Russia’s national educational project of Emperor Nicholas II

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The educational accomplishments during the reign of Russia’s last tsar were nothing short of impressive. It was during the years 1894-1917, that illiteracy was rapidly declining. In 1914, 40 per cent of the population was literate. The institutions of higher learning were turning out considerable numbers of loyal bureaucrats, skilled professionals and eminent scholars. To this extent, educational reform had been highly effective under Nicholas II.

NOTE: this 2-part article has been researched exclusively from Russian sources, translated, and presented in English for the first time – PG

The reign of Nicholas II was a period of unprecedented growth for Russia in all areas from economy to culture. It is foolish to deny this growth, especially since in the USSR this growth was recognized and even in 1913 was considered the standard of development with which the Soviets compared their own achievements. This unprecedented growth in Tsarist Russia was obvious to both contemporaries and people of the Soviet period.

The Romanov emperors – from Alexander I to Alexander III – wasted much of the 19th century, missing opportunities for the evolutionary modernization of Russian society. As a result, Russia’s last emperor Nicholas II inherited a rotten feudal medieval state with an illiterate peasant indigenous population, degenerate nobility, frontier townspeople and even more backward rural and remote areas, where the population lived well even in feudal order.

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Nicholas II identified his personal desires and dreams with those of the Russian people. The era demanded drastic reforms and the destruction of the rotten past of the empire and its modernization.

Let’s look at the problem of education, which under Nicholas II achieved unprecedented success. His detractors claim that everything during the reign of Russia’s last emperor was bad, particularly education. Let’s see what the statistics say . . .

According to statistics published in the popular «Справочник патриота (Руксперт)» [Handbook of the Patriot (Rukspert)], the number of literate and educated people grew significantly under Nicholas II:

– There were 78 thousand elementary schools in 1896, and 119.4 thousand in 1914
– The number of elementary school students in 1896 was 3.8 million, in 1914 – 9.7 million.
– The number of gymnasiums (secondary schools), was 239 in 1892, and 2300 in 1914.
– The number of secondary school students in 1890 was 12.5 thousand, in 1914 – 127 thousand.
– The number of teachers in 1896 was 114 thousand, in 1914 – 280 thousand.
– Thanks to these measures adopted by the tsarist government, the number of literate people in the country steadily increased. In 1894 there were 37.8% of literate conscripts [enlist (someone) compulsorily, typically into the armed services], in 1901 – 50%, in 1913 – 67.8%. 

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Regardless of the denial by the Bolsheviks and later the Soviets, the Russian Empire experienced a quantitative increase in literate people under Nicholas II. This in itself is also confirmed by the increase in the number of books published in Russia:

According to В. Кожинов «Россия, век ХХ. 1901-1939». [V. Kozhinov Russia, XX Century. 1901-1939], in 1893, 7783 titles were published in Russia (with a circulation of 27.2 million copies), and in 1913 – 34,006 titles were published (with a circulation of 133 million copies).

In order to correctly compare these numbers with those of other nations: in 1913 almost as many titles were published in Russia in the same year as England (12,379), USA (12,230) and France (10,758). Germany alone competed with Russia in this respect (35,078 titles in 1913), but, having the most developed printing base, German publishers executed numerous orders from other countries and, in particular, Russia itself, although these titles (more than 10,000) were taken into account as a German product.

According to the “Patriot Handbook”: “In 1893, a total of 43 million rubles were allocated for education, which amounted to 4.1% from the State budget, and in 1914 – approximately 270 million rubles, which amounted to 8% of all budget expenditures.”

In 1914 there were 91 universities with 112 thousand students in the Empire, and 295 technical schools, where 36 thousand students studied.

In 1913 the Empire had 13.9 thousand libraries, with a total of 9.4 million books.

The situation in education under the reign of Nicholas II can be best described as successful. Historians can now only speculate what further advances Russia could have made had the First World War, and revolutionary activity in 1917 forced Nicholas II from the throne and the Russian Empire to collapse. 

***

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On 16 May 1908, the Russian Empire passed a law on compulsory primary education to be phased in over a period of 10 years.

The beginning of the twentieth century was one of the most dramatic and turbulent periods in Russia’s history. The revitalization of the revolutionary movement, driven underground, together with a heavy war in the Far East, undermined internal stability in the country. The Revolution of 1905-1907 determined its own path of development for the country – the path to the collapse of the established centuries-old state system, which would plunge the country into an abyss of general chaos. The supreme power, having suppressed revolutionary speeches, proposed an alternative – the path of the quiet development of the empire through progressive reforms. 

It was for this purpose that Emperor Nicholas II put at the head of the government Pyotr Stolypin (1862-1911), discerning in him a talented, energetic reformer. The joint work of the emperor and the prime minister over five years made it possible to work out a series of government reforms. It is interesting to note that despite Liberal opposition, which, during the years of the revolution, repeatedly called for the need for reform, however, could not offer any concrete ideas to such. Moreover, even in the Duma, they were pushed into a corner, believing that they had no choice but to publish angry attacks in the press against the supreme power. The period from 1907 to 1914 was marked by stormy legislative activity. The State Duma, at last, became an efficient body, and not a hotbed of frantic revolutionaries. Unfortunately, many initiatives made by the authorities were not brought to fruition, due to the outbreak of the First World War.

One of the most important changes was the reform in primary education. Western society still held a long-standing stereotype that the population in the Russian Empire was practically illiterate, and the government spent insignificant amounts on education. Universal primary education is generally presented as the achievement of the Soviet government, however, this is incorrect.

In order for the empire to develop evenly in all regions, skilled personnel were required. With the direct participation of Emperor Nicholas II, a number of new laws on the development of public education were introduced. One of them was the law of 3 (16) May 1908 on the introduction of universal primary education in Russia.

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The Law of 3rd May 1908, signed by Nicholas II, also provided for additional financing (credit) of 6.9 million rubles for the needs of primary education, which contributed greatly to its accelerated development. At the same time, according to the decree of 3rd May 1908, education in all schools, to which additional state funding was extended (including in rural schools), was free. Nearly 10,000 schools were opened annually, and by 1913 their total number exceeded 130,000 [including parish schools]. Although the discussion of the bill in the Duma was delayed for three years, and amended several times, universal primary education in the Russian Empire became a fait accompli.

Throughout the reign of Emperor Nicholas II, the supreme power contributed to the planned development of primary education. Of course, the results were not long in coming. We give the most popular indicator – the literacy rate, which critics of the imperial power so willingly operate on. Yes, in 1897 the literacy rate was quite low – 21.1%. However, by 1917, this figure is estimated at around 40-43%. By simple calculations we come to the conclusion that the growth of the literacy level in the empire was slightly more than 2% per year.

Thus, a fairly fair conclusion can be made: universal primary education, the creation of which in Russia is still considered by the overwhelming majority of citizens to be an achievement of Soviet power, dates back to the 1890s. In the last ten years of the reign of Emperor Nicholas II, a “national project” was carried out – an extensive network of schools was created, access to which was provided to all children of the empire. Such measures were quite consistent with the global trends in the development of primary education.

© Paul Gilbert. 8 July 2020

Recommended Reading

Education and the State in Tsarist Russia, by Patrick L. Appleton. Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1969.

Please help support my research by making a donation to my project The Truth About Nicholas II

Unknown writer defends Nicholas II against Western myths and lies

On 1st July 2020, I received a very interesting eleven-page letter from H.I.H. Baron Alexander Alexis von Braun – a person who up until yesterday I had never heard of. His open letter is addressed to Romanov historian and author Helen Rappaport and copied to the St. Martin’s Press, New York; Paul Gilbert, Editor Of The Journal Sovereign & Nicholas II Blog; Russian Historian, Dr. Peter Valentinovich Multatuli, Ph.D., who is considered as the country’s Leading Authority on the Life and Reign of Nicholas II; the Curator of the Multi-Media Museum “Russia My History” in Ekaterinburg; the Club Of Historians; and Tatyana Balanchuk, Project Manager of the St. Catherine Foundation among others.

I have known Helen Rappaport for many years, together we have shared a vast correspondence on all things “Romanov,” a subject of which we have seldom seen eye to eye on, particularly the reign of Nicholas II. Over the years I have sat back quietly as Dr. Rappaport has published books and articles, or appeared as a guest on televised interviews and documentaries in which she fervently clings to the popular held negative assessment of Russia’s last Tsar. I remain critical of much of her research, citing it as “stuck in the 1970s,” and one of the reasons why she was not invited as a speaker to the Nicholas II Conference which I organized and hosted in England in 2018. 

It is very important for me to emphasize that just because I disagree with Dr. Rappaport’s research does not mean that I hate her, not in the least! Having said that, however, I must also emphasize that as an independent researcher on the life, reign and era of Nicholas II, I have every right to challenge and dispute her research. As Dr. Rappaport recently noted on her Facebook page, she refers to any one who disagrees with her negative assessment of Nicholas II, as someone who views him with “rose coloured glasses” or “hagiographic“.

It is so refreshing to know that persons such as H.I.H. Baron Alexander Alexis von Braun support me in my mission, and not afraid to voice their own critical assessment of Western historians such as Helen Rappaport. I am sorry if reprinting this letter offends or hurts her in any way, but I cannot emphasize strongly enough that Dr. Rappaport is not being targeted, but she, like all of her Western contemporaries who continue to promote their anti-Nicholas propaganda are ON NOTICE! 

During my closing words at the 1st International Nicholas II Conference held in Clochester, England on 27th October 2018, I noted that I would be dedicating my time and resources to clearing the name of Russia’s much slandered tsar Nicholas II.

I am today leading an IMPERIAL MOVEMENT, a voice for the truth about Russia’s last Tsar, one which also acknowledges his reforms and many achievements. My supporters include Orthodox Christians, monarchists, historians, and other adherents of His Imperial Majesty Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II and Tsar-Martyr – PG 

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Here is the text of H.I.H. Baron Alexander Alexis von Braun’s eleven-page letter, with several minor edits. Some of his text is repeated, however, I have left it unedited:

Helen Rappaport
Historian/Russianist
Key Contributor – Historical Consultant
Specialist Interviewee On Things Russian
Romanov Expert

Attention: Ms. Helen Rappaport

Subject: Tsar Nicolas II And Family

Greetings Ms. Rappaport,

Judging from your Contact Information, you are calling yourself a Historian/Russianist, Key Contributor, Historical Consultant, Specialist Interviewee On Things Russian and Romanov Expert. You also welcome hearing from readers with their queries about your work. My Colleagues and I seriously question your alleged wide ranging experience in public speaking, seminars and literary festivals and as a Historian/Russianist can offer talks on a variety of subjects. We are also questioning your alleged credentials as a Historian/Russianist, Key Contributor, Historical Consultant, Specialist Interviewee On Things Russian and Romanov Expert. We have more than sufficient cogent evidence that will prove otherwise. I have been very preoccupied in the past and it’s only now that I am able to address this matter.

On July 17, 2018, your article appeared in TIME Magazine entitled, “The Romanov Family Died A Century Ago – It’s Time To Lay The Myths About Them To Rest”, By Helen Rappaport. You state in your article, for a century the Romanov story has exercised a seductive power that has never ceased to fascinate. Now, with 100 years passed, the centenary offers an opportunity for that fascination to be refocused on the facts of what really happened to the last Tsar and his Family. We understand that you are the author of four (4) back-to-back books written about the Romanovs, the latest being “The Race To Save The Romanovs”, Published In The U.S.A. by St. Martin’s Press.

Before I continue, I will bring to table another matter involving your alleged knowledge about Tsar Nicolas II and Family. In an article written by Paul Gilbert on February 25, 2020, (see his credentials enclosed), he writes, “The era of the Reign of Emperor Nicholas II (1894-1917) remains one of the most prominent in the history and development of Russia. Rapid economic development, the strengthening of the state’s defense, peace loving external initiatives, outstanding scientific discoveries, the successes of public education, advanced social policy for this period were all achieved in a short historical period. Thanks to the policies and reforms of Tsar Nicholas II, sophisticated state administration and the talents of statesmen, helped shape the necessary union which produced such brilliant results. Topics found in the new Russian Web Site include: Monetary, Agrarian, Military Reforms, Industrialization, Energy, Public Health, Scientific Breakthroughs, Russian Geographical Society, Constitutional State, Foreign And Domestic Trade, Religious And Church Life, Mail, Telegraph And Postal Services, Charity And Patronage, The Birth Of Russian Aviation, Foreign Policy and much more. Please note that this Russian/English Language Web Site is still under development and once complete, will also feature articles, news and videos.” On a personal note, I would like to add that this new Russian Web Site is of great importance. It allows us to reexamine what we have been led to believe is the truth on the era of Tsar Nicholas II. This can be achieved from the many books and documentaries produced over the past fifty years.

Many have been written by people who have failed to examine all the facts, especially those from Russian Sources. As an example, during a BBC Radio Program “Beyond Belief”, held on 20th August 2018, the programs’ host Ernie Rea was joined by four guests to discuss Russia’s last Emperor and Tsar. Among them was Andrew Phillips, Arch Priest of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROCOR) and Rector of St. John of Shanghai Orthodox Church in Colchester, England, who stated during the program that “Nicholas II was a Reforming Tsar”. Fellow Panelist and Romanov Historian, Helen Rappaport did not comment on Father Andrew’s statement, however, she wasted little time in taking to Social Media to rebuke him. “The assertion by Father Andrew that he [Nicholas II] was a Reforming Tsar, took it too far”, she argued during a discussion on Facebook with her “Romanov Circuit”. I also believe that Nicholas II was a Reforming Tsar, the information presented in this new Russian Web Site providing the facts. Therefore, I respectfully disagree with Dr. Rappaport’s comments and her rebuke of Father Andrew’s comment alone raises a red flag. I have argued for years that researchers need access to new documents discovered in post Soviet archives in Russia. Perhaps this would help put an end to the obsessive rehashing by Western Historians of the tragedies which befell Nicholas II during his reign. It is time to begin focusing on his reforms and achievements.

Ms. Rappaport, Paul Gilbert is being much too kind in respectfully disagreeing with your comments when you state that, “The assertion by Father Andrew that he [Nicholas II] was a Reforming Tsar, took it too far”. Paul Gilbert further states that your rebuke of Father Andrew’s comment alone raises a red flag. That’s it, that’s all the criticism you get, for “Big Time Foul-Ups”? Further to your July 17, 2018 article in TIME Magazine entitled, “The Romanov Family Died A Century Ago – It’s Time To Lay The Myths About Them To Rest”. This vindictive statement is very damaging. You state in your article, for a century the Romanov story has exercised a seductive power that has never ceased to fascinate. Now, with 100 years passed, the centenary offers an opportunity for that fascination to be refocused on the facts of what really happened to the last Tsar and his Family. As an alleged Expert on the Romanov Dynasty, you must have known what has been said about Tsar Nicolas II through the media and related publications. They depict Tsar Nicolas II as a weak incompetent ruler, making him out to be an unimaginative and limited man, he was suited neither by his abilities, nor temperament to rule during such turbulent times. He was chronically indecisive and not a progressive overlord, he firmly believed in his divine right to rule. As a Leader, Tsar Nicholas II knew few successes. When World War I came in 1914, Nicholas allegedly led his people into a conflict that would strain the nation’s resources and unfortunately cost many lives.

As a result of his reign, he was responsible for a series of events which led to the downfall of the Monarchy and Russian Empire. Imperial Splendor Nicholas was, however, a family man, he loved his wife, Alexandra and she loved him. His brutal execution, nor to that of his family members were unwarranted. Soon after his and his family’s deaths, all Personal Belongings, Palaces and Lands belonging to Tsar Nicolas II and Family were seized by Vladimir Lenin and Associates. The Decree on Land ratified the actions of the peasants who throughout Russia seized private land and redistributed it among themselves. The Bolsheviks viewed themselves as representing an alliance of workers and peasants and memorialized that understanding with the hammer and sickle on the flag and coat of arms of the Soviet Union. Other decrees:

– All private property was seized by the state
– All Russian Banks were nationalized
– Private Bank Accounts were confiscated
– The Church’s Properties (including Bank Accounts) were seized
– All Foreign Debts were unacknowledged
– Control of the factories was given to the Soviets

So what you are saying now Ms. Rappaport, is that the myths being that Tsar Nicolas II as a weak incompetent ruler, make him out to be an unimaginative and limited man, he was suited neither by his abilities, nor temperament to rule during such turbulent times. He was chronically indecisive and not a progressive overlord, he firmly believed in his divine right to rule. As a Leader, Tsar Nicholas II knew few successes. When World War I came in 1914, Nicholas allegedly led his people into a conflict that would strain the nation’s resources and unfortunately cost many lives. So just let “Sleeping Dogs Lie” and “Close The Book On Tsar Nicolas II” Ms. Rappaport, is that not correct? The following are some excerpts of new documents, letters and diaries discovered in Russian Archives since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

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Russia’s Last Emperor And Tsar Nicolas II Is One Of The Most Documented Monarchs In Modern History Who Have Endured To This Very Day

Russia’s last Emperor and Tsar Nicolas II is one of the most documented Monarchs in modern history who have endured to this very day. Contemporary Western Historians have been content to carry these negative myths and lies turning them into books, magazine articles and documentaries. They depict him as a weak incompetent ruler, who was responsible for a series of events which led to the downfall of the Monarchy and Russian Empire. New documents, letters and diaries discovered in Russian Archives since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 have aided a new generation of Russian Historians to address many of the myths and lies about Nicolas which challenge and dismiss those held by their Western counterparts. I am committed to clearing the name of Russia’s most slandered Emperor and Tsar. I am able to achieve this through much research and work. My research and work is followed by many people around the world, from all walks of life including Orthodox Christians, Monarchists and those who hold the Tsar-Martyr and his family close to their hearts. These are people who seek the truth. For nearly a century, the last Emperor of Russia, Tsar Nicholas II, has been maligned and slandered by Western Historians and Biographers. I often wonder, how have these historians and authors been mistaken about Tsar Nicholas II. Come to think of it, no one can prevent historical figures from being criticized, but one must distinguish objective criticism from slander and defamation. Both positive and negative assessments must be supported by evidence that emerges from the careful study and analysis of historical sources. We are all judged by the fruits of our actions.

Russia in the Reign of Emperor Nicholas II grew in population by 150% and its rate of economic growth was the highest in the entire world. Labour Laws in Russia were among the most progressive anywhere, which was acknowledged even by President Taft of the United States. The Great Russian Academic Dmitrii Mendeleev, the French Economist Edmond Teri and other researchers have written about the strength and development of Russia in these years and have shown that Nicholas II actually achieved a lot for his country during his reign. Some might say that because the reign of Nicholas II ended in Revolution, any accomplishments he may have had lose their value and meaning. But that’s not the right way to look at it. Emperor Nicholas II, like any human being or statesman, was not without sin and certainly did make mistakes. But he was a man of deep faith, a great patriot, an honourable, genuine and humane man, who with courage and integrity bore all the hardships that fate had delivered to him, both during his reign and afterward. In canonizing him as a Passion Bearer, the Holy Church affirmed that Emperor Nicholas II was one of the principal moral guides of our people. And I believe that this decision by the Hierarchy of the Church resonates in the hearts of my countrymen. Thus, while I certainly do not deny the right of historians to debate the correctness or mistakes on this or that decision made by Emperor Nicholas II, I cannot condone those who try to blacken his memory, or depict him as a dull and shallow minded man who cared only about his family. There is simply no substantiation in the historical sources for that view of him.

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The Rehabilitation Of The Tsar-Martyr Emperor Nicholas II By The Supreme Court Of The Russian Federation Is So Important For A Proper Understanding Of Russian History

Some misunderstand the meaning of the word “rehabilitation”, thinking that it connotes a kind of “amnesty”. In point of fact, however, the rehabilitation of the victims of political repression is a recognition that such people were the targets of illegal action perpetrated in the name of the government and that these actions be deemed formally by the government today as illegal and the victims be recognized as having being entirely innocent and have their honour, integrity and good name fully and legally restored to them. For the Russian Government today, the rehabilitation of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearer Emperor Nicholas II, His Family, other murdered members of our House and their faithful physician and attendants, has an enormous legal and moral significance. The Russian Federation is the legal successor of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, the RSFSR and of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics the USSR. A local governmental organ, which exercised full political authority at that time the Ural Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies passed a death sentence on the Emperor, His Family and their servants. The Supreme Governmental Organs of Soviet Russia, the All Russian Central Executive Committee and the Soviet of People’s Commissars recognized this decision as correct and approved it.

Until 2008, the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation had not ruled on my family’s petition for the rehabilitation of the Royal Martyrs and so from a legal point of view the executions continued to be considered lawful and justified. Neither the canonization of the Royal Family by the Church nor the statements from various leaders of the country condemning the murders carried any legal weight. So we had a situation where the Church and the faithful considered Nicholas II and His Family Saints, many others of our countrymen considered them, if not Saints, at least as innocent victims of terror and the government. It saw them as criminals deserving of death. Of course, that was an absurd and unsustainable situation and a bloody burden from which the government needed to free itself. Thank God, the highest Court in the land concurred with the arguments my family presented and finally made the correct and legal ruling on the matter. I would especially like to acknowledge and thank the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Vyacheslav Lebedev, for his part in reaching this ruling. He delved deeply into the matter and put an end to this on going violation of the law. Before the ruling came down on October 1, 2008, rehabilitating the murdered members of the Imperial Family, we did not know him at all or what he thought about our legal arguments, or about us in general.

But he researched the question on his own and agreed with our petition on its merits, issuing his ruling “On The Rehabilitation Of The Victims Of Political Repression” entirely on the basis of the historical facts alone. This ruling on the rehabilitation of the Imperial Family, their relatives and faithful servants, all murdered by the atheistic and totalitarian Communist Regime, is perhaps one of the best pieces of evidence that Russia has undergone a colossal positive change in its understanding of the country’s past and has made important strides forward in the defense of human rights today. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, there has been a growing interest in the Romanov Dynasty and their legacy in modern day Russia. Since that time, we have worked tirelessly to restore the name and the image of the Romanov Dynasty. It is so important for new generations of Russians to understand the contributions that the House of Romanov made to Russia’s History and Culture.

It is important not only to remember the contributions that our Dynasty has made, but also to know the history of our country, to glean lessons from its past, to offer an accurate moral evaluation both of the good that happened and the bad, to try to avoid the mistakes of the past and to use that past to chart a course for the nation moving forward. So, when I talk about my ancestors, it is not only to praise them. I do not idealize this history of the rule of our House. To the contrary, I always say that while there is much to be proud of in our past, there is also much to regret and so I do ask for forgiveness of the Creator and of my people on my own behalf and on behalf of previous generations of the Dynasty. None of my countrymen are my enemies. Whether it be those who vehemently disagree with me, or those who are on the other side of an ideological divide, or acid critics of everything I hold most dear all are my brothers and sisters. I stand ready at all times to meet and discuss the past, present and future with people of all views in order to find a way to work together to serve Russia.

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All Around Me I See Treason Cowardice And Deceit

“All Around Me I See Treason, Cowardice And Deceit”, are not only the words Emperor Nicholas II used to reproach his contemporaries for forsaking him, they express the agony he felt for them, “for they know not what they do”. Had he not felt this agony, the Sovereign’s daughter would not have written, “He forgave everyone”, which was the message of reconciliation he asked her to give everyone who had remained faithful to him. He also forgave us, only do we really “not know what we do”? After the toxic gas of the revolutionary propaganda evaporated, after the whole of Soviet historiography had insulted and spit in the face of the Royal Family, after the archives were opened for public perusal, after the letters, diaries, memoirs and eye witness accounts were published and after we became free to take sober account of the tragedy of the Royal Family’s murder, we suddenly hear from the television screens and from the incompetent historian, “The Empress was a idiot”. While another philosophizing TV anchorman, primping and preening, would say sneeringly, “I am not one of those who believes Nicholas II was a man of strong will”.

These people cannot “not to know”, they simply do not want to know. The world is quicker to defend its villains than its Saints. A few stalwartly souls would try to break their way into Tsarskoe Selo to defend the family to whom they had given their oath of allegiance. And these were not the high ranking Generals who unanimously advised the Emperor to abdicate from the Throne, who saw, like no one else in Russia, how much effort, mind and soul the Sovereign had invested in rectifying the situation in the Army. “Holding victory in his hands, he fell to the earth alive”, Winston Churchill wrote in his book ”World Crisis”, 1916-1918, London, 1927 Volume 1 – Page 476, about Emperor Nicholas II. This is how people fall when struck perfidiously from behind. One young Cornet was lucky enough to find his way into the palace. The abdication had been announced, but the Emperor was not at court. Fear for his life and the future of his children were growing with each passing hour. “With a single gesture, the Empress bade me to stand.

Her magnificent eyes were even more sunken from sleepless nights and anxiety and expressed the unbearable torment of her long suffering heart. What unearthly beauty and stateliness emanated from this eminent Imperial figure”! But Alexandra Feodorovna did not feel sorry for or try to comfort herself. “I am very grateful that you have come to see me and not abandoned me on this difficult and dreadful day! I would really like you to stay with me, but that, to my immense regret, is impossible. I know and understand how hard this is for you. I ask you to please take off my insignia, because I could not bear it if some drunken soldier tore them away from you in the street! I believe that you will continue to wear them in your heart”, she said to the Cornet, comforting him. Her Majesty, was simply a woman in the true meaning of this word, was being called an “idiot” throughout the country. Why? Well, you see, Count Witte had once been summoned to Her Majesty, whereby she compassionately expressed her surprise that there were so many poor and impoverished people in Russia and almost demanded that he stop this disgrace. “Oh! What naivety”? Yes, what treasured naivety! While filming a movie about Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, the film crew worked in Darmstadt, the home town of the two Imperial Sisters. Everyone was amazed at the attention Alix and Elizabeth’s Family gave to the impoverished, orphans.

Especially to all the needy citizens in this modest duchy of their father, the size of which could, naturally, in no way compete with Russia’s expanses. Of course, the Grand Duchy of Hesse was a European Province. At first, the Empress could not and I think, was unable her entire life to reconcile herself to that fact that what could be done in her former homeland was impossible in her new, boundless homeland, which she came to love with all her heart. Who can reproach her for this? “I love those who yearn for the impossible”, said the great Goethe. Incidentally, Alexandra Feodorovna received the Cornet wearing a white nurse’s gown. From the very beginning of the war, she and her daughters had been caring for the wounded and the entire family had donated large sums of their own money to set up hospitals, equip hospital trains and purchase medication, equipment and clothing for the front line soldiers. On the eve of the war, no other European Government did more to defend peace than the Government in St. Petersburg. In November 1921, at the Washington Naval Conference, the U.S. President would say that the proposal to limit arms by reaching an agreement among the nations was nothing new. It was enough to recall the noble strivings expressed 23 years ago in an Imperial Rescript from His Majesty the Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russia’s. This was followed by an extensive quote from Nicholas IPs note, in which he appeals to the whole world to convene an International Conference in order to curb the arms race and develop mechanisms for preventing wars in the future.

The world was surprised that this proposal did not come from a weak, defenseless state, but from a vast and omnipotent Empire. All the great powers ignored this proposal. Kaiser Wilhelm II said that in practice he would continue to rely only on God and his sharp sword. England, which had the strongest navy in the world, refused to go for any reductions. Japan, which was hatching its own plans in the Far East, ignored the Russian note. Russian Foreign Minister Count Muraviev figuratively noted that the people reacted enthusiastically and the governments distrustfully. Anyone else would have given up, but Nicholas II continued his efforts. A repeat note followed and the Hague Peace Conference was indeed convened in 1899 under the chairmanship of the Russian Ambassador to London. A whole series of extremely important decisions was made, including on the non use of poison gases and explosive bullets. Conditions were drawn up regarding the upkeep of prisoners of war, as well as principles for peacefully settling conflicts and the International Court that functions to this day in The Hague was founded. Were these not rather too many achievements for a “weak willed” and “weak minded” Czar, before the perseverance and foresight of whom stubborn Europe was bowing? The main ideas of the Russian initiative were more fully realized in the creation of the League of Nations, which later passed the baton on to the United Nations. It is no accident that the original document calling on the states to take part in The Hague Peace Conference of 1899 signed by Nicholas II is exhibited in the UN building in New York.

Alexandra Feodorovna, as we know, was the granddaughter of British Queen Victoria. In his letters, the heir to the Russian Throne wholeheartedly called her “my dearest grandmother”, since she played an important role in their marriage. After breaking the resistance of his father, about the “staunch will” of whom the entire world had no doubt and who was not in favor of the heir marrying a Darmstadt Princess, the enamored Crown Prince came up against another obstacle. The protocol demanded that the future Empress convert to Russian Orthodoxy. This created a serious bone of contention for the young couple and it was Queen Victoria who managed to persuade her granddaughter to agree to this step. Nicky’s letters were full of genuine warmth and gratitude toward his “dearest grand mother” for her inestimable service. However, in one letter she scolded the young Czar with respect to the anti-British articles that appeared in Russian Newspapers. To which she received the following reply, “I must say that I cannot prohibit people from openly expressing their opinions in the press.

Don’t you think I have not been upset myself by the rather frequent unfair judgments about my country in the English newspapers? Even the books I am constantly being sent from London give a false account of our actions in Asia, our domestic policy and so on”. Several months later, the young couple expressed their joy over Queen Victoria’s consent to be godmother to their first child, Grand Princess Olga. Being accustomed to the European sound of the Royal Family’s names, Queen Victoria was evidently rather puzzled over the Russian Emperor’s choice of name for his daughter. “We chose the name Olga, because it has already been used several times in our family and it is an age old Russian name”, Nicky wrote in November 1895. But in the very next letter sent from Darmstadt, Queen Victoria, his “dearest grandmother”, was in for a rude awakening when she tried to put pressure on Nicky in the interests of British policy in the East. “As for Egypt, dear Grandmother, this is a very serious issue that affects not only France, but also all of Europe.

Russia is very interested in its shortest routes to Eastern Siberia being free and open. Britain’s occupation of Egypt is a constant threat to our sea routes to the Far East. It is clear that whoever controls the Nile valley also controls the Suez Canal. This is why Russia and France do not agree with Britain’s presence in this part of the world and both countries wish for real integrity of the canal”. March, which saw the murder of Alexander II and the abdication of Nicholas II, was a fateful month for the Romanov Dynasty. “Perhaps when we throw them the Romanov Crown, the people will have mercy on us; General Headquarters, Commander in Chief Alexeev and the Generals have long been in favor of the idea of a state coup”, mumbled Alexander Guchkov, Duma’s Chairman, “deathly pale with a trembling chin”, in those days to a handful of frightened State Duma Deputies. So, whose side are we on? On their side, or on the side of he who, after removing his Crown, said, “If Russia needs a sacrifice for its salvation, I will be that sacrifice”!

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The Presentation Of The New Web Site -The Russian Empire In The Era Of The Reign Of Emperor Nicholas II Took Place In The Multi-Media Museum Russia My History

The Multi-Media Museum “Russia My History” in Ekaterinburg was the venue for the event on 16th February 2019, Historian Peter Multatuli, Ph.D., arrived in the Urals to present a unique project. Multatuli, who is considered the country’s Leading Authority on the Life and Reign of Nicholas II, talked with local historians about the myths surrounding Russia’s last Tsar. He taked especially about his achievements and reforms in particular. The presentation of the new Web Site “The Russian Empire In The Era Of The Reign Of Emperor Nicholas II” («Российская империя в эпоху правления императора Николая Второго») took place in the Multi-Media Museum “Russia My History” in Ekaterinburg. The event was hosted by the Club Of Historians, a joint project of the St. Catherine Foundation and the History Park. The St. Catherine Foundation took part in the Tsar’s Days events held in Ekaterinburg in July 2018 and the presentation of this new Web Site is the completion of the Imperial Year. 

“This Web Site is not about the Tsar’s Family, it is about the many achievements of the Russian Empire during the reign of the last Russian Sovereign”, noted Tatyana Balanchuk, Project Manager of the St. Catherine Foundation. “It was one of the greatest epochs of reforming the country” added Peter Multatuli, “the country that the Emperor accepted in 1894 and the country which he was forced to give up in 1917, were very different countries. Everything was not perfect, however, more reforms were carried out in Russia under Emperor Nicholas II, than that undertaken by either Peter the Great and Alexander II”. The new Web Site is based on the calendar, “Russia In The Era Of The Reign Of Emperor Nicholas II”, released last year. It has fact filled sections detailing the essence of reforms under Nicholas II, as well as debunking the many myths which exist to this day about his reign. “We realized that we needed a more complete source of information and launched a Web Site which details the achievements and reforms during the reign Nicholas II”, added Balanchuk. The Web Site became part of a large project organized by the St. Catherine Foundation, in conjunction with the Multi-Media Museum Russia My History, outdoor events, as well as work shops and lectures on late 19th and early 20th Century Russian History. The Web Site was launched in September 2018 and aroused great interest among a wide audience of more than six hundred (600) thousand people. Peter Multatuli, Candidate of Historical Sciences, gave a presentation lecture at the Saturday event.

He noted, that “myths are designed to ignore facts and to defame the last Russian Tsar”. For example, the events of 9th January 1905 (Bloody Sunday) were not a planned punishment of the “insidious ruler over the unhappy workers”. Multatuli went on to state that “although the city at the time of the execution of the Romanovs bore the name of St. Catherine, in fact it already belonged to Yakov Sverdlov”. “Yekaterinburg was the patrimony of Sverdlov and his devoted killer henchmen, including Yakov Yurovsky and Filipp Goloshchekin. These were Sveredlov’s devotees during 1905-1906, when he organized a revolutionary gang that engaged in looting, murder and expropriation”, said Multatuli. Speakers also talked about the importance of preserving the historical names of cities. According to Tatyana Balanchuk, Project Manager of the St. Catherine Foundation, “the topic of preserving names and toponymy is very relevant now”. “Russian cities were often named in relation to what was produced in a city, such as in honor of the heavenly patron or in honor of a river, which flows nearby and et-cetera”, said Multatuli. “Many names which reflected the Tsarist era were changed after the 1917 Revolution. Many streets named after prominent figures of Russian History are forgotten, instead they reflect those from the Soviet period”. The historian noted that the original names, which were assigned to the streets at the time of their creation at one or another period of history, could tell a lot about the history of this place.

History needs to be studied in order to educate a citizen in a person who will be responsible for his country. The era of the Reign of Emperor Nicholas II (1894-1917) remains one of the most prominent in the history and development of Russia. Rapid economic development, the strengthening of the state’s defense, peace loving external initiatives, outstanding scientific discoveries, the successes of public education, advanced social policy for this period were all achieved in a short historical period. Thanks to the policies and reforms of Nicholas II, sophisticated state administration and the talents of statesmen, helped shape the necessary union which produced such brilliant results. Topics found in the new Russian Web Site include: Monetary, Agrarian, Military Reforms, Industrialization, Energy, Public Health, Scientific Breakthroughs, Russian Geographical Society, Constitutional State, Foreign And Domestic Trade. Also, Religious And Church Life, Mail, Telegraph And Postal Services, Charity And Patronage, The Birth Of Russian Aviation, Foreign Policy and much more. Please note that this Russian/English Language Web Site is still under development and once complete will also feature articles, news and videos. On a personal note, I would like to add that this new Russian Web Site is of great importance. It allows us to reexamine what we have been led to believe is the truth on the era of Nicholas II, from the many books and documentaries produced over the past fifty years. Many have been written by people who have failed to examine all the facts, especially those from Russian Sources.

As an example, during a BBC Radio Program Beyond Belief held on 20th August 2018, the programs’ host Ernie Rea was joined by four guests to discuss Russia’s last Emperor and Tsar. Among them was Andrew Phillips, Arch Priest of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROCOR) and Rector of St. John of Shanghai Orthodox Church in Colchester, England. They stated during the program that “Nicholas II was a Reforming Tsar”. Fellow Panelist and Romanov Historian, Helen Rappaport did not comment on Father Andrew’s statement, however, she wasted little time in taking to Social Media to rebuke him. “The assertion by Father Andrew that he [Nicholas II] was a Reforming Tsar, took it too far”, she argued during a discussion on Facebook with her “Romanov Circuit”. I also believe that Nicholas II was a Reforming Tsar, the information presented in this new Russian Web Site providing the facts.

We all totally disagree with Dr. Rappaport’s comments and her rebuke of Father Andrew’s comments.

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© H.I.H. Baron Alexander Alexis von Braun. 2 July 2020

The myth that Nicholas II’s death was met with indifference by the Russian people

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Revolutionaries burning the Tsar’s portrait in 1917. Artist: Ivan Alekseevich Vladimirov (1869-1947)

Contemporary historians have led us to believe that news of Nicholas II’s death was met with indifference among the Russian people. Rather than conduct their own research on the matter, they choose instead to rehash the popular Bolshevik version of events – this is in itself is not the sign of a good historian.

While the elation exhibited by the revolutionaries is indeed true, it did not reflect the heartfelt sentiments of millions of Orthodox Christians, monarchists and others in the former Russian Empire.

Patriarch Tikhon (1865-1925), openly defended the Imperial family, by condemning the Bolsheviks for committing regicide.

When the tragic news of the murder of the Tsar’s family came, the Patriarch immediately served a memorial service at a meeting of the Council; then served the funeral Liturgy, saying that no matter how judged the policy of the Sovereign, his murder after he abdicated and who did not make the slightest attempt to return to power is an unjustified crime, and those who committed him should be branded as executioners.

On July 17/30 the Patriarch said: “But we, to grief and shame, survived until the time when a clear violation of God’s commandments are not only not recognized as sin, but justified as legitimate. So, a terrible thing happened: the former Tsar Nikolai Alexandrovich was shot … We must, in obedience to the teaching of the Word of God, condemn this action, otherwise the blood of those shot will fall upon us, and not just on those who committed it … Let them call us counter-revolutionaries, let us be imprisoned, let us be shot. We are ready to endure all this in the hope that the words of our Saviour are also referred to us: “Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28). “

Eugenie Fraser, born and raised in Russia writes about her years in Petrograd and news of the tsar’s death: “In August, filtered through from Siberia, came the news of the slaughter of the Royal family by the sadistic thugs of the Bolshevik party. Horror and revulsion touched every decent thinking citizen in the town. To execute the Tsar and his wife in this barbaric fashion was bad enough, but to butcher the four young girls and the helpless boy was the work of mindless criminals. In churches people went down on their knees and openly wept as they prayed for the souls of the Tsar and his family.”

“Even in all this turmoil and confusion, and even among those with little sympathy for the abdicated tsar, the brief five-line announcement in July 1918 of the execution of Nicholas II and his family in Ekaterinburg caused a terrible shock,” writes Serge Schmemann. He further notes “Prince Sergei Golitsyn recalled in his diary how people of all levels of society wept and prayed, and how he himself, as a nine year old boy, cried night after night in his pillow.”

Major-General Sir Alfred Knox further noted in his memoirs: “An old soldier . . . breathed into my ear that the Emperor was a good man, and fond of his people, but was surrounded by traitors.”

It is important to recall that it was in the summer of 1918, when Lenin unleashed the first Red Terror. People lived in fear of punishment from the thugs and criminals of the new order, for showing any sympathy for the murdered tsar. Many hid their framed portraits of the tsar, and kept their grief and monarchist sentiments to themselves.

This post is an abridged excerpt from my forthcoming book Nicholas II: A Century of Myths and Lies – scheduled for publication sometime in 2021

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© Paul Gilbert. 19 June 2020

The myth that Nicholas II was a drunkard

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1917 caricature depicting Nicholas II as a drunk

During the latter years of Nicholas II’s reign, myths and lies about his private life filled the parlour rooms of St. Petersburg, and fueled the propaganda of revolutionaries. Among the most outrageous lies, were that the Tsar was a drunkard and even took drugs.

When censorship was abolished, the Tsar’s enemies wasted little time in their vicious attacks. Forbidden topics, such as writing about Nicholas II, were now fair game. Slanderous criticisms and demeaning caricatures poured into the Russian press, and quickly became “hype”. They were believed not only be readers, but also by the journalists themselves. Anti-monarchist themes were the most popular. They were published by humorous journals, the yellow press, and even respected publications.

In particular, people discussed the betrayal of Russia by Nicholas II, due to his alleged alcoholism. Numerous publications published insulting caricatures depicting the Tsar in an inebriated state. Of course, none of this was true, as can be attested by the reliable eyewitness accounts of two persons who observed the Tsar on a regular basis.

General Alexandré Spiridovitch (1873-1952) who served as personal security chief to Nicholas II from 1906-1916 noted in his memoirs:

“As for wines, he [Nicholas II] only drank port at table. Since the Japanese war, the Tsar had given up spirits; it was only when he traveled by sea that he would take (and very rarely at that) one or two small glasses before dinner.”

He further noted: “The Emperor was seated in the place of honour. Before him was a bottle of a special Port, the gift of the King of England, and a small, golden goblet. He never drank more than one goblet of this wine, and never tasted any other.”

In his memoirs, Semyon Fabritsky, an Aide-de-Camp to Nicholas II, further addressed the stubborn gossip which persisted about the Tsar’s alleged drunkenness:

“I personally can attest to the fact that these tales were both false and malicious” he wrote. “At most, the Emperor would sometimes drink one or two shots of vodka before dinner and a glass of his favorite port during the meal (or one goblet of champagne at gala dinners).”

Even at regimental dinners, Fabritsky notes, “When the Emperor attended such dinners, he did not change his custom of drinking very little. He would sit there all evening — and once in awhile all night — nursing a single glass of champagne, delighting in the joyful faces of the young officers whom he adored, and in whom he had so much faith.”

This post is an abridged excerpt from my forthcoming book Nicholas II: A Century of Myths and Lies – scheduled for publication sometime in 2021

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© Paul Gilbert. 22 May 2020