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582 10 2013 , 29 2014 . 785

University news
Professor Frithjof Benjamin Schenk at Saint Tikhons University conference on The 1917 Russian Revolution and Switzerland

On October 17, 2017, an international conference on The 1917 Russian Revolution and Switzerland was held in the main building of Saint Tikhons Orthodox University of the Humanities. It was dedicated to the centenary of the Local Council of the Russian Church and the Russian Revolution of 1917. 

Talks at the conference were given by Frithjof Benjamin Schenk, Professor of History at the University of Basel (Switzerland); Dr. Lydia Borisovna Milyakova, Senior Researcher of the Research Department for Modern History at Saint Tikhons University, and Professor Andrei Yurevitch Andreev from Saint Tikhons University.

In his opening address, Swiss Ambassador to Russia Yves Rossier stressed that what is most important of all in world history is how people act in various circumstances. The events that occurred 100 years ago, including the revolution, confirm that this axiom is true. What happened in Petrograd had an influence on all of Europe. This is why we will always be searching for things that unite us rather than divide us, Ambassador Rossier declared.

The first talk on The Russian Revolution and Switzerland: From the Russian Emigration to the Centenary of the Revolution was given by Professor Schenk. He gave a description of the historical events in Switzerland that preceded the Communist Revolution in Russia. The professor gave special emphasis to the fact that, up until very recently, the Swiss authorities made all sorts of attempts to suppress the memory of Switzerlands role in the Russian Revolution. The country was afraid that the spark of revolution might ignite a fire in Switzerland, too. Opposition to Communism became an important part of Swiss government policy. For example, the house where Lenin lived in 1915 was torn down in 1971. Switzerland did everything it could to rid itself of the reputation of being the cradle of the Russian Revolution. 

Ms. Milyakova read a paper on The Church Question in the 1903 Party Program of the Russian Social Democrats as the Foundation of Bolshevik Legislation.

In his turn, Dr. Andreev talked about Swiss universities and their influence on the Russian revolution. In Switzerland, the government attempted to create universities, but there were problems with finding teaching staff and making up a student body, since the population was overwhelmingly rural. This was the reason why they started inviting foreign students and professors to come, he recounted. As the speaker said, the Swiss universities were popular with Russian students. In 19th-century Russia, a series of limitations was imposed on higher education, whereas Switzerland had no such restrictions. For example, women as well as men were allowed to study in Switzerland.


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