Semkovsky, Semen

Semkovsky, Semen [Семковський, Семен; Semkovskij; né Bronshtein], b 15 March 1882 in Mahiliou in Belarus, Russian Empire, d 18 March 1937 in Kharkiv. Philosopher and sociologist; full member of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (VUAN) from 1929; cousin of Leon Trotsky. A graduate in law of Saint Petersburg University and a Menshevik, he spent 10 years in Vienna and then lectured at Kyiv University (1918–20) and the Kharkiv Institute of People's Education (1920–36). In 1920 he renounced his Menshevik ties, and then advanced quickly in the academic world: he became head of the Philosophy-Sociology Division of the Ukrainian Institute of Marxism-Leninism in Kharkiv (1922–31), chairman of the Department of European Cultural History at the Kharkiv Institute of People's Education (from 1922), chairman of the VUAN Sociology Commission (1927–36), member of the VUAN Presidium and chairman of its Association of Natural Science (1931–6), a member of the Council for the Study of the Productive Resources of the Ukrainian SSR (1934–6), and chairman of the VUAN Philosophical Commission (1934–6). He wrote many works in Russian, including books on L. Feuerbach (1922), the theory of relativity and materialism (1924), dialectical materialism and the principle of relativity (1926; Ukrainian translation 1931), and physics and chemistry in the light of Marxism (1933). A member of the All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee, he was arrested at the end of 1936, accused of forming a ‘Trotskyist-Zinovevite terrorist organization’ in Ukraine, and executed. He was posthumously rehabilitated in 1956.

Taras Zakydalsky

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

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