So, Oppenheimer really was a communist

Pity that this did not come out before the death of Edward Teller a few months ago.

The full statement by the government:

I suppose it’s better late than never, but it destroyed his career and Oppenheimer died in 1967.

But was their problem with him that he maybe maybe was a communist (legitimate in a politically free country, but try telling people that now, let alone in the 1950s), or that he was not gung-ho about cranking out H-bombs?

Also, it’s nice that the government acknowledges their mistreatment of him, but what about his own colleagues who at best let it happen?

I don’t know. The evidence still seems tenuous.

Gordon Griffiths identifies himself (in his memoir) as the liaison between the Communist Party and the academics at Berkeley. He says he was the person that collected party dues.

But he says he did not collect dues from Oppenheimer; he assumes Oppenheimer was paying dues through another route. And he says he assumed Oppenheimer was paying the expenses of distributing a communist newsletter.

Nobody doubts that Oppenheimer associated with communists and was sympathetic to communism. But he always denied being an official member of the Communist Party. And I feel Griffith’s account supports what Oppenheimer said. Griffith was the person who was the contact that official members of the Communist Party had in Berkeley and he didn’t have that connection with Oppenheimer.

The Barbara Chevalier account is also less than conclusive. She says that her husband and Oppenheimer were secret members of the Communist Party. But she doesn’t say how she knew this. But Haakon Chevalier, like Oppenheimer, denied official membership.

I feel the evidence still points in the direction of Oppenheimer being a fellow traveler rather than a secret party member.