Spying on Science: Western Intelligence in Divided Germany 1945-1961

By P. U. Maddrell | Go to book overview

4
The Prisoners-of-war Come Home

FLUSHING AT FRIEDLAND

The first two chapters concerned the acquisition of intelligence from sources, most of them Germans, who had either worked for the Soviets in East Germany or had worked in the DDR's economy. This chapter concerns an even more valuable type of informant: Germans forced to work in the Soviet Union itself. The war showed the Soviet leaders that their country was backward in military technology, particularly with regard to Germany and the USA. As soon as it ended, Stalin set the USSR the aim of catching up with the West in the most crucial military technologies. Three were of such outstanding importance that special supraministerial committees, subordinate to the Council of Ministers, were created to direct development work and allocate resources, overcoming any bureaucratic resistance. The manufacture of an atomic bomb had the highest priority. A Special Committee for Atomic Energy, chaired by Lavrenti Beria, was established in August 1945 to direct the atomic project. Its executive arm was the First Chief Directorate of the Council of Ministers, headed up by the Munitions Minister, Boris Vannikov. Another weapon to which high priority was given was the surface-to-surface missile (and, from 1950, the surface-to-air missile, for use in air defence).1 Special Committee No. 2 was created in May 1946 to supervise the development of guided missiles. Though first Malenkov and then Bulganin served as chairman, the driving force in missile development was Dmitri Ustinov. The Committee set up a number of research institutes and design bureaux to undertake missile development, led by such outstanding designers as S. P. Korolev, M. K. Iangel', V. P. Glushko, and G. N. Babakin.2 The third key technology was radar. A Council for Radar, chaired by Malenkov, had been created in 1943; in 1947 it became Special Committee No. 3. The development of jet propulsion also received Stalin's strong support. The first post-war Five Year Plan gave priority to these technologies.3 German scientific workers were involved in the development of all of them.

1 V. Zubok and C. Pleshakov, Inside the Kremlins Cold War: From Stalin to Khrushchev
(Cambridge, Mass., 1996), 141–2.

2 W. Lee, 'Soviet Nuclear Targeting', in D. Ball and J. Richelson, Strategic Nuclear Targeting
(Ithaca, NY, 1986), 94; Uhl, Osteuropa (2001), 857–64.

3 Holloway, Stalin, 129, 144–9, 365; Mick, Forschen für Stalin, 119–23.

-103-

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