THE REMOVING OF THE METROPOLITAN DIONISII VALEDYNSKYI OF WARSAW AND THE BEGINNING OF THE REORGANIZATION OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN GERMAN-OCCUPIED POLAND
The article deals with the policy of the German authorities concerning the Orthodox Church in General Government from 1939 till 1940. The division of the Polish territory between Germany and the Soviet Union left only one of the five former Orthodox eparchies of Poland, the Warsaw-Kholm eparchy, in the General Government. The reduced hierarchy of this German-controlled Orthodox Church consisted of Metropolitan Dionisii Valedynskyi of Warsaw and bishop Tymofii Shretter.
In November 1939 the beleaguered Metropolitan Dionisii, attacked by Russian nationalists, was forced by the Gestapo to resign in favour of an outsider archbishop Seraphim Lade of Berlin. He belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and promoted German interests. Officially, however, Dionisii attributed his transfer of authorities to Seraphim to “the new political and administrative conditions created by the demise of Poland”. The majority of Nazi agencies supported the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in General Government. They considered autocephaly as granted to Polish state, not to the Orthodox people. Archbishop Seraphim, educated in Russian traditions, began to implement strong pro-Russian policies. He started the reorganization of church administration and created eparchial Bishop’s Council instead of consistory. However, under the German and Ukrainian pressure Seraphim was obliged to make concessions for the Ukrainians and accept Polish autocephaly.