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Category: History

The Russian public university in Prague (1923 1933)

str. 1 of 5 E.N. Evseev


Russian Public University in Prague was organized by Zemgor and is open in 1923

A.A. Kizevetter

Opening of the university was preceded by big preparatory work. On October 11, 1923 the provision on Russian Public University where the purposes and problems of its activity, the budget, governing bodies and supervision were defined was approved. "... One of the most sacred duties of foreign Russian intelligentsia can read creation of the centers of the Russian education. In them because of real work it is possible to carry out most successfully process of a spiritual unification of two nationalities. In them Czechs can get idea of the current state of the Russian culture at the fountain-head, the Russian citizens - to study on the place process of brilliant development of the revived Slavic state - here the main basis of activity of Russian Public University in Prague", - noted speaking at opening of the university which took place on October 16.

The university gave to everyone in an available form an opportunity to get acquainted with various industries of knowledge. For this purpose at the university the reading courses, lectures and reports, teaching foreign languages, visit of the museums, exhibitions, a practical training and seminars was organized. Besides, works were published and scientific organizations were organized.

Thus, the university created as A.A. Shanyavsky's University in Moscow combined the highest and elementary education. In its structure offices worked: general education, applied knowledge, special courses (shorthand, accounts department, foreign languages, bookkeeping, etc.), initial knowledge for the least prepared listeners.

The university consisted under the authority of Zemgor, was the autonomous establishment of this public organization having the governing bodies subordinated Zemgora as control and supervision. No intervention in the academic life of the university from the founder was allowed. Governing bodies were council, board and managing affairs. Council was considered as the principal administrative organ. Its competence included the leadership in scientific and educational activity, the statement of states, appointment and dismissal of employees, election of teachers, publishing and many other things.

Entered into the first council of the university approved by Zemgor: professor M.M. Novikov is a chairman of the board and boards, professor E.A. Lyatsky is a vice-chairman, associate professor M.A. Zimmerman is the secretary of council and board, A.D. Klimushkin - managing affairs and the manager of office of special courses, professor A.A. Kizevetter - the manager of historico-philosophical office, professor Yu.I. Polivka - the manager of office on studying Czechoslovakia, professor

N.S. Timashev is the manager of office of social sciences, the academician to P.B. Struva, professor V.I. Isaev, professor Z. Bazhant, professor S.A. Ostrogorsky is the manager of cultural and educational department of Zemgor, V.G. Arkhangelsky, F.E. Makhin, M.L. Slonim, A.V. Stoilov, F.S. Mansvetov and V.Ya. Gurevich - the manager of the Russian foreign historical archive.

V.N. Lossky

Executive body of council was the board of the university. Contacts with government and scientific institutions, establishment of terms of classes, consideration and the approval of schedules of lectures, administrative questions, control of the correct expenditure of means, issue of documents on the termination or pro-hearing of a course, etc. belonged to maintaining board. The board was joined by the chairman, the deputy and the secretary of council, the representative of Zemgor, the manager of cultural and educational department of Zemgor managing affairs of the university. The board as required, but at least once a month sat. It was convoked at the initiative of the chairman, to the offer Zemgor or the requirement managing affairs. Designing of annual and monthly estimates and schedules, the invitation to a position of clerks, settling with lecturers and institutions, reception of visitors for the university belonged to duties of the last maintaining financial and educational statements on the university.

First the relations between the university and Zemgor developed not easy. A.D. Klimushkin managing affairs of the university appointed by Zemgor interfered with educational process, "bossy offering. to such scientific authorities as the academician to P.B. Struva or professor N.O. Lossky to give lectures more popularly and it to make them available to general public". In the conditions of continuous reproaches and claims by Klimushkin the chairman of the board and boards of the university professor Novikov addressed to the MFA and the Ministry of national education of Czechoslovakia with a request to bring the university out of maintaining Zemgor. Negotiations were conducted long and difficult, but as a result Zemgor conceded, having stipulated the right to have three representatives in university bodies. On November 18, 1925 the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Czechoslovakia approved the charter of society "Russian National University" and by that the foundation of its independent existence was laid. Reorganization of management consisted in division of powers: the teaching department and the current activity of the university concentrated at the rector, council of teachers and presidium of council, and finansovoadministrativny questions departed to a general meeting of members, a kuratoriya and to presidium a kuratoriya.

Professor M.M. Novikov was elected the rector of the university. A kuratoriya professor Z. Bazhant was elected the chairman, the deputy - professor S.V. Zavadsky. From the Czech side the famous botanist and the public figure professor B. Nemets, the Slavist professor Yu. Polivka, the head of refugee department of the MFA doctor Z. Zavazal, P. Max's diplomat and others, from Russians entered kuratory

>- professor E.V. Spektorsky, professor A.A. Kizevetter, professor N.S. Timashev and others. Society "Russian Public University" was legal entity and 300 people were its part.

Training was based on three levels.

The lowest aimed at elimination of illiteracy among adults and was under construction in relation to curricula of the Russian elementary schools. The group of illiterate was made by the Cossacks and peasants living in Prague and its vicinities. Similar schools of the diploma opened in Uzhhorod, Mukachev of the Subcarpathian Russia (nowadays Transcarpathian region of Ukraine) where Cossacks, generally on state contracts, logging and located in manors. Training at schools was carried out free of charge.

P.B. Struva

The second level - secondary education - was presented by various courses. The courses of foreign languages helping emigrants to adapt to new life had special success. Russian courses were popular among Czechs. They appeared not only in Prague, but also in Brno, Bratislava, Budeevitsakh and other cities. Besides, special courses of Russian for the Czech students and the staff of the MFA worked.

A transitional form between education levels were series of lectures on various industries of knowledge.

In 1923 about 900 listeners were registered.

Educational activity was distributed between offices: 1) social sciences, 2) historico-philosophical, 3) natural sciences, 4) applied knowledge, 5) on studying Czechoslovakia, 6) special courses (foreign languages, shorthand, etc.), 7) elementary schools.

At the end of 1924 for simplification of structure the council of the university united office of applied knowledge with office of natural sciences, and special courses - with elementary school.

The office of social sciences (the head - professor N.S. Timashev) aimed at "the message of the data necessary for practical activities", and first consisted of four departments. The first served as a preparatory step and gave introduction to studying social sciences. The second ("Modern Russia") reported about political, social and economic and cultural changes in the USSR. The third ("Local government" and the fourth ("Agricultural economy of Russia" departments gave theoretical preparation for public work in the specified areas. At office two seminars worked: on studying modern Russia (the head - V.N. Tukhalevsky) and on studying modern international life and right (the head - associate professor M.A. Zimmerman). Also the circle on studying modern public problems worked (the head - K.F. Kocharovsky). On classes the listeners under the leadership of teachers prepared reports, participated in their discussion. The office existed till 1931. "Systematic studying modern Russia can give to the Russian emigrant the correct understanding of the events on the Homeland"

>- these words became some kind of motto of activity of office. The average of listeners on lecture courses fluctuated from 25 to 30.

The historico-philosophical office (the head - professor A.A. Kizevetter) made the program of public courses for philosophy, psychology, national history and cultural life of Russia. Historical courses were devoted to history of the international relations in H1H of century, to social and political movements and social thought in Russia, the contemporary political history of the USSR, the history of Ukraine, Belarus, the Cossacks, world war of 1914 - 1918. Courses of a philosophical cycle included analysis of exercises of philosophical thought, the main problems of philosophy, ethics, psychology. Separate courses about L.N. Tolstoy, F.M. Dostoyevsky and V.S. Solovyov's philosophical ideas were given. Courses of lectures about the Russian painting, Old Russian architecture and others were devoted to art history. Attendance of lectures differed in invariable stability: on average 25 - 30 listeners.

The office on studying Czechoslovakia (the head - professor Yu. Polivka) was registered in the spring of 1924. In office there were 45 listeners. Lectures about state system of the country, economy, literature, music were given, excursions were organized. The office worked till 1931

N.S. Timashev

The office of natural and applied sciences (the head - professor N.N. Mogilyansky) created in 1924 acquainted listeners with the latest theoretical and applied developments of natural sciences and medicine. In the winter of 1929 6 weeks road-building courses (professor Shpachek), and together with "The Cossack agricultural union" with assistance of the Ministry of national education - 6-month geodetic courses (professor Pantoflichek) were organized. Experts (land surveyors and road builders), in view of their shortcoming, quickly found to themselves a job in Slovakia where "a large number of highways is constructed by Russians", in Poland, in colonial possession of France. After saturation of the market of labor by experts of this profile the courses were closed. The office was closed in 1931

The office of special courses and elementary schools (the head - A.D. Klimushkin) thought as merging of elementary schools and courses on training of technicians of publishing, language, accounting. However council of the university at the approval of the program, being guided not only by needs of emigration, but also financial reasons, changed the plan. As a result in 1923/24 academic year courses of foreign languages (Czech, English, French, German), shorthand courses, elementary schools in Prague, Uzhhorod and Koshitsa were created. Next academic year, agricultural and library courses were added. In 1930 the office was renamed into the Russian and foreign languages. The list of listeners differed in big diversity: employees of banks, businessmen, workers (22 persons), ranks of the Prague police (5 people) and others. The children's group, however, only on German was for the first time formed. Teaching Russian was conducted in Prague and Kladno in groups for beginners and continuing study.

Scientific work of the university consisted in the organization of a number of scientific organizations and publishing. On the basis of the university in 1926 there was "Philosophical society" (the chairman - I.I. Lapshin), in 1932 - "Pedagogical society" (the chairman - A.V. Zhekulina). Since 1928 became

to leave "Scientific works" of the university under the general edition of Novikov. Prior to the beginning of the 30th published 5 volumes from which one was devoted to Czechoslovakia, the others - to scientific research in various areas.

It was paid to cultural rapprochement of Czechs, Slovaks and Russians much attention. At the initiative of the former actor of the St. Petersburg Mariinsky opera Aleksandrovich, historical concerts which first part was devoted to a lecture about any of outstanding Russian composers, and the second part - to chamber execution of his works" were arranged for many years ". The university acted as the organizer of literary soirees, solemn meetings on the occasion of significant dates of national history, anniversaries of life of outstanding compatriots.

In the late twenties. Russian Public University got to a strip of serious material difficulties. As Novikov remembered, "in the beginning nobody could assume that the Russian emigration will drag on on a large number of years", but when "it began to be investigated that the Russian emigration can be delayed for vaguely long time", sympathies of Czechs for refugees began to thaw and the credits began to be assigned on them all with big and big difficulties. At the same time in emigrant weight there were serious psychological shifts. Thirst to the doctrine which after long years of war and White movement was so brightly shown at the youth which yearned on spiritual food began to fall and be replaced gradually only with the aspiration to gain the diploma".

Owing to these reasons in 1933. Russian Public University was reorganized and renamed into the Russian free university.


Russians without Fatherland: Essays of anti-Bolshevist emigration 20 - the 40th years. - M.:RGGU,2000. Documents:

State archive of the Russian Federation. F.5899 - the Russian free university in Prague.

Davidsen Ingrid
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