Pursuit of an 'Unparalleled Opportunity'
The American YMCA and Prisoner of War Diplomacy among the Central Power Nations
during World War I, 1914-1923.
by Kenneth Steuer

Appendix 8j

Thus Saith the Lord: God Is Love

image The spiritual welfare of Russian prisoners of war was a primary concern for the YMCA. The availability of Russian Orthodox Bibles and religious tracts was in short supply in Germany during the war and the Association took great pains to provide spiritual comforts to Russian prisoners. This twenty-eight-page booklet was published in Russian by a German press and contains a selection of Bible verses and prayers. The book was prepared by the Deutsche Kriegsgefangenhilfe (German War Prisoners Aid), located in Berlin, and distributed by YMCA secretaries during their work in prison camps. Russian prisoners could request additional religious materials, such as evangelistic works, psalters, New Testaments, prayer books, or religious tracts, directly from the Deutsche Kriegsgefangenhilfe by filling out the request card at the back of the booklet. The American YMCA became deeply involved in the publication of Russian Orthodox materials during World War I, and significantly expanded operations after the Bolsheviks seized power after the October Revolution and established an atheist state. With the dissolution of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1918, the American YMCA took on the task of publishing Orthodox Bibles and religious texts to support the faith. The Association set up the largest Russian press outside of the Soviet Union in Paris to support Russian exile communities around the world and to challenge the ideological goals of the Bolsheviks.1


Note 1: Thus Saith the Lord: God Is Love. Cassel, Germany: Furche-Verlag, circa 1915. Armed Services Records Box 55, Folder: "Prisoner of War Pamphlets in Various Languages-ca. 1914-1918," Kautz Family YMCA Archives, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. back