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February 12: Einstein Opposes the H-Bomb

February 12, 2013

Appearing on this date in 1950 on the first edition of Today with Mrs. Roosevelt, a weekly television show hosted by Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein spoke out against U.S. development of the hydrogen bomb, for which President Harry Truman had announced a crash research program two weeks earlier. “If successful,” Einstein warned, “radioactive poisoning of the atmosphere, hence the annihilation of any life on earth, has been brought within the range of technical possibilities.” When The Washington Post reported the next morning that “Einstein Fears Hydrogen Bomb Might Annihilate ‘Any Life,’” the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover ordered a full domestic intelligence report on the scientist, and the INS began a five-year examination of the possibility of deporting him. Einstein’s statement came only one week after Senator Joseph McCarthy had announced that “I have here in my hand a list of 205” known Communists working for the State Department, which launched the Red Scare into high gear, and only nine days after the arrest in Great Britain of Klaus Fuchs for nuclear spying for the USSR. To see Einstein making his statement, click here.

“I suppose you must realize by now that the U.S. is no longer a free country, that undoubtedly our conversation is being recorded. The room is wired, and my house is closely watched.” —Einstein to the Polish Ambassador, 1948

Watch a short clip of Einstein reading his statement: