february / 04

NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)

4th February, 1950 : Top nuclear scientist Dr Fuchs was charged yesterday with giving Russian agents secret information about how to build atomic bombs. If convicted, he faces up to 14 years in prison. Fuchs, aged 38, a German-born Communist, had been given full access to British and American research bases for seven years. The FBI discovered his betrayal and told MI5. The prosecution alleges Fuchs is guilty of the “grossest treachery”.

[From wikipedia: After Fuchs’ confession and a trial lasting less than 90 minutes, Lord Goddard sentenced him to fourteen years’ imprisonment, the maximum for espionage. In December 1950 he was stripped of his British citizenship. Some claim that his confession was made to avoid the death penalty, but, according to at least one of his interrogators, he mistakenly believed that he would be allowed back to work at Harwell. He was released on 23 June 1959, after serving nine years and four months of his sentence and promptly emigrated to the German Democratic Republic. The tutorial he gave to Chinese physicists helped them to develop the bomb they tested five years later, according to authors Thomas Reed and Daniel Stillman. Also in 1959, he married a friend from his years as a student communist, Margarete Keilson. He continued his scientific career and achieved considerable prominence. He was elected to the Academy of Sciences and the SED central committee, and was later appointed deputy director of the Institute for Nuclear Research in Rossendorf, near Dresden, where he served until he retired in 1979. He received the Patriotic Order of Merit, the Order of Karl Marx and the National Prize of East Germany. Klaus Fuchs died near Dresden on 28 January 1988. ]

About Avadoro Worden

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