Wilhelm Reich Died For Einstein’s Sins – Jim Martin and Kenn Thomas – 2000
The editor has asked me to answer the question: “What, in the final analysis, brought the wrath of the government down upon Wilhelm Reich, M.D., and was he murdered?” From my perspective, I think the most dangerous work that Reich was involved in wasn’t advocating children’s sexual rights, or his penetrating analysis of the patriarchal family and fascism, nor even his invention of the orgone accumulator – arguably the single most important therapeutic technique ever discovered.
The real reason Wilhelm Reich, M.D. was imprisoned was because he stumbled onto some scary facts about nuclear radiation during a critical point in that newly developed industry during the early 1950s.
Simply put, Reich found that there is no shielding possible against the biological effects of nuclear radiation. In 1952, in what was called the Oranur Experiment, Reich placed a small sample of a radioisotope inside a powerful orgone accumulator.
Reich’s shocking report, which can be found in the now out-of-print Selected Writings of Wilhelm Reich, details how radiation sickness is a function of the organism’s response to invasive radiation, and not a direct result of the radiation poisoning itself. Thus different people may be more susceptible to very minute doses, while others may feel no noticeable effects: each person’s reaction is different, according to their physical makeup.
It must be recalled that at that time, there was little understanding of the biological effects of small doses of radiation. Many people remember that soldiers were sent directly into test sites, shortly after the dust cleared from nuclear explosions. They wore no shielding, and were merely dusted off afterwards.
Today, thanks in large part to the antinuclear movement of the 1980s, as well as the “Ban the Bomb” movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s, there is a greater awareness of the issue. But there is little understanding, even today, of the true nature of Reich’s research.
Space does not allow a full discussion of Reich’s biography, but those interested won’t find a better place to start than with Myron Sharif’s Fury On Earth. When Reich first discovered the specifically biological energy he called “orgone,” he waited a long time before publishing anything about it. He knew how crazy it all sounded, and was unsure, himself, until he verified the phenomena under a variety of experimental protocols.
One such experiment measured the temperature difference between an orgone box (constructed with alternating layers of metal and wood), and a similarly constructed box that lacked the metal lining, but had the same capacity for insulation. An orgone box is generally warmer than the outside temperature. I have verified this phenomenon myself. Moreover, the temperature difference varies as a result of changes in the atmosphere. A change in the weather can increase or decrease the temperature differential.
Think about it: if you had two boxes, and left them inside your garage, wouldn’t you expect them to be pretty close to room temperature over time? If I could construct a box such that it remained warmer by four or more degrees for extended periods of time, wouldn’t you want to know where that heat came from? I’ve had many scientifically trained people scoff at me at the very possibility, or say there must be some very simple reason for why this is so.
Albert Einstein was one person who found the question intriguing enough to invite Reich to his home to demonstrate the effect. Reich had written him a cautious letter in the hopes that this “Father of the Atom Bomb” would recognize the experiment’s results violated the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the law of entropy, which states that equal volumes tend to equalize temperature.
Reich traveled to Princeton with several devices with which to demonstrate the orgone. He described his long session with Einstein as a meeting of minds. Einstein observed the phenomenon, and said, “If this is true, it would be a bombshell for physics.”
Indeed, it was at fundamental variance with Einstein’s theory of relativity. Einstein’s biographers have painted this meeting in a ridiculous light, saying it was an example of Einstein’s eccentricity.
Perhaps, but an exchange of letters, which Reich published later, belies this assumption. Einstein met once again with Reich and then dropped the matter. An assistant offered a simplistic and contrived explanation, saying that the effect was due to “convection” between the air above and below the table upon which the accumulator had been placed.
Reich responded with a long letter that described the protocols under which he answered this objection. He buried the accumulator underground, removing the possibility of such convection. The temperature differential increased under these conditions. He concluded the letter with an agonizing and heart-rending appeal for respect and consideration.
Reich did not receive respect. Einstein discontinued the correspondence. When rumors circulated that Einstein had tested the device and found it worthless, Reich published the full correspondence, including Einstein’s statement that the temperature differential had been clearly observed. A decade later, the Oranur Experiment revealed the folly in casual use of nuclear radiation.
A scandal was stirred up by leftist magazines, who talked about Reich’s “sex cult” and gave credence to rightwing attacks from ministers and schoolmarms. The crisis came to a head. The FDA launched a multimillion-dollar investigation of the orgone accumulator, declared it a fraud, and set about bringing criminal proceedings against Reich.
Reich’s FBI files reveal a blistering blizzard of letters directed towards getting rid of Reich, from doctors in the AMA threatened by such a simply constructed device threatening their practices, to the Atomic Energy Commission advising the FDA what “a thorn in the side” Reich had been.
Conspiracy theories abound as to the nature of Reich’s death, and his own daughter, Eva Reich, M.D. believes that he was murdered. Reich died only two months away from his parole date. The official cause of death was heart attack, and the autopsy showed enough formaldehyde in Reich’s system to interfere with testing for other compounds.
In the final analysis, the real tragedy in Reich’s life and death was the silence and obscurity that greeted his fantastic discoveries. These discoveries are being used today under different names and guises. As replication after replication of Reich’s experimental findings pile up today, there is still a conspiracy of silence around the issues. Those who know don’t say.
I am constantly surprised how many people know about Reich. Why was Reich murdered? Those who can understand what he says at the end of the book, The Einstein Affair, will know:
Einstein succeeded in fascinating the first half of the 20th century because he had emptied space. Emptying space, reducing the whole universe to a static nothing, was the only theory that would satisfy the desert-like character structure of man of this age.
Empty, immobile space and a desert character structure fit well together. It was a last attempt on the part of armored men to withstand and withhold knowledge of a universe full of life energy, pulsating in many rhythms, always in a state of development and change: in one word, functional – not mechanistic, mystical, or relativistic. It was the last barrier, in scientific terms, to the final breakdown of human armoring.
Or Was It The Sins of the Air Force?
Indeed, Reich suggested in The Einstein Affair that “Modju” (Reich’s acronym for conspirators from Moscow) “had done a job” on Albert Einstein’s interest in the orgone. A New York Times article from March 17, 1950 cited at the end of the book reports the return to Communist Poland of an Einstein associate, Dr. Leopold Infeld, to organize educational programs for the country’s “progressive” government.
The Einstein Affair does not give an indication as to whether or not Reich had reason to believe Dr. Infeld to be the assistant who explained away the accumulator’s temperature difference. He certainly had reason to believe European Communists were hostile to his work, as it earned him only enmity and rejection from the Germans and Dutch.
The threads of conspiracy surrounding Reich were difficult enough to follow during his life; thirty years later, the task has become impossible. Consider the Mata Hari scenario for his death as an instance. Reich moved to Washington, D.C. at the behest of his last paramour, a former HEW employee, who “would sometimes disappear for days on end without warning,” according to the memoirs of Reich’s last wife, and who had contact with the FBI after his death (as reflected in its files).
Elsewhere, of course, the relationship is portrayed as a loving one: Reich’s deepest passion, in fact, during his most troubled time. Certainly, the visibility of the Oranur Experiment (it had been reported upon widely by the news media in Maine and Arizona), and the implications it had on the use of nuclear energy, made him an apt candidate for subterfuge by the government and the nuclear power industry.
And they were paying attention. It is ironic, sad, and revealing that Eisenhower used Reich’s phrase, “Atoms For Peace,” to help promote nuclear power.
Reich had developed another device, the cloudbuster, which harnessed orgone energy to help deal with the threat of nuclear radiation. However, he discovered a second and third use for the machine: weather modification, and as a defense against unidentified flying objects. In his last book, Contact With Space: Oranur Second Report, 1931-1956, Reich insisted that the Air Force had a keen interest in his UFO work.
Reich claimed as his own a report that Edward Ruppelt, author of Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, asserted “had circulated around high command levels of intelligence.” Even Reich’s defenders tread warily on his UFO theories, some seeing his protestations that the Air Force took him seriously as eccentricity or stress-related paranoia, some viewing them simply as a decline in his reasoning faculty.
Considering the zeal with which the Air Force no doubt coveted “deathray” research as part of its Cold War arsenal, however, and particularly in light of recent revelations about the extent of government interest in flying saucers, it is not unreasonable and requires no belief in UFOs to take Reich at his word.
Another clue: Reich’s last manuscript, Creation, purportedly detailing an antigravity theory, disappeared at his death, although according to Jerome Eden, copies may have been smuggled out of the Lewisburg prison by its librarian or Reich’s attorney.
“One must live things to judge them,” Reich notes in Contact With Space. That he was killed in prison – as surely as Jack Ruby was – seems certain, but the fading trail of history leaves only questions as to why.
Published with the permission of New Saucerian Publishing via Andrew Colvin