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How post-war Soviet counter-intelligence worked to usher in the USSR’s missile arsenal

Military intelligence played a significant role in creating missile weapons in the USSR, according to Russia's top brass

MOSCOW, December 18. /TASS/. Military intelligence played a significant role in creating missile weapons in the USSR, Head of the Military Counter-Intelligence Department at Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) Colonel-General Nikolai Yuryev told TASS on the eve of the centenary of domestic military counter-intelligence.

In April 1945, military counter-intelligence officers noticed that US and UK intelligence agencies were displaying enhanced interest in the Third Reich’s ‘super-weapon.’ It became known that the Americans had found a large group of German scientists working on the missile program and were preparing to send them to the United States," Yuryev said.

Among them was Doctor Helmut Grottrup, a key specialist in missile control systems and a close aide of V-2 Designer Wernher von Braun, he said.

"The staff of the Smersh [military counter-intelligence] department of the 260th motor rifle division managed to dissuade Grottrup’s wife first, who was a convinced anti-fascist, against leaving for the United States and, through her, the scientist himself. Soon Grottrup started to work jointly with Soviet specialists at the Institute Rabe set up in Nordhousen to gather information on Germany’s missile programs," the general said.

"With Grottrup’s help, over 150 German specialists were engaged in the work at the institute. And in July 1946, the counter-intelligence officers thwarted an attempt by Britain’s special services to recruit Grottrup, offeering him to continue work in Great Britain in exchange for "a long-term contract and splendid conditions."

By October 1946, the basic works in Nordhousen had been completed and a large amount of equipment and missile components, as well as 196 German missile specialists with their families had been brought to the territory of the USSR.

Subsequently, Grottrup took part in work led by renowned Soviet Rocket Engineer Sergei Korolyov to create the first serial-produced missile systems.