константин кацаров1


Author: Prof. Venelin TSACHEVSKY

Konstantin Katzarov is a little known name to the Bulgarians of today. The main reason for this resides not so much in the fact that he spent a large part of his life outside Bulgaria and for a few decades is no longer among the living. Actually, as is the case with so many other notable Bulgarians – such as Katzarov undoubtedly is – historians simply haven’t taken the time to study and describe his personal life, professional career and his contributions to Bulgaria.

Katzarov has a remarkable biography. He was born on 18 / 30 July 1898 in a well-to-do intellectual family/ In 1916 at the will of his father he went to study law at the University of Bern, Switzerland. After his graduation, he began writing a doctoral dissertation entitled “The Expropriation Process under Swiss Law”, which he successfully defended in May 1920.  The dissertation was also Katzarov’s first piece of academic research, which was printed as a separate publication in Austria.

During his studies in Switzerland, Katzarov proved to be not only a diligent and gifted student but also a patriotically-minded individual.. In 1918 he was among the founders of the Union of Bulgarian Societies in Switzerland. At that time the organization’s activities were oriented toward the defence of the cause of the Bulgarian people’s unification and against the Treaty of Neuilly which was severely unjust to Bulgaria In the summer of 1920 Katzarov returned to Bulgaria. Overcoming difficulties of a health and personal nature, he resolutely stepped on the road of the science in the field of law. In the 1920s he published his first academic works and opened his own law firm. He participated in academic conferences in Germany, the UK, Czechoslovakia and other countries. In 1924, he published a guide for patent and trade mark registration and opened a patent office. His legal services were sought after by an increasing number of Bulgarian and foreign companies and institutions.

In 1931, Katzarov was appointed as dozent at the Faculty of Law of the University of Sofia. This came in recognition of his academic achievements, the most significant among which was the book “Material Basis and Legal Nature of Industrial Property”(1929). In 1936, Katzarov was appointed as an extraordinary professor at the same university. During the period between the two world wars, he became one of the eminent Bulgarian scholars in the field of jurisprudence. His works were published in the Yearbook of the University of Sofia, the magazines “Legal Thoughts”, “The Lawyer Review”, and others, as well as in abroad. The focus of Katzarov’s academic research fell on commercial law. In this field he became, together with Prof. Lyuben Dikov and Prof. Venelin Ganev, one of the most authoritative Bulgarian scholars. In 1937, Katzarov published a miscellany of his lectures on commercial law. Two years later (1939), a second, enlarged edition of Katzarov’s lectures on these issues was published under the title “A Systematic Course in Bulgarian Commercial Law” covering 1018 pages. This work is one of Katzarov’s most significant academic achievements.

An important event in Katzarov’s life was his five-month trip to fifteen countries in Europe, Asia and America, which he undertook as a tourist in 1937. During the years of World War II, he continued to work as a scholar, lawyer and consultant although during the bombing of Sofia he was forced to leave for a while his newly built home and live outside the city. In 1942-1944 he was member of the Supreme Bar Council in Bulgaria. After the end of the war, despite the fact that he suffered from repression at the hands of the totalitarian regime established on 9 September 1944 and his health deteriorated again, Katzarov continued to publish new academic works. For the first time, he ventured as an author into a field which was outside his professional interests. His travel book “The World Up-Close“ was received enthusiastically by the reading public. The book was quickly sold out, which necessitated the printing of a second edition two years later, which was also sold out, while readers would pass the book from hand to hand.

In addition to his academic and legal activities, Katzarov contributed greatly to the strengthening of the cultural relations between the Bulgarian and the Swiss people. He was among the founders and one of most active members of the Bulgarian-Swiss Society for Cultural Rapprochement, which existed in 1947-1951. As a Vice-President Katzarov played an important role in the accomplishment of the society’s goals. He gave lectures about Switzerland, he participated actively in the celebrations marking Switzerland’s national holiday and in organising various cultural events in Bulgaria, he provided considerable additional funding to support the society’s activities, he contributed greatly for the establishment of  fruitful relationships with Swiss institutions, organisations, scientists and intellectuals, as well as for the receiving of films, literature, newspapers and magazines from Switzerland in Bulgaria.

Being a confirmed democrat, Katzarov was considered by the totalitarian communist regime in Bulgaria as a person with bourgeois convictions and a hostile attitude toward the new power. In October 1944 he was arrested and accused of being a collaborator working for the German and other Western intelligence services. Katzarov categorically denied the accusations. With the support of some of his colleagues, among whom Prof. Petko Staynov, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Prof. Venelin Ganev, who at that time was a member of the Regent’s Council, he was released and returned to his teaching and legal activities.

Nevertheless, the communist authorities did not change their attitude toward Katzarov, whom they considered as “enemy of the people”. He was constantly kept under close surveillance by the State Security agents. On 6 January 1953, Katzarov was arrested again with the allegations that he had been a collaborator working for foreign intelligence services and that he had engaged in anti-national activities. He was brought to trial and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. Katzarov was sent to the Varna prison. He was dismissed as a lecturer at the University of Sofia. His patent bureau was closed down. His book “The World Up-Close” was withdrawn from the libraries and its contents were described as “reactionary”.

Katzarov spent less than a year in the Varna prison. On 12 February 1954, the then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court sent to the Prison Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs a short letter. In it, he ordered that Katzarov should be released. The formal decision for the revocation of the sentence was taken on 21 April 1954, when the General Meeting of the Criminal Boards at the Supreme Court adopted a decision according to which the sentence passed by Sofia Regional Court had not been made in accordance with the law and had been decreed in violation of the Penal Law and therefore had to be revoked.

In all probability, the main reason for the decision had been the intercession of Switzerland. Apparently, it had been made in a discreet and diplomatic manner and it is not unlikely that it may have been an element of a mutually beneficial settlement of some pending issues in the relationships between the two countries. The most sensitive of these had been the settlement of Bulgaria’s financial obligations to Switzerland, which was made with the Agreement for Goods Exchange and Payments signed in 1954.

Regardless of the fact that he had been rehabilitated, the State Security Service had not forgotten about Katzarov and again placed him under surveillance immediately upon his release from prison. The communist censorship did not allow the reedition of his book “The World Up-Close.“ Even more disappointing to him was the silence (in fact refusal) of the then Minister of Culture and the President of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) in response to his request for assistance with regard to the publishing of his work “The Theory of Nationalisation” in French.

At the age of 58, Katzarov took the most important decision in his life, which completely changed his future life and professional career. In October 1956, he parted to Czechoslovakia for a course of treatment at a sanatorium, but on the road he decided to go to Vienna, where he stayed for a short time in a hospital, and finally arrived in Switzerland. He settled in Switzerland as a Bulgarian citizen and asked the Swiss authorities for permission to remain in the country, citing as the reason for his request the need to receive medical treatment and to carry out scientific research. The Swiss authorities responded in the affirmative to Katzarov’s request and issued him an identity document with which he could travel to neighbouring countries as well.

The hardest period of Katzarov’s stay in Switzerland was during the first couple of years when, in addition to being separated from his family, due to his poor state of health he was constantly undergoing treatment in the sanatorium in the Swiss city of Leysin. He also had to undergo two operations. And yet, despite his health problems and everyday problems, the first years of Katzarov’s life in Switzerland were exceedingly fruitful. Between 1957 and 1960, he wrote more than 25 academic studies and articles which were published in science magazines and by top publishers. The main focus of his research fell on issues in the field of nationalisation, on which he had worked while he was still living in Bulgaria.

In the first years after his arrival in Switzerland, he devoted himself entirely to the completion of his work. This was his main goal during his sojourn at the Institute of Comparative Law at the University of Paris. There he finally completed his work on the study which came out in 1960 as a separate publication in the series of academic research publications published by the Institute. In the same year, the study was published as a separate book by the prestigious publishing house „La Baconnière“.

“The Theory of Nationalisation” is Katzarov’s greatest academic achievement. It is an all-encompassing academic work which studies the main legal aspects of the process of nationalisation throughout its historical development. The book became Katzarov’s most published abroad academic work. It has been translated into seven languages and has been published in eleven countries. Both academics and legal experts are unanimous in their opinion that it is the culmination point in Katzarov’s academic achievements. It is sufficient to read the foreword to the first edition of the book, written by Prof. Léon Julliot de la Morandière, member of the French Academy of Sciences and honorary dean of the Faculty of Law and Economic Sciences in Paris. Prof. Morandière described Katzarov’s work as “original” and “significant”, representing a “synthesis”, a comprehensive scientific study in which the author has constructed a general theory of nationalisation as a “separate legal institution”. After pointing out all the academic merits and the contributions of Katzarov’s work in the sphere of the theory of nationalisation, the French scholar concludes his foreword with the statement that the book, “written with a deep faith in the future of humanity and with just as much sense of scientific objectivity, is a wonderful example of all the things that the jurists can do for the public and for peace”.

For his work “The Theory of Nationalisation”, Katzarov received international recognition not only as a scholar but also as a leading expert whose concept and ideas were used in a number of countries, in particular in the Middle East and Latin America. He had an especially high reputation in Chile where in the 1970s the then President Salvador Allende and the country’s government made wide use of his advice in the country’s nationalisation policy.

In the early 1960s, Katzarov moved on to the realisation of another important goal as a scholar and expert in the sphere of legal sciences – the opening of a consultant firm in the field of industrial property, which would provide assistance for companies in the field of industrial property in the trade and business relations between the Western and the Eastern European countries. Katzarov was deeply convinced that despite the essential differences in the nature of property and the principles of economic policies of the Western and the Eastern European countries, mutual cooperation was an objective necessity and would continue to grow.

In the chronology of Katzarov’s professional career, the year 1963 marks a milestone – he was appointed as Privatdozent at the University of Geneva. This was a sign of remarkable recognition for him, considering he didn’t have Swiss citizenship and no practice as a lecturer in any university in Switzerland. Katzarov read lectures at the University of Geneva for seven years (until 1969). His academic course was entitled “The Evolution of Commercial Law into Comparative Law” and was intended for students who had already amassed sufficient knowledge and had advanced in their studies in the legal field.

During the same decade, Katzarov wrote several books in the field of history and international relations. In 1964 in Düsseldorf, Germany, was published the book „Analyse des Sieges“ (An Analysis of Victory)”, which was republished the following year in Munich under the title „Analyse des Sieges. Europas Schicksal aus seinem Südösten gesehen“ and in 1967 came out in French as “La victoire manquée. Le sort de l’Europe vu par son Sud-Est“ (The Failed Victory. The Fate of Europe Seen through Its South-East)”.

In the book Katzarov described the Cold War period, the opposition of the two military and political blocs which took shape under the leadership of the US and the USSR, the balance of power in the world, the international conflicts which had arisen and the efforts for their resolution, an analysis of communism as an ideology and practical application, Europe’s place in the post-war world and the prospects for the future of humanity. The next Katzarov’s book “60 Years of Living History” is also a fundamental study. It follows Bulgaria’s development and politics by setting them against the background of the global events at the time and coupling them with stories from Katzarov’s personal and professional life. In his own words, the book was a look back at the era during which his life had passed.

During his entire life in and outside Bulgaria Katzarov worked selflessly for his native country. The realisation of the idea to establish a charity foundation was the culmination of his patriotism. In 1960s, this became a priority goal in his work. To reach his goal, he used his personal savings. Initially, Katzarov provided 200 thousand, and later another 300 thousand Swiss francs. For this purpose, he sold his share of the capital in his consulting firm. In 1970 Katzarov made his testament according to which he left all his fortune to be used for the Foundation’s purposes.

The foundation, named “Fonds Konstantin and Zinovia Katzarovi”, was established in January 1969 under the auspices of the General Fund of the University of Geneva. The scholarships it offered were intended for young Bulgarians who studied or wanted to raise their qualification degree in Switzerland. At Katzarov’s insistence, one of the requirements for the scholarship students was that after they completed their studies in Switzerland, they should return to their native land and be of service to “eternal Bulgaria”.

Katzarov managed the activities of the foundation until the end of his life in 1980. During that time, dozens of young Bulgarians who studied or specialised in Switzerland received scholarships. In 1974, Katzarov donated 1,500 volumes from his personal library to the National Library “Ss. Cyril and Methodius” in Sofia. The founding and the activity of the foundation is the most significant but by far not the only manifestation of Katzarov’s love for his country. He was one of the founders and members of the academic society “Dr. Petar Beron”, founded in 1965 in Munich, among whose members were more than 40 eminent Bulgarian scholars, writers, diplomats, journalists and intellectuals. In the 1970s, Katzarov provided the premises, financial resources and literature for the Bulgarian cultural centre “Trakia”, founded by him in Geneva. He was also among the founders of the society for Bulgarian-Swiss friendship in Switzerland.

The world-wide recognition which Katzarov received as an academic, coupled with the activity of his foundation, gradually changed for the better the way the totalitarian regime in Bulgaria treated him. In 1975, the then President of the BAS, academician Angel Balevski, sent a letter to Katzarov in which he expressed his “most heartfelt thanks for the founding of the “Katzarovi” foundation which gives opportunity to a number of young Bulgarian scholars, including BAS associates, to increase their qualification and to broaden their knowledge abroad.” In May 1980 at the proposal of the Bulgarian Embassy in Switzerland and the Slavic Committee in Bulgaria the State Council issued a Decree to award Prof. Dr. K. Katzarov with the Order of “Cyril and Methodius” II degree for his patriotic and academic activities.

Prof. Katzarov spent the last years of his life in Clarens near Montreux. He passed away on 7 October 1980 at the age of 82. In keeping with his will, he was buried in Switzerland. He followed the example of a number of Swiss people who had worked and died in Bulgaria and had requested to be buried on Bulgarian soil.

As a remarkable scholar and expert in the field of legal sciences, history, political science and international relations, with his activities as a patriot, donor and philanthropist, Prof. Konstantin Katzarov stands out in the history of Bulgaria and Bulgarian-Swiss relations. He was a highly erudite person, a true democrat, with a freedom-loving spirit, a noble character, modest, honest and respectable. Katzarov devoted his entire life to science and, despite his distress over the political repressions he suffered at the hands of the communist regime, he endlessly loved his homeland and never took part in any political or propaganda activities against it. His life and works are worthy of respect and admiration – sentiments which were felt by everyone who knew him.

Although a bit late, Katzarov has received his due recognition in Bulgaria. In 1990, the fifth edition of his systematic course in Bulgarian commercial law came out. Four years later, with the support of his son Georgi, the books “60 Years of Living History” and its sequel “The Failed Victory” were published. In 1995, the third edition of Katzarov’s travelogue “The World Up-Close” came out. At the initiative of the Department of Law at New Bulgarian University, Katzarov’s fundamental work “The Theory of Nationalisation” came out in 2011; it was presented in the same university and in the University of Sofia “St. Kliment Ohridski”.

In 1998, on the occasion of the centenary of Prof. Katzarov’s birth and the 30th anniversary of the founding of the “Konstantin and Zinovia Katzarovi Foundation”, a collection of memories about him by Bulgarian and Swiss scholars was published. The anniversary dates were marked by an exhibition at the University of Sofia “St. Kliment Ohridski”.

  1. Katzarov received high praise not only in Bulgaria, but also in Switzerland and many other countries in which his academic works are used by scholars, experts and students. His biography stands side by side with those of the most prominent personalities in the Fourth Edition of „Two thousand men on achievement 1972“ – a biographical record of the most distinguished achievements, circulating throughout the world. His name was included also in the biographical encyclopaedia “Who’s Who in Switzerland” issued in 1992-93.

In 2013, Prof. Venelin Tsachevsky, a Bulgarian historian and diplomat, devoted to Katzarov his monographic work “The Swiss Model. The Power of Democracy”, which the following year was translated and published in English by the prestigious European publishing house “Peter Lang”. In 2016 the same author published an extended biography book on Katzarov under the title „The Road to the top“. Soon the book will be translated in French. At V. Tsachevsky’s proposal in 2014 the Sofia Municipal Council unanimously name one of the streets in Sofia after Prof. K. Katzarov. And finally an Initiative Committee composed of prominent Bulgarian scholars and experts in the field of law and history proposed the Bulgarian President to award Konstantin Katzarov with the highest state distinction – order „Stara Planina“ as a recognition of his outstanding academic achievements and patriotic activities.

Venelin Tsachevsky ,  Konstantin Katzarov. The Road to the Top,  2016, pp.554, Ciela (in Bulgarian)


Юридическият факултет на СУ „Св. Климент Охридски“, Съюзът на юристите и „Студия Трансмедия“ организират представяне на книгата на проф. Венелин Цачевски


В книгата  е описан жизненият път и професионалната дейност на Константин Кацаров – забележителен учен, юрист, историк и патриот, основател на фондация „Константин и Зиновия Кацарови“ в Женева, Шнейцария.

Книгата ще бъде представена от проф. Димитър Веселинов.

Представянето ще се състои на 19 април 2016 г. (вторник) от 18 часа в аудитория  224 (зала „Америка за България“) в Ректората на СУ „Св. Климент Охридски“.

Поканени са всички заинтересувани от българо-швейцарските и европейски традиции в научния и културен обмен, да присъстват на събитието и дискусията след представянето на труда.

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