From: I. Fodor
Date: 12 Jul 1999
Dear Mr. Laes,
I have not been at this web site for many months during the last year and only once or twice since it has been reorganized. Therefore your posting of 11/11/98 has somehow escaped my attention for which I do apologize. Somehow I must have overseen it. For this reason I can offer my reply only now, rather belatedly, but I hope it's better late than never. As I am neither an intelligence expert nor a pro- fessional military historian, I can offer only my personal views on the reliability of Sudoplatov's memoirs as a source of information. Even though I haven't got the same resources you may have at your disposal, I have done a comparative analysis of avai- lable sources of information and came to the follo- wing conclusion. What has struck me in Sudoplatov's book was his boast- ful style and the fact that he has omitted several facts which ought to have been known to him - and he has mixed together some facts and fiction... For example, he hasn't mentioned that Piotr Kapitsa (for whatever reasons) refused to work for Stalin on the Russian bomb project, for which he was put under a house arrest in Gorki for many years (see, for instance, Herbert York's "Making weapons, tal- king peace"). The other thing which Sudoplatov hasn't mentioned at all was that Zavenyagin went to Berlin in 1945 to interview and to fetch all the German nuclear scientists who were not under the US sphere of in- fluence and brought them (many of them forcibly) to the USSR to work on the Russian bomb (see my letter to the editor of "Physics Today" August 1992 p. 85, not Oct. 92 as I have mistakenly previously mentioned). Without their practical know-how in the industrial scale uranium purification, enrichment and isotope separation the Russians probably wouldn't have been able, in my personal opinion, to build the bomb so quickly even with the blueprints obtained through Klaus Fuchs and Ted Hall. [At the same time I must admit I haven't read yet David Holloway's "Stalin and the Bomb"]. The confidence of yours in Sudoplatov surprised me all the more since his book contradicts directly Richard Rhodes which I consider the most reasonable complete and consistent (publically available) ac- count which can be used as a reference. I have no doubts that the Russians (i.e. GRU and NKVD) knew exactly what was going on in wartime Ger- many, it was only Sudoplatov who didn't. Rhodes wrote in "Dark Sun": "Sudoplatov's department 'had no direct contact with the agents network' and Sudoplatov himself 'had access to atomic problems during a relatively brief period of time, a mere twelve months [i.e. from September 1945 to Septem- ber 1946].'" This would explain why Sudoplatov did not know. Sudoplatov got also the whole incident with Niels Bohr wrong. Bohr was no reactor expert and he in- formed immediately both Danish and British counter- intelligence about his visitors. Rhodes wrote: "Sudoplatov evidently initiated almost immediately an ad hoc, bungled NKVD attempt to ex- tract technical information from Niels Bohr,..." etc., etc. The other piece of Sudoplatov's disinformation was his claim that Fuchs has given off the Russians sec- rets of the hydrogen (fusion) bomb - which he in actual fact didn't, as he simply could not have done so. He gave away the original ideas of Edward Teller which led, however, up a blind alley, although Teller has been popularly known as the "father of the hyd- rogen bomb". It was the mathematician Stan Ulam who eventually worked it all out. The Russians have developed their own design and used 'reverse engineering' i.e. the analysis of the US fallout to determine the composition of the "super".
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