Physics Today published the article “The tragic story of Hans Hellmann” on 28 September 2018.
Hans Hellmann, born in 1903, was a German quantum chemist, who lost his university job in Nazi Germany in 1934. He then moved with his wife and son to the Soviet Union where he was employed in the Karpov Institute of Physical Chemistry in Moscow. On 9 March 1938 he was arrested by NKVD, falsely accused of espionage and executed on 29 May 1938.
“Despite his success, or perhaps partly because of the jealousy his success may have wrought, Hellmann seemed to recognize that he was under suspicion.”
The standard method to liquidate a person in Communist dictatorships is to use relatives, acquaintances, people possibly nearest to him/her at the workplace. The Communist dictatorship fully subordinates the personal sphere to the state. Science is no exception. The abandonment of any ethical and moral qualms and full surrender to the demands of the criminal collective of the state was the surest way to social and professional advance.
“She spotted a notice on the wall denouncing her husband, which was signed by two of his colleagues. One of them took over Hellmann’s research group after the arrest.”
There is no need to protect the perpetrators.
Similar scenarios were commonly applied throughout Communist countries.
It is also very important to understand that the mechanisms and methods of organized social violence are not things of the past.