superficial view. The most remarkable feature of the Orthodox Church over all the countries where it was subjugated to communism was the survival - and eventually the revival - of spirituality, especially in Russia, but also to a certain extent in Romania. If one is to look for the root of that revival, it will be found deep in the period of physical persecution of the Lenin-Stalin period. By 1941 (the year of the Nazi invasion) the wasteland that was the Christian face of Russia contained pockets of underground resistance which state pressure had been powerless to eliminate.
There was scarcely anywhere for these cells to maintain their underground existence save in the prison camps themselves. The most remarkable ecclesiastical document to survive from the inter-war years is a letter of 1926 addressed by a group of bishops imprisoned in the former monastery of Solovki in the European Arctic, which was converted into a prison camp.15 They write in moderate tones, yet present a condemnation of atheist polices and the lack of any willingness on the part of the authorities to establish a dialogue with the church:
The government, both in the laws it passes and in the exercise of its functions, does not remain neutral in relation to belief and disbelief, but quite clearly takes up a position on the side of atheism, using all the means of state at its disposal for its establishment, development and spread as a counterweight to all religions.16
Other notable literature has emerged from the prison camps. This began to circulate in deepest secrecy in the 1970s, but then gradually found its way abroad, making the world public aware of the existence of samizdat.17 The Christian origin of so much of this writing has yet, however, to gain the recognition it deserves. This would contribute significantly to the changing face of Russia at the end of the century and insert a factor in the countdown to the end of the Soviet regime.
A work which should occupy a place in Russian literary history, but does not yet do so, is Otchizna neizvestnaia (The Unknown Homeland), an anonymous biography of a priest, a certain Fr Pavel.18 The country of the title is Siberia, to which the priest was exiled in the 1930s, following his arrest in Petrograd (Leningrad) after the Revolution. It was after he had lost all - his parish, his wife, his home - that the truly effective part of his ministry began, a story of
15 Reproduced in full in Struve, Christians in contemporary Russia, 351-61.
17 Literally 'self-published', but in fact not published at all: 'privately circulated' is a better description.
18 The unknown homeland, trans. Marite Sapiets (Oxford: A. R. Mowbray 1978).
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