Tihe Bolshevik state most brutally assaulted Russian Orthodox in the interwar decades. The state treated the Church as a competing ideological institution and aimed to eradicate its societal influence. Therefore, few Russian “professional churchmen” survived 1937, the year of the “Great Purge”. Many of those who had survived and ended up in German-occupied territory left their homeland with the retreating Wehrmacht. Fr. Vasilii was one of them. The German invasion caught him in Mozhaisk (a little over 100 km from Moscow). He blessed with an icon Generalleutnant Wolfgang Fischer, Commander of the 10th Panzer tank division, which took over Mozhaisk.
Anatolij Kinstler, archivist of the German Diocese of the ROCOR, conveys the following about Fr. Vasilii:
“Fr. Basil Vinogradov (1885-1968) was well-known in ecclesiastical academic circles, having been a teacher and professor at the Moscow Theological Academy and a research fellow of the Russian Historical Museum. Patriarch Tikhon (Belavin) ordained him to the priesthood in 1922. He served in the Moscow Diocese and was chairman of the Diocesan Council. He was repeatedly subjected to arrests and confinement in the Soviet Union.
“At the beginning of the Second World War, he was serving in the Kaluga Diocese, from which he moved to the Baltic Lands during the German occupation. In 1942, Metropolitan Sergius (Voskresenskii) appointed him as dean of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius and rector of courses in pastoral-theology. He evacuated from Lithuania to Austria in 1944 and then to Germany. From 1945 until his death in 1968, he served in churches of the German Diocese of the ROCOR.” (“Baltic Orthodoxy in the Archives of the German Diocese of the ROCOR,” Historical Studies of the Russian Church Abroad.)
Fr. Vasilii was born in Mozhaisk into the family of a priest in 1885. He went through all levels of Russian theological training, ultimately graduating from Moscow Theological Academy, and stayed on there to teach pastoral theology. In 1914, he defended his Master’s thesis in theology on the liturgical tradition of catechetical and edifying readings in Byzantine typika (readings of St. Theodore Stoudite’s orations during Liturgies of the Pre-sanctified Gifts are one example).