Academic journal article Asian Social Science

The Evolution of Soviet Power's Religious Policy during the Great Patriotic War

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

The Evolution of Soviet Power's Religious Policy during the Great Patriotic War

Article excerpt


The article is devoted to the study of one of the actual problems of the Soviet power's internal policy: the evolution of the religious policy during the war. According to a wide range analysis of published materials and archival documents the article states that the religious policy of the Soviet power during the Great Patriotic War is characterized by some mitigation, a string of concessions, however there were no deep changes or, as some researchers believe that it lacks of "a liberal turn" in the religious policy of the Soviet power. A certain part of actions of the Soviet power in the sphere of religion had a declarative, nominal and propaganda character.

Keywords: religious policy, religion in the USSR, atheist propaganda, antireligious policy, mitigation of antireligious policy, secularization

1. Introduction

In 1917 in Russia there was an attempt to create a new Soviet statehood, to build a socialist society and to raise a new "Soviet" type person. It was followed by radical destruction of people's age-old way of life and set of "a scientific worldview". One of the postulates of the Soviet ideological doctrine was the denial of any positive meaning of religion, a church. The Soviet ideologists stated religion was "opium" for people. The Soviet power conducted a fierce fight against religion as an antiscientific theory, church and clergy and religious consciousness. The authorities encouraged the formation of atheistic organizations to advocate antireligious propaganda in order to extrude the religion from all spheres of social activities. During the World War II the antireligious propaganda ceased for a while and it led to the numerous publications about "a radical turn" in the Soviet religious policy in the Post-Soviet historiography. The studying of this issue will help to get deep understanding of the Soviet power's policy during the World War II, to find answers to a number of controversial questions, thereby to restore an objective picture.

The collapse of the USSR allowed to start the studying this issue however some foreign researchers have been successfully working on this topic for a long time. In his monograph W.B. Husband analyzed the Soviet power's activities directed towards the Orthodox church and the history of the Soviet atheism (Husband, 2000). Studying the published Russian archival materials W.B. Husband comes to the conclusion that no warring party - neither the Soviet power nor Orthodox church - reached a clear victory: most of Russian population did not participate in the antireligious campaign as well as did not show resistance to the atheistic promotion. One of the most studied aspects of the Soviet power's policy is its relation to Islam (Ro'i, 2000; Khalid, 2007; Schwartz, 2009). According to A. Khalid, as a result of the Soviet power's antireligious policy the best samples of the Islamic doctrine were destroyed, and Islam kept its positions only in the sphere of customs and traditions; therefore during the Post-Soviet period the returning to Islam was as restoration of the traditions destroyed under communism. Y. Ro'i notes that in the USSR despite the hostility of the Soviet power both officially recognized mosques and clergy and unregistered mosques and mullahs remained. Investigating S.S. Schwartz analyzes the authorities' attitude to various religions and proves how and why Islam survived in the conditions of the Soviet power.

2. Research Methods

The authors investigate the evolution of Soviet power's religious policy during the Great Patriotic War based on a wide range analysis of the Kazakhstani archives and Post-Soviet publications. The concept of multidimensionality and alternativeness of historical reality was used in studying of this issue. We consider the alternativeness of reality as opportunities which really existed in the past. We look for the reasons for changes and "thaw" in the church policy of the Soviet power in the decision making issue on alternative opportunities of secularization not used earlier. …

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