Tribute to the memory. About the Memorial Church of Soviet prisoners of war in Liege

  • The project of the temple-monument to the victims of the Second World War, the Orthodox prisoners of war and persons forcibly taken out of Eastern Europe in the Belgian city of Liege (Seren)
  • The project of the temple-monument to the victims of the Second World War, the Orthodox prisoners of war and persons forcibly taken out of Eastern Europe in the Belgian city of Liege (Seren)

Through Belgium in the last century has passed several "waves" of Russian emigration. However, the saddest chapter in the history of Russian emigration is the fate of prisoners of war and displaced persons (DP — «displaced persons»), forcibly trapped in the Belgian Kingdom, particularly in the province of Liege, during the Second World War. Their living conditions in the difficult years of the occupation and the postwar chaos as much as trying to facilitate a variety of Russian, Belgian and international charities and church structures: dioceses, congregations and individual believers. Historical, spiritual, and moral evaluation exploit these people, captured or forcibly taken out of the country, is especially important now, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War. By decision of the Russian Orthodox diaspora Belgium, represented by three jurisdictions: Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church of Constantinople in the memory of it will be built in Liege Memorial Church of the Icon of the Mother of God "Life-giving Spring" Russian Orthodox Church. This decision is supported by the Federation of compatriots, the Federation of Russian nobility, Russian youth and community organizations.

The War Years

In September 1942, in the suburbs of Louvain in Belgium from German Zeithain (Saxony) was transferred to a POW camp ("Stalag")[1] № 304 from about 10th thousands of Red Army soldiers. This camp, like the rest of the camp was subordinated to the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht), and since November 1944 in submission "CC," and until the liberation of Belgium by Allied forces in 1944, was a center for the management of labor teams of Soviet prisoners of war who worked in the coal industry in Belgium and northern France[2]. In addition to the prisoners for forced labor in Belgium and brought the so-called "Eastern workers". They were mostly young people from the occupied regions of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, which have been taken by force.

  • Soviet prisoners of war in the camp Zeithain before heading to Belgium.  1942
  • Soviet prisoners of war in the camp Zeithain before heading to Belgium. 1942

Soviet prisoners of war in the camp Zeithain before heading to Belgium. 1942

 

One of the placement of prisoners of war and displaced persons was the area of Liege, where they worked on numerous mines. Even before the war in Liege, near the village of Ceren were built barracks for the Polish guest workers[3], where, and brought the Soviet prisoners of war, and later deported to forced labor. Thus, it was a separate camp, with its code number (LG VIII Seraing) and his guards. "Carrying capacity" camp was 1100, and at least reduce the number of prisoners due to death, constantly replenished with prisoners from other camps. Some prisoners, however, managed to escape and join the troops Belgian Resistance.

The living conditions in these camps and work in the mines were heavy, slave. One of the prisoners camps, Soviet prisoners of war, later recalled: "… At the 12-hour work 375-gram ration of bread, but slops bucket. Thank Belgian miners, stealing to feed the prisoners. Shakhtar Maurice Jakko every day brought <I> sandwich, although his family lived under German occupation hard … "[4].

It is known that in the area of Liege nourished Russian POWs priest Valent Romenskii. Being a rector of the church of Liege St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral he regularly attended numerous camps located in the coalfield and otherwise helped the prisoners. In the book of Jean Pyuta "Soviet prisoners of war in Limburg in 1942-45"[5] mentioned Liege organization «L’Aide aux Prisonniers Russes», with which the father Valens was very closely related.

Valent father did everything he could to help but could not for everyone. Lists of inmates who were killed or died during this period, are a sad sight. Currently, they require a lot of hard and archival work. Sometimes they do not contain any additional information, do not know the reasons and circumstances of the death of the prisoners. For example, in the list of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, compiled in 1959 for the Soviet embassy, the place of death of the majority of prisoners stated in general terms: "Military Hospital in Liege," or simply "in Liege."

The fate of the displaced

At the end of the war in temporary camps in Germany and Austria were millions of displaced people, mostly citizens of the USSR. Most of them have gradually returned to their homeland, but hundreds of thousands have decided to stay[6]. These were and former Soviet prisoners of war, and the "eastern workers’ and immigrants’ first wave ‘, previously living in the countries of Eastern Europe, who were after the war in the Soviet zone of influence, and others.

In 1947 began the resettlement of these people on the states that agreed to accept them. The first such country was Belgium. In addition to those already resident in Belgium, former prisoners of war and those who were forcibly taken out of Russia during the war, from May 1947 to 1952, the country came about 15-thousand Russian-speaking displaced persons[7].

  • Displaced persons camp at Serena (Tiyer), Liege (1947-1948)
  • Displaced persons camp at Serena (Tiyer), Liege (1947-1948)

Displaced persons camp at Serena (Tiyer), Liege (1947-1948)

 

Neighborhood of Liege became one of the centers of their settlement in Belgium. The living conditions in the camps for displaced people were different. For example, one of such villages, is located approximately 7 kilometers from the center of Liege, was equipped in the former barracks of military pilots, and the conditions there were satisfactory. But work in the mines was extremely severe. Miners all the time, "went under God." Sergei Krikoryan who worked underground in the coal basin of Mons-Charleroi-Liege, says that the conditions were medieval, dangerous work — mostly handmade, heavy. The blind horse pulled wagons loaded with coal at a depth of about 600 meters. After several years of such work, many began lung disease due to coal dust and moisture.

Mining camp in the same Serena, where after the war came to the new Soviet displaced persons did not even tolerable living conditions. Elena Bekish, future husband has lived in this camp and worked for several years at a local mine, says that the village was very poor, with a plank, rickety huts that could not b
e protopit, and that was a lot of bugs. In one of these barracks and the camp was located in the Orthodox church.

  • Left to right: Rev. Matthew Andruschenko, Fr Valent Romenskii, Bishop Cassian (BEZOBRAZOV), Deacon Peter Cherkasov and Archpriest John Bekish.  Liege, 1947.
  • Left to right: Rev. Matthew Andruschenko, Fr Valent Romenskii, Bishop Cassian (BEZOBRAZOV), Deacon Peter Cherkasov and Archpriest John Bekish. Liege, 1947.

Left to right: Rev. Matthew Andruschenko, Fr Valent Romenskii, Bishop Cassian (BEZOBRAZOV), Deacon Peter Cherkasov and Archpriest John Bekish. Liege, 1947.

 

From 1947 to 1950 he served in the church Rev. John Bekish. Soon, because of the large number of residents of the camp, to help him in Soren was sent to the priest Matthew Andruschenko. But together they could not cope with the ever increasing okormleniem flock. In May 1949, Belgium visited the Metropolitan Volodymyr (Tihovnitsky)[8]. A contemporary wrote of the event: "A special joy of Russian miners in Belgium brought the arrival in May 1949, Metropolitan Vladimir (Tikhonitsky). He visited the industrial community in Forsch, coming to a city Serena … Everywhere Russian people turned for help to the Metropolitan Vladimir, he has helped to alleviate their plight. "

After the arrival of Bishop of Liège, Seraing and nearby mining towns were already four Orthodox priests and one deacon: Archpriests Valent Romenskii, Alexander Feohari John Bekish, Matthew Andruschenko and Deacon Michael Milonov. That is, Liege in those years became one of the most active centers of Russian church life in Belgium.

  • Liege, 1949 Sitting, from left to right: Fr.  Valent Romenskii, Met.  Vladimir (Tikhonitsky), Archimandrite.  Sawa (Shimkevich, Secretary of the Russian Exarchate).  Standing: Protodeacon.  Peter Svetlovsky, Fr.  Alexander Feohari, Fr.  Fedor Ustyuchenkov, Fr.  John Plaxin, Fr.  John Kharchenko, Fr.  Vladislav Kulikov, Fr.  John Bekish, Fr.  Matthew Andruschenko, Deacon Michael Apostles (Milonov).
  • Liege, 1949 Sitting, from left to right: Fr. Valent Romenskii, Met. Vladimir (Tikhonitsky), Archimandrite. Sawa (Shimkevich, Secretary of the Russian Exarchate). Standing: Protodeacon. Peter Svetlovsky, Fr. Alexander Feohari, Fr. Fedor Ustyuchenkov, Fr. John Plaxin, Fr. John Kharchenko, Fr. Vladislav Kulikov, Fr. John Bekish, Fr. Matthew Andruschenko, Deacon Michael Apostles (Milonov).

Liege, 1949 Sitting, from left to right: Fr. Valent Romenskii, Met. Vladimir (Tikhonitsky), Archimandrite. Sawa (Shimkevich, Secretary of the Russian Exarchate). Standing: Protodeacon. Peter Svetlovsky, Fr. Alexander Feohari, Fr. Fedor Ustyuchenkov, Fr. John Plaxin, Fr. John Kharchenko, Fr. Vladislav Kulikov, Fr. John Bekish, Fr. Matthew Andruschenko, Deacon Michael Apostles (Milonov).

 

In the next photograph shows a priest Matthew Andruschenko with a group of singers. The picture was taken in 1948-1949, Serena. On this photo you can determine that the bulk of the displaced were young people, citizens and residents of rural areas who were forcibly removed from Eastern Europe to work in the Third Reich.

  • Matthew O. Andruschenko singers camp with the church in La Serena, Belgium.  From the archives of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Toronto.
  • Matthew O. Andruschenko singers camp with the church in La Serena, Belgium. From the archives of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Toronto.

Matthew O. Andruschenko singers camp with the church in La Serena, Belgium. From the archives of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Toronto.

 

Conclusion

Many mines coal basin Liege-Seraing worked Russian prisoners of war and later in Belgium and the rest of former Soviet citizens driven to work in Western Europe. So historically justified to erect a memorial temple near one of the former concentration camps, as a tribute to all the Orthodox who suffered or died here in Serena, and throughout Belgium. The construction of this church reminds about philanthropy and the Belgians, who helped the Soviet prisoners of war, and after the war shelters in their devastated country tens of thousands of people who did not want to go back to the Soviet Union. Thus, it will be a monument to the moral heroism of the two peoples, have not humbled before the horrors of Nazism, a monument to their mutual sympathy, humanism and Christian feelings that they have maintained in the years of severe tests.

In this, the choice of the city of Liege-Seraing not accidental. There was a camp of prisoners of war and after the war and displaced persons camp, and with him back in the grim years of the Orthodox Church there. Moreover, at the present time in this area has a large number of Russian Orthodox parishioners, who in 2006 joined the community under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. On the collected funds in the Russian diaspora Serena land has been purchased for the construction of the temple, after which the action team building committee prepared all architectural and engineering specifications and has received all the necessary permits for construction.

The architectural features of the future church  

  • The project of the temple-monument to the victims of the Second World War, the Orthodox prisoners of war and persons forcibly taken out of Eastern Europe in the Belgian city of Liege (Seren)
  • The project of the temple-monument to the victims of the Second World War, the Orthodox prisoners of war and persons forcibly taken out of Eastern Europe in the Belgian city of Liege (Seren)

The project of the temple-monument to the victims of the Second World War, the Orthodox prisoners of war and persons forcibly taken out of Eastern Europe in the Belgian city of Liege (Seren)

 

Unfinished church is named in honor of the Icon of Our Lady "Life-giving Spring." This icon was written in memory of the event that took place in Istanbul on April 4 year 450. Warrior by the name of Leo, the future emperor of Byzantium, met in a grove near Constantinople, near the "Golden Gate", a blind man. This grove was a source known for its miracles. The blind man was tired and lost his way. Leo took pity on him, took the shelter of the trees, sat to rest, and he went to the source to get water and drink blind. Suddenly he heard a voice: "Leo! Do not look for the water away, it is close. " Warrior was surprised and began to search for water, but could not find. When he stopped searching, there was the same voice: "Lion King! Go to the shelter of the trees, draw some water that you find there, and Napa craving it. Tina is that you can find in the source, put it on his eyes. Then you will know who I am, sanctifying the place. I’ll help you here soon erect the temple in my name, and all who come here with faith and calling my name, will the performance of their prayers and complete healing of ailments. " After Leo played all indicated to him a blind man to see, and went to Constantinople itself, praising the Virgin.

When in 457 1 Leo became emperor, he has not forgotten about the phenomenon and predicting the Mother of God, who named it for seven years before the king, and ordered to clean the source and build on it a temple in honor of the Virgin Mary, calling it the temple of God "Life-giving Spring." Later this image was regarded as the patron of all the poor and oppressed: the sick, the outcasts, the homeless, prisoners, despicable, weak.

Ground floor of the temple consists of three arches, meaning the cardinal virtues of Christianity: Faith, Hope and Love, through which a person goes back to the Kingdom of Heaven. So is this the image of the Holy Trinity, by giving people the truth about salvation and calling people in the sacred space of the church.

The next level features a large number of skylights — windows. According to the architect’s plan — a way of the kingdom of heaven, where there is darkness, light permeated all of the Lamb.

Above is the bell-tower of Pskov in the style of architecture, built the temple. Around the belfry gallery is located inside the temple. This memorial space. Here perimeter galleries will have special plates on which are carved the names of all prisoners of war who died in the camp at Serena, as well as all Soviet soldiers buried in the many cemeteries of Belgium. Lists of them are being finalized and are replenished.

Plates with the names of all the victims symbolize the fallen in Belgium of our compatriots, whose names are known and unknown. It’s a tribute to him by a grateful Russia.

Go to the gallery will only be possible through the temple, and only at certain times (when there is worship).

The massive dome above the belfry symbolizes the One God — the Creator of the world, and over the dome stands a cross — the symbol of our salvation.

Call for Participation

The tradition of building temples, monuments in Russia dates back to the old times. In these temples were buried the remains of commanders and soldiers. The most famous of these is the temple of the The Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, erected in memory of all the killed in the War of 1812. Of the more ancient — the famous St. Basil’s Cathedral, which became a symbol of Moscow, which is popularly known as St. Basil’s Cathedral. This is the temple-monument of victory over the Kazan Khanate. You can also mention the church in honor of St. Sergius of Radonezh, erected on the field of Kulikovo, the church of St Sampson’s, built to commemorate the victory at Poltava. Among the Russian churches abroad is best known for the famous Alexander Nevsky Cathedral — an ornament of the city of Sofia — erected to commemorate the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman yoke. In western Europe, temples, monuments exist in Nice, Biarritz, San Remo, Brussels.

It should be noted that in less than 70 years since the end of World War II, Western Europe was not built any temple-monument to Soviet soldiers who died heroically and prisoners of war. Although the memorials, the heroism of Soviet soldiers in Europe (especially in countries that were in the zone of influence of the Soviet Union) there is quite a lot. Without diminishing their value, it must be said that it was time to recreate the age-old Russian tradition to put in places where it had fallen heroes, temples, monuments. Now such a moment. We need to build a temple in memory of our fallen brothers and fathers, thus having given them a Christian filial duty as our ancestors did.

Those who wish to participate in the construction of the temple-monument to fallen Soviet soldiers and prisoners of war in Western Europe, on the site of the former concentration camp in the Belgian city of Liege (Serena) can list their donations to the account in rubles:

Name of Bank: OJSC "Sberbank RUSSIA" MOSCOW
BIC 044525225
c / a 30101810400000000225
Recipient: Paul V. Nedosekin
The status of the payee: A resident of the Russian Federation
Account No. 40817810238065628194
Purpose of payment "Memorial Church"

Donations can be listed in euros:

Name bank: FINTRO, Watermael-Boitfort, Bruxelles. Belgique
BIC GEBABEBB
IBAN BE36 1428 5804 8281
Name accounts: Achat et Reparations Eglise Russe
("The purchase and restructuring of the Russian Church")

Archpriest Paul Nedosekin

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