Master of Novosibirsk Petr Sidorovich Kvashnin


This photograph is part of a collection documenting the trial in the early 1950s of the Dubches hermits. The hermits were associated with Old Believer monasteries persecuted by the communist authorities in what was then the Soviet Union. In 1937‒40 these monasteries were secretly relocated from the Ural Mountains to the left bank of the Lower Yenisey River and the Dubches River and its tributaries. Playing a large role in this effort was the men’s monastery of Father Simeon, whose writings traced the history of the monastery beginning in the 18th century, when it was led by the famed Hegumen (father superior) Maksim, the author of numerous polemic works. Along with the monastery of Father Simeon, nuns from the Permskii convent (on the Sylva River) and Sungul’skii convent (near the city of Kasli, Southern Urals) also relocated to the Dubches region. This secret move took several years. At the new site, the taiga (coniferous evergreen forests) was cleared for buildings and vegetable gardens. Several families of peasant adherents who migrated with the monasteries helped to erect a chapel, along with a building to house a rich collection of old books (more than 500 volumes, including a parchment manuscript and some 16th-century printed books). In 1951 the monasteries were spotted from the air by the Soviet authorities and subsequently demolished by a punitive detachment. The hermits associated with the monasteries and the peasants who had supported them were arrested, and all the buildings, icons, and books were burned. The Krasnoyarsk Office of the Ministry of State Security conducted an investigation and put 33 persons on trial. All those indicted were convicted under Articles 58-10 part 2 and 58-11 of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic criminal code and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 to 25 years. Alexandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn wrote about these events in his classic Gulag Archipelago. Two of those arrested perished in Soviet concentration camps: Father Simeon and Mother Margarita. After the death in 1953 of the dictator Joseph Stalin, the others were granted amnesty on November 12, 1954. The photograph is from the collections of the Institute of History of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (II SO RAN). It was digitized in the early 2000s as part of the Meeting of Frontiers digital library project of the Library of Congress and partner institutions in the Russian Federation, the United States, and Germany.

Last updated: December 11, 2017