Tragic history of the VII International Congress of Genetics.

Abstract

VERY likely the best illustrative example of illegal in many fields of genetics and other branches of biology. As a result, geneticists gradually began to lean toward and even criminal interference of the Communist Vavilov’s suggestion and agreed to hold the VII Congress Party in purely scientific affairs is the story of the VII of Genetics in Moscow in 1937. The International OrInternational Genetics Congress planned for 1937 in ganizing Committee of this Congress, elected in Ithaca, the USSR. The red terror, introduced by Lenin soon was supposed to reach a final decision, but owing to after the Revolution of 1917, followed by the exile debates on the question, it was dragged out until 1935. abroad of more than 2000 outstanding scientists, philosFinally, matters ended with a victory for Vavilov’s supophers, and writers, along with the arrests and public porters. The chairman of the International Organizing ridicule of leading figures in culture, art, and science, Committee of the VII Congress, the Norwegian scientist created a repulsive image of the Soviet state in the eyes O. Mohr, on April 16, 1935, informed Vavilov of the of the people of the free world. Scientists from these decision and proposed that Vavilov form a Soviet orcountries refused to hold international meetings in the ganizing committee, which would undertake the job of USSR. Because the organization of scientific Congresses organizing the Congress [Archive of the Russian Federadoes not depend on governments or ruling parties in tion President (ARFP), Fond 3, Opis’ 33, Delo 210, List particular countries, but is dictated exclusively by the 7, and Verso].1 It was proposed that at the same time scientists themselves, all the attempts of Soviet researchthe committee would also try to interest the Soviet govers to invite colleagues to the next Congress in their ernment in partially financing the holding of such a country were regularly rejected for a long time. No one large-scale event and in paying the expenses of some of wanted to take a risk. Nevertheless, in 1931–1934 the the invited speakers. first international congresses took place in the USSR, However, in the Soviet Union the matter shifted from in particular, the Congress of Soil Scientists, followed the financial to the ideological and political spheres. by a few more international meetings, such as one on The change away from procedures familiar to Western quaternary deposits in geology. scientists happened very quickly. Vavilov understood During the VI Genetics Congress, held in Ithaca, New very well that he could not act without formal endorseYork, in 1932, the Russian geneticist Nikolay I. Vavilov suggested holding the next Congress in the USSR. The reaction of Western geneticists at first was negative, and 1 This document as well as several other documents cited from this it required no small effort to prevail over that opinion. Archive (or excerpts from them) were published in the collection in By that time other outstanding Russian scientists— Yessakov (2000). The terms used in reference to the Archive are defined as follows: fond, archive holding; opis’, inventory; delo, storGeorgy Karpechenko, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Nikolay age unit; list, folio sheet. CC is used throughout for the Central Tulaykov, Nikolay Maximov, Nikolay Timofeev-RessovCommittee (of the Communist Party). RKP(b) is the Russian Commusky, Victor Pisarev, and others—had worked in the nist Party (of Bolsheviks). VKP(b) is the All-Union Communist Party (of Bolsheviks), or Vsesoyuznaya Kommunisticheskaya Partiya (bolshevikov) United States, and famous Western scientists had gone in Russian. This name was changed in 1952 to Communist Party of to the First USSR Genetics Congress in 1929. By that the Soviet Union (CPSU) (Kommunisticheskaya Partiya Sovetskogo Soyuza, or KPSS, in Russian). time Russian scientists had achieved outstanding results

Cite this paper

@article{Soyfer2003TragicHO, title={Tragic history of the VII International Congress of Genetics.}, author={Valery N. Soyfer}, journal={Genetics}, year={2003}, volume={165 1}, pages={1-9} }