The first Lutherans came to Russia five centuries ago. Although Lutheranism is not recognized as a traditional confession yet, Lutherans have long become an integral part of Russia and contributed to the development of the country. They came to the country for various reasons. First of all, Russian tsars were interested in foreign experts and invited doctors, pharmacists, artists, printers, translators and military men to serve at the court. Many of them: Finns, Swedes, Germans, the Dutch were Lutherans. Lutheran pastors came to Russia along with the foreigners. In the 16-19th centuries the number of Lutherans in Russia increased as a result of wars because Lutheran lands were annexed to Russian territory. Lutheran prisoners of war were settled apart in different Russian cities. It is thought that various specialists began to come to Russia in the last years of Prince Basil III and under Ivan IV the Terrible. The tsars needed Western experts and preferred to invite Lutherans because the Russian state had to fight against Catholic Poland. After the Time of Trouble the Romanovs house ruled for three hundred years. It reflected favorably on the growth of the number of Lutherans, and their settlement territory expanded.
Under Catherine II the number of Lutherans in Russia increased noticeably.
They settled mostly in the Volga region. Smaller German settlements appeared also in the South of Russia. Some Lutheran congregations found themselves on the Russian territory as a result of the division of Poland and annexation of Livonia and Kurland. Lutherans, more than others, promoted the cultural, intellectual, political and military development of the Russian state. In the middle of the 18th century there were 71 Lutherans among the 111 members of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In the middle of the 19th century there were up to 16% Lutherans in the State Council of Russia, 11% in the Council of Ministers, 10% in the Senate, 18% among the governors. The military elite of Russia consisted of Lutherans. In the war against Napoleon, 117 of 550 Russian army generals were Lutherans. They all were Russian patriots! We suggest that you take a closer look at some of these Lutherans. Their service to the Russian people is, probably, to be re-evaluated by our descendants.
Few people know that the actual founder of Russian book printing was Johannem Missengeim, a teacher of the first Russian printer Ivan Fyodorov. He was a Danish book binder. He worked in the first Moscow anonymous printing house ten years before the official printing house was opened in 1563. Missengeim printed the first Moscow printed book, narrow-font Four Gospels, which did not have any masthead.
Johann Gregory was a pastor of St. Peter and Paul congregation in Moscow German village and one of the organizers and directors of the first court theater in Russia. At first all performances were related to religious holidays. Boyar Artamon Matveev, an educated man, who accepted the Western culture, provided help for the theater. Johann Gregory wrote the first Russian play, which was based on the Biblical story of Esther.
Heinrich Ludolf was a Slavonic scholar, a friend of Russia, the author of the first Russian Grammar of 1696. Boris Golitsyn, a tutor of Peter the Great, helped Ludolf to write this Grammar. The purpose of the author was to describe the colloquial Russian language. He described full Russian vowels, set up a phonetic correspondence between the Russian and Church Slavonic languages, and described the absence of vowel gradation in Russian declension. Everyday-life and religious training dialogues, which make up a major part of the textbook, are of special value.
Johann Glück was a Lutheran pastor, a founder and the first rector of a high school in Moscow. Marta Skowrońska, who was an orphan and the future empress Catharine I, was raised in the house of Glück. Peter the Great appreciated Glück’s knowledge and experience and supported the project of a large school for the youth, where students could study foreign languages, geography, math, history and other sciences. Brothers Abraham, Isaak, and Fyodor Veselovsky were the first students of this school. Johann Glück also translated the New Testament and Lutheran Catechism into Russian.
Vitus Bering was a Russian officer and explorer. As an experienced seafarer he was invited to serve in the Russian Navy. He took part in the Prussian campaign of Peter the Great and in the Baltic battles against the Swedes. In 1725 Vitus Bering was appointed to lead the Kamchatka expedition to find out if there is a straight between Asia and America. The expedition proved the existence of the straight and discovered a part of the Aleutian Islands. The straight, the sea in the Northern part of the Pacific Ocean, the glacier, and the village on the Chukotski peninsula were named after Bering.
Eric Laxman was a Lutheran pastor, explorer and natural scientist. He explored natural resources and fauna of Altai. He described a number of formerly unknown animals, collected a luxuriant herbarium, mineral and insect collections. In 1764 he ran an experiment to melt glass with sodium sulfate at Barnaul glass factory. The use of Glauber salt instead of soda and potash in glass melting was an important achievement in applied chemical science. In 1768 Eric Laxman was elected to the Petersburg Academy of Sciences. He also explored Lake Onega.
Fabian Gottlieb Thaddeus von Bellingshausen
Admiral Bellingshausen commanded the Baltic fleet and took part in the Russian-Turkish war. He participated in two circumnavigations of the globe and discovered the continent of Antarctica. During this expedition in the South hemisphere the explorers managed to circumnavigate the continent of Antarctica twice. In doing so they sailed within the South polar circle six times and approached the continent closely four times.
Ivan Kruzenshtern was a Russian navigator, admiral, honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. He led the first Russian circumnavigation expedition. During this expedition the explorers carried out extensive oceanographic and meteorological work in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. They pioneered systematic deep-water ocean investigations. Ivan Kruzenshtern made a list and described a part of Kuril Islands, Sakhalin coasts, Kamchatka, and some Japanese Islands. He presented the results of his explorations in a three-volume work. He was a director of a Russian Navy School. He initiated the foundation of the Russian Geographical Society.
Alexander Osteneck was known under the name of Vostokov. He was a poet, philologist, Slavonic scholar, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, academician. In 1812 he published a book “Russian Poem-Writing Experience,” which was praised by the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. As a poet Alexander Vostokov developed lofty poetic genres, introduced solemn oratory speech into poetic language. Vostokov contributed to the compilation of Russian and Church Slavonic Dictionary. He discovered and published the most ancient dated book written in Slavonic vernacular, the so-called Ostromir Gospel.
Baron Anton Delvig was a poet. He graduated from the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum, where he became close friends with Alexander Pushkin. In 1818 he was elected to the Free Society of Literature, Science and Art Lovers. In his poetry, Delvig upheld the waning traditions of Russian Neoclassicism. The main genres of his lyrics were imitation of ancient Greek poets and poems in the spirit of Russian folk songs. In spite of its seclusiveness, Delvig’s lyrics played a significant role in the development of poetical forms and technique. Anton Delvig was one of the first to develop the Russian sonnet form. Some of his poems were put to music; one of them was “Nightingale” to A.A.Alyab’ev’s music.
Vladimir Dal was one of the greatest Russian language lexicographers. He graduated from the St Petersburg Naval Cadet School. Then he studied medicine at Dorpat University and took part as a military doctor in the Russo-Turkish War. He was a founding member of the Russian Geographical Society. He knew at least six languages. His magnum opus, Explanatory Dictionary of the Live Great Russian language, contained about 200 thou words in four huge volumes. For his great dictionary Dal was honoured by the Lomonosov Medal, the Constantine Medal (1863) and an honorary fellowship in the Russian Academy of Sciences.