from 1945 to 1953
work is a summary of a thesis made in Tartu University in December
2004 by Andrei Sõtšov. This thesis comes after a work he made
on the history of the Orthodox Church of Estonia until 1945.
This text is a translation from Estonian language. You
can find this article in our web site.
the World War II the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), in order
to survive during the years of Joseph Stalin's dictatorship,
had to adjust itself to the new regime that often wanted to
take advantage of the Church. When the Baltic States were occupied
by the Soviet Union in 1940, the status of the Orthodox Churches
was subjected to the Constitution of the USSR and to the Soviet
law on religion. The new legislation on religion based on a
decree of 1918 that separated the church from the state. Generally
the ROC was tolerated in the USSR after the World War II. The
more tolerant church policy began in September, 4, 1943, when
J. Stalin had an official meeting with the Metropolitans of
the ROC: Sergei, Aleksius and Nikolai. This day was a turning
point for the Church: Stalin allowed the representatives of
the Moscow Patriarchate to organise the elections for a new
Patriarch, convoke the general assembly, open religious institutions,
candle factories, to have a bank account in the State Bank and
publish a new journal of the ROC: “Журнал Московской Патриархии
The Council for the ROC Affairs, which has been created and
attached to the USSR Council of Ministers in October, 7, 1943
by the dictates of Stalin and decree (nr. 1095) of the Council
of People's Commissars of the USSR, forms a link between the
Government and the Patriarch of Moscow, and provides liaison
in all matters needing government approval. Some time later
there was formed a Council of the Cult and Religious Affairs
(decree nr. 572 on 19. 05. 1944) attached to the Council of
People's Commissars of the USSR that was meant to follow close
the activities of the other religious denominations in the USSR.
The Council's representatives who were set up in the Estonian
SSR in January 1945 – the reserve officers of the People's Commissars
of the Internal Affairs in Estonia – N. Karsakov got a task
to watch closely the activities of the Orthodox Eparchy [Karsakov
Nefet, son of Falalei. Turkmenian officer of long service in
the security services. 7 class basic education, then 1 year
in the Institution of Security Services in Moscow. Worked on
the railway in Turmenistan SSR 1921-1940. In 1944 head of the
3rd department of the Public Security Services of the People's
Commissars in the Estonian SSR. The Council's representative
of the ROC Affairs attached to the Council of Ministers in the
Estonian SSR 1945-1949. Succeeded N. Karsakov as the Council's
representative of the ROC Affairs attached to the Council of
the Ministers of the USSR in the Estonian SSR. The representatives
of the Council of the ROC in the Estonian SSR were Aleksander
Tarassov (1950–1951) and Pavel Kapitonov (1952–1953)] and J.
Kivi was to watch closely all other religious denominations.
The Council of the ROC was responsible for:
1) executing punctually the decisions of the government of the
USSR that concerned the ROC also in the other republics;
2) giving a general report to the Council of Ministers about
the activities of the Orthodox Church;
3) keeping the governments of the republics of the USSR and
the locale autonomous administrations informed about the situation
of the local Orthodox churches;
4) making statistics about the congregations, chapels and monasteries
on the local level and presenting the data to the Council of
the ROC. [GARF R-6991-1-776, P. 1; ALTNURME, R. Eesti Evangeeliumi
Luteriusu Kirik ja Nõukogude riik 1944-1949. Trt, Tartu Ülikooli
kirjastus. 2001. P. 23; ЧУМАЧЕНКО, Т. Государство, православная
церковь, верующие. 1941–61 гг. Москва, АИРО-XX, 1999. P. 23]
such a “concordat” the Soviet authorities wanted to obtain the
1) to leave a good impression on foreign policy to the foreign
2) to fortify the position of the Moscow Patriarchate inside
the Soviet Union. E.g. between 1943 and 1944 the Soviet government
did not register the movements of the "renovators"
of the ROC and the “Gregorians”, but rather put an end to them.
The clergy that belonged to these movements was confronted with
two choices: whether to finish their activities or to become
members of the Moscow Patriarchate. The same strategy of “levelling
the churches by right” and having them registered was later
used in the newly occupied Baltic Countries, where the local
autonomous Orthodox churches were closed 1944-1945. The Moscow
Patriarchate was entitled to open accounts in the bank, to sign
up the contracts of employment and to employ workers with a
legal contract. It is interesting to point out that it was general
rule up to the second half of the year 1950 that whereas the
property of the other churches was half-nationalised, then a
half of the property of the Orthodox Church belonged to the
3) to fortify the position of the Moscow Patriarchate abroad.
In 1946 the Soviet authorities helped to suppress the Greek
Catholic or the Uniate Church in Western Ukraine and Eastern
Europe, e.g. in Czechoslovakia and Rumania. Most of these congregations
were submitted to the Moscow Patriarchate. Between 1944 and
1948 the ROC put an end to the autonomy of the Latvian Orthodox
Church, and to the autocephaly of the Polish Orthodox Church
and tried to assimilate forcibly also the Finnish Orthodox Church.
In 1945 the 75 Russian congregations of the Western European
Exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate asked to be reunited
to the ROC. Also the number of the Orthodox churches in exile
in the Western Europe decreased thanks to the active foreign
policy of the Moscow Patriarchate. About ten congregations in
Germany, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Great Britain that
belonged to the so-called Karlovatsi Synod came back to the
ROC. Between 1943 and 1946 in all 3 metropolitans, 17 bishops
and 285 congregations were united to the ROC abroad. The ROC
mission centres that pertain to tsarist times were restored
in Palestine, USA, China, Japan and Korea. [ШКАРОВСКИЙ, M. Русская
Православная Церковь при Сталине и Хрущеве. Москва, Издательство
Крутицкого Патриаршего Подворья, 1999. Lk 288–294;ПОСПЕЛОВСКИЙ,
Д. Русская православная церковь в XX веке. Москва, Республика,
1995. P. 190–193]
must be asserted that the Moscow Patriarchate had a very good
position in the eyes of the Soviet powers after the World War
II. The liquidation of the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church
(EAOC) in 1945 and forming a new unity, Estonian Eparchy of
the Moscow Patriarchate, in March, 9, 1949 looks like a fact
of little importance on the general background of the church
policy. Unlike the process of submission of the Estonian Orthodox
Church in 1941 the liquidation of the Metropolis of the autonomous
Estonian Apostolic Church in 1945 took place quickly and successfully.
There were formed the Estonian Orthodox Eparchy of the Moscow
Patriarchate in Estonia and the Council of the Eparchy, and
Archbishop P. Dimitrovski was appointed to be their superior.
The first obligations of the Estonian Eparchy of the Moscow
Patriarchate were to sign the "act of repentance"
in the congregations of the previous Estonian Orthodox Apostolic
Metropolis, to collect the applications that asked to be attached
to the Moscow Patriarchate and to register the congregations
and clergy at the Council's representative of the ROC in the
Estonian SSR. In order to quicken the campaign, the president
of the Council of Estonian Eparchy, Archbishop J. Bogojavlenski
sent in March, 20, 1945 the last warning circular letter to
all provosts and obliged them to inform without delay all the
congregations in the deanery that had not yet handed in the
applications to be reunited to the Moscow Patriarchate, that
the deadline would be the 1st of May and the latecomers would
not be registered. This threatening was fruitful: the acts of
repentance were signed by summer 1945 and the registration was
finished by summer 1946. Thus the main reason, why the forced
union in 1945 took place quicker than in 1941 lies in the means
of coercion that the Soviet powers had been using very skilfully
also when liquidating the previous schisms and local churches.
E.g. 1943–1944 the same means were used to liquidate the movements
of the Renovators of the ROC and the “Gregorians”.
The Estonian Orthodox clergy justified their consent to "the
campaign of the repentance" by fear that otherwise the
congregations could have been closed by force. In his proclamation
to all the priests and Orthodox faithful of the Estonian Eparchy
in July, 19, 1945, the Archbishop Pavel felt relieved and proclaimed
the process of re-submission of the EAOC finished: “The liberating
Army was happily and joyfully greeted. Estonia took a breath
of freedom. The life in Church goes on in peace. The schism
was liquidated without any pain." [ERA R-1961-1-2. P. 12-13;
Eesti ja Tallinna ülempiiskop Paveli üleskutse Alandlik PAVEL
Jumala armust Eesti ja Tallinna Ülempiiskop Hingekarjastele
ja kõigile Eesti Piiskopkonna õigeusulistele usklikele. Tallinn,
By 1946 the inner and outer borders of the Estonian Eparchy
of the Moscow Patriarchate were decisively fixed. The Estonian
Eparchy was divided into 11 deaneries and 138 congregations.
In the same year a new church law was enforced – the decree
of the ROC in 1945. By this law it was legal for the state to
govern the Eparchy. At first the congregations had certain rights,
e.g. to possess land, use its properties, hire employees. Yet
these rights were abolished by registration of congregations
and clergy, concluding of the contracts between the Soviet county
governments and the Orthodox congregations in order to use the
church properties, and imposing taxes.
After the death of Archbishop Pavel in February, 2, 1946, the
Metropolitan of Leningrad, Gregorius (Tðukov) was appointed
the temporary guardian of the Eparchy. The decision to appoint
Gregorius as locum tenens of the bishop of Estonia was announced
in the meeting of the Council of the Estonian Eparchy in February,
28, 1946. [Apostlik-õigeusuliste eestlaste kalender 1947. Tln,
1946 P. 19; Журнал Московской Патриархии 1945/9, P. 45; Журнал
Московской Патриархии 1946/7. P. 4; Õigeusu hingekarjased Eestimaal.
Tallinn, Püha Issidori õigeusu kirjastusselts, 2002. P. 50]
Metropolitan Gregorius occupied this post up to 1947. The period
under his rule was quite peaceful for the Estonian Eparchy.
The first and important task for Metropolitan Gregorius was
to find a new applicant for the post of bishop. The first obstacle
was the unwillingness of the Council of the Estonian Eparchy
to find a quick solution. The question of the new bishop arouse
sharply in the end of 1946 mainly because the local clergy asked
for it. In the end of 1946 R. Tang, priest of Jõhvi, was confirmed
to be a new legal applicant for the post of bishop. In the beginning
of 1947 another applicant was proposed – archpriest J. Bogojavlenski.
Prior to World War II he had worked in Estonia and in 1946 he
was the rector of the Leningrad Theological Academy and Seminary.
Metropolitan Gregorius thought him to be the best candidate,
because like archbishop Pavel, he could “confirm better the
positions and ascendancy of the ROC in the Estonian Eparchy”.
Relying upon the suggestion made by Gregorius the Most Holy
Patriarch of Russia Aleksius I and the Holy Synod decided to
promote J. Bogojavlenski and nominate him Bishop of Tallinn
and All Estonia. This applicant was acceptable to the Russian
clergy of the Estonian Eparchy. During the rule of Gregorius
another important event took place – since 1946 the Estonian
Eparchy published its own newspaper “Eesti Piiskopkonna Nõukogu
Teataja (Gazette of the Council of Estonian Eparchy)”. The first
“Gazette of the Council of Estonian Eparchy” appeared in December,
8, 1946. This publication changed the hitherto valid regulation
about sending out the circular letters and official commands.
From now on all the important events that took place in the
Eparchy, e.g. transfers of the clergy, etc. were forwarded via
newspaper. [Eesti Piiskopkonna Nõukogu Teataja nr 1, 8. dets
1946; ERA R-1961-1-7. P. 34-35]
The relationship between Soviet authorities and Eparchy was
tolerant and intercessory. In the beginning the authorities
and the Council's representatives tried to show goodwill towards
the Eparchy. The Council's representative N. Karsakov backed
the aspirations of the Eparchy and defended the interests of
the congregations. The church buildings were liberated and the
disputes on the church property were solved in favour to the
congregations. The church property did not belong legally to
the congregations any more, but not yet to the state either.
By 1947 registration of the congregations and clergy of the
Eparchy was finished. This relatively peaceful and constructive
period can be characterised by the words from the address of
the Council of Estonian Eparchy in July, 21, 1946: “Our Eparchy
on the territory of the Estonian SSR, being an inseparable part
of the Russian Orthodox Church, lives now under the protection
of the State and can perform the church activities in peace.
/---/ The faithful should be an example to everybody in their
way of following orders, in their words and deeds. Only those,
who possess these virtues, are called by our Great Leader (note:
Joseph Stalin) of our Big Homeland to participate in our great
and important constructive work”. [GARF R-6991-1-111. P. 60]
In June, 21, 1947 Issidor (Bogojavlenski) was appointed Bishop
of Tallinn in the presence of Patriarch Aleksius, Metropolitan
Gregorius of Leningrad and Novgorod and Siimeon, Bishop of Luuga.
In June, 22, 1947 Archimandrite Issidor was ordained bishop
by the Most Holy Patriarch and the above-mentioned bishops through
the rite of imposing their hands on his head. [Eesti Piiskopkonna
Nõukogu Teataja nr 1, 1. juunil 1947; ERA R-1961-1-12. P. 24;
GARF 6991-2-2-59a. P. 23; Õigeusu hingekarjased Eestimaal. Tallinn,
Püha Issidori õigeusu kirjastusselts, 2002. Pp. 51–54; Журнал
Московской Патриархии 1947/6. P. 11; 1947/7 P. 22] The Bishop
Issidor arrived Tallinn in August, 11, 1946. His following activities
brought about changes in the Estonian Eparchy and in the work
of its Council. One of the church reforms that caught attention
under the rule of Bishop Issidor, was an attempt to re-establish
the old calendar. Already in 1946 the use of the new calendar
was restricted and there was an attempt to take the old calendar
into use. In August, 7, 1946 the Metropolitan Gregorius of Leningrad
and Novgorod announced (resolution nr. 1810/26), that it would
be possible to satisfy the request of the Council of Estonian
Eparchy to celebrate the Passover 1947 according to the Gregorian
calendar. But this resolution obliged the Estonian Russian congregations
since 1947 to celebrate the resurrection according to the Julian
calendar. Relying on this resolution the calendar for the Orthodox
Estonians was published in both systems for the year 1947. [Apostlik-õigeusuliste
eestlaste kalender 1947. Tallinn, Eesti Piiskopkonna Valitsuse
väljaanne, 1946. Lk 4; GARF R-6991-2-59a. P. 79]
Under the rule of Bishop Issidor the Estonian Orthodox congregations
had even more difficulties when using the new calendar. E.g.
in 1948 it was necessary to ask a permission from the Patriarch
of the ROC and the Most Holy Synod. It was obtained in October,
28, 1947 (nr 16). Thus it was evident that both Patriarch and
Bishop Issidor tried to establish a general use of the old calendar
in the Estonian Eparchy. The new calendar was allowed only as
an exception. The official church policy of the ROC was oriented
to eradicate the new calendar from the liturgical practice of
the Estonian Eparchy in the nearest future.
During the rule of Bishop Issidor some people from the Orthodox
clergy were accused of participating in the schism of the EAOC.
This period witnessed again the arousal of the practices of
excommunication that had been common during World War II. E.g.
Archpriest Pavel Kalinkin, who did not recognise the schismatic
church policy of Pavel, Bishop of Narva, did not proceed to
the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, he remained faithful
to the canonical law of the Metropolis of the EAOC. Bishop Issidor
deprives in July, 17, 1948 the priesthood of P. Kalinkin, Archpriest
of St. Simeon in Tallinn. The Patriarchate of Moscow did not
recognise as canonically valid many previous ordinations by
the EAOC. This holds true especially for the ordinations celebrated
by Bishop Peeter, repressed in 1945, because Bishop Issidor
said these were not valid and he asked for their re-ordination.
Thus all clergy who wanted to work on under the Patriarchate
of Moscow had to accept a new ordination. E.g. deacon Vladimir
Platovski(h)i was ordained deacon in July, 25, 1943 by Peeter,
Bishop of Tartu and Petseri. His second ordination as deacon
took place in October, 8, 1947. [Eesti Õigeusu Piiskopkonna
Teataja nr 1, 30. jaan 1948; ERA R-1961-1-7. P. 54; ERA R-1961-1-21.
By the end of the rule of Bishop Issidor the situation all over
the Estonian Eparchy became unstable and complicated. In the
second half of 1949 died N. Karsakov, the Council's representative
of the ROC in the Estonian SSR, and Issidor, Bishop of Tallinn
and All Estonia. N. Karsakov was replaced by A. Tarassov, who
announced a very harsh church policy. So the limits for the
activities of the Estonian Eparchy were set for decades. [GARF
R-6991-1-717. P. 27]. The money that the Patriarchate of Moscow
gave to the Estonian Eparchy did not ameliorate the economical
situation that was getting for worse. Since the rule of Bishop
Issidor the number of the Estonian Orthodox clergy decreased
drastically, due to deaths and proceedings to the other Eparchies.
E.g. in the deanery of Saare- and Muhumaa the Orthodox clergy
decreased from 7 to 4 by 1947, and they had to serve 16 congregations.
[GARF R-6991-1-267. P. 44; GARF R-6991-1-410. P. 3]. Since 1947
many Orthodox faithful went to the Lutheran Church, though this
tendency did not grow very large. Statistically it can be seen
in the reports of the Council's representative. [GARF R-6991-1-267.
Pp. 47, 72; GARF R-6991-1-410. P 53]. In 1949 the religious
education was officially prohibited for children and young people
[ERA R-1961-1-21. P. 27; ERA R-1961-1-33. P. 79; Eesti Õigeusu
Piiskopkonna Teataja nr 4, 15. juunil 1949]. There were new
restrictions prescribed for the public church services outside
the church building. The predictable secularisation of the Church
properties after concluding the contracts between the Soviet
county governments and the Orthodox congregations created a
great anxiety and opposition among the clergy. Most of the clergy
and the congregations hoped that concluding the contracts between
the Soviet county governments and the Orthodox congregations
would create a solid legal ground to the question of the Church
properties. However, later they were disappointed in this field
[GARF R-6991-1-267. P. 69]. The results of the collectivisation
and deportation in March 1949 were hard to bear for the Estonian
Eparchy. In the same period the land that was still used by
the congregations was secularised to the collective farms. In
1949 three Orthodox clergymen were repressed (Alipi Ivlev, Joann
Värk and Felix Remberg).
After the death of Bishop Issidor in December, 18, 1949 Gregorius,
Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod consented to be again
the temporary locum tenens of bishop in the Estonian Eparchy.
The second regency of Metropolitan Gregorius in 1949-1950 is
characterised as the end of the institutional formation of the
Church and its stagnation under the conditions of the totalitarian
state regime. One of the main tasks for the Metropolitan Gregorius
was to find a new applicant to the post of bishop. To maintain
control over the Eparchy he decides first to ordain a suffragan
bishop, who would be subjected directly to the Metropolitan
of Leningrad. Gregorius had set his aim: “First to preserve
the Russian influence and maintain the strict control of the
Patriarchate of Moscow. Second, to give the Estonians a bishop
who could enter into deep and personal relationship with the
faithful of the Estonian SSR in order to confirm this influence
/---/ and he would be a suffragan Bishop of the Leningrad Metropolis,
titled as Bishop of Tallinn.“ [GARF R-6991-2-79a. P. 24; GARF
R-6991-1-717. Pp. 45–46]. In March, 17, 1950 Roman Tang, the
archpriest and provost of Virumaa, is confirmed as an applicant
and he will be ordained a suffragan Bishop of the Metropolis
of Leningrad in April, 6, 1950.
Among the reforms of Metropolitan Gregorius it is worth to mention
the reform of the borders of the deaneries in 1950 and that
of the Council's representative A. Tarassov, who leaded a cleansing
of the list of the registered congregations that began by closing
3 Orthodox congregations (Mõnnuste, Kikivere and Helme-Tõrva)
the same year. The relationship between Church and State 1948–1949
were basically reflected in secularising the Church properties.
Though in 1947 the Church got its properties for gratuitous
and termless use, this principle was changed and the congregations
were forced to give up everything except church building, watchman's
house and sacred utensils. The protests by several provosts
(Joann Randvere and Joann Ümarik) against secularising the church
property after having concluded the contracts between the Soviet
county governments and the Orthodox congregations show that
regardless the good will it was impossible to change the present
situation of the Eparchy in relationship with the State. Rebellion
against the totalitarian regime meant at once loss and repression,
as it happened to the above-mentioned clergy. At that time there
occurred many conflicts between congregations and local administration.
The clergy complained mainly for their low social status (e.g.
being forced to participate in social activities or to leave
the congregation house). The local administration protested
mainly against the public activities of the congregations (e.g.
celebrations in the cemetery, organising processions and religious
teaching). The severe Soviet church policy could be observed
in all levels in the Estonian Eparchy by the end of 1950.
Since Bishop Roman became the head of the Estonian Eparchy in
1951 until death of J. Stalin in 1953 the ecclesiastic and economical
situation of the Estonian Orthodox Eparchy was becoming worse
and worse. The evidence is given by 3 important events in the
Estonian Eparchy: an attempt to degrade the Eparchy, to liquidate
more than 10 congregations and to use severe tax policy. In
1950-1951 there arouse a question about degrading the Estonian
Eparchy and its council. During the first two years under the
guidance of Bishop Roman there were liquidated 12 Orthodox congregations.
In 1951 there was promulgated a new law of taxation in the Estonian
SSR that doubled or tripled the taxation of the congregations.
An attempt to degrade institutionally the Episcopacy, undertaken
by Bishop Roman 1950–1953 did fail, yet the Council of the Estonian
Eparchy was liquidated in 1950. In 1951 he moved to Leningrad
and from now on ruled the Estonian Eparchy from the distance
– the Estonian Orthodox Eparchy was left without its Primate
and central administration. In 1952 it was a duty to two clergymen,
G. Aleksejev and N. Kokla to communicate with the Council's
representative. [Eesti Piiskopkonna Teataja nr 2. 2. märts 1953].
In 1950 A. Tarassov, the Council's representative, started the
campaign of cleansing the list of congregations. In 1951 there
were liquidated 5 Orthodox congregations: Angerja-Kohila, Aruküla,
Harju-Risti, Vormsi, and Vändra. In 1952 there were liquidated
7 congregations: Kõrgessaare-Puski, Kõpu, Pühalepa-Kuri, Rõngu-Tilga,
Tiirimetsa, Tuhalaane, and Uhmardu-Saare. This figure made up
75% of all the Orthodox congregations that were officially liquidated
between 1945 and 1953. The main reason for liquidating 16 congregations
in all between 1945 and 53 were: a) absence of the church building
(4 congregations or 25%), so that it was impossible to celebrate
the Liturgy in these places; b) small number of the congregation
members, poverty and absence of the church council (6 congregations
or 37,5%). The remaining 6 congregations (or 37,5%) were closed
because of the external conditions: too high taxes for the state
(3 congregations), unwillingness of the Council's representative
and local administration to give a permission to open the congregation
(1), and one congregation in town that asked for more space
(1) and one congregation that was situated nearby the military
In 1951 the governmental reassessment and growth of the taxes
put an end to 5 Orthodox congregations: Angerja-Kohila and Aruküla
in 1951, Pühalepa-Kuri, Kõrgessaare-Puski and Kõpu in 1952.
Still the problems of taxation were less important than secularisation
of the church properties. The subsidiary given by the Patriarchate
of Moscow helped the Estonian Orthodox congregations to pay
some taxes during the period under research.
Considering the inter-religious relationship, soviet-minded
patriotic activities and co-operation with the security services
of the Estonian Eparchy, the following conclusions can be drawn.
During the period under research the Orthodox clergy held most
of their relationship with the Lutheran Church and its congregations.
While the relations on the higher level were formal, correct
and friendly, then between the congregations there arouse lots
of polemics. In comparison to the Estonian Lutheran Church the
Orthodox Eparchy had greater losses: many more congregations
were liquidated and the clergy diminished quicker.
Besides the meetings with the Lutheran Church there were some
contacts with Roman Catholics and with the representatives of
the Moravian Brethren, and of other protestant denominations
(Baptism and Adventism). The contacts were created by using
a church building that belonged to another denomination (e.g.
Kiviõli Catholic church), celebrating ecumenical services (e.g.
in a house of prayer of the Moravian Brethren in Otepää) or
because of the complaints on Protestants for their very active
missionary work (so-called theft of sheep (e.g. Antsla, Luhamaa,
The Soviet-minded "patriotic activity” of the Estonian
Eparchy can be divided into two periods: active and passive.
At first the Soviet authorities considered the Church active
in the social spheres, but later restricted it only to the peace
movements and to the movements against the nuclear war. The
primary positive attitude of the Soviet authorities was reflected
by giving several rewards to the Orthodox clergy, and allowing
to spread missives and circular letters, and organise collections
for charitable purposes. Later the main role of the Eparchy
was to participate in the international peace movements.
The security services "network“ inside the Estonian Eparchy
was as well developed as in the Lutheran Church. During the
first years after the war the Estonian Eparchy was not very
closely followed in its work. Since 1947 the security services
were very attentive to the Orthodox Clergy and the situation
became worse by 1949, when the assimilation of the Eparchy was
finished. The archives are very discontinuous and do not allow
to find out statistically, how many clergymen worked as agents,
"informants" or were residents in this period. The
clergymen of higher status were preferred. Special attention
was paid to the members of the Council of the Estonian Eparchy
and to the provosts.
The reasons of diminishing numbers of the clergy of the Estonian
Eparchy 1945–1953 were:
1) death – 25 clergymen or 17,1% of the total;
2) proceeding to the other Eparchies – 19 clergymen or 13,0%;
3) repressed – 8 clergymen or 5,4%;
4) resigning the appointment or changing the church – 10 clergymen
The decrease of the numbers of the clergy can be grouped according
to the following reasons:
1) collectivisation and deportation in 1949;
2) worsening of the economical situation of the Estonian Eparchy
and its congregations;
3) growth of the taxation and secularisation of the congregations’
Under these circumstances the Estonian Orthodox clergy diminished
by 1953 for 42,5% that makes 62 clergymen less. Observing the
statistics of the clergy (bishops, priests and deacons) in 1947
there served 108 clergymen in the Estonian Eparchy, in 1950
the number diminished to 96 and by 1953 there remained only
The following conclusion could be drawn while observing the
situation of the Estonian Eparchy under the Stalin’s totalitarian
1) The role of the Estonian Orthodox Church diminished in the
society under the Stalin's totalitarian regime due to two reasons:
a) severe church policy that influenced a great deal the attitude
of people towards Church, diverging them from Church and clergy.
The number of the active church members had decreased, so that
there were difficulties in forming the congregations with 20
members; the smallest congregations in the country just ceased
to exist; b) the factor that also contributes to weakening the
social position of the Estonian Orthodox Church was that the
Orthodox Church in Estonia was a very young institution, and
the weak Orthodox identity of the members was also one of the
causes for the diminishing popular support already after the
deportation in March and the following collectivization.
2) Comparing to the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia, the Estonian
Orthodox Eparchy was but a "poor fringe area" that
did not have enough economic resources and size to maintain
its pre-war positions. Also for the same reason the Estonian
Orthodox Eparchy lost more of its clergy and congregations than
did the Estonian Lutheran Church that due to its better economical
status and greater membership managed to maintain its position
under the totalitarian powers.
3) The main problems and changes in the Estonian Eparchy arouse
due to the fact that since 1949 the Soviet authorities applied
more severe tax policy and secularised the church properties.
The new state policy weakened the economical situation and limited
the legal rights of the local Orthodox Church, restricted the
public activity in the Estonian Eparchy and caused the diminution
in the activity of membership. For example, according to the
data of the Council representative in the Estonian SSR there
were 100 000 Orthodox Christians in the Estonian SSR in 1947,
and there remained only 60 000 by 1950.
1. Estonian National Archive, Tartu (ERA)
Fond 1655 – Eesti Õigeusu Piiskopkond 1945–1954.
2. State Archive of Russian Federation, Moscow (GARF)
Fond 6991 – Совет по делам Русской Православной Церкви при Совете
Министров СССР (1943–1965).
3. ALTNURME, R. Eesti Evangeeliumi Luteriusu Kirik ja Nõukogude
riik 1944–1949. Trt, Tartu Ülikooli kirjastus. 2001. P. 23.
4. Apostlik-õigeusuliste eestlaste kalender 1947. Tallinn, Eesti
Piiskopkonna Valitsuse väljaanne. Tln, 1946. P. 4. 19.
5. Eesti ja Tallinna ülempiiskop Paveli üleskutse Alandlik PAVEL
Jumala armust Eesti ja Tallinna Ülempiiskop Hingekarjastele
ja kõigile Eesti Piiskopkonna õigeusulistele usklikele. Tallinn,
6. Eesti Piiskopkonna Nõukogu Teataja nr 1, 8. dets 1946; nr
1, 1. juunil 1947.
7. Eesti Piiskopkonna Teataja nr 2, 2. märtsil 1953.
8. Eesti Õigeusu Piiskopkonna Teataja nr 1, 30. jaan 1948; nr
4, 15. juunil 1949.
9. Õigeusu hingekarjased Eestimaal. Tallinn, Püha Issidori õigeusu
kirjastusselts, 2002. Pp. 50–54.
10. Журнал Московской Патриархии 1945/9, Lk 45; 1946/7. Lk 4;
1947/6. Lk 11; 1947/7 Lk 22.
11. ПОСПЕЛОВСКИЙ, Д. Русская православная церковь в XX веке.
Москва, Республика, 1995. Lk 190–193.
12. ЧУМАЧЕНКО, Т. Государство, православная церковь, верующие.
1941–61 гг. Москва, АИРО-XX, 1999. Lk 23.
13. ШКАРОВСКИЙ, M. Русская Православная Церковь при Сталине
и Хрущеве. Москва, Издательство Крутицкого Патриаршего Подворья,
1999. Lk 288–294.