Klaus Fuchs, the spy who caused the most damage in history

Klaus Fuchs is a German physicist who fled the Nazi regime in the 1930s. He went to Great Britain to complete his studies, but the British had him interned because of his Germanic origins. During his period of confinement, he meets a Soviet spy who recruited him into its ranks. Upon his release, Klaus was integrated into the Manhattan Project, which was tasked with developing the first nuclear bomb. He then steals confidential information which he transmits to the USSR. He was unmasked and arrested on March 1, 1950.

Born in Germany on December 29, 1911, he was the son of a Lutheran theology professor and SPD activist, the Social Democratic Party. He studied mathematics in Berlin while joining the Communist Party in 1932.

The following year, Hitler came to power. Klaus is tracked down by the regime and must flee to the United Kingdom. He studied physics at the University of Edinburgh and was quickly noticed for the quality of his work.

Thus, in 1939, he acquired British nationality.

The birth of a spy

But in 1940, he was suspected of complicity with the Third Reich. Why ? Quite simply because he is German. He was then interned in the Isle of Man, then in the Sherbrooke camp in Quebec for more than eight months. It is there that he will meet Hans Kahle.

The latter works for the Soviet secret service. Its mission is to recruit double agents. He convinces Klaus to work in secret for the USSR.

The same year, when he returned to celebrate Christmas in Britain, he swore allegiance to the Stalinist regime.

The Manhattan Project

At the same time, he was chosen as an assistant by Rudolf Peiers, the German physicist who had first demonstrated the feasibility of the atomic bomb. Three years later, the two men leave for the United States to collaborate on the Manhattan Project, whose mission is to design the nuclear bomb.

Every weekend, Klaus travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to report to his Soviet contact on the progress of the bomb. In August 1946, he was repatriated to Great Britain. He becomes one of the heads of the Atomic Energy Research Establishment.

For three years, he continued to transmit the results of research in military nuclear power to his contact Alexander Feklisov.

Klaus Fuchs is unmasked

But in 1949, he was confused by the British authorities. He was tried in March 1950 and sentenced to 14 years in prison. He only avoids life imprisonment because the USSR was Britain’s ally when he was recruited.

When the British authorities ask him why he betrayed them, Klaus replies that the possession of nuclear weapons secrets should not remain in the hands of one nation. He was released nine years later and returned to the eastern part of his country, which was divided after the fall of the Reich. He became deputy director of the Institute for Nuclear Physics in Rossendorf and died in 1988, a year before the fall of the wall.

We consider today that without the intervention of Klaus Fuchs, the USSR would have taken at least two more years to develop atomic weapons.

In their 1951 report, members of the United States Congress wrote: “Klaus Fuchs endangered the safety of more people and caused more damage than any other spy not only in the history of the United States, but in the world. history of all nations. “

Source: Le Progrès : info et actu nationale et régionale – Rhône, Loire, Ain, Haute-Loire et Jura | Le Progrès by www.leprogres.fr.

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