On 19th May, a memorial plaque to Emperor Nicholas II was solemnly unveiled on the facade of the Cathedral in Honour of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin and the Virgin Mary in the Siberian city of Omsk. The plaque was established to commemorate the laying in 1891, by the then still Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich (future Emperor Nicholas II), of the foundation stone for the cathedral.
The heir to the throne was traveling across Russia in 1891, and stopped in Omsk. Nicholas Alexandrovich laid the foundation stone for the new cathedral during a ceremony held at 10:00 in the morning on 16th July 1891.
A memorial plaque was installed inside the Omsk Assumption Cathedral on 6th May 1914 – the date marking Nicholas II’s birthday in the Julian Calendar. The plaque was not preserved, as was the cathedral itself – both demolished in 1935. In 2007, the Assumption Cathedral was reconstructed in the same place. The new plaque is the latest addition.
The idea and financing of the memorial plaque is thanks to the members of the Omsk branch of the All-Russian Society for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments, the Double-Headed Eagle Society, and the organizing committee for the Tsar’s Days in the Omsk District.
Celebrations began at Cathedral Square in the morning, which was decorated with Imperial flags. A Divine Liturgy was held, followed by a literary and musical composition on the theme of the life of the Imperial family performed by actors of one of Omsk amateur theaters.
The Siberian city of Omsk is forever tied to the last days of Nicholas II and his family. On 28th April 1918, the Emperor, his wife, and their daughter Maria were taken by train from Tyumen to Ekaterinburg. Their route was changed, and the train pulled into Lyubinskaya station, not far from Omsk. It was here that more drama unfolded, as negotiations between Vasily Yakovlev and Moscow took place. The train was eventually turned around, bound for Ekaterinburg, where the last Russian emperor and his family were subsequently shot in the early morning hours of 17th July 1918.
Six months later, anti-Bolshevik White forces seized control of Omsk. The Provisional All-Russian Government was established here in 1918, headed by Admiral Kolchak. Omsk was proclaimed the capital of Russia, and its central bank was tasked with safekeeping the former empire’s gold reserves. Bolshevik forces entered the city in 1919.
It was also in Omsk, that Nicholas Sokolov, a legal investigator of the Omsk Regional Court, interviewed several members of the Romanov entourage in February 1919, notably Pierre Gilliard, Alexandra Tegleva and Sydney Gibbes.
© Paul Gilbert. 27 May 2019