Soviet times

From Yu.S. Osipov's book
«Academy of Sciences in the History of the Russian State» Moscow, «NAUKA», 1999

As before, in the Soviet times the Academy of Sciences played a determining role in the making of education in the country, actively prompting the creation of a system of universities and higher educational establishments, in the making and development of a state system for training and certification of scientists and teaching personnel. Great attention was paid by the Academy to school education. Many good textbooks and manuals were created by our staff members or with their participation. Our Academy paid great importance to the dissemination of scientific knowledge, and played a key role in the work of the well-known (Znaniye – Knowledge) society. A major contribution was made by the Academy to the creation of a system of continuous education. It suffices to remember the note of Academicians A.M.Laypunov, A.A.Markov and V.A.Steklov on the university mathematics program; on the organization, as proposed by Academicians P.L.Kapitsa and S.A.Khristianovich, of the Moscow Physical Engineering Institute, whose basic departments were located in the Academy’s research institutes since the day of its inception; on establishing Novosibirsk University in the Academgorodok of the Siberian Department of the Academy; on the organization, on the initiative of Academicians A.D.Aleksandrov, M.A.Lavrentyev and A.N.Kholmogorov, of specialized physics, mathematics, chemistry and biology boarding schools under the aegis of major universities in Moscow, Leningrad, Novosibirsk and Kiev.

Unfortunately, I cannot go on speaking here on the role of academic science in education and enlightenment of people in the Soviet times. I will only say that the creation of one of the world’s best systems of school and higher education played an outstanding role in the achievements of our people. This system has the Academy o Sciences it self.

Let me inform the participants in the meeting that organized in cooperation with Moscow University, a meeting will be held on June 8 to discuss problems of interaction of the Academy with universities, higher educational establishments, and with the system o school education.


It seems also important today to remember that in the years of calamities, world and civil wars, the academic scientists applied tremendous effort to preserve monuments of science and culture under the threat of destruction. Let me give you some examples. In October 1927, due to a war threat to Petrograd, the Academy of Sciences moved its manuscript collection, early-printed books, almost all the editions of the 18th century kept in its Library, collections of the Asian Museum and the Archives to Saratov. In the years of the civil war, the collections of the museums were not only preserved but substantially replenished. For example, the collection of V.G.Druzhinin’s manuscripts, A.S.Pushkin’s authentic manuscripts, and autographs o any writers from the Dashkova manuscripts collection were acquired. The activities of the Academy of Sciences museums and manuscripts collection workers, who preserved and enlarged the funds in the conditions of the blockade of Leningrad became an immortal deed.


The role of the Academy of Sciences in strengthening the defense potential of the Country is great. As early as the last century, corresponding member of the Academy, Artillery General N.V.Maievsky, founder of the Russian scientific school of ballistics, designed a cannon with record characteristics. Acad. N.D.Zelinsky created a gas mask saving tens of thousands of soldiers in the years of World War I. Acad. V.N.Ipatyev set up production of explosives and powders in 1916-1920.

The name of Acad. A.N.Krylov is prominent both in the history of Russian Navy and the history of science. He was the first to perform the most complete study on the rolling and vibrations of ships, compiled the well-known “tables of unsinkability”, whose application strengthened the fighting capacity of the Navy. Under his supervision, the destroyer Novik, the world’s best at the time, was built.

The role of scientists was especially prominent in World War II. The studies of academic scientists in the prewar and war years enabled to design first-class airplanes and tanks, artillery and infantry weaponry, volley fire jet systems, and organize their mass production. Under the leadership of A.P.Aoeksandrow, protection of war ships against magnetic mines was provided. The works of M.V.Keldysh and others substantially improved the flight characteristics of war planes. The disciples and followers of N.E.Zhukovsky and S.A.Chaplygin form the S.V.Ilyushin, A.V.Yakovlev and A.N.Tupolev bureaus designed airplanes ensuring the superiority of our aviation in the air during the war, and then served as a basis for creating modern Air Forces of Russia. With the most active participation of the academic scientists, the industry was converted shortly into producing military equipment. Oil reserves in Povolzhye and Presuralye, most powerful gold and platinum reserves in Siberia were prospected and exploited. The works of N.N.Burdenko, A.D.Speransky and other medical scientists provided for successful treatment of the wounded in field conditions.

The role of the Academy of Sciences in guaranteeing national security in the post war period is enormous. Creation of a nuclear missile shield, attainment of military and strategic parity and its successful maintenance for almost 50 years is due to native science Academicians I.V.Zeldovich, A.D.Sarharov, K.I.Shchelkin. Ye.Zababakhin, A.P.Aleksandrov and others provided for creation of nuclear arms. S.P.Korolyov, M.V.Keldysh, A.N.Tupolev, S.V.Ilyshin, A.S.Yakovlev, V.P.lushko, M.K.Yangel, V.N.Chelomei, V.P.Makeev, N.A.Semikhatov, V.P.Barmin, V.I.Kuznetsov, N.D.Kuznetsov, N.A.Pilyugin, A.D.Nadiradze, V.F.Utkin and others provided for the creation of jet aviation and missile technology.

In the early fifties, in response to the creation of nuclear-powered submarines abroad, a program for the construction of nuclear-powered submarines in the USSR was completed. The names of A.P.Aleksandrov, V.N.peregudov, N.A.Dollezhal, N.N.Isanin, V.V.Novozhilov, S.N.Kovalyov, I.D.Spassky and our other colleagues will forever remaining the history of creation of our submarine fleet.

Simultaneously with creation of nuclear arms, work on peaceful use of nuclear energy started. D.I.Blokhintsev, N.A.Dollezhal and A.I.Leipunsky became creartors of the first nuclear power station in 1954.

Thanks to the works of A.I.Berg and A.A.Raspletin, sophisticated radio electronic complexes and communications facilities were designed.

Appearance of lasers developed by the works of complexes and samples of various purpose weapons. Lasers became irreplaceable in detection, location and targeting of missiles.

Much earlier than in the U.S.A., an oxidizer for missile heavy fuels with record power characteristics was synthesized by academic scientists, and its industrial production organized.

Many of our defense complexes and technologies are no worse than their foreign analogs, while exceeding them in a number of characteristics. The Academy of Sciences has done a great service to the country in this. Many of our colleagues, who played an outstanding role in their creation, are in this hall now.

Academic scientists initiated major international agreements; the Treaty banning nuclear weapon tests in the atmosphere, in outer space and under water and the international program for peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Development of these ideas served as a basis for the wide international Purgwash movement of scientists for security and disarmament playing the most important role in the period of cold war. In many respects due to scientists uniting in their striving for stability and lasting peace in the period of the two systems’ confrontation, no nuclear conflict started. At the source of this movement were A.V.Topchiev, L.A.Artsimvich, M.D.Millionshchikov, M.A.Markov, and others.

We have to recall with gratitude the names of Presidents of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet times; A.P.Karpinsky (1917-1936), V.L.Komarov (1936-1945), S.I.Vavilov (1945-1951), A.N.Nesmeyanov (1951-1961), M.V.Keldysh (1961-1975), A.P.Aleksansrov (1975-1986) and G.I.Marchuk (1986-1991).

©РАН 2018