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In memorium: Zbigniew Pełczyński OBE (1925-2021)

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    Zbigniew Pełczyński

The Department was saddened to hear that renowned former Oxford politics lecturer, Fellow and alumnus Zbigniew Pełczyński has passed away at the age of 95.

Zbigniew was a Polish-British political philosopher and academic who began his life in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Poland. He was taken prisoner by the Germans while fighting in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. After being freed from a camp near Bremen, he joined the Polish First Armoured Division under British command, and because of this was able to receive a grant to study in Britain.

In 1956 Zbigniew completed his DPhil at Oxford in 1956 on Germany philosopher Georg Hegel’s minor political works. He subsequently taught at Trinity, Balliol and Merton before being elected a Fellow of Pembroke and lecturing in politics at the college from 1957 to 1992. His students included seven future government ministers, a US Senator and Rhodes Scholar and future US President Bill Clinton. Other famous students he tutored include Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban and former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radek Sikorski.

He was later an Emeritus Fellow of Pembroke and played a key role in helping facilitate scholars from Poland and other post-communist countries to study at British universities, in particular at Oxford and Cambridge. He was also instrumental in helping to establish a scholarship program for Polish students at Oxford.

Following his retirement, he served as an advisor to the Polish government in the re-establishment of democracy in the country after the collapse of communism.

Zbigniew was appointed OBE in 1993, in recognition of his contributions to British-Polish relations, and awarded a decoration by the first post-communist President of Poland, Lech Walesa.

“Zbigniew will be remembered with great affection by the College community, and many others here in Oxford and around the world,” said Ernest Ryder, Master of Pembroke College.

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