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Russian Alsos

Russian Alsos

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The Russian Alsos was an operation which took place in early 1945 in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, and Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

, and whose objectives were the exploitation of German atomic related facilities, intellectual materials, materiel resources, and scientific personnel for the benefit of the Soviet atomic bomb project
Soviet atomic bomb project
The Soviet project to develop an atomic bomb , was a clandestine research and development program began during and post-World War II, in the wake of the Soviet Union's discovery of the United States' nuclear project...

.

Soviet scientists, aided greatly by Soviet espionage within the U.S. Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

, would have been able to eventually build their first atomic bomb without exploitation of German technology and scientists. However, the contributions of the German scientists is borne out by the many State Prizes
USSR State Prize
The USSR State Prize was the Soviet Union's state honour. It was established on September 9, 1966. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the prize was followed up by the State Prize of the Russian Federation....

 and other prestigious awards given in the wake of the second Soviet atomic bomb test, a uranium-based atomic bomb; awards for uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

 production and isotope separation
Isotope separation
Isotope separation is the process of concentrating specific isotopes of a chemical element by removing other isotopes, for example separating natural uranium into enriched uranium and depleted uranium. This is a crucial process in the manufacture of uranium fuel for nuclear power stations, and is...

 were prevalent. Also significant in both the first Soviet atomic bomb test – a plutonium-based
Plutonium
Plutonium is a transuranic radioactive chemical element with the chemical symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is an actinide metal of silvery-gray appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air, forming a dull coating when oxidized. The element normally exhibits six allotropes and four oxidation...

 atomic bomb which required a uranium reactor for plutonium generation – and the second test, was the Soviet acquisition of a significant amount of uranium immediately before and shortly after the close of World War II. This saved them a year by their own admission.

Background


Near the close and after the end of World War II in Europe, the Russians and the Western powers had programs to foster technology transfer and exploit German technical specialists. For example, the U.S. had Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II...

  and the Russians had trophy brigades(Трофейные бригады) advancing with their military forces. In the area of atomic technology, the U.S. had Operation Alsos
Operation Alsos
Operation Alsos was an effort at the end of World War II by the Allies , branched off from the Manhattan Project, to investigate the German nuclear energy project, seize German nuclear resources, materials and personnel to further American research and to prevent their capture by the Soviets, and...

 and the Russians had their version. While operational aspects of the Russian operation were modeled after the trophy brigades, a more refined approach was warranted for the exploitation of German atomic related facilities, intellectual materials, and scientific personnel. This was rectified with a decree in late 1944 and the formation of specialized exploitation teams in early 1945. However, the Russian “Alsos” had broader objectives, which included wholesale relocation of scientific facilities to the Soviet Union.

Specialized Teams


On 18 September 1944, a decree established a specialized task force within the 9th Chief Directorate (Главное Управление, Glavnoe Upravlenie) of the NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

 to support the work of German scientists invited to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. The head of the Directorate was Colonel General Avram Pavlovich Zavenyagin.

On 23 March 1945, in Stalin’s
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 office, Lavrentij Beria
Lavrentiy Beria
Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria was a Georgian Soviet politician and state security administrator, chief of the Soviet security and secret police apparatus under Joseph Stalin during World War II, and Deputy Premier in the postwar years ....

 suggested that specialized teams be sent to Germany to search for atomic technology and related personnel. The next day, he instructed Igor’ Vasil’evich Kurchatov
Igor Kurchatov
Igor Vasilyevich Kurchatov , was a Soviet nuclear physicist who is widely known as the director of the Soviet atomic bomb project. Along with Georgy Flyorov and Andrei Sakharov, Kurchatov is widely remembered and dubbed as the "father of the Soviet atomic bomb" for his directorial role in the...

, head of Laboratory No. 2, to submit requirements on the formation of the specialized search teams to be sent to Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. That very day, Beria also signed a directive appointing his deputy, Zavenyagin, in charge of the operation to locate and deport German atomic scientists or any others who could be of use to the Soviet atomic bomb project
Soviet atomic bomb project
The Soviet project to develop an atomic bomb , was a clandestine research and development program began during and post-World War II, in the wake of the Soviet Union's discovery of the United States' nuclear project...

. Operational issues for the teams were assigned to SMERSh
SMERSH
SMERSH was the counter-intelligence agency in the Red Army formed in late 1942 or even earlier, but officially founded on April 14, 1943. The name SMERSH was coined by Joseph Stalin...

 military counterintelligence. Two members of Laboratory No. 2, Lev Andreevich Artsimovich
Lev Artsimovich
Lev Andreevich Artsimovich was a Soviet physicist, academician of the Soviet Academy of Sciences , member of the Presidium of the Soviet Academy of Sciences , and Hero of Socialist Labor .- Academic research :Artsimovich worked on the...

 and Yulij Borisovich Khariton
Yulii Borisovich Khariton
Yulii Borisovich Khariton was a Soviet physicist working in the field of nuclear power...

, were assigned to provide scientific guidance to the operation. While the entire scientific staff at Laboratory No. 2, the only atomic laboratory at that time, numbered less than 100, close to 40 of them were sent to Germany.

Main Search Team - Germany


The Battle of Berlin
Battle of Berlin
The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, was the final major offensive of the European Theatre of World War II....

 was one of the last major engagements of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. With a great majority of German scientific facilities in Berlin and its suburbs, this area was a major target of the atomic search teams. Haste was necessary, as the American military forces were rapidly approaching Berlin. Soviet troops broke the Berlin defense ring on 25 April 1945, and the Soviet Union announced the fall of Berlin on 2 May. The main search team, headed by Colonel General Zavenyagin, arrived in Berlin on 3 May; it included Colonel General V. A. Makhnjov, and nuclear physicists Yulij Borisovich Khariton
Yulii Borisovich Khariton
Yulii Borisovich Khariton was a Soviet physicist working in the field of nuclear power...

, Isaak Konstantinovich Kikoin
Isaak Kikoin
Isaak Konstantinovich Kikoin was a Soviet physicist and academic. He was awarded the Stalin/Lenin Prize six times , named a Hero of Socialist Labor , and was a recipient of the Kurchatov Medal .Kikoin was with Igor Kurchatov as one of the founders of the Kurchatov...

, and Lev Andreevich Artsimovich
Lev Artsimovich
Lev Andreevich Artsimovich was a Soviet physicist, academician of the Soviet Academy of Sciences , member of the Presidium of the Soviet Academy of Sciences , and Hero of Socialist Labor .- Academic research :Artsimovich worked on the...

. Georgij Nikolaevich Flerov
Georgy Flyorov
Georgy Nikolayevich Flyorov was a prominent Soviet nuclear physicist.-Biography:Flyorov was born in Rostov-on-Don and attended the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute Georgy Nikolayevich Flyorov (March 2, 1913 – November 19, 1990) was a prominent Soviet nuclear physicist.-Biography:Flyorov was born...

 had arrived earlier, although Kikoin did not recall a vanguard group. Targets on the top of their list were the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Physik (KWIP, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics), the University of Berlin, and the Technische Hochschule Berlin.

The search teams occupied an entire building in Berlin-Friedrichshagen, which was large enough to also house German scientists recovered by the team.

Unfortunately for the Russians, the KWIP had mostly been moved in 1943 and 1944 to Hechingen
Hechingen
Hechingen is a town in central Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated about south of the state capital of Stuttgart and north of Lake Constance and the Swiss border.- City districts :...

, on the edge of the Black Forest
Black Forest
The Black Forest is a wooded mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, southwestern Germany. It is bordered by the Rhine valley to the west and south. The highest peak is the Feldberg with an elevation of 1,493 metres ....

, which eventually became the French occupation zone. This move and a little luck allowed the Americans to take into custody a large number of German scientists associated with nuclear research; see Operation Alsos
Operation Alsos
Operation Alsos was an effort at the end of World War II by the Allies , branched off from the Manhattan Project, to investigate the German nuclear energy project, seize German nuclear resources, materials and personnel to further American research and to prevent their capture by the Soviets, and...

 and Operation Epsilon
Operation Epsilon
Operation Epsilon was the codename of a program in which Allied forces near the end of World War II detained ten German scientists who were thought to have worked on Nazi Germany's nuclear program. The scientists were captured between May 1 and June 30, 1945, and interned at Farm Hall, a bugged...

. The only section of the institute which remained in Berlin was the low-temperature physics section, headed by Ludwig Bewilogua, who was in charge of the exponential uranium pile.

von Ardenne, Hertz, Thiessen, and Volmer


Manfred von Ardenne
Manfred von Ardenne
Manfred von Ardenne was a German research and applied physicist and inventor. He took out approximately 600 patents in fields including electron microscopy, medical technology, nuclear technology, plasma physics, and radio and television technology...

, director of his private laboratory Forschungslaboratoriums für Elektronenphysik in Berlin-Lichterfelde, Gustav Hertz, Nobel Laureate and director of the Siemens
Siemens
Siemens may refer toSiemens, a German family name carried by generations of telecommunications industrialists, including:* Werner von Siemens , inventor, founder of Siemens AG...

 Research Laboratory II in Berlin-Siemensstadt, Peter Adolf Thiessen
Peter Adolf Thiessen
Peter Adolf Thiessen was a German physical chemist. He voluntarily went to the Soviet Union at the close of World War II, and he received high Soviet decorations and the Stalin Prize for contributions to the Soviet atomic bomb project.-Education:Thiessen was born in Schweidnitz .From 1919 to...

, ordinarius professor at the Friedrich-Wilhelms University
Humboldt University of Berlin
The Humboldt University of Berlin is Berlin's oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose university model has strongly influenced other European and Western universities...

 (today the Humboldt University of Berlin) and director of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für physikalische Chemie und Elektrochemie (KWIPC Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry ) in Berlin-Dahlem
Dahlem (Berlin)
Dahlem is a locality of the Steglitz-Zehlendorf borough in southwestern Berlin. Until Berlin's 2001 administrative reform it was a part of the former borough of Zehlendorf. Dahlem is one of the most affluent parts of the city and home to the main campus of the Free University of Berlin with the...

, and Max Volmer
Max Volmer
Max Volmer was a German physical chemist, who made important contributions in electrochemistry, in particular on electrode kinetics. He co-developed the Butler–Volmer equation. Volmer held the chair and directorship of the Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry Institute of the Technische...

, ordinarius professor and director of the Physical Chemistry Institute at the Technische Hochschule Berlin
Technical University of Berlin
The Technische Universität Berlin is a research university located in Berlin, Germany. Translating the name into English is discouraged by the university, however paraphrasing as Berlin Institute of Technology is recommended by the university if necessary .The TU Berlin was founded...

in Berlin-Charlottenburg
Charlottenburg
Charlottenburg is a locality of Berlin within the borough of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, named after Queen consort Sophia Charlotte...

, had made a pact. The pact was a pledge that whoever first made contact with the Russians would speak for the rest. The objectives of their pact were threefold: (1) Prevent plunder of their institutes, (2) Continue their work with minimal interruption, and (3) Protect themselves from prosecution for any political acts of the past. Before the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Thiessen, a member of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, had Communist contacts. On 27 April 1945, Thiessen arrived at von Ardenne’s institute in an armored vehicle with a major of the Soviet Army, who was also a leading Soviet chemist, and they issued von Ardenne a protective letter (Schutzbrief).

All four of the pact members, and members of their staff, were taken to the Soviet Union.

Ardenne’s institute was visited on 10 May by Colonel General Makhnjov, accompanied by Artsimovich, Flerov, Kikoin, and Migulin. At the end of the meeting, Makhnjov suggested that Ardenne continue his work in the Soviet Union. Ardenne agreed and put it in writing. On 19 May, Zavenyagin informed Ardenne that the Soviet government had proposed that Ardenne take over a large technical-physical research institute and continue his work. Two days later, Ardenne, his wife, his father-in-law, his secretary Elsa Suchland, and the biologist Wilhelm Menke, were flown to Moscow. Shortly thereafter, the rest of Ardenne’s family and the contents of his laboratory were transported to the Soviet Union.

Von Ardenne was made head of a new institute created for him, Institute A, in Sinop, a suburb of Sukhumi
Sukhumi
Sukhumi is the capital of Abkhazia, a disputed region on the Black Sea coast. The city suffered heavily during the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict in the early 1990s.-Naming:...

. In his first meeting with Lavrentij Beria
Lavrentiy Beria
Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria was a Georgian Soviet politician and state security administrator, chief of the Soviet security and secret police apparatus under Joseph Stalin during World War II, and Deputy Premier in the postwar years ....

, von Ardenne was asked to participate in building the bomb, but von Ardenne quickly realized that participation would prohibit his repatriation to Germany, so he suggested isotope enrichment as an objective, which was agreed to. Goals of Ardenne’s Institute A included: (1) Electromagnetic separation of isotopes, for which von Ardenne was the leader, (2) Techniques for manufacturing porous barriers for isotope separation, for which Peter Adolf Thiessen was the leader, and (3) Molecular techniques for separation of uranium isotopes, for which Max Steenbeck
Max Steenbeck
Max Christian Theodor Steenbeck was a German physicist who worked at the Siemens-Schuckertwerke in his early career, during which time he invented the betatron in 1934. He was taken to the Soviet Union after World War II , and he contributed to the Soviet atomic bomb project...

 was the leader; Steenbeck was a colleague of Hertz at Siemens. While Steenbeck developed the theory of the centrifugal isotope separation process, Gernot Zippe
Gernot Zippe
Gernot Zippe , was a Austrian-German mechanical engineer who is widely held responsible for leading the team which developed the Zippe-type centrifuge, a centrifuge machine for the collection of 235U in Soviet Union....

, an Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

n, headed the experimental effort in Steenbeck’s group. Even after nearly two decades, the work of Steenbeck and Zippe in the development of ultracentrifuges (Zippe-type centrifuge
Zippe-type centrifuge
The Zippe-type centrifuge is a device designed to collect Uranium-235. It was developed in the Soviet Union by a team of 60 Austrian and German scientists captured after World War II, working in detention...

s) was recognized in the West as very advanced.

The KWIPC was the only institute of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gesellschaft
Kaiser Wilhelm Institute
The Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of Science was a German scientific institution established in 1911. It was implicated in Nazi science, and after the Second World War was wound up and its functions replaced by the Max Planck Society...

 which had not been moved out of Berlin in 1943 or 1944. Thiessen and a dozen of his most important colleagues were sent to the Soviet Union. At Institute A, Thiessen became leader for developing techniques for manufacturing porous barriers for isotope separation.

All of the equipment from Hertz’s laboratory and his personnel were taken to the Soviet Union. Hertz was made head of a new institute created for him, Institute G, in Agudseri (Agudzery), about 10 km southeast of Sukhumi
Sukhumi
Sukhumi is the capital of Abkhazia, a disputed region on the Black Sea coast. The city suffered heavily during the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict in the early 1990s.-Naming:...

 and a suburb of Gul’rips (Gulrip’shi). Topics assigned to Institute G included: (1) Separation of isotopes by diffusion in a flow of inert gases, for which Gustav Hertz was the leader, (2) Development of a condensation pump, for which Justus Mühlenpfordt
Justus Mühlenpfordt
Justus Mühlenpfordt was a German nuclear physicist. He received his doctorate from the Technische Hochschule Carolo-Wilhelmina zu Braunschweig, in 1936. He then worked in Gustav Hertz’s laboratory at Siemens. In 1945, he was sent to Institute G, near Sukhumi and under the directorship of Hertz, to...

 was the leader, (3) Design and build a mass spectrometer for determining the isotopic composition of uranium, for which Werner Schütze was the leader, (4) Development of frameless (ceramic) diffusion partitions for filters, for which Reinhold Reichmann was the leader, and (5) Development of a theory of stability and control of a diffusion cascade, for which Heinz Barwich
Heinz Barwich
Heinz Barwich was a German nuclear physicist. He was deputy director of the Siemens Research Laboratory II in Berlin. At the close of World War II, he went to the Soviet Union for ten years to work on the Soviet atomic bomb project, for which he received a Stalin Prize...

 was the leader.

Volmer was initially assigned to Institute G. Late in January 1946, Volmer was assigned to the Nauchno-Issledovatel’skij Institut-9 (NII-9, Scientific Research Institute No. 9), in Moscow; he was given a design bureau to work on the production of heavy water
Heavy water
Heavy water is water highly enriched in the hydrogen isotope deuterium; e.g., heavy water used in CANDU reactors is 99.75% enriched by hydrogen atom-fraction...

. Volmer’s organization was under Alexander Mikailovich Rosen, and they designed a heavy water production process and facility based on the counterflow of ammonia. The installation was constructed at Norilsk
Norilsk
Norilsk is an industrial city in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, located between the Yenisei River and the Taymyr Peninsula. Population: It was granted city status in 1953. It is the northernmost city in Siberia and the world's second largest city north of the Arctic Circle...

 and completed in 1948, after which Volmer’s organization was transferred to Zinaida Yershova’s group, which worked on plutonium
Plutonium
Plutonium is a transuranic radioactive chemical element with the chemical symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is an actinide metal of silvery-gray appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air, forming a dull coating when oxidized. The element normally exhibits six allotropes and four oxidation...

 extraction from fission products.

Nikolaus Riehl


From 1939 to 1945, Nikolaus Riehl
Nikolaus Riehl
Nikolaus Riehl was a German industrial nuclear chemist. He was head of the scientific headquarters of Auergesellschaft. When the Russians entered Berlin near the end of World War II, he was invited to the Soviet Union, where he stayed for 10 years...

 was the director of the scientific headquarters of the Auergesellschaft
Auergesellschaft
The industrial firm Auergesellschaft was founded in 1892 with headquarters in Berlin. Up to the end of World War II, Auergesellschaft had research activities in the areas of gas mantles, luminescence, rare earths, radioactivity, and uranium and thorium compounds. In 1934, the corporation was...

in Rheinsberg (Brandenburg). In 1939, he realized that the large stocks of “waste” uranium from the corporation’s extraction of radium
Radium
Radium is a chemical element with atomic number 88, represented by the symbol Ra. Radium is an almost pure-white alkaline earth metal, but it readily oxidizes on exposure to air, becoming black in color. All isotopes of radium are highly radioactive, with the most stable isotope being radium-226,...

, had potential for nuclear energy. He worked with the Heereswaffenamt (HWA, Army Ordnance Office) which eventually provided an order for the production of uranium oxide, which took place in the Auergesellschaft plant in Oranienburg
Oranienburg
Oranienburg is a town in Brandenburg, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Oberhavel.- Geography :Oranienburg is a town located on the banks of the Havel river, 35 km north of the centre of Berlin.- Division of the town :...

, north of Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

.

Near the close of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, as American, British, and Russian military forces were closing in on Berlin, Riehl and some of his staff moved to a village west of Berlin, to try and assure occupation by British or American forces. However, in mid-May 1945, with the assistance of Riehl’s colleague Karl Günter Zimmer
Karl Zimmer
Karl Günter Zimmer was a German physicist and radiation biologist, known for his work on the effects of ionizing radiation on DNA. In 1935, he published the major work, Über die Natur der Genmutation und der Genstruktur, with N. V...

, the Russian nuclear physicists Georgy Flerov
Georgy Flyorov
Georgy Nikolayevich Flyorov was a prominent Soviet nuclear physicist.-Biography:Flyorov was born in Rostov-on-Don and attended the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute Georgy Nikolayevich Flyorov (March 2, 1913 – November 19, 1990) was a prominent Soviet nuclear physicist.-Biography:Flyorov was born...

 and Lev Artsimovich
Lev Artsimovich
Lev Andreevich Artsimovich was a Soviet physicist, academician of the Soviet Academy of Sciences , member of the Presidium of the Soviet Academy of Sciences , and Hero of Socialist Labor .- Academic research :Artsimovich worked on the...

 showed up one day in NKVD colonel’s uniforms. The two colonels requested that Riehl join them in Berlin for a few days, where Riehl met with nuclear physicist Yulii Borisovich Khariton
Yulii Borisovich Khariton
Yulii Borisovich Khariton was a Soviet physicist working in the field of nuclear power...

, also in the uniform of an NKVD colonel. Riehl was detained at the search team’s facility in Berlin-Friedrichshagen for a week. This sojourn in Berlin turned into 10 years in the Soviet Union. Riehl and his staff, including their families, were flown to Moscow on 9 July 1945.

From 1945 to 1950, Riehl was in charge of uranium production at Plant 12 in Ehlektrostal'
Elektrostal
Elektrostal , known as Zatishye until 1938, is a city in Moscow Oblast, Russia, located east of Moscow. Population: 135,000 ; 123,000 ; 97,000 ; 43,000 . Town status was granted to it in 1938.-Industry:...

 (Электросталь). After the detonation of the Russian uranium bomb, uranium production was going smoothly and Riehl’s oversight was no longer necessary at Plant No. 12. Riehl then went, in 1950, to head an institute in Sungul', where he stayed until 1952. Essentially the remaining personnel in his group were assigned elsewhere, with the exception of H. E. Ortmann, A. Baroni (PoW), and Herbert Schmitz (PoW), who went with Riehl. However, Riehl had already sent Born, Catsch, and Zimmer to the institute in December 1947. The institute in Sungul’ was responsible for the handling, treatment, and use of radioactive products generated in reactors, as well as radiation biology, dosimetry, and radiochemistry. The institute was known as Laboratory B
Laboratory B in Sungul’
Laboratory B in Sungul’ was one of the laboratories under the 9th Chief Directorate of the NKVD that contributed to the Soviet atomic bomb project. It was created in 1946 and closed in 1955, when some of its personnel were merged with the second Soviet nuclear design and assembly facility. It was...

, and it was overseen by the 9th Chief Directorate of the NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

 (MVD after 1946), the same organization which oversaw the Russian Alsos operation. The scientific staff of Laboratory B – a ShARAShKA
Sharashka
Sharashka was an informal name for secret research and development laboratories in the Soviet Gulag labor camp system...

 – was both Soviet and German, the former being mostly political prisoners or exiles, although some of the service staff were criminals. (Laboratory V, in Obninsk
Obninsk
Obninsk is a city in Kaluga Oblast, Russia, located southwest of Moscow. Population: Obninsk is one of the major Russian science cities. The first nuclear power plant in the world for the large-scale production of electricity opened here on June 27, 1954, and it also doubled as a training...

, headed by Heinz Pose
Heinz Pose
Rudolf Heinz Pose was a German nuclear physicist.He did pioneering work which contributed to the understanding nuclear energy levels. He worked on the German nuclear energy project Uranverein. After World War II, the Soviet Union sent him to establish and head Laboratory V in Obninsk...

, was also a sharashka and working on the Soviet atomic bomb project. Other notable Germans at the facility were Werner Czulius, Hans Jürgen von Oertzen, Ernst Rexer
Ernst Rexer
Ernst Rexer was a German nuclear physicist. He worked on the German nuclear energy program during World War II. After the war, he was sent to Laboratory V, in Obninsk, to work on the Soviet atomic bomb project...

, and Carl Friedrich Weiss.)

Laboratory B was known under another cover name as Объект 0211 (Ob’ekt 0211, Object 0211), as well as Object B. (In 1955, Laboratory B was closed. Some of its personnel were transferred elsewhere, but most of them were assimilated into a new, second nuclear weapons institute, Scientific Research Institute-1011, NII-1011, today known as the Russian Federal Nuclear Center All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Technical Physics, RFYaTs–VNIITF. NII-1011 had the designation предприятие п/я 0215, i.e., enterprise post office box 0215 and Объект 0215; the latter designation has also been used in reference to Laboratory B after its closure and assimilation into NII-1011.)

One of the prisoners in Laboratory B was Riehls’ colleague from the KWIH, N. V. Timofeev-Resovskij, who, as a Soviet citizen, was arrested by the Soviet forces in Berlin at the conclusion of the war and eventually sentenced to 10 years in the Gulag
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

. In 1947, Timofeev-Resovskij was rescued out of a harsh Gulag prison camp, nursed back to health, and sent to Sungul' to complete his sentence, but still make a contribution to the Soviet atomic bomb project. At Laboratory B, Timofeev-Resovskij headed a biophysics research department.

Until Riehl’s return to Germany in June 1955, which Riehl had to request and negotiate, he was quarantined in Agudseri (Agudzery) starting in 1952. The home in which Riehl lived had been designed by Volmer and had been previously occupied by Hertz, when he was director of Laboratory G.

Other Personnel


Few of the scientists sent to the Soviet Union by Zavenyagin in the first six weeks complained. Take the case of Heinz Barwich. In addition to his leftist political views, he stated that he was motivated to go to work in the Soviet Union as he was 33 years old, married, had three small children with a fourth on the way, and unemployed.

Ludwig Bewilogua, head of the KWIP’s low temperature physics section, had remained behind and in charge of the exponential uranium pile after the other sections were moved to Hechingen
Hechingen
Hechingen is a town in central Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated about south of the state capital of Stuttgart and north of Lake Constance and the Swiss border.- City districts :...

. He, his staff, and the entire facility contents were taken to the Soviet Union. Other scientists sent to the Soviet Union included Robert Döpel
Robert Döpel
Georg Robert Döpel was a German experimental nuclear physicist. He was a participant in a group known as the “first Uranverein,” which was spawned by a meeting conducted by the Reichserziehungsministerium, in April 1939, to discuss the potential of a sustained nuclear reaction...

 (atomic scientist from Leipzig), Wilhelm Eitel (chemist), Reinhold Reichmann (isotope separation, sent to work with Barwich), Gustav Richter (a colleague of Hertz at Siemens and assigned to heavy water production at NII-9), W. Schütze (isotope separation and cyclotrons) and Karl Günter Zimmer
Karl Zimmer
Karl Günter Zimmer was a German physicist and radiation biologist, known for his work on the effects of ionizing radiation on DNA. In 1935, he published the major work, Über die Natur der Genmutation und der Genstruktur, with N. V...

 (atomic physicist and biologist from the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gesellschaft Institute for Brain Research in Berlin-Buch and also working with Riehl at Auergesellschaft).

To get an appreciation for the numbers eventually sent to the Soviet Union for the Soviet atomic bomb project, Oleynikov cites that by the end of the 1940s, there were nearly 300 Germans working at von Ardenne’s Institute A, and they were not the entire workforce at the institute. Nor were the 300 there the total German personnel sent to work on the Soviet atomic bomb project.

Zavenyagin’s search teams were aggressive in identifying technology and personnel for use in the Soviet atomic bomb project and sending materiel, equipment, and personnel to the Soviet Union. There can be no doubt that the success of the Russian “Alsos” influenced the even grander and broader exploitative Operation Osoaviakhim
Operation Osoaviakhim
Operation Osoaviakhim was a Soviet operation which took place on 22 October 1946, with NKVD and Soviet army units recruiting thousands of military-related technical specialists from the Soviet occupation zone of post-World-War-II Germany for employment in the Soviet Union...

. On the night of 21 October 1946, NKVD and Soviet Army units, commanded by Beria’s chief deputy Colonel General Ivan Serov, began rounding up in short order thousands of German scientists and technicians of all types across the Eastern zone, along with their families, and transporting them to the Soviet Union in 92 different trains for work in the Soviet armaments industry.

State Prizes


In 1947, Ardenne was awarded a Stalin Prize for his development of a table-top electron microscope. In 1953, before his return to Germany, he was awarded a Stalin Prize, first class, for contributions to the atomic bomb project
Soviet atomic bomb project
The Soviet project to develop an atomic bomb , was a clandestine research and development program began during and post-World War II, in the wake of the Soviet Union's discovery of the United States' nuclear project...

; the money from this prize, 100,000 Rubles, was used to buy the land for his private institute in East Germany. According to an agreement that Ardenne made with authorities in the Soviet Union soon after his arrival, the equipment which he brought to the Soviet Union from his laboratory in Berlin-Lichterfelde was not to be considered as reparations to the Soviet Union. Ardenne took the equipment with him in December 1954 when he went to East Germany.

In 1951, Hertz was awarded a Stalin Prize, second class, with Barwich. Hertz remained in the Soviet Union until 1955, when he went to East Germany.

In 1951, Thiessen received a Stalin Prize, first class, for the development of uranium enrichment technologies. He went to East Germany in the mid-fifties.

For his contributions to the Soviet atomic bomb project
Soviet atomic bomb project
The Soviet project to develop an atomic bomb , was a clandestine research and development program began during and post-World War II, in the wake of the Soviet Union's discovery of the United States' nuclear project...

, Riehl was awarded a Stalin Prize (first class), Lenin Prize
Lenin Prize
The Lenin Prize was one of the most prestigious awards of the USSR, presented to individuals for accomplishments relating to science, literature, arts, architecture, and technology. It was created on June 23, 1925 and was awarded until 1934. During the period from 1935 to 1956, the Lenin Prize was...

, and Hero of Socialist Labor
Hero of Socialist Labor
Hero of Socialist Labour was an honorary title in the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries. It was the highest degree of distinction for exceptional achievements in national economy and culture...

. As part of the awards, he was also given a Dacha
Dacha
Dacha is a Russian word for seasonal or year-round second homes often located in the exurbs of Soviet and post-Soviet cities. Cottages or shacks serving as family's main or only home are not considered dachas, although many purpose-built dachas are recently being converted for year-round residence...

 west of Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

; he did not use the dacha. In 1955 he passed through East Germany on his way to West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

.

Uranium


In the early stages, the Soviet atomic bomb project was in critical need of uranium. In May 1945, the sole atomic laboratory, Laboratory No. 2, only had seven tons of uranium oxide available. The critical nature of their stock can be realized when compared to the amounts needed for their first uranium reactor F-1 and their first plutonium production reactor “A” in the Urals. The first load of F-1 required 46 tons. The first load of reactor “A” required 150 tons.

The Russian search teams deployed to Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia were aware of the Soviet needs for uranium. However, General Leslie Groves
Leslie Groves
Lieutenant General Leslie Richard Groves, Jr. was a United States Army Corps of Engineers officer who oversaw the construction of the Pentagon and directed the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb during World War II. As the son of a United States Army chaplain, Groves lived at a...

, commander of the U.S. Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

 was also aware of the needs of his effort and that of the Soviet atomic bomb project for uranium. Hence, General Groves, especially to deny uranium to the Soviets, arranged for the removal of 1,200 tons of uranium ore from a salt mine near Stassfurt, an area due to fall within the Soviet occupation zone. This stash turned out to be the bulk of the German stock of uranium ore.

As soon as the Soviet troops occupied Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, a search team was sent to Austria. Vladimir Shevchenko, director of Scientific Research Institute No. 9 (NII-9), and atomic scientist Igor’ Nikolaevich Golovin from Laboratory No. 2 stayed in Vienna from 13 April to 10 May 1945. In Vienna, they interviewed scientists from the Radium Institute of the Academy of Sciences and from the Second Physical Institute of the University of Vienna
University of Vienna
The University of Vienna is a public university located in Vienna, Austria. It was founded by Duke Rudolph IV in 1365 and is the oldest university in the German-speaking world...

. Information collected provided an overview of German organizations involved in the uranium project, including companies potentially engaged in metallic uranium production. In an Auergesellschaft building there, they retrieved 340 kilograms of metallic uranium, a precursor to what would be found in Germany, as indeed Auergesellschaft was a main producer.

The Auergesellschaft facility in Oranienburg
Oranienburg
Oranienburg is a town in Brandenburg, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Oberhavel.- Geography :Oranienburg is a town located on the banks of the Havel river, 35 km north of the centre of Berlin.- Division of the town :...

 had nearly 100 metric tons of fairly pure uranium oxide, which a search team found. The Americans had bombed the facility near the end of the war to deny the works to the Soviets. The Soviet Union took this uranium as reparations, which amounted to between 25% and 40% of the uranium taken from Germany and Czechoslovakia at the end of the war. Khariton said the uranium found there saved the Soviet Union a year on its atomic bomb project.

Khariton and Kikoin, not knowing about the find in Oranienburg, started an intensive search of their own. From inspecting a plant in the Grunau district, they learned that the company Rohes had shipped several hundred tons of uranium, but they could not then determine the final destination. While in Potsdam, they determined the name of the head of the Belgian office of Rohes. The services of SMERSh military counterintelligence were used to find and arrest the man and bring him to the two physicists. Under questioning by SMERSh, the man revealed that the uranium was in Neustadt. Unfortunately, there were about 20 towns in Germany with that name, 10 of them were in the Soviet zone of occupation. In Neustadt-Glewe
Neustadt-Glewe
Neustadt-Glewe is a German town, in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, in the district of Ludwigslust-Parchim.-Sights and monuments:* The Alte Burg, a 13th-century castle, considered to be the oldest military castle in Mecklenburg....

, they found more than 100 tons of uranium oxide. Another major find for the Soviet atomic bomb project.