[We would like to thank Robert S. Norris, author of the definitive biography of General Leslie R. Groves, Racing for the Bomb: General Leslie R. Groves, the Manhattan Project's Indispensable Man, for taking the time to read over these transcripts for mispellings and other errors.]
Security & Secrecy
[At the top is the edited version of the interview published by S. L. Sanger in Working on the Bomb: An Oral History of WWII Hanford, Portland State University, 1995. For the full transcript that matches the audio of the interview, please scroll down.]
Cindy Kelly: I am Cindy Kelly and we have our guest, Robert S. Norris.
Stan Norris: Right.
Kelly: Do you want to say your name and spell it?
Norris: I am Robert S. Norris, R-o-b-e-r-t, middle initial S, last name Norris, N-o-r-r-i-s. It is February 13, 2013. We are here in the offices of the Atomic Heritage Foundation.
Cindy Kelly: This is Wednesday, February 13, 2013. I’m Cindy Kelly, and we have with us Alex Wellerstein. Alex, could you say your name and spell it, please?
Alex Wellerstein: Alex Wellerstein, W-E-L-L-E-R-S-T-E-I-N, and it’s just Alex, nothing fancy.
Kelly: Great. Thank you, Alex. Alex, give us a little background as to your education and how you come to know about the Manhattan Project and related subjects.
Stephane Groueff: I want to start from the beginning. My book, I intend to start with the year 1942 because otherwise, there is no limit. A few months before the Manhattan District and decision to go—
J. Robert Oppenheimer: The decision was actually made on December 6, to take the thing seriously.
Groueff: After Pearl Harbor?
Oppenheimer: Before Pearl Harbor.
Stephane Groueff: Where did you come from? Probably we’ll start chronologically and then—
Dr. Samuel K. Allison: I was born here in Chicago, just half a kilometer from where we’re sitting at this moment. I went to school at the public schools in the city of Chicago and entered the University of Chicago in 1917. I got my PhD in 1923, went away for six years, but have been here ever since. So, I’ve been here ever since 1929, 1930.
Groueff: Teaching or research?
Charney: Where shall I start?
Groueff: Tell me how you got involved in the whole project and your first meeting with all those people and where you came from. Start from the beginning.
Stephane Groueff: Interview with Dr. James Conant. Dr. James Conant, New York, October 11, 1965.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly from the Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Friday, April 11, 2014, and I have with me William Lanouette who is going to be talking about Leo Szilard. Why don’t you start by actually saying your full name and spelling it?
Bill Lanouette: I’m William Lanouette, L-A-N-O-U-E-T-T-E.
Kelly: Tell us about Szilard. Who was he? What’s his background?
At the peak, in July, 1944, we had 1,395 patrolmen, which were the same as police, but Du Pont called it patrol. That was plant patrol, boats on the river and perimeter patrol. There was military intelligence out there, and from time to time FBI men. We never had any serious attempts at sabotage. All of the espionage cases, as I recall, were crackpots. We had some doozies.