Sentenced to 14 years of prison because he was found guilty of supplying secret information from the Americans, British and Canadians to Soviet Union, Klaus Fuchs was released after only 9 years from the British prison. More exactly Fuchs supplied the Soviet Union with information regarded from the research and development of nuclear weapons during the Manhattan Project.
Klaus Fuchs was born in Rüsselsheim, German Empire in 1911. At 19 years old Klaus entered the University of Leipzig, studying mathematics and physics. He also became involved in student politics joining the student Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). However, in 1932, during the German presidential election, Fuchs sustained the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) candidate and he was expelled from the SPD.
In 1933 when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany the tensions between political parties started to get worse. Therefore, Fuchs had to leave Germany because of his communist beliefs. Finally he arrived in England where he had the opportunity to work as a research assistant, managing to earn his PhD in physics in 1937.
When the WWII broke out, Fuchs became a British citizen, but he was sent in Canada. In there, he continued to publish papers, such as “On the Statistical Method in Nuclear Theory”. While he was in Canada he met a few communists and he joined the discussions between them most of the times. On the other hand, his scientific career was on high peaks and probably this brought attention from the Soviet Union. Therefore around 1942, Fuchs met a person who worked for the Red Army intelligence. From that moment, Fuchs became the spy for the Soviet Union.
However, Klaus was really appreciated between the scientific researchers. Even more, he was transferred in New York in 1943 to work for the Manhattan Project. But during this time he collaborated with Harry Gold, a courier that worked for the Soviet Union.
The Atomic Spy
While he was in the US, he helped with the preparations of the Operation Crossroads weapon tests. He had access, but he also created classified information in the nuclear field. Fuchs was a real superstar. He was wanted by the British to return to work also on their nuclear weapons program. Which he eventually returned in 1946. He became the head of the Theoretical Physics Division at the main centre for atomic energy and research development in UK. During this time, his new courier was Alexander Feklisov. Fuchs gave Feklisov the principal theoretical outline for creating the hydrogen bomb.
Later on, Fuchs testified that he transmitted secret information to the Soviet Union. In 1950, soviet spy Klaus Fuchs was arrested. He was found guilty of treason because he consciously delivered secret information to the Soviets about the atomic bomb. If it Fuchs didn’t helped the Soviets, probably the Russians would have the atomic weapon at least ten years later.
Fuchs was labeled as the “atomic spy” by the American press. After his arrest, Fuchs was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the British. A few months later his British citizenship was withdraw while Moscow denied that Fuchs communicated with them. His confession also led to another arrest within the Soviet espionage network which eventually led to the trial of the husbands Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
He should have been in prison until 1965, but he was released on June 23, 1959. He returned to East Germany where he continued his scientific career in theoretical physics until 1979 when he retired. During this time he was appointed the deputy director of the Institute for Nuclear Research in Rossendorf. In 1988, Klaus Fuchs died without seeing the collapse of communism, which he has served his entire life.