Novgorod, which means “new town,” was the first and only Russian Republic until modern times. Founded as a trading port near the Baltic Sea in 859 A.D., it is considered the first city of the Rus people, and was their capital until 882 A.D. when Oleg moved the capital to Kiev.
During the Middle Ages, Novgorod grew so prosperous that was it was Russia’s second main city after Kiev. Novgorod controlled an enormous area as large as Sweden. Novgorod’s economy was based on Baltic sea trade, being a member of the Hansa Union of rich Baltic ports. It was situated on one of the main travel routes from Northern Europe to Rome and Constantinople.
During this era in history, Russia was divided into numerous princedoms which fought against each other. Novgorod supported Vladimir the Great of Kiev. In 986 A.D., Vladimir decided to throw his pagan gods in the Dnieper River and embrace a monotheistic faith. He was soon visited by some Bulgar Muslims from Khwarezm, who invited him to adopt Islam.
The Primary Chronicle, the official record of Russia from 850 A.D. to 1110 A.D., compiled in Kiev in 1113, gives the account: “They replied that they believed in Allah, and that Mohammed instructed them to practice circumcision, to eat no pork, to drink no wine, and after death, promised them complete fulfillment of their carnal desires. ‘Mohammed,’ they asserted, ‘will give each man 70 fair women. He may choose one fair one, and upon that woman will Mohammed confer the charms of them all, and she shall be his wife. ‘Mohammed promises that one may then satisfy every desire. But whoever is poor in this world will be no different in the next.’ They also spoke other false things (which out of modesty may not be written down). …”
The Primary Chronicle continued: “Vladimir listened to them, for he was fond of women and indulgence, regarding which he heard with pleasure. But circumcision and abstinence from pork and wine were disagreeable to him. ‘Drinking,’ said he, ‘is the joy of the Russes. We cannot exist without that pleasure.'”
Next, Vladimir was visited by Germans from the Latin Roman Catholic Church, and then visited by Jewish Khazars. Finally Vladimir was visited by Greeks from the Eastern Orthodox Church, whose beautiful Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople was the largest and most ornate church in the world for over a thousand years.
Vladimir sent envoys to visit it, and upon their return, they stated: “We knew not whether we were in Heaven or on Earth. … We only know that God dwells there among the people, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations.”
After hearing an explanation of the Gospel, and learning that the New Testament had been written in their language of Greek, and that many cities mentioned in the New Testament were located in the Byzantine Empire, Vladimir was baptized into Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
Vladimir also adopted the Eastern Orthodox Saint Nicholas as the Patron Saint of Russia. There was, perhaps, not a single city in Russia without a church named after Saint Nicholas. Vladimir proceeded to have all Kievan Russians baptized into the Orthodox Christian Church.
Vladimir sent his younger son, Yaroslav the Wise, to rule the area of Novgorod. Relations began to strain between Vladimir and his son, Yaroslav.
When Vladimir died in 1015, his older son, Svyatopolk the Accursed, had three other brothers killed and seized power in Kiev. The citizens of Novgorod supported Yaroslav against Svyatopolk.
Yaroslav finally won in 1019, and proceeded to reward the loyal citizens of Novgorod who supported him with privileges and freedoms. This effectively laid the foundation for the independent Novgorod Republic. Novgorod grew in wealth, constructed elaborate stone walls and erected the beautiful Church of Saint Sofia, the main cathedral of the Russian North.
By 1136, merchants had accumulated more power than the nobles, resulting in a government by the people. The neighboring city of Pskov was founded in 903 and adhered politically to the Novgorod Republic. Novgorod and Pskov were the only major cities in Russia to escape destruction when the Mongols invaded in 1222, led by Batu Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan.
In 1240, Novgorod invited Prince Alexander to protect it from the Swedish army. Alexander defeated the Swedes near the Neva River, resulting in his title – Alexander Nevsky. The main avenue in St. Petersburg is named for him: Nevski Prospekt.
In 1242, Alexander Nevsky saved Novgorod again from the nearby State of Teutonic Knights. He recaptured Pskov in a legendary campaign which included the Battle of the Ice on the frozen Lake Peipus, memorialized in Sergei Eisenstein’s 1938 movie, “Alexander Nevsky.”
As the Mongols became the most powerful foe, Alexander Nevsky met in 1252 with the ruler of the Mongol “Golden Horde,” Sartaq Khan, son of Batu Khan. Sartaq Khan had converted to Christianity.
Other Khan leaders became favorable to Christianity, including Hulagu Khan, another grandson of Genghis Khan, whose mother was a famous Christian princess – Sorghaghtani Beki. Hulagu Khan destroyed the Islamic capital of Baghdad (1258) and weakened Muslim control of Damascus (1260).
Hulagu Khan sent a letter in 1262 to French King Louis IX – St. Louis – proposing they fight together to recapture Jerusalem and drive the Muslims out of Egypt: “From the head of the Mongol army, anxious to devastate the perfidious nation of the Saracens (Muslims), with the good-will support of the Christian faith … so that you, who are the rulers of the coasts on the other side of the sea, endeavor to deny a refuge for the Infidels, your enemies and ours, by having your subjects diligently patrol the seas.”
Another grandson of Genghis Khan was Kublai Khan, Emperor of China, Korea, North India, Persia, Russia and Hungary. He had requested Marco Polo bring back 100 teachers of the Holy Christian Faith and a flask of oil from Christ’s empty tomb in Jerusalem.
Columbus referred to this in a letter to the King and Queen of Spain in 1492: “Concerning the lands of India, and a Prince called Gran Khan. … How many times he sent to Rome to seek doctors in our Holy Faith to instruct him and that never had the Holy Father provided them, and thus so many people were lost through lapsing into idolatries. … And Your Highnesses … devoted to the Holy Christian Faith … enemies of the sect of Mahomet … resolved to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the said regions of India, to see the said princes and peoples … and the manner in which may be undertaken their conversion to our Holy Faith.”
In Russia, Sartaq Khan granted Alexander Nevsky vassalage to become Grand Duke of Vladimir. In 1256, Sartaq Khan died mysteriously in what was suspected to have been poisoning by his uncle Berke Khan, who had converted to Islam. Berke Khan was determined to be a devout Muslim. Taking control of the Golden Horde, his armies spread Islam throughout the Mongolian Empire. Berke Khan declared war on Hulagu Khan for destroying the Islamic capital of Baghdad.
Muslim “Tartar” armies proceeded to capture most of the land of Rus, with the exception of Novgorod, as it was surrounded by swamps. The Novgorod Republic continued to flourish, being ruled by its citizens. Elections were held in the city square. People gathered and shouted for their candidates. The candidate with the loudest supporters became ruler. Princes were still present in Novgorod, but only to be hired military leaders to protect the city.
Novgorod’s fate began to change when Ivan III of Moscow, known as Ivan the Great, expanded his domain. In 1478, Ivan the Great took away four-fifths of the land from the Republic of Novgorod and deported its richest and ancient families. A century later, in 1570, Ivan the Fourth, know as Ivan the Terrible, became paranoid of conspiracies and killed anyone he suspected of being disloyal, even his own son.
When the Novgorod Republic was rumored to be seeking an alliance with Poland-Lithuania, Ivan attacked with a vengeance. Ivan’s first command was to subjugate the church. He stripped cathedrals and monasteries of their valuables; put priests and deacons in shackles and flogged them til they paid a ransom; and he ordered some 500 clergymen beaten to death.
Ivan laid waste to 90 percent of the farmland surrounding Novgorod. Ivan’s 6,000 secret police, called Oprichniki, pillaged, burned, arrested and terrorized with cruel violence. Men, women and children were:
- roasted over fires
- tied to sleds and dragged through town
- trapped under ice in the Volkhov River; and if they managed to surface, they were shoved back under
According to The First Pskov Chronicle, an estimated 60,000 people were senselessly slaughtered by Ivan the Terrible. Novgorod continued to decline economically until it finally lost its position of being the only Russian port near the Baltic when St. Petersburg was built.
Ivan the Terrible’s intentionally used terror to force people into submission. It was a tactic replicated during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror.
Robespierre, who headed the “Committee of Public Safety,” France’s version of a Department of Homeland Security, gave a speech to the National Assembly, Feb. 5, 1794, titled “The Terror Justified”: “Lead … the enemies of the people by terror. … Terror is nothing else than swift, severe, indomitable justice.”
Robespierre likewise attacked Christianity and turned churches into Temples of Reason. The secular French French government beheaded 40,000 in Paris, then slaughtered 300,000 in the Vendée from 1793-1796.
Notable Russian Tsars include Peter the Great (1682-1725), Catherine the Great (1762-1796), and Alexander I (1801-1805), who defended Russia against Napoleon’s invasion.
Napoleon invaded Russia in June of 1812 with some 600,000 men. After six months of blizzards, lack of food, and bloody battles, such as that of Borodino and Berezina River, Napoleon retreated back to France with only 40,000.
Over three million Russians were killed in World War I with Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany, resulting in Tsar Nicholas II’s abdication and assassination.
Vladimir Lenin led the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, stating: “The goal of socialism is communism.”
Promises of abundance proved false as a Lenin’s godless government again employed terror tactics to maintain power.
Stalin seized power in 1922. To control citizens, he notoriously used “fear and food”:
- people were kept in constant fear that government agencies would falsely accuse them and cart them away in the night
- people were kept in a continual food shortage, so they could not have the resources to rebel
Stalin engineered a famine that killed millions in his war against the kulaks (self-sufficient farmers).
Richard Pipes discussed in his book “Communism – A History” (Random House, 2001), the terror tactics used by Stalin: “To break the resistance of the peasants in the Ukraine, the North Caucasus, and the Kazakhstan, Stalin inflicted on these areas in 1932-33 an artificial famine, shipping out all the food from entire districts and deploying the army to prevent the starving peasants from migrating in search of nourishment. It is estimated that between 6 and 7 million people perished in this man-made catastrophe.”
Franklin Roosevelt stated Feb. 10, 1940: “The Soviet Union … is run by a dictatorship as absolute as any other dictatorship in the world.”
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics saw millions killed in purges.
Joseph Stalin said: “Crisis alone permitted the authorities to demand – and obtain – total submission and all the necessary sacrifices from its citizens.”
Richard Pipes wrote in his book, “Communism – A History”: “Stalin’s regime needed another crisis … as Fidel Castro, the leader of Communist Cuba, would explain … ‘The revolution needs the enemy. … The revolution needs for its development its antithesis.’ … And if enemies were lacking, they had to be fabricated. …”
Pipes added: “In 1934, a prominent Bolshevik, Sergei Kirov, the party boss of Lenningrad, was assassinated under mysterious conditions … evidence points to Stalin. … Kirov was gaining too much popularity in party ranks for Stalin’s comfort. … His assassination brought Stalin two advantages: it rid him of a potential rival and provided a rationale for instigating a vast campaign against alleged anti-Soviet conspirators. … Purges of the 1930s were a terror campaign that in indiscriminate ferocity and number of victims had no parallel in world history. … Authorities … beat them until they confess to their crimes they have not committed.”
In 1941, Russia was invaded by Germany’s National Socialist Workers Party or Nazis. Called the Eastern Front, it became the bloodiest theater in World War II, being considered the largest military confrontation ever and deadliest conflict in human history, with an estimate 30 million deaths. At the Battle of Sevastopol, Russia, 1941-42, over 200,000 were killed, wounded or captured.
Franklin Roosevelt stated March 1, 1945: “I saw Sevastopol and Yalta! And I know that there is not room enough on earth for both German militarism and Christian decency.”
The terror tactic was used by the National Socialist Workers Party (Nazi) to bring people into submission during World War II.
Franklin Roosevelt explained, Dec. 15, 1941: “Government to him is not the servant … of the people but their absolute master and the dictator of their every act.”
Nazi General Hans Frank plundered Poland, committing mass murder of millions of Poles and Jews in death camps. After the war, Hans Frank was arrested, tried and executed. During his imprisonment, Fr. O’Conner led Hans Frank to believe in the atonement of Christ for his many sins and he became a Roman Catholic.
At the Nuremberg Trials, Aug. 31, 1945, Hans Frank was remorseful, stating: “At the beginning of our way we did not suspect that our turning away from God could have such disastrous deadly consequences and that we would necessarily become more and more deeply involved in guilt. At that time we could not have known that so much loyalty and willingness to sacrifice on the part of the German people could have been so badly directed by us. Thus, by turning away from God, we were overthrown and had to perish. …”
Hans Frank continued: “Before all, God pronounced and executed judgment on Hitler and the system which we served with minds far from God. Therefore, may our people, too, be called back from the road on which Hitler – and we with him – have led them. I beg of our people NOT to continue in this direction, be it even a single step; because Hitler’s road was the way without God, the way of turning from Christ, and, in the last analysis, the way of political foolishness, the way of disaster, and the way of death. … His path became more and more that of a frightful adventurer without conscience or honesty, as I know today at the end of this Trial. We call upon the German people … to return from this road which, according to the law and justice of God, had to lead us and our system into disaster and which will lead everyone into disaster who tries to walk on it … everywhere in the whole world.”
To the annoyance of liberal academia, the high ideals of socialist and communist classless societies never materialize:
- Socialist and Communist leaders rule as dictators: Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Min, Kim Jong-il, Hitler, Castro, Ceausescu, Tito, etc.
- “Party members” effectively are “the new royalty,” living in special neighborhoods with special shops, and getting special treatment before the law, as long as they enforce the dictator’s will. If they are suspected of opposing him, they disappeared.
- “Citizens” are equivalent to subjects, peasants and serfs, with their fate dictated by the dictator and his enforcers.
Naïve students are taught Karl Marx’s maxim (“Critique of the Gotha Program,” 1875): “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
In practice, though, this is not the case. One need only ask: “Who gets to live in the nice house and who lives in the dumpy house?” The answer is: “Someone in the government dictates those things.” Well, whoever ultimately dictates those things is the dictator! Controlled media and rigged elections insure the dictator and his “royalty” enforcer-class stay in power.
In February 1945, Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn was arrested in the Soviet Union for writing politically incorrect comments against Stalin. Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned for eight years, as he described in his autobiographical lecture, printed in the Nobel Foundation’s publication, Les Prix Nobel, 1971: “I was arrested on the grounds of what the censorship had found in my correspondence with a school friend, mainly because of certain disrespectful remarks about Stalin, although we referred to him in disguised terms. A further basis for the ‘charge’ were drafts of stories and reflections which had been found in my map case.”
Solzhenitsyn secretly wrote drafts, being careful to keep them in hiding till they could be smuggled out the Russia. and printed in France with the title “The Gulag Archipelago.”
It was translated into 35 languages and sold over 30 million copies. Alexander Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, but the Communist government did not allow him to leave the country to accept it. In response to international pressure, the Soviet Union expelled him on Feb. 13, 1974.
The following year in Washington, D.C., Alexander Solzhenitsyn warned: “I … call upon America to be more careful … because they are trying to weaken you … to disarm your strong and magnificent country in the face of this fearful threat – one that has never been seen before in the history of the world.”
Solzhenitsyn explained how Russia became a socialist dictatorship: “Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened. …’ Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies. … But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.'”
Another Russian author, Dostoevsky, in his book “The Brothers Karamazov,” had the character Ivan Karamazov contend that if there is no God, “everything is permitted.”
One of America’s founders, Patrick Henry, gave a similar warning: “It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains.”
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