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David Holloway on: Andrei Sakharov
David Holloway Q: Andrei Sakharov's experience making nuclear weapons has a tremendous impact on his later life, does it not?

DH: There's a very interesting question of the relationship between [Andrei] Sakharov the weapons scientist, and Sakharov the defender of human rights. You know, some people would say that these are kind of two very different people. But I think there are important connections. And Sakharov himself always believed that there were important connections. That his path towards political activity started with the 1955 thermonuclear test which produced such a big impact on him. He became concerned about these weapons. He then became concerned about the fallout issue. That led him to campaign for, you know, moratoria on nuclear testing. And then he later became involved, you know, played a role in bringing about the partial test ban treaty of 1963. He then got involved in other policy issues about ballistic missile defense and expressed a great concern about these questions, and a great concern that they were not receiving the proper kind of analysis in this society. And that led him to write his famous 1968 memorandum on peaceful coexistence, intellectual freedom. And when that was published in the West, he was removed from weapons work. And you know, then his kind of public life begins at that point.

Q: What in the makeup of Andrei Sakharov leads him to assume the role that he ultimately plays in Soviet history?

DH: I think there was in his personality a kind of link between a very penetrating intelligence and a commitment to doing something good and something useful. And I think he himself saw...this commitment to doing something good as characteristic of the Russian intelligentsia, or certainly of the family that he grew up in. And I think his commitment to working on weapons was linked to a belief that this is the right thing to do. This is -- I'm doing my duty for my country and it serves the cause of peace...

The first time I met him,...the kind of image in my mind was of a search light, or a light house which would, you know, if you asked a question, the beam would shift onto the question. Suddenly the whole issue would be illuminated and he would very thoughtfully try to get into the most important points of a particular issue... he turned that intelligence on himself as well and I think after -- in 1955, when he saw the consequence of the [superbomb] test...he thought, this isn't satisfactory, I have to be concerned with the broader issues, and I think that led him step by step to the public role that he did later play in his life.

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