What German scientists did in Sukhumi ... and not only there
Five years ago, the Western press made a noise about the alleged leakage of radioactive materials from Abkhazia. At that time, the IAEA inspectors even came to the unrecognized republic, but found nothing. As it turned out later, the false information came from Tbilisi, where they intended to convince the world community that the autonomy that had separated from Georgia could acquire a “dirty” atomic bomb.
But why exactly did Abkhazia become the object of such a propaganda attack? To some extent, this was managed during the international scientific and technical conference in Pitsunda, where representatives of the Sukhum Physics and Technology Institute were also present.
WHAT WAS, THAT WAS
At the end of 80-x - the beginning of 90-s, the security classification was removed from some documents about the involvement of the USSR intelligence services in the creation of a national nuclear weapons. From the published materials it follows that the year 1945 proved to be particularly successful for the staff of the Soviet intelligence intelligence industry in the United States. They managed to acquire several valuable sources on the American atomic project and establish a regular supply of relevant information to Moscow.
In February, 1945-th Deputy Resident Scientific and Technical Intelligence (STD) Leonid Kvasnikov reported to Lubyanka: the agent network of residency through the Scientific and Technological Council “is basically quite efficient, and by its technical qualification it is at a high level. Most of the agents work with us not for mercenary motives, but on the basis of a friendly attitude towards our country. ” So the Kremlin had a fairly complete picture of the development of the “super-bomb” overseas.
On this occasion, Academician Igor Kurchatov most definitely noted: fifty percent of the merit in the creation of the first domestic nuclear munitions belongs to Soviet intelligence, and fifty percent to our scientists. In principle, already at the beginning of 1945, they owned basic information on the atomic bomb, and it seemed that nothing would prevent her from collecting it already in September. But in reality it was impossible to do this: the necessary scientific and industrial base was missing, there was not enough uranium raw materials and, finally, too few people were well-versed in a number of technical and technological issues that should have certainly been resolved.
Apparently, for this reason, but most likely for political reasons, another aspect of the Soviet atomic project is not much publicized to this day: the participation of German specialists in it. Information about this is rather scarce. However, it should be immediately noted here: domestic scientists were engaged in the development of nuclear munitions, however, the Germans were also instructed to solve an equally difficult task - the separation of isotopes. And if we talk about the merit of the latter in the creation of a "superbomb" in the USSR, it should be recognized as quite weighty. Although it is hardly decisive. One way or another, thanks to them, the Physicotechnical Institute in Sukhumi became one of the leaders of Russian atomic science.
HEADS OF TOP SECRET OBJECTS
Indeed, in the very first post-war year, hundreds of German scientists who worked in the Third Reich to put into practice the “uranium project” were brought to the Soviet Union — this is what Hitler’s Germany called the work on creating an atomic bomb. By the way, the Minister of Posts, who formally oversaw this project, assured the Fuhrer that he would manufacture a “miracle weapon” using only the very modest budget of his department, and thereby save the Fatherland ...
Future academicians Lev Artsimovich (1909-1973), Isaac Kikoin (1908-1984), Julius Hariton (1904-1996) were engaged in the search for the right people and equipment in Germany. In mid-May 1945, they arrived in Berlin in military uniform with colonel's shoulder straps. Yuli Borisovich, the last (in alphabetical order) in this “big three”, was perhaps the most secret at the time our atomic scientist. He is considered the "father" of the Soviet "superbomb", thanks to which, already in 1949, the USSR was able to deprive America of the atomic monopoly, which balanced the fragile post-war world. The list of Khariton's regalia alone is impressive: three times Hero of Socialist Labor, winner of three Stalin prizes and Lenin prize, holder of the IV Kurchatov Gold Medal and the MV Lomonosov Big Gold Medal.
The Deputy Commissar (since March 1946 - Minister) of the USSR Interior Affairs, Ivan Serov, led the search operation for the “right Germans”. In addition to scientists, engineers, mechanics, electrical engineers, glass blowers were sent to our country. Many were found in prisoner of war camps. So, Max Steinbek, the future Soviet academic, and in a later period the vice-president of the Academy of Sciences of the GDR, was found in the camp, where he commissioned ... a sundial by the order of his chief. All in all, according to some data (sometimes contradictory), in the USSR seven thousand German specialists were involved in the implementation of the atomic project and three thousand in the rocket one.
At the disposal of German physicists in 1945, the sanatoriums “Sinop” and “Agudzers”, located in Abkhazia, were transferred. That was the beginning of the Sukhumi Institute of Physics and Technology, which was then part of the system of top-secret facilities of the USSR. "Sinop" was called in the documents the Object "A", headed by Baron Manfred von Ardenne (1907-1997). This personality in world science is legendary, if not cult: one of the founders of television, the developer of electron microscopes and many other devices. Thanks to von Ardenne, one of the world's first mass spectrometers appeared in the USSR. In 1955, the scientist was allowed to return to East Germany (GDR), where he headed the research institute in Dresden.
Sanatorium "Agudzyry" received the code name Object "G". It was led by Gustav Hertz (1887-1975), the nephew of the very famous Heinrich Hertz, known to us from school. The main task of von Ardenne and Gustav Hertz was the search for different methods for the separation of uranium isotopes.
In Sukhumi, a house has been preserved that is directly related to this stories. On the road from the beach, few people pay attention to the desolate mansion in the wild garden. In the course of the Georgian-Abkhaz war of 1992-1993, the building was simply ransacked, and it has been standing since then, forgotten and forgotten. No one would even think that after another war - the Great Patriotic War, Gustav Hertz, the Nobel and Stalin Prize laureate, lived and worked here for ten years. He became a Nobel laureate in 1925 year - for the discovery of the laws of the collision of an electron with an atom. He could, like Einstein, go overseas. Although, to be precise, Einstein originally wanted to move not to America, but to the Soviet Union - to Minsk. This decision matured in 1931, when the brown shadow of Nazism was already hanging over Germany. In Minsk, Albert Einstein hoped to get a job at a local university, but Stalin, by virtue of his well-known motives, refused the author of the theory of relativity, and he emigrated to the USA at the end of 1932.
But Gustav Hertz, whose father, like Einstein, was a Jew, remained in the Third Reich. He was not touched, although he was fired from government offices. So he earned his living in the electrical company "Siemens". During a visit to the US (1939 year), Hertz confessed to friends: the level of physical research in America is very high, but he believes that he would be more useful in the Soviet Union. And as the water looked. In 1945, World War I participant Gustav Hertz was one of the first German physicists brought to the USSR. He successfully improved his method of isotope separation, which made it possible to adjust this process on an industrial scale.
NIKOLAY VASILYEVICH DOES NOT CHANGE THE PROFESSION
Hertz - the only foreign Nobel laureate who worked in our country. Like other German scientists, he lived in the USSR, in no way knowing refusal, in his house on the seashore. He was even allowed to prepare his own project of this mansion. Gustav was known as a gloomy and eccentric man, but careful. His eccentricities were expressed in the fact that he passionately loved to photograph, and in Sukhumi he became interested in Abkhazian folklore. When in 1955, a scientist was about to leave home, he brought these records with him.
And Hertz returned to East - socialist - Germany. There he worked as a professor at the University of Karl Marx. Then, as director of the Physics Institute at the university, he supervised the construction of a new institute building to replace the one destroyed during the war. In 1961, Gustav Hertz retired. Based in the capital of the GDR, he lived in East Berlin for his last 14 years. He loved to look at photographs, including those of the Sukhumi period, and readily re-read his notes on Abkhazian folklore. By the way, the two sons of Herz Hertz followed in the footsteps of their father — they also became physicists.
Other eminent German scientists were brought to facilities in Abkhazia, including physicist and radiochemist Nikolaus Ril (1901-1991), who was later awarded the title Hero of Socialist Labor. They called him Nikolai Vasilyevich. He was born in St. Petersburg, in the family of a German - the chief engineer of the firm "Siemens Halske", which installed telegraph and telephone sets in the city on the Neva. The mother of Nikolaus was Russian. Therefore, since childhood, Riel was fluent in both Russian and German. He received an excellent technical education: first in the Russian northern capital, and after moving back to his father’s home, at the Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin (later Humboldt University). In 1927, he defended his doctoral dissertation in radiochemistry. His scientific mentors were the future scientific luminaries - nuclear physicist Lisa Meitner and radiochemist Otto Gan.
Before the beginning of the Second World War, Rill was in charge of the central radiological laboratory of the firm "Auergesellschaft", where he proved himself an energetic and very capable experimenter. When the “battle for England” gained momentum, Riel was called to the War Department, where they were offered to start producing uranium.
Later it turned out that it was about the filling for the German atomic bomb. After all, it was in Germany (earlier than in the USA and the USSR) that work began on such ammunition. As for the final result, some experts hold the following opinion: it’s not the failures and miscalculations of the German physicists, but the fact that the leading experts of the “uranium project” - Heisenberg, Weizsäcker and Dibner supposedly sabotaged the work imperceptibly. But there is no confidence in this version.
In May, forty-fifth, Professor Riel, left out of work, voluntarily came to the Soviet emissaries sent to Berlin. The scientist, who was considered the main expert in the Reich for the production of pure uranium for reactors, again, of his own free will, showed where the equipment needed for this was located. Its fragments (a plant located near Berlin was destroyed aviation Western allies) were dismantled, they were sent to the USSR. The found 200 tons of metallic uranium were taken there. It is believed that in the creation of the atomic bomb this saved the Soviet Union a year and a half. However, even more valuable strategic material and instruments were stolen from Germany by the ubiquitous Yankees. Of course, they did not forget to grab German specialists, including Werner Heisenberg, who led the "uranium project."
Meanwhile, the Elektrostal plant in Noginsk near Moscow, under the leadership of Riel, was soon re-equipped and adapted for the production of molten uranium metal. In January, 1946, the first batch of uranium entered the experimental reactor, and by 1950-m its production reached one ton per day. Nikolai Vasilievich was considered one of the most valuable German scientists. No wonder Stalin rewarded Riel with the Gold Star of the Hero of Socialist Labor, gave him a cottage near Moscow and a car. Ironically (for a German), the car from the leader was the Victory brand ...
Max Folmer is also on the special “Sukhum list”. Under his command, the first heavy water production plant in the USSR was built (later Volmer - President of the Academy of Sciences of the GDR). In the same list - the former adviser to Hitler on science, a former member of the National Socialist Workers Party of Germany, Peter Thiessen. By the way, at joint parties and friendly feasts, he showed himself to be a gallant cavalier and a wonderful partner — Herr Peter and the Russian ladies were in great demand at the dances.
It should be said about the creator of the centrifuge for the separation of uranium - Dr. Max Steinbeck, the future vice-president of the Academy of Sciences of the GDR, the head of research on nuclear issues. Along with him, a graduate of the University of Vienna, the owner of the first Western centrifuge patent Gernot Zippe, who served as a mechanic in the Luftwaffe during the war years, worked with him in Sukhumi. A total of “Sukhumi list” - about 300 people. All of them developed an atomic bomb for Hitler during the war, but we didn’t blame it on them. Although they could. Moreover, later many German scientists were repeatedly awarded the Stalin Prize.
Once the work in the direction of Zippe was stalled. And then, as the Germans themselves said, they were brought out of a scientific and technical impasse by a Russian engineer named Sergeyev. They say that during the war years it was he who found flaws in the design of the famous "Tigers", which made it possible for our military to draw the appropriate conclusions.
WARNING OF ACADEMIC ARTSIMOVICH
But back in the forty-fifth year. From Germany to Abkhazia went trains with equipment. Three of the four German cyclotrons were brought to the USSR, as well as powerful magnets, electron microscopes, oscilloscopes, high voltage transformers, and ultra-precise instruments. Equipment was delivered to the USSR from the Institute of Chemistry and Metallurgy, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Physics, Siemens Electrical Laboratories, and the Physics Institute of the German Post Office.
And why in our country, German scientists and equipment placed in Sukhumi? Is it because that in these places Beria was born, who knew everything and everyone here? It was he who, in March forty-second, prepared a note to Stalin on the formation of a scientific advisory body at T-bills coordinating all research work on the “uranium bomb”. Based on this note, such a body was formed.
“The Russians will create an atomic bomb no earlier than 1953 of the year,” CIA Director Allen Dulles tried to convince US President Harry Truman. But this major ideologue of the Cold War and the organizer of the secret subversive operations against the USSR miscalculated. The first test of the Soviet atomic bomb took place on 29 on August 1949, at the test site near Semipalatinsk, and was completed successfully. It was led by I. V. Kurchatov. From the Ministry of the Armed Forces, Major General V. A. Bolyatko was responsible for preparing the test site for the test explosion. MA Sadovskiy (later director of the Institute of Physics of the Earth, Academy of Sciences of the USSR) was the scientific leader of the landfill, the largest expert in the field of seismology of explosions. And on October 10 the first Soviet ballistic missile P-1 was launched ...
October 29 1949, exactly two months after the test explosion of an atomic bomb, a closed Council of Ministers decision was issued on awarding the participants of the atomic project. The document was signed by Stalin. The entire list of people from this ruling is still unknown. In order not to disclose its full text, distinguished were given personal extracts about the awards. It was with this decree that a number of scientists headed by I. V. Kurchatov were presented for the title of Hero of Socialist Labor and laureates of the Stalin Prize of the first degree. In addition, they were rewarded with large sums of money, country houses and cars ZIS-110 or "Victory". The list also included Professor Nikolaus Ril, aka Nikolai Vasilievich ...
It has long been no secret that the United States has developed plans for a preventive nuclear strike on the Soviet Union up to the 1954 year. That is, by the time when, according to American calculations, Moscow would have already created its atomic bomb. The “Memorandum-329”, drawn up immediately after the end of World War II, 4 September 1945, proposed to the US Joint Chiefs of Staff to select approximately 20 the most important targets suitable for the atomic bombing of the USSR and the territory controlled by it.
Together with the entire population, Moscow, Gorky, Kuibyshev, Sverdlovsk, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Saratov were subject to destruction. In the same list - Kazan, Nizhny Tagil, Magnitogorsk, Tbilisi, Novokuznetsk, Perm, Grozny, Irkutsk, Yaroslavl. Practical Yankees even determined the number of victims - 13 million people. But overseas miscalculated. At the ceremony of presenting state awards to the participants of the Soviet atomic project, Stalin openly expressed satisfaction that the American monopoly in this area does not exist. He remarked: "If we were late for one and a half years, then, probably, we would try this charge on ourselves." So, the merit of the Sukhumi facilities is indisputable, where Germans also worked together with Soviet scientists.
Now the Sukhumi Institute of Physics and Technology, a scientific center with rich traditions and an interesting biography, is headed by Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor Anatoly Marcolia. We met him at the international conference in Pitsunda mentioned at the beginning of the article. The hopes of the collective of the institute, which today is not as numerous as in its best days, are connected with Russia. There are joint plans on topics where the positions of Sukhumi scientists are still strong. In the direction of the Physics and Technology Institute, students from Abkhazia are enrolled in the best Russian universities, who will make up the future of science in the republic. So, Anatoly Ivanovich and his colleagues have chances to return their former glory to their center.
In conclusion, I would like to recall the words of Academician Artsimovich. The one who, in the far forty-fifth, together with his colleagues in the field of fundamental science, dealt with such a seemingly distant problem as the search for German specialists. “Science is located on the palm of the state and is warmed by the warmth of this palm,” Lev Andreevich noted. - Of course, this is not charity, but the result of a clear understanding of the significance of science ... At the same time, the state cannot afford to play the role of a good, rich uncle who meekly takes out of his pocket a million by million at the first request of scientists. At the same time, stinginess in financing truly important scientific research can lead to a violation of the vital interests of the state. ”