symbol of Nazi approval was the building of a handsome Russian cathedral for the Church Abroad in Berlin (1936-38), entirely at the state's expense. The Church Abroad found it expedient to promote a German convert to Orthodoxy, Serafim Lade, as ruling bishop ofthe Church Abroad in Berlin, and in Germany at large. Not that he was minded to become the equivalent ofthe Lutheran Reichsbischof Ludwig Miiller with his Nazi-dominated 'Deutsche Christen'. Serafim was never brought into play by the Nazi establishment to rally the Orthodox of the German-occupied territories, nor was he allowed to visit former Soviet territories. He was not part of the abortive Nazi plans to enthrone a compliant patriarch of Moscow, being passed over in favour of Dionisii Valedinskii, metropolitan of Warsaw.22 The most that Serafim could do was minister to a wretched new diaspora, the Russians in the Nazi work battalions and camps.23

The spontaneous revival ofOrthodox life in areas of German occupation was often tolerated by Wehrmacht personnel; even, at the outset of the Russian war in 1941, by individual Nazi leaders. But Hitler had his own plans for the eventual liquidation of the Orthodox Church on Russian soil. He intended to replace it with a pagan cult. No matter that in 1941 he had favoured preparations for Russian diaspora clergy to re-enter a 'liberated' homeland for the propagation of their faith,24 no such plans were promoted in the war.

Meanwhile the war had helped to modify the antireligious policy of another dictator. In dire need of patriotic support from the Soviet population, Stalin had in 1943 permitted a carefully controlled revival of Orthodox church life. The revival was to provide an important ingredient in his dealings with the western powers. It was sufficiently convincing for the Moscow patriarchate's plenipotentiary, Metropolitan Nikolai Iarushevich, to be received by King George VI in 1945. The British establishment did not stop to question how a Russian cleric could represent an erstwhile ally with its atheism still in place.

But if the revival was authentic, did this not affect the status of the Russian diaspora itself? Soviet propaganda of the day sought to allay the exiles' antiSoviet suspicions with a picture of countless alienated Russians returningto the bosom of their mother-church. It was imperative to act quickly, while emigres were still convinced that the war had proved to be a beneficial catalyst for Soviet society at large; so much so that Evlogii could think of an immediate return

23 M. V Shkarovskii, Politika Tret'ego reikha po otnosheniiu k Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi v svete arkhivnykh materialov 1935-1945 godov (Sbornik dokumentov) (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Krutitskogo Patriarshego Podvor'ia, 2003), 130-44.

24 D. Pospielovsky The Orthodox Church in thehistory ofRussia (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1998), 224.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment