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VIRTUAL TALK: “Atomic Spy: The Dark Lives of Klaus Fuchs” with Nancy Thorndike Greenspan
September 22, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm$10.00
The Dark Lives of Klaus Fuchs
German by birth. British by naturalization. Communist by conviction. Klaus Fuchs was a brilliant scientist, a fearless Nazi resister and an infamous spy. In 1950, he was convicted of espionage for handing over the designs of the plutonium bomb to the Russians, putting an end to America’s nuclear hegemony and single-handedly heating up the Cold War. Fuchs was one of the most dangerous agents in American and British history. But, was he really evil? Using archives long-hidden in Germany and intimate family correspondence, Nancy Thorndike Greenspan explores the moral and political ambiguity of the times and the ideals Fuchs struggled with throughout his entire life. As a university student in Germany, he stood up to Nazi terror and joined the Communists largely because they were the only ones resisting them. In 1933, he escaped to Britain. In 1940, he was arrested as a German émigré–an “enemy alien”–and sent to an internment camp in Canada. The renowned physicist Max Born, his mentor at university, worked to facilitate his release. After years of struggle and ideological conflict, the scientist’s loyalties were firmly split when he joined the atomic bomb project. In 1941, he started passing top secret research to the Soviets and continued for years from deep within the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. Why did he do it? Greenspan’s insights suggest he was driven not just by his Communist convictions but also by a desire to level the playing field of the world powers in the interest of peace.
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