RF declassifies documents on creation of autocephalous church in Ukraine

25 August 2021 21:52
Vydubychi Monastery, which is currently under the authority of the OCU. Photo: wikipedia.org Vydubychi Monastery, which is currently under the authority of the OCU. Photo: wikipedia.org

Documents have been published describing the role of Nazi Germany in the creation of an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Within the framework of the No Statute of Limitations project, the Russian special services have declassified documents revealing the details of the creation of an autocephalous church in Ukraine, RIA Novosti reports.

According to these documents, the fascists who occupied the territory of the then Soviet Ukraine during the Great Patriotic War, guided by their own interests, supported the restoration of the Ukrainian autocephalous church, which served them in every possible way.

Retreating under the blows of the Soviet army, the Nazi invaders abandoned the leadership of the autocephalous church of Ukraine as redundant.

Among the declassified materials is the protocol of the interrogation of Theophilus Buldovsky (1865-1944) by the KGB in December 1943.

During the German occupation of Kharkov, Buldovsky was the Metropolitan of Kharkov and the entire Left-Bank Ukraine, the chairman of the Kharkov Diocesan Administration of the Autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

During interrogation, he said that he was twice arrested by the Special Department of the South-Western Front and the Cheka (All Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution, Profiteering and Corruption – Trans. note) in 1920 on charges of actively helping Denikin adherents, but was released for lack of evidence.

In 1924 he received from the Soviet government "the legalization of the conciliar-episcopal autocephalous orientation". In 1937 he moved to Lugansk, and in the middle of 1939 he stopped his church activities there due to the closure of the last church and left for Kharkov, as he "decided to retire altogether."

However, when the Germans occupied Kharkov in October 1941, Protopresbyter Alexander Krivomaz came to Buldovsky, with whom he had been "closely associated for over 20 years", and said that a religious department had been set up within the Kharkov City Administration, which with the “permission of the Germans is taking a vigorous action to facilitate the fastest revival of the autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Kharkov and districts of the Kharkov region."

Buldovsky "decided to try to take a leading position in the reviving autocephalous church", since being the oldest metropolitan of Ukraine by consecration, he "could apply for the post of Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine," according to his words.

From the very first day of returning to active church activity, Buldovsky was guided by the German occupiers, so "the military successes of the Germans on the Soviet-German front, notably in Ukraine, led me to the conviction that the war would be won by Germany."

“On the other hand, the German authorities allowed the restoration of the autocephalous church organization. Therefore, I assumed that with the help of the Germans, I would be able to achieve a leading role in the autocephalous church," Buldovsky speculated at the time.

In the second half of November 1941, German General Bloom and Doctor of Theology Wagner visited his apartment. Buldovskiy told them that he would adhere to several principles, including “loyalty to the German occupation authorities, recognition of a single autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, appointment to parishes only of those priests who recognize Buldovsky's autocephaly and jurisdiction, worship in the Ukrainian and Church Slavonic languages depending on the wishes of the majority of the believers in a specific parish." The Nazis liked these theses.

"Therefore, in the second half of November 1941, I worked out the main political line approved by the Germans – to count on the support of the occupiers, to achieve the fastest revival of autocephaly, to try to take a leading position in it and further orient the church and clergy to actively help the German authorities," added Buldovsky.

Buldovsky and his associates tried to strengthen ties with the Nazis and, above all, to establish contact with the political police of the Third Reich, while Buldovsky personally established a communication with the Gestapo.

“One of the main functions of the diocesan administration was to monitor the content of sermons and their political coloring. In all the churches of the diocese, according to our instructions, sermons of a pro-fascist character were read, the German army was glorified, which was allegedly "rescuing" Ukraine; Hitler and his government were commemorated at each service, Soviet power was denigrated in every possible way. In a word, the autocephalous church, in essence, was put at the service of German propaganda," Buldovsky noted.

During interrogation, Buldovsky also told how he was preparing to seize the all-Ukrainian church leadership. For this end, according to him, together with Krivomaz he drew up a declaration addressed to the Reich Commissioner of Ukraine Erich Koch, in which he assured him of his desire to "serve the interests of the Ukrainian people in accordance with Germany's plans regarding Ukraine."

At the end of the declaration, which was essentially a denunciation, Buldovsky pointed out that "Ukrainian chauvinist anti-German circles are preventing me from taking the legal post of Metropolitan of All Ukraine" and asked Koch "to intervene in this matter". In the struggle for the position of Metropolitan of All Ukraine, he also wanted to enlist the support of foreign priests.

However, in the end, Buldovsky turned out useless to the Nazis, who were retreating from Kharkov in August 1943. “Apparently, the Germans no longer needed me, and they did not provide me with vehicles, nor did they even offer to evacuate me,” he said during interrogation.

Subsequently, Buldovsky tried to position himself as loyal to the Soviet regime, which had returned to Kharkov: “Adapting to Soviet reality, after the election of Metropolitan Sergius as Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus, I immediately sent a report to his name with a request to be admitted to his jurisdiction. This report signified my rejection not only of my claims to the leadership in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, but also of the idea of autocephalism in general,” said Buldovsky.

“I thought that thanks to this decision I would be able to survive and retain at least the Kharkov diocese ... I was impatiently awaiting the Patriarch's answer but did not have time to receive it, since I was arrested by the Soviet authorities for pro-fascist activities during the German occupation,” he added.

Earlier, the UOJ wrote that OCU "metropolitan" Mikhail Zinkevich of Lutsk and Volyn told his parishioners during the sermon that he could not understand whose victory over whom is celebrated on May 9.

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