Massacre of Cossacks in Lienz Memorial at St. John the Baptist Cossack Chapel in New Jersey

On June 7th, Cossacks gathered to commemorate the 70th year anniversary of the Massacre of Cossacks at Lienz at Saint John the Baptist Chapel in New Jersey. Memorial service was led by Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov (pastor emeritus of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ) was co-served by Eastern American Diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov (chaplain of the Kuban Cossack Voisko Abroad), Archpriest Alexey Bocharnikov (chaplain of the Cossack Congress in America), Archpriest Boris Slootsky, Protodeacon Leonid Roschko, and Deacon Paul Drozdowski (clerics of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral). The Memorial service was also attended by six of the remaining survivors who endured the horrors of the Massacre, and by the Vice Ataman of the Cossack Congress in America for the territory of the United States in America.

On June 1, 1945, at the conclusion of the Second World War, over 20,000 Cossacks were rounded up by the British Army near the town of Lienz, Austria, and handed over for deportation to the Soviet Union. This action was in accordance with agreements at the Yalta and Tehran Conferences of the Allied Powers, which determined that all Soviet refuges and prisoners of war be repatriated if found within other Allied-controlled zones. As many of the Cossacks at Lienz were White émigrés and their children, they refused repatriation on account of the fact that they had never been Soviet citizens. This led to an organized forcible removal, which began while the Cossacks had gathered to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in an open field. The resulting operation left hundreds of Cossack men, women, and children dead, while hundreds more were sent to certain death in the Soviet camps.

At the end of the service, Fr. Valery delivered a sermon on the spiritual importance of this panihida.

To further commemorate this event, a memorial chapel dedicated to St. Alexis was erected and consecrated at the Cossack Memorial Cemetery outside Lienz a week prior, where the acting representative of the Cossack Congress in America Vladimir Bolderev was also present.

The chaplain of the Cossack Congress in America, Father Alexey Bocharnikov, reminded everyone that the cultural genocide against Cossacks is still ongoing today, even almost 100 years after. " There are those who were denied the right visit the newly built memorial Chapel in Lienz, traveling from Russia unable to leave their Country, being harassed at the airports . The cultural genocide of Cossacks continues, despite having almost 100 year pass since the day it began."

Following the memorial service, everyone was invited to visit the Cossack hall for a lunch, and to visit the Kuban Cossack museum.

Photographs provided by the Eastern American Diocese