Kurchatov grew up in a changing and turbulent Russia. Born in January 1903 at the Simskii Zavod in the southern Urals, as a child Kurchatov was an excellent music student and played the balalaika with promising skill.
Kurchatov was 11, Tsar Nicholas entered Russia into the First World War
against Germany. Communist Bolsheviks led by Lenin
took advantage of Russia's discontent and launched the October
Revolution in 1917 to depose the Provisional Government which had
taken control from the Tsar several months earlier. In 1918, the Soviet
Union was established and Russia withdrew from the war with Germany but
fought tsarist and foreign forces in a civil war.