SHADRINA A.V. Strategies for Survival of the Orthodox Clergy of the Rostov Region during the Great Patriotic War


Alla V. Shadrina

Candidate of Sciences (History), Researcher,

Southern Scientific Center of RAS, 

Prosp. Chekhova, 41, 344006 Rostov-on-Don, Russian Federation

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Abstract. The paper shows the survival strategies of the parish clergy of the Rostov region during the Great Patriotic War. In the pre-war period, the clergy was disjointed and did not represent a single social group due to the repressive policy of the Soviet state. In order to survive, priests were forced to work in state institutions, on collective farms, to engage in unskilled labour. Part of the clergy, preserving their priestly dignity, refused to work in Soviet institutions and lived at their children’s expense. During the Great Patriotic War the situation began to change. Prior to the occupation of the Rostov region, clergymen continued to work in state structures, but some of them began to return to the priesthood in the churches that were opened on the initiative of the parishioners.

A radical turning point occurred during the occupation. The policy of the occupation authorities aimed at the formation of diocesan departments, considered by the invaders to be the instrument of ideological influence on the population, and the mass opening of churches, stimulated the return of priests to performing divine services, and supported new consecrations. These circumstances caused the replenishment of the clergy ranks by random people who treated the adoption of the sacred dignity as a way of survival. Some of the clergy refused to return to the priesthood, partly out of disagreement with the leaders of the newly formed diocesan departments supporting the invaders, partly because of the fear of the return of Soviet power and possible repression. The period of occupation, despite the mass opening of churches, was rather a pseudo-revival of the Russian Orthodox Church, to which the initiating priests tried to impose anticanonical administration. The formation of the diocesan life in the Rostov diocese established in 1943 began only after the appointment of Bishop Eleutherios (Vorontsov) as the ruling bishop, who played the key role in the formation of the clergy.

Key words: clergy, survival strategies, Russian Orthodox Church, Great Patriotic War, religious policy of the invaders, diocesan administrations in the Rostov region during World War II.

Citation. Shadrina A.V. Strategies for Survival of the Orthodox Clergy of the Rostov Region during the Great Patriotic War. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4, Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2018, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 79-90. (in Russian). DOI:

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Strategies for Survival of the Orthodox Clergy of the Rostov Region during the Great Patriotic War by Shadrina A.V. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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