1954: The Soviets Test a Nuclear Bomb on Their Own Soldiers

1954: The Soviets Test a Nuclear Bomb on Their Own Soldiers
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ Georgi Zhukov, 1941

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 14 September 1954
  • The soldiers did not have any anti-radiation equipment. Marshal Zhukov monitored the testing in his underground bunker, well protected from the radiation.

On this day in 1954, the Soviet Union conducted one of the most controversial nuclear tests in history.

In order to study the effects of a nuclear attack (on people), they threw a nuclear bomb near the place where unprotected Soviet soldiers and officers were located. The villages’ residents were not informed about the upcoming nuclear testing, and were located in the vicinity of the area where the testing was conducted.

The Soviet soldiers, who were supposed to participate in the testing, were told that would be a normal military exercise with a “fake” nuclear explosion. The soldiers did not have any anti-radiation equipment. That was a large military force, which included the Soviet 270th Rifle Division, 600 tanks, 600 armored vehicles, and 320 aircraft.

The nuclear testing was conducted by Georgy Zhukov, the most decorated Soviet soldier of World War II (he was declared the Hero of the Soviet Union four times). He monitored the testing in his underground bunker, well protected from the radiation. The Totskoye Test Site was located in the European part of Russia, about 100 kilometers west of the Urals and about 150 kilometers from the Kazakhstan border. The Tupolev Tu-4 bomber threw the bomb at 9:33 AM on this day in 1954 (it was a 40-kiloton explosion – 2.5 times stronger than the Hiroshima explosion).

After the testing, many people were surprised because they their documents “disappeared” from the local hospital. The state didn’t want to give any information. Even in 1993, little information could be found about the incident, and most documents have remained lost.

Unfortunately, the USA also conducted similar inhumane experiments during which many people were exposed to radiation, because some wanted to study effects of a possible nuclear attack.

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