JJV pointed me toward this article shortly before the release of King Kong last month, concerning the attempts of a Russian scientist to cross-breed humans and apes. As this posting suggests, there may have been an antireligious impulse, however ultimately unscientific, behind Ivanov's proposed project. Speaking as one who has researched various Soviet antireligious campaigns from the period, it corresponds to the willingness to use whatever was at hand to combat the broad and deep influence of religion on the general population. (While perusing issues of the 1920s catchily-named Atheist magazine, I ran across a description of "antireligious bowling" in which the pins were set up in the shape of a cross, Star of David, etc.)
In addition to possibly providing the basis for King Kong, Ivanov may also have been the inspiration for the surgeon in Bulgakov's wonderful novella Heart of a Dog, in which a dog is the unwilling recipient of the testes of a recently-deceased common criminal. That doesn't sound very promising but it's a great satire on 1920s Russia.
Or he may have been inspired by the Russian doctor described in this rather overheated post, which dares to ask the otherwise rarely-asked question:
Did Voronov [the doctor in question] create chimeric creatures whose descendants wander in the wilderness around the Italian Riviera?(Insert German tourist joke here.)
Update 1/8/06: JJV comments:
Now, why would the Soviets think chimp-men would be obedient? Also, if they had even a little of the strength of adult chimpanzees they would be unmanageable. I will say this, certain East German women's athletes appeared to have greater than human strength and ability in the 70's and 80's, and they didn't look like Katerina Witt either. Coincidence?