Farm Hall was an English Estate near Cambridge. After World War 2 it played a role for which it later became famous. Now it is forever associated with the Farm Hall transcripts
Ten nuclear physicists including: Werner Heisenberg; Horst Korsching; Carl Friedrich Von Weizsacker; Otto Hahn, Peter Diebner; Paul Hateck; Erich Bagge; Max von Laue; Karl Wirtz and Walther Gerlach were interned at Farm Hall from July 1945 for six months at the end of the war.
The group also included nine other Peenemunde scientists or engineers who had worked on rockets like the A-4 more commonly known as the V-2. Werner von Braun was one of these. Certain Generals like Walther Dornberger who had headed the V-2 rocketry program until the Waffen SS took over in July 1944 were also mentioned in Farm Hall summary reports.
The general idea behind their internment was to glean information about Nazi nuclear efforts by planting hidden microphones and eavesdropping casual, relaxed conversations. Transcripts were kept of these conversations and then translated into English. Only selected transcripts have been released to the public and not until 1992. It seems likely that still further conversation transcripts will remain classified until 2045.
The allies wanted to know, for example, if there was any nuclear material concealed from them at the end of the war, whether any scientists still posed a threat if released and also, what advances had been made towards creating a nuclear weapon before the war ended.
In one conversation on 6 July 1945 Diebner talking with Heisenberg actually speculated about hidden microphones. It is not inconceivable that inmates colluded to steer the conversations, so that they might exonerate themselves from blame for the Nazi regeime.
In one conversation with Otto Hahn, for example, Heisenberg tried to tell Hahn that the Allies must have needed two tons of uranium to make a bomb. Hahn contradicted him and said, but surely if it was enriched they would only need say 30 kilograms. When Heisenberg rejected this, Hahn reminded Heisenberg
"But tell me why you used to tell me that one needed 50 kilograms of 235 in order to do anything. Now you say one needs two tons."
The scientists were reluctant to talk until after they heard news about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Suddenly they began to talk amongst themselves and disclosed to microphones what had really happened. Many had worked isolated from others on different projects. Some revealed they were not only ignorant of the science needed to create a bomb, but also had no taste for Nazi philosophy. These scientists were generally rehabilitated into the scientific community after the war. Others like Diebner and Harteck who would not co-operate sank into oblivion after the war.
One of the summaries disclosed an interesting conversation between General Walther Dornberger and another German general. In that conversation Dornberger disclosed that he and V-2 engineer Werner von Braun had travelled to Lisbon in October 1944 for secret talks with officials from General Electric Corporation about the surrender of all Germany’s top scientists to US forces. This in fact closely reflected what did happen in the last days of the war.
Hitler ordered that all scientists be executed to stop them falling into the hands of the Soviets. Hitler’s orders were ignored and SS Lt Gen Dr Hans Kammler had scientists from all around Germany smuggled to Bavaria where they surrendered to Colonel Borris Pash of the ALSOS mission. At the end of the war Kammler disappeared from Prague, but not before a Junkers Ju-290 aircraft in civilian markings flew some 80 unnamed top Nazis from Prague to Barcelona. After the War, Spain refused to disclose the identities of these passengers.
Principal sources include:
Overheard, by David Irving
Virus House, by David Irving
The Bormann Brotherhood, by William Stevenson (Corgi)