Stanisław Pilat (1881–1941), a petroleum engineerfrom the Lviv University of Technology
Stanisław Pilat was one of the most eminent Polish petroleum and natural gas engineers. In 1899‒1904 he studied chemistry at the technical universities in Lviv and Charlottenburg as well as universities in Würzburg and Leipzig, where in 1904 he obtained a PhD degree. After returning home, he began working for the petroleum industry in Drohobych, Boryslav and Krosno, where he specialised in refinery modernisation. He also worked in Ploesti (Romania) and Příbram (Czech Republic). In 1912 he returned to Drohobych and until 1918 he was in charge of an expansion of a state-owned refinery. He later organised the state petroleum service and managed refineries until 1928.
From the very beginning of his work for the industry he conducted research, publishing papers in Polish, German and other foreign journals (about 50 publications, sometimes together with other authors, his collaborators). Between 1908 and 1938 he and his collaborators obtained 32 patents (including 16 patents granted abroad: in Austria, Germany, United Kingdom, USA).
In 1922 he began lecturing at the Lviv University of Technology, becoming its professor and Chair of Petroleum and Natural Gas Technology in 1924. From 1935 he and his wife Ewa Neyman-Pilat created there an outstanding bitumen research centre (Pilat school), from which came many eminent scientists and managers of large petroleum processing facilities. Pilat was a demanding boss, totally devoted to his research. He presented its results at numerous international congresses and symposia.
During the Soviet occupation of Lviv (1939–1941) he remained at the university. He tried to establish research links with specialist institutions from Kiev and Moscow. In late June 1941 Lviv was seized by the Germans. On 3 July Stanisław Pilat and other academics were arrested and shot dead several hours later. Traces of the murder were covered up. The article presents the work of Professor Pilat and his school. One of the problems raised is the motif of the massacre of many eminent university lectures, mainly doctors, lawyers and engineers. We know that they were murdered by the Einsatzkommando zur besondern Verwendung. The names of those issuing orders are known as well. What remains to be solved is the problem of persons who compiled the list of 25 professors who were to be shot first. Experts have established that they were Ukrainian nationalists, former students of Lviv universities, who found themselves in the Gestapo after the outbreak of the war in 1939. The author of the article suggests that their main motivation when compiling the list was hatred of Poles as well as resentment towards those university lecturers who were demanding or had not admitted them — owing to a lack of positions — to their labs (this was a prerequisite for writing a degree thesis).
Translated by Anna Kijak