Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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A Tradition of Welcoming Foreign Scientists and Engineers

Nuclear scientists, including future Nobel laureates, fleeing fascist persecution found a new home at Los Alamos during World War II, where they made a huge contribution to U.S. nuclear weapons research.
July 1, 2015
A Tradition of Welcoming Foreign Scientists and Engineers

Legendary Nobel Prize–winning physicist Hans Bethe with Enrico Fermi, Bruno Rossi, Emilio Segre, Edward Teller, and Victor Weisskopf

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“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” —Plaque on Statue of Liberty

Many immigrants fleeing Adolf Hitler’s and Benito Mussolini’s fascist anti-Semitism in the 1930s and 1940s played critical roles at Los Alamos National Laboratory in developing the nuclear weapons that helped end World War II. In fact, scientific luminaries such as legendary Nobel Prize–winning physicist Hans Bethe, Victor Weisskopf, Edward Teller, Emilio Segre, and Bruno Rossi were also senior leaders at Los Alamos. Enrico Fermi, arguably the most important physicist at Los Alamos, was a division leader, built the world’s first nuclear reactor, and became known as a “father of the atomic bomb.”

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