Frank Close tells the story of Klaus Fuchs and the Bodleian Library. Trinity was the codename for the test explosion of the atomic bomb in New Mexico on 16 July 1945.
In this talk, Frank Close tells the story of the bomb's metaphorical father, Rudolf Peierls (Prof Close's one time mentor in Oxford); his intellectual son, the atomic spy Klaus Fuchs; and the ghosts of the security services in Britain, the USA and USSR. Close's meticulously researched book, Trinity, reveals new insights into Fuchs' espionage from MI5 files in the National Archives, documents of the FBI and KGB, and – this talk’s focus – from the Bodleian Library. This includes correspondence between Fuchs and Peierls, which, with other letters in the Bodleian's Peierls Collection, strongly suggests that Fuchs passed more to the Russians than has been previously realised.
The Bodleian possesses the original letter from Fuchs, written in Brixton Prison in 1950 to Peierls' wife, Genia, in which Fuchs' resistance to preserving the spying code of secrecy finally broke.
A new Bodleian collection of photographs, previously unseen and still being catalogued, gives a profound glimpse of the intimate relationship between Fuchs and the Peierls family, for whom Fuchs was "like a son" and the discovery that he had betrayed their trust, along with the country that had adopted him, was devastating.
This lecture was hosted by the Friends of the Bodleian. For almost a century, the financial support, advice and expertise of the Friends of the Bodleian have helped ensure we remain one of the world’s premier libraries.
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