The Nuclear Disaster of Kyshtym 1957 and the Politics of the Cold War


  • Thomas Rabl Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (LMU), Germany


In the late afternoon of 29 September 1957, a major explosion at the Soviet military nuclear facility "Mayak" located in Kyshtym in the Southern Urals, caused the contamination of an area of 20,000 square kilometers, home to 270.000 people. The Kyshtym incident was the first major nuclear accident in the world and is still considered the third most severe nuclear accident in history. However, it was kept almost completely secret by both the Soviet Union as well as by Western intelligence agencies such as the CIA until the end of the Cold War in 1989.

Author Biography

Thomas Rabl, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (LMU), Germany

Thomas Rabl was born in 1987. He studied history and Russian language at the Humboldt University Berlin and East European Studies at the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich. His main area of research is the economic history of the USSR. His master’s thesis dealt with reforms of the planned economies in Eastern and Central Eastern Europe, especially in the Soviet Union. He received his MA in 2013. Currently he is working in the field of public relations.