Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Montage of images and link description. Race for the Superbomb Imagemap: linked to kids and home
The Film and More
Imagemap(text links below) of menu items
The American Experience
The Film & More
Interview Transcripts | Bibliography | Primary Sources

David Holloway on: The Impact of Hiroshima on the Soviet Nuclear Program
David Holloway Q: Tell me what impact the atomic bombing of Hiroshima had on the Soviet nuclear program?

DH: The Soviet project was expanding early in 1945, but it was expanding at a fairly kind of measured pace. And then in August, 1945, in fact two weeks to the day after Hiroshima, Stalin signs a decree which turns it into a crash program. You know, setting up new management bodies for the project, and essentially laying the basis for a program to build a Soviet bomb as soon as possible. So speed is now of the essence. And that's what we see immediately after Hiroshima.

Q: Stalin tells the scientific director of the project Igor Kurchatov that he should conduct the atomic bomb project on a Russian scale. What does he mean by that?

DH: Yes. [Soviet leader Joseph Stalin] has a meeting with [Igor] Kurchatov. It's in fact a little bit after Hiroshima, in January of 1946 he calls Kurchatov in for a kind of pep talk. And he says, "Yes, do this, you know, give us the bomb, but do it on a Russian scale." And what he means by that is, "Don't think of the cost. Do it expensively. Don't be penny-pinching about it. You know, this is a big thing. It's very important. Do it on a -- if you like, kind of aristocratic way. Don't be too concerned about what it is costing. Don't try to do it cheaply. This has got to be done. It overrides, you know, in priorities, so many other things."

back to Interview Transcripts

Program Description | Enhanced Transcript | Reference