George Lenczowski

Political science educator, consultant

Born Feb. 2, 1915, St. Petersburg, Russia; came to U.S., 1945; son of Jerzy and Halina (Drewnowska); married Bronislawa (Szylkiewicz); children: John, Hubert.

Education: Master of Laws (LL.M.), J. Pilsudski University, Warsaw (Poland), 1936; civil law diploma, Universite de Paris (France), 1936; Juris Scientiae Doctor (J.S.D.), Universite de Lille (France), 1938.

Career: diplomat. Polish Foreign Service, Essen - Ruhr (Germany), Tel Aviv (Palestine), Warsaw, 1935-39; press attache, Polish Embassy, Teheran (Iran), 1942-45; visiting prof., St. Anthony College, Oxford University (United Kingdom), 1958; consultant, United States Oil Industry, New York City, San Francisco, 1955-; consultant, National Security Council, National War College, Washington (DC), 1970.

Author: Russia and the West in Iran, 1949; Oil and Stale in the Middle East, 1960; The Middle East in World Affairs, 4 editions, last 1980; American Presidents and the Middle East, 1990.

Member of: director, Middle East Research Program, American Enterprise Institute, Washington (DC). 1969-75; senior fellow, Hoover Institution (Middle East Committee chairman, 1970'); trustee, College Preparatory School, Oakland (CA), 1970; advisory board member, Lawrence Hall of Science, 1975-85; board governors member, Middle East Institute, Washington; American Academy of Political Science.

Honors: fellowship, Ford Foundation, 1950, Rockefeller Foundation, 1963; A. Jurzykowski Award, 1993; Cross of Merit for Military Deed, L. Walesa, President of Poland, 1994.

Served with: Polish Armed Forces in the Middle East, Carpathian Brigade, 2nd lieutenant, 1941-42.

Affiliation: Republican. Roman Catholic.

Languages: Polish, English, French, German, Arabic, Latin.

Home: 2957 Avalon Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705.

From: "Who's Who in Polish America" 1st Edition 1996-1997, Boleslaw Wierzbianski editor; Bicentennial Publishing Corporation,
New York, NY, 1996

George Lenczowski
Professor of Political Science, Emeritus; University of California at Berkeley

The death of Professor Emeritus George Lenczowski brought to a close a distinguished career in political science and Middle Eastern studies that spanned more than four decades, of which 33 years were spent on the faculty of the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Lenczowski died on February 19, 2000, at his home in Berkeley.

Of Polish parentage, Lenczowski was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1915, at a time when the land of his ancestors was still part of neighboring empires. His father worked there as an engineer until the revolution, and one of the earliest memories of young George was a perilous escape from the Bolsheviks through war-torn Russia, that took the family back to what soon was to become an independent Poland. It was there that Lenczowski had his education from primary school to the faculty of law, where he took his LL.M degree in 1936. He continued his studies in France, where he earned a Certificate in Civil Law at the University of Paris (1936) and a Doctorate in Juridical Science in Lille (1937), for a dissertation on Contracts in Private and International Law, written in French and published in Paris by Domat-Montchrestien in 1938. In the same year he entered the Polish Foreign Service, and as a junior diplomat was stationed in British Palestine, acting as consular officer and liaison between the British authorities and Jewish immigrants from Poland.

When his country was invaded and occupied by Germany and the Soviet Union, Lenczowski's Palestinian assignment came to an end. In 1940 he volunteered to serve in the Carpathian Brigade of the Free Polish Army, under the general command of Field Marshal Montgomery. He saw action in Egypt and Libya, most prominently at the siege of Tobruk, advancing to the rank of second lieutenant. At the end of the same year, however, he was recalled by the Polish Foreign Service to be stationed at the Polish Embassy in Tehran, Iran. There he was part of the effort to receive, process and assist some two million Poles just released from Soviet concentration camps upon the intervention of Britain. It was there that he met his future wife, Bronia, nee Szylkiewicz, who herself had been prisoner of the Soviets near the city of Gorky. They were wed in March 1943, and were married for 47 years until her death in 1990.

In 1945, with their homeland facing imminent communist rule, the Lenczowskis became immigrants to the United States. After a year of graduate study at The Johns Hopkins University, and occasional work for the Foreign Broadcasting Division of the Department of State, Lenczowski found employment as instructor, and later assistant professor, at Hamilton College in New York State. It was in this capacity that he came to the attention of Peter Odegard, then one of the pivotal figures of the discipline of political science and chair of the Berkeley department. It was upon Odegard's invitation that Lenczowski came to Berkeley as a visiting associate professor, and, after another year of research and language study in Lebanon, as a tenured member of the faculty.

Lenczowski made his scholarly debut in the United States by publishing Russia and the West in Iran (1949), soon to be followed by his path-breaking work, The Middle East in World Affairs (1952). The latter has been republished in three further editions, and with appropriate revisions, has remained an authoritative text on the politics of the region for over three decades. Altogether, between 1949 and his death, Lenczowski authored six books and monographs, coauthored and co-edited two others, and published close to 100 scholarly articles on critical facets of Middle Eastern politics, both domestic and international. His scholarship was characterized by the accumulation of massive amounts of data, most of which he collected in the course of personal encounters on field trips. In his scholarship he was aided by the mastery of a great number of languages: Polish, English, French, German, Russian, Arabic, and Farsi. He was a master interviewer, who could develop unusual rapport with his subjects, and, with his reputation for objectivity, would be as welcome by royalty of Moslem countries as by the academic community and political leaders of the new state of Israel. The same personal qualities earned him the respect of U.S. administrations of both political parties, and made him a frequent visitor to the White House under both Democratic and Republican administrations.

As he was gaining international recognition, Lenczowski was invited to serve on the governing boards of numerous learned societies and centers of research, and was a frequent speaker and resident lecturer at diverse academic institutions: St. Antony's at Oxford University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the universities of Geneva, Tehran, and Toronto, the American University of Beirut, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), the National War College (Washington, D.C.), the Army War College (Pennsylvania), and Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

In Berkeley, Lenczowski pioneered his field as the founder and first chair of the Committee (later Center) of Middle Eastern Studies. Over the years, he served as vice chair and graduate advisor of his department, was member of the Senate Rules and Jurisdiction Committee, and was active in curricular affairs. As an undergraduate teacher he was respected for his precision and openness; as a mentor of graduate students he raised a generation of scholars who, in 1985, acknowledged their debt to him by publishing the volume, Ideology and Power in the Middle East: a Festschrift in Honor of George Lenczowski. His contributions are aptly summarized by Chalmers Johnson, past chair of his department. In Johnson's words, "it was the quiet effectiveness and unshakable integrity of people like him who made Berkeley one of the most outstanding academic institutions in the world."

Next to being a professional scholar and trusted advisor in and outside academia, Lenczowski was a true humanist, with a love of the law, and with his belief in social justice and hope for world peace. Though never blind to flaws in American society, he was throughout the decades a devoted and public-spirited citizen of his adopted country. He and his wife were generous and stylish hosts and very much part of the Berkeley social scene. For many years he was a popular member of the Bohemian Club, appreciated as much for sophistication. His family knew him as a dedicated husband and father, his friends as a gentleman of the old school who rose to the challenges of novelty bore with dignity and strength, continuing his labors and keeping his home open to visitors to the very end. He will be remembered fondly by former touched during his remarkable career.

From: Andrew C. Janos
Memorials of Polish Patriots of Northern California

[Lenczowski Picture]

(1928 photo) from left: Jan Kwiatkowski (killed in the September Campaign), Jan Nowak-Jezioranski, Jerzy (George) Lenczowski, Jan Kott, Ryszard Matuszewski.

George Lenczowski
UC Professor - Middle East Expert
February 2, 1915 - February 19, 2000

George Lenczowski, a professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley and renowned expert on the Middle East, died Saturday after a long struggle with heart disease. He was 85.

Born in 1915 to Polish parents in St. Petersburg, Russia, Professor Lenczowski served as a diplomat in Palestine, fought in the Polish army alongside the British in North Africa, consulted governments and corporations and taught at U.S. universities for more than three decades.

When Professor Lenczowski was 3 years old, his family fled to Poland seeking refuge from Red Army troops. Growing up in Warsaw, he earned his law degree at age 21 from the University of Warsaw and later a diploma in civil law from the University of Paris and a doctorate from the University of Lille in France.

He joined the Polish diplomatic service in the late-1930s, taking his first post in British-mandated Palestine.

He was witness to the growing numbers of Jews desperate to escape Eastern Europe.

“He was involved in what was a very difficult and delicate process," said Professor Lenczowski' son, John Lenczowski. “The British were trying to control the immigration and the Arabs didn't want the immigration."

In 1940, he entered the Polish army, joining the British in North Africa defending Tobruk against the Germans.

He was then called back to the foreign service as press attaché in Tehran in time for the 1943 summit there involving President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin.

Tragedy then struck. His parents were arrested by the Germans during the Warsaw uprising and executed in concentration camp.

In 1943, Professor Lenczowski met and married his wife, Bronislawa. When the Yalta accord was signed in 1945, the Lenczowskis refused to serve in Stalin's communist government in Poland and sought refuge in the United States.

Professor Lenczowski did a research fellowship at the School of Advanced International Studies before teaching at Hamilton College in New York. In 1952, he joined the faculty at UC Berkeley, where he started the first program in Middle Eastern studies at any major U.S. university and taught until he was 70.

The author of several books considered at the forefront of Middle Eastern studies, Professor Lenczowski frequently traveled to meet with many of the leaders and historic figures of the Middle East. He also held many prestigious posts, serving as director of the Middle East Research Project at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., senior research fellow and chairman of the Middle East Committee at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a member of the board of the Middle East Institute.

For almost 50 years, he was a consultant to government agencies, including the National Security Council, and to corporations in the energy, banking and steel industries.

A longtime resident of Berkeley, Professor Lenczowski was also a member of the Bohemian Club, a board member of the College Preparatory School in Oakland, and on the advisory council of the Lawrence hall of Science.

Although he was a scholar of the Middle East, Professor Lenczowski was an eager student of the areas.

“He was really a veracious reader and a historian of other parts of the world," said John Lenczowski.

He is survived by his two sons, Hubert, an attorney in Oakland, John, director of a graduate school of national security in Washington, D.C.; and four grandchildren.

By Tanya Schevitz ­ SF Chronicle ­ Feb. 22, 2000
Memorials of Polish Patriots of Northern California