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History of the German Catholics and their Priests in Russia
Geschichte der deutschen Katholiken und ihrer Priester in Russland

By Anton Bosch

Heimatbuch 2001/2002, Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland, Stuttgart, Germany, Pages 107 – 118

Translation from German to English by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado


About the Author

Anton Bosch was born on October 28, 1934, in Kandel near Odessa. His family was evacuated to the area called Warthegau [in Poland] in 1944, and they were separated in 1945. His father remained in Germany while his mother was "repatriated" along with the children. Even under the conditions of the Soviet Command [that all repatriated Germans were subject to] he managed to become a technician in 1955 and certified engineer in Karaganda in 1968. Via the Moldavian SSR he immigrated in 1974 to Germany, where he quickly found success in his profession and in the Landsmannschaft.

Bosch served on the national board of the Landsmannschaft between 1977 and 1979, as well as from 1984 to 1991. Between 1978 and 1991 he was Chairman of the Cultural Council for Germans from Russia. After leaving the national board he shifted his activities to the BdV. In 1999, along with 19 other compatriots, he founded the Historischen Forschungverein der Deutschen aus Russland [Historical Research Society of Germans from Russia].


German Priests in Russia

There have always been Germans of the Roman Catholic faith in Russia. Because their skills were badly needed, their being of "another faith" was tolerated. However, to move into high positions and to qualify for the "propertied" status, immigrants were expected to convert to the Orthodox faith, as the example of the Czarist families of the Romanovs or the Gottorps from Holstein after Peter I had demonstrated. Within only one or two generations, most immigrant German families of both denominations [the author means Catholics and Evangelical Lutherans, tr.] who had settled down in the cities converted and assimilated into their cultural environment.1

Thus the urban Germans assimilated very soon, forfeiting their cultural identity entirely, and they and what remained of their culture melted into Russian society.

In this article we are dealing with the rural part, that is, the farming people from whom our recently arrived Aussiedler [emigrés] have descended. The German Catholic minority, comprising about a fourth to a third of those who had immigrated to Russia, settled down in heterogeneous colonies. The colonies were located in the central section of the Volga between Saratov and Zarizyn on the North coast of the Black Sea and between the estuary of the Danube and all the way to the Crimea and deep into the Caucasus. They founded their villages as closed communities according to [nationality and] denomination. They were allowed to maintain their language and their customs and mores, they were permitted to establish and administer their own schools, to build their churches and to practice their faith according to accustomed rites.

The first century was dominated by the struggle against poverty and for their daily bread. Later on the immigrants in South Russia attained a state of relative prosperity, thanks to their fertile Black Sea soil, their own diligence, their large families, and their organizational talents in agriculture. They set an example for the Russian farmers. The relationship between the Russian and German cultures remained exemplary for neighboring peoples as long as the favorable political relationship between Russia and Prussia continued.

However, just as for other ethnic minorities in Russia, such as Jews, Greeks, Armenians, Poles or Bulgarians, things were naturally ever difficult for the German Catholics, even though after their immigration they had initially been granted reduction of taxes and the right of a free return to their homeland. De facto, however, they were always exposed to the political arbitrariness of the various Czarist policies.

About the beginning of the second century following their original immigration to the Czarist Empire, the relationship between the Czarist government toward Prussia drastically worsened. Russian foreign policy, subsequent to the Prussian-French War of 1870-71, abruptly turned toward France, any further immigration by foreigners to Russia was completely halted, and this clearly marked the beginning of all the suffering of the German-Russians. And it was to last at least another century and culminate in mass exodus and the realities of the present.

Spiritual Welfare of the German-Russian Catholics in the Diocese of Tiraspol-Saratov

The Polish rebellions of 1864 and 1885 resulted in the onset of the Czarist policy of Russification. The expulsion of Polish Catholic priests from the German colonies and from all rural areas brought about a deep change in the spiritual care for the German-Russian population and brought about the clerical training and development of the sons of colonists.

This was also the time of the establishment of the Diocese of Tiraspol-Saratov, whose 150th anniversary of its founding was celebrated on March 17, 1997, in Ornbau near Eichstaett.

The establishment of their own diocese cemented in a positive manner the feelings of the Catholic Germans in Russia toward the Russian government; at the same time any remaining disposition toward repatriation to their homelands began to disappear. The German minority started to assume their own Russian identity, toward which the positive role by the German population in the Crimean War of 1855-56 was a rather decisive factor. Their positive service on the war front and in transportation and the care of wounded Russian solders in the hinterland, as well as supplying the Russian army with foodstuffs, was held up by the Russian authorities as exemplary.

Subsequently the Czarist regime began to encourage the training of priests from the German-Russian communities and seeing to their own religious welfare.

Prior to that, the colonists had requested as their pastors Franciscans and Capuchins, known and loved among the colonists for their piety and modest way of life. It is reported that between the years 1803 and 1820, a total of 27 Jesuits worked in the 31 Catholic settlements in the Volga region. They were experts in agricultural matters and able advisors to the settlers, who held them in high esteem. A similar number of Jesuits also worked as pastors in the Black Sea area and enjoyed great esteem.

According to the Czarina's Manifesto of 1763, the German colonists were allowed to build their own churches, to hire their own clergy and to practice their faith as they wished. However, because of pressure from the Russian Orthodox Church, they were not allowed to build or support their own monasteries or religious orders. This requirement must have been one of the reasons why the Jesuits were forced to leave the Catholic colonies and Russia itself in 1820.

Their places were taken by Polish priests, who demonstrated great difficulty with the language and especially with the various dialects of the colonists. They held services in unintelligible Latin and sermons in labored German. Additionally, they were unfamiliar with the customs and traditions of the settlers. Despite the religious dedication and efforts by the Polish priests, the religious care of the colonists suffered. And in the course of a few years the lack of available priests became so severe that individual pastors were frequently saddled with the care of four or five communities.

Catholic settlers in the Volga area steadfastly clung to the religious traditions they had brought from their old country. They regularly observed the devotion of the Way of the Cross and conducted prayer processions to chapels they had built outside of their villages. During the Feast of the Holy Cross, which was celebrated on the 3rd of May each year and apparently had its origins in a miracle (a farmer plowing his field had discovered a crucifix that began to walk), thousands of Catholic faithful took part in the colony of Koehler. 2

Because of language difficulties, priests from Polish religious orders were replaced during the first part of the 19th century by members of the Society of Jesus. In 1803 nine Jesuit padres and two lay brothers from the missionary prefecture of Polozk arrived at the German Catholic communities on the Volga, and they were warmly welcomed to Saratov by the Catholics there. The 31 Catholic settlements were grouped into nine mission stations and one priest assigned to each station. The resulting rapid normalization of religious life of the Volga-Germans strongly contributed to social peace.

For the German Catholics who had settled in the Black Sea area, a "Visitature" for South Russia was established in 1811. Soon four Jesuit padres and 15 Jesuit brothers arrived and assumed the spiritual care of the settlers. Its direction was assigned to the "Visitor for all Catholic Churches in South Russia," with its seat in Odessa.

Just as in the Volga area, the Russian government responded to pressure from the Orthodox clergy by ordering the expulsion of all Jesuit priests from the German colonies. After they left, Polish priests once again assumed the spiritual care of the German Catholics, but as before, again only with great difficulty. The fact that they did wield spiritual influence is attested to by Polish-sounding names such as Bronislaus, Stanislaus, etc., given at that time to children being baptized. 3

Knowing of the scarcity of priests, the Holy Father decided to establish for the Catholic colonists the Diocese of Tiraspol-Saratov, with a German bishop and German diocesan administration. Czar Nicholas I initially withheld his approval. One factor in changing his position must have been the unrest against the Czar in Russian-occupied parts of Poland. Pope Gregory XVI's visit to the Russian Czar in 1845 resulted in the Concordat with the Vatican of August 3, 1847, ratified on July 3, 1848, and published on the same day in the Russian capital. This date constitutes the founding date for the See of Tiraspol, which comprised an area of 800,000 square kilometers, with two bishops, one suffragan bishop in Saratov, another without designated seat, as a sort of assistant to the former, and an effective one at that.

Ignatius Holowinski, appointed by the Vatican as titular bishop, took stock in 1849 by traveling throughout his entire diocese. Upon returning to St. Petersburg he issued a report, according to which his area already contained 52 parishes, with the same number of parish churches, plus 40 branches with churches or prayer rooms. In accordance with the Concordat of 1847 between Nicholas I and the Holy See, a suffragan bishop was appointed as the spiritual leader in Saratov. By advice from the Russian government, the Holy See on May 25, 1850, appointed the Dominican P. Helanus Kahn as the first full bishop of the diocese. In 1856, on his arrival in Saratov, which numbered 45,000 residents, there were only 500 Catholics. This shows that the overwhelming majority of Catholics originally attracted to immigration had become firmly settled in the rural areas assigned to them.

In accordance with a papal writ of September 18, 1852, Tiraspol 4 was designated as the bishop's seat. However, the Crimean War made it impossible to transfer the bishop's seat, therefore the diocese continued to be administered from St. Petersburg.

The upswing in the diocese was entirely due to the efforts of Bishop Franz Xavier Zottmann of Ornbau in Central Franconia. With great skill he applied his multilingual talents as well as his knowledge of human nature on behalf of the German Catholics. His consecration as Bishop of Tiraspol took place on June 11, 1872, in St. Catherine's Church at St. Petersburg. 5

When Bishop Zottmann had to return to Germany due to failing health, the first German-Russian, a colonist's son, Anton Zerr of Franzfeld/Odessa, was consecrated at the age of 34 as bishop in St. Petersburg on March 3, 1883. In agreement with the Russian Government, the Holy See then named him Zottmann's successor and Bishop of the Diocese of Tiraspol.

Because he was born and raised in the German colonies, Anton Zerr was well acquainted with their customs, traditions and conditions. On the one hand, the Czarist regime considered him a loyal subject, and on the other he enjoyed the trust of the German-Russian Catholics. However, after some serious disputes within the diocesan administration, he resigned his office, and the Holy See relieved him of his responsibilities on August 1, 1901. He would subsequently devote his life to research on the Diocese of Tiraspol. 6

Baron von der Ropp (1902-1905) took up the bishop's seat of Tiraspol as successor to Bishop Zerr. He dedicated himself with great diligence to the welfare of his diocese and especially to the formation of priests. Unfortunately he had to give up his leadership of the Diocese of Tiraspol when he was called away to Vilna to take over as the top spiritual leader of all Roman Catholic faithful of Russia.

The German-Russian Joseph Aloysius Kessler then succeeded to leadership of the diocese. He was the last bishop to be named prior to the onset of the Russian Revolution. He was born on August 12, 1862, to a Volga-German family in Louis/Samara.7 His education and his career were fostered by his predecessor, Bishop van der Ropp.

Bishop Joseph Kessler brought order to religious life in the Diocese of Tiraspol and strongly developed it. He became a kind of "people's bishop," who wrote annual pastoral letters to all parish communities, invited foreign priests, and saw to it that the so-called "people's commission" was maintained. He visited the locales of his diocese, twice he traveled to Rome, took part in two bishops' conferences in St. Petersburg (1905 and 1911), and also went to Vienna in 1913 to experience the 23rd Eucharistic Congress as a participant.8 In 1930 the bishop published his book Geschichte der Dioezese Tyraspol [History of the Diocese of Tiraspol] in the United States, thereby contributing valuable witness to the life of the German Catholics in South Russia.

Following the upheavals of the civil war, Bishop Kessler undertook a "beggar's trip" to the United States of America, where he was able to arrange for major food aid for the famine-plagued Black Sea and Volga area Germans. Given the new regime in Russia, Bishop Kessler no longer saw any opportunity to be able to fulfill his pastoral responsibilities and retired to a cloister in Zinnowitz on the Baltic See, giving up his diocesan office on November 27, 1929. He died December 10, 1933, and according to his own expressed wish, was buried by the side of his predecessor in office, Franz Xavier Zottmann, in Ornbau in Central Franconia.

The Seminary and the Formation of the Next Generation

At its founding the See of Tiraspol subsumed not only 200,000 German Catholics but also 71,000 Catholics from Poland, Georgia, and Armenia. The most pressing need was the establishment of a German seminary for the training of priests, which soon opened its doors in 1857. Polish, which was the original language in the seminary, was gradually replaced with German. During the first 25 years of the seminary, 68 priests were consecrated. From 1882 until the seminary was closed by the Bolsheviks in 1918, 368 priests were trained there. They served very well in their efforts on behalf of the Catholic faith in the German colonies. The leadership of the seminary had been entrusted to German rectors, at least some of whom had received their own training in Western Europe.

All in all, the colonists produced bishops Joseph Zerr, Dr. Kessler, Dr. Frison, and Dr. Glaser, as well as canons Boos, Raphael Fleck, and Dr. Anton Fleck.

The Catholic Village or Church Community

A German colony was essentially its own closed little world. It constituted a cultural microcosm that rested on two pillars: church and school.

As a matter of course the representatives of these two institutions, the pastor and the teacher, enjoyed the highest standing. Both embodied the intellectual elite in the German Catholic colonies. They supported and maintained tradition, faith, language and culture. Both enjoyed exclusive authority because they came from their own kind. They were called sons of colonists because they came from German church communities of the Black Sea and Volga areas. They were the result of a stringent selection process. It was very rare that a colonist's son was sent to receive higher education at a secondary school or seminary or at an even higher level educational institution. That was only the case if he had above average talent and could be spared from the work of the family farm when other sons were around who could help in that work. Those who were trained in a seminary or even in foreign countries invariably returned to their own church communities or at least to communities in other settlement areas of German Catholics. Thus it was common that young priests from the Volga area were sent to villages in the Black Sea area and vice versa. This promoted an effective cultural exchange and the development of a common German-Russian identity among the colonists.

The priests enjoyed great standing and respect because they came from their own kind, from their own living conditions, spoke the same language and had the same mentality. This tradition greatly helped in maintaining the mores and customs from their original home country and in passing them on to the next generations. It is largely due to this fact that even those of our compatriots who have come to Germany as late repatriates have likewise maintained that language and culture.

With the church and civic administration -- until 1917 these were practically identical -- the Catholic priests shared all cares and needs, but also joyful times and feasting. Their standing in the community was unshakable because the priests, in one person and one office, embodied religion, morality, and spirit. Since the priest practically denounced materialism and dedicated himself to faith and morality, he enjoyed the respect of most villagers. Commonly, especially in difficult situations, for example, during natural catastrophes or concerning other important decisions of the community, the advice of the pastor as well as the village teacher would be sought, or they would be asked to participate in meetings and decision making of the village council.

Dissolution of the Churches and Liquidation of the Clergy by the Bolsheviks

The destruction of all religious practices was begun in 1923 and subsequently carried out very rigorously by the new rulers. Even after the execution of nine Catholic priests during the civil war there were still 32 priests in 1928 among the 45 Catholic parishes in the Volga area. In the Black Sea area 64 priests cared for the 69 parishes even though there no longer existed any diocesan administration.

The "Law Concerning Religious Communities" of April 8, 1929, began the complete annihilation of religious life of the German-Russian Catholics. Between 1929 and 1935 all churches in the Catholic colonist villages were closed and turned into clubs, dance halls, cinemas, etc. By 1935, all priests of the Diocese of Tiraspol were either arrested and banished, or executed in prison.

Subsequent to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the opening up of archives for purposes of research, historical researchers have made intensive efforts to publicize the martyrdom of these priests. Productive cooperation with Russian researchers is making it increasingly possible to uncover the atrocities during those times of "liquidation" of the Church. A main goal of this research work is to be able to describe all accessible individual personal cases of murdered German-Russians and to retain them for posterity.

Terrorism by the Soviet State

The Bolsheviks came to power thanks to the government overthrow of November 7, 1917, now known as the October Revolution.9 They considered the deeply rooted religious faith in Russia as their main obstacle to achieving their claim to power and simply declared that religion was the "opiate of the people." With their missionary atheism they demonstrated their hostility toward not only the Russian Orthodox Church, but toward other denominations as well, particularly the Roman Catholic Church. They left room only for their own and sole ideology: atheism. Since in their view a person could not be Christian and Bolshevik at the same time, they found it necessary to "wipe out" or "liquidate" any kind of faith. 10

The Bolsheviks quickly turned their atheistic dogma into practice. After they expropriated all church property in accordance with the new land ownership law -- "All Land to the Farmers" -- that had come into effect after the November 1917 putsch, there began on January 28, 1918, the broad attack on the centuries-old coexistence between church and state, and any and all rights originally previously enjoyed by the churches were completely done away with. Even though the German Roman Catholic Church owned few properties, the new law affected it in a very tough manner.11 The Church was enjoined by law from having its own schools, and weddings performed by the church were no longer legally binding. The Church was banned from levying any taxes and lost all financial privileges previously accorded by the government. It was degraded into a "private institution" and was forced to accept the transfer of all church property, including its buildings, to "the people's property."12

The first decree of the People's Commissariat of January 23, 1918, ordered the separation of church and state and of the schools and the church, even while formally promulgating freedom of conscience and equal rights for all denominations. The same law also stripped all citizens' rights from all clergy and in the midst of the civil war made them ineligible for food ration cards.

Supplementary legislation of September 30, 1918, put in concrete form the antireligious measures that were to be put into effect. Accordingly, all church property was handed over to the State, i.e., specifically without compensation. Additionally, the Church was stripped of all juridical rights, so that in effect all church objects of any value were instantly transferred to the corresponding civil community.

A further decree, that of August 3, 1922, by the new holders of power, restricted even more the rights of churches. It declared that a church community could continue to exist only if it elected an executive committee of 20 members of the parish community, to which all rights of disposal would be transferred. By means of this particular organ the State crafted an instrument that, infiltrated by its own agents, it could use for intimidation and manipulation. According to this law, any religious instruction of children under 18 years of age was strictly forbidden.13 Also prohibited was any meeting in private homes for religious services comprising more than 20 persons. Atheistic and antireligious propaganda became increasingly sharp. For this express purpose, a "society for aggressive atheism" was created 14 to wage antichurch activities in individual localities.

Opposition to these antireligious laws by the Catholic clergy because of the interference with internal church affairs inevitably led to clashes with the Soviet powers. The Catholic clergy under leadership of the former bishop of the Tiraspol diocese, Baron von der Ropp, refused to sign the contracts of transfer of church property, because their purchase or building had been made possible only through offerings from parish members. The priests sought support from foreign sources, a fact that during subsequent court cases became the main cause for conviction for "espionage against the Soviet Government."

Following these ever-escalating events, the spiritual leader of the German-Russian Catholics, Baron von der Ropp, and numerous other dignitaries were convicted. The direction of the Diocese of Migilev was transferred to Archbishop Zepljak, who himself was convicted as well, due to his insistence that children should be allowed instruction during religious services. Numerous protest actions were held against these despotic acts.

In 1921, following the onset of a famine, the State began to confiscate church properties under the pretext of helping the hungry. It is understandable that the Church would defend itself against capricious acts. It refused to ratify contracts for the expropriation of church property. This led to the arrest of Archbishop Zepljak and four other priests, who became subjects of a show trial held in March of 1923. The spiritual leader of the German-Russian Roman Catholic Church, Zepljak, and Deacon Budkewitch, were condemned to death, the other priests to varying of prison sentences.15

This so-called test case was followed by a show trial in Moscow at the beginning of the 1930s involving 12 Catholic clerics from the Volga area, and another trial in the mid-30s of the German Catholic priests in Ukraine. These "test cases" opened the doors for capricious despotic acts across the entire country.

There followed mass arrests of priests, who no longer had a spiritual leader. They were usually arrested for religious instruction of children of Catholic parents and accused of alleged espionage or other "anti-Soviet activities."

It is reported that in 1923, despite this massive persecution, more than 130 Catholic priests were still tending their German Catholic parishes in the Diocese of Tiraspol. However, mass terror continued unabated, so that by 1935 all German-Russians were innocently condemned to death or to terms in the Gulags. None survived the hell of Stalinist prisons -- all died a martyr's death.

The clarification and elucidation of the fates of these martyrs is of utmost importance. They must not be forgotten. The memory must be kept alive of all German-Russian clergy who were murdered and of all other Catholics who were persecuted or killed on account of their faith.

Construction of a Martyrology of German-Russians

Current studies of those German-Russian Catholic priests who were executed in the Soviet Union between 1917 and 1939 go back to a suggestion by the German Conference of Bishops that was preceded by the November 10, 1994, Apostolic Writ of the Pope under the title of Tertio millenio adveniente. The collapse of the Communist system and the dissolution of the Soviet Union of 1991 for the first time made it possible to access documents for research purposes. From thousands of documents on the decisions in summary court cases by the so-called Troikas,16 historical researchers have come to realize the full extent and the complete tragedy of mass executions perpetrated by the Communist system. In the front line of its victims are the Christian clergy who, as shepherds and keepers of the Christian faith, embodied to the Communists the opiate of the people. The clergy became the martyrs of the 20th century, and it is they who suffered the first and worst strikes by the new powers, merely because they were considered the bearers and the backbone of the moral and societal values handed down by tradition. They stood as competitors in the way of the program for atheistic training and therefore had to be "liquidated."

Among the 25,963 people who were condemned between 1921 and 1933 in Odessa alone, the "Memorial" Society has designated 4,002 (15.4 percent) as Germans. That number includes all the Catholic priests. Nearly half of all Germans who were arrested (1,882 persons) were also condemned to death and executed behind the walls of the Odessa prison. Among them were a large number of Catholic priests, whose fate has been researched via the archival sources that are now available. Their vital data is summarized in the table that follows. (See Translator's Notes below, following the translated footnotes.)

We must not fail to mention that 73 of these priests were assumed by the Vatican into its martyrology of the 20th century, which was published under the title of Witnesses for Christ.17 It was presented to the public on November 23, 1999, the feast day of St. Clemens, who was the patron saint of the Diocese of Tiraspol-Saratov. On that very same day, the new Catholic diocese of Russia-South was also established with the old boundaries, and with the bishop's seat in Saratov -- the best memorial that could be dedicated to the German Catholic martyrs.

Translated Footnotes (with original titles given here in English)

1. Fleischhauer Ingeborg, "The Germans in the Czarist Empire. Two Centuries of Mutual German-Russian Culture," 1986, Deutsche Verlags Anstalt, GmbH, Stuttgart.
2. Schippan Michael/Steriegnitz Sonja, "Volga-Germans. History and Present," Dietz Verlag Berlin, 1992.
3. Schnurr Joseph, "The Church and the Spiritual Life of the German-Russians. Catholic Part," Stuttgart, 1980.
4. Tiraspol is the Russian transliteration of Tyraspol, the Greek name of the city (= city on the Dnyestr). Cf. also page 5 of Kessler Joseph Aloisius, "History of the Tyraspol Diocese," Verlag von Rev. Aberle, Dickinson, ND, USA, 1930.
5. Franz Xavier Zottman studied philosophy at the University of Munich, where he excelled with his extraordinary linguistic abilities, being able to communicate in nine languages. The information in this chapter is taken from a speech by the Volga-German priest Peter Macht given on the occasion of the celebration "150 Years of Tiraspol Diocese" on March 7, 1998, in Ornbau/Central Franconia, the place where Franz Xavier Zottman was born and buried.
6. Bishop Anton Zerr died on December 15, 1932, at the age of 83 in Kandel/Odessa. Contemporary witnesses reported that more than 2000 faithful came to take say good-bye to their spiritual leader. Cf. also Bosch Anton, Lingor Josef, "Establishment, Development, and Dissolution of the German Black Sea Colonies," Landsmnnschaft der Deutschen aus Russland, Verlag Kohlhammer, 3rd edition, Stuttgart, 1997, pp. 408 - 412.
7. Kessler Joseph Aloysius, "History of the Tiraspol Diocese," p. 13.
8. As reported by Father Peter Macht during that meeting of March 7, 1998, in Ornbau, Bishop Jospeh Kessler delivered a memorandum in which he asked for, among other things, unrestricted and direct communication with the Apostolic See, the removal of various religious restrictions, and allowing male and female religious orders in the Tiraspol diocese.
9. By the old Gregorian Calendar, the putsch occurred during the night of the 25th to the 26th of October 1917, hence the term "October Revolution," designating not a revolution as such, but merely a coup that took place in St. Petersburg.
10. Hildermeyer Manfred, "History of the Soviet Union 1917 - 1991. Rise and Fall of the First Socialist State," Verlag C. H. Beck, Munich, 1998, pp. 328 - 330.
11. Kessler Joseph, Bishop of Tiraspol, "Travel Experiences," p. 10: "I had indeed acquired for the seminary a small piece of land, near the city (Saratov), that even with the inclusion of the property on which the Tiraspol bishop's villa stood, comprised barely 150 desyatins." At the time of their establishment, parishes were not granted any land in addition to that required for a church building and the pastor's residence.
12. Hildemeyer Manfred, "History of the Soviet Union 1917 - 1991," p. 330.
13. Public instruction in religion for children was forbidden there until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
14. Literally: "Federation of the Fighting Godless" (Soyus Voinstvuyushchich Besboshnikov), as O. Bronislaw Tschaplitzkij of St. Petersburg reported in a presentation during the International Symposium in Buchenwald, Thueringen, on September 6, 1998.
15. Bishop Zepljak was later exchanged for a high-ranking Communist from Poland and thus eluded execution. Deacon Budkewitsch was shot by the Tsheka.
16. The Troyka was set up by the Soviet regime for the expedited trials. It was composed of representatives of the Party, the Soviet Executive, and of the Secret Service (Tsheka, GPU, or NKVD). No normal judge was present. It was simply a capriciously constituted trio set by Communist regime, whose main purpose was the liquidation of its political opponents.
17. Moll Helmut (Publisher), "Witnesses for Christ. The German Martyrology of the 20th Century," 2 volumes, Verlag Ferdinand Schoeningh GmbH, Jueheplatz 1, D-33098 Paderborn. Biographies of the German-Russian martyrs are contained in volume 2, pp. 915 - 955.

Translator's Notes

1. Although the term Russlanddeutche is usually translated as "Germans from Russia" in modern articles, it is clear that we are dealing here with German people in the large territory often partially misnamed Russia, hence the use here of the term "German-Russians."

2. The large Table mentioned by the author, which takes up almost three full pages in the original, is not being translated here simply because it only contains names of priests and names of places of execution and burial, plus dates when the priests were executed or imprisoned and when they were buried.

The Table has the following column headings for the entries in each row:

[Ordinal number]
Last Name, First Name
Date and Place of Birth
Date and Place of Execution
Number of years of imprisonment in a concentration camp
Date and Place of Death
Place of Burial

Names 1 through 4 in the table are preceded by the sub-heading "Bishops," the remainder (5 through 84) by the sub-heading "Priests."

German Priests in Russia

Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation of this article.

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