Dukh-i-zhizniki in America
An update of Molokans in America (Berokoff, 1969). IN-PRO GRESS
Enhanced and edited by Andrei Conovaloff, 2013. Send comments to Administrator @ Molokane. org
Chapter 7 The Second World War [<Chapter 6] [Contents] [Chapter 8>]
[After 1928, the American Spiritual Christian Prygun congregations were gradually being transformed to Dukh-i-zhiznik congregations, a confusing process that took more than 25 years, causing many to abandon their heritage faiths.]
[College Boys Go To Russia]
[In the Summer of 1939, 4 college graduates, most from UCLA, planned to take a grand educational trip across the US, the Atlantic, Europe and into Russia to see the world and visit the homeland of their parents. They were all American-born. 3 Pryguny (John A. "Coe" Shubin, Alex Serguiff, ___ ) and 1 Russian Jewish fellow together bought a car to which they attached trunks for camping gear and baggage. A used encyclopedia provided maps and was their guidebook. Each contributed $200. To pay for his part, Serguiff auctioned his car, which really advertised their trip. He sold 200 $1 tickets. Several congregations invited the boys to send-off prayers and donated money for them to deliver to home villages and families in Kars, Turkey (formerly Russia). "We were treated as if we were going to the moon," reminisced Dr. Shubin, economist, 50 years later. He organized the trip as a continuation of his education. They visited not only the major tourist attractions but many factories, and studied each state in the encyclopedia as they passed through to learn geography, history, economy, etc., firsthand. On the East Coast they got jobs on a freighter in exchange for shipping their car to London. In Europe they had a car and more cash. Serguiff separated from the group to find relatives near Kars, Turkey, and was the first to visit and bring back photos.
The boys daring trip inspired several Maksimisty in Los Angeles to also travel cross-country to ask the Turkish Embassy in Washington D.C. for visas so their congregations could return home to Kars oblast, near Mount Ararat. They were denied visas which undoubtedly spiritually disturbed many who believed their salvation would only occur if they joined with Maksim Rudomyotkin on Mount Ararat during his resurrection to be saved before the Apocalypse.]
[PAGE 109] The outbreak of the war in Europe on September 3, 1939 did not at first excite the [elder Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokan people because it seemed that the country would remain aloof from the conflict. Immediately upon the commencement of hostilities in Europe, the government of United States declared its neutrality. There were many powerful political leaders and groups in the nation who were vociferously insisting that the United States must not become involved in that war under any circumstances. The President himself assured the American mothers that their sons would not he sent overseas to fight a war.
Furthermore, after Germany conquered Poland in September, 1939, the world was lulled by the so-called Phony war of the winter 1939-1940 into a belief that the war will terminate soon and without much further bloodshed. So the American public, including the [elder Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans, remained unconcerned.
But this was quickly changed from complacency to frenzy in May 1940, when Germany in a quick thrust attacked France, Belgium, Holland and Denmark and, after defeating these nations and driving the English army that came to the aid of France out of France, began preparations for invading England.
It was then that the government of the United States began its frenzied preparations for possible confrontation with Hitler. Among other measures of preparation, Congress passed [the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940]
, in September of 1940, a Universal Selective Service law,providing for compulsory military service for all men between the ages 18-45.
But while the law was being debated by Congress, the [elder Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan concern was expressed by groups of appointed individuals in weekly conferences called for that purpose. [Dukh-i-zhiznik youth were mostly assimilated, patriotic, wanted to get in on the action to stop Hitler, and see the world. The YRCA was formed and several member graduates of BIOLA were invited to help teach Sunday School at the UMCA from 1940 to 1962.]
[PAGE 110] The discussions at these meetings clearly showed that the question of religious objection to military service was neglected by the brotherhood during the past 20 years or since the end of the first World War. No serious effort was made during that time to indoctrinate the younger generation in that phase of our religion on the assumption, perhaps, that the last great war was the final one and on the further assumption that in the unlikely event of a war occurring, our boys will he automatically exempt from military service, for the conviction was still unanimous that the United States constitution forbade the induction of religious objectors into the armed services against their will, and, since the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans were recognized by the United States government in 1917 as historic objectors to military service, they would therefore he exempt automatically.
During the course of these conferences every one looked for guidance to Ivan G. Samarin, the much respected elder and the sole surviving veteran of previous negotiations with government officials. Mr. Samarin reminded the conferees that in 1917 when the brotherhood decided to petition President Wilson for exemption from the law, it at the same time filed a proclamation with the county clerk's office advising whom it may concern that the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans of America were objecting to military service on religious grounds. This proclamation, he said, was published in legal publications of the county and recorded by the County Clerk in the county Hall of Records but, because of the pressure of time at the time of signing, only 259 heads of families were able to sign the document, therefore, Mr. Samarin was of the opinion that the signatures all heads of [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan families should now add their names a similar document. For this purpose he urged that each congregation register the names of its members in membership books which would then be proof to the authorities of authenticity of a person's claim to exemption from the draft [PAGE 111] on the same basis as their fathers in 1917. As the actual terms of the proposed new law were not yet known, every one was still in the dark concerning the actual requirements to he demanded from the objectors, however, several congregations did as he suggested.
Simultaneously with these discussions the local Society of Friends (Quakers) were also concerned about the proposed law and were likewise holding periodic meetings in their meeting houses in Whittier and Pasadena which were addressed by visiting Friends from the east who were in close touch with the congressmen in charge of framing the law.
An invitation from the Friends in Whittier to the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans to attend their meeting was gladly accepted by several younger, English speaking [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans. Those who attended these meetings learned that according to the terms of the proposed law, a registration in [congregation] church membership books will be far from adequate proof of the genuineness of a person's claim to a conscientious objector status, consequently, Mr. Samarin's suggestions were mostly disregarded.
But when the Selective Service and training act [Selective Training and Service Act of 1940] became an actual law, the Act in its entirety was published in all the local newspapers and its terms became available to all who cared to study them. Of course everyone did, including the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans, therefore it was then unanimously decided by all congregations that a more serious approach to the question should be attempted.
It was further decided to do as the fathers did in 1917, namely to address a petition to President Roosevelt asking him to exempt the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans from compulsory military service in like manner as President Wilson did in 1917.
For this task the brotherhood again turned to Ivan G. Samarin, begging him to compose the petition as he did so many times before. Without hesitation and in spite of his advanced age (he was 83), he did not refuse and wrote two [PAGE 112] petitions; in one of them he incorporated his contention that the government should he reminded that there are now many more [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans people than the 259 families who signed the proclamation in 1917. The other, addressed to President Roosevelt requested exemption from military service for all [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan young men.
Having prepared the petitions, the previous custom was followed and three delegates were chosen to present them in person to the authorities in Washington as was done by the brotherhood in, 1917.
It was seen, however, that most suitable men fell into the category of middle aged individuals who were not fluent in the English language. It was then decided that the wisest and most practical method of election was to submit four names from the older men from whom the brotherhood would select two as delegates and also two names from the younger, English speaking men from whom one was to he elected to go as the delegation's interpreter.
But this was easier said than done because all factions had to he satisfied since all were participating in the deliberations. But although all were participating, not all were willing to abide by the results of the balloting. Some believed that that would he a departure from [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan tradition while others feared that the results would he a foregone conclusion in favor of the "Big Church" because of its large membership, therefore, these abstained from voting although they were present at ballot time.
The results of the balloting showed that David P. Meloserdoff and Walter P. Shinen were elected as the delegates and William J. Pavloff as interpreter but because Pavloff was absent from the city at the time of departure to Washington, John K. Berokoff, who received one vote less than Pavloff, automatically took the former's place as, the delegation's interpreter.
[PAGE 113] The delegation was instructed to contact the local officials of the Selective Service before departure for Washington in the hope that the same results could be obtained locally, namely: that by showing them the letter of Gen. Crowder written to Shubin, Samarin and Pivovaroff in 1917, exemption from military service could be secured locally but the local officials in the person of a Lt. Black replied that they had no authority to grant a blanket exemption to anyone and suggested that National Headquarters should be contacted, therefore, the delegation departed for Washington on the night of Sudni Dien [Judgment Day Holiday. See Leviticus 23], on October 9, 1940, returning on October 19 with a written report signed by all three members.
On the evening of one of the last days of [Kuscha] Kusha* [Feast of Tabernacles Holiday. See Leviticus 23] a capacity crowd gathered in the Big Church to hear the report. The report, included herewith, explains the results of the trip better than anything that could he written now, therefore, it would he superfluous to add to it at this time. [* Typical American Dukh-i-zhiznik mis-transliteration of Куща.]
Beloved brothers and sisters!
Being selected by you for such a vital mission and through your prayers, we completed our trip. We now have the honor to submit to you the results of your trust.
At the time of our departure we set before ourselves the problems of your charge. We decided that our primary purpose was to present the petitions to the three branches of the government, but also to discuss with the head of Selective Service and to get an explanation from him to those questions which the officials of the Selective Service in Los Angeles, Lt. Black, was unable to explain.
In the first place we applied to the Post Office, General Delivery and received three letters of recommendation from a friend of Mr. Shinen to three congressmen and one to [PAGE 114] Chairman [Edward J.] Flynn of the Democratic Party of America. We presented one of these letters to Congressman Ford who, in turn wrote us a letter of introduction to Lt. Col. [Lewis B.] Hershey, the head of Selective Service.
We then went to the office of Congressman Kramer who was not in his office at the time. [Charles Kramer, Republican, Representative, California District 12 (Alameda, Santa Clara Counties).]
Having in our possession a good letter of introduction from Congressman Ford to that particular office which most concerned our mission, we decided to go there immediately. [Thomas F. Ford, Democratic, Representative, California District 14 (between San Francisco and San Jose).]
In the afternoon of our first day in Washington we went to the office of Lt. Col. Hershey who received us pleasantly and courteously. Presenting our petition to him, we asked him to explain that part of the law which the officials in Los Angeles were unable to explain, namely, how will those he dealt with whose conscience forbids them to participate in war activities?
To this we received the following explanation: By Presidential order each Local Board was sent the following instructions: Every case that might cause a misunderstanding or doubt in the minds of the Board concerning the induction or the exemption from the draft of a registrant, must he decided in favor of the registrant.
He explained further that when the Local Board will he examining the questionnaire that will he completed by every registrant whose turn will come up by the lottery, it must first look into all possible causes for exemption before examining the question of conscientious objection. For example; if a registrant is married or has dependent children, mother, father etc. or if a registrant is an alien or is employed in a vital government job, he is to he exempted on those grounds; but if no such grounds exist then the question of conscientious objection is to he dealt with. He remarked that this is done to forestall any possible grumbling in the nation against conscientious objectors.
To our question: Nevertheless, how will those he dealt with who will he found to he religious objectors, he replied; "The [PAGE 115] law says that they are to he placed in work of National Importance but what is "work of National Importance" has not yet been determined and that Congress has not yet allotted money for that purpose." He then told us that concerning this matter he is conducting talks with representatives of the Quakers and Mennonites and that he suggested to them that they establish a central committee of all the so-called Peace Churches so that he would not have to deal with 10 or more different representatives but with only one. He suggested further that we confer with Paul French, the Quaker representative.
Following this conference with Hershey we immediately took a train to Philadelphia to talk with French, for we were told that he was there at that time.
Arriving at their headquarters in Philadelphia we discovered that he was not there but we were received by another, Ray Newton with whom we conferred for about 1-1/2 hours. He revealed to us their plan that they were about to propose to the government and asked us for permission to take a copy of our petition to the President to which we assented with pleasure.
He told us that Paul French is more familiar with that proposal than he was and gave us the address in Washington where we could find French in the morning.
We returned to Washington the same night and in the morning we met this man. After our conference with him we asked his advise on how best to present our petition to the President.
Following his advice we set out to the Executive Office of the White House where we presented our petition to the President's secretary, General Watson. We were advised that for some time past the President was not receiving petitions personally from anyone but that our petition would reach him quicker if it is presented to him through his secretary. At this time we gave them the letter of recommendation that we had [PAGE 116] to Chairman Flynn in which was a statement that these People (the [ethnic] Molokans) were not communists. This letter made a good impression on the President's secretary. He promised to reply to our petition on that same day.
From there we went directly to the War Department and appeared in the office of the Secretary of War. After reading our petition to the Secretary, they affixed their stamp to it and returned it to us saying that we must take it to the Selective Service office of Lt. Col. Hershey. After this we decided to await the arrival in Washington of Dr. [Clarence A.] Dykstra [from Los Angeles], the newly appointed head of Selective Service whom, we were told, we could see on Friday, October 18.
Returning to the hotel we there met the Mennonite representative, Henry Fast, who informed us that they are working on the conscientious objector matter closely together with the Quakers. That same evening we received a telephone call from the White House informing us that our petition has been acted upon and that it was forwarded to the Selective Service where it properly belonged, the caller further told us that all our negotiations on that matter should he conducted with that office. In reply to our inquiry as to when Dr. Dykstra will succeed Col. Hershey, we were told that Col. Hershey will remain as Dykstra's assistant and that all such matters will he handled by Col. Hershey.
We then decided that on the following day, October 16, we will present the third petition the copy of the petition to the President to Col. Hershey and after receiving a reply from him we will return home.
In the meantime we received by airmail a letter of recommendation from Pauline V. Young to a friend of hers, a Justin Miller who was a justice in the United States Appellate Court. In the morning we went to the office of this judge but he [PAGE 117] could not receive us personally. Instead, he informed us by letter that being a member of a Court which might he called on to decide cases involving conscientious objectors, he could not compromise his position by receiving us personally but that in his opinion he could he of more valuable service to conscientious objectors in the event such cases should reach his Court for a hearing.
From there we again proceeded to Hershey's office and, presenting our third petition to him, we requested a reply in writing which he courteously agreed to give us. He also gave us a sample of a special questionnaire for conscientious objectors which the latter will be required to complete. He also agreed to write to all the Local Boards in Los Angeles concerning our petitions. After this we decided to return home.
Concerning everything above set forth, we submit the following summary
[PAGE 118] We add herewith an account of money expended on the trip:
- We presented all three petitions to the proper departments
- The question of what is "Work of National Importance" and where the conscientious objectors will he placed is not yet determined. It is now being worked out by the government in conjunction with the Quakers and Mennonites.
- Brought our concerns to the attention of the three departments of the government; the Legislative, the Executive and the Judicial, in other words: to Congressmen, to the War Department and to the Department of justice.
- We received from Hershey the special questionnaire by which we could acquaint our young men before hand with its contents and prepare them for proper answers.
Railroad Fares . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hotels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Telegrams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Taxis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Food . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
David P. Meloserdoff
Walter P. Shinen
John K. Berokoff
The delegation returned to Los Angeles in the middle of the Kusha festivities [Feast of the Tabernacles holiday. See Leviticus 23], having been gone 10 days. In addition to the report, it brought back a letter from Col. Hershey in which he outlined in detail the complicated process by which each registrant claiming to be a conscientious objector was to be classified, plus the special forms that they will be obliged to complete. (See letter in the Addenda pp. V and VI.)
On the evening following the delegation's return a large crowd assembled in the "Big Church", tensely expectant to hear the desired word that all was well and that no mother was to worry about her sons being enrolled in the armed forces.
The reading of the report, together with the comments of the delegates and explanations of Hershey's letter and of the special form, (form 47) [DD Form 47 : Department of Defense, "Record of Induction," declaration of conscientious objection] was a disappointment to many who were steadfast in the belief that the rulers in Washington knew all about the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans and that they were quite cognizant of the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans' exemption from military service in 1917. But the majority of the younger and the middle aged people were not so sanguine and received the report with proper understanding of the circumstances.
[PAGE 119] The people of this age group, who were either born in the United States or were young enough to attend school here knew that it was fantastic to assume that any group could receive such blanket exemption, they knew that the affairs of the nation are regulated not by men but by the constitution and the laws made in accordance with that document, which meant that all laws were applicable equally to everybody. They knew also that no one in authority, not even the President, had the power to grant special concessions or exemptions to any individual or any group and that Congress itself could not pass such a law because it would raise such a storm in the country that it would jeopardize the position of all conscientious objectors in the country and, in any case, be quickly declared unconstitutional.
But even this younger age group was unable to grasp immediately the complicated process of classification and of the various appeals and investigations incidental to the process. In point of fact it was more than a year after this that the whole procedure of appearance before the Local Boards, the Appeal Agent, the investigation by the FBI and the appearance before the Hearing officer and, at times, an appeal to the Presidential Appeal Board, was mastered, and then only by the advisors appointed for the purpose.
Meanwhile, as Hershey told the delegation, no one knew what the Work of National Importance Under Civilian Direction was to be. The Local Boards bided their time pending instructions from Washington but at the same time discouraging potential COs by misrepresenting facts of the proposed program being prepared for them by telling the potential C.O. that he personally would have to support himself while in camp etc., etc. So things quieted down for a while. The only action taken by the brotherhood at this time was to appoint an advisory council to help the registrants with their problems.
[PAGE 120] This body so appointed functioned for the duration of the war and for about ten years thereafter. (It functions to this day under a different set-up.) It was named originally "The [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Advisory Council for Conscientious Objectors" but later shortened to "The [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Advisory Council." [The previous title used in WWI Russian Sectarians Spiritual Christian Jumpers was correct without the word "Molokan." But the youth were afraid and ashamed to be known as "Jumpers", "sectarians", or having to explain the meaning of their Russian label Prygun. Perhaps they thought their chances of acceptance by the government was better if they lied that they were "Milk-Drinkers" rather than "Holy Jumpers." During WWI the Pryguny and Maksimisty only called themselves Spiritual Christian Jumpers.]
On December 17, 1940 the secretary of this advisory council received the following letter from Paul French, the executive secretary of the recently formed "National Council for Religious Objectors" in Washington, D.C.
December 13, 1940
Dear Mr. Berokoff:
Would you feel it would be any advantage to you to have a closer affiliation with the National Service Board for Religious Objectors than you now have? I am having some stationary printed and I thought if you wished a closer association, I would include the name of your organization on the letterhead.
Paul Comly French [The Quaker representative]
The Advisory Council, which was then composed of Nick Eropkin, chairman; Peter F. Shubin, vice chairman; John W. Samaduroff, treasurer; W. J. Pavloff and John K. Berokoff, secretaries, having no authority to commit the brotherhood to such collaboration, sought more detailed information before submitting French's proposal to a mass meeting, therefore, on December 20, 1940, the secretary wrote him as follows:
Dear Mr. French,
There is no doubt in our minds that a closer association with your Board will he very advantageous to us. There is some doubt in our minds, however, whether we are strong enough [PAGE 121] financially to assume the obligations and duties of a closer collaboration.
Can you go into more details for us by return mail?
Without wasting any time, Paul French wrote back the following on Dec. 26, 1940:
"A closer association would not involve any particular financial responsibility on your part. When the National Service Board was established, the Mennonites, Brethren and Friends agreed that each would pay one third of the cost. Whatever is contributed by other groups is deducted from the total cost and these three organizations pay the balance. If you felt that $5.00 per month was a reasonable contribution, that would he perfectly acceptable to us; or if you felt that you were unable to commit yourself to any contribution, that, likewise, would he acceptable. We are solely interested in seeing that all religious groups concerned about the conscientious objector have adequate representation in Washington."
Upon receipt of this letter, the Advisory Council, recalling Hershey's statement to the delegation that he did not like the idea of dealing with each Peace Church individually but preferred that all of them form one organization to represent them all before the government, decided to submit the matter to a mass meeting of the brotherhood for a decision.
The following week a mass meeting attended by about 500 persons openly discussed French's proposal. It was explained by the Advisory Council that without a doubt many problems will he faced by the community as a whole as well as by its individuals in the following months, perhaps years, requiring representation in Washington but that inasmuch as the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans will he unable to maintain their own regular representative there, the National Service Board will he able to represent them instead.
After a full discussion, the proposal was accepted unanimously and a sum was collected as an initial contribution to [PAGE 122] the National Service Board. The contribution was forwarded to the National Service Board and henceforth the name [Dukh-i-zhiznik] "Molokan Advisory Council" was included in the letterhead of that organization.
At the same time the meeting was informed that in answer to the Council's inquiry concerning Work of National Importance, Mr. French replied on December 2 that the question is still in the discussion stage, that there was nothing definite as yet about the program.
But it seemed quite certain that the Quakers, Mennonites and the Brethren are agreed to operate and pay for the maintenance of camps to which conscientious objectors will he assigned to work in National Parks, in Soil Conservation and Forestry Division for which they will receive no pay.
It seemed likewise certain that, although these three church groups will accept assignees from any other church body, they will expect each church group to defray the costs of maintaining their members as far as possible, therefore, if the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans are to he assigned to such camps, they must he prepared to carry their share of the load.
This proposition was accepted also. It was further agreed that every family in the brotherhood was to contribute one dollar per month for the support of any and all [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans assignees to these camps, the sum to he administered by the Advisory Council. A large sum was enthusiastically collected on the spot at the same time receiving the blessing of the Holy Spirit through the prophets of the church.
However, this spirit of cooperation continued for only a brief period. It should he noted that, although the mass meeting filled to capacity the largest of the community meeting houses the Big Church the number of people actually was relatively a small portion of the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokan community. The majority were indifferent, believing that somehow, someone [PAGE 123] will see to the welfare of their sons. The slow pace of the draft program, especially the slow pace of the program of Work of National Importance, added greatly to this general apathy.
The nation was starting the program of training of recruits entirely from scratch. Camp grounds had first to he acquired and located, barracks had to he built, personnel for training the recruits had first to he trained, etc.
On a smaller scale but no less complicated was the preparations for the conscientious objectors. It will he recalled that Hershey told the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan delegation that congress failed to provide funds for the operation of the conscientious objector program, consequently the Selective Service System was compelled to finance it from a special fund at the disposal of the President. For this reason the assignment of C.O.'s to work of National Importance, or Civilian Public Service camps as they were henceforth to he known, was delayed for ten months following the first registration, during which time the government was refurbishing the old, abandoned CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps] camps scattered throughout the various mountain ranges of the country. Consequently, the first [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans did not report for work to the C.P.S. camp until June 23, 1941 although they received their classification in December of 1940.
This delay was fortunate for the individual concerned for it eventually shortened his stay in camp by six months but it led the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokan community to believe that the Advisory Council was being deceived, that there will never he any such program for the C.O. and eventually all their boys will be drafted into the armed forces. This belief was strengthened because many boys, unknown to their parents were already accepting the draft, indeed, were volunteering for the service. [10 times more enlisted than served in camps and jail.] For this reason the enthusiasm shown previously for the C.O. program was gradually being eroded. The parents of those who were already in the service saw no further need to contribute to a fund from which they would not benefit personally.
[PAGE 124] Up to the time of the Pearl Harbor incident about 250 [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans filed claims of objection to military service. About two-thirds of these were married, therefore exempt from the draft. Part of the balance entered the armed forces as non-combatants. Of the rest, three were in the C.P.S. camps and the remaining were in the various stages of processing their claims. Perhaps twice as many refused to claim a C.O. status and were either inducted or were volunteers in the armed forces.
At the same time, and especially after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the attitude of the local draft boards became extremely antagonistic towards all C.O.'s. By placing all sorts of obstacles in the way of the registrant's claim for a C.O. classification, they compelled each one to appeal to the state Appeal Boards which meant that the registrant had to submit to an investigation by the Department of Justice through the agency of the FBI who thoroughly checked the claimant's school and police records, questioned his school teachers, his employers and neighbors, his friends and enemies, his relatives and his church elders and, if his record disclosed a minutest infraction of [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan rules, he would he denied the proper classification, thus forcing him to make the difficult appeal to the Presidential Appeal Board, or failing there as it sometimes happened, to submit to arrest and to a trial in the Federal Courts. These procedures further complicated matters for the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokan community as it was probably meant to do. As a matter of fact it caused some grumbling among the members because the complicated processes delayed considerably the time such claimants were ordered to report to camp, meanwhile his presence at home incited unfavorable curiosity and suspicion in the minds of his neighbors.
As a rule members of the various Local Boards were entirely unfamiliar with the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans and their religion. Although they all knew of a large colony of Russians in their midst, they assumed that these were all Orthodox Russians [PAGE 125] or White Russians [white émigré] that they heard so much about, consequently, letters of inquiry were being received from many of them asking for information, for literature or pamphlets etc. concerning the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan religion. As no such literature existed,* extemporaneous replies and explanations were sent out by the Council to each inquiry.
[* Revealing the Dukh-i-zhiznik faith to a non-believer is apostasy, against an order from Rudomyotkin. By falsely claiming to be Molokane, the Dukh-i-zhizniki were able to hide their actual faiths. However in 1915 in Arizona, the Maksimist prayer book was translated into English and given to Americans to introduce their faith to their new neighbors. Berokoff reprinted the Arizona 1915 English prayerbook in 1944 and was bullied for doing so.]
In March of 1941 Harold Stone [Hull] Hall, secretary of the local branch of the Fellowship of Reconciliation asked for a statement on [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan history to which a three page reply was sent reciting briefly the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan background, its history, reasons for emigrating to the United States and their present attitude to war. Mr. Hull replied on April 11, 1941 thanking the Council for the material and adding; "I very much appreciate your fine letter of April 4 in which you send the excellent statement on [the Dukh-i-zhiznik faith] Molokanism. Paul Comly French of Washington, D.C. again asked us to send it to him, so we are getting it off by air mail. I hope that he will be able to put the material to good use in Washington so that people in Selective Service headquarters will understand more of the position of your faith." (See Addenda pp. VI-D, VI-E and VI-F.) [These Roman numbers are wrong.]
Meanwhile, facilities for Work of National importance were made ready to receive the COs and the draft boards began slowly to assign them to the various camps throughout the country. One camp was opened in the San Gabriel mountains, near the town of Glendora, California, to he operated by the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers).
According to a rule laid down by the National Headquarters of the Selective Service, a registrant could not he assigned to any camp located less than 150 miles from his home, consequently, only those [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans living either in Arizona, Oregon or in the San Joaquin Valley were eligible for assignment to [PAGE 126] the Glendora camp. Residents of Los Angeles and vicinity had to he satisfied with camps farther north.
Soon other camps were opened; one in Cascade Locks, Oregon; one near Coleville and another near Placerville, California.
On June 23, 1941 the first [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans assigned to the C.P.S. arrived in the Glendora camp. Two months later another two arrived in Cascade Locks. By April 30th, 1942, six more were working near Placerville. By June 30, 1942 there were a total of 14. Gradually the number grew until eventually the total assignments reached a top figure of 88 in various C.P.S. camps in California and other places.
While these fortunate ones were being assigned to the camps, other [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokan C.O. claimants, just as sincere as the others, were compelled by the whims of the draft boards to go through the process of a Federal court trial to prove the sincerity of their claims because the Boards would not, on some minor pretext or other, grant them the desired classification.
The majority of [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokan families, however, were indifferent to these and other similar matters not affecting them personally. Only when a son was ordered to report for induction into the armed forces was a family disturbed. But after a time most families were reconciled even with that.
Following the invasion of Russia by Hitler's army in June of 1941, many persons devoted their energies to the collection of funds among the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans for the purchase and shipment of medicaments and clothing for the relief of Soviet Russian civilians. This was done in conjunction with organizations officially sanctioned by the government of the United States.
The participation of the brotherhood in this work was not unanimous. Many individuals did not take part in it and one Los Angeles congregation as a whole (the Old Romanoffskaia), a part of the Arizona and a part of the Kerman communities refrained from this activity, basing their stand on the prophesy of [Maksimist] Afonasy Bezayeff in 1921, which forbade participation in [PAGE 127] Russian relief during the great famine there. Nevertheless, in April 1943 it was announced by the group working in the relief [and] that over $16,000.00 was collected for that purpose.
A funeral procession approaching First Street from N. Gless Street. Third from left in front row is Afonasy T. Bezayeff and next to him holding handkerchief to face is Philip M. Shubin. 1909.
Click to Enlarge
[New Slauson Avenue Cemetery. Also see: Chapter 2 : Funerals]
About this time also late in 1941 a 17 acre site for a new cemetery was purchased on East Slauson Avenue*, as the old one on Eastern Avenue was filled to its utter capacity. A non-profit corporation was organized to hold title to the land and to operate the cemetery [Russian Molokan Christian Spiritual Jumpers Cemetery Association, Inc]. [* Then it was incorporated country, called "San Antonio Rural," Los Angeles County; and after 1960, City of Commerce.]
A workable set of by-laws were adopted by which every [Spiritual Christian] Molokan* was eligible to all the privileges of membership in the Cemetery Association by a payment of $5.00 per person, young or old. The full sum was soon collected by these means and the $15,000.00 was paid off. [* Though originally incorporated for all Spiritual Christians, the cemetery was limited to Dukh-i-zhizniki when they took control in the 1980s. A census analysis has not been done, nor is wanted, for fear of revealing the facts. In the 1980s, new rules and an organizational structure (komitet) was codified specifying that burials, ceremonies and management was limited to only those of the Dukh-i-zhiznik faiths. Now that Dukh-i-zhizniki are in control, they want a komitet. But the 3 Maksimist congregations and their Dukh-i-zhiznik descendants who opposed the "Big Church" komitet in 1933 will only accept burial in the Old Cemetery, which is registered but never had a komitet it remained spiritually clean.]
A plan was adopted whereby, among other provisions, no mounds were to he permitted over the graves but the grounds were to remain level permitting the planting and maintenance of a grass lawn. In addition, the grave markers were to be of [maximum] uniform size* on which the inscriptions were to conform to specific [Old Russian] Molokan form and style. [* The late cemetery director, Alex Thomas reported this error. There never was a rule for uniformity, only maximum dimensions so they can mow the grass. See: By-Laws, Article XII, Monuments and Inscriptions, 1. Monument Size. He prefers ground plaques because they are cheaper and easier to work around.]
But these provisions were too radical for some members of the brotherhood [, Maksimisty who did not want to be spiritually tarnished by unclean people (pork-eaters, non-believers, ... ) in the same cemetery, which may be a remnant rooted in their old Russian Orthodox belief to not be buried with those of other faiths]. It was asserted by this faction [of Dukh-i-zhiznik - Maksimisty] that elimination of the mounds was a further departure from the ways of the forefathers, that the earth of any given grave was not to he hauled away to another location but should remain on that particular grave, consequently, these formed another group to purchase a small plot of ground adjacent to the old cemetery on Eastern Avenue at its western end. Thus there are two cemeteries serving the brotherhood that is otherwise of the same faith. [Actually diverse Dukh-i-zhiznik faiths, fractionated by burial beliefs and komitet.]
[In fact, those who protested against the Slauson Avenue Cemetery soon conformed to it. They broke with tradition by not preparing the body, buying caskets and allowing embalming, which discards most of the blood, which they do not know occurs. Many believe the body must remain intact for the resurrection.
The new section of the old cemetery today has no mounds, and in stark contrast to the old-old cemetery next to it, has cut green grass and uniform headstones. Further, in the 1980s, the old cemetery was traditionally untended, covered with weeds and hand-made grave markers. The grave markers were remarkably different, some using broken ceramic tiles, hand-made with concrete, stone and wood. The Americanized younger generation was embarrassed by their old-world antiquity and tore out most all the original grave markers to replace them with modern Western ones. Very little remains of the traditional old-Russian style which was the basis for the division of cemeteries, except the fact that they are separate, symbolizing the division of most Maksimist-Dukh-i-zhizniki from the rest. Also see Chapter 2 : Funerals. Arizona and Mexico cemeteries today retain the dirt mound, which traditionally fell when the casket decomposed within a year; but modern American graves use a concrete shell which prevents the dirt collapse.
In the 2000s, the Clark Ave (Podval sobranie, Klubnikin, Shubin, 605, Clarky) congregation began using a small cemetery in the mountains of riverside county, west of Murrieta and Temecula, for which they applied for a permit.]
In other respects the life of the brotherhood proceeded in routine fashion. The following is an expert from a contemporary diary: 'Even as in the days of Noah, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.[' (Matthew 24:37)] These words could well apply to us at the present time. The [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans are disturbed [PAGE 128] individually as each family loses a son to the armed forces, but, collectively there is little change. Weddings and other doings* in churches every Sunday. Every one is working and making money ... Money is plentiful although prices on everything are skyrocketing.** Sugar will he rationed*** next month [beginning 27 April 1942]. It is planned to issue one pound per person per week. But for the time being there is enough of everything for all weddings, baptisms, funerals etc., in spite of threatened ["]rationing***." (At the annual U.M.C.A. picnic of 1943, 750 lbs. of meat [were] was prepared and consumed. At this time also, $300.00 [were] was collected for the Russian war relief.)
[ * Dialect translation from Russian dela, дела : affairs, business.
** After the Great Depression of 1928, Berokoff was accustomed to a stable economy regulated by a gold standard up to 1933. In the next decade before WWII, the purchasing power of the dollar decreased less than 10%. The waste of wars caused "skyrocketing" prices, which continued through the time he published his book and continues today. Below is a composite graph comparing the Purchasing Power of the Dollar (PPD) since 1913 (from Post-Americana blog) when the Federal Reserve System was established, overlaid on a chart showing periods of inflation and deflation with a 10-year moving average (from Advisor Perspectives). To counter the devaluation of the dollar, the U.S. Government had to print more money and increase wages until foreign competition eroded domestic manufacturing in the 1980s. The brown arrows show huge decreases in PPD at the end of WWII (~50%) and at the printing of his book (~60%).
*** Berokoff may not have done much shopping. He only mentioned rationing during WWII twice and minimized its significance. Civilian rationing had a huge economic impact for 5 years, from 1942 to 1947. The program, administered by the new Office of Price Administration, varied by geographic region, local availability of imports, home gardening, changing rules and supplies, deficits, and black market activity. Since farmers were essential to the economy, they were rationed less for many items. For example, my father in Arizona, married in 1941 into a family in Los Angeles which owned Shubin's bakery and market, on Clarence Street, across from Klubnikin's bakery and market. Gasoline was more available to farmers. Dad delivered gas to Los Angeles by driving 400 miles from Arizona so his father-in-law, Andrei Shubin, could operate his store delivery van. Other farmers probably provided similar services from the Central Valley, and brought in meat (for the picnic?) and produce.
At that time it was impossible for one family to buy all the food needed for a community meal (funeral, wedding, child dedication). During rationing, "Big Church" families joined in mass child dedications (k'tseni : christenings), with up to 20 couples cooperating in one doing (delo). In jest, the events were compared to herding cattle. Members had to bring some or all of their own food (sugar, tea, bread, etc.) like they used to bring samovars to heat water. The Russian-owned stores often gave credit, by signing a ledger. Many of the loans were never paid back to our Shubin store. The credit book was burned when the store was forced to close due to urban renewal in the Flats. The other Shubins Market moved to Lorena Street, across from "Big Church" then to Montebello, on Olympic Blvd.]
[90% Joined the Army]
[Berokoff avoids mentioning that more than 700 Spiritual Christian youth (including 1 Berokoff and 2 Berukoffs) joined the military during WWII. The list was published twice in Molokanskoe Obozrenie (Молоканское Обозрение : The Molokan Review, 1943 (pages 26-27), 1942 (pages 32-33). A list of 6 killed in action is shown in 1944.]
However, there was a big fly in the ointment. Letters began to arrive from the boys in the services telling of the terrible ordeals in New Guinea and from other far away and unheard of places in the Pacific Ocean and from North Africa and Italy. News also arrived of the death of a [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan boy in the battle of the Island of Kiska [Aleutian Islands, Alaska]. As time went on, other news of the death or wounding of [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokans came from the various fronts so that at the conclusion of the war, there was a total of 7 dead and over 40 wounded from all causes of the war in various fronts and in the states[, listed in the Molokan Review, 1944, pages 32-33].
Just prior to [Paskha] Paska* [Passover Holiday], 1943, the following communication was sent to all boys in the services by the First United Church [Big Church] on Lorena Street: [* Typical American Dukh-i-zhiznik mis-transliteration of Пасха.]
The Holy Ghost, descending upon one of the members of The Russian [Spiritual] Molokan Christian [Dukh-i-zhizniki faiths] church, announced that a day of prayer and fast should be observed for all young men and boys in the services.
To fulfill this announcement, the brethren
of the churchdecided to observe a three day fast commencing on Wednesday, April 5 and ending Friday evening April 7, (Lord's Supper) of this year .
[PAGE 129] Saturday, April 8th will be the first day of our 7 day Easter [Paskha]. Sunday, the second day of Easter, will he observed as a day of prayer. At twelve o'clock noon, Pacific Standard Time a prayer (Psalm 91) will he dedicated to all boys and young men in the services for the safekeeping and returning to their homes and families.
You are urged to kneel down and repeat this prayer which is printed herewith on the same day and same hour as above mentioned, wherever you might be.
[Due to construction of the I-5, Santa Ana Freeway, "Big Church" was forced to move from the Flats and relocated about 2 miles to the east on Lorena Street. In 2010, it moved another 10 miles east to the east edge of the city of Whittier.]
Unfortunately there is no way to ascertain how the service men reacted to this concern of their [congregation] church and what if anything would have happened if the [congregation] church, to be true to its principles, would have urged them to drop their arms and refuse to shoot them thenceforth.
But this is pure conjecture. The boys in the service were there in the first place because they were not sufficiently indoctrinated* in the tenets of [Spiritual Christian] Molokan religions. There were instances in which some [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan boys were unable to explain to the army authorities what religion they belonged to, whether it was Protestant, Catholic or Jewish and had to write to their parents for that information as it was essential in the event the boy became a casualty on the battlefield.
[* Since Dukh-i-zhizniki are (1) opposed to education, and (2) revealing their faiths to outsiders (non-believers) is forbidden, they had no skills or desire to conduct classes in their faiths. Indeed services in Berokoff's time were memorized, "indoctrinated" as he reports, then "recited." It was not until the 1980s that simplified bi-lingual instruction guides for Dukh-i-zhiznik services were first published by Bill Babishoff, presbyter of the Monterey Park (Monterey Pass, Hilltop, Coyote Pass) sobraniya. Babishoff said he composed the books "because I needed them for myself."]
[Avoid Jail, Go to CO Camp]Fortunately, however, there were many [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan boys who not only refused induction into the armed forces but were willing to serve a prison sentence for their belief against military service. In March 21, 1942, three such men were arrested by the FBI for their refusal to be inducted when their draft boards ordered them do so. [12 more Pryguny and Dukh-i-zhizniki were jailed in Arizona. The Arizona Prygun congregation merged with the Dukh-i-zhiznik in 1947. Why does Berokoff not give their names, cities, congregations for these Dukh-i-zhiznik absolutists, martyrs?]
They were released on bail and ordered to report to the Federal court of Judge Hollzer for arraignment on April 13th at which time, upon the advice of an attorney, they pleaded "Nolo Contendre", in other words they would neither admit guilt nor defend themselves but placed themselves on the mercy of the Court. The judge accepted their plea and [PAGE 130] referred their case to the probation department for a pre-sentence investigation and recommendation and continued their case until the 27th of April.
The probation officer assigned to the case initiated the investigation by an interview with the mother and a father of two of the accused and at the same time expressed a desire to learn more of the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan background from its leaders. Whereupon a large group of elders, headed by the veteran Ivan G. Samarin, presented themselves at the Federal Building for a meeting with the probation officer and with a representative from the United States Attorney's office. Mr. Samarin was the principal spokesman for the group through an interpreter.
Mr. Thaddeus A. Davis, chief Federal Probation Officer, through his deputy, Mr. Meador, wrote a full report of the meeting and filed it with Federal judge Harry Hollzer who was trying the three [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans. A copy of this report is included herewith verbatim because it tells the story of the meeting completely and truthfully. (See Addenda p. VI-A.)
Evidently this report made a favorable impression on Judge Hollzer because, in passing sentence upon the three young men, he stated from the bench that there was no doubt in his mind about the sincerity of the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan faiths although there might be some doubts about the sincerity of the boys, nevertheless, on May 18, 1942 he released the three men on a five-year probation on condition that they he assigned to work in forestry or agriculture on the same terms as men in [C.P.S.]
[Deadbeat Faith, Unpaid Debt : $17,024]
This incident was the beginning of a sharp difference in the community concerning the financing of the C.P.S. camps. On the one hand there was the indifferent attitude of the part of those whose sons were enrolled in the armed forces. These backed out of the program entirely, feeling no need to [PAGE 131] finance other people's obligations. On the other hand there was a small but vociferous faction that took the position that no one need to report to the C.P.S. camps at all, that if [Dukh-i-zhiznik] a Molokan men took a firm stand they would be exempt from both the armed forces and the C.P.S., claiming further that the brotherhood's acquiescence to the camp program itself was a betrayal of the brotherhood and maintaining that position even after the arrest of the three described above and of others who were arrested later following their refusal to report to the C.P.S. camps.
Others, whose sons did report for work in the camps, objected to helping the financing of the camps on principle, asserting that since the government drafted the men it should feed and clothe them, consequently, these boys were maintained in the camps partly by the Quakers [Friends], Mennonites and Brethren and partly by the supporters of [the Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Advisory Council.
This opposition, plus the indifference of the rest of the community, deeply undermined the efforts of the Advisory Council to carry the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan share of the C.P.S. financial load. With each passing month it was deeper and deeper in debt to the three operating denominations [of Friends, Anabaptists (Mennonites) and Brethren].
The following statistics illustrate the progressive worsening of the situation. As of Sept. 15, 1941 the American Friends Service Committee expended $194.70 to maintain three [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans in their camps while the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Advisory Council was credited $130.30 as their contribution, leaving a deficit of $38.40. As of April 30, 1942 the Council contributed $1,350.60 for 9 boys in camp, leaving a deficit of $36.82. Six months later, October 30, 1942 the Council was still able to keep its head above water, being in arrears only $428.97 after contributing $2,911.85 for maintaining 17 boys in camps. A year later, however, as of October 30, 1943 the "unmet responsibility" as the operating denominations so tactfully termed this debt, rose to $1,303.11.
Advisory Council Statement Summary
1941 Sep 15
$194.70 $130.30 $38.40 1942 Apr 30
$1,350.60 $36.82 1942 Oct 30
$2,911.85 $428.97 1943 Oct 39
$1,303.11 1944 Feb 30
$3,676.22 1948 Dec 6
$38,244.48 $21,200.92 $17,023.56
( 46% )
[PAGE 132] And so it went from bad to worse. At the end of February, 1944, this unmet responsibility grew to $3,676.22 with 33 boys in camps and on December 6, 1945, three months after the close of the war and while the camps were still six months away from final liquidation and while there was still 53 [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans in camps, the Advisory Council received a final consolidated statement from The N.S.B.R.O. [National Service Board of Conscientious Objectors] which showed that the estimated cost of maintaining [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokan boys in camps of the three denominations [Mennonite, Quaker, Brethren] amounted to $38,244.48 [, or an average of $503 for each of the 76 boys]. The Advisory Council was credited with contributing a total sum of $21,200.92 towards their responsibility, leaving a balance of $17,023.56 [46%] of unmet responsibility.
[If paid in 1944, each of the 76 total COs owed an average of $240, or less than $1 per day they served. If paid today (2010) in relative real dollars without interest, this bill is at least about $200,000 or $2,631 for each of the 76 Dukh-i-zhiznik COs.]
Relative Worth of 1944 Dollars in 2010
("Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount - 1774 to Present," MeasuringWorth.)
GDP deflator $1.00 $10.50
17,023.56 $178,747.38 Consumer Price Index (CPI)
$217,901.57 unskilled wage $1.00 $21.50
$17,023.56 $366,006.54 Production Worker Compensation
$17,023.56 $435,803.14 nominal GDP per capita $1.00 $30.50
$17,023.56 $519,218.58 relative share of GDP $1.00 $68.70
[What happens if interest is added? For simplicity, the average prime interest rate since 1947 is about 9.84% (FedPrimeRate.com). Compounded annually for 66 years (2010-1944) yields a factor of 490, so average compound interest on $1 since 1944 was $490 in 2010, not applying any of the 6 relative worth adjustments shown in the above table. Conservative interest alone increases the $17,024.56 to $8,341,544.40. For homework, do the integrated calculation of CPI and prime rate (1944-2010) to see what the opportunity cost is to the peace churches for paying the Dukh-i-zhiznik debt. For extra credit, ask your congregation to initiate a fund drive to pay the $17,024, and report what happened or did not happen. I'll send a $75 history book to the first who answers correctly.]
Shortly thereafter a representative of the N.S.B.R.O. traveling through Los Angeles, asked to meet with the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokan people. A special meeting was arranged by the Advisory Council where he personally explained the set up by which the operating denominations The Friends Service Committee, the Mennonite Central Committee and the Brethren Service Committee financed the camps and urged the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans to liquidate this unmet responsibility, or as much of it as they could. [Why didn't Berokoff give his name, date and location of this meeting, and who attended?]
He was politely but unequivocally informed that, in order to preserve the harmony in the brotherhood, it was inadvisable to call for donations for this purpose at this time [or any other time]. Following this unpleasant information, the three denominations apparently decided to write this debt off for they never mentioned the matter again[, nor did the Dukh-i-zhizniki, except by Berokoff here in print].
[Upon reading the above in 1969, Alex ("Little Al") Shubin of Montebello, Quality-Bilt Construction, and "Big Church," who was at the Three Rivers Camp (CSP-107), began alerting fellow Dukh-i-zhizniki that it is embarrassing as Christians to have never paid this debt, and begged that a collection be made among the congregations to reimburse just the face amount of $17,024 (no interest, no adjustment) as a "token gesture" (his words) in appreciation for their charity agape (агапе). For 45+ years to his death, Shubin's plea was ignored. No one was seriously interested in righting this shameful wrong, even though the thousands of descendants of those who scammed the N.S.B.R.O. now have 100s of millions of dollars in collective wealth. Why did the Holy Spirit of the Dukh-i-zhiznik absolutists demand charity from other faiths when their parents' generation rejected charity upon immigration, yet gave charity to bring those from Iran? The Heritage Club gives more than twice that amount every year for scholarships, but of course that money goes right back to the same families who donated, not to "outsiders." Maybe the 90% of boys who enlisted did not want to pay for these slackers. Maybe the Dukh-i-zhizniki did not want to dirty themselves by acknowledging 3 of their "666 false faiths." In any case they became and remain a "deadbeat" faith until the total debt is paid.
No matter what the real reasons were, if the 76 COs did not want to pay, shouldn't they have chosen to serve their time in a "free" federal prison camp as my father John J. Conovaloff did in Arizona with a few others? Those in Arizona did similar work for a year or more each at the Catalina Federal Honor Camp with no fence, in the mountains north of Tucson. They were legally "criminals" but they got a free bunk bed with meals, drove tractors, and did the same pick and shovel road work as the CPS. When done they went home, and owed nothing. On the other hand my Uncle Dan Conovaloff was at the Three Rivers CPS camp with the so-called dukhovniye COs from Glendale AZ and Los Angeles CA who all "bit the hand that fed them."
Much more of this deadbeat faith history will appear later. I have 100s of archival documents, including the letters missing in this Addenda.]
* * * * *
The great war was coming to its close with the surrender of Germany in May, 1945, and was concluded on September 1, 1945, by the surrender of Japan. Thereupon the populace began a clamorous demand for demobilization of the armed [PAGE 133] forces and for release from economic restrictions imposed for the duration of the war.
The government was responsive to this demand of the people so that by January 1, 1946 the armed forces were 50% demobilized, but, because of the late start of the C.P.S. program, the camps were not being liquidated at the same rate as the armed forces. As of January 1, 1946 only three [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans were discharged from the camps. The camp assignees were becoming more and more restless every week.
In November of 1945 the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Advisory Council took over a branch Mennonite C.P.S. camp [No. 107] near Three Rivers, Calif. to he operated and financed as a [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan camp exclusively. This operation was continued until April 30, 1946 when the Three Rivers camp was abandoned and the boys were moved to the Glendora camp which was now being operated by the government. This relieved the Advisory Council of further financial responsibility but in turn caused a serious headache for all concerned from another direction.
Moving to a government operated camp, the boys came in contact and under the influence of a few radical non-[Russians] Molokans who induced the former to join them in a work strike to reinforce their demand for a more rapid discharge of the assignees as well as for reasonable wages for their work. After a month of idleness in the camp, the government moved in on them and on May 29 arrested 41 of the strikers, 21 of whom were [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans. Bail was provided for most of these by the Advisory Council while the rest of the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans were bailed out by other individuals and the non-[Russians] Molokans were taken care of by other agencies.
The government was not in any hurry to prosecute them but instead, promised immunity to those who returned to work. Soon 10 [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans returned to work and were being discharged by turns. Eventually 22 strikers were indicted but even [PAGE 134] these were released with suspended sentences. On this sour note ended the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan participation in a program that started out five and a half years previously with great enthusiasm and selfless altruism.
Following is a summary of [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans who were classified as conscientiously opposed to both combatant and non-combatant military service:
88 were assigned and ordered to report to C.P.S. camp. Of them, 11 were reclassified into other categories before reporting to camp. Five refused to report to camp because of religious convictions. Two reported to government operated camps. Eight were discharged from camps because of physical disabilities while working in the camps. Three walked out of camps for religious reasons. Three enlisted in the armed services while serving in camps. 46 remained in the camps for the duration of the war and until the liquidation of the camps in the spring of 1946.
In addition to these there were 35 who failed to get the proper classification of 4E but who refused to report for induction and were arrested and tried in the Federal Courts. Of these, 13 were released by the courts on probation while 22 served terms in Federal prisons varying from one year to three years.
norecords [which I have] of those [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans who served in the armed forces as conscientious objectors but it would he safe to guess that of all [700+ Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans in the armed forces, 50% were serving in the Medical Corps. [Only about 10% resisted the draft.]
[Berokoff avoided ]
At the end of February, 1945 the Advisory Council compiled and circulated an accounting of total sums collected from the entire brotherhood and the amount contributed by each contributing congregation. Following are the totals as shown by the accounting:
The First United Molokan Christian Church (Big Church) [Dukh-i-zhiznik] $ 7,506.52 36.9%
|||||||||| |||||||||| |||||||||| |||||||
Arizona Church (Morris Gozdiff, presbyter) [Dukh-i-zhiznik]
4,009.88 19.7% |||||||||| |||||||||| Samarin Church [Akhtinski]
1,852.95 9.1% ||||||||||
Women's Auxiliary of The U.M.C.A [Prygun] 1,691.00 8.3% |||||||| The Old Romanoffsky Church [Dukh-i-zhiznik] 1,425.71 7.0% ||||||| Kerman Church, (Nazaroff) [Dukh-i-zhiznik] 875.00 4.3% ||||
Prokhladnoye Church (Melikoyskaia) [Dukh-i-zhiznik] 523.20 2.6% |||
Arizona Church (Ivan J. Treguboff, presbyter) [Prygun]
422.00 2.1% ||
Shafter and Delano Churches combined [Dukh-i-zhiznik] 271.39 1.3% |
Oregon Church (W. S. Dobrinin, presbyter) [Prygun] 194.00 1.0% |
Armenian Molokan Church [Dukh-i-zhiznik] 127.00 0.6% |
San Francisco Church [Molokan]
U.M.C.A [Prygun] 78.00 0.4%
Sunday Afternoon Young People's Church [Dukh-i-zhiznik] 47.25 0.2%
(Melikoyskaya Branch) Akhtynskaya Church (Mihail M. Galitzen, presbyter)
Jack W. Sussoyeff Church [Dukh-i-zhiznik] 12.00 0.1%
Miscellaneous Sources 1,200.00
Total $20,363.00 100%
It will he noted that the amount remitted to the operating denominations is $837.90 greater than the total collected by the Council from the contributing [congregations] churches. This sum, as well as the maintenance of the special [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokan camp* in Three Rivers after November 1, 1945, plus the periodic contributions to the headquarters of the N.S.B.R.O. for its upkeep, was made up by the individual contributions of parents of boys in the C.P.S. camps. [* Dukh-i-zhizniki lobbied for their own faith camp and temporarily got one ]
[Turkey, Kars, Mount Ararat]
Meanwhile, during the final years of the war and for some time afterwards, at any gathering of the elders the conversation inevitably drifted towards the meaning of Klubnikin's prophesy depicted in his drawings on pages 698 and 699 of [PAGE 136] Dukh i Zhiz'n which show a rising comet-like sun with a figure 99 below it and on the same page a picture of a dove sitting atop a fruit tree for which a partial explanation is given by him on page 638 saying: "A plan was drawn. Figure 99 and 44. A window and a rising sun. Henceforth the judgments of God will he fulfilled year after year with great events among the nations".
It was agreed by all that the figure 99 represented the year 1899 at which time the world's tribulations began with the Boxer rebellion in China and continuing without abatement to this day. But there was a sharp difference of opinion about the meaning of the figure 44 and the dove. Some contended that it represented the year 1944 when, according to their belief, the great war will come to its end and the dove of peace will settle on the tree bringing peace that will he lasting and will lead towards the Millennium. Others were strong in the belief that the year 1944 will witness the actual appearance of the Antichrist who will bring further tribulations to the faithful.
These discussions continued with varying degrees of intensity between events of local importance and interest. The news from the war fronts varied periodically from hopeful to desperate, but, towards the end of 1944 is was apparent to all that the end was not too far away. This view was confirmed when the three principal allies Great Britain, Russia and the United States called a conference of associated and neutral nations to formulate plans for the post-war world. Delegates of 40 nations assembled in San Francisco on April 25, 1945. [United Nations Conference on International Organization (UNCIO)]
This conference, which was to become the parent of the United Nations, gave the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan elders another subject of debate to determine its significance in the light of the prophesies of the Book of Revelations and of Rudametkin and Klubnikin.
These discussions were temporarily suspended when a prominent newspaper columnist [Peter Edson] attending the conference in San [PAGE 137] Francisco, wrote a sympathetic [syndicated column] article about the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans when he learned from a Turkish newspaperman, a Mr. Yalmans [Ahmet Emin Yalman], of a group of people in San Francisco called the [Molokane] Molokans, who, for many years, were desirous of migrating to the nations of the Near East.
[In 1939, motivated by 4 college boys, a delegation of Dukh-i-zhizniki from Los Angeles in person petitioned the Turkish embassy in Washington D.C. to return to Kars, but were denied. At that time, Yalman was in New York reporting the World's Fair when he heard of their visit and unusual request. Dr. Yalman is a prolific writer, a journalist with over 50 titles published. In 1945 Yalman returned to the U.S. to report on the international UNCIO meeting in San Francisco. He asked local journalists if he could meet "Molokans" and a meeting was arranged before May 12 at the Neighborhood House on Potrero Hill across from the Molokan Prayer House where met local Molokane, and not the Dukh-i-zhizniki who petitioned in 1939. The Spiritual Christians in San Francisco had no interest in returning to Kars, but many spoke Turkish. At that time Yalman may not have realized that Molokane were not the same as the Dukh-i-zhizniki who visited the embassy 6 years earlier. (Edson, Peter. In San Francisco Molokan Dream Of Peace Finds A Happy Ending, The Pittsburgh Press, May 12, 1945, page 4.)]
When the article [by Peter Edson] was brought to the attention of the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Los Angeles elders, many were excited and immediately sought ways and means to talk to the [new] Turkish Ambassador [Huseyin Baydur] who was attending the conference.
About a dozen men, all from the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] faction advocating such migration, formed a voluntary delegation and on [Friday] May 25, 1945, left for San Francisco [probably by auto] to confer with the ambassador regarding such a possibility. [That Friday evening Turkey hosted a reception at the Westlin St. Francis Hotel in downtown San Francisco, 2 miles north of the Molokan Prayer House. When the 2 carloads of Dukh-i-zhizniki from Los Angeles arrived, they probably had someone from Selimsky sobraniya as a guide who lived in San Francisco before moving to Los Angeles and got directed to Potrero Hill then to the Ambassador at his downtown hotel.]
[These Dukh-i-zhizniki rushed back to Los Angeles, not staying an extra day to attend either sobraniya in San Francisco.] Three days later [on Sunday] the delegation returned to report the following as quoted from a contemporary account:
"The delegation came back and reported that they talked with the Turkish Ambassador to whom they were introduced by the newspaperman, [Yalman] Yalmans. They asked the ambassador if it was possible to secure permission to immigrate to Turkey. He replied that it was possible but when they asked about exemption from military service he was very emphatic in denying such a possibility, informing them that the constitution of Turkey does not exempt any group or individuals from military service which was compulsory for everybody." [This quote is now "oral history" because no name, date or location is given as required in scholastic research.]
The ambassador expressed a mild surprise at the group or any group who would want to leave the United States, especially California, to live in the Near East.
So the delegation returned to Los Angeles without any results and thereafter no further efforts were made in that direction. [This failed event appears to have prompted J.K. Berokoff to begin publishing English translations of Dukh-i-zhiznik books.]
[Ambassador Baydur was the former Turkish Ambassador to the USSR (1929-1934 ), their best Ambassador and an expert on the USSR.]
[<Chapter 6] [Contents] [Chapter 8>]
Molokan, Prygun and Dukh-i-zhiznik History
Molokane, Pryguny and Dukh-i-zhizniki Around the World