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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Bernard Feld, 1986

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Bernard Feld was a physicist who participated in the early development of the atomic bomb but soon became an active opponent of nuclear arms. In his interview, he relates several anecdotes about leading physicists of his day including Einstein, Leo Szilard and Enrico Fermi, and about milestone moments on the road to building the first nuclear weapon. Mr. Feld describes the development of his views in opposition to the arms race and specifically to the military's assumption of control over nuclear research. He recalls the formation and activities of the network of physicists that grew after World War II and resulted in, among other things, the formation of the Federation of Atomic Scientists. He explains and defends the strong negative reaction of the Mormon Church and other religious figures across Utah to the Carter administration's basing plans for the MX missile in their state.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
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Interview with Bernard Feld, 1986

Series Description

The first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, changed the world forever. This series chronicles these changes and the history of a new era. It traces the development of nuclear weapons, the evolution of nuclear strategy, and the politics of a world with the power to destroy itself.

In thirteen one-hour programs that combine historic footage and recent interviews with key American, Soviet, and European participants, the nuclear age unfolds: the origin and evolution of nuclear weapons; the people of the past who have shaped the events of the present; the ideas and issues that political leaders, scientists, and the public at large must confront, and the prospects for the future. Nuclear Age highlights the profound changes in contemporary thinking imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Series release date: 1/1989

Program Description

Amid the violence, fear and desperation of World War II, nuclear weapons are created and used for the first time.

“Dawn” traces the development of the first atomic bomb, from 1932 with the ominous rumblings that led to World War II and the ground-breaking scientific experiments that led to the bomb. Atomic physicist Victor Weisskopf explains, “we did not think at all that this business would have any direct connection with politics, or with humanity.” The frantic rush by American scientists who feared the Nazis were ahead of them and the first nuclear explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945 are described by eyewitnesses. Physicist Philip Morrison was ten miles away from the blast and will never forget the heat on his face. “Dawn” concludes with the failure of the first attempts to reach agreement on international control of atomic weapons after the war.



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Fermi, Enrico, 1901-1954
Mormon Church
Young, Brigham, 1801-1877
Groves, Leslie Richard
Nuclear weapons
Baruch, Bernard M. (Bernard Mannes), 1870-1965
Acheson, Dean, 1893-1971
Nuclear fission
MX (Weapons system)
Lilienthal, David Eli, 1899-1981
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972
Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955
Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory
Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Feld, Bernard Taub, 1919- (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Bernard Feld, 1986,” 03/05/1986, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Bernard Feld, 1986.” 03/05/1986. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Bernard Feld, 1986. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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