I prayerfully join you in this important and holy day for the German Diocese, and from my heart greet you on the celebration of the canonisation of Holy Martyr Alexander Schmorell, who joins the many millions of Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia!
Through his selfless life, podvig, and martyric death, Alexander Schmorell witnessed his love for God and His Image, reflected in his neighbour. Wickedness despises good. Good tortures the forces of evil, rends it apart, while wickedness gnashes its teeth in hatred and desires that we all depart from God, from Divine love. They tempt us with great power, a power called egotism. It divides mankind, sowing hatred, wrath, and condemnation within us. This terrible force wishes to rip us away from God’s love and make us the obedient slaves of our madness. The egotist recognizes only himself; he thinks that all must obey him… he thinks that he alone understands everything and does not love those who do not pay him the respect he lays claim to. The egotist makes an idol of himself, believing everyone must worship him. Egotism is a terrible disease, and the forces of evil exploit it to turn mankind away from God. We must all struggle against this feeling, and the example of the love of the man canonised on this day, New Martyr Alexander, can help us. May he be the intercessor of our spiritual correction, of the renewal of our lives and our internal powers!
Beloved brothers and sisters, since this struggle faces each one of us, let us often turn in prayer to this newly-glorified saint and ask that he help us. May his loving intercession always accompany us in life, and especially in church life! Once again, I congratulate you all with this joyful event, and, from my soul, I wish you bountiful mercies and blessings from God!
3 February 2012
ROCOR Official Website
The Russian Soul of the “White Rose” (written by the historian Igor Khramov)
The Russian Orthodox Church declared one of the founders of an anti-Hitler movement in wartime Germany a saint, 69 years after the Nazis beheaded him. The church canonised Alexander Schmorell for his involvement in the White Rose group, which vented its disgust of Hitler and the Nazi régime by writing pamphlets opposing the regime and condemning the treatment of Soviet citizens under German occupation. The group also took to daubing walls in München , the birthplace of the Nazi party, with slogans such as “Down with Hitler” and “Freedom”.
Schmorell, who had a Russian mother, was baptised into the Orthodox Church and remained a committed Christian till he was sent to the guillotine in 1943, aged 25. The Church also recognised that along with his rejection of Nazism, Schmorell had little time for communism. Archpriest Nikolai Artemoff, who had led the campaign to have Schmorell canonised, said, “For us, he took a very important stance, in rejecting both Bolshevism and National Socialism”. Alexa Busch, the new saint’s niece, said, “His faith was surely one of the reasons he was so free and independent”.
Schmorell had become involved in the White Rose movement when he was a medical student in München. Disgusted at the immorality of Hitler’s totalitarian state he wrote four pamphlets, calling for Germans to reject the “fascist criminals”, which were then copied and distributed covertly by the small group of fellow students that comprised the group. A stint as a combat medic on the Eastern Front exposed the idealistic student to the appalling treatment German forces meted out to Soviet civilians and POWs. On his return to München, he and the White Rose Circle printed a fifth pamphlet, telling people that the “day of reckoning” had arrived “for the most contemptible tyrant our people have ever endured”. The leaflets prompted the Gestapo to increase their efforts to capture the White Rose, and they arrested all of them in 1943. Schmorell was found guilty of “political crimes” against the German state and executed.
6 February 2012
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROOCR) canonised Russian national Alexander Schmorell, a native of Orenburg, executed by the Nazis in 1943 for organising an anti-fascist student group called the White Rose, the Church Herald reported. The ceremony to glorify St Alexander Schmorell the Passionbearer and New Martyr, who was 25 yeas old when he died, ended in Germany this past weekend. He was the first New Martyr glorified after the restoration of canonical communion between the MP and the ROCOR in 2007, following 80 years of separation. The ROCOR separated from MP in 1927 because its members deemed that MP leadership’s loyalty to the Bolshevik state was inappropriate. The canonisation took place in the Cathedral of Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in München and was Archbishop Mark Arndt of Berlin and all Germany led the services. On Saturday, the head of an Orenburg charity said that a procession with crosses and icons in Munich marked the canonisation, and that a Pannikhida at Schmorell’s grave followed the procession.
Schmorell, born in 1917, was the son of a German whose family moved to Russia in the 19th century. His mother was the daughter of an Orthodox priest. In 1921, the family decided to return to Germany and moved to München, where Schmorell attended a local Russian Orthodox parish. After returning from the front in 1942, following service in the German army as a military medic, Schmorell organised, together with his colleagues Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst, the White Rose Circle and started distributing anti-Hitler leaflets. The authorities executed them on the guillotine in the following year.
6 February 2012
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) canonised Alexander Schmorell, for his preaching of repentance and his Confession of the Orthodox faith. He was an activist in the anti-fascist student organisation, White Rose, executed on the guillotine by Nazis on 13 July 1943 in Stadelheim Prison in München, the ROCOR Diocese of Berlin and Germany listed him amongst its locally-venerated saints, according to the Church Herald. The act of canonisation took place on 4-5 February at the Cathedral of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in München, on its patronal feast day, led by Archbishop Mark Arndt of Berlin and all Germany. On Saturday, 4 February, the celebration began with a procession from the Cathedral to the Friedhof am Perlacher Forst in München, where the clergy served the last Pannikhida at the grave of Alexander Schmorell before his glorification. Then, at the All-Night Vigil in the Cathedral, the clergy brought out the icon of the newly-canonised St Alexander Schmorell the New Martyr and sang the service to him. On Sunday, 5 February, there was a Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral.
Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral of New York and Eastern America, the First Hierarch of the ROCOR, in his general letter on canonisation, said, “Through his selfless life, podvig, and martyric death, Alexander Schmorell witnessed his love for God and His Image, reflected in his neighbour”. Vladyki Hilarion pointed up that New Martyr Alexander had the opportunity to avoid punishment and save his life, but he voluntarily embraced suffering, overcoming his own egotism, which “desires that we all depart from God, from Divine love”. Metropolitan Hilarion said he hoped that from now glorified in the saints, Alexander Schmorell would “be the intercessor of our spiritual correction, of the renewal of our lives and our internal powers”.
Alexander Schmorell is the first New Martyr glorified after the resumption of canonical communion between the MP and the ROCOR. He was born 16 September 1917 in Orenburg in Siberia. In 1921, Alexander’s family moved to München, however, the future martyr didn’t lose his spiritual connection to his distant homeland, as he attended a local Russian Orthodox parish. In 1942, when a student at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of München, Alexander Schmorell, along with his friend Hans Scholl, began to compose and distribute anti-Hitler leaflets, creating the resistance group White Rose, which included Schmorell’s friend from his gymnasium days, Christoph Probst, their friend, also a student, Willi Graf, and the brother-and-sister team of Hans and Sophie Scholl. The Gestapo uncovered the group in February 1943; its members went to trial and the court convicted them, ordering them executed on the guillotine.
6 February 2012
On Saturday 4 February and Sunday 5 February 2012, on the feastday of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, München hosted the local glorification of Alexander Schmorell, who died a martyr’s death, now numbered as one of the Assembly of the Holy New Martyrs of Russia. Firmly confessing the Orthodox Faith, Schmorell stood against the theomachistic anti-Christian policies of the Nazi régime and embodied that resistance with his close friends, creating the White Rose Circle. St Alexander suffered death on the guillotine, and, fifty years after these tragic events, near the spot where Alexander consummated his heroism (подвиг), and near the place of his burial, an Orthodox church appeared.
On Saturday at 15.30, from the Cathedral towards the Friedhof am Perlacher Forst, the clergy led a large procession to the graves of Alexander’s friends, the brother and sister Hans and Sophie Scholl, and Christoph Probst, executed in February 1943. They honoured the memory of prayer and a moment of silence. Then, the participants in this out-of-the-ordinary and rare phenomenon, the making of a saint from a mere mortal man, trudged through the snow-covered cemetery to the grave of Alexander Schmorell. Despite the bitter cold, the priests served a litiya, and, then, the marchers returned to the cathedral for the last Pannikhida for Alexander before his glorification. After the Vigil service, the clergy brought out the icon of the new saint and they sang the service to the new saint before it.
On Sunday, 5 February, at the Divine Liturgy, Alexander Schmorell was named amongst the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, who are the heavenly patrons of the München Cathedral. Metropolitan Valentin Mishchuk of Orenburg and Saraktash, Metropolitan Onufry Berezovsky of Chernovtsy and all Bukovina, Archbishop Feofan Galinsky of Berlin and all Germany of the MP, and Bishop Michael Donskoff of Geneva and Western Europe, and Bishop Agapit Gorachek of Stuttgart (Vicar of the Diocese of Berlin and all Germany) of the ROCOR attended the services of the glorification. Archbishop Mark Arndt of Berlin and all Germany of the ROCOR led the services.
A few hours later, at the largest cultural centre in Bavaria, the Gasteig Centre, the MIR Russian Cultural Centre in München, together with the Evraziya Orenburg Charity Foundation, sponsored a concert in memory of the heroes of the student resistance group, one of whose members was the Orthodox Holy New Martyr Alexander Schmorell. Descendants of the heroes from the families of Schmorell and Probst, Alexander’s friend Nicholas Hamazaspian, Igor Khramov (Orenburg historian, author of the first book in Russian about Schmorell, The Russian Soul of the White Rose), as well as retired Brigadier General Wolfgang Vogel (director of the travelling exhibition “White Rose”), attended the event.
The MIR Centre named its event after the closing line of the last letter of Alexander Schmorell to his parents written before his execution, “Never forget God!” Tatiana Lukin, the President of the MIR Centre opened the event, telling how the sponsors came up with this name, and read the words of Alexander Schmorell’s brother, Erich Schmorell (1921-2005), who wrote the MIR Centre, “I’m confident, if Alexander had lived, he certainly would have been a member of the MIR Centre, because his whole life served as a symbolic bridge between the Russian and German culture”, which is the main task of the centre. the main themes of the programme were civic courage and the struggle for freedom, not only personal freedom, but also the freedom of nations, tuned out to be touching, sublime, and so humanly soulful touched so many people that one heard descriptions of it as the best event that the MIR Centre created over its 20 years of existence. The actor Arthur Galiandin, reading the letters of Alexander Schmorell, Sergei Ivanov, who performed Alexander’s favourite songs, and virtuoso cimbalom player Mikhail Leonchik were the centrepieces of the presentation.
Metropolitan Valentin Mishchuk of Orenburg and Saraktash (MP), Archbishop Mark Arndt of Berlin and all Germany (ROCOR), Bishop Agapit Gorachek of Stuttgart (ROCOR), and München Cathedral rector Archpriest Nikolai Artemoff, attended the evening’s programme.
6 February 2012
Voice of Russia World Service
The grave of St Alexander Schmorell (1917-43) in the Friedhof am Perlacher Forst in München
On 4 and 5 February, when the ROCOR cathedral in München, dedicated to the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, it held the final act of canonisation of a local martyr murdered in 1943, Alexander Schmorell, who was born in 1917 in Orenburg in Siberia, an active participant in the anti-fascist White Rose Circle. On 4 February, more than a hundred parishioners and pilgrims formed a procession from the Cathedral to the Friedhof am Perlacher Forst, the location of Alexander Schmorell’s grave, as well as the graves of his companions in the White Rose Circle. The clergy served a Pannikhida, after which an All-night Vigil was held at the cathedral, during which the icon of the New Martyr (painted by Paul Drozdowski) resided in the middle of church and the clergy sang the troprar of the New Martyr Alexander.
On 5 February, the cathedral hosted a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy attended by Metropolitan Valentin Mishchuk of Orenburg and Saraktash, Metropolitan Onufry Berezovsky of Chernovtsy and all Bukovina, Archbishop Feofan of Berlin and all Germany of the MP, as well as Archbishop Mark Arndt of Berlin and all Germany, Bishop Michael Donzoff of Geneva and Western Europe, and Bishop Agapit Gorachek of Stuttgart (Vicar of the Diocese of Berlin and all Germany) of the ROCOR, assisted by 12 priests. Also in attendance were RC Bishop Engelbert Zibler (Vicar of the Diocese of München) and the head of Inter-Christian movement of the Bavarian Capital, Dr Florian Wilhelm Schuppe. The clergy read the text of the official letter of the First Hierarch of the ROCOR, Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral of New York and Eastern America, who called everyone to turn prayerfully to the new saint, saying, “May he be the intercessor of our spiritual correction, of the renewal of our lives and our internal powers”. Then, the clergy asked those present to pray for Metropolitan Hilarion, who’s currently in Australia preparing for surgery. Statements from the ambo of the cathedral, sermons, and speeches, all reiterated the self-sacrificing life, deeds, and martyrdom of St Alexander Schmorell, testifying to his love for God.
Baptised as an Orthodox Christian, Alexander Schmorell moved with his family to Germany, attending the parish in München with his Russian nanny and half-brother Erich. During the Nazi régime, Alexander and his colleagues of the White Rose Circle distributed leaflets showing the opposition of Christian values and culture to the Nazi’s obsession with the occult and pagan barbarism. On 26 February 1943, the second day after his arrest, Alexander said during an interrogation, “First and foremost, I want to again emphasise that I’m in my thinking and feeling more Russian than German. However, I ask you to take into account that I don’t identify Russia with the notion of Bolshevism, on the contrary, I’m a frank enemy of Bolshevism”. Before Alexander Schmorell’s martyrdom, Fr Aleksandr Lovchy, the parish priest in München, heard his confession and gave him Holy Communion. From Stadelheim Prison, where his execution took place on the guillotine on 13 July 1943, he wrote a last letter to his parents, and, through them, to all his friends. In it, we read the following:
By God’s will, I should now complete their earthly life to enter into another, which will never end, and where we’ll meet again. … In just a few hours, I’ll be in a better life, by my mother, and I’ll not forget you; I’ll ask God to grant you solace and peace. I’ll wait for you! One thing, above all, let me leave this on your hearts… Never forget God!
In the evening of 5 February, the Gasteig Centre in München held a memorial programme, “Never Forget God!” dedicated to Alexander Schmorell. A local Russian cultural centre, “MIR, sponsored this event, held in German. Attendees included figures from political, cultural, and artistic circles in Bavaria, including retired Brigadier General Wolfgang Vogel (director of the travelling exhibition “White Rose”), they watched a documentary film about Schmorell. Also in the hall were Orthodox clergy, relatives of Schmorell and Probst, Alexander’s friend Nicholas Hamazaspian,who helped Alexander in the difficult days of hiding from persecution by the Gestapo, and Orenburg historian Igor Khramov, author of the first book in Russian about Schmorell, The Russian Soul of the “White Rose”.
The German and Austrian media commented extensively on the canonisation of Alexander Schmorell, as did the Catholic press as well, which noted that his colleagues Hans Scholl was a Protestant and Willi Graf a Catholic. The Vatican newspaper l’Osservatore Romano called the event “a tribute to a 20th century martyr”. Vatican Radio pointed up, “Whilst the White Rose wasn’t a religious group per se, you can’t deny that the faith of these young people was one of the main reasons that prompted them to act with such courage”.
6 February 2012