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Tolstoyans and International Pacifist Movement in the 1920-1930s: The Early History of European Transnational Solidarity

The project concerns the Russian pacifist movement created at the end of the 19th by Tolstoyans’ (the disciples of Leo Tolstoy) in the broader context of the international pacifist movement of the 1920-1930s. Tolstoyans’ movement had a definite identity as a radical pacifist, Christian socialist and anarchist movement. The ultimate goal of the Tolstoyan pacifists was to establish a universal brotherhood of the entire humanity by means of a peaceful spiritual revolution.

The aim of my project is to trace the international connections of the Russian Tolstoyans in the 1920-1930s and evaluate their intellectual and organizational contribution to the transnational activity of the European pacifist movement. The international collaboration between Russian and European pacifists became more active during the First World War and it continued after the October Revolution until the early 1930s. Tolstoyans made a great effort to create the organizational structures of international solidarity. In this field the contacts with War Resisters International, International Fellowship of Reconciliation и some other European pacifist and Christian groups was of primary importance. The result was not only the globalization of resistance to war, but also an attempt to create an alternative to the violent Bolshevik revolution in the form of an international nonviolent religious movement from below.

The research is based on the recently opened records from the personal archival fond of the leader of the movement V. Chertkov (Department of Manuscripts of the Russian State Library) and Tolstoyan underground samizdat.

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