Article ID: CBB231695950

Prophet of Poison Gas: Yakov Fishman and the Soviet Chemical Weapons Program, 1924–1937 (October 2018)


This article explores the formation and growth of the Soviet chemical weapons program from 1924 to 1937. Seen as a symbol of modernity by the Soviet government, the Red Army’s chemical weapons directorate became a priority area of research and development. Initially, however, the Red Army’s investment in chemical weapons production encountered a variety of difficulties exacerbated by early Soviet policies, such as the lack of capital and skilled labor. But thanks to Stalin’s broader political aims, Yakov Fishman—the head of the chemical weapons directorate—managed to draw in vast resources to achieve his vision for the Soviet chemical weapons program. In the end, Fishman’s success in building huge chemical weapons production capacities for the Red Army would have a major impact on the course of the Second World War. Drawing from Russian and German military archives, this article offers new insight into a long-hidden, top-secret military program of colossal dimensions.

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Authors & Contributors
Johnson, Ian
Alvandi, Roham
Zhao, Yang-hui
Zaloga, Steve
Vizgin, Vladimir P.
Tsekhmistro, Ivan
VIET: Voprosy Istorii Estestvoznaniia i Tekhniki
Technology and Culture
Minerva: A Review of Science, Learning and Policy
Istoriko-Biologicheskie Issledovaniia
Environmental History
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
University of Pittsburgh Press
Springer International
Smithsonian Institution Press
Imperial College Press
Military technology
Science and war; science and the military
Chemical warfare
Technology and war; technology and the military
World War I
Science and politics
Stalin, Joseph
Krushchev, Nikita
Tesla, Nikola
Lysenko, Trofim Denisovich
Haber, Fritz
Time Periods
20th century
Soviet Union
Great Britain
United States
Eastern Europe
United States Marine Corps
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Rossiiskaia Akademiia Nauk

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