Austria, Britain, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Poland and the United States
Edited By Mirosława Buchholtz and Grzegorz Koneczniak
Recollections of the First World War by the Old Believers Living in Poland
The present study discusses the problem of the First World War as experienced by the Old Believers living in Poland and recollected on the basis of authentic accounts given by war descendants. Old Believers are members of an ethnic and religious social group whose ancestors were born in Russia. They separated from the Russian Orthodox Church after faith reforms were introduced by Patriarch Nikon in the seventeenth century: the period of the schism (The Raskol) in the Russian Orthodox Church (Iwaniec 1977: 22). The changes in Nikon’s reforms concerned religious observances, to which the Orthodox Church believers attached a lot of weight. By way of illustration, the then existing translations of the Bible and liturgical texts were revised; making the sign of the cross with two fingers was banned and three fingers had to be used. Immersion baptism was replaced with affusion. In addition, in accordance with the reforms, the number of bows was limited and their character was changed (earth-low bows were replaced with belt-low bows). The Eight-pointed cross was supplanted by the Four- or Six-pointed cross (Zielińska 1996: 9). The year 1667 is treated as the official beginning of the schism: at the time, the Great Moscow Synod was summoned and new reforms concerning the Orthodox faith were confirmed (Grek-Pabisowa  1999: 13).
Old Believers – that is, those who did not accept Patriarch Nikon’s reforms and would not disavow the principles of the old faith – were persecuted and thus forced to hide...
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