The website of the Russian state corporation Rosatom, a key player in the country's nuclear sphere, has published information and declassified the "special purpose profiles" of the German scientists who played a pivotal role in the creation of Soviet nuclear industry in general, and nuclear weapons specifically.
29 августа 1949 года, первая советская атомная бомба была успешно испытана на Семипалатинском полигоне. Ряд учёных, участвовавших в проекте – Курчатов, Флёров, Харитон, Хлопин, Щелкин, Зельдович, Бочвар, а также Николаус Риль, стали Героями Социалистического труда. pic.twitter.com/FHEk4DNCt5— Котляров Сергей (@ks130862) August 29, 2019
German Scientists Working on Soviet Nuclear Programme
Rosatom explained that Nobel Prize winner Gustav Hertz developed the method of gaseous diffusion, which allowed for the separation of the isotopes needed to produce enriched uranium – a crucial component in nuclear weapons. Another German physicist, Nikolaus Riehl, was working on the production of near-pure metallic uranium and the impact that radiation has on living organisms.
Manfred von Ardenne, another German researcher who was transferred to the USSR after the defeat of the Third Reich, was not only working on developing gas centrifuges to more efficiently enrich uranium, but also contributed to the development of a mass spectrometry device. The latter is often used to analyse the molecular structure of materials, for example of uranium.
German chemist Peter Adolf Thiessen was developing the methods of production of tube-like filters for the gaseous diffusion technology used by the USSR, according to the Rosatom files. Two more German scientists, Robert Döpel and Heinz Pose, were apparently not working on nuclear weapons themselves, but instead contributed to the country's civilian atomic programme, studying nuclear reactions in reactors and producing heavy water for them.
The Soviet Union tested its first nuclear bomb at the Semipalatinsk range in 1949 - four years after the US tested their own as a part of the Trinity nuclear test on 16 July 1945. The USSR’s leadership at the time ordered that the US "nuclear monopoly" be eliminated in the shortest time possible.