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"He is the only authentic genius I know." Dean Acheson said that the two greatest minds he had ever met were Lord Keynes and Robert Oppenheimer. Those estimates measure his influence in postwar Washington. His most devoted followers and the source of much of his strength were the scientists still caught up in military work. He was their hope, and they were his. He called scientists in general "a limited but magnificent example of a real international fraternity."


But even this fraternity was not proof against evil and the suspicion of evil. Last week a curious crack in the fraternity of liberal scientists came to light with the publication of an attack upon Oppenheimer made in 1949 by Dr. Edward U. Condon, then head of the National Bureau of Standards. Condon himself was attacked as a security risk and is revered as a martyr by those who consider all security investigations of scientists as "witch hunts." On June 7, 1949, Oppenheimer testified at a secret session of the House Un-American Activities Committee investigating Dr. Bernard Peters, a fellow atomic scientist.

Q. Do you recall making a statement to one of the security officers of the Manhattan Project to the effect that Dr. Peters was a dangerous man and quite Red? A. I made that statement to Dr. De Sylva.

Q. And also that his background was full of incidents that would point toward direct action? A. I would not have remembered it in such detail, but I recognize it.

Q. Will you elaborate? A. Dr. Peters was, I think, a German national. He was a member of the German national Communist Party. He was imprisoned by the Nazis and escaped by a miracle ... He arrived in California and violently denounced the Communist Party as being a do-nothing party.

Questions from this testimony appeared soon thereafter in the Rochester Times-Union. It brought an extraordinary reaction from Dr. Condon. From Echo Lake Lodge, Colo., Condon wrote his wife in Washington. He began by saying: "I want you to get Martin and Izzy over to the house and let them read this letter. Tell them I will not pass the data on to any other radio or news person. The story that is developing will be one of the biggest of the year if what I suspect is correct."

Condon's news, obviously intended to be got into print: because Oppenheimer had testified against a man he thought had been a Communist. he must be losing his mind. Wrote Condon: "I understand that Oppie has been in a very high state of nervous tension in the last few weeks. People from Princeton say that he seems to be in a great state of strain for fear he himself will be attacked. Of course he knows that he has so much of a record of leftist activities ... It appears that he is trying to buy personal immunity from attack by turning informer . . . Some think that Fulton J. Sheen may soon announce another distinguished convert . . .

"If Oppie is really becoming unbalanced, it can have very complicated consequences ... If he cracks up, it will certainly be a great tragedy. I only hope he does not drag down too many others with him . . ."*

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