Michał Karnowski

It was 7 November 2017, the centre of Moscow and I was standing surrounded by a crowd of people waving red flags with a sickle and hammer, holding portraits of Lenin and Stalin and flags of communist organizations from all over the world. Exactly 100 years ago the Bolsheviks began a march in Russia to gain authority. From the stage one could hear delights about luck which the big Russian revolution of 1917 was to give Russia and the world. At the culminating moment on the stage there appeared Giennadij Ziuganow, the leader of the Communist Party of Russian Federation, and shouted loudly: ‘Glory to revolution, which gave people progress, education and welfare to millions of people. Glory to revolution which gave us victory over fascism’. The enthusiastic crowd began singing ‘Międzynarodówka’ (‘The International’).

It looked so and was reported so by the most popular TV stations and press agencies. This is an obvious monstrosity – here an ideological crime responsible for death of 100 million people, still bringing death and poverty in many places of the world, still is propagated without any punishment. But there is another side of the medal. Together with the international group of journalists (the 4th edition of the program Inside Russia of Foundation Polish-German Conciliation)in Moscow during a week, I was meeting with representatives of governmental and oppositional options, with historians and teachers, people of culture, social studies, business. We asked everybody, among the others, about how they are perceiving the revolution in 1917. And everybody, except for the leader of Komsomoł (still exists), answered sadly: ‘It was a big tragedy. A terrible event in the history of our country’. The inhabitants of Moscow were saying the same.

Unambiguity of these answers was surprising. Similarly as an enormous distance of contemporary Russia towards this anniversary – so round, and earlier worshipped for decades with such a deafening bang. Beside the manifestation of communists, the anniversary could be found in historical appendixes to newspapers and documentaries broadcast on TV. Everything kept in the critical and even conspiracy tone. For there is a domineering opinion on Russian media that the Bolshevik coup was simply a German operation aimed at weakening, inner partitioning the empire of tsars. There was also a parade on the Red Square, but definitely carried out as a memorial of the parade from 7 November 1941, when marching regiments went onto the frontier at once.

And that is all, in fact.

I and my Polish friend decided that at the end of that day we should go to the Council of Christ the Redeemer – an enormous church built in the second mid of the XIX century, and destroyed in 1931 by Stalin. A monumental Rad Palace (nearly 500m) with a big statue of Lenin on the top was to be there. When the Germans were approaching Moscow, metal elements of the built construction were used as antitank dams. The building works were not continued and the enormous excavation was changed into an open-air pool. When communism was becoming a failure, the renovation works of the church were begun. The church was completed in 2000. Russia entered a new millennium with its regained national church. The building impresses with its enormity, its inside is touching. But what is the most memorable is the sight of a lot of young people praying humbly in front of icons. This is, certainly, only a social fragment – it is not necessarily the image of the whole young generation. But despite that: there are no Soviets, the Council is renewed, there is Christianity. At the airport we meet a very nice Polish nun, ministering in Moscow for permanent. The visible sign that also Catholicism is present here. The cruel, godless system lost. Millions of graves and devastation which it did in all spheres of life, are a warning for those ideologists who are dreaming today of making the man better – without God.

May the Russians become wiser may they understand that power and violence, dreams about ruling over others do not bring anything good. After all, this a bloody revolution was a consequence of the tsar’s tyranny, from which also Poles were suffering when being under partitions. This evil returned to them with a ricochet.


„Niedziela” 48/2018

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: