Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Citizen Kurchatov: Stalin's Bomb Maker


Lavrenti Beria

Beria was born in the Georgian town of Mingrelia just before the turn of the century in 1899. His first career choice was to be an architect, and he worked as a building inspector in Azerbaijan after graduating from college. He later joined the Communist party and served in the secret police.

Beria first met Stalin in 1931 while Stalin was on vacation. One popular story claims that Beria saved Stalin from an assassination attempt. Others suspect Beria staged the attempt he appeared to thwart.

Lavrenti BeriaStalin quickly brought Beria up through the ranks of the Communist party, and selected him to head the NKVD in 1938. Stalin used Beria to stage his purges. Under Beria, the NKVD was responsible for the deaths of millions of Russians.

Beria had the reputation of getting things done, no matter what it cost. Stalin placed him in charge of many of his most important jobs, including the atomic bomb project.

After Stalin died, Beria tried to change his public image and initiated reform in the Soviet Union and Communist Germany. However, Krushchev and the other Soviet leaders arranged to have Beria imprisoned and later executed as an enemy of the state.



Site Index Home Good of Mankind Cold War Super Bomb Atomic Powers Arzamas-16 A New Weapon Nuclear Secrets Revolution