The Great Terror

During the Stalin purges of the 1930's Krawtchouk was accused of being anti soviet and a member of a Ukranian Trotsky Separatist Group

After his arrest in February 1938 Krawtchouk was imprisoned and interogated by the NKVD before being sent to the notorious Siberian Kolyma Gulag where he died in March 1942. He would have been there at the same time as Korolev.

Krawtchouk wrote in his appeal to the Supreme Procurator of the USSR in1940:


'They demanded from me, first of all, to give a written confession of

being a member of this organization. They also demanded from me to

name the upper leadership of this organization and persons who

recruited me and whom I recruited, and who instructed me and whom

I instructed on the matters of the organization within the Academy of

Sciences. They demanded to describe the evolution of my counterrevolutionary

convictions, my counter-revolutionary work,

participation in the White Armies, my counter-revolutionary agitation

among students, creation of insurgent detachments by the members of

the organization, my spying activity,.....' etc


Krawtchouk summarized methods used by the NKVD investigators in his case as follows::

' I was devastated by these wild accusations, physically broken by the

night interrogations, in particular, by complete sleep deprivation for

11 days and nights, worsening of my heart disease, and means of

direct physical force. They were coercing me morally by screams and

moans of the people being tortured in the neighboring rooms.'


The NKVD frequently used such methods of interrogation to force political prisoners to confess

(See Conquest, 1990, Weissberg, 1951).

 In addition to beatings and psychological intimidation, Krawtchouk described a torture method called "conveyer." It involved constant interrogation of political prisoners by NKVD interrogators and deliberate sleep deprivation that could last up to several weeks. While prisoners were not allowed to rest or sleep, the interrogators rotated daily.

Contacts from outside Soviet Russia contributed to the evidence used by the NKVD secret police to arrest prominent Soviet leaders.

Many of whom were later charged with counter revolutionary activities.

The arrest of Tukhachevski the leader of the Soviet rocket group and Mykhail Krawtchouk the Ukranian mathematician responsable for the theory from which US computers are developed. Can both be linked to suspicion created following contact by foriegners.


' In 1932, for example, Rolf Engel, a German

specialist in rocketry and communist party member or sympathizer, was

referred to Tukhachevski. According to biographical notes he had worked

in German astronomy and as a member of the Verein fur Raumschiffart

(Association for Space Travel) at its test firing range outside Berlin.


Engel volunteered a report on developments in rocketry in Germany and abroad,

emphasizing the breadth and depth of German developments. He also proposed

to bring a group of specialists to the Soviet Union to collaborate with

Soviet rocketeers.'


An extract from




Mark Harrison



 In 1937 John Astanasoff correspondance with Mykhail Krawtchouk during 1937 from the US,  could have contributed to his arrest by the NVKD in February 1938.


History of The Computer

Mind Map by John Gwynn All right reserved 2007


Mykhaile Krawtchouk                                                 1938>1942 Kolyma Gulag

Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski 1934 >1939

Gordan Welchman

Max Newman                                                            UK Sept 1942 > 1953......

Alan Turing                         

                                          1931- 1936 Kings C ollege Cambridge University

                                          US Princeton1936 > 1938 Electro mechanical Computer

Turing's 1936 paper 'On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem'

Definition of the Universal Turing machine.

Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society, Series 2, 42 (1936-37): 230-265

Turing US Nov 1942 > March 1943

John Von Neumann                Visiting Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University 1936 

                                               US Princeton 1936 > 1938

Church                                    US Princeton 1936 > 1938


Electronics Engineers:

Tommy Flowers

Flowers digital high speed telephone switching using 3>4000vacuum thyristor valves 1934 GPO. To replace electro-mechanical relays

Clifford Berry

John Atanasoff      Krawtchouk papers 1937>1938 Sept 1939 Navy Dept Washington DC > 1945

Iowa State Univ

Max Newman / F C Williams


Calculating Machines


Antikythera Mechanism second century BC

Charles Babbage 1822 Mechanical computer

Polish Bomba 3 Rotor 1934 Polish BS4

Turing Enigma Code Bomb 5 Rotor 1939

UK Bletchley Park

US Navy 110 Bomb for German and Japanese navy codes

                                            Turing US Nov 1942 > March 1943


'Heath Robinson ' Prototype Sept 1942

        Max Newman


Digital Computer


Colossus 1 Geheimschereiber Code Tommy Flowers UK Feb 1943 > Dec 1943

Max Newman


Colossus 2 Tommy Flowers UK June 1944

Max Newman



ABC 1939-1942 John Atanasoff and Berry 300vacuum tubes

Digital machine for solving linear algebraic equations


ENIVAC 1946     J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly. Mathematician Goldstine


EDVAC 1951     John Von Neumann, Goldstien, Eckert and Mauchly.


Manchester Mk1 Max Newman June 1948 First fully programmable computer

Transistor version of the MMk1 ran in November 1953.

Among the Mark I team were mathematicians Conway Berners-Lee and Mary Lee Woods, who would later marry; their son,

Tim Berners-Lee, is acknowledged as the inventor of the World Wide Web.


Pilot ACE NPL Turing Detailed proposalOct > Dec1945


Full size ACE 1 1958

IAS         John Van Neumann Princeton 1946 > 1952

                Used the cathode ray tube memory developed at Manchester by F C Williams


From the start of World War 2, Von Neumann  worked as a consultant to the military. He was a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee at the Ballistic Research Laboratories at the US Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland US , from 1940 onwards; a member of the Navy Bureau of Ordnance from 1941 to 1955; a consultant to the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory from 1943 to 1955; and a member of the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project in Washington, D.C., from 1950 to 1955.

As a member of the Navy Bureau of Ordnance from 1941 to 1955 Von Neumann would certainly have influenced John Atanasoff and introduced him to the ideas of Turing, Church and himself.

Alan Turing is known to have been involved with Von Neumann on several of his projects.


Alan Turing Life and Legacy of a Great Thinker by Christof Teuscher