That Putin’s regime has been able to put the memory of the Great Patriotic War (GPW) to political use is hardly news to any observer of Russia. What is often overlooked, however, is that the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) has contributed to the instrumentalization of this memory by the Kremlin. In this article, I aim to bridge this gap. Drawing on an analysis of the ROC’s commemorative activities, I reconstruct the specific, martyrological, interpretation of the GPW that it is forging. With sin, atonement, and glory as its central concepts, this interpretation invests the suffering and losses of the GPW with patriotic sense. Thus, it turns the politically problematic traumatic memory of the GPW into a politically useful one. Simultaneously, it is consistent with the triumphant cult of the GPW advanced by the Kremlin. It also perfectly suits the statist historical narrative focused on the continuity of Russia’s past, which is crucial for the ideology of Putin’s regime. Furthermore, this interpretation does not contradict the Soviet memory of the GPW that the regime relies on. Finally, in combining Orthodox Christianity with militarism, the martyrological interpretation of the GPW is highly suitable for the regime’s political business of the day, which is waging its war against Ukraine.

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