. but, and the british had, of course, their own opinion well declared to us from the very beginning that their information was that the germans had no project. no backup to it at all. it just, and then they were, of course, completely, the british were completely absorbed in their efforts just to stay alive, survive the bombings and put their troops in the field and win the war.
so that's about the atmosphere that we had to work with. and -- >> were there british who actually went in france with you? were you sort of an allied team? was it an american force with some british scientists or, i mean, did you work with the british as you were going into france and germany? >> yes. >> yeah. >> the answer is, yes, the british worked right with us. on our scientific efforts or scientific project, even had some people in the allsauce mission occasionally, visiting and we would consult with them when we found out information. they always were very helpful. but you've got to remember,
their country was being devastated by this war, and they were doing all they could just to stay alive. >> i recall that it was december 1944 that joseph brocklap left the project, because he had learned that there was no bomb from some british reporter. i don't know. do you know, does that ring a bell? december '44, was that a time when the british had told us that they had evidence there was no german effort? >> it doesn't ring a bell with my memory at all. >> i don't know what, because obviously allsauce continued far beyond that. you were involved in what, april of '45, may, just as the ve-day was approaching? >> mm-hm.
>> i thought one of the exciting parts of stan norris' book is his descriptions of some of the situations you were involved in personally on your mission. >> yeah. >> some ducking bullets and -- >> no, not much. i was never in great peril. we stayed back of the lines, 50 miles. one of the interesting things was that general groves sent me a cable saying that sir charles hanbrough, head of the bank of england was coming over to the allsauce mission. he also ran railroads. big cheese. and take care of him.
so sir charles appeared, and we found out immediately, he liked to get around the battlefields. i think the armies were up north and crossed over into germany yet. and one thing i wanted to do was put his feet in the rhine river. he was a world war soldier. so we took him out to visit some of the old world war i battlefields, which were still, still in, visible. and we went to strassburg. and he went down to the rhine river and put his feet in. it would upset us that he would even try, because the germans were on the other side of the river. maybe they could see through
that fog, i don't know, but we didn't want this guy hurt. and after five days of touring, he said to me, he said, i want to throw a big dinner of my appreciation of what all you've done. and i said fine. so we went to a french inn. and we gave -- the french didn't have much food, so we gave the french inn our rations and they cooked up something, i remember they went down into one of their cellars and came up through the floor with a choice bottle of whiskey or wine or something. this was going to be a big celebration. and we had a great time, great meal. and after it was over, i got, the bill came in, and i gave it to hanbrough. and he looked at it and says
furman, i don't have any money, will you pay this? here's the head of the bank of england. and i, i had to take, i had to pay for it. so the next day or the day after, we took him back to the airport. and it was springtime, and i still remember him getting on the plane with five or six daffodils in his hand. and great guy. that was an incident that we all remembered. >> no doubt. that's great. let's see. actually, you, you personally were involved in discovering the
scientists. i know that john lansdale writes in his memoirs coming upon otto hahn. were you with him at that time? were you working with lansdale on that? >> yes, i was there. >> can you -- >> and pasch was there. >> can you start again? >> you're now talking about the armies having moved forward. and we were able to go to the home of otto hahn. a german, principal german scientist. and pasch, colonel pasch was head of the military side of the allsauce mission and they interviewed him, and i was
there, too. and which, it was quite clear that he, at least he was not involved in any atomic bomb project. and this, this occurred several times with other scientists as we came upon them. we would, the same people, where other people in the mission would interview them, and then we would write up the reports states. one time general groves sent a message over that i was to go to the rhine river as soon as the troops got past, went over the bridge and scoop up some water and send it back so they could test it. the theory being that the
scientists knew that if there was an atomic plant anywhere on that river, that it could be detected in the water. unless they took extreme measures to not dump the radioactive substances back into the river. so we did that. we set up a project and went north and picked, went out on the bridge and got the water, brought it back to paris. and boxed it up, four or five bottles of it and sent it to chicago. but before we put, put the, sealed the case, we put in two or three bottles of french wine,
with a little note on it. i wrote, okay, test this, too. meaning, look, have a good, have a good french wine. well, wasn't long before we got back a message that the water tested negative, but the wine was positive. send more wine. and we didn't know how to take that. mainly a joke. finally, i got a message back. this is not a joke. the wine is radioactive, send us more wine. we went back. we traced this wine back to a winery. we found out that the wine that the soil there where the wine was grown was, had nuclear deposits of uranium or something in there, which was soaked up into the moisture that got into the wine. and we did.
we went, got several cases of wine, sent several cases back to the states. kept two or three cases for ourselves to enjoy. and that was the end of the wine incident. but the wine, the wine was radioactive. i bet you, i bet today, if you went very carefully tested wines on the market today, you'd find some that had some radioactivity in them fk not enou. not enough to be harmful. as our armies moved forward into germany, and it seemed that the war would quickly end there and that we, on groves' attention were targets for the bomb, concentrated, he concentrated his attention on targets in
japan. and he passed on a list of targets to, well, to stinson and to general, to roosevelt, truman, and several other targets were dismissed, such as kyoto, and there were great problems trying to find targets, because we had bombed so many cities. and we wanted a city which had not been bombed yet, if we could. and gradually, they got at least two, two cities decided upon. maybe a third. i never could, can't remember, b but, and of course we had to wait till august 6th to get that
plane up in the air and over into japan. so there wasn't any real effort made to bomb in europe. and there was this concentration of, on targets in japan. and all in an effort, maybe, to end the war. >> so what do you think of truman's decision to decide to drop the bomb. >> well, i would say almost everybody in the project, from the military side, wanted to see it dropped. the scientists, i don't know. but anyway, all you can, history
is really shown us that dropping that bomb was the best thing to do to end the war. they ended it almost immediately. and that was pretty much, pretty solid information on which to base that decision. if you can end the war immediately, it would be worth it to drop the bomb. there was no, no talk about using the bomb anyway. i mean, just because we developed it. there was no talk like that that i recall. if we could have ended the war without dropping the bomb, that would be fine, but that was never an option. >> do you, it might be helpful if you could also add, i mean,
maybe this is something we can get from other sources, but just how many, you know, that the japanese, the perception of the japanese as being unwilling to surrender. having had all of the battles over island after island that ended in, you know, death to the end. the same kind of severe bombing where they lost a lot of, 550,000 people died from our air raids or our conventional bombing raids from march into august. >> mm-hm. >> do you want to say something like that, that that showed that the japanese were in no, didn't seem to have, to be wavering in their commitment to fighting to the end? >> well, from where we sat, the japanese were determined to fight to the very end. they were under the military.
the whole country was being directed by the military. and the military would not give up. that's why it's important to remember the, how important hirohito's decision to get on the radio and stop the war, how important that was. because he had to override the military to do it. now this has all been written up in great detail, and i'm sure you can read about it. but this is very important that we remember that hirohito's decision was trying to end the war. >> you had mentioned earlier the soviets. and the role that they played, the fear that japan had of their
entering the war. do you want to add anything about that? >> i didn't understand. >> you had mentioned earlier that japan was worried about russia, about soviet union entering the war, and that if they had to face the russians coming in through -- >> yeah. >> -- into the war, that they may lose, you know, various possessions, including some of the homeland. i don't know. i don't know what their -- >> yeah, it's often discussed as what would have happened if the war had been continued and the russians were allowed to come into thek09çñ war against japan. everybody feared that, including most of the americans. we didn't want to have an
endless war, we wanted the war in the pacific over. all we can say is that by ending the war the russians didn't have that choice. they got all they could, but that didn't actually enter the fight and get more territory. >> can you remember in your discussions. i get the sense that no one expected that the war was necessarily going to end after two bombs. there's a third one on the way, and the people assigned to tinnian or the duration thought they'd be there for six more months, or i don't know. can you, if that's correct, or whatever memory you might have of what people's expectations were. >> it's often discussed just how
many bombs were, could be dropped on japan. we had two bombs. the third bomb was, perhaps, three weeks off. and then there were bombs after that. but we were lucky. we never had to go beyond that. beyond the two that we dropped. that's about, it's just, just a piece of luck that we could end the war when we did. >> was indeed. let's see. do you remember being on tism m