Physical destruction, tortures, severe persecution and discrimination of Christians and other religious groups in the USSR ought to be viewed as an ascertained fact confirmed by numerous documents and witnesses’ testimonies. An attempt to eliminate religion from the life of society at any cost in the name of building a brave new Soviet world stained the newest history of Russia beyond reclaim.
Multiple historical research works, literature and mass media publications amply reflect the actions of the Soviet authorities targeted at the Russian Orthodox Church. It doesn’t come as a surprise considering the fact that Orthodoxy was the largest wide-scale religious trend at the time of the October revolution which occurred in the year 1917.
It should be noted that the Soviet authorities persecuted other denominations, as well. At certain points of time this persecution was even more severe, for the state didn’t find it necessary to pay regards to the interests of relatively scarce religious groups.
Unfortunately any available information on persecution of Baptists, Pentecostals, Lutherans, Catholics and other believers has remained disparate and meager. This is particularly so with regard to personal testimonies of the Christians who survived the hardships of religious persecution. Archives are able to provide only scanty official information and the survivors who had gone through the trials of war and Stalin’s rule are very few.
We are not trying to create a documentary chronicle. Our desire is to give the reader an opportunity to look at the 20th century through the eyes of the believers who lived through the Soviet times, and to feel connected to the hardships and suffering they had to endure. We leave the right to make a judgment on the actions of the Soviet authorities’ to the reader. Our purpose is not to educate our audience on the work of a particular church group but to acquaint them with the lives of their members.
The main purpose of our project is to gather and pass on to the following generations first hand testimonies of the believers who belonged to minor religious groups that went through persecution of the atheist Soviet state and were able to withstand the pressure and keep their faith despite severe trials and tribulation which fell to their lot.
We do hope that for the majority of our readers this acquaintance will grow into a good reason to critically reevaluate the Soviet period and will become an opportunity to better understand the place of various denominations in our country’s history. At the same time for our church-going audience every story should serve as an example of how faith can be maintained in spite of being subjected to the pressure from state and society. And, finally, for the modern church it is an opportunity to partake of its history, remember the roots and come to appropriate conclusions suitable for today’s world which, to some extent, is not very different from the soviet period.
Are you willing to support our project and help us gather more stories (while survived witnesses are still living) and contribute to making a documentary? Do not hesitate, do it now. Time is precious. Literally.
P.S. We are going to publish our first story in Enlglish very soon. Check this page for updates.