Soviet atom spies as heroes—there’s something you don’t hear every day, but in this wonderfully brave article Dave Lindorff argues just that.
Two young communists, Theodore Hall and Klaus Fuchs, working as physicists on the Manhattan Project that developed the atom bomb, provided crucial information to the Soviet Union. Because of this, the Soviet Union was able to develop its own bomb years sooner than otherwise, providing a deterrent to nuclear war.
Had these two young Communists, both scientists working on the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb during World War II, not provided crucial information about the secret US/British project to develop the atomic bomb, and with key information about the workings of both the atomic bomb, and later, in Fuchs’ case, the hydrogen bomb — information which allowed Soviet physicists and engineers to quickly catch up and develop their own nuclear weapons to match those in the possession of the US military — all the nations of the world that failed to bow to the wishes of a “lone superpower” United States would have become victims of nuclear blackmail or potential targets for annihilation, like the vaporized cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Indeed, we now know that the United States came close to using nuclear weapons in the Korean War. And we now know that in the 1940s and 50s the US developed serious operational plans for a nuclear first strike on the Soviet Union. This is documented in detail in To Win a Nuclear War by Michio Kaku and Daniel Axelrod.
US planners believed that several hundred bombs were needed to do the job right. But production of atom bombs was slow in the early years. By the time enough bombs were accumulated in the nuclear arsenal, the Soviet Union had its own bombs. First strike plans had to be shelved.
This was the deadliest arms race of all time. Suppose it had taken the Soviet Union several years longer to perfect its own nuclear weapons. Suppose Theodore Hall and Klaus Fuchs had not provided crucial information. But they did. These spies may well have saved hundreds of millions of lives. This is the nightmare world we live in.
Confronted by a fateful choice, they made the right decision. They deserve to be remembered and honored.
- Two Soviet Spies Who Deserve a Posthumous Nobel Peace Prize
- Kaku, Michio, and Daniel Axelrod. To Win a Nuclear War: The Pentagon’s Secret War Plans. Boston: South End Press, 1987.