“Saint Joseph”: Was Stalin a Defender of the Church?

Published: 2017-02-05

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The upsurge of nostalgia for Joseph Stalin in Russia is a remembrance of the greatness that Russia achieved during that era, and one which many Russians hope to see renewed. A notable seeming paradox is that this revival of Stalinism is related more to Russian messianic Slavophilism, which sees Russia as having a unique world-mission, than to Communism. The reconstituted Communist Party under Zyuganov is also notably of Stalinist orientation, and part of a patriotic resurgence that is inconsistent with the anti-national basis of Marxist dogma. The Russian Orthodox Church is the spiritual foundation of renewed Russian nationalism, although “nationalism” in the Western sense is here a misnomer, since the Russian outlook is universal, regardless of the ideological label. Orthodoxy and patriotism towards Holy Mother Russia are inseparable. There is a convergence of forces, and among this is the phenomenon of the Orthodox faithful embracing Stalin to the point of his being portrayed as a “Saint.” How is it possible that the person known to be the most-avid persecutor of the Church, could be portrayed in such a manner?

Stalin Revival

In 2008 the Communist Party petitioned the Orthodox Church to canonise Stalin. That the Communist Party should approach the Church in this manner is itself significant.[1] Not surprisingly attitudes among the faithful towards this idealization of Stalin are mixed. Controversially, in 2008 a priest displayed a painting, “Matrona and Stalin” in his church in Saint Petersburg. The painting, by noted icon-artist Ilya Pivnik, depicts the alleged meeting of Stalin with “the Blessed Eldress of Moscow,”[2] a canonized saint of the 20th century. Stalin is said to have spoken with the holy woman before the Battle of Moscow.

In 2015 a monk priest prayed for Stalin and other World War II heroes as part of a military celebration that included an icon-style painting entitled “Sovereign Holy Mother.” This included Stalin and his generals, looked over from heaven by Mary, Christ and the saints.[3]

A calendar published in 2014, depicting Stalin throughout his life, including his time as a seminary student, was published by the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius Monastery in Moscow. This is significant because the monastery is the center of Russian Orthodoxy, and was the seat of the Russian patriarch until 1983. The Monastery had been closed by the Bolsheviks but reopened by Stalin in 1945, and services resumed in 1946.

Mikhail Babkin, a noted Russian historian specializing in Russian Orthodox Church studies, commented that “The link between the Moscow Patriarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church and Stalin remains close to sacred.”[4]

Revolution Betrayed

Stalin is surely one of the most enigmatic of historical figures. Did any “anti-communist,” from Hitler to Ronald Reagan, pursue an anti-Marxist policy so thoroughly as the man who is both heralded and damned as a leader of the first Communist state and of the “world revolution”? Under Stalin, much Marxist doctrine was progressively purged from the USSR. For those on the “Right” whose ideology is a variation of economic reductionism (as is Marxism) any state that pursues a policy antithetical to the free market is anathema. For those looking beyond economics, there is much to be seen.

Trotsky lamented that Stalin was a “Bonapartist” who “betrayed the revolution.” The hatred of Stalin by Trotskyites and other Marxists was such that many became prominent Cold Warriors in the service of the USA, because they, like Trotsky’s widow Sedova, saw Stalin’s Russia as a bigger threat to world socialism than the USA.[5] Already in 1936 Trotsky had written The Revolution Betrayed in which he described how Stalinism had reversed many of the primary Marxist doctrines that had been implemented during the early years of Bolshevism. Stalin had also done a more thorough job of liquidating Bolsheviks than Hitler. This included the elimination of the Old Bolsheviks Association, the dismantling of the Comintern which he regarded as a nest of traitors, and the elimination of most of the leading Communist exiles who had sought refuge in the USSR from Hitlerism.[6] Trotskyites and other Marxists flocked to the CIA front, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, and they came to the fore in the fight against the USSR after World War II.[7] Their legacy is today’s “neo-con” movement, and even without Stalin their bitterness towards Russia endures.

What incensed Trotsky most of all was Stalin’s rehabilitation of family and of religion. One might regard Trotsky’s primary motive in embracing Marxism as the destruction of those two institutions. The destruction of family and religion seems to be the raison d’être of Marxism for many revolutionaries. It was their psychological rationalization often arising from a deep personal hatred, projected onto Western civilization. Among those with such pathologies who embraced Marxism were Marx himself and Trotsky. In China Mao vented his hatred of the family on the Confucian heritage that honored parents.[8] Chapter 7 of The Revolution Betrayed is devoted to condemning Stalin’s revival of family and religion.[9]

Why did Stalin “betray the revolution”? There are several hypotheses: (1) Stalin was being dialectical, and hence what he undertook was in accord with Marxist dialectics in both theory and practice. (2) Stalin was forced by pragmatism to reverse the Marxian doctrines of the early Bolshevik years as unworkable and self-destructive. If this is so, then one might ask whether Stalin would have seen Marxism as intrinsically flawed and not worthy of pursuing on any basis, whether pragmatically or dialectically? (3) Stalin was an agent of the Okhrana, Czarist secret police. If so, perhaps he was never committed to Marxism, but was swept along by history and obliged to work within the Bolshevik framework?[10]

Stalin the Christian?

Much has been written about Stalin’s days at the Tiflis seminary school where he studied for the priesthood. It is said that he soon became a rebellious, avid Marxist who rejected Christianity after reading Darwin. The most-widely held account is that he was expelled from seminary along with other students because of their revolutionary beliefs. This is questionable. The reason for his expulsion from the seminary seems to have been, rather, the result of a feud with a priest nicknamed “Black Spot.” Montefiore provides the background, stating that “Soso” was not expelled for being a revolutionist, and remained in friendly contact with the seminary. The seminary regarded Soso as an excellent student, however Father Abashidze, “Black Spot,” was determined to be rid of him. It was tuition fees that troubled Soso, and he appealed to the Rector:[11]

“To Archimandrite Serafim, Very Reverend Rector of the Tiflis Orthodox Seminary from 2nd Grade student Josef Djugashvili: Your Reverence knows all about the pitiful circumstances of my mother who takes care of me. My father has not provided for me in three years. This is his way of punishing me for continuing my studies against his wishes… It is for this reason I am applying to Your Reverence for the second time. I beg you on my knees to help me and accept me on full public expense. Josef Djugashvili 25 August 1895.”

In 1899 “Black Spot” raised the school fees, “Soso” was unexpectedly invoiced 25 rubles for his tuition and left (he was not expelled). The seminary urged him to pursue a career in teaching, which he declined. There is also a question as to whether he was an informant in regard to the radical beliefs of other students.[12]

There are several anecdotes that attest to Stalin’s personal views on Christ. Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, according to her biographer Rosemary Sullivan, found The Life of Christ in her father’s library when she was an adolescent. As an indoctrinated atheist she asked her father about the myth of Jesus. He replied that Jesus was no myth, but a real person and spent the day telling her about Christ from what he had learned at seminary.[13] Dr. Erik van Ree of Amsterdam University, an expert on Stalin, quotes him as stating in 1952 in regard to the suffering of soldiers: “Jesus Christ also suffered, and even carried his cross, and then he rose up to heaven. You, then, have to suffer too, in order to rise up to heaven.”[14]

Ilizarov, drawing on hitherto-closed Russian archives, quotes Stalin as refusing to accept atheist literature into his personal library, calling it “anti-religious waste-paper.” He addressed friends and comrades with Godly salutations, such as May God give you New Year every day.”[15]To American envoy W. Averill Harriman he remarked:[16]

“'Only God can forgive.' He maintained his friendship with old seminarian friends who became priests, such as Peter Kapanadze. When he sent a gift of fish to Alexei Kosygin after the Second World War he included a handwritten note: 'Comrade Kosygin, here are some presents for you from God! (I am an executor of His will).'”

Failure of Godless Crusade

Even in the mid-1930s when Trotsky wrote The Revolution Betrayed, in condemning the restoration of family life by Stalin, he claimed that already the state was withdrawing from the campaign against religion:[17]

Concern for the authority of the older generation, by the way, has already led to a change of policy in the matter of religion. The denial of God, his assistance and his miracles, was the sharpest wedge of all those which the revolutionary power drove between children and parents. Outstripping the development of culture, serious propaganda and scientific education, the struggle with the churches, under the leadership of people of the type of Yaroslavsky,[18] often degenerated into buffoonery and mischief. The storming of heaven, like the storming of the family, is now brought to a stop. The bureaucracy, concerned about their reputation for respectability, have ordered the young “godless” to surrender their fighting armor and sit down to their books. In relation to religion, there is gradually being established a regime of ironical neutrality. But that is only the first stage. It would not be difficult to predict the second and third, if the course of events depended only upon those in authority.

The League of Militant Godless had been established in 1925 as an organization theoretically independent of the Communist Party. Trotsky alluded to this under the leadership of Yaroslavskii as being largely a manifestation of “buffoonery,” and it is generally regarded as having had the opposite of its intended aims. Yaroslavskii commented that “when entire districts are declared Godless, in a region where there is nothing, no culture, no [antireligious] work--this is a joke.” In 1928 Anatolii Lunacharskii, minister of education, commented that “religion is like a nail; the harder you hit it, the deeper it goes into the wood.” That seems to have been the result of the Militant Godless’s campaigns. Daniel Peris shows from Soviet archives that entire districts of supposed organizational networks of the League of Militant Godless only existed on paper.[19] Peris calls the League “largely a house of cards,”[20] despite its claim of over 5,000,000 members, many of whom were simply trade unionists and members of party organs dragooned into the League en masse.

According to a January 1937 census, despite the totalitarian character of the USSR, and a decade of atheist crusading, only 42.9% of respondents claimed to be “nonbelievers.” Peris suggests that where atheism was increasing this was not the result of Militant Godless campaigns, but a natural process of secularization caused by social and economic transformations.[21] The process of secularization has been just as widespread in Western liberal societies under the impress of the social and economic developments of capitalism.

The Bolshevik terror against the Church started in 1918. Already there had been a series of murders against the faithful, prompting Patriarch Tikhon to proclaim his anathema on the Bolsheviks on January 19, 1918. The 1918 law separating church and state enabled nationalized church property to be turned over to registered communes of believers; hence it became a widespread practice to use Soviet laws to regain church property for the faithful.[22] The resistance of believers to Bolshevik efforts at the eradication of religion was not passive; years after the Civil War, into the early 1930s, thousands of believers could be readily mobilized to confront local anti-religious efforts. Atheist agitators were faced with violence and even death. Atheist clubs were attacked and ransacked. Clergy and believers even took over leadership of anti-religious clubs. [23]

In 1922 anti-Church actions intensified. A “Resolution of the All-Union Central Executive Committee” (ACEC) ordered the removal of church valuables.[24] All valuables under 200 years old, such as bells, gold icon frames, and silver plates, had to be melted down. The Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg was plundered. These actions were undertaken on the pretext of funding famine relief. In 1922 Trotsky complained that Pravda and Izvestiya were not giving sufficient attention to the anti-religious struggle in their columns.[25] Had Trotsky triumphed in the leadership struggle against Stalin it is certain that he would have pursued the anti-Christian offensive to its completion.

Interestingly, believers often appealed to higher authorities, and in particular to Mikhail Kalinin, confidant of Stalin until Kalinin’s death in 1946, and head of state as chairman of the Supreme Soviet, to get decisions overturned, to the frustration of atheists.[26] In 1930 Kalinin ordered an investigation into reports of arbitrary methods being used against the faithful.[27] William Husband states: “At no time before 1932 did the Bolsheviks feel they controlled the situation… During the second half of the 1920s, organs in Nizhnii Novgorod continued to encounter no shortage of religious groups that effectively circulated anti-Soviet political materials, and similar reports that legal organizations served as fronts for oppositional activity reached party leaders from other locales as well”[28] William Husband concludes in regard to the conflict between believers and Bolsheviks:[29]

“This battle of competing visions of truth and reality produced lessons of experience for all involved, but no definitive victor. Bolshevism proved to be no single-minded monolith determined to eradicate religion as an end in itself and at all cost. Despite the countless antireligious resolutions routinely passed at all levels of party and state work, the promotion of atheism was chronically underfunded, neglected by the very organs designated to carry it out, and left to amateurs and the least talented cadres. High officials made a sustained effort to maintain Soviet law and restrain crude attacks at the regional and local levels, but in the process they created avenues through and around Soviet policy […]

The dichotomy between the Soviet State and the Church is not as simple as “Godless Bolshevism versus the Faith.” The Church, an integral part of the Czarist state, was a counter-revolutionary force. The Orthodox Church was also a mainstay of “patriotism” and of the notion of “Holy Mother Russia” with a world messianic mission. This mission is to remold a new humanity according to Christian brotherhood, and sees Russia as the Katechon, the means by which the unleashing of the Antichrist is being delayed. The German-Latvian scholar Walter Schubart wrote a once-influential book, Russia and Western Man, wherein he described this world mission, and noted even then (1938) that the world-revolutionary mission of the USSR was a very Russian application of Marxism, and that the Bolshevik dogma would become increasingly reshaped into something far removed from the imported Marxist dogma.[30] Trotsky and the Bolshevik and other Marxist opposition against Stalin saw this already happening at the same time.

Corley comments that “had it really had the desire, as Albania later did, the Soviet state could have extinguished all open expressions of religious faith. … Issuing decrees and writing long reports was often a substitute for action which probably would have been only barely effective. Only in certain cases did the state resort to repression.” Corley comments that these reports could even be impartial and scholarly.[31]

Revival of the Orthodox Church

In June 1941, with the attack of Germany on Russia, Stalin is said to have had a nervous breakdown and to have secluded himself in his dacha for three days. Another theory is that he was testing the loyalty of his confidants to see whether they would accept his resignation.[32] Others claim that he retired to meditate and pray. At the same time Metropolitan Elias Karam of Lebanon was also praying for three days on the fate of Russia. He sent a telegram to Stalin asking that for Russia to be saved the Kremlin churches must be opened, and that a procession of the cross should carry the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, the holiest icon of the Russian Orthodox Church. The icon was carried around Leningrad and Moscow, was with the Russian troops at Stalingrad, and a prayer service was held prior to the battle. The icon was taken to all the crucial points of the frontline. The priests carrying the icon led the troops under intense fire. The presence of the icon had an intense impact on the troops; even the skeptics. [33]

On September 4 1943, the exiled Metropolitan Sergei and two other metropolitans were summoned to the Kremlin to meet with Stalin. He told them he had decided to restore the patriarchate, reopen churches and seminaries, and resume the publication of The Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate.  Stalin reminisced at length about his time at seminary.  As for his intentions to restore the patriarchate and churches, he said to Sergei, “Your Grace, that’s all I can do for you now.”[34] Daniela Kalkandijeva opines that, with the setting up of Moscow as the center of world Orthodoxy at Stalin’s suggestion, it would nonetheless “be wrong to think that the church was just a pawn on Stalin’s chessboard.”[35]

The churches were already being reopened in 1941. This was not merely a strategy caused by the German invasion, to mobilize the Russian masses. In 1938 the Communist party declared that the faithful were also loyal Soviet subjects. Further, in a reversal of Bolshevist dogma, the party and the Soviet Academy of Sciences stated that the Church had provided a “progressive role” in Russian history. In 1941 even Yaroslavskii, head of the Militant Godless, criticized those who still regarded the millions of faithful as superstitious fools.[36]

The 1943 meeting with Sergei formalized the process.  He was elected patriarch by the synod that year. The Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, headed by NKVD Colonel G.G. Karpov was established. Karpov, who had been responsible for the repression of religion during the 1930s, now worked for state support for the church.

In November 1943, the Council of People’s Commissars adopted Decree No. 1325, “On the Procedure for Opening Churches.” In 1944, 206 churches were opened; in 1945, 510. The Orthodox Church flourished. On Easter night 1944 the thirty churches in Moscow were attended by 120,000 worshippers. Attendance throughout Russia was overflowing. Worshippers included many Soviet officers. Even Communist party functionaries and NKVD agents had their children baptized. By April 1946 the number of functioning Orthodox churches in the USSR had tripled to 10,437. By early 1949 there were 14,477 in the USSR. By January 1948, 85 monasteries and convents, institutions hitherto all closed, had been opened. In 1945 Kalinin replied to a question from Komsomol skaia pravda that the State was “not at war” with the Church, while alluding to atheist education. Balzer comments that “postwar atheism was to a greater degree a nod to the tradition that had arisen in the first years of Soviet power, rather than a policy objective.”[37]

Had Stalin been pursuing a dialectical measure with the ultimate goal remaining the liquidation of Christianity, he certainly made matters very difficult by overseeing the baptisms of so many Soviet subjects.

In 1947, the Metropolitan Elias (Karam) of Lebanon made a triumphal visit to the Soviet Union. He was presented with an especially crafted cross from the state.

In 1946, the department of external relations of the Church, headed by Metropolitan Nicholas Yarushevich, was established. In July 1948, an international meeting of Orthodox churches was held in Moscow. The historian of the Russian Church, Johann Chrysostomus, commented:[38]

“The Moscow Conference of the Orthodox Churches was to demonstrate the leading role of Moscow in world Orthodoxy. On this question the wishes of the Patriarchate and the Soviet government coincided, and both sides attached exceptional importance to the holding of this conference. Although the conference addressed a letter to Christians throughout the world, the attention of the conference organizers was centered on world Orthodoxy. It was to show itself as the moral force on which the Eastern bloc rested, contrary to other churches in the countries of the free world.”

Requiem Masses for Stalin

Requiem masses were said for Stalin on his death in 1953. Patriarch Alexy stated in the patriarchal cathedral on the day of Stalin’s funeral:[39]

“We, who gathered to pray for him, cannot pass in silence on his always benevolent, sympathizing attitude to our church needs. Any question which we addressed to him, was not rejected by him; he satisfied all our requests. And a lot that is good and useful, thanks to his high authority, has been done for our Church by our Government. The memory of him for us is unforgettable, and our Russian Orthodox Church, mourning over his leaving us, escorting him to his last journey.

In these sad days for us, from different directions of our Fatherland from bishops, clergy and believers, and from heads and representatives of Churches, as orthodox and heterodox, from abroad, I receive a mass of telegrams telling of prayers for him and consoling us on the occasion of this sad loss. We prayed for him when the message about his serious illness had come. And now, when he is no more, we pray for his immortal soul. Yesterday our special delegation […] placed a wreath on his coffin and bowed on behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church to his dear body. The prayer, fulfilled with Christian love, reaches God. […]  And to our loved and unforgettable Joseph Vissarionovich we devoutly, with deep, passionate love proclaim his eternal memory.”

Stalin’s family held a requiem, arranged by Vasily Stalin, in the Church of the Resurrection of Slovushchy. A State requiem was held at the Elohovsky Cathedral, led by patriarch Alexy. This was the first time requiems had been held for a Soviet leader.[40] The honor guard at the coffin during Stalin’s funeral included Metropolitan Nicholas, Archbishop Nikon, and archpriest Nikolai Kolchitsky.[41]

With de-Stalinization, the atheistic campaign resumed under Khrushchev, and those “soft on religion” were regarded as “Stalinists.”

In 1958, with Khrushchev’s position consolidated, the monasteries started to be closed, and those that remained were heavily taxed to raise the cost of religious accoutrements. The objections of Patriarch Alexy I were ignored. Karpov was removed from his position in 1960. That year the Communist Party Central Committee issued a declaration that “The struggle against religion must not only be continued, but it must be enhanced by all possible means.”[42]

The original Bolshevist formulae of Trotsky and Lenin of storming heaven had been re-established. Again, churches were blown up, priests arrested, seminaries closed. Believers were registered, and subjected to dismissal from jobs and denied university entrance and careers. Priests were attacked. Atheist displays toured the USSR.

During the 1960s, thousands of churches that had been opened during the war were destroyed. In 1959 there had been 13,372 functioning churches; by 1963, 8,314, and 18 monasteries and convents remained. An active atheist campaign was resumed. However, in 1967 60,000,000 Soviet citizens still stated they were believers, and many more retained icons in their households.[43]

On October 7, 1964, the USSR gave Israel land in Jerusalem that had been owned by the Russian State and the Orthodox Church since the 19th century in exchange for several tons of rotting oranges.[44] Precisely a week later, on the Day of the Virgin, Khrushchev was deposed. A moderated policy was assumed.

Archbishop Anthony (Marchenko), returning after the war from emigration, wrote of the world-mission of Russian Orthodoxy in the journal of the Moscow patriarchate:[45]

“Our native church life... fulfils not only its inner, ideological mission concerning the religious-moral education of our people, but also, which is most important, reveals its world-historical vocation, uniting the whole Orthodox world and all Slavonic peoples under the single common church-national slogan of Cyril and Methodius’ great and undying idea. 'Moscow – the Third Rome' remains as before the symbol of the universal collective idea, contraposed to the Papacy with its striving for spiritual autocracy, its episcopal aristocratism and its maniacal dreams of ruling the earth. The visit to Moscow by the Eastern Patriarchs, the visit to the Holy Land by His Holiness Patriarch Alexis, the coming to Moscow of a delegation from the Orthodox Czech Church and, as a result, the appointing of a Russian Orthodox Exarch there testify to an exceptional revival in the Orthodox Ecumenical Catholic Church under the actual leadership of Russian Orthodoxy: 'Moscow is the third Rome, and a fourth there will not be' as our forefather said in the days of Ivan III […]

This centuries-old world messianic mission of “Moscow the Third Rome,” or the Katechon resisting the Antichrist, has become again the state outlook under Putin.[46]

Bolshevism took messianic forms, as an integral part of the Russian character, and was united with Orthodoxy by Stalin. Contemporary conservative scholars such as Oswald Spengler and Walter Schubart foresaw this reassertion of Russian character even under Bolshevism. Spengler foresaw that Bolshevism would clear the way for Russia to “some day awaken between ‘Europe’ and East Asia. It is more a beginning than an end.” Beyond the superficiality of Marxist dogma lives the Russian peasantry, which will “become conscious of its own will, which points in a wholly different direction.”[47] Schubart saw that “even the Bolshevists” are imbued with the Russian messianic idea, and that their world revolution “unconsciously continues to maintain an old tradition – a fact which proves that the pull of the Russian soil is stronger than any cleverly devised artificial program.”[48] This perhaps provides the explanation as to why Stalin reversed the Marxist doctrines and policies that had been inaugurated under Lenin; and that explanation is deeper than Stalinist pragmatism. Had Trotsky assumed leadership rather than Stalin the result would have been a messianism of an entirely different, and perhaps irremediable, type.


Did Stalin consider Russia to be “The Third Rome” rather than the center of world proletarian revolution? Was his revival of Orthodoxy during the war something more than war strategy? He had dissolved the Comintern, and seen Moscow as the world center of Orthodoxy. He released priests and liquidated “Old Bolsheviks.” The revival of the family, outlawing abortion, and honoring motherhood complemented the revival of the Church. After the war the Orthodox revival did not abate; to the contrary. Why was it that Stalin did not revert, at least in stages, to the atheist campaign? Khrushchev undertook the task within several years of Stalin’s death. Anecdotally there are suggestions that Stalin had a religious epiphany. Another possibility is that Stalin never rejected Christianity. The widely stated stories of his being expelled from seminary for revolutionary activities after having been converted to atheism by reading Darwin, are uncertain. Stalin as a supposedly feared dictator personally intervened to moderate and eventually reverse the atheist campaign. The German invasion gave him the justification to accelerate this to the point where the Church resumed its traditional role as the moral and spiritual foundation of the Russian State.


[1] Adrian Blomfield, “Could Joseph Stalin Be Made a Saint?,” The Telegraph, July 22, 2008; www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/2445683/Could-Josef-Stalin-be-made-a-saint.html
[2] “Matrona of Moscow, Orthodox Wiki, https://orthodoxwiki.org/Matrona_of_Moscow
[3] “Russian Orthodox Church Outraged by Appearance of Stalin Icon,” Sputnik News, May 31, 2015;  https://sputniknews.com/russia/201505311022778000/
[4] “Russian Orthodox Church Slammed for Stalin Calendar,” Radio Free Europe, January 8, 2014; www.rferl.org/a/russia-stalin-calendar/25224022.html
[5] Natalia Sedova Trotsky, May 9, 1951, Labor Action, June 17, 1951, quoted in Bolton, Stalin: The Enduring Legacy (London: Black House Publishing, 2012), 117f.
[6] Bolton, ibid., 3-92.
[7] Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters (New York: The New Press, 1999). See also Bolton, ibid., 34-38.
[8] Bolton, The Psychotic Left (Black House Publishing, 2013).
[9] Leon Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed (1936), Chapter 7, “Family, Youth and Culture.”
[10] Roman Brackman, The Secret File of Joseph Stalin: A Hidden Life (London: Frank Cass, 2001), 59-60. 
[11] Montefiore, Young Stalin (London: Orion Publishing, 2007), 28.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Rosemary Sullivan, Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva (Harper, 2015), 229.
[14] Erik van Ree, Political Thought of Joseph Stalin: A Study in Twentieth Century Revolutionary Patriotism (London: Routledge Curzon, 2002) chapter 14, footnote 41.
[15] B. S. Ilizarov, Secret Life of Stalin (2004), 434.
[16] Stalin letter to Kosygin, 1948-10-22. Cited by Montefiore, Young Stalin, op. cit.
[17] Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed, op. cit., 7: 1.
[18] Head of the League of Militant Godless.
[19] Daniel Peris, Storming the Heavens: The Soviet League of the Militant Godless (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998), 114.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Ibid., 87.
[23] William B. Husband, “Soviet Atheism and Russian Orthodox Strategies of Resistance 1917-1932,” Journal of Modern History, Vol. 70, No. 1, 74-107; https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/21678/HusbandWilliamHistory.SovietAtheismRussian.pdf?sequence=19.
[24] Resolution of the ACEC from February 23, 1922.
[25] L. Trotsky, communique of May 14, 1922, cited by F. Corley, Religion in the Soviet Union: An Archival Reader (London: Macmillan, 1996), 32.
[26] Husband op. cit., 89.
[27] Ibid., 90-91.
[28] Ibid., 86.
[29] Ibid., 106-107.
[30] Walter Schubart, Russia and Western Man ([1938] English ed. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1950).
[31] F. Corley, op. cit., 2
[32] Simon Sebag Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2003), Part 7, Chapter 33.
[33] Lyubov Tsarevskaya, “The Wonderworking Icon of Kazan of the Most Holy Mother of God,” Voices from Russia, January 15, 2008; https://02varvara.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/the-wonderworking-icon-of-kazan-of-the-most-holy-mother-of-god/
[34] Montefiore, Young Stalin, op. cit., 36.
[35] Daniela Kalkandijeva, The Russian Orthodox Church, 1917-1948: From Decline to Resurrection (New York: Routledge, 2015), 180-181.
[36] Denis R. Janz, World Christianity and Marxism, (Oxford University Press, 1998), 38.
[37] Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer (ed.), Religion and Politics in Russia: A Reader (New York: Routledge, 2010), 8-9.
[38] Johann Chrysostomus, Kirchengeschichte Russland der neuesten Zeit, Munich-Salzburg, 1965-68, vol. 3, 119.
[39] Magazine Metropolitan Patriarchate, No. 4, 1953.
[40] “How Stalin Died”, documentary film, Russia, 2008, director Sergey Kostin.
[41] Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, No. 3, 1953. See: “Generalissimo Stalin Funeral,” Youtube, www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TXP9JLa6zs (19:57).
[42] “On the aims of party propaganda in the contemporary conditions,” Communist Party CC, January 9, 1960, quoted by Dimitry V. Pospielovsky, Soviet Antireligious Campaigns and Persecutions: Volume 2 of A History of Soviet Atheism in Theory and Practice, and the Believer (London: Macmillan 1988),  127.
[43] Balzar, op. cit., 9-10.
[44] This was given back to Russia by Israel in 2008 as a goodwill gesture. See: Vladimir Putin and the Holy Land, The Economist, May 16 2013, www.economist.com/news/europe/21573600-warmer-relations-israel-do-not-stop-russia-backing-syria-and-iran-vladimir-putin-and-holy
[45] Archbishop Anthony, Zhurnal Moskovskoy Patriarkhii, No. 9, 1946, 54-55.
[46] Maria Engström, “Contemporary Russian Messianism and New Russian Foreign Policy,” Journal of Contemporary Security Policy, November 20, 2014; www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13523260.2014.965888
[47] Spengler, “The two faces of Russia and Germany’s Eastern problems,” address, February 14, 1922; first published in Politische Schriften, Munich, 1932.
[48] Schubart, op. cit., 188.

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Author(s): Kerry R. Bolton
Title: “Saint Joseph”: Was Stalin a Defender of the Church?
Sources: Inconvenient History, 9(1) 2017
Published: 2017-02-05
First posted on CODOH: Feb. 5, 2017, 7:14 p.m.
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