I read in some articles that during WW2 the Soviets reopened the churches and allowed their people to do their religious practices.

Is there any evidence to confirm such things?

If yes up to which level and for how many years this tolerance continued?

  • 1
    Start by reading en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Orthodox_Church#Stalin_era and then en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…. See if these articles suffice. If not - why? Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 6:04
  • I don't think it is off-topic just something available about it in Wikipedia, By asking this question I want to discuss more how was the religion situation during that era.
    – Mr.lock
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 6:52
  • It is usually a good idea before asking a question to do some basic research on your question, at least take a look at Wikipedia, and explain in your question what do you know and what are your sources. Had you done so (or, after asking, followed my suggestion), your question probably would stay open. Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 14:10

2 Answers 2


First of all, all the churches were never closed, although a lot of them were. Religious practices were never disallowed, although they were strongly discouraged at best. There were semi-official plans of eradicating all religion, for what I know they were indeed abandoned some time during WW2. The authorities wanted to get more support of the population which, despite their best efforts, still had a significant percent of religious believers. It seems that most of those reopened churches were, in fact, reopened by the Germans, then the Soviets just let them be. Religious persecution (of varying degree), nevertheless, continued almost until the end of the Soviet Union.

As for the numbers and years, I found this chart (in Russian), I can't trace it's origin, but at least some numbers seem to match, so I made a quick and dirty translation into English (sorry, I barely know those church names even in Russian, but I hope it's still understandable). The lowest point on the chart isn't zero, it's somewhere around 600. enter image description here


I have heard of references that during the worse days of WW2, that the USSR opened up religion in order to improve morale. This meaning that they didn't openly encourage it but didn't prosecute it as strongly. I have seen this referenced in the Soviet Storm: WW2 in the East.

  • Thank you for your mention to Soviet storm Series, I am going to watch it soon.
    – Mr.lock
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 6:54
  • I've seen the assertion that even when the church was tolerated after WWII, the clergy was heavily infiltrated by agents of the state. According to this source - it might have been John Barron's Dezinformatsiya - two-thirds of the Soviet clergy were actually specially trained KGB agents who, of course, could report anyone who looked like they might be trouble to their KGB brethren! I don't know if this is true but it is fascinating if it is. Lenin and Stalin, before WWII, closed many churches and converted them into other uses, even barns for livestock.
    – Henry
    Commented Sep 22, 2018 at 23:22

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