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BOULDER, Colo. -

A Polish immigrant who was a renowned professor of political science at the University of Colorado, a defense and foreign policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan, a World War II veteran who fought against and was captured by the Nazis, died at his Boulder home Thursday at the age of 90.

Edward J. Rozek dedicated his life to teaching, so that future generations could avoid the conflicts and atrocities surrounded by him growing up, said his wife, Elizabeth Rozek.

Born in Poland in 1918, Edward Rozek fled his homeland after Adolf Hitler's army swept through Europe.

He escaped via Hungary, Yugoslavia and Italy to France, where he joined the First Polish Armored Brigade that took part in the defense of Paris.

As a young soldier, Edward Rozek was captured by the Nazis, who held him and other POWs in a slave-labor camp.

"Rats used to run over him at night," Elizabeth Rozek said. "He used to say that he didn't like the accommodations, so he escaped."

Along with another prisoner, Edward Rozek made his way to Budapest, Hungary. After narrowly escaping from a German SS officer and falsifying papers, he hiked his way to England. There, he became the commander of a reconnaissance platoon in the First Polish Armored Division and went back to war.

He fought from Normandy to northern Germany, and was wounded three times, his wife said.

In 1949, Edward Rozek left Europe for America with $50 in his pocket and a suitcase filled with books.


"He decided that the only way to stop war ... and to break this cycle, is to teach," his wife said.

Working his way on a dairy farm and a gas station, Edward Rozek attended Harvard University, where he earned his doctorate in philosophy.

"That's a testament not only to his intelligence, but to his perseverance," Elizabeth Rozek said.

In 1956, he became a professor of comparative governments at CU.

During his career as an educator, Edward Rozek was the director of the Central and East European Studies Program for 25 years and deputy editor of the Journal of Central and East European Affairs.

He founded the Institute for the Study of Economic and Political Freedom and the Center for Science and Technology. He retired from CU in 1999 after 43 years at the university.

He received the National Foundation Book Award for authoring the book, "Allied Wartime Diplomacy."

During the 1980 presidential campaign, Edward Rozek was a member of Reagan's Advisory Council on Defense and Foreign Policy -- though he never entered public office himself.

"He said, 'I'd have to give up teaching,' and he didn't want to do that," his wife said.

The couple met in 1974, when Elizabeth Rozek applied for a position as a secretary at the university.

In 2003, then-U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., read a tribute to Edward Rozek into the Congressional Record.

"As the famous philosopher Sidney Hook said of Dr. Rozek in the dedication to his book, 'Academic Freedom and Academic Anarchy,' Ed is truly an, 'embattled fighter for free men, free society, and a free university against fascism, communism and totalitarian liberalism,'" the entry states. "May God bless Dr. Edward Rozek and his epic legacy of service to free people everywhere."

Edward Rozek is survived by his wife; two sons, Christopher and Jonathan; and four grandchildren, Alexander, Philip, Thomas and Christina. Contact Camera Staff Writer Heath Urie at 303-473-1328 or

Archived comments

Our deepest sympathies...

He was one of my favorite professors.


2/21/2009 5:37:02 PM

I had several classes with him quite some ways back... He was one heck of a tough teacher but I learned a tremendous amount from him. No squishy-squashy relativism - the Communists were no less evil than the Nazis, and anyone who excused or rationalized communism, or the USSR, was deserving of nothing but contempt.


2/21/2009 5:45:05 PM

Dr. Rozek was the best professor that I had at CU from '68 - '72. His personal backstory was an inspiration and his perspective on the fascists and communists was exceptional. I hate to agree with wgstrand, but you're right. No moral relativism or equivelency. I came away from Rozek's classes believing that there are circumstances that are black and white with no shade of gray.


2/21/2009 7:05:32 PM

They don't make them like the used to, that's for sure. What a Story !

God Speed - RIP


2/21/2009 7:16:28 PM

One of the only professors at CU that had an everlasting impression on me, still to this day. We should be reading more stories about him instead of loser churchill. It's amazing the camera even took the time to report, given he's not the typical Boulder/ C.U. left-wing idealist. He appreciated this country more than most of the fortunate rich liberals ever will, that's for sure....."what is important is this- I don't want you to hate communism, but I want you to love freedom"!!!!


2/21/2009 9:28:53 PM

Ed Rozek was as much an opponent of intellectual orthodoxy as of any kind as of communism and fascism per se.

He was also an irritant, a naysayer, a constant soldier of individualism who was inclined to see totalitarianism in everything from faculty governance to banal administrative policy.

He wasn't always right -- he supported all manner of anti-communism, including the secret wars in Central America of the '70s and '80s -- but at least he was clear and consistent.

What was refreshing and rare about Rozek was that his world view came not just from erudition, but from having been in the front lines against both fascism and communism. He actually experienced other things that many CU faculty only read about as academic treatises.

He could be rigid, uncompromising, arbitrary and dictatorial in person and in the classroom. He was not a sympathetic holder of hands or a nurterer of students: he challenged them, provoked them, and made them better as a result.

He has been, and will be, greatly missed. He was real to the core. We are losing his like every day, and our campuses are poorer for it.


2/22/2009 7:13:51 AM

one of the best about Professor Rozek's life and his experience(s) at CU.


2/22/2009 10:28:01 AM

lafayetteeast: thanks for the link. Wow, what outrageous university conduct. What an incredible life he had. My condolences to family, friends, and colleagues.


2/22/2009 10:53:29 AM

Lafayetteeast. Thanks for the article. Amazing. Bison, this article perfectly sums up why we should all be in support of Ward Churchill. But I guess he doesn't fit your ideological (idiotological?) niche.


2/22/2009 2:31:26 PM

Professor Rozek was one of the best teachers I had while at CU in the late 70's, early '80s. While I didn't always agree with his politics, he knew his stuff and challenged his students. He wanted us to be better people and not just memorize rote information.

Rest in Peace, Professor Rozek. You made a difference in so many lives.


2/22/2009 4:23:46 PM

Well, he's finally fought his last battle. We were lucky to have him here for as long as we did. Another great professor from behind the Iron Curtain was Petr Beckmann, who also died a few years ago. How lucky for us to experience from these first hand participants, the greatest war in the last half century, the Cold War. This is especially important because during the Cold War, Rozek's classes were islands of freedom in a sea of repression, referring the Left-wing orthodoxy of the rest of CU. When asked the name of their most influential professor of all, most of Rozek's former students named him without a moment's hesitation.

2/22/2009 4:40:37 PM

"Bison, this article perfectly sums up why we should all be in support of Ward Churchill."

Wardo doesn't belong in the same breath as Rozek, much less the same university. Wardo is a lying fraud - the exact opposite of Rozek.


2/22/2009 6:00:25 PM

I find it amazing and refreshing that many of us who regularly disagree vehemently on many subjects seem to find common ground in our admiration of of Ed Rozek. I'll be at the service Tuesday at 11am to pay my respects.


2/22/2009 7:18:17 PM

Rozek represents a dying breed in academia and we're all poorer for his death. He will be missed.


2/22/2009 10:40:34 PM

As a student of his and a summer assistant at his institute at the tail end of 1980's, I had the great fortune to to attend his lectures as Communism in Eastern Europe and Russia came to an end. And with that end, vindication for him as even the most ardent supporters of Soviet style communism had to finally see that it was in fact an ultimately unsustainable failure. My most influential professor by far. I remember the early morning classes, the doors being locked when you tried to come in late, no hats in class and most of all, his "discussions" in class with some of the more liberal students. I kept his book all these years and I think it's time to read it again.

God Bless you Professor Rozek. Jeszcze Polska nie Zginela...

2/23/2009 1:22:18 PM

Great professor. I remember his class well ('89?). Caps off, hat head on display. Academia can have influential, thoughtful and intelligent conservative people on the faculty. Though I might have disagreed with him on certain political issues, I always understood where he came from. Rest in peace, Professor Rosek.

2/23/2009 3:29:29 PM

During class Rozek told the story of being in a cab with an SS officer. We asked him what happened? He said "Well, I am here and he is not". He taught political science based on direct participation. Great man, great teacher.

2/23/2009 6:42:12 PM

Dear Mrs. Rozek,

Please know I have held Dr. Rozek in fond esteem ever since my college days when he was my professor. My late husband's family and my husband and I considered him a treasured friend.

Please know I am thinking of you at this difficult time.

Kathy Collum


3/6/2009 12:21:56 PM