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|| Chapter 1: Revolution | Site Index | Resources | Credits ||

Citizen Kurchatov is the story of a complex, world-class physicist who became the driving force behind the Soviet Union's race to develop the atomic bomb. It is the story of Igor Kurchatov, born in 1903, who, while not a child of the Russian revolution, believed it would lead to a bright future of scientific socialism.

Citizen Kurchatov is also the story of the extraordinary political forces that drove Kurchatov and his army of scientists to develop such a dangerous weapon under Stalin's repressive regime. Although Kurchatov was a scientist open to western ideas, he also flourished under the anti-western politics of his time. Stalin gave the atomic bomb effort a blank check, allowing Kurchatov to build an empire of technicians and installations stretching across the expanse of the Soviet Union.

Somehow Kurchatov managed to survive the tyrannical demands and deadly whims of his bosses Joseph Stalin and security chief Lavrenti Beria - one of the most feared men in Russia. Certainly Kurchatov erected his realm with Gulag labor, and waste from his sites often poisoned the surrounding land -- land of the country he strove to protect. Yet in the end, he spoke of peace and the removal of nuclear weapons. Did he seek repentance, or was Kurchatov the "consummate politician who, like a great actor, could play a role while hiding his true feelings?"


Copyright 1999 Oregon Public Broadcasting and PBS Online
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