To the 100th birth aniversary of Bohdan Osadchuk

This year, on August the 1st, the Ukrainian and Polish cultural communities celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of Bohdan Osadchuk (1920-2011), a renown intellectual of the twentieth century, – eminent Ukrainian émigré historian and journalist, researcher of Central and Eastern European history, professor at the Free University of Berlin. Osadchuk significantly stimulated and contributed to the Ukrainian-Polish cultural and political dialogue, thus improving mutual understanding between the two countries.

Osadchuk was born in Kolomyia in Western Ukraine (then – Poland) in 1920 in a family of a Ukrainian teacher. He studied history of the countries of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, international law and Eastern European languages at the University of Berlin (Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität), which he graduated in 1944. He continued his studies and research at the Ukrainian Free University in Munich, where he wrote his doctoral thesis on Soviet national policy. In 1966 he was appointed professor of modern Eastern European history at the Otto Suhr Institute of Political Science of the Free University of Berlin (FUB). This institute was and remains to this day the largest and most renowned center in Germany for the study of political and social sciences. Osadchuk later taught at the Eastern European Institute of the FUB.

After getting acquainted with Jerzy Giedroyc, a Polish writer and political activist in exile, the editor of Kultura, the highly influential Paris-based periodical, Osadchuk establishes the German-language information bulletin Stimmen zu osteuropäischen Fragen (1952–1953), and actively contributes to Kultura. He publishes analytical materials on Eastern European and, in particular, Polish-Ukrainian topics, in the German-language press, heads the Ukrainian magazine in exile Віднова (Recovery) in the 80’s, is an invited speaker on the German television program “Internationaler Frühschoppen“. He befriended and closely interacted with prominent Polish intellectuals, including the Nobel Laureate Czesław Miłosz, Witold Gombrowicz and Adam Michnik. In 1997 Osadchuk voiced the idea of a Polish-Ukrainian university in Lublin and in 2000 the European Post-Graduate College of Polish and Ukrainian Universities was founded.

For his engagement and achievements Bohdan Osadchuk was awarded many prestigious awards and titles, including the “Cross of the Commander” (1994, Poland), “Order of the White Eagle” (Poland, 2001), the title “The Man of the Frontier” (2005, Ukraine-Poland), “For Intellectual Courage” (2006, Ukraine), honorary doctorate of the National University “Kyiv Mohyla Academy” (2006). In 2009 Osadchuk was awarded a Bene Merito Honour medal by Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski in recognition of his scientific achievements and efforts to Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation.

Bibliography (selected):

  • Bohdan Osadchuk: “The Entwicklung der Kommunistischen Parteien Ostmitteleuropas” / “Development of the Communist Parties of Central and Eastern Europe” (1962)
  • Bohdan Osadchuk: “Der Sowjetkommunismus-Dokumente” / “Soviet Communism. Documents”(1964)
  • Bohdan Osadchuk: Weisser Adler, Kreuz und Rote Fahne. Chronik der Krisen des kommunistischen Herrschaftssystems in Polen 1956–1982. Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zürich (1982)
  • Ukraina, Polska, świat. Wybór reportaży i artykułów (wybrał i przedmową opatrzył Andrzej Stanisław Kowalczyk; wstęp Jerzy Giedroyc i Czesław Miłosz; seria: „Meridian”; Pogranicze (2000)
  • Осадчук Богдан. Україна, Польща, Світ (2001)
  • Wiek ukraińsko-polski: rozmowy z Bohdanem Osadczukiem (rozmowy przeprowadzili: Andrzej Stanisław Kowalczyk i Basil Kerski, współpraca Krzysztof Zastawny; Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej (2001)​
  • Basil Kerski, Andrzej Stanisław Kowalczyk (Hrsg.): Ein ukrainischer Kosmopolit mit Berliner Adresse. Gespräche mit Bohdan Osadczuk (Alexander Korab). Fibre Verlag, Osnabrück (2003). Veröffentlichungen der Deutsch-Polnischen Gesellschaft Bundesverband e.V. 2
  • Niepodległa Ukraina (seria: „Meridian”), Pogranicze (2006​)
  • Polska i Ukraina. Rozmowy z Bohdanem Osadczukiem, Wydawnictwo Kolegium Europy Wschodniej (2008) ​
  • Ukraiński polonofil. Pamięci Bohdana Osadczuka, pod redakcją Iwony Hofman, Lublin: UMCS (2012)

An important evidence of Bohdan Osadchuk’s cultural activity and his contacts with the prominent representatives of the Polish and European intellectual circles is the 2019 publication of his correspondence with Jerzy Giedroyc for half a century: “Jerzy Giedroyc, Bohdan Osadczuk. Correspondence 1950-2000 ”.

Bohdan Osadchuk published under the pseudonym Alexander Korab, and his friends and colleagues knew him personally, as well as his reports and articles under the pseudonym Berlinets.

Prepared based on open-source materials by Dr. Olesia Lazarenko and Dr. Oksana Seumenicht

In Ukrainian (download)