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Citizen Kurchatov: Stalin's Bomb Maker


Sarov and Arzamas-16

Khariton was given the job of finding a location for the atomic bomb research laboratories. He chose the small town of Sarov, 300 miles east of Moscow. The town was known for its famous monastery, home of Saint Sarov. The last Tsar visited the monastery before the birth of his last child and asked for an heir. His son was born months later.

When the research work was moved to Sarov, the town disappeared from the maps and was renamed Arzamas-16. To help hide places, the Soviets would name places after a nearby town and a post office box. Arzamas was a town northeast of Sarov.

Kurchatov and the scientists set up their offices inside the monks' rooms in the monastery. New facilities were built for laboratories, and housing was built for the scientists and other workers. A large house was built for Kurchatov only a few hundred yards from his reactor lab. Barbed wire fences and guards kept the city secure, and no one was allowed out without escort. The main street was renamed "Beria."

Khariton was director of Arzamas-16 until he retired in 1992. He lived there until his death.



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