Rudolf Schlesinger, a Marxist theoretician and one-time political activist, was a lecturer and researcher at the department of Soviet Studies at the University in the 1940s, which expanded to become the Institute of Soviet and East European Studies, under the directorship of Britain’s most distinguished Sovietologist, Alexander Nove.
Schlesinger’s life was formed by his early confrontations with fascism in Vienna, becoming an active member of the German Communist Party, working in Berlin, Moscow and Prague. His move to the UK is an astonishing story in itself: Living in Prague, after having been arrested and imprisoned in Germany, expelled from the Communist Party and the USSR, Schlesinger fled the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939 by walking with his wife over the Carpathian mountains into Poland, and from there sailed on the last ship to leave Gdynia for Britain.
At the University, Schlesinger co-founded with Jacob Miller the first peer-reviewed journal specifically devoted to the economic, political and social policy systems of the Soviet Union, Soviet Studies. He later founded the he journal Co-Existence: A Journal for the Comparative Study of Economics, Sociology and Politics in a Changing World in 1964, for which he is most noted as it was one of the earliest platforms for intellectual discussion on an international level.