‘What Kind of Christians Would We Be?’

Stand for Israel  |  March 7, 2022

Father Aleksei Glagolev, Christian from Ukraine who saved Jews during the Holocaust

Aleksey Glagolev was born into a Christian family in Kiev, Ukraine; his father was a Russian Orthodox priest, a professor of Jewish studies at the Kiev Theological Academy, and a longtime defender of Jews against Eastern Europe’s rampant anti-Semitism.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Aleksey studied at the academy, and soon encountered persecution because of his faith. The communists shut down the academy, forcing him to study illegally. In the 1930s, Aleksey was arrested and accused of acting against the communist revolution. After being set free, his voting rights were taken away and he was labeled the son of a “cult worker,” because of his father’s ministry. But Aleksey did not turn on his faith, continuing to work illegally for the church and receiving his own ordination in 1941.

In October of 1941, Aleksey’s sister-in-law asked him to help her brother’s Jewish wife. Aleksey and his wife gave the woman, Izabella Mirkina, an identity card and baptism certificate so she could escape, but she was unable to and returned. Despite having three children of their own, they sheltered the Jewish woman. “Tormented, we search for a way to save her,” said Aleksey. “What kind of Christians would we be if we refused this poor woman, who was reaching out to us and pleading for help?”

Izabella’s daughter Irina soon joined her mother in hiding at Aleksey’s home. He also helped other Jews, providing them with certificates of baptism and hiding them at his church.

Aleksey’s actions were not without persecution. He and his son Nikolay were arrested by the Nazis and deported to Germany. But the two escaped.

Because of the actions of Christian love shown by the Glagolev family, Jewish lives were saved. And because of this selflessness, Aleksey, his wife Tatyana, their daughter Magdalina, and their son Nikolay were all named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial.