This article considers the evolution of the Russian university system during the First World War. Most of the imperial period, until the end of 1916, thanks to the liberal policy of the Minister of People’s Education, Pavel Nikolayevič Ignat’ev, a reformist course was implemented (drafting of a new statute, increasing the autonomy of universities). Particularly important and promising was the expansion of universities’ network and opening of new universities in Rostov-on-Don, Perm, as well as the expansion of Saratov and Tomsk universities. In 1917 Ministers of Education of the Provisional Government (A. Manuilov, S. Oldenburg, S. Salazkin) also followed the Ignat’ev’s liberal course received support with the bottom-up initiatives (introduction of regular institution of associate professors, attracting of younger lecturers to the university management). Paradoxically, for the university system the result of crisis which lasted through the war period and the beginning of the revolution marked the democratization of management and the expansion of the students’ enrollment and the number of universities.
The article provides a comparison of two intellectual accounts of experiences in the First World War – From the Letters of an Artillery Ensign (1918) by the Russian philosopher and writer Fjodor Stepun and The Storm of Steel (1920) by the German essayist Ernst Jünger. The aim of this article is to reveal similarities and differences between “optics” of Jünger and Stepun who are reporting one and the same event but deal with two different images of the Great War.