World War II was fought on sea, land, and air but also in laboratories. Seeing the peril of fascism and totalitarianism—and its scientific machinery for war—Allied scientists confronted this growing menace with laboratory pursuits. Herein is a synopsis of this war effort, with partiality toward physics and a focus on the circumstances, ethics, and motivations of the scientists. It is our scientific and cultural heritage, which deserves some allocation in the physics curriculum.

In extraordinary irony, a great exodus of scientists from Germany began in 1933. This was the year Hitler came to power and issued a law requiring that anyone in government positions (which included academics) with at least one Jewish parent, or politically opposed to the Nazi Party, be immediately dismissed.1 

James Franck (Fig. 1 2), Physics Nobel prize winner of 1925, was so incensed by German Nazi Party demands that he fire Jewish coworkers that...

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