Dr. Kapitsa, Famed Jewish Scientist, Reported Now Free in Russia
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Dr. Kapitsa, Famed Jewish Scientist, Reported Now Free in Russia

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Dr. Peter L. Kapitsa, the Soviet Union’s leading nuclear physicist, was under house arrest from 1946 until after Stalin’s death in 1953, the New York Times reported today. Citing United States scientists returning from the USSR, the Times said that Dr. Kapitza has been returned to his work and was host to some of the American scientists.

The Jewish scientist was reported to have fallen out of favor with Stalin after his refusal to work on nuclear weapons developments, allegedly insisting that as a scientist he must judge the direction of his research. Dr. Kapitza twice won the Stalin prize for scientific achievements and the British Faraday Prize.

In 1941, Dr. Kapitza, in an appeal from Moscow addressed to Jews throughout the world, urged Jewish scientists “to contribute all their strength and knowledge” to the defeat of Nazism. In his appeal, broadcast over the Moscow radio, Dr. Kapitza said.

“The history of world science and art is much indebted to the Jewish people. Historical factors scattered the Jews among all countries 2,000 years ago. Therefore, their work has been closely bound up with the country of their residence. This accentuates the international value of their creative activities and their influence on world progress. But precisely these conditions frequently subject them to the danger of cruel reprisals. When some country enters a period of dark reaction, its authorities instigate persecution of the Jews. Playing up the basest human instincts by organizing anti-Jewish pogroms, they try to divert the people’s attention from the real causes of their country’s plight.

“One may say with assurance that never before has history witnessed such systematic and cruel persecution of the Jews as that now taking place in Germany. Most of the outstanding scientists, such as Einstein, Frank and Haber–recognized by the whole world, honored with Nobel prizes–together with the men of letters and art were exiled from Germany. Especially striking is the case of Haber, whose scientific activities were of such singular importance for Germany in the last World War. Without his method of obtaining nitric acid from air Germany would not have been able to hold out a year, in view of its lack of this essential raw material for the production of explosives. Haber was forced to leave Germany and die in exile.

“Now, when the whole world of culture and democracy has risen for a decisive struggle against Nazism, we are firmly convinced that the Jewish scientists of the whole world will join this struggle and contribute to it all their strength and knowledge. The outcome of this struggle can not be in doubt. The world cannot tolerate for long the barbarism of Nazi Germany. The more concertedly we stand up to this war, the earlier it will end and the larger the number of people we shall save from suffering and destruction.”

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