JEWISH GENOCIDAL ACTIONS IN WORLD HISTORY
Jewish Butcher of the Ukraine – Stalin’s Brother-In-Law
Lazar Kaganovich: Stalin’s Mass Murderer
American Times Today
Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich (Kogan), of Jewish descent, was born in Kubany, near Kiev, Ukraine, in 1893. In 1911 he joined the Jewish-founded Communist Party and became involved with the Bolsheviks (Lower East Side New York Jews). Kaganovich took an active part in the 1917 takeover of Christian Russia by Communism and rose rapidly in the Party hierarchy.
From 1925 to 1928, he was first secretary of the party organization in Ukraine and by 1930 was a full member of the Politburo.
Kaganovich was one of a small group of Stalin’s top sadists pushing for very high rates of collectivization after 1929. He became Stalin’s butcher of Christian Russians during the late 1920s and early 1930s when the Kremlin (jews) launched its war against the kulaks (small landowners who were Christians) and implemented a ruthless policy of land collectivization. The resulting state-organized forced famine, was a planned genocide and killed 7,000,000 Ukrainians between 1932 and 1933, and inflicted enormous suffering on the Soviet Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan.
Josef Stalin (Dzhugashvili) altered census figures to hide the millions of famine deaths when the Ukraine and northern Caucasus region had an extremely poor harvest in 1932, just as Stalin was demanding heavy requisitions of grain to sell abroad to finance his industrialization program which was on top of enforced collective farming of 1929. Stalin is conservatively estimated to have been responsible for the murder and/or starvation of 40,000,000 Russians and Ukrainians during his reign of terror, while the total deaths resulting from the de-kulaklization and famine, by way of Kaganovich, can be conservatively estimated at about 14,500,000.
On any analysis, Kaganovich, was one of the worst mass murderers in history, and little wonder that during World War II large numbers of Ukrainians greeted the Germans as liberators, with many joining the Waffen-SS to keep Communism from enslaving all of Europe.
Toronto: UCRDC 1997
The Ukrainian Canadian Research & Documentation Centre (UCRDC) is a source of information about Ukrainian Canadians, one of the most vibrant communities within the Canadian mosaic.
UCRDC concentrates on the collection of data and facts about recent and historical events that focus on the present and the heritage of Ukrainian Canadians. It disseminates its findings about these events by producing documentary films, organizing exhibits, conferences, and lectures and sponsoring publications.
UCRDC is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 1997 by intiating a major capital campaign to establish an Endowment Fund. The annual interest income generated by the fund will ensure the operation of the Centre in perpetuity. We, the members of the UCRDC Board, hope that there will be many individuals and corporations that will respond generously to our call.
An early achievement of the UCRDC was the award-winning documentary film Harvest of Despair. We have also created a major traveling exhibit titled The Barbed Wire Solution: Ukrainians and Canada’s First Internment Operations 1914-1920 which is now traveling throughout Ontario. A documentary film about Ukrainian Canadians and Ukraine in World War II is now in the process of completion.
The Centre’s archives are available to any researcher interested in studying Ukrainian and Ukrainian Canadian topics.
The UCRDC is indebted to dedicated volunteers who have made the Centre’s activities possible. To date many supporters have sustained the operation of the UCRDC. We call upon you to ensure the Centre’s continued success through your patronage and help in creating for the Centre a permanent Endowment Fund. The Ukrainian Canadian Research & Documentation Centre will acknowledge your assistance in a special way.
Chairman of the Board
|Letter of Introduction|
|2.||Ukraine in World War II Film Project|
|3.||Harvest of Despair Film|
|5.||Projects in Ukraine|
Barbed Wire Solution
Ukrainian Canadian Centennial
|7.||Famine Conference – University of Toronto|
|10.||UCRDC Goals & Objectives|
|11.||Letters Patent of Canada|
|12.||Board of Directors 1996-97|
Ukraine in World War II
Documentary Film Project
In 1986 the UCRDC initiated a major project to create a documentary film about Ukraine in World War II. With the independence of Ukraine in 1991 it became possible to include new research and information that has become available in recent years. The Centre chose Slavko Nowytski, the award-winning director of the film Harvest of Despair, to serve as producer-director of this film. He has directed and produced such films as Sheep in Wood, Pysanka, and a film about Ukrainian Canadians: Reflections of the Past. In 1996 a contract was completed and the plan for the film’s production and release early in 1998 was established.
The film, Ukraine in World War II, will portray the titanic struggle which took place on the territory of Ukraine between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. The destructive scorched earth policy of both totalitarian powers, the Ukrainian guerilla armies and the people fighting both the Nazi and the Soviet Armies for Ukrainian independence, the 2.3 million Ukrainian slave labourers (Ostarbeiters) taken to Germany, the terror and executions of innocent people and finally the loss of an estimated 8 to 10 million Ukrainians — will all be part of this tragic story of Ukraine in World War II.
The UCRDC Archives, with over 800 video and audio interviews, is providing eyewitness documentary material for the film. Experts have been already interviewed, including Norman Davies of the University of London and author of Europe: A History, John Armstrong, author of Ukrainian Nationalism, Robert Conquest of Stanford University, author of The Harvest of Sorrow and The Great Terror, Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Foreign Policy Advisor to the U.S. President. Material on the tragedy of the Jews including the testimony of Ukrainians who saved Jews from the Nazi terror will be part of the film. Photos and documents have been obtained from the Museum of World War II in Kyiv. Rare film footage and significant photos relating to the war have been collected for the film.
It is planned to have the film available in both English and Ukrainian and it will be translated into other languages such as, French, Spanish and Russian. It is expected that — just as the previous UCRDC film Harvest of Despair — the documentary film Ukraine in World War II will reach an audience of millions of people around the world. Sponsors and major donors to the film will be included in its credits.
Harvest of Despair
The greatest achievement of the Centre is the production of the award-winning documentary film Harvest of Despair which had its premiere at the University of Toronto on Sunday, October 21, 1984 at 7:00 PM. For the first time in history this film brought the 1932-33 terror famine in Ukraine into the awareness of the world. Perpetrated by Stalin’s Soviet government which sought to destroy Ukrainians as a nation, the famine is one of the most terrible crimes of the 20th century. It claimed seven million lives in Ukraine.
Harvest of Despair: The 1932-33 Man-Made Famine in Ukraine won several first prizes at international film festivals. The Director of the film was Slavko Nowytski, Associate Director was Yurij Luhovy. Translations were made into Ukrainian, French, and Spanish.
Harvest of Despair was shown in Canada on the CBC network, in the USA on PBS, in England on the BBC as well as in Australia, Argentina and Sweden and on other TV networks. Before the 1991 independence referendum in Ukraine Harvest of Despair was telecast on the Ukrainian national television network. The film was the essential catalyst in finally breaking down the USSR denial that a man-made famine had occurred in Ukraine in 1932-33.
This documentary film established the existence and the extent of this genocidal crime against humanity which had been so skillfully concealed by the Soviet Union that half a century later the western world remained a victim of Soviet propaganda.
A one hour documentary, Harvest of Despair, has been widely screened around the world, and is regularly shown in schools, colleges and universities. It has provided an insight into the Soviet totalitarian system and a better understanding of the reasons for the struggle of Ukraine for independence. The video Harvest of Despair is available in English, Ukrainian, French and Spanish from the UCRDC office.
The UCRDC Archives were established in 1988 to organize the large collection of materials collected on the 1932-33 famine. In 1991 a special climate controlled room was provided at the Centre to safeguard the archival materials.
The Archive acquires, preserves and makes accessible to researchers and students primary documentary evidence available pertaining to:
1. Ukrainians in Canada and in Ontario.
2. Ukrainian Canadians and Canada’s First Internment Operation 1914-20
3. Famine in Ukraine
4. Ukrainian Canadians, Ukraine and Ukrainians in World War II.
Oral history is a significant part of the archival collection, which includes over 800 audio and video interviews in English and Ukrainian. Recently 35 unpublished memoirs have been added to the archive.
In 1989-90 The UCRDC and the Ukrainian Resource and Development Centre at Grant MacEwan Community College in Edmonton jointly funded a project. It involved the production of 30 one-hour video interviews with Ukrainian Canadian men and women who were members of the Canadian armed forces about their experiences during and after World War II.
Projects in Ukraine
The UCRDC has established a working relationship in the field of oral history with the Institute of Historical Studies at Lviv University. Since 1992 UCRDC Archivist Iroida Wynnyckyj has spent several weeks annually working on oral history in Lviv with support from the Canada-Ukraine Partners Program.
Oral history is particularly suited to fill the gaps in the documentation of life under Soviet rule. It is essential for the creation of archival materials in the realm of previously illegal and censored information and to fill the blank spots in the historical heritage of Ukrainian Canadians.
As a result of activities under this project the Institute of Historical Studies in Lviv has:
1. A collection of over 400 testimonies from people who were eyewitnesses of World War II and other events which were systematically distorted by the Soviet government. Until now this information existed only in the memories of individuals. Copies of all these interview tapes are now held at the UCRDC.
2. A team of interviewers trained in the collecting, documenting and storing of oral history recordings.
3. An oral history manual in the Ukrainian language.
Barbed Wire Solution
The Barbed Wire Solution: Ukrainians and Canada’s First Internment Operations 1914-1920 is the largest exhibit ever sponsored by the UCRDC. It is a major traveling exhibit which portrays the experience of over 5,000 Ukrainian Canadian men, women and children who were unjustly interned during and after World War I in 25 concentration camps across Canada. After the premiere in Metro Hall in Toronto the exhibit has been displayed in such locations as the City Hall Art Gallery of Ottawa, Fort Henry in Kingston (which was an internment centre), the Niagara Falls Library (sponsored by Lundy’s Lane Historical Museum) as well as in the cities of Parry Sound, North Bay, and Brantford. Exhibit design: Bojak. UCRDC Exhibits Coordinator: Switlana Medwidsky.
“It is truly unfortunate that so few Canadians today, are aware of these sad and unfortunate events in our history. Your exhibition will serve to remind Canadians that we have not been above human rights violations and injustices….”
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk, Senate of Canada
Ukrainian Canadian Centennial
To mark the 1991 centennial of Ukrainian immigration to Canada the UCRDC mounted a special exhibit in 1991-92 on its premises portraying the history of Ukrainian Canadians. Over 1,000 students from many schools in the Metro Toronto area visited the exhibit. Exhibits coordinator: Switlana Medwidsky
The 10th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear tragedy of April 26, 1986 was marked in Ukraine and by Ukrainian communities around the world. The major exhibit in Canada was displayed in the prestigious location of the Main Lobby of the University of Toronto Robarts Library from April 15 to 30, 1996. Sponsored by the UCRDC and organized by Executive Director Andrew Gregorovich it combined books, photos, maps, newspapers and quotations into an exhibit which was informative to thousands of university students, professors and the general public.
A major international scholarly conference on the famine, New Research Findings: Famine in Ukraine 1932-33, sponsored by the UCRDC, was held at the University of Toronto, September 28-30, 1990. The conference was opened by Wasyl Janischewskyj (University of Toronto), President of UCRDC.
The papers presented were: “The Politics of Researching the Famine,” James Mace (Director, U.S. Congress Commission on the Ukrainian Famine), “The Famine in the British Archival Documents,” Jaroslav V. Koshiw (University of Glasgow), “The Famine in Consular Dispatches from Kiev: The German Reports,” Orest Subtelny (York University), “The Famine in the Italian Archival Documents,” Andrea Graziosi (University of Naples), “Famine, International Law and Human Rights: Analysis of the Report of the International Commission of Inquiry into the 1932-33 Famine in Ukraine,” John P. Humphrey (McGill University), “The 1921-23 Famine in the Light of New Research,” Roman Serbyn (University of Quebec), “The Famine Witnesses: Analysis of Testimonies from Ukraine,” Lidia Kovalenko (Kiev), “The Famine Witnesses: Oral Histories in North America” Iroida Wynnyckyj (Director, UCRDC Archives) and Wsevolod W. Isajiw (University of Toronto) and “Famine in Kazakhstan, Caucasus and Volga Regions,” Volodymyr Maniak (Memorial Society, Ukraine).
Bohdan Krawchenko (University of Alberta) with J. Mace and A. Graziosi participated in the panel discussion “The Famine as a Planned Political Act.” Sally J. Taylor author of the book Stalin’s Apologist [Walter Duranty] (Oxford U.P., 1990) spoke on “A Blanket of Silence: The Response of the Western Press Corps in Moscow to the Ukraine Famine of 1932-33.” Vyacheslav Chornovil was the guest speaker at the dinner at Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Conference organizers: W.W. Isajiw, Nadia Malanchuk. It is planned to publish the proceedings of the Conference as a book.
Luckyj, George S. N. Keeping a Record: Literary Purges in Soviet Ukraine (1930s): A Bio-Bibliography. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta in Association with Ukrainian Famine Research Centre, Toronto: 1987. xli, 50 p. ports.
Serbyn, Roman. The Famine of 1921-1923 and the Ukrainian Press in Canada. Toronto: Ukrainian Canadian Research & Documentation Centre, 1995. 700 p. illus., maps. Text Ukrainian; summaries in English and French.
Szuch, Allan (Lubomyr). Catalogue to the Textual and Audio-Visual Materials of the Ukrainian Canadian Research & Documentation Centre. Toronto: UCRDC, April 1989. v, 337 p.
Isajiw, Wsevolod W. Famine in Ukraine 1932-33: New Research Findings. Conference Proceedings, September 28-30, 1990, University of Toronto. Toronto: UCRDC, 199-.
Chronology of UCRDC Events
Ukrainian Famine Research Committee is formed in Toronto on April 14, 1982.
- Letters Patent of Canada issued on August 14, 1986 establishes the Centre as a charitable organization. Supplementary Letters Patent of October 2, 1989 established the new name: Ukrainian Canadian Research & Documentation Centre.
- Harvest of Despair, a documentary film produced by UCRDC about the 1933 terror famine in Ukraine, is premiered on October 21, 1984 at the University of Toronto and wins many awards.
- Oral History Workshop, December 10, 1988, was attended by representatives of: Ontario Archives, Ontario Folklife Centre, Multicultural History Society of Ontario, Holocaust Remembered (Jewish) and an Armenian organization.
- Video Oral History Project, with thirty interviews with Ukrainian Canadians, is sponsored by UCRDC with a $20,000 grant to the Ukrainian Resource and Development Centre at Grant MacEwan Community College in Edmonton, March 1989.
- Lecture on “The Status of Archival Research in Ukraine,” by Serhiy Bilokin of Kyiv, May 17, 1990 is sponsored by UCRDC and St. Vladimir Institute.
- Ukrainian Librarians Association of Canada and UCRDC host Tetiana Arsienko and Halyna Didkivsky, senior librarians of the Central Scientific Library, Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Kyiv, December 13, 1991.
- Famine 33, a docu-drama directed by Oles Yanchuk and made by the Dovzhenko Film Studio in Kyiv, is shown at the Humber Odeon Theatre, February 20, 22, 1992 with over 2,000 people in attendance.
- Archival Materials in Ukraine, a lecture by Iroida Wynnyckyj, February 2, 1993, described the 1976 discovery of 32 Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) documents in a kryivka hideout in Khorotsev, Ukraine. They were acquired by UCRDC.
- Ukraine: Two Years of Independence Symposium Programme held at York University October 8-9, 1993, was sponsored by the York University Ukrainian Studies Committee. UCRDC sponsored a Public Meeting with speakers including Hon. Ihor Yukhnovsky (former Deputy Premier of Ukraine), Hon. Victor Pinzenyk (former Economics Minister), and Hon. Ivan Dziuba (Minister of Culture of Ukraine).
- Premiere at the St Lawrence Centre for the Arts in Toronto on May 27, 1994 for Freedom Had a Price, a documentary film about Canada’s first internment operation in 1914-20, by award-winning director Yurij Luhovy, which was supported by a $50,000 grant from UCRDC. It was shown later on the CBC.
- “Ukrainian Historical Studies at Lviv University,” lecture by Dr. Yaroslav Hrytsak, Director of the Institute of Historical Research at Lviv University. Sponsored by the UCRDC, the Peter Jacyk Centre for Research in Ukrainian History, November 11, 1994.
- “Documentation of the Oral History of Ukraine,” a lecture by Victor Susak of Lviv University and Iroida Wynnyckyj (UCRDC), February 22, 1995. A joint project in collecting historical documentation.
- Premiere exhibit of The Barbed Wire Solution: Ukrainians and Canada’s First Internment Operations 1914-1920 at Metro Hall Rotunda in Toronto, September 28, 1995. Curator: B. Cmoc. Exhibit coordinator: Switlana Medwidsky.
- “The Scholarly Legacy of Prof. Ivan Lysiak-Rudnytsky and Contemporary Ukrainian Historiography,” by Academician Yaroslav Isaievich, President of the International Association of Ukrainianists, (MAU), December 7, 1995.
- A New Day Will Come a film by Roman Shirman about Ukrainian-Jewish relations, which includes rare clips of Vladimir Jabotinsky and Simon Petlura, is screened at UCRDC in December 1995.
Book launch of Studii z istorii Ukrainy (Studies in the History of Ukraine), by Oleksandr Ohloblyn. Lecture by Prof. Lubomyr Wynar, President of the Ukrainian Historical Association, sponsored by UCRDC, Ukrainian Historical Association, and the Ukrainian Canadian Women’s Committee, and held at the Ukrainian Canadian Art Foundation, March 2, 1996.
- UCRDC provided information for the A&E Television Network Biography of Stalin which was broadcast on March 7, 1996 with credit to UCRDC.
- 10th Anniversary Chornobyl Exhibit in the Main Lobby of the University of Toronto Robarts Library organized by Andrew Gregorovich, Executive Director UCRDC, April 15-30, 1996.
- Book program for Silver Threads by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. Sponsored by UCRDC, Cultural Committee of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (Ontario) and Ukrainian Canadian Women’s Committee (Toronto). Held at the Ukrainian Canadian Art Foundation, December 19, 1996.
- Book launch for The Famine of 1921-1923 and the Ukrainian Press in Canada, by Prof. Roman Serbyn, University of Quebec, February 7, 1997.
- “The Oral History of Ukrainian Independence: Interviews with 100 Key Individuals,” lecture by Sara Sievers of Harvard University, at UCRDC, March 9, 1997.
- New books program: Rosiysky Tsentralizm (Russian Centralism and Ukrainian Autonomy), by Zenon Kohut, Director of CIUS and Ukraine Betweeen East and West, by Ihor Sevcenko, Harvard University. Speakers: Dr. Zenon Kohut, Dr. Frank Sysyn, Dr. Yaroslav Hrytsak. Sponsored by UCRDC and the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Peter Jacyk Centre for Research in the History of Ukraine, Sunday, April 6, 1997.
- Genocide Remembered: Armenians 1915-23 – Ukrainians 1932-33. Dr. Lorne Shirinian on “Voices of the Survivors of Genocide” & Dr. Frank Sysyn “Making the Famine a Public Issue: The Role of the Ukrainian Diaspora in the 1980s,” April 13, 1997.
The Ukrainian Canadian Research & Documentation Centre collects, catalogues and preserves materials documenting the heritage, culture and history of Ukrainians in Canada and around the world.
The UCRDC archives support the research of scholars, students and anyone interested in Ukrainian subjects. Through its production and collection of video and oral interviews and testimony, the UCRDC is creating a unique Oral History Collection, a body of archival documentation which will help to preserve the heritage of Ukrainian Canadians. This is a task which no other organization in the Ukrainian Canadian community has undertaken at present. The Centre provides all researchers, not only Ukrainian Canadians, with significant resources.
In addition to its role of providing materials for researchers, the Centre also serves as a resource and information centre on subjects related to Ukraine, the Ukrainian heritage and Ukrainian Canadians. In this capacity it assists the public, newspaper and radio journalists, television networks, writers, politicians, and government officials, as well as the general public.
February 24, 1997
The objects of the Ukrainian Canadian Research & Documentation Centre are:
a) to promote interest in and the study and research of the history of Ukrainian Canadians and their heritage and . . . to study and research the Ukrainian famine and related historical events;
b) to collect, organize and assemble research information, documents, books, articles, films, audio and video tapes and other materials [photographs and illustrations] dealing with the history of Ukrainian Canadians and their heritage;
c) to establish and maintain a library or collection of research information, documents, books, articles, films, [CD ROMs], audio and video tapes and other materials dealing with the history of Ukrainian Canadians and their heritage;
d) to promote, assist and carry on publication and creation of books, articles, research papers, films, and audio and video tapes dealing with the history of Ukrainian Canadians and their heritage;
e) to create, provide and enlarge a fund to be used for the furtherance of the objects of the Corporation and . . . to provide financial assistance to those engaged in the study and research of the history of Ukrainian Canadians and their heritage;
Excerpt from UCRDC Letters Patent, August 14, 1986, Supplementary Letters Patent October 2, 1989 and By-Law No. 6 April 30, 1990 AG 1 I.02.96, 30.IX.96, 14.I.97 12.III.97
Board of Directors
1996 – 97
Wasyl Janischewskyj, MA.Sc., FIEEE – President
Iroida Wynnyckyj, M.A. – Vice-President
Wsevolod Isajiw, Ph.D. – Secretary
Ostap Wynnyckyj, Ph.D,, Financial Secretary
Nicholas Derzko, Ph.D., LLB
Olga Kuplowska, M.A.
Modest Mycyk, M.D.
Oleh Romanyshyn, Ph.D.
Peter Smylski, D.D.
Orest Subtelny, Ph.D.
Oksana Zakydalsky, M.Sc.
UCRDC Honourary Members
Yurij Darewych, Ph.D.
Bohdan Onyschuk, LL.B., Q.C.
Administration of the Centre
Andrew Gregorovich – Executive Director
William Kereliuk – Treasurer
Nadia Skop, PhD – Administrator
AG/March 15, 1997
The Ukrainian Canadian Research & Documentation Centre in its fifteenth year is initiating a campaign to establish an Endowment Fund in order to ensure its important work into the distant future and in perpetuity.
What can you do to assist the work of the Centre?
There are several ways for you to consider contributing to the survival and important work of the UCRDC:
A generous donation to the Endowment Fund will forever contribute its interest to the UCRDC activities.
In your will you can make provision for your estate to contribute to the UCRDC. Your lawyer can best advise you on the formulation of this matter so that the Government of Canada does not become the major benificiary of your hard-earned estate. The UCRDC would be pleased to recommend and pay for a lawyer to prepare your will if you plan to include the Centre in the testament.
You can designate your life insurance towards the Endowment Fund or the general fund of the UCRDC.
Mr. A. Gregorovich, Executive Director
Ukrainian Canadian Research & Documentation Centre
620 Spadina Ave., Toronto, Ont. Canada M5S 2H4
Tel: (416) 966-1819 Fax: (416) 966-1820
Research & Documentation
is pleased to announce a major new documentary film
scheduled to be released in 1998:
World War II
Research & Documentation Centre
620 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, Canada M5S 2H4
Telephone (416) 966-1819 Fax (416) 966-1820
Document URL: http://www.infoukes.com/organizations/ucrdc/index.html
Copyright © 1997 Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre
620 Spadina Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 2H4
Telephone: (416) 966-1819, Fax: (416) 966-1820.
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Copyright © 1997 InfoUkes Inc.
Archived from http://web.archive.org/web/19990427032447/http://www.ucc.uconn.edu/~isa94001/church.html on August 9, 2004 in accordance with “fair use” provision of the copyright law and used solely for research, education, and scholarly use.
Moscow evokes 19th century glory by rebuilding cathedral Stalin destroyed
(c) 1995 Copyright The News and Observer Publishing Co.
(c) 1995 N.Y. Times News Service
MOSCOW (Sep 25, 1995 – 23:06 EDT) — A mountain of concrete is rising, day and night, on the banks of the Moscow River.
A work force of more than 2,500 people labors in shifts around the clock, seven days a week (including the Sabbath), to rebuild the vast 19th-century Cathedral of Christ the Savior, destroyed by Stalin in 1931 and then turned into a weird outdoor swimming pool.
It is an act of religious monumentalism that rings oddly to many here at the end of the 20th century. No one is really sure whether this gigantic structure, almost as large as St. Paul’s in London and already towering 130 feet above the ground, is a monument to God or to Mammon.
The Russian Orthodox Church has blessed the re-creation, but the cathedral has become as much a symbol of new state power as the huge memorial to the dead of World War II, Poklonnaya Hill, with its mixture of socialist realism and religious symbols, and the reconstruction after 10 years of the Tretyakov Gallery, the country’s finest repository of Russian art.
But this project is also a good symbol for the moral ambiguity and political opportunism of the Russian state, led by former Communists who repent only some of communism’s crimes, like the destruction of this church, and take responsibility for none.
It all reminds Russians that the collapse of the Soviet Union was like a sudden shotgun blast that caused all the crows to fly up out of the tree, hover for a time to look around, and then quietly resettle, though sometimes on different branches.
But a new state needs new symbols, and what can be better than the reconstruction of pre-Soviet ones, like this cathedral originally built to commemorate Russia’s deliverance from the hands of Napoleon?
The construction of the cathedral, the world’s largest Orthodox church, commissioned by Czar Alexander I, took 44 years and three more Romanov czars. It was consecrated in 1883, after an official expenditure of 15,125,163 rubles and 89 kopeks.
But it stood for only 48 years. After Stalin destroyed it, originally intending to use the spot to build a gigantic Palace of the Soviets — higher than the Empire State Building and topped with a statue of Lenin taller than the Statue of Liberty — the cathedral passed into myth.
But “like most myths brought into reality,” the writer Igor Yarkevich, a 33-year-old ironist, said of the current re-creation, “the result will be awful.”
Yarkevich sees the three big construction projects of the new state as, alas, a troika: the war monument, Poklonnaya Hill, he said, “shows the West, ‘We beat you once and if possible, we’ll do it again’; the Tretyakov shows that real art exists only in Russia, and Christ the Savior shows that real belief exists only in Russia.”
These symbols are more valuable to a confused state than the more utilitarian needs that communism preached about but failed so dismally to provide.
“So let there be no clothes, no hospitals and no apartments,” Yarkevich said. “But we’ve got a huge church.”
The single person most responsible for this megaproject is Yuri Luzhkov, Moscow’s feisty, aggressive mayor, who prides himself on his enlightened take on the old Soviet model of the boss. He visits with an entourage that arrives in a fleet of black Volga cars several times a month to nod over the plans and encourage the workers, whom he has provided a bottomless supply of kvas, the Russian beer-like drink derived from fermented bread.
Certainly the reconstruction would not be possible without the help of Luzhkov’s banker friends, many of whom have made a lot of money by handling the city’s accounts. Officially, says Igor Ptichnikov, executive director of the fund-raising foundation for the cathedral, some 48 banks and companies are providing 90 percent of the $250 million estimated cost.
The foundation put on a poorly attended rock concert in August and plans a benefit concert by Mstislav Rostropovich in October at $100 a ticket. But despite calls for patriotic donations from individuals, the state and city are kicking in a lot of money from off-budget accounts, funds reliably said to be accounted for as banker contributions.
Even the workers for the city-owned construction company have a shaded, jaded view. Interviewed on site on a chilly Sunday morning, as big Krupp-made cranes loomed and lurched and huge hods of bricks flew through the air, Dmitri Bessman, a 30-year-old foreman, called the structure “a mountain of concrete,” and said, “You could compare it to the Egyptian Pyramids.”
Though he is grateful for the work and the overtime, Bessman said no Western European workers would labor under such conditions, with such bad boots and indifferent tools.
“You could build thousands of apartments for the same money,” he added. “Right now, living quarters and social services are more important to us than churches.”
When the original church was finally dynamited, Lazar Kaganovich, a loyal Stalinist who built the Moscow metro, said over the rubble: “Mother Russia is cast down. We have ripped away her skirts.”
But fitful attempts to build Stalin’s typically grandiose dream of the Palace of Soviets, a cathedral for the new socialist age, foundered in the wet soil of the riverside site and died in his preoccupation with the coming European war.
It was only in 1958, five years after Stalin’s death, that Nikita S. Khrushchev ordered that the swampy foundations — by that time a place where drunks and prostitutes congregated — be turned into one of the world’s largest, heated outdoor swimming pools. With typical Soviet logic, the pool, which was popular, was normally shut in the summertime for cleaning.
The speed of the work — so reminiscent of Soviet command-style super-projects — is breathtaking. The church is already retaking a prominent place on the Moscow skyline along the river, just west of the Kremlin. With the huge cross that will stand on its tallest central dome, the structure will stretch 335 feet high, more than 30 stories.
Yakov Krotov, a journalist with close ties to the Russian Orthodox patriarchy, says that even in the church, the cathedral is sometimes viewed as an act of mayoral hubris “like the Egyptian Pyramids,” the same analogy used by Bessman, the foreman.
But, Krotov, added: “As the Bible says, God acts through the heart of the Pharaoh. And it’s certainly better than an empty swimming pool.”
Yarkevich, the writer, isn’t sure. The first cathedral was criticized by the period’s intellectuals as ugly and grandiose, he said, and required the destruction of a much-loved monastery. The same class of intellectuals later decried the cathedral’s destruction and its transformation into a swimming pool for the workers’ paradise.
“During communism,” he said, “the Soviet intellectuals used to say, ‘There was a wonderful church here, and now there’s a metro and swimming pool.’ And after some time, the intellectuals will say, ‘You know there used to be a wonderful swimming pool here, and now the new bosses have built a church.”‘
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