History of the German Catholics and
their Priests in Russia
Geschichte der deutschen Katholiken und ihrer Priester
By Anton Bosch
Heimatbuch 2001/2002, Landsmannschaft
der Deutschen aus Russland, Stuttgart, Germany, Pages 107 –
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].
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,"
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
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
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:
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."
Priests in Russia
Our appreciation is extended to Alex
Herzog for translation of this article.