Fonds 20-019 - Gleiman family fonds

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Gleiman family fonds

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  • Textual record

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CA ON0034 20-019

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23.5 cm of textual records

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Biographical history

Dr. Lubomir Gleiman (1923-2006), son of Dr. Jan Gleiman and Anna Urbanek, was born in Trnava, Czechoslovakia (now in Slovakia), on May 21, 1923. His grandfather Ferko Urbanek had been a famous Slovak playwright and poet. During World War II and the Slovak National Uprising, Lubomir and his family were removed from their home, and he was forced to work in labour camps. In a particular occasion, he and his colleagues from medical school were made to march across Austria in a defensive measure against the allies. After being freed when the 506th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division liberated his camp, he became secretary at the displaced persons camp in Rauris (Austria). He became friends with the US Commander Al Hazzenzahl and Lt Gerald Evers. The latter gave him a letter of recommendation after the camp closed, which was invaluable to Lubomir during his subsequent months as a refugee.

Lubomir and his father later joined the movement to organize a resistance against the communists in Slovakia. They were also active participants in the attempts to resist the advances of communism and in the conservation of an independent democracy in their country. Father Tomislav Kolakovic (Father George), a Catholic priest who opposed communism, was among Lubomir’s anti-communist connections. In 1948, after the resistance movement failed, Lubomir and his family immigrated to Canada, where they worked in farms in the Glencoe/Alviston area. Later, they held several odd jobs to support themselves in Montreal. His father and his sisters Wanda and Zora worked in a chocolate factory while Lubomir was employed at various occupations, from janitor and hospital orderly to bookkeeper and graduate assistant. Despite their difficult life, Lubomir nevertheless managed to complete his bachelor’s degree in 1952 from the Thomas More Institute.

After earning his master’s degree in 1954 and PhD in philosophy in 1957, both from the University of Montreal, he moved to the United States, where he began his distinguished scholarly career. He was a professor of philosophy and political science until 1978 at Newton College of the Sacred Heart, which later became Boston College. In Boston College, Lubomir had been the Newton senior fellow in political science from 1975 to 1977. He was appointed professor of philosophy at Salve Regina University (Newport, RI) in 1978, where he taught until he retired at age 70. He continued his scholarly studies, however, even after his retirement. He was fluent in five languages, and wrote profusely. His writings included poetry, scholarly articles, essays and reviews. He also published two books: “Etudes D’Histoire Litteraire, Medieval Roots of Totalitarian Syndrome” and “Graham Green: Poet of Ambivalence and Transcendence.”

He married Nancy Waeber (1941-2018), one of his students, in 1963, and they had three children: Mary Melanie (Phelps), Cyril Gleiman, and Jan Kenneth Gleiman. Lubomir Gleiman died on May 22, 2006 at age 83.

Dr. Ján Gleiman (1893-1983) was born in Slovakia, on September 11, 1893. He served as a captain in the Austro-Hungarian army during WWI, but surrendered his unit to the Russians because they refused to fight against those they considered their “Slavic brothers”. He was then made a prisoner of war and was sent to Krasnojarsk. He learned to speak fluent Russian during this time.

Before World War II, Ján Gleiman had been a prominent lawyer, notary public and local judge in his country, and had enjoyed a comfortable upper middle class life with his family while living in Revuca, Banska Bystrica, Banovce, and Bratislava. He was also part of the Hlinka's Slovak People's Party, the Slovak right-wing nationalist party, and allegedly a confidant of Father Jozef Tiso, who was one of the party leaders and later president of the First Slovak Republic. Jan’s son Lubomir had been Tiso’s altar boy. Tiso was executed after World War II for having collaborated with Hitler and Nazism. With the advance of communism in Slovakia, Jan became worried that his political connections posed a threat to his and his family’s security, and so they sold their personal belongings and left Slovakia. They travelled throughout Europe before finally boarding a ship in Italy and immigrating to Canada in 1948.

The Gleiman family’s move to Canada after the war was not easy for any of them, but especially for Jan. Because of his age and poor knowledge of the English language, he was required to accept manual work in Canada as a condition for immigration, and could not be employed in his own field. According to his own diaries, he was very much dissatisfied with his new life and the difficulties he faced while trying to integrate in Canada. However, he continued to devote a lot of his time outside of working hours to intellectual activities such as reading and writing, mostly in relation to philosophy and politics. The family finally managed to save enough money to buy a house in the late 1950s, which had by then become Jan’s final goal in Canada. Ján died on March 13, 1983 in Montreal, at age 90.

Custodial history

These records were donated to the University of Ottawa Archives and Special Collections by Lubomir Gleiman in 2004.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of documents providing an intimate insight of the efforts and struggles of the Gleiman's family members during various major historical events that took place in Europe (Slovakia, Austria, Italy, etc.) and depicting events such as deportation, living in a war camp, emigrating to a foreign and adjusting to a new lifestyle and customs. It contains eleven diaries written by Jan Gleiman (1893-1983) and his son Lubomir Gleiman (1923-2006)'s memoirs.

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A paper finding aid is available.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created in 2012, revised August 2017

Language of description

  • English
  • French
  • Slovak

Script of description

  • Latin


Biographical information provided by Mr. Jan K. Gleiman and Mrs. Maria Furimsky.

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