Wednesday, October 31, 2018

To Get Copper for Industrialization, Stalin Confiscated Church Bells

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 30 – Stalin made up the difference between the production of copper in the USSR in the 1930s and the needs of Soviet industrialization during that decade by confiscating the bells of Russian Orthodox churches, an economic requirement that gave an added impetus to Bolshevik anti-religious activities.

            In 1931, the Tolkovatel portal notes, the Soviet economy needed 60,000 tons of copper but Soviet mines produced only 27,000. To make up the difference, Stalin went after church bells which included some 250,000 tons of copper in them (

That covered the deficit in production for the entire decade but only at the price of the destruction of one of the loveliest parts of Russia’s architectural and religious heritage.

The size of this campaign is reflected in the following statistic: In 1930-31 alone, the Soviet authorities confiscated from the Trinity-Sergiyev lavra 19 bells weighting a total of 130 tons; and officials calculated that with each parish church closed in Moscow, they could count on getting at least a ton of copper.

The entire effort was promoted by an ideological campaign to “transform bells into cars and tractors” – for examples of this, see -- one that explicitly suggested that while Russians might never again hear the sound of bells, they would benefit from Soviet industrialization.

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