Submitted Successfully!
To reward your contribution, here is a gift for you: A free trial for our video production service.
Thank you for your contribution! You can also upload a video entry or images related to this topic.
Version Summary Created by Modification Content Size Created at Operation
1 handwiki -- 2285 2022-11-08 01:45:58

Video Upload Options

Do you have a full video?


Are you sure to Delete?
If you have any further questions, please contact Encyclopedia Editorial Office.
HandWiki. Laboratory B in Sungul’. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 17 April 2024).
HandWiki. Laboratory B in Sungul’. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed April 17, 2024.
HandWiki. "Laboratory B in Sungul’" Encyclopedia, (accessed April 17, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, November 08). Laboratory B in Sungul’. In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "Laboratory B in Sungul’." Encyclopedia. Web. 08 November, 2022.
Laboratory B in Sungul’

Laboratory B in Sungul' was one of the laboratories under the 9th Chief Directorate of the NKVD (MVD after 1946) that contributed to the Soviet atomic bomb project. It was created in 1946 and closed in 1955, when some of its personnel were merged with the second Soviet nuclear design and assembly facility. It was run as a sharashka – a secret scientific facility run as a prison. Laboratory B employed German scientists from 1947 to 1953. It had two scientific divisions, radiochemistry and radiobiophysics; the latter was headed by the world-renowned geneticist N. V. Timofeev-Resovskij. For two years, the renowned German chemist, Nikolaus Riehl was the scientific director.

nuclear design sungul' radiobiophysics

1. Background

Colonel General A. P. Zavenyagin, as head of the 9th Chief Directorate of the NKVD (MVD after 1946), was deputy to NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria. From early in 1945, Zavenyagin was responsible for the acquisition of German scientists, equipment, materiel, and intellectual property, under the Russian Alsos, to help Russia with the Soviet atomic bomb project. His authority and responsibilities only increased after the USSR State Defense Committee (GKO, Gosudarstvennyj Komitet Oborony), on 20 August 1945, issued Decree No. 9877, thereby creating and investing the Special Committee with special and extraordinary powers for solving problems related to the atomic bomb project.

Members of the Special Committee were:[1]

  • Lavrentiy Beria, Chairman of the Special Committee
  • Mikhail Pervukhin, Deputy Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars (Sovnarkom, Sovet Narodnykh Komissarov) after 1946, the Council of Ministers (Sovmin, Sovet Ministrov)
  • Nikolai Voznesensky, Chairman of the State Committee for Planning (Gosplan, Gosudarstvennyj Komitet po Planirovaniyu)
  • Georgy Malenkov, Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
  • B. L. Makhnev, Secretary of the Special Committee
  • Pyotr Kapitsa, Director of the Institute for Physical Problems of the Academy of Sciences. Kapitsa requested to be taken off of the Special Committee due to disagreements with Beria. Kapitsa's first request was denied, but the second was approved.
  • Avraami Zavenyagin, head of the 9th Chief Directorate of the NKVD (a deputy of the People's Commissar for Internal Affairs)
  • Igor Kurchatov, head of Laboratory No. 2 and the scientific supervisor for the Soviet atomic bomb project.

Zavenyagin, as head of the 9th Chief Directorate, then had responsibilities for establishing, building, managing, and providing security for the facilities in the atomic bomb project. Zavenyagin's purview also included the resources of the Gulag; some of the facilities to which the German scientists were assigned were run as a sharashka. German scientists were available for recruitment from the Soviet occupation zone in Germany. Also, immediately after World War II and extending into 1949, the Russians also had a large pool of German PoW scientists and highly skilled specialists from which to recruit; the main camp was at Krasnogorsk.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Facilities to which the German scientists were assigned were under the under authority of the 9th Chief Directorate and included the following (with annotations of prominent Germans at the facilities):[8][9][10][11]

  • Laboratory 2 (later known as the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy and today as the Russian Scientific Center "Kurchatov Institute") in Moscow. – Josef Schintlmeister.[12]
  • Scientific Research Institute No. 9 (NII-9; today the Bochvar All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Inorganic Materials, Bochvar VNIINM) in Moscow – Max Volmer and Robert Döpel.
  • Elektrostal' Plant No. 12 – A. Baroni (PoW), Hans-Joachim Born (PoW), Alexander Catsch (PoW), Werner Kirst, H. E. Ortmann, Przybilla, Nikolaus Riehl, Herbert Schmitz (PoW), Herbert Thieme, Tobein, Günter Wirths, and Karl Zimmer (PoW).
  • Institutes A (in Sinop, a suburb of Sukhumi) and G (in Agudzery) created for Manfred von Ardenne and Gustav Hertz, respectively. Institutes A and G were later used as the basis for the Sukhumi Physico-Technical Institute (SFTI); today it is the State Scientific Production Association "SFTI". Institute A – Ingrid Schilling, Fritz Schimohr, Fritz Schmidt, Gerhard Siewert, Max Steenbeck (PoW), Peter Adolf Thiessen, and Karl-Franz Zühlke. Institute G – Heinz Barwich, Werner Hartmann, and Justus Mühlenpfordt.
  • Laboratory V was created for Heinz Pose in Obninsk, and it was run as a sharashka.[13] Laboratory V was later renamed the Physics and Power Engineering Institute (FEhI); today it is the State Scientific Center of the Russian Federation "FEhI". – Werner Czulius, Walter Hermann, Hans Jürgen von Oertzen, Ernst Rexer, Karl-Heinrich Riewe, and Carl Friedrich Weiss.
  • Laboratory B in Sungul' was established by a decree of the Council of Ministers in 1946, and it was run as a Sharashka. In 1955, it was assimilated into a new, second nuclear weapons institute, Scientific Research Institute-1011 (NII-1011), today known as the Russian Federal Nuclear Center All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Technical Physics (RFYaTs–VNIITF). – Hans-Joachim Born (PoW), Alexander Catsch (PoW), Willi Lange, Nikolaus Riehl, and Karl Zimmer (PoW).

2. Overview

Laboratory B was established under the 9th Chief Directorate in 1946 by Decree No. 1996 of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. It was known under another cover name[14] as Объект 0211 (Ob'ekt 0211, Object 0211), as well as Object B.[15][16][17][18] (For historical reasons, it was also known as Object 0215.[19][20][21][22][23])

Laboratory B was responsible for the handling, treatment, and use of radioactive products generated in reactors, as well as radiation biology, dosimetry, and radiochemistry. Owing to its proximity to the radiochemical plutonium facility Combine No. 817,[24] the scientists at the institute had access to high-dose radioactive materials.[25][26]

The scientific staff at Laboratory B – a Sharashka – was both Soviet and German, the former being mostly political prisoners or exiles, although some of the service staff were criminals – one had been convicted of murder. In 1955, the institute had 451 staff members; in 1946 there had been 95. The institute had a maximum of 26 German scientists, and more than 10 of them initially were classified as PoWs. The German contingent left the institute in 1953. The institute had two departments: radiobiophysics (No. 1) and radiochemistry (No. 2). In 1955, the institute was merged into the newly created second[27] nuclear weapons design institute Nauchno-Issledovatel'skij Institut-1011 (NII-1011).[28] During the merger, the radiopathology section of the radiochemistry department was transferred to Combine No. 817 (Ozersk) and a section of the radiobiophysics department was transferred to the Ural Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences.[4][25][26][29][30]

Accomplishments of Laboratory B include the development of technology for the isolation of fission by-products such as strontium-90, caesium-137, zirconium-65, and the technology to remove these isotopes from chemical compounds.[25]

3. Directors

The first director of Laboratory B, starting in 1946, was MVD Colonel Alexander Konstantinovich Uralets. From 26 December 1952 to 14 June 1955, the director was the chemist Gleb Arkad'evich Sereda.[26]

Prior to Uralets becoming director of Laboratory B in 1946, he had been the Deputy Chief Corrective Labor Camp Volgostroya (Rybinsk), Tagilstorya, the Office of the Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Plant in the camp. After serving as director of Laboratory B, he became deputy director of the Nauchno-Issledovatel'skij Institut-9 (NII-9, Scientific Research Institute No. 9) for economic and administrative issues; NII-9 was under the 9th Chief Directorate of the MVD and worked on the Soviet atomic bomb project. He received the Order of Lenin for his management of Laboratory B.[31]

After Laboratory B was merged with NII-1011, Sereda went on to be the chief of the nearby TsZL Khimkombinata Mayak (Central Plant Laboratory of the Chemical Combine Mayak) in Ozersk.[32]

4. Scientific Director

Nikolaus Riehl was the scientific director of Laboratory B from September 1950 to early autumn in 1952.[33]

Riehl, scientific director of the Auergesellschaft, was sent by the Russians, in 1945, to head a group at Plant No. 12 in Ehlektrostal' to develop an industrial process for production of reactor-grade uranium. Other Germans sent to work there included A. Baroni (PoW), Werner Kirst, Henry E. Ortmann (chemist from Auergesellschaft), Przybilla, Herbert Schmitz (PoW), Herbert Thieme, Tobein, and Günter Wirths (chemist from Auergesellschaft). When Riehl learned that professional colleagues from the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Hirnforschung (Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Brain Research) in Berlin, Hans-Joachim Born and Karl Zimmer, were being held in Krasnogorsk, in the main PoW camp for Germans with scientific degrees, Riehl arranged though Zavenyagin to have them sent to Ehlektrostal'. Alexander Catsch was also sent there. At Ehlektrostal', Riehl had a hard time incorporating Born, Catsch, and Zimmer into his tasking on uranium production, as Born was a radiochemist, Catsch was a physician and radiation biologist, and Zimmer was a physicist and radiation biologist; in December 1947, Riehl sent all three to Laboratory B to work with Timofeev-Resovskij.[34][35][36]

After the detonation of the Russian uranium bomb, uranium production was going smoothly and Riehl's oversight was no longer necessary at Plant No. 12. Riehl then went, in 1950, to be the scientific director of Laboratory B, where he stayed until 1952. Essentially the remaining personnel in his Ehlektrostal' group were assigned elsewhere, with the exception of Henry E. Ortmann, A. Baroni (PoW), and Herbert Schmitz (PoW), who went with Riehl to Sungul'.[37][38]

Besides those already mentioned, other Germans at Laboratory were Rinatia von Ardenne (sister of Manfred von Ardenne, director of Institute A, in Sukhumi) Wilhelm Menke (botanist), Willi Lange (who married the widow of Karl-Heinrich Riewe, who had been at Heinz Pose's Laboratory V, in Obninsk), Joachim Pani, and K. K. Rintelen. Until Riehl's return to Germany in June 1955, which Riehl had to request and negotiate, he was quarantined in Agudzery (Agudseri) starting in 1952; Augudzery, was the location of Institute G.[39][40]

5. Scientific Divisions

Laboratory B had two scientific divisions, a radiobiophysics division headed by the geneticist N. V. Timofeev-Resovskij (prisoner), and a radiochemistry division headed by Sergej Aleksandrovich Voznesenskij (prisoner).[26]

5.1. Radiobiophysics

In 1925, as the Russian part of a collaborative effort between Russia and Germany, the Russians sent Timofeev-Resovskij, and his colleague Sergei Romanovich Tsarapkin, to Germany. There, they worked with Oskar Vogt, director of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Hirnforschung (KWIH, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Brain Research),[41] to establish the Abteilung für Experimentelle Genetik (Department of Experimental Genetics) and Timofeev-Resovskij became its director. Timofeev-Resovskij stayed in Germany through World War II, and built his department to world-renowned status. On the basis of false denunciations, Timofeev-Resovskij and Tsarapkin were arrested by the NKVD in September 1945, returned to Russia, and both sentenced to 10 years in the Gulag. They ended up in the Karaganda prison camp in northern Kazakhstan, one of the most terrible camps in the Gulag; the harsh conditions of Timofeev-Resovskij's transportation and incarceration in the labor camp contributed to a significant decline in his health, including the degradation of his vision brought on by malnutrition. Colonel General Zavenyagin, who had intended to utilize Timofeev-Resovskij's talents in the Soviet atomic bomb project, had Timofeev-Resovskij and Tsarapkin sent to Laboratory B in 1947. Timofeev-Resovskij's wife Elena Aleksandrovna, after receipt of a letter in his handwriting, left Berlin in 1948, with their son Andrew, to join him in Sungul'. The house occupied by the three Timofeev-Resovskijs was every bit as nice as that planned for the German scientists working at the Sungul' institute.[42][43][44][45][46] (In 1992, Timofeev-Resovskij was rehabilitated, 11 years after his death![47][48])

Born, Catsch, and Zimmer, who had worked for Timofeev-Resovskij in Berlin and who were sent to Laboratory B by Riehl in December 1947, were able to conduct work similar to that which they had done in Germany, and all three became section heads in Timofeev-Resovskij's department. Born examined fission products, developed methods of separating plutonium from fission products created in a nuclear reactor, and investigated and developed radiation health and safety measures. Catsch began his work on developing methods to extract radionucleotides from various organs, which he would continue when he left Russia.[25][29][49]

The radiobiophysics division under Timofeev-Resovskij had four sections which conducted experimental studies in four basic directions:[26]

  • Effects of radioactive isotopes on animals.
  • Cytological effects of radiation on plants and animals.
  • Effects of weak concentrations of radioactive materials and low doses of ionizing radiation, mainly on crop cultivated plants.
  • Effects of the distribution and accumulation of different radioactive materials introduced into the soil, ground water, and freshwater bodies.

The agrobiological and hydrobiological experiments were united on the general basis of the biogeochemical analysis of the experimentally created elementary biogeocenosis[50] and the introduction of special factor radioactive materials into it.[26]

5.2. Radiochemistry

On the basis of a false denunciation, Sergej Aleksandrovich Voznesenskij was arrested in June 1941; in April 1942, he was sentenced to 10 years in the Gulag. From March 1943 to 1947, he led a research group in the 4th Special Department of the NKVD in Moscow; the 4th Special Department provided military research and development by utilizing specialist prisoners, i.e., scientists. In December 1947, he was transferred to Laboratory B to head up the radiochemistry division.[51] With the liquidation of Laboratory B and its merger into NII-1011 in 1955, Voznesenskij was transferred to the Ural Polytechnical Institute to head up the Department of Radiochemistry, and was simultaneously appointed as a scientific consultant at Combine No. 817 on problems of radioactive waste cleanup. (Voznesenskij had been fully rehabilitate in May 1953.)[52][53]

The radiochemistry division had four sections and conducted research and development in the following areas:[26][52]

  • Development of methods of cleaning radioactive waste water.
  • Development of the most appropriate structures for the storage of radioactive waste.
  • Study of radioactive isotope ion exchange.
  • Development of spectroscopic methods for the analysis of complex mixtures of radioactive components.
  • Study of the precipitation of radioactive fragments.
  • Development of methods to obtain clean (chistykh) isotopic preparations from the solutions of fission fragments of uranium, supplied by Combine No. 817 in nearby Ozersk.

6. Other Personnel

Laboratory B employed a wide variety of scientists on its staff at various times during its existence, including physicists, chemists, biologists, medical doctors, agronomists, and soil scientists. (Germans, PoWs, Russian prisoners, etc.). Other than those already mentioned above, other personnel at Laboratory B included the following:[4][26][54][55]

Ya. M. Fishman (chemist, prisoner), B. V. Kir'yan (prisoner), V. L. Anokhin (physicist/chemist, prisoner), Lev Aleksandrovich Buldakov (surgeon), I. Ya. Bashilov (prisoner), A. A. Goryunov (prisoner), N. S. Khoreshko, Yurij Klimov, L. A. Kuzovkina, N. V. Luchnik (biophysicist/geneticist, prisoner), Yu. I. Moskalev, I. F. Popov (prisoner), N. A. Poryadkova, E. I. Preobrazhenskaya (agronomist), D. I. Semenov (biologist/medical doctor, prisoner), V. N. Strel'tsova, E. I. Sokurova (biologist), M. Yu. Tissen, A. S. Tkachev (prisoner), and V. G. Zhukova.


  1. See Knight, 1993, 135-137 and Kruglov, 2002, 31-32.
  2. Knight, 1993, 135-137.
  3. Kruglov, 2002, 31-32.
  4. Vazhnov, M. Ya. A. P. Zavenyagin: Pages from His Life (chapters from the book) [In Russian].
  5. Oleynikov, 2000, 11.
  6. Naimark, 1995, 205-250.
  7. Albrecht, Heinemann-Grüder, Wellmann, 2001, 48-82.
  8. Maddrell, 179-180.
  9. Albrecht, Heinemann-Grüder, and Wellmann, 2001, 48-82.
  10. Oleynikov, 2000.
  11. Vazhnov, M. Ya. A. P. Zavenyagin: Pages from His Life (chapters from the book). [In Russian]
  12. An Austrian who was a German citizen by virtue of the Anschluss, the 1938 German annexation of Austria.
  13. Polunin, V. V. and V. A. Staroverov Personnel of Special Services in the Soviet Atomic Project 1945 – 1953 [In Russian] (FSB, 2004)
  14. The Russians used various types of cover names for facilities to obfuscate both the location and function of a facility; in fact, the same facility could have multiple and changing designations. The nuclear design bureau and assembly plant Arzamas-16, for example, had more than one designation – see Yuli Khariton and Yuri Smirnov The Khariton Version, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 20-31 (May 1993). Some facilities were known by post office box numbers, почтовом ящике (pochtovom yashike), abbreviated as п/я. See Maddrell, 2006, 182-183. Also see Demidov, A. A. On the tracks of one "Anniversary" [In Russian] 11.08.2005, which relates the history changing post office box designations for Arzamas-16.
  15. Timofeev-Resovskij, N. V. Kratkaya Avtobiograficheskaya Zapiska (Brief Autobiographical Note) (14 October 1977) .
  16. "Я ПРОЖИЛ СЧАСТЛИВУЮ ЖИЗНЬ" К 90-летию со дня рождения Н. В. Тимофеева-Ресовского ("I Lived a Happy Life" – In Honor of the 90th Anniversary of the Birth of Timofeev-Resovskij), ИСТОРИЯ НАУКИ. БИОЛОГИЯ (History of Science – Biology), 1990, № 9, 68-104 (1990).
  17. Ratner, V. A. Session in Memory of N. V. Timofeev-Resovskij in the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Siberian Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences [In Russian], Vestnik VOGis Article 4, No. 15 (2000).
  18. Izvarina, E. Nuclear project in the Urals: History in Photographs [In Russian] Nauka Urala Numbers 12-13, June 2000 .
  19. In 1955, Laboratory B was closed. Some of its personnel were transferred elsewhere, but most of them were assimilated into a new, second nuclear weapons institute, Scientific Research Institute-1011, NII-1011, today known as the Russian Federal Nuclear Center All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Technical Physics, RFYaTs–VNIITF. NII-1011 had the designation предприятие п/я 0215, i.e., enterprise post office box 0215 and Объект 0215; the latter designation has also been used in reference to Laboratory B after its closure and assimilation into NII-1011.
  20. Sulakshin, S. S. (Scientific Editor) Social and Political Process of Economic Status of Russia [In Russian] 2005.
  21. RFYaTS-VNIITF Creators – See the entry for УРАЛЕЦ Александр Константинович (URALETs Aleksandr Konctantinovich) [In Russian].
  22. RFYaTS-VNIITF Creators – See the entry for ТИМОФЕЕВ-РЕСОВСКИЙ Николай Владимирович (TIMOFEEV-RESOVSKIJ Nikolaj Vladimorovich) [In Russian].
  23. Penzina, V. V. Archive of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center of the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Technical Physics, named after E. I. Zababakhin. Resource No. 1 – Laboratory "B". [In Russian] (VNIITF ). Penzina is cited as head of the VNIITF Archive in Snezhinsk.
  24. The plutonium plant was successively known as Base No. 10, Combine No. 817, the Mendeleev Center, and today the Production Association Mayak in Chelyabinsk-40/Chelyabinsk-65/Ozersk. See Kruglov, 2002, 7 and Chelyabinsk-65 / Ozersk Combine 817 / Production Association Mayak.
  25. Oleynikov, 2000, 16-17.
  26. Penzina, V. V. Archive of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center of the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Technical Physics, named after E. I. Zababakhin. Resource No. 1 – Laboratory "B". [In Russian] (VNIITF ).
  27. The first nuclear weapons design facility was KB-11/Arzamas-16.
  28. Today, NII-1011 is known as the Rossijskij Federal'nyj Yadernyj Tsentr – Vserossijskij Nauchno-Issledovatel'skij Institut Tekhnicheskoj Fiziki (РФЯЦ-ВНИИТФ), the Russian Federal Nuclear Center – All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Technical Physics.
  29. Riehl and Seitz, 1996, 121-132.
  30. Emel'yanov and Gavril'chenko, 2000.
  31. RFYaTS-VNIITF Creators – See entry for УРАЛЕЦ Александр Константинович (URALETs Aleksandr Konctantinovich) [In Russian].
  32. *(ОНИС) – Opytnaya Nauchno-Issledovatel'skaya Stantsiya (ONIS, Pilot Scientific Research Station), Ozersk.
  33. Riehl and Seitz, 1996, 125 and 141.
  34. Riehl and Seitz, 1996, 89-104, 121-128, and 202.
  35. Maddrell, 2006, 179-180, 186, 189, and 210-221.
  36. Oleynikov, 2000, 11, and 15-16.
  37. Riehl and Seitz, 1996, 121-128.
  38. Oleynikov, 2000, 15-17.
  39. Riehl and Seitz, 1996, 121-128 and 141-142.
  40. Oleynikov, 2000, 15-17 and Reference #154 on p. 29.
  41. The KWIH was an institute of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft (Kaiser Wilhelm Society). Today, the KWIH is known as the Max-Planck Institut für Hirnforschung, MPIH. After World War II, all of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes were named after the physicist Max Planck.
  42. Timofeev-Resovskij, N. V. Kratkaya Avtobiograficheskaya Zapiska (Brief Autobiographical Note) (14 October 1977) .
  43. Vogt, Annette Ein russisches Forscherehepaar in Berlin-Buch, Edition Luisenstadt (1998).
  44. Babkov, V. V. Nikolaj Vladimiorovich Timofeev-Resovskij [In Russian], Vestnik VOGiS Article 5, Number 15, 8-14 (2000).
  45. Medvedev, 1982.
  46. Riehl and Seitz, 1996, 122-128 and 202.
  47. Paul and Krimbas, 1992.
  48. Timofeev-Resovskij – MDC for Molecular Medicine: Background Information Nikolai Wladimirovich Timoféeff-Ressovsky.
  49. ZfK - 50 Jahre Forschung in Rossendorf, Zentralinstituts für Kernphysik Rossendorf
  50. TheFreeDictionary defines biocenosis as "a group of interacting organisms that live in a particular habitat and form a self-regulating ecological community."
  51. Oleynikov stated Voznesenskij had been at the Glazov, Udmurtia uranium plant sometime before going to Laboratory B; see Oleynikov, 2000, 16.
  52. RFYaTS-VNIITF Creators – See entry for ВОЗНЕСЕНСКИЙ Сергей Александрович (VOZNESENSKIJ Sergej Aleksandrovich) [In Russian].
  53. Polunin, V. V. and V. A. Staroverov Personnel of Special Services in the Soviet Atomic Project 1945 – 1953 [In Russian] (FSB, 2004) .
  54. Fonotov, Mikhail Undercover People [In Russian], Ural'skaya Nov' Number 13 (2002).
  55. A. V. Buldakov - Joint International Biographical Center [In Russian].
Contributor MDPI registered users' name will be linked to their SciProfiles pages. To register with us, please refer to :
View Times: 307
Entry Collection: HandWiki
Revision: 1 time (View History)
Update Date: 08 Nov 2022