Rozdolsky, Roman

Rozdolsky, Roman [Роздольський, Роман; Rozdol’s’kyj] (Rosdolsky, Rozdolski), b 18 July 1898 in Lviv, d 20 October 1967 in Detroit. Historian, interpreter of Marxism, and political activist; son of Osyp Rozdolsky. He began his left-wing political activities in 1913 as an organizer of ‘Drahomanov organizations,’ whose Vistnyk he edited in 1916 (see Mykhailo Drahomanov). In 1917 he edited the revolutionary periodical Klychi, and in 1918 he helped to establish the International Revolutionary Social Democratic Youth in Lviv. After serving in the Ukrainian Galician Army (1918–19) Rozdolsky became a cofounder of the Communist Party of Eastern Galicia (renamed the Communist Party of Western Ukraine [KPZU] in 1923). He was a major theoretician of the KPZU and adhered to the faction, led by Osyp Vasylkiv, that opposed Stalinist national policy in Soviet Ukraine.

From 1927 Rozdolsky lived in Vienna. His doctoral dissertation (University of Vienna 1929) concerned Johann-Christian Engels's views on the ‘nonhistorical’ peoples of Austria during the Revolution of 1848–9 in the Habsburg monarchy; this was the first version of what later became a book on the subject (German edns 1964, 1979; English 1986). To escape a general repression against the left, in 1934 he returned to Lviv, where he worked at Lviv University as a researcher under the Polish economic historian Franciszek Bujak. In the late 1930s he coedited the journal Zhyttia i slovo (Drohobych), which exposed Stalinist crimes in Soviet Ukraine while simultaneously polemicizing with the nationalist Ukrainian right. He also wrote two books on the history of the Galician peasantry in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, one on communal landholding (1936; German edn 1954), the other on serfdom. When the Soviets occupied Lviv in 1939 they destroyed all printed copies of the latter book, but Rozdolsky was able to reconstruct it after the Second World War and publish it in Warsaw in 1962 (2 vols). To escape the Soviet authorities he moved to Cracow, where the Gestapo arrested him in 1942. He spent the rest of the war in concentration camps, including Oświęcim Concentration Camp, about which he published a memoir.

In 1947 Rozdolsky emigrated to the United States and settled in Detroit. His major work of the postwar period was an interpretation of Karl Marx's economic thought, which appeared in German in 1968 and subsequently was translated into many languages, including English (The Making of Marx's Capital, 1977). He also wrote studies of Joseph II's agrarian reforms (1961), the peasant deputies to the Austrian parliament in 1848–9 (1976), and revolutionary tactics in 1914–18 (1973). Although written mainly in German and Polish, Rozdolsky's works had a Ukrainian perspective and, with the exception of the book on Marxian economics, contained much material on Ukrainian themes.

Radziejowski, J. ‘Roman Rosdolsky: Man, Activist, and Scholar,’ Science & Society, 42, no. 2 (Summer 1978)
Himka, John-Paul. ‘Introduction,’ in R. Rosdolsky, Engels and the ‘Nonhistoric' Peoples: The National Question in the Revolution of 1848 (Glasgow 1986)

John-Paul Himka

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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