Belarusian social and political activist and historian. The first President of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences (1929–1930). Academician of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences (1928), the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (1929). V. M. Ignatovsky was born in the village of Tokari, Kamenets district, Brest region. He received primary education in the Vilna High School, he was expelled from for participation in youth revolutionary actions. He continued education in the Mogilev Seminary. Following graduation form the Seminary in 1902, he entered the Faculty of History and Philology of the St. Petersburg University. As a result of his participation in anti-government demonstrations, he was twice expelled from the university.
In 1908 V. M. Ignatovsky entered the Yuriev (Tartu) University. In 1911, after graduating from that University, he found a job at a private school in the city of Vilna. From 1914 till 1920 V. M. Ignatovsky headed the Teachers’ Institute in Minsk. In 1915 he founded a cultural and educational organization «Nash kray» («Our Land»). In 1917 «Nash kray» was transformed into the organization «Maladaya Belarus» («Young Belarus»). In 1917 V. M. Ignatovsky was a member of the Central Committee of the Belarusian Socialist Hramada, in 1918 – a member of the Central Committee of the Belarusian Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries. During the Polish occupation, in January 1920, the scientist created the Belarusian Communist organization on the basis of «Maladaya Belarus». July 31, 1920, as the chairman of the Belarusian Communist organization, V. M. Ignatovsky participated in the signing of the «Declaration of the Independence of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Belarus». Since August 1920 he was a member of the Military Revolutionary Committee of the BSSR and People’s Commissar for Agriculture of the BSSR, from 1920 to 1926 – People’s Commissar for Education of the BSSR. In 1920s he was a member of the USSR Central Executive Committee, the BSSR Central Executive Committee and its Presidium, the Bureau of the Communist Party of Bolsheviks of Belarus.
V. M. Ignatovsky played a considerable role in the policy of belarusization, as well as in solving the problem of integration of the BSSR. He also facilitated the return of the Belarusian emigration to the BSSR.
M. V. Dovnar-Zapol’sky was a Belarusian historian, ethnographer, folklorist, economist, founder of the Belarusian national historiography. He became Professor of the Belarusian, Moscow, Kiev and Kharkov universities. M. V. Dovnar-Zapol’sky was born in the provincial town of Rechitsa of Minsk region. In 1893 he graduated from the Faculty of History and Philology of the University of Kiev. In 1895–1897 M. V. Dovnar-Zapol’sky was archivist’s assistant of the Ministry of Justice’s Moscow Archive, and, at the same time, a teacher in a private school in Moscow. From 1899, he was Assistant Professor of the History and Philology Faculty in the Moscow University. In 1901, M. V. Dovnar-Zapol’sky defended his master’s thesis in the University of Kiev. Since 1901, the scientist was Assistant Professor, Head of the Department of Russian History at the University of Kiev. In 1906 he successfully defended his doctoral thesis «Essays on organization of the West peasantry in XVI century». Same year he founded the private commercial courses. In 1907, the Kiev Institute of Commerce was established on the basis of those courses, and Professor M. V. Dovnar-Zapol’sky led the Institute up to 1917.
Since 1917 M. V. Dovnar-Zapol’sky was actively involved in the work of Belarusian organizations in Kiev, published articles in the newspapers «Belorusskoe slovo» and «Belorusskoe ekho», took part in Belarusian-Ukrainian diplomatic negotiations, founded and headed the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce in Kiev. In 1918, a project of the creation of the Belarusian University in Minsk was prepared by M. V. Dovnar-Zapol’sky and Academician Y. F. Karsky. In 1921, M. V. Dovnar-Zapol’sky was invited by the first rector of the BSU V. I. Picheta to be a Lecturer. Nevertheless, the proposal was rejected due to M. V. Dovnar-Zapol’sky’s illness.
In 1924, when M. V. Dovnar-Zapol’sky lived in Baku, he was elected as a member of the Institute of Belarusian Culture. In 1925 he moved to Minsk after a new invitation by A. V. Balitsky, BSSR Commissar of Public Education, and S. M. Nekrashevich, Chairman of the Institute of Belarusian Culture. In the BSU M. V. Dovnar-Zapol’sky headed the Department of the USSR National Economy and the Department of Economic History of Europe.
N. M. Nikolsky, outstanding Soviet Belarusian historian and orientalist, Member of the BSSR Academy of Sciences and Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences, was born in Moscow in a family of Russian Assyriologist Mikhail Nikolsky. In 1900 he graduated from the Moscow University and began to teach in gymnasium.
He gathered a group of translators (V. N. Pertsev was among them) for publication of the books series «Religion and the Church in the light of scientific thought and free criticism». This one had included works by major scientists: W. Wrede, A. Harnack, J. Wellhausen and others.
At that time N. M. Nikolsky studied the history of Ancient Israel. His first scientific publications were connected with it: «King David and Psalms» (1906), «Israel and Babylon» (1910), «The Ancient Israel» (1911).
Interest in Mesopotamia went with historian throughout all his life. His last work was also devoted to this region: «The Culture of Ancient Babylon» (1959).
Another area of scientific interests of N. M. Nikolsky was the history of the Russian Orthodox Church. For the first time he addressed this topic in 1909– 1912. He wrote five chapters for 5-volumes «Russian History», all devoted to the history of the Church.
N. M. Nikolsky’s publications made his name well-known in scientific community of the early XX cent. As a result of his reputation, he was invited to the post of Professor of the History of Religion in the Smolensk University in 1918.
V. N. Pertsev was born in Kursk in a family of Nikolay Nikonorovich Pertsev, State Counsellor.
He graduated from a Realschule in 1895 and continued his studies at the St. Petersburg Institute of Technology and then in the Warsaw Veterinary Institute. But technical and natural sciences did not attract him. The choice was made in favor of liberal arts education. In 1897 he entered the Historical- Philological Faculty of the Moscow University. He was twice expelled from it for participating in student unrest. So he was forced to continue his studies abroad (in Vienna and Berlin). Nevertheless he graduated from the Moscow University in 1903 and began to work in secondary schools. In 1907 he successfully defended his PhD thesis on the German Enlightenment philosopher J. Herder. In 1908 V. N. Pertsev published «Essays on World History. Modern Time» (coauthored with E. A. Yefimova). The book was republished for two times – in 1912 and 1918. In the same year of 1908 V. N. Pertsev translated from German «Origin and Development of Christian Afterlife Beliefs» by R. Knopf. The book was published as part of the series «Religion and the Church in the light of scientific thought and free criticism», published at N. M. Nikolsky’s initiative.
When the World War I began, he drew attention to the aggressive nature of German militarism and wrote a lot of articles about it. After the October Revolution all these articles were collected in one book «Hohenzollerns».
In 1918 V. N. Pertsev was elected as a professor of the Smolensk University, which was founded this year. In 1921 Professor V. N. Pertsev was invited to the Belarusian State University. He worked as a Professor of the General History Department. Ten years later he began to work at the Minsk Pedagogical Institute as a chair of the West History Department.
A. A. Savich had a large influence on the Soviet historical science. This Belarus-born intellectual was among those who laid the basis for systemic study of the history of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine in the BSU, as well as for the BSU itself.
A. A. Savich was born in the village of Perevoloki, Grodno province. Both his father and grandfather were priests, and he followed in their footsteps: in 1910 he graduated from the Lithuanian Seminary, and, in 1914 – the St. Petersburg Ecclesiastical Academy.
Scientific talent of the young theologian was rewarded by the special prize for his «candidate research» dedicated to XVII–XVIII Belarusian and Ukrainian schools. A. A. Savich was invited to join the faculty while he was preparing for his Master’s examinations, but his scientific work was to continue in the Moscow University. The revolution of 1917 made A. A. Savich join the Saratov University. Here, under the guidance of Professors V. I. Veretennikov, M. K. Liubavsky and S. N. Chernov, he was preparing his thesis «West-Russian schools in XVI–XVIII cent.».
Russian Civil War forced him to continue his work elsewhere. A. A. Savich was invited to teach Russian History at the BSU. On November 16, 1921, he was appointed lecturer, soon – Assistant Professor and Professor. A. A. Savich lectured in history of Russian culture and «cultural movements» in Belarus in XVI–XVIII centuries, history of ancient Russia, public education in Belarus before XIX cent., organised study workshops and provided assistance in the study of historical chronicles, Moscow political literature of XVI cent., foreign documents about Russia dating XVI–XVIІ cent., 1649 Council Code of Alexis, Nakaz of Catherine the Great, other sources. He was the «Historical Subjects Board» member and among the authors of the 1st and 2nd issues of the «Proceedings of the BSU».
Core texts by A. A. Savich as a historian include «Russian Unitarian Schools of XVII–XVIII centuries», «Russian-Polish Relations in XVII (before the Truce of Deulino)» and «Cultural Movements in Belarus and Ukraine in ХVI–ХVII centuries». The results of his research were highly appreciated by the Minsk Society of History and Antiquities, A. A. Savich’s work also led to him being among the experts participating in the discussions on the restitution of objects of cultural value to Poland, he was among the expert board working on the «deliberated solution». In February, 1924 A. A. Savich was organising exhibition of the first university museum.
A famous Belarusian historian, archivist and archaeographer D. I. Dovgiallo maintained in his research an idea of basic relationship between archives, museums and libraries, an idea that came from his own experience. He also admitted an extraneous influence to his studies of the academician V. I. Lamansky, a famous Russian Slavist, and of A. P. Sapunov, the publisher of the historical digest of «The Past of Vitebsk».
D. I. Dovgiallo was born in the village of Kaziany, Haradok county (present district of Shumilina), Vitebsk Province. His father was an Orthodox Christian priest. After graduation from the Vitebsk Seminary D. I. Dovgiallo received a grant for his study in the St. Petersburg Ecclesiastical Academy and, in 1894, graduated from it as a Candidate of Theology. Besides, he took a course of the St. Petersburg Archive College.
On returning to Vitebsk, he taught in the seminary and classical school. In 1897, he became a chief archivist of the Vitebsk Central Archive of Old Act Books, the first historical archive of Belarus, and the founder and editor of the archive digest of historical acts of the Vitebsk and Mogilev Provinces.
In 1903, Dovgiallo’s Archive was coalesced with the Historical Archive of Vilno and he came there as an archivist assistant, as well as he taught there in local classical schools, worked in the office of the Administrator of the Vilno Academic District, edited «The Reports» of the Russian Geographical Society, took part in meetings of local Archaeographical Commission and finally, since 1913, he headed it and edited its «The Acts».
A. N. Liavdansky was born in the village of Yuryevo of Borisov county, Minsk province. He graduated from the public school, then served in the post office. During the World War I – in the field forces. After mobilization (1918) studied at the Smolensk branch of Moscow Archaeological Institute, and then at the Smolensk University, graduated in 1925. In 1925–1927 was working as an assistant of archaeological cabinet of the Smolensk University and a co-worker of the local museum. From 1927 he began to work in the Institute of Belarusian Culture and the same time was heading the Department of Archaeology of the Belarusian State Museum. Since 1931 – Scientific Secretary, Head of the Section of Archaeology, Institute of History of the BSSR Academy of Sciences, Associate Professor of the BSU. In 1934 A. N. Liavdansky became Candidate of Science in History.
During his Smolensk period, he discovered and described more than 300 settlements of the Iron Age, created the first scientific classification of fortified settlements. He identified 4 groups of settlements and referred 3 of them to the Iron Age. In 1923–1924 A. N. Liavdansky organized excavations of settlements (Buda, Svidno) in Smolevichi and Logoysk districts of Minsk region, the first after the revolution and the Civil war. Excavations revealed some hatched ceramics of the same type as crockery from the settlements of Bogutishki and Ofiarishki, researched by F. V. Pokrovsky in the late XIX cent. Following A. A. Spitsyn, A. N. Liavdansky referred them to the «Lithuanian» and dated by VI–VIII cent. AD. In the end of 1920s – early 1930s A. N. Liavdansky conducted extensive exploration and excavation of an Iron Age settlements in the Belarusian Dvina, the upper reaches of the Dnieper and Pripyat basin. Intensive research allowed him to identify three local groups of fortified settlements (settlements with smooth-molded ceramics of Dvina and the Upper Dnieper region, settlements with the primed ceramics of Central Belarus and settlements with ceramics of southern type). He outlined its areas, characterized the material culture and economic activities of the tribes and proposed chronology of settlements and stages of their development. Considering the first two groups, he suggested, same as A. A. Spitsyn did before, that they belong to Baltic tribes. Thus, in the early 1930s A. N. Liavdansky came close to pointing out major archaeological cultures of the Iron Age in the territory of Belarus and Smolensk region. In its turn, it allowed P. N. Tret’yakov to compose in 1940– 1941 an overall map of the local groups of settlements of the Eastern Europe forest belt.
Belarusian historian, Professor (1931), Doctor of Science (1934), Academician of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences (1931). V. K. Shcherbakov was born in the village of Dubrovka, Orsha district, Vitebsk region. In 1918 he finished the Teachers Seminary in Rogachiov, began his political activity and entered struggle against the German occupationists. The same year he joined the Russian Social and Democratic Labour Party of Bolsheviks. He was at the Civil war, Eastern and Southern fronts. In 1920 he headed the Department of political education in the Crimea. In 1923 graduated from the Kharkov higher party school. Since 1923 he became a rector of the Institute of public education in Chernigov. In 1930 he run the section of science and education at the Central committee of the Communist Party of Bolsheviks in Belarus. In 1931–1935 – a Vice-President of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences, in 1935–1937 – a Secretary of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences. Since 1931 he became the Deputy Director and in 1936–1937 – Director of the Institute of History of the BSSR Academy of Sciences. At the same time, in 1931–1936, he was a Professor of the BSU, the Minsk Higher Pedagogical Institute and the Higher Agricultural School of the Communist in Belarus.
In 1931 Associate Professor V. K. Shcherbakov was awarded the title of a Professor «at the Department of History of the BSSR». He was highly appreciated both as the lecturer in Belarusian history and as one of those first who tried to rivew the development of the intellectual sphere in the soviet period.
In 1934 V. K. Shcherbakov was appointed the Dean of the Faculty of History. At the solemn opening of the Faculty he made a report «The Crisis of bourgeois historical science and historical education in the USSR and the BSSR».
V. K. Shcherbakov was not only the Dean, but an active lecturer as well: he read a 120-hour course of the Belarusian history of the feudal period, supervised postgraduates. In August, 1934 the General History Department was established at the new Faculty in the BSU, and he was appointed as its Head. In the beginning there was a lack of qualified personnel to form specialized historical departments, but soon, due to V. K. Shcherbakov’s efforts, four departments were established.
A. P. P’yankov is one of the first organisers and heads of the Faculty of History. Urals-born, he became a prominent Soviet expert in ancient Russian history and literature after finding his home in Belarus.
A. P. P’yankov was born to a civil servant family. After his graduation from school the young man served in the Red Army for a short period, then worked as a clerk, and, in 1920, entered Perm University to attend lectures of a number of prominent scholars of his time, A. A. Savich among them. Having earned his diploma, A. P. P’yankov became a curriculum supervisor and research assistant as well as a teacher. Soon he was invited to become Associate Professor at Poltava Pedagogics Institute. By that time he had already produced a couple of scholarly writings on the history of the Urals region. In Ukraine A. P. P’yankov dived into a new problem area, dealing with the history of the country during the incorporation of its territories into Russia.
His multifaceted scholary knowledge was demanded in Belarus as well. In 1937 he was invited to Minsk as an expert in Eastern Slavic ancient and medieval history.
A. P. P’yankov, joined the BSU as an «ordinary» Assistant Professor, but due to Stalinist repressions which hurt the staff badly, was soon appointed Head of the USSR Nations’ History Department. In 1938 he became the Dean. At the same time, from early 1938, he was employed at the BSSR Academy of Sciences. Belarusian students attended his lectures in the early history of the USSR, as well as courses dedicated to the Ancient Russia, the Rise of Moscow and formation of Russian state. He was also actively involved in the «ideological work».
One of the leading Soviet and Belarusian researchers of Ancient Rome, F. M. Nechay was born in Drazychi village (Minsk guberniya) in a family of local paramedic. From 1920s he lived in Russia. F. M. Nechay graduated from the Rostov Pedagogical Institute and became a postgraduate student of the Moscow State University.
Professor A. V. Mishulin had taken him under scientific guidance. The postgraduate student was offered a fascinated, complex and confusing subject: «The Allied War in historical Sources (91–88 В. С.)».
The theme was fully consistent with traditions of studying history, established at the MSU Ancient History Department. Getting started on the problem or the region of the ancient world, the researcher had to translate all the necessary sources from Greek or Latin language and to study all related historiography. This work was done and formed good command of Latin language what helped to understand the history of Ancient Rome better.
In 1940 after defending dissertation, F. M. Nechay became Candidate of Science and Associate Professor of the Chuvash Pedagogical Institute. He also received invaluable scientific and administrative experience in Cheboksary, having worked as a dean of the Historical Faculty and then as a Deputy Director of the Pedagogical Institute.
After the liberation of Minsk F. M. Nechay decided to return to his native Belarus. He advised about it with his teacher, Professor A. V. Mishulin, who supported the decision of his student and passed this information on to Academician N. M. Nikolsky, who was in Moscow. M. N. Nikolsky also expressed his support for the decision. So, in 1945 F. M. Nechay began to work in the BSU. He has shown himself not only as scientist and lecturer, but as good administrator as well: in 1947–1953 he was the Dean of the Faculty of History. He always acted in open and transparent manner. The full implementation of training programs for each discipline was a law for him. Dean gathered students and faculty members annually and held a report on program implementation for the previous academic year.
A. I. Sidorenko plays a special part among the deans of the Faculty of History of the BSU, and many generations of students of different university faculties, where he read his lectures, have been remembering this modest person. The youth treated him as a hero of the Great Patriotic War.
Biography of A. I. Sidorenko – a complicated way of understanding the vertices of knowledge and overcoming difficult life obstacles through perseverance and natural inclinations. The son of peasant from village of Osovo near Kostiukovichi, Mogilev region had to posses outstanding purposefulness to pass the way from the doorstep of his house to the BSU dean’s and vicerector offices.
The beginning of life he spend on the household of his father, individual farmer, and from 1929 worked in «collective farm» n.a. Engels. In 1932, recruited, started working at the plant n.a. Kirov in Makeevka, where he was studying at a plant’s labor faculty (rabfak). The knowledge he gained allowed him to enter full-time department of the BSU’s rabfak, and after graduation from it – the Faculty of History of the BSU (in 1937).
In June 1941 the War began. A.I. Sidorenko, a forth-year student, entered the Red Army and fought as a member of 16th Tank Brigade on Leningrad, Volkhov, 3th Baltic fronts. In August, 1944 during the battle for town Tartu was severely wounded, and after a long treatment in hospitals was discharged. In 1945 A. I. Sidorenko managed to finish his studies in the BSU and entered postgraduate studies with the scientific topic «The class struggle in the Belarusian village in the first year of the recovery period (1921)». Being a PhD student, he worked as an Assistant at the Department of the Principles of Marxism-Leninism. In March, 1950 A. I. Sidorenko, at that time – Senior Lecturer of the History of BSSR Department – successfully defended his thesis.
From 1955 to 1973, the post of the Faculty of History Dean was held by P. Z. Savochkin. Those were years when the system of training in the field of Belarusian history has been shaping in line with new requirements, highly qualified teaching staff has formed. The most important parameters and directions of the modern development of the Faculty of History were set, largely thanks to the Dean.
P. Z. Savochkin was born in the village of Rodina (modern. Liozno district, Vitebsk region) in the family of middle-class peasant. After graduation from the seven-year school and Vitebsk Pedagogical College he worked as a school teacher, district inspector, director of the seven year school (since 1933).
In 1935 P. Z. Savochkin became a student of the Faculty of History of the BSU. In June, 1940 after graduating from the University magna cum laude, he was called up for service to Krasnaya Army soldier and sent to the Baltic Military District. In Riga, June 22, 1941 the Red Army man P. Z. Savochkin joined the battle against the fascist aggressors. He was destined to go through the Great Patriotic War from the first to the last day: from the soldier to officer, the Assistant Chief of Division’s Intelligence. Major of the Guards liberated native Belarus, Warsaw, reached Berlin. His feat of arms was honored with eight military awards (including three orders and the sign of soldier’s valor – the Medal «For Courage»).
Demobilization in July, 1946 allowed the veteran to fulfill the student years’ dream of becoming a scientist. He entered postgraduate studies at alma mater, at the same time he, as a «senior scientist», has been taking part in setting the Great Patriotic War Museum exhibitions. He successfully defended his Candidate’s thesis «The struggle for Soviet power in the western regions of Belarus in 1918– 1920» in 1952. In 1953, he was appointed Deputy Director for academic and scientific work of the Minsk Trade Union Movement School of the All-Union Central Trade Union Council. But it was already in the spring of 1955, that he returned to his native Faculty of History and soon became its Dean. Three years later he became acting Head of the Department of the USSR History.
L. S. Abetsedarsky, Doctor of Science in History, Professor (1966), Corresponding Member of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the USSR (1968), was born in a town of Gorki in Mogilev region in the family of clerks. He started his career in September, 1931 as an instructor of the Orsha District Committee of Komsomol. In 1937 he became a student of the Faculty of History of BSU. He was a student of such famous scholars as Academicians N. M. Nikolsky and V. N. Pertsev, Professors A. P. P’yankov and L. M. Shneerson, Associate Professor D. A. Dudkov. In February 1942 he was drafted into the Red Army, took his military service on the far East and participated in the Manchu offensive operation in 1945. After graduating from the Faculty of History (1946) and postgraduate studies (1949) was working as a Senior Lecturer of the Department of History of the USSR, defended his PhD thesis in 1950. Since September, 1951 he headed the Department of the USSR History. In September, 1958 he became the Head of the Department of the BSSR History in the BSU. He was the one to initiate the establishment of the Department and headed it till the end of his life.
Scientific interests of L. S. Abetsedarsky focused on the period of the second part of XVI–XVII cent. on Belarusian lands. He was studying Russian- Belarusian relations, anti-feudal struggle of the masses and particularly the uprising of the middle of XVII cent., the events of the war between Russia and Rzeczpospolita of 1654–1667, Cossack movement and other socio-economic and other socio-political issues of that period. Dissertations and major monographs of the scholar were dedicated to these topics: «The struggle of the Ukrainian and Belarusian people for reunification with Russia in the middle of XVII century» (1954), «Belarus and Russia: Essays on Russian-Belarusian relations of the second half of XVI–XVII centuries» (1978), collection of documents «Russian-Belarusian Relations (1570–1667)» (1963). Contemporary researchers consider The book «Belarusians in Moscow of XVII century» (1957) is considered to be the most significant L. S. Abetsedarsky’s contribution to historical science. This publication provides valuable information about migration of the Belarusians to Moscow and Zamoskovny kraj and the role they played in the development of the culture of Moscow. In total L. S. Abetsedarsky has published more than 50 scientific and popular works.
Doctor of Science in History, Professor L. M. Shneerson was born in Cheliabinsk. He graduated the Leningrad Institute of History, Philosophy and Linguistics in 1934; finished his postgraduate study at the Leningrad State University (research supervisors were E. V. Tarle and A. I. Molok) in 1937. On October 29, 1937 L. M. Shneerson was appointed the Head of the newly created Department of the Modern History. The principal direction of the Department’s research work was the foreign policy of the European states in the XIX – beginning of the XX century.
Aggression of the Nazi Germany and its European allies against the USSR interrupted the educational and research work, scattered the lecturers and postgraduate students of the Department on fronts and rears of the Great Patriotic War. The decision to resume work of the BSU at the Skhodnya station near Moscow was made in May of 1943. L. M. Shneerson was appointed the acting Head of the Department of the Modern History and the Vice-Rector for academic affairs in August of 1943. In August of 1944 the first group of students and lecturers of the BSU returned to Minsk from evacuation; the regular studies began in autumn.
L. M. Shneerson defended his Candidate of Science thesis «The French- Prussian War of 1870-1871 and Public Opinion of Russia» in 1946, and the Doctor of Science thesis «The Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and the Policy of the Great European Powers (from the History of the «German Question»)» in 1963.
Famous Soviet historian of antiquity, semiologist and theologian G. M. Livshits was born in Daraganovo settlement (Minsk guberniya) in a family of a small Jewish trader.
Early education he got in a local cheder where melamed taught him reading and interpreting the Torah and Talmud. This knowledge G. M. Livshits kept until the end of his life, remaining one of the few historians in the BSU, who was able to read the Old Testament of the Bible in original.
Learning in cheder, where secular science has not been studied at all, was as a rule without continue for a boy of Belarusian Jewish shtetl. However, the situation changed radically after the formation of the BSSR. Since that time the way to free school education was opened to the representatives of all nationalities. In 1927 G. M. Livshits graduated from Starye Dorogi seven-year school and began to earn some money. He worked as a carpenter in Daraganovo and then at the Minsk plant of standard houses.
The country had a system of workers’ faculties since 1919. Its aim was to prepare workers and peasants for admission to higher school. G. M. Livshits graduated from such courses at the Belarusian State Higher Pedagogical Institute in 1931 and became a first year student of the Economic Department of socio-economic faculty. His father’s business may have had some influence on the choice of future profession.
Having a full training course and passing the qualifying state exams G. M. Livshits received a teacher diploma in 1934. So he received a right to work in colleges, schools, trade schools and at the workers’ faculties. In 1934 he became a postgraduate student at the Belarusian State Higher Pedagogical Institute. In 1939 after defending his dissertation «The Socio-political Struggle in 60s I cent. B. C. in Rome and the Catilinarian Conspiracy» he became a Candidate of Science. It was the first defended PhD thesis in General History in Belarus. The following year, G. M. Livshits became the first Associate Professor in General History in the BSSR.
G. M. Trukhnov was Doctor of Historical Science, Professor. He was born in the village of Shamki, the Holopenichi district, Minsk region. He graduated from the Minsk State Pedagogical Institute in 1934, and finished the postgraduate studies at the BSU in 1941. He took part in the Great Patriotic War. He was rewarded with the Order of the Patriotic War of the 1st and 2nd classes, two Orders of the Red Star, and the Medals «For the Victory over Germany», «For the Liberation of Warsaw», «For the Capture of Berlin». G. M. Trukhnov presented his candidate’s thesis «German Imperialistic Policy in Balkans during the I Balkan War (1912–1913)» in 1948, and the Doctor of Science thesis «Revolutionary Growth in Germany (1918 – till the Ruhr Occupation in 1923)» in 1964.
Origin and development of the Soviet Belarusian school of Germanic studies is inseparably related with G. M. Trukhnov’s name. From late 1940s till late 1960s the academic school of Germanists headed by G. M. Trukhnov and L. M. Shneerson was formed in Belarus. G. M. Trukhnov, L. M. Shneerson, N. P. Poletika, D. S. Klimovsky had published important monographic works which became widely known both in the USSR and abroad at the end of the 1950s – the 1960s.
In the 1970s – the mid-1980s the Belarusian Germanic studies developed very intensively. The circle of the studied problems increased considerably, the generalizing works had been created, and special collections of works had been published. In addition to the University various aspects of the German history had become the sphere of interest in the Institute of History of the BSSR Academy of Sciences, in the Universities of Gomel and Grodno, the Minsk Pedagogical Institute, other higher educational institutions.
G. M. Trukhnov had studied history of the Soviet-German relations of the 1920s in detail. Three monographs and numerous articles by G. M. Trukhnov about the Rapallo policy made an important contribution to the research of the difficult process of cooperation between the Weimar Germany and the USSR. At the same time G. M. Trukhnov studied various aspects of history of the Weimar Republic and the German policy in Balkans at the beginning of the XX century.
N. P. Poletika was born in Konotop, Sumy region. He originated from the impoverished Ukrainian branch of a noble family known in Russia. He studied at the Kiev University, the Historical and Philological Faculty, in 1914–1919. He graduated from the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Leningrad State University, specialization «The World Economy and World Politics» in 1924. He was the correspondent of «Leningradskaya pravda» in 1923–1928. This period of the journalistic activity is brightly described in his book of memoirs «The Seen and the Experienced» (1982, 1990).
N. P. Poletika had been the Assistant, the Associate Professor, the Head of the Department in the Leningrad Institute of Civil Air Fleet from 1930 to 1936. He became the first Candidate of Economic Sciences in «Economy of Air Transport» in the USSR in 1936. Then he had been working 15 years at the Faculty of History of the Leningrad University (1936–1951). There he presented his Doctoral thesis in historical science in December, 1940, and had worked as the Head of the Department of the International Relations and Foreign Policy of the USSR for some time. He was the Professor at the Department of Modern and Contemporary History in the BSU in 1953–1972. In 1973 he emigrated to Israel and spent 15 years of his life abroad.
Achievements of N. P. Poletika as a scholar, a lecturer and a teacher are indisputable. A testimonial from the BSU runs about him: «Professor N. P. Poletika is the creative scholar who is a master in technique of research; he has a universal erudition and wide scientific experience, able to put and solve complex and serious problems of historical science. Many interesting theses are prepared and presented under advisement of N. P. Poletika. He trained over 20 scholars who have successfully defended their Candidate theses».
I. M. Ignatenko is one of the most famous Belarusian historians of Soviet time. But the time of his studies and work at the BSU was very special. Here he proved himself as an outstanding scholar and educator.
I. M. Ignatenko was born in the village of Domamerki of Loyev district (currently Bragin district, Gomel region). His parents were peasants. The youth of the future famous historian was rather typical for the people of his generation who were looking for their place in life in the epoch of the euphoria over the socialist development, general militarization, open and hidden repressions. After seven-year school he studied agriculture in the Klimovichy agricultural technical school (1935–1937). Then he worked as a zootechnician in the Far East. In 1939–1947 he was at military service and experienced all the difficulties of the initial period of the Great Patriotic War being a marine of the Pacific Fleet. High intellectual level of the Belarusian sailor was noticed by the command officers and in 1942 I. M. Ignatenko was sent to the Naval Political Training School. Then he served in the Azov Fleet and the Black Sea Fleet as a party organizer. Was a member of Sevastopol city party committee.
After demobilization he decided to change the sphere of his activity. For some time he worked as an instructor of the Homel regional party committee, then moved to Leningrad to attend one-year courses of the USSR Public Prosecutor’s Office. In 1948 I. M. Ignatenko became a Prosecutor of Homel. Simultaneously he studied at the Faculty of History of the Homel Pedagogical Institute. In 1950 he got his diploma of historian and decided to devote himself to the academic career.
Following this decision, I. M. Ignatenko entered a post-graduate course at the BSU which he finished in 1953 with successful defense of his PhD thesis. Due to his experience and deep knowledge, I. M. Ignatenko was sent to Budapest at the time of the dramatic events of 1955–1956. In Hungary he headed the Department of the History of the USSR at the Lenin Institute. After his return to the BSU, he chaired «his» Department (one he worked at before his trip to Hungary) and had hold this position till 1959. At that time the Department trained the specialists on the Soviet history and history of the BSSR.
A. P. Ignatenko was born in the village of Studenets, Klimovichi district, Mogilev region in a peasant family. He survived the war and postwar starvation, but kept the sad memories of those hard times for life. In 1955 he graduated from the Faculty of History of the Belarusian State University, and in 1958 finished his postgraduate studies.
All the scientific, educational and social activities of A. P. Ignatenko were tied w ith the Faculty of History of the BSU, its Department of History of the BSSR, where he has gradually passed all stages of his professional career, beginning as departmental assistant. In 1963 he defended his Candidate of Science thesis and in 1976 a Doctor of Science thesis in History. From June 1980 he was a Professor. In 1966–1975 he worked as Deputy Dean of the correspondence faculty, and then of the Faculty of History. From 1975 to 1978 he was an acting Head and in 1989–1994 headed the Department of History of the BSSR (later – History of Belarus).
A. P. Ignatenko was the chairman of the BSU Scientific Council on history of Belarus; a scientific secretary, a member and then a deputy chairman of the specialized council of the University for theses in History. 10 researchers defended their candidate theses under his supervision. He was awarded the commemorative badge «For outstanding achievements in the Higher Education of the USSR».
A. P. Ignatenko’s research activity was concentrated on socio-economic and political history of Belarus in the second half of XVII–XVIII ct. This is evidenced by the titles of monographs, source books, chapters in textbooks: «Handicraft industry in Belarusian towns in XVII–XVIII ct.» Minsk, 1963; «The struggle of the Belarusian people for the reunification with Russia (2nd half of XVII– XVIII ct.)», Minsk, 1974; «History of the BSSR», Minsk, 1981, Part 1; «History of Belarus», Minsk, 1994, 1996, and others. Some of his generalizations of the historical facts aren’t free of categorical judgments and stereotypes typical for Soviet historiography, of course. But we should bear in mind what time it was and what ideological and working conditions for scholars in humanities existed.
Famous Belarusian Historian-Germanist D. S. Klimovsky was born in the Briansk region (Russia) in a peasant family. In the age of 12 he was accepted as a foster pupil to a railway regiment. After receiving secondary education he had entered the Smolensk electrotechnical school, but didn’t finish it. D. S. Klimovsky chose a way of the officer and continued study in the Ulyanovsk Military College of Communication.
He received «lieutenant» rank on June 10, 1941. 12 days later the Great Patriotic War began. Throughout the whole war D. S. Klimovsky was in field army, where he had passed a way from the commander of a platoon to the assistant chief of the staff. His combat career began in the South-Western Front, continued in the Volkhov, Leningrad, III and II Baltic, II and I Belarusian fronts. Officer was wounded three times, but after hospital always was back in the army. For his courage he was awarded the Order of Red Star, two Patriotic War Orders of I degree, medals.
After the Victory D. S. Klimovsky was serving in the group of Soviet forces in Germany for some years. Then he was transferred to Belarus: first in Minsk, then in Vitebsk. He chose a civil profession and entered the correspondence department of the Faculty of History of the BSU.
In 1954 D. S. Klimovsky retired f rom army with the rank of Major and began working in Minsk in the Republican Scientific-Methodical Cabinet of Cultural and Educational Work.
In 1956 he received the diploma of the historian and started postgraduate studies. Professor G. M. Trukhnov, one of the leading Germanists of the BSU, a specialist in German history of the 1920s, became his scientific adviser. Under his influence the main direction of scientific research of D. S. Klimovsky was determined: German-Polish relations between the two world wars.
In 1962 D. S. Klimovsky visited Moscow to work with the documents from the Archives of Foreign Policy. This visit was of high importance for his PhD research, as his hypotheses have found documental confirmation. On finishing postgraduate studies D. S. Klimovsky started to work at the Department of Modern and Contemporary History.
V. V. Chepko was born in Minsk in the family of a militia officer. In the years of Stalin’s repression her father was expelled from the party as the enemy of the people, a former tsarist officer and a «Polish spy». In order to avoid imminent arrest, Vladimir Chepko had shot himself.
In 1940 she graduated from secondary school and went to study at the Leningrad Shipbuilding Institute. The beginning of the Great Patriotic War found her in Leningrad. She was wounded and evacuated from the besieged city in the winter of 1942. In 1943 V. V. Chepko went to the front as a volunteer. She fought in communication unit together with her mother, a nurse. With the 27th Army V. V. Chepko went through the whole Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Austria. After the Victory the 27th Army was deployed to the Far East to fight against Japan. In Manchuria V. V. Chepko reached the Mukden. She was discharged in November 1945 and returned to Minsk.
She decided not to return to study to Leningrad. The reason was that most of her students classmates died during the war. V. V. Chepko entered the Faculty of History of the BSU.
When she was a third-year student, she had been elected to the Minsk City Council. V. V. Chepko was a deputy for 12 years. She worked in the Committee on Public Education.
In 1950 she graduated from the Belarusian State University and was accepted to postgraduate school, where she was studying until 1953.
In 1954 she successfully defended her candidate’s dissertation on «Social and cultural activities of George Skorina». Academician V. N. Pertsev, V. V. Chepko’s research supervisor, helped her to find a job at the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the BSSR. She has been working there until 1972. In 1956 she was awarded a title of senior scientific researcher.
I. V. Orzhekhovsky is a famous Soviet and Belarusian historian, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor. His formation as a scholar and a teacher was influenced by the outstanding historian P. A. Zayonchkovsky, a representative of Moscow research school. In its turn Moscow school was created under the guidance of the Academician Y. V. Gotye. I. V. Orzhekhovsky borrowed the best scientific traditions from that school and started his own school of Russian historical studies in the Republic of Belarus. He prepared 14 PhDs in History.
I. V. Orzhekhovsky was born in a family of a military man. His father was repressed in the 1930s and mother moved to Gorky (Nizhny Novgorod). In 1944—1951 he was a student of the Gorky Suvorov Military School. In 1956 entered the Lobachevski Gorky State University, the Faculty of History and Philology. In 1961 he entered the postgraduate study. In 1964 he defended his Candidate of Science thesis at the Lomonosov Moscow State University.
I. V. Orzhekhovsky was a teacher and a researcher at the Gorky State University dealing with different aspects of Russian history of the second half of XIX cent. In 1973 his book «Administration and Press between two Revolution Situations (1866–1878): Special Course Lectures» was published, followed by another one in 1974 – «Some Aspects of the Domestic Policy of the Samoderzhavie in the 1860–1870s: Special Course Lectures». Both books were prepared based on diverse new archival materials. The studies present analysis of the Russian Government policy. Author revealed D. V. Karakozov’s assassination attempt on Alexander II of April 4. 1866 influence on it. The study provides unique in terms of brightness and accuracy personal characteristics of some of the highest officials. Number of substantial new discoveries and estimations were made as well.
V. N. Riabtsevich is a famous numismatist, historian and archaeologist, Doctor of Science, Professor of the Department of Archaeology and Special Historical Disciplines of the Belarusian State University.
V. N. Riabtsevich was born in the village of Krasnoye (Mogilev region). In 1952 V. N. Riabtsevich was matriculated at the specialization in Philosophy of the Faculty of History of the BSU. After V. N. Riabtsevich continued his education at the specialization in History. In 1957–1959 he worked as a researcher of the organizational team of the BSSR State Museum. In 1959, he entered the graduate studies course in «Archaeology» at the Institute of History, Academy of Sciences of the BSSR and was sent to the State Hermitage. The guidance of his dissertation work was undertaken by the Doctor of Science and specialist in Russian numismatics I. G. Spassky. In 1964 V. N. Riabtsevich defended his thesis on the topography of monetary treasures of Belarus and was awarded a Candidate of Science degree. Upon returning to Minsk he started work at the Faculty of History of the BSU, firstly at the Ancient and Medieval History Department, since 1973 – at the Department of Archaeology, Ethnography and Auxiliary Historical Disciplines. He started as ordinary Lecturer to become an Assistant Professor (1970) and Professor (1997) there.
V. N. Riabtsevich is a founder of the Numismatics of Belarus. He studied the topography of monetary treasures in Belarus; investigated the history of coinage in the territory of Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland. V. N. Riabtsevich is an author of numerous scientific and popular monographs and articles. He authored 4 monographs, about 100 scientific and more than 300 encyclopaedic articles. His «What do the coins tell about» was published in 1968 and republished in 1977. One of his most prominent and famous works is a fundamental monograph «Numismatics of Belarus» (1995) which encompasses the period from the time of the appearance of the first coins in the territory of Belarus (I–II centuries AD) till the end of the ХХ cent. The same year he published a monograph «Russian-Polish coinage issues of the time of Peter I», which he defended as Doctor of Science in History thesis (1996).