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The curious death of Oppenheimer’s mistress

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posted on Dec, 24 2015 @ 03:33 PM

Jean Tatlock is an interesting and curious character. In most narratives about the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, she shows up with two purposes: to radicalize him, and to humanize him. He put his relationship this way in his security hearing of 1954:

In the spring of 1936, I had been introduced by friends to Jean Tatlock, the daughter of a noted professor of English at the university; and in the autumn, I began to court her, and we grew close to each other. We were at least twice close enough to marriage to think of ourselves as engaged. Between 1939 and her death in 1944 I saw her very rarely. She told me about her Communist Party memberships; they were on again, off again affairs, and never seemed to provide for her what she was seeking. I do not believe that her interests were really political. She loved this country and its people and its life. She was, as it turned out, a friend of many fellow travelers and Communists, with a number of whom I was later to become acquainted.


The blog post reveals a lot of the history of the relationship between Oppenheimer, and Jean Tatlock more than any other single source I have read to date. I thought this should be included in the History section on ATS as it seems a good fit that should make for some interesting discussion about the secret history of our nuclear armed world.

edit on 12pm2015-12-24T15:34:28-06:00033412America/Chicago341231 by machineintelligence because: proof read fail

posted on Dec, 24 2015 @ 07:17 PM
I am into the series Manhattan, I wasn't sure how much of it is fact or fiction but I saw the death of Oppenheimer’s mistress and I was like really??? I didn't do any digging so I am glad you made this thread.

posted on Dec, 24 2015 @ 09:09 PM
So where is the curious part?
Sounds interesting but I'd like to hear about the mysterious death part.

posted on Dec, 24 2015 @ 09:42 PM
The Manhattan project had the highest security classification of anything the US was doing, and Oppenheimer was the top dog, and absolutely critical to the success of the project.

Just the facts that she was a communist and having an affair with him, in those days... it is rather amazing she lived as long as she did. The suicide details just seem way to over complicated. Barbiturates and chloral hydrate... and positioning herself so she would drown as she passed out? I do not believe it for a minute. I did not see any reference to the analysis of the suicide note she had left, as it too, was way over complicated... Is that note still in the archives, and who has determined that she absolutely penned it?

Great thread OP, and I want to read as much as I can about it.
edit on 24-12-2015 by charlyv because: spelling , where caught

posted on Dec, 25 2015 @ 05:38 AM
a reply to: zazzafrazz

From the Source:

According to the coroner, Tatlock had eaten a full meal shortly before her death. If it was her intention to drug and then drown herself, as a doctor she had to have known that undigested food slows the metabolizing of drugs into the system. The autopsy report contains no evidence that the barbiturates had reached her liver or other vital organs. Neither does the report indicate whether she had taken a sufficiently large dose of barbiturates to cause death. To the contrary, as previously noted, the autopsy determined that the cause of death was asphyxiation by drowning. These curious circumstances are suspicious enough—but the disturbing information contained in the autopsy report is the assertion that the coroner found “a faint trace of chloral hydrate” in her system. If administered with alcohol, chloral hydrate is the active ingredient of what was then commonly called a “Mickey Finn”—knockout drops. In short, several investigators have speculated, Jean may have been “slipped a Mickey,” and then forcibly drowned in her bathtub.

That is the big bit of it. She was poisoned and it was made to look like a suicide of a highly speculative sort to say the least.

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