Pagan groups in wartime Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, and other parts of Eastern Europe

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driftwood
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Pagan groups in wartime Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, and other parts of Eastern Europe

Post by driftwood » 21 Aug 2020 11:01

I've come across scattered mentions of pagan/neo-pagan religious-political groups in Eastern Europe during the war, and I'd like to learn a bit more if anyone has info to share.

In Latvia, there was Pērkonkrusts, who seem to advocated a kind of Latvian hyper-nationalism that rejected Christianity as "foreign" and harked back to a revived Latvian "native" religion. Wikipedia claims that some of them were active in resistance to the Germans while others were involved in collaboration. If anyone has more info to share on them, please do.

In Poland, I've seen one claim online that there were a few pagans/neo-pagans in the Polish resistance. The wikipedia article on Rodnovery claims that: "During the war, Stefan Potrzuski led a unit in the Peasant Battalion which battled the Nazi occupation of Poland. His unit had a shrine to the god Svetovid in their secret forest base and held group rites in which they toasted a wooden image of the deity with mead." (source)

If anyone can verify whether such a group existed, or if there were any other similar groups in Poland at the time, I'd like to hear about it. I don't have access to the book that is cited in that article.

That same wikipedia article claims that in 1944 the Ukrainian neo-pagan Volodymyr Shaian fled the Soviets and "established the Order of the Knights of the Solar God (Orden Lytsariv Boha Sontsia), a religio-political group that he hoped would affiliate itself to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army during the Second World War." (source)

Again, if anyone has more info to share on this, or can verify whether it's true, please do. I don't have access to the source cited in that article.

Likewise, if there were other pagan/neo-pagan groups that got caught up in WW2 in Eastern Europe, I'd like to hear about them and what they got up to.

driftwood
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Re: Pagan groups in wartime Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, and other parts of Eastern Europe

Post by driftwood » 21 Aug 2020 13:04

I found a book which mentions Stefan Potrzuski's unit in Poland:

"Under the leadership of Stefan "Bolek" Potrzuski (died 1944) the unit was reported to have had a shrine to Światowid in their secret forest lair and conducted group rights with toasts of mead around a wooden figure. They also briefly introduced a kind of communist Slavic gminowładstwo economy (reminiscent of the nineteenth-century left-wing Romantic ideas of Lelewel) in the nearby rural farming community. The experiment failed when the group was betrayed to the Gestapo and Potrzuski killed."
-page 113, 'Modern Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Central and Eastern Europe' by Kaarina Aitamurto and Scott Simpson.

There are also two footnotes on page 123 which mention that many of the rank-and-file in Potrzuski's unit didn't fully believe in his "pagan" ideals, but they went along with the ceremonies and the new economic ideas in the community, and also mention that there is strong suspicion that Potrzuski's betrayal to the Gestapo was at least partly the result of a jealous local Catholic priest.

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wm
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Re: Pagan groups in wartime Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, and other parts of Eastern Europe

Post by wm » 21 Aug 2020 20:26

Patrzuski was born in a God's-forgotten village, and then he became a teacher in another God's-forgotten village. He was killed in a battle with the Germans - not because he was betrayed but because his luck ran out.
The local organization was betrayed after his death by one of its leaders who couldn't take Gestapo tortures anymore.

The Peasant Battalions were an independent military and political force (the peasants didn't especially trust the government and Polish elites). They were, of course, Catholics but sometimes (frequently?) violently anti-clerical too.
I suppose the story might be true; they say he was intelligent and well-read. I suppose he read some book (in his God's-forgotten village) and tried to implement the ideas he found in it.

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Re: Pagan groups in wartime Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, and other parts of Eastern Europe

Post by driftwood » 21 Aug 2020 22:39

wm wrote:
21 Aug 2020 20:26
-cut-
Thanks for the input. The book I found does mention that Potrzuski was considered an intellectual (at least among his unit) and that his ideals were considered "eccentric" by most of the other men, but they went along with it anyway. Interesting to hear that Potrzuski was killed in action, rather than arrested. Is there any chance the battle he was killed in was caused by a betrayal (e.g. an ambush)?

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wm
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Re: Pagan groups in wartime Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, and other parts of Eastern Europe

Post by wm » 22 Aug 2020 07:34

Very unlikely, the Germans usually arrested people individually in their homes.
It would be fulish for them to expose themselves to dangers and uncertainty of a night battle unnecessary.

The resistance worked by day and fought at night (they didn't even have suitable forests there for anything else) so arrest of suspects by the Gestapo wasn't a problem.

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Re: Pagan groups in wartime Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, and other parts of Eastern Europe

Post by GregSingh » 22 Aug 2020 08:45

There was a primary school named after him in the nearby village: Krzywki-Bratki. He was born in Krzywki-Bośki.

Potrzuski.JPG
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Re: Pagan groups in wartime Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, and other parts of Eastern Europe

Post by Agnieszka de domo Potrzuski » 12 Jan 2021 20:33

Stefan Potrzuski was member of my family. He died during run away from German soldiers when he was planning next partizant action.

If I remember he’s brother of my grandmother - Stanislawa Potrzuska, she born in 1914 in Mianowo, a 1,5 km from Krzywki Bratki. So I think that he also was born there.

Now there isn’t school that was named by Stefan Potrzuski, but our local library some people collect information about our heroes.

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Re: Pagan groups in wartime Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, and other parts of Eastern Europe

Post by Sid Guttridge » 13 Jan 2021 11:46

Hi Guys,

Was there any continuity between pre-Christian paganism and these groups?

Or were they like today's "Druids" in Britain, who recreated their religion from the only source available (what little had been written about the original Druids' by their Roman enemies two thousand years ago) and their own imaginations?

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Pagan groups in wartime Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, and other parts of Eastern Europe

Post by Komi » 01 Feb 2021 14:02

Sid Guttridge wrote:
13 Jan 2021 11:46
Hi Guys,

Was there any continuity between pre-Christian paganism and these groups?

Or were they like today's "Druids" in Britain, who recreated their religion from the only source available (what little had been written about the original Druids' by their Roman enemies two thousand years ago) and their own imaginations?

Cheers,

Sid.
I don't know specifics about these group's ideology, but in the case of the Latvian "Perkonkrusts" it is not improbable that they based some of their beliefs on surviving "paganism" in rural folklore. The Baltic peoples were Christianised comparatively late by mainland European standards (Lithuanians after 1387, Latvians and Estonians during 13th century crusades, and even in 1343 we find a "pagan" uprising in Estonia), so it's not unusual even today to find older people in villages in the Baltic states who go to Christian church on Sunday but also know some leftover "paganism" that survived in local traditions.

As an example, a video of an elderly Lithuanian woman saying a prayer to the moon that was passed down to her: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipj9tK-KHU0

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