Dissolution of the Church


Demolition of the Annunciation Church in Leningrad, 1929

After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Soviet state fluctuated between tolerant and actively antagonistic.  In 1918, the state instituted stringent restrictions and penilties for the Church.  An additional law was passed in 1929, which further tightened down on the religious institutions.

The 1929 law created a “war on the church” and increased the brutality and violence with which previous laws were enforced.  The law encouraged activists to act against the church as a whole, not just the hierarchy that had previously been the subject of anti-religious action.  Church buildings themselves were dismantled or converted for other purposes, such as housing and storage.  In particular, the church bells and holy objects were confiscated and melted down for their metal.  This caused a lot of resistance among villagers, especially in the rural regions, where the clergy had stronger control.


Russians dismantling church bells







One other departure from the trappings of of Russian society involved the work week.  The industrializing country had a major plan to increase productivity.  This led the Soviets to increase the number of days worked a week in order to increase productivity, but also to stop people from wanting to attend religious services on Sundays and religious holidays.  Instead a new schedule was mandated and revolutionary holidays created as days of rest.  This policy was known as nepreryvka.  However, while the factories were open all the time, the machines were more prone to breakdown and problems.  In 1931, Stalin abandoned the continuous work week, in favor of a six-day work week.


On Easter Day Nobody Skips Work! (1929)










17 Moments in Soviet History: http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1929religion&Year=1929&navi=byYear


Freeze, Russia: A History, chapter 10 and 11



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