The Manhattan Project

The Manhattan ProjectThe Moment in Time documents the uncertain days of the beginning of World War II when it was feared the Nazis were developing the atomic bomb. The history of the bomb's development is traced through recollections of those who worked on what was known as "the gadget".

The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The Manhattan Project began modestly in 1939, but grew to employ more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US$2 billion (roughly equivalent to $25.8 billion as of 2012). Over 90% of the cost was for building factories and producing the fissionable materials, with less than 10% for development and production of the weapons.

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Ratings: 8.11/10 from 38 users.

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61 Comments / User Reviews

  1. dmxi

    the good ol' days ...where euphemisms(the gadget) were 'catchy' for wmd's!

  2. Malcolm Garland

    potsdam is in germany, outside of berlin...not yugoslavia

  3. Malcolm Garland

    which you must know, what up wit that...?

  4. richardsafe

    Really too bad we had to do this. The crazies in this world were at the root of our evil deed. Lets hope we never need to use it again! there are enough cool heads to keep it under wraps forever. I hope.

  5. dmxi

    there was never a real usage of the 'gadget'...only for 'flexing-muscle' sake!
    if you theoretically reverse the 'incident' & the u.s. would have to cope with
    this catastrophy,the semantic tone would beg to differ!

  6. dmxi

    huh????.......lost in translation?

  7. fonbindelhofas

    u are such a naive person...

  8. Jack1952

    Not naive...hopeful. I can't think of a word that would describe someone who doesn't hope it isn't used again. Fatalistic, maybe? Misanthropic? Insane?

  9. richardsafe

    That's why we live in a free society; so we can disagree. And I respect your opinion; but you didn't say why you believe I am "Naive"? I certainly hope you are not in favor of setting off another nuclear bomb? That would kill a lot of people who don't agree with their gov'ts policies as well as some completely innocent people. Please explain where we disagree? (Again I do respect you opinion) Thank you; Richard

  10. David Clark

    The Japanese would have never surrendered. It could cost one MILLION Allied lives. In Japan there were NO innocents. They were all fanatics. Even if there were innocents, young children for example, they were not worth one Allied life, not ONE.

    How about what the Japanese did in the countries they invaded. Their human experiments made Dr. Mengele look like an actual researcher. They showed no mercy to anyone, they stated the rules in the beginning, so they knew the things done to them were only what their government did to others.

    You think for ONE minute they would have not used nuclear weapons on the rest of the world if they had them?

  11. dmxi

    @mr.clark
    " In Japan there were NO innocents. They were all fanatics. Even if there were innocents, young children for example, they were not worth one Allied life, not ONE."
    -it takes one to know one-

  12. Jack1952

    This flexing-muscle stuff is plain nonsense. The allies had just defeated the Germans who would not surrender until the troops had closed within a few blocks of Hitler. This attitude of never surrendering cost the lives of many allied troops and innocent German civilians. The Japanese had shown their will to fight by the use of the Kamikaze fighter pilots. The ferocity and determination of the Japanese soldier convinced the Allies, both civilian and military, that the defeat of Japan would be a long and expensive endeavour. The cost in lives, Japanese and Allied could have been staggering. The ones who would have suffered the most would have been the Japanese civilian, especially the children. As brutal an option as the bomb was, it probably saved the Japanese people from even greater misery from a protracted war. The option of an embargo would have brought starvation and disease of tragic proportions. Even after the second bomb was dropped, some of the Japanese military leaders still didn't want to quit. It took the emperor to intervene and call for the end of hostilities. Had you been alive at the time, you probably would have breathed a sigh of relief that the bloodiest and most destructive war in man's history was finally over. That is the reality of that moment in time.

    When the war was over, the United States had the most devastating weapon the world has ever seen at their disposal. They didn't use it. They never said to Stalin "We are now occupying your country. If you resist we will do the same to you that we did to Japan until you are completely destroyed or have surrendered" They had the means to do it. Instead, they allowed Stalin the opportunity to develop his own nuclear arsenal. A very poor strategy for a country who, today, many claim had ambitions to control the world. Remember, I am talking about the world of that time, not today. Do not confuse today's reality with the reality of World War Two.

  13. dmxi

    how can an abstruse comment like this collect two likes?weighing an innocent (japanese) child life against an 'allied life' (which is a paid grown-up,fed upon propaganda of a 'free-democracy' with cooperate interests?WW2 was not evil vs good,if you do a little more research!)alludes me!if you truly believe that the united states dropped an atomic bomb in the interrest of saving lives,you are way out of sanity!please read the PDF i've supplied & understand,that the picture of politics,is not as simple or black & white,as they make you believe!

  14. dmxi

    if you would have dug a little deeper,you'ld identify the true 'non-sense'!you have not considered the geo-political & national- industrial interrests that accompany this atrocity!guilt tarnishes mass-murder with accusations against the enemy of the same vile demeanour!

  15. robertallen1

    Excuse me, but Japan seems to be doing quite well despite the tidal waves which beset it.

  16. dmxi

    excuse me, but new orleans is doing quite not so well despite tidal waves of enrichment for the banks!

  17. robertallen1

    I don't know. Has it gotten over damage caused by Hurricane Katrina?

  18. dmxi

    i hoped you could tell me?what are you trying to convey?the 'japs' have & n'orleans haven't (the damage is meant,of course)?....or the other way around?a natural catastrophy is god-sent & a man-made catastrophy is US sent (the fist of god????) ?please clarify......

  19. drinker69

    Wheres Matt Broderick?

  20. jj

    can someone tell me why we cant watch videos on this site anymore,i keep getting in my email but theres nothing to watch whats going on,i get a blank screen every time and i have all the proper programs on my computer,if you know,please leave answer in comment box i will occasionally check this site

  21. Kenn Jumper

    jj every video here works fine for me... i dont know what browser you are using, but i suspect you might be using Internet Explorer, if so that might be your problem... try a better browser like Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome..

    all the videos work fine for me. (im using Firefox)

  22. Jack1952

    Nonsense may have been too strong a word. I had quite recently been in a discussion with someone who believed that the Americans dropped the bomb just to show how tough they were so they could take over the world using the bomb as a threat. I thought that idea was nonsense and maybe I felt you were offering the same argument.

    It is reasonable to assume that there many discussions concerning the ramifications of dropping the bomb. The Soviets were a threat and there was a fear that war may be inevitable down the road. However, as effective a display the bombing of Japan was, comprehensive video coverage of detonations in the deserts of Nevada would have impressed Stalin, also. MacArthur may felt that the bomb would have exposed his position as a military leader as redundant. Who would need his expertise on the battlefield when all one had to do was drop a couple of nuclear weapons to win a war? Another consideration for Truman was the political advantage it would give him in future elections. He would be the president that won the war. You gotta love him for that.

    It is difficult to comment on what never happened. We can't know for certain that the Japanese would have sacrificed all or would have surrendered when faced with an invasion. One thing we do know is that the Japanese had shown themselves to be extraordinarily tenacious in battle. That had to be a major consideration. No one wanted a repeat of what happened in Germany.

    Thanks for the link. It was an interesting read.

  23. Jack1952

    Japan did initiate hostilities and Americans of the time viewed Pearl Harbour as an atrocity. They had been extremely brutal in the war against China, also.

    One can argue over the agendas of the decision makers till one is blue in the face. If you have ten people involved in any decision there will be eight different reasons why they they decide on a course of action. One thing is certain because it is how it played out. Japan surrendered quite quickly after the A-bombs were dropped. The war was over and hallelujah was the response by most people around the world.

  24. Jack1952

    I have to agree with you there. A very nasty comment.

  25. robertallen1

    O.K. If you had been in command, what would you have done?

  26. dmxi

    in the case of japan, i'm with mcarthur's continuous conventional bombing....& in the case of n'orleans, i'm with kathrinas continuous
    'hurricaning' (lolly)!

  27. robertallen1

    That's right. Prolong the death and destruction and increase the cost.

    The only reason McArthur favored continuous conventional bombing was to justify his existence.

  28. dmxi

    "....was to justify his existence. "
    thanks,that was a good'n! made me smile!

  29. dmxi

    i know what you mean...sometimes you come across comments ,that
    unleash a deja vu & one feels projected into a previous bad discussion. my comment was too short & snappy with room for interpretation like
    'trigger-happy-yanks' which wasn't intended & surely isn't correct.
    great,that you liked the link. i thought it would be rejected for being bias as the author is of asian(not sure if he's japanese?)descent,which still gives it credibility.

  30. Jack1952

    The author of this piece may have his opinions but he did examine the issue from all angles and admitted that it was a very complex issue. I have no problem with an opinion if it is offered by someone who is informed and has made an honest attempt to view the topic from all angles. His conclusions may not be correct (but they could be) and I may not have to agree with him but its the attempt to be fair that I respect. The obtuse, who see things only one way and refuse to even consider any argument that conflicts with their conclusions, are the ones that I have difficulty with. That's what I call bias and it is a simplistic approach to conditions in a complex world.

  31. brianrose87

    I'm assuming the comment about "continuous conventional bombing" and "katrinas 'hurricaning'" was meant to exemplify how ridiculous such a notion is... if it was bravo... if it wasn't, well I guess this is a comment section on the internet, so what should I expect?

  32. brianrose87

    I think it would be interesting if someone created an alternate history doc, or even a movie (well researched movie...hope Michael Bay doesn't read this and get ideas) where we didn't use nuclear weapons in WWII.

    The war would have been quite gruesome and protracted (maybe Quentin Tarantino should do it then?), which is the case universally made in favor of using Little Boy and Fat Man.

    What intrigues me, however, is how history would have proceeded during the Cold War. No living, breathing example of the use of such weapons would have existed as a deterrent, and so the psychology would have been altered. The destructive power was, of course, known either way, but the flesh and blood reality of the consequences wouldn't exist.

    Big egos like to be the first to use a new gadget.

    In an alternate history the claim to fame (infame?) for being "the first" would be tantalizing. Unfortunately, big egos tend to lead big countries... Wow... this really could be a good movie!

  33. robertallen1

    Another what if question: If we had not used the A-bomb and followed MacArthur's tortuous, egotistical and costly plan and within a year or two, totally vanquished the Japanese at a cost more lives and dollars, would Japan have become as powerful as it is today? Also, if we had followsedMacArthur's plan, would Japan have become another Viet-Nam?

  34. brianrose87

    This is cynical, but the more destroyed anything is in the modern world the more incentive there is to rebuild it. In the weird post Cold War world we live in, rebuilding Japan as part of the Marshall Plan would have created a surge in economic growth, which would appear positive.

    When the world lives as though it has infinite resources it can conjure the after effects of destruction into "GDP growth," the current be all and end all of economic vitality.

  35. robertallen1

    You seem to be positing that with or without the bomb, we would have arrived at essentially the same results with respect to Japan despite the potentially greater number of casualties and increased monetary expenditure. Perhaps you're right and the course of events might have paralleled those in Germany.

  36. brianrose87

    Japan would have been a Western ally after the war either way(They're obligated... they were defeated). If anything, they had more leverage over the U.S. by surrendering (as they did) with a fully armed and ready military. Basically, they still had bargaining chips, albeit small ones, by capitulating when they did.

    Germany had a great number of casualties being that they refused to surrender until the very end. Germany is currently the largest economy in Europe.

    This is all hypothetical, but Japan's advantages come not from richness in resources (they don't have any), but from their manufacturing and services, which revolve around being part of the Western Capitalist World.

    Perhaps the most important aspect of Japan's Post-WWII recovery was the lessons learned from WWI. The world punished Germany, and discovered that led to economic despair in Germany, which led to Hitler.

    If it weren't for the example set by the policies post-WWI, the aftermath of WWII could have set Japan and Germany on terrible trajectories. Obviously, the world thought it did something right after WWI (initially)... Hitler was TIME Magazine's Man of the Year in 1938... a year later he invaded Poland. The rest is history.

  37. robertallen1

    If I remember my history correctly, the only reason Japan surrendered was because the emperor stepped in--and it obviously turned out to be a wise move--among other things,Japan got to keep her emperor.

    With respect to Germany, remember that 1925-1929 were boom years for the country due to American investors. So there was considerable recovery from the Versailles Treaty and the resultant runaway inflation due to the reparations imposed by it. Unfortunately, the Crash took its toll and one of the results was TIME's 1938 Man of the year.

  38. dmxi

    sir,sarcasm well spotted & very clever to reply with two options, in case i meant 'hurricaning' literally.the problem with internet conversations is 'the missing of eye contact & facial expressions' to
    identify the true nature of the information given & i hate to 'LOL' my
    comments as i do not laugh out loud.i have perfected a subtle
    'lex luther-ian smirk' which has more effect vis-a vis & for future
    LOL comments i will use >smirksmirk<...there you go!

  39. Sertsis

    If I may depart from the conversation a little, I found this doc to be quite interesting in that it delivers a different aspect to a subject that I am quite familiar with. For those of you who are questioning the use of the atom bomb, I would side with Chester Nimitz, who felt that it was not necessary, and would have preferred to blockade, rather than invade Japan, which may have prolonged hostilities, but saved lives on both sides. For another look at this, I recommend you dig up an old doc from the 1970's called the world at war, and find the episode called 'The Bomb' There they discuss the political practicalities in more detail.

  40. dmxi

    sir,excuse the shallow topic evasion.i totally agree with your point of view that there was a variety of alternatives to 'the gadget', but you'll
    find alot of defenders of the 'saving allied & japanese civilians'
    political propaganda slogan here.america & allies are the victors so they get to choose how this novel ends!thanks for pointing out at other sources of information.

  41. robertallen1

    Of course, all debate on the matter is merely academic.

  42. Steve B

    and why was it hiroshima and nagasaki targeted? because truman , who was an occulist kabalist, wanted to target the largest christian community in japan, and the oldest chrisitan community in japan, which were those two cities...

    dont believe me? go investigate and understand how and why world war II really took place... answer: there are 'no good guys' vs 'bad guys'

  43. robertallen1

    Wrong. The original target was Kokura. However, on that day, a 70% cloud cover hung over the city, inhibiting attack. After three passes and with fuel running low (a fuel transport had failed to take off), Nagasaki was selected as the next viable target. Had Nagasaki been clouded over, it would have been Okinawa.

  44. wisedonkey

    If our advances though the island chains had been slower, the bomb may have been deployed on such an atoll. But, "what ifs" are always after the fact. People forget that young Japanese were throwing themselves fatally at American and Allied forces (naval), Japanese civilians were jumping off cliffs and in the face of firebombing as done to Dresden that killed 300K plus, we saved more life than could have been lost even at the toll of future generations that still have effects from that day. What is wrong is the continuation of a war for the purpose of economic gain for the few.

  45. Howard Lee Wilder

    Roosevelt blundered by aligning the United States with the UK, which was trying to hold on to it's colonial possessions, and the Stalin regime.

    The UK was fighting the 2nd 20th Century European Civil War, and the Soviets were fighting their so-called "Great Patriotic War". Even the German troops they respectively faced constituted different armies with different philosophies.

    Had the full capacity of US industry been turned towards fighting the Pacific War, it would not have been long before Japan would have been forced to capitulate due to lack of fuel and food, say within perhaps 18 months. Consequently, there would have no A-Bomb deployment by the United States.

    Additionally, if America had hit hard and fast right away, the perimeter of Japanese military expansion in the Pacific would have been kept closer to the home islands, narrowing the scope of the island hopping campaign and saving a lot of young Marines' lives. Admiral Ernest King was a difficult person to deal with, but in my opinion, he got that one right.

    Sure, there would by necessity have been landings on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, but the Japanese would not have had enough time to fortify them as was the case. You can pour a lot of concrete in six months, but you can certainly pour a lot more in two years, not to mention being able to regularly drill the troops to zero in artillery and site airfields, pill boxes and landmines.

    It would be naive to think that nuclear weapons wouldn't have been developed, tested and perhaps used eventually. I think the war was used as an excuse to implement atomic theory into practical use, but most thinking people at the time believed in the electrical power generation aspect rather than as a weapon of mass destruction. Some people even considered atomic explosions as possible big-project construction tools until the realization of the radioactive fallout and subsequent environmental and health problems began to dawn on the general public.

    Then again, would the British or Soviets have used a nuke on Berlin? Would the Germans have used one at Stalingrad or Moscow? We can guess, but the fact remains that the United States is the only country that has ever used atomic/nuclear weapons on a civilian population.

    Only by going back in time and living in 1945 can anyone understand what folks were concerned about then.

  46. tomregit

    The US did not declare war on Germany until the day after Germany had declared war on the US. Prior to that the US made huge profits selling weapons and munitions to Britain while ramping up its industries and getting out of a decade long economic depression. The US, when ready for war, provoked Japan to attack. When the smoke cleared there was only one winner in WWII; The United States.

  47. robertallen1

    True that the U.S. did not declare war on Germany until the day after Germany declared war on the U.S. However, are you saying that the attack on Pearl Harbor was provoked by the United States? Also, while the war certainly bolstered the U.S. economy, if I remember my history correctly, it was not until 1952 or 1953 that we were fully out of the depression.

  48. kevin

    They also supplied Germany with munitions.

  49. Russ Tul

    The Bush family made its fortune by trading with Nazi Germany before the war.

  50. RMax304823

    Apologies for the lack of documentation in the following comment. There was a report (I forget where, but it was respectable) by the daughter of Gen. Frank Merrill ("Merrill's Marauders") who said her father seemed anxious and depressed towards the end of the war. When she asked why, Merrill told her that Curtis LeMay was urging the quickest possible use of the bomb on Japan, before Japan had a chance to surrender. LeMay's reasons can be guessed at.

  51. kukvogel

    And Leo Szilard was Hungarian, not German. As much as I liked the documentary, such errors make me wonder how accurate it was in general.

  52. malcolmtbm

    separated from my main post, the article has some obvious issues for those familiar with this subject...

  53. Tammy Spinks

    I know a lady that worked the Manhatten Project. Yes she is 90 years old.

  54. Rick Smith

    The United States never declared war on Germany, They declared war on the Nazi's. That is why the Japanese were put in concentration camps during the war, and not the Germans. The bomb was not meant for Japan. Japan would have fell in 3 to 6 months top. They were a broken and defeated nation. It was a deterrent for Russia to scare them that we had something they didn't. You see we told Russian they could oversee the rebuilding of Japan after the war was over. The president realized, they had made a mistake because they knew Russia would have made Japan another satellite country. They dropped the bomb to keep the soviets out of japan at the expense of Japanese life's. This way the United States could get in and start rebuilding japan as a democratic nation. I don't know if their democratic or not anymore, but I know they are not free because they can not own any firearms.

  55. Ryno Lascavio

    Everyone needs to keep in mind that Truman had great reservations about dropping the bomb. He knew many innocents would be killed. However, the Japanese had fought a VERY brutal and inhumane war. POWs were tortured worse than anything we had experienced at that point, kamikaze pilots were reining down on battleships and it was considered 'an unforgivable shame" for Japanese soldiers to surrender. No Japanese were taken prisoner, they fought to the bloody end (we had hundreds of thousands of Nazi POWs). To take Tokyo, is was estimated that 1 to 2 million American soldiers would die, along with 4 to 5 million Japanese. There was even word that woman and children would be armed if the Americans made it to the mainland of Japan. Keep in mind also that even after the first bomb was dropped, the Japanese still refused to surrender. That kinda shows how strong their resolve was at the time.
    Given these stats, Truman realized that it was more humane to end the war by dropping the bomb (he probably didnt figure he would have to drop 2!). He also knew that eventually these stats would be made available to the public and he would probably have been lynched for not dropping them and letting all those Americans die. Needless to say, it was probably the most difficult decision in American politics in its complete history.

  56. Ryno Lascavio

    Conspiracy theories. However, the Kennedys did, thats proven!

  57. Ryno Lascavio

    The conspiracy nuts appears to be loud and proud in this comment section. Conspiracy theories are fun to tickle the brain, but some people just dont know how to use reason and common sense.

  58. Ryno Lascavio

    You're absolutely right. But please dont think you're going to convince some of these people to think rationally. The idea that "everything is a conspiracy" is what gets them out of bed in the morning. The truth is boring to them!

  59. Ryno Lascavio

    You're assuming that the Japanese were rational thinking people at the time. Far, far from it!

  60. Heather Exley

    I think you'll find that B29's cannot be refuelled in flight.

  61. Guest

    I agree most things labelled conspiracy theory don't even deserve the time of day, but at least keep in mind that labelling something a conspiracy theory is probably the best defence these days and will almost always earn ridicule to anyone willing to investigate further.

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