Ludwig Woitkiewicz

Photo courtesy of D.O. Yunak.

Wojtkiewicz, Ludwig Ludwigowich (1891–1941)

By Dmitry O. Yunak

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Dmitry O. Yunak graduated in Finance and Economics from a Soviet secular educational institution and completed a six-year course of Theology at an underground SDA Theological Institute (Moldova, USSR). In the Soviet times, he served as a pastor, administrator, and bible/history professor in the underground Theological Institute. In 1990, he was appointed as Treasurer and Publishing Ministries Director for the USSR Division. After the Euro-Asia Division was organized in 1991, Dmitry O. Yunak served as ESD auditor and under treasurer. He was the author of a dozen of SDA history books and scores of other publications. He owns a major SDA history archive.

First Published: February 6, 2023

Ludwig Ludwigowich Wojtkiewicz served the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a pastor and administrator in Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova.1

Early Years

Ludwig Ludwigowich Wojtkiewicz (known among Russian Adventists under exactly this name) was born into a German family in Riga in 1891. According to documents stored in the State Archive of the Russian Federation, the official name of Ludwig Wojtkiewicz was Ludwig-Friedrich Paulev Wojtkiewicz.2

Ministry

In 1914, Ludwig Ludwigowich Wojtkiewicz was elected treasurer of the West Russian Union. After the beginning of World War I, he moved, together with union headquarters, to the city of Saratov on the Volga. It did not take long before Adventist administrators in Saratov found themselves under police supervision. The police found out that the activities of Adventists in that city were guided by American citizens Julius-Theodor Martynov-Bether and Otto Reinke as well as by Ms. Agnessa-Elsa Poltrock from St. Petersburg and Mr. Ludwig-Friedrich Paulev Wojtkiewicz from Riga. In 1915, the police effected a search in union headquarters. On March 20, 1916, they searched the apartment occupied by J. T. Bether.

The chief of the Saratov provincial gendarme department wrote in his report No. 41531 as of May 22, 1916: “The fact of presence of such a well-consolidated group of Adventists is highly undesirable… It seems advisable to have all the above persons deported separately into remote areas of the Russian Empire.”3 Bether was ordered to leave Russia and had to return to the United States.

Wojtkiewicz was elected session secretary at the 3rd All-Russian Session of Seventh-day Adventists held in Saratov in 1917. In 1920, the delegates to the 4th All-Russian Session of Seventh-day Adventists (Moscow, September 29-30) elected Ludwig L. Wojtkiewicz to the position of the secretary-cashier of the All-Union Council of Seventh-day Adventists. He moved to Moscow and additionally took on the position of the executive secretary of the Northern Union.

Due to the lack of Adventist pastors in Siberia, the All-Union Council of Seventh-day Adventists resolved to transfer L. L. Wojtkiewicz, from March 1923, to the Siberian Union, where he was elected chair of the Middle Siberian Conference and settled in city of Petropavlovsk. In 1924, L. L. Wojtkiewicz was arrested by order of the All-Union State Political Administration under the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR (OGPU). He was under investigation for two and a half months and deprived of electoral rights. In 1925, L. L. Wojtkiewicz chaired the West Siberian Conference for four months.

In June 1925, L. L. Wojtkiewicz was elected chair of the Northern Union and held this office up to the Union session in 1928. He also supervised the White Sea Field until the year 1926. He lived in Leningrad during that time. From 1928, L. L. Wojtkiewicz took care of the Northern Conference. In 1931, he was transferred to Kiev, and he then served in the Odessa Region and the Autonomous Moldavian SSR (Black Sea Conference).

Marriage

L. L. Wojtkiewicz married Elena Friedrichovna Albrecht in Riga in 1914. Elena was born into a Lutheran family in Riga on March 29, 1891. In her younger days, she became acquainted with some Adventists. As a result, Elena and her mother were baptized in the Adventist Church, where they got to know Ludwig Wojtkiewicz. In December 1914, Elena and Ludwig married each other. After a year in city of Saratov, their daughter Gertrude was born.

Gertrude Wojtkiewicz, who now lives in America, remembers: “After my father was arrested for the last time in 1937, my mother and I had to leave the city within 24 hours. We settled down in city Alesha (Uriupinsk) that was… our last place of living in Ukraine.”4

Later Life

In 1934, L. L. Wojtkiewicz was re-arrested and sentenced to two and a half years of imprisonment. In 1937, he faced trial for the third time. He served his time in a labor camp and never returned home.5 During the following 23 years, the government refused to provide information on the fate of L. L. Wojtkiewicz. All those trials were tough on the health of his wife. It was only in 1960 that Elena and Gertrude learned, with the assistance of the American Red Cross, that their husband and father died at the age of 50 in a labor camp in 1941.

During World War II, Gertrude had to work at the military hospital to minister to injured German soldiers. When the Germans started to retreat from Russia, Elena and Gertrude followed them, keeping on holding casualties. Eventually, they found their relatives in Bayern and stayed with them for some time. In 1950, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists helped Elena and Gertrude immigrate to the United States. They settled down in Takoma Park, a suburb of Washington D.C., and Gertrude found a job at the Review and Herald Publishing House. In 1952, they moved to New York, where Gertrude continued working for the Church. At that time, Elena, L. L. Wojtkiewicz’s widow, had an accident. She fell down the stairs and suffered from severe trauma until her dying day. She needed to live in a different climate, so Elena and Gertrude moved first to Chicago and then to a rural area. Ultimately, they came to California, where Elena experienced three heart attacks. They learned that there are healthier living conditions at Foothills, so they moved to Rail Road Flat, California. While there, Elena Wojtkiewic died at the age of 91 in 1983. She left behind her daughter Getrude and two nieces, Liegard Laube and Elsa Elgud.

Contribution

As a successful administrator, Ludwig Wojtkiewicz played a key role in the growth of Adventism in parts of the former USSR, where he worked. He was a strong force in keeping Adventist churches together during difficult times of repression and the Great Terror years in the Soviet Union.

Sources

Due to decades of persecution, historical sources were very often not preserved in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and as a result, Adventist history in Russia and other successor states of the USSR is dependent on collective memory and oral traditions, on which this article draws.

Wojtkiewicz, Gertrude. “Pis’mo Rose Otis: Mogu li ja chem-to pomoch?” Slovo Primireniya, no. 16 (1991).

Yunak, D.O. Oblako svideteley. Rukovoditeli Tserkvi ASD v Rossii ot organizatsii yeyo pervoy obshchiny do zakrytiya Vsesoyuznogo Soyuza ASD. Unpublished manuscript, 2013.

Notes

  1. This article was translated from Russian by Vladimir Ievenko.

  2. Russian State Historical Archive, Fund 821, Inventory List 133, Case Number 209, 239-240.

  3. Russian State Historical Archive, Fund 821, Inventory List 133, Case Number 313, 160-164.

  4. Gertrude Wojtkiewicz, “Pis’mo Rose Otis: Mogu li ja chem-to pomoch?,” Slovo Primireniya, no. 16 (1991): 2.

  5. Dmitry O. Yunak, Oblako svideteley. Rukovoditeli Tserkvi ASD v Rossii ot organizatsii yeyo pervoy obshchiny do zakrytiya Vsesoyuznogo Soyuza ASD (Unpublished manuscript, 2013), 202-203.

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Yunak, Dmitry O. "Wojtkiewicz, Ludwig Ludwigowich (1891–1941)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. February 06, 2023. Accessed May 24, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=GD65.

Yunak, Dmitry O. "Wojtkiewicz, Ludwig Ludwigowich (1891–1941)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. February 06, 2023. Date of access May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=GD65.

Yunak, Dmitry O. (2023, February 06). Wojtkiewicz, Ludwig Ludwigowich (1891–1941). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=GD65.