Eighty years ago on this day, May 22, 1932, Josef Stalin began his program to eliminate the very memory of the name of God in the Soviet Union within 5 years. The following account of Stalin’s “atheistic five-year plan” is from a Russian site and is clumsily translated into English, so I’ll edit it slightly:
On Tuesday, there will be 80 years since the Soviet government issued a decree on “atheistic five-year plan.”
Stalin set a goal: the name of God should be forgotten on the territory of the whole country [by] May 1, 1937, the article posted by the Foma website says.
Over 5 million militant atheists were living in the country then. Anti-religious universities – special educational establishments for training people for decisive attack against religion – were organized.
According to the plan on religion liquidation, all churches and prayer houses should have been closed [in] 1932-1933, all religious traditions implanted by literature and family [in] 1933-1934. It was planned that the country, and firstly, youth would be grasped by total anti-religious propaganda [in] 1934-1935; the last clerics were to be eliminated [in]1935-1936; the very memory about God should have been disappeared from life to 1937.
However, the 1937 census in which a question about religion was included on Stalin’s instruction puzzled Bolsheviks: 84% of 30 million illiterate USSR citizens aged over 16 said they were believers; the same was reported by 45% of 68.5 million literate citizens.