Object of the Week 09/08/2012
This week’s Olympic value is Courage. Many Olympians throughout history have shown enormous courage, including Cathy Freeman who succeeded against the odds after becoming the first ever Aboriginal Commonwealth Games champion in 1994, winning a silver medal at the 1996 Olympic Games and finally becoming an Olympic champion in 2000 in Sydney. Other courageous Olympians were Jesse Owens and Luz Long who competed in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Hitler believed in Aryan superiority and wanted white people to win all the competitions so it was a hostile environment for Jesse Owens, an African American, to compete in. However Luz Long, a white German, began a friendship with him, viewing him as an equal, which was a courageous thing to do with Hitler watching.
Our Object of the Week is from another courageous man, Professor Joseph Rotblat. He was a Jewish physicist who did research into the possibility of nuclear fIssion, helping to develop the atomic bomb. At an early stage of the nuclear race he believed that the development of nuclear weapons in the USA and the UK could be a deterrent to Nazi Germany. However he left the Manhattan Project once it became obvious that the nuclear weapon was more than a deterrent. Following this, he was suspected of being a Russian spy as he was Polish. After he returned to the UK, he became a leading figure in the anti-nuclear race and warned scientists to consider the ethical consequences of their academic findings. In standing up for his beliefs against the massive force of the US government, he was certainly a courageous man. We have many personal items belonging to Professor Rotblat in the museum, including this sign from his office door. Many of the items are currently on display in the museum.