Talk:Atomic spies

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Atom spies vs. atomic spies[edit]

The most commonly used term is "Atomic Spies", in my experience with it. This is somewhat backed up through a look at a few major sources:

  • JSTOR—"Atom Spies" = 20 hits; "Atomic Spies" = 36 hits
  • Google Scholar—"Atom Spies" = 32 hits; "Atomic Spies" = 52 hits
  • Google Books—"Atom Spies" = 181 hits; "Atomic Spies" = 172 hits
  • Google—"Atom Spies" = 507; "Atomic Spies" = 10,200

With the sole exception of the Google Books search, the use of "Atomic Spies" seems more prevalent than "Atom Spies", especially in the Google search, in which it is an undisputed winner. Additionally, "Atomic Spies" is preferred by a number of high-profile sources, such as the CIA, NOVA, and the DOE. On the other side of things, the FBI is the only prominent place I have seen which uses "Atom Spies".

Hence, I think both usages should be placed in the article itself, but "Atomic Spies" should be the primary one and the title, simply because it is the most prevalent. But I'm perfectly willing to discuss this. I'm aware there was a book called "The Atom Spies", but I don't think by itself that determines the title of the article—especially since the term did not originate in the book to my knowledge. I'm aware this is splitting hairs of course, though, as either one is perfectly valid in a semantic sense. --Fastfission 15:53, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

The reason I chose "Atom Spies" was because that was name of a television program concerning the subject matter. From a strictly grammatical standpoint "Atomic Spies" would make more sense, but I figured using "Atom Spies" would better reflect the fact that the article focuses on these few individuals. Do you agree?- Moshe Constantine Hassan Al-Silverburg | Talk 09:11, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

how much did spy info matter?[edit]

In The Bomb:A Life (Gerard DeGroot, 2004, chapter 8), it says the first Russian bomb was a copy of Fat Man, (the second, more powerful Russian test was the original Russian design that had been side-lined for the proven Fat Man design)and that the spy information was important in solving the problem of avoiding predetonation with a plutonium bomb; since plutonium was much easier to create than high-grade uranium, it had a decisive impact on the Russian bomb project... it quotes one Russian scientist saying spy info saved them "at least two years." It also discusses KGB efforts at the end of the Cold War to draw attention to their own importance to the Russian bomb project, which they felt had been overlooked/usurped by physicists.

The current state of this article gives the impression that the spy info was not valuable. Thoughts? Discussion?--ragesoss 05:28, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

It's odd no one has addressed your point (particularly the primary author of the article). I've also seen strong statements to the effect that the spy info speeded work considerably... Also, this article completely lacks direct citations. JDG 10:09, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
The DeGroot book is quite poor—all of the research is from secondary sources, most of which come from the internet (and some parts of which I suspect are cribbed from Wikipedia!). For a better assessment of the value of the spy data, see i.e. Holloway's Stalin and the Bomb which indicates that the biggest hinderance to the Soviet bomb program was the uranium supply, and that the espionage information was not used in a straightforward way (Beria did not trust it, or the scientists). -- 21:26, 6 May 2007 (UTC)
Also, while the article lacks direct citations it does, in the references section, indicate its sources for specific claims. The Kojevnikov book addresses this question very directly. -- 21:27, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

The article claims the Soviet Union did not have uranium deposits at the time. This is provably wrong, see Uranium_mining#Russia, as the Soviet/Russian territory comprising of Siberia has not increased in size since well before World War Two. The author probably means to refer to the shortage of a fissile material, such as uranium-235, which is a hindrance to any power which wishes to harness nuclear fission for weapons or energy. The article needs to be revised to reflect the exact nature of the Soviet Union's difficulties with uranium supply. (talk) 19:27, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

The article seems inconsistent in tone toward this question. The summary at the beginning claims that the information the atomic spies passed to the USSR didn't matter because of how it was used, but the body of the article claims the opposite.Mattchanoff (talk) 06:43, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Spies (Atom), a closed book?[edit]

Spies (Atom) is a logical title fitting many other WP titles.

Is atomic spying, passing details of physics packages etc to other countries, or obtaining them from other countries, all over now? I doubt it. So a further chapter or at least some cross-referencing is in order. Midgley 11:27, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

This article relates to the the one era in particular, if you want and can find reputable sources documenting it then by all means add other information of atom spies, but I still think the focus should stay on the post war era. Also I haven't heard any documented cases of this happeneing since the period in the article.- Moshe Constantine Hassan Al-Silverburg | Talk 12:11, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

  • They were referred to as the "Atomic Spies" by newspaper reports of the era, so I think this title is completely appropriate. The only allegation relating to later atomic spying that I know of is the concern about the possibility of Chinese espionage that came up in the late 1990s (the Cox Report, the Wen Ho Lee debacle) where the question was about whether blueprints were passed but more importantly over whether computer codes (simulations of tests) were passed on. It could be an interesting addition, though personally I think the term "Atomic Spies" is only used for the spies of the 1940s and 1950s. I think an article on Nuclear espionage would probably be good a more general account of the history of espionage relating to nuclear arms, more of a narrative than a list of names. But anyway, it's a good suggestion to think about. --Fastfission 12:40, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
Mordechai Vanunu is documented. He is partly similar - rather different in the physics level of information, similar in the severity of the sentence and the sustained public obloquy, different in the international sympathy ... maybe politics rather than sympathy. Perhaps he deserves a footnote or a see also? Midgley 15:04, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
Hmm, I suppose if we had a separate page on nuclear espionage Vanunu could fit in there though I don't really think of him as "espionage" in the standard sense (the public airing of secrets for the purpose of public discussion seems different to me than the giving of them to an enemy power secretly, but I'm aware that this is a contentious issue and that he was technically convicted of espionage, though I think the 'treason' charge is more on the dot). I don't think we should broaden this page, since we are using Atomic Spies as a proper noun here, but a new page on nuclear espionage is definitely an interesting idea. --Fastfission 15:17, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
OK, I started a nuclear espionage article and populated it with a few cases as a first shot. Feel free to edit it as you please! --Fastfission 15:59, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
It will be a pleasure to collaborate with you. Midgley 16:10, 7 April 2006 (UTC)


Are all those pictures necessary? Can they be sized down? Heck, they take up more vertical space than the article itself. --EEMeltonIV 02:23, 10 June 2007 (UTC)


Some fifteen-year-old obviously over-estimated his sense of humour after his lifetime first beer, so I reverted.Theeurocrat 00:33, 3 November 2007 (UTC)


Why is the religion of the Jewish people on this list of atomic spies listed, but not the religion of the non-jews? For this article, their religion seems irrelevant, unless the article can make some connection between their religion and their espionage, or unless you think espionage against the US was all part of some Jewish plot. (talk) 08:44, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Seeming to be Jewish yourself you know that Judiasm is an ethnicity as much as a religion, these people were communists mostly so I doubt they were practicing Jews. The German and British people are also listed by their ethnicity so there is no inconsistency.
A connection between religion and espionage or all espionage is a Jewish plot? Interesting questions, and yes and no. There'd be a connection between being religious and not being a communist, so there is likely an inverse relationship between religion and espionage. As for a Jewish plot? No, not all espionage was commited by Jews, let alone has it been proven to be a cordinated Jewish plot. Jews were plotting against the USA, some of them were convicted - it's right there in the article. But that doesn't mean all or most Jews were plotting agianst the US, and people are smart enough to figure that out for themselves without it needing to be censored or pointed out.
Not so. There is great inconsistency. Judaism is a religion, not an ethnicity, as evidenced by the fact that there are Jews in countries all over the world. A Jew in India is not of the same ethnic background as one from South America or one from Africa any more than a Catholic from Ireland is of the same ethnicity as one from Italy. All follow the same rites and religious ethic as their co-religionists, but that's it. To be utterly fair, the author of this article should have identified the spies' religion and country of origin, such as Jewish-American or Catholic-British or whatever. Or left religion out entirely. Aanddforever (talk) 19:55, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
Judaism is a religion, but "Jewish" is also an ethnicity. It is interesting that eight out of the ten (counting the rosenberg couple as only one) "Notable atomic spies" currently on the page were ethnic Jews. But unless there's a reliable source discussing it, there isn't much for the article to say about the subject. (talk) 19:00, 16 October 2010 (UTC)
The mere fact that virtually all of these spies were Jewish is itself relevant. As only 5% of so of the US population are Jewish, the religion of the spies would be irrelevant if they reflected the demographics. But nearly 100% Jewish suggests something, and the fact that they are Jews is therefore worth noticing.Royalcourtier (talk) 02:56, 6 April 2015 (UTC)

I found the question on why so many of the Atomic Spies were Jewish, explained well on this web site:[1] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:43, 6 July 2015 (UTC)


Odd sentence[edit]

Of the ten spies listed below, eight were of Jewish American ethnicity, with the remaining two: May and Fuchs, being English and German, respectively. Both of these men were married to Jewish women.

Doesn't this sentence seem potentially offensive? I'm not sure we need to have this in there. Stonemason89 (talk) 13:11, 27 September 2010 (UTC)
Since there hasn't been any feedback, I'm gonna remove it. Stonemason89 (talk) 04:32, 30 September 2010 (UTC)


The one thing missing from the article is a treatment of the motivation factor. Several of the spies had gone on record explaining their ideological beliefs and motivations for the espionage. -SC (talk) 02:53, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

As added above in the religion paragraph the website: has some hints into motivation. I found it quite helpful.[1] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:46, 6 July 2015 (UTC)



Morton Sobell was released from federal prison in 1969. But he could not have been released from Alcatraz since the federal prison there was closed in 1963. MathWBE (talk) 19:02, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

Erich Gimpel[edit]

Erich Gimpel, who was smuggled in the late fall of 1944 by submarine to the United States, claimed in his (partial) autobiography (German edition) that he had received some information about the Manhatan project and radioed to Germany. He claims that he received this information from a Nazi informant in New York. I'm not sure whether the presentation by Gimpel is reliable. (In contrast to the Quirin process the transcripts have not been published for Gimpel process online.) -- (talk) 09:45, 1 August 2015 (UTC)