Leslie Groves

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Leslie Groves

Lieutenant General Leslie Richard Groves Jr. (August 17, 1896 – July 13, 1970) was a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officer, famous as the director of the Manhattan Project.


  • At the time I was brought into the picture, research on the uses of atomic energy had been going on at a gradually accelerating pace since January, 1939, when Lise Meitner explained that the uranium atom could be split. The discovery opened up two divergent paths for its exploitation. Most physical scientsts realized that nuclear energy, derived from the splitting, or fissioning, of the atom, might be used either to generate power for peaceful purposes or to generate super-weapons. In general, however, it was the scientists who were personally acquainted with Hitler's New Order who first became most interested in the possible military uses of atomic energy and its effect on the existing balance of political power.
  • I think the data that went out in the case of the Rosenbergs was of minor value. I would never say that publicly. Again that is something while it is not secret, I think should be kept very quiet, because irrespective of the value of that in the overall picture, the Rosenbergs deserved to hang, and I would not like to see anything that would make people say General Groves thinks they didn’t do much damage after all.
    • quoted in In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer (1954), but redacted from the version published in 1954. Released to the public in 2015.
  • At present the best defense against the atomic bomb is to not be there when it goes off.
    • attributed to Groves by Vice Admiral William H.P. Blandy, in Blandy, "Operation Crossroads: The Story of the Air and Underwater Tests of the Atomic Bomb at Bikini," Army Ordnance 31, no. 160 (January-February 1947), 341-343, full quote as listed above is the pull-quote on page 341, with attribution on page 343 ("At present, the best defense is distance, or as General Groves put it, the best defense is to not be there when it goes off").

Quotes about Groves[edit]

  • For three critical years he directed the most awesome project in the history of mankind. He was a constant source of amazement . . . He had the deep respect and admiration of his staff for his ability to organize and get things done.

External links[edit]

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