Supek to Krleža, Krleža to Supek: After the Open Letter of the Council of the Ruđer Bošković Institute of 26 February 1954Reportar como inadecuado

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Prilozi za istraživanje hrvatske filozofske baštine, Vol.41. No.1 81 October 2015. -

The Manuscript Legacy of Miroslav Krleža, filed in the Manuscripts and Old Books Collection of the National and University Library in Zagreb under a unique shelf number R 7970, includes two letters which Ivan Supek addressed to Krleža in 1954. The first letter was sent on 1 March, accompanied by an -Open Letter to the Assembly of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts JAZU,- which the Council of the Ruđer Bošković Institute of Physics dated 26 February 1954. The second letter Supek addressed to Krleža on 13 May 1954, and as far as we know, it marked the end of their correspondence in 1954. The Legacy of Ivan Supek, in family possession, contains an official letter dated 5 May 1954, by which Miroslav Krleža, acting as vice-president of the Academy at the time, informs Ivan Supek about two decisions passed at the informal session of the Assembly of the Yugoslav Academy on 29 April 1954; in his intellectual autobiography entitled Krivovjernik na ljevici Heretic on the Left, Supek cites but a single characteristic fragment of that letter. For the first time a full text of these four documents is published here in my transcription which most faithfully follows the original without any interventions in terms of either punctuation or devices used for emphasis.

The Open Letter of the Council of the Ruđer Bošković Institute to the Assembly of the Yugoslav Academy includes a host of hitherto unknown data on the Institute’s first four years of development, as it closely documents the chronology of the conflict between the Institute’s Council and the Presidency of the Yugoslav Academy from 1950 till 1953, at the root of which was the decision making on the development of the Institute. As Council president, Ivan Supek made huge efforts to reconcile -two different tendencies of development,- first by drawing up a Temporary Statute of the Institute in 1952, and later, in the spring of 1953, by making a proposition to the University Senate and the Presidency of the Yugoslav Academy by which -the Academy and University should collaborate at the Ruđer Bošković Institute on common goals.-

Since the draft of the Institute’s Statute at the turn of 1953 to 1954 had stood at a standstill for three months, the Institute’s Council decided to send an Open Letter to the Assembly of the Yugoslav Academy with a counter-proposition by which -the Academy Statute should be changed in accordance with scientific development in our country.- From the perspective of Ivan Supek, that is -us physicists,- the Institute’s successful development was to rest on its self-governance and organic connection with the University, but the Academy’s administration was not willing to consider such a formally-based legal framework of the Institute’s operation within its system.

The Open Letter emerged during a heated debate on the organisation of scientific work in Croatia and Yugoslavia. Academic circles could not reconcile with the fact that, according to the Soviet model, the research work would be organised exclusively at the academies. From this standpoint, the topics of the Open Letter reverberate two strong voices: the addresses of the Nobel Prize winner Lavoslav Ružička during his visits to Yugoslavia in November 1949 and October 1952, and a speech that Ivan Supek delivered on 22 January 1953 at a meeting of the Department of the

Mathematics and Physics at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the Zagreb University, published in the March issue of Pogledi. While Ružička firmly stated that the -University ought to be a supreme place for higher education and for the fundamental research in the field of pure and applied science, and a unique place for the attainment of academic degrees,- in the interest of the Institute Supek publicly advocated for -a harmonic community of University and Academy,- although deep at heart he shared Ružička’s views.

In the letter of 1 March 1954, Ivan Supek appealed to Miroslav Krleža, vicepresident and Communist Party secretary of the Academy, to help him untangle the relations between the Institute and JAZU, and whom he wished to address in person and elaborate the motives behind the Open Letter. Judging by the events that followed, Supek’s attempt proved futile.

In the absence of Andrija Štampar, Academy president, Krleža, acting as vicepresident, on 5 May 1954 sent an official letter to Supek concerning the decisions of the informal session of the Academy Assembly held on 29 April 1954. From this letter alone we can learn that the Academy Assembly established 23 March 1954 as termination date of Supek’s Academy membership on the basis of his letter on the renouncement of membership, but also that on 29 April 1954 an additional penalty was issued against Supek: that -he disqualified himself for any work at the Academy or collaboration with it.- Nevertheless, he retained his leading position at the greatest institute within the Yugoslav Academy.

In a letter dated 13 May 1954, Supek asked Krleža to send him the minutes of the Commission which the formal Academy Assembly of 16 March 1954 appointed with an aim to establish his responsibility for the Open Letter, so that he could finally learn -the reasons underlying the accusation against me. The consequences which I may suffer are not an issue here, but it is in the Academy’s interest to establish the truth, along with the true motives for drawing up an Open Letter.- Here he expressed his disappointment by the fact -that some places from the Open Letter were understood as offences, and that they actually distracted discussion away from the principal issues,- but insisted on the key point from the Open Letter -that for the selfgovernance of the Institute and its organic connection with the University a change of the Academy Statute was necessary.-

In the spring of 1954, the Yugoslav Academy headed by Andrija Štampar definitely gave up on the concept of an inter-disciplinary research institute, although under the pressure of the ‘young lions’ from its largest institute, and in accordance with the Soviet model and the original ideas and decisions of Boris Kidrič died on 11 April 1953, had an opportunity to take this path in its own development, too. Upon the Assembly’s ‘reply’ to the Institute Council, the concept of multi- and inter-disciplinary approach to fundamental research in natural sciences in organic connection with the University as development model for the Ruđer Bošković Institute faced new risks, including those of political nature, but the research community gathered at the Institute, despite the circumstances, managed to live its ‘dream’ of self-governance and development in harmony with the University, as confirmed by a decision on the new organisation of the Institute passed on 7 September 1954. This step in the Institute’s development was also approved by the Republic government, when on 22 November 1954, in agreement with the Yugoslav Academy, it decided that as from 1 January 1955 the Institute was no longer part of the Yugoslav Academy. Five months after the Republic’s decision, another step towards the Institute’s lasting ‘independence’ took place, when by a decision of the Federal Government of 30 April 1955 the Institute as a -self-financed institution- came under the authority of the Federal Nuclear Energy Commission headed by Aleksandar Ranković, and in this formally legal frame operated for eleven years – until Ranković’s political downfall on 1 July 1966.

Miroslav Krleža, to whom in the crucial days of early March 1954 Ivan Supek offered a mediating role, as a highly-positioned Academy member failed to see this historical opportunity to support the development of natural sciences in Croatia in a new direction, perhaps less exposed to political pressure. Ivan Supek and Mladen Paić, who on different legal grounds by 29 April 1954 no longer were correspondent members of JAZU, seven years later–on 16 June 1961–were elected full members, which is a unique case in the history of the Yugoslav Academy.

Ivan Supek; Miroslav Krleža; Lavoslav Ružička; Andrija Štampar; Mladen Paić; Ruđer Bošković Institute of Physics; Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts; development of natural sciences in Croatia after 1945

Autor: Ivica Martinović - ; Institut za filozofiju, Zagreb, Hrvatska



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