For several weeks, the Roman Catholic Church of the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Odessa hosted an exhibition dedicated to the memory of the repressed clergy.
The idea of creating the exhibition “repression of spirituality” originated a year ago, when the clergy and the NGO “Ukraine is Me” were opening a memorial sign of the church in honor of St. Clement, which was destroyed in 36 by the Bolsheviks on Balkovskaya street.
“And at the opening, many people were interested in the fate of many clergymen in Odessa, the Odessa region, in those years. And then it was decided to raise the archival documents. Thanks to the fact that the SBU archives have already been opened, we were able to make a request for other cities,” the initiator of the exhibition, Oleksandr Cherneha, head of the NGO “Ukraine is Me”, tells the RISU correspondent.
According to Oleksandr Cherneha, they found very interesting information, for example, the way in which interrogations were conducted. This data has never been published before. The cases of the ministers were very much falsified. They were “made” into spies, and there were many false facts.
The exhibition in the form of documents and short stories was presented at small stands.
At one of these stands, says Oleksandr Cherneha, the stories of priests are briefly described, and interrogation documents are submitted.
In 1936, the pole Bortkowski was arrested. He was shot on the 6th km of the Ovidiopol Highway. In 1959, his daughter filed an application to investigate the causes of her father’s death. During such an investigation, it was established that all interrogations were conducted superficially, and no facts confirmed the guilt of the person sentenced to death.
In the documents, there were frequent accusations of espionage, the person could be a Polish or Japanese spy. Anything could have been in the verdict, says the researcher.
“You could see these documents at the stands themselves. It really was and is not fiction. We have also shown the beginning of the repressions of 1917. The proclamation of the Red Terror by the authorities, the adoption of a decree on land, which deprived the Church of everything, Oleksandr Cherneha explains. “As well as the separation of church and state, which made it possible not only to ban the teaching and dissemination of the word of God in schools but also anywhere.”
The third step of the “red plague” was to describe and seize church property. The search engine tells about one minister who managed to find out about the time of his visit to his church. This priest distributed part of the property to parishioners during the service. When the commission found that his belongings were missing, the servant was arrested.
Archival documents also revealed to researchers that the Bolshevik authorities minted coins from church silver and gold. The premises of the churches were given over to warehouses and gyms.
The organizers express their gratitude to the Department of culture and religion of the Odessa regional state administration, especially to Yaroslava Reznikova and the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Odessa for their assistance in organizing the exhibition. The consulate offered to translate the exhibition materials into Polish and hold a similar event in churches in Poland.
Now, on August 27, it is planned to open the exhibition in Kyiv, later – Rivne, Lviv, Kamianets-Podilskyi.