“Around the temple there was a huge queue of boxes and coffins,” was the testimony of Archpriest Nikolai Lomakin at the Nuremberg trials

“In this Holy temple, I had to bury thousands of people, torn to pieces, victims of the predatory raids of the German aviation and artillery attacks on German civilians of the city.” At the Nuremberg trials, the rector of St. Nicholas Church St. George cemetery of Leningrad Archpriest Nikolai Lomakin told about the horrors of the siege, the German raids and terrible death of civilians.

B. Kudoyarov. Volkovo cemetery. The funeral of a child. The spring of 1942.

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Archpriest Nikolai Lomakin (1890 – 1965) in the Great Patriotic war, survived the siege of Leningrad. From February to July 1942, served as rector of the Prince Vladimir Cathedral. From 1947 to 1948, the rector of Trinity Church “the Easter Cake and Easter”.

As a representative of the Metropolitan of Leningrad, the Dean of the churches of the Leningrad region and the city of Leningrad, he was a member of the Leningrad regional emergency Commission to investigate the atrocities of the German invaders and caused their destruction. In 1946 he participated in the Nuremberg trials as a witness, having told, in particular, that during the siege of Leningrad in the temples daily funeral 100-200 dead.

Archpriest Nikolai Lomakin Isaac’s Cathedral. Photo: Yevgeny Khaldei

From the transcript of the meeting of the International military Tribunal dated 27 February 1946

Smirnov: Tell me, witness, you are the overseer of all the churches of the city of Leningrad, this means that you are subject to all the churches located in this city?

Archpriest Nikolai Lomakin: Yes, all the temples are within my direct purview. I obliged periodically to visit them, on the condition of the churches and the state of parish life, I am obliged to report to the Metropolitan.

Smirnov: the Temples of the Leningrad region were also under your command?

Archpriest Nikolai Lomakin: Now they are not in my submission but in the siege of Leningrad and the occupation of the Leningrad region, during this period, they were in my jurisdiction.

Smirnov: After the liberation of Leningrad region from the occupation of the Germans you had on behalf of the Patriarch to travel to the region and to explore the temples?

Archpriest Nikolai Lomakin: Not by request of Patriarch Alexy, was then the Patriarch Sergius, and on behalf of the diocesan administrator, Metropolitan Alexy, now Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia.

Smirnov: please Tell us, witness, where were you the period of the siege of Leningrad?

Archpriest Nikolai Lomakin: without a break in Leningrad.

Smirnov: If I am not mistaken, you have been awarded with the medal “For defense of Leningrad”?

Answer: Yes, for participation in the heroic defense of Leningrad, just in time for my birthday, I was awarded this high government awards.

The priests of the besieged city, was awarded the medal “For defense of Leningrad” on October 18, 1942, Sitting left to right: FR. M. Slavnitsky, FR. P. Tarasov, met. Alexis, FR. V. Rumyantsev, FR. N. Lomakin. Standing: L. Parijskij, prototek. S. Dmitriev, deacon. I. Piskunov, FR. S. Rumyantsev, FR. V. Dubrovitsky, FR. L. Egorovskaya, FR. F. Polyakov

Smirnov: Tell us, witness, at the beginning of the siege of Leningrad in which temple do you serve?

Answer: At the beginning of the siege I was rector of St. George’s cemetery, was rector of St. Nicholas Church of the cemetery.

Smirnov: Consequently, it was a cemetery Church?

Answer: Yes.

Smirnov: Maybe you will tell the Tribunal about their observations made in the period of service in this Church?

Answer: In 1941 and in early 1942 I was rector of the cemetery Church. Here I witnessed the following tragic picture, which would now like to give details to the Tribunal.

A few days after the treacherous attack of Nazi Germany on the Soviet Union, I have witnessed a huge increase in the number of funerals of the dead. It was children, women and elderly people are the victims of treacherous German air raids on the city, civilians of our city.

The first victim on the corner of Nevsky and Ligovsky Avenue September 1941. Photo: D. Trachtenberg

If before the war the number of deaths ranged from 30 to 50 people per day, during the war this figure quickly increased to several hundred per day. Not have the physical ability to make the dead in the temple. Around the temple there was a huge queue of boxes and coffins, filled with pieces of human flesh, mutilated bodies of civilians the citizens of Leningrad who died in the barbaric raids of German aviation.

Along with the funerals are brought to the temple of the dead unusually increased practice of the so-called absentee funerals. Believers could not be put in the temple of their deceased relatives and friends. Their relatives and friends were buried under the rubble, the ruins destroyed by the Germans homes.

Around the temple it was possible for a day to see piles of coffins — 100, 200 coffins, over which was performed the funeral service of a priest.

You’ll excuse me, it’s hard for me to tell, because, as already known to the Tribunal, I survived the entire blockade of the city and he was starving and he survived all the horrors of the continuous German air raids. Several times I was wounded.

In the winter of 1941-1942 the position of the Leningrad blockade was particularly severe. The incessant German air raids, artillery shelling of the city, the lack of light, water, transport, sewage in the city and, finally, the dreadful famine — because of all this, the civilians of the city experienced unprecedented in the history of humanity suffering. It was truly the heroes who suffered for the homeland, innocent civilians.

Along with the fact that I told you, I had to see other terrible pictures when I was rector of this Church cemetery. The cemetery was repeatedly subjected to fierce German air raids. And now imagine the picture when the people who found eternal rest, coffins, their bodies, bones, skulls — all this is thrown to the ground in a mess of scattered monuments, crosses, and people that had just experienced the loss of loved ones, must again suffer, seeing a huge crater where, maybe, only that they buried their loved ones, relatives and friends, to suffer again that they have no rest.

Volkovo cemetery. The spring of 1942. Photo: Boris Kudoyarov.

Smirnov: during the famine, the extent to which the increased number of funerals in that Church cemetery?

The witness: As I said, due to the impossible conditions of the siege, owing to a continuous German air raids on the city due to the shelling of the city, the number of funerals the deceased has reached incredible figures — up to several thousand a day. I especially now want to tell the Tribunal that I observed on 7 February 1942.

A month before this incident, exhausted by hunger and the need to take every day long distances from home to Church and back, I got sick. For me was the acting priest of my two assistants. February 7 the day Saturday, before the beginning of lent, I for the first time after the illness came to the temple, and opened my eyes of picture stunned me — the temple was surrounded by piles of bodies, even partially hid the entrance to the temple.

These piles were from 30 to 100 people. They were not only at the entrance to the temple, but also around the temple.

I witnessed how people, exhausted by hunger, wanting to deliver the deceased to the cemetery for burial, could not make themselves fell exhausted from the ashes of the deceased and they died immediately.

These pictures I had to watch very often.

Smirnov: I ask you to answer the question — what damage was caused to the churches of the city of Leningrad?

The witness: As I have already reported to you, gentlemen of the court, ex officio Dean, I had to periodically observe the condition of the churches of the city and to report to my Metropolitan detail in this regard. And here are my impressions and personal observations are: the Church of the Resurrection on the Griboyedov canal — this wonderful artistic temple of the shelling of the enemy — the German who had received very serious injuries: broken dome, mutilated by shells roof, in different places on the walls of the sacred mosaic image also contains partially depleted or even destroyed.

Izmailovo fortress, Trinity Cathedral, a monument of the struggle, decorated with a wonderful frieze, art depicting the epic capture of the Izmail fortress, he caused massive destruction systematic shelling and artillery shells. Was completely broken in different places of the roof. Art modeling all repulsed. There are only small pieces of it.

Smirnov: how Many churches in Leningrad caused severe damage and how many churches destroyed?

Nikolo-Bogoyavlensky Cathedral. 1940s

The witness: Artillery shelling badly damaged, almost completely destroyed the Church in the Serafimovskoye cemetery, artillery shells fell in the Church graveyard, in addition, it was caused a lot of damage by air raids.

The German air force caused a lot of damage to the temples. I should first say something about the two churches most affected by the siege of Leningrad, is primarily a temple of the Prince Vladimir Cathedral, which, by the way, I have the honour now to be a priest. In 1942 in the month of February and 1 July, I was rector of this Church here, needs to introduce you, gentlemen of the court, with the following, extremely interesting and fabulous event, which took place on the eve of Easter in 1942.

Great Saturday. At 5 PM Moscow time on the town the German air force began a massive RAID. At 5.30 PM in the southwestern part of the Prince Vladimir Cathedral dropped two bombs. The people at this time came to the Holy shroud. Was a huge queue of believers who want to fulfill their Christian duty. I saw a man of about 30 was lying wounded on the porch. These wounded were in different places near the temple. For a while they were helpless until they were given medical assistance.

There was a terrible picture of confusion. People who failed to enter the temple, quickly began to flee in nearby trenches, and the other part, entered into the temple, located on temple walls in terror, waiting for their death, because the concussion of the temple was so strong that continuously, for a certain amount of time, falling glass, pieces of plaster, and, behold, descended from the room of the second floor, I was shocked that opened in front of me spectacle.

The queue of believers. Transfiguration Cathedral on Easter. 1942

People rushed up to me: “Father, you are alive.” “Father, how now to understand how to believe in what he said about Germans that they are believers, that the Germans love of Christ, that they do not touch people who believe in God, where is that faith when on Easter evening fire…” I must say that German planes RAID lasted until early morning, all Easter night, the night of love, night of joy Christian, Sunday night has been transformed by the Germans into a night of blood, the night of the destruction and suffering of innocent people.

Smirnov: I Have one last question to you, witness. Tell me, please, going to check churches in the area, were you a witness to the mockery of religion and on the churches? Maybe you will be kind enough to tell the court.

The witness: In the month of July, 1943, by order of Metropolitan Alexei, I went to Old Peterhof and Oranienbaum. From personal observations and from my conversations with believers, I found the following and I think it’s obvious, but later it was confirmed when New Peterhof was freed from German occupation, and what I say can be verified firsthand.

In Old Peterhof soon after the Germans occupied New Peterhof, exactly 10 days was destroyed by enemy artillery and German aircraft all the temples. The German air force and artillery beat the case so that along with the temples and killed the worshippers in them, or seek refuge in them from the fighting and artillery fire, civilians in the city.

All the temples of the Old Peterhof, namely the sign Church, Holy Trinity cemetery Church, and assigned to her a little Lazarevskaya Church, the Church-Museum at the cottage of the Empress Maria Feodorovna, the Church of St. Seraphim and the Church at the military cemetery — all those temples destroyed by the Germans. It’s safe to say that under the Holy Trinity cemetery Church, and Lazarevskoye — in her basement, and in the tombs of cemeteries, mostly under the arches of the sign of the Church killed up to 5,000 people.

The Germans are not allowed to go fleeing people into the air. It is easy to imagine the sanitary condition and General condition of the people who were in Church basements.

The intoxicating air of the breath, stool unhappy, frightened to death of people caused by fainting, dizziness, and the slightest attempt to get out of the temple into the fresh air was punished by inhuman Nazis shooting civilians.

Now much time has passed since then, and I especially remember one case. I told him a close relative of those people that I was going to say. The little girl from the dungeons of Trinity Church came on the air and was instantly killed by a German sniper. The mother, wanting to make the child came out, too, but covered with blood, fell on the child. Citizen Romashova and still alive, and I have no time with her had to meet, and she recalls with horror this fact. But such facts and such, it was a lot.<…>

The witness: I would like to ask Mr. Prosecutor, allow me to say a few words about what we have done in Leningrad…

Nikolo-Bogoyavlensky Cathedral — Cathedral of Leningrad. Here during the siege lived current Patriarch Alexy. I was a witness, having served here before the end of the war in July 1942, the repeated shelling of the temple.

Just had to wonder: what kind of military facility was looking for would-be warriors in our Holy temple. As soon as the great feast or just Sunday now shelling. And what’s the fire. In lent, in the first week, in 1943, from early morning until late at night nor the clergy (i.e. clergy), nor praying had the physical ability to exit the temple. Around the outside of the reigned death and destruction.

Nikolo-Bogoyavlensky Cathedral

I have personally seen 50 people, just I find it difficult now to say a number, my spiritual children, who died near the temple. They hurried out, not waiting for an alert artillery RAID, and found death near the temple. In this Holy temple, I had to bury thousands of people, torn to pieces, victims of the predatory raids of the German aviation and artillery attacks on German civilians of the city.

Many tears shed here for the so-called absentee funeral service.

During one of the attacks that almost killed our Metropolitan Alexy. Several fragments were broken, his cell.

Must say, not bothering a long testimony here that it is remarkable that the most intense shelling of Leningrad was precisely during the holidays. Shelled Church, was fired tram stop was shelled hospitals, collapsed in all sorts of ways — and artillery and German aircraft. The bomb homes of civilians.

I have had to trouble you, sir, if I was you list those terrible days of blood, the suffering of the Leningraders during the war. But I can say one thing in conclusion: Russian people of Leningrad up to the end fulfilled his duty. Despite a severe shelling and German air raids, the city was dominated by an exceptional order and organization, and the Orthodox Church shared a bowl of this suffering. It is prayer and preaching the word of God brought courage and comfort in the hearts of believers, and offered on the altar of the Fatherland is generous sacrifice.

(Cited in vol. 1. M.: 1954 History of St. Petersburg, the twentieth century, fragments)

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