The Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project

Ratings: 7.46/10 from 95 users.

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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68 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Willb

    We would have otherwise firebombed every major Japanese city. The bombs saved countless lives and suffering.

  2. Digital Bookworm

    Oddly enough, I can't find this documentary in the IMDb database. Someone from the University of California TV should submit all the relevant info. I'd do it but it takes hours to type it all up.
    Excellent documentary. ☺️

  3. Wayne

    Like today, it is possible the Japanese would have thought it a special effects or a hoax video and not taken it seriously. Yet I suppose we could have used it on an out island with lower population to prove a point and invited them to watch. The paranoia and mind thought or extremism of the time along with the technology didn't lend itself to that way of logic I'm afraid. Like today, people are being led down a very slanted view of their reason of being, their contribution to existing on earth. DO YOU WANT TO BE FREE TO THING TO LIVE YOUR LIFE OR INTERFERE WITH EVERYONE ELSES?

  4. sisiw

    if you are a scientist during that time, and you were offered to be part of the project, will you take it? Why or why not?

  5. Robert

    Anyone catch all of the mistakes in this film?
    Szilard is was Hungarian NOT German. just listen to his accent. Potsdam is NOT in Yugoslavia.
    The first bomb used on Japan was uranium, not plutonium.

    Something else to consider is the atomic bombs weren't as deadly if compared to the firebombing raids. Take a look at the 70+ cities the Americans firebombed in the same fashion as Dresden. Far more people were killed and burned with the firebombing raids then with the atomic bombs.

  6. Pat

    You cannot white wash history to further your agenda by writing the history you want. The war was over, the Japanese knew the Soviet front was coming since they were moving the army from the western to the eastern front. The cities were already destroyed in japan by thousands of "regular bombs." However the military which had saved two cities for the show of strength. it was not a show of strength towards the japanese but for the Soviets. A clear message of Thanks for doing our ditry work but this is where you stay. There were already negotiations in the works before the bomb was dropped where they just had to keep the emperor(which they did anywaY). Truman had little control of his millitary considering they didnt even tell him about it until it was ready to drop. Anyway.. please use your brain before you whitewash US history. When you do that you are doomed to repeat.

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. Sam

      This is one of the stupidest things I've ever read. First, the US declared war on Japan. Being their ally, Germany, not the Nazi party, but the NATION of Germany, declared war on the US, which the US declared right back.

      The Japanese were interred because they were more way more recent arrivals to the US and were feared to be less loyal. It was inherently racist and shameful, and a dark stain on the soul of the US. Germans were not rounded up because they make up the single biggest source of ancestry in this country.

      The bomb was developed to be used on Germany, but they surrendered before work was completed. Conventional bombing had utterly destroyed many Japanese cities, but seeing how civilians had been pushed to fight and die to the last man in places like Okinawa, it was decided that using the bombs on Japan would destroy the civilian will to fight. The Japanese had no way to know that the two we dropped were the only ones in our arsenal, and the Emperor was persuaded to surrender.

      The Russians had no satellite nations at the time, that came after the war. Communism hadn't spread yet at that point, but would soon after. The decision to bomb Japan was simply to beat Japan efficiently with the least amount of men and materials. Far, far more people died in the firebombing of Tokyo than did in the atomic bombing. But the psychological impact of two bombs leveling their targets in less than a second destroyed the Japanese imperial will.

      And for the record, Japan is democratic, and enjoys a preposterously low murder rate, and has extremely strict gun laws. Put that together how you will.

  8. Tammy Spinks

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

  9. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    5. Russ Tul

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

    6. Ryno Lascavio

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

    7. kevin

      They also supplied Germany with munitions.

  10. 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.

    1. 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!

  11. 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'

    1. 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.

    2. Heather Exley

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

  12. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. robertallen1

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

    3. Ryno Lascavio

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

  13. 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)!

    1. 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.

    2. dmxi

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

    3. 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.

    4. 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?

    5. 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!

  14. 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

    1. 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)

  15. drinker69

    Wheres Matt Broderick?

  16. 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......

    1. robertallen1

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

    2. 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!

    3. 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?

    4. 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.

    5. 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.

    6. 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.

    7. 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.

  17. 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!

    1. 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?

    2. dmxi

      " 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-

    3. 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!

    4. Jack1952

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

    5. 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.

    6. 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!

    7. robertallen1

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

    8. dmxi

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

    9. robertallen1

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

    10. 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.

  18. 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.

    1. fonbindelhofas

      u are such a naive person...

    2. 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?

    3. 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

  19. Malcolm Garland

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

    1. dmxi

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

    2. malcolmtbm

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

  20. Malcolm Garland

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

    1. 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.

  21. dmxi

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