Museum Library Finds


I’ll be completely honest with you: I have no idea what this means.

Each week I spend at least a couple of hours organizing the books in my museum’s library. When I come across something that interests me, I photograph it. The same day I discovered this dedication I also found the word MURDERER written neatly over a snapshot of Reinhard Heydrich’s face. Beneath that were the words NOW IN HELL FOR ETERNITY. I photographed that, too, along with the title of the book. It’s not often I find such emotional, and quite obviously personal, notes inside the books.

But with Oppenheimer I forgot to photograph the title of the book in which this dedication was found. I’m more than a little pissed at myself for that.

There are very few things I know about this, Oppenheimer OR the bomb, seeing as I’ve never watched The Manhattan Project nor do I study things that include terms like “quantum molecular theory” or “deuterium-tritium fusion bomb”. I don’t think I even associate with people who do.

So how was Oppenheimer made a victim prior to the bombing of Hiroshima? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. After some quick research I learned he was accused of being a communist, but that was nearly a decade after the bomb dropped in Japan (the Red Scare isn’t something most high schools teach kids about). Did the author of this book (boy, wouldn’t it be nice to know which book!?!?) have a personal relationship with Oppenheimer, or some other means of being privy to his private feelings? Or is this in reference to Oppenheimer being forever tied to mass death as soon as he discovered the ability to create such a weapon?

If someone knows, or even has an inkling, please share it with me.

Oh, and for any of you Nazi history enthusiasts out there:


Taken from Wilhelm Hoettl’s The Secret Front, published in 1953. Hoettl was a prominent prosecution witness during the Nuremberg Trials, a valuable asset indeed after all his years serving as Adolf Eichmann’s right-hand man. And Heydrich, who I’d never even heard of before I came across this picture, seems to come up in all my research as the man who thought up the “Final Solution”. Heinrich Himmler merely wanted the Jews deported. Heydrich took it a step further.

So here you have three men who were all responsible, whether directly or indirectly, for the brutal deaths of millions.

Oppenheimer: Victim
Hoettl: Author

My museum library has around 8,000 books. I’ve only cleared maybe 250. What else can I possibly find in there?

7 thoughts on “Museum Library Finds

  1. On Oppenheimer, I’m not actually sure but I can maybe add a few things. His most famous work would have been on the uranium bomb, rather than the hydrogen bomb. The hydrogen bomb was developed post-WW2 and wouldn’t have been used during the war (and hence has no clear “first” victims). By then Oppenheimer had regretted the work on the weapons and started to speak out against further research on ethical grounds.

    The “victim” remark possibly refers to his opposition to the project leading to his removal and early retirement.

    • How interesting! I’m so clueless that I thought there were only two types of bombs (A & H), and clearly had no idea how plutonium or uranium factored into it all.

      Thank you for helping to separate some of this out. I am a little more inclined to go through my last batch of books at the museum and find out which one this dedication came from. I remember the pages were loose in places, so I don’t want to damage that book further by reading it and will instead look for it through another source.

      • No problem. It’s an intriguing dedication, and seems strangely familiar. I’m trying to work out where I might have heard it before – I’ll post again if it comes to mind.

        I did physics at university so picked up a lot of this stuff along the way. Plutonium and uranium would be atomic (A), and work by nuclear fission. Hydrogen (in the form of deuterium and tritium) would obviously be H, and works by nuclear fusion.

      • And here I made a statement in my post about not associating with people who study things that use such terms! I’ve heard of fission/fusion (middle school science class, perhaps), and plutonium was mentioned in Back to the Future. That’s as advanced I as get in physics.

        I’ll follow up if I come across the book!

  2. A little bit of Google searching suggests it might be ‘Two Minutes Til Midnight’ by Elmer Davis.

    I’m not familiar with him or the book, maybe I’ve heard the phrase quoted elsewhere. The title is certainly similar to an Iron Maiden song title, so it might have been influential enough in its day.

    • I think you nailed it. It feels familiar, like I’ve written that down. I keep a notebook log of corrections that need to be made to library catalog materials and I think that’s the book.

      • Cool. Further searching seems to indicate that Davis was outspoken against Senator McCarthy and his anti-Communist campaign. So with Oppenheimer being accused of Communism, it maybe all starts to fit together. That whole political era is an interesting one, and one I don’t know nearly enough about.

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