From: I. Fodor
Date: 18 Aug 1999
Dear Mr Laes,
I am afraid I am in no position to be able to say something about all things Sudoplatov wrote about in his book, as I am no scholar of Soviet affairs. Nor have I any ambitions to do so. I never made any such claims and I hope I don't appear so presumptuous. You may be right in that Sudoplatov probably wrote selectively (if at all). On the other hand, it doesn't make sense as Morris Cohen was already living in Moscow. It would interest me very much, how long has the U.S. intelligence known the identity of Ted Hall, the extent what he has done and that he was living in England. (I suppose they decided not to undertake anything against him). There may have been a meeting with Kurchatov, Ioffe and Kikoin in 1943, but almost certainly not hosted by Sudoplatov. Ms. Amy Knight, senior research specialist at the Library of Congress and an expert on Beria, showed that Sudoplatov had not, in fact, been "Director of Intelligence" to a Special Committee on Atomic Energy set up and headed by Beria in 1942 - as the book asserts. On the contrary, the committee was not established until 1945. It appears that Sudoplatov was not directly involved in atomic espionage during the key years of its success, but was, instead running guerilla operations behind German lines. Sergei Leskov writes similarly: "Sudoplatov says in his book that he served on the atomic committee in 1942 and that special intelligence arm, "Depart- ment S", was created in February 1944. But according to KGB documents, De- partment S was not established until September 1945. The list of people who had access to atomic information during the war was extremely short. During the war, only Leonid Kvasnikov, Gaik Ovakimian and Lev Vasilevsky had access to atomic information. Kvasnikov communicated directly with Kurchatov. Sudo- platov's name doesn't appear as a person who handled operational reports, nor does his name appear in the logs...Department S had no direct contact with the agent network...This timeframe is of great importance to Sudoplatov's claims - the heaviest flow of atomic information came from the U.S. in 1944-45. By the time Sudoplatov became involved, a decision had been made to "freeze" the KGB agent network in N. America when Elizabeth Bentley, a Soviet agent, defected to Canada in September 1945." Leskov wrote also, that it was Leonid Kvasnikov who was the director of scien- tific technical intelligence and who was barely mentioned in Sudoplatov's book. In 1943, at a crucial time for atomic intelligence, Kvasnikov was an agent in New York. Leskov continues: "Gaik Ovakimian who returned to the USSR after his imprisonment in the U.S. was put in charge of scientific technical espionage in 1943." So much to Sudoplatov as a reliable source of information.
I can offer a fairly straight-forward (even though a little sketchy) line of arguments. What surprised me was that if Sudoplatov was involved in ato- mic espionage as he claims, he mentioned nothing about the German bomb effort in his book. The German project could not have been so decisive for giving the priority to the Russians as he claims. In that case they must have had the same infor- mation as the British agent in wartime Germany, Paul Rosbaud, code-named "the Griffin", who reported that the main German reactor in Leipzig was destroyed in 1942 by fire of the uranium powder, that the German scientists failed to recognize graphite as a moderator and that by 1943 Germany was so flattened and its industry and infrastructure in smithereens to an extend that they could not continue any longer. Apart from it, the British commando destroyed the heavy water plant in Norway. Then the rail ferry was sank in the Norwegian lake in February 1944 with the carriages loaded with barrels of heavy water. In view of the above, what kind of "intelligence reports from...Scandinavia and Germany concerning the development of nuclear weapons" would "dramatically alter [Russian] priorities..." ? On top of it, in 1943 the Germans were defeated in the Battle of Stalingrad, the course of the war has been turned and the odds of Germany winning the war from that point on were not very high.
However, intriguingly, in 1943 W. Churchill met F.D. Roosevelt in Quebec where they decided to build the bomb and use it against Japan and also plan the in- vasion "D-Day" for 1944 (so-called Quebec Agreement). After this meeting the construction of Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Hanford went ahead.
Why did then Sudoplatov write about "drastically altering their priorities" when the Russian bomb project got really going "full-steam ahead" only in 1945 ? Perhaps I see it too simply and I'll be glad if you can enlighten me.
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