The Saint Petersburg historian Dr. Mikhail Vitalievich Sharovskii (Russian link) is a pioneer of the study of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. I cannot even think of anyone before him who has made such an effort to study this topic with such professionalism. Since 1997, he has touched upon a diversity of aspects of the life of the ROCOR in various countries and periods. Accordingly, the first detailed piece of research on the attitude of representatives of the ROCOR toward anti-Semitism as laid out by none other than this expert ought to be deserving of our trust.
This article was originally a book chapter and does have an overarching conclusion. The artilce consists of two parts. The first covers the ideological dimension, and a lot of what the author has written here is already well known to me and is a good start for the beginning of the conversation. The second part, however, which concerns the personal involvement of individuals, is a newfound revelation for me. For example, I was unaware of the fact that the Russian Orthodox refugees of Jewish descent had been hunted down by the Nazis and that ROCOR priests in France had actively sought to save Jews. The article demonstrates that the ROCOR strove to enact the Christian ideal of love for one’s neighbor (cf. Luke 10:25-28) regardless of ideological influences. It could also be said that we are called to sympathetic understanding for people of other backgrounds and cultures, and to be sensitive to their sufferings, recalling that, “unto whomsoever much has been given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:49).
This translation by Walker R. Thompson has been made possible by a generous grant from the American Russian Aid Association – Otrada, Inc. Subdivisions are given by the editor.
Deacon Andrei Psarev,
An Ideological Dimension
The stance of the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which had existed since 1927 as an independent jurisdiction, can be characterized as being somewhat different than that of the representatives of the Western European Exarchate. Its leadership was possessed of a strong anti-Soviet sentiment and even before World War II had repeatedly issued appeals against the “Jewish Bolshevik” state in Russia, blaming Jews and Freemasons for bringing about the October Revolution and the subsequent fierce persecution of the Church in the USSR.
Therefore, in Yugoslavia, where the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad was located until 1944, and likely with the blessing of ROCA First Hierarch Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitskii),Antony (Alexei Pavlovich) Khrapovitskii, Metropolitan. Born on March 17, 1863. Graduated from Saint Petersburg Theological Academy in 1885. Consecrated as Bishop Cheboksary in 1897. Elevated in 1906 … Continue reading an “Slovo pustynnozhitelei afonskikh k svoim sootechestvennikam, pod gnetom zhidomasonov i bol’shevikov stradayushchim, a takzhe v izgnanii skitayushchimsia” [“Address of the Athonite Desert-dwellers to Their Fellow Countrymen Suffering Under the Oppression of the Jew-Masons and Bolsheviks, and To Those Wandering in Exile”] was published and distributed calling for the restoration of the Romanov dynasty in Russia.State Archive of the Russian Federation, Coll. 9145, Survey 1, Doc. 959, f. 107.
The appeal “Molitva o Rossii” [“A Prayer for Russia”] (1930), which was composed in Yugoslavia by the militant anti-Soviet organization Bratstvo Russkoi Pravdy [“Brotherhood of Russian Justice”] with the blessing and support of Metropolitan Antony Khrapovitskii, reads: “We know, O Lord, that our sin before you is great… We have fallen into a stupor of malice toward one another, we have lost our love for our neighbor, we have become wolves unto each other, we have forgotten about our Motherland, and we have allowed our Rightful Sovereign, your Anointed, Emperor Nicholas II, together with the Empress, the Boy Heir and the pure tsarevnas, to be brutally murdered at the hands of the Jews…”Tsarskii Vestnik [Royal Gazette] No. 85 (March 30, 1930). Belgrade. It is true, however, that the “Brotherhood of Russian Justice” was characterized by an anti-Semitism that was purely political and that did not find its expression in day-to-day life.
It ought to be mentioned that when, in 1929, the part of the Russian emigration connected with the ROCOR began extensive celebrations for the Feast Day of Holy Prince Vladimir, Equal-to-the-Apostles, Vasily Maklakov, a well-known historian and political figure and the head of the Council of Former Russian Ambassadors, suspected that a latent anti-Semitism and an attempt to define Russian culture in narrow national terms lay behind the celebration of the memory of Saint Vladimir. In his reply to Maklakov, Sergei Voitsekovskii, the Chairman of the Board of the Russian Social Committee in Poland, expressed his incomprehension at such a portrayal of the matter: “You write that you do not understand what principles are associated with the name of Holy Prince Vladimir and ask whether latent anti-Semitism might not be involved… This question surprised me. What connection could there be between one or another view of the Jews and the institutor of Christianity in Russia?…” Maklakov, albeit gracelessly, acknowledged his mistake, while defending himself by saying that “anti-Semitism is currently the dominant fashion and it is only natural that Christianity should be opposed to Judaism…”.Kosik, Viktor. Russkaia Tserkov’ v Iugoslavii (20 — 40-e gg. ХХ veka) [The Russian Church in Yugoslavia in the 1920s-40s]. Moscow, 2000, pp. 105-106; Chemu svideteli my byli…: … Continue reading
On July 19, 1930, in a letter to Count George Grabbe, Metropolitan Antony Khrapovitskii wrote: “Nikolay Markov has published a second edition of his book Voina temnykh sil [The War of the Dark Forces] in which he demonstrates that the Freemasons are one and the same as the Bolshevik murderers who orchestrated the 1917 revolution. May they be anathema! Moreover, he proves that those at the head of them are a Jew and Jews [sic. —trans.].”Pis’ma Blazhenneishego Mitropolita Antonia (Khrapovitskogo) [The Letters of His Beatitude Metropolitan Anthony]. Jordanville, 1988. p. 226
Freemasonry was a constant object of rebuke by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which regarded it as a terrible and destructive force. Thus, for example, in an encyclical of August 28, 1932, “to all faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church in the diaspora”, the Synod of Bishops in Sremtsy Karlovtsy informed its flock of the following resolutions it had taken: “1. To condemn Freemasonry as a teaching and an organization inimical to Christianity and revolutionary in nature, inasmuch as it seeks to destroy the foundations of national sovereignty. 2. To condemn any teachings and organizations similar or related to Freemasonry, such as theosophy, anthroposophy, “Christian Science” and the YMCA. 3. To entrust Diocesan Bishops and the Heads of Missions to give instructions to the clergy as required for the fight against these noxious teachings and organizations as well as for warning the Russian Orthodox flock against becoming involved in or participating in their noxious activities […]”.Nikolski, B.I. Russkie masony i revoliutsia [Russian Masons and the Revolution]. Moscow, 1990, pp. 173-180. Tserkovnaia zhizn’ [Church Life] No. 2 (1934).
Moreover, Jews were named in the letter as an influential group within Freemasonry: “Freemasonry is an international global revolutionary organization that is fighting against God, Christianity, the Church, against national sovereignty and especially against the sovereignty of Christian states. The Jewish nation, which has been typified by its conflict with God ever since the day of the crucifixion of Christ the Savior, is first in terms of its influence and importance in this international organization. Historically, Judaism has been very closely linked with Freemasonry in its intense struggle against Christianity and its messianic aspirations to world domination… The masons themselves affirm their links with the communists and those who have destroyed our native country.”Encyclical Letter of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on August 15/28, 1932. Rklitskii, Nikon, Archbishop. Zhizneopisanie Blazhenneishego Antonia, mitropolita … Continue reading
At the All-Diaspora Council of the ROCA held in Belgrade from August 14-24, 1938, some speakers referred to members of the Jewish nation as “freemasons” and “anti-Christians.”Deianiia Vtorogo Vsezarubezhnogo Sobora Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi za granitsei [The Acts of the Second All-Diaspora Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad]. Belgrade, 1939. p. 581 Some of the delegates’ fear of Masonic domination was gone so far as to become a curiosity. For instance, Archbishop Tikhon Liashchenko suggested at one of the sessions that all members of the Council ought to make a statement under oath saying that they did not belong to Freemasonry and were not affiliated with it. The President of the Council rejected this proposal as debasing and as undermining the authority of the Council.Ibid., pp. 198-200.
Despite this, the members of the Council, voting by name, condemned Freemasonry on another occasion. Taking into account the “link between Freemasonry and the militant atheist movement, tantamount to the Third International which has subjugated Russia, and the fact that members of this secret society are thus enemies of Russia”, the Council resolved to excommunicate all those who were masons and had not repented of this in the sacrament of Confession.Ibid., p. 198. Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ [Church Life] No. 8-9 (1938), pp. 130-131.
It is worth noting that such a negative resolution was also adopted at the Second All-Diaspora Council concerning the newfound phenomenon of “Russian fascism”. Agreeing with the view of the speaker B. P. Gershelman that “the fascist program is in contradiction with the Russian Orthodox national ideal”, the members of the Council resolved that the Church ought to seek to bring the non-Orthodox to reason, and to steer the work of Russian national émigré organizations toward a genuinely Orthodox and genuinely Russian worldview and ideal of society and government.
Anti-Semitic views were not alien to Metropolitan Seraphim Lukianov of Western Europe, at the time resident in Paris.Metropolitan Seraphim (Aleksandr Ivanovich) Lukianov. Born on August 23, 1879. Graduated from Kazan Theological Academy in 1904. Consecrated Bishop of Serdobolsk on September 7, 1914. From 1920 … Continue reading For instance, in 1938, E. V. Sablin, the church warden of the Russian parish in London, wrote to V. A. Maklakov: “Metropolitan Seraphim is here. The eldest son of Grand Duchess Ksenia Alexandrova told me that this metropolitan [lit.: “this vladyka“ —trans.] had come to visit her mother. In their conversation, he touched upon the matter of the destruction of Orthodox churches in Poland and suggested that this was all happening because the ancestors of the Pope of Rome were Jews. This hierarch further expressed the view that the Archbishop of Canterbury was a captive of the Freemasons. He did not spare Metropolitan Evlogii, either…”Chemu svideteli my byli, Vol. 2, pp. 147-148.
In spite of this, the ideological conceptions of ROCOR bishops did not usually carry over into their relations with particular Jewish people. For instance, one of the members of the Russian brotherhood of the Serbian monastery in Petkovica in the early 1920s was the baptized Jew Savelii Konstantinovich Efron, one of the compilers of the famous Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedia, who had converted from Judaism to Orthodoxy in emigration. He was well known to Metropolitan Antony Khrapovitskii, Archbishop Theophan Bystrov, and the future Patriarch Varnava of Serbia, whom he kept informed about his works. Vladyka Antony provided Savelii Efron with material assistance. Among other things, on May 20, 1924, he wrote to Hieromonk Amvrosii Kurganov, head of the Russian monastery: “15 Fr[anks] for Elder Efron – attached – to buy milk. These are the last pennies that I have.” Savelii Efron died and was buried in Petkovica in the mid-1920s.Pis’ma Blazhenneishego Mitropolita Antonia (Khrapovitskogo), pp. 159, 161
It must be stated that the attitude of the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad toward Nazi Germany was ambivalent and underwent an evolution of sorts over time. The Orthodox parishes in Germany found themselves in a fairly difficult situation after the Nazi party came to power in 1933. Moreover, a struggle was being waged in the country between the “Evlogians” and representatives of the ROCA, to whose jurisdiction the church in Wiesbaden had gone over in 1934. When Metropolitan Evlogii invited Archbishop Panteleimon Rozhnovskii to serve in Wiesbaden, Vladyka Antony advised him in a letter dated December 28 against accepting this offer: “Evlogii is being kicked out of Wiesbaden, since the entire parish has gone over to the jurisdiction of Bishop Tikhon of Berlin and Germany. Evlogii, hoping to salvage his own position, wants to draw you into this mess… As far as your organizing German-language services goes, it is a good idea, but, unfortunately, shall remain only an idea. We have all tried, but the time is not yet ripe. It was only the Russians who came to the German-language services; it is not so easy to entice the Germans into the Orthodox Church, especially now when they are making a god out of Hitlerism…”
These and other such phrases make evident Metropolitan Antony’s negative attitude toward the Nazi regime and its ideology. However, when the government of Prussia offered on March 14, 1936 to accord the ROCOR Diocese of Berlin and Germany the status of a public-law body [Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechts], Vladyka Antony was compelled to write a letter of thanks as a matter of politeness. On April 24, the Reich Ministry for Church Affairs [Reichsministerium für die Kirchlichen Angelegenheiten] informed Metropolitan Antony of the decision of the government of Prussia and of the possibility of building a new Orthodox cathedral in Berlin, partially using Ministry funds.
In these circumstances, Vladyka wrote to Minister Hanns Kerrl on June 8: “I have the pleasant duty of expressing, on behalf of the whole Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, our deep and sincere gratitude for your sympathy for the needs of our German diocese. At a time when the Orthodox Church in our homeland is being subjected to unprecedented persecution, we are especially touched by the attention of the German government and of you personally, which stirs up in us a feeling of deep gratitude to the German nation and its glorious Fuehrer Adolf Hitler, and compels us to pray wholeheartedly for his health and that of the German nation, for their wellbeing and for Divine assistance in all their affairs”.Russian State Military Archive, Coll. 1, Survey 1, Doc. 13, f. 20; Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ No. 36 (1936), Belgrade, p. 89.
Even before that, on March 13/26, 1936, the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR with Metropolitan Antony presiding, having heard the report of Bishop Tikhon of Berlin and Germany on the matter of the commemoration of the German authorities, resolved: “To instate the following forms of commemoration of the German authorities in the Diocese of Germany, after the Constitution of this diocese has been ratified and published. 1) At the Great Litany: ‘For the Christ-loving authorities of the German nation, its Government and armed forces, let us pray to the Lord.’ 2) At the Litany of Fervent Supplication: ‘Let us again pray for the Christ-loving authorities of the German nation, for their dominion, victory, persistence, peace, health, and salvation, that the Lord God may further stand by and show his favor to them and bend every enemy and adversary under their feet.’ To send His Eminence Bishop Tikhon an ukaze to this effect.”State Archive of the Russian Federation, Coll. 6343, Survey 1, Doc. 135, ff. 1-2. Here, at least, the “Fuehrer of the German nation” is not mentioned…
It is beyond doubt that after Hitler came to power in Germany, certain Russian émigrés saw him as a sort of weapon of vengeance against “global Freemasonry”, which they equated with “atheist Bolshevism”. The leaders of the Russian Church Abroad adopted a more cautious position. Not long before his death, Metropolitan Antony stated: “I am far removed from international affairs and I do not know the contemporary leaders of Germany; nevertheless, I am not an enemy of Germany, but rather quite the opposite”.Tsarskii Vestnik [Royal Bulletin] No. 439 (March 10, 1935), p. 2. The editors of the newspaper Tsarskii Vestnik, in which this statement was published, were close to Vladyka Antony. In the same issue, they emphasized that it “encourages the idea that a rapprochement is necessary… but on the condition that the Germans abandon their traditional view of the Russian people as ethnographic material subject to destruction and suitable only as fertilizer for German culture”.Tsarskii Vestnik, No. 439 (March 10, 1935), p. 1
Metropolitan Anastasy Gribanovskii,Gribanovskii, Anastasy (Alexandr Alexeevich), Metropolitan. Born August 6, 1873. Graduated from Moscow Theological Academy in 1897. Consecrated Bishop of Serpukhov on June 29, 1906, and elevated on … Continue reading who became the First Hierarch of the ROCOR after the death of Metropolitan Antony, expressed his gratitude to Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler for the construction of the cathedral church of the ROCOR Diocese of Germany in Berlin;Tsekovnaia Zhizn’, No. 5-6 (1938); Pravoslavnaia Rus, Nos. 12 (1947) and 11 (1993), Jordanville, New York, pp. 1-2. however, he displayed a negative attitude toward how some Russian émigré figures were toying with fascist ideas. Vladyka Anastasy said that “fascism is incompatible with Christianity because it suppresses personal spiritual freedom, without which the spiritual life of Christianity is not possible”.Kosik, Viktor. Russkoe tserkovnoe zarubezhe, p. 15.
Again, on July 15, 1936, the Metropolitan clearly stated his stance against fascism at the Saint Vladimir Festival in Belgrade: “Fascism as a type of state-political structure can never be our ideal. It is founded upon principles of compulsion which extend to a person’s very ideology. Yet without freedom, there can be no moral heroism nor moral responsibility. Without either of the latter a Russian Orthodox state is also unthinkable for us.”Iubileinyi sbornik v pamiat’ 150-letiia Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi v Severnoi Amerike [Collection for the 150th Anniversary of the Russian Orthodox Church in North America], New York, 1945, … Continue reading In his 1939 Christmas encyclical, Vladyka Anastasy outlined, as a counterweight to the race theory of Nazism, the Church’s understanding of love for one’s people and for one’s native country: “The very concept of our native country has, in our consciousness, never been crudely materialistic, and our national image has never been defined by purely outward zoological racial markers. What we call our Fatherland is not the physical air that we breathe, nor the vast expanses of forests, rivers and seas… but rather first and foremost our native spiritual atmosphere engendered by Holy Orthodoxy, the incorruptible moral values passed down to us by the past millennium of history.”Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ No. 12 (1939), p. 180.
In the initial months after the spring 1941 occupation of Yugoslavia, a whole array of Russian émigrés, including members of the ROCOR, were subject to repressions. Those who suffered most at the hands of the Nazis were Russian émigrés of Jewish origin
In the initial months after the spring 1941 occupation of Yugoslavia, a whole array of Russian émigrés, including members of the ROCOR, were subject to repressions. Those who suffered most at the hands of the Nazis were Russian émigrés of Jewish origin – most of whom perished in Banjica Concentration Camp alongside Serbian Jews – as well as the few freemasons among them. In addition, the Germans arrested émigrés who regarded the USSR with sympathy as their homeland. Others suffered for their refusal to carry out the orders issued by the German high command in Serbia on May 27, 1941, which forbid people to receive any radio stations apart from German ones, under penalty of imprisonment or execution (some émigrés were so bold as to organize group hearings). On June 22, 1941, the Gestapo raided the Chancellery of the ROCOR Synod of Bishops and confiscated a large number of documents.
Nevertheless, after the beginning of World War II, various documents of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad again began to strike an anti-Jewish tone. For instance, in a memorandum to the Reichsministerium für die kirchlichen Angelegenheiten [Imperial Ministry of Church Affairs] dated October 29, 1941, in an attempt to obtain permission for Russian clergymen to return to the Soviet Union, Metropolitan Antastasy Gribanovskii wrote that it would be important to eliminate Bolshevik propaganda by “secret Jewish agents” in the occupied territories of the USSR as soon as possible, “lest they prove capable of adapting to new conditions”; that only the Church could provide effective resistance against this; and that it was therefore important to get church life there back on track.Russian State Military Archive, Coll. 1470, Survey 1, Doc. 1, f. 110.
A letter to the Orthodox Russian People adopted by а conference of Bishops of the ROCOR in Vienna on October 25, 1943, on the issue of the election of Metropolitan Sergius Stargorodskii as Patriarch of Moscow, reads: “The long-standing rapprochement [between the Church and] the Communist government headed by the bloody tyrant Stalin and incorporating a large number of Jews who have a fanatical hatred of Christianity and are mercilessly exterminating the Russian people, casts a dark shadow on the figure of the new Patriarch, whom our conscience does not allow us to call our true father and spiritual leader”.Russkoe Delo No. 23 (November 7, 1943), Belgrade.
Moreover, in the 1942 Paschal Encyclical of Metropolitan Anastasy Gribanovskii, chair of the Synod of Bishops, we can observe a different emphasis: “It was in vain that the Jews, the enemies of Christ, who did not cease to persecute Him even after His death, sealed His body in the cave where it was buried and assigned a guard to Him in order to keep Him in the tomb.”Pravoslavnaia Rus’ No. 9-10 (1942), Ladomirova, Slovakia, p. 2.
Though the Synod’s official publication Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ [Church Life] was extremely careful during the period of the occupation of Belgrade in its statements about Hitler’s policy and “Judeo-Masonic conspiracies”, it was only seldom that anti-Jewish articles were published in it and all of these were evidently penned by the Synodal administrator George (Yury) Pavlovich Grabbe (the future Bishop Gregory, and of Russo-German ancestry).Gregory (Georgii Pavlovich) Grabbe, Bishop. Born April 8, 1902 into the family of a count. Studied theology at the University of Belgrade from 1923-1926. Administrator of the Chancellery of the ROCOR … Continue reading In one of these pieces, about the end of Lenin’s life, dated May 1, 1942 and signed with the initials G.G., it is said: “Now there is no need to prove the Jewish origins of Bolshevism, nor the fact that in the prison created by Lenin for the Russian people, most of the jailers are Jews. Here it is interesting to recollect that according to the doctrine of the Talmud, non-Jews – goys or ‘akkums, as they are called – are not people, but rather anthropomorphic entities created to serve the Jews. Those goys who do not wish to carry out this service may be subjected to extermination. This belief is clearly reflected in the so-called Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which sketch out a plan for how to create such a prison for non-Jews, as Lenin himself had dreamed of. Yet even if it is possible to understand why the Talmudists would dream of such a prison for other peoples, in that they come to this notion on the basis of their satanic religion, nonetheless a non-Jew could come to such an idea only on the basis of widespread atheism and a possessed mind.”G. G. Oderzhimyi tiuoremshchik [The Possessed Jailor], in: Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ No. 5 (1942), Belgrade, pp. 69-70.
In 1943, G. P. Grabbe even wrote two anti-Semitic tracts in Belgrade, which were essentially offensive pamphlets of a sort. The first of these – “Beneath the Six-Point Star: Judaism and Freemasonry, Past and Present” – was published in Serbian in March 1943 under the pseudonym “Georgije Pavlović”, which coincides with Grabbe’s first name and patronymic.Georgije Pavlović. Pod zvezdom šestokrakom. Judcuzam i slobodnozidarstvo v prošlosti i sadašnjosti. Belgrade, 1943. The foreword to the brochure was written by the well-known Serbian nationalist politician Dimitrije Ljotić (their wartime correspondence has been published in part in Serbia). He noted that the author was acting “according to the voice of his heart” and had given the manuscript to him, insisting on its being published.
In the first chapters of the brochure, Grabbe wrote about a Jewish imperialism that was struggling to seize power in the world; referenced the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, considering them genuine; mentioned ritual killings; and noteed the “frenzied madness of the Jews in relation to the Russian people in recent years”.Georgije Pavlović, Ibid., pp. 2-21. A great deal of attention is paid to the Masons (who are equated with the Jews) as an anti-Church and God-hating force, and to the oneness of the interests of the global Jewry with those of Great Britain and the USA. In the chapter on “Freemasonry and Communism”, it is argued that the Russian revolution was the work of Masons and Jews, who even now supported the “Bolshevik regime”. It is noted that Russia is “indirectly governed” by Jews and “has become a Jewish colony”. The author writes about the systematic struggle against anti-Semitism in the USSR, stressing the fact that “Freemasonry has supported and continues to support communism in order to create a bastion of Jewish power in Russia”, and that “having assimilated Russia, the Jews consider it necessary to extend their power across Europe and then throughout the world”.Ibid., pp. 44-46.
The brochure also strikes a pro-German note at times. Among other things, it is said that the rebuff that the Jews received from Germany and Italy against the “violence [wrought by them] against the Christian world” had “forced them to have recourse to a new World War”. He alleges that Germany has given an example of how to combat Freemasonry, in that Adolf Hitler had orchestrated a “mighty national rebuff” against this ideology (this is the sole mention of Hitler in the brochure).Ibid., pp. 47-48. The brochure concludes with the statement that one must “make use of one’s national ideology and culture [in the struggle] against the international Jewish and Masonic ideology” and that “the Christian Church alone can educate the people such that they might reject the temptations of Freemasonry with indignation”.Ibid., pp. 48-49. This brochure was reprinted several times in Yugoslavia (Serbia) in the 1990s and 2000s, and has again become one of the most popular works among Serbian exponents of the “global conspiracy theory”.
An even more offensive brochure, “Na zakate zhidovksoi sily” [“The Sunset of Jewish Power”] (16pp.) was written in Russian in Belgrade, probably around the end of 1943. It did not prove possible to find the text of it, and the only information about the contents of the brochure can be found in a letter of November 18, 1988 from Archpriest Victor Potapov, Rector of the ROCOR cathedral in Washington, D.C., to Metropolitan Vitaly (Ustinov), First Hierarch of the ROCOR, and to all the archpastors of the ROCOR, which is preserved in Bishop Gregory Grabbe’s case file.Archives of the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR, Case File of Bishop Gregory Grabbe.
In this emotional letter, Fr. Victor wrote: “… Reading ‘The Sunset of Jewish Power’ has allowed me to comprehend the psychology of Bishop Gregory, of those close to him, and of the adherents of his worldview all the more clearly. I earnestly entreat you, dear bishops, to read the attached brochure by Yury Grabbe carefully and to think over its meaning, not forgetting in the process the spirit of the Gospel of Christ nor the fact that it was written by a man who is now a bishop of our Church.
“Here are some excerpts from this work: ‘The extent in time of the Jewish conspiracy gives contemporary political figures the chance to study their enemy against the backdrop of history and to understand where its strengths and weaknesses lie. Unfortunately, up until now, this has not been done, for they have not ascribed to the Jews the significance that they actually have. Adolf Hitler is all but the first statesman of global significance who began his work by studying the Jewish people. He has penetrated deep into the history of the Jews and the character of the Jewish people, and has caught a glimpse of its weak points in the process. This is why he is such a dangerous enemy for the Jews.’ (p. 3)
‘His achievement in the eyes of the whole world is that, despite becoming acquainted with the Jewish conspiracy, he was not crushed by feelings of despair and hopelessness, but rather took up the ensign of battle at the very moment when the Jews were already on the verge of victory.’ (p. 3) ‘This achievement is all the greater owing to the fact that finding out about the Jewish conspiracy often elicits such a feeling of hopeless. People conceive of the Jews as some sort of many-headed dragon that is impossible to defeat. And so, they either lay off or struggle onward without any hope of success…’ (p. 4)
“What connection could there possibly be between this dragon and the savage extermination of a multitude of innocent Jewish children, women, men and elderly people? Of course, Hitler did not suffer from a feeling of hopelessness and he did not lay off, but rather raised his heavy, monstrous hand […] upon millions of innocents. Judging by the fact that Patriarch Sergius (cf. p. 14, § 2) is mentioned in the brochure and he was elected Patriarch only in 1943, it can be concluded that Yury Grabbe wrote ‘The Sunset of Jewish Power’ toward the end of World War II. In these years, the entire world was already well aware of Hitler’s destruction of the Jews (and not only of them!). And the author of this encomium of Hitler’s cult of personality was consecrated bishop in the free part of the Russian Orthodox Church…
“Let us have another look at Grabbe’s brochure. ‘The Jews shall not emerge victorious from the present war…’ (p. 6) ‘Just read the Protocols of Zion and you will see in every line the attitude of disdain toward the goys…’ (p. 6) What, then, is the difference between a disdainful attitude toward ‘the goys’ and a disdainful attitude toward ‘the Jews’?Here, as in many other anti-Jewish sources quoted in the document, the Russian term used is ‘zhid‘, which carries roughly the same pejorative connotations as the English … Continue reading Since when are we Christians meant to live by the principle of ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’? Yury Grabbe has closed his eyes to the basic truth, which we have known ever since we read the first sacred pages of the Bible in our childhood, that each person is a bearer of the image and the likeness of God. Grabbe’s terrible, unsettling words are but one manifestation of the devil’s work. The Lord sows the seeds of love, but the devil those of hatred.
‘Everything was calculated [by the ‘Jews’ – V.P.] with exacting precision. But the Jews could not have reckoned with the fact that a man was to appear who would turn the tables of history. The National Socialist revolution and subsequent resurgence…’ (p. 7) What ‘resurgence’ is meant here? The resurgence of Nazism on spilt Jewish blood?
“‘But the new economic system introduced by the National Socialists in Germany has shown that it is possible to make do without gold…’ (p. 8). Yet can one solve economic problems through the systematic destruction of human beings? Grabbe sings the praises of the Nazi movement, which in essence is the same as the Stalinist (and Leninist) terror. Hitler’s cult of personality is also identical to Stalin’s… And to think that the author of this encomium was made a hierarch of the free portion of the Russian Orthodox Church…
‘The Jews thought all the cards were in their hands. But the game was already up. The Jews accounted for neither the spirit, nor the excellent munitions of the German army…’ (p. 9) ‘Germany cannot be beaten in war… We are witnessing a historically unprecedented spectacle, when the peoples conquered by Hitler are forming brigades to assist their conqueror’ (p. 9). Here Grabbe is advancing the notion of conquered peoples ‘voluntarily’ serving Hitler, their enslaver, and of their faith in him as a savior. Whence such devotion and such a belief in the success of Nazi Germany when it should already have been clear that its days were numbered?
‘[..] of such a movement Russia might cease to be one of the enemies of Germany…’ (p. 15). This fragment clearly voices the author’s devotion to Germany at Russia’s expense! Yury Grabbe, at the time the administrator of the Synod of Russian Church Abroad, was suggesting that Russia serve Germany and free itself from communism in exactly the same way as communism was imposed upon it. May God deliver us from such a fascist Russia!
“Yury Grabbe juxtaposes Russian nationalism and anticommunism with antisemitism, whereas in its better manifestations, anticommunism is a synonym for the struggle against atheism. But the antisemitism so actively advanced by Grabbe is a movement that is opposed to the entire spirit of the Christian gospel. Grabbe wraps up his work with truly diabolical words of triumph: ‘The Jews’ plans are unravelling…’ (p. 16, top); ‘The consequences for the Jews will be disastrous…’ (p. 16, middle); ‘The victory over Judaism is drawing nigh…’ (p. 16, last line). After reading this brochure, it becomes unfortunately clear why Yury Grabbe and his family have done such harm to the Church Abroad…”Archives of the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR in New York. Case File of Bishop Gregory Grabbe.
In his letter of November 18, 1988, Archpriest Victor Potapov noted: “At the same time when Yury Grabbe… wrote his vile, misanthropic tract, in France, three Russian people, led by the Orthodox nun Mother Maria, were showing an example of true Christian love and merciful care for their neighbor… Mother Maria provided shelter for Jews who were being threatened with deportation to Germany and death in the gas chambers. Priest Dimitry Klepinin sacrificially helped Mother Maria in everything. Among other things, he issued fictional baptismal certificates which, under certain conditions, could save Jews from death… Mother Maria died a martyr’s death in a gas chamber in 1945, taking the place of a young Jewish mother. The example of the sacrificial love of the holy martyrs Mother Maria, Fr. Dimitry and Yury does not require further comment. Their death “for their friends” is more eloquent than any human words… You must agree with me, dear bishops, that the life of Mother Maria Skobtsova has given us an image of Holy Rus’ that is dear to all of us”.Ibid.
The example of the sacrificial love of the holy martyrs Mother Maria, Fr. Dimitry and Yury does not require further comment. Their death “for their friends” is more eloquent than any human words.
At the time when Fr. Victor called Mother Maria, Yury Skobtsov and Fr. Dimitry “holy martyrs”, they had not yet been canonized by the Patriarch of Constantinople. This was one of the reasons why, in his response to Fr. Victor Potapov’s letter dated November 26, 1988, Archbishop Antony of Los Angeles wrote: “… Fr. Victor writes about three members of the Evlogian schism – Mother Maria Skobtskova, her son Yury Skobtsov and Priest Dimitry Klepinin, who suffered for the selfless assistance they rendered to Jewish people – and calls them ‘holy martyrs’, setting them up as an example for all of us. While not denying their Christian attitude toward the Jews, Fr. Victor ought to know that canon law does not allow us to recognize as holy martyrs those who suffered for Christ’s sake yet who were not in communion with the Orthodox Church.”Archive of the Synod of Bishops in New York, Case File of Bishop Gregory Grabbe. Nevertheless, Vladyka Antony did also condemn Grabbe’s brochure.Archbishop father Archpriest Theodore, who died in 1946 as a ROCOR clergyman in Jerusalem was actively involved in 1913 the Kievan process about the murder of Andrei Iushchinskii. The local chief of … Continue reading
It should also be mentioned that George Grabbe was consecrated as bishop after his wife’s death and his tonsure as a monk, on May 12, 1979, whereas Fr. Victor and the members of the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR found out about the brochure only in 1986. Shortly thereafter, in April 1986, Bishop Gregory was removed from his position as secretary and forced to retire for a whole array of reasons. Ibid.
Moreover, George Grabbe was not alone in having such anti-Semitic views during the war. Archpriest Vladimir Vostokov, who served as the rector of a parish in Yugoslavia during the occupation, wrote in a pamphlet of May 30, 1943 in which he spoke from the perspective of Stalin: ” ‘We have corrupted a portion of our men, especially young Red Army soldiers, such that they have joined us in our unrepentant organized crime and are stubbornly defending the Jewish state that exists in Russia under the guise of their homeland, as well as the most wicked enemies of the people, in complete darkness of mind and an incurable ecstasy of the heart. It is they who are prolonging this most bloody of wars, which is destructive not only for Russia, but for all of humanity… And we have known about these hellish plans and satanic evildoings of the international Judeo-Masonic movement of communism, and have operated basely, evilly, protractedly, and consciously under their control, assistance and protection.’
At these last words, Comrade Jugashvili-Stalin, of course, ought to break out in bitter tears, kneel down before the people, and cry out: “I fall down before you, you great sufferer, O people of Russia! I do not ask you to spare me or to have mercy on me… I dare not ask these things, since until now I was not a man, but a blood-sucking worm: scorned and despised by men. Now I, together with my Judeo-Masonic gang that has ruled you for 26 years…” If Jugashvili-Stalin were to say and do these things, then I would believe him, though he may be a former monster. What would the people say in response to his cry of repentance? I think that the people will understand: communism in Russia is truly falling, fading away…”Tsekovnoe Obozrenie [Church Review] No. 7 (1943), Belgrade, p. 5.
On October 8, 1941, Priest Feodor Ivanovich Vlasenkov, a clergyman of the cathedral in Veliko Trnovo and the commissioner of the Central Union of Cossacks in Bulgaria, appealed to the Russian clergy to submit declarations stating their desire to serve as pastors in Russia, while characterizing the Soviet regime as “Jewish and Masonic”. In his strongly politicized letter, he wrote: “The long-awaited and happy day has come when the Lord God has seen fit to free our suffering brethren from the hateful yoke of the atheist communists. The Ukraine is already free, and the valiant German forces and their allies have triumphantly entered the native regions of us Cossacks… But there are almost no priests to serve there. We all remember the savagery of the Bolsheviks toward the Russian people. Our native Cossack lands have suffered most of all at the hands of these monsters and tyrants, and have been deprived of their brave warriors, Archpastors and pastors, and virtually the entirety of the Cossack intelligentsia, owing to the fact that the Cossacks were able to defend their honor by protesting actively against the violent Jewish and Masonic regime. If the Lord God has preserved us… then we are destined by Divine Providence to continue our service to our long-suffering brethren in the liberated territories”. Bulgarian State Archive, Sofia, Coll. 791, Survey 2, Item 166, f. 3.
Protopresbyter Alexander Shabashev, Dean of the Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in Belgium, wrote to Archbishop Seraphim Lade of Berlin and Germany on December 6, 1941: “I have no regard for any of the Jew-Mason henchman, first among them Shakhovskoi [Archimandrite John, who was then serving in Berlin], whose mother is descended from a Jew. However hard he might try to demonstrate his lack of involvement with the Jews, he will not succeed.”Russian State Military Archive, Coll. 500, Survey 3, Doc. 456, f. 73
In occupied Yugoslavia, it was Ekustodian Makharoblidze, the editor and publisher of the journal Tserkovnoe Obozrenie (“Church Review“) The predecessor of Yuri Pavlovich Grabbe as Manager of the Chancery of the Synod of Bishop in Yugoslavia and after the war a secretary of the ROCOR German diocese. How tolerated antisemitism was in … Continue reading, who adopted the most anti-Semitic and pro-German position out of all the figures in the life of the church. As early as June 1941, he began to publish his journal again with a license from the Department of Propaganda under the commander of the occupying German forces. In the July issue, he attempted to settle old scores with the ROCOR Synod of Bishops by publishing an article written in “a tone eminently disrespectful not only of the current hierarchs, but also of the late Patriarch Varnava and Metropolitan Antony”.Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ No. 3-12 (1941), p. 34.
On June 22, 1942, Makharoblidze published a scandalous article that read: “A year has passed since the sword was raised against humanity’s most fearsome enemy: the Communist International, which has been spreading throughout the world the plague and poison of Bolshevism that devours human souls… The Great British Empire is being destroyed; its ally, the red dragon, is in its death throes; Roosevelt, the hope of the Jews, is paralyzed by inaction… Such are the three bulwarks of the common enemy of mankind and its Christian culture of over two millennia… The current crusade, as it approaches the end of its second year, ought to destroy this triumvirate of evil. And the providence of God ordains that this is to come to pass”. K godovshchine krestovogo pokhoda [On the Anniversary of the Crusade], in: Tserkovnoe obozrenie No. 4-6 (1942), pp. 6-7.
In another article four months later, in October 1942, Makharoblidze directly accused the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR of refusing to support the German invasion of Russia: “The Judge of the Universe has selected as His weapon […] Adolf Hitler, the Fuehrer of the German people, who raised his sword against the satanic regime on June 22, 1941 and since then has become the leader of humanity and its savior from red communism. It would seem […] that the executive body of the Council, in our ultimate understanding, ought in turn to give its blessing for this crusade and to address the Russian people with a special, short, but informative letter explaining that this crusade is bringing them freedom from the fetters of lawless men, and appealing to them to take up arms against the Soviet regime and join forces with the Germans in order to destroy communism completely and instate a new, just order for all European peoples… But the Synod has been silent in this matter, whereas there, at least, the hierarchs of the official church have called upon Russians to pray for the defeat of satan…”Tserkovnoe Obozrenie No. 9-10 (1942), p. 4.
In an October 1945 letter to Patriarch Alexis of Moscow responding to his call for reunification with the Mother Church, ROCOR First Hierarch Metropolitan Anastasy wrote concerning the false illusions that many Russians (including ROCOR clergymen) had had about the Germans’ plans, stating openly that these illusions had been shattered, among other things, by the extermination of the Jews, which he condemned in no uncertain terms: “One cannot, of course, attempt to conceal the commonly known fact that [some people,] worn down by the hopelessness of their situation and brought almost to the point of despair [by what was happening] in Russia, had placed their hope in Hitler, since he had declared an uncompromising struggle against communism. This, as you know, is the explanation for why Russian armies surrendered themselves en masse into captivity at the beginning of the war; yet when it became clear that he was actually seeking to conquer the Ukraine, Crimea, Caucasus, and other well-off regions of Russia, and that he not only had disdain for the Russian people but also was seeking to destroy it; that our prisoners were being starved to death at his orders; that the German army was burning down towns and villages, massacring their inhabitants or taking them captive, condemning hundreds of thousands of Jews together with their women and children to death, and forcing them to dig their own graves – then the hearts of all right-minded people turned against him, with the exception of those who wished to be deceived”.Fedchenkov, Benjamin, Metropolitan. Raskol ili edinstvo? Materialy dlia resheniia voprosa ob Amerikanskoi Тserkvi. [Schism or Unity? Materials for the Resolution of the Matter of the Church in … Continue reading
One cannot, of course, attempt to conceal the commonly known fact that [some people,] worn down by the hopelessness of their situation and brought almost to the point of despair in Russia, had placed their hope in Hitler, since he had declared an uncompromising struggle against communism.
Thus, there was doubtless a certain amount of anti-Jewish sentiment of a political and religious nature in the works of a whole array of representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. However, completely absent from the ideas of the Russian ecclesiastical emigration was the racism characteristic of Nazism. The leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad never approved of the Holocaust. Some parishioners of the Church in Germany were Jewish and took part in the Resistance movement. For example, Liane Berkowitz belonged to Rittmeister’s “Red Orchestra” (Rote Kapelle) resistance movement, who collaborated with Soviet intelligence agencies. At the age of 16, she became involved in the illegal distribution of flyers. On March 30, 1943, she came under arrest, and on August 5, 1943 she was executed in Plötzensee Prison in Berlin.Gäde, Kate. Die Russische Orthodoxe Kirche in Deutschland in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts [The Russian Orthodox Church in Germany in the first half of the 20th century]. Köln, 1985, pp. … Continue reading (It should also be mentioned that Alexander Schmorell, a ROCOR parishioner of Russo-German origin, was executed by the Germans for his involvement in the underground Weiße Rose [White Rose] group in Munich and was glorified as a saint by the Russian Church Abroad in 2012. According to the – hardly exhaustive – estimates of researchers at Saint Tikhon’s University, “21 clergymen in the Russian diaspora suffered at the hands of the Nazis, including for their efforts to rescue Jews”.”Predstaviteli russkogo zarubezh’ia, za Khrista postradavshie” [“Russians Émigrés Who Suffered for Christ”], in: XVIII ezhegodnaia bogoslovskaia konferentsiia … Continue reading
At the time, this Metropolitan did not suspect that the Nazi leadership had no intention of allowing a Russian national government to be created. Subsequently, as Metropolitan Seraphim began to find out the truth, sobriety and repentance began to set in (in 1945 he went over to the Moscow Patriarchate). As early as 1943, Vladyka Seraphim practically handed over leadership of his diocese to the Anglophile Archpriest Vasily Tikhonovich Timofeev (Rector of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign in Paris, a member of the Diocesan Council, and the Dean of the ROCOR parishes in the Paris region),Timofeev, Vasily Tikhonovich, Protopresbyter. Born on January 1, 1878, into the family of a priest in Odessa. Graduated from Odessa Theological Seminary (1898) and Saint Petersburg Theological … Continue reading whose daughter was imprisoned in a concentration camp by the Nazis. By a decree of Metropolitan Seraphim dated May 28, 1942, Fr. Vasily was appointed to the rank of protopresbyer “on account of his particular zeal in serving the Church of God”, though this was not confirmed by the Synod of Bishops of the ROCA.Archives of the Synod of Bishops in New York. Doc. 27/43.
Around summer 1943, this priest baptized six young Jews without any preliminary instruction and by merely sprinkling them with water, thus saving them from death. In a letter of June 19, 1943, to ROCOR First Hierarch Metropolitan Anastasy Gribanovskii, Metropolitan Seraphim Lade of Berlin and Germany told him that while Vladyka Seraphim Lukianov was an anti-Semite in word, he nonetheless never did anything to this effect, and that Fr. Vasily Timofeev had been baptizing Jews and even gave one of them a certificate stating his Arian parentage.Russian State Military Archive, Coll. 1470, Survey 2, Doc. 17, ff, 96, 101. By order of the Synod of Bishops, in connection with “disorder in the Western European Metropolitan District”, Metropolitan Seraphim Lade travelled to inspect the situation in France from June 1-6, 1943, and noted in his report on the visit: “Archpriest Timofeev’s behavior has been more than strange on other occasions, as well… When Paris was being captured by German forces, he baptized six young Jews without any preliminary instruction and merely by sprinkling them with water. Almost everyone with whom I spoke considers him to be an Anglophile and alleges that he does not even attempt to conceal his sympathy for England”.Archive of the Synod of Bishops in New York, Doc. 27/43. The report suggested removing Fr. Vasily Timofeev as Rector of the Church of Our Lady of the Sign in Paris and generally transferring him out of Paris.
Despite a letter from Vladyka Seraphim Lukianov saying that this was impossible, on November 9, 1943, the Synod of Bishops nonetheless resolved to move Fr. Vasily Timofeev to Brussels and to assign Protopresbyter Alexander Shabashev to Paris.Ibid. However, even after that, Metropolitan Seraphim did not back down, and retained his assistant as Rector of the Cathedral Church of Our Lady of the Sign.
Fortunately, Father Vasily remained alive; however, another close helper of Vladyka Seraphim Lukianov, Protopresbyter Dr. theol. Andrei Ieremeevich Vrasskii, Andrei Ieremeevich Vrasskii, Protopresbyter. Born in 1894 into the family of a nobleman, Major General, and director of a Cadet School. Emigrated to France after the October Revolution, lived in … Continue reading Rector of the Holy Resurrection Church in Vichy and a diocesan missionary of Western European Diocese of the ROCA who had been appointed as the Metropolitan’s plenipotentiary representative in the zone libre, perished due to his involvement in the Resistance movement and his efforts to save Jews. In the summer of 1941, Fr. Andrei established an Orthodox Mission in Europe (headed by himself) with its center in the French city of Guéret. Later that year, at Vladyka Seraphim’s behest and disguised as a French engineer, he went on a missionary visit to the occupied territory of the Ukraine.
Fr. Andrei returned from this trip with negative impressions of the Germans’ church policy. On January 19, 1942, he issued a message to the Orthodox Mission in which he wrote about the persecution of the Orthodox Church by the Germans in the occupied territory of Russia, asserted that “there is no more Bolshevism in Russia”, and so forth. In his letters to friends and acquaintances (including A. I. Ladyzhenskii), Archpriest Andrei Vrasskii wrote that Metropolitan Seraphim had expressed regrets about issuing his letter of June 22, 1941.
On May 26, 1942, despite his short term of service as a priest and a lack of permission on the part of the Synod of Bishops, Fr. Andrei was elevated to the rank of protopresbyter by Metropolitan Seraphim Lukianov “on account of his extraordinary work to the benefit of the Holy Church”. On May 30, he was appointed a member of the Diocesan Council of the Western European Metropolitan District.Ibid. Vladyka Seraphim Lukianov received a reprimand from the Synod for these actions. Makharoblidze, the editor of the journal Tserkovnoe Obozrenie, wrote concerning Fr. Andrei’s rapid promotion to the rank of protopresbyter: “Evidently Fr. Vrasskii, while in the rank of priest, had demonstrated such ‘special, beyond-extraordinary achievements’ that Metropolitan Seraphim Lukianov declared himself able to elevate him to such a lofty rank despite his short period of service, thereby assuming the prerogative of the Synod of Bishops of the Church Abroad”.cf. “Ot redaktsii” [“From the Editor”], in: Tserkovnoe Obozrenie No. 5 (1943), Belgrade.
In a sermon delivered in the church in Cannes on August 2, 1943, Fr. Andrei Vrasskii said: “Germany’s struggle against Russia is not a struggle for the destruction of Bolshevism and for the restoration of a Russian Orthodox nation. Germany’s goal lies in its own material interests. Germany’s attitude toward Orthodoxy is negative. The German regime makes use of Orthodoxy only when it sees this as advantageous, or else in order to combat Orthodoxy itself… The real struggle is being carried by those who are dying on field of honor defending every last sliver of Russian land, by those who clearly understand the Germans’ intentions and their desire to divide Russia and to subjugate her materially and spiritually, and who see what they can expect from the Germans in the spiritual and national arena. Those who are fighting, dying and not surrendering, who are leading the fight for the Orthodox Faith and Holy Rus’, are not the Bolsheviks, but rather the Russian people. Therefore, anyone who helps the Germans in some way or another is fighting against these people, against the Orthodox Faith, against their Motherland, and is a defector and a traitor. For him, the possibility of returning to his homeland is forever barred…” Archives of the Synod of Bishops in New York, Doc. 27/43.
Those who are fighting, dying and not surrendering, who are leading the fight for the Orthodox Faith and Holy Rus’, are not the Bolsheviks, but rather the Russian people. Therefore, anyone who helps the Germans in some way or another is fighting against these people, against the Orthodox Faith, against their Motherland, and is a defector and a traitor.
In July 1942, Protopresbyter Andrei, appealing to a blessing allegedly received from Metropolitan Seraphim Lukianov, published a flyer aimed against the German regime and sent it around to Orthodox clergymen and parishioners.Ibid.
At the same time, Fr. Andrei was baptizing and concealing Jews in France and was actively involved in the French Resistance, for which he was arrested on January 25, 1943, and imprisoned in Compiègne Internment Camp outside of Paris. Here, he served in the camp church together with Hieromartyr Dimitry Klepinin, who wrote very respectfully of Fr. Andrei to Metropolitan Evlogii Georgievskii on September 18, 1943: “The unifying principle [in the camp church community] is Fr. Andrei, who is respected in the camp by the Russians and the French alike. After several months of living together with him, I know him very well and value him greatly as a person deserving of trust.” On December 16, 1943, Protopresbyter Andrei was deported to Buchenwald Concentration Camp, where he died (was found tortured to death) in February 1944. Subsequently, Fr. Andrei Vrasskii was recognized as having “died for France”.V.Iu Cherniaev, “Russkiye uzniki Komp’yenskogo lagerya i ikh sud’by” [“The Fates of the Russian Prisoners of Compiègne Camp”], Nansensovskie chtenia 2009 [A Conference In the … Continue reading
Not long ago, it was discovered that ROCOR Archpriest Nikolai Sobolev was involved in saving Jews in the South of France.Mitred Archpriest Nikolai Sobolev. Born in the 1880s in the family of a priest in the Don Host Oblast’. Graduated from Yaroslavl Theological Seminary (according to other sources, Voronezh … Continue reading In 2015, the Russian Congress of Jews and the Holocaust Center began the process of awarding the title of “Righteous Among the Nations” to the great Russian writer and Nobel Laureate Ivan Alexeevich Bunin and his wife Vera Nikolaevna. At the Jeanette Villa they rented in Grasse (Département Alpes-Maritimes, South of France), the Bunins sheltered Jews, such as the Russian émigré literary critic Alexander Bakhrakh, and the pianist Alexander Libermann and his wife Stephanie, throughout the period of the occupation of France. Leonid Zurov, a prose writer and the inheritor of Ivan Bunin’s archive, witnessed of this in 1964: “During the war, the Paris literary critic Alexander Vasilievich Bakhrakh found shelter with the Bunins. He appeared in Grasse after the retreat of the French army. He spent the entire war with the Bunins. At the most dangerous of times, Vera Nikolaevna had him baptized (in the little church in Cannes-la-Bocca)… by Priest Sobolev of the Church in Cannes. When the French Socialist Revolutionaries from the Eastern Front were in Grasse, Bakhkrakh was arrested by them on the street and taken away to their headquarters, but a document issued by Sobolev saved him”. The writer Mark Aldanov also had in mind none other than Alexander Bakhrakh when he wrote as follows about Bunin in a letter to the Jewish public figure and journalist Ilia Troitskii: “As you are aware, he conducted himself with great dignity: not only did he not write a single line about Hitler, but he also provided for other people, too, over the course of several years, including a Jewish author who lived with him all those years.”http://www.holocf.ru/news/995
The Archpriest Nikolai Sobolev mentioned in Leonid Zurov’s memoirs had been serving as assistant priest in the Russian Church of the Holy Archangel Michael in Cannes, and from 1941-1946 had simultaneously served in St. John the Baptist Parish in Nice. In the biographical dictionary “The Russian Diaspora in France”, it is also noted that “he hid Jewish families from the occupiers during World War II”.Rossiiskoe zarubezh’e vo Frantsii. 1919-2000: biograficheskii slovar’: v 3 T. Pod obshchei redaktsii L. Mnukhina, M. Avril’, V. Losskoi [The Russian Diaspora in France, 1919-2000: A … Continue reading
Fr. Sergii had to send an urgent letter, but he did not have the stamp he needed in order to do so. He went to buy one, but he was not allowed into the post office because of his wearing the yellow star.
One of Metropolitan Seraphim Lukianov’s clergymen was the Russian Jew Archimandrite Sergii Pfefferman, the son of a rabbi, who had converted to Orthodoxy at the age of 16. He had been a novice in Valaam Monastery for seven years, was tonsured a monk and ordained a priest in Chudov Monastery in Moscow, served as a military chaplain to the Russian Army during World War I, and later emigrated to France. From 1941-1942, he stood in for the rector of Saint Seraphim Church in Chelles, and from 1942-1955 he was Rector of Holy Resurrection Church in Meudon, outside of Paris. From 1940-1944 Fr. Sergii was stripped of the right to give sermons and celebrate services, and at the same time he was forced to wear the yellow Star of David; however, the Diocesan leadership saved him from peril.Nivière, op. cit., p. 437
During this same period, the following astonishing thing happened to Archimandrite Sergii: “Fr. Sergii had to send an urgent letter, but he did not have the stamp he needed in order to do so. He went to buy one, but he was not allowed into the post office because of his wearing the yellow star. Until then, Fr. Sergii had always borne such trials stolidly, but this time he suddenly burst into tears. But what was to be done? … Fr. Sergii set off for home and suddenly found the stamp he needed at his feet – and a completely new one, as well!”Filip’ev, Vsevolod, Rassophore Monk. Sviatorusskoe otkrovenie miru [The Revelation of Holy Russia to the World]. Jordanville/Moscow, 2005, p. 226 After the war, he again served as Rector of Holy Resurrection Church in Meudon, until retiring in 1956 to Lesna Convent in Fourques, where he passed away on June 2, 1961.
One also ought to mention the philo-Semitic stance of Prince Yury Shirinskii-Shakhmatov during the War. In the 1930s, he wrote about a final “Judaization of the West” and the failure of the same in Russia, which was to “be the cause of a great bloodshed for the Jews” while forging “a Russian Messianism born out of the blood of thousands of Christians”. During the German occupation, he wanted to “register as a Jew and wear the yellow star” as a sign of protest. “He died a martyr’s death in a German concentration camp: SS officers beat him to death after he attempted to intervene on behalf of another prisoner.”Varshavskii, V. Nezamechennoe pokolenie [An Overlooked Generation]. New York, 1956, pp. 44-46, 51.
The Russian émigré Alexei Nikolaevich Fleisher, a parishioner of the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Rome in the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, fought against the Germans in the Yugoslav Army, was interned in Albania after the Yugoslavs capitulated, and was held there in a concentration camp for some time after his arrest. In August 1942 he moved to Rome. In September 1943, he organized a secret hospital and shelter for Soviet prisoners of war who had escaped the camps – many of whom subsequently joined the Partisans – in the “Villa Thai”, the deserted building of the Embassy of Thailand in Rome. According to some reports, Fleisher rendered assistance to Jews, as well (of the 58,000 Jews living in Italy in early 1942, the Germans murdered 7600 and a further 600 perished in Italian-occupied Albania).
From December 1943 to June 4, 1944, Fleisher was assisted in his work saving prisoners of war and other victims of the Nazi regime not only by the Orthodox, but also by Eastern-rite Catholics: Prince S. Obolenskii, who had established a Committee for the Protection of Russian Prisoners of War at the decision of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and Priest Dorofei Zakhaovich Beschastnyi of the Collegium Russicum, who obtained money for the members of the underground. Hundreds of prisoners of war passed through the Villa Thai; they were then sent out to forty apartments belonging to conspirators throughout Rome or to nearby hills, where three brigades of Russian Partisans were formed. Fleisher described his stance as follows: “Neither Red, not White, but rather Russian.” After Rome was liberated by Anglo-American forces, the headquarters at the Villa Thai was transformed into a Committee for the Protection of Former Red Army Prisoners of War. For a time, Fleisher was its secretary. When representatives of the Soviet Government came to Rome, 182 former prisoners of war lined up in the courtyard of the Villa Thai to greet them.Komolova, N. P. Russkoe zarubezh’e v Italii (1917-1945) [The Russian Disapora in Italy (1917-1945)], in: Russkaia emigratsiia v Evrope 20-e — 30-e gody ХХ veka [The Russian Emigration in … Continue reading
In the part of Macedonia occupied by Bulgarian forces, Igumenia Diodora Dokhtorova, Abbess of the Kichevo Holy Annunciation Convent, gave refuge to those persecuted by the occupants (among them Jews) and to members of the Resistance movement, without paying heed to warnings that the convent could be destroyed due to its connections with the Partisans. When the occupants found out that she had been taking in Partisans, they entered her name in a list of people to be executed. Mother Diodora was saved by a Bulgarian colonel who had often had conversations with her and had borrowed spiritual books from her. He informed the Abbess of her impending arrest and execution, and she took refuge in a safe location.Dinev, Gavriil, Archimandrite. Zhivotopis na skhiigumeniia Mariia (Doktorova) [Biography of Schema-Abbess Maria Dokhtorova], in: Bialata emigratsiia v B”lgariia. Materiali ot nauchna … Continue reading
Another inhabitant of Kichevo convent, the ethnically Jewish Schema-Abbess Salafaila (secular name: Nina Lindebanova), also managed to escape arrest. She was born in 1890 in Kholm (Russian Empire) into a wealthy Jewish family, but after seeing a vision of the Mother of God at the age of 14, she fled from her parents’ house to Lesna Convent, where she was baptized and later tonsured a nun with the name Agrippina. In the 1920s, she lived in Khopovo Monastery in Serbia, and after 1936 in Kichevo Monastery. During the war, she fell ill with cancer. At a point when there was no hope of a cure, she prayed to the Mother of God before Her wonderworking icon: “O Most Pure Virgin, if you allow me to live, I will never forsake you!” For this reason, when the community of Russian sisters led by Abbess Diodora moved to the Holy Annunciation Monastery in the Diocese of Belgrade in 1945, Mother Salafaila, who by then had been cured, remained in Kichevo Convent, where she died in 1988 (her grave can still be seen in the monastery cemetery).Traikovskii, Nikolai, Hegumen. Russkie monakhi v Makedonii [Russian Monks in Macedonia]. Skopje, 2010, pp. 53-58.
Nevertheless, some well-known figures from the Russian émigré church in Macedonia did still perish at the hands of the occupants and their allies. One of them was Abbott Iulii (Julius) of Karpino Moonastery near the town of Kumanovo in the Diocese of Skopje. In 1944, he was accused of sheltering partisans in the monastery and assisting them. He was then arrested and taken away to the village of Stratsin, where he was tortured and killed. Another Russian émigré, Abbott Veniamin of the Monastery of Saint Naum in the Diocese of Okhrid, was murdered en route from Presna to the village of Trpeitsa near Okhrid, likely by Albanian nationalist collaborating with the Italian occupants.Traikovskii, Nikolai, Hegumen. Op. cit., pp. 45-46. On the whole, the situation of Russian émigrés in occupied Macedonia was very difficult. The contemporary Macedonian historian A. Ster’ovskii has written that Russians were considered “enemies of the Reich and of Bulgaria”. Their situation was similar to that of the Jews: there were restrictions on their freedom of movement, they were denied ration cards, and so on.Sterjovski, A. Bitola, Ruskata kolonija. Bitola, 2003, pp. 111, 120-122.
One ought to pay special attention to the bishops who led the ROCOR Diocese of Berlin and Germany: Archbishop Tikhon Liashchenko (until 1938)Archbishop Tikhon (Timofei) Liashchenko. Born in 1875. Graduated from Kiev Theological Academy in 1909. In 1914, tonsured a monk, elevated to the rank of archimandrite and appointed Inspector of the … Continue reading The secretary of the former up until 1937 was N. N. Masa’lskii, who was eventually exiled from Germany due to his partial Jewish descent. Yet Archbishop Tikhon did everything he could to try to keep Masalskii around until the very last moment. In an autobiographical book by Colonel K. Kromiadi we read that, in order to help Jews, “Archbishop Tikhon of Berlin and Germany baptized Russian Jews who came to him and issued them with baptismal certificates. Unfortunately, this did not help them, and the Gestapo demanded that the Synod remove Tikhon from Germany. As a result, Archbishop Tikhon was summoned back to Sremsky Karlovtsy and his closest collaborators were repressed… V. Levashov was imprisoned, Count A. Vorontsov-Dashkov was warned that he would be forced to leave the country if he did not calm down, and the Gestapo confiscated the papers of K. K[romiadi], representative of the Diocese of Germany at the Synod of the Church Abroad in Sremsky Karlovtsy, banning him from the leaving the country under threat of arrest.See: Kromiadi, K. Za zemliu, za voliu… [For country, for freedom…] San Francisco, 1980. pp. 23-24 These claims are not entirely accurate. There was a whole range of different reasons for why Archbishop TIkhon was forced to retire, and no information about the repression of his “closest collaborators” could be found in the archives.
Metropolitan Seraphim Lade, who replaced Vladyka Tikhon, was well disposed towards the “Evlogians” and did his part to save them from repression by the Gestapo. He was meant to hold his first joint service with the Evlogian clergy in Berlin on July 28, 1938, including with Archimandrite John Shakhovskoi. The day before, Vladyka Seraphim and the Gestapo received an anonymous letter demanding to “defend our Church from penetration by Judeo-Masonic forces seeking to mask themselves in the guise of concelebration with our clergy.” But the service took place all the same, which was one of the reasons why Archimandrite John was saved from being exiled.Russian State Military Archive, Survey 1, Doc. 17, ff. 238, 242.
Even more characteristic is the case of the Evlogian Archbishop of Brussels and Belgium, Alexander Nemolovskii. Between 1938-40, he repeatedly condemned the Nazis in homilies and appeals to his flock. For example, he said in a sermon on July 31, 1938: “We have been sent terrible trials… In Germany, the cruel barbarian Hitler is destroying the Christian faith and simultaneously propagating paganism. We pray that God might save this country from this terrible man, since things are [even] worse there than in Soviet Russia.” In his other statements, Vladyka likewise condemned Hitler’s race theory. After the occupation of Belgium, Archbishop Alexander was arrested by Gestapo. With a nameplate fixed to his chest reading “Enemy No. 2”, he was transferred to prisons in Aachen and Berlin. Metropolitan Seraphim Lade was able to get Vladyka Alexander out of prison, vouching for him and finding a place for him to live at the Russian Church in Tegel, where the latter remained until the end of the war.Gäde, op. cit., pp. 244-245; Nikitin, Natsistskii rezhim I Russkaia Pravoslavnaia Obshchina v Germanii (1933-1945) [Nazis’ Regime and Russian Orthodox Community in Germany 1933-1945] (Moscow, … Continue reading
At the same time, Metropolitan Seraphim occasionally made use of anti-Semitic rhetoric in his correspondence with the official agencies of the Third Reich, even though he did not approve of Nazi policy and did not share its ideas. Among other things, in October 1940, he wrote to the Ministerium für die kirchlichen Angelegenheiten concerning an opponent of his, the Ukrainian Professor I. Ogienko, who in the future was to become Archbishop Hilarion of Kholm in the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in the Generalgouvernement [General Governorate for the occupied Polish Region]: “This man who not long ago swore an oath of loyalty to the government of Poland… this man, who but four years ago informed the public of the fact that he maintained ties of friendship with the Jews and took their interests into account, who had promised them that he would found a department at Kamenets-Podolsky University for the study of Jewish life and admit 25% Jewish students to this university, who convinced a Jewish Rabbi that this university would be of enormous material and spiritual benefit to the Jews – I cannot trust such people, even if they may currently have the favor of high and supreme instances of authority.”Nikitin, op. cit., p. 303
In August 1942, Metropolitan Seraphim had even planned to publish an anti-Semitic theological article, though nothing became of this. On November 6, Fr. Alexander Lovchii, the Rector of the ROCOR parish in Munich, wrote to Vladyka Seraphim about the failure of this undertaking: “Herewith I have the honor of presenting you with a German translation of your article ‘The Guilt of the Jews and the Gentiles before the Judgment Seat of the Righteousness of God’, which you had proposed to print in Eparkhial’nye Vedomosti… I would very much like to fulfill your desire, Holy [sic. —trans.] Vladyko, and print 300 copies of this article, but unfortunately I do not have such an amount of paper at my disposal.”Archive of the ROCOR German Diocese. Parishes. Munich, 1929-1942. This article was not published subsequently in the diocesan journal, either.
After the Nazis occupied Poland in September 1939, a part of its territory was incorporated into the Third Reich. The Orthodox parishes there became part of the Diocese of Germany of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. From archival documents, we know that some priests of these parishes – such as, for example, Archpriest Mikhail Boretskii, Rector of the Church in Lodz (who graduated from the Orthodox section of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Warsaw) – baptized Jews, thereby rescuing them.
Until September 1940, Vladyka Seraphim Lade was the administrator of the Orthodox Church in the Generalgouvernement that had been formed out of a different part of Poland, but was subsequently forced to abandon this position due to the animosity of Governor General Frank and of Ukrainian nationalists (Metropolitan Dionisii, the former First Hierarch of the Orthodox Church of Poland, was appointed head of the Church in the Generalgouvernement in his stead). The Nazis attempted to foster ethnic discord in every way they could and to this end sometimes handed closed synagogues over to the Ukrainians to be used as churches. For instance, such a transfer of property occurred in Cracow in December 1941.Russian State Military Archive, Coll. 500, Survey 3, Doc. 456, f. 247. Heyer F. and Weise G. Kirchengeschichte der Ukraine. Göttingen, 1997 (Manuskript). pp. 216-217. Unfortunately, this policy sometimes brought forth poison fruit.
Yet the assistance the Orthodox received from the regime of the Generalgouvernement was only sporadic and based on temporary tactical considerations. As has been said before, the leadership of Nazi Germany had a negative view of both the Orthodox Church and of other Christian confessional groups, with a view to their ultimate destruction.
Blessing of the All-Russian Fascist Party
Regarding Ivan Ilyin’s book Resisting Evil By Force
|↵1||Antony (Alexei Pavlovich) Khrapovitskii, Metropolitan. Born on March 17, 1863. Graduated from Saint Petersburg Theological Academy in 1885. Consecrated as Bishop Cheboksary in 1897. Elevated in 1906 to the rank of Archbishop of Volyn’ and Zhitomir. While a member of the Ukrainian Church, elected Metropolitan of Kiev and Galicia on May 17, 1918. Emigrated to Yugoslavia in 1919.|
|↵2||State Archive of the Russian Federation, Coll. 9145, Survey 1, Doc. 959, f. 107.|
|↵3||Tsarskii Vestnik [Royal Gazette] No. 85 (March 30, 1930). Belgrade.|
|↵4||Kosik, Viktor. Russkaia Tserkov’ v Iugoslavii (20 — 40-e gg. ХХ veka) [The Russian Church in Yugoslavia in the 1920s-40s]. Moscow, 2000, pp. 105-106; Chemu svideteli my byli…: Perepiska byvshykh tsarskykh diplomatov 1934-1940 gg. Sbornik dokumentov v 2-kh knigakh. [The Things We Witnessed…: Correspondence by Former Imperial Diplomats, 1934-40. Collection of Documents in Two Volumes]. Moscow, 1998. p. 187, 201, 209.|
|↵5||Pis’ma Blazhenneishego Mitropolita Antonia (Khrapovitskogo) [The Letters of His Beatitude Metropolitan Anthony]. Jordanville, 1988. p. 226|
|↵6||Nikolski, B.I. Russkie masony i revoliutsia [Russian Masons and the Revolution]. Moscow, 1990, pp. 173-180. Tserkovnaia zhizn’ [Church Life] No. 2 (1934).|
|↵7||Encyclical Letter of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on August 15/28, 1932. Rklitskii, Nikon, Archbishop. Zhizneopisanie Blazhenneishego Antonia, mitropolita Kievskogo i Galitskogo [Biography of His Beatitude Metropolitan Antony of Kiev and Galicia]. New York, 1961. Vol. 7, pp. 286-293.|
|↵8||Deianiia Vtorogo Vsezarubezhnogo Sobora Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi za granitsei [The Acts of the Second All-Diaspora Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad]. Belgrade, 1939. p. 581|
|↵9||Ibid., pp. 198-200.|
|↵10||Ibid., p. 198. Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ [Church Life] No. 8-9 (1938), pp. 130-131.|
|↵11||Metropolitan Seraphim (Aleksandr Ivanovich) Lukianov. Born on August 23, 1879. Graduated from Kazan Theological Academy in 1904. Consecrated Bishop of Serdobolsk on September 7, 1914. From 1920 Archbishop of Finland and Viborg. From 1927-1945, head of the Western European Diocese of the ROCA, from 1938 onward Metropolitan. Re-joined the Moscow Patriarchate on August 31, 1945. From November 15, 1949, Exarch of the Moscow Patriarchate in Western Europe. Lived from May 17, 1954, onward in retirement in the USSR. Died on February 19, 1959, in Gerbovetsky Monastery.|
|↵12||Chemu svideteli my byli, Vol. 2, pp. 147-148.|
|↵13||Pis’ma Blazhenneishego Mitropolita Antonia (Khrapovitskogo), pp. 159, 161|
|↵14||Russian State Military Archive, Coll. 1, Survey 1, Doc. 13, f. 20; Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ No. 36 (1936), Belgrade, p. 89.|
|↵15||State Archive of the Russian Federation, Coll. 6343, Survey 1, Doc. 135, ff. 1-2.|
|↵16||Tsarskii Vestnik [Royal Bulletin] No. 439 (March 10, 1935), p. 2.|
|↵17||Tsarskii Vestnik, No. 439 (March 10, 1935), p. 1|
|↵18||Gribanovskii, Anastasy (Alexandr Alexeevich), Metropolitan. Born August 6, 1873. Graduated from Moscow Theological Academy in 1897. Consecrated Bishop of Serpukhov on June 29, 1906, and elevated on May 6, 1916, to the rank of Archbishop of Kishinev and Khotyn. Emigrated from Russia in 1919. Elected head of the ROCA and Metropolitan on July 28, 1936. Resided in Belgrade until being evacuated to Germany in 1944. Relocated to New York in August 1950. On May 27, 1964, he stepped down from the leadership of the ROCOR while remaining its honorary head. Died on May 22, 1965, in the United States.|
|↵19||Tsekovnaia Zhizn’, No. 5-6 (1938); Pravoslavnaia Rus, Nos. 12 (1947) and 11 (1993), Jordanville, New York, pp. 1-2.|
|↵20||Kosik, Viktor. Russkoe tserkovnoe zarubezhe, p. 15.|
|↵21||Iubileinyi sbornik v pamiat’ 150-letiia Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi v Severnoi Amerike [Collection for the 150th Anniversary of the Russian Orthodox Church in North America], New York, 1945, p. 34.|
|↵22||Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ No. 12 (1939), p. 180.|
|↵23||Russian State Military Archive, Coll. 1470, Survey 1, Doc. 1, f. 110.|
|↵24||Russkoe Delo No. 23 (November 7, 1943), Belgrade.|
|↵25||Pravoslavnaia Rus’ No. 9-10 (1942), Ladomirova, Slovakia, p. 2.|
|↵26||Gregory (Georgii Pavlovich) Grabbe, Bishop. Born April 8, 1902 into the family of a count. Studied theology at the University of Belgrade from 1923-1926. Administrator of the Chancellery of the ROCOR in Yugoslavia from August 12, 1931. Ordained to the priesthood in Germany on June 12, 1944. Moved to America in 1950. Elevated to the rank of protopresbyter in 1960. From June 5, 1967 onward Head of the Department of External Relations of the ROCOR. Ordained Bishop of Manhattan on May 12, 1979. Retired in 1986 and died in the United States on October 7, 1995.|
|↵27||G. G. Oderzhimyi tiuoremshchik [The Possessed Jailor], in: Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ No. 5 (1942), Belgrade, pp. 69-70.|
|↵28||Georgije Pavlović. Pod zvezdom šestokrakom. Judcuzam i slobodnozidarstvo v prošlosti i sadašnjosti. Belgrade, 1943.|
|↵29||Georgije Pavlović, Ibid., pp. 2-21.|
|↵30||Ibid., pp. 44-46.|
|↵31||Ibid., pp. 47-48.|
|↵32||Ibid., pp. 48-49.|
|↵33||Archives of the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR, Case File of Bishop Gregory Grabbe.|
|↵34||Here, as in many other anti-Jewish sources quoted in the document, the Russian term used is ‘zhid‘, which carries roughly the same pejorative connotations as the English ‘yid‘. However, it was chosen to avoid the latter in the main body of the translation due to its shocking and highly offensive nature in English. — trans.|
|↵35||Archives of the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR in New York. Case File of Bishop Gregory Grabbe.|
|↵37||Archive of the Synod of Bishops in New York, Case File of Bishop Gregory Grabbe.|
|↵38||Archbishop father Archpriest Theodore, who died in 1946 as a ROCOR clergyman in Jerusalem was actively involved in 1913 the Kievan process about the murder of Andrei Iushchinskii. The local chief of police accused Fr. Theodore in pitting Orthodox and Jewish residents against each other in his news paper Dvukhglavyi Orel [Double Headed Eagle]. Voinstvo sviatogo Georgiia [St.George’s Army] (Saint Petersburg, 2006), 614. – D.A.P.|
|↵40||Tsekovnoe Obozrenie [Church Review] No. 7 (1943), Belgrade, p. 5.|
|↵41||Bulgarian State Archive, Sofia, Coll. 791, Survey 2, Item 166, f. 3.|
|↵42||Russian State Military Archive, Coll. 500, Survey 3, Doc. 456, f. 73|
|↵43||The predecessor of Yuri Pavlovich Grabbe as Manager of the Chancery of the Synod of Bishop in Yugoslavia and after the war a secretary of the ROCOR German diocese. How tolerated antisemitism was in prewar Europe is seen from Makharoblidze’s article “Russia and Her Church” published in the Anglican Christian East (Dec. 1926): 174-181. The author writes: “One and all sincerely hate the apostate Jews, who are the principle authors of Russian misery,” p. 177. – D.A.P.|
|↵44||Tserkovnaia Zhizn’ No. 3-12 (1941), p. 34.|
|↵45||K godovshchine krestovogo pokhoda [On the Anniversary of the Crusade], in: Tserkovnoe obozrenie No. 4-6 (1942), pp. 6-7.|
|↵46||Tserkovnoe Obozrenie No. 9-10 (1942), p. 4.|
|↵47||Fedchenkov, Benjamin, Metropolitan. Raskol ili edinstvo? Materialy dlia resheniia voprosa ob Amerikanskoi Тserkvi. [Schism or Unity? Materials for the Resolution of the Matter of the Church in America], in: Tserkovno-Istoricheskii Vestnik [Bulletin of Church History] No. 4-5 (1999), pp. 115-116.|
|↵48||Gäde, Kate. Die Russische Orthodoxe Kirche in Deutschland in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts [The Russian Orthodox Church in Germany in the first half of the 20th century]. Köln, 1985, pp. 246-247.|
|↵49||”Predstaviteli russkogo zarubezh’ia, za Khrista postradavshie” [“Russians Émigrés Who Suffered for Christ”], in: XVIII ezhegodnaia bogoslovskaia konferentsiia Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo unviersiteta: Materialy [18th Annual Theological Conference of Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University of the Humanities: Materials], Vol. 1. Moscow, 2008, p. 232.[/ref
A Personal Dimension
Both the ROCOR as a whole and the vast majority of its bishops were pursuing the aim of reviving Greater Russia and building up a single strong Russian Church, and for this reason alone were locked in an irreconcilable conflict and deep enmity with Nazi Germany, whose aim was to subjugate the peoples of Russia – even if some of them initially harbored some illusions with respect to the policy of the Third Reich. We know of only one openly pro-German bishop of the Russian Church Abroad: Metropolitan Seraphim Lukianov of Western Europe, who welcomed the invasion of the USSR by German forces in his letter of June 22, 1941, but he also wrote in his “Plan for the Organization of a Supreme Church Authority for the Orthodox Church in Russia”, sent to the German secret services on September 9, 1941: “In order for Russia to be revived, a new Supreme Church Authority for the Orthodox Church has to be formed as soon as the Soviet regime has been overthrown.”[ref]BA [Bundesarchiv], R 5101 / 22183, Bl. 16.
|↵50||Timofeev, Vasily Tikhonovich, Protopresbyter. Born on January 1, 1878, into the family of a priest in Odessa. Graduated from Odessa Theological Seminary (1898) and Saint Petersburg Theological Academy (1902) with the degree of Candidate of Theology. Sent to serve abroad at the Embassy Church in London (1903). From February 1916 reader at the same church. Ordained deacon on May 29, 1922 and priest on January 21, 1923. Both ordinations were performed by Metropolitan Evlogii Georgievskii in the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Paris. From January 21, 1923 to February 1, 1926, second assistant priest at the Holy Dormition Church in London. In 1925 elevated to the rank of archpriest. From February 1, 1926 to May 7, 1929 Rector of the Holy Dormition Church in London. In 1927, transferred to the jurisdiction of the ROCA. From May 7, 1929 through 1949 Rector of the Church of Our Lady of the Sign in Paris. From March 9, 1934 to August 31, 1945, he was a member of the Diocesan Council of the ROCOR Western European Diocese, and from April 30, 1934 Dean of the ROCOR Parishes in the Paris region. Elevated by Metropolitan Seraphim Lukianov to the rank of protopresbyter on May 28, 1942, though this elevation was not confirmed by the ROCOR Synod of Bishops. Together with Metropolitan Seraphim and the parish of the Church of Our Lady of the Sign, he went over to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate on August 31,1945, and was elevated a second time to the rank of protopresbyter by Patriarch Alexis I in 1946. From October 10, 1946 through 1949 Chair of the Diocesan Council of the Diocesan Council of the Western European Exarchate of the Moscow Patriarchate. Received together with his parish into the jurisdiction of the Russian Western European Exarchate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on December 2, 1949, with his position as Rector of the Church of Our Lady of the Sign being confirmed. Died in Paris on June 3, 1952.|
|↵51||Archives of the Synod of Bishops in New York. Doc. 27/43.|
|↵52||Russian State Military Archive, Coll. 1470, Survey 2, Doc. 17, ff, 96, 101.|
|↵53||Archive of the Synod of Bishops in New York, Doc. 27/43.|
|↵55||Andrei Ieremeevich Vrasskii, Protopresbyter. Born in 1894 into the family of a nobleman, Major General, and director of a Cadet School. Emigrated to France after the October Revolution, lived in Decazeville in the mid-1920s, graduated from university, and worked as a trained engineer in central France. In 1934, defended his doctoral dissertation at the Catholic Institute in Toulouse. Ordained deacon on June 6, 1941, and priest on June 7 by Archbishop Seraphim Lukianov in the Church of Our Lady of the Sign in Paris. On October 24, 1941, awarded the academic degree of Doctor of Theology. From 1941-1943 Rector of the Holy Resurrection Church in Vichy and a Diocesan Missionary of the ROCOR Western European Diocese. Elevated to the rank of archpriest on February 14, 1942. From February 17, 1942 plenipotentiary representative of Metropolitan Seraphim in the French Zone libre [Free Zone]. On May 26, 1942, elevated to the rank of protopresbyter and on May 30 appointed a member of the Diocesan Council. He baptized and concealed Jews and was involved in the Resistance movement, owing to which he was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, imprisoned in Compiègne Internment Camp, and subsequently deported to Buchenwald Concentration Camp, where he died in February 1944.|
|↵57||cf. “Ot redaktsii” [“From the Editor”], in: Tserkovnoe Obozrenie No. 5 (1943), Belgrade.|
|↵58||Archives of the Synod of Bishops in New York, Doc. 27/43.|
|↵60||V.Iu Cherniaev, “Russkiye uzniki Komp’yenskogo lagerya i ikh sud’by” [“The Fates of the Russian Prisoners of Compiègne Camp”], Nansensovskie chtenia 2009 [A Conference In the Memory of Fridtjof Nansen] (Saint Petersburg, 2010), 215-216; Antoine Nivière, Pravoslavnyye svyashchennosluzhiteli, bogoslovy i tserkovnyye deyateli russkoy emigratsii v Zapadnoy i Tsentral’noy Evrope. 1920-1995 [Orthodox clergy, Theologians and Church Leaders of the Russian Emigration in Western and Central Europe. 1920-1995] (Moscow, 2007), 140-141; Zhizn’ i zhitie sviashchennika Dimitriia Klepinina [Life and Biography of Priest Dimitry Klepinin], p. 40.|
|↵61||Mitred Archpriest Nikolai Sobolev. Born in the 1880s in the family of a priest in the Don Host Oblast’. Graduated from Yaroslavl Theological Seminary (according to other sources, Voronezh Seminary) in 1914. Took part in World War I and the Russian Civil War. Officer of the Don Cossack Host. Emigrated to France via Constantinople in 1921. Resided in Cannes and sung in the local church choir. From 1971 onward, served as a deacon in St. Michael Church, Cannes, in the jurisdiction of the ROCA. Ordained priest in 1933. Assistant priest at St. Michael Church in Cannes from 1933-1947 and concurrently Rector of St. John the Baptist Parish of the ROCA in Nice (1941-1946). In 1945 went over to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarch (as archpriest). Rector of St. Michael Church in Cannes (June 15, 1947-March 20, 1963). Returned to the jurisdiction of the ROCA together with the Cannes parish in 1948. Mitred Archpriest (1953) and Member of the Union of Cossacks. Died on March 20, 1963, in Cannes. Buried in Nice.|
|↵63||Rossiiskoe zarubezh’e vo Frantsii. 1919-2000: biograficheskii slovar’: v 3 T. Pod obshchei redaktsii L. Mnukhina, M. Avril’, V. Losskoi [The Russian Diaspora in France, 1919-2000: A Biographical Dictionary. In 3 Vols. Ed. L. Mnukhin, M. Avril’, V. Losskaia], Moscow, 2008-2010|
|↵64||Nivière, op. cit., p. 437|
|↵65||Filip’ev, Vsevolod, Rassophore Monk. Sviatorusskoe otkrovenie miru [The Revelation of Holy Russia to the World]. Jordanville/Moscow, 2005, p. 226|
|↵66||Varshavskii, V. Nezamechennoe pokolenie [An Overlooked Generation]. New York, 1956, pp. 44-46, 51.|
|↵67||Komolova, N. P. Russkoe zarubezh’e v Italii (1917-1945) [The Russian Disapora in Italy (1917-1945)], in: Russkaia emigratsiia v Evrope 20-e — 30-e gody ХХ veka [The Russian Emigration in Europe in the 1920s-30s]. Moscow, 1996, pp. 97-100; «Russkoe podpol’e» v Rime (1944-1945). Iz vospominanii i perepiski A. N. Fleishera [The “Russian Underground” in Rome (1944-1945). From the Memoirs and Correspondence of A. N. Fleisher], ed. N. P. Komolova, L. F. Alekseeva, in: Rossia i Italia. Vyp. 5. Russkaia Emigratsiia v Italii v ХХ veke [Russia and Italy. Vol. 5. The Russian Emigration in Italy in the 20th Century]. Moscow, 2003. p. 101.|
|↵68||Dinev, Gavriil, Archimandrite. Zhivotopis na skhiigumeniia Mariia (Doktorova) [Biography of Schema-Abbess Maria Dokhtorova], in: Bialata emigratsiia v B”lgariia. Materiali ot nauchna konferentsiia. Sofia, 23 i 24 septembri 1999 [The White Emigration in Bulgaria: Materials from an Academic Conference Held in Sophia on September 23 and 24, 1999]. Sofia, 2001, p. 322.|
|↵69||Traikovskii, Nikolai, Hegumen. Russkie monakhi v Makedonii [Russian Monks in Macedonia]. Skopje, 2010, pp. 53-58.|
|↵70||Traikovskii, Nikolai, Hegumen. Op. cit., pp. 45-46.|
|↵71||Sterjovski, A. Bitola, Ruskata kolonija. Bitola, 2003, pp. 111, 120-122.|
|↵72||Archbishop Tikhon (Timofei) Liashchenko. Born in 1875. Graduated from Kiev Theological Academy in 1909. In 1914, tonsured a monk, elevated to the rank of archimandrite and appointed Inspector of the Kiev Theological Academy. Emigrated from Russia in 1919, consecrated Bishop of Berlin on May 11, 1924, and elevated to the rank of archbishop on September 28, 1936. Relieved of his duties as head of the ROCA Diocese of Germany on February 24, 1938. Lived in retirement in Belgrade after 1938. Evacuated to Germany in September 1944. Died on February 11, 1945 in Karlsbad.[ref] and Archbishop (from 1942 Metropolitan) Seraphim Lade.[ref]Seraphim (Karl Georg Albert) Lade, Metropolitan. Born into a Protestant family in Leipzig in 1893. Converted to Orthodox in 1904, adopting the name Seraphim. Graduated from Saint Petersburg Theological Seminary in 1907, studied at Moscow Theological Academy from 1912-1916. From 1919-1920 served as a military chaplain in the White Army. In 1923 tonsured as a monk and consecrated bishop of Akhtyrsk by the Ukrainian Renovationists. In 1930 left the USSR for Germany. After repenting, received into the ROCOR with the title of Bishop of Tegel without the full bishop’s authority. He was made head of the ROCOR Diocese of Germany in 1938, elevated to the rank of archbishop in 1939 and to metropolitan in 1942. Head of the Central European Metropolitan District of the ROCOR from 1942 until his death in Munich on September 14, 1950.|
|↵73||See: Kromiadi, K. Za zemliu, za voliu… [For country, for freedom…] San Francisco, 1980. pp. 23-24|
|↵74||Russian State Military Archive, Survey 1, Doc. 17, ff. 238, 242.|
|↵75||Gäde, op. cit., pp. 244-245; Nikitin, Natsistskii rezhim I Russkaia Pravoslavnaia Obshchina v Germanii (1933-1945) [Nazis’ Regime and Russian Orthodox Community in Germany 1933-1945] (Moscow, 1998) pp. 226, 367; Kazem-Bek, A. Znamenatel’nyi iubilei. K poluvekovomu sluzheniiu arkhiepiskopa Briussel’skogo i Bel’giiskogo Aleksandra v arkhiereiskom sane [An Important Anniversary: On the Half Century of Episcopal Service of Archbishop Alexander of Brussels and Belgium]. Zhurnal Moskovskoi Patriarkhii [Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate] No. 11 (1959), pp. 13-16.|
|↵76||Nikitin, op. cit., p. 303|
|↵77||Archive of the ROCOR German Diocese. Parishes. Munich, 1929-1942.|
|↵78||Russian State Military Archive, Coll. 500, Survey 3, Doc. 456, f. 247. Heyer F. and Weise G. Kirchengeschichte der Ukraine. Göttingen, 1997 (Manuskript). pp. 216-217.|
[…] Without either of the latter, a Russian Orthodox state is also unthinkable for us.” 21 In his 1939 Christmas encyclical, Vladyka Anastasy outlined, as a counterweight to the race theory […]
It is interesting historically to consider the ethical dilemma of those caught between conflict between the Nazis and the Soviets, when in hindsight historians today know that the Soviets were an even more brutal regime in terms of lives lost and oppressive influence on the world longterm than the Nazis. For more on that, see https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781793605337/The-Totalitarian-Legacy-of-the-Bolshevik-Revolution
Today it is chilling in many ways that the Soviet legacy is fashionable in the West while the Nazi legacy is justifiably vilified, yet the former was even more brutal with its own “holocausts” in terms of cultural, ideological, class, and sometimes ethnic genocides of its own. In fact, today’s Antifa movement in tone deaf fashion consists of communists and anarchists who cheer the Soviet Union as an heroic Antifa regime. In addition to helping to set off WW2 through its alliance with Hitler, however, the Soviet regime was also an existential threat to Russian Orthodox Christianity, although Russian Orthodox Christians such as the anticommunist philosopher Ivan Illyin recognized that the Nazi regime’s racism and scientism and inherent anti-Christian and anti-Slavic attitudes were not compatible with Orthodoxy. The Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt in her Origins of Totalitarian recognized the common core aspects of both Nazi and Soviet Communist regimes, and the Nazis studied early Soviet practices such as concentration camps and copied them. Anti-Semitism came to be a sin of both regimes, though most horribly expressed in the Holocaust by the Nazis, and was an especial sin in pre-revolutionary Russian culture as well. While in this complex history the disproportionate involvement of Jews (mainly secular) in the Bolshevik movement that originated totalitarianism has been noted by historians, including Alexander Solzhenitsyn, that was never justification for Anti-Semitic persecution, and, as noted by Metropolitan Antony (later First Hierarch of ROCOR) before the Revolution, such persecution is not Christian.
On further thought, maybe it is ROCOR’s mission today, a generation after the fall of the Soviets, to witness to the West how Christianity can survive in a hostile secular “cultural totalitarianism.”
Dear Subdeacon Paul, Thanks very much for your thoughtful and informative reflection. I’ve posted a podcast in Patreon, where I share my thoughts on the matter.
Thank you, Fr. Andrei, for your insights as always. I have read that book on “Russian roots of Nazism” mentioned in the video, as well as others on the topic, and found another external article you had linked to in the past as helpful context for that as well: https://agiaparaskevigerakas.wordpress.com/2019/12/24/the-russian-orthodox-church-outside-russia-rocor-and-the-nazis/
I would again also refer readers interested in this topic for context to the “Totalitarian Legacy of the Bolshevik Revolution” book linked above, which I co-edited—not because of my unworthy involvement but because of the essays by Courtois, Hollander, and Radosh. I think a copy of that book may now be at the Jordanville library but if it is not I will send up a copy. Unfortunately it is as an academic book quite pricey but hopefully also anyone interested can find it on interlibrary loan or it may be issued as an e-book or paperback at some point. Best wishes for the upcoming Nativity Feast!
Dear Subdeacon Paul, Thank you for this. I’ve just checked the HTS catalog and the book hasn’t come up in the search. So if you’re willing to send a copy to Dcn Andrei Psarev, P.O.Box 85, Jordanville, NY 13361, I will pass it on to the library mentioning your name. Vladimir Moss, more or less, got his facts right. It seems that a takeaway from both articles is the following: we’re refugees and didn’t react to the events outside the Church.
OK, will do!
Dear Mr. Shkarkovsky,
What a wonderfully written article on such a delicate and difficult subject. I have been a first hand witness of the words of Metropolitan Vitaly (as a cell attendant), Metropolitan Philaret (temporary cell attendant), and Bishop Gregory. In fact, I have lived and served with all of them. I was always quite uncomfortable with anti-Semitic ideas that I heard not only from them but from my own grandparents who fled from Bielorus/Poland to Canada. If I have understood you correctly, there is a kind of time reference for these people who suffered so much, and in so many was, were searching for a scapegoat.
Scapegoating is those who refuse to see their own hand in the events of the day. It can be forgiven, however. Let us remind ourselves that God himself chose to be Jewish, and the responsibility of his betrayal and crucifixion, cannot be taken to mean that every Jew has to bear that stigma because only the mob before Pilate shouted out in defiance of the Living God. Racism or hatred has no place in Orthodoxy.
Bishop Grabbe had a personal stake in the great losses that came from the revolution. Therefore, we can understand a certain strong opinion that is not only historically inaccurate but unchristian. We would always be better to understand why the workers and the people originally rose up searching our hearts for the grief caused initially by the heavy weight of unbearable poverty and hunger. A poverty and hunger that Christ Himself fed with the loaves and fishes on the mount. Looking for the culprits is not the purview of the Church which as St. John of Kronstadt writes, is the true relationship to God and to our neighbor, to our family and to the society in which we live. Masons and Jewish boogeymen need not apply.
Dear Father Andrei,
Thank you for sharing this well-researched and delicately written article and thanks also to Dr. Sharovskii for such insightful analysis. It seems to me that there is much instruction we can take from this article in our own times, as the world seems to becoming ever more polarised politically and all kinds of conspiracies and fabulous theories abound through the Internet, harassing our thoughts and disturbing our inner peace.
The key lesson I take from this is that in politics, everyone has an agenda which is usually hidden to some degree, so the Christian should pay less attention to politics, and concern themselves with the Christian obligation to live according to the gospel of Christ.
Better to take the psalmist advice: “put not your trust in princes, in the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation”.
Dcn. Stephen McKay
Dear Father Stephen, thank you for your comment and all the support! I look forward to receiving your questions on Patreon. I wish you a blessed 2021!