July 13th, 1938: the renowned nuclear physicist Lise Meitner, approaching the age of 60, sits on the train that will take her to the German-Dutch border and then to the safety of exile in Sweden. After months of uncertainty and fear, as a Jew in Nazi Germany, she has abandoned everything: her friends, her career, and her beloved adopted home, the city of Berlin, where she had become a pioneer in the world of nuclear physics.
This audio book is based on the letters Lise Meitner exchanged with her friends in Germany and all around the globe. They bear witness to the momentous era when physics determined the course of world history, from the discovery of nuclear fission in 1938 to the first airdrop of atomic bombs over Japan in 1945.
Lise Meitner – Kate Reading
Otto Hahn – Brian Hemmingsen
Max von Laue/Max Planck – Stephen McLaughlin
Otto Robert Frisch/Werner Heisenberg – Henry Kramer
Narrator – Michael Kramer
Isabelle Duthoit – clarinet, voices
Franz Hautzinger – trumpet
Lukas Lauermann – cello
Arrangement, Sound Design, piano, drums, guitar, bass – Stefan Frankenberger
Translation: Lilian Gartner and Ellen Lewis
Design/Layout: Jule Demel, Stefan Frankenberger
This audio book has been made possible by the generous donation of NENI and the Austrian Cultural Forums in Washington, D.C. and Ottawa.
Pictures used by kind permission of Churchill Archives, Cambridge/UK and Philip and Anne Meitner.
Ruth Lewin Sime, a life in physics (1995)
Patricia Rife, Lise Meitner and the dawn ot the Nuclear Age (1990)
Otto Robert Frisch, what little I remember (1981)
Richard von Schirach, the night of the physicists (2014)
special thanks to:
Walter Kutschera, Eva Schöfer, Ellen, Lilian, the Churchill Archives team, Jennifer and Michael, Haya Molcho, my family and the great narrators and musicians who took part in this production.
« With every letter I write to you, I’m disgusted with myself – but I am not embittered. I just can’t quite see a purpose in life at the moment – and I am very much alone. »
« Your Radium results are absolutely astonishing. The assumption of such a large explosion seems somewhat incoherent to me – yet we have experienced so many surprises in nuclear physics that I think one can never say: « ‚that’s impossible!’ »
« A life in a vacuum, without any satisfying purpose and without any security for the future – I hope from the bottom of my heart, you will never have to lead a life like that. I understand quite well that an individual life seems minuscule compared to our world issues. »