Viktor Petrov

Viktor Petrov

Ukrainian philosopher, literary critic, historian and writer
Date of Birth: 10.10.1894
Country: Ukraine

Biography of Viktor Petrov

Viktor Petrov was a Ukrainian philosopher, literary critic, historian, and writer of the first half of the 20th century. He was one of the founders of the Ukrainian intellectual novel genre, along with Valerian Podmohylny.

Early Life and Education
Petrov was born into a priest's family and spent his childhood in Odessa. He graduated from Kholskaya Male Gymnasium in 1913 and then went on to study at the Historical and Philological Faculty of Kiev University, where he received a silver medal for his thesis on the poet N. M. Yazikov. He later worked at the Ethnographic Commission of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.

Literary and Academic Career
In the 1920s, Petrov was part of the Neoclassical circle and published several literary works under the pseudonym V. Domontovich. In 1930, he obtained his doctorate degree for his research on Panteleimon Kulish. Before the outbreak of World War II, Petrov held the position of director at the Institute of Ethnographic Studies.

During the war, Petrov found himself in occupied Kharkiv, where he became one of the founders of the "Artistic Ukrainian Movement." He also published a literary journal called "Ukrainsky Posiv" (Ukrainian Sowing) in 1942-1943. In 1943, he became the head of the Ethnography Department at the Ukrainian Scientific Institute in Lviv and later worked at the Ukrainian Scientific Institute in Berlin from 1944 to 1945.

Involvement with Intelligence and Post-War Life
It was later revealed that Petrov had been involved with the Soviet secret police, NKVD, since the 1930s and had carried out intelligence tasks in enemy territory. In 1965, he was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War for his services. After the war, Petrov lived in Munich until 1949, where he edited the monthly journal "Arka" and taught ethnography at the Ukrainian Free University.

In 1949, Petrov disappeared from Munich, and accusations were made against Ukrainian nationalists and Soviet security agencies. However, it was later discovered that his name had not been erased from libraries in the Soviet Union, and he was referenced by renowned Soviet archaeologist A. L. Mongayt. Petrov resurfaced later, and many prominent members of the emigrant community defended him against accusations of collaboration with Soviet intelligence. They highlighted his contributions to the anti-Soviet movement, particularly his detailed accounts of Bolshevik repressions against Ukrainian cultural figures.

In Moscow, Petrov worked at the Institute of Archaeology, and from 1956, he worked at the Institute of Archaeology in Kyiv. Due to losing his documents during the war, Petrov had to defend his dissertation again in 1966. In 1957, after his "verification" ended, he married Sofia Feodorovna Zerova, the widow of Ukrainian poet and literary critic Nikolay Zerov, whom he had known since 1920. Petrov passed away in 1969 at his writing desk and was buried in Kyiv.

Petrov's novel "Doctor Seraphicus" has been included in the Ukrainian literature curriculum for 11th grade since the 2000s. In 1988-1989, a three-volume collection of Petrov's works was published in New York.