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