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Biography of Rudolf Schlesinger

Soviet Studies Journal 1949
Soviet Studies Journal 1949

Rudolf Schlesinger was lecturer and co-founder of the University's Institute of Soviet and East European Studies; co-founder and co-editor of the journal Soviet Studies; and founder of the world-renowned journal Co-Existence.

Schlesinger was born in Vienna in 1901, son of a Jewish doctor and German mother. He was educated at the Schottengymnasium, a renowned boys school in Vienna, and at the University of Vienna, where he obtained his doctorate in 1922. At that time Schlesinger became a socialist, first as a member of the Young Worker's Socialist Organisation, and subsequently an active member of the German Communist Party, working for the party in Berlin, Moscow and Prague.

Schlesinger moved to Berlin in 1923 as an assistant to the economist Professor E Varga, under whose guidance Schlesinger moved to the USSR in 1926. Actively involved in the anti-Fascist movement, Schlesinger returned to Berlin and wrote for a number of underground communist magazines, but was ordered by police to leave the country in 1933. Remaining in Berlin, he was consequently arrested and imprisoned, released only through the intervention of the Austrian Embassy. He worked in Prague, and returned again to Moscow in 1934, but was expelled from the Communist Party in 1936 during the purge and subsequently from the USSR.

With the onset of Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939, and a failed attempt to secure a USA visa, Schlesinger fled with his wife, walking over the Carpathian mountains into Poland, and from there sailed on the last ship to leave Gdynia for Britain.

He became a prolific scholar, lecturing and researching at the department of Soviet Studies, which expanded to become the Institute of Soviet and East European Studies. With Jacob Miller, he co-founded the first peer-reviewed journal specifically devoted to the economic, political and social policy systems of the Soviet Union, Soviet Studies. He gave 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, for which he is most noted.

Although officially retired in 1966, Schlesinger remained active in his research until his death in 1969.


Other Online Resources

Printed Materials

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

Archival Materials


Rudolf Schlesinger
Born 4 February 1901.
Died 11 November 1969.
GU Degree:
University Link: Lecturer
Occupation categories: social scientists
English snippet: Marxist theoretician and co-founder of the University's Institute of Soviet and East European Studies
Record last updated: 30th Nov 2012

Country Associations

Austria Austria, Vienna
Place of Birth

Scotland Scotland, Argyll, Kilmun
Place of Death

Czech Republic Czech Republic, Prague

Germany Germany, Berlin

Russian Federation Russian Federation, Moscow

University Connections

University Roles

  • Lecturer