J. Robert Oppenheimer

Key People

Haakon Chevalier  - A professor of French Literature at University of California, Berkeley, with close ties to the Communist Party. Oppenheimer and Chevalier were close friends during Oppenheimer's time at Berkeley, a relationship that would cause great trouble for him later in life. During World War II, Chevalier tried to convince Oppenheimer to pass information about the bomb on to the Soviet Union. Oppenheimer refused, but he never fully reported the incident to the military. This gave his enemies ammunition later on and made Oppenheimer look like he was hiding things from the government.
Leslie Groves  - The brigadier general who had control over the entire Manhattan Project. Groves recruited Oppenheimer to direct the Los Alamos laboratory, even though Oppenheimer had almost no administrative experience. Although all the scientists at Los Alamos resented the military's harsh security measures, Oppenheimer and Groves maintained a solid respect for each other. Groves later testified in Oppenheimer's defense during the hearings about his security clearance.
Ernest Lawrence - A fellow professor in the University of California, Berkeley physics lab who worked with Oppenheimer to improve the department. Lawrence is the one who first involved Oppenheimer in the Manhattan Project, by inviting him to an early meeting about the new top-secret project.
Ella Oppenheimer  -  Oppenheimer's mother. She was a stay-at-home mother and a painter. Her family had been in New York for generations.
Frank Oppenheimer  - Oppenheimer's brother. Frank was also a physicist, although he was never as well known or as successful as his famous older brother. Frank was also a member of the Communist Party in the late 1930s, a fact that would later help make Robert Oppenheimer seem less reliable.
Julius Oppenheimer  - Oppenheimer's father. A German immigrant who worked in his family's cloth importation business.
Kitty Oppenheimer  - Oppenheimer's wife. They were married in 1940, after Kitty divorced her third husband. Oppenheimer's marriage to Kitty drew him even farther away from the radical politics he had been involved with before meeting her.
Jean Tatlock - A radical psychology graduate student at University of California, Berkeley. Oppenheimer fell in love with her in the late 1930s and became heavily involved with her radical friends and organizations. The love affair ended by 1940, as did Oppenheimer's interest in radical causes.
Edward Teller -  A European physicist who immigrated to the United States to escape European fascism. He worked under Oppenheimer at Los Alamos and stayed on after the war to develop a hydrogen bomb, or "Super." He turned against Oppenheimer when Oppenheimer refused to support the development of the Super. Later Teller testified against Oppenheimer in the hearings about his security clearance.