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Russia's Young and Old Flocked to Churches During WWII

The re-opening of the churches in the USSR during WWII was welcomed also by the younger generations which had received a pro-atheist education in government-run schools

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“The Smolensk region’s archival documents to some degree refute the preconceived idea that in the war period it was mostly people of the older generation and particularly villagers who were drawn to the Church. In fact there is data confirming that very many young people then attended churches and participated in sacraments and rites,” said executive secretary of the Executive Office of the Moscow Patriarchate Hieromonk Seraphim (Amelchenkov) on Monday at the international conference in the Russian Academy of Sciences, reports Interfax-Religion.

<figcaption>Russian soldiers preparing for the Battle of Kursk, July 1943</figcaption>
Russian soldiers preparing for the Battle of Kursk, July 1943

According to him, the need for the Church and for a spiritual guidance was immense at that time.

“This is indicated by numerous appeals by Soviet citizens to the authorities with requests to opening the churches. This phenomenon demonstrates the national trend,” said the priest.

He also recalled that the Soviet government used all available resources toward victory, including a temporary correction in the Bolshevist policy towards the Church.

“Use of the religious factor for implementing the state’s plans on the liberated territory was very significant. The Church’s efforts to solve the problems of shelter for orphans, care for the wounded, and food collection enabled the state to concentrate its efforts on important military tasks,” the representative of the Patriarchate noted.

Concurrently, the Church was given a unique opportunity through the expansion of patriotic activity to restore its structure and strengthen its position in society, he stated.

However, he said, as the party-state system grew stronger and victory grew near, suppression and persecution of the Church resumed.

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