Wiktor Sukiennicki 1901-1983

He was born on 25 July 1901 in Aleksotas near Kaunas. He attended high school in Rybinsk (Russia) where he was involved in the scouting movement and then joined the Polish Military Organisation in Kaunas. He fought the war of 1920 in the Polish army. From 1919 to 1924, he studied law at the restored Stefan Batory University in Vilnius. In Poland, he defended his doctoral dissertation devoted to colonisation policy in the Polish lands annexed by Prussia after 1886, and in 1925, he obtained a doctorate at the University of Paris for his dissertation on the development of the theory of state sovereignty in modern Europe; he also completed postgraduate studies in Vienna, Cologne, The Hague and Rome. From 1929 to 1939, he lectured on the theory of law at the Stefan Batory University. After the establishment of the Eastern European Scientific and Research Institute in Vilnius (1930), he headed its Legal Department and taught at the School of Political Sciences affiliated with the Stefan Batory University. In 1934, he made a research trip to the USSR. His writings in the field of Sovietology included, among others, the synthesis Ewolucja ustroju ZSRR 1917–1936 [“Evolution of the USSR political system 1917–1936”] (only the first volume of the three planned in 1937 appeared in print) and two important articles: Konstytucja stalinowska a ustrój radziecki [“Stalin’s constitution and the Soviet system”] (1937) and Marksowsko-leninowska teoria prawa [“Marxist-Leninist theory of law”] (1934). After Vilnius had been occupied by the USSR, he was arrested and deported to Soviet labour camps in the vicinity of Krasnoyarsk (Siberia). After the Sikorski-Mayski agreement between the Polish and Soviet governments, he was released and served as the First Secretary of the Polish Embassy in Kuibyshev, and subsequently worked at the Intelligence Centre of the Ministry of Information and Documentation of the Republic of Poland in the Middle East. From 1945 to 1947, he headed the so-called Polish Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford. From 1959, he lived in Stanford, California and worked at the Hoover Institution. He collaborated with Jerzy Giedroyc’s Literary Institute. He published, among others: Kolektywizacja rolnictwa w ZSRR w okresie pierwszej pięciolatki. Studium prawno-polityczne [“Collectivisation of agriculture in the USSR during the first Five-Year-Plan. Legal and political study”] („Wileński Przegląd Prawniczy” [“Vilnius Legal Review”], year VIII, 10, 1937), Ewolucja ustroju ZSRS 1917–1936 [“Evolution of the USSR political system 1917–1936”] (1937), Pół wieku rewolucji rosyjskiej [“Half a century of the Russian revolution”] (1967), East-Central Europe during the First World War (2 vols., 1988). Towards the end of his life, he devoted most of his efforts to writing an (unfinished) work on World War I in the lands of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania and on the fate of Central and Eastern European nations. He died on 10 April 1983 in Stanford (USA).


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