Friends And Mortal Enemies Essay, Research Paper

Friends and mortal enemiesWhen I wrote Copenhagen, about the German physicist Werner Heisenberg & # 8217 ; s visit to Niels Bohr, the Danish physicist, in 1941, I thought it improbable that anyone would desire to bring forth it. Even if I sometimes hoped I might happen some little theaters someplace that would take it on, I can & # 8217 ; t retrieve of all time believing that anyone would come to see it, much less have strong positions about it. The successful tally in London from 1998 to 2001, unexpected and satisfying as it was, passed peacefully. I got rather a batch of friendly suggestions and unfavorable judgments, largely to make with my rickety scientific discipline, and I made a figure of alterations to suit them. I besides came across a batch of stuff that was new to me, peculiarly the US edition of the Farm Hall documents, with its critical commentary by Jeremy Bernstein, which made it clear to me that Heisenberg & # 8217 ; s bid of both the natural philosophies and the mathematics of fast fission was much less secure than I had supposed, and I rewrote the PS to the published edition of the drama to take history of this. In New York, nevertheless, a figure of observers expressed profound scruples about the whole endeavor. Paul Lawrence Rose, the writer of Heisenberg and the Nazi Atomic Bomb Project: A Study In German Culture ( University of California Press ) , the most vocal critic of both Heisenberg and my drama, even managed to observe in it a & # 8220 ; elusive revisionism & # 8230 ; more destructive than [ David ] Irving & # 8217 ; s self-evidently pathetic averments & # 8211 ; more destructive of the unity of art, of scientific discipline, and of history & # 8221 ; . One of the most frequent ailments was that I should hold laid more emphasis on the immoralities of the Nazi government, and in peculiar upon the Holocaust ; it was pointed out that Heisenberg & # 8217 ; s visit to Bohr in Copenhagen coincided with the Wannsee conference. It was argued that I should hold put Heisenberg & # 8217 ; s visit to Copenhagen in the context of a figure of subsequent trips he made during the class of the war to other occupied states. It was besides felt that I should hold laid more stress than I did on Heisenberg & # 8217 ; s stated position that Germany & # 8217 ; s conquerings, at any rate in eastern Europe, were justified and that its triumph over Russia was to be welcomed. With hindsight I think I accept some of these unfavorable judgments. I should possibly hold had Heisenberg justify Germany & # 8217 ; s war purposes on the eastern forepart straight, alternatively of holding Bohr refer to his statements in one angry but go throughing aside. I & # 8217 ; m non so certain about a greater emphasis on the immorality of the Nazi government. I thought that this was excessively good understood to necessitate indicating out. It is, after all, the given of the drama ; this was exactly why there was ( or should hold been ) a job facing Heisenberg, and us in understanding him. In any instance the drama returns to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany once more and once more, from the suppression of alleged & # 8220 ; Jewish natural philosophies & # 8221 ; ( relativity ) to the implemented flight of all the Judaic physicists, the decease of Samuel Goudsmit & # 8217 ; s parents in Auschwitz, and the effort by the SS to behave the Judaic population of Denmark to the decease cantonments, which Margrethe Bohr describes as & # 8220 ; that great darkness inside the human psyche & # 8230 ; deluging out to steep us all & # 8221 ; . Some of the unfavorable judgments were even more extremist. The drama turns on the trouble of finding why Heisenberg made his trip. For a figure of observers there was no job at all & # 8211 ; they knew the right account for certain ; though what that account was varied from one to another. For some it was Heisenberg & # 8217 ; s want to carry Bohr of the rightness of Germany & # 8217 ; s war purposes and of its inevitable triumph ; for Rose and others he was on a spying mission, to happen out through Bohr if the Allies were besides working on an atomic bomb. I agree that Heisenberg may hold wished to show the German instance to Bohr ; but he certainly didn & # 8217 ; t travel all the manner to Copenhagen merely to make that. I besides agree about the spying. But so so does the Heisenberg in my drama. He tells Bohr that he wanted & # 8220 ; some intimation, some hint & # 8221 ; about whether there was an Allied atomic programme. There is certainly no contradiction at all with what he himself claimed his intent was & # 8211 ; to discourse whether the German squad was justified in working on a German arm. Any information he could acquire about the other side & # 8217 ; s purposes would hold been a requirement for make up one’s minding what to make. Some unfavorable judgments I reject. Rose suggested that I had & # 8220 ; fantasised & # 8221 ; Heisenberg & # 8217 ; s fear that he was in danger of his life from the Gestapo for speaking to Bohr. Not so & # 8211 ; I was merely spread outing upon what the existent Heisenberg said. These are, at any rate, problematic points. Other unfavorable judgments I found highly hard to do sense of & # 8211 ; some even to recognition. Rose, who detected the elusive revisionism of the drama, found a peculiarly baleful significance in one item & # 8211 ; the fabricated Heisenberg & # 8217 ; s noting upon the spruceness of the historical sarcasm whereby the important computation ( of the critical mass ) , which persuaded the Allies of the possibility of constructing a atomic arm, was made by a German and an Austrian, driven into expatriate in Britain because they were Jewish. Rose saw this as an effort to fault & # 8220 ; the Jews & # 8221 ; for the bomb & # 8217 ; s innovation. A little more extraordinary still was the position of the drama taken by Gerald Holton, professor of natural philosophies and professor of the history of scientific discipline emeritus at Harvard. He saw it as being & # 8220 ; structured in good portion & # 8221 ; to reflect the thesis advanced by Thomas Powers in Heisenberg & # 8217 ; s War: The Secret History Of The German Bomb ( Da Capo Press ) , that Heisenberg had right calculated the critical mass, but concealed it by & # 8220 ; cooking up & # 8221 ; a false consequence that killed any possibility of bring forthing a bomb within any remotely plausible time-scale. By the clip the drama was produced in New York, Holton believed, I had been forced ( by Jeremy Bernstein ) to put this thought aside, so that I now had an & # 8220 ; insolvable job & # 8221 ; with the motive of the drama. I can merely say that Holton was misled because in my PS to the drama, I speak heartily about Powers & # 8217 ; s book. It has been much attacked, but I like the generousness of its tone, the scope of Powers & # 8217 ; s research, and I & # 8217 ; m really thankful to him for presenting me to the narrative of the visit to Copenhagen. I besides agree with one portion of his thesis: that the German physicists exhibited a fatal deficiency of ardor compared to the Allies. But so Holton himself agrees, and so, he says, does everyone else who has studied the affair. In the PS to the published text of Copenhagen, nevertheless, I make copiously clear that I don & # 8217 ; t accept Powers & # 8217 ; s position about the & # 8220 ; cooking up & # 8221 ; and ne’er did. But you don & # 8217 ; t even necessitate to read the PS to detect this, because it & # 8217 ; s all over the drama itself. The cardinal statement turns on Heisenberg & # 8217 ; s confession to Otto Hahn ( in one of the conversations in secret recorded by British Intelligence during the internment of the German atomic squad at Farm Hall in 1945 ) that he had non attempted the computation. By my count, there are something like 35 addresss in the drama devoted to set uping this, to inquiring why he hadn & # 8217 ; t attempted it, and to proposing what might hold happened if he had. How anyone could give the drama even the most casual glimpse and fail to detect this is hard to understand. Even harder to recognition was the reaction in some quarters to the & # 8220 ; unusual new quantum moralss & # 8221 ; proposed by the fabricated Heisenberg. I suppose I should hold erected a flashing & # 8220 ; IRONY & # 8221 ; mark in forepart of it. The allusion is to his penetration, in his original debut of quantum mechanics, that natural philosophies should be limited to the measuring of what we could really detect & # 8211 ; the external effects of events inside the atom. We should necessitate a similar sort of moralss, he suggests in my drama, if we judged people strictly on the external effects of their actions, without respect to their purposes. Harmonizing to Professor Holton, Heisenberg & # 8220 ; exults & # 8221 ; that under the new dispensation there would be a topographic point in Eden even for him. Holton fails to advert that Heisenberg besides & # 8220 ; exults & # 8221 ; that, under the new quantum ethical regulations, there would besides be a topographic point in Eden for the SS adult male who seemed ready to slay him in 1945, merely because in the terminal he settled for a battalion of American coffin nails alternatively. Jonothan Logan, a physicist composing in American Scientist, manages to believe that I am earnestly suggesting even the SS adult male & # 8217 ; s premise into Eden. Let me do it perfectly unambiguous: my Heisenberg is stating that we do hold to do appraisals of purpose in judging people & # 8217 ; s actions. ( The epistemology of purpose is what the drama is about! ) He is stating that Bohr will go on to animate regard and love, in malice of his engagement in the edifice of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs ; and he himself will go on to be regarded with misgiving in malice of his failure to kill anyone. The reaction of Holton, Rose, and others to the drama is possibly an oblique testimony to the truth of this judgement. One of the most dramatic remarks on the drama was made by Jochen Heisenberg, Werner Heisenberg & # 8217 ; s boy, when I met him, to my considerable dismay, after the premiere of the drama in New York. & # 8220 ; Of class, your Heisenberg is nil like my male parent, & # 8221 ; he told me. & # 8220 ; I ne’er saw my male parent express emotion about anything except music. But I understand that the characters in a drama have to be instead more extroverted than that. & # 8221 ; This seems to me a chastising reminder of the troubles of stand foring a existent individual in fiction, but a deeply reasonable indicant of the intent in trying it, which is certainly to do explicit the thoughts and feelings that ne’er rather acquire expressed in the confusing attack of life, and to convey out the implicit in construction of events. I take it that the 19th-century German dramatist, Friedrich Hebbel, was doing a similar point when he uttered his great pronouncement ( one that every dramatist ought to hold in pokerwork over his desk ) : & # 8220 ; In a good drama everyone is right. & # 8221 ; I assume he means by this non that the audience is invited to O.K. of everyone & # 8217 ; s actions, but that everyone should be allowed the freedom and fluency to do the most convincing instance that he can for himself. Whether or non this is a cosmopolitan regulation of playwriting it must certainly use to this peculiar drama, where a cardinal statement is about our inability, in our observation of both the physical universe and the mental, of all time to get away from peculiar point of views. I suppose that this is what sticks in some people & # 8217 ; s throats & # 8211 ; that my Heisenberg is allowed to do a instance for himself & # 8211 ; even to knock others. His claims about his purposes are strongly contested by another character in the drama, Margrethe Bohr. Neither Heisenberg nor Margrethe Bohr, so far as I can see, is presented as winning the statement. I don & # 8217 ; t see why my Margrethe shouldn & # 8217 ; t be allowed to show her intuitions of Heisenberg much more aggressively and woundingly than the existent Margrethe & # 8217 ; s accustomed courtesy would of all time hold permitted, and I don & # 8217 ; t see why my Heisenberg shouldn & # 8217 ; t be free to show the deeper feelings that the existent Heisenberg remained soundless about. Why shouldn & # 8217 ; t he have the same conflicting truenesss and the same assorted motivations and emotions that we all have? Why shouldn & # 8217 ; t he seek to beguile rule and expedience, as we all do? Why shouldn & # 8217 ; t he fear his state & # 8217 ; s licking, and its devastation by atomic arms? Why shouldn & # 8217 ; t he lament its ruin and the slaughter of its citizens? I can conceive of it being asked how far I think this rule should be carried. Do I believe that a fabricated Hitler should be accorded the same privileges? I can see all the jobs of exhibiting Hitler on the phase, but I can & # 8217 ; t see any point in trying it at all if he is to be merely an image for ritual humiliation. Why should we be asked to digest a representation of his presence if he doesn & # 8217 ; T offer us some apprehension of what was traveling on inside his caput from his ain point of position? The audience can certainly be trusted to pull its ain moral decisions. The most surprising consequence of the argument set off by the production of the drama, though, has been the release of the Bohr paperss. I was told in private about the being of one of the paperss at a

symposium on the play organised in Copenhagen by the Niels Bohr Archive in the autumn of 1999. Heisenberg had made public his own version of the 1941 meeting with Bohr, chiefly in two places: a memorandum written in 1957 to Robert Jungk, who was preparing the material for Brighter Than A Thousand Suns (published by Harvest Books), and his memoirs, published in 1969. Bohr, however, had never publicly given his side of the story, and historians had been obliged to rely upon what other people (chiefly his son Aage – also a physicist, and later a Nobel prize winner himself – and his colleague Stefan Rozental) recalled him as saying about it. In 1957, however, Bohr had apparently been so angered by Heisenberg’s version when he read it in Jungk’s book, that he had written to Heisenberg dissenting, and giving his own account. He had never sent the letter, though, and at his death in 1962 it had been placed in the archive by his family, not to be released for another 50 years. I said nothing about this because I believed that I had been told in confidence. The existence of the letter was first publicly mentioned, so far as I know, by Holton, at a further symposium on the play organised in New York in March 2000 on the occasion of its production there. He said that he had actually seen the letter – he had been shown it by the Bohr family. He felt bound not to divulge its contents, but I recall him as promising that when it was finally made public, in 2012, it would entirely change our view of the meeting. Now the cat was out of the bag, and at yet another symposium on the play, at the Niels Bohr Archive in September 2001, it was announced that the Bohr family had decided to release the letter early. They published the letter on the web last month. It also turned out that there was not just the one letter but various alternative drafts and notes relating to it. The most surprising thing to me in Bohr’s first attempt at the letter is its remarkably sharp tone – particularly from a man so celebrated for his conciliatoriness: “I think that I owe it to you to tell you that I am greatly amazed to see how much your memory has deceived you… Personally, I remember every word of our conversations, which took place on a background of extreme sorrow and tension for us here in Denmark. In particular, it made a strong impression both on Margrethe and me, and on everyone at the Institute that [you] spoke to, that you… expressed your definite conviction that Germany would win and that it was therefore quite foolish for us to maintain the hope of a different outcome of the war and to be reticent as regards all German offers of cooperation. I also remember quite clearly our conversation in my room at the Institute, where in vague terms you spoke in a manner that could only give me the firm impression that, under your leadership, everything was being done in Germany to develop atomic weapons and that you said that there was no need to talk about details since you were completely familiar with them and had spent the past two years working more or less exclusively on such preparations. I listened to this without speaking since [a] great matter for mankind was at issue in which, despite our personal friendship, we had to be regarded as representatives of two sides engaged in mortal combat.” It is a revelation to have all this in Bohr’s own voice, and I wish it had been available when I wrote the play. I recognise that the real Bohr remained much angrier for much longer than my character, that he claimed to have paid much closer attention to what Heisenberg said, and that he claimed to recall it much more clearly. Does it really modify our view of what Heisenberg said, though, and of what his intentions were? Slightly, I think, but not fundamentally. There has never been any disagreement, for a start, that Heisenberg publicly told various people at Niels Bohr’s institute that Germany was going to win the war, and that its aims, at any rate in the east, were justified. Then again, Aage and Rozental were both already on record as recalling Bohr’s having said that Heisenberg had talked about the military applications of atomic energy. According to Aage: “My father was very reticent and expressed his scepticism because of the great technical difficulties that had to be overcome, but he had the impression that Heisenberg thought that the new possibilities could decide the outcome of the war if the war dragged on.” The letter, however, is the first direct confirmation that Bohr believed he was being urged to accept German “offers of cooperation”. It is not clear from the letter what Bohr thought this “cooperation” would entail, and the recollection may not be entirely at odds with what Carl von Weizsacker, the German physicist who accompanied Heisenberg on the visit, recalls him as telling Bohr – that he ought to establish contact with the staff of the German embassy for his own safety. Some of the differences between Bohr’s account of the meeting and Heisenberg’s are less clear-cut than Bohr’s indignation makes them appear. According to Heisenberg, in his memorandum to Jungk he told Bohr he knew that the use of uranium fission for making weapons was “in principle possible, but it would require a terrific technical effort, which one can only hope cannot be realised in this war.” Bohr, he said, was shocked, “obviously assuming that I had intended to convey to him that Germany had made great progress in the direction of manufacturing atomic weapons.” This is not all that different in substance, it seems to me, from what Bohr recalls. The same is true when Bohr goes on to dispute Heisenberg’s interpretation of his reaction: “That my silence and gravity, as you write in the letter, could be taken as an expression of shock at your reports that it was possible to make an atomic bomb is a quite peculiar misunderstanding, which must be due to the great tension in your own mind. From the day three years earlier when I realised that slow neutrons could only cause fission in Uranium 235 and not 238, it was of course obvious to me that a bomb with certain effect could be produced by separating the uraniums… If anything in my behaviour could be interpreted as shock, it did not derive from such reports but rather from the news, as I had to understand it, that Germany was participating vigorously in a race to be the first with atomic weapons.” In a later draft of the letter Bohr refers to his reaction as “alarm”. His assertion that he already understood about the possibility of producing a weapon based on fission is moreover a simplification which is not quite supported by his subsequent behaviour. He had, in fact, up to that moment believed that it was a practical impossibility, because of the difficulty of separating the fissile U-235, and Heisenberg could not tell him why the balance of probability had now changed somewhat – because of the German team’s realisation that a reactor, if they could get one going, would produce plutonium as an alternative. After Heisenberg’s visit, according to Rozental, Bohr was sufficiently shaken by Heisenberg’s confidence to go back to the blackboard and rework all his calculations. Even so, he seems to have remained unconvinced when he got his guarded report on the meeting through to the British physicist James Chadwick, his contact with British Intelligence, and said: “Above all I have to the best of my judgment convinced myself that in spite of all future prospects any immediate use of the latest marvellous discoveries of atomic physics is impracticable.” The real kernel of the apparent disagreement about the meeting emerges only in later drafts of the letter, where Bohr says that “there was no hint on your part that efforts were being made by German physicists to prevent such an application of atomic science.” This appears to be a rebuttal of some claim made by Heisenberg. But nowhere, so far as I know, did Heisenberg ever make the claim that Bohr seems to have attributed to him. Even in the expanded account of the meeting in Heisenberg’s memoirs, he remained extremely cautious: “I hinted that… physicists ought perhaps to ask themselves whether they should work in this field at all… An enormous technical effort was needed. Now this, to me, was so important precisely because it gave physicists the possibility of deciding whether or not the construction of atom bombs should be attempted. They could either advise their governments that atom bombs would come too late for use in the present war, and that work on them therefore detracted from the war effort, or else contend that, with the utmost exertions, it might just be possible to bring them into the conflict. Both views could be put forward with equal conviction…” One might think that this sounds like a quite implausibly judicious rendering of anything he might have said. The fact remains, however, that he is not claiming to have made any efforts to prevent work on weapons. He is not even claiming that up to this point the German team had exercised the option of offering discouraging advice, only that they might at some point if they so chose. In any case, Heisenberg says that Bohr “was so horrified by the very possibility of producing atomic weapons that he did not follow the rest of my remarks”. Some reports on the release of the documents have suggested that they refute a claim made by Heisenberg to have offered Bohr a “deal,” whereby the German physicists would discourage their government from proceeding with nuclear weapons if Allied physicists would do likewise. I suppose the implication of Heisenberg’s indeterminate phrase “the physicists” is that this applied to the physicists on both sides, but the only evidence I can find for Heisenberg having made any more definite suggestion than this is in a part of the memorandum to Jungk which is quoted by Powers: “I then asked Bohr once again if, because of the obvious moral concerns, it would be possible for all physicists to agree among themselves that one should not even attempt to work on atomic bombs…” This might perhaps be interpreted as a tentative hint at some possible arrangement, though in the interview he gave to David Irving for The Virus House (published in the US as The German Atomic Bomb) in 1965 he seems to be retreating even from this, and says merely that Bohr “perhaps sensed that I should prefer it if physicists in the whole world would say: We will not make atom bombs.” In his letter Bohr makes no reference to any such claim, or to having understood any such offer at the time. It is scarcely surprising that there are discrepancies to be found between the two participants’ own accounts. In both cases they are attempting to recollect something that happened 16 years earlier, and their perceptions are inevitably coloured by strong feelings and conflicting loyalties. But on the whole, the only clear-cut disagreement between the two accounts is about a circumstantial detail – where the meeting took place. I can’t help being moved, though, by the picture that the new documents give of Bohr drafting and redrafting the text of the letter over the last five years of his life – and still never sending it. He was trying not only to satisfy his characteristic concern for the precise nuance, but also to reconcile that with his equally characteristic consideration for Heisenberg’s feelings. There is a sad parallel with the account which Professor Hans-Peter Durr gave at the Heisenberg centenary symposium in Bamberg last year, of Heisenberg’s rather similar efforts to understand what had happened. Durr, who worked for many years with Heisenberg in Gottingen after the war, said that Heisenberg had continued to love Bohr to the end of his life. Whatever was said at the meeting, and whatever Heisenberg’s intentions, there is something profoundly characteristic of the difficulties in human relationships, and profoundly painful, in that picture of the two ageing men, one in Copenhagen and one in Gottingen, puzzling for all those long years over the few brief moments that had clouded, if not ended their friendship. It is what their shades do in my play, of course. At least in the play they get together to work it out.

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