The article presents a little-studied aspect of religious life in Russia during the First World War, associated with mass conversions to the Orthodox faith of prisoners of war of the Slavs – former soldiers and officers of the Austro-Hungarian army. The study was based on sources representative of the stated problem – the records of the birth books of Orthodox churches in Omsk for 1915–1917, the official church magazine «Omsk Eparchialnye Vedomosti» and reports of the Omsk gendarme administration. The connection of the issue under study with historiography is given, on the basis of which the controversial issue related to the number of prisoners of war of the Slavs attached to Orthodoxy in Omsk is indicated. The anthropological approach, problem-chronological, statistical and historical-comparative methods formed the methodological basis of the study. This theoretical combination made it possible to analyze the process under study in maximum detail, to identify qualitative indicators, linking everything that happened with the specific historical situation and the personalities of the church hierarchs who served in Western Siberia. The factors that determined the decision to convert to Orthodoxy of captured Slavs who were in Omsk during the First World War – Czechs, Rusins, Poles are indicated. The authors come to the conclusion about the «Omsk phenomenon» of the Slavs prisoners of war joining Orthodoxy, thanks to the ascetic activity of the missionaries of the Omsk and Pavlodar dioceses, who were headed by Bishop Sylvester (Olshevsky). As can be seen from the study, the dynamic development of this process was ensured by the official ideology that dominated the Russian Empire, based on Orthodox values. The issue studied in the article is analytically stated in terms of aspects related to the quantitative, ethnic, confessional, and social characteristics of the converts. The authors emphasize that the fall of the monarchy as a result of the Russian Revolution led to a change in the paradigm of the country's development and immediately put an end to the mass conversions of Slavs prisoners of war to Orthodoxy in Omsk. The publication may be of interest to researchers of the peoples of Eastern Europe, military and social history, as well as national and religious politics.
Russian Orthodox Church, proselytism, Czechs, Rusins, Poles, World War I, Russian Revolution, prisoners of war, bishop Sylvester, Omsk diocese, Omsk
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Sushko Aleksey Academic Degree:
Doctor of Sciences*
in History; Academic Rank:
Professor; Place of work:
Omsk State Technical University; 11 Prosp. Mira, Omsk 644050, Russian Federation; Post:
professor, Department of history, philosophy and social communications; ORCID: 0000-0002-6703-8535
*According to ISCED 2011, a post-doctoral degree called Doctor of Sciences (D.Sc.) is given to reflect second advanced research qualifications or higher doctorates.
Petin Dmitriy Academic Degree:
Candidate of Sciences*
in History; Academic Rank:
Associate Professor; Place of work:
Omsk State Technical University; 11 Prosp. Mira, Omsk 644050, Russian Federation; Post:
associate professor, Department of history, philosophy and social communications; ORCID: 0000-0003-1614-8133
*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.
The article was prepared with the support of the Russian Science Foundation project, 21-18-00266 "Religious factor in Russia during the Civil War: phenomenon, significance and regional specificity", implemented at St. Petersburg State University.