Title: Klaus Fuchs: Traitor or Man of Conscience

Description: We are joined again by Michael Holzman author of Spies and Traitors and many other books on the topics of espionage, spies and deceit at the highest levels of government during the 20th century. Michael Holzman is going to guide us through the fascinating life of another spy, Los Alamos and Manhattan Project scientist Klaus Fuchs. We will try to figure out what Klaus Fuchs motivations were for providing important secrets to the Soviets.


Learn More About our Guest:
Michael Holzman author of:
Spies and Traitors: Kim Philby, James Angleton and the Friendship and Betrayal that Would Shape MI6, the CIA and the Cold War

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Music Provided by:
“Crossing the Chasm” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Begin Transcript:

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I thank you for joining me again beyond the big screen. And I think you’re going to enjoy this one today.
Thank you for joining us today. Again, I am very excited to be joined again by special guests, Michael Holzman, author of the books, spies and traders, Kim Philby, James Angleton, and the friendship and betrayal that would shape the CIA and the cold war. Uh, Michael Holzman is the author of numerous books, [00:02:00] including James Jesus Angleton, the CIA and the craft of intelligence biography.
Guy Burgess and one on Donald and Melinda McLean, as well as the novel packs, 1934 to 1941. Today’s episode is kind of a, uh, add on to our episode when we talked about Jason. Jesus Angleton and Kim Philby today, we’re going to talk about another spy and trader who affected the entire trajectory of the cold war scientists, Klaus Fuchs.
The focus of most of your works is on cold war history and particularly spies and espionage during the cold war. How did you become interested in this topic? It’s more or less an accident? I drifted into it. Um, I was interested. And ideology the way in which the ideas to. Basically, usually a dominant group affect the actions of everyone within that [00:03:00] group and everyone that’s affected by it.
So, uh, a very good example of how that works. It’s the, these groups of people, um, who are involved in espionage, not from. But because their beliefs, uh, Kim Philby, who we talked to about rather exhaustive with the other day, uh, was part of a group at Cambridge university in England, in the early 1930s that joined the communist party, um, because they were.
Concerned about the way, uh, he, uh, dominant group and Britain and the British empire was accumulating enormous riches at the expense of the people who are actually producing them. I’ve just been reading actually, uh, th the diaries of Henry Chip’s Channon, who was a member of that dominant group. He was in [00:04:00] the society.
Uh, pages as it were of England. I took me in the 1920s and the rather dazzling, uh, lifestyle that he led, uh, dressing fruit dinner every night, going to two balls, constantly moving from long castle. That’s a very good example of how the top 2%, 1% what happened 1% of European countries at that time lived well, on the other hand, we have, uh, coal miners and, uh, going into the general strike at exactly the same time, because they weren’t paid enough to, to eat these people.
Philby virtuous. Anthony blunt. Who’s another very interesting person. I decided to work for a change in that system and we can see then how their beliefs then were enacted in actions. [00:05:00] Klaus Fuchs. And a lot of ways was a bit different than some of the other people that we’ve spoken about and, and his background and what he actually did and his espionage career.
What does, before we drill down into some of the specifics of his career, can you tell us a little bit about what did, what did Klaus Fuchs actually do? Well, what he did and, and why he’s famous is that he took the detailed information about the atomic bomb that was developed at Los Alamos and sent it to Moscow.
A perhaps. Accelerated the development of the Soviet atomic bomb by a year, maybe two years as we look back at that time. Now this becomes increasingly crucial. Yes. The United States was planning a nuclear war against the Soviet union [00:06:00] to occur. Uh, probably about 1950. The fact that the Soviets exploded an affiliate device in August, 1949, made that impossible.
This the point I wish this was probably most probable Ms. During the Korean war. When the Chinese had intervened and, uh, driven back the American and British forces to the Chinese Korean border from the train and general MacArthur wanted to bomb the Chinese forces and he was stopped from doing this and it hasn’t done.
Much elaborated about why he was stopped, but one good reason that he was talking with, uh, president Truman and Eisenhower the Natera at that time thought, uh, the United States used atomic weapons there. The [00:07:00] Soviets very likely, uh, do so themselves, uh, perhaps by bombing London. So, um, who was clouds? Feats.
What was his background? Where did he come from? The background is very interesting. Uh, I see three approaches to, uh, folks, one of us when we were just discussing the espionage and there’s, uh, a lot of information about how he was caught and on the American side and how he did what he did on the Soviet.
So it’s not. Yes that he was a physicist. Uh, he wasn’t quite a Nobel prize quality because of this newness, that next notch town, but he was very much admired for his work. I said, theoretical nuclear physicist. And the third approach to him is that he was, um, he was to say, secular. Protestant [00:08:00] his, uh, family had been, his father was a Protestant minister who became a Quaker.
This was in Germany, uh, before the first world war, his grandfather had also been a Protestant minister and cloud’s folks had drilled into him from an early age that it was very important to do the right. This I, what was right following, uh, say radical Protestant views and following the teachings of Emmanuel Kant.
Uh, and then once you’ve decided what the right thing, uh, to do you call ahead and do it no matter what anybody else is saying. And he took this essentially Christian idea, uh, with him as he became a communist before they, uh, in the 1920s. It was family had been social Democrats socialists, but, uh, he decided, and [00:09:00] his siblings decided simultaneously that the social Democrats in Germany, in the 19 late 1920s, weren’t doing enough to stop the rise of the Nazi.
And that the only group that, uh, seemed to be willing to actually fight and I mean, literally fight street fights and Nazis was the German communist party. So you’ll have these three things. He asked me a notch. And you, uh, have this ethical approach to, um, my folks, uh, started out his education at the kale as a, became a physics student.
And as things deteriorated in Germany in the early 1930s, he took a leading role in the, uh, student branch of the chairman Cummings. And got into a serious conflict. [00:10:00] So the Nazis, I think here, we need to talk about the difference between communism at that time and communism, the lease Inc, or the communist party in Germany was the largest in the world, uh, for quite some time and was an internationalist party.
It’s thoughts. That would be a good thing. If everybody in the world came from. After Lennon brought the Russian communist party to power and what became the Soviet union, there was a split and some people, uh, decided that the thing to do was to build communism in the Soviet again and forget about the rest of the world.
And others wanted to continue the idea that there should be a worldwide revolution. The ladder was Trotsky and the former was stolen and stolen. It. But in night in the early 1930s, this wasn’t completely clear. So [00:11:00] folks Allegiant the communist. Well, is it an allegiance to the German condiments? Pardon me?
Not to the Soviet idea. That was only much later after the German communist party was destroyed by the Nazis in the mid 1930s. That to be a communist meant to, you had to have some kind of loyalty, the communist party of the Soviet. How w how engaged was Fuchs. He did the, he was in the leadership of the German communist party.
Was he on the more o

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"Klaus Fuchs: Traitor or Man of Conscience" History on the Net
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January 19, 2022 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/klaus-fuchs-traitor-or-man-of-conscience>
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