The Strange Tale of Klaus Fuchs

  • Ferenc Morton Szasz


Emil Julius Klaus Fuchs has emerged as the most notorious member of the British Mission to Los Alamos. Unnoticed at the time, his name became a household word in 1950 when he was exposed as a Soviet agent. Thanks to the recent declassification of FBI documents on the case, the public has more data on Fuchs than on any of the other “Atomic spies.” In spite of this information, however, Klaus Fuchs remains almost as much an enigma today as he was to his colleagues at Los Alamos.1


Isotope Separation Manhattan Project Soviet Scientist British Scientist Theoretical Division 
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  1. 1.
    The best studies of Fuchs are the two new biographies, Norman Moss, Klaus Fuchs: A Biography (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987) and Robert Chadwell Williams, Klaus Fuchs, Atom Spy (Cambridge, Mass., and London: Harvard University Press, 1987).Google Scholar
  2. Other accounts that deal with the theme are Chapman Pincher, Too Secret Too Long (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984)Google Scholar
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  6. Alan Moorehead, The Traitors (New York: Harper & Row, 1952; 1963).Google Scholar
  7. But see also Eric M. Braindel, “Do Spies Matter?” Commentary, Vol. 85 (March 1988), pp. 53–8.Google Scholar
  8. A good summary of the Fuchs case may also be found in Margaret Gowing, Independence and Deterrence: Britain and Atomic Energy, 1945–1953, Vol II: Policy Execution (London: Macmillan, 1974), pp. 144–53.Google Scholar
  9. 2.
    “The Housewife Who Spied for the Russians,” The Sunday Times, January 27, 1980, p. 13g. A booklet on her, Soma’s Rapport, appeared in East Germany in 1977; Kim Philby, My Silent War (New York: Ballantine, 1968).Google Scholar
  10. 3.
    Robert J. Lamphere and Tom Shachtman, The FBI-KGB War: A Special Agent’s Story (New York: Random House, 1986), pp. 85–6, 133.Google Scholar
  11. 7.
    Williams, Klaus Fuchs, Atom Spy; J.E. Hoover to Sidney W. Sowers, March 7, 1950, HST Library; Nigel West, The Circus: M15 Operations, 1945–1972 (New York: Stein & Day, 1982), pp. 45–9.Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    J. Edgar Hoover, “The Crime of the Century,” Reader’s Digest, Vol. 58 (January–June 1951), pp. 150–7. Hoover elaborated on the story of Soviet espionage in his Masters of Deceit (New York: Henry Holt, 1958).Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    Max Born, My Life: Recollections of a Nobel Laureate (London: Taylor & Francis, 1978).Google Scholar
  14. 16.
    Norman Moss in the New York Times, January 29, 1988, p. 13.Google Scholar
  15. 18.
    Richard G. Hewlett and Francis Duncan, Atomic Shield, 1947/1952: A History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission (University Park, Penn.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1969), pp. 312–14.Google Scholar
  16. 25.
    Richard Gid Powers, Secrecy and Power: The Life of J. Edgar Hoover (New York: Free Press, 1987), pp. 300–5.Google Scholar
  17. See Also Ronald Radosh and Joyce Milton, The Rosenberg File: A Search for the Truth (New York: Vintage, 1984). They conclude that Julius was guilty but that Ethel was only an accessory.Google Scholar
  18. 26.
    Roger M. Anders (ed.), Forging the Atomic Shield: Excerpts from the Office Diary of Gordon E. Dean (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987), p. 19.Google Scholar
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  20. 31.
    Chadwick to Fuchs, January 24, 1946, AB1/444, PRO; Eugene Rabinowitch, “Atomic Spy Trials: Heretical Afterthoughts,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. VII (May 1951), p. 139.Google Scholar
  21. 37.
    K. Fuchs to G.A. McMillan, 29 November 1945, AB 1/444, PRO; Richard Baker in Los Alamos Science (Winter/Spring 1983), p. 40; Moorehead, The Traitors, p. 56.Google Scholar
  22. 39.
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  24. 40.
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  25. 42.
    Richard P. Feynman, “What Do You Care What Other People Think?” Further Adventures of a Curious Character (New York: W.W. Norton, 1988), pp. 50–2.Google Scholar
  26. 47.
    Cited in Leslie R. Groves, Now It Can Be Told: The Story of the Manhattan Project (New York: Da Capo Press, 1962; 1983), p. 139.Google Scholar
  27. 48.
    Chapman Pincher, Traitors: The Anatomy of Treason (New York: St. Martin’s Press 1987), pp. 320–1n.Google Scholar
  28. 49.
    Pincher, Too Secret Too Long, p. 94; Charles Curran, “Fuchs at Los Alamos,” Spectator (September 18, 1959), pp. 363–4, is disappointing; Herbert York, The Advisors: Oppenheimer, Teller and the Superbomb (San Francisco: W.H. Freeman, 1976), p. 37, feels that espionage played little role in the creation of the Soviet H-bomb.Google Scholar
  29. This thesis is convincingly supported by Daniel Hirsch and William G. Mathews, “The H-Bomb: Who Really Gave Away the Secret?” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 46 (January–February, 1990), pp. 23–30.Google Scholar
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  34. 54.
    Andrew Sinclair, The Red and the Blue: Intelligence, Treason and the Universities (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1986) as reviewed by Robert Skidelsky, The Sunday Times, June 22, 1986.Google Scholar
  35. 55.
    Arnold Kramish, Atomic Energy in the Soviet Union (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1959), p. 21.Google Scholar
  36. 56.
    An excellent summary may be found in David Holloway, “Science and Power in the Soviet Union,” in Nicolaas A. Rupke (ed.), Science, Politics and the Public Good: Essays in Honour of Margaret Gowing (London: Macmillan, 1988), pp. 141–59.Google Scholar
  37. 60.
    The importance of the Germans in the Russian bomb is discussed in Ulrich Albrecht, “The Development of the First Atomic Bomb in the USSR.” Paper for the Conference at Harvard University, Cambridge, January 8–10, 1987. Copy lent by Robert Del Tredici.Google Scholar
  38. 63.
    Bob Considine, “How Russia Stole America’s Atomic Secrets” (pamphlet, 1951), KF.Google Scholar
  39. 65.
    Eugene Rabinowitch, “Atomic Spy Trials: Heretical Afterthoughts,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, VII (May, 1951), p. 141Google Scholar
  40. Philip Knightley, The Second Oldest Profession: Spies and Spying in the Twentieth Century (New York: W.W. Norton, 1986), pp. 165–266.Google Scholar
  41. 67.
    See, for example, Donald Sutherland, The Great Betrayal: The Definitive Story of the Most Sensational Spy Case of the Century (New York: Penguin, 1980)Google Scholar
  42. Peter Wright, Spycatcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer (New York: Viking, 1987)Google Scholar
  43. John Costello, Mask of Treachery (New York: Morrow, 1988)Google Scholar
  44. Robert Cecil, A Divided Life: A Biography of Donald Maclean (1988)Google Scholar
  45. Nigel West, Molehunt: Searching for Soviet Spies in MI5 (1986)Google Scholar
  46. Philip Knightley, The Master Spy: The Story of Kim Philby (1988); Alan Bennett has written Single Spies for the National Theatre. Noel Annan gives a good review of the latest works in The New. York Review of Books, April 13, 1989, as does Robin Winks in the New York Times book review, April 16, 1989.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ferenc Morton Szasz 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ferenc Morton Szasz
    • 1
  1. 1.University of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

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