Book of JINR first Director’s personal diaries published

News, 01 June 2022

On 31 May, the Museum of History of Science and Technology of JINR hosted the presentation of the book “Diaries 1955 – 1975. Dmitry Ivanovich Blokhintsev”. The book, which has just been published, has significant artistic and historical value, representing a portrait of an entire epoch, the period of the JINR origin and formation, through the eyes of an outstanding scientist and organiser of science, the first Director of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research Dmitry Ivanovich Blokhintsev.

The book, prepared for by the JINR Publishing Department, has 500 copies. Diaries cover the period 1955 – 1975, i.e. the years of the JINR’s establishment and formation, and are printed almost without changes . It is impossible to tear oneself away being immersed in this chronicle. Firstly, because notes are very personal, there is no room for pretence in them, and secondly, they are written by an extraordinary person. While reading, one can understand the depth and scale of his personality. Thirdly, they are about events that are important for the scientific community, as well as the understanding of the profession of a scientist. Diaries contain drawings by D. I. Blokhintsev, poems, aphorisms, quotes, formulas, photos.

At the presentation in the museum, the editorial board of the publication described in detail how they had been working on the book.

Head of the JINR Publishing Department Anastasia Shabashova spoke about reprinting manuscripts and making a layout. In particular, she said that the text contained a large number of quotations in various languages and references to works of art.

Director of the Museum of History of Science and Technology of JINR Nadezhda Kavalerova highlighted that they had been working on diaries for a long time. For the first time, the idea of working with the archives of the first JINR Director emerged about 15 years ago. “We have been interested in and moved by the personality of Dmitry Ivanovich for a very long time. This publication is a consistent reflection of the person who headed our Institute, who contributed so much to the concept of its development,” she said.

The idea to publish diaries of Dmitry Ivanovich Blokhintsev belongs to his daughter, Tatiana Dmitrievna Blokhintseva. She said that reading her father’s handwritten diaries had taken 2.5 years (the volume of the handwritten text was about 1,600 pages).

Dmitry’s son, Igor Dmitrievich Blokhintsev, noted that it was an incredible luck that Dmitry Ivanovich’s archive had been preserved completely, starting with family documents, children’s drawings, and blueprints. Reading diaries, he discovered him for himself as a person “from scratch”. “I measure my father’s archive in hundreds of kilograms,” he said. “Working on diaries has given so many opportunities to know the whole world around us, the whole twentieth century. In fact, they are not only Dmitry Ivanovich’s diaries, but also diaries of the whole century, which was full of events. When you read these diaries and see some names, you google them, find in the archives of Glavatom and understand what kind of people were at that time. Fantastic people! I wonder how they did it and had enough time for everything.”

Evgeny Pavlovich Shabalin , Marina Vladimirovna Frontasyeva, Alexander Vladimirovich Strelkov, Vladimir Alekseevich Nikitin, and others who knew the first JINR Director personally shared memories about D. I. Blokhintsev.

There are still a huge number of photographs, pictures, and sketches in Blokhintsev’s archive. According to N. V. Kavalerova, an album with the artistic heritage of D. I. Blokhintsev is planned for publication. The book about him by A. A. Rastorgueva and E. P. Shabalina “Renaissance Man”, compiled on the basis of his abstracts, was the previous book about Dmitry Ivanovich Blokhintsev’s life. It may also be republished.