When the hall broke into applause after the report, the botanist Zalensky proclaimed from the rostrum that the congress became historical. Biologists greet their own Mendeleyev, he exclaimed. Zalensky hardly exaggerated: Nikolay Vavilov’s report on “The Law of Homological Series in Hereditary Variability” laid foundations for the development of genetics in the USSR. The Soviet authorities later denigrated genetics as an “imperialist sell-out” and discarded it together with its founder. Nikolay Vavilov died in the same Saratov, the city of his triumph, of dystrophy in prison in 1943. His wife and son evacuated to Saratov had lived in a five-minute walk away from him without knowing it.
A truly Shakespearean plot and the fate of Socrates!