Nuclear Museum Logo
Nuclear Museum Logo

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Pavel A. Sudoplatov

Lieutenant GeneralRussia

Military VeteranSoviet Atomic Bomb Program

Pavel Anatolyevich Sudoplatov (Павел Анатольевич Судоплатов; 1907-1996) was a Soviet Lieutenant General.

Sudoplatov was born in Melitopol (modern Ukraine). At age 12, he served in the Red Army and later joined the K.G.B. He was put in charge of many high-profile assassinations, including Leon Trotsky in Mexico City in 1940. After the death of Stalin in 1953, he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in the Soviet Gulag.

In 1994, Sudoplatov published Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness – a Soviet Spymaster. In the book, he claimed to have been in charge of “Department S” during World War II, which allegedly focused on Manhattan Project espionage. Sudoplatov also asserted, “We received reports on the Manhattan Project from [J. Robert] Oppenheimer and his friends [Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi, and Leo Szilard] in oral form, through comments and asides, and from documents transferred through clandestine methods with their full knowledge that the information they were sharing would be passed on.”

Sudoplatov’s claims caused a small sensation in the scientific and intelligence communities. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists refuted the allegations in a July 1994 article, pointing out easily disproven statements in Sudolatov’s book. The FBI conducted an investigation and concluded that there was not “any credible evidence that would suggest that Neils [sic] Bohr, Enrico Fermi, Robert Oppenheimer, or Leo Szilard engaged in any espionage activity on behalf of any foreign power to include that involving atomic bomb secrets.” While other Manhattan Project scientists did pass information to the Soviets, there remains no evidence that Sudoplatov’s allegations were true.

Pavel Sudoplatov died on September 26, 1996, in Moscow.


Related Profiles

Joseph Stalin


Born Iosif Visarrianovich Dzhugashvili, Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) was the General Secretary of the Communist Party and Premier of the Soviet Union.

John L. O’Gara

Oak Ridge, TN

John O’Gara worked for the United States Engineer District Office.

Carl Hodson

Tinian Island

Carl Hodson served in the 603rd Air Engineering Squadron. 

Joseph A. Spang

Los Alamos, NM