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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Oral Histories

Reginald C. Augustine’s Interview

Reginald C. Augustine served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. In 1944, he was assigned to the Alsos Mission, the Manhattan Project’s counterintelligence mission in Europe to determine how far Nazi Germany had gotten on the path to building an atomic bomb. Augustine served under Colonel Boris Pash, and accompanied the Mission’s scientists in France and Germany. He also escorted some of the German scientists captured by the Allies to Farm Hall in England, including Otto Hahn. Augustine describes how the Mission also investigated German scientists, and recovered the world atomic standards. He also explains some of the logistics of the Alsos Mission and how they endeavored to keep from both the Germans and the Soviets the true nature of their work.

Lawrence Bartell’s Interview

Before he had even graduated from college, Larry Bartell was interviewed by Glenn Seaborg to join Seaborg’s plutonium team at the University of Chicago. There he tested various ways of extracting plutonium from uranium that had been irradiated in a reactor. As he was exposed to high levels of radiation while working with the plutonium, he constantly set off the radiation detectors as he left the lab and had to avoid eating food with his hands. Bartell recalls the strict secrecy surrounding the Manhattan Project, remembers Seaborg, John Wheeler, and other luminaries, and discusses the chronology of the Manhattan Project. He also recalls sneaking into the Trinity test crater site area, where he was promptly arrested by the Army for trespassing. He went on to an illustrious career as professor of chemistry at the University of Michigan.