University of Łódź, Faculty of Philosophy and History (Poland)
Stalinist Vision of Science at a Polish University: Theory and Reality
The transformation of the old bourgeois order into a classless society according to Marx was one of main goals of the communists in the Soviet Union and their satellite states in Eastern Europe. This transformation was not only to affect the economy and industry but all areas of social life including science and the universities.
In Poland, the Polish Workers’ Party (after 1948, the Polish United Workers’ Party) seized power in 1947, and began a complex reform program in higher education. This program was a mix of the Soviet model, Polish tradition and new concepts resulting from the current needs of the state. The communists advocated a utilitarian role for the university: more support for the sciences over the humanities and for applied research over theoretical work. In secondary education, they wanted to “produce” a large number of specialists necessary for industry. Thus, in Poland, there were two levels of studies. Most students completed only the first level (3 years). The second level (2 years) was intended for a smaller number of more talented students as preparation for an academic career. In practice, three years was too short a period to educate a specialist.
In this paper, I will describe the Stalinist vision of science at a university and the difficulties in realizing that vision in the Polish People’s Republic between 1947 and 1956. Research for this paper was done in several state and university archives. Use was also made of diaries, newspapers and ideological texts.