Professor Ludwik Chmaj Imprisonment by NKGB in the Focus of the Archival Records of 1944-1945
Professor Ludwik Chmaj was a renowned Polish scholar, specialist in the Reformation period, a past master of Arianism, which was the topic of his several studies, including the book and source edition on Fausto Sozzini (1539-1604). As a historian of philosophy Chmaj was fascinated by the René Descartes' thought, and that inclined him to interpret the Descartes writings, and to dedicate to this great philosopher a separate monograph. Thanks to interest in Descartes, in the 30s he entered the philosophy of occasionalism, and later translated into Polish the opus magnum of one of the Descartes critics – Peter Gassendi's 'Logic'. Chmaj was not only historian of culture and philosophy, but equally the historian of psychology and educator or - better to say - pedagogue. His main opus was the synthesis entitled 'Kierunki i prady pedagogiki wspolczesnej' (Streams and directions of the contemporary pedagogy), published in 1938, and twice in the 60s. In 1939, when the war began, Chmaj hold the chair of pedagogy in the Vilna (Vilnius) University. He was arrested by the Soviet NKGB in August 1944, and spent nearly ten years in the USSR Gulag. Depositions made by professor Chmaj in the NKGB jail in Vilna are unique. His testimony shows us a brave, and honest man, who did not frighten to present to the NKGB officer his political point of view concerning the role of Soviets in Lithuania. Although involved in the Polish underground activity against Nazis, Chmaj did not reveal any names or opportunities unknown to the Soviets. Therefore he probably saved many of his colleagues and friends. He was released from the concentration camp in 1954, returned to Poland and ended his life as a professor in the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He died in 1959.
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