Kopenhagen

Heisenberg and the Atomic Bomb

General Info

This page compiles additional information to our production of Michael Frayn's play "Copenhagen." It covers a historic meeting between the phyisicists Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr during World War 2. They seem to have discussed the possibility of the atomic bomb and Heisenberg's involvment in the Nazi Germany nuclear program.

In order to deliver a realistic depiction of these historic figures, we did some research, especially about Werner Heisenberg, some of which is displayed here. The play is based on a lot of real stories and facts, which can be understood by consuming the material presented here.

On top of that you can find information about nuclear proliferation and weapons technology as well as past and current nuclear world politics here.

Allgemeine Informationen

Diese Seite ist eine Zusammenstellung von Zusatzinformationen zu unserer Prdokuktion von Michael Frayns Theaterstück "Kopenhagen". Es handelt von einem historischen Treffen der Physiker Werner Heisenberg und Niels Bohr während des zweiten Weltkriegs. Sie scheinen die Möglichkeit einer Atombombe und Heisenbergs Beteiligung a Nazideutschlands Atomprogramm diskutiert zu haben.

Um die historischen Persönlichkeiten realistisch darstellen zu können, haben wir etwas Recherche betrieben, besonders zu Werner Heisenberg. Einiges davon wird hier gezeigt. Das Stück basiert auf vielen wahren Geschichten, die verstanden werden können, wenn man das Material durchgeht, das hier zusammengetragen wurde.

Zusätzlich findet man hier Informationen zu nuklearer Aufrüstung und Waffentechnologie, ebenso wie vergangene und gegenwärtige nukleare Weltpolitik.

Our Production

With the students' drama club of the University of Würzburg "Studi(o)bühne" we produced the play during the summer session 2019. Our production ran four shows on Nov 25 through Nov 29 2019.

We adapted the play to feature six instead of three characters, so that each of the original ones — Heisenberg, Bohr and Bohr's wife Margrethe have an presence in the afterlife as well as different people playing their memories. The stage, lighting, and costume were designed accordingly to stress this differentiation between present and memories. Some pictures by Fabienne Fulst are presented below.

  • Direction: Ben Westerrath, Fabienne Fulst, Philipp Stephan
  • Audio and Sound Setup: Patrick Günther
  • Actors:
    • Heisenberg †: Paul Otto
    • Bohr †: Benedict Wolf
    • Margrethe †: Sarah Mager
    • Heisenberg *: Philipp Stephan
    • Bohr *: Johannes Michl
    • Margrethe *: Luisa Falkenstörfer

The flyer reads

Fall 1941. During World War 2 Werner Heisenberg makes a visit to his Mentor Niels Bohr, with whom he made significant contributions to the developent of atomic physics since the 1920s. Their long-standing friendship and collaboration breaks after this meeting. Why? What had happened? This question is still on the mind of the two scientists and Bohrs wive Margrethe, even beyond death. Together they try to penetrate the uncertainty of their memories until the have to answer the question: Who is responsible for the fruits of their labour, for a machine that still can kill every human on this planet.

Kopenhagen

Unsere Produktion

Mit dem Studierendentheater der Universtät Würzburg "Studi(o)bühne" produzierten wir das Stück während des Sommersemesters 2019. Unsere Aufführungen liefen vier Mal zwischen dem 25. und dem 30. November 2019.

Wir haben das Stück so angepasst, dass es sechs statt drei Rollen gibt, sodass jede der ursprünglichen - Heisenberg, Bohr und Bohrs Frau Margrethe — einmal im Jenseits vorkommt und eine andere Person ihre Erinnerung spielt. Das Bühnenbild, Licht und Kostüme wurden demensprechend gestaltet um diese Unterscheidung zwischen Diesseits und Jenseits zu unterstreichen. Einige Bilder von Fabienne Fulst sind weiter unten zu sehen.

  • Regie: Ben Westerrath, Fabienne Fulst, Philipp Stephan
  • Ton und Tontechnik: Patrick Günther
  • Darsteller und ihre Rollen:
    • Heisenberg †: Paul Otto
    • Bohr †: Benedict Wolf
    • Margrethe †: Sarah Mager
    • Heisenberg *: Philipp Stephan
    • Bohr *: Johannes Michl
    • Margrethe *: Luisa Falkenstörfer

Der Flyertext lautete

Herbst 1941. Mitten im Krieg besucht Werner Heisenberg seinen Mentor Niels Bohr, mit dem er seit den 1920er Jahren wesentliche Beiträge zur Entwicklung der Atomphysik geleistet hat. Bei diesem Treffen zerbricht die langjährige Freundschaft und zusammenarbeit der beiden Physiker. Warum? Was war passiert? Diese Frage beschäftigt die beiden Wissenschaftler und Bohrs Frau Margrethe noch über den Tod hinaus. Gemeinsam versuchen sie, die Unbestimmtheit der Erinnerung zu durchdringen bis sie sich der entscheidenden Frage stellen müssen: Wer trägt die Verantwortung für die Folgen ihrer Arbeit, für eine Maschine, die immer noch eines Tages jeden Menschen auf dieser Welt umbringen kann?

Kopenhagen

Audio Intro (play)

A audio collage played as an intro to the stage play. Sources can be found in this YouTube playlist.

Audio Intro (long)

A rough edit of the intro collage played as an intro to the stage play. Sources can be found in this YouTube playlist.

Kopenhagen von Michael Frayn

Kopenhagen: Stück in zwei Akten

Deutsche Ausgabe des Textbuches, das wir für die Aufführung verwendet haben.

Copenhagen BBC Radio Drama

Radio drama adaption of Michael Frayn's Copenhagen by the BBC starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Greta Scacchi and Simon Russel Beale.

Der Teil und das Ganze: Gespräche im Umkreis der Atomphysik

Der Teil und das Ganze

Werner Heisenbergs Autobiographie enthält viele der Anektoten aus dem Stück und seine Ansichten zu der Thematik der Atombombe.

Forschergeist: Werner Heisenberg

Podcast über Werner Heisenberg, sein Leben und seine Forschung.

Werner Heisenberg — Vorträge, Gespräche, und ein Portrait

Interviewreihe mit orginal Tonaufnahmen von Werner Heisenberg startet in zweiten Video der Playlist.

Edward Teller - Heisenberg, Bohr and the atomic bomb

Phiscist Edward Teller shares his memories and opinions on Bohr, Heisenberg and the atomic bomb.

Atomic Bomb & Nuclear War Informational Videos

A compilation of educational and informational videos concerning atomic weapons technology and implications of its use as well as current world plitical affairs related to atomic weapoons tests and research.

Intro Sources

A compilation of the video and audio material gathered to create the intro sound file. This includes a lot of interesting original historic footage of nuclear tests, political speeches, scientists' opinions. Included as well is news coverage of current political affairs related to nuclear world politics.

Be sure to also check the channels atomicarchive, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, as well as these historic German news clips Tageschau Jahresrückblick 1962: Kuba Krise and Atomtests. Another gem in terms of historic footage is historicfilms.com for archive footage, as well as the Atomic Heritage Foundation for historic images.

Dan Carlin's The Destroyer of Worlds

Hardcore History 56

In-depth analysis of the nuclear proliferation and politics thereof leading to the cuban missile chrisis. How did the atomic bomb change world politics forever? What are the stakes of total nuclear war? Can humanity adapt to its weapons technology before wiping itself out?

Dan Carlin's Logical Insanity

Hardcore History 42

Dan Carlin examines the issue of the morality of dropping the Atomic Bombs in the Second World War.

Historical thoughts on Michael Frayn's Copenhagen by Alex Wellerstein

Alex Wellerstein is a historian of science and nuclear weapoons. In this piece he gives some thoughts on the play as well some photographs of the characters involved. Including gems like Niels and Margrethe Bohr, on the motorcycle of George Gamow and a picture of the Haigerloch reactor.

AIP Niels Bohr Library: Werner Heisenberg Interview

A thorough series of interviews with Werner Heisenberg, translated into English where he gives some of the anecdotes from his autobiography.

Arms Conrol Wonk Podcast

Arms Control Wonk

A nuclear weapons, arms contol, disarmament and nonproliferation podcast. Discussing current affairs and politics in proximity to these fields.

The quick and the dead: evidence that movement is swiftest in response to events in the environment

Some background information to the anecdote recited in the pleay of Bohr and Gamow shooting at each other to see who'd be faster: the agressor or the defendand.

Nukemap

A simulator for nuclear bombs. You can choose any spot in the world and drop a nuclear bomb onto it. The simlator estimates blast radius, fallout and casualties. There is a couple of historic presets, but you can also tune a wide range of parameters like yield, height of burst, or wind speed manually.