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When the World Hates you: Persecution of the Catholic Church in the USSR (Wenn die Welt Euch Hasst: Verfolgung der Katholischen Kirche in der UdSSR)

Matern, Norbet. "When the World Hates you: Persecution of the Catholic Church in the Ussr (Wenn die Welt Euch Hasst: Vergolgung der Katholischen Kirche in der USSR)." Volk auf dem Weg, March 2001, 14.

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


For the first time we now have a view of the persecution in the USSR of the Catholic Church, especially the church of the Germans from Russia.

The Russian author and historian Irina Ossipova was been able to sift through materials from central and regional archives of the state security service, of the Interior Ministry in Moscow, and of camp administrators. After the switch from Soviet rule that had became possible for a while, but those same records are becoming less and less accessible. The Office for Pastoral Care for Catholic Germans from Russia has published a German edition of "When the World hates you," and with respect to the Russian edition of 1996, expanded with new information and discoveries.

Seven chapters serve to describe, at least in outline, the persecution of Russian Catholics since the year 1923. There is documentation in the form of excepts from trials, written indictments and courageous responses of the accused. Usually they were accused of spying for the Vatican or in
preparation for a rebellious uprising against Soviet power.

Descriptions include the fate of priests from the Solovoki Islands, the pastors of the Ludwig-Church in Moscow, Polish priests of Lemberg, participants in the 1954 uprising at Kengir, and of German-Russian clerics in the Volga region. There are about three hundred mini-biographies of Roman-Catholics such as Uniate clerics, religious sisters, and actively engaged lay people, all having been murdered or died in banishment.

For 1.5 million Catholics only two officially registered churches remain, one in Moscow and one in Leningrad. In the Volga area, houses of worship were being closed as early as 1929, church services were banned, and most religious of all faiths were arrested and taken into exile. Irina
Ossipova specifically names eleven priests from the Leningrad area who were shot to death in camps.

Mostly unknown had been the attempt of about 15 Russian priests, following their training in the Collegium Russicum in Rome, to return to their homeland in secrecy. According to the author, "exact information about those missionaries, who disappeared without trace somewhere in the USSR, unfortunately does not exist." Irina Ossipova did attempt to reconstruct a few biographies.

Irina Ossipova: "When the World hates you. The persecution of the Catholic Church in the USSR," published by the "Office for Pastoral Care for Catholic Germans from Russia," 285 pages, hardback, ISBN 3-89857-140-8. With a donation of 20 DM, available through Father Eugen Reinhardt, Bischof-Kindermann-Strasse 3, 61453 Koenigstein, Germany.

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

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