Mr. Ditrick

ethrom Member Photo

Clipped by ethrom

Mr. Ditrick - useum's 'Ten Seconds' Still Shake the World...
useum's 'Ten Seconds' Still Shake the World CONTINUED FROM PAGE El James Chadwick to Enrico Fermi who splits the atom "without knowing it." The migration of Einstein and other scientists fleeing Hitler's Germany is compared to "the transferral of the Vatican to the New World." Fermi is shown thumbing his nose at Mussolini by bowing to King Gustav of Sweden while accepting the Nobel Prize instead of giving the Fascist salute. Fermi then used the prize money to emigrate to America where he produced the first controlled chain reaction in the squash courts beneath Stagg Field at the Univeristy of Chicago. There are other scenes with intriguing insights. Einstein's letter (ghostwritten by physicist Edward Teller) calling for atomic bomb research is filed away by President Roosevelt with the note "we must do something about this." The word "atom" is censored from all newspapers, including the comic strip "Flash Gordon." Ten tons $300 million worth of the U.S. Treasury's silver coins are melted down for wire at the Oak Ridge, Tenn. uranium plant where only illiterate trash collectors are hired to protect atomic secrets. Gen. Leslie Groves, military head of the Manhattan Project and "the man who built the Pentagon," talks about the "enormous expense of assembling the greatest collection of crackpots" including J. Robert Oppenheim-er and a dozen Nobel Prize winners at Los Alamos. There is the dramatic count-down for the July 16, 1945 test of the "Fat Man" bomb at Trinity near Socorro; Truman, Churchill and Stalin at Potsdam; bloody combat in the South Pacific; the take-off from Tinian Island by the Enola Gay and its $2-billion bomb; and the holocaust of Hiroshima. "Ten Seconds" ends on an upbeat note with rebuilt Hiroshima "the will, mind and spirit of man triumphs" and America's "new breed" of atomic scientists who work for peace. Ditrick, who enlisted in the Army in 1941, served in North Africa, Sicily an Italy. In 1943, he was in Naples when actress Marlene Dietrich came through to entertain the troops. A general's aide, who thought it would be fun to introduce a Ditrick to a Dietrich, assigned Eugene to be her escort for two days. At night they stood outside, with air raid sirens wailing and ack-ack guns blasting, and watched the flash of German bombs near the city. ("The Germans weren't very good at it. They had lost the war but didn't know it yet.") Before she left, La Dietrich consented to let Ditrick photograph her and struck a pose just like in the "Blue Angel," the 1930 movie that made her a star. "She sat on a table. A bunch of GIs were standing around. I only had two or three pictures left. She was sitting there and pulled her dress up a little bit. The GIs all chorused 'Higher! Higher!' She reached a certain point and said, 'That's high enough.' "She was absolutely charming and very gracious. She put me at ease in a minute," said Ditrick. Ditrick was still in Naples when Hiroshima was bombed. "I suppose you want to know my reaction. Well, you know we were packing and crating things and preparing for the invasion of Japan. So the reaction was, the job has not been completed. Japan is still in the war. But we dropped our hammers and saws and came home. Relieved? Or course we were. "Back then, we didn't understand the bomb. Even now you toy around with the idea. Should we have dropped it? Shoot, I don't have the answer." Ditrick worked in Army counterintelligence in Japan and Korea from 1947 to 1952, then switched to nuclear weapons inspection and repair. He was appointed curator of the new Atomic Museum by Gen. John Honeycutt in 1969, and retired as a chief warrant officer in 1971. Two years ago he returned to Japan and was delighted at the welcome he received from old friends. Up until a couple years ago, the museum went through two or three prints of "Ten Seconds" per year at about $500 each. Now they simply replace the first 50 feet of the film, the part which seems to wear out the quickest. "If the soundtrack ever went out, I could probably do as good a job as Richard Basehart," Ditrick laughed.

Clipped from
  1. Albuquerque Journal,
  2. 04 Aug 1985, Sun,
  3. Page 50

ethrom Member Photo
  • Mr. Ditrick

    ethrom – 7 days ago

Want to comment on this Clipping? Sign up for a free account, or sign in