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Oral History Transcript — Dr. G. Rossi Lomanitz

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Interview with Dr. G. Rossi Lomanitz
By Shawn Mullet
In Paho, Hawaii
August 18, 2002

 
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G. Rossi Lomanitz; August 18, 2002

ABSTRACT: Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz, was born on October 10, 1921 in Bryan, Texas. He would grow up in Oklahoma and receive his bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma in the spring of 1940. In the fall of 1940 he enrolled in University of California –- Berkeley to pursue a PhD in theoretical physics under the direction of J. Robert Oppenheimer. He continued with his graduate work until June 1942, when he began working at the Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley on topics related to the production of atomic weapons. While employed at the Radiation Laboratory, he was active in attempting to organize a union in the workplace. This continued until September 20, 1943, when he was drafted out of the Radiation Laboratory and into the Army. This drafting occurred in spite of the fact that men such as Ernest Lawrence and Oppenheimer informed officials that they felt his war work was essential and that a deferment was certainly warranted. In the spring of 1949, Lomanitz was called before the House Committee of Un-American Activities to investigate his activities while employed at the Radiation Lab. At this point he invoked the 5th Amendment and in December of 1950 he was indicted for contempt of Congress. The following year he was found not guilty of this charge. He had, however, been effectively, if not officially, blacklisted from any academic work. This oral history focuses primarily on the period of time from 1940, when he first went to Berkeley, through the mid-1950s, when he had to face many problems that resulted from his political views and his appearance before HUAC. The oral history was conducted in July 2001 at his home in Hawaii.

Transcript

Session I | Session II | Session III | Session IV

Mullet:

Okay. This is an oral history with Dr. Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz, at his home, outside of Paho, Hawaii on August 18, 2002. Dr. Lomanitz, in a previous interview you spoke about the formation of your political views prior to Berkley. You said you had not belonged to any political groups while at the University of Oklahoma, where you did your undergraduate career, but you had run into some of the ideas that your parents might have had when you were a kid. But you did not see any way of achieving those ideas. Consequently, you went to Berkley with a bit of a cynical attitude already formed. Could you elaborate on the ideas held by your parents to which you were referring?

Lomanitz:

That was a sort of a mixed bag. It’s kind of funny. Some of them were ideas that I later came to really embrace as my own. And those were such things, for example, during the Spanish Civil War, my parents were really very adamantly against the Franco government, against the Franco rebels, and for the Spanish Royalist government. They also, at least expressed the ideas that they were for equality of all, without discrimination, and that some things such as unemployment insurance, job insurance, equal opportunity, unemployment, such as that, would be a good thing. They in fact subscribed to various magazines from time to time. I remember one called The Nation, one called The New Republic, both of which I think exist today, although I don’t know if they are actually the same slants they had at that time. However, at that time, both of these magazines had slants that were counter to what were the conventional slants from even the newspapers of the town, or basically the platforms of the democratic and republican party. My mother and father both at least purported on those scores to be liberals, I guess that would be the word, although you never knew from time to time just what shade of liberalism might be involved. I remember my father voting, for example, for Norman Thomas, the Socialist candidate, for President, and then was also voting for Franklin Roosevelt for President. He also at one time, decided that he was an ardent Zionist, in fact so ardent, that he favored what we’ll call the Revisionist Zionist at that time, which even by the conventional Zionists were considered to be sort of Fascist.

So it wasn’t as though there was a direct line that my father or my mother had that I got exposed to, unless you might say that it was conventionality, but not have to be the road to go. It might be this way. it might be that way. When I got to Berkley, I found that the strong Union movement there, which was being pretty successful, both politically, as well as economically, really seemed to be having a chance, if not winning, to at least be in the running. It posed a somewhat different view on this as to what might be possible, and furthermore, there were also really much stronger political movements including the Socialist party, the Communist party, and movements such as the American First, for example. There was a much more common thing for people to be interested and exposed to such political movements, too. But I think the big thing I thought they got exposed to in Berkley that made a great difference was that it seemed it was possible primarily through labor unions to perhaps be able to achieve some of the things that, you know — You’d sort of be talking into the wind. You’d be talking and who would believe it, or who would think it was possible.

Mullet:

One thing that you briefly touched upon that I wanted to ask further about was you discussed the Spanish Civil War. And I know one of the most high profile causes for a lot of people to the political left at Berkley was the civil war in Spain. And there would be some figures that would play into your story later, figures such as Steve Nelson, who had served in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, and Jay Robert Oppenheimer, who was your graduate advisor, who had contributed money to the cause, and had done other activities associated with the Spanish Civil War on the Spanish Loyalist side. What do you remember about the cause of Spanish Loyalists at Berkley, as opposed to just your experiences through your parents in Oklahoma?

Lomanitz:

By the time I got to Berkley, which was August of 1940, the Spanish Civil War had already been lost. At least from my standpoint it had been lost. It was over. I think it was over about a year previous to that, as a matter of fact. I think it lasted from 1936 to 1939. So by the time I got to Berkley, the connection with the Spanish Civil War was mostly such things as seeing what could be done for Spanish war relief, what could be done to see that Americans who had volunteered to fight for the Loyalists could come back home to this country safely, and with some chance of resuming normal lives. Because at that time, and for a bit after that, sometime after that, I remember hearing the expression premature anti-fascists, people who had gone here for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, for example, on the side of the Loyalists, against, not only Franco, but against Hitler and Mussolini, who were strong supporters of the Franco side. Basically, believed that something had to be done about fascism, as exemplified abroad by Nazi Germany, and Fascist Italy. They were called on many sides premature anti-fascists. That is eventually we got into the Second World War. But these people, who realized at that time, that there was a side to be taken and volunteered to fight in it, were sometimes called by figures in our government premature anti-fascists, which meant to say that they were suspect. That the reason that they should have waited to show their opposition to Nazism and fascism, until our government was officially engaged in a war against Nazi Germany and Italy. In my opinion, the people in our government and other powerful places, who called the volunteers for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade premature anti-fascists, all they were really doing was doing some preliminary work for the Cold War that started. After the Hot War was over, the Cold War being against our ally the Soviet Union, against our enemy, Germany. So the people who had volunteered to fight in Spain were being tagged — Basically the idea was they must have been pro-Soviet or something to do that. So what I remember about Berkley is that the war in Spain was over. Some of this was going on, that Spanish war relief, and helping the guys who had volunteered in America to be able to come back, and to be able to have jobs and not be tarred and feathered for what they had done.

Mullet:

In a 1960 statement to the American Console in London, David Bohm, who was a fellow graduate student with you at Berkley, stated that his motivation for joining the Communist Party was, “an intense reaction against Nazism and fascism, combined with a strong concern with the economic and social difficulties that had shown themselves during the Depression. As a result, during the whole period from 1930 to 1940, I was generally oriented towards the Left in politics.” Do you believe this political development was typical amongst people at Berkley, especially those with whom you were friends in the physics department? Is it in fact an active summation of your political development as well? Communist party membership not withstanding?

Lomanitz:

Yes and no. I mean, when a person gets involved in such political activities, I think that there are two sides, namely the intellectual side, and the emotional side that generally come in. And sometimes they are not well integrated, and sometimes they are well integrated. I would say that from an intellectual standpoint, my own views, yes, the views I had heard expressed at public meetings I had gone to and other discussions with people who considered themselves American Communists, was basically as Bohm was quoted as saying, namely the opposition to Nazism, and the need for something to be done economically. This is however from an intellectual standpoint. And when I came to Berkley from Oklahoma, I would already have been more or less in agreement with those ideas, but I would have been extremely doubtful as to who is talking in a vacuum about what, and to whom. And to me, one of the things about Berkley that really struck me, I can’t say whom else it struck, but the way it struck me was when I saw, for example, in the streets of San Francisco, after work, the long shore men, get off work, and just march with their shoulders high, their heads up, as though they were enjoying the victory they had won, the respect they had gained from winning that victory, and the idea that they weren’t about to let anybody put more crap on them without going over their dead bodies. Now this is a thing that involves the emotional, and I shouldn’t just say emotional in some kind of sentimental way; I mean emotional in terms of their everyday life. They knew that their everyday life was at stake. And when I saw that there was movement in particular that could achieve some of this kind of success, then I think what was trigged in me consciously or unconsciously was the fact that hey, some of this intellectual stuff that I thought would be good to happen, maybe it could happen.

Mullet:

At one point in your graduate career, you lived at Barrington Hall, where I believe you lived with David Bohm, correct?

Lomanitz:

No. The situation there was that I lived at Barrington Hall, for a while, in an apartment with five other guys, and I boarded and roomed there. And part of how we paid for that was through work shifts. I think four hours a week or something or another like that, plus some money, maybe $12 a month. I don’t remember what. It was a cooperative. And you could live there and board there, or you could just board there without living there. For a while I lived there and boarded there. David Bohm was not doing that at the time. In fact, I’m not even sure he’d come up yet. After he came up, which would have been in 1941, I think, from Caltech, and I got to know him some, and I told him about the situation at Barrington, and he didn’t think he’d be interested in living there, but he did think he’d be interested in eating, boarding there, and in performing the work shifts and so on. And so I remember, at Barrington, for a while, David Bohm was a pot washer there for his work shift. I still have pictures of him with his head buried in these huge pots, whereas I was both boarding there — And I had different types of work shifts. I was a waiter, and a lunch maker, and so on. But I also live there, and he did not. Later, he and I did share an apartment, but that was not at Barrington. It was a private apartment.

Mullet:

Barrington Hall was described by some military intelligence officials as a “hotbed of communism.” Do you remember it being particularly active politically?

Lomanitz:

I think this is the same bunch of crap that people would try to spread around in order to tar and feather an institution. Barrington was tolerant. You could have this view, you could have that view, and I can assure you, I knew people who had what I would call reactionary views, as well as people who had radical views. But mostly people who had what I would call liberal views. Barrington prided itself on that. Liberal meaning tolerant.

Mullet:

On the UC campus in the Fall of 1940 and Spring of 1941, there was much debate over whether or not the U.S. should send aid to Britain. What do you remember about this, and what were your views about U.S. aid to Britain at that time? This was when you first arrived at Berkley.

Lomanitz:

I remember when I first arrived at Berkley, there was a real split in sentiment about how concerned people really thought about this. And it was related to another thing, and that is what’s called conscription, was being hotly debated. In fact, I think it was passed sometime in 1940, probably shortly after I got there. That is to say universal military service with whatever loopholes it might have, for all males between certain ages. We had not had such a conscription law to my knowledge ever before, except during wars themselves. We had it during the First World War, and we had it during the Civil War, but we were not involved in a war at this time. What I really remember was a considerable fight ideologically over should the conscription bill be passed, or should it not be passed. Linked with that was the question about aid to Britain, because both of these things were basically questions: should we, the United States, take the path right then and there of getting us involved actively in the war as quickly as possible, or trying to stay out of a war? So the aid to Britain, I have really linked to the thing about conscription. As far as I myself felt about it, I was in the position of feeling two ways. I was very strongly opposed to Nazism. I was fearful of what would happen if the Nazis won the war. I also had relatives in Poland who later were slaughtered and so forth by the Nazis. I also was aware of something else. I remember a saying from my first wife’s stepfather, Mary Lou Morgan’s stepfather, who had been in World War I, in which he said, “War is a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight,” which was a sort of a folkway of saying that we get sent into the war as cannon fodder, while people, rich and powerful people, don’t have to go to war, and get a lot of whatever out of it, power, money, or something like that. So this idea about isolationism is don’t get into this war because they are just going to kill a bunch of us for what purpose? I was acquainted with that. And I was acquainted also with my own feelings that Nazism had to be beat. So I guess you’d say I was a torn individual at that time, and I could not find myself saying wholeheartedly, “Well, I support this side,” or, “I support that side.” In fact, I remember a fellow graduate student in physics when I got there, and this was our freshman graduate year, asking me what I thought about it, and I remember saying, “Well, I don’t really know. I want to hear what other people think about it.”

Mullet:

Who was that? Stu?

Lomanitz:

I don’t know whether it was James Degeran [?] or Carlisle Barber or Jack Merrit. I guess there were four of us that were freshman graduate students accepted into the graduate school at Berkley that year who were not from Berkley itself. It was with one of them I was discussing this. I don’t remember which one.

Mullet:

Okay. So these concerns about the rich man’s war, poor man’s fight, as you put it, those were your primary reservations about the U.S. entering World War II, or did you have other reservations about the U.S. entering the War?

Lomanitz:

Well, of course there is a big part of me also that didn’t really see war as a solution for anything, that didn’t believe in killing, and the part I just referred to as a rich man’s war, poor man’s fight, you might say was a political way of saying what are they doing to us here, and what purpose are they serving? So you said, was there nothing else? I just don’t know of anything else right now, but I was really torn on these two things. I mean, is it right to get into a war? Are we going to get exploited when we get into a war? What are we going to get killed for? And on the other hand, that Nazism has to he defeated somehow. And how is that going to be done? I don’t know. So it was a thing in which these two big things were to the degree that I was being torn apart at all. They are what was tearing me apart.

Mullet:

And those views that you entertained, how prevalent were those on the Berkley campus, especially within the physics department? Were other people undergoing the same kind of torn or conflicted feelings about the war, or do you remember any kind of sense of how the campus as a whole and how the physics department as a whole kind of felt?

Lomanitz:

As far as the campus as a whole was concerned, I remember there would be people sometimes passing out leaflets at Sather [?] Gate, which was at that time the physical boundary of the campus. The reason they were at the gate was the university had a policy about not doing it on campus, and this was the boundary of campus. These leaflets were passed out by various and sundry organizations, apparently. I remember there was a committee called the Campus Committee to Fight Conscription, which later changed its name to the Campus Committee for Peace Mobilization because the Conscription Bill passed in very short order. And these expressed basically the ideas about the rich man’s war and the poor man’s fight, and who was gaining by wars? Not we, not we. I remember other organizations. There was a group called America First that also passed out similar leaflets. I came to find out later on that America First was basically an extremely reactionary organization, whereas some of the other groups were towards the radical side. Around the physics department, political things were often a subject of discussion as a part of the culture. Not everybody amongst the graduate students in physics was interested in it. It wasn’t a universal part of the culture. But if you were in the physics department, and in fact, if you were at the University of California at Berkley at all, you would find yourself in a culture in which this sort of thing was considered important, and which you were kind of under a feeling of, “Well, I better make up my mind about this.”

Mullet:

Would there be a point later where you would be much more eager to see the U.S. and Allied Forces win the war? And if so, can you kind of trace out your evolution of your views about World War II, because many communists would point to the change in position, as far as going from a more pacifist approach to a much more militant approach, I guess you would say, as proof that the American communists, or communist sympathizers, were slaves to Moscow and that change of position occurred basically overnight in June of 1941 with the German invasion of Russia. MIS officials, military intelligence services officials, even noted that by 1943, we had become pro-war, and that this was a shift in the attitude of neutrality in 1940 and 1941. According to the Official California Reports on American Activities in California in April of 1941, circulars were distributed widely throughout California saying that Americans should stay out of World War II, which is what you just referred to, but then they also discussed the change in position. I was wondering if you could explain your own views and how that related to U.S. entry and U.S. involvement in World War II?

Lomanitz:

I think it was in June of 1941 that the Soviet Union was invaded, and in December of 1941, we were essentially invaded by Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor. I remember a certain feeling of — And this sounds like a weird thing to say, but a certain feeling of relief and resolution after Pearl Harbor in the sense that the conflict had in a way been resolved, that our country was committed to war. That those people who might think that either because the Soviet Union was involved, or just in general, because that that was a rich man’s war, that a certain resolution had been come to because both the Soviet Union and the United States were officially engaged, fighting for our lives, and having the power of the governments on both sides sort of finally having to be committed to it. Because there was a history before that, and that is that when Czechoslovakia was dismembered at the Munich Agreements in 1938, that the Soviet Union had said they would defend Czechoslovakia provided Britain and France also fulfilled their pledges to defend Czechoslovakia.

Instead there had been this meeting at Munich, which Prime Minister Chamberlain of Britain had called Peace in Our Time, in which Czechoslovakia had been dismembered, and to which the Soviet Union knew that the Soviet Union nor Czechoslovakia had been even invited to attend. Then after that, the Soviet Union signed a so called Non-Aggression Pact with the Nazis in 1939 sometime, shortly before Poland was invaded. I know that some of my feelings as to what was going on, I was really very hopeful that Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and there were some smaller countries in Europe, supposedly committed to — Romania, Yugoslavia, to resisting the Nazis if Czechoslovakia was invaded. I hoped that it would come to pass, and that the Nazis would be resisted at that point. It was not to happen. I think part of the reason it was not to happen was because the governments in both Britain and France considered the model, the existence of the Soviet Union, as more of a threat to the capitalist way of economy that they had, and would be very happy to see the Nazis in power rather than the Soviets. They would happy to see the Nazis destroy the Soviet Union militarily. Now to me, what had been shaping up was that this “rich man’s war, poor man’s fight” was getting much more nearly put into a perspective, and that is that Britain and France, whom I had very much hoped would stand up to Nazi Germany, were not going to do it. And then that the Soviet Union, after that had happened to them, was not going to stand up either because they signed the Non-Aggression Pact. To me, it was one of those situations where I want to say the Nazis stood up to and destroyed right then and there, and it looked as though it wasn’t going to happen. Then after the Soviet Union was invaded and Pearl Harbor happened, then it looked as though ipso facto, we had the political alliance that was needed, that we weren’t going to have.

Mullet:

I’m sorry. You were saying?

Lomanitz:

Back to what your question was, that after both the Soviet Union had been invaded, nullifying thereby their non-aggression pact with Germany, and the United States had been bombed at Pearl Harbor, causing us to enter the War, that the political alliance, which I had hoped would defeat Nazism, and that should have been formed much earlier, was now ipso facto being formed, regardless of previous divisions, that we now have this political alliance. And then I was whole heartedly in favor of it. We were involved in it. The Soviets did not have a non-aggression pact with Germany. They were involved in it. Britain, whatever their government might have wished to do in the past, was involved in it. France had already given up. There wasn’t any question there. So we had the best situation we could have.

Mullet:

While at Berkley, you came to learn things about the Soviet Union, such as the abolition of private industry as well as the outlawing of anti-Semitism. What were the main sources of information that you used to develop a picture in your mind of what was happening in the Soviet Union? And in the early 1940s, did you ever consider the idea that the Soviet Union, as it was presented to you, was not the Soviet Union as it existed, and when, if ever, did your picture of the Soviet Union begin to change?

Lomanitz:

I’m not sure that I ever got a really clear or detailed picture of just how things were in the Soviet Union. In fact, I remember years later, when I was subpoenaed to testify before the Un-American Activities Committee of Congress in 1949, that Richard Nixon, I think, was an aspiring young congressman at that time, said something about, “Well, you don’t know what was happening in any country except the United States, is that right? And he was referring to the fact he thought I said I don’t really know what’s going on in the Soviet Union, I don’t really know what’s going on in a number of places. He very sarcastically then said, “All you know about is what’s going on in the United States.” And I said, “Primarily that’s true. Primarily, that was what I was concerned about, Mr. Nixon. Yes.” So to bring it back to here to your question, I did get the idea that there were no corporations in the Soviet Union, no United States Steel, no Standard Oil, no such thing as that. Just what replaced them, I did not really know. I did get the idea that the Soviet Union had an official policy against anti-Semitism. And this is very important, as far as I’m concerned. Not only because I’m Jewish, but period.

It’s as though when our country, the United States, came more and more to have an official policy, first against slavery 150 years or so ago, second against discrimination in education, after our 1954 decision, and various other steps along the road that I thought that things were getting better and better in our country on this one question about discrimination. Well, when I heard that anti-Semitism was officially outlawed in the Soviet Union, I felt rather similarly that however it may be carried out into practice, this was a giant step, because Russia, before the Soviet Union, had been infamous for what it called it’s programes, the, “Let’s go kill Jews.” So again, I had no idea how this was being carried out in practice. I did find out, by the way, that during the Second World War, I had many relatives who were massacred by the Nazis in Poland, and that similar massacres had not occurred in the Soviet Union. Whether there was or was not anti-Semitism in the form of old boy’s schools of discrimination and so on, like there continued to be in the United States, old boy’s schools of discrimination, I did not know. I would expect this to be there any time a government officially instilled a policy, installed a policy, outlawing discrimination, just as it was true in our country.

So I do not know just how this was carried out. I did know that there were no big corporations. that there was an official policy against anti-Semitism, that there was official policy to encourage education for those who wanted it, and in particular, that the power of big money was no longer the same, as it continued to be in many other countries, including our own. What all bad things might be involved in the administering of this stuff, I did not know. I never did know, and I didn’t ever have something change my mind of that too much. But I did think that these two points that you mentioned, outlawing anti-Semitism, and a different structure than big business, plus the encouragement of education, I thought were very important things. And I considered the Soviet Union to do nothing but be much better than under the czars, just as I think that Kibba [?] can be nothing but better than it was under Batista since they have done some similar things.

Mullet:

In the Third Report on Un-American Activities in California from 1947, there was a passage quoted from the earlier 1943 report which itself quoted William Z. Foster, who was a top party official in the Communist Party of the United States, and in fact, he was a nominee for president at one point. Foster was quoted as saying, “We must carry on a widespread and energetic propaganda to teach the workers that the capitalist class would never allow the working class peaceably to take control of the state. They will fight violently to retain it.” While at Berkley, did you feel that your ideas could be obtained through peaceful means, and was the idea of revolution ever discussed on the Berkley campus, and did you ever associate communism with a violent revolution, and did you know anyone on the left who did make that association?

Lomanitz:

I don’t know of anyone that I met who advocated violent revolution. I would say amongst the most ardent, I heard of the defenders of the soulful system [?], the economic system the Soviet Union had, were people who would say something like, “Well, if the enemy of the Soviet Union within or without tried to destroy the system, the government, then they will be met with armed opposition.” But this is a little different cry than saying something about advocating violent revolution. I suppose you could say what Mr. Foster is quoted as having said, and you could say — Well, I don’t know what he meant. I can’t second guess anybody. But let me present something I learned about much later when Allyende {?j was voted into office, a Socialist in Chile, and his government was overthrown by violence. And Allyende, I think, was either so naïve or whatever, that he didn’t realize that this violence was going to have to be resisted. So to me, the whole question about a change in social order, of course a change in social order will always be resisted by those who are in power. I mean, a change in the administration of a university will be resisted by those who are in power. I would say I never heard the embracing of the idea that, “Okay. Let’s go out and get guns and overthrow them.” No.

Mullet:

And certainly there was no one else in the physics department that advocated that. Did you remember any views within the physics department being expressed concerning the notions of how these changes — For example, there was a gap between the ideals of how you wanted things to be, and how things were, and how did you or other people within the physics department, or within the Berkley community, suspect these gaps could be bridged? What means did you think could be used, if not, say, as suggested by these Third Reports on American Activities? If you didn’t suggest some kind of violent overthrow, how did you suggest changing the social structure?

Lomanitz:

Well, as you had remarked before, I was a bit cynical when I first came to Berkley, and I got some of my cynicism allayed when I saw what the Union movement had accomplished there. What I hoped, I guess, was that the — You know, I think that if you wanted to say what I really believed in politically, if anything were possible at all to accomplish and maintain the kind of a change that I might think was good, it would be through something like a militant, progressive union movement. And I use the word militant deliberately, militant meaning not going to be put down anymore. It doesn’t mean taking up guns and shooting the president of Standard Oil. But to me, my hope, I guess, was that a militant progressive union movement in the leadership could accomplish by a vote in national elections the coming into power of some kind of a part. If you want to call it a Farmer Labor Party, you want to call it a Socialist Party, you want to call it a Communist Party, but some political party could be voted into power, and then there would be a constant alert to try and see that this was not sabotaged by violence, as I think what happened in the Spanish Civil War. I think that the Spanish government, which had replaced the monarchy and the power of the church, was in fact, sabotaged by the violence of these generals supported by the Nazis, and that’s where I think the violence came from. I guess the vision I had was that if anything is possible, it will be done by people lead by the union movement, voting it in. and then to be on guard to see that violence wasn’t performed against it.

Mullet:

During your time at Berkley, were you active in any organizations politically, and if so, which ones were you most active in?

Lomanitz:

Well, I guess I probably joined a number of organizations. The one I may have been most active politically in was the Student Workers Federation. This was a sort of a combination ideological and self-interest thing. The Student Workers Federation was a group on the campus of students who were interested one thing, in obtaining summer jobs. Secondly, in communication with and liaison with some of the unions, particularly in the San Francisco, and Oakland, the Bay Area, for the following reasons. If you take the Long Shoremen and Warehousemen’s Union, for example, or various other unions for that matter, there might come, and did in fact come a time seasonally when they could not supply all the workers out of their unions that were needed for the jobs to go out on a job, warehousing for example. And they had a contract with the employers that they would still be called upon. They would be called upon first to furnish personnel. Well, when they ran out of the regular union personnel, when summertime came around, and there were students looking for jobs, that they would be willing to send some of these students out on the job. But they wanted the students to have the union ideology. They didn’t want them to be used by the company specifically to disrupt things, the unions didn’t. So the Student Worker’s Federation was formed to make a liaison with some of the unions in the Bay Area, both for the purpose of being recommended for and assigned to summer jobs. And also to be indoctrinated, educated, white washed, all these things go together, there is no one that is simple, to union ideology. So there was a mutual back scratching. In fact, I think I was Treasurer of that organization.

Mullet:

Do you remember being active in, or do you remember anything about the American Association of Scientific Workers?

Lomanitz:

I don’t think so. The name doesn’t ring a bell. Do you have any dates?

Mullet:

No. I don’t offhand. Do you remember anything about an organization known as the Science for Victory Committee?

Lomanitz:

I don’t know of that either. I remember that there was a lot of So and So for Victory Committees being formed. I don’t think I remember the Science for Victory. It doesn’t ring a bell.

Mullet:

Were you ever familiar with an institution not associate with Berkley, but known as the California Labor School, and if so, what were your thoughts about it?

Lomanitz:

I remember the California Labor School some. I can’t remember whether it was before or after the Second World War. But yes, I do remember something about it. I think its purpose was primarily to educate working people in night classes, both toward academic subjects, and also toward union ideology. I am pretty sure that I may have attended a class there myself once. Because some of their classes were also to present such things as labor ideology and Marxist ideology to anybody. So I remember the school, and as I said, I think I may have attended a class there. It was in Oakland, California.

Mullet:

During your undergraduate career in Oklahoma, you were employed by the National Youth Administration, which was part of the WPA. At Berkley, there was an office designed to coordinate WPA activities on campus. Were you aware of the WPA’s presence on the Berkley campus, and were there any physics related WPA projects that you remember? If so, what can you tell me about the role that the WPA played in Berkley, and in physics in particular?

Lomanitz:

Well, in the first place, I never knew until now that they NYA was a part of the WPA. I had a job as an undergraduate student at the University of Oklahoma under the National Youth Administration, the NYA. I knew also that there certainly was a WPA, Works Progress Administration, which did all kinds of things from building civic centers, building roads, and I think probably also including sponsoring work for unemployed musicians and unemployed artists. I remember there were a lot of murals that came up in post offices during the Depression all around the country, that I think were WPA sponsored. I remember sidewalks with the initials WPA in them. But I never knew that the National Youth Administration was a part of it.

Mullet:

I believe that it was. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure that it was. Aside from that, the WPA’s role at Berkley?

Lomanitz:

I don’t have any memory of anything about a WPA in Berkley at all, anywhere, on campus, or in the physics department, or anything.

Mullet:

The next set of questions will be about various individuals that you met and dealt with at Berkley. The first is a man named John Hike Grove [?]. On March 15, 1943, Mr. Grove, a chemist, joined the Donner Radiation Laboratory at Berkley. On August 16, 1943, a memo from Lt. James Murray to the officer in charge of military intelligence at Berkley contained the following passage, “Subject, meaning Grove, is a member of the communist party, appears to be active in party affairs, and associates frequently with known communists. Subject should be removed from his employment at the radiation laboratory, and if possible, drafted into the Army, and removed to an outpost where he will not be able to obtain additional information about the ferments on the radiation laboratory project.” Almost the exact same suggestion was also indicated in your military intelligence file, as was in that of Max Freedman [?]. Did you ever have any contact with Mr. Grove? I know that Mr. Grove was an analytical chemist in the radiation laboratory. Do you know anything more about his specific function in the radiation lab, and did you ever hear what became of him?

Lomanitz:

I remember the name Grove. I have probably met him at a union meeting. I have a vague picture in my mind of possibly a man with a mustache, dark hair, but I’m not absolutely sure this is right. The only memories I really have, as I say, I think were in a union meeting. We’d have union meetings, and if he was a chemist, that’s fine, he could come to the union meeting. That’s all I can think of about him, except to say that this memo that you quoted suggesting that this man or any man be fired from his job and drafted in the Army and sent to an outpost, because he was a member of the communist party or any other reason like that, I think is scandalous, outrageous.

Mullet:

Prior to working at the radiation laboratory, Grove had worked at the Shell Chemical Company in nearby Pittsburgh, California. While in Pittsburgh, Grove had an article published in the local paper where again quoted, “The FAECT,” which was the Federation of Architects, Engineers, Chemists, and Technicians, which was the union which would take over the radiation laboratory, or would unionize the radiation laboratory, “made extravagant charges that the company was wasting large companies of oxygen valuable to the war effort. These charges discredited the FAECT.” Did you ever have any knowledge of such charges. or did you ever get the impression that your efforts to bring the FAECT into the radiation lab were compromised by Mr. Grove’s charges about wasting oxygen?

Lomanitz:

All of this is completely new to me. In fact, I’m trying to understand what you’re saying. Are you saying that Grove, when he was working for Shell Oil Company, had charged that the company had wasted a lot of oxygen?

Mullet:

That’s correct.

Lomanitz:

And that this in turn was a false charge and gave the FAECT a bad name?

Mullet:

That’s correct.

Lomanitz:

I don’t know anything about it. No.

Mullet:

No problem. Another individual of interest was Kenneth May. Early in your graduate career at Berkley, on October 11, 1940, it was the rather famous case of Kenneth May. Mr. May was a teaching assistant in the mathematics department at Berkley, and he was fired by the Regents for being a communist. After being fired, he would go on to become the Communist Party’s Education Director for Alameda County. Did you know Kenneth May, and what do you remember about his case? And according to the Sixth Report on Un-American Activities in California, after May left Berkeley, he became “one of the most important and fanatic communists in California.” Based on what you know, does this seem like an accurate portrayal of Mr. May?

Lomanitz:

I don’t think I know enough to be able to answer that question, but I will tell you what little I do know. Did you say he was fired in October of 1940?

Mullet:

October 11, 1940.

Lomanitz:

I came to Berkley in August of 1940, and one of the issues shortly doing the rounds was that there was this teaching assistant in mathematics who was probably going to be fired because he was a communist. The thing that made it more sensational was that he had a father named Samuel May, or something like that, who was a professor in some other department at the University of California Berkley campus. Mr. Samuel May had far from coming to the defense of his son when his son was under attack, had taken the step of disowning him. And this is some of what caused the sensationalism, aside from the fact that May was being fired for one reason, and one reason only, namely his political beliefs. Now, his political beliefs were, I’m sure, expressed openly. The only thing I remember hearing about May was that he was a communist, did not deny it, made no bones about it, and so on like that. I probably may have met him at one time. What I really remember, strangely enough, is I remember having met his ex-wife. They were divorced, or divorcing. She was in a bookstore on the south side of campus called the 20th Century Bookstore, and this bookstore had a lot of books on Marxism, and then it had a few other things to try to eek out a little bit of money. They had what they called the Phi Beta notes there, which they sold to students.

What the Phi Beta notes were, were notes that had been taken by students in whatever course in question at the university, samples of tests that had been given, problem sets that had been given, all kind of mimeographed up and sold to any student who wanted to buy them, in order to, from the bookstore’s point of view, to raise money. From the student’s point of view, that maybe they could get it through their thick heads what it was the professor wanted them to know. In any case, I remember meeting her. He name was Ruth, and I don’t know her last name. She had been Ruth May, but she was no longer married to him, I’m pretty sure. I remember meeting her while browsing through the bookstore. I think I remember probably meeting Kenneth May maybe one time somewhere. I don’t remember if it was at a party or meeting, or what, but just if I met him at all personally, it was just barely in grazing. Now, these remarks about him being the most fanatical this, that, and the other, or the remark about being Educational Director for the county Communist Party, I do not know about those.

Mullet:

Another individual that you had come to know fairly well would be David Fox, who would be a graduate student in the Berkley physics department. Mr. Fox was also active in the FAECT, and according to his military intelligence file, he was president of the radiation laboratory local. Is this how you remember him, and what else to you remember about David Fox’s role in the FAECT, or his level of activity?

Lomanitz:

He was president of our local. Now, what our local was, I’m not quite sure. What he was president of was the radiation laboratory FAECT. How this was defined in terms of was this a local all of its own, or was it a sub-part of a bigger local, I don’t know. But I do know that our meetings that we held were all strictly within radiation laboratory people, and he was president of that.

Mullet:

During the years from 1949 to 1950, Mr. Fox would be involved in a controversy over the loyalty at the University of California Berkley. Did you ever have any contact with Mr. Fox during this period, and if so, what was the nature of that contact, or what was discussed between you all? 1949 and 1950 was when the loyalty issues would come into play.

Lomanitz:

Well, previous to that time, I’d had some contact with David Fox, but 1949 and 1950, I had already gone to Cornell in 1947, and gone to Fisk University in January of 1949, back to Oklahoma in 1949, and in 1950, was off on a whole other set of problems, that had nothing to do with that. It was in Oklahoma. So during 1949 and 1950, no. But yes, I did know Fox a little bit during the war, and some after the war, but not as late as 1949 and 1950. Maybe 1946 and 1947.

Mullet:

At one point, Fox would appear before the Tenney [?] Committee, which was in charge of investigating Un-American activities in California. Did you ever have any discussions with him over his appearance before that committee, and if so, what can you tell me about them?

Lomanitz:

Yes, as a matter of fact, I did. I can’t swear just when this was. It probably would have been in 1946 or 1947. What I remember is he had just finished testifying before them, and I saw him, and he was very agitated. And what he was agitated about was that he had been asked questions within a framework of supposed fact that they would present. The committee members would say, “Well, so and so was going on, and did you then, this and that.” And he said he didn’t realize until after he’d finished testifying… Very shortly after David Fox had testified before the Tenney Committee, I saw him, and he was in a real state of agitation, because what he told me was that he would be presented a sort of perspective within which the questions were being asked. You know, certain facts were so. And then he would be asked questions. He said he would go on answering those questions, and when he got through, he realized that there had been something terribly distorted about it because some of the so called factual framework within which he had been asked the questions was not valid. So he ran on back down and asked to have his testimony modified, and they would not permit this to be done. Now, I can’t give you an example from David Fox in particular, but for myself, for example — Here is an example from my testimony before the Un-American Activities Committee back in 1949 when Richard Nixon, Congressman, asked me, “Mr. Lomanitz, isn’t it true that members of the American Communist Party are instructed to gain whatever information that they can about any government project they can and turn it over to the Soviet Union?” And to me, I at least had enough presence of mind to say something like, “Mr. Nixon, how do you expect me to know?” I think I first started off by saying, “No, I do not know this to be true.” And then he honed in and said, “Well, as a scientist, you really know that you should not have opinions without having facts to back them up, isn’t that true? Isn’t that the scientific way?” I said, “Yes.” And he says, “Well, you have said that this is not true, what I have asked you to the best of your knowledge. Now, please tell us what facts you have to back this up.” Now, to me, the only thing I was finally able to come out with was to say, “Mr. Nixon, to the best of my knowledge, how do you expect me to know?” And considering the circumstances of the one in the roll chair under the eight beaming down on you with all kinds of threats hanging over you, I think I did moderately well to be able to come up with that. But I do not know if this was exactly the same thing that David Fox was talking about, but I can assume it must be something like that.

Mullet:

Another individual who would actually be a fairly good friend of yours was a man named Max Freedman. How active was Mr. Freedman in the union organizing efforts of the radiation laboratory? In talking to the Army about your being drafted out of the radiation laboratory, which we’ll discuss later, Max Freedman said that he was chairman of the radiation laboratory local. Do you know what this position in the union entailed, as opposed to the presidency, which David Fox held?

Lomanitz:

Max said that he was president of the local?

Mullet:

He said he was chairman of the radiation laboratory local. Does that sound familiar at all?

Lomanitz:

But that he, Max, was chairman?

Mullet:

Correct. Not that David Fox was, but that Max Freedman himself was chairman of the radiation laboratory local.

Lomanitz:

I don’t have any knowledge of that. I don’t see quite how it would work. Max was fairly active. By this state of affairs, I can’t even tell you what all our activities consisted of, mostly I think it was in talking to people. I remember one little funny here, with respect to Max, who really turned out to be a very good friend of mine, and who did all kinds of things over and beyond the call of duty when I was being drafted to try and put in his oar to help. But I remember having a kind of sardonic discussion with Max at one time saying, “Well, Max, what is it really that we can tell people as to why they should join the union?” And I don’t know if it was he or I, or both of us simultaneously, came out with the sardonic answer, “Well, we can tell them that unions can help protect people against union discrimination.” Max was steadfast. He was helpful to me, he was active in the union, and I guess that’s all I can say in answer to the question of that.

Mullet:

The military went into some detail about the family of Max Freedman. They claim that his mother was at one point very interested in communism, and that she, along with Freedman’s father, was a member of the communist controlled International Workers Order, and his older brother was a high official in Russia, although they don’t specify what that position was. Did Freedman ever talk to you about his family, and if so, what did he say, and did he ever suggest his family was a primary source of his own political views, or how did his political views evolve?

Lomanitz:

I don’t remember him ever talking to me about his family. The only thing I think I can recall at all was that I think he’d said his home was in Westwood, near Los Angeles. But I do not remember us talking about a brother, mother, father.

Mullet:

On October 15, 1943, after you had been drafted into the Army, you wrote a letter to I. Robert Oppenheimer, and in that letter, you said that you had not heard from Max Freedman since he got to Salt Lake City. Do you remember what took Max Freedman to Salt Lake City, and was the movement to be permanent?

Lomanitz:

No. I do remember that after I was drafted in the Army, that Max had gone around to see Dr. Berge [?], the Chairman of the Physics Department, because Max was very uneasy that he was going to be singled out next and have something done to him, and he thought the time had come probably for him to get other kind of work than continuing with the radiation laboratory. So Berge first had tried to get Max hired to teach physics at the University of California because they were badly in need of it.

Mullet:

Berge was trying to get Max hired at the University of California before, during, or after Max Freedman worked at the radiation laboratory? What was the order?

Lomanitz:

It was after I went into the Army, so it was certainly after and/or during his last stages at the radiation lab.

Mullet:

So Freedman had left the radiation laboratory after you were inducted into the Army?

Lomanitz:

He had either left, or was wanting to leave, and was checking if he could get a job elsewhere. And Berge apparently had said, “Well, I’ll have to check around whether it’s okay with higher authorities,” and he had apparently done that and said, “Yeah. It’s okay.” And therefore had hired Max. I don’t know whether it was a teaching assistant, or — Anyway, he was going to teach some courses. Then at the last minute, somebody in higher authority had come around and told Berge that this was not going to be permitted, to have Max hired. And Berge told Max he was very unhappy about the situation particularly since they had waited until first they’d given their approval and then disapproved of it. But that he didn’t know entirely all that was going on, but he had an idea that Max might be better off if he got out of the jurisdiction of the Fourth Army Western Defense Command, or maybe it was the Ninth Corp Area, or perhaps they overlapped or were the same thing. Anyway, some kind of a military district. Berge had the idea that Max would be better off if he got entirely out of that district. So Berge in fact, then helped him get a job in Laramie, Wyoming, the University of Wyoming, teaching there. What Salt Lake City had to do with this, I don’t know.

Mullet:

Do you remember how long Max Freedman was at the University of Wyoming?

Lomanitz:

Probably only a semester or so, although I’m not really sure. Because not too long after that, he met the girl whom he married. He went to the University of Chicago for some summer work, and met here there. She was from Puerto Rico and she was also there. They got married, he moved to Puerto Rico, and lived there until he died. So I don’t know just how long it was.

Mullet:

So Max Freedman’s decision to live in Puerto Rico was based solely on personal considerations? There wasn’t ever any sense that he would feel safer or less threatened by any government intervention by living in Puerto Rico? It was solely because his wife was from Puerto Rico?

Lomanitz:

I can’t swear it’s solely because of that. I mean, certainly a major factor was because of his wife. The rest of it is concerned. If after the experiences on the West Coast, if he found something further brewing after he went to Wyoming, then he could indeed come to the conclusion that there was no safe haven here. I don’t know whether he had any such experience or not. I’d say it was a natural. Things were precarious. He met this girl, her family was in Puerto Rico, he went to Puerto Rico.

Mullet:

Do you know if Mr. Freedman ever completed his Ph.D. work?

Lomanitz:

Not to the best of my knowledge.

Mullet:

And what did he do in Puerto Rico?

Lomanitz:

I think he was at the University — I don’t remember if it was at Rio Arriba [?], Arrocebo? I’m just too vague as to where.

Mullet:

He was at a university…

Lomanitz:

Rio Piedra [?]. I think that’s it.

Mullet:

Rio Piedra.

Lomanitz:

Yes. He was at a university there in Puerto Rico, and I think he taught physics some, and then he became more involved with the general science there.

Mullet:

On September 17, 1945, Max Bernard Freedman changed his name to Ken Max Manfred. Do you know anything about why he chose to change his name?

Lomanitz:

I never asked him, so I can only speculate. And the speculations could run a wild gambit, anything to the fact that that sounded less Jewish, and might be more pleasing to his wife’s family, to the fact that he thought with a different name like that that they might not check back and say, “Oh, this is the man who was accused of being a Red.” But this is speculation. He never told me.

Mullet:

Another individual who you became close with also and who you mentioned briefly in the past is David Bohm. Did you ever know David Joseph Bohm to go by the name David Samuel Bohn? Some of the FBI reports refer to this name and explicitly say that it is an alias. Did you ever have knowledge of him going by that name?

Lomanitz:

I knew Dave strictly as Dave Bohm, full name David Joseph Bohm, period. The end.

Mullet:

Was David Bohm seriously involved in the activities of the FAECT? I know at one point, in November of 1943, he was listed as a union steward. Do you remember what his duties were as a steward in this union, and as before, would you say he was seriously involved, or did he just go along?

Lomanitz:

In the first place, I was a little surprised to hear he was a union steward. He may indeed have been. But it strikes no bell with me.

Mullet:

Again, that was in November of 1943, which would have been after you had been drafted, and that was according to FBI records.

Lomanitz:

Also, I think the union was broken up sometime around November of 1943.

Mullet:

Yes, sir.

Lomanitz:

So I have no knowledge about the steward thing. I had knowledge that the FBI can certainly make false statements, misleading statements, of all kinds. As far as his activity in the union, once again, Dave was more of the kind of person who would like to talk about things. Well, I guess most theoretical physicists really kind of like to talk about things. I don’t remember any great activity on his part. I think once again, I can’t remember great activity on the part of any of us, except that we would talk to people, and he certainly did some talking to people, yes.

Mullet:

So while he was not extraordinarily active, you would say it was more of just him going along because you and other friends of yours were also involved? Do you think is was more of a commitment, or more of just kind of going with the flow?

Lomanitz:

I think there was some commitment. I think that David didn’t tend to get into things that he didn’t believe in. Now, he might not have believed that much was going to happen out of it, but they believed, I think, that it was a good thing.

Mullet:

Did he ever really explain his motivation for being active in the FAECT, or why do you think he believed in it? Was it basically because of the statements that you said earlier about concerns that had arisen during the Depression, or do you know why he was particularly concerned with the FAECT?

Lomanitz:

Well, no, I don’t specifically, for David. However. I would ask myself the question, why was I? And I already told you the little anecdote about how Max and I said, “Well, what should we tell people when they want to know why they want to join the union? To protect them from union discrimination.” I think that basically my idea was that it was a good thing, kind of in line with the ideas that you asked me before about how did I see changes coming about with or without violence and so on. I had come to believe that union leadership was a very important thing. So I thought unions were good things. I think in retrospect, it may have indeed been a mistake to even bother to try and organize the radiation laboratory, but then we didn’t even know for sure that the Army was involved in the beginning, and if so, to what degree they would go. So you asked about Dave. And I was not inside his mind, I was inside my mind there, but I think it reasonable that he might have thought something of the same thing.

Mullet:

You said you thought it might have been a mistake to organize a union. Do you think the mistake came in underestimating the level of opposition to it, or that was a mistake in a more fundamental flaw in the notion of trying to organize the radiation laboratory? What exactly do you mean when you say a mistake? LOMANTTZ: The big reason there may have been a mistake was on account of underestimating the power that was going to be lined up against us. In fact, it went so far that later on, as my own fight against being drafted was picked up by some union people, and so on, and by my local draft board, by the way, who did not want to see me drafted either, that things were pushed to the point where the National Selective Service Director, General Hershey, issued an order that if the State Appeals Draft Board did not put me in 1A, that they would be dissolved. And also, an assistant to President Roosevelt, a woman named Anna Rosenberg, I think, requested Phillip Murray, who was President of the CIO, National President, to see that the FAECT was disbanded at the radiation laboratory. In other words, there were far more far reaching consequences than any of us might have dreamed, I think, at the beginning. And for what was accomplished out of it, the only thing I can see accomplished out of it was that these forces were exposed. And I just don’t believe in sacrificing this, that, and the other in order to expose forces.

Mullet:

When you say a draft classification of 1A, that just means that you were eligible to be drafted into the Army. In other words, you had no military deferment?

Lomanitz:

That’s correct. And along with that. I forgot to say, in my case at least, an order to report for induction in ten days. So it wasn’t just eligible, it was, “You’re in.”

Mullet:

Returning to David Bohm, do you think Bohm was politicized by Berkley? Again, I realize that you can’t really get inside of his head, but to any extent that you might have had knowledge of his own political development, do you believe that was Bohm was politicized by Berkley, or do you believe he would have been political wherever he went? Had he stayed at Caltech, for example, do you believe he would have been as politically active as he was at Cal Berkley?

Lomanitz:

That may be a little bit like asking me if I had stayed at the University of Oklahoma, would I have become as active as I was at Berkley. And so once again, not being in his head, being in my head, I would think the answer is probably no. If he would have stated at Caltech, it would not have been as much so.

Mullet:

The following is quoted from a military intelligence report dated May 31, 1944. It is somewhat redacted, so you’ll just have to bear with me. It says, “material deleted,” commented to the effect that it was funny that he was not kicked out sooner. Bohm agreed that they had done some pretty risky things, adding that in his opinion, the most risky was “opening mail.” Do you know what Bohm might have meant from the phrase “opening mail”? Further references made to opening mail in other parts of David Bohm’s FBI file including on October 31, 1943. Do you have any idea what might have been meant by the phrase opening mail?

Lomanitz:

I am scandalized again, not at Bohm’s possibly having opened mail, but at the FBI. I can’t swear that Bohm did or didn’t open mail. It’s just so out of character with him, and so I can’t see what the purpose would be. It makes no sense to me.

Mullet:

Bohm would initially distinguish himself as a physicist with his work in plasma physics. Do you think Bohm’s politics, in any way, contributed to his looking at the behaviors of plasmas as a collected phenomena? And the emphasis on that being on the notion of collective. Did you and Bohm ever discuss collectivist versus individualist philosophy, and if so, what do you remember about Bohm’s views at that time, as well as your own?

Lomanitz:

Well, the only thing I remember even possibly discussing with him was what I would call union ideology, and union ideology, to me, was that instead of it being every man for himself, and the Devil take the hindmost and if the boss will offer you a little bit more to go and squeal and so on like that, instead of doing that, realizing that this is a bunch of bull, that we’ll all be better off if we stick together. Now, for me, that’s the difference between individualist and collective ideology. I remember probably discussing something like this with him. As far as in plasma physics is concerned, I don’t think so. I mean, I remember talking with him some about the transformation of quantitative into qualitative. If you, for example, heat a block of very cold ice for a while, it will get to be warmer ice until suddenly you hit a point where it becomes water, and the qualitative transformation has occurred. I remember discussing things like that with him, not necessarily in relation to plasma physics, and not necessarily in connection with individualist versus collectivist. I think there might possibly, philosophically, be some relationship between say the union ideology versus individualist ideology, and some collective phenomena in physics. But I do not think that one of them encourages the other. I think a person may think as he thinks in physics, and think as he thinks in political ideology. I think the two things may overlap. I don’t think that one consciously sits down and says, “Oh, I think this about the union situation, so therefore, I think this about the plasma situation.”

Mullet:

So you don’t remember ever having in depth discussions about the correlation between physics, the collectivist approach to physics, and the collectivist approach to organize labor, correct?

Lomanitz:

No, I wouldn’t say not just such, per se. No. I would say no.

Mullet:

Bohm’s FBI file contains a report from its Albany office in Albany, New York, dated May 7, 1952, suggesting that in the Summer of 1948, Bohm worked for a brief period, about two months, at Cornell. You were at Cornell at the same time. Do you have any recollection of Bohm spending time at Cornell, and if you do, can you share anything you remember about Bohm’s time there?

Lomanitz:

Yes. You reminded me of something that kind of slipped out of my mind. He did spend a little time there. In fact, he stayed with us at the time, with Mary and me, in our apartment. In fact, what I remember to begin with was that he was talking about he was going to be taking a train, and it would be getting into Oswego at a certain time, and then we couldn’t find how that made any sense. Then we thought, “Did he mean Owego instead of Oswego,” and anyway, it turned out that the whole thing was all screwed up as far as transportation. But yes, I remember. I don’t even know just what his job was there. It was a little temporary job. It may have been to be available to consult with somebody at Cornell. I’m not sure. But I do remember we were very pleased, “Yeah, that would be fine. Wouldn’t you care to stay with us?” And he did, and did. And two months sounds reasonable.

Mullet:

Did you all discuss anything political at that time? Do you remember having any political discussions with Bohm at Cornell?

Lomanitz:

Well, I don’t know. I mean, we might have because when I discuss things with David Bohm, it could be anything. But I don’t remember anything sort of specifically.

Mullet:

While the two of you were both at Berkley, do you remember Bohm ever discussing anything about hidden variables interpretation, or a more deterministic approach to the quantum world. Because according to John Wheeler, by the time Bohm had arrived at Princeton, or while he was at Princeton, he was definitely discussing a more deterministic approach to the quantum world.

Lomanitz:

I don’t remember it at Berkley. In fact, what I remember is that he came out with this book on quantum mechanics, and I don’t remember when it was published.

Mullet:

1951.

Lomanitz:

1951 When I looked at that book, it sounded to me as if he was doing a fairly lucid explanation of the Copenhagen school, Copenhagen interpretation, which I was glad to see because I had always had problems with that, and I convinced myself that Bohm had felt ??? ??? ??? as me too [laughing]. However, this certainly had nothing to do with the deterministic school, quite the contrary. So I think it was after that. I do remember discussing something with him at one time, but it may have been later, because I remember he presented the idea that possibly underlying every probabilistic theory is a deterministic theory, and perhaps underlying every deterministic theory at a deeper level, is a further probabilistic theory. I remember discussing some of that with him, but I don’t think it would have been as early at all as the radiation laboratory. It would have been after his book, I think, came out.

Mullet:

At one point, an FBI report has you discussing the fate of two friends who had spent some time in Israel. You describe one of those who had just recently married a girl from Israel, and plans to go to Paris, France, to study and teach, after which he expects to return to the United States. Further, you state that this same person was an outstanding physicist who was on par with Einstein. The name, however, of this friend is redacted in the FBI file. This sounds very much like David Bohm, except for the reference to Paris. Was it David Bohm that you were referring to, and if it was, do you remember why he never made it to France because I, as of others, have often wondered why Bohm did not go to Paris. It seems like it would have been the most logical place for him to go. His political troubles would have posed fewer problems, and more importantly, people in Paris, most notably, Louis de Brogue, and then later Jean Bigiot [?] would have been much more receptive to his hidden variables approach than would people in other parts of the developed world.

Lomanitz:

You said an FBI reports quotes me as having mentioned two friends I knew that had been in Israel?

Mullet:

Correct. And it sounds like David Fox — I know David Fox and Bohm both spent time in Israel, and then as I said, I know David Bohm also married a girl from Israel, who would become his wife, Sarah Bohm, and that in different points in his career, once he left the United States, he had expressed interest in returning to the U.S. So as I said, it sounded very much like Bohm. I was wondering if you had any recollection of that?

Lomanitz:

No. It sounds to me, again, like one of these FBI things that have real half truths. I don’t know whom I would have been talking about to begin with, about these two people who have been to Israel, and how the FBI would know that 1 had been talking to somebody about it. If so, I cannot see that it would have involved Dave’s going to Paris because my memory with Dave is he was in Israel for a while, he married Sarah. He eventually got a job at the University of Bristol in England.

Mullet:

His initial job in England was at Bristol, yes.

Lomanitz:

And then he became rather unhappy there, and he always kind of wanted, I think, to get back to the United States, too, but he became sort of unhappy in Bristol, and eventually, at least, it was more satisfactory when we went to Berkbeck College at the University of London. I don’t remember anything about Paris. I could see me myself as saying Bohm would be on a par with Einstein because I believe it, but I have no memory of it.

Mullet:

In the end of June of 1951, David Bohm would leave Princeton, and in the Fall of 1951, he would go down to South Paulo, Brazil, where he would teach for the next couple of years. Do you remember anything about Bohm’s leaving for Brazil, or do you remember having any contact with Bohm while he was in Brazil? What can you tell me at all about Bohm’s leaving Princeton, or his decision to go to Brazil?

Lomanitz:

I’m not sure I knew anything about that. 1951. I would have been in Oklahoma. I would have lost my job at Bisque, of course. I would have had some experiences with the Grand Jury in Oklahoma. I would have been indicted for Contempt of Congress, and acquitted, I think. I don’t think I would have had — The only contact I can think of that I would have had with Dave Bohm in the period in question was at our joint trial for Contempt of Congress, which was in 1951, sometime.

Mullet:

May of 1951. Do you remember anything about his time in Israel? Did you have any contact with him? In the mid to late 1950s, he would leave Brazil and go to Israel for the next three years. Do you remember anything about his time in Israel?

Lomanitz:

The only thing I can remember is that my sister, Rachel, now dead, was also in Israel sometime for a few months, overlapping time. I think, when Dave was there. And I remember writing to her that she might want to get in touch with him, or writing to him that he might want to get in touch with her. I’ve forgotten which one. And I think they actually did meet in Israel. But that was a sort of fairly indirect.

Mullet:

You discussed briefly about his time in Bristol, and that he was not particularly happy with his time at Bristol. Do you remember any of the details of why he was unhappy at Bristol, or what was the occasion that made him less than pleased, or looking to leave Bristol? Was it strictly a matter of wanting to return to the United States, or was there something about those experiences at Bristol that just made him want to leave Bristol?

Lomanitz:

I have some vague memory, which may not even be true, but some vague memory that I got a letter from him in which he was talking the dreary, rainy climate there, which may perfectly well be true, but which may or may not have been a decisive factor in keeping him there. I think what kept him there was that he was not able to get another job of the kind at least, that he was willing to take. Other than that, I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t have enough associations in his field. Maybe he was just plain damn lonesome. I don’t even know when he married Sarah, do you?

Mullet:

I don’t remember offhand. I believe it was towards the end of his time in Israel that he married Sarah, but I couldn’t give you the specific date. After leaving Bristol, he would go to Berkbeck College in London, and that’s where he would ultimately stay for the duration of his career from the early 1960s up until the 1990s, when he retired, and then died in 1992. I was wondering if you could remember anything about his time at Berkbeck aside from his attempts to get employment at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, where you were teaching in the mid-1960s, which we discussed in a previous oral history. Do you remember anything about his time at Berkbeck except for that?

Lomanitz:

Well. I saw him probably in the Summer of 1968 or something like that. There was a conference on the foundations of quantum theory that was being held at Cambridge, England. I did go over there and attend at the conference myself for about a week or so, or less than that. I saw him there. He was one of the either organizers of the conference, speakers, or one thing or another. At that time, we did not have a lot of conversation. He was really quite involved and busy, and seeing that things were going right and so on like that. Then I think I may have mentioned in a previous conversation with you that I did get a letter from him when he was hoping to be able to come back to the United States to New Mexico Tech, which he was posing a question as to my opinion of the thing. But basically he was saying, “I have been told that perhaps it would help my chances to get back if I would make an anti-communist statement.” Have I discussed this with you previously?

Mullet:

It might be good to continue.

Lomanitz:

He then went on ahead, and it was really rather endearing to read it. He said something like, “Now, at this present state, I am certainly not a communist, and in many ways, I am anti-communist. And I see nothing wrong with my expressing this to anyone who wants to hear it. However, the conditions under which I might be saying it would bother me. That is I would be expected to do this as a method, perhaps, hopefully, for getting back into the United States. And to me, this sounds as though if I wrote a paper and published it, not because I was interested in what I had done, but because I thought it might be a stepping stone to advancement, that I don’t think this is very honorable. It’s not compatible with dignity. What do you think?”

Mullet:

And so that was the extent of your conversation with him about that 1960 statement, which we referred to previously?

Lomanitz:

Yes.

Mullet:

Dr. Lomanitz, in the past, you’ve said that your politics would often match those of your friend Joe Weinberg, whose fate would become tied with you own. But you said the difference was that his views were developed a couple of years earlier than yours. Do you know anything about how he developed his political views, and was it similar to yours? And then a second question I have is when Joseph Weinberg was interviewed by military intelligence officials about you, he said that you were, “A high type of person, and thoroughly reliable.” The officials noted, however, that, “Weinberg was not so flattering in his remarks about subject (being you) as he was about David Joseph Bohm.” Do you know what he meant about this, about that he wasn’t as flattering?

Lomanitz:

This was an FBI report of Joseph Weinberg’s opinion of me and of David Bohm?

Mullet:

Yes.

Lomanitz:

Well, the first thing that pops in my mind, assuming that the report is in fact accurate, is that David Bohm was further advanced in physics than I was, and further advanced, I think, in his thinking in physics. And Weinberg probably considered Dave Bohm more nearly an equal to him in the field, and myself as more behind him. That’s the only thing that occurs to me.

Mullet:

So when they say he was more flattering about Bohm, that was strictly in terms of physics, not in terms of any personal character or anything?

Lomanitz:

I have no idea. I’m trying to make a guess at a statement that may or may not be true is about.

Mullet:

Do you know anything about how his political views developed? Were his parents active in the left wing?

Lomanitz:

Weinberg? I don’t really know about his parents. I know he did undergraduate work, I think, at CCNY. And perhaps even in high school, he may have been at the same level or perhaps a little more advanced than Julian Finger [?]. Julian Finger was the one that he always compared himself to. There, I’m talking about physics. As far as politics is concerned, I do not know. I do know that he went to the University of Wisconsin after he got his Bachelor’s degree or whatever from CCNY, and he stayed at Wisconsin, I’m not sure how long. Then he came to Berkley. He was not apparently as happy with the University of Wisconsin as he had hoped to be. This was probably, I thought at the time, because the theoretical physicist there was a guy named Bryke [?], whom I gather was a pretty abrasive personality. I do not know what all Joe Weinberg developed politically at Wisconsin, but I gathered that Wisconsin was a place where there might have been some political stuff going on, too.

Mullet:

According to an FBI report, you told an informant that Joseph Weinberg was not even working at Berkley on the day which he supposedly gave data to Steve Nelson, which in turn was passed to the Soviet Console. Are you claiming that contrary to Hugh Ack’s [?] identification of Weinberg as Scientist X, that Weinberg was not responsible for providing this information, and upon what do you base this belief?

Lomanitz:

I have no idea about the story about the informant to whom I talked was about, or when it occurred, or whatever. I do remember that I made no bones about the fact that Joe Weinberg had not been working at the radiation laboratory at the time this story concocted about Scientist X was supposed to have taken place. I was working for some time at the lab, maybe nine months or so, before Joe Weinberg joined the project. That’s what I was referring to, was that the date of his joining the project was later than the date on which he was accused of being Scientist X and giving information away and so on. That is not alone my justification for saying that I disagree with the House Un-American Activities Committee. Because a person cannot be working on a project, and somehow or another, perhaps in principle, in theory, could have access to information from somebody else. I seriously doubt that this is true. I’m not trying to say that there is an airtight case just because Weinberg was not working on the project at the time he was supposed to have given away information. However, I think it is airtight that he was not working on the project at that time. The rest of it, as far as the assertions about a Scientist X, not just who Scientist X was, but about a Scientist X, and all of the great, dramatic buildup about it, I frankly think was, again, part of the drama that was intended to convince us of a whole pack of lies that we were to buy, that there was one and only one Evil Empire that was our enemy, and that if any opposition for the government of the United States was due to subversion on the part of a sculpting group of communists or communist sympathizers trying to grab information and give it to the Soviet Union, which I think is a complete and thorough lie. I think the story of Scientist X was invented to support that lie. I have no idea where there may or may not have been some truth in somebody giving information to somebody else. But the whole background of it to me is within a framework of brainwashing that was the fear that was put on us.

Mullet:

In talking with John Lambsdale, who was a military intelligence officer, J. Robert Oppenheimer said that they knew that Lomanitz had revealed information by, “talking to unauthorized people who in turn would talk to other people.” Oppenheimer was almost certain that you were the source of information which Weinberg had transferred to Nelson on March 29, 1943, thus explaining how Weinberg could have passed information prior to his even being employed by the radiation laboratory. Were you the source of this information, and if you were not, why do you think or how do you think Oppenheimer came to hold this view?

Lomanitz:

In the first place, I never passed any information to any authorized person ever, whatsoever. I remember at that time, the part of the time I was working at the laboratory, I was dating Mary Lea Morgan, who eventually became my wife. And the closest I was, the most intimate I was in my conversations with anybody was with her, and I did not tell her a thing of what I was working on even. In the second place, as far as passing information was concerned, I’m thinking if I had wanted to pass information on, what could I have done? The Scientist X story was supposed to have been that Scientist X copied a complicated formula on a scrap of paper or something. Where he copied it from, I don’t know. To me, I don’t see how any information connected with what I was working on can be passed on by a formula on a scrap of paper, or a sheet of paper, or whatnot. Because the project that I was working on had to do with the development of magnetic pull pieces to provide a magnetic field that would ensure the separation of two isotopes of uranium.

As far as any formulas are concerned, most of the work that we actually did on there was computations to try to see what a change in shape of the pull pieces might produce in the way of the magnetic field that was needed. How one would put any of this in a formula that could be passed on and make any sense to somebody beats me, because I don’t know how I could put it on to a sheet of paper, some formula about how the magnetic field was to be done. And if I pass it on to somebody, what it would mean to them. The whole thing to me is a cock and bull story. Now, as far as how Oppenheimer came to this opinion, I’m not sure Oppenheimer really came to this opinion. I am sure that Oppenheimer was being played and squeezed, and scared by the powers that be, the military intelligence people, and was made to come out with some things that no intelligent, rational person can conceivably come out with unless he was sort of way out off base at the time. For example, this story that Chevalier [?] was one of several sources who had contacted him with respect to trying to get whatever it was that Chevalier was purportedly trying to get, and asked to get. Oppenheimer admitted himself later on, it was a cock and bull story. That Chevalier had merely passed to him some information that somebody had brought up to Chevalier. What do you think about sharing information with our allies? Not even apparently saying, “Hey, would you go do it?” But just what did he think of it. Chevalier apparently passed this information on to Oppenheimer, out of which Oppenheimer concocted this cock and bull story out of a combination, I think, of fear and I don’t know what else it was combined with. I mean, the man lied, and it was a stupid thing to do because he should know that his mind, no matter how great, was not as great as the beehive mind of the Army counterintelligence. So I think this was just a trap that Oppenheimer got himself into. On the question about myself and Joseph Weinberg and so on, to me, was again, part of the same thing, Oppenheimer got scared and said what he thought they would want him to say, and that was it.

Mullet:

I know that Joseph Weinberg would ultimately lose his job at the University of Minnesota. Do you know what became of him after he left Minnesota? For many, the story of Joe Weinberg ends with his departure of Minnesota.

Lomanitz:

I know some things about what happened. One thing, Joseph Weinberg was brought up also on a federal indictment, as were a number of the rest of us. However, the rest of us that I am referring to were indicted for Contempt of Congress. Joseph Weinberg was not indicted for that. He was indicted for perjury. He was acquitted. His trial occurred a bit later, a year or two later, probably, than mine and Bohm’s and various other people like that. After his trial, I understand that he was able to get back into industrial work. I think he worked on the development, for example, of eyeglasses that I’m wearing today, that are no longer bifocals or trifocals like that, but continuance of ???. I’m pretty sure he worked for a number of industrial companies, particularly on problems of vision.

Mullet:

Do you know where that was’? Was that still in Minnesota?

Lomanitz:

I doubt it. I don’t know for sure. I really don’t know for sure just where it was.

Mullet:

Do you know where he was relocated ultimately or what would become of him…?

Lomanitz:

Well, eventually, after the industrial work, as far as I know he went to Western Reserve University, which then later merged with Kase [?]. This was in Cleveland, Ohio. And after some time there, then he went to Syracuse University, where he was given some very honored position, like Regents Professor, or Research Professor or something. As far as I know, he stayed there at Syracuse, until his retirement.

Mullet:

Do you know about when he retired?

Lomanitz:

I don’t know exactly. My guess is that it was roughly ten years ago.

Mullet:

Does he still reside in Syracuse?

Lomanitz:

The last I knew, because I had made a re-acquaintance with him, he and his wife lived in Syracuse. Yes.

Mullet:

And do you know, during his time at Kase Western or at Syracuse, do you know to what extent, if at all, he discussed his political problems with officials at those universities, or do you know if his political problems ever factored in to his academic career, or his industrial career, for that matter?

Lomanitz:

Of course in the academic career. They did get him fired from the University of Minnesota. As far as his industrial career, I think probably not. I think that he was recognized as doing work that was valuable enough that this other stuff was — And in industry, it’s a little different perhaps than around a university. A university can be subject to much more political pressures, I think. I don’t know whether anything came up either at Kase Western Reserve, or at the University of Syracuse, but I think he had a normal productive life in those careers.

Mullet:

Were there ever any incidences that you can remember where the experiences of you, Joseph Weinberg, or Dave Bohm, or Max Freedman, the experiences that you all had been through, were there ever any cases that you would find later that would kind of suggest that it had a significant impact on any of you all psychologically as far as in heightened awareness, the government, or anything of that sort?

Lomanitz:

Well, yes. I remember one little incident when for some reason or another, David Bohm and Weinberg and I were all together in a train station, I believe in Washington, D.C., and we were getting ready to go our separate ways. And somehow, we had mixed up our baggage. Somebody was carrying a briefcase of somebody else’s or something like that. I remember noticing that it was about time for departure, and we were supposed to meet and they hadn’t showed up. So I asked that they be paged, and in fact, they were paged. “Dr. Bohm and Dr. Weinberg, please report to so and so and so and so.” And they did come puffing up there, and it was Joe Weinberg in particular who was really very apprehensive about being paged. I think that it’s very understandable that any of us could see around the corner, somebody who meant us no good, whether anybody was around the corner or not. However, the way we acted on it, I tried at least, to not make that the main spin of my life. To assume that things were okay, and that if people were interested at all in the situation and they knew the facts, that there wouldn’t be anything to fear. It affected my life anyway, of course. I had several experiences later on, which I may have mentioned in a previous interview. Like when I was called up before the Grand Jury, and got an anonymous telephone call about “me and some of the boys were thinking we would save the Grand Jury some trouble.” Sure. And besides loss of jobs, there were harassments from time to time of that nature. But I think that by and large, during those years, which I mean were predominantly the whole decade of the 1950s, the late 1940s and so on, I think that by assuming that one would be treated by ordinary people in an okay kind of way, one produced that kind of reaction in them. I don’t think one could assume the same things about such things as Congressional Committees, however.

Mullet:

That incident in the train station, roughly what year was that?

Lomanitz:

I’m not quite sure. It must have been something that had to do with appearances before the Un-American Activities Committee, or with trial for Contempt of Congress for my part. If it were before the Un-American Activities Committee, it would have been back in 1949. If it was on the trial for contempt, it would be in 1951.

Mullet:

And with Dr. Bohm, yourself, Dr. Weinberg, and Max Freedman, did y’all maintain any contact? We discussed briefly the contact you had with Bohm throughout his time in Israel, Bristol, and Berkbeck. Did you all maintain any contact amongst each other throughout the years, aside from what we have discussed already?

Lomanitz:

I maintained some contact with David Bohm with occasional letters back and forth. With Max Freedman, also some contact with me and him, letters back and forth. But with Joe Weinberg, I lost complete contact, and there was no attempt on either side apparently, to write letters, until contact was re-established in 1985 when I had a serious operation for colon cancer. My wife Josephine was looking around for friends, people who might encourage me, so on like that, and she ferreted out how to get a hold of Joseph Weinberg, whom she had never met. And it wasn’t a great deal to ferret it out. I think she found out he was in Syracuse, and called the operator in Syracuse and got his phone number. But that’s when contact was again reestablished with Weinberg. But as far as the four of together, the three of us together, or the two of us together, to my knowledge, on my part, there were just some letters to Bohm, some letters to Max, and then this 1985 renewal with Weinberg. That eventually lead to further contact with him when we moved to New York state.

Mullet:

Did particularly you and Max Freedman, or you and Joseph Weinberg, ever discuss the incidences that had occurred throughout the 1940s and into the 1950s?

Lomanitz:

Max told me a little bit about what happened immediately after I had gotten inducted in the Army because he had taken it upon himself to go around and talk to what were called the area engineers, the Army counter intelligence people, to try to find out as best he could what might have happened with me. And also, he was himself then, in some fear as to what might happen to him. And he told me about some conversations he had with them. With Dave Bohm, most of the conversations I remember, one occurred maybe about 1968, when he was really seriously thinking about coming back to the United States, and then Colgate was trying to get him back. I remember having some discussions with him in which he had written back about, “Well, it looks as though Richard Nixon is liable to become President.” I said, “Richard Nixon is one of only five candidates. There’s another Republican running. There are three Democrats yet. The primaries aren’t over. One of the five might be tolerable.” He wrote back and said, “Yes, but it’s this one I’m worried about.”

Mullet:

And any discussion with Joseph Weinberg about the…? Since re-establishing contact with Joseph Weinberg in 1985, did you all ever discuss the incidences that had occurred in the 1940s and 1950s?

Lomanitz:

We really talked practically nothing about them. I saw Joe Weinberg and his wife Merle after my wife Josephine and I moved to New York state. This would have been 1994. We moved back there for about four years, and we made contact with Joe and Merle Weinberg, visited them. We were their houseguests some of the time. My wife played music with Merle, and so on. But generally he himself was not too eager to talk about those times. It’s as though he felt as if he might bring down on him some harassment that had hopefully been gotten rid of forever.

Mullet:

In an interview with John Lambsdale, Oppenheimer stated that he had told you that your employment at the radiation laboratory was subject to the condition that you discontinue all political activity. Oppenheimer did not want communists working on the project because with them, there was always the question of divided loyalty. Do you remember having such a conversation with Oppenheimer about your political activity, and if so, what do you remember?

Lomanitz:

I don’t know where that quotation came from.

Mullet:

It’s from David Bohm’s FBI file.

Lomanitz:

About Oppenheimer saying that he didn’t want communists working on the project. Was that supposed to be a quote of Oppenheimer to Lambsdale?

Mullet:

I believe it was part of the interview that is in David Bohm’s FBI file.

Lomanitz:

I remember at least one conversation with Oppenheimer, in which he had come back from Los Alamos after I had gone to work for the radiation laboratory. I don’t remember exactly when it was. I went to work for the laboratory in 1942. I was drafted to the Army and got my first 1A notification at the end of July in 1943. So it was sometime within that year.

Mullet:

I believe that might have been August 25, 1943.

Lomanitz:

That may have been another time, then. There may have been two times. Because in August 25, 1943, I was in the middle of fighting, being drafted off the project into the Army. In fact, already, the fight had been going on through basically the whole month of August, and continued until September 20, when I was finally inducted. So the time you are talking about, August 25th, it would be roughly half way between the start and the end of that fight. I remember talking to Oppenheimer at least once. It may have been an earlier time than August 25, 1943. He said to me something like that it would be good if I carried a low profile, as far as any political activity was concerned. I do not remember him saying anything about it being a condition of my employment.

Mullet:

The FBI file on you contains the following undated and unsigned memo. “MIS advised [materials deleted] that J. Robert Oppenheimer, in a conversation with [material deleted] at the radiation lab stated that he was going to advise Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz to volunteer for Army service in order to resolve then present difficulties. Further, that Oppenheimer stated that he was aware of the fact that a group had attempted to gain information available. [material deleted] was scheduled to interview Oppenheimer and might question him concerning that statement.” Did Oppenheimer ever suggest that you volunteer for the Army? Were you aware that he ever even suggested that he would encourage you to enlist, and doesn’t this seem to run counter to depictions of Oppenheimer who is later portrayed as trying to help you remain at the radiation laboratory?

Lomanitz:

I certainly know of no such advice or exhortation whatsoever from Oppenheimer about enlisting in the Army. I remember right at the beginning, when I found out that I was being put in 1A, one of the things I did was to telephone Oppenheimer at Los Alamos because he had left a way to reach him in case of need. At that time, he seemed very sympathetic that he would do what he could. And I got a telegram from him later saying that he couldn’t guarantee results, but he’d made representations in the highest places to try to ask that I remain working on the project because basically of the importance of the work, and because of the difficulty of replacing me with someone else. If that sounds bragging, I don’t mean it to be that way. Physicists were very short. It had taken a long time for me to even learn enough and get enough feel about what we were trying to do, that even in a physicist could be obtained from somewhere, with the adequate training, without taking him off of somewhere else important, that it would take him a while to sort of get the feel of what was going on. So Oppenheimer tried very hard, he said he was going to at least, to get military intelligence to reconsider. He didn’t succeed. In fact, I think the only thing that he succeeded in was getting this held against him later on, amongst many other things. No. I never knew of any such thing as that, and the fact that this is supposed to be in some FBI file or something like that again raises up to me the whole suspicion that I have. These FBI files have some truth in them, but they undoubtedly have a lot of lies in them, and they certainly have some innuendos that may be lies, but sound like truth.

Mullet:

Referring back to the August 25, 1943 discussion you had with Oppenheimer during his visit at Berkley, in John Major’s book on the Oppenheimer hearing, he said that on August 25th, Oppenheimer confronted you in a stormy interview about your political activities, and your being viewed as a potential, if not actual security leak at the radiation lab. Major goes on to write, “We have only Oppenheimer’s version of what happened, and this is somewhat contradictory.” Did John Major ever discuss or attempt to get your accounts of the events of August 25th, and how do you recall that discussion? Although we’ve discussed it briefly, do you remember anything else in particular about the meeting with Oppenheimer on August 25th?

Lomanitz:

First, I never heard of John Major until you asked me this. And certainly, John Major did not try to talk to me. As far as anything further I remember about conversations with Oppenheimer at that time, I think he used the language that I had been indiscreet, without explaining what indiscreet meant. Whether it meant that I had insisted on having a right to have my own political opinions, or to be a Union member, or whether it meant something much more sinister, that namely, I had given, or was at risk of giving away, secret information to unauthorized people. This was, unfortunately, a characteristic that I had run into of Oppenheimer’s before also. That is, he was liable to use his words to make statements that could be interpreted one way, or could be interpreted another way. I think he made the statement to me about that I had been accused of being indiscreet, without explaining what indiscreet might mean. I myself have never been indiscreet in the terms of passing any information to any unauthorized person. I think I had not been indiscreet in terms of insisting on my constitutional rights, political activity, union activity, and so on. If he meant that, however, perhaps he meant that.

Mullet:

Discussing a little bit more about your potential indiscretions, in September of 1943, on a train from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Chicago, Oppenheimer talked to General Lesley Groves about your situation at the radiation lab, and the desire by many to have you drafted. The following is quoted from an FBI memo dated September 14, 1943. “While Oppenheimer did not know the cause of the objection by the Army to Lomanitz, he did know that he had been indiscreet, and that he was still engaged at that time in political activities. Dr. Oppenheimer said that the interview with Lomanitz had been very unsatisfactory,” although which interview that is is undetermined here, “and that Lomanitz was defiant. Oppenheimer was sorry that he had ever had anything to do with him, and he did not desire any further connection with him.” What is your reaction to the comments made by Oppenheimer, and as you said before, you think by indiscreet, it’s very unclear what Oppenheimer meant. Do you have anything else that could lead you to understand why or how Oppenheimer would have felt this way, or desire to tell Groves that he was sorry that he ever had anything to do with you?

Lomanitz:

Well, he obviously felt that it had caused him, Oppenheimer, a problem. And perhaps it did in a certain way. I think that Oppenheimer was a better person than the gang that was attacking him. By the gang, I mean among physicists, lead by Edward Teller, and outside of physicists, the counter intelligence service, the Army. I would defend Oppenheimer because I think he tried to be a better person than any of those other people. I think, however, that he got frightened. I think he got frightened when he found himself out of his water, trying to first make statements that could be taken two different ways, and in general, when he felt like it, trying to deceive the authorities in certain ways. I don’t think it was his object to deceive the authorities, but I think he did invent cock and bull stories, like the thing about Chevalier, for example, with them. I think this was as a result of his fear of being under the pressure of the very real powers that be, and finding out that his one little mind, brilliant as it might be, just was not sufficient to cope with the beehive mind.

Mullet:

At one point, Oppenheimer suggested to military intelligence officials that the FAECT might be a source of leaks and information that was going to pro-Soviet channels. Were you ever made aware of Oppenheimer’s suspicions concerning the link between espionage and the FAECT?

Lomanitz:

No. He never spoke of such to me.

Mullet:

Do you think the way in which Oppenheimer handled the activities of his graduates, most notably you, David Bohm, Joe Weinberg, and Max Freedman, and his previous associations with the left, was at least partially responsible for you having such a difficult time with the FBI and the government in general? Because Edward Kindan [?] once told Oppenheimer words to the effect that if Oppenheimer believed he could save himself by naming names, then he was wrong because that would only further cast suspicion upon him and his ties to the left. Do you feel at all that Oppenheimer was at all responsible for some of the difficulties that you would later encounter?

Lomanitz:

I think that if Oppenheimer would have taken a more forthright, forcible, and straightforward stand, and let the chips fall where they may, that one of two things would have happened. Either he would have gotten the axe as Director, or he could have made things better. I don’t know which one of those two things would have happened, and apparently it was not within his character to do it that way.

Mullet:

In the past, you’ve said that for all of his good traits, one thing that you did not admire in Oppenheimer was his courage. Do you believe that Oppenheimer simply lacked courage? Is it possible that he handled your situation the way that he did out of a desire to maintain his own career, and in this sense, you and other graduate students, such as we’ve discussed previously, were expendable? Because in the course of his 1954 hearing, it came out that military officials suspected that Oppenheimer would cooperate with them out of a desire to maintain or promote his own career. Do you think this is an accurate assessment on the part of the military officials?

Lomanitz:

I think that to Oppenheimer, his image was very important. When the word career is used, I might go more towards using the word image, although it might be difficult to draw a line between the two. The reason I use the word image is that I have known of Oppenheimer back even before the days of the war to try to impress a graduate student about himself, about Oppenheimer without any need to at all. The graduate student would be perfectly willing to give all necessary homage. But I think this was a weakness that Oppenheimer, his image, was important. And he had a tremendous image among professional physicists, as well as amongst graduate students. I think that he himself brought about the destruction of that image by the way he acted. I think it’s kind of a Greek tragedy in a way. Did I miss the question?

Mullet:

It’s just a discussion about whether or not you believe that in his mind, Oppenheimer saw you, David Bohm, Joe Weinberg, Bernard Peters, and other graduate students as expendable people, or do you feel he had any commitment to your well being?

Lomanitz:

I don’t think he was happy to see the things happening to various of us. I don’t think he had the strength of character to resist it at the cost, they say, of his career. Because in a sense, when I first knew him, his career was as a physicist. Then later on, his career was more narrowly of Father of the Atomic Bombs. In between time, his image also was that he was a man of great charisma, in fact, probably the only man who could have brought so many very competent professional physicists together in a place like Los Alamos because of their respect for, trust for Oppenheimer and his charisma. So when I say his image, this is tied up with the charisma. It’s tied up with the fact that he was very successful at using it to bring other people in, and I think that he blew it all by — I said courage. Courage is what you do when you’re afraid. You say, “Okay, here goes nothing,” or you don’t. I don’t think he deliberately sat and thought, “Okay. These guys are expendable.” I think he probably thought, “Oh my God, where am I going to go now?”

Mullet:

According to government records, you once said that Oppenheimer was naïve and that if he had been shrewd, he would have stayed out of trouble. But you didn’t understand how a man as brilliant as Oppenheimer could have made the mistake that thinking that the H-bomb could not be made. You disagreed at the time decisions about the H-bomb were being made, and you could not see why Oppenheimer had reached the conclusions that he had. In fairness to Oppenheimer, the feasibility of the H-bomb was by no means assured until after the General Advisory Committee, which Oppenheimer chaired and which had met in the Fall of 1949, and that advisory committee had come out against the Crash Program for the H-bomb. It was not until well after that that the feasibility of the H-bomb was assured. What made you so sure of the feasibility of the H-bomb, or what lead you to make the statement you did about Oppenheimer’s connection with the H-bomb program?

Lomanitz:

I’m supposed to have said this?

Mullet:

That’s correct.

Lomanitz:

Somewhere, this is all garbled up because I have no idea of how I would be thinking any such thoughts. I didn’t know enough about it to think such thoughts. What was this reported from?

Mullet:

I believe this was from the military intelligence file.

Lomanitz:

Okay. It just makes me more suspect of FBI and military intelligence reports.

Mullet:

Referring back to John Major’s study of the Oppenheimer hearing, Major suggests that the strategy of Oppenheimer’s defense team in the 1954 Security Hearing was somewhat flawed in that they tried to distance Oppenheimer from his previous life-going connections by not calling witnesses such as yourself. Major speculates that, “He,” referring to Oppenheimer’s attorney, “could have brought out Oppenheimer’s post-war anti-communism more tellingly by summoning witnesses whose loyalties were still to the Left. Chevalier, Lomanitz, or Peters would almost certainly have indicated their distaste for Oppenheimer’s post-war alignment, and this in turn would have created a powerful impression.” Do you feel Major is correct? Had you had been called to testify in 1954, what do you suspect you might have said on behalf of Oppenheimer, or in regards to Oppenheimer’s political activities?

Lomanitz:

Well, of course, it’s very difficult for me to say with certainty what I would have said had I been subpoenaed. But I have some idea of within what background I can try to answer the question. That is while I was very disappointed in Oppenheimer, to me still at that time, he was a better person than those attacking him. And that for me to join in on the attack on Oppenheimer when he was attacked would just be giving fuel to the enemy. So I do believe, I think, that had I been called, I think I would have not been pushed into making anti-Oppenheimer remarks.

Mullet:

On August 2, 1943, a memo from John Lanes Dale to General Lesley Groves listed nine names of people who were not to be submitted to the scientific research personnel. In other words, the people on that list were not to be considered for technical jobs because of questions concerning their loyalty. In addition to your name, there was the name of Raeburn William Dunn. Dunn was a chemist who joined the radiation laboratory in October 1943, and as a leader of the Chemical Assay Group, he was the supervisor of John Hike Grove, of whom we spoke earlier. Furthermore, he was a member of the FAECT. Do you remember anything about Mr. Dunn, and if so, what do you remember?

Lomanitz:

I remember Ray Dunn, who was a member of the Union, who worked at the radiation laboratory. I assume that’s the same Ray Dunn. You said in October of 1943 he joined the radiation lab?

Mullet:

October 1942.

Lomanitz:

That makes better sense. What I really remember of Dunn was he seemed to be a sort of steady, hardworking Union person. I did know him in connection with his work, of course. The only people with whom I knew anything about their work were those who were working with me on the project of designing shims for the separation of the uranium isotopes. And I knew of no connection in particular. I had also run into Grove somewhere along the line as a Union member. I did not know of any connection between Dunn and Grove. I did not know Dunn very well, but I had, as I say, a favorable impression that he was hardworking.

Mullet:

So you don’t remember him being particularly active, or a standout within the FAECT? LOMANTTZ: It’s hard for me to say particularly accurately. If I remember the name of a person that is brought up, it may be usually, that that person was relatively active. Relatively active, however, means attending meetings, trying to propagandize other people and so on like that. I do remember Ray Dunn’s name, so therefore, he probably was one of the relatively active ones.

Mullet:

In 1941, a man by the name of Arthur Rosen got his Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkley, and then also went to work in the radiation laboratory. He was another Berkley student who had been active in leftist politics. Do you remember him, and if so, what do you remember about him?

Lomanitz:

I remember Art Rosen in a somewhat different connection. The very first car I ever owned was a 1927 Nash that I bought in 1942 in Berkley. Her name had been Pepsibo [?], [inaudible]. She had belonged to Art Rosen, who I think had been an undergraduate student in physics, and I was a graduate student. That’s how I first came to know Art Rosen. Pepsibo was not as much of a delight by the time I had her. Perhaps I also didn’t have the expertise to keep her running as well and so on. Anyhow, that’s how I met Art Rosen.

Mullet:

But you don’t remember anything with connection as far as his political activity?

Lomanitz:

I don’t even remember if he was a member of the union or not. He may have been a member of the Student Worker’s Federation or something like that. I did run into Art Rosen again many years later, when I was offered a job at Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo. This was sometime in the 1980s. Art Rosen was one of the members of the physics faculty there at that time, and so was a man who had his Doctorate’s degree then, would have been a graduate student of mine at Fisk University, Carrey [?], and they had talked to other people in the department and seriously proposed that I come to Cal Poly for a job, which I did not do, by the way. My memories of Rosen were probably running into him a little bit in one of the student organizations when he was an undergraduate, buying the car from him. I had no memory of him in the union at all. He may or may not have been a member.

Mullet:

David Hawkins is another scientist who would later come before the Un-American Activities Activity. What, if anything, do you remember about Dr. Hawkins?

Lomanitz:

I never knew him personally. I remember that when Oppenheimer went to Los Alamos and took with him Stan Frankle and Elrid Millson, who had been the key graduate students working on the part of the project I was working on, I think it was Frankie that told me somebody from the Philosophy Department named David Hawkins was coming along, too, to be a sort of a historian. I never met the man.

Mullet:

What if anything do you remember about Raymond Berge being the Chairman of the Physics Department? Do you remember anything specific that he discussed with you or Max Freedman, Joseph Weinberg, or David Bohm concerning your situation, referring to the draft, and the way that things were being handled in the radiation laboratory? Do you remember having any discussions with the Chairman about your situation?

Lomanitz:

What I really remember is a letter later from Berge to me, because I had written to him after I was in the Army, both to keep him informed of my own situation, and to ask him what the possibilities might be of coming back there, and so on. At that time, he said something in his letter like he was not happy about what had happened. He hoped it would never happen again. He had some reason to think it might not. And then in conversations, I think, with Max Freedman, who I heard from somewhere along the line, Max said that Berge had advised him, Max, to get out of the area in question, the Ninth Core area, or the Western Defense Command. I’m not sure which it was. And that things might be better if he did.

Mullet:

I know that Berge had worked closely with your friend Joseph Weinberg, and he had a very high opinion of Weinberg within the Physics Department. What, if any, experiences did you have with Berge while a physics graduate student, and would you ever later suspect that Dr. Berge was opposed to the organization of an FAECT local at the radiation laboratory? In a letter addressed to Mrs. Sandra Collins, the Publicity Director for the Science for Victory Committee, dated October 6, 1943, he wrote, “I received your invitation to contribute a few remarks for the forum. I regret to reply that it seems best to decline this invitation. There is no one better able than myself to appreciate the importance of scientists in the war effort. I note, however, that there are on the program as speakers several representatives of labor unions, in particular Mr. Louis Allen Burn, International President of the Federation of Architects, Engineers, Chemists, and Technicians, CIO. I am quite familiar with the local activities of this union. These activities have already brought about situations which have been extremely unpleasant for everyone concerned, including myself. For this reason, I should prefer not to have my name associated, even by implication, with this union.” Having said this, it might be worth noting that when Dr. Berge was interviewed in 1943, he had said that he received no information to prove that you were a communist, and that aside from your past connections with the radical movement, he knew of nothing that might unfavorably reflect upon your integrity or your loyalty. So what other experiences did you have with Dr. Berge as a graduate student, and what do you think about Dr. Berge’s opinion of the FAECT?

Lomanitz:

I had a class from Dr. Berge. I had two semesters from him as a matter of fact, a graduate course in optics. I remember getting the idea from him at that time that he was a… I had two semesters graduate courses in optics with Dr. Berge, which was one of his specialties. I remember one of the things he had us do was assign us a project that involved considerable calculations for how the Cranu [?] spiral curves might go for various parameters. Of course, at that time, there was not yet a computer established, and the calculators were not nearly as far advanced as they are now, so there was a lot of number crunching involved. I got the impression that this was one of Berge’s specialties, number crunching. And as a matter of fact, what he was best known for in physics at that time amongst his colleagues was as being the world’s authority on the numerical values of various physical constants out to however many decimal places. Because you could calculate them in various ways, that involved various combinations of them. And if you took them on out to six decimal places or so, you might find there was a bit of a conflict between calculating them one way and calculating them another. He had done sort of an analysis of what is the probable best values of these.

The thing that Weinberg had worked on him with, I think, to bring great favorable attention to Joe on, had to do with reflection from a pile of glass plates. This involved setting up and solving difference equations. Difference equations was the thing that not all that many people had heard of yet, but there were a few of them in mathematics. I think Joe had done a very impressive job as far as Berge was concerned, so that Berge later on made some remark about — Well, when he was asked about what he thought about hiring Joe Weinberg on the project by the security people, he made a statement something like, “Weinberg is a genius. If Oppenheimer wants him, that’s good enough for me,” something to that effect. Anyhow, my experience with Berge had been that. I considered him a little bit of a fuddy-duddy, but a decent enough guy. My experiences when I was getting drafted into the Army, and the letter I got afterwards, and the help he gave Max Freedman in getting a job at the University of Wyoming, all spoke to me favorably of him. However, his remarks really sort of shocked me a bit, about the strength of the anti-union, and its remark. As I look on it now, I don’t think I need to be shocked by it. I think that Berge, like many an administrator, wanted to not have waves. He didn’t want to have things disturbed. And it’s clear that there was a great deal of disturbing that came in with this whole situation at the radiation laboratory and so on. What Berge seemed to have been doing there in writing was to blame it on the union, rather than the people who were trying to destroy the Union.

Mullet:

Victor Lemson [?] was a physics professor at Berkley, and he told military intelligence that you were a brilliant and capable student, and that you had never discussed political issues with him. He did not anything of your politics. What do you remember about Dr. Lemson, and was it typical of you to define most of your political discussions to an audience of other graduate students, or was there much political dialogue between the faculty and graduate students?

Lomanitz:

I certainly didn’t have much dialogue with faculty on political affairs, and certainly not with Lemson. Now, as far as Lemson specifically is concerned, I remember a graduate course I had with him called Advanced Dynamics. Lemson was of the old German school, in which he wanted everything exactly cut out in a certain way. He would come in in the mornings, start his lecture at 8:00 sharp, would have his notes with him, would go through the notes, and would stop at five minutes until 9:00 sharp, and that was it. And I remember one time trying to impress him by raising my hand and asking a question. He replied, “I’m glad you asked me that question, because it gives me the opportunity to say that I do not wish to have my lectures interrupted.” Lemson was also a bachelor when I knew him. He eventually married a woman there when he was probably in his 50s. This was all fine. To me, Lemson was not a bad sort. There were things that people might poke fun at him at because he was looked on as kind of a bit of a fuddy-duddy, but as far as I’m concerned, he was a good man. And his statement, I have no reason to fault him about it. I think it’s true, and I’m kind of proud that he was able to say so.

Mullet:

Did you ever have any interaction with Martin Kayman [?], and if so, what can you tell me about him or your interactions with him?

Lomanitz:

I never met him personally. I think I saw him give a seminar once. He was certainly far more advanced than I. I think he had his Doctorate degree in chemistry by the time I came there in physics. It was exciting new stuff that was happening that was really making physics and chemistry. I heard a talk of this. That’s all I know.

Mullet:

While at Berkley, did you ever come to know a man by the name of Rudy Lambert?

Lomanitz:

No.

Mullet:

No recollections of the name?

Lomanitz:

The only recollection I have of that name is that I think in the Un-American Activities Committee transcripts, they had asked somebody else, not me, if they knew Rudy Lambert, who I gathered, from the context of it, was supposed to be in Los Angeles. No. I remember seeing the name in such a report. I’ve never met him, never heard of him.

Mullet:

How well did you know a man named Steve Nelson? Because in various FBI and military intelligence files, there was a story told about how on October 10, 1942, which was your 2l birthday, you discussed with Steve Nelson whether or not it would be permissible for you to go into the open with your Communist Party activities, and secure employment in the shipyards in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nelson then advised you that the research work in the laboratory was just as important as open party were, and that it was important for the Communist Party to have knowledge of these discoveries for research developments. This incident was gained from a technical surveillance of the Communist Party in San Francisco, and was made known to military intelligence officials as early as August of 1943 because it appears in a memo from Lambsdale to Lesley Grove. Did you ever have such an exchange with Mr. Nelson? Did you indeed want off of the radiation laboratory project, and if not, do you have any ideas how FBI and military intelligence officials might have come to believe that this incident had occurred.

Lomanitz:

What a highly distorted version this is of something that did happen. But it’s completely distorted, and again, at this late stage in age, it still shocks me how our government agencies will take an event and present little bits of it that may be true, and then twist it around into things that are just shockingly wrong. Now, as far as myself and Mr. Nelson is concerned, I had met Mr. Nelson. Mr. Nelson was the organizer for the Alameda County Communist Party of the United States. I did go around and ask if I could see Mr. Nelson at one time because I had a problem in mind. I do not remember just when the date was. Whether it was the date specified, October 10, 1942, or not. But I had been working at the radiation laboratory. I don’t know for how long. And I had felt myself torn for the following reasons. In the first place, what was I doing, a very able bodied young male, who believed that the war against the Nazis had to be won, who was Jewish, who was left wing in some of his opinions, who knew that all of these things would subject him to obliteration by the Nazis should they win. Who was also convinced that a lot of others would be obliterated, that no civilization was going to be able to tolerate a Nazi victory. And who was I, being personally sheltered by a deferment through working on a war project, personally sheltered and asking other young American males to go do the dirty work of the fighting? Not that I wanted to fight. Not very many people, I think, wanted to fight. That’s not the point.

I may have also still been concerned about what if the project we were working on succeeded. It would leave us with an explosive power qualitatively far different than had ever been known before in the history of the world. And what would we do with it? What could be done with it? What would be done with it? Of course, I remember having had these thoughts when I was first asked to work on the project, and being told, “Look. The Nazis are probably working on this. What do you think is going to happen if they get it first?” Well, I didn’t have any answer to that question, either. But it did not make me feel comfortable. But I think the thing that most made me feel uncomfortable was what was I doing trying to hide behind the shield of a 2B Deferment Essential War Occupation, while other people, who I thought knew a lot less about the politics of the situation, a lot less about the Nazis, who themselves were not Jewish, who themselves were not radicals, asking them to go on out and put their lives on the line while I was being protected. This was bothering me. I discussed it, some with Mary, at the time, never of course, ever discussing specifically what I was working on. She basically told me that I was over dramatizing myself, and why didn’t I just keep on doing what I was doing and stop making a big deal out of it. And I still was unhappy. So finally she said, “You met Mr. Nelson at some party or some meeting, something or another, you respect him?” I said, “Yes. I respect him.” She says, “Why don’t you talk to him and see what advice he would give you for this?” So, I went and talked to Mr. Nelson. Mr. Nelson said, “Okay, you can come visit me.” And Mr. Nelson essentially said the same thing she had, “Don’t be so dramatic about it. One person is one person. We each contribute whatever we’re contributing in whatever way we are contributing it. If you decide that you are going to volunteer for the service, or volunteer for the shipyards and get drafted into the service because you can’t stand to be protected while other people are not, you’re not going to make a very good soldier anyway because it has to coincide with something that makes sense with your own self interests as you feel them. Do not be a martyr. This will not help anybody.”

Mullet:

So the discussion had nothing to do with whether or not you could do open Communist Party work?

Lomanitz:

Not to my remembrance, no. No. It really had to do with getting his opinion as a person I respected. And the answer he gave me, I think was very sobering, very sane, and it’s just the kind I would have gotten, I would have hoped, from my counselor, from a priest, from a Boy Scout Master.

Mullet:

It just so happened that he was in the Communist Party?

Lomanitz:

That’s right.

Mullet:

You briefly touched upon how you had met Mr. Nelson before, but how well did you know him? Were you in fairly common contact with him?

Lomanitz:

No. Not at all.

Mullet:

On August 24, 1943, a memo from John Lambsdale to General Groves says that secret ink was found in the possession of Steve Nelson, and that this ink, if properly used, could be developed only in a laboratory. Was there ever any knowledge of such a discovery made while you were working in the lab? Did anybody in the radiation laboratory ever hear of such a discovery by military intelligence officials?

Lomanitz:

This is another one of those “where in the world did this concoction come from?” This, not to mention the Scientist X story, and the ten bills of unknown denomination exchanging hands. It makes me think that there were people who thought they could be very smart by acting like fiction writers, spy story writers, and get it believed somehow, and get themselves a big name. In the first place, I never heard of such as a secret ink. But a secret ink were developed, and I think invisible ink had been developed for a long time, as a matter of fact, things that you add chemicals to it or heat it or do something with it, for many years. But it certainly had nothing to do with what was going on at the radiation laboratory. We were interested in developing atomic energy. This, to me, sounds like some crack pot’s lying attempt at drama.

Mullet:

You, along with John Hike Grove, who we spoke of earlier, David Fox, and Max Freedman, were considered to be part of a group known as the West End Group. Did anyone ever tell you, or do you know what was meant by that phrase?

Lomanitz:

I never heard of the expression. Was this supposed to be politically or scientifically or what?

Mullet:

It’s not specified. It just refers to you as the West End Group.

Lomanitz:

As to me, Max Freedman, Grove, and David Fox? It makes no sense to me at all.

Mullet:

You were first employed by the radiation laboratory on June 1, 1942, on the development of substitute materials project as a physicist in the Donner Radiation Laboratory. You were under the direction of Dr. Wilson Powell. What, if anything, can you tell me about Dr. Powell?

Lomanitz:

I don’t think I was first employed under the direction of Wilson Powell.

Mullet:

This is according to your FBI file.

Lomanitz:

I certainly, later on, worked some with Wilson Powell, and I think you might say under Wilson Powell. Because it was Wilson Powell who told me much later than when I was first hired there — He was the one who told me there was going to be a site established, which I guess came to be called Site X. I think Los Alamos had been called Site Y. Site X was to be where production of the tanks, as they called them, the electromagnetic devices for separating Uranium-235 and Uranium-238 where to be and work on a mass scale. And he told me that it was to be “quitting on the Qunice River, so many miles above the Norris Dam,” was the way he described it. There was not yet such a place as Oak Ridge. This was the Oak Ridge that was to become so. Why he had told me that was because he was going to have some major job in charge of that. I’m not sure just what. And he had been working with me some, in terms of this mass of 200 or however many tanks that were to be established, were going to be built on a mass scale, so it was bound to be something that wasn’t quite meeting specifications on them. And a part of my job was to see if I could figure out something about before the vacuum was set up or anything, but after the machine had been done, to tell what tolerances to specify for the machining of the shims that wouldn’t be put into too gross in errors. That second point was after the magnetic field had been set up and so forth, to somehow test it in a quick, crude kind of a way to tell whether the magnetic field overall might be sufficiently good for the project. Wilson Powell was in charge of, I think, seeing that this stuff was done at the tanks, and he was sort of a supervisor and an experimental guy. Now, Ernest Lawrence talked to me very shortly before I was to get my induction notice…

Mullet:

That was at the end of July, 1943, when Lawrence spoke with you.

Lomanitz:

That’s right. About becoming the liaison man between Berkley and Oak Ridge, which is where the tanks were going to be. Where Wilson Powell came into it was that he was to be the person sort of in charge of the experiment, and overall in charge of the setup there. And whether I worked under him technically or not, I couldn’t even tell you. I remember some discussions with him.

Mullet:

Is there anything else about that position that you were going to take on in Oak Ridge where they were going to build a couple of hundred of cauldrons. Do you remember anything else about that, or do you remember more of you responsibilities, aside from what you’ve already discussed?

Lomanitz:

Well, those were the two main things that I knew, and I might add at this time, that they were very scary because who knew the answers, who even knew how to find out the answers. But the idea was to try and find out something that might work to do this.

Mullet:

Prior to your induction into the Army, you worked at the radiation lab under the direction of Dr. Shane. What can you tell me about Shane?

Lomanitz:

Again, I remember no context to speak of with Dr. Shane. As I came to find out, Dr. Shane, who had been an astronomy professor at the University of California, he became the Assistant Director of the radiation laboratory under Ernest Lawrence. So I really have no knowledge that I worked under Shane.

Mullet:

Perhaps that’s what was meant, was that he was just an Assistant Director. Do you remember anything else about Shane as a person or as an Assistant Director?

Lomanitz:

No. I know that I would recognize him if I saw him. I don’t remember having any discussions with him unless — I don’t think it was even after I got my draft notification. I think I had discussions with Ernest Lawrence about that. Lawrence I came to find out, later on, of course, designated things to Shane to do. Like, Shane probably was to be in charge of turning in the deferments. I saw quite recently in the files of what you brought over, an interesting letter that was from a man named Triton, I think, from the War Manpower Commission, in charge of scientific and mathematical personnel. Triton had received a letter from Rose Seguire [?], who was one of the paid organizers at the FAECT. And Rose Seguire had filed an application for my deferment when the radiation laboratory’s deferment was not going through. And Triton had taken it seriously, and he’s written a letter to Lawrence asking about this and saying it’s usual for the employer to send in such a request. “You can be quite frank. Tell me what is going on.” And Lawrence didn’t answer the letter apparently, but assigned it over to Shane to answer. Shane answered the letter saying he didn’t really know exactly what was going on, but whatever the Army wanted, that was the way it was going to be, and he added gratuitously that I wasn’t that important for the projects.

Mullet:

According to the FBI, upon being discharged from the Army in 1946, you were reemployed at the radiation lab at the specific request of Dr. Ernest Lawrence. Lawrence was not a politically naive man. He was certainly not to the left politically. Why do you think he was so insistent in having you work in the radiation laboratory, in spite of your politics and your previously perceived security risk?

Lomanitz:

Well, I didn’t know that Lawrence had pushed for this at all. In fact, I don’t know if he pushed for my employment at all. What I remember is that going through the list of the G.I. Bill of benefits that were to come to veterans, besides the education benefit, besides housing benefit, and such as that, there was one other, and that was that you were guaranteed reemployment in the job you had had if you were drafted from that job into the Army. And I thought, “Wouldn’t this be a lick if I were to go and reapply for a job with the radiation lab,” not because I had been fired, that was one of the tricks they’d use to make them go through easy, draft them instead of firing them. But if I had just said, “Okay, I am now calling upon this law, the G.I. Bill to get my job back,” well, they didn’t have the job back of course of making shims for the separation of uranium, but the radiation laboratory was still functioning. Sure enough, they apparently decided to give me a job back there, probably because they didn’t want to have a big stink raised, I suppose, about this man says that the law says that he should get it back and they are not doing it. What Lawrence had to do with it, if anything, I have no idea.

Mullet:

Upon resuming your employment at the radiation lab, you were assigned to the Medical Physics Group. With whom did you work, and what was the nature of you work? I believe you were initially assigned to experimental work on Carbon-14 beta counters. Is this how you remember it?

Lomanitz:

Yes. And in fact, they didn’t really know what to do with me, certainly as an experimental physicist. But I do remember that they were trying to get rather thin sheets of mica to use as windows in these beta counters. It was very high technique stuff. You take a sheet of mica and you take a needle and you’d sort of try to work it in there and get a little piece of Mica to come off, and get it thin enough. I was probably the world’s worst at doing something like that, but mostly that’s what I did until school started.

Mullet:

Do you remember what the applications were for medicine for this?

Lomanitz:

Not specifically except that Carbon-14 is used in a whole wide variety of things.

Mullet:

Do you remember with whom you worked on the Carbon-14?

Lomanitz:

I don’t right now. I would if it were brought up. But I really didn’t work in Carbon-14. I was just sort of pastured out to, “Okay, he’s got a job. Let him do something.”

Mullet:

On September 26, 1946, a memo to General Groves said that, “It is felt that Fox’s employment with the Manhattan District offers a great security hazard. It appears as though the liberal element is again attempting to infiltrate the rad lab, i.e. Lomanitz, Rose, and Fox.”

Lomanitz:

This was from whom, supposedly?

Mullet:

It’s a memo to Lesley Groves.

Lomanitz:

From somebody not specified?

Mullet:

It’s part of your military intelligence file. In a previous interview, you touched upon your reasoning for returning to the rad lab, and you touched on it again today. Was there any political motivation in returning to the rad lab, and if there was, then why would you leave so soon after returning to the rad lab? Was there any pressure on you to leave the rad lab in 1946?

Lomanitz:

No. I returned as really kind of a brainstorm to see what all these guys do now when I have the law on my side, will they conform to it or not? And they did conform to it. I was bored. When school started, I said, “Boy, just let me get back into school.” So that’s all. I quit the radiation lab. It may have been two months. I don’t know how long it was.

Mullet:

Prior to 1942 or 1943, were you even aware of the FAECT, and if so, what did you know about it?

Lomanitz:

No. In fact, I thought it was sort of a joke when I heard it first referred to, which was probably in 1942. What a name. FAECT. I mean, it’s bad enough to say mine, mill, and smelter workers, but this is Federation, etc. The second thing, as far as a joke was concerned, was there are not even physicists listed in it. But no, I’d never heard of it until them.

Mullet:

Can you trace out the evolution of organized labor at the radiation laboratory? For example, when did you first hear that such a movement to organize the rad lab was underway? Were you the one who initially suggested that a union be present, or if not, then who do you remember suggesting to you about the presence of unions at the rad lab? And with whom did you initially discuss the idea of organizing the radiation laboratory?

Lomanitz:

I don’t remember the answer to any of these questions. I don’t know who proposed it, where the idea came from, who of us go together and discussed it further. But I do know that when I heard it, I thought, “It sounds like a good thing.”

Mullet:

Do you think you were among the first people to discuss it them? Do you remember it being a pretty commonly held idea by the time you heard about it, or do you feel you were — You just don’t remember?

Lomanitz:

I don’t really remember. I think that as soon as I heard about it, I would probably have pricked up my ears and said something like, “Hey, let’s find out about this.” But I do not specifically remember.

Mullet:

In testifying before the Un-American Activities Committee, you said that not only were you active in union efforts at the radiation laboratory, but so were David Bohm, Max Freedman, and Joseph Weinberg. What were you doing to assist in the unionization of the rad lab, and according to the FBI file, you were on the executive… In testifying for the House Un-American Activities Committee, you said not only were you active in the union efforts at the radiation laboratory, but so were David Bohm, Joseph Weinberg, and Max Freedman. Do you remember aside from discussing the idea of unions at the radiation laboratory, if there was anything else you did in assisting unionization effort? According to the FBI files on you, you were on the Executive Committee of the FAECT. If that is so, then what responsibilities went along with being on the Executive Committee, or what did that entail?

Lomanitz:

I don’t really remember whether I was on the Executive Committee or not. I mean, I certainly remember going to meetings and discussing things, but I do not remember whether it was specifically an Executive Committee as distinct from a general membership meeting. I don’t know whether I was on an Executive Committee or not.

Mullet:

In an interview with military intelligence officials in 1943, you said the objectives of the FAECT were to, “Improve efficiency of the lab, to promote fair working conditions and wages, to have a cafeteria built near a lab so people did not lose much time during the noon hour, to liberalize the plan to freeze employees so that a person who would be more valuable on a job could transfer to that job, and to build up the morale of the employees.” In Ellen Shriker’s [?] 1986 book, No Ivory Tower, you are quoted as saying, “if organizing the chapter of the FAECT seemed like a dramatic thing to do.” By that, you meant that it was a more active way to participate in the popular front. You would go on to say, however that it was, “A sort of stupid adolescent drama.” Do you feel that your efforts were a product of youthful idealism or exuberance? Do you feel you achieved anything in helping to unionize the radiation laboratory?

Lomanitz:

I think primarily my own personal motives were I had a certain slant. Let’s say the United Front slant, labor union slant, and if I thought I saw an opportunity anywhere to promote it, I would be inclined to do it. I think the basic things that really hold unions together, and make them strong, militant grass roots organizations, is when they are doing things that people want and need for themselves in the union, not because they think it would be a good thing. I did not think I really wanted and needed so much the betterment of conditions or the building of a cafeteria, or whatever else those things were. So that’s the respect in which I mean it was sort of an adolescent, dramatic sort of thing to do. As far as what actually was accomplished, the main thing that was accomplished, for better or for worse, is to sort of show the power and the fangs of the Army and the administration.

Mullet:

But as far as the actual conditions at the radiation laboratory, you can’t really say there was any great accomplishments made by having the FAECT?

Lomanitz:

I can’t point to anything specific. If we had not been forced to disband, there might have been something accomplished, and namely that is to put another nail in the side of free speech and free thought. But as it was, then they all went in the other said direction.

Mullet:

A chapter of the FAECT was first organized at the radiation laboratory on March 15, 1943, and it was organized until November of 1943 until it was disbanded. You were at the radiation laboratory for the six months of the union. Can you tell what it was like in the rad lab before and after the organization of the FAECT? In other words, did you feel the presence of a union in the rad lab did improve the conditions for the workers there, while it was in effect, although, of course, as we discussed, there were no long term changes in the rad lab. Do you feel that even with its mere presence there, that anything changed? Can you think of anything specific that was changed as far as whether or not the concerns you had expressed to military officials, were those ever addressed upon having the FAECT present at the rad lab?

Lomanitz:

I can’t really think of specifics, no.

Mullet:

So you wouldn’t have said there was no change you could speak of, even in terms of employee morale?

Lomanitz:

Well, the employee morale might have deteriorated when they saw what was done.

Mullet:

On April 2, 1943, at an FAECT meeting, you gave a report concerning your meeting with University of California officials regarding a union matter. Do you remember what that meeting with the UC officials was about? While the Army and the government were clear about the opposition to having a union at the radiation laboratory, did you ever come to know what the attitude of university officials was?

Lomanitz:

Not directly, of course not. And I don’t know what they are talking about in there. I reported on a meeting with UC officials?

Mullet:

Correct. On April 2, 1943, you gave a report concerning your meeting with University of California officials regarding a union matter, and that matter is not specified.

Lomanitz:

Again, I don’t know what they are talking about.

Mullet:

On April 27, 1943, at an open meeting of the FAECT, Max Raden [?], a law professor at Berkley, gave a talk entitled, “Labor and the War.” During the ensuing discussion period, you asked Professor Raden if it would be good for the FAECT to adopt a definite program such as a protest against race discrimination, an action seeking the release of Spanish war prisoners, etc. Why did you feel it was necessary for a group of scientists to take definitive and controversial political stands while working on a top secret project in the middle of a war? Is it possible it was not so much the FAECT itself that the government or Army opposed, but rather its increased politicization, and since you were one of the most vocal advocates for increased politicization, that that is why you were drafted? In other words, they weren’t necessarily looking to break up the FAECT, but just keep it from getting too involved in other political issues?

Lomanitz:

I don’t know that the Army and other authorities made that much of a distinction, frankly. To me, I’m not in the minds of these people, whether they think that all people who don’t go along with convention are communists, or whether they think that there are some unions that are good unions, which I seriously doubt they think. I really don’t know their thinking. But I do know that it seems to me as though it was all in a lump as far as the true, half true, and false reports they sent in. I mean, somebody was favorable to the union, somebody was favorable to labor, somebody was anti-Capitalist, somebody was pro-Communist, all in one boat.

Mullet:

Various governmental documents suggest you were the most politically active of the graduate students at the radiation laboratory, and that you were the chief organizer of the union. Is this accurate, that you were the most active, and the chief organizer?

Lomanitz:

I doubt it. I don’t even have any way of keeping track of who did what. But, no. I don’t think that’s so. We had quite a bunch of union members. I’ve seen statements not from my sources, but maybe it was FBI reports or Army intelligence reports, that there was somewhere between 35 and 40 members of the union probably. I know that a number of people were pretty active.

Mullet:

Who was advising you with respect to the union organization effort, and who in the rad lab opposed your efforts of organizing a union?

Lomanitz:

I don’t know of anybody who announced that he was against the union. I mean, there were some people who certainly were disinterested, and there may have been some informants who claimed they were interested and weren’t. I don’t know. As far as the rest of it, there was one and possibly two paid organizers for the union, not just at the radiation laboratory, but in the area. One of them, the one I had the most to do with, was a woman named Rose Seguire, whom I came to like and respect.

Mullet:

And do you know how Dr. Lawrence, who was the Director of the radiation laboratory, how he saw the unionization effort?

Lomanitz:

Well, I didn’t speak to him at the time. I know that after the war, I went to his office, and he had a talk with me in which he seemed to be rather fatherly in his attitude. He said, “Look, it’s really important. Don’t consider yourself a scientific worker. Consider yourself a scientist.” I said, “Thank you for the advice.” He didn’t say he was anti-union, per se.

Mullet:

But he certainly didn’t support the unionization effort?

Lomanitz:

Not to my knowledge, no.

Mullet:

Were there any disagreements between you and others who were active in the labor movement at the radiation laboratory, and were there any individuals that you found to be regularly at odds with others over how the unionization effort should be carried out? That’s not to say that they opposed the effort, just the means by which they were obtained.

Lomanitz:

I don’t really recall. I remember one little tiny thing. The question came up as to whether the guards should be included in the efforts to unionize or not. There was some disagreement about that, but I think that’s pretty trivial.

Mullet:

I’ll ask about that in a minute. With respect to the FAECT activism, your military intelligence file suggested you were well educated with the inner workings of the union. On a more theoretical level, what literature did you and other rad lab employees or graduate students read on the practice and theory of labor movements. In particular, do you remember what, if any literature, David Bohm might have read concerning organized labor? Were there any manuals, letters, bulletins, newspapers, etc. that you remember reading and/or distributing? What political works did you and others, in particular, Bohm, read at the time? In short, do you have any specific memories of specific literature that you read at the time concerning organized labor, or labor movements?

Lomanitz:

No. I don’t think we really did much formal reading or anything like that. We might turn to say, the paid organizer, Rose Seguire, for example, for advice, or something like that. But there was nothing like, “Here is the library. Now, everybody indoctrinate themselves with it. Learn here, we’ll do this, and then we’ll do that.” No.

Mullet:

It would not be until much later that you would find out how much formal governmental opposition there was to having a union present at the rad lab. Prior to learning about the lengths to which military officials and other government officials were willing to go to ensure there was not a union, how did you interpret the failure of the union at the radiation laboratory? Did you feel that there was anyone in particular who was responsible for the failure of the FAECT, and if so, who did you hold accountable? But primarily, how did you interpret the failure of the rad lab?

Lomanitz:

In the first place, let me put the question in what I feel is more accurate perspective. That is, it’s not true that I had to wait until much later to find out about the lengths to which the Army intelligence and other forces were going to go to stop the unionizing. I think some of that became clear, for example, when my local draft board, the ones in charge of drafting me, got the idea that something fishy might be going on, and joined with me in my efforts to resist being drafted. They were unable, the effort they made did not succeed. Something else happened. The State Selective Service Director, Colonel Leach, appealed when my draft board put me in a deferred position, again he appealed to the State Appeals Board, and had them put me in a draftable category once more. I didn’t even know at that time that the State Selective Service Director had the power to do this. I thought the appeals board was supposed to be used by the draftee for saying, “Hey, my local draft board didn’t take into account my family obligations, or my job, or something, and therefore, I shouldn’t go in.” This was just the reverse way around. I found out later that Leach himself had been subject to orders from General Hershey, the National Director of Selective Service to do this, or the local board and the State Appeals Board would be dissolved. I found out that one of President Roosevelt’s aides, Anna Rosenberg, I think, had met with Phillip Murray, who is the International President of the old CIO, and had told Murray that he’d better see to it that the FAECT did not cut out its organizing campaign at the University. I did not know all of these things, but I knew most of these things right at the beginning. I didn’t have to wait a long time for much of any of them to know the level at which it was taking place. Now, within that, who did I think opposed the unionization?

Mullet:

Or how did you interpret the failure? Did you think there was any particular individual against it, that you knew of specifically?

Lomanitz:

Well, clearly the Army intelligence, the whole thing there with all its weight going on up to the top.

Mullet:

So that’s how you interpret the failure, as simply the product of Army pressure on the radiation laboratory?

Lomanitz:

Yes. Because, look, they don’t go to that much effort to see to it that one individual is drafted above the objections of his own draft board, without it coming from high up.

Mullet:

At least one government informant was a radiation laboratory employee and an FAECT member. Do you remember having any suspicions about particular individuals who you thought might be acting as government informants? Did you ever suspect this was the case with the radiation laboratory and the FAECT?

Lomanitz:

I remember thinking of one guy. I don’t remember if this was before or after the union activities started, though. I remember one guy named Julius Kahn [?] who was put to work on my section of the project. At that time, I was the group leader of the project. Franklin Nelson had gone on to Los Alamos. I was approached by the Personnel Director of the radiation laboratory, as to, “Look, this guy is kind of a pathetic case. We really should hire him. Can you find something for him to do?” Well, I don’t know what was in the mind of Mr. Bicheo [?] or Mr. Everson, I’ve forgotten which one was the Director, but they guy in question was not of any value, and he seemed to be sort of a dork, but he kind of kept hanging around. And I didn’t know if he was just some stupid idiot, or whether he had been planted there for a purpose, and if so, by Bicheo or Everson, or somebody above them, but that was one person of whom I was suspicious. Yes. There was another person of whom I was suspicious, probably wrongly, named Albert Latter. Latter was much more educated. He was quite a drip. I can remember sugar was rationed at that time, and I can remember sometimes being in a restaurant with him having coffee, and he would steal sugar from the restaurant. In fact, at the beginning, he and I were supposed to be sort of co-in charge of the group that was left there. I don’t know what he was doing there, or why. I do know that some considerable time later, after the war and after there had been very considerable scientific opposition to atmospheric nuclear bomb testing, Edward Tiller with an article in maybe Life Magazine called “The Compelling Need for Nuclear Testing.” Edward Tiller had a co-author, and apparently the only co-author as far as I know he was able to get was Albert Latter. So I was suspicious of Albert Latter, and I don’t know whether it was rightly or wrongly. He disappeared from the project for some time.

Mullet:

You had these suspicions at the time they were happening, or only later?

Lomanitz:

No. At the time, I wondered about Albert Latter, and at the time, I wondered about Julius Kahn. And if there were other informants, or if there were informants at all, they may be people whom I wasn’t even suspicious of.

Mullet:

In 1945, a group of employees at the Shell Development Company in Emeryville, California, organized the independent bargaining agency called the Association of Industrial Scientists. The FAECT said this group was company controlled, and then went so far as to take up the matter with the National Labor Relations Board. While you were in the Army during this time, upon returning to the radiation laboratory in 1946, did you hear anything about what had happened, or what was happening in Emeryville, with respect to the Association of Industrial Scientists?

Lomanitz:

No. Never heard of it.

Mullet:

The California Report on Un-American Activities, the third report, said that the FAECT meetings had, “the air of intrigue, conspiracy, and fear of detection.” How do you remember the FAECT meetings?

Lomanitz:

I don’t remember fear or conspiracy or anything like that, except in the minds of whoever reported this stuff.

Mullet:

So you would say that meetings were fairly open?

Lomanitz:

Yes. Absolutely.

Mullet:

It was just a discussion of various political issues?

Lomanitz:

Mostly, it was discussion of what could be done about unionizing. I remember it was emphasized it would be very important to unionize people up at the Hill, it’s going to be important to unionize the glass blowers, for example, and the machinists, and so on, which most of us who were in it to begin with, were not.

Mullet:

The California Report on Un-American Activities repeated the following minutes from an FAECT meeting they took on an unspecified date. “During the discussion of the problem with membership, a necessity of organizing in every possible department of the University was stressed, and in this connection, the possibility of organizing the UC guards was humorously suggested. But it was taken quite seriously by Rossi Lomanitz, who thought it might turn out to be very profitable if approached the right way. However, Max Freedman stated that the union had enough trouble without inviting the FBI into meetings.” Can you expand upon what you meant by the profitability in unionizing the guards, and can you expand upon that story in general?

Lomanitz:

Sure. I think that if the guards were unionized, then if they were ever attempted to be used by the authorities in some violent way or non-violent way against the union, that this would be neutralized, they would be union members themselves.

Mullet:

So you foresaw the potential for there to be some violent confrontation?

Lomanitz:

Not in particular, no. But just that it was sort of like it would be a good thing to have the guards on your side. Who knows what would have happened? Non-violent, violent, or you want the support of the guards. It wasn’t the FBI I was talking about, I wasn’t suggesting bringing the FBI in.

Mullet:

The Third Report on Un-American Activities in California took it as an established fact that there was a plan to surreptitiously obtain a complete list of all personnel at the atomic laboratories, and this plan was done with the purpose of avoiding detection by the FBI. To what extent did the presence of the FBI impact the way in which the FAECT conducted its affairs? How did the union balance the desire to unionize the lab, with the security concerns surrounding the work being done at the time?

Lomanitz:

Let’s see if I understand this sort of multi-pronged question. What was it about a list being obtained illegally?

Mullet:

There was a plan to surreptitiously obtain a complete list of all personnel at the atomic laboratories, and this plan was done with the purpose of avoiding detection by the FBI. In other words, this list was to be complied without letting the FBI know it was doing so.

Lomanitz:

What are they saying? That the union was planning to do this? And who was saying that the union was planning to do this?

Mullet:

The Third Report on Un-American Activities suggests that this was planned. That the union was planning to obtain a list of all personnel at atomic laboratories, and that this was to be conducted without the knowledge of the FBI, or to be done with the purpose of avoiding — The FBI was to be avoided in doing this.

Lomanitz:

Again, this to me sounds like one of those horror stories probably made up to sound dramatic. I certainly know that we were very aware that it was important to maintain what security was there at the laboratory. What the point would be in obtaining a complete list of the membership at the laboratory, I don’t have any idea. And if it were against security rules to do so, then to obtain it surreptitiously seems to me to be an utterly damn fool idea that would not have been brought up at the union to my knowledge. It sounds to me like another cock and bull story. I don’t know anything about such an idea.

Mullet:

So to what extend did the presence of the FBI impact the way in which the FAECT conducted its affairs? Did you all do anything differently knowing that the FBI was aware of the FAECT? To what extent do you think the FBI had any impact on the FAECT?

Lomanitz:

I think a lot of us knew that the FBI was around, and I think we certainly knew that the Army intelligence was around, area engineers, provost marshal’s men. I think we also saw no reason why we shouldn’t pursue our activities, and no reason to think that we would not pursue them with as great a respect for security as anybody would have, union or non-union.

Mullet:

According to the Third Report on Un-American Activities in California, the FAECT was a union that owed its first allegiance to the Soviet Union. Did you ever get any sense there was any divided allegiance with the FAECT as an organization? Did you ever get any sense there was some commitment to the Soviet Union?

Lomanitz:

I get so tired of these brainwashing, threatening accusations that people supposedly, respectable and authority, are allowed to get away with. I think it is horrible that the whole innuendo is put in there than an organization is functioning for the purpose of primarily the Soviet Union, without some demonstration that it may be true. If this is true, which it may be true for some spies, for example, of the Soviet Union. But to try to smear an organization, a group of organizations, a person with this, and put that in as a background, with that now in mind, look how everybody that we want to pin a label on is blacklisted and smeared and tarred with the same brush. I think this is horrible. This is probably what David Fox meant when he said he realized the perspective within which the Tenney Committee was setting this thing up. I think this is awful. What the specific question was, I don’t know, but it started off that knowing that the FAECT is an organization whose primary function is for the Soviet Union, then blah, blah, blah. Well, I’d say blah, blah, blah doesn’t matter. The premise is faulty.

Mullet:

So there was no allegiance by the FAECT…?

Lomanitz:

Of course not.

Mullet:

According to the Third Report on Un-American Activities in California, “Officers of Chapter 25 stated, when examined by the Committee,” that being the Committee investigating un-American activities in California, “that they managed to organize all the personnel at the radiation laboratory except two. But when the government asked them to cease their activities, they immediately complied. One wonders then, why the Executive Committee members were so apprehensive of detection by the FBI, and why they conducted their organizing and propagandizing with such secrecy and surreptition. As for obeying the order of the government, it is obvious they had no alternative. They either complied, or would have had to suffer the consequence of disobedience.” The FAECT at the radiation laboratory folded in the Fall of 1943. I know at that time, you had already been drafted into the Army. Did anyone ever discuss with your or explain what exactly happened to the union after you left, as far as disbanding? Is your understanding of the disbanding of the radiation laboratory local consistent with the picture presented above?

Lomanitz:

The picture presented above is not clear in my mind. I think it was supposed to be a quote from something or somebody. Could you tell me what that quote was supposed to be from?

Mullet:

It was from the Third Report on Un-American Activities in California. It says basically when the government asked officers of Chapter 25 of the FAECT, which is the radiation laboratory, to cease their activities, they immediately complied. Then it goes on to say that this makes one wonder why the Executive Committee members were so apprehensive of detection by the FBI, and why they conducted their organizing and propagandizing with such secrecy and surreptition.

Lomanitz:

Who says activities were being conducted surreptitiously? The Tenney Committee? But they present it as a fact.

Mullet:

So more to the question, did anyone explain to you what became of the radiation laboratory after you left?

Lomanitz:

No. What I found out, I think I’ve mentioned before, I found out later on was that this memo came down from this aide to President Roosevelt to Phillip Murray, the International President of the CIO, to immediately disband activities of the local there.

Mullet:

So then you would have no idea what was meant by the phrase consequence of disobedience because at the end of a the passage quoted, it says, “As for obeying the order of the government, it is obvious they had no alternative. They either complied, or would have had to suffer the consequence of disobedience.” You have no idea what those consequences might have been?

Lomanitz:

No. Not really. I was one of the consequences of something. I wouldn’t call it disobedience to an order like that, but displeasing some people in authority. I think there can be all kinds of punishments that those with enough power have got. There can be court trials. There can be blacklistings, there can be who knows what. There is no reason I should know the specific details on that. I really don’t understand this thing at all. Apparently we’re told by the Tenney Committee that all but two members of the radiation laboratory had been organized, which sounds to be some terrific over exaggeration. Then we’re told there was furtiveness, surreptitiousness, and so forth connected with the organization of the union. Then we’re told that the union, for some reason, apparently decided to immediately comply when the government orders came down to disband. All this is supposed to be mysterious, and in some way subversive, or something. To me, this is one of the things that I think is used to so confound the issue, to put it in a completely false perspective, and then within that false perspective, to say, “A-ha. You see, that’s his guilt and her guilt,” and so forth. I think this is terrible.

Mullet:

Did you ever know a man by the name of William Fowlks? According to military intelligence records, he was a former FAECT official. If you do remember him, what do you remember about him?

Lomanitz:

It doesn’t ring a bell. No.

Mullet:

Ted Finkelstein was another rad lab employee who was active in the FAECT, as well as being an alleged communist. What can you tell me about him?

Lomanitz:

The name Ted Finkelstein rings a slight bell. I think I knew him through the union. I don’t know what part of the laboratory he worked. I don’t know whether he did or did not have associations with communists, and if so, so what. But the name rings a slight bell.

Mullet:

But he didn’t make any lasting impressions on you beyond that?

Lomanitz:

Right.

Mullet:

According to military intelligence records, you, David Bohm, Max Freedman, and David Fox attended a party at the home of Jerome Bennigrad [?]. Mr. Bennigrad was a chemist at the Shell Development Company in Emeryville, California, and he was active in the FAECT. Do you remember anything about Mr. Bennigrad, and if so, what do you remember?

Lomanitz:

I do not. I do not even remember the name. I do not remember the party that we’re supposed to have attended. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it makes no impression whatsoever.

Mullet:

According to the Third and Fourth Reports on Un-American Activities in California, an FAECT chapter was established in Berkley in 1939 by a Mr. Paul Pensky [?]. Did you ever have any occasion to meet or know Mr. Pensky? If so, what were your impressions of him?

Lomanitz:

No. I don’t know him. I didn’t know him.

Mullet:

In the Third Report, Mr. Boris Z. Boris is also named as organizing the FAECT chapters in San Francisco, Emeryville, and Martinez. What, if anything, do you remember about him?

Lomanitz:

Nothing. The name doesn’t ring a bell at all.

Mullet:

What role did Marcel Scheurer [?] play in the organization of the radiation laboratory local of FAECT? Did you ever meet Mr. Scheurer, and if so, what were your impressions of him?

Lomanitz:

I think I did meet Mr. Scheurer. I had the idea at that time that he was a paid organizer for the FAECT. Very soon, however, Rose Seguire came on the scene as a paid organizer, and my dealings were primarily through her. So I don’t really know too much about Mr. Scheurer one way or the other.

Mullet:

The Fourth Report also suggests that it was atomic research in the radiation laboratory that had lead Mr. Scheurer to staying in the Bay Area for a period of about 18 months. According to this report, Scheurer had spent two years in the Soviet Union at the Lennon School for training espionage agents throughout the world. Did you ever hear any discussions of Scheurer’s connection to espionage?

Lomanitz:

I certainly did not. And I certainly heard nothing of an organization in Moscow for training espionage agents. Again, I didn’t hear anything of all this. And once again, I think the whole issue gets diffused and clouded over, and muddied over. What happened was fairly simple. The union was broken up. And here all this stuff comes in about, “Oh, the Communists this, and the espionage that, and so on.” I don’t like it.

Mullet:

The same report also suggests that Rose Seguire, of whom we mentioned briefly, was an international representative for the FAECT, and that she organized, as she testified, the people working in the radiation laboratory. Is this consistent with your recollection of the structure and evolution of the FAECT?

Lomanitz:

Yes. I remember Rose Seguire coming on the scene pretty quickly. And I thought she was good. I thought she was a good organizer, I thought she was a good person. I thought she listened. I thought she had suggestions to make. I liked her.

Mullet:

When you say she was an organizer for the FAECT, what exactly did those duties entail, that you remember?

Lomanitz:

I think that’s the technical name for it. The duties were sort of a person from the National Headquarters who was sent out to try to help the local people organize a union, discuss questions with them, suggest methods, and so on like that.

Mullet:

In the Third Report on Un-American Activities in California, David Addleson [?] is referred to as the President of FAECT Local 25. Do you know when he was President? We’ve discussed that David Fox was also the President of the FAECT local at some point. Do you know where Mr. Addleson might have been present, or how the picture being President at FAECT as opposed to Fox? Did you ever come to know Mr. Addleson?

Lomanitz:

I have met Mr. David Addleson. He worked at Shell Development. I don’t know whether he was President, not President, or who, there. But he was probably President of the FAECT at Shell Development. Whether there was a bigger branch yet that included both Shell Development and the radiation laboratory or not, I do not know.

Mullet:

In 1937, Louis Alan Bourne [?] became President of the FAECT. I believe this was on a bigger scale than just a local. What did people at the radiation laboratory think of him? Was there ever any discussion of the FAECT beyond Berkley, or beyond the radiation laboratory, and what did you know about Mr. Bourne?

Lomanitz:

The only thing I came to know about Mr. Bourne was out of personal experience. And it was not very complimentary to Mr. Bourne. Mr. Bourne came into town during the time when I was fighting the induction order and all such as that. He came in specifically to see what he could do about this. He got an appointment with Colonel Leach, the California State Selective Service Director in Sacramento. Max and I drove Mr. Bourne to Sacramento in Max’s new car. Mr. Bourne went into see Colonel Leach, and I fully expected that Max and I, or at least I, would be going in along with him, because I was the subject. Mr. Bourne, presumably at Colonel Leach’s request, but in any case, Mr. Bourne said we were to remain outside. He had some conference with Colonel Leach for some time, maybe an hour. He came out and we asked him, “Well, what’s the upshot of it?” And he says, “I cannot tell you what happened, but there isn’t anything we can do.” I said, “You are our union person. You are supposed to be representing us.” He says, “Well, there’s nothing I can do.” Talk about sell-outs. To me, this was an example of one. I don’t know what he was threatened with, who knows? But he surely succumbed to it, whatever it was.

Mullet:

After your induction into the Army, much would be known about the situations that lead to your inductions. For example, according to his security hearing, Oppenheimer wrote a letter of protest concerning your induction into the Army, that had followed an outraged letter by Edward Condon [?] to Oppenheimer. Did you know anything about Condon’s feelings, and his actions concerning your draft situation? Did you know that he had saw your draft situation as being particularly egregious?

Lomanitz:

I’m a little confused here. I thought that Edward Condon wrote a scathing letter to Oppenheimer about the way Oppenheimer handled the Bernard Peters appearance later.

Mullet:

He also did that.

Lomanitz:

But this is in addition to that?

Mullet:

This is concerning your situation.

Lomanitz:

That Condon wrote a letter to…?

Mullet:

Condon had heard that you were slated to be drafted into the Army, at which point he contacted Oppenheimer expressing his concerns or outrage over your being drafted out of the radiation laboratory. It was that that suggested to Oppenheimer that he needed to write a letter on your behalf.

Lomanitz:

Well, I didn’t even know this about Condon contacting Oppenheimer. I do know that after I telephoned Oppenheimer, when I first heard about the draft, Oppenheimer told me, and I think I had mentioned, that he would see what could be done. Then he sent me a telegram. He did not send me a copy of the telegram he had sent to Colonel Nichols, I believe, at that time, whoever was in charge. He did not send me a copy of the telegram he had sent to the Army. He did send me a telegram directly to me saying something like, “I cannot guarantee results, but have made strong representations in highest places.” If he did this as a result of Condon’s pressuring him, good for Condon. I got the impression over the phone that he was going to do this, period.

Mullet:

What steps did Lawrence take to try and assist you in remaining out of the Army?

Lomanitz:

It’s probably a little bit difficult to know for sure. I went around to see him because it was within about three days of the time he had discussed with me about my being promoted, increase in salary, and becoming the liaison man to Oak Ridge, that I got the notice to report for induction. I went around to see him about that, and his initial reaction was, “Oh, there has to be some mistake. I’ll take care of it.” He certainly wasn’t able to take care of it if he tried. I don’t know what he tried. I suggested to Lawrence that perhaps he could send a letter in conjunction with Oppenheimer’s also sending a letter after I was in the Army to get called back there. I don’t know what Lawrence actually ever did about any of that. I was a little disappointed to find out that he had turned over to Shane the answering of the correspondence with Mr. Triton from the War Manpower Commission, blanketedly giving Shane basically the authority to say what Shane said, which was defending my being drafted, and also I think lyingly stating that my work was not very important to the project. But Lawrence himself, beyond that, I don’t know. I’d always thought that he’d tried, but I don’t know for sure.

Mullet:

In your testimony before the Un-American Activities Committee on April 26, 1949, you said you were told by the Area Engineers’ Office at Berkley, that your draft deferment was being cancelled because apparently your job was not essential anymore. First, what did you mean by the Area Engineers? That was the military intelligence people on the Berkley campus?

Lomanitz:

That’s right. They called themselves Area Engineers.

Mullet:

Secondly, the suggestion that your deferment was being cancelled because you were unessential seems to contradict various FBI and military intelligence documents that suggest your deferment was cancelled because military intelligence officials specifically requested that the radiation laboratory not renew your deferment. Did any government official ever inform you that such a request was the actual cause for the lapse in your draft deferment?

Lomanitz:

Did ever government official tell me what?

Mullet:

Did any government official let you know that the actual reasoning for your draft deferment lapsing or not being effective was because there had been a specific request? Is that something you had only come to learn by looking at documents that were released later?

Lomanitz:

I may have learned this, and my draft board may also have learned this, from my Local Draft Board. I want to go back first, though. When I visited the Area Engineers’ Office, I was given three distinct reasons by distinct people, as to why I was being drafted. One of them was what you just quoted to me, that my job was not essential any more. One of them was, “Search your conscience.” One of them was that perhaps I was going to be commissioned in the Army and sent back with a commission to continue the work, that it was important that I be in the Army in order to do this. I was told these three different stories, none of which I believed to be true. None of which I’m sure is true.

Mullet:

When did you first suspect you were going to be drafted out of the radiation laboratory, because as of May 1943, you were still clear to attend the Monday night Progress Report Meetings at the radiation laboratory.

Lomanitz:

The first I heard of anything at all was, I believe, on July 30th. It was very close to the end of July when I received a Notice of Classification 1A from my Local Board instead of the 2B, to which I had been accustomed. And simultaneously with it, an order to report for induction in ten days, which was the minimum space the law required them to give you, and with orders for my blood sample to be taken by special messenger. The blood sample is part of the physical examination. That is everything was to be done suddenly, in a huge hurry. Two or three days before that — Let’s say July 30th was a Monday, on the Friday before that is when Dr. Lawrence had called me in and talked to me about this promotion, this new job, and so on. So it was really a complete shock to me.

Mullet:

Aside from Rose Seguire, and Louis Allan Bourne, who we’ve discussed previously, were there any other FAECT officials with whom you consulted concerning your draft status, and if so, who?

Lomanitz:

I think those were the two. I think Marcel Scheurer had gone before this came up.

Mullet:

According to a letter from the Military Intelligence division, dated February 12, 1944, it says, “On January 22, 1944, David Bohm received a letter from [material deleted]. The letter had been of some discussion between [material deleted] and David Bohm. It was reported that [material deleted] had said he believed it’s possible that [material deleted] had been drafted into the Army for the purpose of submitting him to a court marshal.” In April of 1944, Clarence Hisky [?], who had worked at the Chicago Laboratory, and was considered to be a security risk, was ordered into the Army and assigned to the Northwest Territory. He went on terminal leave on May 9, 1946, and was scheduled to revert to inactive duty July 18, 1946. This was a concern to some military officials because, “If charges are to be preferred against him, he will have to remain on active duty.” Did you ever suspect that you had been drafted not only to get you out of the radiation laboratory, but also so that you could face a court marshal? I know we’ve discussed this briefly prior, but I was wondering if you could speak more about your concerns about facing a court marshal?

Lomanitz:

I was somewhat concerned. At that time, I thought that in the Army, there was a lot more chance for secrecy to shroud whatever was done, and for less in the way of appeals to be possible, less in the way of publicity to be possible, than in civilian life. So I thought there was such a possibility. I tried not to worry too much about it, however, and I think that was a wise decision.

Mullet:

While in the Army, you spent one year and 28 days in foreign service in the Pacific Theater. What was your function during that time? While in the Pacific, you participated in the battles and campaigns of ryukus. What can you tell me about your experiences in those campaigns, or what can you tell me about your day to day life in the Army as well?

Lomanitz:

Are you referring to the overseas part of it specifically?

Mullet:

Specifically the overseas part, and then later, I’d like you to discuss a little bit more about your day to day life in the Army, outside of the Pacific Theater.

Lomanitz:

I went to Oahu, to Honolulu, to a replacement depot in maybe March of 1945. Some of what had gone on before that is that I had been at least two separate infantry divisions, which had been slated to be trained and sent to Europe. The first of these divisions, the 44th Infantry Division, had its orders changed after D-Day. No. They were originally to have been sent to the Pacific. That statement I made was wrong. They had not originally been slated to go to Europe, they had originally been slated to go to the Pacific. The first of these, the 44th Infantry Division, had its orders changed after D-Day, which was June 6, 1944, and was sent instead to Europe. I received special orders to be taken out of the division and sent to another division instead, the 97th Division, which still was being trained, supposedly, to go to the Pacific. When the 97th Division also had its orders changed, this time after the Battle of the Bulge in December of 1944, and was sent as replacements to Europe, I was again special ordered. I transferred out of that division, sent to a replacement depot in Oahu, Hawaii. Out of there, I was sent eventually to join the 96th Infantry Division, which was in fact, in the Pacific, had already had a battle on Latie [?], and which then went into Okinawa. In fact, I joined them at Okinawa. Okinawa, incidentally, is one of the islands of the ryukus. What I actually did was I was in the artillery for a while, even though I had been in the infantry. I’d been in the artillery in the States, then I’d been in the infantry in the States, then I was in the artillery again after going into the Pacific. We didn’t do a great deal except training until — Let’s see, what did happen? I got a Battle Star for Okinawa. I’m not sure that I really technically deserved a Battle Star for Okinawa, because I didn’t get there until maybe three weeks after the really heavy fighting was over. But the island was not declared secure yet, and as a matter of fact, I did have a couple of dangerous experiences there.

Mullet:

Such as?

Lomanitz:

Such as in one case, taking a Japanese prisoner, who was holding out on the island, and in one case, shooting and killing a Japanese soldier, who was holding out on the island. Eventually, we went to the island of Mindanao [?] in the Philippines, and then after that, to the island of Luzon in the Philippines. The division I was with, the 96th Infantry Division, was then breaking up and people with an extremely long amount of service were about to be sent home. To begin with, there was a long delay in being discharged and sent home at all. It took me eight months to get home afterwards. This was after the war was over. After BGA day.

Mullet:

Before the war ended, there was discussion of the U.S. invading the Japanese mainland, or Honshu. Do you know if you would have been scheduled to be a part of that invasion had it gone through?

Lomanitz:

Almost undoubtedly. The scuttlebutts had it, but the 96th Infantry Division was one of those divisions that was to make the early invasions, probably in November, 1945.

Mullet:

So when you heard that the atomic bomb had been dropped upon Hiroshima, what was your initial reaction, not only as someone who had worked on the bomb, but as someone who was slated to be a part of the invasion of Japan?

Lomanitz:

Well, my initial reaction, which I’m not necessarily all that proud of, but I think is very understandable, was to be very happy that now maybe the war would be over, and I wouldn’t have to go there, period. Later on, I found out that something else happened, which was really very helpful, too. That is between the two atom bombs being dropped, the Soviet Union, on August 8th, invaded Manchuria, which they had promised to do, within three months of VE-Day. Not only that, but that the Japanese Army in Manchuria, they called it the Quan-Tung [?] Army, that half a million men surrendered to the Russians, the very first day of the invasion. The Russians, I found out later, had also spoken about that this put them in a position to invade Japan more quickly than we were, because they were very close to it then. So that probably if the invasion had gone on, they probably would have invaded Honshu before we did. Anyway, my initial reaction was that I was glad not to have to invade Honshu.

Mullet:

After you returned to the United States, and were discharged from the Army, we discussed how you began working at the radiation laboratory. But you would ultimately reenroll at Cal Berkley as a graduate student in physics. Do you remember when you began taking classes at Berkley again, and do you remember when you left Berkley?

Lomanitz:

It would have been in the Fall of 1946 that I restarted graduate classes. It probably would have been August, if they were still doing it in August, because this is the way Berkley had been doing it, at latest in September, but probably August of 1946. I stayed there for a year and probably a summer, and left Berkley for Cornell in Summer of 1947.

Mullet:

Right. I know on June 10, 1947 is when you applied to Cornell. It was at Cornell, working under Feinman, that you received your Ph.D. Were you among Feinman’s first graduate students?

Lomanitz:

Yes. In fact, I was his first successful graduate student.

Mullet:

So you were the first person to obtain a Ph.D. under Richard Feinman?

Lomanitz:

Yes.

Mullet:

Had it been your intention in applying to Cornell that you would work under Feinman, or was it a matter of getting into Cornell, and then finding someone under whom you could work?

Lomanitz:

In a certain sense, it was neither of the above. Oppenheimer was leaving Berkley to take over Directorship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 1947. Some of his graduate students were coming with him. Some of his other graduate students, who weren’t coming with him, he tried to see what he could do about finding places to continue their graduate work. I know he didn’t want me to continue with him. He said it in a really backhanded kind of way. He said, “Oh, you wouldn’t like the Gothic architecture at Princeton.” But I think what he really meant was he indeed would be glad to not have to be around me. Anyway, so he talked to Beta [?], I think, at Cornell, about my being accepted and getting a teaching assistantship for the theoretical physics graduate program at Cornell. So I did, in fact, that’s why I went to Cornell. I didn’t even know at the time that Cornell probably had more theoretical physicists on its staff than pretty near anywhere else. It had three. It had Beta, Feinman, and Phillip Morrison. No. I did not go there with the original intention of working with Feinman.

Mullet:

On April 21, 1950, the Albany FBI Office advised you gave no indication of Communist Party activity while at Cornell. Why were you not as politically active at Cornell? Was Cornell’s isolation a factor, as far as your level of political activity?

Lomanitz:

In the first place, again, they are sneaking in one of these FBI reports, or Tenney Committee Reports, or something as gospel fact. They talk about Communist political activity, and that I didn’t show any evidence of any. I showed evidence of political activity, and forget about whether it was communist or whether it wasn’t. This is again, one of those things they bring in to try to confuse the issue. I did show political activity in Berkley. I came to. I showed some political activity in Cornell. I came to. So the whole statement is wrong, and tainting it with the bad word “communist” mixes the whole issue up. But yes, I was politically active, some, at Cornell.

Mullet:

Were you as active at Cornell as you were at Berkley?

Lomanitz:

Probably not. But then, that may have been because I was a graduate student. I remember one of the things I was active in at Cornell is in what was called the Progressive Party throughout most of the country. In New York State, it was the American Labor Party. I was at Cornell from 1947 through 1948, and then back again for a little while afterwards. But in 1948, Henry Wallace ran for President of the United States on the Progressive Party ticket, or in New York, on the American Labor Party ticket. That was the same year, of course, that Strom Thurmond ran under the Dixie-Crats ticket. I was active in trying to drum up support for the Progressive Party candidate. In fact, I even remember driving someone from Ithaca to Triple Cities, Binghamton, Endicott, and Johnson City, to give a talk in favor of the Progressive Party candidate. It was a good thing because people were supposed to be coming from New York City also, but the weather was bad and they just didn’t come. So anyhow, again, did it serve any eventual long term purpose, I can’t tell you that. I mean, Henry Wallace didn’t even get any electoral votes, and only a million popular votes, and Strom Thurmond took five southern states then. I don’t know whether it did any good or not, but yes, I did.

Mullet:

How would you compare the levels or activity, not just with respect to yourself, but with respect to the school as a whole, between Cornell and Berkley? Did you find Cornell to be a much more politically neutral campus than Berkley?

Lomanitz:

Yes. Cornell was liable to be more of what you’d call a tolerant type, anything almost was okay. But there weren’t that many people pushing anything.

Mullet:

Do you remember a man named Paul Crouch, and if so, what can you tell me about him?

Lomanitz:

I never met the man personally, but I have certainly heard of his name. This was not at Cornell we’re talking about?

Mullet:

No. This is now we are discussing more with respect to the Un-American Activities Committee.

Lomanitz:

What I heard about Paul Crouch was that he had Steve Nelson’s job in Alameda County before Steve Nelson, namely that Paul Crouch was the Alameda County Organizer for the Communist Party in California, Alameda County, before Steve Nelson was. And that Paul Crouch turned out to be a stoolpigeon. One of the most eagerly cooperative witnesses with various investigating committees to try to rat on various people, or conjure up people who didn’t need to be ratted on, and so on like that. But I never met him.

Mullet:

Robert Davis had been a technician at the radiation laboratory, and while testifying before the Un-American Activities Committee in Washington, both he and his wife, Charlotte, claimed that you were responsible for recruiting them into the Communist Party. How did you come to know this couple, how well did you know them, and how would you explain their testimony?

Lomanitz:

I came to know Robert Davis because he was actually an artist, but he had applied for a job at the radiation laboratory, and gotten it, in the part of the project I was working on, I’d suppose you’d say under me as a group leader. And one of the things that we put him to work doing was running the calculating machines, because there was a vast amount of work to be done using calculators. Then after he’d gotten some results, which the results were basically sums of a large number of products of numbers. When you got them, they might represent one point on the shape of the shims that you were to put in the magnetic pull pieces for the magnetic field. One of the things that Robert Davis did was he did many of these calculations on the calculator. Then we exploited his artistic ability also to use French Curves to sort of connect these different points we got, and see what kind of approximate shape it should then have for the pull pieces. This is basically the kind of work that he did at the radiation laboratory in my group.

I found he was kind of an interesting guy. He’d worked at all kinds of things. I think he’d been a conductor for what preceded BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transportation, and he was interested in folk music, and he seemed to be the kind of guy who was wanting to kind of find out what kind of experiences he might have here, there, or yonder. I talked to him. I talked to him about the union. I talked to him about politics, invited him to attend meetings. He in turn asked if it was alright to bring his wife, I said, “Sure. Bring your wife.” And one of the things I really remember, before the House Un-American Activities Committee, Robert Davis and his wife had both been subpoenaed and appeared before the Committee before I did. They had made some rather strong statements. I don’t remember exactly what they were, but essentially saying that I was a Communist and had recruited them to go to Communist Party meetings. They described these meetings as there were girls with thick glasses, presumably psychology majors, stereotyped, let’s say. When I was called upon to testify before the Un-American Activities Committee, they brought Mr. Davis in to identify me, and also to re-testify. They asked me, they said, “Mr. Lomanitz, please stand up.” I stood up, and I looked directly into Robert Davis’s face, his eyes. And he looked at me, and it was interesting. I could almost see a respect on his part for me. So they started asking him some of the same questions again. First they asked him, “Is this Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz?” And Davis, at first, he began to backpedal. He said, “Well, he looks familiar,” whereas previously he had said, “Well, yeah, blah, blah, blah.” And then, they started asking him some more of the questions that he and his wife had answered so positively before. They asked him, for example, “Did Lomanitz recruit your wife?” And he said, “I probably did,” namely he, Davis, probably did. And, “Did he attend Communist meetings?” Well, he attended meetings. He presumed the people there were Communists. And he was trying to backpedal and not try to get anybody fingered and in trouble because of his testimony. I don’t know how good of a job of backpedaling he did, but he tried. His wife didn’t.

Mullet:

According to a memo dated August 30, 1948, and continuing within your FBI file, the plans to have the Un-American Activities Committee investigate your case, along with that of Martin Kayman, Steve Nelson, Clarence Hisky, and Arthur Adams, had been made no later than the Summer of 1948. When did you have the first indication that you would be subpoenaed to appear before the Un-American Activities Committee?

Lomanitz:

Well, it’s when I was at Fisk University in 1949. I was only there one semester. I think my first appearance before the Un-American Activities Committee was what, April?

Mullet:

April, 1949. Yes.

Lomanitz:

So I probably received the subpoena a couple of weeks before I was due to appear. So I would say certainly Spring of 1949 was my first indication.

Mullet:

So there was never any discussion? You had never heard any kind of suspicion or any discussion that you would be called prior to this?

Lomanitz:

No. As a matter of fact, I can remember very clearly what happened. As usual, I was coming back to a 1:00 class, slightly late from my lunch. And I was rushing in. I was stopping by my office to pick up my book for the class, and there were a couple of men seated there. They said something about, “Well, we’d like to see you.” I said, “Fine. But I’m in a big hurry now. I’m late. I have to go to my class.” And I picked up my book and started to leave, and they said, “We think not. Here is a subpoena for you. Are you Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz?” They were federal marshals, and they had the subpoena for me. That’s the first I ever knew about it.

Mullet:

At numerous points in your and other’s testimonies before the Un-American Activities Committee, references made to the “Merryman Branch” of the Communist Party at Berkley. In other documents, it’s referred to as the Robert Merryman Branch. Was this ever explained to you, or do you know what was meant by the phrase “Merryman Branch”?

Lomanitz:

No. I don’t know, if there was one, what it was. No.

Mullet:

On April 26, 1949, you testified that your counsel’s name was Belford B. Lawson, Jr. How did you become acquainted with Mr. Lawson? What assistance was he able to provide? And you would later change lawyers. Why was that?

Lomanitz:

I think I got Mr. Lawson’s name as a recommendation from Fisk University. Mr. Lawson was a black man, and he was a lawyer in Washington, D.C., and Fisk University had probably used him some. So when I went to Washington, I went around to see him. I also told him at the time that I didn’t have any money, therefore, would it be alright if — I didn’t just ask him to appear before the Committee with me, but that it any hot problem came up, whether perhaps I could ask to have him come on in. He said that would be alright. As it happens, there were some questions that bothered me, that I asked to be able to consult my counsel with before the next appearance I was to make before the Un-American Activities Committee. But before the next appearance, I’d made different arrangements about counsel. In particular, David Bohm, who was wealthy compared to me — He was a single man, he’d been working at Princeton, and he’d been able to work there for several years. He had hired a man named Clifford Dure [?] from an old Virginia family lawyer in Washington, D.C. for $750 to take his case of the charge of Contempt of Congress, which followed the hearings before the Un-American Activities Committee. Mr. Dure volunteered that if I had no money, that he would also take my case, pro bono, for the same $750 that Dave had given him, no more required. Mr. Dure, it also turned out, was a rather exceptional person in those times. Almost every lawyer was afraid of what would happen if he took a case for “those Reds”. I’m sorry. I’ve gotten something a little mixed up here. I was talking first about a lawyer before the Un-American Activities Committee. Then, I jumped over something, and started talking about a lawyer for my Contempt of Congress trial. They are two different things.

Mullet:

Right now I’d like to focus just on the Un-American Activities Committee. We’ll discuss the contempt in a moment. As far as with your initial lawyer for the Un-American Activities Committee, Mr. Lawson, why did you not use Mr. Lawson after your initial experiences with him?

Lomanitz:

I cannot remember specifically. Of course, I really was broke. And somehow or another, it seems to me as if there was another person in there, whom I vaguely remember the name of, but don’t think I ever used, but I thought maybe I might use named Lamberton.

Mullet:

Harry Lamberton.

Lomanitz:

Yes. I remember that name, and I don’t even remember how it came into being. Maybe he was going to take the case without charge.

Mullet:

I know he would be mentioned later with respect to your contempt trial, but like I said, we’ll discuss that in a minute. The only lawyer that was associated with you with respect to your Un-American Activities appearance was Belford Lawson.

Lomanitz:

He was the one that told me it would be okay if I called on him if needed. At my first hearing, I postponed answering several questions for possible consultation with Mr. Lawson. By the time the second hearing came about — Because they had two hearings. The first one, I believe, was in order to find out what I was liable to say, and whether I was liable to be a cooperative or an uncooperative witness, and if I was going to be uncooperative, sort of what questions they could really nail me on, and things like that. The first hearing was an Executive Session, not public. Then the second was a Public Session, based on what they found out at the first one. By the time the second hearing came along, which was maybe two months later, I had kind of resolved how I was going to answer those tricky questions that I was going to consult with Mr. Lawson about. And I didn’t have the money, so I just said that I wouldn’t call counsel.

Mullet:

Some have been critical of the un-American activities as early as the late 1940s, and for example, on March 29, 1950, Henry Stimpson [?] said that methods used by McCarthy have hurt the United States’ ability to conduct foreign affairs. By the Spring of 1953, numerous people, including members of the House and the Senate, as well as newspapers, had become highly critical of the attacks of McCarthyism. Yet, you were still struggling to find work. Were you aware of this increasing opposition to McCarthy’s tactics, and if so, did you think that this increased opposition might help you to get back into academics?

Lomanitz:

I was aware of some opposition forming to McCarthy. McCarthy apparently went just a little bit beyond the bounds, he got too big of a head, that’s his own power, I think. And he attacked all kinds of people, including the Army, and he just tackled people because he was too big for his britches. Of course I was glad to see opposition. Incidentally, 1954, I think, is when Oppenheimer had his security hearing. And in 1954, Oppenheimer got the axe. So if things were improving, they weren’t improving that well.

Mullet:

But you never saw any link between the increasing opposition to these anti-American tactics with your increased opportunity to get back in academics?

Lomanitz:

Of course there would be. If things got better politically, of course there would be a better chance. It just hadn’t arrived yet.

Mullet:

When you would appear before the Un-American Activities Committee, you would invoke the Fifth Amendment on various occasions in refusing to answer questions concerning your political associations, or your knowledge of the political activity of other people who you knew. In some cases, you would not even answer as to whether or not you knew particular people. I was curious, do you feel that there were any aspects of your appearance before the Un-American Activities Committee that you should have handled differently, looking back at it in retrospect?

Lomanitz:

That’s a little bit hard to know. There were various people who did not want to become stooges for the Un-American Activities Committee, or cooperative witnesses, as the Committee would have called them, who used other tactics. Earlier, there were ten people from Hollywood, screenwriters and so forth, who had been charged with Contempt of Congress, and who invoked the First Amendment, namely that they had a right of Free Speech, Free Association, and that they had a right to believe what they wanted to and not have it pried into. They had been sentenced to a year in the penitentiary. They were guilty of Contempt of Congress for invoking the First Amendment, for their refusal to be cooperative witnesses. So by the time I and some other people came along a couple of years later, it didn’t seem as though there was any point in invoking the First Amendment, even though that is exactly the way I felt. I felt the Committee had no business doing this sort of thing, that they were violating our Constitution. But there didn’t seem any point in hollering that into the wind again. So I, and most of the others, I think, invoked the Fifth Amendment, that one is not required to testify against himself, which has a long an honorable history. I think it was brought in in order to counteract the use of torture to extract testimony.

Mullet:

But overall, had you to do it over again, you would do it the same?

Lomanitz:

I’m not sure yet. Because Lillian Hellman I think, just basically said something about, “You don’t have any right to do this. I’m not going to talk to you about this.” She never was indicted for contempt. I’m not quite sure why, but she wasn’t. Frank Oppenheimer. I don’t think he used a specific amendment, just, “I’ll tell you about this, but no, I’m not going to tell you about that because it would hurt some people,” something like that. He, too, was not indicted for Contempt, to the best of my knowledge.

Mullet:

That’s correct.

Lomanitz:

And I look back on it, and I thought it would have been much more heroic to act like Lillian Hellman or like Frank Oppenheimer. However, I think it probably would have ended up in a penitentiary sentence, so I don’t know.

Mullet:

At the same time you were called before the Un-American Activities Committee, in the Spring of 1949, you were an Associate Professor of Physics at Fisk University. Due to your appearances before the Un-American Activities Committee, you would leave Fisk University. In a newspaper clipping that’s datelined June 11, 1949, and entitled, “Accused Scientist Leaves Fisk,” Charles Johnson, the President of Fisk, was quoted as saying that, “He,” referring to you, “said that the suspension was unfair, that the contract should be issued immediately.” And he said that you stalked off the campus. Is this how you remember it? In looking back on it, do you think perhaps Dr. Johnson was in a more difficult situation than you might have appreciated at that time? After all, he was the first African American President of a historically black college, whose academic standing he very much wanted to improve, and the idea of having a “Communist” contracted to work there, would have not made things any easier for them?

Lomanitz:

Of course Dr. Johnson was in a more difficult position, I think, than the President of Princeton University, for example, or the many other schools, just for the reasons you have stated. Now, I want to right now go back and supply a little detail. After the appearance before the Un-American Activities Committee, my appearances, The Nashville Banner and Nashville Tennessian, the two newspapers in Nashville, came out with headlines so that I was public news, and Fisk University, thereby also was public news, because that’s where I worked. Dr. Johnson, when asked what he was going to do about it, he said something like, “Well, I’m not going to issue him a contract until this matter is cleared up.” I remember the words, “until this matter is cleared up.”

Mullet:

So the Regents of Fisk had already approved a new contract for you?

Lomanitz:

That is correct. The Regents had approved a new contract before the thing with the Un-American Activities Committee came up, because contracts were put out before the end of the Spring Semester. Dr. Johnson told me, “I have in my desk this contract approved by the Regents, but I am not going to issue it until this matter is cleared up.” I asked him what he meant by cleared up, whether it meant until The Nashville Banner and The Nashville Tennessian stopped writing stones about it, or what. He did not really answer that directly. However, before my interview with them, there had been delegations go into see him. The Chairman of the Physics Department, who was himself, a black man, Dr. James Lawson, and all the graduate students, who also were all black, made an appointment with Dr. Johnson, and requested him, pleaded with him to permit me to stay on there, because they saw a program that they thought was a very good program in the Physics Department being jeopardized. Am I boasting by saying that? What I really mean is that they needed a theoretical physicist, a theoretical physicist who had had some pretty decent training, which I had had. And there wasn’t going to be too much possibility… Fisk University was badly in need of a theoretical physicist, in fact, the reason I’d even gotten the job, and the reason they’d gotten me, was because Dr. Yensverg Nielsen [?], who had been a physics professor of mine at the University of Oklahoma, had helped them arrange about getting an experimental program set up in infrared and ramen spectroscopy, which was his specialty, and had also talked to me about taking a job as a theoretical physicist there.

These two things together were a tremendous step from where Fisk had been. They had had a much less ambitious physics undergraduate program, I’d say. So all the graduate students and Dr. Lawson went around to see Dr. Johnson and asked him to please let the program continue. But Dr. Johnson was adamant. He probably was adamant because he saw it just the way you put it. He was the first black president of an all black university, whose claim to fame had previously been their chorus, singing, and who now had a chance, perhaps, to really make a giant leap. I guess he thought the last thing he needed was extra headaches, and extra accusations of saying blacks and communists are linked together, and such things as that. I am pretty sure this must be the way he saw it. However, what I’m saying is also that all the graduate students, who were black, and who had come there primarily because of the GI Bill of Rights on the one hand, and because of my coming there in theoretical physics, and the Ramen infrared program on the other hand, all of them came around and asked him to please continue this program, because they saw their own lives at stake. So there is two ways of seeing it. I can see Johnson’s point of view, and I can also see their point of view. And whether Johnson was helping things more, or hurting things more is a whole other question.

Mullet:

But do you remember feeling at the time that the suspension was indeed unfair, and that it was unwarranted?

Lomanitz:

Of course. I felt that these things happening to other people all over the country were also unfair and unwarranted. Dave Bohm’s being suspended at Princeton and then not having his contract renewed. Joe Weinberg, Frank Oppenheimer at Minnesota. All these things, of course, were unfair and unwarranted.

Mullet:

Did Dr. Johnson ever tell you anything, or give you any reason to believe that while the Regents had approved the contract before your Un-American Activities Committee appearance, that after, did he ever give you any indication that they had exerted some pressure on him? The Regents exerting some pressure on Dr. Johnson to handle the situation? Did he ever give you any indication of that?

Lomanitz:

He never indicated that to me. I don’t know what actually happened, but he did not indicate that to me.

Mullet:

On September 25, 1950, an FBI informant in Nashville, this being well after you had already left this University, stated that he had heard you speak on one or two occasions while you were at Fisk University. Were you very outspoken in your political views while at Fisk, and do you think this might have helped contribute to the way in which Dr. Johnson chose to handle your continued employment after your Un-American Activities Committee appearance?

Lomanitz:

I think Dr. Johnson would have been very pleased to have non-conventional views from people on his faculty if he didn’t think it would get him into trouble. I think he felt what was really going to get him into trouble was this massive government agency coming on down, the Un-American Activities Committee.

Mullet:

Were you outspoken in your politics while at Fisk?

Lomanitz:

Well, I don’t think I hid what my feelings were, but I don’t think I just said, “Okay, let’s go set up a group and talk.” No.

Mullet:

So you weren’t active in any organizations or anything? You weren’t very public about your views? There’s a difference in between not hiding your views, and being more public or more open or vocal about your views.

Lomanitz:

Actually, the closest I remember to trying to be a little bit active in any organization there was an organization called the Solid Bloc. I remember at that time that we were still well within the grasp of segregation, discrimination, and sometimes terror in enforcing it. There was a group in Nashville, mostly black, that called themselves the Solid Bloc. What they were after was to try to see whether they couldn’t get enough unity to elect some black legislators and state senators in Tennessee. Of course, they had people at Fisk doing it. I did attend some of these meetings.

Mullet:

But you don’t think you politics at Fisk really complicated the situation with respect to your contract? Did Johnson ever give you any indication that there was anything beyond the Un-American Activities Committee that might have contributed to him handling the situation that he did?

Lomanitz:

No. I think it was fairly clear that he was afraid that the University was going to come under attack by what the Un-American Activities Committee had said and done.

Mullet:

While he was not willing to allow you to sign a contract, he was willing to let you work on a day to day basis while at Fisk. Looking back on it, do you think you maybe would have been better served to try and stay at Fisk without a contract, in the hope that you could wait out any political uproar or fear concerning your appearance before the Un-American Activities Committee?

Lomanitz:

Well, there are two things about it, besides just the fact that it’s a bit of an insult. One of them is that we happen to be living in University Housing at the time, and that means that at any moment, we might be called upon to be kicked out of the housing and be on our way without any notice. Another thing is that contracts were a rather hard won thing by university professors, and I didn’t really want to be part of something that was going to undermine something that fundamental that had been won.

Mullet:

So you have no regrets about leaving Fisk?

Lomanitz:

No. I think that’s what I should have done.

Mullet:

On December 4, 1950, you were indicted for Contempt of Congress and the legal maneuvering surrounding your case did not begin in earnest until January of 1951. I want to ask you just a couple of questions surrounding that case. While Alexander Holtoff [?] would be the judge for the actual trial, the judge who handled much of the pre-trial activity was a man named James B. Kirkland. What if anything can you tell me about your memories of Judge Kirkland?

Lomanitz:

I never met him. I don’t know if I’ve even heard of him. I think the pre-trial activities were pretty much carried out by Clifford Dure, who was David Bohm’s lawyer…

Mullet:

Kirkland was the judge.

Lomanitz:

Yes. And Clifford Dure, who had kindly taken my case pro bono along with David’s, he would from time to time send my copies of motions he had filed with the Court. And he may indeed have filed motions with this Judge Kirkland. I don’t remember. I never met such a person. I never even remember seeing his name, but it may have been on some of these documents. I even remember one document that Mr. Dure filed that didn’t make me too happy, in which he was using his precedence in support of his motions, say the case of Aaron Burr, and I didn’t feel all that happy with being associated with Aaron Burr. But that may have been before Judge Kirkland. I don’t know.

Mullet:

Prior to being represented by Clifford Dure, you were at one point represented by Abe Fortes [?], to whom, according to Alan Shriker, you had been referred by Edward Condon. Fortes had helped Condon through his own Un-American Activities Committee encounter. While you have suggested that Abe Fortes did not ultimately represent you because he wished, as did Un-American Activities Committee, to know all about your past political activities as well as those of your friends. Fortes was quoted as saying, “We have decided that we don’t think we can ever afford to represent anybody who has ever been a Communist.” Who was the we to which Fortes was referring, if you know, and what was your reaction to the way in which Mr. Fortes handled your case?

Lomanitz:

The first thing, I think a statement was made in there that at one time, Fortes was my attorney, and Alan Shriker thought he had been recommended by Ed Condon. I don’t know who suggested Abe Fortes to me. I don’t recall if it was Condon. Anyway, Fortes at that time was the junior member, of the three, of the partnership of Arnold, Porter, and Fortes. This was a big name law firm in Washington. Thurmond Arnold, and also Porter had been, I think, high up in the Roosevelt Administration, and Fortes was sort of a junior member. Fortes later became a Supreme Court Justice appointed by Johnson, and later yet, resigned in some shadow or disgrace. Anyway, for whatever reason, whoever recommended that I see Fortes, I know I’d gotten the idea that Fortes had been at least sympathetic to civil liberties cases. I have found out since then, by the way, that the American Civil Liberties Union, which I worshipped when I was maybe eighteen, and which claims not to defend the rights of all, during that period of the 1950s, was itself a shameful organization. They probably will not admit it today. But they shied away from defending any people who might be labeled Communists, the same way as Fortes is quoted as having said that, “We.” The we he probably meant was his firm. I’d never heard that comment before, he never said it to me before. What happened with him was that he would consider handling the case, but he had to know the answers to all questions. I could not keep anything from him. And basically some of the things he wanted to know were the same things as the Un-American Activities Committee. So I didn’t feel that Fortes fired me, I felt that I fired Fortes, although there wasn’t going to be any money involved in any case.

Mullet:

At another point, your lawyer was listed as being Harry C. Lamberton, who you’ve referred to briefly in the past. On February 19, 1951, a letter was filed in which you discharged Mr. Lamberton, and indicated that you wished to represent yourself. Why did you discharge Mr. Lamberton, and what was the rationale behind defending yourself?

Lomanitz:

I really don’t know the answers there. The name Lamberton vaguely rings a bell. So he must have been either my lawyer, or I considered having him as my lawyer at one time. I don’t know who recommended him. I don’t know how he felt about the things that Fortes felt about the way he said. I know that I didn’t have any money. And it may be that all was involved there was that Mr. Lamberton wanted some money, and I didn’t have it. I just don’t remember.

Mullet:

According to FBI records, Mary Morgan, who would become your wife in 1947, was being followed in August of 1943 by the FBI, after she returned from Berkley to Oklahoma City. Were either of you aware at the time that she was also a subject of surveillance?

Lomanitz:

I don’t know if either of us was sure of it, but it was sort of assumed as a matter of course that they were probably following us. As it turned out, of course, a great deal of money was spent upon FBI people following all kinds of people and writing all kinds of incorrect reports about them. So we didn’t know for sure, but probably so.

Mullet:

On a final page of an April 1947 report, it is written that you were interviewed by special agents in the San Francisco Field Office on September 5, 1946, and that at that time, you denied you were acquainted with Steve Nelson, and you denied membership, past of present, from the Communist Party. This seems to have been a departure from the position you would take when you would appear before the Un-American Activities Committee, where you did not necessarily deny membership, but rather refused to answer the question all together. Does the FBI accurately reflect what happened during that interview, and if so, when did you develop the plan of refusing to answer, and what lead you to that approach? What else do you remember about the September 5, 1946 interrogation?

Lomanitz:

I’m sure this doesn’t represent accurately, of course. What I remember, and I’ll take the date you specified as probably being correct, was that I had Mary Morgan as my guest for dinner in a place I had been sharing with another guy, an apartment on Delaware Street, I think, in Berkley. Maybe it was somewhere else. I don’t know. She and I were alone at that time. A car came up, two men came to the door and identified themselves as being from the FBI, and asked me to accompany them to San Francisco, across the Bay Bridge. I didn’t have enough sense at that time to know that just because an FBI agent made a request of you, you were not required to follow it. I can assure you, certainly at that time at least, they were not taking pains to read you any rights or tell you this. So I got in the car with them. We were just about to eat dinner. I got in the car with them, and we went over to San Francisco, and what seems like to me for hours, they grilled me. I can’t even tell you what all they grilled me about. But it was about the Communist Party and me, and the Communist Party and somebody else, and on and on. Well, I wasn’t about to be willing to talk to them about the sort of stuff they were asking. But they kept on going on, and on, and on. Finally, there came a phone call in an adjoining room. I heard them say, “Well, that will be all for now. We’ll take you back.” Which they did, and when they let me out, they said something about, “Well, that will be all until next time.” I found out what had happened is that Mary had taken down the license number of their car, and when I hadn’t shown up and it had dragged on, and on, and on, she called the Berkley cops and told them that she had seen me be taken off in a car by two men, and she had the license number of the car. So apparently the cops then got on the ball and called the FBI, or I assumed this. So I don’t even know for sure what all they asked me. I don’t even know for sure what all I told them, except at one time, I told one of them, “If you take off that gun, come on out and I’ll take you on bare fisted,” or something like that. Well, they exaggerated.

Mullet:

In the past, we’ve discussed the question of whether or not you were officially blacklisted, and we discussed a letter sent from General Lesley Groves stating that your name was not to be submitted to the National Roster of Scientific Personnel as being available for a technical job. Were you ever aware of being placed on an FBI security index? On October 26, 1949, the Oklahoma City office of the FBI sent a memo to J. Edgar Hoover suggesting that your name not be placed on the security index. On November 16, 1949, Hoover replied that, “Subject’s past membership in the Communist Party and his former associations with Steve Nelson, a Soviet agent, strongly indicates a possibility of dangerousness in the event of hostilities with the Soviet Union. You are therefore to recommend the placing of the subject’s name on the security index.” It would not be until the Summer of 1960 that your name would be deleted from the security index and placed on the reserve index. Were you ever aware of such an index, and the fact that your name had been placed on it?

Lomanitz:

I didn’t know of such an index, no. I am not shocked. I am not surprised because I have felt — I’m nearly one hundred percent sure I have been blacklisted in some way or another. But I suppose, you know, if the universities would do it themselves, just kind of out of second guessing and fear, then the FBI wouldn’t have to give them the list.

Mullet:

An FBI report dated September 12, 1955 recounts the story of how your father moved to Brazil and fell in love with an Italian Catholic girl, but their religious differences prevented their marriage. This detailed and somewhat dated story seems like the kind of information that one would only tell a close or long time friend. Did you ever suspect that anyone to whom you might have told this kind of information might in turn pass it on to the FBI, or do you think that they might have obtained this through other means, such as talking with people who knew your parents? Did you ever know them to contact your parents, or anyone in your family?

Lomanitz:

I think they contacted not only my parents, but I know that they contacted my sister, because she was a little bit concerned that maybe her job was going to be in jeopardy or something like that. Their very existence talking to a person can be considered a threat.

Mullet:

But you never suspected anyone that was close to you might have passed this information as part of the bigger picture?

Lomanitz:

I don’t know whether my sister Rachel did or not.

Mullet:

More in terms of an FBI informant, as opposed to someone who was just interviewed by the FBI?

Lomanitz:

No. I don’t remember telling this story to anybody in particular. I might have. I assume that the story is true, that Rachel was the one, my sister.

Mullet:

In your military intelligence file, it has that you were a teaching assistant in physics at Oklahoma from 1939 to 1940. Is this accurate?

Lomanitz:

I was not a teaching assistant in 1939 and 1940. No. I don’t know where they got that information, where they conjured it up.

Mullet:

In the Summer of 1949, you worked as a laborer for Oklahoma Gas and Electric. In August of 1955, an informant told the FBI that you had suggested that you felt that you were fired from Oklahoma Gas and Electric because you were distributing strike literature, and that you did not believe you had been discharged as a result of any Communist activity. Do you still believe that those in charge of that company made that fine of a distinction in 1949, just months after your appearance before the Un-American Activities Committee? That they would make a distinction in between distributing strike literature, and your Communist connections?

Lomanitz:

This is garbled up somehow. It is true that I worked for some time for the Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company. They had a situation where when they needed laborers, for example, the called the Laborers Hall, and the Laborers Hall picked me to go on out there and work. I certainly was picked, went on out there, and worked. One of the reasons I was picked, I think, was because I had an old bread truck that was capable of carrying quite a few people, and where we worked was on out in the sticks somewhere where transportation was difficult. So I did work for them for quite some time. Actually, during the time I worked for them, I would say that the relations between me and my foreman and his boss, the superintendent, were really quite cordial. There is a very funny story, which I may have told you in a previous interview or not, about newspaper reporters coming out there. Anyway, my foreman and his boss, the superintendent, were very sympathetic to me, and apparently my work was good enough. Then, a strike happened. And when the strike happened, there was nobody working for Oklahoma Gas and Electric during that time. Finally, the strike was settled. When the strike was settled, it was as though things started all over again. They would call the Union Hall and ask for people to be sent there, and the Union would send people there. I was not sent back there. I may have even, in fact, had another job by that time. The story is garbled, is what I’m saying.

Mullet:

So you never felt that you were fired, period.

Lomanitz:

Right.

Mullet:

A confidential informant told the FBI that you addressed a September 20, 1949 meeting of the League of Young Progressives in Norman, Oklahoma. Did you find that after your appearance before the Un-American Activities Committee, and the press coverage that accompanied it, there was some demand for you to speak to various groups to the political Left? This informant further reported that you were critical of the Marshall Plan, saying that it was causing depressions in foreign countries. Can you please go into greater detail about your objections at that time of the Marshall Plan, and how vocal were you in criticizing other aspects of American politics, both foreign and domestic?

Lomanitz:

Again, there is garbling going on, but that’s sort of par for the course I find, with these FBI reports. I was not in a lot of demand because there weren’t that many Leftist organizations to start with in Oklahoma, but there was also a sort of appall on the whole country. I was asked by the Program Chairman or the Vice President of the Young Progressives to give a talk about my experiences, which I did. It is also very possible that I also stated some views about my country’s, the United States, foreign or domestic politics. I have no memory at all of talking about the Marshall Plan because I didn’t know enough about the Marshall Plan to be able to talk about it intelligently. I was suspicious of it, but suspicious is one thing, and making definite statements is another thing.

Mullet:

Suspicious in what way?

Lomanitz:

That we were trying to buy countries in Europe that we were aiding to be sure they were going to be on our side in the Cold War. But this was just a suspicion, and I didn’t have enough knowledge of detail. Now, I did probably criticize such thing as when we had aide to Greece and Turkey. That was sometime during Truman’s Administration. I was opposed to the Cold War, and the Cold War was getting underway in quite earnest. That’s the only connection with reality I can see involved here.

Mullet:

And it’s saying you were reported as saying that the U.S. was developing the atomic bomb for war, while Russia was engaging in atomic research for industrial purposes. Is this an accurate reflection of your views at that time?

Lomanitz:

I was quoted as having said that? By this same informant or something?

Mullet:

Yes.

Lomanitz:

Again, it’s not only garbled, it’s ridiculous and slanderous. I mean, I’ve always been very scared about any country having the atomic bomb, because I don’t think there is any country that is going to be reluctant to use it if they see it to their purpose.

Mullet:

So you had no real knowledge of what was going on, or the objectives in Russian research at that time?

Lomanitz:

No.

Mullet:

On September 29, 1949, you also spoke at the Law Barn at the University of Oklahoma. The topic of your talk was “The Scientist as a Citizen.” To what extent do you feel that your experience as a physicist, and your work during the Manhattan Project, contributed to the formulation of your views, and to what extent do you feel that it contributed to your qualification to speak before others concerning political and social issues in America in the late 1940s?

Lomanitz:

I don’t remember the particular event, assuming it happened. When was this event at the Law Barn supposed to be?

Mullet:

September 29, 1949. It was the day after you spoke the League of Young Progressives.

Lomanitz:

It’s strange. I remember the talk to the League of Young Progressives. I do not remember the talk at the Law Barn. I’m not saying it didn’t occur. Was I qualified? Well, of course, a lot of people speak on a lot of things on which perhaps they are not qualified. But I would say my only claim to qualifications, to speak to you right now as a matter of fact, is that my life did get involved on the scientific side with the development of atomic energy, and on the political side, with the oppression that occurred in this country, and with the Cold War. That’s my qualifications.

Mullet:

What role did you see for the scientist as a citizen, and how do you feel that your views on the role of a scientist as a citizen might have differed from what military and government officials saw for the role of the scientist to citizen?

Lomanitz:

Well, I thought at that time that one of the roles of a scientist as a citizen was to try to be able to do a certain amount of educational work, as to what the advent of atomic energy might mean in terms of both great new possibilities of both destruction and constructively. Because at that time, probably more even than I do now, I thought there were great constructive possibilities for atomic energy, and there may be. But at that time, I thought there were great constructive and great destructive ones, and that one function of a scientist was to educate people as to what these might be. From there, as to how action could be taken, it was not just directly up to the scientist. The scientist’s role I saw was mostly educational, and within the scientific community itself, it might be different. It might also be setting up some organizations, and in fact, there was an organization set up called first the Federation of Atomic Scientists, and then it was called the Federation of American Scientists.

Mullet:

On July 15, 1950, an unnamed FBI source suggested that you had been engaged in Communist activities, and that “Lomanitz and others of his type should be interned as the Japanese were during World War II.” Did you ever fear that such a policy would be implemented, and did you ever suspect that people in the Oklahoma City area, as well as throughout the country might want people like you interned. Did anyone say to you face to face that you should be interned, or did you ever have any indication that that was considered?

Lomanitz:

In the first place, I was certainly fearful because our imminent ex-President, Richard Nixon, when he was a Congressman, was a co-author of a bill called the Munt-Nixon Bill, Munt being the Senator associated with it, which was to do basically just the things you are talking about. I don’t remember the details exactly if that was to be done in case of a national emergency, whatever that might mean, or something like that.

Mullet:

Did you ever get the feeling in Oklahoma City, or did anyone ever say to you directly that they would like to see you interned?

Lomanitz:

They didn’t put it like that. I had one experience when I was called before a Grand Jury in Oklahoma City. I was called before a Grand Jury in Oklahoma City after my appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and before my trial for Contempt of Congress. It was probably in 1950, and maybe in the late Summer or Fall of that year. I understood later that there probably had been Grand Juries called in various places in the United States. Oklahoma City was one of them, New York was another one, California another one, and so on. I think the purpose of these Grand Juries was to try to see whether they couldn’t find some poor sole like David Greenglass, whom they found at another Grand Jury hearing, who would be willing to testify that his own mother, or in this case, his own sister, had stolen atomic secrets and given them to the Russians.

I think that our government very much wanted to make a case like this in order to strengthen their case that any dissent to government policies was tantamount to communism, to espionage, and to all kinds of evil things like that. In any case, when I appeared before the Grand Jury in Oklahoma, I was already afraid that the Grand Jury was going to be just like the House Committee on Un-American Activities, who would do, as far as I was concerned, anything in order to make their own publicity, their own case, advance their own political situation. So I was not being cooperative with the Grand Jury to start with. I was starting to refuse to answer questions, just as I had been before the Un-American Activities Committee. The Oklahoma City newspaper appeared with the headlines, and I remember them, “Silent Lomanitz Faces Jail.” In other words, I would be indicted for Contempt of Court. It was Mary who suggested to me that this group, the Grand Jury, may be entirely different ilk than the House Un-American Activities Committee, that they, in fact, were basically people who had come into the state of Oklahoma, which was still a fairly new state, seeking their fortunes and succeeding, becoming successful businessmen and farmers, who believed in the American Dream. And that they would be much more liable not to have axes to grind, like the Un-American Activities Committee. The Grand Jury said to me, “You are under no compulsion to tell us what your political beliefs are. But if you should wish to do so, we would be glad to hear them.” Well, this was quite a different approach from the Un-American Activities Committee. So I said, “Well, I’ll tell you a couple of my beliefs. One of them is I believe that discrimination is wrong, segregation is wrong. And one of them is that I believe if Socialism would work, we should try it.”

Mullet:

And that was on October 25th and 26th of 1950, correct?

Lomanitz:

It must have been. Yes. On one of the days, the day after the newspaper headlines that said, “Silent Lomanitz Faces Jail,” came out, I got a call that night from an anonymous person who said, “Me and the boys thought we might just save the Grand Jury some of the trouble.” I said, “What are you talking about?” “Well, what’s this about you being anti-American?” I said, “I’m not anti-American. I’m just trying to make a living.” They said, “Well, why are they saying you are anti-American then?” I said, “Well, I believe we all ought to have a right to express our opinions, to have them and express them. Don’t you think?” He says, “Well, yes. I think that’s right.” And that was the end of the conversation, and I was very relieved that was the end of the conversation. Then we come back again to after the Grand Jury had asked me to tell my views, and I told them some of my views. One Grand Juror said something about, “Well, son, if you were making $10,000 a year, I bet you wouldn’t feel that way.” Well, multiply that by a factor of fifteen today, so I would have been making $150,000 a year, and I might not feel that way. All I could say was, “Well, you may very well be right, sir. I’d surely like to have an opportunity to find out.” So we got along fine on that. Actually, the Grand Jury ended up, one of them asked me to give a talk to a Sunday School class. One of them gave me a few days work in the oil fields, and one of them, who was the Foreman of the Grand Jury, made a statement to the press saying, “When this guy first came in, we were ready to hang him out the top floor of the Federal Building,” where the hearings were held. He said, “Now that he’s discussed with us, we think he’s a kook, but a man’s got a right, hasn’t he?” And they returned a no bill rather than a true bill. They didn’t indict me for anything.

Mullet:

But that was with respect to the idea of you being interned, there was never any serious consideration, like at the Oklahoma City level?

Lomanitz:

Well, at the Oklahoma City level, I was one of several people who were arrested.

Mullet:

Right. Did you ever consider turning down your views on organized labor in order to maintain a job or a higher standard of living, or do you think there was a connection between the two at all?

Lomanitz:

I don’t think you have to go out of your way to stake your views to somebody who is going to hold it against you, unless the situation calls for it. I don’t see any point in going out of your way to preach from the mountaintops.

Mullet:

Going back a little bit, on July 17, 1950, according to FBI files, you were fired from your job as a laborer at Capital Iron and Steel company. According to company officials while you had worked at that company, there were ten or twelve grievances, more than ever before in the history of the company, and that this is why you were fired. Do you remember anything about this job? And what, if any, organized labor activities you undertook while employed there?

Lomanitz:

In the first place, I don’t really remember that I was fired. Maybe I was, but just because the FBI says so doesn’t mean it’s true, and I don’t really have a memory of it. I was fired from two or three jobs I was on for various reasons, one of which was because the FBI came around asking the boss questions about me, and he was scared he’d lose his government contracts.

Mullet:

That was at what company?

Lomanitz:

That was at L&S Bearing Company.

Mullet:

But getting back to Capital Iron and Steel?

Lomanitz:

Back to Capital Iron and Steel. Capital lion and Steel had a strike, and I think it was before I went to work there, but I’m not sure. During that strike, the company tried to bring in scabs to run the work, and then there were other union people from other unions that came around to help reinforce the picket lines. Then there was a train carrying supplies of steel coming down the track, trying to get to the company doors to unload this steel, and load the stuff that had already been fabricated. There were some workers who picketed right across the tracks, stopped the engine, although two of them were hurt in the process. The company finally had to give in and negotiate. During that strike, some of us in Oklahoma City, including me, including some who were musical, went out to a Union meeting, and sang songs before them, including one song that had been made up particularly for the Capital Steel Workers Union. Sometime, I’m going to have to sing it to you. So we were in good communication with the Union there. It was probably afterwards, but I’m not sure, that I got a job there. I remember my own private joke about the job. I had been working in a paint factory. And I’d gotten pretty tired of the paint, and besides that, I’d asked the boss for a raise from seventy-five cents to eighty-five cents an hour, and he said, “You’re worth it, but I can’t afford to give it to you.” So I looked around for another job, and I found a job at Capital Steel at seventy-five cents an hour. And sure enough, they put me in the paint factory, so I wasn’t really very much better off. I didn’t have a better job and I didn’t have better money. But I worked there for some time. I have no idea what this report about what the grievances were while I was working there. All I did while I was working there, on the job, was tote girders and work in the paint shop.

Mullet:

On September 3, 1950, you were arrested in Oklahoma City. Can you briefly discuss the circumstances surrounding that arrest? Then in an FBI report, dated January 8, 1951, and originating from the Oklahoma City FBI office, it says that after you were arrested, you admitted to the arresting officers that you were a Communist. Is that true?

Lomanitz:

Garbled again. It’s true I was arrested. That part is true.

Mullet:

And what do you remember about the circumstances surrounding that arrest?

Lomanitz:

There were some people, probably from the Progressive Party, I’m not sure, and it was a political meeting, and we decided that it would be better to not have it at somebody’s house because they might be tapped. I don’t think that’s paranoia. I think there was a lot of wire tapping that went on then. So we made a mistake. We got in the same old bread truck I had, where people could sit in the back of the truck and talk. And we went out somewhere, Thideous [?] State Park in town, big mistake. We parked. Pretty soon a cop car came up. I got out of the truck and started fiddling with the hood and said there was something wrong with the engine. The cops came up and wanted to know my name, and I told them. They wanted to know what was in the truck, and I said, “There’s some people there.” They said, “Open it up, and let’s see.” Now, I don’t know if they had — Again, I think this was unconstitutional. Once again, we were not in the position to have enough sense and enough strength simultaneously to buck it. They looked inside. One of the first things they saw was there was a black person among us, a black lady. “Who are you?” “I’m Carrie Fisk.” “Well, get out of the truck.” And they turned to a white guy there and said, “Who are you?” “I’m Alan Shaw.” “What do you do for a living?” “I’m District Organizer for the Communist Party for Oklahoma and Arkansas.” “Get out of the truck. Everybody is arrested.” I don’t know what we were discussing. Maybe we were discussion things about is there a way that the Korean War could be opposed. I’m not sure what we were discussing. But anyway, when the cops saw this black person, and the cops saw this Communist there, that was it. So they hauled us all in, and then they started looking around for what to charge us with. They wanted to charge us with vagrancy, but this was no longer applicable. Vagrancy was a thing that many cities had once used, but it had been eliminated, I think, already by then by the Supreme Court. So then they wanted to charge us with disorderly conduct. Well, there wasn’t anything disorderly about what we’d been doing. But they did keep us in jail over that Labor Day weekend, because that’s what it was. Finally, they decided that they just didn’t have anything that they could legally prosecute us with. So we were all dismissed after having spent the weekend in jail.

Mullet:

But you never admitted anything to the officers anything about your being a Communist?

Lomanitz:

Of course not. What business was it of theirs, and what good would it do me if it were true to tell them that.

Mullet:

You mentioned Alan Shaw. How well did you know Mr. Shaw, and how did you come to meet him?

Lomanitz:

It’s funny. I probably got to know his wife before I knew him because at a course at the University of Oklahoma in political science, there was a girl, and I can’t think of her name right now. She had some somewhat Leftist views, which she expressed in the class, and I found her to be a really attractive and entertaining person, particularly with her views and so on. So I met her first, I guess. Years later, she married Alan Shaw. When we came back to Oklahoma City, after leaving Fisk University, I again saw Alan Shaw.

Mullet:

Later in September of 1950, you moved from Oklahoma City to a small town about 20 miles outside of Oklahoma City, known as Choctaw Oklahoma. It was reported that you planned to build a house on this property, and truck farm. By this time, had you completely given up on a career in physics or academics?

Lomanitz:

No. But clearly, it wasn’t right around the corner. As far as the town of Choctaw, we didn’t move there. The town of Choctaw had two filling stations, and a restaurant. We moved about two miles away to about twenty acres that we had started buying on time, I think twenty dollars a month or something, with the total cost of $2,000, with the idea in mind that we might someday build out there, that we might someday do truck farming. In fact, I remember buying a book called Five Acres and Independence. But you have to look for what can you do different ways, and what can you do that might be something pleasant to you in amongst all this unpleasantness. After the Labor Day arrest, we went to work to start to build a shack on the place. We had bought forty dollars worth of lumber, that was excess lumber from airplane engine crates from World War II. It was pretty thick stuff. And we went out there knowing nothing. We would go out there, stay out there overnight, come back into the apartment we were renting in Oklahoma City, and we would work on building a shack there. It didn’t take all that long. From Labor Day to Armistice Day, is what I think it took, just Mary and me, to build this little one room shack out of airplane engine crates. Then we moved on out there on Armistice Day, and started living there.

Mullet:

So it was just a means of drawing subsistence then. You had not given up on academics, but it was a means of just living at the time, to do the truck farming and such?

Lomanitz:

We wanted to do truck farming, and also we weren’t happy. We thought it might be better to live out of Oklahoma City. This may or may not have been right.

Mullet:

What exactly did it mean to truck farm?

Lomanitz:

That’s vegetable gardening.

Mullet:

You said in a previous interview that you had moved back to Oklahoma from Tennessee after losing your job at Fisk because you and your wife felt more comfortable there. Is that correct?

Lomanitz:

Well, it was Mary’s idea that she would feel more at home there, so that for the coming storms, which we saw ahead, that she would probably not only feel more comfortable, but also be able to know her way around, make more friends and allies, and things like that.

Mullet:

In a September 20, 1950 article from The Daily Oklahoman, which was the daily newspaper for Oklahoma City, there’s an article that the Oklahoma City Council was proposing an anti-Red law that you and your wife were very vocal in your opposition to this at a City Council meeting. Do you ever regret returning to Oklahoma? What do you remember about this City Council meeting, and was such activity as the outlawing of communism, an anti-Red law, did that activity ever prompt you to consider to leave Oklahoma once again?

Lomanitz:

Actually, I think it was a good move to come back to Oklahoma. The reason I think that is because my experience before the Oklahoma Grand Jury, as compared with some other Grand Juries in Washington, D.C., New York City, or something like that. But people on the Grand Jury in Oklahoma, even though they were primarily upper middle class, they still had enough of the pioneer spirit and the American Dream in them, that they could relate to somebody else who did, too, even if they thought he wouldn’t have these views if he had $10,000 a year.

Mullet:

And what do you remember about that City Council meeting?

Lomanitz:

Not very much. I think there was a City Council meeting. All over the country, they were proposing things like that. But I don’t remember specifically, much about this one.

Mullet:

At the same City Council meeting, you were seen to be talking with Clarence Alba Lewis, who was Secretary for the Communist Party in Oklahoma. Is this correct? Does it sound correct?

Lomanitz:

It may or may not be correct. I knew Mr. Lewis.

Mullet:

How did you come to know Mr. Lewis, and what were your thoughts on him?

Lomanitz:

Probably through the Progressive Party.

Mullet:

What were your thoughts on Mr. Lewis?

Lomanitz:

He seemed to be a sincere person. Perhaps a little bit rigid, but sincere.

Mullet:

In an FBI report from January 7, 1964, it refers back to a newspaper article from December 1951, which suggests that your house had been searched without a warrant. Do you remember such an incident, and if so, would you please tell me what you recall? Were there other incidents which strike you now as blatant violations of your civil rights, aside from those we’ve already discussed?

Lomanitz:

The FBI report refers to a news article suggesting my house had been searched without a warrant?

Mullet:

Yes. Without a warrant. The newspaper article was from December 1951, and the FBI report was January 7, 1964.

Lomanitz:

What I know of is that I was arrested without a warrant and handcuffed on December 4, 1950.

Mullet:

This is in 1951.

Lomanitz:

No. All I can think about that is I remember Mary suggesting once that we had to leave the place for a while, and she suggested — In fact, she didn’t even suggest it, she just did it. She put a piece of not very visible string up across the entrance to check whether when we came back it was still there or not. Unfortunately, I plunged in before we noticed it. So I don’t know. I’m not sure what this is talking about.

Mullet:

In late 1951, you and your wife were working with the Negroes of Green Pastures, which was a Negro settlement outside of Oklahoma City, or so it was described by the FBI. How tied into your politics was the notion of equal rights for minorities?

Lomanitz:

The business about Green Pastures, once again, we have one setting that isn’t true. The setting that is true is that there was a man making a journey around the country trying to peddle a book that he had written. I think his name was Arthur Caan. The book that he had written was basically that there had been a big conspiracy against the Rosenbergs, I think. I’m not sure if that’s what it was or not. Anyway, it was certainly not what you would call a conventional government line book. He wanted to find out whether there could be some kind of a Union meeting, church meeting, or any other kind of meeting, at which he would be welcome to talk. At that time, of course, there wouldn’t be many where he would be welcome to talk. There were too many scared people and too many brainwashed people. Anyway, Mrs. Hayes, the lady who had been arrested with us out of the bread truck, suggested that after we had fruitlessly tried a number of places — We tried a number of unions, we tried a number of churches, and so on. She finally suggested the church in Green Pastures, Oklahoma, which was a few miles out of Oklahoma City. She apparently talked to the preacher. They were going to hold a Wednesday night prayer service. He said, “Yeah. Okay. He can come.” I remember, we came, and services had already started. The topic of the service was God is able. When we showed up at the door, there was at least one black person. Mrs. Hayes, and several white people. And the congregation looked, and you could see they were shocked at these white people in their church. The preacher paused, he looked at us, and I remember what he said. He said, “This is the House of the Lord. All are welcome here.” It was really a very touching thing, I felt. So somewhere along the line, when the opportunity arose, he gave Mr. Caan the opportunity to speak, and that’s what happened. That’s all I know about Green Pastures.

Mullet:

How tied into your politics was the notion of equal rights for minorities?

Lomanitz:

Very much so. It was one of the two things I told the Grand Jury.

Mullet:

Do you think your being out of the academic world allowed you to more actively participate in causes such as the betterment of minority living standards, or more equality for minorities? Do you feel that not being in academics might have helped you in that sense?

Lomanitz:

No. I don’t see how. These were bad times. The 1950s were really bad times for — and I wouldn’t just call them unconventional views. We still had written into our State Constitution in Oklahoma well after the Second World War, Jim Crow, which is discrimination and segregation.

Mullet:

As we’ve discussed, and you mentioned previously, in your appearance before the Grand Jury in Oklahoma, one of the views you were willing to share was your belief that discrimination was wrong. How did the Grand Jury react to that? I know you said, “Well, he might be a kook, but he has the right, doesn’t he?” Did you feel that the people in the Grand Jury were sympathetic to your views about race, or did you feel…?

Lomanitz:

Not especially sympathetic, but I think they were willing to tolerate them, I would say.

Mullet:

On December 1, 1952, the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed the loyalty oath that Oklahoma sought to impose on the employees of Oklahoma A&M. Do you remember anything about this, and if so, what do you remember?

Lomanitz:

I remember there was some controversy in Oklahoma about a loyalty oath. I really didn’t have much to do with Oklahoma A&M. I was closer to Oklahoma University in Norman. Was this in 1960?

Mullet:

December 16, 1952.

Lomanitz:

In 1952 they outlawed it?

Mullet:

Or they voted it to be unconstitutional.

Lomanitz:

Right. To me, actually, the loyalty oath, while it was a very wrong thing to try to impose, it was not the most important of the issues, but I was very glad to see it outlawed, or declared unconstitutional.

Mullet:

According to your FBI file, the notoriety given to you and given by the Oklahoma City Press, resulting from your appearance before the Un-American Activities Committee made it difficult for you to obtain employment. Do you feel that this is an accurate reflection of what occurred at the time, or do you believe your work problems might have had sources other than just your notoriety?

Lomanitz:

This is referring to my work problems just to obtain any kind of a job I could?

Mullet:

Yes. To obtain work.

Lomanitz:

Actually, I’m not sure it was that difficult because I obtained probably ten different jobs over a couple of years period. Some of which, I could have kept on working indefinitely as far as I know, and some of which I was fired from, like the one I told you about at L&S Bearing, which had a government contract for producing bearings for the Korean War. While the FBI never said anything derogatory to the boss and to the owner, he was just keeping his rear covered. He figured, “The FBI is coming around here. I might have some trouble with my government contracts.” He told me this himself. He said, “Your work is fine. But this happened.” Anyway, I found various jobs. I found a job with a tree trimming company. I found various jobs out of the Laborers Union. I found a job with a roofing company, and found a job with a bottling works. I found a job with a burlap bagging company. So I don’t know that I had all that much trouble finding jobs, but I certainly was not going to be able to find an academic job.

Mullet:

Did the FBI inquiries, aside from L&S Bearings, were there other occasions where your work history was complicated by FBI inquiries, or by your past political problems?

Lomanitz:

The only one I can think of right now, and I may be missing something, was a funny. It was when I was working for Arrow Bag Company, which bought secondhand bags, cleaned them, and refurbished them, sewed them up and so on, and resold them. It happens that I had an uncle, Mose Mortichi Feld [?], who had set up a bag company in Houston, Texas, years before. His outfit was probably by that time considerably bigger than Mr. Kennedy’s, around the Aero Bag Company. I was called in by Mr. Kennedy at one time, after I had been doing a really damn good job on getting some organization back to the bags. He asked me a very blunt question. He said, and I quote, “Are you a spy?” I thought, “My God. Well, at least he’s up and saying it, isn’t he?” And I said, “No. I’m not a spy, and I resent the fact that…” you know, I kept going and going. He says, “I don’t mean that.” He says, “I mean, are you spying for Mr. Feld?” “My Mr. Feld?” “Yeah. About what I’m doing here.” I said, “Mr. Kennedy, I not only have no desire to be a spy for Mr. Feld, but I wouldn’t know what to do if I were one.” He took me at face value, which was the truth.

Mullet:

In the Fall of 1954, according to your FBI report, you expressed an interest in working at Mud Controls Laboratory in Oklahoma City. Do you remember anything about this, like what kind of work did Mud Controls do? Was this the first time you had considered technical work since your return to Oklahoma in 1949?

Lomanitz:

I don’t remember anything about Mud Controls. I do remember applying for a job, and it wasn’t in Oklahoma City, it was in northern Oklahoma, probably in Enid or Ponca City, I’ve forgotten which. Because somebody had told me that there might be an opening there. I’ve even forgotten just what kind of industrial outfit it was, but that a consulting research person, physicist, might be valuable there, and they might want one. I applied for that job. It was not Mud Controls in Oklahoma City. I may or may not have applied for some Mud Controls in Oklahoma City. I have no memory. But I applied for this one in northern Oklahoma. I gather that somebody — I’m trying to remember, where did I see this report? Was it out of the FBI files? Out of the archives files? Somewhere I saw a report that while people in the research part of it were eager to have a person of my qualifications there, that the big boss made some remarks like, “What kind of a person would this be for us, who is living in a shack, and who doesn’t seem to care about what his standard of living is. I don’t think that would be the kind of person for us,” and that he overruled the people in the lab. Maybe I can find it in the FBI archives, but I don’t remember this Mud Controls thing.

Mullet:

In September of 1954, you would move to Norman, Oklahoma, where you would begin tutoring students at the University of Oklahoma. At one point, there was a discussion of you setting up your own laboratory, picking the best students from the University of Oklahoma, whom you were tutoring, to help you, in picking the best students from OU to help you in your research. Does this sound familiar?

Lomanitz:

It does not sound at all true. Did you say there were some reports of my setting up a laboratory and picking these students.

Mullet:

That’s correct. This is according to, again, your FBI file.

Lomanitz:

It sounds like typical FBI stuff. No. It’s not true. In the first place, I’m scared of laboratories. In the second place, the students I was tutoring were interested in getting through the courses and doing well in them. I have an idea what this garbled thing might possibly be related to, if anything with a germ of truth in it. That is that my father, who had a chemical laboratory in Oklahoma City met two or three people that got intrigued with him, because he was a rather charming kind of a guy in some ways, and very uncharming in others. I remember once I was pounding the streets looking for work, and I saw this truck go by, and it said General Laboratories Products Company. Now, my father had called his laboratory General Laboratories. This was a sort of a shock to see it because I had not been in much contact with my father, or he with me, at this time. After all, he had once publicly disowned me at a class he was teaching at Oklahoma City University. That may be where he met these guys. I bet if there’s any truth to this story at all, it has reference to him and these guys from the chemistry class he was teaching there. What they were trying to do was sell stuff. He had invented a permanent waving solution, for example, and various other such things as that. My suspicion is that this is what is referred to in garbled form.

Mullet:

So at no point, there was never any discussion of you working with or for your father?

Lomanitz:

I worked for my father in 1954 or something like that, whenever it was that he was dismantling his laboratory and moving it to his house. I worked for him doing the labor of dismantling it and hauling it and helping him build a shed, so on like that, for a period of a few months probably.

Mullet:

But there was never any discussion of you working for him in any technical capacity?

Lomanitz:

No.

Mullet:

Again, according to an FBI report, in January of 1957, you and your wife planned a return to California to live in either Berkley or San Diego. Upon returning to California, you planned to study mathematics. Does this sound familiar?

Lomanitz:

Again, it sounds garbledly possible a trace familiar. I remember thinking about, “Gee, California might be nice to move back to.” I remember thinking that. And then thinking, “If I could get a good job there, it would be nice.” What San Diego has to do with it, I don’t know because I thought in terms of Berkley probably. I did enroll in some mathematics courses at the University of Oklahoma while I was with my tutoring shingle. This could well have been 1957, but it had nothing to do with moving to California and taking mathematics courses.

Mullet:

Why did you not move back? You mentioned you would have if you could have gotten a good job. Was not moving back strictly a matter of not being able to find a good job in California?

Lomanitz:

That was certainly part of it, and I think Mary also was not convinced that she particularly felt that would be the best move for her. So I did take math courses at the University of Oklahoma while tutoring there.

Mullet:

I know your wife would obtain a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Oklahoma. When did she complete this and what was her timeline for her course of study?

Lomanitz:

She probably completed it in the 1960s, maybe 1966.

Mullet:

So it was substantially after…

Lomanitz:

Yes. But she started taking some courses after we moved back to Norman…

Mullet:

In September of 1954?

Lomanitz:

Yes. She said she got to thinking, well, if she’s going to be in Norman, why let the University go to waste? Why not take some courses. And if she’s going to take some courses, why not take what she really was most interested in, which was mathematics. So somewhere in there, she started taking some courses, and I don’t know if it was 1954, 1957, or what. It took a while to get her Bachelor’s degree in math taking courses rather slowly, and then she went on to graduate work.

Mullet:

It says in the same FBI report that discusses your plan to move to California, there is a discussion of your project to develop a method to shorten or simplify the present method of extracting cubed roots of large numbers, that the present method is about 300 years old, and needs improvement. Do you remember anything at all about this, or was this part of your objective?

Lomanitz:

Again, we’re on a sort of a possible grain of truth. Mary had gotten interested in cubic equations, just in general. Taking a cubed root would be one phase of it. She had gotten interested in continued fractions, too. She felt there might be a method in which the two could be combined together, and you could get cubed roots by doing continued fractions. That’s fine, and it might work. It’s also true that as far as computers are concerned, that once you begin getting a round off error, you can begin making a whole complete mess of what you are trying to do. I imagine a lot of work has been done on trying to fix that up. This was basically some of her ideas.

Mullet:

In early 1960, before you would leave from Washington state, General Clyde Watts [?], who is the head of the Reserve Unit in Norman, Oklahoma, suggested that a student informant be put in touch with you, “in the hope that the student would be able to penetrate the Communist Party.”

Lomanitz:

Reserve unit of what? General somebody in charge of the reserve unit.

Mullet:

This is according to an FBI report, and I would imagine it’s just a reserve Army unit in Norman, Oklahoma, but it’s not specified. But this General Watt suggested that a student informant be put in touch with you, “in the hope that the student would be able to penetrate the Communist Party.” Surprisingly, the FBI was not willing to assist him in this. You had moved to Norman around September of 1954, and while in Norman, did you ever feel you were still the subject of that much military or FBI interest? Did you ever suspect any of your students as being an FBI informant?

Lomanitz:

I didn’t particularly suspect my students, no. It’s funny, though. My students seem to me to be there honestly for what they said they were there for — to get tutoring in their coursework. As far as the FBI continuing to keep track, that went on at least through 1960, as I don’t know whether I’ve discussed yet or not.

Mullet:

You were aware of their presence while you were in Norman? Did you ever have any interaction with them while you were in Norman, or what lead you to believe it was continued, other than things you might come to find out about later?

Lomanitz:

Two agents came to the door in 1960, okay?

Mullet:

According to your FBI file, on June 27, 1960, you telephoned the FBI office in Oklahoma City, and told them that you and your wife would be available for an interview the following day. Why would you approach the FBI about having an interview with them? In an August 24, 1960 report, the Oklahoma City office speculated that as tutors in Norman, you and your wife might have believed that you had more to gain than to lose by talking to the FBI in making at least a token show of cooperating with the FBI. Is that an accurate reflection of events?

Lomanitz:

No. This is a typical, really garbled perspective sort of thing. What actually happened. We did not just volunteer and call the FBI. What happened, and I’m going to read a little something here. Two FBI agents visited our house in Norman, Oklahoma on June 27, 1960. By that date, we had come to know that one does not have to talk to those people, to invite them in, or to accompany them anywhere, unless, of course, they have a warrant. When they first came to the door of our home, I came outside and asked what they wanted. They said they’d like to know if at this time, I had anything I’d like to tell them that I hadn’t in the past. I told them that as a matter of fact, I did. I told them that I knew of a number of people, including myself, who had been slandered, who had lost jobs, who had been jailed. These people had done nothing wrong. Our own government had punished us for trying to exercise the rights guaranteed to citizens by our Constitution. I wanted to know whether the FBI was prepared to apologize and provide restitution. One case, David Bohm, born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, an eminent theoretical physicist, was being barred from returning to this country from England. He had obtained work in Brazil, Israel, and England, after being fired from Princeton University in 1949, for being an uncooperative witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

The FBI agents said this sort of thing was not on their agenda. Their assignment was to find out whatever information my wife and I could give them on Communist activities. At this point, I told them I had nothing further to say to them and they left. When I discussed this incident with Mary, she had a brainstorm. Why not call the FBI office in Oklahoma City, tell them we wanted to make our attitudes perfectly clear in writing, so that distortions of our statements would be more difficult. We did this, and the next day, the two agents again showed up at our home. This time, we politely invited them in. Why not? Offered them coffee, told them we only wished to make written statements, and that we would mail these statements to the Oklahoma City office of the FBI. This we did. I preserved copies of the statements, and they follow. My statement in writing, as a result of a visit to my home in Norman, Oklahoma, by two agents of the FBI. “Since two FBI agents very recently gave me to understand that they are interested in my present opinions, I decided to make a brief statement in writing to minimize the chance of confusion or of distortion. I have never done anything disloyal to the United States. I shall not in the future. I have never known of any disloyal actions by anyone else.

If I had, I should have reported them to the proper federal agency, which is the FBI. The same applies to the future. Amongst people I came to know in the 1940s who told me they were Communists, from none did I ever find or sense a disloyalty to the United States. Yet, I have seen so called Communist association used to intimidate people, cost their jobs, or jail them. I hence, have no intention of answering any such questions concerning other peoples’ associations. I did not know of the present existence of the American Communist Part until I very recently learned of it from the FBI. I have no associations with it, and do not intend to. Sincerely yours, Rossi Lomanitz.” That was my letter to them. The following is Mary’s letter. Statement in writing made to the FBI, June 30, 1960, by Mary Lela Morgan, as a result of a visit to the home of Ross Lomanitz and Mary Lela Morgan in Norman, Oklahoma, by two agents of the FBI. “Because two representatives of the FBI came to my home June 27th, and were invited in June 28th, I make the following statement. I consider myself a radical politically. Most all of my deep seated political convictions were arrived at before I ever heard or the Communist Party. Before I had any known personal contact, I read such literature as I could and recognized many areas of agreement. During the 1940s, from time to time, I was in contact with the Communist Party. My regard for the program generally outweighed my criticisms, and I publicly defended my position. Many of the details of this contact, I have purposely pushed from my mind since then. I have no intention of elaborating on any details with the FBI. Other people are involved, and I would be wrong to do so. I do say that never was it even suggested that I do or say anything disloyal to this country, or attempt to subvert the aims of any organization to the program of the Communist Party. However, the combination of harassments and my own disagreements with the Communist Party lead me to break of any contact. This has been true for about the last ten years. I also have no intention on enlarging on the details of the disagreements to the FBI. I further have no intention of establishing any future contact with the Communist Party, which the FBI informs me has reorganized itself. I sign my name as I use it to this statement. Mary Lela Morgan.”

Mullet:

So during to this June 28, 1960 interview, according to the FBI, you said you had not fully decided as to whether you could furnish information concerning your past activity or your present attitude on matters in which you were involved. After so many years of confrontation with the FBI and not cooperating, this would seem to have been a change, so as to even make it possible that you would discuss your past with them. Is it your suggestion that indeed this depiction of it, as presented by the FBI, is inaccurate?

Lomanitz:

It is completely distorted. We did not voluntarily get in touch with the FBI to start with, as the report indicated, until after they’d come around to see us. And we made these reports in writing. We did not talk to them. We said we would make them in writing in order to minimize the chance of distortion, as well as misreading them. As far as I’m concerned, they went right on ahead with the distortions.

Mullet:

In a later FBI report, from September 16, 1960, it says that from a recent interview, that being the July 5, 1960 interview with him, meaning you, subject claimed to have had no contact with the Communist Party in ten years. Again, are you suggesting that this is a distortion of what your wife said in her statement, or did you ever speak on your own behalf concerning your contacts with the Communist Party over the past ten years?

Lomanitz:

The first one. It’s a complete distortion of what my wife said in her statement, and also, the implication is given that we talked to these guys, answered their questions, and maybe we were going to tell them more that they’d been trying to ferret out and all of that. This is baloney. What we did do was first tell these guys, “We’re not going to talk to you unless you want to correct the past evils you’ve done.” They said no, they didn’t want to do that. Then we called them out and told them that when the agents came out, we would give them statements in writing, just precisely because we didn’t want this same garbage to happen over again. And this is garbage.

Mullet:

The final thing I want to ask you about that interview, or non-interview as the case might be, is that according to the FBI, you stated that you had observed resolution through legislative and judicial law of some problems you thought would persist under the present form of government, and that you realized that your past estimation of the U.S. government was at least in part erroneous. Would you say that is accurate?

Lomanitz:

Completely inaccurate. Completely putting words in my mouth. Completely distorting the position.

Mullet:

In the recent past, you said that growing up in Oklahoma, you saw very little labor organization, and that it wasn’t until Berkeley that you saw much more organized labor. Yet, when you returned to Oklahoma in your late twenties, you were active in union affairs. What made you think that unions might succeed, or what was your reason for being so active in the labor union in a region of the country that was not particularly labor friendly?

Lomanitz:

Being active in Oklahoma? In what sense? I don’t understand. In terms of going to the Capital Steel Union meetings?

Mullet:

The various FBI reports suggest you were active in organized labor in Oklahoma.

Lomanitz:

I wasn’t much. I tried to put oars in where I could put oars in, but there wasn’t that much of a chance.

Mullet:

By the end of the 1950s, your ??? in Oklahoma seemed to be improving slightly, and your tutoring business was going so well that you actually had to turn people away and cut back on your hours so that you might do your own research. This is according to the FBI file. In the Summer of 1957, you even went so far as to purchase a house in Norman. Yet, in the latter part of 1960, you left to go to Walla Walla, Washington to teach at Whitman College. Why did you decide to go to Whitman? Was it simply a matter of wanting to get back into academics?

Lomanitz:

Primarily it was that. Also, Mary and I were having troubles, and it did not seem like a bad idea if we lived separately for a while.

Mullet:

In a previous interview, you mentioned you were the second choice for the Whitman job. Upon arriving at Whitman, your office was located next to that of Dr. George Ball, who was a Professor of Religion. Professor Ball himself, had faces some scrutiny before an Un- American Activities Committee in the 1950s, and this contributed to his leaving the University of Denver. Did you and Professor Ball ever discuss your past political problems with each other? What were your impressions of Dr. Ball, and do you remember anyone at Whitman discussing the idea that the school served as a place where the politically tainted were able to find work?

Lomanitz:

That Whitman served as such a place?

Mullet:

Yes. Whitman was a place that was open to having those who might have had political problems.

Lomanitz:

I remember Dr. George Ball. He seemed like a nice guy. I never really got very close to him, but I liked what I saw of him. The idea about Whitman being a refuge…

Mullet:

Not so much a refuge, but a place where it wasn’t necessarily going to disqualify you from work. Not that they went out of their way to find these people.

Lomanitz:

Right. I can’t say for sure except that I know that I wrote to Dr. Perry, who had been a president at Whitman. I told him that I wanted him to be completely aware of my past history, because I didn’t want him to be suddenly blindsided by some regent saying, “Hey, did you know this about that guy,” or something like that. And within that connection, I gave him the number where he could look up my testimony to the House Un-American Activities Committee. He wrote back, and he said he had indeed done that, and that he appreciated my suggestion, and that as far as he was concerned, he thought that he would be prepared if there were any kind of a smear attack. The thought he would be prepared with the facts to be able to handle it. Then, after the two letters to the FBI that we just put on tape right there, I sent him another letter saying, “Here is the most recent event that I think you should have knowledge of.” Again, he acknowledged it and said, “Thank you. I think we’re prepared.”

Mullet:

Another person at Whitman whom you would come to know fairly well was Bob Bennett. He was the head physics professor during your time there. You’ve briefly discussed your dealing with Professor Bennett in the past, mainly your efforts to have the Physics for non-majors class combined with that of Physics for science majors. What else do you remember about Dr. Bennett aside from this?

Lomanitz:

I really liked him a lot. He was the kind of person who could differ with me on personal habits such as smoking, drinking, church going, could really differ with me on that, and yet, not let it stand in his way of having whatever kind of a relationship he could enjoy with me, and vice versa, I think. Later on, I found out he had gone on to I believe Zambia in the Peace Corps, and then had returned. I would highly recommend Bob Bennett professionally any way he wanted.

Mullet:

On July 30, 1949, an unidentified man who had resided with you in Barrington Hall, of which we spoke earlier, in the early 1940s, was interviewed by the FBI’s Baltimore office. In that interview, he described you as, “a crackpot with radical tendencies who argued in favor of racial equality for Negroes.” Do you believe that much of the hostility that you encountered was not hostility so much to organized labor, but rather to the idea of equal rights for minorities? You grew up in Oklahoma, which is not generally considered to be one of the more progressive states. How did you come to hold the views on race that you did, or still do.

Lomanitz:

As far as Barrington is concerned, we had apartments with five men and an apartment with three rooms in the back. My particular apartment, besides me, there were two black guys, a Japanese American, and what here in Hawaii we’d now call another howlie, a Caucasian. I think the whole business about racial equality and lack of discrimination and segregation was one of the cardinal points in the Student Cooperative Association at Barrington. So I don’t think that was strange, and I don’t think people were considered crackpots at all. I think for myself, it was a wonderful step in my development because while I really had intellectually encountered the idea that there should be no discrimination and no segregation, I still felt strange when I found out two of my roommates were black, and one of them was Japanese American. I mean, it’s the way things go, whether you realize them or not. I think it’s a great educational experience for me.

Mullet:

Do you believe the hostility you would encounter later, was it as much tied with your ideas about equal rights for minorities as it was about organized labor, or do you still feel it was primarily organized labor that put you at odds with many people, both in Oklahoma and…?

Lomanitz:

If I can figure out what being at odds with necessarily means.

Mullet:

Like, when the Grand Jury describes you as a kook, do you feel that was as much to do with your ideas about racial equality as it was to do with about organized labor? Why do you think someone would describe you as a kook?

Lomanitz:

Well, suppose here is a person whose ideas are contrary to the Constitution of the started in which he lives, in which he is a citizen.

Mullet:

Which was the case with your views on racial equality.

Lomanitz:

That’s right. And whose views on economic equality are in conflict with the idea of equal opportunities meaning everybody grab as much as he can possibly grab. It’s unconventional. Fortunately, I hope it’s not as unconventional, particularly the racial part of it, because I think the economic part of it, I am still of the opinion there should be much more economic equality than there is. I think there should be a minimum wage of $100,000 and a maximum wage of a million dollars, just for example. A lot of people would call me a kook about a thing like that. As far as the racial part and Oklahoma is concerned, yes, we had it in our Constitution, we had it in our institutions, but Oklahoma is also a state in which groups could get together and determine to try to break down segregation and university education by instituting a court case with a prime example that they were able to find, of a young woman who was perfect in everything. Her grades were perfect, her character was perfect, everything was perfect. And instead of having her apply to the Negro university in Oklahoma, Langston University, have her apply to the University of Oklahoma, where she was not supposed to apply because she was not Caucasian. Have her turned down specifically with the reason given of her African ancestry. And have this done by the President of the University of Oklahoma, who was a part of the group which consisted of anything from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the CIO, the Communist Party, the Southern Conference on Human Welfare, all got together and planned that they would cooperate to do things this way. When the President of the University of Oklahoma then sent this letter, and she sued him. He was very happy to not win the suit.

Mullet:

On May 3, 1955, an FBI informant quoted you as making the following observations. “Einstein was a great man, and not as naïve as he was accused of being on matters outside the field of physics. Einstein had given considerable thought when he issued the statement that scientists should not testify before the Un-American Activities Committee, and that he himself would not testify.” Was your opinion of Einstein’s political awareness based solely upon his call for scientists not to cooperate with Un-American Activities Committee, or were you aware of the broader scale of Einstein’s leftist politics at that time?

Lomanitz:

I was not even aware that he advocated not cooperating with the Un-American Activities Committee. It doesn’t surprise me, and it certainly would have surprised me if he had advocated they cooperate, but I did not even know he had made such a statement. I did know that he had thought about such things as socialism, for example, pacifism, and that he favored them.

Mullet:

So with respect to this 1955 FBI informant statement, that seems unreasonable?

Lomanitz:

Garbled again.

Mullet:

What do you think of Stalin? According to the FBI report on you, upon reading text of Khrushchev’s speech, in which he was critical of Stalin, you were reported to have been displeased, and that you felt it was a personal attack on Stalin as opposed to a political analysis. This is unspecified, but it’s part of your FBI file.

Lomanitz:

That at some meeting or another that I was displeased at the attack on Stalin made by Khrushchev?

Mullet:

That you saw it as more of a personal attack on Stalin than as a political analysis.

Lomanitz:

No. No. As I said, I never really got that much into the day to day carryings out of programs in the Soviet Union, and I certainly never became a coat of the individual fan. To me, it was not Stalin, it was not Trotsky, it was not Khrushchev. So I think once again — Now, it probably was a surprise and a shock when Khrushchev came out with these things, because people had not been making these criticisms publicly in the Soviet Union, particularly people in high places. But I didn’t oppose it. I didn’t say how could he do that. No.

Mullet:

According to the same informant in the same exchange, your wife at the time suggested that, “We should stop being Soviet lovers and thinking everything is perfect just because it comes out of the Soviet Union.” Does this sound accurate?

Lomanitz:

That is more than likely, again, untrue and garbled. Because Mary was never particularly what you’d call a Sovietphile. So for her to make a statement that we shouldn’t believe that everything that comes out of the Soviet Union is true, it’s not the kind of a statement she would make. Mary’s politics, once again, sprang from the labor movement, I’d say, and from hopes that unionization could lead the way. I think any associations she may have had politically were subsidiary to that.

Mullet:

Do you think, aside from your views or your wife’s own views, that many people on the Left at times did suffer from a type of infatuation with the Soviet Union? Do you feel the reports about the gulags, and some of the more detailed reports about life in the Soviet Union had a significant impact on the enthusiasm with which people embraced Leftist ideals, and in any way, did it impact your views on things?

Lomanitz:

I think one of the things that caused a lot of people to break with the Soviet Union was the invasion of Hungary in 1956. I know that wasn’t the question you asked. Then later on, of course, Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Mullet:

But it wasn’t so much the ideas about gulags, or this disillusion from Soviet infatuation so much as just looking at very concrete examples of Soviet aggression?

Lomanitz:

Yes. I guess I myself had figured that historically there was a great deal of brutality in the Russian civilization. If they happened to be the first country that became Socialist, that didn’t mean that they got rid of the culture there.

Mullet:

While David Bohm would go on to teach in Israel, Brazil, and England, as we’ve discussed in the past, and David Fox would do the same in Israel as well, according to FBI records, you expressed that you had no desire to teach in Israel, and that the United States was the only place for you. After all that happened, and all the years that you lost in a sort of de facto internal exile from academics, why did you maintain this belief that the United States was the only place for you.

Lomanitz:

There are two things I can think of. One is of course, I was kind of familiar with maybe what to expect, although not entirely what to expect, whereas if I were to go to Mexico or England, I sort of really didn’t know so much what rules people might play by, and what you could call on to counteract something you thought was wrong. I was much more familiar with the United States on that. The second thing is, I believed, really all through the bad years, in the Constitution of the United States. It is true that I had hoped for more from the Soviet Union than I think was realistically possible, although I will say that their stemming of the Nazi Army was very important to me and everybody else in the United States and around the world. So how I felt about the United States, this is my country. It really is. And the statement from somebody, “my country right or wrong”, that is often quoted as being a bunch of bushlaw, is not completely quoted correctly. I think the complete quotation goes, “My country, right or wrong. May it always be right. But when it is wrong, let me try to set it right.” I think that says it much more.

Mullet:

According to an FBI memo, discussing further about your plans to stay in the U.S., dated October 20, 1950, stated you had packed a trailer and were preparing to leave the country when you were served with a subpoena requiring you to appear before a Grand Jury in connection with your Un-American Activities Committee appearance. Did you ever even briefly entertain the notion of leaving the country, and if so, where were you planning to go?

Lomanitz:

No. And I never had a trailer in those days, and I never packed a trailer in those days, and I don’t see where they come up with these complete fabrications.

Mullet:

Alan Shriker wrote, “Edward Condon acted as a sort of den mother for the younger physicists.” Aside from the draft and the lawyer, which we discussed earlier, what if any contact did you have with Dr. Condon, and if you did have much contact with him, what do you remember about him?

Lomanitz:

Personally I was very happy that he invited us, after we testified before the Un-American Activities Committee, to come to his home for rest and relaxation, so to speak. And I had never met the man before. I came to his home, and they were fairly solicitous about how we were doing, trying to relax and so on. Then of course, the funny thing I remember is what I wanted then was a drink, preferably a scotch and soda, but anything would have done. And he and his wife were apparently completely oblivious to this aspect of the human animal, because they offered us apples. I liked them. I liked what I heard about them. I liked what I read about them, and I liked what I heard about how he castigated Oppenheimer in the Peters Case. It seemed so real when he told Oppenheimer that he surely wasn’t gaining anything for himself by selling out people.

Mullet:

At one point, you were quoted as saying that you feared a frame up that was, “akin to what I believe was done to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.” Could you please expand on that, both in regard to your own situation, and your view of what was happening to the Rosenbergs?

Lomanitz:

To begin with, of course, I never knew the Rosenbergs personally, nor did I known anybody that I know of who did know them personally. So I can’t just get up here and say I swear that this is true, not that you can ever swear that anybody didn’t do something. However, within the framework at that time, our political framework, what was going on, I’m absolutely convinced, was an effort to find scapegoats. Real, live people they could point to and say, “These people are an example of people who, under the influence of the Communist Party, went and stole secrets and passed it on to what was our ally, and then became our enemy in the Cold War, the Soviet Union.” I think they needed to make this kind of case to complete the case our government had been trying to make, that any dissenter from our government policies was at best a dupe of the Communists who in turn, were subservient to another country, namely the Soviet Union. I think this was a thesis they wanted us to believe, and I think it was very important for them to find some people that they could make a case out of, that had actually done this.

I think when I was called before the Grand Jury in Oklahoma, that they were hoping they would find somebody there who would do it. In fact, one reason I think that is that after I got my subpoena but before I actually appeared before the Grand Jury in Oklahoma, I got a telephone call from the U.S. Attorney, or whatever, the one that was going to handle the Grand Jury. He said, “Well, I know there is a case of Contempt of Congress pending against you. You are going to have a trial for that. And I can’t guarantee anything. But in general, things go easier with people who cooperate with us.” He says, “If you want to, why don’t you come on around tomorrow morning, and let’s talk about it.” I said, “Okay. Alright. We’ll do that. I’ll do that.” I wanted to see what he had in mind. Mary says to me, “You are not going without a witness. I will be that witness.” And sure enough, we did it that way. We appeared at his office, the United States’ Attorney’s office together. When he saw that Mary was also present, his face fell, and he did not even go into details of what he might propose. However, he got his revenge because he had a subpoena issued then for her to appear before the Grand Jury also. So don’t tell me these things weren’t being rigged. I think I was very fortunate to have a Grand Jury in Oklahoma that could relate to me instead of to all this crap.

When the Rosenbergs were finally executed, ahead of the time they were supposed to be instead of after it, after the Supreme Court had been called back into session to overturn a stay of execution issued by Justice Douglas, after there had been a hotline established between President Eisenhower’s office and the warden at Sing-Sing, where they were electrocuted, after they had been told that their sentences would be commuted if they cooperated. After my experience on the one hand, after reading about this on the other hand, I have every reason to think that the government succeeded in its effort not to get somebody who would confess, but to get somebody, namely the brother of Ethel Greenglass, to confess that his sister and her husband had been guilty of it. To me, this is a black, black page in our history. If it turns out, by some chance, that I’m wrong about the Rosenbergs, it does not alter the blackness of that page in our history, and of how our government acted, and under what kind of conditions, and how they would have pardoned them if they would have only admit it. No. I have not proof that the Rosenbergs were innocent. I do have proof that those were horrible times, anti-civilized times, and I’m very glad that we are at least as far along as we are through them. We’ll see what comes now.

Mullet:

In late 1949 and into 1950, David Fox, who you had known as a graduate student at Berkley, had become a central figure in a controversy surrounding a loyally oath at the University of California at Berkley. What did you think at the time about what was going on at Berkley? In other words, did you follow the events at Berkley concerning the loyalty oath?

Lomanitz:

I don’t think I specifically followed what was going on at Berkley. In general, I read these loyalty oaths were being put out and demanded that people sign them here, there, and yonder, all over the country. I don’t remember if I followed Berkley specifically, no.

Mullet:

Some people have written that a high number of Jews in Communist spy rings was a reflection that communism was some kind of a Jewish conspiracy. Did you ever feel any anti-Semitic undertones in the way that you or others that you knew were treated by the general public?

Lomanitz:

I didn’t myself. Now, my current wife Josephine thinks that is because people, if they know I’m Jewish, they won’t show the same feelings they have as they would to a non-Jew. She may be right. She may be partly right. I really don’t have very much feelings of this kind. I mean, there was this crackpot sort of thing when I was in Oklahoma, still in high school, or before. There was a newspaper published called The Silver Ranger. This was a newspaper of the Silver Shirts, of whom the President was William W. Pelley [?], and the national headquarters were in Oklahoma City. It was frightening because their basic theme was that the white race is the superior race, and the white race is being contaminated by inferior races, Black and Jewish in particular, and that everything from the great wealthy financiers of the world, to the Communist leaders of the world, is Jewish, and they are tiring to destroy the rightful position of the whites; and the Blacks are trying to use misogynation to destroy the purity of the white race. Just really filthy, vile stuff like that. That frightened me, and this was just said out in public. I don’t think I have run into it so much. I can’t say so much as the hidden old boy’s club stuff that might just be kept under the table.

Mullet:

So you never felt that anything that happened in the way in which FBI agents or government officials approached you, you never felt any anti-Semitism in the way they approached you?

Lomanitz:

I’m sure that some of those pigs were anti-Semites, as well as a bunch of other things, but it didn’t just up and grab me.

Mullet:

On June 17, 1943, you along with David Fox and his wife Laura, Joseph Weinberg, and Max Freedman, and others met at Joe Weinberg’s home. There, according to a military intelligence report, you all discussed, among other things, the racial discrimination against Jews. Did you ever have conversations of this kind while you were a graduate student at Berkley? How often would anti-Semitism come up in discussions amongst you and the others mentioned above?

Lomanitz:

I don’t particularly remember this discussion of June 17, 1943. Discrimination against Blacks came up… I don’t remember having this particular discussion, which is not to say that it didn’t happen. More questions I remember discussing were of racism, as far as Blacks were concerned. I do have a memory of one argument I had with my sister, who claimed that the Jews were the most discriminated against of all people, certainly much more so than the Blacks in this country, which I thought was absolutely sheer prejudice nonsense. I would hear an occasion anti-Semitic remark in Oklahoma. I’d also here anti-Catholic remarks in Oklahoma. In fact, one of the things held against Al Smith, Democrat Candidate for President, when he ran against Herbert Hoover, was that Smith was a Catholic, and also a wet, he believed in repeal of probation. What I mostly remember is discussions about Blacks, and very little in terms of anti- Semitism. As far as these remarks that Communist spy rings had a lot of Jews in them, or something like that, I don’t believe I ever heard that one. I may have heard something like Jewish Communists, or something like that. It probably occurred more often than I realized, or if it didn’t occur, was sort of latently in the background. That’s all I can say about it.

Mullet:

In 1962, you would join the faculty at the New Mexico Institute for Mining and Technology, and you would retire from there in 1991. Overall, how would you describe your experiences in the course of the almost 30 years where you would teach at New Mexico Tech? I ask this because others have suggested that had you not had the political problems that you did, you would have been able to teach at a more prestigious institution than New Mexico Tech. I was wondering if given the opportunity to teach at a more research based institution, would you have preferred that? What were your career aspirations? Was New Mexico Tech somewhat of a letdown or a disappointment to you?

Lomanitz:

At the time, it was just the reverse because I was coming from Whitman College, and before that, I was coming from tutoring, and before that, I was coming from labor. So all this was steps upward. I don’t know. I guess I never settled the question as to how I really felt about research. You know, it was held out to me that boy, this was sort of the goal, and a goal. But I’m not sure that personally, it was my goal, other than it was supposed to be my goal.

Mullet:

So even in graduate school, it wasn’t crucial to you that you get a tenure track job at a major research institution? Would you say it was less crucial to you than it was to other people around you?

Lomanitz:

I was very happy to get the job at Fisk University, which was not a very prestigious university in physics, certainly, at that time. So I don’t know. I might have thought I was research oriented, but I don’t think I was really as research oriented as I might have thought I was. Otherwise, I probably would have felt worse.

Mullet:

At the risk of sounding arrogant, were there ever any experiences or times at New Mexico Tech that you felt like you wished you were at a better university, or that you’d like to be at a better school, or that you should be at a better school?

Lomanitz:

The Math Department was abysmal when I came there. The Physics Department wasn’t abysmal, but it had no theoreticians at all. In fact, I was hired as a theoretical physicists by E.J. Workman. Yet, New Mexico Tech seemed to have some of the pressures that maybe big research oriented institutes would have had. There were pressures about applying for a grant, whether it’s from the Office of Naval Research, or the Department of Defense, or NASA. Apply for a grant and make some of your salary that way. If you didn’t, you’d be considered in a way a lower class citizen because the grant people were supporting us. Well, the hell they were supporting us. The state of New Mexico was supporting us. Would I ever really have wanted to be…?

Mullet:

I know it’s kind of a difficult question to answer, but I’m just saying to what extent your political problems contributed to your inability to get a really good research job, or if you had the opportunity, was that critical? I’m just trying to trace out the long term effects of what happened to you in the 1940s with respect to your later career.

Lomanitz:

I really hate to say this, but in some ways, some of what happened to me, both with being drafted into the Army as a grunt, and with being called before the Un-American Activities Committee, and my job problems thereafter, and my having to work at blue collar work, and my having to establish myself as a tutor, all of these things I think are experiences in which at this stage, I’ve very glad that I had. Not that I think the things that made them happened were right. I think a lot of stuff was wrong about that. But I think they developed a side of me as a person that I’m really glad about. For example, without being a grunt in the Army and without the blue collar jobs, I don’t see how I could have really any appreciation of what a big part of life is about, and what a big part of it might be about for people who are not in academia. So I think in many respects, this was really very good for me. I think it’s broadened my perspective. I don’t think it’s particularly helped my productivity in physics, but that’s really very small potatoes compared to what happened to the Rosenbergs, for example. So I don’t know the answer to the question. I really don’t know.

Mullet:

Thank you very much, Dr. Lomanitz.

Lomanitz:

Oh, thank you.

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