"I have never done espionage work"

arrested Vavilov Nikolai Ivanovich
from March 11, 1941

Interrogation started at 24 hours.

Question: The investigation has evidence that for a number of years you conducted espionage work in favor of foreign intelligence services. We demand true testimony?

Answer: I have never been engaged in espionage work, and I cannot give evidence on this issue.

Question: During previous interrogations, you showed about your anti-Soviet relations with foreign countries. Do you confirm this testimony?

Answer: Yes, I confirm.

Question: Show, in what concrete was your anti-Soviet connection with foreign countries expressed?

Answer: Having been abroad many times on scientific expeditions to collect seeds and plants, as well as at international conferences and congresses, I had to meet with many people from academia in various countries, including white emigrants. With some of them, in intimate conversations, I expressed my anti-Soviet sentiments, which boiled down to emphasizing the brutal conditions of the civil war (1921-1922), complaints about alleged difficulties in conducting scientific work in Leningrad, biased coverage of the living conditions of scientific workers , with the emphasis on the existence of a supposedly anti-democratic regime in the country. I conducted these conversations with people who were closest to me, with whom I was associated either with a long-standing acquaintance, or with a close connection on scientific work. I conducted anti-Soviet statements abroad with the following persons:


1) in the years 1930-1932. - with Harry HARLAN - the oldest
Barley Specialist in the Washington Bureau of Plant Production. A late conversation took place at his apartment in the presence of Professor N. N. KULESHOVA.

2) With the American breeder of the state of Washington (Pull-Man) -dr. GEINZ, during a joint visit to the state of Washington, in the presence of the dean of Pullman University, phytopathologist JOHNSON - in September 1932.

3) With the American breeder Professor John PARTER in his family in 1932 (Mangatan).

In France:

1) With N. BESSONOV - employee of the agrochemical laboratory of the Truff Institute of the Pasteur Institute. The conversation took place in his apartment.

2) With Professor S.I. METALNIKOV, a defector who works as head of the immunity laboratory at the Pasteur Institute.

In England:

1) with academician BETSON in his apartment in January 1922, where I was with Professor A. A. Yachevsky

2) With Professor John PERSIVAL in Reading in the laboratory of the Institute in 1922.

In Germany:

1) with GOLDBERG A. M. - Head of the workshop of scientific instruments and manuals in Berlin. GOLDBERG until 1913 was the representative of the company Leitz in Leningrad. Conversations took place in 1927 and 1922.

2) With TIMOFEEV - RESOVSKY - a major geneticist working in Germany in 1925, at the institute of the brain of Professor Vogt. The conversation took place in 1933.

In Abyssinia: with an engineer TRAHTENBERG - Assistant Director of Communications in Addis Ababa, during a trip from Djibutti to Addis Ababa in 1927.

Question: You continue to hide your real enemy ties abroad. The investigators have at their disposal Materials that, until recently, for criminal purposes, you maintained unofficial relations with foreign and White immigrant circles. Do you recognize this?

Answer: No, I do not recognize.

Question: Among your foreign relations, there are a number of persons who engaged in espionage in the USSR and who were directly involved in the management and financing of counter-revolutionary work in the USSR. The investigation has information that you were personally connected with these persons?

Answer: I categorically declare that I was not connected with anybody in espionage work.

Question: It has been established that you and a number of participants in the anti-Soviet grouping in VIR you headed also maintained informal contacts with representatives of foreign embassies and consulates in the USSR. Do you recognize this?

Answer: No, I do not recognize. All my meetings with foreigners were exclusively official, which I gave detailed testimonies at previous interrogations.

Question: With which consuls of which countries and when did you have meetings?

Answer: When visiting VIR and the experimental station in Pushkin, he met with the consuls of the following countries in 1931: I don’t know Sweden’s surname, Germany — CHEEKHLIN in England in 1929 — SMITH in 1934-1937. Poland, I don’t know my last name, in 1934-1936. In addition, I met the same people at official meetings in the NKID during the holidays.

Question: In vain you deny your criminal ties with foreigners. The investigation knows that it was not by chance that you enjoyed the attention of prominent persons from several countries. Show the truth about your espionage work?

Answer: I did not have espionage ties with foreigners.

Question: The investigation has established the facts of information and broad support provided personally by you and your group, various kinds of official and unofficial agents of the relevant foreign intelligence services. We demand until the end of frank testimony?

Answer: I provided support, as a rule, only to scientists who came from abroad, I did not know anything about the counter-revolutionary activity of any of them.

Question: It has also been established that, at your invitation and petition, a number of people came to the USSR who, instead of research in the field of crop production, were engaged in collecting information about plants carrying out defense orders, and you provided appropriate assistance to these persons. Do you confirm this?

Answer: I confirm that I gave a number of scientists who I showed at previous interrogations, I gave relevant characteristics and recommendations in order to assist them in the USSR in their research work. I don’t know anything about the counter-revolutionary work of any of these individuals.

Question: You continue to hide your espionage work and connections, and on this issue we will still interrogate you.

Interrogation finished at 2 o'clock. 30 min. 12 / III-1941.

Recorded correctly from my words and I personally read.



Source: Executioner's Court. Nikolai Vavilov in the dungeons of the NKVD. Biographical essay. Documents. Academy. 1999. p. 404−407.

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