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2012 | 13 | 261-283

Article title

„Ziemski homunculus”. Z historii radzieckich eksperymentów w Nowej Gwinei i Suchumi


Title variants

The Homunculus – a History of Soviet Experiments in New Guinea and Sukhumi

Languages of publication



An experiment aiming to create an invincible human-ape hybrid seemed to be a worthy project that would crown the scientific achievements of Professor Ilya Ivanov. The experiment was to be conducted on a live human being, and it raised moral and ethical concerns. An answer the question whether the Soviet scientist’s efforts to create a human-ape hybrid at the beginning of the 20th century were merely a historical curiosity or were decades ahead of other scientific achievements would be largely based on our attitude towards the moral and ethical implications of the experiment. The authors of publications discussing Ivanov’s project take radically different positions. Whereas some regard Ivanov as an outstanding scientist whose work should not be subject to moral assessment, others accentuate the amoral nature of his experiments and consider him to be a charlatan whose projects fall outside the realm of science. Should Ivanov be accused of moral and ethical depravity? Before passing the final judgment, we should take a closer look at the moral compass of the 20th century. Ivanov’s work fits into a broader context of biological discoveries and bold medical experiments which were carried out throughout the world in the 1920s and 1930s. Ironically, the scientist who devoted his life to pursuit of Stalin’s absurd ideas became a victim of the Soviet regime. Ivanov paid a high price for his inability to deliver satisfactory research results, which ultimately led to his arrest and exile.







Physical description


  • Instytut Słowiańszczyzny Wschodniej, Uniwersytet Warmińsko-Mazurski w Olsztynie


Document Type

Publication order reference


YADDA identifier

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