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Refugee Orthodox Congregations in Western Europe, 1945–1948

  • Timothy L. Smith (a1)


The twentieth-century migration of Orthodox peoples from Eastern to Western Europe and to North and South America thrust the heirs of that ancient faith into the role of persisting minorities, and imposed upon them the necessity of rapid and complex adjustments to urban conditions of life. To be sure, territorial expansion, involving both the migration of the faithful and the conversion of the heathen, had been a central theme in Orthodox history for a thousand years or more. One fruit for the loyalty of bishops and congregations, a rivalry that magnified the tension between the desire of nascent nationalities for an “autocephalic” church (that is, one having its own head as well as the power of self-government) and the preference of the patriarchs for “autonomous” bodies dependent upon a supreme hierarch elsewhere. Another result was the Orthodox confrontation with Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in Central Europe. Saxons who settled in the highlands of Transylvania in the thirteenth century became Lutherans at the time of the Reformation, and a majority of Hungarians occupying the broad plains lying east of Budapest became Calvinists. From the seventeenth century onward the Papacy accepted the submission of numerous Orthodox dioceses in Romania, Poland, Hungary, Croatia and the western parts of Russia, under agreements that allowed congregations to retain their Eastern ritual and dogma.



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1. Meyendorff, Jean, The Orthodox Church, Its Past and Its Role in the World Today, tr. Chapin, John (New York, 1962).

2. Landis, Benjamin Y. (ed.), Yearbook of American Churches… 1965 (New York, 1965), p. 86.

3. d'Herbigny, Michel and Deubner, Alexander, Eveques russes en exit; douze ans d'eproves (19181930). Vol. XXI, Orientalia Christiana (Rome, 1931), 12–43, 53–54, 64–79; Bulgakov, Sergei, The Orthodox Church (London, 1925).

4. Ware, Timothy, The Orthodox Church (Harmondsworth, England, 1963), pp. 182186; Widdrington, P. E. T., “The Social Work of the Russian Church in Exile,” The Eastern Churches Broadsheet, (London) No. 8 (0910, 1944); Lowrie, Donald A., Saint Sergius in Paris: The Orthodox Theological Institute (London, 1954), passim.

5. Herbigny, , Eveques russes en exil, 119149, analyzes the complex canonical questions involved in Eulogius' dispute with Antony.

6. See an unsigned memorandum, dated March 25. 1942, “The Russian Orthodox Church and the War,” in World Council of Churches, Study Department Archives (referred to hereafter as SPA), Box No. 280 (47). “U. S. S. R..” folder marked “The Russian Orthodox Church”; and The Fastern Churches Broadsheet, IV (10. 1944).

8. World Council of Churches. Department of Reconstruction and Inter-Church Aid (referred to hereafter as WCC/ICA), “Minutes of the Conference of Secretaries, Geneva, March 28-April 1. 1946,” p. 10, in Department of Inter-Church Aid and Service to Refugees Archives (referred to hereafter as ICA/SRA), Box B3. “Documents, complete series, nos. 1–70, 1944–47,” Doc. 57S; Djoko Slijepcevie, memorandum dated April, 1949. “The Serbian Orthodox Church Today,” pp. 18–22, SDA. Box 280 (497.1). “Yugoslavia.”

8. Oldham, J. H., “The Church in Russia,” reprinted from The Christian News-Letter in Christianity and Crisis. V (05 28. 1945), 5: Leon Zander, “Statement on the History of the Russian Student Christian Movement During the War Period, 1939–1944,” SPA, Box 280 (47), “U. S. S. R.,” folder marked “Russian Orthodox Church.”

9. The Manchester Guardian, October 23, 1946, summarizes these events.

10. Berdyaev, Nikolai A., “The Unity of Christendom in the Strife Between East and West,” The Ecumenical Review, I (19481949), 1124; the same author's Christian Existentialism; a Berdyaev Anthology, selected and tr. Lowrie, Donald O. (London, 1965)Schmemann, Alexander, “Orthodox Youth and the Ecumenical Movement.” The Eumenical Review, I (Spring, 1949), 320323; the same author's The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy, tr. Kesich, Lydia W. (New York, 1963); Meyendorff, 218–228; and Florovsky, George, “The Orthodox Churches and the Ecumenical Movement, Prior to 1910,” in Rouse, Ruth and Neil, Stephen C., A History of the Ecumenical Movement, 1517–1948 (London, 1954), pp. 171216.

11. An account prepared for World Council officials by an unidentified member of the Synod is in ICA/SRA, Box A7, “General Correspondence, Églises Orthodoxes, 1946–48.” The story of the flight of the bishops is based partly on my conversations with Father George Grabbe in New York City in the spring of 1964.

12. Tatjana Schaufuss and Paul Lutov, “Preliminary Survey of the Problems and Needs of the Displaced Persons and Refugees of Eastern Orthodox Faith in the U. S. Zone of Germany,” p. 3, ICA/SRA, Box Dl, “ERC Field Workers, 1947–48,” folder marked “Tatjana Schaufuss.”

13. Atkinson, J. B., “World Council of Churches Refugee Commission in Austria, Monthly Report, 09, 1948,” pp. 12, SDA, Box 284 (436), “Austria,” folder marked “Reconstruction, Refugees,” is an excellent summary.

14. Schaufuss, and Lutov, , “Preliminary Survey…” p. 2, ICA/SRA, Box Dl, folder marked “Tatjana Schaufuss.”

15. Ibid., 3.

16. See Anne Lynch, Geneva, August 10, 1946, to Adolf Freudenberg, ICA/SRA, Box A7, numbered section 5; and Bishop Platon, Esslingen, Germany, May 4, 1947, to Adolf Freudenberg, the same, numbered sections 1–3.

17. Schaufuss, and Lutov, , “Preliminary Survey …,” pp. 35, ICA/SRA, Box Dl, folder marked “Tatjana Schaufuss.”

18. G. R. B. Panchuk, Director, Central Ukrainian Relief Bureau, London, August 28 and September 17, 1947, to Elfan Bees, with attached documents, ICA/SRA, Box D2, “Different Countries and Refugee Groups, 1947–1948,” folder marked “Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church.…”

19. A translation from Russian News, Paris, No. 135, January 2, 1948, p. 4, cols. 1–3, is to J. Hutchison Cockburn, February 25, 1948, to Alan Braley, SDA, Box 284 (436), folder marked “Reconstruction, Refugees.”

20. Atkinson, J. B., “…Monthly Report, 09, 1948,” p. 2, SDA, Box 284 (436), folder marked “Reconstruction, Refugees.”

21. See, Anne Lynch, Geneva, August 10, 1946, to Adolf Freudenberg, ICA/SRA, Box A7, numbered section 5; and numerous exchanges of letters between Bishop Platen and Adolf Freudenberg in 1946 and 1947, in the same place.

22. See a typescript history of the Anastassy Synod, and Metropolitan Anastassy, Munich, Desember 24, 1947, to Elfan Rees, in ICA/SRA, Box A7, numbered sections 13 and 14.

23. These details are drawn from Joseph Wasyliw, Stuttgart, April 17, 1948, to the “Ecumenical Council,” and from numerous other letters in ICA/SRA, Box A7, numbered section 29; Alan Braley, May 5, 1948, to Elfan Rees and others, the same, numbered section 30; and Atkinson, “…Monthly Report, September, 1948,” pp. 2–3, SDA, Box 284 (436), folder marked “Reconstruction, Refugees.”

24. See M. Meylan, Munich, December 10, 1946, to the Ecumenical Refugee Commission, in ICA/SRA, Box D2, folder marked “Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Church.” Cf. “The Work of Ukrainian Emigrants,” The Eastern Review (Vienna), I (0709, 1948), 6265. The University of Minnesota Immigrant Archives contains a Collection of some 260 books and pamphlets and files of several periodicals reflecting the history of the Ukrainische Freie Universität in Munich.

25. See the correspondence of R. M. Djurdjevic with World Council officials in the fall of 1947, ICA/SRA, Box “Orthodox 13.”

26. Barnabas Dienes, “Report to the Refugee Commission of the World Council of Churches, 1948. Our Task in the British Zone, Austria,” p. 2, ICA/SRA, Box D4, folder marked “Dr. Barnabas Dienes, Visit to Austria.”

27. [Prince] Alexandre de Lieven, Geneva, April 8, 1947, to the World Council of Churches (in French), ICA/SRA, Box A7, numbered section 26.

28. See Bishop Valerian D. Trifa, Jackson, Michigan, March 7, 1955, to Arthur Foster, and Arthur Foster, Salzburg, February 6, 1956, to Robert Maxwell, in ICA/SRA, Box “Orthodox 14,” folder marked “Austria, 1954–1960.” Cf. P. Basile Zapartan, Salzburg, October 22, 1953, to the Director of the World Council, ICA/SRA, Box “Orthodox 10,” folder marked “Germany, Orthodox, 1954.”

29. See Juris L. Magerovsky, Regensburg, Germany, March 30, 1946, to Stewart Herman; Magerovsky, December 11, 1946, to Adolf Freudenberg, and August 23, 1947, to Harald Sandbeck; and Metropolitan Seraphim, Munich, November 20, 1946, to Harald Sandback; all in ICA/SRA, Box A7, numbered sections 15–18.

30. Barnabas, Dienes, “Report to the Refugee Commission …; Our Task in the British Zone,” p. 3, ICA/SRA, Box D4, folder marked “Dr. Barnabas Dienes, Visit to Austria.”

31. See Georges Koûtépow, Karlsrühe-Rüppur, January 13, 1947, to Adolf Freudenberg (in French), and succeeding correspondence, especially Koûtépow's letter of August 25. 1947, recording the actions of the annual assembly of the parish, in ICA/SRA, Box A7, numbered section 26.

32. “Summary Report and Resolutions of a Conference to Consider the Practical Needs of the Orthodox Refugee Communities in Belgium, May 8–10, 1941,” ICA/SRA, “Orthodox 14,” folder marked “Orthodox, Belgium, 1953–1960”; and Krstwoy Kotur, President, the Serbian Orthodox Church Congregation for Germany, Munich, February 5, 1948, to the World Council of Churches, ICA/SRA, Box A7, numbered section 30.

33. See correspondence, especially the letter of May 7, 1947, to Adolf Freudenberg, in ICA/SRA, Box D4, folder marked “Comitié International pour le Placement des Intellectuels Refugiés.” Cf. B. M. Djurdjevic, Denver, Colorado, August 22, 1952, circular letter to friends in Europe, ICA/SRA, Box “Orthodox 13,” folder marked “Serbian Parish in London.”

34. See below, p. 324.

35. Mme. Milena Rudnycka, President, Alliance of Ukrainian Women, appeal dated April 8, 1945, ICA/SRA, Box A7, numbered section 5. See also Basil Kusiw, Munich, March 4, 1947, to Adolf Freudenberg, ICA/SRA, Box Dl, folder marked “Basil Kusiw.”

36. On the problems of Orthodox men with German wives, see Miss D. M. Pye, Hamburg, November 4, 1952, to Raymond E. Maxwell, ICA/SRA, Box “Orthodox 3,” folder marked “Orthodox Priesters, 1952–53.” But cf., for a group of Transylvanian Volksdeutsche nearly all with wives in Romania and mistresses in Frankfurt, preparatory papers for the WCC/ICA staff conference, Bad Homburg, May 27–30, 1951, session on “Refugee Services of the Churches in Germany,” ICA/SRA, Box “Orthodox 3,” folder marked “Orthodox Conferences … 1950–52.”

37. See R. M. Djurdjevic, British Army Headquarters, Germany, May 17, 1947, to Adolf Freudenberg, and Freudenberg, June 20, 1947, to Henry Carter, in ICA/SRA, Box D2, folder marked “Refugiés Orthodoxes Yougoslaves (M. Djurdjevic).”

38. At the Immigrant Archives, University of Minnesota.

39. World Student Christian Federation, Political Commission, “Letter from Bengt Hoffman to M. M. Thomas, June 18th, 1947,” mimeographed, ICA/SRA, Box D4, “Miscellaneous Correspondence Files, 1946–48,” folder marked “World's Student Christian Federation.”

40. On mutual aid in the camps, see further the story of the Serbian Orthodox Welfare Fund in Miss D. M. Pye, Hamburg, November 4, 1952, to Raymond Maxwell, ICA/SRA, Box “Orthodox 3,” folder marked “Orthodox Priesters, 1952–53.”

41. Schaufuss, Tatjana and Lutov, Paul, “Preliminary Survey of the Problems and Needs of the Displaced Persons and Refugees of Eastern Orthodox Faith in the U. S. Zone of Germany,” dated 12 27, 1947, ICA/SRA, Box Dl, folder “Tatjana Schaufuss.”

42. Benz, Ernst, The Eastern Orthodox Church: Its Thought and Life, tr. Richard, and Winston, Clara (Garden City, New York, 1963), pp. 2231.

43. In the spring of 1966 one of the last remaining barracks chapels in Austria stood alone (the surrounding buildings all demolished) on a street in the south part of Linz.

44. A. Nikiton, Kempton, Austria, August 20, 1945, to the World Student Christian Federation, Geneva, SDA, Box 280 (47), folder marked “Russians Outside Russia.”

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Church History
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