‘My mission to clear the name of Russia’s last tsar’ – Paul Gilbert

newbanner

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Royal Russia. Since 1994, I have dedicated myself to the full time research and writing on the Romanov dynasty, their legacy, and the history of Imperial and Holy Russia. I have been able to accomplish this through my web site, news blog, and Facebook pages, nearly 30 working visits to Russia, and the publication of numerous books and journals.

My primary interest has always been the life and reign of Russia’s last emperor and tsar Nicholas II. Beginning in 2019, I will be devoting much of my time and resources to the research and writing on the much slandered tsar.

In 1967, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Robert K. Massie released Nicholas & Alexandra. To date, it has sold more than 7 million copies, and translated into dozens of languages including Russian. In 2012, Random House issued a new edition containing much new information. Thanks to Massie’s book, millions of readers were given a fresh and very different look into the life of Russia’s last tsar. Instead of the ‘Bloody Nicholas’ portrayed in Bolshevik propaganda, Massie introduced his readers to a devoted husband and loving father, one who was dedicated to his God anointed position as autocratic ruler of the Russian Empire.

In the last 50 years, Massie’s now classic work opened a floodgate of new biographies and studies by Western historians (both professional and amateur). They claim that their works are the final say on the life and reign of Nicholas II. They do not! 

‘Re-examine all that you’ve been told . . . dismiss that which insults your soul’

Walt Whitman’s famous words are a reminder that it is now time to re-examine the many biographies and studies of Nicholas II, published in the past half century by Western historians.

Sadly, many of them have rehashed the many myths and lies about Nicholas II which were planted more than a century ago by his detractors, and allowed to germinate during the 20th and into the current century.

Their works are based on resources made available to them during their research. Having said that, however, much of that research remains stuck in the 1960s and 70s. It is time to take a fresh look at their works, re-evaluate and compare them to the research of their post-Soviet Russian contemporaries.

issues

SOVEREIGN

It was the enduring myths and lies about the reign of Russia’s last emperor and tsar, which compelled me to launch the publication Sovereign: The Life and Reign of Emperor Nicholas II in 2015. Published bi-annually (Spring and Autumn), this unique journal gives voice to Russian historians, and features research based on new documents discovered in Russian archives since the fall of the Soviet Union.

By the end of this year, a total of 12 issues will have been published, including 3 Special Issues: No. 7 – Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg, July 2018; No. 9 – Nicholas II Conference Proceedings, October 2018; and No. 11 – the Royal Russia Papers.

Sovereign gained a much wider readership in 2018, the year marking the 150th anniversary of the birth, and the 100th anniversary of the death of Nicholas II. This was thanks to a full page colour advert in the July issue of Majesty Magazine, the Nicholas II Conference held in Colchester, England, and numerous media coverage.

img_0444 (1)

Paul Gilbert at St. John’s Orthodox Church, Colchester, England

NICHOLAS II CONFERENCE

As noted above, 2018 marked the 150th anniversary of the birth, and the 100th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Nicholas II. It was such an honour to organize and host the Nicholas II Conference at St. John’s Orthodox Church, in Colchester, England, on 27th October,

More than 100 people from 11 countries attended this historic event, which featured 5 speakers, who presented 7 papers on the life, reign, and sainthood of Russia’s last tsar. The proceedings have been published in the No. 9 2018 issue of Sovereign.

This historic event received congratulations and support from the Russian, Serbian, and Greek Orthodox Churches, as well as the Head of the Russian Imperial House HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna.

0176d

MEDIA INTEREST

In 2018, I participated in a a special 6-part video series commemorating the Romanovs Martyrdom Centennial, prepared by the Monastery of St John the Forerunner Mesa Potamos. Click on the above image to watch part 5, my interview The Conspiracy Against Nicholas II.

I was also the subject of an interview for the English language Russia Beyond (a project/brand established by the TV-Novosti company owned by the Rossiya Segodnya which is a state news agency in Russia). Click on the following link to read Why does a Brit fight for the truth about Nicholas II and the Romanovs? by Alexandra Guzeva. To date, it has been translated into SerbianGerman, Italian, PortugueseBulgarianCroatian, among several other languages.

untitled2untitled

NEW WEB SITE & FACEBOOK PAGES

I am pleased to announce that a new web site and Facebook page, dedicated to Nicholas II have been launched. My NEW Facebook page was launched on 1st January, and my NEW web page was launched on 22 January. Both feature articles, news from Russian media, exhibitions, videos, photos, book reviews, and more. Please click on the above banners to review each of them.

Both will present articles and news which acknowledge the many accomplishments made by Nicholas II during his reign from 1894-1917. In an effort to present a more honest assessment of his life and reign, the widely held negative myths and lies, will be discussed and debunked with new facts and information. 

The Facebook page also includes a link to the my new discussion group Царебожники / Tsarebozhnikiwhich was launched on 18th May 2018, the day marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Nicholas II.

Tsarebozhniki brings together adherents of Nicholas II to discuss his life and reign, and features current news, review books and documentaries, photos, videos, and more. This group is open to Russophiles, Romanovphiles, Orthodox Christians, monarchists, and others who share an interest in Russia’s last sovereign and Christian monarch. Tsarebozhniki currently has more than 600 members.

NEW PUBLISHING PROJECTS

After downsizing many projects affiliated with Royal Russia, I can now focus on a number of publishing projects, which I have planned or are nearing completion.

These include: Nicholas II. Portraits & Monuments (2019); My Russia. Ekaterinburg (2019); Nicholas II in Post-Soviet Russia (2019); and Nicholas II. A Century of Myths and Lies (2020). Note: the covers of the titles depicted above are subject to change prior to publication.

Much of the research which I have put into each of these titles is based widely on my many visits to Ekaterinburg, St. Petersburg, Moscow and Crimea over the years, my own photographs, and Russian language sources, thus presenting much new information to those interested in the life and reign of Russia’s last emperor and tsar.

0117

MY EFFORTS TO CLEAR THE NAME OF NICHOLAS II

My efforts to take a fresh look at the life and reign of Russia’s last emperor and tsar have been met with both praise and indignation.

The praise comes from monarchists, members of the Orthodox community, and adherents to Nicholas II, all of whom do not accept the widely accepted negative assessment of Nicholas II, which has stood for much of the past century.

The indignation comes from Nicholas II’s many detractors, among them Communists, Leninites, anti-monarchists, etc. They accuse me of hagiography. romanticizing or whitewashing the truth, or viewing the reign of Nicholas II through “rose tinted glasses.” So be it! What is so frustrating is that these are the same people who simply refuse to remove their blinders and examine new documents and research discovered in post-Soviet archives in Russia in recent years.

Russian historian Pyotr Multatuli hit the nail on the head when he wrote, “We combine indifference to our own history with our maximalism and categorical judgments. Thus we lose the ability to hear others. Everybody is content with his own biases without thinking that in the case of the holy passion-bearer his opinion is borrowed and that he was too lazy to form his own opinion. More than twenty-five years have passed since the collapse of the USSR, and truthful books on the Imperial Family were published since as early as perestroika. But most people don’t read them and retain the outdated stereotypical views.”

© Paul Gilbert. 31 January 2019

The emperor’s wallet. How much did Nicholas II spend on charity?

banner

Poster for the international scientific conference “The Righteous Live Forever …”

On 24-25 January 2019, an international scientific conference “The Righteous Live Forever …” was held in the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg.

The conference, which was organized by the Elisavetinsko-Sergievsky Educational Society Foundation, was the conclusion of events marking the 100th anniversary of the murders of members of the Russian Imperial Family in 1918 and 1919 by the Bolsheviks.

Often acting anonymously

One of the central themes of the conference was the enormous charitable activities carried out by the Imperial family. According to historians, the Bolsheviks did much to shape a negative image of the Imperial family. They created myths that Nicholas II spent enormous funds for his own needs, although in fact he and his family lived quite modestly. In addition, each member of the Imperial family had their own personal “charity programs,” making sizable donations from their own pockets, for the maintenance of hospitals, educational institutions, and other charitable organizations. 

Nicholas II had enormous funds at his disposal, however, an annual budget of the Imperial Court was strictly adhered to, which included the personal expenses of the family. There were strict calculations, in which even the purchase of new clothes was regulated, says historian Professor Igor Zimin, one of Russia’s foremost experts and author of numerous books on the last tsar and his family. 

The Russian State Historical Archive has in its collection, an accounting book of Nicholas II. In fact, the ‘Emperor’s Personal Wallet’, record donations he made to a number of charities. These include expenses on pensions, the maintenance of boarders and the upbringing of children, donations, allowances, gifts and cash awards. Plus extraordinary expenses that went in favor of educational or charitable institutions, including churches. The accounting book records various sums of donations – 16,400 rubles, 44 thousand rubles, 11 thousand, 500 rubles, etc.

wx1080

Delegates attending the conference held on 24-25 January in St. Petersburg

The sovereign received a large amount of correspondence with requests to help or participate in charity events. It is recorded that in 1898, Nicholas II gave 5 thousand rubles for the completion of an Orthodox church in a remote region of Russia. And to help someone’s widow he gave out 350 rubles annually from his own funds. The first St. Petersburg State Medical University emerged largely due to the participation of the emperor. Often the sovereign acted anonymously. In 1901 he ordered the transfer of 50 rubles to the editorial office of a magazine for Russian disabled persons – as an anonymous donation.

Help and aid

According to Professor Zimin, all members of the Imperial family considered it their direct duty to help and give to those less fortunate. The expenses of the Romanovs grew precisely because donations increased every year.

The Emperor’s wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, initiated the annual Christmas trees for children from poor families. She contributed to the founding of numerous educational institutions, shelters, and hospitals. She worked as a Red Cross Nurse when the war between Germany and Russia began in 1914. It is impossible to imagine the spouse of a member of the Politburo working as a nurse in a soldiers’ hospital during Soviet times. During the war, her children asked that in lieu of gifts, that the money be given to help orphans and soldiers. 

“Once the sovereign with his family stopped at one of the railway stations. A local official turned to him telling the tsar that his small salary was not enough for his large family. Nicholas II promised that he would receive 30 rubles a month, and his son and heir Tsesarevich Alexei said that he would add another 40 rubles a month,” notes Chief Specialist of the State Archive of the Russian Federation Vladimir Khrustalev.

4_1b71481d

Information boards told the story of the Imperial family’s philanthropy

“The Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana headed committees which provided direct assistance to those who suffered in hostilities as well as their families,” says the head of the history department of Kaliningrad State Technical University, Professor Alexei Khitrov.

Their respective committees created more than a dozen forms of assistance and 30 projects to collect donations. All those in need received money, clothes, and work. They had the support of local governors, representatives of the diocese, zemstvo, city public administration, leaders of the nobility, and representatives of charitable organizations. 

In cooperation with the central government and the patronage of the Imperial Court, this created a system of democratic centralism, working effectively through the years of the First World War. In 1914, thousands of refugees from the Polish and Baltic provinces flooded into Russia. But thanks to the work of the committees, they were all fed, clothed and sheltered. 

The Olginsky and Tatiana Committees distributed 68 million rubles in aid. There were no allegations of corruption, dishonesty, or wasting money.  By the beginning of 1917, the committees set up work on registering and assisting refugees. The Olginsky and Tatiana committees were recognized as the most viable of all the institutions of that time. They worked effectively until the spring of 1918, after the Russian Empire crumbled under the Bolshevik order.

© Paul Gilbert. 31 January 2019

Photos 17 – 20 of Nicholas II

I must apologize for the quality of some of the photographs, however, this is something which I have no control over. Where possible, photographs have been chosen for their visual impact, but historical accuracy has made it vital to include a number of photographs whose quality is poor, but whose value as historical documents is considerable. Sadly, during the Soviet years, many photographs of the Imperial family were stored under poor conditions and their standard is low – PG

© Paul Gilbert. 30 January 2019

2 NEW Issues of Sovereign in the Works

new2

I am pleased to announce that 2 NEW issues of Sovereign will be published over the next 3 months.

SOVEREIGN No. 10 SPRING 2019 – AVAILABLE MAY 2019

Our TENTH issue features 7 full-length articles, including 5 FIRST ENGLISH translations of works by Russian historians + 2 additional articles:

1. Nicholas II in the Words of His Contemporaries by Pyotr Multatuli. Translated by William Lee

2. Nicholas II in the Historical Memory of the Kuban Cossacks by O.V. Matveev. Translated by William Lee

3. The Wardrobe of the Imperial Family: The History of the Alexander Palace Collection by A.S. Rognatev. Translated by William Lee

4. Investigator Sokolov: “The Tsar’s Suffering Is Russia’s Suffering” by Y.Y. Vorobyevsky. Translated by Elizabeth S. Yellen

5. Novonikolayevsk: Born of the People’s Ambition and the Tsar’s Beneficence, Emperor Nicholas II and the City of Novosibirsk: Parallels Between Past and Present by E. Tsybizov. Translated by Elizabeth S. Yellen

6. Memorandum to Tsar Nicholas II by Pyotr Durnovo

7. My Mission to Clear the Name of Russia’s Last Tsar by Paul Gilbert

and Sovereign News – featuring news highlights from Russian media resources

***

SOVEREIGN No. 11 SPECIAL ‘ROYAL RUSSIA PAPERS’ 2019NOW IN STOCK!

Our ELEVENTH issue is dedicated to the ROYAL RUSSIA PAPERS. This SPECIAL ISSUE features 11 articles and many NEW photographs:

1. Russia’s Last Star: Nicholas II and Cinema by Viktor Belyakov;

2. Nicholas & Alexandra: A Love Affair in Letters by Vladimir Oustimenko;

3. The Imperial Family at Tobolsk by Paul Gilbert;

4. Nicholas II: A Re-evaluation of the Reign of Russia’s Last Tsar by Katie Danae Wilkens;

5. The Fall of the Romanovs by HRH Viktoria Luise Princess of Prussia;

6. Hostages to Political Games: Did Lenin Order the Execution of the Imperial Family? Interview with Vladimir Solviev by Viktor Kozhemyako;

7. ‘An Energetic and Chivalrous Protector’ – Danish Efforts to Help the Imprisoned Romanovs by Coryne Hall;

8. Servant to Three Emperors: Count Vladimir Frederiks by Margarita Nelipa;

9. ‘A True Friend of Russia’ – Russia’s Relations with Siam by Coryne Hall;

10. ‘My wonderful house on the seashore’ – A History of the Lower Dacha at Peterhof by Valentina Tenikhina;

11. Faithful to the End: The Devoted Retainers of the Imperial Family by Natalya Stukova; 

Note: this issue features many new photos which were not featured in the original articles, published in issues of Royal Russia, published between 2011 and 2017.

Launched in 2015, a total of 12 will be in print by the end of this year, including 3 Special Issues. Click HERE For more information on our journal Sovereign: The Life and Reign of Emperor Nicholas II

© Paul Gilbert. 30 January 2019

Unknown Photos of the Imperial family Discovered in the Caucasus

0296a

Fedushkin (center), and fellow officers with Grand Duchesses Maria, Anastasia and Olga

An envelope containing previously unseen photographs of the Imperial family, hidden for more than a hundred years was discovered last year in the attic of an old two-story mansion located in Yessentuki, a city in Stavropol Krai, Russia, located at the base of the Caucasus Mountains.

The workers stumbled upon the pictures during the repair of the roof of the building, where the photos were found in an envelope under a decrepit beam.

In pre-revolutionary times, the owner of the mansion was Colonel Zaretsky, but after the revolution the house, like most other buildings, was nationalized by the Bolsheviks.

Today, the mansion houses the Federal Treasury Department in the Stavropol Territory. It was in August of last last year, that a half-decayed envelope, which had been stored under an old attic beam was discovered, containing the miraculously preserved photographs.

“In seven of the nine cards – the same person – a tall, handsome Cossack, is photographed with colleagues and members of the family of Nicholas II, ” said Vera Samarina, Deputy Head of the Regional Treasury Administration.

Samarina was able to establish the alleged personality of the mysterious Cossack, who was among those close to the Imperial family – his name was Anatoly Semyonovich Fedushkin (1887-1958). He was born in the village of Chervlennoy of the Terek Cossack Army. Today this village is on the territory of the Chechen Republic. He later served in His Own Imperial Majesty’s Convoy. the military unit responsible for guarding the emperor and his family.

Two of the cards, judging by their inscriptions were presented to him by the four grand duchesses: Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia bearing the date “April 1917” on the back. A separate photo postcard depicts the heir to the throne Tsesarevich Alexei, bearing the inscription “Anatoly Semenovich” on the back.

Another photograph found in the Yessentuki hiding place, shows Fedushkin standing next to the emperor, Alexei, two of the grand duchesses and other people against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Unfortunately, the photo is in such a poorly preserved state, it is unsuitable for publishing or sharing.

It is worth noting that service in His Own Imperial Majesty’s Convoy, was a family tradition of the Cossack family Fedushkin. After the abdication of Nicholas II, the members of His Own Imperial Majesty’s Convoy remained completely loyal to their oath of allegiance to the tsar.

Apparently, the Imperial family held Anatoly Semyonovich Fedushkin in their trust very closely. His name, is repeatedly mentioned in the diaries and letters of the Grand Duchesses and the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna herself.

0296b

Fedushkin with fellow officers

In June 1916, when several officers of the Imperial convoy were to go to the front, the empress presented each of them with an icon. Among those who accepted the gift was Anatoly Fedushkin. Grand Duchess Tatiana gave him a silk shirt with a pinned note: “May God bless and keep you, dear Jusik! Tatyana”. According to Samarina, Fedushkin took it with him when he went into exile.

Anatoly Fedushkin was among the White emigres, and after leaving Russia, he lived in different countries. He died, according to various sources, in 1958, either in New York, or in San Francisco. The envelope containing the photos dear to his heart was apparently hidden before fleeing Russia. After all, if the Bolsheviks had arrested him, and found such incriminating photographs, he would have surely been shot.

The photographs are now in the collection of the Museum of the Regional Department of the Federal Treasury in the Stavropol Territory.

© Paul Gilbert. 29 January 2019

 

Photos 13 – 16 of Nicholas II

I must apologize for the quality of some of the photographs, however, this is something which I have no control over. Where possible, photographs have been chosen for their visual impact, but historical accuracy has made it vital to include a number of photographs whose quality is poor, but whose value as historical documents is considerable. Sadly, during the Soviet years, many photographs of the Imperial family were stored under poor conditions and their standard is low – PG

© Paul Gilbert. 23 January 2019

Nicholas II Last Russian Emperor (Episode 59) – Orthodox Christian Podcast

Take a few minutes to listen to Fr. Artemy, an English-speaking Russian Orthodox priest from the Moscow Theological Academy, who presents this beautifully written podcast about the life and martyrdom of Russia’s last emperor and tsar, as well as the miracles of the Tsar Martyr. This Orthodox Christian Podcast series produced by Voice of Russia Radio Network, is currently owned by Sputnik News.

Intro – “Beloved brothers and sisters! This time we will tell you the story of the Holy Martyr, last Russian Emperor Nicholas II. It is quite significant that long before Nicholas II’s ascension to the throne a monk at the Glinsk monastery in Russia, Iliador, chanced to have an enigmatic vision at end of the 19th century.”

Duration: 26 minutes (ENGLISH). The beautiful Russian sacred background music is from the Anthology of Russian Sacred Music album (2009), produced by Melodia.

Click on the CC button located at the bottom of the video to initiate the closed captioning option.

© Voice of Russia Radio Network. 22 January 2019

Emperor Nicholas II Fell Victim to Industry of Lies

0004

 Nicholas II under house arrest at Tsarskoye Selo after his abdication in March 1917

The Russian royal family and four of their servants was brutally murdered in July of 1918 in the basement of the Ipatiev house in the city of Yekaterinburg. Pravda.Ru talked about the terrible page in Russian history with Pyotr Multatuli, a historian, author of books about Nicholas II and also a great-grandson of Ivan Kharitonov, a senior cook of the imperial kitchen, who was executed with the royal family.

“Are you a monarchist and an Orthodox Christian? Do you approach the story about the death of the Russian royal family from this point of view?”

“I am an Orthodox Christian, and, of course, I am a monarchist. In political terms, I do not belong to any monarchist party, but I certainly believe that the Russian monarchy was the best form for the Russian government.”

“Do you assess the murder of the royal family as a conspiracy?”

“Yes, it was the result of a conspiracy to overthrow the Emperor. But I also approach it as the spiritual impoverishment of the Russian society during those years, when Russia moved away from orthodoxy, faith and dedication. This is one of the reasons why the czar was toppled and then savagely murdered.

“The aim of the ruling circles of Great Britain and certain circles in the United States was to overthrow and kill of the Russian royal family. The Provisional Government was clearly instructed not to let the royal family out of Russia – they did not want the Russian royal family to move to England.”

“Was it a betrayal of both a relative and an ally?”

“Of course, it was a betrayal. They betrayed Nicholas II in March 1917 and then betrayed him and the royal family again when they were sent to Tobolsk and then to Yekaterinburg. They knew everything. Representatives of Britain and French consuls were with the Bolsheviks in Yekaterinburg. Their telegrams prove that they were controlling the situation.”

“What do you think about the fact that all were opposed to the royal family? Nicholas II wrote in his memoirs that the only person that he could trust was his wife.”

“Many people in the emperor’s inner circle got involved in the political game, in which they were completely helpless. They were playing and thinking that they could make a Constitution, that they would play some role and preserve their preferences. Of course, they were in collusion with the State Duma, but not as direct conspirators, but as the people who were deprived of a moral compass.”

“But executing the whole family is cruel. There had been revolutions before the Russian one, when royal figures would be executed. For example, the wife of Louis XVI was executed. In Russia, was a despicable murder – they killed even those, who chose to stay with the royal family. By the way, your relative, senior cook of the imperial kitchen Ivan Kharitonov – was it his conscious choice to stay with the czar?” 

“Yes, of course, it was an absolutely conscious choice. It is generally believed that everyone in the Russian society betrayed the Russian czar – this is a lie. This is an attempt to distort history. Many people were dying for the czar. Basically, the whole story is about the betrayal by the elite. There was no inflation in Russia. Before February 1917, there were no food cards in Russia. In Germany and France, people were starving at that time. All these social and economic reasons are given to justify the murder of the royal family. 

“There are external forces that participated in the overthrow of the Russian emperor, but the main forces were internal ones. First of all, it was the Russian bourgeoisie – they were unhappy that the government stated controlling their excess profits. There was also the cadet opposition that was craving power. Those forces came into alliance with Western powers and masterminded the February Revolution.”

“But the Emperor had his errors. What about the bloody events on January 9?”

“The events on January 9 were nothing but a typical orange revolution, speaking the modern language. The Russian Empire before 1904-1905 was a terribly bureaucratic state. The czar was misinformed. Here was told that there would be a strike of about 120,000 workers. However, as many as 300,000 people took to the streets. It was the crowd that opened fire on the troops first. On the Vasilyevsky Island, there were four-meter barricades of barbed wire erected – it was a very well-prepared rebellion. Roughly speaking, it was a typical Maidan.”

“Many discuss such an aspect as the weakness of the czar.”

“The czar had a very clear, rigid will. He would not listen to anyone’s pieces of advice. He was capable of controlling the influence from the outside. He was just a man who would listening to all very attentively. He would double-check other people’s opinions before making his own decisions. There was no external influence. In general, one may say that there was a whole industry of lies created around the name of Nicholas II,

“The forces that came to power as a result of the coup had to justify their legitimacy. They were state criminals, who lived in enemy states during the time of the coup. 

“Lenin, for example was residing in Austro-Hungary and then in Switzerland. No wonder Stalin forbade any mentioning of the hideous crime in Yekaterinburg, because he was well aware that it was working against his regime.

“Stalin, too, was building his empire, but it was the empire that did not have anything in common with the Russian Empire. Stalin’s empire did not pursue interests of the Russian people. What was the nature of the Russian monarchy? There was God, the czar as the father of the people, and the people were his children, whom he loved, but whom he could also punish.”

© Igor Bukker @ Pravda.Ru. 15 January 2019

Photos 9 – 12 of Nicholas II

I must apologize for the quality of some of the photographs, however, this is something which I have no control over. Where possible, photographs have been chosen for their visual impact, but historical accuracy has made it vital to include a number of photographs whose quality is poor, but whose value as historical documents is considerable. Sadly, during the Soviet years, many photographs of the Imperial family were stored under poor conditions and their standard is low – PG

© Paul Gilbert. 16 January 2019

It Was Not the Revolution That Destroyed Emperor Nicholas II

0003

Nicholas II and Vladimir Lenin

NOTE: I would like to point out to readers that Pravda (Truth in English) is a Russian political newspaper associated with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. The newspaper began publication in 1912 and emerged as a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union after the October Revolution. The newspaper was an organ of the Central Committee of the CPSU between 1912 and 1991. Given the Communist Party’s track record on “the truth” gives cause for speculation on anything published in Pravda – PG.

The great Russian Empire found itself in the vortex of the revolutionary abyss in only eight months. Pravda.Ru editor-in-chief Inna Novikova discussed the topic of the fall of the Russian Empire with Associate Professor at History Department of Moscow State University Fyodor Gaida.

IN – Today, there are many people who believe that the tsarist regime fell only because German Emperor Wilhelm II sent Lenin to Russia with a suitcase full of money in a sealed train car. What led Russia to Emperor’s abdication, and subsequently to the October Revolution?

FG – There is no documentary evidence to prove that Lenin was working to perform someone’s assignment. Having a picture of Vladimir Lenin in mind, one may say that he was acting solely on the basis of his own plans. As for the money, he would take it from anyone. Lenin was an unprincipled man who professed the principle “money does not smell.” Another thing is that at that moment in history the interests of Germany and Lenin coincided.

The German authorities thought that such a left radical as Lenin would help break imperial Russia, but would not be able to create anything himself. Germany was playing to weaken Russia to the maximum. Germany needed Lenin and all his slogans to weaken Russia, rather than to overthrow autocracy. Germany was always afraid of Russia. The Germans knew that Russian industry was capable of making a very serious breakthrough. Germany was very nervous.

Actually, Germany went to war in 1914 after it had finished the rearmament program. France was supposed to finish it in 1915, and Russia – in 1917. Time was not working for the Germans. Lenin was the person whose interests coincided with interests of Germany. Afterwards, Lenin continued to adhere to “pro-German” foreign policy. When the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, the Second Reich got a second wind. Until 1918, German troops attempted to advance on the Western Front, but in August 1918, the Germans gave up. Interestingly, Lenin’s attempted assassination was organized in August 1918 too.

The events that happened in Russia in 1917 were two phases of one and the same process.

With the beginning of the February Revolution, Russia started to fall apart. There was no real government in the country at that time. The government that the country had was nothing but a circus.

IN – So the Germans were attracted to Lenin’s call about the right of nations to self-determination. What attracted them to that slogan?”

FG – For Europe, with its multinational imperial organization, the practical version of this slogan would mean a new political map of the world and a severe crisis. Suddenly, a man appears on the horizon of political power, who raises its banner of the right of nations to self-determination, land and peace decrees, proclaiming a radical program in essence. The Germans realized that they had to support most radical forces in Russia.

IN – Historians talk a lot about the mistakes that Nicholas II made, about his weaknesses and shortsightedness. Did he have an opportunity to influence the situation?

FG – Let’s face it – Nicholas II was neither an outstanding statesman nor a military leader. He was not the wisest of the wise. He was a typical man of his time. He, unlike modern politicians, never gave unrealistic promises. After the defeat in the Russian-Japanese war, Nicholas II became a cautious figure in politics. Russia’s foreign policy after 1905 was relatively peaceful. Russia was fighting for zones of influence, realizing that one should not go too far. Just look at the Russian policies in Asia from 1905 to 1912. Russia had seriously expanded its area of influence, without quarrelling with anyone.

After 1905, other prominent figures in Russian politics began to consider themselves wiser than Nicholas II. By February 1917, the political class and generals saw the emperor as the main obstacle on the way of the development of the country.

As a result of this confrontation, the emperor abdicated from power.

The next moment everyone realized that the whole country was based on the emperor. It was the emperor who was the symbol of Russia’s unity. As soon as Nicholas II abdicated, all of his opponents vanished. They were removed from the political scene.

© Inna Novikova / Pravda and Paul Gilbert. 10 January 2019