KGB report. ACADEMICIAN LEV LANDAU’s admiration for the Hungarian insurgents and comments about Bolshevik fascism (17 pp). [R 19 December 1957]
Top Secret, copy #2
CPSU, Central Committee
To Comrade KIRILLIN V. A., personally December 20, 1957
At your request, sending the Academy member L.D. Landau’s file ATTACHMENT: 16 sheets.
Chairman of the KGB [signed] SEROV[?]
LANDAU, L.D. Born in 1908 in the city of Baku, Jew, non-member of the Party, head of the theoretical division of the Institute for Physical Problems, USSR Academy of Sciences.
LANDAU was born in an engineer’s family. In 1930 his father was arrested for sabotage, which fact LANDAU does not disclose.
In 1939 LANDAU L.D. was arrested by NKVD for taking part in an anti-Soviet group, but was released as a prominent scientist in the field of theoretical physics.
LANDAU is a rather prominent scientist in theoretical physics with a worldwide reputation, capable, according to many experts, to new discoveries in science. However, his scientific and especially the practical work is primarily to undertake specific tasks that he performs in good faith.
In his political views of many years, he is definitely an anti-Soviet person, hostile to the entire Soviet reality, and remains, in his own words, in a position of “an educated slave.”
In this regard, the KGB has secured reports of many agents around him and the data of the operative technology.
Thus, in 1947 LANDAU defined the state of the Soviet science as follows:
“We definitely have prostituted science and to a greater extent than abroad, there still have some freedom for scientists.
Wickedness is the advantage of not only scientists, but also critics, writers, reporters of newspapers and magazines; they are prostitutes and nobody else. They are paid, and they therefore do as ordered from above.”
In another interview he said:
“… we do not understand and do not like science; that, however, is not surprising, since it is led by plumbers, carpenters, joiners. No place for scientific individuality. Research areas are dictated from above…
…Patriotic aspect will bring harm to our science. We are further separated from Western scientists and distance from the leading scientists and technicians.”
In 1948 one of the agents stated about a conversation with LANDAU:
LANDAU believes that the U.S. is the most benevolent country. Once he read in a newspaper that an American scientist, possibly an ethnic Czech, expressed his desire to leave for the Soviet Union. “What a fool! — LANDAU said, — I wish I could change places with him.”
LANDAU systematically denies the leadership of Russian and Soviet science in many areas, and has repeatedly expressed himself among his friends. His attitude to domestic science is characterized by the following statement:
“I’m an internationalist, but they call me cosmopolitan. I do not divide science on the Soviet and foreign. I am fully indifferent to who did this or that discovery. So I cannot take part in the exaggerated emphasis of the Soviet and Russian science leadership, which is enforced these days.”
LANDAU grouped around himself a number of theoretical physicists among Jewish anti-Soviet nationalist scholars. This group of students includes the so-called “new LANDAU school”: E.M. LIFSHITZ, N.S. MEIMAN, and others. LANDAU has organized and led a seminar of theoretical physics at the Institute for Physical Problems, which attracts mainly Jews closely associated with LANDAU. There was a time (1951-52) when scientists outside his inner circles were not admitted to the seminars.
In July – September 1953, according to the reports of agents, LANDAU uttered slanderous remarks against the party and government leaders in connection with the exposure of Beria’s insidious activity. Later in a conversation with another agent, LANDAU said that his opinion on this matter was wrong.
After October 1953, the agents noted LANDAU’s positive remarks regarding the CPSU and the Soviet government politics at home and abroad. However, in these cases, he argues that such a policy the Soviet government was allegedly forced to hold, otherwise the West would not have believed our peaceful intent.
In evaluating those events, LANDAU sharply condemned the Anglo-French invasion of Egypt and the policy of the State of Israel in this regard. He said:
“As the Egyptians are admired, so Israelis are vile, wicked lackeys. All my sympathy to the Egyptian side is complete…
… I was outraged by Israelis. I, as a rootless cosmopolitan, feel utter disgust to them”.
He did not evaluate our foreign policy in this matter.
However, not all of his associates maintain that point of view. LANDAU has known not only individuals holding nationalistic sentiments, but, apparently, a group of persons. This is evidenced by his conversation of 3 November 1956 with Professor N.S. MEIMAN, when, in response to the nationalistic statements of the latter, LANDAU told him:
“… You’re advocating imperialism… You’ve got in a terrible company, terrible company … you are so blinded by nationalism, you don’t understand these things … you are in the company of dishonorable people, how can you be not appalled … ”
Nevertheless, the LANDAU continues to regularly meet MEIMAN and share his anti-Soviet sentiments with him.
Quite differently LANDAU spoke about the events in Hungary. Identifying the rebels with the Hungarian people and the working class, he described the events in Hungary as “the Hungarian revolution,” as “very good, welcome development”, where “heroic people” is fighting for freedom.
“… The Hungarian Revolution — which means almost all the Hungarian people revolted against their oppressors, i.e. against a small clique of Hungarians and largely against us. … These descendants of the great revolutionaries of all time … What they are doing, it is worth copying. I’d kneel down in front of Hungary.”
In a conversation on Nov. 1, 1956 at home with an unknown visitor, the latter mentioned that KAUTETSKY believes there would be a similar uprising in Czechoslovakia, LANDAU said: “… It’s very good, in my opinion.”
Speaking of the Soviet government’s policy in this regard, he states:
“… We decided to splash ourselves with blood. We are … criminals run the country. Kadar is a social-traitor … He is like a puppet now. Ours told him, and he just sits there.”
November 12, 1956 in a conversation at his apartment on our actions in Hungary, to his interlocutor’s remark that “if Lenin had resurrected now, his hair would have risen up ” LANDAU responded:
“But on the other hand, Lenin, too, was not a saint. Remember Kronstadt uprising. Dirty story. Also the working class of Petersburg and the sailors of the Kronstadt revolt. They made the most democratic demands, and received bullets … fascist system.
… The first thing was done back in October of 1917 – there was a transfer of power in the first few months. It has been completely handed over to the Party apparatus. It was immediately ordered by the Party: steal the loot and take to yourself. They acted scientifically.”
… This was not a mistake, this was the whole idea. The revolution was made on this approach.”
To the question: “So was whole idea flawed?” — LANDAU responded: “Certainly.”
Earlier LANDAU was tasked to perform very important work for the Ministry of Medium Machinery . At that time, in 1952, he was determined to do as little as possible. LANDAU then stated about this:
“A reasonable person should try to stay as far as he can from the practical job of this kind. We must use all his strength not to enter into the heart of nuclear affairs. At the same time, every refusal and self-removal from such projects should be done very carefully.
… LANDAU believes that the purpose of an intelligent man who wants to the highest possible extent live a happy life, is to self-remove from the tasks given by the State, and more so, the Soviet State which is based on oppression.”
“If not the clause 5 (ethnicity)*, I would not do classified projects, just pure science, of which I am now lagging behind. The classified projects give me some influence …
… But I’m far from working “for the good of the motherland” etc., that showed in your letters to me. You can write such letters to the Central Committee [KPSU], but I have no part with this. You know that I don’t care at what place the Soviet physics is: the first or the tenth. I am reduced to the level of “an educated slave,” and that determines everything …
… You are called upon to make the Soviet physics foremost in the world. I’m no help to you here.”
He continues to hold such opinion in subsequent years. In this regard, one of the agents reports April 9, 1955:
“In late March, LANDAU was called together with VL. GINZBURG to A.P. ZAVENYAGIN regarding classified projects. In a conversation with the agent, LANDAU spoke very sharply about Ya.B. ZEL’DOVICH , “from whom all sorts of tricks are coming”. LANDAU said the agent that he would never agree to again deal with the classified projects, and that he dislikes to talk about it. On the way to the Ministry, LANDAU warned GINZBURG not to claim LANDAU for the work ahead.
Later LANDAU told the agent, after that the minister received him very politely and kindly, and behaved friendly. LANDAU quickly convinced those present that he should not engage in the classified projects, but, as he himself put it, could not refuse the offer to talk occasionally on these issues. “In reality, of course, there will be no talks”, – said LANDAU.
Landau’s intention to withdraw from participation in the work on classified projects is, especially in recent times, connected to his desire to get an opportunity to travel abroad.
Thus, in May of this year, an American physicist WEISSKOPF came to Moscow for a conference on the physics of high-energy particles. He specifically discussed with LANDAU’s associates measures that should be taken abroad so that LANDAU could visit America.
In one of the personal encounters with the WEISSKOPF, LANDAU without any authorization, gave WEISSKOPF a list of Soviet scientists, who, in his opinion, should be invited to America. In this list he included himself, E.M. LIFSHITZ, I.E. TAMM, V.L. GINZBURG; etc., directly involved in highly classified work for the Ministry of Medium Machinery.
While giving them references and telling who is doing what, LANDAU told WEISSKOPF that I.E. TAMM was involved in the calculations for atomic and hydrogen bombs; he too took part in these works, but to a lesser extent.
Such behavior of LANDAU has enabled the Americans to try to impose their views on the Academy of Sciences in the selection of Soviet scientists for participation in international conferences. Currently, the U.S. and various scientific institutions in other capitalist countries send a lot of personal invitations to LANDAU and others, mainly among his entourage. [‡] [§]
LANDAU’s intention to go abroad, according to the agents and listening devices, is heavily fueled by his surroundings, in particular by Professor E.M. LIFSHITZ.
So, 30 September 1956 LANDAU and LIFSHITZ had a conversation about the trip abroad (because of technical glitches not completely recorded), when LIFSHITZ persuaded LANDAU to write a letter to Comrade Khrushchev, saying: “And yet, I believe that we would have been better off over there… but in the material sense, too, would be better… ”
7 Oct. 1956 LIFSHITZ told LANDAU:
“…they don’t let you and me go probably because they are afraid of defection. I don’t think that’s true in my respect… They believe I’m a mediocre physicist… I, meanwhile, honestly believe if I go abroad and defect, they’ll be happy to raise a fuss about it. On one side – not a big loss, on the other side – what a fuss!
LANDAU and LIFSHITZ repeatedly talked on this subject. Thus, 8 March 1957 the following conversation took place between them:
LIFSHITZ: They are afraid that you’ll defect… It is so obvious that you can get employed, so to speak, with extraordinary ease anywhere in the world!
LANDAU: I could, of course.
LIFSHITZ: I am convinced that you could settle in any country.
LANDAU: In many countries, but not in any … Of course, you were right, saying that the raised fuss prevents me from me going because increases the danger of my defection.”
18 March of this year in another conversation on this topic LIFSHITZ said:
“…and you, of course, not because you wish to defect, but nobody thinks you may wish to defect. What you think couldn’t even come to their minds.”
One of the closest persons to LANDAU, said regarding his prospective trip abroad in 1957:
“…it would be imprudent to allow LANDAU to go abroad because there is no guarantee that he would return.
He certainly is not tied to his family, and devotion to his son does not look like a deep fatherly devotion. He hardly communicates to him and thinks more about his mistresses than his son.
… the circumstances in which he lived the last twenty years, and the environment he has created for himself, strengthened and developed in him his characteristic traits of individualism and belief in his own infallibility.
Therefore, in the case of travel abroad, he would behave and speak only in terms of his personal interests, tastes and feelings.
4 Feb. 1957 LANDAU and LIFSHITZ were saying they probably won’t be sent to the upcoming conference in England, and someone else will go. LIFSHITZ advised LANDAU to write to the Englishmen about it and ask if that’s what they wanted.
12 Feb. LANDAU wrote a letter to England where he said: “I doubt many of the persons you mention, especially theoreticians, would be able to attend… I hope you or Prof. MOND [? illegible] contact the Academy directly.”
Most of the time LANDAU spends at home, regularly listens to foreign radio and passes its anti-Soviet content to his numerous visitors. The bulk of his conversations is reduced to the retelling of the antiSoviet broadcasts and cynical discussion of sexual relations with various women.
So, on Nov. 11, 1956 an unknown woman visited LANDAU, and to her question about rebel atrocities in Hungary LANDAU told her:
“…Not once in history revolutionaries committed atrocities. It’s MGB-people who they have killed. They [MGB-people] even surrendered to save their lives. Our media wrote they pulled a wounded officer out of a house and killed him. It turns out, in reality four MGB-people hid in that house and began firing machine guns on the demonstrators, killing 60 people… So they got to them…
Then in some areas our tanks fired on a crowd and killed 600 people.
…Revolution is a noble cause, lots of 13-16 year old kids fighting on the barricades. Students speak.
… Hungarian heroism deserves admiration.”
Through agents and devices, it was found that LANDAU considers himself a “free-thinking” man, with his own opinions on foreign and domestic policies of our government.
For instance, 1 December 1956, comparing himself with other scientists, LANDAU said: “I am a free- thinking man, and they are miserable lackeys… I, above all, feel my superiority.”
Giving his anti-Soviet assessment of the activities of the Soviet state, LANDAU provides a sharp slander of the Party and government leaders.
November 30, 1956 Landau, referring to members of the Government, said: “Well, how can we believe this? Who, executioners to believe? In general, it’s a shame … Executioners, just heinous murderers.”
In another conversation he said: “Ours literally stand in blood up to their belts. What did the Hungarians do, I consider it a great achievement. They were the first to break, really struck a stunning blow on the Jesuit idea of our time. A stunning blow!”
LANDAU believes that after the October Revolution, a fascist state gradually formed in the Soviet Union. Thus, on Nov. 20, 1956 in his conversation with the Kharkov scientist I.M. LIFSHITZ, LANDAU said: “…and it was here that the Bolshevik Party took its shape… To some extent, this was inevitable. It was the idea of creating a fascist state, where the people who made the revolution received the state commandment posts as a payment. This was the slogan that was real and which had enormous success. There was a socialist aspect – to uproot the bourgeoisie and build socialism. But there also was a fascist aspect, this slogan: take the state into their own hands.”
Later, on November 30, 1956, Landau said on the subject: “The idea that lies at the heart of the Communist Party is a Jesuit idea. This idea of obedience to superiors. As typical, as the whole history of the Jesuit Order.”
January 12 this year, in a conversation with an associate member of the Academy of Sciences A.I. SHAL’NIKOV, LANDAU said:
“Our system, as I know it since 1937, is definitely a fascist system, and it remained as such, and cannot simply change itself. So, there are two questions: First, about the extent to which the fascist system can be improved from the inside… Second, I believe that this system will break itself. I believe that as long as this system exists, to nourish the hope that it will lead to something decent, always was ridiculous. I do not count on it.
In a conversation on this subject with Professor N.S. MEIMAN, LANDAU said: “The fact that Lenin was the first fascist is obvious.”
Denying the existence of our socialist system, in May of this year he said:
“Our system is a dictatorship of the executive class, class of bureaucrats. I reject that our system is socialist, because the means of production belong not to the people, but to the bureaucrats.”
According to one of the agents, whom LANDAU trusts, he believes that the success of democracy will be achieved only when the class of the bureaucracy (class of Drozdovs) would be overthrown. In a conversation about it, he pulled out and read with a dramatic quaver in his voice a speech the writer PAUSTOVSKI said at a writers’ meeting focused on the discussion of the DUDINTSEV’s novel.
LANDAU admired the impact and courage of the speech and said:
“You and I are cowards and could not find in ourselves the spirit to slap “Drozdovs” such a resounding punch.”
26 January this year, in a conversation with the same agent LANDAU said:
“…Think about it. We all had an opportunity, which I never imagined – an opportunity of a revolution in the country, as a possibility. Just a year ago it seemed ridiculous to think we could have a revolution. But it is not ridiculous. It will happen, it is not absurd.”
LANDAU believes that “the situation” in the Soviet Union could not last long, and in this regard expressed some assumptions about the ways the destruction of the Soviet system can go. E.g., 1 Dec. 1956 LANDAU said: “It is clear that a military coup is going to happen. This is the real deal now with such a low Government popularity and hatred of the people to the ruling class.”
Then he said: “If our system can not collapse by peaceful means, then a third world war is inevitable with all the horrors that are bound to happen. Thus, the issue of the peaceful elimination of our system is the question of the fate of mankind.”
As recorded by operative technology, in conversations with scientists who visited him daily, Landau repeatedly expressed various versions of his conjectures about the inevitable liquidation of the Soviet system.
Thus, 4 December 1956 in a conversation with an associate member of the Academy of Sciences SHAL’NIKOV, LANDAU said:
“I think this: if our system destructs itself without a war – by a revolution or evolution, doesn’t matter, it is immaterial – then there will be no war at all. Without fascism, there is no war.”
On January 23, in a conversation with one of the women of his inner circle, LANDAU said:
“We are fascists from head to toe. They may be more or less liberal, but the fascist ideas are with them. But what I think is wonderful, is that here the Jesuit myth dies.
“WOMAN: I do not see any way of overthrowing the government.
LANDAU: It is difficult to give an example. I believe that now we apparently have no suitable generals to commit a military coup. This is a very easy thing, absolutely, relatively easy.
WOMAN: But will it be good?
LANDAU: I think, yes…».
In the private life, LANDAU is promiscuous, behaves as a man devoid of Soviet morality, and does not display a normal life of a Soviet family. Having a family, he is cohabiting with many women, periodically changing them. Simultaneously, he approves of a similar behavior of his wife, reading her letters from her lovers and discusses her intimate relationships, suggesting to her new men who might become her lovers.
Head of the 1st special department of the KGB the Council of Ministers of the USSR, Ivanov December 19, 1957
[*] Russian idiom for “horrified and surprised”
[†] Soviet Ministry of classified projects
[‡] “Clause 5” is a Soviet/Russian euphemism for the ethnicity as shown in the passport. Landau was Jewish.
[§] Minister of Medium Machinery