Papers of Dr Rudolf Schlesinger, 1901-1969, Marxist theoretician, lecturer and co-founder of the University of Glasgow Institute of Soviet and East European Studies

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

  • Articles c1930-1980
  • Correspondence c1930-1969
  • Editorials 1930-1983
  • Lectures c1948-1966
  • Draft work for articles and books c1930-1969
  • Records of the German Communist Party c1920-1930
  • Stock checks 1967-1975
  • Invoices 1967-1975
  • Accounts 1967-1975
  • Receipts 1958-1960

Administrative / Biographical History

Dr Rudolf Schlesinger was born at Vienna, Austria, in  1901 . He was born the son of a Jewish Doctor and a German mother. He attended a Catholic secondary school, which was run by Jesuits, before then attending Schottengymnasium, a renowned boys’ school in Vienna. It was here that he first encountered the anti-Semitism that was to be the inspiration for his life-long fight against fascism. He received his doctorate from the University of Vienna in 1922. At this time he was a member of the Young Worker’s Socialist Organisation. In  1923 , he moved to Berlin, Germany, to take up the position of assistant to the economist Professor E Varga. During his time in Berlin he was actively involved in the organisation of anti-Fascist demonstrations. In  1926 , backed by Professor Varga, he moved to Moscow, USSR, for fourteen months, to study the failure of Soviet Socialism, and the implications that this posed for the German Communist Party. On his return to Berlin, he worked at the International Agrarian Institute and studied the problems of the Volga German Republic. He also worked as a member of the Committee on Agitation and Propaganda in Lichtenberg, Germany.

In 1927, Schlesinger married Mila Sellvig, whom he had first met in 1923. Although, they married in a secret ceremony, they were able to live together in Berlin. Schlesinger wrote for a number of underground communist magazines, including Die Neue Welt, and promoted discipline at anti-Fascist demonstrations. Consequently, in  1933 , he was ordered by police to leave the country. He stayed in Berlin, however, in hiding until he was arrested and imprisoned on 7th August 1933. His wife sought the assistance of the Austrian Embassy so that after some weeks he was released and taken across the German Austrian border. He arrived in Vienna but went to Prague, Czechoslovakia, where he helped to set up the anti-Fascist newspaper Gegenangriff. At the end of 1934 he left for Moscow, where he took up the editorship of the German edition of Communist International. A friend of Schlesinger’s was arrested in 1936 and after the subsequent hearing, Schlesinger was declared 'alien to the Communist party'. Schlesinger returned to Vienna, but the impact of his expulsion from the Communist party meant that the only way he could publish any of his work was to do so anonymously.

In 1939, Schlesinger left Vienna to return to Prague, where he was appointed editor of the German monthly journal for the Society of Czechoslovak-Soviet relations. The main source of his income, however, came from the revenue produced by articles, which were written for the Journal of Institut Fur Sozialforschung in the USA, which was published in Paris, France. He and his family applied unsuccessfully, for a visa in order to emigrate to the USA. As a result, they decided to flee to Poland at the onset of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, in 1939. From there, they sailed to Britain on 21st April of the same year, on the last ship to leave Poland. In Britain, Schlesinger was active writing and contributing to a number of journals. At the  University of Glasgow in  1948 , he co-founded with Jacob Miller, the journal Soviet Studies, which he edited and contributed to for several years. He worked as a lecturer and researcher at the University department of Soviet Studies, and continued there after it had expanded to become the Institute of Soviet and East European Studies. He made a series of Marxism-Leninism lectures and launched the journal Co-Existence: A Journal for the Comparative Study of Economics, Sociology and Politics in a Changing World. He officially retired in 1966, although he remained active in his fields of work. He died at Kilmun, Argyll, in  1969 .

Source:  Down, James , Exhibition Catalogue, Rudolf Schlesinger: A Display of Documents to Commemorate the 25th Anniversary of his Death 11th Nov 1969,( Glasgow, (1994)

Arrangement

The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Acquisition Information

Gift : René Beerman : 1991 : ACCN 4529

Other Finding Aids

Item level descriptions are available via the department's online manuscripts catalogue available at the University of Glasgow Library, Department of Special Collections  http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/manuscripts/, searching by the call number MS Gen 1660.

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Elaine MacGillivray, Archive Assistant, July 2003

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Keeper of Special Collections.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 247 procedures

Custodial History

Held by René Beerman since 1969

Accruals

None expected

Related Material

No related material

Location of Originals

This material is original

Bibliography

Down, James , Exhibition Catalogue, Rudolf Schlesinger: A Display of Documents to Commemorate the 25th Anniversary of his Death 11th Nov 1969,( Glasgow, (1994)

Corporate Names