BBC Radio 4, 15 June 2010
The play tells the story of the German nuclear scientists who were brought to Britain in July 1945 and kept at Farm Hall near Cambridge which had hidden microphones throughout the building. They were then bugged as the Atom bomb was dropped at Hiroshima. The British were keen to discover how far the German “uranium club” had got with making nuclear weapons. They were also playing a waiting game and wanted to use the men in the reconstruction of a defeated Germany.
The listeners were German and Austrian refugees, some scientists who fled Hitler, others part of the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre. The action combined historical transcripts and primary research with fiction to tell a story about the power of science.
Told in mock-confessional form by Rittner (Nick Dunning), the play looked at the consequences of science, particularly when it concerns the production of the atomic bomb. The tone was conversational, almost playful: many of the scientists knew they were being bugged, and were treating the entire occasion as something like a Great Game, likened to a Grimm's fairy tale (Rittner's favourite author) in which one group of people did the best to disinform another. It was only in 1957, when a group of German physicists signed the Gottingen Declaration, vowing not to use the atomic bomb in any circumstances, that they actually became proud of their activities. The director of this morose play was Eoin O'Callaghan.