PHOTO: Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich (1876-1938)
It is a well known fact, that under the command of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich (1876-1938), the Marine of the Guard, the most loyal and elite troops of the Alexander Palace, had marched to the Tauride Palace to declare their allegiance to the Provisional Government. At the Tauride Palace, two revolutionary organs had formed under one roof in a single day: the Provisional Committee of the State Duma and the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers Deputies.
In the Winter 2017 issue of Royal Russia, I published my 18-page interview with Princess Maria Vladimirovna , which consisted of 20 questions, one of which addressed her grandfather’s [Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich] alleged betrayal of Emperor Nicholas II. Prior to the interview, I was required to submit my questions to one of her legal advisors, who expressed doubt that she would answer this question, BUT she did!
PG: “Your grandfather, Kirill Vladimirovich, was accused of disloyalty and treason against Emperor Nicholas II. His detractors claim that in 1917, he swore allegiance to the new Provisional Government and that he wore a red armband on his uniform, even though he firmly denied these accusations in his memoirs . Can you comment on these accusations?
MV: “Slander has always been one of the most effective weapons of the unprincipled politician.
“There are no authoritative witnesses or reliable evidence of any of the alleged actions some claim my grandfather took during the Revolution.
“My grandfather and his uncle, Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich, in February and March 1917. . . that they together strove “with all their strength and in every way possible to preserve Nicky [that is, Emperor Nicholas II] on the throne.”
“Neither my grandfather nor Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich served the Provisional Government. They resigned their official positions and offices after the illegal arrest of the Imperial Family .
“This fiction about the “red armband” and other slanderous claims began to spread only after my grandfather assumed the responsibilities that he legally inherited for the fate of the dynasty in exile .”
Vladimir Nikolaevich Voeikov, writes in his memoirs:
The sailors in the Marine of the Guard, which at that time formed part of the security troops [for the Alexander Palace, where Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and her five children were in residence], began to evaporate. In the end, only officers remained, and the deserting sailors headed off to Petrograd to their barracks, where on the morning of March 2 they held a meeting to which they invited their commander, who at that time was Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich.
The grand duke explained to the sailors the import of the events taking place. The result of his explanation was not the return of the deserting sailors to fulfill their duty but a decision to replace their highly esteemed banner with a red rag, under which the Marine of the Guard followed their commander into the State Duma.
Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich with his tsarist monogram on his epaulettes and a red ribbon on his shoulders, appeared on March 1, at four-fifteen in the afternoon, at the State Duma, where he reported to Duma Chairman M.V. Rodzianko. “I have the honour of appearing before Your Excellency, I am at your disposal, as is the entire nation. I wish Russia only good.” Then he stated that the Marine of the Guard was at the complete disposal of the State Duma . . . In reply, M.V. Rodzianko expressed confidence that the Marine of the Guard would help them deal with their enemy (but he didn’t explain which one).
Inside the State Duma, the grand duke was received quite graciously, since even before his arrival at the commandant’s office in the Tauride Palace it was generally known that he had sent notes to the heads of the units of the Tsarskoye Selo garrison announcing:
“I and the Marine of the Guard entrusted to me have fully allied ourselves with the new government. I am certain that you, too, and the unit entrusted to you will also ally yourselves with us.”
“Commander of the Marine of the Guard, His Highness, Rear Admiral Kirill.”
PHOTO: Grand Duke Kirill (left) with officers and sailors of the Guards crew
Following the October 1917 Revolution, no member of the Romanov family living in exile made any claim to the title of heir to the throne of the Russian Empire; rather, they shared the view once expressed by the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, that the final arbiter of whether there is a monarchy in Russia, and who would reign, must be the Russian people.
The Association of the Family of the Romanovs found themselves in conflict with the fifth branch of the Romanov family, the Vladimiroviches. The source of the conflict goes back to the 1920s, when Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, who illegally left Russia in mid-1917, declared himself the “guardian of the Russian throne” on August 8, 1922 and “Emperor of All the Russias” on September 13, 1924, thereby causing not merely a scandal, but a schism in monarchist circles of the Russian emigration. Opposing him were the most active members of the emigration, who had retreated from Russia with weapons in hand and who had united around the former supreme commander, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich. They accused Kirill Vladimirovich of abandoning his honour and dignity. The Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, her daugthers Grand Duchesses Xenia and Olga Alexandrovna, among other Romanov family members also opposed Grand Duke Kirill. Grand Duke Peter Nikolaevich supported his brother Nicholas, as did others. Eventually, the Association of the Family of the Romanovs was formed, which opposes the claims of the Vladimiroviches to this day. Nearly a century has passed, and yet no end to the schism is in sight.
The issue of the Vladimiroviches is ambiguous and multi-layered. According to Emperor Paul I’s “establishment,” when an emperor dies and his brother and his son also die in short order, the eldest of his male cousins becomes the heir to the throne. Indeed, the eldest male cousin of Nicholas II was Kirill Vladimirovich. Had this happened during ordinary times, and had the eldest cousin been someone other than Kirill Vladimirovich, he would have been recognized as heir to the throne without objections. However, in 1924 there was neither empire nor throne, and it was not appropriate to demand an “automatic” succession without taking into account the opinions of the empire’s defenders.
On March 1, 1917, before the emperor’s abdication, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich was one of the first Russian officers to commit an act of betrayal to his oath of loyalty and to his dynastic duty. While commanding the Marine of the Guard, which was responsible for guarding the Imperial Family at Tsarskoye Selo, Kirill Vladimirovich marched them into Petrograd to declare their allegiance to the Duma. If this does not qualify as treason, then his emigration in June 1917 when he was a rear admiral in active military service in a country at war cannot be called anything but desertion. It is not difficult to understand why military men may have refused to recognize a man of such high “valour” as their monarch.
 Maria Vladimirovna is a Princess, not a Grand Duchess. The last grand duchess of Russia was Nicholas II’s younger sister Olga Alexandrovna, who died on 24th November 1960, in Toronto, Canada
 My Life in Russia’s Service – Then and Now, London: Selwyn & Blount, published posthumously in 1939
 In June 1917, Grand Duke Kirill was the first Romanov to flee Russia with his pregnant wife and their two children. Not only was his departure “illegal”, Kirill who was serving as a rear admiral in active military service in a country at war, had thus abandoned his honour and dignity. It is interesting to add, that the Kirillovich were the only branch of the Imperial Family who managed to escape the Bolsheviks, without losing any family members.
PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II and Major General Vladimir Nikolaevich Voeikov at the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief in Mogilev. c. 1915
 Vladimir Nikolaevich Voeikov (1868-1947) was a member of His Imperial Majesty’s Retinue, and served as Palace Commandant from 1913 to 1917. During his years in exile, Voeikov wrote his memoirs “С царём и без царя: Воспоминания последнего дворцового коменданта» (With and Without a Tsar: Memories of the Last Palace Commandant”, published in in Helsinki in Russian in 1936.
This article [sourced from Wikipedia] is a general introduction to Charles Sydney Gibbes (19 January 1876 – 24 March 1963). Gibbes was a British academic who from 1908 to 1917 served as the English tutor to the children of Emperor Nicholas II. When Nicholas abdicated the throne in March 1917 Gibbes voluntarily accompanied the Imperial family into exile to the Siberian city of Tobolsk. After the family was murdered in 1918 Gibbes returned to the United Kingdom and eventually became an Orthodox monk, adopting the name of Nicholas in commemoration of Nicholas II. He died in 1963, and is buried at Headington cemetery, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England.
There is little which is new that I could write about Gibbes, therefore, to compliment this article, I have provided a list of books and articles written about Gibbes which I trust will provide readers with a much more comprehensive understanding of one of the most devoted and beloved persons associated with the Russian Imperial Family – PG
Charles Sydney Gibbes was born in Rotherham, Yorkshire, England on 19 January 1876. He was the youngest surviving son of John Gibbs, a bank manager, and Mary Ann Elizabeth Fisher, the daughter of a watchmaker. Whilst at the University of Cambridge, Charles Sydney added the ‘e’ to the spelling of his own name. He entered upon theological studies in Cambridge and Salisbury in preparation for holy orders but realised that he had no religious vocation. Sydney is described as: severe, stiff, self-restrained, imperturbable, quiet, gentlemanly, cultured, pleasant, practical, brave, loyal, honourable, reliable, impeccably clean, with high character, of good sense and with agreeable manners. He could also be stubborn, use corporal punishment freely, that he could be very awkward with others, and he is recorded as having quite a temper, at least in his younger years.
Having some talent at languages, he decided to teach English abroad. In 1901 he went to Saint Petersburg, Russia, as tutor to the Shidlovsky family and then the Soukanoff family. He was then appointed to the staff of the Imperial School of Law, and by 1907 he was qualified as vice-president and committee member of the Saint Petersburg Guild of English Teachers. He came to the attention of the Empress Alexandra and in 1908 was invited as a tutor to improve the accents of the Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana; and subsequently Maria and Anastasia. In 1913 he became tutor to Tsesarevich Alexei. The children referred to him as Sydney Ivanovich.
PHOTO: Gibbes with Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna. 1910
Gibbes’ career as court tutor continued until the February Revolution of 1917, after which the Imperial family was imprisoned in the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo. He was in St Petersburg at the time, and immediately after returning to Tsarskoye Selo was forbidden from seeing the Imperial Family. He was only allowed to recover his possessions after the Imperial Family had been sent into exile to Tobolsk in Siberia. Gibbes voluntarily followed the family, arriving in the village in October 1917 shortly before the Provisional Government fell to the Bolsheviks. In May 1918 the Imperial family was moved to the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, and neither Gibbes, French tutor Pierre Gilliard, nor most other servants were allowed to enter. A number of servants stayed in the railway carriage which had brought them to the city.
PHOTO: Gibbes with Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich. Alexander Park, spring 1914
This carriage became part of a refugee train on 3rd June and the tutors were in Tyumen but returned to Ekaterinburg after the murder of the Imperial family on the night of 16/17 July 1918 and the fall of the city to the White Army on 25th July. Gibbes and Gilliard were early visitors to the scene of the regicide at the Ipatiev House and were both involved in the subsequent enquiries carried out by Ivan Alexandrovich Sergeiev and later by Nicholas Alexievich Sokolov.
As the Bolsheviks took Perm and closed in on Ekaterinburg, enquiries were abandoned and Gibbes and Gilliard left for Omsk. Gibbes was appointed as a secretary to the British High Commission in Siberia in January 1919, retreating eastwards as Siberia was captured by the Red Army. He was briefly employed at the British Embassy in Beijing and then became an assistant in the Chinese Maritime Customs in Manchuria.
There was a large White Russian refugee community in Harbin and it was there in 1922 that he met an orphan, Georges Paveliev, whom he adopted. He established George in 1934 on a fruit farm at Stourmouth House in East Stourmouth in Kent.
PHOTO: images of Father Nicholas. St. John’s Orthodox Church, Colchester, England
RETURN TO ENGLAND AND CONVERSION TO ORTHODOXY
Gibbes returned to England in 1928 and enrolled as an ordinand at St Stephen’s House, Oxford, but again decided that ordination in the Church of England was not to be his vocation.
In Harbin, China on 25th April 1934 he was received into the Orthodox church by Archbishop Nestor (Anisimov) of Kamchatka and Petropavlovsk who was there in exile. Gibbes took the baptismal name of Alexei in honour of the former Tsesarevich. He was tonsured a monk on 15th December, ordained deacon on 19th December and priest on 23rd December, taking the name Nicholas in honour of the former Tsar. In March 1935 he became an Abbot. He again returned to England in 1937 and was established in a parish in London.
At the time of the Blitz he moved to Oxford where in 1941 he established an Orthodox chapel in Bartlemas. In 1949 he bought a house at 4 Marston Street, subsequently known as the Saint Nicholas House. The house was built circa 1890 by a charity founded to distribute free medicine to the poor. During the war the building became the central ‘Air Raid Protection’ telephone exchange and there is still a ‘bomb proof’ concrete partition between the ground and first floor. Gibbes kept a chapel dedicated to St Nicholas the Wonderworker within the property. This chapel was home to several icons and mementos of the Imperial family which he brought with him from Yekaterinburg, including a chandelier from the Ipatiev House. The house was divided into flats in the 1960s, and the chapel was converted into a flat in the late 1980s.
PHOTO: grave of Fr. Nicholas Gibbes, Headington cemetery, Oxford
Gibbes died at St Pancras Hospital, London, on 24 March 1963. His open coffin was displayed in the cellar (or crypt) of Saint Nicholas House before his funeral. He is buried in Headington cemetery, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England.
His collection of Russian possessions were left with his adopted son, George, in Oxford, and George subsequently donated them to the museum at Luton Hoo. A small chapel was built there to house these memorabilia, consecrated by Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh. The museum has been moved from Luton Hoo and is now a part of the Wernher Collection in Greenwich.
PHOTO: Charles Sydney Gibbes (1876-1963)
LEARN MORE ABOUT CHARLES SYDNEY GIBBES
It was generally believed that Gibbes did not write his memoirs, however, it is now known that among the documents stored in his archive, housed at the University of Leeds Special Collections, is his typescript Ten Years with the Russian Imperial Family (unpublished). I regret that I do not know the number of pages, nor can I confirm if it was ever completed.
In addtition, there is a vast collection of books and articles written about Gibbes, for which I have provided links below:
Benagh, Christine (2000) An Englishman in the Court of the Tsar. Ben Lomond, California: Conciliar Press.
Trewin, J. C. (1975) Tutor to the Tsarecvich – An Intimate Portrait of the Last Days of the Russian Imperial Family compiled from the papers of Charles Sydney Gibbes. London: Macmillan
Welch, Frances (2005) The Romanovs & Mr Gibbes: The Story of the Englishman Who Taught the Children of the Last Tsar. UK: Short Books
The English Tutor Who Became a Monk. The Last Years of Sydney Gibbes narrated by Helen Rappaport [Duration: 18 min., 20 sec.]
The Winter of 1962/3 was one of the coldest ever experienced in Britain. At St Pancras Hospital in London, the death rate was very high. Fifty-five years later there is one death that still sticks in the mind of nurse Anne Scupholme. His name was Charles Sydney Gibbes, but since 1934, when he had taken his vows as a Russian Orthodox priest, he had been known as Father Nicholas. He had been English tutor to the five children of Russia’s last Tsar and Tsaritsa, and during that time had developed a very close relationship with the young tsesarevich, Alexei.
PHOTO: Nicholas II walking his dogs in the Alexander Park. 1908
According to Romanov historian Igor Zimin, Nicholas II maintained a kennel of nearly a dozen English collies – his favourite breed – to accompany him on his daily walks through the Alexander Park at Tsarskoye Selo.
His two favourite dogs were Raven / Ворон [Voron] and Иман [Iman]. Raven was presented to Nicholas when he was 17 years old, the canine becoming the Tsesarevich’s constant companion during his long daily walks.
Less than a year later, Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich embarked on a journey to Egypt, India and the Far East (1890-1891), during which Raven was left behind, in the care of his parents. His father Emperor Alexander III regularly reported in letters to his son about Raven, with whom he walked in the garden of the Anitchkov Palace in St. Petersburg.
On 24th October 1890, Empress Maria Feodorovna wrote to her son: “Ella was waiting for us to go for a walk and poor Raven came to; he now spends a lot of time with me and seems to like my room, for he lies quietly at my feet and we try to console each other”.
In January 1891, Alexander III wrote to Nicholas: “Raven is getting fat, because stupid people continue to feed him all day so that he is no longer a dog, but a barrel of some kind!” Naturally, the overly pampered dog became ill.
After the death of his father on 1st November [O.S. 20th October] 1894, Nicholas ascended the throne. Less than a year later, his beloved Raven died on 27th September 1895.
Following the tradition of his predecessors who buried their faithful canine companions, Nicholas II created a small cemetery for his dogs on the Children’s Island, situated near the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. A granite obelisk was erected over Raven’s grave, upon which the dates of his birth and death were engraved.
On 28th September 1895, Nicholas wrote his mother: “I have only just received your telegram in reply to mine about poor Voron’s [Raven] death, which made me so sad. I buried him on the Detski [Children’s] Island and placed a tombstone over his grave. Now it is so lonely and sad whenever I take my walks, especially when Alix does not come along . . .”.
Maria Feodorovna replied: “the death of good old Voron [Raven] is very painful – I did not know he had been ill for so long. You will miss him very much, and so shall I, my poor Nicky. It is so sad to lose such a good and faithful old dog, a real friend in life”.
On 1st October 1895, Nicholas again remembered his first dog: “I took a long walk alone, it is terribly sad to walk without poor Raven.”
PHOTO: Nicholas II with his collies in the Alexander Park, Tsarskoye Selo
The emperor’s personal mourning for Raven lasted about two months. On 6th December 1895, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna presented Nicholas with a collie puppy. Nicholas II immediately wrote in his diary: “Ella gave me a wonderful collie, similar to Raven.”
The following day, 7th December 1895, the tsar was already walking with his new canine companion: “In the morning I took a walk with my new dog, whom I will name Iman.” The tsar liked the dog immensely, and made numerous references to him in his diaries and letters. The young dog was in good shape and was able to accompany Nicholas II on his bicycle rides: “After reading, I had a good bike ride with Iman.”
Since Nicholas II was physically a very strong man and tolerated the cold Russian winters well, he walked with Iman in all kinds of weather. On 9th December he noted: “The temperature is 16°. Nevertheless, I took a walk with Iman. He amuses me very much on walks, he is remarkably agile, jumps a lot and chases crows.” From time to time they had their own adventures. On 28th December 1895, the tsar wrote, “the fool Iman fell through a hole in the pond, but he immediately got out and looked like a large icicle, since his fur froze immediately. It was 12° with the sun.” On 16th February 1896, he wrote in his diary: “We played at the rink. My Iman cut his paw quite badly.” The skating rink had been arranged for the 28-year-old Tsar in the garden of the Anitchkov Palace.
Iman died from heart disease in October 1902. On 20th October 1902, the grieving Emperor wrote to his mother: “I have just suffered a very heavy grief – the loss of dear old Iman – it happened right at the beginning of October, almost on the same day as with poor Raven. He had been ailing since the summer and on arriving here I had the veterinary to attend to him. He was isolated and lived in the basement. The sores on his body were healing rapidly, but one day his strength began to fail and he died last night. I must confess the whole day after it happened I never stopped crying – I shall miss him dreadfully when I go for walks. He was such an intelligent, kind and loyal dog!”.
In the spring and autumn Nicholas and his family lived in the Alexander Palace of Tsarskoye Selo, and spent the summer in Peterhof with its large parks. During the long winter months, the Imperial Family resided in the Winter Palace, which from 1896 to 1904 served as the imperial residence in the capital.
Dogs traditionally accompanied their master on all his journeys. But in the Winter Palace, walking opportunities were very limited. The dogs were apparently kept in the basement. To organize safe walks for the tsar, a private garden was set up on the north-western projection of the Winter Palace. Nicholas II walked his dogs almost every day in the garden, which was surrounded by a two-meter granite wall with a lattice. On 11th November 1896, he wrote: “Today, we [Empress Alexandra Feodorovna] walked together with all the dogs.”
In February 1898, a boy passing by the garden of the Winter Palace looked through a crack of the fence and watched the tsar playing with two dogs in the garden; the tsar running threw a stick, which the dogs caught.
PHOTOS: Nicholas II with his collies in the garden of the Winter Palace. Winter 1902
On 6th November 1896, Nicholas II wrote in his diary: “We walked together with a new dog – also a collie”. It is noteworthy that Nicholas referred to the new dog as simply “dog.” Nicholas II had other dogs, again without names. In his diary, he simply referred to them as “dogs”. One can only speculate as to why, perhaps he had so many of the same breed, that he simply could not tell one from the other?!
These dogs continued to accompany the Imperial Family during their seasonal travels to their suburban palaces. In January 1904, the Imperial Family stayed in Tsarskoe Selo, and Nicholas II noted in his diary: “I took a long walk without the dogs, since they had already been transported to the city.” And in March 1904 he wrote: “During the day I walked with the dogs for a long time.” In the summer of 1904, the family, as usual, moved to Peterhof and again noted in his diary: “I was playing with the dogs by the sea.”
In 1905, the Imperial Family moved permanently from the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo. This palace was surrounded by a beautiful, well-groomed park, where excellent conditions were created for the dogs. The personal dogs of the Imperial Family were traditionally kept at the expense of the Ministry of the Imperial Court. Since there were a lot of dogs, the so-called “Dog’s Kitchen” was arranged for them directly in the basement of the Alexander Palace. They were fed on a diet of oatmeal, milk and meat, and all products had to be fresh. Nicholas II himself was always accompanied by his collies on his walks through the vast Alexander Park. According to the memoirs of Anna Vyrubova, there were eleven of them. A special “Dog House” was built for them, next to the Alexander Palace. They were strictly forbidden to go inside the palace itself. As the maid of honour Sophia Buxhoeveden observed: “After drinking a glass of tea, smoking a cigarette, he [the Tsar] went out into the park for a short walk with his favourite purebred dogs”.
There were other dogs associated with the Imperial Family. In 1906, by order of the palace commandant D.F. Trepov, who was responsible for the security and safety of the Imperial Family, a kennel for guard dogs was set up near the Alexander Palace, in the village of Alexandrovka. Later, a similar kennel was organized in Peterhof. These kennel dogs were bred and trained to guard the perimeter of the Alexander Park in Tsarskoye Selo and other suburban imperial residences.
PHOTO: From left to right are the graves of four dogs: Shilka, Iman, Raven and Era [Shilka and Era were Empress Alexandra’s dogs].
The pet cemetery on the Children’s Island, which is situated a near the Alexander Palace, has miraculously survived to the present day. A small path leads from the Children’s House to four graves marked by small pyramids, which are hidden from view on the western side of the island.
The names and dates of each of the family dogs are still clearly visible:
Шилка [Shilka] 1894-1910
Иман [Iman] 6 December 1895 – 2 October 1902
Ворон [Voron / Raven] December 1889 – September 1895
Эра [Era] 1894-1906
NOTE: the Children’s Island has not yet been restored, so it is not open to the public. It is only accessible on foot during the winter months when one can walk across the frozen pond, however, one does so at one’s own risk. This author has done so on two separate occasions, and taken many photos of the Children’s Island and House, as well as the pet cemetery.
In recognition of the 153rd anniversary of the birth of Emperor Nicholas II on 19th (O.S. 6th May) 1868, I am reaching out to friends and supporters for donations to help support me in my research on the life and reign of Nicholas II, and my personal mission to clear the name of Russia’s much slandered Tsar.
There are many web sites, blogs and Facebook pages dedicated to the Romanovs. However, I work very hard searching Russian archival and media sources to bring something new to the table every day. This includes First English translations of articles researched by a new generation of Russian historians; news on the Romanovs, their palaces, exhibitions, etc; + photos, videos and more.
Your donation helps support my work and research, the cost of translations, maintenance of my news blog: Nicholas II. Emperor. Tsar. Saint, and the organization and promotion of Romanov themed events.
If you enjoy all the articles, news, photos, and videos, please help support my work in the coming year ahead by making a donation.
PHOTO: Ceremonial portrait of Nicholas II (1905) in the State Duma. Artist: Ilya Repin
NOTE: this article was updated on 20th May 2021 – PG
When in 1905 the Winter Garden in the Tauride Palace in St. Petersburg was converted into the State Duma Hall, it was decided to decorate it with a huge portrait of Nicholas II. The great Russian portrait artist Ilya Yefimovich Repin (1844-1930) was commissioned for the job. The artist quickly coped with the task, and the treasury paid him a fabulous sum of three thousand rubles. The portrait was installed behind the podium and seats for the leadership of the Duma.
Repin’s portrait depicts the Tsar standing on a balcony [possibly the Lower Dacha at Peterhof?]. Information on this portrait is scant, which is surprising, given that the artist was considered the most renowned Russian artist of the 19th century, and had painted a number of ceremonial portraits of the Emperor.
In 1916 Repin worked on his book of reminiscences, Far and Near, in which he acknowledges that he welcomed the Russian Revolution of February 1917. This is very disappointing to learn, given that he did not seem to mind accepting the enormous sums he was paid for the numerous portraits he did of Nicholas II after he ascended the throne in 1894.
So little is known about this wonderful portrait, however, my efforts to learn more about its fate, left me with practically nothing. I could not find any reference to the portrait in any of the online sites dedicated to Repin’s works. The only reference I could find was an article on the State Duma found on the web site of the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg. Only a handful of photographs exist of the portrait.
In 2019, a large-scale exhibition of Repin’s works was presented at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. The exhibition, located on 3 floors in the largest exhibition halls, featured more than 180 paintings and more than 130 graphic works. Repin’s ceremonial portrait was absent, nor was there any reference made to it.
In May 1918, the Bolsheviks used the Tauride Palace to hold their 7th Congress, where they first named themselves the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks). It is most likely that Nicholas II’s portrait had been removed by the Provisional Government following the February 1917 Revolution. If not, it would most certainly have been destroyed by the Bolsheviks.
After an appeal to readers for information on the fate of the portrait, Mr. Robert Strom reached out to me, providing me with an eyewitness account of the fate of Repin’s ceremonial portrait which hung in the Duma.
The diarist Nikolai Nikolaevich Sukhanov (1882-1940) a Russian Menshevik Internationalist and chronicler of the Russian Revolution was a witness to the fate of the portrait. Sukhanov, who was napping in the gallery of the White Hall of the Tauride Palace was awaken by an unforgettable scene on the dais below:
“I was aroused by strange noises. I realized at once where I was, but could not explain these sounds to myself. I got up and saw two soldiers, their bayonets hooked into the canvas of Repin’s portrait of Nicholas II, rhythmically tugging it down from both sides. A minute later, over the chairman’s seat in the White Hall of the Duma there was an empty frame, which for many months continued to yawn in this revolutionary hall. …Strange ! It never came into my head to worry about the fate of this portrait –to this day I don’t know what happened to it. I was more interested in other things.
“A number of soldiers were standing on the upper levels of the chamber, at the height of my gallery. Leaning on their rifles they watched what their comrades were doing and quietly made their own comments. I went over to them and listened eagerly. …Twenty-four hours before, these rank-and-file soldiers had been the dumb slaves of the despot who was now thrown down, and at this moment the outcome of the revolution depended on them. What had taken place in their heads during those twenty-four hours ? What would they say to the shameful treatment of the portrait of the ‘adored monarch’ of yesterday ? It evidently made no strong impression –there was neither surprise, nor any sign of intense intellectual activity, nor a shadow of that enthusiasm from which even I myself was ready to catch fire. They were making remarks in a tranquil and matter-of-fact way, so down-to-earth they can’t be repeated. The break had been accomplished with a sort of fabulous ease. No better sign was needed of the definitive rottenness of Tsarism and its irremediable ruin. The hands of the large clock over the entrance doors of the hall pointed to 7.30. It was time to begin the ‘Second Day of the Revolution’.”
PHOTO: the ‘gaping yawn of chaos’
I am indebted to Mr. Robert Strom for his much valued assistance with this piece of Russian history.
PHOTO: the miraculous icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, painted in Serbia
Earlier this week, a large miraculous icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, painted in Serbia, was brought to the Holy Trinity Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg. The icon will remain in the Lavra until 15th June.
The icon was written in 2018, however, the icon painter wished to remain anonymous. The icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II was consecrated in the ancient Church of the Holy Prophet Jeremiah in the eastern Serbian town of Vrbovec on 24th February 2019.
The icon was blessed by Father Dushan Popovich, co-served by four priests. There were many believers in the church, and they all knelt down in prayer. This was considered the first miracle from the icon.
For two years, the icon was used in many religious processions blessed by His Holiness Patriarch Irenaeus (1930-2020), in Serbia, Montenegro, Republika Srpska, Kosovo and Metohija. Many people prayed before the icon of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, and bowed to his holy image. In monasteries and churches where the icon was located, the faithful often queued for hours in order to venerate the icon. Many miracles have since been attributed through prayers to the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II since.
A nun from the Vasily Ostrozhsky Monastery on Mount Rozhay was seriously ill with leukemia. Five years before arriving at the monastery of the Tsar’s Icon, she received a vision. The image of the Tsar was in the monastery church for three weeks. Every day following the liturgy, the nuns read the Akathist to the Holy Tsar. Then the icon was taken away to visit the holy places of Central Serbia. Two weeks later, the nun felt better and visited the doctor. Her analyzes turned out to be as if she had never been sick! The doctor was amazed. And now, thank God, she is healthy.
Nearly thirty churches and monasteries in Serbia have received the icon of the Sovereign, and with it two more royal icons, those of the Holy Tsar Lazar of Serbia and Tsar Ioann the Strong.
The icons where brought to the monastery of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos on Mount Rudnik for three months, where the faithful came to venerate them, including priests and monks from Central Serbia. Here and in other places, between divine services, the Akathist was incessantly read to Saint Tsar Nicholas II.
PHOTO: Holy Trinity Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg
There were also icons of the Tsars in Belgrade, in the churches of St. Paraskeva and St. Nicholas. They were undertaken for the sake of strengthening the faith and saving the Serbian and Russian peoples. Many times a fragrance emanated from the icons.
The blessing for bringing icons to Russia was given by the confessors revered in Serbia – Elders John (Ielenko) and Seraphim (Milkovich). This mission was carried out by Mrs. Bilyana Rakovich, the spiritual daughter of Father Seraphim, who dearly loved Russia and the Russian people.
By the grace of God, another miracle took place at the airport in Belgrade. A male employee, who at first coldly declared himself an nonbeliever, was in charge of moving the crates containing the icons to the gangway. The icons were packed in very large cases, which created problems. As the man touched and moved the cases he completely changed, literally transformed. As the crates were being loaded onto the aircraft, the man carefully placing the icons on the conveyor belt with other employees, he stood at attention giving the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II and the other Tsar a military honour! Those who helped him did the same. His eyes were shining, his fellow airport employees cried, while one knelt down.
The icons arrived in Russia at the beginning of Holy Week this year. The image of Holy Tsar Lazar of Serbia is now in the Rostov region. The faithful come to receive help from above through him.
For a week, with the blessing of the rector Archpriest Konstantin Korolev and the honorary abbot Schema-Archimandrite Barsonofy (Kuzmin), the icon of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II was first taken to the Church of All Saints Who Shone in St. Petersburg. Then, with the blessing of Archimandrite Nektariy (Golovkin), the icon was transferred to the Saints Peter and Fevronia Church in Peterhof for more than a week. Here the icon also emitted a fragrance within the church.
Them earlier this week, the Serbian icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II arrived at the Alexander Nevsky Lavra – the main monastery of St. Petersburg, where it will remain until 15th June. The icon arrived at the Lavra on the eve of the 800th anniversary of the birth of the Holy Blessed Prince Alexander Nevsky. The icon has also arrived just a few days before the birthday of the most Holy Tsar Nicholas Alexandrovich on 19th [O.S. 6th] May, and on the eve of the 300th anniversary of the proclamation of the State of the Russian Empire, which took place on the day of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God.
PHOTO: the miraculous icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, painted in Serbia
PHOTO: This magnificent icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, greets both students and visitors as they enter the main building of the Ural State Mining University in Ekaterinburg
Founded on 16 [O.S. 3] July 1914, the Mining Institute in the Ural city of Ekaterinburg was the last educational institution in Russia, to be created by the decree of Emperor Nicholas II.
The solemn act which took place on board the Imperial Yacht Standart, where Nicholas II signed the law on the establishment of the Mining Institute. It was considered an event of great historical significance in the cultural life of not only the Urals, but also the Russian Empire.
Following the consecration held on 30 [O.S. 17] July 1916, the foundation stone was laid. A special copper plate was made on which the date was engraved. On the same day, a telegram was sent to Nicholas II, who was at that time at the Stavka in Mogilev, the headquarters of the Russian Imperial Army, where he was serving as Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces:
“To His Imperial Majesty. Gathered for the solemn laying of the building of the Ekaterinburg Mining Institute, after the liturgy performed by His Grace Seraphim, ardent prayers to the Lord God for the precious health of Your Imperial Majesty and the granting of complete victory over the enemy were given. We lay at your feet, All-Merciful Sovereign, loyal for the monarch’s mercy granted to the Urals by the fulfillment of the long-standing aspirations of the Ekaterinburg city public administration and the Perm zemstvo. The Mining School, approved by Your Imperial Majesty at the time of the nationwide struggle against German oppression, gives new strength to the flourishing of the young Russian industry for the glory of Yours, Beloved Sovereign, and our dear Motherland.”
PHOTO: A close-up view of the Icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II reveals its rich detail, made of Ural precious stones: rubies, garnets, sapphires, emeralds, amethysts and other precious gems
The following day the Tsar sent his reply: “I instruct you to convey to His Grace Seraphim and all those who gathered for the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the building of the Ekaterinburg Mining Institute my heartfelt gratitude for the prayers and the feelings that brought them to life. I hope that this new institute for the study of mining will provide the Motherland with useful workers in this important branch of industry.” Nicholas II.
It was difficult for the institute to take its first steps; it needed reliable help and support. The first director of the institute Pyotr Petrovich von Weymarn (1879-1935), believed that it was best to enlist support from the first person in the state, the Tsar himself. Weymarn believed that it was quite enough if the institute should bear the name of the Sovereign. And so they did. On 6th November 1916, the Construction Commission wrote to Nicholas II with a request to accept the institute under “His Imperial Majesty’s Patronage and to grant it the name “Ural Mining Institute of Emperor Nicholas II”.
The document read: “Your Imperial Majesty! For many years, the vast Urals lacked an institute of higher learning for the study of mining. Only during the reign of Your Imperial Majesty … The Urals are now enriched by two higher leaning schools: the University in Perm and, which is especially important for the mining progress of the Urals, and the Mining Institute in the city of Ekaterinburg. Thus, the higher learning education in the Ural region is now forever historically associated with your Sovereign name. With deep conviction, the Construction Commission … took the courage to loyally ask you, Sovereign, to accept the Mining Institute, which is being built in the city of Ekaterinburg, under its highest patronage and most mercifully command to deign to name it henceforth the Ural Mining Institute of Emperor Nicholas II.”
The Tsar replied on 5th January 1917, granting the institute the right to be named after him.
PHOTO: Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovsky-Romanov (1926-2020) admires the icon of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, situated in the lobby of the main building of the Ural State Mining University. Her proximity to the icon provides us with an idea of just how large this magnificent icon actually is.
Sadly, events in the country forced the Urals from taking advantage of the monarch’s favour. As a result of the February 1917 Revolution, Nicholas II, abdicated on 15 [O.S. 2] March. But the story did not end there. Fate wanted Nicholas II to visit the city, the institute of which he bestowed his name on. On that “warm, wonderful day” of 17th April 1918, the Emperor was brought from Tobolsk to Ekaterinburg where he was held under house arrest. It was here that he and his family spent the last three months of their life until the tragic end.
Following the death of Nicholas II, the institute underwent a number of name changes: Ural Mining Institute (1918); Sverdlovsk Mining Institute (1934); Sverdlovsk Mining Institute named after V.V. Vakhrushev (1947); Ural State Mining and Geological Academy (1993); and the Ural State Mining University (2004) today, a leading university in the Urals, with about 9000 students.
The original building of the Ural State Mining University has survived to the present day, and its administration has not forgotten the historic connection between it and Russia’s last emperor and tsar.
PHOTO: The main building of the Ural State Mining University
Celebrations were held at the Ural State Mining University on 19th May 2008, the day marking the 140th anniversary of the birth of Emperor Nicholas II. A magnificent memorial icon dedicated to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II was opened in the lobby of the main building of the Ural Mining University.
The Holy Royal Icon was painted by the sisters of the Novo-Tikhvin Monastery in Ekaterinburg. According to the new project, all the plastic elements of the decoration of the original icon were replaced with a mosaic of Ural precious stones: rubies, garnets, sapphires, emeralds, amethysts and other precious gems. Local miners timed its reconstruction to coincide with the date marking Nicholas II’s birth.
The royal crown is made of chased patterned silver with gilding, figured silver lace adorns the icon frame. For the icon case, white and red Pashtun marble was used, the design of which looks as if blood is oozing from the stone, recalling the martyrdom of the Imperial Family.
Karl Karlovich Bulla (1855-1929) was a German-Russian portrait photographer and master of documentary photography, often referred to as the “father of Russian photo-reporting”.
Born on 26th February 1855 in Leobschütz in Prussia (now Głubczyce, Poland), Bulla arrived in St. Petersburg in 1865, at the age of ten. In July 1876 he became a citizen of the Russian Empire. In 1875 Bulla opened his first photography studio in the building of the Passage on Nevsky at 61 Sadovaya Street and soon became a fashionable photographer in the Imperial capital. In 1908, he another studio at 54 Nevsky Prospekt.
Bulla’s photos made a great impression on Emperor Nicholas II, who granted Bulla permission to take photographs “in the presence of His Imperial Majesty”. He accompanied Nicholas II and his family on their travels, photographing them at ceremonial events, military reviews, etc. He was also appointed “Supplier of the Imperial Court” for photography services, which given the Imperial Family’s love of photography, must have been a profitable venture for his studio.
By the 1910s, Bulla’s career was at its peak, the annual revenue of his firm “Bulla and Sons” reached 250 thousand roubles. In 1916 Bulla passed the management of the firm “Bulla and Sons” to his sons Alexander and Viktor and moved to Ösel Island (currently Saaremaa, Estonia), where he lived a quiet life until his death in 1929.
The lives of Bulla’s sons ended tragically. In 1938, during the Great Purge, Viktor was arrested, accused of being a German spy and shot. In the early 1930s, Alexander was arrested and sent to a labour camp. He returned after five years and soon died.
In 1935, Viktor Bulla donated to the State Archive of Leningrad District 132,683 negatives of Bulla’s photographs. The archive grew and his photographic legacy now consists of more than 230 thousand negatives of photographs of Karl Bulla and his sons. All the photographs in the archive are today in the public domain and are a favourite source of illustrations of life in St Petersburg during the late 19th – early 20th centuries.
In 2003, a large exhibition of Bulla’s prints celebrating 300 years of Saint-Petersburg and the 150th birthday of Karl Bulla was held. A bronze sculpture of Karl Bulla was placed near his former studio on Malaya Sadovaya Street. The sculpture shows a photographer with an ancient camera and an umbrella photographing a bulldog.
The unusually crisp images Bulla created were the result of the backpack-sized cameras he used. Unlike the film and digital sensors of today that are measured in millimeters, Bulla’s images were shot on glass plates measuring several inches across.
Bulla is the holder of a number of medals, awards, honorary titles and a cavalier of six foreign orders. In addition, Bulla was often honoured by members of the Russian Imperial Family. For his achievements in photography, Nicholas II presented Bulla with a number of gifts and honours:
On 8th April 1904, Bulla was presented with a gold watch and chain depicting the national emblem for an album of Pskov manoeuvres – a gift from Nicholas II.
On 28th August 1904, Bulla was presented with a silver cigarette case with the national emblem for his album “Seeing Off the Troops to the Far East” – a gift from Nicholas II.
In January 1912, Nicholas II honoured Bulla for the group photo depicting the Tsar with the officers of the Caspian regiment.
The following collection of photographs by Karl Bulla document some of the events during the reign of Emperor Nicholas II, who ruled from 1894 to 1917.
PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II with Empress Dowager Maria Feodorovna and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, crossing Palace Square past the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg. May 1901
PHOTO: Arrival of Emperor Nicholas II at the meeting of the Governing Senate, St. Petersburg. 1911
PHOTO: Nicholas II and his family on Petrovskaya Embankment. The white palace in the background is the residence of Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaevich. 1912
PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II and Tsesarevich Alexei inspecting the troops of His Majesty Lifeguard Jaeger Regiment. Peterhof. 17th August 1912
PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II and his family after the consecration of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral, Tsarskoye Selo. 21 April 1913
PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II and his family after the consecration ceremony of the St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral, Kronstadt. 10 June 1913
PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II arriving for an event during the celebrations marking the 300th anniversary of the House of Romanov. St. Petersburg. 1913
PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II conducts a review of military manoeuvres of the Izmailovsky Life-Guards Regiment. Tsarskoye Selo, 9th February 1914
PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II and King Frederick-August III of Saxony pass the guard of honour of the Life-Guards Cuirassier Regiment at the Imperial Railway Station, Tsarskoye Selo. 7th June 1914
PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II with Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and their four daughters attending the opening of the dock named in honour of Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich in St. Petersburg. 1st July 1914
PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II visiting the Kunstkamera Museum in St. Petersburg. 1914
Under no pretext can we admit to the throne those whose ancestors belonged to parties involved in the 1917 revolution in one way or another. Nor can we admit those whose ancestors betrayed Tsar Nicholas II. Nor can we ignore those who ancestors openly supported the Nazis. Thus, without any reservations, the right to the succession to the throne of the Kirillovich branch should be excluded
In mid-July 2015, descendants of the Romanov dynasty were caught in the spotlight of the Russia media. Journalists reported that the “descendants of the imperial dynasty [Maria Vladimirovna and her son George Mikhailovich] intend to appeal to the Russian authorities with a request to grant official status to the Russian Imperial House and provide them with a residence in Moscow.” The message received conflicting responses.
Representatives of the Russian nobility Nikita Lobanov-Rostovsky, Alexander Trubetskoy, Pyotr Sheremetev and Sergey Kapnist took an irreconcilable position in relation to granting special status to the so-called “heirs to the throne”. In their letter to the President of Russia, they stated that Maria Vladimirovna had no right to call herself the Head of the House of Romanov, also drawing to attention of the close ties both her father Vladimir Kirillovich and paternal grandparents Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich and Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.
In the years leading up to the Second World War, a number of representatives of the European royal houses also courted Fascist regimes. Even Mussolini proved in practice the possibility of combining a fascist dictatorship and the monarchy. King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, in turn, was a staunch supporter of the Duce regime. After the war, all male members of the House of Savoy were required to leave the country. The British monarch King Edward VIII did not hide his open sympathies for Hitler either, nor did Prince Bernard, the husband of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, who was both a member of the Nazi Party and the SS. Until the end of his life Bernard was forced to make excuses for his “uncomfortable episodes of his anxious youth.”
Of course, the scions of the German royal families, easily found themselves in various posts in the Hitlerite state. The Romanovs were no exception, many of whom openly supported the “brown movement”, naively hoping that Hitler would help them defeat the Bolsheviks and restore the monarchy in Russia.
At the time of the 1917 Revolution, Kirill was next in line to the throne, however, in exile, the sympathies of the majority of Russian refugees tended to favour Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich (1856-1929), the former Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Army. Naturally, he was fully supported by such an influential organization of the Russian diaspora as the Russian General Military Union (ROVS). However, in connection with the death of Nikolai Nikolaevich in January 1929, those in the pursuit of a “revived Russian Empire” passed to the Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich (1876-1936), and then to his descendants.
It is important to note that those members of Nicholas II’s family who managed to flee Russia following the revolution, did NOT support Grand Duke Kirill’s claim. Among those were the Tsar’s mother Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (1847-1928); and his sisters Grand Duchesses Xenia (1875-1960) and Olga Alexandrovna (1882-1960). They never forgave Kirill for his premature recognition of the Provisional Government, nor did they support his claim as “Emperor” to the non existent Russian throne, as it carried “no dynastic validity”.
Opponents of the “Kirillovichs” fiercely disputed this branch of the Romanovs any rights as claimants to the defunct Russian throne. Among the arguments were often accusations of support by Kirill, his wife Victoria, as well as their children – primarily the Grand Duke Vladimir (1917-1992) – of German National Socialism.
Historian Vasiliĭ Ivanovich Alexeev (1906-2002) further adds in his book The Great Revival: the Russian Church Under German Occupation (1976): The Nazis despised Christianity in general and Russian Orthodoxy in particular. “…Hitler recognized that Christianity ‘can’t be broken so simply. It must rot and die off like a gangrened limb.’ As far as Russians and the Russian Orthodox Church were concerned, Hitler was not interested in saving the Slavic untermenschen from the “gangrene of Christianity.” This is the same Hitler embraced by the Kirill Kirilloviches!!
PHOTO: Grand Duke Kirill with his wife Grand Duchess Victoria and their children Kira and Vladimir. St. Briac. 1930s
Kirill was born on 12th October 1876 in Tsarskoye Selo. He was considered one of the brightest and most extravagant representatives of the Russian Imperial Family. At the same time, his behaviour (both in secular life and in the naval service) were a constant thorn in the side of the dynasty. Kirill, a regular at the most fashionable cafes in St. Petersburg, was noted for his haughty and nasty demeanour towards senior officers, often neglecting his official duties.
Kirill created a real scandal when he entered into an incestuous marriage with his first cousin – Princess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Victoria Melita (1876-1936). The latter was married to Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse (1868-1937), brother of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. In 1901, their marriage was dissolved, and on 8th October 1905, Victoria and Kirill got married in the Bavarian resort town of Tegernsee, where the Grand Duke was undergoing treatment for nervous depression.
Their marriage, however, was in violation of the house law which forbid the marriage of any member of the Imperial Family without the advance permission of the Tsar. Kirill’s marriage also violated the canon of the Russian Orthodox Church prohibiting marriages between cousins.
As a result, the Tsar stripped Kirill of his imperial allowance and title of Imperial Highness, his honours and decorations, his position in the navy and then banished him from Russia. In 1907 Nicholas II took mercy and, after Victoria converted to Orthodoxy, legalized the scandalous wedding by a personal decree. The tsar restored Kirill Vladimirovich and Victoria Fedorovna to the rights of members of the Imperial House, including the right to the throne.
In the same year, Victoria and Kirill had a daughter, Maria, in 1909, Kira, and in 1917, a son, Vladimir.
During the revolutionary events of February 1917, Kirill broke his oath of allegiance to the Tsar and thereby committed high treason. Putting on a red bow, he arrived at the State Duma at the head of the Guards crew and reported it to its chairman, Mikhail Rodzianko: “I have the honour to appear to Your Excellency. I am at your disposal, like the rest of the people.” It is interesting to note, that by doing this, Kirill Vladimirovich protected himself from arrest, which many other members of the Russian Imperial Family had already been subjected to.
Shortly thereafter, Kirill and his family wasted little time in making arrangements to get out of Russia. In March, they illegally left for Finland, eventually settling in Victoria’s family estate in Coburg, Germany, where Victoria Fedorovna’s cousin, Karl Edward Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1884-1954) lived. In 1922, the Duke took a direct part in organizing the Day of the Nation in Coburg. Among the most honoured guests at this event was Adolf Hitler and his supporters.
It is interesting to note that during the Third Reich, Karl Edward, in gratitude for his financial support of the Nazis in the 1920s, was appointed Gruppenfuehrer of the Storm Troops, the Reich Commissioner for Transport, a Reichstag deputy and the President of the German Red Cross.
He later joined the Nazi Party as well as the Sturmabteilung (SA, or Brownshirts), in which he reached the position of Obergruppenführer. Charles Edward served in a number of positions in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, including President of the German Red Cross from 1933–45
PHOTO: Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich and Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna, living in exile. Saint-Briac, France 1930s
The union of the double-headed eagle and the swastika
Kirill and Victoria settled quite freely in Germany, where they enjoyed an enthusiastic following, who were primarily radical Russian emigrants. In the first years following the 1917 revolution an unusually powerful stream of Russian refugees poured into Germany. By the early 1920s, about half a million exiles from the Land of the Soviets settled here.
At first, Kirill was hesitant to lay claim to his place as “future emperor of Russia”. However, the ambitious strong-willed Victoria and numerous ultra-right Russian monarchists encouraged him. As a result, in 1922, Kirill declared himself “the guardian of the throne”, and in 1924 proclaimed himself “Emperor of Russia Kirill I.” It is curious that almost everyone who at that time was in the circle of those close to the “august person” was also closely associated with the activities of the nascent Nazi party.
In general, in the first years of the existence of the NSDAP [Nazi Party], many emigrants from Russia, mainly Baltic Germans, helped to swell its ranks. Among them were included aristocrats, army officers and politicians, who fought on the side of the Whites. They were seized by the idea that the revolution in Russia was staged by the Jews and that the same thing was about to happen in Western Europe.
PHOTO: Otto von Kurzel (1887-1967) a Russian-born nobleman
Russian Germans, who were equally fluent in Russian and German, formed an intermediate link between the right flank of the Russian diaspora and the Nazis. Among them were many people who remained loyal to the House of Romanov in the person of Kirill. One of the most famous was Otto von Kurzel (1887-1967), a well-known Nazi artist, a member of the NSDAP, who founded the Russian Monarchist Union in Munich.
Influenced by Russian émigrés – the former Black Hundreds – the Nazi Party became fashionable with the expressions “Jewish Bolshevism” and “Soviet Judea”, and soon the stereotype of “Jewish Bolshevism” became the central point of the National Socialist image of the enemy.
Konrad Heiden, the author of a classic study on the early history of Nazism, noted that White Russian émigrés, who stood under the swastika banners, “were eager to involve Germany in the campaign against Lenin … It would be an exaggeration to call early foreign policy of National Socialism tsarist. But in fact, its spiritual origins are in tsarist Russia, in the Russia of the Black Hundreds and the Union of the Russian people”.
The activities of Russian émigrés were published in the central party newspaper, Völkischer Beobachter, and spoke at Nazi meetings. According to one version, the Nazis bought the newspaper itself partly with the money of Russian monarchists. The main ideologist of the party and also a native of the Russian Empire, Alfred Rosenberg, writes in his memoirs that “the most wealthy financial support was provided to the party by White Russian émigrés, who at any cost wanted to get their anti-Soviet propaganda out.”
PHOTO: General Vasily Viktorovich Biskupsky (1878-1945)
One of the main sponsors of Völkischer Beobachter, was General Vasily Viktorovich Biskupsky (1878-1945), a radical monarchist and confidant of Kirill Vladimirovich. It is known that Victoria gave Biskupsky money for the needs of the Nazi Party. Kirill’s enemies at the time claimed that the general and the Grand Duchess were involved in an intimate relationship, which was recorded in police reports.
Despite his reputation as an adventurer, Biskupsky served as Kirill and Victoria’s plenipotentiary representative in Germany. The Grand Duke told his personal secretary, Harold Karlovich Graf (1885-1966), that “in times of trouble you should not be afraid to get your white gloves dirty and rely only on people with an impeccable reputation, usually of little use in political struggle.”
PHOTO: Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter (1884-1923)
An early figure in the unification of the Nazis and radical Russian monarchists was Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter (1884-1923). He was born in Riga, and participated in the suppression of revolutionary uprisings in 1905-1907, and in December 1910 he moved to Munich, where he became an engineer. It was here that the nucleus of the “Russian-Baltic group” had already formed, which later, almost in its entirety, joined the NSDAP. In December 1917, Scheubner-Richter was appointed as an intelligence officer under the commander-in-chief of the Eastern Front in the Baltic States. He actively participated in the struggle against the Bolsheviks, and in 1919 he returned to the Bavarian capital, where through Alfred Rosenberg he established contacts with Russian emigrants.
In November 1920, Scheubner-Richter joined the NSDAP and quickly entered the closest circle of Adolf Hitler. By this time, he was already a member of Kirill’s intimate circle, and his wife Matilda was a close friend of Victoria Feodorovna. At the same time, Scheubner-Richter organized the Russian-German “Renaissance” (Aufbau) Society, the purpose of which was to unite all White Russian émigré forces under the command of Grand Duke Kirill and in alliance with the National Socialists. The plans of the society included the organization of an anti-Bolshevik “crusade”, as a result of which Soviet power would be overthrown and the nationalists would assume power in Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic states. Vasily Biskupsky became the deputy of Renaissance.
Biskupsky never broke with the Nazis. After the failure of the Beer Hall Putsch on 9th November 1923 (in the course of these events, Scheubner-Richter died, after which his organization ceased to exist), he sheltered Adolf Hitler in his apartment. At the same time, he continued to play an important role in Grand Duke Kirill’s entourage, being appointed to the post of Minister of War in Kirill’s “government in exile.” Biskupsky welcomed the triumph of the NSDAP in January 1933 and went to Berlin, where he met with various high-ranking party leaders. In May 1936, with the support of the SS and the Ministry of Propaganda, he was appointed head of the Bureau of Russian Refugees.
His task included organizational accounting, control and “nazification” of all Russian emigrants living in Germany. Biskupsky’s closest associates were Pyotr Nikolaevich Shabelsky-Bork (1893-1952) and Sergei Vladimirovich Taboritsky (1897-1980), both former members of the Renaissance Society, who were responsible for the murder of Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov (1869-1922) – the father of the famous Russian writer. With the outbreak of the war, Biskupsky’s department actively cooperated with the SS and the Abwehr [German military intelligence for the Reichswehr and Wehrmacht from 1920 to 1945] in the field of attracting emigrants for the needs of the German army (and in particular intelligence) as translators and agents.
PHOTO: Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna with Adolf Hitler. September 1923
But back to the early 1920s. At this time, Kirill and Victoria made no attempts to hide their sympathy for the Nazi movement. Generous sums for the needs of the party were transferred by them, as a rule, through Biskupsky, as well as through General Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (1865-1937), at that time an ally of Hitler. According to one source the grand ducal couple gave 500 thousand gold marks for the “solution of the German-Russian national question”. In addition, Victoria attended the teachings of the Stormtroopers and sometimes took her young son Vladimir with her.
PHOTO: Boris Lvovovich Brazol (1885-1963)
During the crisis of the first half of the 1920s, Kirill and Victoria suffered significant financial losses. Nevertheless, Biskupsky continued to find and channel significant funds to the Nazis until Hitler came to power. He received most of this money from Victoria. It is not entirely clear where Kirill and Victoria got their financial resources after the 1923 crisis. It is only known that Boris Lvovovich Brazol (1885-1963), who was attracted by Scheubner-Richter to Vozrozhdenie as an anti-Semitic publicist, became president of the Russian Monarchist Club in New York.
During his stay in the United States, Brazol was an ardent supporter of the restoration of the monarchy in Russia and was the official representative of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich in the United States. States. He was one of the founders of the Order of the Russian Imperial Union. Several historians associate Brazol’s name with the first American edition of the Protocols of the Scholars of Zion.
Brazol was able to establish contacts with Henry Ford, the richest American automobile industrialist and a rabid anti-Semite. In 1924, when Victoria visited America, Ford allocated a large sum of money for Kirill. Brazol continued to act as an intermediary between Ford and Kirill into the 1930s.
It is important to note, that from 1957, Brazol was in charge of the Central Committee for the Collection of Funds for the Treasury of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich [Kirill’s son].
Over time, the attitude of the Nazis towards the Russians underwent drastic changes. The growing strength of the NSDAP no longer needed the support of the Russian monarchists. After the death of Scheubner-Richter, no one in the party leadership spoke of the possibility of reviving the monarchy – neither in Germany, nor even more so in Russia. Kirill, in turn, also gradually distanced himself – at least outwardly – from the ultra-right radicals.
PHOTO: Home of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich in Saint-Briac, France
The Tsar and the Soviets
Since the authorities of the Weimar Republic, not wanting to spoil relations with the USSR, forbade Kirill to engage in political activities, the “Court” moved to Saint-Briac, France at the end of the 1920s . During this time, ties between the Kirillovich and Germany continued as before.
In 1925, Kirill’s first daughter, Maria (1907-1951), married Prince Karl of Leiningen (1898-1946). He served in the naval forces of the Third Reich, at the end of the war he was captured by Soviet soldiers and died in 1946 of typhus. In 1938, Kirill’s second daughter, Kira (1909-1967), married Louis Ferdinand Prince of Prussia (1907-1994), who served as an officer in the Luftwaffe.
As for the “emperor” Kirill, from the moment he moved to France, on the advice of Biskupsky, he began to draw himself closer to Alexander Lvovich Kazem-Bek (1902-1977), who served as head of the Union of Young Russians emigrant organization.
Calling themselves “national revolutionaries”, the Young Russians proclaimed the goal of creating a “social monarchy” that would combine the features of autocracy with the Soviet system. The older generation of Russian émigrés accused Kazem-Bek of sympathizing with Bolshevism (and, as it turned out later, not without reason).
It was at this time that Kazem-Bek invited Kirill’s son Vladimir Kirillovich to most of the organizations major events.
PHOTO: Alexander Lvovich Kazem-Bek (1902-1977)
PHOTO: Vladimir Kirillovich (center) with Alexander Lvovich Kazem-Bek (right), taking part in a Union of Young Russians rally. December 1930
The popular slogan of the Young Russians at the time, was “The Tsar and the Soviets.” Much in the ideology and external attributes of the Young Russians was taken directly from Italian fascism. Kazem-Bek was the only major Russian émigré politician who received a personal audience with Mussolini. The Young Russians learned from their black-shirt colleagues the principles of one-man management, hierarchy, and class solidarity. The Young Russians greeted their leader with a characteristic raise of their right hand and an exclamation of “Chief!”
However, by the mid-1930s, the Young Russians began to swing to the left, their press began to publish more and more materials that heralded the “Soviet experience”. They even began to call themselves “the second Soviet party”. A scandal occurred when in the summer of 1937 Kazem-Bek was found in one of the Parisian cafes engaged in secret talks with the famous Soviet general Alexei Alekseevich Ignatiev (1877-1954) who had arrived from the USSR.
The leader of the Young Russians was openly accused of being an agent of the Bolsheviks, after which Kirill broke off all relations with him. After the war Kazem-Bek returned to the Soviet Union and until the end of his life worked for the journal of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Friend of the invaders
Meanwhile, hopes for the revival of the monarchy were rapidly dwindling. Therefore, after the death of Kirill in 1938 (Victoria died a year and a half before that, during a visit to Nazi Germany), his son and “heir to the throne” Vladimir Kirillovich made a decision to not declare himself “emperor”, as his foolish father had done.
Generally speaking, Vladimir was much less involved in politics than his father, preferring to lead a secular life. However, this did not save him from reproaches for sympathizing with the Nazis. In 1938, he even made an official statement in which he emphasized that he “never met the German Chancellor,” which was not true, since little Vladimir knew Hitler as the leader of the party which had not yet come to power.
When German troops occupied France, Vladimir Kirillovich chose to stay in Saint-Briac. His relationship with the Germans, was apparently carried out “in an atmosphere of complete mutual understanding.” A few days after the establishment of the “new order” in France, Vladimir was summoned to Paris, to the German ambassador to occupied France Heinrich Otto Abetz (1903-1958). He was very courteous, but warned Vladimir about the need to observe complete loyalty to the Reich. Vladimir Kirillovich adhered to this “line” until the very end of the Second World War.
Grand Duke Kirill with his secretary Harold Karlovich Graf. St. Briac. 1930
It was following this meeting, that Vladimir fired the long-term head of the personal office of the “Imperial House” Harold Karlovich Graf and broke off all relations with him. When the Germans placed the latter under arrest, the Grand Duke made no attempts to try to alleviate the fate of his father’s faithful assistant. [In emigration, Graf converted to Orthodoxy and received the name George]
Graf himself later wrote with bitter regret in his memoirs: “The Grand Duke [Vladimir] fell completely under the influence of the Germans. In addition, the Germans who surrounded him usually belonged to the Gestapo. Most of them are Russian émigrés who serve as German agents and for the French police (Schutzmannschaft, the collaborationist auxiliary police) in a very bad way. Even the restaurants that the Grand Duke visits with them belong to those that are in bad favour with the police and would have long been closed if it were not for the help of the Germans …
“On the Grand Duke’s last visit to Paris, he was sitting in a restaurant, while German songs were sung at his table. From the French point of view, such closeness of the Grand Duke to the occupiers greatly compromised him and should have led to the fact that when the occupation of France was over, he would have to leave.”
PHOTO: Yuri Sergeevich Zherebkov (left) and Colonel V. I. Boyarsky (right)
At this time, the notorious Yuri Sergeevich Zherebkov (1908-1980), a former ballet dancer and the son of a Cossack general, became extremely close to Vladimir Kirillovich. In 1941, he headed the Committee for Mutual Assistance of Russian Emigrants in France, created by the Nazis, an analogue of the German bureau of General Biskupsky. Zherebkov was one of the most implacable anti-Semites and a fierce supporter of the Nazis.
In 1946, a Paris court sentenced Zherebkov to 5 years of “national dishonour”, and in 1948, for aiding in the deportation of Russian Jews, to forced labour for life (however, by that time, the former collaborator had already escaped to Franco’s Spain, where he died at the end 1970s).
It was Zherebkov, following the instructions of his German curators, who was responsible for Vladimir’s “political behaviour”. The most famous result of his activity was Vladimir’s “Appeal”, published on 26th June 1941, on the occasion of the outbreak of the war between Germany and the USSR. It was a direct call to cooperate with the Nazi occupiers. Here is its full text:
Address by the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich
In this terrible hour, when Germany and almost all the peoples of Europe have declared a crusade against communism-Bolshevism, which has enslaved and oppressed the people of Russia for twenty-four years, I appeal to all the faithful and devoted sons of our Motherland with an appeal: to contribute as much as possible and opportunities for the overthrow of the Bolshevik government and the liberation of our Fatherland from the terrible yoke of communism.
Vladimir Saint-Briac, June 26, 1941
However, the Nazis were by no means interested in such an “ally.” They stopped the spread of Vladimir’s appeal and threatened him that if he tried to play some independent political role, he would go straight to the concentration camp.
PHOTO: Prince of the Imperial Blood Gabriel Konstantinovich (1887-1955)
For the sake of objectivity, it should be noted that Kirill Vladimirovich, Victoria Feodorovna and Vladimir Kirillovich were by no means the only representatives of the Russian Imperial Family who openly supported the Nazis. For example, Prince of the Imperial Blood Gabriel Konstantinovich (1887-1955) – the son of Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich (1858-1915) – also admired the success of the Fuhrer. On 12th August 1940, in a letter to Lieutenant General Nikolai Golovin (1875-1944), he wrote: “Yesterday in the cinema we saw the ceremonial meeting of the Reichstag and the triumphant return of the troops to Berlin. A stunning picture. I had tears from excitement … The arrival of “him” [Hitler] at the Reichstag is amazing. Wonderful cars, sparkling with cleanliness, enthusiastic crowd. Himself, the very simplicity, no imagination, while greatness and strength.”
Gabriel Konstantinovich also expressed satisfaction with the successes of the fascists in other European countries. On 16th October 1940, he wrote to the same addressee: “I am very glad that the Romanian King Karol was asked to leave. He is a very weak type and God knows what he was doing in Romania in community with his Jewess Lupescu … It seems to me that good has won out over evil and the time of light has now begun in the world.”
For the pretenders to the Russian throne, however, the “time of light” had not yet come. The Nazis made it clear that they had no plans at all to provide any part of Russia they had conquered with any independent form of government, let alone a monarchical one.
Moreover, in March 1941, in the diary of the headquarters of the operational leadership of the High Command of the Wehrmacht, an entry was made regarding the goals of the occupation regime on the territory of the USSR. Among other things, the document noted: “Socialist ideas in today’s Russia can no longer be eradicated … The Jewish-Bolshevik intelligentsia, which is the oppressor of the people, must be removed from the scene. The former bourgeois-aristocratic intelligentsia, if it still exists, primarily among the emigrants, should also not be allowed to power. It will not be accepted by the Russian people, and, moreover, they are hostile towards the German nation.”
So, the Nazis used Vladimir without promising him anything in return. With this state of affairs, he seems to have resigned himself. It is ironic that at the very beginning of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), Soviet propaganda actively exploited the topic of the potential revival of tsarism by the Nazis in Russia. On one of the posters of 1941, for example, read: “The excitement in the German convoy is not in vain, – / The Nazis are taking the tsar for Russia. / He sits, swaying on a skinny horse, / And he sees himself drunk in Moscow – in a dream …”
PHOTO: Edward Raczyński and Aleksandr Bogomolov
In an article, published in International Affairs, [Vol. 42, January-February 1996, No.1] Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Yury Vasilyevich Ivanov, reveals a different scenario.
In a letter dated 28th October 1941, Polish Minister Edward Bernard Raczyński (1891-1993) wrote to Soviet Ambassador to France Aleksandr Efremovich Bogomolov (1900-1969): “Referring to our conversation yesterday concerning contacts between Hitler and Grand Duke Vladimir [Kirillovich], I take the liberty of sending you information on this count, enclosed herein, which was recently received from a reliable source.”
“In early September this year an agreement was concluded between [Nazi] Germany and Russian Grand Duke Vladimir whereby Germany gave its consent to establish to the restoration of monarchy of the Romanovs. That state should establish a national-socialist or fascist regime. The non-Russian countries of the Soviet Union would be associated into a new Russia within a single union. The grand duke would renounce all claims to Poland. In execution of this agreement, the grand duke issued guidance to the White émigrés to collaborate with countries that are at war with the USSR.” In conclusion the document said: “The émigré community received this agreement with the hope that the ‘Whites’ would remain masters of the country also in the event of a German defeat.”
In addition to having fun in Parisian restaurants, Vladimir Kirillovich took part in financing France’s “eastern battalions” that were deployed in the middle of the war on the Western Front.
On the Eastern Front, perhaps, only one attempt is known to form a collaborationist Russian monarchical unit. In 1943, Nikolai Ivanovich Sakhnovsky, an activist of the “Russian Imperial Union-Order” organization, with twenty like-minded people living in Belgium, volunteered for the Wallonia SS assault brigade. As part of the brigade, Sakhnovsky created a detachment of Soviet prisoners of war, called the “Russian people’s militia”. Upon arrival in the occupied territory of the USSR, in the Korsun-Shevchenkovsky district, Sakhnovsky tried to deploy monarchist propaganda among the local population, which, however, did not have any noticeable response.
The “militias” wore a chevron on the sleeve in the form of an Orthodox eight-pointed cross with the inscription “Victory by this symbol.” The only combat operation in which the “militia” took part occurred during an accidental collision with the advancing Soviet infantry. Most of the soldiers died, the rest, along with the Walloon SS men, were withdrawn to the rear and disbanded. Some of them remained in the ranks of the formed 28th SS Grenadier Division “Wallonia” under the command of Leon Degrel, the rest were demobilized.
As for Vladimir, who then, seriously fearing for his life, before the liberation of France, managed to evacuate to Amorbach, Germany. At the very end of the war, fleeing from the advancing Soviet troops, he found himself in Tyrol in the company of Zherebkov. In the first days of May, they joined the column of the retreating pro-Axis collaborationist First Russian National Army, under Major General Boris Holmston-Smyslovsky (1897-1988). The latter was a career German intelligence officer of Russian-Finnish origin and, having enlisted the support of the Americans, brought to the West valuable cadres of Russian collaborationist saboteurs.
It is interesting that along with Vladimir and Zherebkov were the leaders of the French pro-Nazi Vichy regime – Marshal Henri Petain and Pierre Laval.
On the night of 2 to 3 May 1945, Smyslovsky’s army crossed the border of the neutral principality of Liechtenstein. It was here that the Russian Nazi accomplices were interned and subsequently escaped extradition to the USSR. As for the French and Vladimir, the authorities of the principality flatly refused to provide them with asylum – they were all extradited to representatives of the 1st French army of Marshal Jean de Latre de Tassigny (1889-1952).
PHOTO: Prince Vladimir Kirillovich in Madrid, Spain. 1950s
Laval and Petain, as well as Zherebkov, were handed over to the French by Vladimir Kirillovich himself – in exchange for his own immunity and permission to fly to Spain. There he was greeted by the Queen of Spain [Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, wife of King Alfonso XIII, who was waiting for him.
Vladimir’s escape to Francoist Spain undoubtedly saved him from possible retribution for his collaborationist activities. For almost ten years, he did not dare to travel outside of Spain.
Despite the damning evidence against Vladimir Kirillovich and his parents Grand Duke Kirill and Grand Duchess Victoria, Maria Vladimirovna and George Mikhailovich’s followers, the so-called “Legitimists” continue to argue that the evidence is nothing more than lies. So be it . . .
“Truth does not mind being questioned. A lie does not like being challenged“
Source: Романовы и Гитлер. Как Романовы поддерживали Гитлера by Dmitry Zhukov and Ivan Kovtun. Originaally published on 6th August 2015. This is the first English translation of their work, which has been updated with additional information from a variety of Russian archival and media sources – PG
PHOTO: Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Biggart holds the icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II
Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Biggart, commander of the elite Scottish military unit Scots Dragoon Guards, holds the icon of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II. This photo was taken in 2012 in Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan.
The icon was presented to the regiment in August 2001 by the Moscow Caledonian Club “on behalf of the Russian people”. The icon of the holy martyr Nicholas II accompanies the Scots Dragoon Guards Scottish regiment wherever they are deployed.
Tsar Nicholas II was appointed an honorary member of the Royal Scots Greys by Britain’s Queen Victoria in 1894, after he became engaged to Alexandra Feodorovna (Princess Alix of Hesse), who was Victoria’s granddaughter.
To this day Tsar Nicholas II is commemorated by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (which the Royal Scots Greys became in 1971), by the playing of the Russian Imperial anthem at certain mess functions.
PHOTO: Newspaper shows Vitaly Mironov presenting icon to Major-General Hall
The Director of the Moscow Caledonian Club Vitaly Mironov notes that the idea to present an icon to the Scots Dragoon Guards Scottish regiment was one shared with historian Dr. Dmitry Fedosov, who then commissioned a church artist to paint this special icon. The icon was solemnly handed over by Mironov to the regimental commander on 24th August 2001, during a special ceremony in Edinburgh Castle in the presence of Mr. Smironov, the Consul General of the Russian Federation; the oldest member of the British Parliament Tam Dalyell; a large number of journalists and artists of the Russian Cossacks State Dance Company, who regularly perform in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
When the producer of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Brigadier Melville Jameson asked Mironov “on behalf of whom do we want to present this icon to the regiment?”, he replied – “please mention that it was not done on our own behalf, but on behalf of ALL RUSSIAN PEOPLE.”
“This is extremely important for us,” added Mironov, “because we considered the very fact of painting this icon and its presentation to the glorious Scottish regiment, as an act of the deepest repentance of ALL OF OUR PEOPLE for the greatest evil that our ancestors did to the Tsar, his family and members of the household … It is our history and our common historical memory.”
PHOTO: Scots Dragoon Guards holding the icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Vitaly Moronov for supplying me with this information and the importance of this icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II.
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