Chapter 14                       Dance With The Devil         By Gunther Schwab                   Written in 1963.

 

 

"YOU'RE NOW GOING TO HEAR STIFF, MY DEPARTMENT HEAD

No. 6," said the Boss.

"The low number seems to indicate that his job is very important," said Harding.

"His department is that for atomic death."

"In that case I'm rather surprised that he's not number one," said Groot.

"Oh," answered the Devil deprecatingly, "Stiff's department is not really the most important one.

It's only one section of my general front, although I admit its importance is not incon­siderable.

Stiff's a clever devil.

Sixty years ago I ordered him to find some new power of destruction,

either some kind of force or some kind of substance which could permeate the entire world a

nd poison it without man becoming aware of the fact in time

– I mean poison everything, the soil, the plants, the animals, the air, the water and ultimately man himself."

 

"But you've got chemistry for that," said Sten.

"It might happen that one day man will break the grip that chemistry has got on him,

then I would need a trump card. Well, Number Six found the natural force and the substance in one

 – by splitting the atom. It was he who looked over the shoulder of those madmen who,

divorced as they were from life, worked out the great secrets of atomic science,

the men to whom, at the moment, mankind is erecting monuments and handing out great prizes.

Oh, he's a lad that knows his job, is department head Number Six. Here he comes."

The guests grew tense, for this under-Devil had the face of a murderer.

It seemed to give out a cold light. It was expression‑less and yet somehow inspired,

sleepy yet full of restrained energy.

 

His great domed, shining, head was completely bald.

Stiff approached, searching among the papers in his brief-case,

never raising his eyes to those present. He greeted neither the Boss nor the guests.

Yet when he began to speak they were astonished by the pleasant tones of his voice

and the smoothness of his speech.

"When natural instinct has vanished life can only be sus­tained by sound thinking.

All sound thinking begins with a reverence for life. I have destroyed that reverence.

The lack of reverence for life has made possible today the cold-blooded application

of that which man calls scientific knowledge, the final beatific result of progress,

which brings in its train destruc­tion, universal disease, injury to man's genetic equipment

and the ultimate extinction of mankind in circumstances of unspeak­able misery."

"I wish we had got as far as that," said the Devil.

 

Stiff continued, "Atomic energy will end the supremacy of all the higher forms of life

and this will happen all the more quickly because here, too, man fails to grasp

the hidden con­nection between things."

"That will do for your peroration," said the Boss. "Let's get down to brass tacks."

"In order to prepare effectively for the great dying that is to come, my agents have started

an interesting series of experi­ments or so-called `tests' with various atomic weapons.

This, basically, is nothing less than the overture to the last phase of the life of man."

"Steady, steady, Stiff," said the Devil, "don't let your temperament run away with you.

The signal for the grand finale is a privilege of my own."

"Don't worry, Boss, I'm only really tuning the instruments, but even that gives a lovely cats' concert. T

he operations I'm talking about are actually quite wrongly called tests.

 

The bomb destroyed the difference between preparation and application,

between testing and use in earnest.

There are no nuclear tests and no nuclear experiments.

Every experiment is in itself an application of nuclear energy,

or have those who have been made ill or been killed as a result of the experiments

merely been made experimentally ill and experimentally dead?

In any case the experiments of today will be something more than experi­ments for the people of tomorrow."

"Let's have some details."

"By means of the A. and H. bombs exploded over the past fifteen years I have succeeded

in poisoning the whole world with radioactivity."

"I assume you're going to bring some proofs of these state­ments."

"Please may I ask for a little patience? On the first of March 1954 the Americans exploded

a hydrogen bomb on the Marshall Islands.

The mushroom cloud reached a height of a hundred thousand feet and the sound waves

could be recorded in London. The so-called experts at that time reckoned with an effect

equal to that of four to six million tons of TNT. Instead the actual blast was equal to fourteen million tons.

 

This established the gratifying fact that man had lost control over atomic power."

"I know," said the Devil. "Unfortunately the papers men­tioned the matter."

"Our people immediately issued a denial and the astonishing thing is that the world believed them."

The Devil smiled. "I saw to it that they were stupid enough."

"In any case, the after-effects are obviously incapable of any control whatever."

"Go on."

"During the explosions, pigs, monkeys, goats, dogs and mice were placed at varying distance

from the explosion. Measuring instruments were inserted into their bodies, so that the radiation

could be measured.

 

It was thus possible to find out at what distance its effect is deadly."

"Excellent."

Stiff was silent for a little. This caused the Devil to raise his head and look at him questioningly.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

Stiff hesitated. "Boss," he said, "I'm a devil, but when I saw that I was almost ashamed of myself."

Satan burst out, "Ashamed, why?"

"What a wretched, ridiculous creature I am compared with these atomic scientists."

"They're a thoroughly efficient lot, Stiff.

Naturally.

What do you expect?

But let's have no inferiority complexes."

 

"Every H bomb explosion hurls billions of tons of radioactive dust into the stratosphere.

hese minute particles of dust – on the average they only measure a thousandth part of a millimetre

– circle the earth for years, influence the direction of the winds and act as condensers

for radioactive rain and snow. It takes thirty or forty years before these masses of dust

thus hurled along come down to the earth."

"But surely after a time radioactivity dies out," said Sten.

"You won't live that long, Mr. Stolpe. Radioactive iodine 129 remains effective

for two hundred million years.

Every explosion increases the radioactivity of the earth.

Even the slightest in-crease can influence the power of living organisms to reproduce themselves.

Mice which were experimentally irradiated during the Bikini explosions

were affected by tumours of the hypo­physis.

This minute gland underwent so powerful a process of degeneration that it ultimately filled

between a third and a quarter of the skull and pushed aside the brain.

Apart from this, mice showed an increasing quantity of white blood corpuscles and grey cataract.

Since 1952 the seas of the world have been poisoned.

Two radioactive streams lead from the Pacific north-wards and southwards and pass by Japan.

 

They not only poison the fish but also the coasts and the marine fauna and flora.

Plankton has now a degree of radioactivity between a hundred and a thousand times greater

than the water that surrounds it. Fishes were caught which had thirty thousand times

the radio-activity of the water in which they lived.

Aside from this, the existence has definitely been established of two radioactive fields

which hurry in the stratosphere from one continent to the other and adversely affect

the weather and the general conditions of life."

"Unless I am very much mistaken, strato-physical institutes have been set up to guard against

these dangers."

Stiff laughed. "We use these little tricks in order to throw dust into people's eyes.

 

The deadly clouds are not made less deadly because we've made arrangements to observe them.

All that your strato-physical institutes will ultimately be able to do is to broadcast the news

that mankind is dying, that's all, and mankind will be quite aware of that without the institutes.

Naturally our experts stress the fact that the danger-point has not yet been reached

and will never be reached. The number of people who have fallen ill through drinking poisoned

rainwater goes into thousands, though the cause of their illness has not been recognized,

let alone admitted, by the medicine men. Drops of water which only contain small quantities

of radioactive isotopes cause burns which at first appear relatively harmless but later develop into cancer.

"A number of islands in the Pacific Ocean have become unin­habitable for a long time to come.

In many others, the inhabitants have been injured by radiation.

In California both earth and water are already radioactive.

 

From the soil the poison passes into plants and animals which are eaten by man.

In Quincey, California, salad stuff gave out a quantity of radioactivity equiva­lent to that

of 2 per cent sample of uranium ore. As a result of H-bomb experiments the crops of Japan in 1954

were poisoned by radiation. The leaves of the mulberry trees became radio‑active.

So, naturally enough, did the silkworms that ate them.

Finally radioactivity actually affected the silk itself.

"Numbers of agricultural products from various parts of the U.S.A., especially from Nevada,

showed a very high degree of radioactivity.

The practice of preserving food in tins enables us to spread atomic death through the whole world."

"Splendid, Stiff," said the Devil.

 

"Tinned fish, coming from the Pacific, have been particularly heavily poisoned.

 I hope, with the help of these, to be able to spread chronic anaemia very rapidly.

The U.S.A. have sent large quantities of such tins as surplus products to Asia and Africa,

either free or at very low prices."

"I see, assistance to underdeveloped peoples. Splendid."

Stiff continued: "America is today already ten times as much affected by radiation as Europe,

but even in Europe the results are highly gratifying.

In West Germany the meadows now show a dangerous degree of radioactivity

which has already passed into the milk.

The average radioactivity of milk since 1955 has risen to threefold.

In Lower Saxony the water in the cisterns has actually passed the safe degree of radioactivity.

The water in the mains of Munich showed a degree of radioactivity

a hundred times greater than normal and twelve times as great as the so-called safety margin.

 

"In August 1957 the radioactivity in the air of Vienna in-creased sevenfold."

Groot said, "These are, without question, mere transient phenomena."

"Since all organisms tend to store up atomic poison, there is, in this case,

no such thing as a transient phenomenon."

"Are you referring to Strontium 90?" said Harding.

"Yes, an isotope of natural strontium. It is stored up in all living creatures,

especially in plants growing on soil poor in lime. It enters the human body in food, is deposited in the

calcium of the bones and robs the bone marrow of its blood-forming power,

begetting leukaemia and sarcoma.

It forms deadly foci of radiation.

Its incidence is particularly heavy in children.

 

Between 1st of July 1956 and the 30th of June 1957 the strontium content in the bones of adults

rose by 30 per cent whereas in the case of children's bones it rose 50 per cent.

In its immediate effects internal radioactivity is much more dangerous than any radiation

coming from outside."

"The scientists say that the safety limit is still far from having been reached," said Groot.

"Oh, I admit that noted experts often give out statements with a superior smile and say

that fears regarding possible dangers to health involved in atomic tests are entirely ground-less.

These people are acting on my orders.

"May I ask you to think hard and ask yourself what it really means when one of these so-called

scientists says that the safety margin has not yet been reached. If it had been reached,

it would be too late. For science hasn't actually ever really determined the safety margin at all.

It's not a thing that can be measured. People try to form some kind of estimate of what

the human organism can stand in the way of this kind of damage,

 and in doing so juggle with concepts which are entirely unreal.

 

The medical men, the biologists, the geneticists, the atomic specialists are all at loggerheads

and arguing whether permanent damage is likely or whether it has actually occurred.

They don't know for certain. Any dose of radiation, however small, has some kind of bio­logical effect,

chiefly on the nucleus of the cells. It changes the arrangement of the chromosomes

and has an influence on their capacity to duplicate, which is the necessary precondition for the growth

of tissue and for the renewal of cells. Radiation impairs the germinal power of seeds

and causes physical malformation.

 

Continuation of the so-called tests may not have produced results that are immediately visible,

but the results will come all right and at the present rate it will be in the nineteen seventies or

eighties that people will begin to die on a grand scale.

The geiger tests on the thyroid gland, which stores up radioactive iodine,

has already risen a hundredfold in a radius of fifteen hundred miles from the testing grounds.

Even a quite small trace of Strontium 90 increases the liability of genes to muta­tions.

Whatever the size of the dosage, it is stored up, and as it accumulates it cannot be otherwise

than harmful and ultimately deadly."

"Has nobody ever hit on the idea of holding these experi­mentalizing scientific cannibals

responsible for the damage they have done all over the world?" the Devil asked.

 

"I have suppressed all efforts made in that direction, Boss.

 Atomic poisoning is a wonderful thing.

As things stand today, as many as four hundred and fifty thousand in a population

of a hundred and fifty million – which is about that of the U.S.A. – will die in each generation

from the effects of radiation."

"You have said a great deal about the damaging effects of radiation.

It would be more correct to speak of transforming effects,

which need not always necessarily be negative," said. Rolande.

"Oh," said Stiff, with a sneer. "I know what you're thinking of, the birth of a new human race,

the breeding of a master race through a clever alteration in the hereditary factors brought

about with the aid of radioactivity.

I'm afraid I must disappoint you.

In more than ninety-nine per cent of the cases mutations of the genes have proved damaging.

 

The damage is so far-reaching that one can say with certainty that whenever a child takes over

the same mutated gene from both parents it seals its own death warrant.

Normally of course such a gene has only a limited effect so that it does no more than cause

the breeding of cripples, invalids, idiots and sterile persons, and leads to premature death.

"Mutations of the genes need not become immediately apparent,

though they declare their presence unmistakably later through heart failure,

disturbance of the senses, deafness, blind­ness and lack of any power to resist infection."

 

"Good, but it's all going too slowly for my liking."

"Patience, Boss, the series of tests will be continued and will indeed be on an increasing scale.

Through the radioactive poisoning of the air, of precipitations, of water, crops, vege­tables,

fruit, all the earth's inhabitants are already in danger. Cases of infantile paralysis, c

ancer and leukaemia, are multiply­ing to a most gratifying extent.

Everywhere we are encountering new diseases. If several atomic bombs

were to be detonated at once, say in a war, it is quite possible that the earth's axis

would get out of balance. There would be a number of appalling earth-quakes,

floods and changes of climate which, together, would cost hundreds of millions of lives."

"That's all supposition," grunted the Devil.

 

"The number of premature births and miscarriages, of infer-tile men and women,

of sufferers from incurable hereditary disease, will mount to a delightful degree.

In a hundred years the majority of mankind will consist of weak-minded cripples.

The final degeneration and self-annihilation of mankind will have begun."

Sten got up. He spoke in a louder voice than was necessary.

"You're celebrating too soon, gentlemen.

One day, even the last of us will recognize the enormity of the danger.

I am certain that reason will ultimately gain the upper hand and that man-kind

will abandon these crazy tests."

 

The devils laughed.

Stiff answered: "You're a funny fellow, Mr. Writer.

All man's other interferences with the processes of nature might conceivably be made good,

but the results of the splitting of the atom will be with us always.

The deadly Strontium 90 remains effective for years. So far only a tiny fraction of the dust

that has been hurled into the atmosphere has returned to earth.

The great mass of poisonous cloud is still drifting over mankind and every new explosion increases it.

Even in thirty years poison will continue to drop from the skies and will permeate to an increasing

degree the whole of life on earth.

 

That will be true even if by then mankind has ended atomic tests and has avoided atomic war.

There is no help for you, you poor wretched little lunatic humans !

Now the blessings of progress shall indeed rain down upon your heads,

whether you want them or no." He laughed and the Boss joined in the laughter.

Yet Murduscatu seemed unimpressed.

"Wherever I look I see a growing resistance to Stiff's atomic plans," he growled.

"There are protests everywhere."

"Yet tests are still going on, as far as I know," said Stiff.

 

Murduscatu said: "The Japanese government has warned its people against eating vegetables

or fruit from Central Japan. The U.S. Food Commission under Dr. Jeffrey Norman of the

University of Michigan reports that radioactivity in foodstuffs is rising.

A gathering of Nobel prizewinners in Lindau in 1955 and 1956 issued grave warnings against atomic war.

Professor Tadayoshi Doke declared on 29th April 1957 in Tokyo that the maximum safe quantity

of Strontium 90 which could be allowed to exist in the world had already been exceeded.

The National Academy of Sciences in the U.S.A. issued a report according to which a war

with hydrogen and cobalt bombs would make the earth uninhabitable."

 

The guests were silent. Harding wound his wrist-watch; Groot looked,

with an obstinate expression, at the floor. The poet sat with his eyes closed,

his clenched fists on his knees; he seemed to be shaken by an inward sob.

Rolande looked with wide eyes into the Devil's smiling face.

"There's only one thing that can help us," she said, in a whisper. "Prayer."

Stiff interrupted: "Nothing and nobody can help you any more.

This is the end which you humans have freely chosen.

At last I've brought up to the point where you're preparing a war that is utterly senseless,

because nothing will be left alive when it's over.

 

After an atomic war life will stop completely. Not one per cent of mankind will survive.

There you have the final logical consequence of your whole world-wide,

short-sighted planning for progress and for expediency

– the push-button war that leaves nothing behind.

"And yet," he continued, turning to the Devil, "I would like to counsel patience, Boss.

My agents are in the midst of a tre­mendous advance and it would be a pity to unleash

a nuclear war before this most gratifying development is complete.

 

A nuclear war in the year 1955 would, in the first few minutes,

have slaughtered about a hundred million people; by 1957,

we had already reached the point where we could slaughter 300 million;

 

today, it would be well over a thousand million."

"Long live progress," cried the Devil.

"The really delightful thing about nuclear war is not so much the numbers of dead,

but the number of survivors.

The dead will have finished with the business —"

"Except for those that I fetch down to Hell," said the Devil.

"But the rest of mankind, before they are allowed to die,

will have to deal with the after-effects of nuclear war.

They will lead a pitiful half-life, with hideous diseases, horrible pain,

years of sickness and dreadful deformations."

"If we look at it that way," said the Boss, with a grin,

"it was really a mistake for us not to have unleashed a nuclear war long ago.

 

Then we should have had the maximum number of sur­vivors to share in that glorious fate."

"There'll never be an atomic war," Rolande tried to say, but the Devil turned quickly towards her.

"You're talking like a child. We are right in the middle of atomic war already,

and our agents, whom we present to the world and public as prominent politicians,

expert scientists and so on, have long been experimenting with the very life – or,

let's rather say, with the very death – of the whole of mankind,

without mankind's noticing it. As Stiff is so fond of saying,

the great mass suicide has already begun."

 

"You're right," interjected Sten. "The bomb is already in use even if it's not being dropped on us.

It acts through fear.

 It influences policy, it tyrannizes over life.

And yet I'm convinced that, despite all the arguments to the contrary that this gentle-man

has put forward, the sensible section of mankind, that part which is spiritually healthy,

will never permit an atomic war, and that one day there will be an end of tests, for ever."

"Yes, indeed," added the engineer.

"People will use atomic energy only for peaceful purposes, and that will be for the benefit of mankind."

"I entirely agree," said Harding.

 

Stiff gave a polite smile. "I'm afraid my own opinion is entirely different, gentlemen.

But even if you were right, the use of fissionable material for so-called peaceful purposes

is all part of my programme, and I am delighted with any progress made in this direction."

Groot grew quite angry. "Whatever you may say, the peaceful use of atomic energy

is a question of life or death for mankind. In Europe,

the demand for energy doubles every ten years.

At the moment, there is actually a gap of 15 per cent and this will steadily increase."

"Long live the standard of living," grunted the Devil.

Groot: "Our supplies of coal and oil are vanishing, so are the forests.

 

In twenty years 40 per cent of the whole European demand for energy will have to be met by imports

of coal and oil. One day there will no longer be any source of power other than atomic reactors."

"Quite right, quite right, my friend," said the Boss eagerly.

"Then it will be obvious, logical, inevitable and economic for us to build atomic piles,

big ones and little ones, above all a lot of them, an enormous lot.

That is excellent ! "

Groot was a little pensive. "Of course," he said slowly,

"the business of getting rid of atomic waste is a problem that has not yet been solved."

"Indeed it hasn't," said Stiff. "What will be the position when my really big atomic programme starts

to be realized, a programme that I'm implementing in every country of the world?"

"I read somewhere," said Rolande, "that they're shutting up atomic waste in cement containers

and dropping them in the sea."

 

"Yes, actually they're making them of concrete and steel.

But the enormous heat of the radiant material melts the steel walls and bursts open the cement. T

he atomic poison is liberated and infects the soil, the air, the ground water and the surface water,

the sea and all the flora and fauna within it."

"One day the reaction will have ceased," said Groot.

"If you've got sufficient patience you might like to wait for that, sir," said Stiff.

"The Half-life of pure radium is round about 1,580 years."

"Oh, come," said the engineer. "The human spirit is uncon­querable.

Any substance that it is inconvenient to keep on earth we'll shoot up into space with rockets.

In that way we'll get rid of it for good and all."

 

"Excellent," said Stiff. "But first you'll have to have such rockets in numbers which will literally

be without limit. To shoot one pound of atomic waste into space costs a little matter

of 3,000 American dollars. The world is now producing about a hundred pounds

of atomic waste per day, that's eighteen tons a year.

By 1965 that amount will have been approximately trebled.

So you'll have to risk a certain amount of small change if you want to get this rocket disposal going.

Until you're pre-pared to do that, the atomic waste will remain on earth. It's already so large

that its radiation could destroy entire provinces."

 

At this point Harding intervened again. "There was some talk of depositing these atomic containers,

which will be made of steel or lead, on the ice in the interior of Greenland."

"After a few centuries those containers will reach the coast, thanks to the movement of the ice."

"My goodness, what does it matter to us what happens in several hundred years?"

"How typical of your practical man," smiled Stiff.

"No, you won't be alive then, but there may be enough people still around to curse you and your kind."

"Well, that won't affect him much," grinned the Devil.

Groot said, "People will find other ways of doing the thing.

A cube of atomic waste two metres across would be enough to heat a two-storey house for forty years."

 

"Wonderful, this progress of yours !

Unfortunately the technical problem in question has not yet been solved,

and even if it had, would you really be the first to start with it?

Would you be willing to live with grinning death perpetually as your neighbour?

Would you be willing to expose your dependents and your children to the risk of incurable disease?

Would you accept the reasonable probability that your posterity would con­sist of idiots, of cripples,

who would ultimately die a miserable death, all so that you could heat your home cheaply?

It is very easy to give advice if you have no intention of following it your-self.

By the year 2000 there will be atomic waste in various parts of the earth whose radiation

will equal that of eight hundred million pounds of radium.

 

Nobody so far has found the means of nullifying that kind of radiation.

I might add that twenty years ago the entire radium on this planet was not more than about five pounds."

Once more they heard the voice of the Terrible One.

"Unfor­tunately some of your enemies have broadcast these facts and made

no bones about what they think."

"To whom are you referring?" asked Stiff.

"Well, to Dr. Warren Weaver, for one, of the Rockefeller Foundation.

He urges mankind to stop the building of atomic reactors,

unless he is prepared for his own extermination.

Then there's Dr. Abel Wolman of Johns Hopkins University who has warned that the radiation

from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy might be a great deal more dangerous than we suppose,

particularly in regard to man's genetic equipment. Vapours from atomic reactors, he declares,

might have catastrophic effects on the population."

 

"What have you got to say about that, Stiff?" asked the Devil. "Clever chaps, eh?"

"Nobody takes any notice of them, Boss, so I don't think you need be anxious.

And there are plenty of others who give us soft soap and say that the dangers are wholly non-existent.

Meanwhile the good work goes on. For instance, there's that atomic reactor in Hanford, U.S.A.

It has a water-cooling system and its poisoned water flows into the Columbia River."

"That's absolutely untrue," said Groot angrily.

"It stands to reason that the waste water is purified."

"So it is, so it is, but not entirely so.

It remains very slightly radioactive and so affects everything in the river.

 

The plankton, for instance, shows two thousand times more radioactivity than the water itself.

Ducks that live on this plankton show forty thousand times as much and the fishes a hundred

and fifty thousand times as much. Young swallows that have been fed with water insects show

five hundred thousand times as much.

The yolk of the eggs of river birds show one and a half million times as much radioactivity as the river water.

 Do you realize what that means?"

"It's certainly very disquieting," said Rolande.

"For whom?" said Stiff. "The atomic scientists don't care and the rest of the population

are left in ignorance, so why should anybody be disquieted?"

"But it's a crime ! " cried the girl.

 

"We have been talking for a whole hour of nothing else, mademoiselle," muttered the Devil.

Stiff opened another file. "Have you ever tried to imagine, what would happen if anything

were to interfere with the working of a nuclear reactor?"

"Why, what kind of interference could there be?" asked Harding.

"A sudden breaking out of the contents of the reactor or a leak of radioactive material.

The particular danger lies in the exceedingly long life of these decaying substances.

The Ameri­cans Healey and Parker calculate the damage which would arise if there were a leak

of radioactive material from the reactor at two hundred and twenty million dollars

for a reactor of a hundred megawatt size.

 

"If there were an uncontrolled outbreak of energy, there would be a sudden evaporation

of the products of fission and radioactive clouds of high temperature would be formed,

which would rise to a height of many thousands of feet, then sink again and be scattered.

"If the cooling system broke down, this would lead to a melt­ing of the fuel and an evaporation

of the fissionable material in consequence of the self-heating of the products of the fission.

In this rather slow process, a smaller degree of warmth is de­veloped and the cloud would wander

along the surface of the earth.

The same thing would happen if a reactor were to be destroyed by fire.

"So you see the peaceful development of atomic energy has led to a number

of most gratifying achievements.

When a reactor of the order of a billion kilowatts breaks out, deadly radiations take place

within a radius of up to a hundred and twenty miles.

The danger increases the longer the reactor has been in operation.

It is even more excellent when some of the cooling fluids begin to escape,

or these contain a great deal of the products of fission.

 

Thus a very considerable poisoning of all water takes place and a strong dose of radiation affects

the populace over a wide area without their being aware of the fact.

When a reactor of a million kilowatts breaks out, the damage done to the surrounding land

and crops is in the neighbourhood of a billion dollars.

According to the density of population,

we can always reckon with the death from injuries through radia­tion of between five hundred

 and five thousand people.

The damage to property in industrialized zones and in cities will of course be much greater

than on the land."

"Excellent, Stiff.

 

I presume that you've used all your influence to press for the building of a maximum number

of atomic reactors to be used for peaceful purposes."

"I've done all I could, Boss. In 1956, in the U.S.A., there were twenty-nine atomic reactors in operation.

By 1980, at an outlay of twenty-five billion dollars, America will have built so many atomic reactors

that 20 per cent of their energy require­ments will be met from this source. Up to 1965 England

will have twelve atomic power stations with a capacity of two million kilowatts.

The full programme provides for six million kilo-watts of atom-produced electricity.

In the countries of Euratom, that is Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux countries,

be­tween seventy-five and a hundred atomic power stations will be built by 1967

with a total capacity of fifteen million kilowatts. In the Soviet Union they are also building

atomic power stations as fast as they can, though they are less willing to disclose their full programme."

"Very good indeed ! "

 

"Listen to what our excellent friend, Professor Ludwig Frost, has to say on this matter."

Stiff switched on the television; the face of the politician appeared on the screen.

"We must at last get rid of that fright­ened reaction we get when we hear the word `atom'

and grow conscious of the blessings that lie in atomic energy.

The new fuel, Uranium 235, is three million times better than coal.

 

The earth's deposits of uranium and thorium will last for ten thousand years.

The peaceful use of the powers that reside in these materials

is the second great Promethean deed of man-kind.

"Released from the places where nature had housed them,

new unlimited energies will everywhere be at our disposal, energies which will provide

the necessary energy basis for the under-developed countries. As for every industrial state,

the building of atomic power stations is for the West German Republic an absolute necessity of life.

It will lead to a saving in coal. It will absolve us from the necessity of building gigantic

new hydro-electric works and so will enable us to preserve the beauty of nature."

"And to destroy life," interrupted the Devil. "Splendid."

"Moderation. A return to the natural and truly moral stan­dards – these things remain unmentioned

– they would hurt business."

 

The man on the screen continued, "We must silence the stupid untruths uttered by our enemies.

Atomic research should be greatly increased. In Germany we are not doing enough in that department.

In Germany we have at present no atomic power stations and are making no isotopes.

England is building twelve such stations at an expenditure of 3.6 billion DM and is spending

three hundred and sixty million DM for atomic re-search, while Russia expended half a billion DM

on a single piece of equipment required for the study of nuclear physics.

We must not fall behind.

If we miss our chance now, we are lost.

Progress will pass us by.

"The development of nuclear-powered machines in place of diesel motors and other engines depending

on conventional fuels for ships, aeroplanes, railways and automobiles,

must ensure Germany her rightful place among the other nations.

Ships and aircraft will go over to the new fuel.

A half kilo thereof will in future be able to drive an aeroplane eight times round the earth.

Research in the department of atomic science must be assisted by every means in our power.

"We need an atomic plan.

 

I suggest the formation of a `German Atomic Commission' which will map out the necessary goals

for Germany and the ways by which she can reach them.

Let us not underestimate the gigantic size of the task, or the financial sacrifice by which we are faced

if we are to regain our lost place in the field of atomic science.

"Up till now muscle power has been replaced by water power, steam power or motor power,

all of which have served to multiply its output. In the future atomic energy will do this

on a much larger scale. Atomic energy will be a blessing for hundreds of millions of human beings

who now live in the shadows."

The Devil laughed.

"Live in the shadows – that's excellent!

 

Tomorrow, thanks to Herr Frost and his friends, they will die in the sunlight of the atomic age.

Very, very good!"

Frost: "Germany must play her part in aiding the under-developed nations,

but she must also improve the possibility open to her own people.

Certainly the raising of the standard of living for our people can be speeded up.

The increase in pros­perity which will result from this new source of energy,

which is one of the principal factors in the second industrial revolution, must benefit all men.

If developed in that spirit, atomic energy will help to strengthen democracy within our own borders

and peace among the different nations.

 

Then the atomic age will become the age of freedom and peace for all."

Stiff switched off.

The Devil grunted.

"Well roared, Pro­fessor! T

he peace of the graveyards.

Freedom from health and life.

What can we do for Herr Frost?

I ought really to reward him."

"He's going to be a cabinet minister shortly, Boss.

He's one of those contemporary leaders who seeks to escape from every

dilemma by applying the very means which have already brought about catastrophes."

 

"Is he a rogue or an idiot?" asked Sten.

"You mean, is he acting on my instructions or following some ideas of his own?"

"Yes."

"I've not got him registered on my list but nevertheless he serves me as well as my accredited agents.

He's been successful. The atomic commission has just presented what it calls a mini­mal programme.

In five years, either four or five reactors, with a total capacity of five hundred megawatt, are to be set up.

They will cost a billion DM."

"A first-class funeral, so to speak," grinned the Devil.

"The next stage will be the expansion of the programme to fifteen hundred megawatt,

and my agents will make a par­ticular point of pressing ahead with the atomic works

near Karlsruhe and Freiburg.

That will bring about irremediable poisoning of the blood of one of the most densely populated

districts of Europe, the Rhine Valley with its great industries.

For the atomic pile near Karlsruhe, they're cutting down nearly three hundred and fifty acres of forest,

so you see, everything's going according to plan.

 

Once we contrive to satisfy the world's demand for energy from atomic piles,

more radiant energy will be released than in a nuclear war."

But Groot had something to say. "Gentlemen, can you imagine man without electric light,

without radio and television, without a car and an aeroplane, without machines and all the comfort

which makes life worth living and is essential if man is to be truly man?"

"I can imagine that very well, Mr. Groot,"

replied the Devil, "because man has done without these things for over a million years and,

despite this – or rather because of it – has been a better and healthier creature than he is today.

You have strange conceptions of humanity if you think that its value and the fulfil­ment of its purpose depend

on its material comfort."

 

The engineer ignored these remarks.

Obstinately he con­tinued to develop his own train of thought.

"We must and shall find ways and means of making atomic energy safe.

Otherwise, the disappearance of the other sources of energy is liable to wreck civilization."

"Your views are mistaken, and for that very reason I hope they will be spread as widely as possible.

Don't worry, people will use atomic energy without taking thought and without im­posing

any limits upon themselves.

Civilization will be saved but life will be destroyed and that is what really matters as far as I'm concerned.

After a few years men will indeed be quite ready to do without all the comforts they enjoy

just to be able to save their bare lives.

 

On their knees and with hands upraised to Heaven they will confess their folly and will say,

`Let us live in mud huts and under straw roofs again !

Let us be as simple and as undemanding as the animals in the forest !

Let us get our bread by cultivating the ground in the sweat of our brows !

All, all, that civilization gave us we will gladly forfeit. We want to live !

We want nothing but our life and our health.' Yes, it will come to that, but then it will be too late."

"Whoever believes in man and in the goodness of life," cried Sten Stolpe,

"cannot believe that things will end that way. He must not believe it."

 

The Boss gave him a sidelong glance. "Incorrigible fool," he muttered.

"One can only believe in one who still believes in something himself,

and as to the goodness of life, man has turned away from it."

The poet stood staring straight ahead. "It will not be so," he replied obstinately.

"You will see.

Truth will conquer in the end."

The Devil turned aside with a contemptuous gesture. "Tell him about Du Pont," he said.

 

Stiff obeyed. "Have you heard of E. I. Du Pont de Nemours and Co?"

Sten shook his head.

"It is the greatest chemical concern in the world.

The firm delivered nearly half of the gunpowder used by the allied armies in the First World War.

 In 1913 it was employing four thou-sand workers.

At the end of the First World War these numbered fifty thousand.

When the Second World War began Du Pont was the greatest munitions manufacturer in the world.

Apart from that, he has many other industrial interests. In seventy-two different works,

which employ eighty-five thousand workers, he manufactures twelve hundred different articles

for a hundred and thirty-five different firms.

In the course of a single year, Du Pont registered five hundred patents."

 

"What does he manufacture?"

"Everything that is superfluous – nail polish, perfumes, nylons, lipsticks. In 1913,

the family Du Pont paid taxes on eighty million dollars.

In 1920, the figure was three hundred million. In 1922, it was in the billions.

Their total fortune must be reckoned at approximately fifty billion dollars.

The power of this concern is enormous and virtually beyond control.

When President Truman initiated proceedings against Du Pont and 128 members of his family

for breaches of the anti-Trust Law, the matter went to eleven courts,

seven appeal courts and the Supreme Court,

but none of these were able to break the power of the Du Pont concern."

Stiff switched on the television.

 

A young man's face appeared. "A radio announcer," declared Stiff.

"He will tell you some-thing about Du Pont. Listen."

"The first atom bomb factory in the world was set up by the great American armaments concern, Du Pont.

This gigantic works is larger and more elaborate than all the factories that America has ever built.

The area occupied is over three hundred square miles, greater than that occupied by the city of Chicago,

and the works stretches for a distance of nearly thirty miles along the banks of the Savannah.

It cost fourteen hundred mil-lion dollars to build.

"Six townships were levelled to the ground and depopulated in order to make room

for the gigantic undertaking.

 Fifteen hundred families had to be resettled.

While it was being con­structed thirty-eight thousand five hundred workers were em­ployed,

though the number of workers when the works was in operation was only 8,500.

 

"Like grey monsters, with an architecture of steel and con­crete such as never was before

– indeed I may say in unadorned and overwhelming majesty

– the buildings tower into the heavens or are stretched out as far as the eye can see."

"His voice seems to be shaking with emotion. He's becoming poetical," sneered the Boss.

"Yes," said Stiff, "they're even proud of the factory that's bringing about their own ruin."

The speaker continued: "Some of the vapours from these works have a most deadly effect,

and so they are carried off by a tower four hundred feet high and burnt up in the air.

This produces a phantom effect, with huge flames eddying up into the sky.

For the cooling of the reactor a quantity of water is required sufficient for the needs of a city

with two million inhabitants.

 

As it does its work the water passes through nearly a hundred miles of underground pipes. T

he main volume, after making its circular journey, flows back into the Savannah.

The consumption of electricity is equal to that of a large industrial town."

"They don't mind paying a high price for their suicide," tittered the Devil.

"Yes," said Stiff, "where the ruin of the human race is con­cerned, they're very large-minded.

The U.S.A. spends annually over twenty dollars per head of the population on atomic re-search,

Great Britain, the next largest spender, about a third of this, though even that is quite a tidy sum.

Canada spends about a tenth of the American figure, and France a twelfth."

"Why are we being told all this?" asked Groot.

 

The Devil replied on Stiff's behalf. "I must repeat what I've already said,

though apparently you've not yet fully grasped it:

Everything that serves the ruin of man, I turn into big busi­ness.

Well, there's an investment here, isn't there? Invested capital has a life of its own.

It commands, it tyrannizes.

It cries out for profits.

Death is a business like any other, the best busi­ness there is, and the more dead there are,

the better the business.

Billions of dollars were sunk in these atomic works.

They need billions of dead in order to amortize their capital.

 

Du Pont is not spending his money for nothing.

Du Pont is mighty.

When I consider the moment opportune, I'll arrange for a war, but when I want war,

then it will be Du Pont who presses the but-ton, and it will be war all right.

The expended billions, the stored munitions of war, demand it. Business demands it,

and that is why there will be atomic war, even though nobody wants it – save myself and Mr. Du Pont."

"I don't believe it," said Rolande, "for if that were true the Du Ponts would perish with all the rest."

'Tour objection shows that you don't understand the ethos of the modern businessman

who is so very useful to me. If he can earn something from the rope and the wood of the gallows,

he is quite ready to agree to his own hanging."

"What can we do about it?"

"Against it you can do nothing, but you can do much to further it.

Acknowledge the Devil, take up one of the businesses that make for human ruin, and I will make you rich."

 

Rolande ignored this remark but put another question.

"What does this gigantic factory of Du Pont do with atomic waste?"

"It's driven to the atomic cemetery by the river, where it's

buried. Radiation-poisoned material for which there is no im­mediate use is put in enormous subterranean

tanks each as large as a ten-storey skyscraper."

"Is that enough to make it harmless for all time?"

"Far from it. The radioactivity gets into the ground water and so into the river,

and so poisons the whole countryside. A flood or a mild earthquake would bring the waste

to the surface where it would be wholly at my own disposal. Is that all, Stiff?"

 

"That's all, Boss, though perhaps I might mention that my agents never weary of talking

about the wonderful services radioactivity can render.

They keep on assuring people that it has proved of value in the vulcanizing of rubber,

in the manu­facture of plastics, of pipes and electric cables.

They also declare that it is splendid as a means of preserving things.

And that a number of antibiotics, particularly penicillin,

can be sterilized through radiation without losing their efficiency."

"Sterilized ! Excellent ! We're dealing with the sterilization of life here.

That's absolutely splendid."

"It can also be used for sterilizing surgical materials, in pre-serving tissues for bones,

in transplanting arteries and so on."

 

The Devil laughed. "Well," he said, "one does what one can."

"By means of radioactivity the germination of potatoes can be prevented.

Also it can be used on stored grains, so that vermin and noxious organisms,

together with their potential offspring, can be annihilated.

"The experiments are continuing.

We're inquiring into the possibilities of irradiating packaged foods, like meat, spices,

dried fruit and so on, and so poisoning them.

Once these methods have really been established,

creeping death will start his journey round the world, to the delight of all of us."

"Fine, Stiff, I'm very satisfied with you. You've been subtle and discreet.

Moreover, you've created two power blocks in the world who are operating with this atomic devilry.

 

Each is terri‑fled of the other. Both want to protect life and freedom

and ultimately will lose their lives in paying for them. Excellent ! "

Stiff packed up his papers and files. He had an icy, self-satis­fied smile.

"Men have just sufficient cunning to penetrate the creator's secrets that lie hidden in the atom;

now they have become the pyro-technicians of ruin,

and have begun to play with the deadly powers of nuclear energy as though

they were little children playing ball.

But they have not been clever enough to master the situation which has come about from their activities.

They're clever, but they are not wise."

The Devil smiled.

"Only good people are wise.

But the stupid and the wicked are mine and none can take them from me.

There are no good people left, and if there are, their numbers are so small that they do not matter.

Mankind is ready to be melted down.

We will exterminate man, that strain upon creation,

and we will save the universe from this most unsuc­cessful product of the creative spirit.

We'll see each other again in three years from now.

Stiff, meanwhile, carry on the good work."

 

 

*   *   *   *   *   *