Why the Bolsheviks wanted to replace the funeral with a cremation

History 08/01/20 Why the Bolsheviks wanted to replace the funeral cremation

At all times after the death of the deceased’s body or cremated (burned) or have inumerable (buried in soil). In Russia before the arrival of Soviet power the cremation in great demand not used, as the Church to it was frowned upon and even in the case of cremation, recommend ashes to bury. Therefore cremated Russian people only for sanitary purposes — for example, during epidemics cremated the dead from the plague. That all changed in the 1920-ies. The Bolsheviks led a determined struggle against religion. Founded in 1925 the League of militant atheists mocked and criticized any Church customs and prejudices, including the rules of the funeral. Led by an old Communist Yemelyan Yaroslavsky atheists engaged in anti-religious propaganda and the replacement of religious holidays in a secular (that is, Soviet).

Another initiative of atheists was creating a national cremation society in 1927. The society engaged in spreading the idea of cremation as the best way of burial, has developed methods and programs for the construction of the crematoria and promote the production of relevant papers. As was then usual, the main Communist of the country (Stalin, Kalinin, and other prominent Bolsheviks) issued membership cards of the Society with the first number. They had to set an example for the entire socialist society (neither Stalin nor Molotov, nor Kalinin after the death was not cremated). Really liked the work of cremation Society Lev Trotsky (which, following Lenin, too, approved of cremation, and even issued a decree on the preference, although he was not burned). The intention of the Soviet leaders, a true Communist had to abandon the old capitalist past, with its religious atavism, helping to maintain exploitative social structure.

Despite the efforts of the cremation Society and revolsinii enthusiasm, the majority of people, although it has agreed “reluctantly” to replace the crosses with stars, and the abolition of the funeral, but was in no hurry to burn their dead. As not only sang cremation Soviet journalists. One of them, Odessa D. Mallory, wrote this ode: “the Crematorium is a gaping hole in the Chinese wall of people’s ignorance and superstition, which speculated priests of all faiths”. Mallory argued that the crematorium will finally put an end to all the relics and “miracles”, and also will simplify the funeral and will keep the ground (the outlet under the cemetery) for the needs of the living. “And when we die, — he wrote, — let him take us to the crematorium, to, is infected with the cemeteries of the earth, everywhere overflowed, trembling with joy and youthful freshness life!”. In General, proponents of cremation have seen it some advantages. However, often in the first mass crematorium, Moscow Donskoy (in spite of the priests it was built in a closed temple of St. Seraphim of Sarov of the Donskoy monastery), burned not real Communists, as “enemies of the people”, shot by the NKVD during the Great terror. Burned their bodies in ovens German “Topf”. Almost got there myself Mallory, who was shot in 1937. There was burned and the main by massive repression (and then he got under them and executed) people’s Commissar N. Yezhov, and M. Gorky, V. Mayakovsky, V. Chkalov, and Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky. Later cremated and celebrities such as Marshal Zhukov or Yuri Gagarin.

In Moscow all-Russian cremation society nevertheless managed to achieve some success, and for several years cremation was in fashion among the inhabitants of the capital. But in the 1930s the leadership of the country switched to tasks that were more important than the introduction of a mass of custom to cremate the deceased, and during the great Patriotic war Stalin and even made concessions to the Orthodox Church. Then actually come to naught the work of the Union of militant atheists, and in 1947 the organization was not closed officially. Atheist propaganda in the Soviet Union continued, but such aggressive attacks on religion, found themselves during the war are important moral resources of the society ceased. Left alone and ancient method to bury people: no need to once again annoy the population. In the end, from the old religious traditions and already people are weaned (rarely began to baptize the children, to celebrate Christmas, to fast, to dive into the hole, etc.). As the historian E. I. Ufimtseva, “practice atheistic socialization” completely replaced the old models of spiritual development. Even the Soviet leaders after Stalin buried in the graves. Now cremation has become just available in several major cities to bury the man, not ideologically “preferred”. Cremated today in Russia the most, where the more difficult and expensive to find land in a cemetery: first of all, in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Konstantin Dmitriev

© Russian Seven

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