The Nobel Peace Prize: revelations from the Soviet past


by Olav Njølstad
Research Director, the Norwegian Nobel Institute, 1999 –

Since the end of the Cold War, many surprising facts and well-kept secrets about the policy-making in the former Soviet Union have been disclosed through the release of newly declassified documents. In more ways than one, this new openness has added to our knowledge about the history of the Nobel Peace Prize. For many years, the Prize was seen by circles in Soviet society as a weapon in the ideological warfare between East and West. When leading human rights activist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975, Soviet authorities became furious and claimed that the decision was an unfriendly act orchestrated by reactionary forces who only wanted to see a revival of the Cold War. Throughout the 1980s, Soviet leaders maintained their hostile attitude towards the Nobel Peace Prize especially after the award in 1983 to the Polish trade union leader, Lech Walesa. This attitude continued well into the 1990s. The news that President Mikhail Gorbachev had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 was received with scepticism, embarrassment and fury in wide circles within the Communist Party. According to a secret report from the former Soviet Union’s Committee for State Security, KGB, Gorbachev’s receipt of the award was assessed negatively by a majority of the Soviet population. It is now clear that Gorbachev’s decision to postpone his visit to Oslo in order to receive the Prize and give his Nobel Lecture was, indeed, influenced by this generally negative reaction of Soviet society towards the Nobel Peace Prize.1

But this is not the whole story. Recently declassified documents from the archives of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Library of Norway finally reveal that two of the former Soviet Union’s leaders, Josef Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev, were not totally negative and hostile towards the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, the Stalin-Khrushchev years were characterized by indifference, curiosity, and – more surprisingly – rare moments of hope that someday the Norwegian Nobel Committee could be influenced to bestow upon a Soviet leader the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Stalin years: from indifference to hostility

Little is known about the attitude of the Soviet leadership towards the Nobel Peace Prize in the years between World War I and World War II. Most likely, the Bolshevik elites were rather indifferent to the Nobel Prizes. First of all, the very idea of handing out gold medals and loads of money to scientists, authors and peace activists was in all likeness considered bourgeois and old-fashioned. After all, Alfred Nobel, the donator of the prizes, had belonged to a family of wealthy capitalists with close ties to the Tsar and the nobility of the Russian l’ancient regime.

This situation changed after World War II. The war against Adolf Hitler had made strange bedfellows of both Communists and Capitalists as leading powers in the West merged their forces with the Soviet Union. A consequence of this unlikely alliance was that the Soviet leadership became eager to demonstrate Soviet competitiveness vis-à-vis the Western world. In the early years after World War II, the Soviet Union aimed to match all Western achievements in terms of economic growth, development of armaments, territorial expansion, political influence, and success in science and culture. That the Soviet leadership would exhibit eagerness for a leading representative of their country to receive the Nobel Peace Prize only made perfect sense.

In the summer of 1945, the Norwegian Nobel Committee, convening again after five years of German occupation, decided to award the Peace Prize for 1944 – held in reserve because of the war – to the International Committee of the Red Cross. More importantly in the present context, they also decided to give the 1945 Peace Prize to former US Secretary of State Cordell Hull, commonly referred to as “the Father of the United Nations.” No official criticism was heard from Moscow, but the award to Hull must have caused much disappointment in the Kremlin, the seat of government. The reason for this is that Norwegian newspapers had claimed that both Josef Stalin and Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov were among the “hot” candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Set against this backdrop, it is easy to understand how, in the early 1946, the prospect of a Soviet Nobel Peace Prize Laureate had suddenly become a serious topic in the telegrams from the Soviet embassy in Oslo to the leaders in Moscow. On February 1, 1946, Soviet Ambassador Nikolai D. Kuznetsov reported that his former colleague, the famous Alexandra Kollontay, had been nominated for the 1946 award. In a letter to Molotov’s deputy, Vice Foreign Minister Vladimir G. Dekanozov, Kuznetsov explained that the nominators included members of the Finnish government, members of the Swedish parliament, as well as twenty-three members of the Norwegian parliament, supported by Norwegian women’s organizations.2

In a lengthy telegram sent by the Soviet embassy in Oslo to Moscow, it cautioned the Soviet leadership that, generally speaking, the members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee were “ardent supporters of Norway’s orientation to England and the United States in its foreign affairs.” It added, however, that a leading Social Democrat member of the Nobel Norwegian Committee, Martin Tranmæl, had personally assured the Soviet Ambassador that Alexandra Kollontay had “better chances to get the Prize than any other candidate.”3

Regardless of what Tranmæl had told the Soviet Ambassador, the main reason behind Kollontay’s nomination was her untiring work in favor of Soviet-Finnish reconciliation in the wake of the “Winter War” of 1939, and the “War of Continuation” of 1941-44, fought by both countries. Alexandra Kollontay had served as Ambassador to Stockholm from 1930 till the end of World War II, but she was still warmly remembered in Norway for her time as chief of the Soviet diplomatic mission there back in the 1920s. Only a few months earlier, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry had proposed to honor her with the “Storkors” or Big Cross of the Order of St. Olav, at that time the highest official Norwegian award open to foreigners. To Ambassador Kuznetsov, this was another sign of her increasing chances of winning the Nobel Peace Prize, and for this reason alone, he advised the Soviet leadership that Kollontay should be allowed to accept the bourgeois award.4

Madame Kollontai

Alexandra Kollontay (foreground, extreme right) at the International Women’s Conference in Moscow, 1921.
Photo: Marxists Internet Archive

As it turned out, the Nobel Peace Prize for 1946 was given to veteran peace activists Emily Greene Balch and John Raleigh Mott. Clearly disappointed, a leading bureaucrat within the Foreign Ministry in Moscow complained that the Norwegian Nobel Committee had granted the Nobel Peace Prize to “two absolutely unknown Americans” – a statement indicating that the Soviets paid little or no interest in the Western peace movement. Kollontay was nominated again in 1947, both separately and together with Eleanor Roosevelt. All the same, Moscow was in for another disappointment. Putting Kollontay’s name aside for the second time in a row, the Norwegian Nobel Committee gave the award to two Quaker organizations, one American and one British. In his disheartened report on the event, the head of the Foreign Ministry’s Fifth European Department, Mikhail S. Vetrov, considered the 1947 awards as evidence of the Nobel Committee’s increasing pro-American and pro-British foreign policy orientation. For the first time, the term “peace prize” appeared within quotation marks in Soviet communications, indicating a rapidly growing suspicion in Moscow that the award did not really serve its idealistic purpose.5 This suspicion was strengthened by events in the following year, helping convince the Soviet leadership that the Nobel Peace Prize was reserved for Westerners only or, at least, for people sympathetic to the Western powers.

In February 1948, Norwegian newspapers claimed that the list of candidates for that year’s award included Indian pacifist Mahatma Gandhi, Czech President Eduard Beñes, US President Harry S. Truman, Pope Pius XII, missing Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg6 and the two Soviet leaders, Josef Stalin and Vyacheslav Molotov. In April of that year, the new Ambassador to Norway, Sergei A. Afanasiev, inquired from Vice Foreign Minister Valerian A. Zorin as to how Moscow looked upon “the nomination of our state leaders for the Peace Prize.” It was Afanasiev’s personal view that, considering the current international situation – this was only a few weeks after the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia – the Nobel Committee would likely pick “a non-political figure or organization.” To describe the mood in Oslo, Afanasiev felt obliged to inform the Soviet Foreign Ministry that the right-wing Norwegian newspaper “Morgenbladet” had used the rumors about Stalin’s candidacy as a pretext to publish “a cartoon of Comrade Stalin, putting in his mouth the words that, in case he won the Nobel Peace Prize, he would like to receive it in a ‘material’ form.” The Ambassador added that, in the cartoon, Alfred Nobel’s portrait bore a sign reading “the King of Dynamite.”7

This piece of information must have been passed on to Stalin by the Foreign Ministry, prompting the Soviet leadership to take the following actions. First of all, they asked the Soviet Embassy in Oslo to inform the press that the Soviet leadership had no first-hand information about the presumed nominations of Molotov and Stalin, and that the decision was “only in the Nobel Committee’s competence.” Meanwhile, they also instructed Ambassador Afanasiev to “inform our friends,” i.e., the Norwegian Communist Party, to see whether there was anything they could do in order to help the candidacy of the two leaders. Finally, they agreed that it was “inexpedient to publish any information in the Soviet press,” obviously avoiding any future embarrassment should the Norwegian Nobel Committee once more decide against the Soviet candidates.8

The latter decision can hardly have caused any regret considering the Nobel Committee’s announcement a few months later. In a thinly veiled reference to Gandhi, who had been killed by a Hindu nationalist in late January 1948, Nobel Committee Chairman Gunnar Jahn announced that the Committee had found no “living individual worthy of the Prize” and thus decided to hold the Prize money in reserve. While this may be a fitting tribute to the memory of Gandhi, the Chairman’s words could be easily perceived as an insult to the other known contenders for the 1948 prize, Stalin and Molotov included. As a result, it is most likely that the non-award of 1948 was the final piece of evidence Moscow needed in order to write off the Nobel Peace Prize altogether.

This conclusion is strengthened by the fact that preparations were underway to establish an alternative, if not to say a rival, Soviet prize in recognition of heroic work for international peace and brotherhood. For many years, the idea of establishing some kind of international Socialist prizes in the cultural and scientific fields had circulated in Moscow, but Stalin did not favor any of them and nothing had happened. Because of Stalin’s active disinterest, a government order of 1925 to set up a Lenin Prize in honor of the newly deceased Bolshevik leader had been put on the back burner. In June 1948, however, the leader of the Soviet-Norwegian Friendship Society and Communist Party member, Christian Hilt, wrote a letter to Stalin in which he proposed to set up a Maxim Gorky Foundation in the Soviet Union. The interest from its funds would be used to award annual prizes to persons, Soviet or foreign, who had made “an outstanding contribution to mankind’s struggle for civilization, freedom and peace.” Hilt justified his proposal by pointing at the historical record of the Swedish Academy – in his words “an extremely reactionary institution” with “undisguised fascists” among its members – as well as the anti-progressive members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. In his view, these institutions made sure that no Nobel Peace Prize would ever be given “to outstanding defenders of peace like M. Litvinov, Alexandra Kollontay, Georgii Dimitrov, Dolores Ibaruri, Henry Wallace.” An alternative Gorky Prize for literature, the arts, science and peace, would “contribute to the struggle for real humanism and civilization, which has the Soviet Union as its leading force”.9

We know now that Hilt’s letter reached Stalin’s Secretariat, and that shortly after, preparations were made to establish a new prize-awarding institution with prizes to be awarded in several different categories. It was not to be named the Gorky Prize, however. Instead, a set of Stalin Prizes was to be awarded, including an international Stalin Peace Prize, as part of the Soviet people’s gift on his 70th birthday. Stalin rejected the proposed gift with one exception: the International Stalin Peace Prize. He also declared that the prize should not be awarded until after his death.10 In 1953, the first International Stalin Peace Prizes were finally handed out, with American black singer Paul Robeson and Chilean poet-playwright Pablo Neruda among the laureates.

Josef Stalin (right) in 1937 with Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov (middle).
Photo: Stalin Biography Site

During all this time, the Soviet leadership had squarely turned its back against the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, in the early 1950s it coldly ignored the annual invitation from the Norwegian Nobel Committee to present candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize. On December 3, 1952 Vice Foreign Minister Yakov A. Malik informed the Vice Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Georgii M. Malenkov that, “taking into account the reactionary character of this Committee granting the ‘peace prizes’ the Foreign Ministry of the Soviet Union deems it expedient, according to the previous years’ practice, to refrain from reacting to the Nobel Committee’s letter.”11 A special report on the Nobel Peace Prize prepared for Vice Foreign Minister Georgii M. Pushkin in November 1952, which was later circulated among the members of the Presidium of the Supreme Council, found it worth noting that the Nobel ‘peace prize’ had never been “granted to the citizens of pre-revolutionary Russia or citizens of the Soviet Union.” After mentioning the candidacy of Alexandra Kollontay in 1946-47 and the non-award of the prize in 1948, despite the nominations of Comrades Stalin and Molotov, the report summed up its views of previous winners with a scornful dismissal of the most recent Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Léon Jouhaux. The French socialist and trade unionist was simply written off as “a well-known traitor of the workers’ interests.”12

By the end of the decade, however, the Soviet leadership’s conception of the Nobel Peace Prize had undergone a remarkable transformation.

1960: Nikita Khrushchev wants to become a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

On the last day of January 1960, Gunnar Jahn, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, received a rare visit to his private home in the person of Soviet Ambassador in Oslo, Mikhail G. Gribanov. The Soviet Ambassador was armed with caviar and a bottle of white wine. After a few pleasantries, Gribanov presented his urgent errand: “Would it be possible for the Nobel Committee to prolong the deadline of the nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize in order to receive a letter of nomination from the Soviet government or someone else acting on its behalf?” Gunnar Jahn answered that he probably could grant him a week or so. Gribanov paused for a second, and then asked: “How, in your personal opinion, would the Committee look upon a possible proposal to award the Prize to Nikita Khrushchev?”

At first, Jahn refused to make any comment. But in a telephone conversation the following day with one of Gribanov’s assistants, he explained that, personally, he was reluctant about awarding the Prize to statesmen still in office since there was no guarantee they would not start a war the very next day. “Thus, if someone had nominated, say, President Eisenhower, I would have voted against him.” He added that the Norwegian Nobel Committee had decided to grant the Soviet government an additional week to prepare their nomination.13

A week had passed without any Soviet nomination showing up at the office of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Had the Ambassador been acting on his own? It would seem not. In fact, as documents now show, Ambassador Gribanov had carefully followed the secret instructions from the leadership in Moscow.

On January 25, 1960 Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko found a report on his desk informing him that the Soviet government had recently received the yearly invitation from the Norwegian Nobel Committee to propose candidates for the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize. As in previous years, the report noted, the invitation had reached Moscow only a few days before the nomination deadline of February 1, even if the invitation appeared to have been issued three months earlier. According to the report, one could surmise that the invitation letter had been “deliberately sent to Moscow with a big delay, to deprive us of the opportunity to submit proposals for potential candidates in time.” Further, it could not be ruled out that by acting this way, the Committee “is making its choice in advance, dictated by the circles standing behind it.” Given the well-known reactionary preferences of the Committee, Gromyko’s advisers found it “inexpedient to react upon the reception of the Nobel Committee’s circular note.” Gromyko agreed with these observations but decided to notify the Presidium and other governmental institutions about the upcoming deadline.14

What happened next is still unclear. Apparently, someone in the top leadership presented the idea of making a serious effort to promote the candidacy of Nikita Khrushchev. This was not completely far-fetched considering Khrushchev’s many diplomatic initiatives during the previous 12 months. As a result of his state visit to the United States in September 1959, tensions over Berlin and other controversial issues had been eased and an important arms control agreement on the peaceful use of Antarctica had been signed by the Soviet Union, the United States and other countries. In addition, a major East-West summit meeting had been scheduled for the summer of 1960. Finally, only two weeks before the idea of nominating Khrushchev was being aired in the Kremlin, the Soviet leader had made headlines, announcing for the first time since the end of the Second World War, unilateral reductions in Soviet armed forces. From Ambassador Gribanov’s talk with Gunnar Jahn it also appeared that the Committee Chairman had taken particular notice of Khrushchev’s most recent disarmament initiatives, which Jahn described as “important” and “sincere.” Thus, there were reasons to believe that a nomination along these lines would be subject to serious consideration by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Khrushchev, Eisenhower and their wives

Right to left: US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev, Mrs. Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower and Mrs. Nina Petrovna Khrushchev at a state dinner during the Soviet leader’s visit to the United States in 1959.
Photo: National Archives and Records Administration

But why would Khruschev be interested in receiving the Nobel Peace Prize? After all, inside the walls of the Kremlin this award had been almost anathema for more than a decade.

It is conceivable that Khrushchev’s more open-minded attitude towards science, arts and politics had made him less hostile towards the Nobel Prizes than Stalin and other Soviet leaders before him. Beyond that, however, there is nothing to suggest that he took any particular interest in the award – not to say nurtured any personal ambitions about one day becoming a laureate himself. When he abolished the Stalin Peace Prize in 1956, that was part of his de-Stalinization campaign, not a signal to end the ideological competition with the Nobel Peace Prize. To be sure, he simultaneously established a new and more viable competitor: the Lenin Peace Prize. Two years later, he had barely finished applauding the Royal Swedish Academy of Science’s decision in granting the 1958 Nobel Prize in Physics to Soviet scientists Pavel Cherenkov, Il’ja Frank and Igor Tamm, before he started putting pressure on Boris Pasternak not to accept that year’s Nobel Prize in Literature. Even if Khrushchev later came to regret the injustice made against the famous author, claiming he was “truly sorry for the way I behaved toward Pasternak,”15 the incident only underlines the fact that the international prestige of the Nobel Prizes meant nothing to Khruschev the moment the award appeared to hurt the interests of the Soviet Communist Party.

This brings us to the only possible explanation behind Khrushchev’s secret desire for the Nobel Peace Prize; namely, his search for ways to improve Soviet relations with the Western powers. He had embarked on this course for more than a year – partly because he wanted to reduce military spending in favor of increased domestic consumption, partly because he needed new friends after the split with Mao Tse-tung and the Chinese Communists. Moreover, he had come to believe that peaceful co-existence between Capitalism and Communism was both theoretically possible and, in the nuclear age, a deed of necessity. On these premises he concluded that it was now expedient to wind down the Cold War.

It was against this backdrop that Khrushchev, or some of his close advisers, in January 1960 came up with the astonishing idea of nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize together with US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The inclusion of Eisenhower as a co-nominee was an obvious ploy to win support from the pro-Western members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. But that was only half of the story. Far more importantly, only by sharing the Nobel Peace Prize could Khrushchev achieve his aim of improving relations with the West. What could possibly mark the beginning of the ending of the Cold War in a better way than a Nobel Peace Prize shared by the leaders of the two major antagonist powers?

Following this line of reasoning, the Presidium of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, the chief executive body of the Soviet government, passed a secret resolution on February 4, 1960 to consult President Urho Kekkonen of Finland about the possibility of nominating the two statesmen. It was decided to instruct the Soviet Ambassador in Helsinki to approach Kekkonen “as soon as possible” and present the case. More specifically, he was asked to tell Kekkonen that,

“In light of the steps that have been made in order to normalize relations between the countries of the East and the West, we find that the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize should be utilized to encouraging the further building-down of international tensions and bringing to an end ‘the Cold War’. […] Would it not, considering the importance of these two nations for the cause of peace, be useful to promote as candidates for the Nobel Prize a leading statesman from the Soviet Union as well as a leading statesman from the United States?”

In case Kekkonen agreed, the Ambassador was instructed to discuss with him how he might help to bring these arguments to the Nobel Committee’s knowledge.16

What came out of the two men’s discussion is not known. One thing is certain though, the proposed nomination of Khrushchev, whether alone or in the company of President Eisenhower, never reached the Norwegian Nobel Committee. It is possible that Kekkonen was not as supportive as had been hoped. It is also likely that Kekkonen’s response had already become irrelevant because of new and discouraging signals from Ambassador Gribanov in Oslo. Gribanov, who had received his own instructions from the Presidium of the Communist Party Central Committee to “carry out a preliminary unofficial sounding out of the possibility to nominate the two candidates,” came back with a disappointing report. The Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman had told him that in selecting candidates for the Prize, the Committee was “guided by the principle that the Nobel Prize should be awarded to persons who had already finished their political activities or are about to do so.”17

A few months later, any idea of awarding the Peace Prize to Khrushchev and Eisenhower had become moot. US-Soviet tensions reached new heights because of Berlin and the shooting-down of an American U-2 espionage aircraft over Soviet territory. The scheduled East-West summit meeting in Vienna broke down as soon as it started. In mid-October, while the Nobel Committee in Oslo pondered over the wording of its decision about the Nobel Peace Prize for 1960, Khrushchev shocked the world by angrily pounding the desk in front of him with a shoe during a debate in the UN General Assembly. Whatever motivated him to do that, it certainly did not make him look like a serious contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Nikita Kruschev
An angry Nikita Khrushchev at the UN General Assembly in 1960.

When the Soviet government began considering the possibility of nominating the Soviet leader for the following year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Gromyko’s staff gave the advice that the Nobel Committee was unlikely to award the prize to any statesman still in office, and concluded: “In light of this position of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, and taking into account earlier prize awarding practices of the Committee (the prizes are awarded mostly to reactionary Western politicians), the Department considers it expedient to leave the Nobel Committee’s circular letter without answer.”18

From then onwards, the Soviet government appears to have taken little interest in the Nobel Peace Prize until 1973, when the Ministry received information that Andrei Sakharov had been nominated for the Prize and that an international campaign was underway to support his candidacy. The Soviet leadership immediately instructed the KGB to do all in its power to prevent Sakharov’s award.19

Luckily, they did not succeed.

1. Anatoly Chernyaev, My Six Years With Gorbachev, pp. 301-302, 366-367, University Park, Pennsylvania, 2000. The widespread negative reaction to the Gorbachev award is confirmed by A.M. Blokh, Sovietsky Soyuz v Interiere Nobelevskih Premij (The Soviet Union in the Setting of the Nobel Prizes: Facts, Documents, Reflections, Comments), Humanistica, pp. 520-522, St. Petersburg, 2001.

2. Letter, Kuznetsov to Dekanozov, February 1, 1946, Foreign Policy Archive of the Russian Federation (AVP RF), fond (f.) 0116, opis (op.) 28, papka (p.) 129, delo (d.) 4, list (l.) 6.

3. Memo by First Secretary of the Soviet Embassy in Norway Mikhail F. Cherkasov, “The Nobel Committee,” September 1946, AVP RF, f. 0116, op. 29, p. 23, d. 20, l. 14-19.

4. Letter, Kuznetsov to Dekanozov, February 1, 1946, AVP RF, f. 0116, op. 28, p. 129, d. 4, l. 6.

5. Memo, by Mikhail S. Vetrov, “On the Nobel Prize Foundation,” January 2, 1948, AVP RF, f. 0140, op. 39, p. 154, d. 51, l. 48.

6. Interestingly, Vice Foreign Minister Zorin at this time seemed totally unaware of Wallenberg’s fate. In a letter to Molotov, he referred to Wallenberg as “a Swedish diplomat who had allegedly perished in Bucharest”. Not only was the city wrong (Wallenberg disappeared in Budapest); the Swede did not perish there but had been brought secretly to Moscow where he was killed in prison by the KGB sometime in 1947 – a fate that Molotov was perfectly aware of. Letter, Zorin to Molotov, undated (registered in Molotov’s secretariat on 6 May 1948), AVP RF, f. 0116, op. 37, p. 149, d. 39, l. 8. The most reliable account of the Wallenberg case is still “Raoul Wallenberg: redovisning från den svensk-ryske arbetsgruppen” (Raoul Wallenberg: report by the Swedish-Russian working group). Utrikesdepartementet, Stockholm, 2000.

7. Letter, Afanasiev to Zorin, April 21, 1948, AVP RF, f. 0116, op. 37, p. 149, d. 39, l. 6-7.

8. Note, Zorin to Abramov, April 28; Letter, Zorin to Molotov, undated (registered in Molotov’s secretariat on May 6, 1948); Boris F. Podzerob (Molotov’s Chief Assistant) to Zorin, May 13, 1948, all documents in AVP RF, f. 0116, op. 37, p. 149, d. 39, l. 6-8. See also Vetrov to Afanasiev, January 24, 1948, AVP RF, f. 0116, op. 37, p. 149, d. 39, l. 5.

9. Letter, Hilt to Stalin, July 1, 1948, AVP RF, f. 06, op. 10, p. 57, d. 796, l. 2-3.

10. Dmitri Volkogonov, Stalin: Triumph & Tragedy, pp. 526-527, New York, 1988.

11. Malik to Malenkov, December 3, 1952, AVP RF, f. 07, op. 25, p. 20, d. 253, l. 5.

12. Acting Head of the 5th European Department Andrei I. Plakhin to Pushkin, with attached “Memorandum on the granting of the Nobel ‘peace prize'”, November 12, 1952. The records of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs show that the memo was forwarded by Vice Foreign Minister Pushkin to two leading members of the Presidium, Comrades Kozlov and Shvernik, AVP RF, f. 0116, op. 41, p. 169, d. 47, l. 2-6.

13. Gunnar Jahn’s diary, January 31, 1960, the National Archive, Oslo.

14. Memorandum, Kirill V. Novikov and N. Lunkov to Gromyko, January 25, 1960, AVP RF, f. 0116, op. 44, p. 53, d. 14, l. 4.

15. Strobe Talbott, ed., Khrushchev Remembers: The Glasnost Tapes, pp. 195-196, Boston, 1990.

16. Decision no. 9, Protocol no. 263 from the meeting of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU, 4 February 1960, the Russian State Modern History Archive (RGANI), f. 3, op. 14, p. 44-45, d. 361, l. 13.

17. The exact wording of the instructions for Ambassador Gribanov is not known as the single-page draft instructions were “destroyed in the Expert Secretariat on March 30, 1960”. Draft CPSU CC Resolution, AVP RF f. 0116, op. 50, p. 194, d. 23, l. 10. However, its main content, as well as the result of the Ambassador’s talk with Gunnar Jahn on the matter, is spelled out in another document kept at the Foreign Ministry Archive. Memo, Kirsanov to Gromyko, December 23, 1960, AVP RF, f. 0116, op. 44, p. 53, d. 14, l. 14.

18. Memorandum, S. Kirsanov to Gromyko, 23 December 1960, AVP RF, f. 0116, op. 44, p. 53, d. 14, l. 14.

19. Christopher Andrew & Vasili Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhion Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, pp. 322-331, New York, 1999.


Efforts have been made by the publisher to contact organizations and individuals regarding some of the photographs appearing in this article. Any discrepancy shall be rectified upon proper notice.

First published 14 April 2005

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