Olga Litzenberger

The role of Lutherans in Russian history

Author´s photo from her FB bio

The place and role of a particular faith in public life are not permanent, they depend on specific historical conditions and change over time. Lutheranism appeared in the Russian lands during the lifetime of its founder, Martin Luther (1483-1546). And already from this very time the Evangelical Lutheran Church was of great importance in the socio-economic and political history of our state.

Russian Lutherans occupied prominent posts, directed ministries and departments, created parties and public unions, participated in the work of the State Duma. In 1853, the number of Lutherans in the State Council reached 16.3% (9 out of 55 people), in the Committee of Ministers - 11.1% (2 of 18 people), in the Senate - 10.6% (12 out of 113 people) in the governor's corps - 18.7% (9 out of 49 people).

From Lutheran families there were: vice-chancellor, senator, member of the Supreme Privy Council Count A.I. Osterman, the chief of the corps of gendarmes and the chief of the Third Section of his own Imperial Majesty, the chancellery of A.Kh.Benckendorf, Foreign Minister Baron AI Budberg, Minister of Education, Prince KA.Lieven, finance ministers E.F. Kankrin and M.H. Reitern, Chairmen of the Committee of Ministers N.Kh. Bunge, and Count S.Yu. Witte.

Among the famous governors of the Lutheran confession - the St. Petersburg military governor-general, the Riga Governor-General, Count FF. Buxgevden, military governor of the Fergana region. - A.I. Gippius, Governor-General of Western Siberia - G.Kh. Gasfort. Only among the Ekaterinoslav governors of the nineteenth century. there are about 10 Lutherans.

The interests of the Ostsee Lutheran nobility in the State Duma were represented by the barons G. von Rosen and A. von Meyendorff, in the State Council - columns P. Fon der Palen, V. Reitern, Baron A. Pilar-von-Pilhau, etc. In the "Union of October 17 "Was created the so-called. "German group", one of the leaders of which was Lutheran NA. Amburger.

Lutherans played a special role not only in the political development of the country, they were the military elite of Russia and with honor defended the glory of the new homeland. Lutherans were officers and generals, whose biographies became part of Russian military history - commander, general-field marshal, hero of the Patriotic War of 1812, prince MB. Barclay de Tolly, General-Field Marshal, President of the Military Collegium Earl B.Kh. von Minich. Of the ten participants in the famous military council in Fili, the three were Lutherans - M.B. Barclay de Tolly, LL Bennigsen, K.F.Tol. The wide foreign representation among the generals of 1812 - out of 550 generals 117 - was of European origin - even provoked dissatisfaction with the Russian officers.

It is impossible to overestimate the importance that Lutherans had on Russian culture and science. Protestants began to play an increasingly prominent role in Russian science and culture as a result of the reforms of Peter I. So the German Slavicist Henry Ludolf composed the first grammar of the Russian language. The birth of Russian history as a science took place with the participation of Peter's academicians Miller, Bayer, Streeter and Schlözer. Probst Johann Ernst Gluck, from 1703, he taught Russian nobility to foreign languages, and from 1704 he opened a gymnasium for young men in Moscow. Especially strong influence was rendered by foreigners to the domestic science after the creation of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1725, the selection of cadres for which was directed by the Lutheran, the medical doctor L. Blumentrost. In the years 1725-1799. of the 111 academicians of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 71 were Protestants of German descent.

The first complete skeleton of the mammoth, preserved in the permafrost of the delta of the river. Lena discovered and edited in 1805 a professor, Lutheran M.I. Adams.Thanks to the translator R. von Walter, the son of a member of the General Evangelical Lutheran Consistory in Europe, Russian writers - Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Gogol, Goncharov, Blok, Pasternak and many others - learned Russian.

The representation of Lutherans was also noticeable in all spheres of the economic life of the country. In the XVII century. famous master caster, Lutheran Hans Falk, casting bells and cannons, and founded a glass factory. The founder of coins of a new pattern and the first medals in Russia (1705) was G. Haupt. The father and son of Kinemann left a notable mark in the arms business of Russia. The first iron plants belonged to the Lutherans Peter Marcelis and Philemon Akme.

Foreigners of the Protestant confession made a significant contribution to the development of mining in Russia and the creation of the Ural and Altai ore-dressing districts. In 1751, a post of pastor in Barnaul was established specifically for a group of German specialists in mining. In 1764, Lutheran pastor Eric Laxmann arrived in the city. In addition to pastoral work, he studied mining, developed a new method for obtaining glass, manufactured thermometers and barometers, collected collections of flora, fauna and mineralogy of Altai, collaborated with the inventor of the steam engine Ivan Polzunov, received the honorary title of Academician of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences.

A significant contribution to the development of the textile industry of central Russia in the nineteenth century. introduced the "cotton king" Ludwig Knop, awarded the title of baron of the Russian Empire for his services to the domestic industry. Leading position in the Russian business was occupied by the financial and industrial concern Vogau. Since 1853, Karl Siemens has headed the branch of the oldest German electrical concern Siemens in Russia. Own factories in the country were the leading chemical concerns BASF, Höchst and Bayer.

Lutherans contributed to the settlement of the Russian territory and the development of agricultural lands: at the end of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.having founded hundreds of agricultural colonies in the Volga region, in the Black Sea, on the Don, near St. Petersburg and in other areas of pre-revolutionary Russia.

The Lutherans had a significant influence on the development and development of Russian medicine. Since the XVI century. the leadership of the medical services of Russia was concentrated in the hands of immigrants from Western European states.The first pharmacists of Russia in the service of Ivan the Terrible - G. Schlitte, A. Classen-von-Stellinsfort. Of the court medical Lutheran XVII century. can be called A. Engelart and L. Blumentrost. Lutherans were the first to open pharmacies, hospitals, shelters in Russia. The first state pharmacy in Moscow appeared thanks to Lutheran I. Gutmensch in 1672. In St. Petersburg, the first private pharmacy was opened in 1760 by the Lutheran M. Berendt, in Saratov the first pharmacy in the city appeared in 1805 thanks to Lutheranin Lindegren. The first hospital in Moscow was founded in 1705 by the Dutch doctor N. Bidloo.

A significant contribution to the development of the socio-economic life of the country and its spiritual culture was made by Lutheran pastors. Many priests were educated people, writers, poets, historians, translators, doctors, teachers. The pastor of the first evangelical community in Moscow was I. Wetterman, known for having systematized the collection of books by Ivan the Terrible.

For the first time in the country, the social insurance system for beggars was offered by the pastor I. Grot (1733-1799). The first all-class general educational secular educational institution in Moscow was opened by the pastor I.E. Gluck (1654-1705).The first school for the deaf-mute in the country (1860) and the school for the blind (1882) were created by Bishop G. Dikgof (1833-1911). The author of the first translation of the Bible into Russian and Latvian was the pastor I.E. Gluck, the translator of "The Lay of Igor's Host" was the pastor K. Zedergolm (1789-1867).

                                                                                                                                               The house-museum of Pastor Gluck in Aluksne

Pastor Johann Gregory (1631-1675),  who had the talent to "compose and present comedies," entered Russian history as the organizer of the first court theater in Moscow, whose artists were pupils of the Lutheran school and residents of the Novo-German village. On the day of the first performance of the play "Artaxerxes", October 17, 1672, Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich "in surprise ... watched for ten hours without getting up." After the premiere, the Emperor awarded the pastor 42 sables and allowed him to duty-free pour beer for household use.

To the Evangelical Lutheran religion belonged well-known noble families. Among them, the Lutherans, who lived in Russia for a long time and supported the church of St. Catherine in St. Petersburg, Swedish inventors and industrialists Nobels, a family of artists and architects Brullov, jewelers Faberge. The descendants of the Lutheran Bezakov (whose genus is the chief procurator of the Senate, the head of the main administration of Posts and Telegraphs, the author of the arithmetic textbooks, the adjutant of the Grand Duke), Ikskulei (in whose family - the governor of Livonia, the member of the State Council, the ambassador in Italy, the ambassador in London, the marshal, etc.) and many others. 

Among the known Lutherans are also the seafarers F.F. Bellingshausen, I.F.Krusenstern, Baron F.P. Wrangel, Earl of F.P. Litke; philologist, poet, paleographer and archaeographer A.Kh. East (Ostenec); Pushkin's friend, poet, critic AA Delvig; lexicographer, ethnographer V.I. Dahl; painter Ya.Ya. Weber;family of musicians Gedike. The author of the libretto of M.I. Glinka "Life for the Tsar" was Baron, Lutheran EF. Rosen.

Throughout Russian history, Lutherans shaped the worldview of Russian tsars and individual statesmen, and were among the court nobles. Among the closest advisors to Peter the Great, the majority were Protestants: Colonel of the Russian service Franz Lefort, who trained the king in the treatment of astrolabe Timmerman, who instilled in Peter love for ships and sails Karsten-Brother. Famous nobles of the royal court and the approximate emperor were the son of the cister and organist of the Lutheran community P.I. Yaguzhinsky, the children of the wine merchant Mons - Filimon and William, the sons of Bruce - Jacob and William, etc. In the process of reforming Russia, replacing in 1717-1718. obsolete system of orders by twelve colleges, Peter I used the recommendations and the project of the German philosopher and mathematician, Leutmann's Lutheran, who, in turn, He received permission from the Tsar to conduct a Protestant mission in the Asian part of Russia. In addition, the Lutherans were members of the ruling dynasty, were close relatives of the crowned persons, were among the court nobles.

The contribution of the Lutherans to the politics, economy, culture and education of the Russian Empire was very weighty and varied. Of course, Lutheranism was considered a religion of foreigners, and therefore its role radically differed from the role of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is the first in the country. But in his most amazing way it was destined to influence the course of the entire Russian history.
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Olga Litzenberger - Candidate of Historical Sciences, doctoral student of Saratov State University
From the editors: the role of the Lutherans in the history of our country, of course, is not limited to a list of names of outstanding personalities. Russian Lutherans, as well as Christians of other faiths, plowed the land, sowed bread, raised children, built houses and churches, traded in markets, worked in manufactories. Lutheranism, like Orthodoxy or Catholicism, was not a strictly elite denomination, a confession of noble, rich and successful people. However, for us, Russian Lutherans of the beginning of the 21st century, the knowledge of faith brothers who have achieved fame and fame in the field of public service in the past is of particular importance. Brought up in the years of state atheism, prejudice against believers and their image introduced into the consciousness of society, as people of the narrow-minded, uneducated, illiterate, passive, continue to beat us today. Article by Olga Andreevna Litzenberger,

Text Source: Magazine "Church of Ingria" №3-4 / 47-48 / December 2003
Photos source:  Google Images


  1. Source can be read here also: http://www.gumer.info/bogoslov_Buks/protestant/Article/Lic_RolLut.php


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