On Resistance Among Believers

I. Sautin, On the 1939 Census. January 31, 1939


Original Source: RGAE, f. 1562, op. 329, d. 278, pp. 12-5.

To the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Comrade A. A. Andreev

The Central Directorate of the National Economic Account attached to USSR Gosplan reports to you information on the course of the All-union Census of the population for 1939:

1. On 23 January the all-union census of the population in urban settlements of the Union was completed, and in rural locations on 26 January.

The CDNEA has reports from all urban settlements that the census has been completed in its entirety in the period laid down by the government. Reports on the completion of the census in rural locations are still not yet complete, but all reports which have come in likewise speak of the completion of the census in the period laid down.

2. On 24 January control visits began in urban settlements and control visits began in rural locations on 27 January.

Reports which have come into the CDNEA on the results of the first three days of the control visits in urban settlements show that the control visits began everywhere on time and that all controlling instructors went to work.

In the course of the control visits, passes belonging to individuals were discovered, and in several cases also of individual flats and houses. According to incomplete data, in the first three days of the control visits more than 30,000 people from urban settlements were added to the census lists. In the town of Moscow in the first three days 3,051 people were added to the census lists, and for Leningrad 1,258 people. In the course of the control visits, control forms are also additionally being filled in.

3. In reports on the results of the first day of the control visits, there are indications that individual controlling instructors have approached their duties formally, displaying impermissible haste. On the evening of 25 January the CDNEA issued an instruction to all local DNEAs by telegraph suggesting that they again instruct the controlling instructors on the necessity of the most detailed and thorough verification of the accuracy of the account of the population.

4. Reports continue to arrive from on the spot about attempts by the class enemy to conduct hostile work during the census. There are a series of reports on attempts by church people and members of sects to evade the census and to agitate against the census of the population.

Thus, according to the report to the CDNEA from Kirov region, a series of cases of refusal by sect members to reply to questions in the census form were noted in Murashi and Sanchursk districts and in the Berezov rural soviet of Darovskoi district. In the Berezov rural soviet, according to the head of the DNEA, almost the entire population refused to answer the questions.

Similar reports have come in from Melekassky district of Kuibyshev region, from Bolshe-Polianskii, Korocha, Fatezh and Belenikhinsk districts of Kursk region, Voskresensk and Malino districts of Moscow region, from Stalingrad, Voronezh, Omsk, Sverdlovsk, Chkalovsk, Mogilev and Tula regions, the Chuvash ASSR, etc.

From individual facts one can cite the following: in districts of Voronezh region about 100 people from the ‘Fedorov’ sect were discovered, who had refused to participate in the census.

In Khoper district of Stalingrad region 140 Baptists refused to participate in the census.

In the village of Pokrovka, Sedelnikovo district of Omsk region, two households refused the census for religious reasons. Each time the census official came to them they fell to their knees and started to pray to god. The census official fruitlessly spent on them one and a half days.

In the village of Ostrovok, Bolshe-Polianskii district, 49 homes inhabited by members of sects tried to evade the census. On the arrival of the census official the sect members put on their coats and went off, telling the census official to ‘take what you brought and go away’.

In Malinskii rural soviet, of Lysogorka district of Tambov region, a nun conducted agitation against the census. She visited homes, after which these homes did not allow the census official in.

In the village of Klimovo, Voskresensk district of Moscow region, two sisters, old believer fanatics, only gave their surname, and replied to the question on the head of the family that for them the head of the family is god.

In Mytishchi district of Moscow region the sect member Kniazev, working in Moscow at the Kalinin factory, told his family not to undergo the census and not to reply to one single question.

In Kirov region one old woman announced that she did not want to undergo the census because the priest of the village of Staritsy told her that he would not undergo the census.

It is reported from Shatura district of Moscow region that a counterrevolutionary rumor was put out by someone that the census is being conducted for the procurement of meat as well as to discover those who are working, who will not be given bread, and to uncover the Germans and to resettle them.

From the 18th census department of the town of Novosibirsk it is reported that there the counter-revolutionary rumor has been put about that those not working at the time of the census will be fined and that those who are under 16 and living in this location will be banished.

The CDNEA indicated that in all cases of evasion of the census and the impossibility of receiving information from those questioned to proceed in accordance with point 8 of the instruction, i.e. receive verified information from the rural soviet, neighbors, etc., and that those evading the census should be subjected to criminal responsibility.

Head of the Central Directorate of the National Economic Account Attached to USSR Gosplan
I. Sautin

Source: Felix Corley, ed., Religion in the Soviet Union: an Archival Reader (New York: New York University Press, 1996), pp. 123-125.

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