Petition to the President of the United States from 68 atomic scientists!!

July 17, 1945.

Dr. Leo Szilard (1898-1964).

In July 1945, Leo Szilard—the father of the atomic bomb—sent a petition to President Truman signed by 68 atomic scientists. This petition asked the President to seriously consider the moral implications of using weapons of mass destruction on the Japanese.

The President was out of the country at the time—at Potsdam, Germany, and he never saw the petition until his return on August 7—the day after the bombing of Hiroshima.

General Groves made sure that President Truman never saw the scientists' petition—until it was too late!!

In 1934, Dr. Leo Szilard filed a patent for the world's first chain reaction and the concept of a "critical mass" to create it. In 1939, he was instrumental in getting Dr. Albert Einstein to write a letter to Roosevelt about the dangers of Nazi Germany developing atomic bombs.

In Aug. 1939, Leo Szilard asked Dr. Einstein to write a letter to FDR about the danger of Nazi Germany developing an atomic bomb.

Nobody in the U.S. government listened to Szilard at that time. Even the Italian scientist Enrico Fermi was reluctant to pursue atomic research.

Dr. Szilard continued to pursue atomic research at Columbia University in New York City and his frequent nightmare was that Nazi Germany would develop the bomb first.

After the Pearl Harbor debacle, everything changed.

Szilard and Fermi worked together at the Rockefeller owned University of Chicago to develop an atomic reactor. Szilard invented the concept of the "breeder" reactor to create plutonium for fuel and atomic bombs.

Dr. Szilard developed the atomic bomb for ONE reason only: as a precaution against an A-bomb attack on the U.S. by Nazi Germany.

With the defeat of Nazi Germany in May, 1945, he saw no reason for using the bomb against Japan.

The 68 scientists' letter

"Discoveries of which the people of the United States are not aware may affect the welfare of this nation in the near future. The liberation of atomic power which has been achieved places atomic bombs in the hands of the Army. It places in your hands, as Commander-in-Chief, the fateful decision whether or not to sanction the use of such bombs in the present phase of the war against Japan.

We, the undersigned scientists, have been working in the field of atomic power. Until recently we have had to fear that the United States might be attacked by atomic bombs during this war and that her only defense might lie in a counterattack by the same means. Today, with the defeat of Germany, this danger is averted and we feel impelled to say what follows:

The war has to be brought speedily to a successful conclusion and attacks by atomic bombs may very well be an effective method of warfare. We feel, however, that such attacks on Japan could not be justified, at least not until the terms which will be imposed after the war on Japan were made public in detail and Japan were given an opportunity to surrender.

If such public announcement gave assurance to the Japanese that they could look forward to a life devoted to peaceful pursuits in their homeland and if Japan still refused to surrender our nation might then, in certain circumstances, find itself forced to resort to the use of atomic bombs. Such a step, however, ought not to be made at any time without seriously considering the moral responsibilities which are involved.

The development of atomic power will provide the nations with new means of destruction. The atomic bombs at our disposal represent only the first step in this direction, and there is almost no limit to the destructive power which will become available in the course of their future development. Thus a nation which sets the precedent of using these newly liberated forces of nature for purposes of destruction may have to bear the responsibility of opening the door to an era of devastation on an unimaginable scale.

If after the war a situation is allowed to develop in the world which permits rival powers to be in uncontrolled possession of these new means of destruction, the cities of the United States as well as the cities of other nations will be in continuous danger of sudden annihilation. All the resources of the United States, moral and material, may have to be mobilized to prevent the advent of such a world situation. Its prevention is at present the solemn responsibility of the United States—singled out by virtue of her lead in the field of atomic power.

The added material strength which this lead gives to the United States brings with it the obligation of restraint and if we were to violate this obligation our moral position would be weakened in the eyes of the world and in our own eyes. It would then be more difficult for us to live up to our responsibility of bringing the unloosened forces of destruction under control.

In view of the foregoing, we, the undersigned, respectfully petition: first, that you exercise your power as Commander-in-Chief to rule that the United States shall not resort to the use of atomic bombs in this war unless the terms which will be imposed upon Japan have been made public in detail and Japan knowing these terms has refused to surrender; second, that in such an event the question whether or not to use atomic bombs be decided by you in the light of the consideration presented in this petition as well as all the other moral responsibilities which are involved." (Leo Szilard, His Version of the Facts, pp. 211-212).

General Eisenhower said that the A-bomb was unnecessary!!

General Eisenhower (1890-1969).
President of the U.S. from 1953-1960).


General Eisenhower —the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe— was in Berlin, Germany, when President Truman was meeting with Stalin at Potsdam.

He was NEVER consulted on the A-bomb decision. Leahy, Groves and Byrnes made sure that President Truman was surrounded by "YES" men!!

"The incident took place in 1945 when Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. I was not, of course, called upon, officially, for any advice or counsel concerning the matter, because the European theater, of which I was the commanding general, was not involved, the forces of Hitler having already been defeated. But the Secretary, upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent.

"During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of "face." The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude, almost angrily refuting the reasons I gave for my quick conclusions."(General Eisenhower, The White House Years, pp. 312-313).

The military—like the Vatican—is a HIERARCHY and no matter what the personal opinions of the lower ranks it doesn't matter because once an order comes from the top . . . it MUST be obeyed....That is why the Pentagon is the greatest threat to the U.S. Republic. There is no place for a MILITARY HIERARCHY—in this Republic or any Republic . . . except to repel an invasion should it occur.

Official Chronology of Leo Szilard—the father of the atomic bomb

Leo Szilard is born in Budapest, Hungary.
Drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army.
Receives a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Berlin.
Files the first of 8 patents with Albert Einstein for an electromagnetic pump, which became the basis of cooling systems in "breeder" reactors.
March 1934
Patents the chain reaction concept in London, England.

August 1934

Conducts atomic research at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London. Invents the Szilard-Chalmers effect for isotope separation.
July 1939
Drafts a letter with Einstein's signature to FDR warning about the danger of Nazi Germany developing atomic bombs.
Feb. 1942
Moves to Chicago with other Columbia scientists becoming chief physicist of the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago.
Dec. 1942
With Enrico Fermi put into operation the world's first chain-reaction atomic "pile" (reactor) of their design
Jan. 1943
Prepares a memo on the first of three designs for a "breeder" reactor (a name he coined) to create plutonium for fuel and A-bombs.
March 1943
Becomes a U.S. citizen.
Aug. 1944
Proposes a postwar arrangements for national and international control of atomic energy (to curb what he predicted would be a U.S.-Soviet arms race) almost one year before the first A-bomb was tested.
March 1945
With an Einstein letter seeks an appointment with President Roosevelt to present scientists' views about wartime and postwar use of A-bombs. FDR dies before their meeting.
May 1945
Tries to meet President Truman at the White House but is sent to Spartanburg, South Carolina, to meet private citizen Jimmy Byrnes.
July 1945
Organizes a scientists' petition against dropping A-bombs on Japan, but it never reaches President Truman because he is hustled out of the country to Potsdam, Germany.
Receives the U.S. atoms for peace award.
Dies of a heart attack at his home in Ja Jolla, California. Dr. Szilard should have received 2 Nobel prizes: One for PHYSICS and another for PEACE but his anti-Fascist and pro peace with Russia views cost him both.

Vital Links


Eisenhower, Dwight D. The White House Years. Doubleday & Co., New York, 1963.

Lanouette, William. Genius in the Shadows. A Biography of Leo Szilard. The Man Behind the Bomb. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1992.

Szilard, Leo, His Version of the Facts. The MIT Press. Cambridge, MASS. 1978

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