The October Revolution 1917 in the International Context. Interview with Professor Dominic Lieven

CLICK on the IMAGE above to watch VIDEO in English. Duration: 24 minutes.

A remarkable interview with Cambridge Research Professor D. Lieven (born 19 January 1952) about the reasons for and the outcomes of the 1917 October Revolution, as well as his family’s personal experience with it. He also speaks about Russia’s involvement in WW1, the Russian-German relationships, and gives an extraordinarily objective evaluation of Tsar Nicholas II’s abilities as a ruler, and comments on the most important decisions during his reign. Dominic Lieven is a research professor at Cambridge University (Senior Research Fellow, Trinity College) and a Fellow of the British Academy and of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Professor Lieven is the third child, of five children, of Alexander Lieven, of the Baltic German princely family, tracing ancestry to Liv chieftain Kaupo. He is the elder brother of Anatol Lieven, British author, Orwell Prize-winning journalist, and policy analyst, and he is distantly related to Christopher Lieven (1774–1839), who was Ambassador to the Court of St James from Imperial Russia over the period 1812 to 1834, and whose wife was Dorothea von Benckendorff, later Princess Lieven (1785–1857), a notable society hostess in Saint Petersburg and influential figure among many of the diplomatic, political, and social circles of 19th-century Europe. Lieven is a great-grandson of the Lord Chamberlain of the Imperial Court of Russia.

He is the author of numerous books on on Russian history, on empires and emperors, on the Napoleonic era and the First World War, and on European aristocracy, including: Russia’s Rulers Under the Old Regime, Yale University Press (1989); The Aristocracy in Europe 1815/1914, Macmillan/Columbia University Press (1992); Nicholas II: Emperor of all the Russias, John Murray/St Martin’s Press/Pimlico (1993); and The End of Tsarist Russia: The March to World War I and Revolution, Penguin Random House (2015).

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This video is produced as part of the project for the book The Romanov Royal Martyrs, which is an impressive 512-page book, featuring nearly 200 black & white photographs, and a 56-page photo insert of more than 80 high-quality images, colorized by the acclaimed Russian artist Olga Shirnina (Klimbim) and appearing here in print for the first time. EXPLORE the book / ORDER the book.

© Mesa Potamos Monastery. 30 October 2020

Monument to the meeting of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna in Russia unveiled in Crimea

PHOTO: Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich,
Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna and Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt and Rhine

On 30th October, a monument dedicated to the meeting of Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich (future Emperor Nicholas II) and his future bride Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt and Rhine (future Empress Alexandra Feodorovna) in Russia (1894) was unveiled and consecrated in the courtyard of the Central Library in the Crimean city of Alushta, .

Sculptors Irina Makarova and her husband Maxim Bataev, began work on the monument in February. Together, they created a composition consisting of four bronze sculptures. each a little over two meters high, a granite pedestal and an arch.

The funds for the monument were allocated by the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation and the Double-Headed Eagle Society for the Development of Russian Historical Education.

“Our composition was not easy. The arch unites two loving hearts – Nicholas and Alix, and is also crowned with an Orthodox cross,” said the sculptor Irina Makarova. – “In addition, there are other persons – Nicholas’ uncle Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, and his wife, the sister of the bride, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, who helped unite the two loving hearts. They were all together in Alushta on that day in 1894.”

PHOTO: The consecration of the monument to Nicholas and Alexandra in Alushta

“We decided to portray Nicholas Alexandrovich in a Hussar uniform – it was in this outfit that he got married,” added Irina Makarova. “In her hands Elizabeth Feodorovna is depicted holding a small icon of the Saviour as the personification of spirituality. After all, she supported her sister when Alix doubted whether to change her faith The arch is also a symbol of Orthodoxy and Holy Russia.”

“My husband and I worked together on every detail,” – said Irina Makarova. – “We argued for a long time over the likeness of the future Emperor. We took the advice of Konstantin Valerievich, slightly changing the shape of the eyes and nose so that Nicholas II would become recognizable in his youth. After that we managed to achieve maximum realism.”

According to local residents, this monument will immortalize not only the meeting of two loving hearts, but also their loyalty for one another.

“I kiss and caress you endlessly, I want to show you all the power of my love for you,” wrote Alexandra Feodorovna to her husband. “Always yours to death and beyond …”

Click HERE to read 3 additional articles (with photos) about the Monument to Nicholas and Alexandra in Alushta

© Paul Gilbert. 30 October 2020

The fate of the regicides who murdered Nicholas II and his family

PHOTO: Pyotr Ermakov, Mikhail Medvedev-Kudrin,
Pavel Medvedev, Yakov Yurovsky and Grigory Nikulin

The murders of Emperor Nicholas II, his family and four faithful retainers in Ekaterinburg on 17th July 1918, remains one of the darkest pages in 20th century Russian history. To this day, historians and investigators are not entirely sure of all those who participated in the regicide, only the names of some of them are known – those who admitted that they were a participant in the regicide, or those of whom were identified by witnesses. The fate of many of these regicides also ended tragically, their lives being overtaken by disease or an equally violent death.

It is known that the direct leader of the liquidation of the Imperial family was Yankel Khaimovich, better known as Yakov Yurovsky. He lived until 1938 and died of a duodenal ulcer. In Soviet times, they said that his son was not responsible for his father’s crime, but the apple didn’t fall far from the tree in the Yurovsky family. The eldest son Alexander, ended up in the Butyrka prison in 1952, but was released a year later. The daughter Rimma was also arrested in March 1938. She served a sentence in the Karaganda forced labour camp until 1946. Yurovsky’s grandchildren were not spared either, dying under mysterious circumstances. Two died after falling from a roof, while the other two were burned to death in a fire. It is worth recalling that the blood of Tsar Nicholas II was spilled by Yurovsky. He himself recalled: “I fired the first shot and killed Nikolai on the spot.”

The leading Russian playwright and historian Edvard Radzinsky was most intrigued by the idea that there was photographic evidence of the murdered remains of the Imperial family.

“Yurovsky was a professional photographer,” he says. “He confiscated a camera from the Tsarina. It was impossible for him to take pictures immediately after the execution — he was a little bit crazy, they continued to be alive, they continued to kill them. But afterwards, he had three days. He had an opportunity to take a camera to the grave. It is impossible for a man who likes pictures not to take such pictures.”

Could there be any truth to his idea, or did Radzinsky give birth to yet another Romanov conspiracy theory? Radzinsky is a playwright, and perhaps his creative imagination got the better of him, but who knows? Yurovsky had already proven what he was capable of, so anything was possible! There is also the possibility that Yurovsky took such photos to take with him when he left for Moscow after the murders, as evidence to Lenin and Sverdlov that the regicide had been carried out?

“IF” such photographs ever existed, we can surely assume that they would have been destroyed. Lenin was both crafty and careful not to leave a paper trail that would implicate him in dubious affairs – murder being one of them.

Click HERE to read my article Yakov Yurovskys’ ashes remain hidden from vandals in Moscow, published on 23rd November 2019

The personality of Pyotr Ermakov was no less significant in the murders of the Imperial family. According to his own recollections, it was he who killed the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the cook Ivan Kharitonov and the doctor Evgeny Botkin. He often boasted of his crime, without feeling any sense of remorse: “I shot the Tsarina who was seated only six feet away, I could not miss. My bullet hit her right in the mouth, two seconds later she was dead. Then I shot Dr. Botkin. He threw up his hands and half turned away. The bullet hit him in the neck. He fell backwards. Yurovsky’s shot knocked the Tsesarevich to the floor, where he lay and groaned. The cook Kharitonov was huddled over in the corner. I shot him first in the torso and then in the head. The footman Troupe also fell, I don’t know who shot him … ” Ermakov died of cancer on 22nd May 1952.

Since the 1990s, Ermakov’s grave in the Ivanovo Cemetery in Ekaterinburg. has been repeatedly vandalized by local monarchists, who regularly douse his gravestone with red paint.

The red paint symbolizes the blood which this evil man spilled, and his involvement in the brutal murder of Nicholas II and his family on 17th July 1918.

In 1951, at a reception, which gathered all the local Party elite in Sverdlovsk, Peter Ermakov approached Soviet Red Army General Georgy Zhukov and held out his hand. Frowning in disgust Zhukov looked Ermakov in the eye, and muttered, “I do not shake the hands of murderers.”

He left a testimony regarding another regicide: “Stepan Vaganov dealt with the grand duchesses: they lay dying in a heap on the floor and groaned … Vaganov continued to shoot at Olga and Tatiana … I don’t think any of us shot the maid Demidova. She sank to the floor, shielding herself with pillows. Vaganov, later pierced her throat with his bayonet … ” Death found Vaganov in the same ill-fated year of 1918. When Kolchak’s army took Ekaterinburg, Vaganov did not escape, instead he hid in a basement, where he was found by relatives of those killed during the raids. They did not stand on ceremony for long – they killed him on the spot. Perhaps in vain, because he could have given interesting testimony, having fallen into the hands of the investigators who were engaged in clarifying the fate of the Imperial family. But the fact remains: Vaganov did not die of natural causes.

Pavel Medvedev turned out to be not just a murderer, but also a thief. He recalled: “Walking around the rooms, I found six 10-ruble credit tickets under the book Закон Божий (God’s Law), in one of them, and appropriated this money for myself. I also took some silver rings and some other knickknacks.” Medvedev, unlike Ermakov, fell into the hands of Kolchak’s troops. He fled from Ekaterinburg, but, was captured, and he was charged with “murder by prior conspiracy with other persons and the seizure of the property of the former Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, the heir to Alexei Nikolaevich and Grand Duchesses Olga, Maria , Tatyana, Anastasia, as well as the physician Dr. Botkin, the maid Anna Demidova, the cook Kharitonov and the footman Troupe. “In 1919, Medvedev died in prison from typhus, however, his widow claimed that he was killed by White Guards.

PHOTO: Philip Goloshchekin

It was no coincidence that Sergei Broido ended up in the Ipatiev House, but he also took part in the murder of the Imperial family by order. Mikhail Medvedev-Kudrin, who also took part in the murders, recalled: “It is known that Broido, along with Ermakov and Goloschekin, arrived in a car at the Ipatiev House on the eve of the murder. It is believed that due to a lack of men to carry out the execution, he was recruited at the last minute by order of Yurovsky.” On 8th March 1937, Broido was first convicted under Article 58 of the RSFSR Criminal Code, for being a Trotskyist, and subsequently shot.

The youngest regicide was Viktor Netrebin. At the time of the crime, he was only 17 years old. Netrebin disappeared in 1935. The Latvian Jan Cemles also disappeared.

But there were also those who organized the murders of the Imperial family and their retainers. Among them was Shaya Itsikovich, known as Philip Goloshchekin, who is known to be one of the organizers. It was he who came up with the idea of ​​execution, even travelling to Moscow to discuss his plans with Lenin and Sverdlov. Goloshchekin was not present himself during the murders, but he took part in the removal and destruction of the remains. On 15th October 1939, Goloshchekin was arrested for sympathizing with the Trotskyists. Another fact from his biography is particularly noteworthy. After his arrest, and during interrogation the People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs Nikolai Yezhov, claimed that he had a homosexual relationship with Goloshchekin. On 28th October 1941, Goloshchekin was shot near Samara. A colleague and another organizer of the execution of the Imperial family, Yakov Sverdlov, described Goloshchekin as follows: “I stayed with Goloshchekin for several days, things are bad with him. He has become neurasthenic and becomes a misanthrope.” An interesting fact is that Sverdlov did not die of natural causes. According to the official version, he died of the Spanish flu, which raged after the First World War, but there is a second version, according to which the workers beat Sverdlov in Oryol and he died from the injuries he sustained.

Pyotr Voikov was also an organizer and participant in the murder of Nicholas II and his family. Diplomat-defector Grigory Besedovsky, who knew Voikov personally, recalled: “As commandant of the Ipatiev House, the execution of the decree was entrusted to Yurovsky. During the execution, Voikov was supposed to be present, as a delegate to the regional party committee. He, as a scientist and chemist, was instructed to develop a plan for the complete destruction of the bodies. Voikov was also instructed to read the decree on the execution to the Imperial family, with a motivation that consisted of several lines, and learned this decree by heart in order to read it out as solemnly as possible, believing that thereby he would go down in history as one of the main participants in this tragedy”. Voikov was killed in Warsaw in June 1927 by the Russian émigré Boris Koverda. During interrogation, Koverda stated about the motives of his act: “I avenged Russia, for millions of people.” Boris Koverda spent 10 years in Polish prisons and was granted amnesty. After his release in 1937, he lived another 50 years and died in Washington at the age of 79.

Not only did these men committed regicide, they also helped to drown Russia in blood. Today, streets, squares and even metro stations of Russia’s cities are named after some of them. Is this right? No! These men will forever, have their names inscribed in the history of Russia, not as scientists or engineers, but as murderers.

Holy Royal Martyrs, pray to God for us!
Святы Царственные мученики, молите Бога о нас!

© Paul Gilbert. 28 October 2020

Lost and Found: the Discovery of a Romanov Photo Album in Siberia

PHOTO: photo album belonging to Nicholas II in the Museum of Local Lore in Zlatoust

One of the most unique exhibits of the Museum of Local Lore in Zlatoust (270 kilometers (168 mi) south of Ekaterinburg) is a photo album containing photographs of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. How this album ended up in the museum remains a mystery. There are no embossed crowns, monograms or emblems on the album’s cover. There are also no inscriptions accompanying any of the photographs either. Only on the reverse of the photos of the tsar’s daughters was it possible to find inscriptions scribbled in pencil: “The Grand Duchess Olga (Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia).”

When the emperor and his family were sent into exile on 1st August 1917, to the Siberian city of Tobolsk, they took with them their entire personal photo archive. The archive included many albums, many of which are today stored in various Russian archives. Museum staff believe that it was there, in Tobolsk, that the last photographs were pasted into this particular album.

It is a well known fact that all the members of the Imperial family took an avid interest in photography, and each of them had their own camera and collections of photographs. According to museum staff, this album, judging by its content, belonged to the emperor himself. One of the photographs clearly shows his shadow with a camera in his hands. In the diaries of the emperor, he repeatedly noted that he personally organized his photo albums:

“On 4th September 1914, I got up early and took a longer walk. Between the reports I received a deputation of Czechs living in Russia. Walked with Alix and the children, and then went for a ride with Alexei to Gatchina. After tea I read. In the evening I pasted photographs of Crimea into an album”.

“On 27th March 1915, I took a walk in the morning. It started raining in the afternoon. I spent 2 hours chopping the ice with a crowbar using two hands, which is why my hand is trembling. I read before lunch, and in the evening with Olga’s help I pasted photos into an album.”

PHOTO: In 2013, the Zlatoust photo album was exhibited at the Museum of the
Holy Royal Family, located in the Patriarchal Compound in Ekaterinburg. 

“On 24th May, 1915 Alix came in the morning. Then we drove to mass. After breakfast, I received 18 professors of Russian history and Russian law with an address. I took a walk with my daughters and rode to Gatchina in the rain. I worked until 8 o’clock. Dined in my reception, like in the good old days. In the evening, with the help of Maria, I pasted photos of our last trip in the album.”

The Zlatoust photo album contains 210 photographs taken between 1914-1917. The photographs are not placed in any chronological order – on the first pages there are a series of photographs related to the beginning of the First World War in 1914, while pre-war photos are mixed with those taken in later years. On the last pages are photos from 1914, 1916, and 1917. Most of these photos were taken during the Emperor’s visit to the Supreme Command Headquarters in Mogilev and the review of the troops. Others are purely family-oriented, taken in Tsarskoye Selo, in Livadia, on the Imperial Yacht Standart and other places. It is interesting to note that there are very few photographs of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in this album.

The fact that the photo album survived the revolution, civil war can itself be considered nothing short of a miracle. It is no less a miracle that the exhibit, registered under the number F-52, as the album “Nicholas II and His Family”, survived in the funds of the Zlatoust Museum of Local Lore during the Stalin era, when many documents and photographs which depicted the last tsar were seized and destroyed, as they were deemed as “ideologically harmful”.

“How the album ended up in Zlatoust is a mystery,” says Nadezhda Prikhodko, director of the Museum of Local Lore in Zlatoust. – “Everyone knows that the Imperial family spent their last days in Ekaterinburg. There are two theories with regard to this mystery: The first is that the album was brought from Ekaterinburg by the director of the Museum of the Revolution, Comrade Chevardin. The museum was located in the Ipatiev House. In 1933, Chevardin was transferred to Zlatoust, taking the album with him to save it from destruction. According to the second, the album was transported by the revolutionary Dmitry Mikhailovich Chudinov – one of the guards who escorted the Imperial family from Tobolsk to Ekaterinburg. He lived in Zlatoust, and after the murder of the Romanovs, he stole some of their personal belongings, including the photo album”.

In 1980, the album was found in the funds of the Zlatoust Museum of Local Lore. Russia was still under the yoke of communism, so the album remained hidden for another 9 years before the first announcement of the album’s existence was made public. In subsequent years, a small number of the photographs appeared in the pages of magazines, books and presented at museum exhibitions. The staff at the Zlatoust Museum carried out a lot of painstaking work to identify the more than 200 photographs. Research carried out with the help of the emperor’s diaries and other publications, made it possible to establish, in most cases, when and where the photographs were taken, as well as which members of the Imperial family appear in the photos.

PHOTO: interactive copies of the album can now be seen in Zlatoust and Ganina Yama

In April 2013, the Russian online media outlet Komsomolskaya Pravda published a number of the photographs from the Zlatoust album, which generated tremendous interest in Russia and abroad. Sadly, a number of the captions were incorrect, mostly the misidentification of the grand duchesses, etc.

The following month, the Zlatoust photo album was exhibited at the Museum of the Holy Royal Family, located in the Patriarchal Compound in Ekaterinburg. Among those who had an opportunity to view the album were the Head of the Russian Imperial House HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, and Mrs. Olga Kulikovsky (wife of Tikhon Kulikovsky, the eldest son of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna) – see 2nd photo.

In recent year, the Zlatoust photo album was digitalized. “Natural light is harmful to the pages and black and white photographs – they turn yellow,” said Anastasia Malakhova, Deputy Director for Research at the Zlatoust Museum of Local Lore. – “They cannot be on permanent display, so we created an electronic copy. The expensive multimedia equipment for the interactive album was donated by the Museum and Exhibition Center in Ekaterinburg”.

In total, 88 photographs were digitized – mostly from the war period. There were no photo captions in this album. The interactive album in the Zlatoust Museum of Local Lore is available to visitors any day.

A copy of the interactive album was also presented to the Museum and Exhibition Center of the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs in Ganina Yama, which I had an opportunity to see firsthand, during my visit to Ekaterinburg in 2018 – PG..

Click HERE to read my articles Nicholas II: the amateur photographer, published on 15th July 2020; and The Romanov Family Photo Albums at Yale University, published on 19th August 2020

© Paul Gilbert. 25 October 2020

Excavations at the site of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg in the early 2000s

PHOTO: A simple wooden cross was installed on the site of the Ipatiev House in the 1990s

Prior to the construction of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg, local archaeologists took a particular interest in the site where the 18th century mansion once stood.

An excavation of the site was organized by archaeologist Sergey Nikolaevich Pogorelov in 2000. At that time, he headed the Department for the Study of Historical Monuments in the Regional Research and Production Center.

The area where the Ipatiev House was located stood on land once owned by the Ural-Siberian Factory. In 1766-1808 the wooden Old Ascension Church stood on the site of the house, which included a small cemetery. Later, residential quarters were constructed, including the Ipatiev House in the 1880s. 

According to Pogorelov, in 2000, when the question arose about the construction of the Church on the Blood, city and regional authorities were notified that a decree issued in 1990 stipulated that no construction could take place on historic sites without historical and archaeological research being carried out first.

Excavations began in early June through September of 2000, and then continued in the summer of 2001. During that time, nearly 600 people took part in them. They made some interesting discoveries. For instance, during the excavations it turned out that the Soviet authorities had removed the remains of the basement walls of the Ipatiev House many years prior.

When archaeologists found the place where the basement execution room was located, they discovered that in its place, a concrete bunker had been built. They then referred to the city plans which were given them by the administration. As it turned out a government communication line had been laid along Klara Zetkin Street (former Voznesensky Prospekt and Voznesensky Lane, respectively), . When the cables were laid near where the Ipatiev House stood, they turned sharply 90 degrees, passing through where the execution room was located, and into the bunker, and then back to Klara Zetkin towards Voznesenskaya Gorka. Archaeologists learned that in the early 1970s, the local Soviet had set up the bunker with the intent of destroying the place where the Imperial family had been murdered.

However, an even greater discovery for archaeologists was what they found under the bunker when they began to dig deeper. Under the concrete structure was a grave, partially carved into the rock. Inside, in a coffin with forged nails, lay the remains of a woman and a baby.

Archaeologists had discovered the 18th century Orthodox cemetery, proving that the Ipatiev House was partly built on the site of the Church of the Ascension, and partly on the churchyard. The police were called in and the remains of the woman and her child were taken away.

Pogorelov noted that many graves must have been lost in the 1980s when part of the slope of the Voznesenskaya Gorka, was cut back during the reconstruction of Karl Liebknecht Street.

During their excavations, archaeologists uncovered an area of ​​more than 500 square meters at a depth of about 2 meters.

PHOTO: Archaeologist Sergey Nikolaevich Pogorelov shows fragments
of ceramic vessels found at Porosenkov Log in 2010

They found an underground stone structure with an area of ​​5 by 5 meters with granite walls in the foundation and stone granite slabs of the floor. Inside were the remains of the shelves of the party archives. It was here that the trunks belonging to the Imperial family were stored after their transfer from Tobolsk in April 1918.

On the western side of the estate grounds stood several poplars. There was some speculation that the trees had been planted during the Soviet years. Experts from the Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology conducted a dendrochronological analysis and found that they are more than 100 years old. Thus, it was determined that the trees were there when the Imperial family were living there under house arrest.

Among the trees a hole was discovered. They thought it was a cellar, but it turned out to be a well. It had been pierced into the monolithic rock of the Voznesenskaya hill using mining tools.

Archaeologists found a mention of this well in the notes of Yakov Yurovsky, who led the execution of the Imperial family. He wrote that he was repairing it at the moment when Nicholas II approached him. The well itself was filled with many artefacts, among them items belonging to the Imperial family.

The following year, when construction on the Church on the Blood was already underway, and two underground floors were planned on the site, the well suddenly filled with water. The builders wanted to fill it with concrete, however, a decision was made to preserve it. Today, the former well named “Tsarskoe” of the Ipatiev House is now located in the lower underground floors of the Church on the Blood.

As a result of the excavation of the estate, archaeologists managed to collect about 64 thousand artefacts. There were no precious items among them – only those that are of interest from a historical point of view. Fragments of dishes, buttons, metal objects … Everything that fell to the ground or tossed into the well since the 18th century. 

Pogorelov found pieces of china with the emblems of the Imperial Porcelain Factory bearing the initials of Nicholas II, from the coronation porcelain service of 1896. He later discovered that part of the service had been stolen by the Bolsheviks after the murder of the Imperial family. Their whereabouts remain unknown to this day.

It took 300 crates to pack the 64,000 artefacts, and stored in different places until 2013. According to Pogorelov “nobody provided help, nor were the legislation requirements fulfilled”. The crates were subsequently transferred to the Museum of the History of Ekaterinburg. Today, the famous Russian archaeologies does not know what happened to the collection.

The Museum of the History of Ekaterinburg would not comment on what happened to the collection further nor whether the artefacts from the excavations at the site of the Ipatiev House are still in their funds.

© Paul Gilbert. 23 October 2020

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Dear Reader: It is always a pleasure for me to present new articles based on my own research from Russian archival sources, offering first English translations of new works from Russian media sources on my Nicholas II blog and Facebook pages. Many of these articles and topics seldom (if ever) attract the attention of the Western media. Please note that I personally translate the articles, and complement them further with additional materials, photographs, videos and links.

If you found this article interesting, then please help support my research by making a donation in US or Canadian dollars to my project The Truth About Nicholas II – please note that donations can be made by GoFundMe, PayPal, credit card, personal check or money order. Thank you for your consideration – PG

Bloody Sunday 1905. What is the truth?

CLICK on the above IMAGE to watch the VIDEO. Duration: 20 mins., 26 sec.
Narrated by the British renowned actor Constantine De Goguel.

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As with so many other events in the period of unrest in Russia, Bloody Sunday, which took place on Sunday, 9 January 1905, constitutes, even today, one of the most falsified chapters in the history of Russia.

From the beginning, more than any other event, Bloody Sunday has been set forth as the banner of Communist propaganda. Lenin even undertook the production of a film that depicted the so-called “crime of Bloody Nicholas.” Unfortunately, the period of Bolshevik dictatorship succeeded in etching what it desired in the consciousness of the people.

But what exactly took place on Bloody Sunday, and what exactly was Nicholas II responsibility for the event?

PHOTO: Crowd of petitioners, led by Father Gapon, near Narva Gate, St. Petersburg

Bloody Sunday, which took place on Sunday, 9 January 1905, constitutes, even today, one of the most misrepresented events in the history of Russia. The commonly known and widespread narrative goes as follows: At dawn on 9 January, a crowd of workers that were unemployed began to gather with their families in six different points of Saint Petersburg. Holding icons, church banners, and portraits of the tsar, chanting hymns and patriotic songs, they set forth in a peaceful march with the Winter Palace as their goal. There they intended to personally present to the tsar a petition for the improvement of working conditions. Unemployment in all the land at that time had already reached its peak. The inspiration and organizer of the entire event was the charismatic speaker, Father Georgi Gapon, president of the Assembly of Factory and Mill Workers of Saint Petersburg. For a long time Gapon had been rousing the workers with his sermons at factories to assert their rights militantly. At last his labors bore fruit and thus the march of 9 January was organized.

A large police and military force had been prepared to deter the crowds that would make up the march. The exact number of demonstrators has never been known. Estimates vary from 3,000 up to 50,000! When the march began, security forces had gathered at various points in the city; they instructed the demonstrators to disperse, but without result. At some point the security forces opened fire on the unarmed multitude, so that many were killed, and even more were wounded. The number of dead also remains unknown to this day. Eyewitness accounts vary from 40 up to 1,000 dead. The result of this tragic event was general indignation against the tsar. Nicholas was not Father to his people any more, but their murderer. Many people, revulsed by the frightful behavior of their autocrat, declared “We have no tsar anymore.”

The things that took place on Bloody Sunday have been accepted in history as an undeniable fact for nearly an entire century. However, as with so many other events in this period of unrest in Russia, Bloody Sunday itself constitutes one of the most falsified chapters of history. From the beginning, more than any other event, Bloody Sunday has been set forth as the banner of Communist propaganda. Lenin even undertook the production of a film that depicted the so-called “crime of Bloody Nicholas.” Unfortunately, the period of Bolshevik dictatorship succeeded in etching what it desired in the consciousness of the people. But what exactly took place on Bloody Sunday, and what exactly was Nicholas’ responsibility for the entire event?

First of all, it must be known that Father George Gapon was not the good and kindly father of the downtrodden workers that history portrays, but rather he played a curious, double game: he was an agent of the Okhrana, namely, of the Secret Police, while at the same time cooperating with the Socialist Revolutionary Party. Thus, Gapon’s dark role and the true motives of all his actions are not at all easy to discern.

At first Gapon presented himself as a champion of the tsarist constitution, and so the OkhRana indicated that it wished to utilize his charismatic influence on the masses of workers with a view to safeguarding the monarchical constitution in Russia. Later, however, Gapon appeared to reconsider his ideology and then began to cooperate with the extreme left, which in turn wished to use Gapon for the promotion of its own revolutionary ideas among the workers.

When Gapon officially announced the organization of the march, which he scheduled for the ninth of January, the police warned him that such a thing would constitute an illegal demonstration, for the dispersal of which, if necessary, force would be used. Furthermore, they informed him that the tsar would not be at the Winter Palace at that time, thus it would be impossible to accomplish the demonstrators’ purpose of handing over their demands to Nicholas in person.

On Saturday, 8 January, the Ministry of War in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior placed the police and military forces necessary to confront the demonstrators in the capital. That evening an extraordinary meeting, attended by the Governor of Saint Petersburg, was called to consider which measures of public safety should be taken. After the end of the meeting the Minister of the Interior visited the emperor at Tsarskoe Selo in order to inform him that everything was under control, and that the impending march would not be able to cause any trouble.

Why did Nicholas not remain in the Winter Palace to receive the demands of the workers? The reason was the fear of yet another attempt on his life. These fears were absolutely justified, and their ground for this was not theoretical. A frightening event had taken place only a few days earlier during the Blessing of the Waters on the day of Epiphany. Some of the rifles fired during the celebratory greeting of the Feast were not loaded with blanks, as intended, but—quite strangely—contained live ammunition. The bullets wounded several of the bystanders and broke many windows in the neighborhood. Some of them passed directly over the head of the emperor. The crowd and the police began to run aimlessly in all directions causing great confusion and panic. However, Nicholas did not move one step from his place. Later at the palace, discussing the event with his sister Olga, he said that he had heard the shell whizz over his head, and added: “‘I knew that somebody was trying to kill me. I just crossed myself. What else could I do?’ It was typical of Nicky, added the Grand Duchess. He did not know what fear meant.”

PHOTO: Father Georgy Apollonovich Gapon (1870–1906)

In the end, Gapon did not comply with the police’s instructions. The march took place as planned. Perhaps Gapon did not believe that the authorities would disperse his “peaceful” march? He himself answered this question later when he admitted that he knew full well that the authorities would not permit the protest to take place under any circumstances, because—very simply—it would not have been peaceful. The chief of the Special Corps of the tsar’s secret personal guard, and afterward historian, Alexander Spiridovitch, wrote of this, “Nobody had the idea then at the time [that is, on 9 January 1905] that Gapon had played the role of traitor. It was some long time later that Gapon admitted that he had known, in inciting the workers to go before the Tsar with their petition, that the authorities would never permit the demonstration; he also knew that they would bring in the troops against the workers, and all the same, he still urged them to demonstrate and in fact insisted they do so.”

A great number of workers were members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, and even though the party did not officially take part in the demonstration, many of their members participated in the march. A multitude of witnesses relate that many of the demonstrators were armed; they broke windows, they looted stores, they burned vehicles and even broke into houses! Thus, the shots of the security forces were not in cold blood, but in reply to the repeated provocations of the demonstrators.

A highly confidential note by the head of the Petersburg Security Department L. N. Kremenetsky (Кременецкий) to the Director of the Police Department A. A. Lopukhin (Лопухин), on the preparation of workers for the demonstration of 8 January, reports the following:

Top secret

According to the information obtained for tomorrow, at the initiative of Father Gapon, the revolutionary organizations of the capital also intend to use the march of the striking workers to the Palace Square to produce an anti-government demonstration.

For this purpose, flags with criminal inscriptions are made today, and these flags will be hidden until the police act against the march of the workers; then, taking advantage of the confusion, the flag bearers will take out the flags to create an impression that the workers marched under the flags of revolutionary organizations.

Then the socialist revolutionaries intend to take advantage of the disorder in order to plunder the weapon shops along Большая Конюшенная Street and Литейный Проспект. […]

Reporting on your excellency, I add that the possible measures for the removal of flags have been taken.

Lieutenant Colonel Kremenetsky (Кременецкий)
January 8, 1905.

As for the fact that some of the demonstrators held icons, church banners, and portraits of the tsar, that can also be explained. A certain portion of the workers did not realize what was about to happen. They believed Gapon’s fraudulent promises and did not know that the tsar was absent from the palace that day. These were the first to be surprised by the violent behavior of the other demonstrators. They indeed had peaceful intentions and believed that they would meet the tsar to hand over to him their humble petition. They also did not know that the content of the petition almost did not have anything to do with them at all.

A few days before the march Gapon met with Pinhas Rutenberg, a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, from whom he was inseparable during the days of preparation for the march. At midnight of the eighth going into the ninth of January, Rutenberg, with Gapon present, composed the petition on behalf of the workers who would hand it to the Tsar—certainly not personally, since they knew that the tsar would be absent. In no way was the content of this document a simple request to improve the working conditions of the workers, but a provocative political manifesto that demanded in a threatening tone the immediate devolvement of the absolute monarchy of Russia into a constitutional monarchy with a democratic constitution and the promulgation of significant reforms of a socialist character.

PHOTO: Pinhas Rutenberg (1879-1942)

Rutenberg’s meddling in the preparations for the march of 9 January constituted the active, however covert, participation of the revolutionary party in this demonstration. Rutenberg did not limit himself only to composing the document that they would submit to the tsar. Spiridovitch writes of this, “The Socialist-Revolutionary party as such had not taken part in the Gapon movement, however certain of its members had made a common cause with him. Thus, also many of the workers who were members of the party were also found among the crowds filling the streets. Rutenberg, a member of the party, had gotten to know Gapon some days before the 9th of January, and was almost never separated from him during those days. It was in fact Rutenberg who had chosen the route the marchers would follow, including Gapon himself, and it was also Rutenberg who came up with the suggestion that, in case the troops began to fire, to erect barricades, to seize the arms depots and to clear the streets, at all costs, to the Palace.” From this evidence it is manifest that he was essentially preparing for military action.

What in the end was the purpose of the march that Gapon organized? Spiridovitch gives the answer to that, “His genuine intention was to prove to the workers, in light of the measures which were to be taken against them, that the Tsar was not really protecting them and that the workers could never really hope to have any assistance coming from either the Tsar or his ministers.” Foreseeing, then, what would follow, Gapon wished to demonstrate to all the Russian people that the tsar was not the father of the nation, but its murderer. And in order to best achieve his goal, he undertook all necessary measures so that the blood of workers would be spilled.

At the end of January, Gapon fled to Switzerland, where with the help of his friend Rutenberg he met with Plekhanov and Lenin. On 7 February, he called from Geneva upon the workers in Russia to rise up in arms against the sovereign, to whom he sent a threatening and aggressive letter in which he wrote the following, “Nicholas Romanov, formerly Tsar and at present soul-murderer of the Russian empire. The innocent blood of workers, their wives and children lies forever between you and the Russian people. … May all the blood which must be spilled fall upon you, you Hangman!” At the end of this letter Gapon informed the emperor that copies of his letter had been sent to all the branches of the terrorist revolutionary movement in Russia.

Simeon Rappaport, a member of the Revolutionary Party, recounts a meeting he had with Gapon. When he asked if he had any ties with Zubatov, the chief of the Secret Police, Gapon replied, “Never! Never! Right from the beginning, from the very first minute, I led them by the nose. Otherwise nothing could ever have been done! …My entire plan was based on this.”

As for Nicholas, based on the information from his ministers, he believed that the march would not cause any significant disturbances in the capital. Surprised after these events, he wrote that evening in his diary about that fateful day, “9th of January. Sunday. A hard day! In Petersburg there was serious unrest due to the workers’ wish to reach the Winter Palace. The troops had to shoot in different parts of the city and there were many killed and wounded. Lord, how painful and hard!”

A few days later, on 14 January 1905, Alexandra wrote to her sister Victoria, “You understand the crisis we are going through! It is a time full of trials indeed. My poor Nicky’s cross is a heavy one to bear, all the more as he has nobody on whom he can thoroughly rely and who can be a real help to him. He has had so many bitter disappointments, but through it all he remains brave and full of faith in God’s mercy. He tries so hard, works with such perseverance, but the lack of what I call ‘real’ men is great. … The Minister of the Interior is doing the greatest harm—he proclaims grand things without having prepared them. … Reforms can only be made gently with the greatest care and forethought. … All these disorders are thanks to his unpardonable folly and he won’t believe what Nicky tells him, does not agree with his point of view.

“Things are in a bad state and it’s abominably unpatriotic at the time when we are plunged into war to break forth with revolutionary ideas. The poor workmen, who had been utterly misled, had to suffer, and the organisers have hidden as usual behind them. Don’t believe all the horrors the foreign papers say. They make one’s hair stand on end—foul exaggeration. Yes, the troops, alas, were obliged to fire.

Repeatedly the crowd was told to retreat and that Nicky was not in town, as we are living here at Tsarskoe Selo this winter, and that one would be forced to shoot, but they would not heed and so blood was shed. … The Petition had only two questions concerning the workmen and all the rest was atrocious … Had a small deputation brought, calmly, a real petition for the workmen’s good, all would have been otherwise. Many of the workmen were in despair, when they heard later what the petition contained, and begged to work again under the protection of the troops.”

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This video is produced as part of the project for the book The Romanov Royal Martyrs, which is an impressive 512-page book, featuring nearly 200 black & white photographs, and a 56-page photo insert of more than 80 high-quality images, colorized by the acclaimed Russian artist Olga Shirnina (Klimbim) and appearing here in print for the first time. EXPLORE the book / ORDER the book.

© Mesa Potamos Monastery. 21 October 2020

Nicholas II – “almost a laureate” of the Nobel Peace Prize

Yet another forgotten or little known page from the reign of Emperor Nicholas II, is his nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, in recognition for his efforts to limit armaments and promote peace among the great powers.

After Nicholas II ascended the throne in 1894, his foreign policy focused on strengthening the Franco-Russian Alliance and pursuing a policy of general European pacification, which culminated in the famous Hague Peace Conference in 1899.

The First Hague Conference came from a proposal on 24 August 1898 by Emperor Nicholas II, who along with his Minister of Foreign Affairs Count Mikhail Nikolayevich Muravyov (1845-1900), were instrumental in initiating the conference. The conference opened on 18 May 1899, the day marking the Tsar’s 31st birthday.

This conference was convened with the view of terminating the arms race, and setting up machinery for the peaceful settlement of international disputes. The treaties, declarations, and final act of the conference were signed on 29 July of that year, and they entered into force on 4 September 1900. What is referred to as the Hague Convention of 1899 consisted of three main treaties and three additional declarations.

The results of the conference were less than expected due to the mutual distrust existing between great powers. Nevertheless, the Hague conventions were among the first formal statements of the laws of war. Nicholas II became the hero of the dedicated disciples of peace. In 1901 he and the Russian diplomat Friedrich Martens (1845-1909) were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the initiative to convene the Hague Peace Conference and contributing to its implementation.

According to the web site of the Nobel Prize organisation: ” Nicholas II initiated the First Hague Peace Conference in 1899. The Emperor’s intention was to seek agreements to limit armaments and the financial burden of excessive armament, and to improve the prospects of peaceful settlement of international conflicts and to codify the laws of war.”

The nominators included Count fr. Schonbruun (Austria), the Austrian Inter-parliamentary Group (Pirquet), Count Nigra (Italy), Heinrich Lammasch (Austria) and Ritter Wladimir von Gniewosz-Olexow (Austria).

In a comment Schönbrunn explained that he wanted the Norwegian Nobel Committee to bestow an honorary peace award on Emperor Nicholas II of Russia for his initiative that resulted in the 1899 Hague Peace Conference. In addition, Schönbrunn wished that the Nobel Committee would divide the prize money between some worthy peace workers, namely William Randal Cremer, Frédéric Passy and Bertha von Suttner.

The first prize in 1901, however, was awarded to Frédéric Passy, who had been one of the main founders of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and also the main organizer of the first Universal Peace Congress. He was himself the leader of the French peace movement. In his own person, he thus brought together the two branches of the international organized peace movement, the parliamentary one and the broader peace societies.

For more information about Nicholas II and the Hague Conference, please refer to the article Emperor Nicholas II. Initiator of Global Disarmament by Pyotr Multatuli, published in Sovereign No. 3 (2016), pg. 25-34.

“At the time, the Emperor’s revolutionary step didn’t receive the appreciation it deserved and remained under wraps for the most part of the 20th century. The new Bolshevik regime – which took all the credit for Russia’s peace initiatives – couldn’t allow the public to view the murdered Tsar as the driving force of world disarmament.” The first English translation of this article appears in this issue of Sovereign.

© Paul Gilbert. 20 October 2020

NEW Romanov Books for Autumn 2020

Autumn is here, a perfect time of the year to begin stocking up on your winter reading! I am pleased to offer 2 NEW book titles, plus copies of my 2021 calendar dedicated to Russia’s last emperor and tsar.

MEMORIES IN THE MARBLE PALACE ( Click HERE to order this title)
by Prince of the Imperial Blood Gabriel Constantinovich

290 pages . 45 chapters. 28 black and white photographs. Price: $25 + postage

This is a new edition of the first English translation of the memoirs of Prince of the Imperial Blood Gabriel Konstantinovich Romanov (1887-1955). They are not just a memoir, but a very valuable resource for the history of Imperial Russia in the late 19th to early 20th century. The narrative covers the period from 1887 to 1918.

The second son of Grand Duke Constantine Constantinovich, Prince Gabriel tells about events such as the coronation of Nicholas II at Moscow in 1896, the assassination of Pyotr Stolypin at Kiev in 1911; the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Patriotic War at Moscow in 1812; the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in 1913; the first Russian Olympics in 1913; the outbreak of World War I in 1914; the assassination of Grigory Rasputin in 1916; the February and October 1917 revolutions in Petrograd; the beginning of the Red Terror.; and Prince Gabriel’s miraculous escape from certain death at the hands of the Bolsheviks in 1918.

Gabriel’s memoirs pay much attention to the everyday life of members of the Russian Imperial family, including Emperor Nicholas II and his family, as well as those of the Konstantinovichi branch: his grandparents, his mother and father, his 5 brothers and 2 sisters. He also provides vivid descriptions of his family’s palaces and estates, including the Marble Palace in St. Petersburg; the Constantine Palace in Strelna; Pavlovsk Palace near St. Petersburg; and the country estate of Ostashevo, near Moscow.

DEAREST MAMA . . . DARLING NICKY ( Click HERE to order this title)
Letters Between Emperor Nicholas II and his Mother Empress Maria Feodorovna 1879-1917

Trade-size 9” x 6” paperback. 244 pages. More than 200 letters. Price: $25 + postage

Written between the years 1879, when Nicky was a little boy, and 1917, after his abdication, this collection of letters are a revelation of the personalities of the Emperor and his Empress mother. They were never part of the imperial archives but the cherished possession of both correspondents, carried with them wherever they went. At the outbreak of the revolution, the letters were confiscated by the Soviets.

From some five hundred letters, more than 200 have been selected and translated from the French and Russian. They have particular bearing on the Tsar’s relatives in England, Germany, Italy and Greece; on political personages in Russia, and their Romanov relatives. All of their family but Uncle Willie, the German Emperor, found a place in their affections. To them, he was always an exhibitionist, dangerous in his national ambition. Uncle Bertie, Aunt Alix, Georgie, May, and Granny—respectively King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra, King George V, Queen Mary and Queen Victoria—emerge as human beings, minus crowns and ermine.

The correspondence sheds considerable light on Nicholas II’s character, family affairs, and politics, especially in regard to the 1905 Revolution. The preface provides an interesting assessment of the correspondence and its historical significance.

Unlike his diaries, these letters are essential human documents of great historic importance, and in the case of the Tsar, will alter many preconceived notions of his character, and the negative assessment which has persisted for more than a century.

NOTE: Dearest Nicky, Darling Mama was originally published in England in 1937, under the title The Letters of Tsar Nicholas and Empress Marie; they were published in the United States in 1938, under the title The Secret Letters of the Last Tsar. Out of print for decades, this is the first edition of this title published in nearly 90 years!

NICHOLAS II. EMPEROR. TSAR. SAINT. 2021 CALENDAR ( Click HERE to order this title)

28 pages. Illustrated with 16 photos. Price: $10 + postage

Each month features an iconic full-page black and white photograph of Russia’s last monarch, during some of the brightest and darkest days of his 22-year reign.

Nearly 70 holidays and observances in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and Russia are featured, with room to write in your own special dates and events.

Also featured, are the birth dates of members of Nicholas II, Alexandra Feodorovna, and their five children, as well as important dates in the reign of Russia’s last tsar.

ALL net proceeds from the sale of each calendar will go into my research on Nicholas II, including translation costs.

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Click HERE to order these titles from my online bookshop with a credit card or PayPal

Click HERE to download and print an order form and pay by personal check or money order

© Paul Gilbert. 18 October 2020

Faithful to the End: Countess Anastasia Vasilyevna Hendrikova (1887-1918)

PHOTO: Countess Anastasia Vasilyevna Hendrikova (1887-1918)

A conference held last week in the Ural capital of Ekaterinburg, was attended by historians, ethnographers, researchers, archivists, tourism specialists, as well as representatives of public and church organizations. The conference was just one of a series of events marking the memory of members of the Russian Imperial House, who were martyred in the Urals in 1918-1919.

Among the participants was the abbess of the Alexander Nevsky Novo-Tikhvin Convent in Ekaterinburg, Abbess Domnika (Korobeinikova), who presented her paper on the life of Countess Anastasia Hendrikova, a loyal subject of Tsar Nicholas II and his family, who followed them into exile and shared their fate on 17th July 1918.

I am honoured to present Mother Domnika’s paper on Countess Anastasia Hendrikova:

I would like to start with a precise description given to Countess Hendrikova by one of her contemporaries: “This gentle, fragile girl with a childish face, who seemed so weak, possessed the soul of a heroine.” Many believe that the only feat of Countess Hendrikova was the fact that she voluntarily followed the Imperial family into exile. But in reality her whole life was a feat. During her short life she tried to bring joy and comfort to those around her, despite the fact that she herself had to endure many sorrows. She wrote about it this way: “A thought shared with me by the [Empress] today touched my soul deeply: “that I may use the experience of suffering that the Lord has sent me for the joy and comfort of others.” Perhaps this is the purpose assigned to me by God?”

Countess Hendrikova began to perform this feat in childhood, when her mother, Sofya Petrovna, after a complex operation, was left bedridden. Anastasia cared for her invalid mother for the next 20 years, selflessly devoting all her free time. Not only did she look after her, but constantly tried to raise her spirits, forgetting about her own needs. Countess Anastasia adhered to the words spoken to her by the Empress: “Be merry with [her] and give her all the warmth of your love. Bright face – despite the suffering of your poor soul.” At a time when many of Anastasia’s peers led the carefree life of aristocratic women in the capital, year after year she followed the narrow path of selfless service to her mother. The grief of many years gradually nurtured her faith, strengthened her prayers, and made her able to live for others. Although Anastasia belonged to high society, she led the simplest way of life, one that was distinguished by modesty. Raised under the strict rules of her mother, she maintained her purity. According to the memoirs of Sergei Smirnov, secretary of the Serbian princess Elena Petrovna, Countess Hendrikova often visited the church in the name of the Twelve Apostles, located not far from her home. Two zealous priests served in this church, first Archpriest Mikhail Gorchakov, then Archpriest Arkady Vinogradov, talented preachers and wise pastors. They spiritually nourished young Anastasia, provided her with good advice, helping her in her faith and patience to bear the ordeal in her home. 

In 1910 she became a maid of honour to the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. All the members of the Imperial family fell in love with her openness of soul, kindness and sincere desire to bring joy to others. She became a beloved member of the family’s inner circle, everyone affectionately called her Nastenka. Captain Nikolai Sablin recalled how on one trip on the Imperial Yacht Standart the Empress was sad due to Alexei’s illness [haemophilia], and Countess Hendrikova did her best to console her. Anastasia Vasilievna herself only just recently had experienced her own grief: her father, Count Vasily Alexandrovich, died of a heart attack. But despite this, Countess Hendrikova, as Nikolai Sablin wrote, brought “a stream of liveliness and vigor into the life” of those around her. The Empress told her: “You are the sun for all your darlings.”

PHOTO: Hendrikova (left) with Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana Nikolaevna

In the tragic days following the February Revolution of 1917, Countess Hendrikova remained true to her vocation – to be a consolation for those around her, particularly the Imperial family. In March 1917, the Emperor and his family were placed under house arrest in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. While many courtiers were in a hurry to leave the Tsar’s family, Countess Hendrikova, on the contrary, hastened to return from Kislovodsk, where she had gone to visit her sister. Despite the fact that her beloved sister Alexandra was ill at that time, she immediately set off on the return journey, realizing that the Tsar’s family needed her more. Upon her returnt to the Alexander Palace, she too was placed under arrest, that evening, she wrote in her diary: “Thank God, I managed to arrive in time to be with them.”

Some believe that Countess Hendrikova did this only out of duty or from her sense of devotion to the Imperial family. But a close acquaintance of the family, helps us to understand the true reasons for her feat. “Countess Hendrikova was a person of deep, not superficial, faith. From early childhood before her eyes were living examples of piety. Faith was the basis of her life and that of her family. Anastasia followed the Imperial family quite consciously, for the sake of God’s commandments, realizing that suffering and death awaited her.” This is evidenced by the entry in her diary, made before leaving for Tobolsk: “I surrender myself entirely into the hands of God with trust and love and I know that [the Lord] will support me during trials and in the moment of death.”

Anastasia Vasilievna Hendrikova also grew up in an atmosphere of reverent reverence for Father John of Kronstadt. It is known that the Hendrikovs turned to him with a request for prayer. In response, the pastor wrote them a letter, which Anastasia carefully kept until the end of her days.

Raised by examples of living faith, Countess Hendrikova found her support in God throughout her life. Her faith and love for the Lord were manifested in the days of the trials that awaited her. In 1917, before leaving with the Tsar’s family to Tobolsk, she wrote in her diary: “I cannot leave here without thanking God for this wonderful world and the power that He sent me and supported me during these five months of house arrest. The harder and harder my life becomes, I feel a greater spiritual peace. I realize now that this is the best, the greatest happiness, and that everything can be endured, and I bless God. I have experienced for myself that as the sufferings of Christ manifests within us, Christ will strengthen our consolation.” It is truly remarkable that this was written by a woman who was preparing to go into exile, into complete obscurity! There is no fear in her words no despondency, but only peace and gratitude to God. At the same time, the Countess was well aware that she would be facing even greater trials. But she accepted them with trust in God and humility. She wrote: “If [God] sends me more trials and difficulties, then he will give me more strength accordingly. You just need to ask Him for the Holy Spirit and strength for the day ahead.”

Countess Hendrikova’s notes testify to the depth of her spiritual experience. Her diary is filled with reflections like the following: “I see your palace, my Savior, adorned”. I do not yet have clothes to enter into it; much has to be [changed] in myself in order to enlighten the garment of my soul. But may the Lord do this, and I will accept from Him, with gratitude, all the trials that He will send to me, firmly believing that they will enlighten the garment of my soul.” She realized that not by her own strength, but only by the grace of God, a person can perform virtues. And she constantly turned to God with faith and hope for His help. She wrote: “I know that I am nothing without the help of God: despondency, fear, cowardice take possession of me as soon as God’s grace leaves me, but I know that it must be so at times, that this is a necessary test, which you must try to humbly and patiently endure, and then again bright moments appear, and I wait for them and so I believe that they will come. I had so many of them that I know that this is only God’s mercy, not according to my merits.”

PHOTO: Hendrikova (right) under house arrest with the Tsar and his family in 1917

As can be seen from the countess’s diary, in Tobolsk she did not miss a single opportunity to go to church, prayed with the Tsar’s family and faithfully attended all services held in the Governor’s House. During the Great Lent of 1918, she received Communion twice: during the first week, together with the Imperial family, and on Great Thursday, after the departure of the Tsar and Empress to Ekaterinburg.

In May 1918, Countess Hendrikova travelled with the rest of the Tsar’s family Ekaterinburg, but she was not allowed into the Ipatiev House, instead she was imprisoned. In July, after the murder of the Tsar’s family, the Countess was transported to the Perm prison, located on the outskirts of the city. In prison, Anastasia still tried to comfort others: sometimes she even sang to support Princess Elena who was imprisoned in the same cell with her. Elena was the wife of Prince of the Imperial Blood Ioann Konstantinovich, who had been murdered in Alapaevsk along with Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna and other members of the Imperial family. Sergei Smirnov, the secretary of the princess, recalled: “Nastenka with her joyful smile supported the good state of mind of Elena Petrovna, a very nervous nature and experienced so many difficult hours. All the time I remember Anastasia’s charming smile, her friendliness.” 

Countess Hendrikova remained courageous until the final minutes of her life. On 4th September 1918, she was taken from prison, ostensibly to be transferred to another place. She realized that she was being led to her death, but remained calm and warmly said goodbye to Elena Petrovna. Like the Holy Royal Martyrs, she was not afraid of death, because the premonition of a future blissful eternity comforted her soul. In her diary she wrote the following prophetic words: “If death awaits me, I am not afraid. I have much more there than here. I will finally be at home, in eternal bliss and peace. [Earlier] the doors [to eternal life] were closed to me, they are terrible, but now I feel them closer, open, just as clearly as you see the Royal Doors in the church open on Holy [Easter] week.”

Countess Hendrikova was murdered outside the city. She died from blows to the head with a rifle butt, which severed her parietal and temporal bones, her body was thrown into a ditch, where it was later discovered by the Whites.

Anastasia Hendrikova was only 30 years of age when her life was cut brutally cut short by the Bolsheviks, but during this short time she managed to bring joy and consolation to many others, and for herself to find a crown in the Kingdom of Heaven, to which she always aspired. As General Dieterichs wrote: “Anastasia Vasilievna was not afraid of death and prepared herself for it. She confidently believed in a bright afterlife and in the Resurrection on the last day, and through this power of faith she drew vitality and peace of mind.”

Today we believe that now she, together with the Holy Royal Family, stands before God and prays for us.

Holy Royal Martyrs, pray to God for us!
Святы Царственные мученики, молите Бога о нас!

PHOTO: Countess Anastasia Vasilyevna Hendrikova (1887-1918)

Click HERE to read my article The fate of the royal servants Anastasia Hendrikova and Ekaterina Schneider, published on 4th September 2020

© Paul Gilbert. 15 October 2020

The History and Restoration of the Imperial Bedchamber in the Alexander Palace

PHOTO: the Imperial Bedroom as it looked in the 1930s

The Imperial Bedroom or Bedchamber was among one of the first apartments prepared for the arrival of the Imperial couple to the Alexander Palace.

Nicholas was very fond of their new home at Tsarskoye Selo, On first seeing the newly decorated apartments in September 1895 he wrote to his mother:

“our mood . . . changed to utter delight when we settled ourselves into these marvellous rooms: sometimes we simply sit in silence wherever we happen to be and admire the walls, the fireplaces, the furniture… .”

Between 1894-1895, the bedchamber was redesigned from the bedroom furnished for the wedding in 1874 of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna (daughter of Alexander II) to Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh. The interior was renovated according to the project of Roman Melzer. The furniture, which had been preserved from the previous decoration, was repainted in white and covered with an English chintz pattern in the form of wreaths of small pink flowers and ribbons. The same fabric was used to make the drapes and alcove curtains for the room.

To carry out the finishing work, the furniture manufacturer Karl Greenberg was invited, who had designed the interior for the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh. In addition, Greenberg designed the dressing room adjacent to the Bedchamber and the Empress’s small Dressing Room.

PHOTO: the Imperial Bedroom as it looked in the 1930s

Gradually, in the autumn of 1895, the furniture began to be replaced. In 1897, the double walnut bed was replaced by two gilded copper beds made by the Moscow firm Tyapunov and Son.

In September 1901, “a thick raspberry velvet carpet which covered the entire floor,” was purchased for the Bedchamber from the merchants Korovins, suppliers of the Imperial Court, for the sum of 747 rubles 50 kopecks.

As can be seen in photographs from the early 20th century, the alcove wall was filled with icons. Over the years, the number of icons steadily increased, many of them gifted to the Imperial family. Among them were many unique images: an icon made by craftsmen on a cut of a tree, or an icon depicting Christ blessing Nicholas II, Alexandra Feodorovna and Tsesarevich Alexei with the inscription: “The Lord Himself blesses and has mercy on them.” Unfortunately, many of these icons were lost: having been sold in the 1930s or disappeared during the war and occupation of the palace by the Nazis. The museum funds preserved the icon “St. Nicholas the Wonderworker”, presented to Nicholas II on the day of his coronation by the abbess of the Seraphim-Ponetaevsky monastery in the Nizhny Novgorod province, as well as two icons presented to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, among several others.

After the completion of the current restoration work, several hundred icons will once again appear in the alcove of the Bedchamber interior. Unfortunately, due to the numerous losses of the original icons which once hung here, the historic recreation of this collection will never be fully restored.

During the Great Patriotic War, the interior of the Bedchamber was seriously damaged. The alcove had collapsed, the wall decorations and the furniture were all lost. Only one chair survived, which is now in the collection of the Pavlovsk State Museum-Reserve.

PHOTO: the Imperial Bedroom as it looks today

Reliable reconstruction of the original historic look of the Bedchamber, structural elements and furniture finishing details became possible thanks to preserved historical photographs from the collections of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve, the Pavlovsk State Museum-Reserve, the Central State Archive of Film and Photo Documents (St. Petersburg) and the State Archive of the Russian Federation  (Moscow). In these pictures, the interior is presented from different angles. Fragments of chintz and silk twill from the collection from the museum collection, as well as the one chair from the Bedchamber, have been miraculously been preserved, thus becoming invaluable resources for the reconstruction of furniture.

PHOTO: the Imperial Bedroom as it looks today

Since the beginning of the restoration work in the Bedchamber, in addition to architectural elements (alcove, frieze), fabrics on the walls, carpeting, curtains have all been recreated. The project for the production of furniture for this interior has already been completed and work will soon begin on the production of items for the Bedchamber on the Empress’s half of the room.

PHOTO: detail of the Imperial Bedroom as it looks today

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The Imperial Bedroom of Nicholas II is now one of 15 interiors in the eastern wing of the palace, scheduled to open in 2021. Among the other interiors are the Moorish Bathroom of Nicholas II, Working Study of Nicholas II, Reception Room of Nicholas II, Pallisander (Rosewood) Living Room, Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir, Alexandra’s Corner Reception Room, and the New Study of Nicholas II.

In the future, the Alexander Palace will become a memorial museum of the Romanov family – from Catherine the Great to Nicholas II, showcasing the private, domestic life of the Russian monarchs who used the palace as an official residence. The eastern wing of the palace will be known as the Museum of the Russian Imperial Family. The multi-museum complex, which includes the Western wing is scheduled for completion no earlier than 2024.

© Paul Gilbert. 14 October 2020