Klaus Fuchs – similarly to the Rosenbergs, whose story is available here – was a Soviet spy that supplied the enemy with confidential data concerning creation of the atomic bomb. Read on to familiarize yourself with the history of the German physicist.
Klaus was born in Germany on 29 December, 1911. His father was a fervent socialist who strongly wanted his children to follow in his footsteps. His pressures and faith in socialistic ideology were so indomitable that even after moving to a different city, his family was called ‘Red Foxes‘, also due to their hair colour. Klaus got interested in politics when he started studies at university in Lipsk in 1930. He joined the Social Democratic Party, but did not stay long, as it started to favour Adolf Hitler. Klaus joined a different organization, where he met people who were later acting against the Chancellor of Germany.
He decided to leave Germany in 1933 because, as a Hitler‘s opponent, he was an obvious target for the Nazis. He went to England through France. At that time he was a member of the Communist Party in Moscow, he left Germany allegedly by its order. He was asked to finish his studies and persuaded that people with higher education would be needed for building the communist Germany.
Promising young scientist
Fuchs graduated from University in Bristol and was employed in Edinburgh as a quantum physics pioneer. When the war ended he was invited to work on a project. He claimed that at the beginning he had not known that the project involved building the atomic bomb. When he, however, learned the purpose of his work, he immediately notified Russia.
Fuchs was sent to the US in 1934 to work with other Americans on the bomb project, first in New York, later in Los Alomos in New Mexico. After flying to the States he almost immediately established contact with a soviet liaison. It was Harry Gold, although he introduced himself as Raymond. During one of their meetings, the German scientist passed to Gold plans of the Fat Man bomb, which was later dropped on Nagasaki.
After the war Fuchs got to know very precisely all information on the American atom bomb plan thanks to the following facts:
- He attended a confidential conference on the bomb in Los Alamos in April 1946.
- Together with mathematician John von Neumann, he filled a patent on the hydrogen bomb.
- Before coming to Great Britain, he familiarized himself with each an every document on thermonuclear weapon available in the Los Almos archive.
Shortly after that he went back to Great Britain.
In 1947 he met his new liaison – Alexander Feklisov. They met in one of pubs in London. During their first meeting Fuchs gave plans on the atom bomb to the Russian spy. The met again in March 1948 to exchange more data concerning the bomb.
End of Fuchs
His career started coming to an end in 1949. A British agent informed him that he was suspected of revealing confidential data to the Russians. At the beginning he did not plead guilty, but after some time he gave up and decided to testify. He stood a trial before a court in London. The courtroom was filled with people – there were 80 journalists, two US embassy representatives, the Mayor of London and the Duke of Kent.
The trial lasted for almost 2 hours, Fuchs pleaded guilty in order to protect other persons involved in the espionage. Just before its commencement, Fuchs was threatened with the highest punishment, i.e. death penalty. He did not get it as the Soviet Union was not yet considered an enemy. As per the British law he was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment. He was, however, released after just 9 years. After getting out of the prison he moved to West Germany, where he continued his scientific work. It is said that Fuchs was the most precious informer for Russia, not the famous Rosenbergs. He died in 1988 at the age of 76.