The Nobel Peace Prize 1975
Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov
Born: 21 May 1921, Moscow, Russia
Died: 14 December 1989, Moscow, USSR (now Russia)
Residence at the time of the award: USSR
Role: Soviet nuclear physicist
Field: human rights
The father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, Andrei Sakharov, was awarded the Peace Prize in 1975 for his opposition to the abuse of power and his work for human rights. The leaders of the Soviet Union reacted with fury, and refused Sakharov permission to travel to Oslo to receive the Prize. His wife, Jelena Bonner, received it on his behalf. Sakharov was subsequently deprived of all his Soviet honorary titles, and the couple was for several years kept under strict surveillance in the town of Gorkij. Only when Gorbachev came to power in 1985 were they allowed to return to Moscow.
Sakharov revealed his talent for theoretical physics at an early age, and got a doctorate in 1945. From 1948 on, under the supervision of the Nobel Laureate Igor Tamm, he worked on the development of a Soviet hydrogen bomb. Sakharov was patriotic, and believed it was important to break the American monopoly on nuclear weapons. But from the late 1950s on, he issued warnings against the consequences of the arms race, and in the 1960s and 1970s he voiced sharp criticism of the system of Soviet society, which in his opinion departed from fundamental human rights.