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The Unknown Factor Thriller




THE UNKNOWN FACTOR             by Robert T. Roe        503-998-2479


Logline: A German Scientist resorts to espionage against Hitler to bring atomic bomb secrets to Albert Einstein in America.”   


In 1938 Leo Strassmann and Otto Hahn split an atom for the first time in history. The news of this event alarmed many scientists, including Albert Einstein who had left Germany in 1933 in opposition to Hitler coming to power.  In 1939 he and several other well known scientists joined in writing a letter to President Roosevelt in which they strongly encouraged that the United States begin a nuclear program of their own. Later that year Roosevelt formed the Briggs Commission to study chain reactions, which led to the formation of the Manhattan Project.  Thus, it all began.


What news had Einstein received from Germany concerning the splitting of the uranium atom, and from whom?  While Physicist Neils Bohr was credited with eventually bringing this news to America and making it public, certain rumors may have already reached Einstein. Were any valuable secrets brought to Einstein?  It is what is unknown that becomes the attraction and basis for this story. 


Young scientist HANS HAMBURG had considered himself a loyal German Patriot. Yet Hans was struggling within himself to define just what it was he would do for his beloved country. His father, VICE ADMIRAL HAMBURG, a World War I veteran, saw Hitler as the magic to save Germany and pressured his son to join the Nazi party in 1930.  On the other side of his life there was his friend and professor, ALBERT EINSTEIN, preaching pacifism. Hans did not feel that was the answer either.  For the time being Hans would avoid politics and devote himself to his work in rocket propulsion systems and his beautiful new Jewish born bride HELEN ABRAHAMSEN.


The story opens on their wedding day with Albert Einstein attending as Best Man. Because Hans and Helen were both popular graduate students of Albert’s, many distinguished Jewish scientists attended their wedding and reception. But the joy of that day would be strained.  Some present had already been infected with Nazism. Han’s cousin, FRITZ HAMBURG, would stop Hans just before he entered the chapel in an attempt to prevent Hans from marrying “that Jew”.  The angered groom strikes him to the ground on page 3.


If that weren’t enough, Hans’ father invites an upcoming politician by the name of Hitler to the wedding reception. Albert Einstein refuses to meet him or greet him and leaves a party that started on a good note. Hitler tells Hans that they will meet again someday and it proves true when eight years later Hans is hauled into Hitler’s office to rat on the Jewish scientists who had split the atom. At that moment Hans’ inner turmoil ends when he is loathed by the sight of a model of a concentration camp in Hitler’s office.  Charged with new conviction he decides to risk his life to deliver a SECRET LETTER to Einstein in America. But the Nazis are on to his act of treason and give chase- which leads to a fast and exciting finish. The letter is delivered and the information in that letter influences Albert Einstein’s departure from his Pacifism to help the US beat Hitler in building the atomic bomb.




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