Obituary: French historian and author Marc Ferro (1924-2021)

PHOTO: French historian and author Marc Ferro (1924-2021)

Marc Ferro was born on 24th December 1924 in Paris. In 1941, he lived with his mother Oudia Firdmann and stepfather. Ferro was 5 years old when his father died. His mother was a designer at Worth, the first haute couture house in the French capital.

Ferro was a student at the Lycée Carnot. During the German occupation of Paris, he was the victim of the new Vichy regime’s rabid anti-Semitic policies, due to the Jewish origin of his mother. His philosophy professor, Maurice Merleau-Ponty recommended that Ferro and his classmates flee the occupied zone as soon as possible. Ferro took refuge in Grenoble as it was located in an unoccupied zone. His mother was deported and died on 28th June 1943 at Auschwitz.

Between 1948 and 1956, Ferro taught at the Lycée Lamoricière in Oran, in French-occupied Algeria. He was then appointed professor in Paris, at a number of higher learning schools. He later served as Director of studies at the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. At the beginning of the 1960s Ferro specialized in Soviet history, focusing on the Russian Revolution of 1917 .

The popular French historian and author is probably best known for his books on early 20th-century European history, the Russian Revolution and Emperor Nicholas II.

PHOTO: English edition of Nicholas II: Last of the Tsars (1991)

In 1990, his book Nicholas II: Last of the Tsars, was published and translated into many languages. Sadly, Ferro like most Western historians paint Russia’s last emperor and tsar in a very poor light.

For his biography, Ferro researched extensively in Russian archives to illuminate Nicholas II’s character. Ferro paints a portrait of “a reluctant leader, a young man forced by the death of his father into a role for which he was ill-equipped”.

“A conformist and traditionalist, Nicholas admired the order, ritual, and ceremony identified with the intangible grandeur of autocracy, and he hated everything that might shake that autocracy – the intelligentsia, the Jews, the religious sects”.

Ferro documents Nicholas II’s reign, as “one of continual trouble: a humiliating war with Japan; the 1905 revolution that forced Nicholas to accept a constitutional assembly, the Duma; the international crisis of 1914, leading to World War I; and finally the Revolution of 1917, forcing his abdication”.

The French historian believes that the Tsar was “utterly opposed to change and to the ferment of ideas that stirred his country, who felt it was his duty to preserve intact the powers God had entrusted in him”.

Ferro also provides an intimate portrait of Nicholas’s personal life: his wife Alexandra; his four daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia; his son and heir Alexei, who suffered from haemophilia; and the various figures in the court, most notably Rasputin, whose ability to revive the frequently ailing Alexis made him indispensable to the Tsaritsa”.

Perhaps most intriguing is Ferro’s chapter on the fate of the Tsar and his family, examining all the rumours and contradictory testimony that swirl around this still popular conspiracy theory. Ferro concludes that Alexandra and her daughters may have survived the revolution, and the woman who later surfaced in Europe claiming to be Anastasia may well have been so.

PHOTO: La Vérité sur la tragédie des Romanov (2012)

In 2012, Ferro published a second book La Vérité sur la tragédie des Romanov [The Truth about the tragedy of the Romanovs], in which he explores even further his belief that the Empress and her daughters survived the bloody regicide.

Ferro never believed the official version of the deaths of the Imperial Family in Ekaterinburg on 17th July 1918. He questions the murder of the Romanovs, based on a series of documents, allegedly discovered in the Vatican archives. The sudden death or execution of judges or witnesses, truncated documents, stolen investigation files, controversial DNA tests, put Ferro on the trail of a sacrilegious hypothesis: that the Empress and her four daughters were saved thanks to to a secret agreement between the Bolsheviks and the Germans. According to Ferro’s book, only the fate of the Tsarevich, Alexei, remains unknown, due to lack of “reliable” sources.

PHOTO: La Vérité sur la tragédie des Romanov DVD (2018)

In 2018, a French-language documentary was released in DVD format. The 1 hour 26 minute film presents a series events surrounding Nicholas II’s reign based on Ferro’s research: Bloody Sunday 1905, the February 1905 Revolution, the abdication of the Emperor, the coming to power of Lenin, the Tsesarevich’s haemophilia, Rasputin, the Empress’s alleged political influence over Nicholas. Among those interviewed in the documentary are actor Pierre Carbonnier who quotes Pierre Gilliard, and the participation of historians Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, Orlando Figes, Jean-Jacques Marie, historian of photography Daniel Girardin and Pierre-Frédéric Gilliard, nephew of Pierre Gilliard .

Marc Ferro died due to complications of COVID-19, on 21st April 2021, at the age of 96, in Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Yvelines), surrounded by his family.

© Paul Gilbert. 22 April 2021

Obituary: Ivan Sergeevich Artsishevsky (1950-2021)

PHOTO: Ivan Sergeevich Artsishevsky (1950-2021)

The former Director of the Romanov Family Association in Russia, died today in St. Petersburg, at the age of 71. He may be best known as the head of the working group on the reburial of Emperor Nicholas II and his family in 1998.

Ivan Artsishevsky was born in 1950 in China into a family of the first wave of Russian emigrants who fled Russia following the 1917 Revolution. In 1953, the Artsishevsky family moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where, at the age of 7, he attended a Brazilian school, where teaching was conducted in Portuguese, which at the time, he spoke better than Russian.

In 1967, the Artsishevsky was allowed to enter the USSR, to Chelyabinsk, and receive Soviet citizenship. Later, the family moved to Riga, where Artsishevsky graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics of the University. After moving to Leningrad, he worked for Intourist, a Russian tour operator, founded in 1929 and served as the primary travel agency for foreign tourists in the Soviet Union.

In 1991, he held the first Congress of Compatriots in Leningrad.

In 1998, he served as head of the working group on the reburial of Emperor Nicholas II, his family and servants. Thanks to his dedication and hard work, five members of the Imperial Family – Nicholas II, Alexandra Feodorovna, three of their five children: Olga, Tatiana and Anastasia, as well as their four faithful retainers were buried in the St. Catherine’s Chapel [a side chapel of the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral] in St. Petersburg. Some 50 Romanov descendants, from all corners of the world attended the historic ceremony. The only members of the Romanov family who did not attend, were Maria Vladimirovna, her son George Mikhailovich and her mother Leonida Georgievna. At the time, they collectively refused to recognize the Ekaterinburg remains as authentic, a position which Maria and her son hold fast to this day.

He then became the Director of the Romanov Family Association in Russia, a position he held until his death. At the same time, he was appointed head of the state protocol department of the St. Petersburg administration (committee for external relations), where he was responsible for organizing and conducting numerous visits of heads of state and government to our city. Received letters of gratitude from French president Jacques Chirac, US president George W. Bush, British prime minister Tony Blair among others.

In 2006, Ivan Artsishevsky organized the School of Protocol and Etiquette, the first licensed institution of its kind in Russia, one which reflected the growing interest in the topic of the culture and business communications.

PHOTO: Artsishevsky with Prince Dimitri Romanovich 1926-2016

Artsishevsky was recognized as one of Russia’s leading etiquette and protocol experts. As representative of the Romanov Family Association in Russia, he organized their visits and accompanied members of the Dynasty on protocol trips. He was a member of the International Club of Petersburgers and the Union of Russian Nobles in Paris, gave popular lectures and conducted webinars. From 2015 he also collaborated with the Russian National Library. In recent years, he served as Vice-President of the Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Russia.

Artsishevsky devoted his whole life of service to the Motherland and St. Petersburg. His deep knowledge of history, cultural traditions and diplomatic talent greatly served the government of St. Petersburg for many years. In the sphere of state etiquette, “he had no equal,” said the governor of St. Petersburg, Alexander Beglov, expressing his condolences to the family and friends of Artsishevsky.

On a personal note, I would like to add, that it was Ivan Sergeevich Artsishevsky who made it possible for me to attend the funeral of Emperor Nicholas II in St. Petersburg, on 17th July 1998. For that, I will always be grateful – PG

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

© Paul Gilbert. 7 April 2021

OBITUARY – Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovsky-Romanov (1926-2020)

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Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovsky-Romanov (1926-2020)

It is with a deep sense of sadness for me to announce that Mrs. Olga Kulikovsky-Romanov died yesterday (1st May 2020) at the age of 94.

In 1986 she married Tikhon Nikolaevich Kulikovsky (1917-1993) – the son of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna (1882-1960) and Colonel N.A. Kulikovsky (1881-1958).

Olga Kulikovsky’s father, Nikolai Nikolaevich Pupynin was a hereditary nobleman of the Tambov province, a military Cossack officer of the Imperial and White armies, and participant in the famous Ice campaign.

Her mothe, Nina Konradovna Kopernitskaya was an artist and sculptor, educated in Warsaw and Munich. From 1920, the family was in exile: first in Yugoslavia, after World War II in Venezuela.

Olga Kulikovsky (nee Pupynina) graduated from the Mariinsky Don Institute of Noble Maidens (Smolny branch), who were evacuated from Novocherkassk during the Civil War to Bila Tserkva, Yugoslavia. During the Second World War, she was interned in Germany (Stuttgart), where she worked in a factory and survived the barbaric bombing of civilians by British and American aircraft. Subsequently, she moved to South America, received a medical, commercial, architectural education, and learned seven languages. After moving to Canada, she worked as a translator in government agencies.

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Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovsky-Romanov praying at Ganina Yama in July 2018

Over the years Olga Kulikovsky participated in public activities in Russia, transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church some shrines preserved in the Kulikovsky family associated with the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers, she did a lot to popularize the artistic work of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna. From 1991, she headed the Foundation named after her mother-in-law.

Despite her age, she worked tirelessly to help clear the name of Russia’s much slandered Tsar and his family.

The cause of death has not yet been specified. She was found dead at her home in Balashikha, Moscow Region, where she lived. She will be buried with her husband Tikhon, and her mother-in-law at York Cemetery in Toronto, Canada.

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

© Paul Gilbert. 2 May 2020

In memory of Alexander Nikolaevich Bokhanov (1944-2019)

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Alexander Nikolaevich Bokhanov (1944-2019)

Russian historical science has suffered an irreparable loss. On 14th May 2019, the eminent Russian historian Alexander Nikolaevich Bokhanov died after a long and serious illness.

Bokhanov was a Professor of History, a specialist in 19th and 20th century Russian history. A graduate of Moscow University, he is a leading scientific researcher of the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he began to adhere to monarchical views. 

He was the author of 30 books and nearly 200 articles – in Russian. For Westerners, he is best known as one of the contributing authors of The Romanovs. Love, Power and Tragedy, published in the UK in 1993.

Alexander Bokhanov was the first historian in post-Soviet Russia to write an impartial biography of the last Russian Emperor and Tsar Nicholas II. The book’s publication marked the beginning of his professional study of the life of the slandered Tsar, the rich, tragic and still little-studied era of his reign. 

In September 2013, Alexander Bokhanov suffered a double stroke, leaving him partially paralyzed. The memory of Alexander Nikolaevich Bokhanov will remain forever in the hearts of admirers of Russian history. Вечная память.

© Paul Gilbert. 14 May 2019