A similar position is held by the prominent church leader, ultra-conservative and fundamentalist Protodeacon Vladimir Vasilik, professor at the St Petersburg Theological Academy. Like Shargunov, Vasilik sees
the deeds of the “earthly” part of the Church as inseparable from the deeds of the saints who fought in the Great Patriotic War in heaven, including Nicholas II, who mysteriously appeared to some Soviet soldiers. And in this war, Vasilik finds
a redemptive meaning, adding that “this redemption extends to the pre-revolution period” and “even to the entire civilized European world.”‘Second Easter’
Interpreting the Victory as a second Easter is also widespread in the Church conservative milieu. The Orthodox conservatives and fundamentalists most active in the mass media put special emphasis on the date of May 6, 1945, which they interpret as the end of the war. The reason is that at the dawn of the following day, May 7, the first Instrument of Surrender
was signed by an American and the German commanders in Reims.
In 1945, May 6 was Easter Sunday according to the Russian Orthodox calendar. Since Easter is the most important Orthodox holiday, the May 6 signing gives reason to the Russian Orthodox Church to endow the victory
with a spiritual significance of the highest order.
Ironically, the Church, its strongly anti-Western stance notwithstanding, thus used the event for its own purposes, despite the fact that back in 1945 the Soviet side expressed concern to the Americans that the Reims surrender looked like a separate peace. The Soviet Union insisted on signing the legal surrender of the Third Reich on the next day, May 8, in Berlin, while May 9 has been Victory Day ever since.
May 9, celebrated in the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia, is also endowed with a mystical meaning. Vasilik says
that “according to the inexpressible Providence of God, May 9 is always among the Easter days” ( “Easter days,” in accordance with the Church typicon, are 40 days from the feast of Easter until the Day of Ascension). Vasilik says: “this is our second Easter – the day of salvation of the whole world from the fascist plague and the day of the resurrection of the Russian soul.”
Archpriest Alexander Shargunov also draws attention
of the Orthodox audience to the fact that “the Victory Day fell on Easter days, after the feast of one of the main heavenly Russian patrons of our Fatherland, the Holy Great Martyr George the Victorious” (celebrated on May 6 every year). This feast has also a mystical meaning for Orthodox conservatives, as George the Victorious is considered
a heavenly patron of Marshall Georgy Zhukov, commonly referred to as “the Marshall of Victory.”
that there was an Easter dynamic at the time of the victory and that even the communist red color changed its meaning in the eyes of the Soviet people: “the red color acquired its original meaning – the color of martyrdom, the color of sacrificial self-giving, the color of Easter victory.”
Not only ordinary clergy, but also representatives of the church and state/political establishment were ready to make such mystical connections. Thus, Patriarch Alexy noted
that “the Russian Orthodox Church celebrated its resurrection in 1945.”
In April 2015, the Duma and the Russian Orthodox Church jointly organized the exhibition “The Victory that Overcame the World – Our Faith,” dedicated both to Holy Pascha and the Victory in the Great Patriotic War. Anna Briskina-Muller
has drawn attention to the fact that “the idea came from representatives of the Duma, the Patriarch gave his blessing, and the announcement was posted on the official website of the Russian Orthodox Church.”
The name of this exhibition refers to a passage from the Epistle of John: “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (John 5:4-5). Victory is connected with faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the main evidence of which is His resurrection, which the Church celebrates as Easter.Conclusion
Soviet-era interpretations of the Great Patriotic War have thus been translated into modern church language and received a religious interpretation.