Otto R. Frisch and Rudolf E. Peierls
Memo given to the Committee for the Scientific Survey of Air Warfare
It was a remarkably prescient document—the first technical description of a workable atomic bomb. The authors were Austrian-British physicist Otto R. Frisch and German-British physicist Rudolf E. Peierls, University of Birmingham. They conceived of this “super-bomb” five-and-a-half years before Hiroshima. They realized that “the most effective reply” to a foe’s possession of such a weapon would be “a counter-threat with a similar bomb”—i.e., deterrence. The memo lent great impetus to US and British nuclear efforts and helped lead to the Manhattan Project.
4. If one works on the assumption that Germany is, or will be, in the possession of this weapon, it must be realized that no shelters are available that would be effective and that could be used on a large scale. The most effective reply would be a counter-threat with a similar bomb. …