Childhood & Early Life
On December 25, 1913, he was born in Sioux City, Iowa, USA in the family of Jewish immigrants Abram Koval and Ethel Shenitsky Koval as one of their three sons.
His father was a carpenter and came from Telekhany in Belarus to the USA and settled in Sioux City in 1910.
His parents were in contact with their extended family in the Soviet Union. He studied at Central High School’, participated in debates and became a member of the ‘Honor Society’ there. In 1929 he completed his graduation.
His parents became associated with ‘IKOR’, the ‘Jewish Colonization in the Soviet Union’, that was set up in 1924 by American-Jewish Communists to aid Jewish settlement in Birobidzhan in Soviet Union. His father remained secretary of the organisation in its Sioux City branch.
George Koval had a strong belief in Communism since early life and would often express such views openly. Later he became a member of ‘Young Communist League’ and was its delegate in August 1930 during Communist Party’s Iowa convention.
In1932, due to Great Depression, the family was compelled to return to Soviet Union where they lived in Birobidzhan. There the family joined a collective farm.
He improved his Russian language and learnt skills of repairing machinery of the farm. Soon he became a primary mechanic and also one of the most remarkable and talented members of the commune.
In 1934 he joined ‘Mendeleev Institute of Chemical Technology’ in Moscow and in 1939 completed his graduation with honors. He was granted a Soviet citizenship.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
The ‘Main Intelligence Directorate’ of Soviet Union, the ‘GRU’ spotted him and selected him after a meticulous review for their American mission. He was given specialised training by ‘GRU’ and in 1939 he was commissioned by the Soviet army for a while. He was delegated with codename ‘Delmar’.
In 1940 he was sent to the U.S. where he was inducted as deputy command of the local wing of ‘GRU’, which conducted its functions under the cover of a supplier company, ‘Raven Electric Company’. Koval also took a cover job there.
He was initially assigned to extract information on chemical weapons research of America.
He was enlisted in the US Army in 1943. He placed fabricated documents showing that he attended a local college and received an Associate Degree in Chemistry.
He was trained at Fort Dix in New Jersey and then sent as a non-military in the 3410th Specialized Training and Reassignment Unit at the citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.
He was relocated to an Army ‘Specialized Training Program’ on August 11, 1943, as one of the proficient appointees for technical and educational training. He joined the ‘City College of New York’ to study electrical engineering.
As an aged student, he was admired by his fellow students and soon he became popular among the ladies. His classmates were unaware of his past life, his Soviet connection and about his wife as he never discussed any such thing including politics.
After the program was dissolved, Koval was delegated in a ‘Special Engineer Detachment’, which was part of a secret project undertaken by Britain, America and Canada, called the ‘Manhattan Project’. It involved design, engineering and construction of an atomic bomb. He was posted in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
The scientists of the Oak Ridge laboratories were researching on improved fabricated bombs based on plutonium and uranium. Koval was inducted as health physics officer and was given top-secret security clearance. Thus he enjoyed privilege of unrestricted entry.
Continue Reading Below
As an in charge of radiation control, he had opportunity to have a first-hand look at the procedure undertaken in polonium and plutonium production, the scientific processes applied and quality and amount of production output. He could also observe the security measures that were followed.
He transferred this information to ‘Clyde’, a Soviet contact. Thereafter the coded information would be sent to Moscow through couriers and the Soviet Embassy.
Following a promotion as an Army Staff Sergeant, on June 27, 1945 he was relocated in Dayton Ohio in another top-secret installation of ‘Manhattan Project’. He was inducted in the Medical Department’s ‘Health Physics Branch’ and this time he had greater access to the confidential project.
Detonation of the first atomic bomb was carried out on July 16, 1945 in New Mexico.
On August 6 and August 9, 1945, atomic bombs were dropped on Japan following which Japan surrendered and the ‘Second World War’ ended.
He informed the Soviet Union in December 1945 that polonium was being produced by the US to apply in their atomic work. He mentioned the volume of such production in Oak Ridge per month. An outline of procedures applied by the US in production of polonium was sent to Moscow in February 1946. .
He received an honorary dismissal from the US Army at the end of ‘Second world War’ and was conferred with two medals.
He went back to New York and on February 1, 1948, received a bachelor degree in electrical engineering from the ‘City College of New York’.
He informed his American friends in 1948 that he got an offer to work on a power station development project in Europe. He boarded the ‘SS America’ and landed in Le Harve, a port in France, from where he managed to reach Soviet Union and never came back to the US.
In June 1949 he was discharged from the Soviet military. He became a ‘Candidate of Engineering’ in the next two years but failed to get a proper job due to his unusual CV.
He finally got a job as a lab assistant at the ‘Mendeleev Institute’ with the help of his old ‘GRU contacts. He published around hundred scientific works during his forty years of service in the institute.