Unique retro style postcards of the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

The 23rd of September 2020, marked the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama, which is situated 26 km (16 miles) from Ekaterinburg.

As part of the events marking the anniversary, the brethren of the monastery and the staff of the Museum and Exhibition Center – located in the the Church of the Reigning Mother of God – have prepared a unique gift for all pilgrims who visit the monastery with an excursion – a set of unique postcards with retro style photographs of the monastery taken with a 19th century camera.

In order to receive a set of the postcards, visitors need to obtain a special postcard-flyer at the Tsarsky Cultural and Educational Center – located in the Patriarchal Compound of the Church on the Blood – which must be presented to the guide at the monastery.

At the end of the tour, each visitor receives a set of these unique postcards with retro style photographs of the monastery. The photographs were taken by professional photographer, Candidate of Historical Sciences Vasily Zapariy, who used an old camera with glass plates of the late 19th – early 20th centuries, at the special request of the  Museum and Exhibition Center of the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs.

The postcards were issued in a limited edition, and show how the churches, landscapes and brethren of the monastery would look through the lens of old photographic equipment.

The exhibition also features an interesting collection of old cameras. In order for visitors to gain a better understanding of the history of pre-revolutionary photography in Russia, using the example of the August amateur photographers – the family of Emperor Nicholas II.

The postcard promotion is valid until 28th February. The number of gifts is limited to 400 sets.

***

CLICK on the IMAGE above to watch the VIDEO – duration 1 minute, 48 seconds

The excursion includes the photo-exhibition “August Photo Amateurs”, which opened on 19th September 2020, in the Museum and Exhibition Center – located in the the Church of the Reigning Mother of God – of the Monastery of the Royal Martyrs in Ganina Yama

The exhibition is one of numerous events marking the 20th anniversary of the founding of the monastery. This particular exhibition presents the history of the development of the Imperial family’s passion for photography.

The exhibit presents a unique selection of photographs of Nicholas II and his family, testifying their deep interest and technical capabilities in the field of photography. The exhibition also features those taken by professional court photographers. Admission is FREE.

© Paul Gilbert. 22 January 2021

The favourite tunes of Nicholas II and his Family – Part 1

This video features a tune, which was apparently a favourite of Nicholas II and his Family. Click on the image above to listen to this haunting melody, performed by the popular Russian singer Valentina Ponomareva [Duration: 3 minutes, 28 seconds]

The romance “Утро туманное” (Misty Morning) is based on the poem by the famous Russian writer Ivan Sergeivich Turgenev (1818-1883), written in 1843. The music was composed by Erast Ageevich Abaza (1819-1855), a gifted amateur musician, guard officer, and hero of the Crimean War.

Misty morning, gray morning,

Sad fields, covered with snow,

Reluctantly remember the times of the past,

Remember the faces long forgotten.

You will remember the frequent passionate talks,

Glances so eagerly and tenderly caught,

First meetings, last meetings,

Favorite sounds of a quiet voice.

You will remember parting with a strange smile,

You will remember a lot of your dear distant past,

Listening to the ceaseless murmur of the wheels,

Looking thoughtfully into the wide sky.

Set against the background of this soulful performances are touching images, which reflect the love story of Nicholas Alexandrovich and Alexandra Feodorovna, the last Emperor and Empress of Russia. The romance is performed by the popular Russian singer Valentina Ponomareva. The video was created by Irina Koroteeva and Elena Illyina..

NOTE: Stay tuned for additional videos, featuring more favourite tunes of Nicholas II and his family – PG

© Paul Gilbert. 16 January 2021

Nicholas II visits the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, 1911

Duration: Duration: 5 minute, 11 seconds with musical background

On 29th August 1911, Emperor Nicholas II and his family, accompanied by Russian Prime Minister Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin (1862-1911), arrived in Kiev.

In the opening of this video we see the Imperial family and their entourage arriving at the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra on 30th August 1911, the feast day of St Alexander Nevsky.

At 0:45, the Emperor and his family visit the grave of the folk heroes Kochubey and Iskra, “who laid down their belly for the Faith, the Tsar and the Fatherland”.

At 2:15, the Imperial family follow behind Metropolitan Flavian of Kiev and Galicia, members of the clergy and the City Duma, during a Cross Procession to take part in the opening of a memorial to his grandfather, Emperor Alexander II (1818-1881).

Following behind is Russian Prime Minister Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin, who is seen at 2:21, wearing a white jacket. He was mortally shot the following day, on 1st September, during a performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tale of Tsar Saltan at the Kiev Opera House. In a letter to his mother, the Tsar told her that Stolypin had turned to him and made the sign of the cross in the air with his left hand. He was buried at the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra on 9th September 1911.

At 2:34, the tall, handsome figure of General Alexander Spiridovitch (1873-1952) passes directly in front of the camera. Spiridovitch served as the personal security chief for Nicholas II and his family from 1906-1916. He was also responsible for the security of the tsar’s residences.

In 1928, his memoirs Les Dernières années de la Cour de Tsarskoe Selo, were published in Paris. The first English translation Last Years of the Court at Tsarskoe Selo was published by Royal Russia in two volumes, in 2010 and 2017 respectfully: Volume I (1906-1910) and Volume II (1910-1914).

At 3:23, the Imperial family attend the opening and consecration of a memorial to his grandfather, Emperor Alexander II, where a moleben is performed.

At 4:05, the Imperial family depart in open horse-drawn carriages.

© Paul Gilbert. 7 January 2021

VIDEO: ‘The Lost Life of Alexei Romanov’ with Jonathan Jackson

The Lost Life of Alexei Romanov’ is the latest in a series of videos produced by the Mesa Potamos Publications, publishers of ‘The Romanov Royal Martyrs: What Silence Could Not Conceal’ – my personal choice for Romanov Book of the Year in 2019.

Of particular note in this 38 minute English language video are the following images and newsreels:

Compare the image of Alexandra holding her newborn son at 1:39 with that of the haunting image at 4:46—what a shocking difference. Poor Alexandra looks tired, worn out both physically and emotionally from watching over and caring for her sick son. Click HERE to read my article “Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged” – In Defence of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, published on 20th July 2020.

The newsreel footage of the 5 children laughing and playing on the deck of the Imperial Yacht ‘Standart’ from 5:37 to 6:43 made me laugh and smile. Both, however, faded into sadness, knowing the horrific fate which awaits them.

At 11:00 we see the children marching around the well, situated in the Italian Courtyard at Livadia Palace in Crimea, carrying their flowered banners for the White Flower Day festivities, and each wearing a Kodak camera around their necks.

At 20:21 we see a mischievous Alexei throwing a snowball at his tutor Pierre Gilliard, only to turn around and realize that his prank has been caught on camera, forcing him to laugh and run off.

At 23:16 Jonathan Jackson reads a letter written by Alexei to his friend Nikolai Vladimirovich Derevenko nicknamed “Kolya” (1906-2003), which was discovered after the murders in the Ipatiev House. Alexei concludes the letter with the prophetic words “The END”. This is followed by a very moving interview many years later with Kolya.

The most poignant moment in the video, however, has to be at 25:58. We see Alexei seated in a motorcar with Minister of the Imperial Court Count Vladimir Frederiks (1838-1927). At 26:11, Alexei turns around smiles and nods at the camera. It is a most fitting ending.

Narrator Jonathan Jackson offers a heartfelt chat at the end. A devout Orthodox Christian, Jackson shares with viewers his love for the Holy Royal Martyrs. His words will reflect those of many viewers, regardless of their respective faith or beliefs.

Personally, I was profoundly moved by this video about Tsesarevich Alexei. The exceptional newsreel footage brings the heir to the throne to life. This combined with the black and white archival photographs, the astounding colourizations by Olga Shirnina, and narration by Jonathan Jackson make this one of the finest videos produced by the Mesa Potamos Publications to date.

Holy Royal Martyrs, pray to God for us!

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

© Paul Gilbert. 16 December 2020

‘The Romanovs: An Imperial Family’ a film by Gleb Panfilov

“A legacy that defied Bolshevik and Soviet attempts of erasure”

More than a century has passed since the murder of Emperor Nicholas II and his family was carried out by the Bolsheviks who seized power over Imperial Russia following the abdication of the Emperor on 16th March (O.S. 3rd March) 1917. The Soviet Union is no more. But the grandeur of pre-Soviet, Tsarist Russia continues to occupy the imagination of people across the world and the last Russian Imperial family has entered the annals of cinema in many a memorable work of moving images.

Among the cinematic works created around the Romanov family who were brutally murdered by the Ural Soviet on 17th July 1918, is the historical drama film ‘The Romanovs: An Imperial Family’. The Russian made which was released in 2000 having premiered at the 22nd Moscow Film Festival. This film is a must watch not only for ‘Romanovophiles’ but also for history buffs and movie lovers who enjoy the historical drama genre. Directed by internationally acclaimed Russian film director Gleb Anatolyevich Panfilov, it is a Russian language movie with Russian actor Aleksandr Galibin as Emperor Nicholas II and British actress Lynda Bellingham as Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

The directorial craft of the movie brings to life the perceptions and perspectives of Nicholas II and his family during the last stage of their lives and shows how the imperial family perceived and responded to news of the turmoil in the country that was creating a tide of antipathy towards the monarchy. The narrative shows the humaneness of the Tsar and his family bringing to life their humanity which makes this an endearing film.

Contrary to what Soviet propaganda sought to perpetuate during the reign of communism in Russia, that the Imperial family were cold and uncaring towards the masses, Panfilov’s vision shows how the Romanovs were caring people with admirable humane qualities and talents which even their captors could not help but secretly appreciate.

The movie is quite compelling with a cast of good actors and a plot structure that drives forward the drama of events and action principally through the somewhat insular characters of the Imperial family. Galibin delivers a superb performance as His Imperial Majesty Tsar Nicholas. The character that is brought to life in Panfilov’s directorial vision is one who is much a human with his principal weakness being perhaps that he was torn between how to focus and devote himself and his efforts on being a good father while also being a good monarch and to win the love and respect of all.

The Tsar and Tsarina are shown as two loving humans who are solid in their spousal and parental love. The Imperial children are portrayed as children who feel emotions of sadness, fear, anger and love just like any other, and how they are made hapless victims of a political agenda that overawes all forms of governance and power that formed the old order of imperial Russia.

The revolution is not shown in prominence through extensive scenes of armed conflicts but as more a series of events brought to the knowledge of the Tsar and his family at various stages from February 1917 to the fated day of their massacre in Ekaterinburg on 17th July 1918. Their grasp of matters that near their unseen doom, as a gradual and coldly unnerving series of changes in their household brings to life the ‘psychological environment’ the Imperial family inhabited in their last days. The Tsar and his family are meant to endure suffering that is much more psychological than physical and thus the slow torment and torture of the Romanovs at the hands of the communist red army captors are brought to life.

The Ipatiev House, In what is called the ‘House of Special Purpose’ by the Bolsheviks, a residence located in Ekaterinburg in Western Siberia, the Imperial family is kept under guard, after the Tsar’s abdication and monarchical rule ends and the family finds themselves being political prisoners. However, the ‘House of Special Purpose’ becomes the slaughter house where the massacre of the imperial family and their remaining staff takes place past midnight on 17th July 1918. The murder carried out by the Bolsheviks brings the narrative of the Romanovs to an end. The scene which follows as the end of the film is documentary footage of the scene of canonization of the Romanov family in Russiain 2000.

The final scene is a strong message that one sees at the end of the film when reading it in context of post-Soviet Russia. The statues of Lenin who founded the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) have been brought down with the end of the Soviet Union and his legacy now enjoys no glory among Russians. The Romanovs, however, have once again been reborn in their nation’s collective heart and soul, to remain adored in the Russian people’s memory.

The Romanovs: An Imperial Family’ is presented in this post in 13 x 10 minute videos, with ENGLISH subtitles.

This film presents the most historically accurate version of events available to an English audience to date. Unlike Massie’s ‘Nicholas and Alexandra’ (1971), Panfilov filmed entirely in Russia, with many scenes filmed inside the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. Furniture was specially created for this film, which can be seen on display in the palace to this day. The recreation of the private apartments of the Imperial family in the Alexander Palace and the Tsar’s Imperial Train are truly remarkable.Overall, the film is visually stunning!

I invite you to make yourself a cup of tea or pour a glass of your favourite wine, sit back, relax and enjoy ‘The Romanovs: An Imperial Family’ – PG

© Dilshan Boange / Paul Gilbert. 20 September 2020

Audio recording of the voice of Nicholas II

0303

This is a recording of a solemn speech made by Nicholas II in French, delivered in honour of the arrival of French President Emile Loubet in St. Petersburg on 8th May, 1902.

The year of 1901 noted in the video is incorrect. Also, the watercolours shown in the video document the visit of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna to France in 1901.

NOTE: Nicholas II was fluent in 4 languages: Russian, English, French, and German

The text of Nicholas II’s speech was published in the ‘Полном собрании речей императора 1894-1906 / Complete Collection of the Emperor’s Speeches 1894-1906’. The speech was also published in the Russian newspaper ‘Vestnik’ in 1902.

French text:

“Monsieur le Prèsident, Mes troupes dont Vous venez de voir le dèfilè sont heureuses d’avoir pu rendre les honneurs au Chef hautement estime de l’Etat ami et alliè. Les vives sympathies qui animent l’armèe russe a l’ègard de la belle armèe française Vous sont connues. Elles constituent une rèelle fraternitè d’armes que Nous pouvons constater avec d’autant plus de satisfaction que cette force imposante n ‘ est point destinèe à appuyer des visèes agressives, mais bien au contraire à affermir le maintien de la paix gènèrale et à sauvegarder le respect des principes èlevès qui assurent le bien-ètre et favorisent le progrès des nations. Je lève Mon verre à prospèritè et à la gloire de la brave armès française.”

English translation:

“Mr. President, My troops paraded before you, happy to have the opportunity to pay tribute to the highly respected Head of a friendly and allied state. You know the sincere disposition towards the excellent French army that reigns in the Russian army. Our armies are a true brothers in arms, which we can celebrate with all the more satisfaction, that this imposing force is in no way intended to support aggressive aspirations, but, on the contrary, to strengthen the maintenance of universal peace and preserve those lofty principles which promote progress and ensure the prosperity of nations. I raise My glass to the glory and prosperity of the brave French army.”

NOTE: This speech is in two parts. The first speech is the voice of Nicholas II. The second part most likely belongs to the French President, who turns to the Tsar and wishes power and prosperity of the great Russian army.

© Paul Gilbert. 25 August 2020

The Romanov Family Photo Albums at Yale University

Today, August 19th marks World Photography Day – a perfect day to present the following article on the Romanov Family Albums stored in the collections of the Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

The first Kodak camera was gifted to the Tsesarevna Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna (future Empress Maria Feodorovna) in the late 1860s, when she took a serious interest in photography.

Her passion later became one of the favourite pastimes of her son Emperor Nicholas II and his family, who were often seen carrying Kodak Brownie Box cameras. They snapped thousands of images, pasted them in albums, many of which have survived to this day.

The family’s passion for photography was also shared by close friends, the most popular being Anna Aleksandrovna Vyrubova (1884-1964), the best friend and confidante of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna,

Anna was an avid photographer, one who captured the private day-to-day lives of Russian’s last tsar and his family on camera. During her years at the Russian Court, she diligently preserved her photograph collection into large handsome sturdy albums, bound in textured leather—green, blue, and brown.

In her memoirs, Vyrubova wrote that she and Alexandra pasted the photos onto the pages together. Often, the tsar himself—a notoriously fastidious man—stood over the two women, supervising them as they worked. “He could not endure the sight of the least drop of glue on the table,” wrote Vyrubova.

0299b

Anna in old age and in exile, reliving memories of the Imperial family before the Revolution

Six of the *seven personal photo albums of Anna Vyrubova are today kept at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. The albums contain about three thousand (!) photographs of the everyday life of Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

[*Anna presented Album No. 1 to Queen Louise, who bequeathed it to Prince Ludwig. This album is now stored in Darmstadt – PG]

When Anna fled Bolshevik Russia in 1920, the albums were one of the few things she took with her into exile to Finland. In 1937, Robert D. Brewster, then a student at Yale University, visited Anna to learn more about the family of the last Emperor. In his article The Golden Hours of the Romanovs, published in the Summer 2003 issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine, writer Tim Townsend explains Brewster’s interest in the subject began after seeing the 1932 film Rasputin and the Empress.

Life in exile was not good for Anna,  her health was poor, she lived in very cramped conditions, she had no income, and she was even denied citizenship. As a result, Brewster persuaded Anna to sell him the albums, as well as 35 letters written by her from prisons of the Provisional and Bolshevik governments. In 1951, Brewster donated the albums and letters to his alma mater.

The albums were transferred to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, where they were catalogued and remained there until 1966, almost unknown to anyone. It was not until the autumn of 1966, when the Pulitzer laureate Robert K. Massie, was finishing his now classic bestseller Nicholas and Alexandra, that brought him to Yale and discover the now famous photograph collection.

Click HERE to view ALL 6 Romanov Family Albums stored in the collections of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Note; click on each album to open and view the photographs.

147c

Robert K. Massie (1929-2019)  wrote the introductory text for the book The Romanov Family Album (published by Vendome Press in 1982), explaining how he discovered the Romanov albums and of their immense historic value:

“I see wonderful things!” – exclaimed British archaeologist Howard Carter, when he first poked his head into Tutankhamun’s tomb and there, by the light of a flickering candle, glimpsed the glitter of golden objects that had slept for thirty centuries. Something of the same thing came over me the first time I saw the collection of Romanov photographs from which the present series has been selected.

My wife and I found them almost by accident. In the autum of 1966, I was nearing the end of three years work on Nicholas and Alexandra. Suzanne, long involved with the research and editing, had taken complete charge of the search for illustrations, scouring commercial film libraries and seeking individual pictures in private hands. At the time, she was also writing about ballet and had become a friend of Evgenia Lekhovich, the director of the School of American Ballet. Evgenia and her husband Dmitry both were interested in our attempt to recreate the life of the last Russian Imperial family, and Evgenia suggested that I might like to meet a Russian friend of their, Sergei Taneyev, who lived in New York. Taneyev was the brother of Anna Vyrubova, the intimate friend and confidante of the Empress Alexandra. Perhaps, Evgenia suggested, he could add something to the story his sister told in her book Memories of the Russian Court [published by Macmillan in 1923 – PG]. I was eager, but Mr. Taneyev, it developed, was not; he had apparently tired of being identified as “Anna Vyrubova’s brother”. But he did say to Evgenia Lekhovich: “Tell Mr. Massie that Yale University has some of my sister’s things.”

I reacted casually to these words. After telephoning New Haven, where a charming research librarian named Marjorie Wynne, confirmed that Yale did, have certain materials catalogued as “Romanov Memorabilia”. I arranged to go and take a quick look on Saturday morning before attending a football game. I had been writing myself into exhaustion; an afternoon in the fresh air seemed a healthy prescription.

And so, on an October morning in 1966, Suzanne and I walked into Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. We met Miss Wynne and filled out the required forms. Soon, from behind closed doors, a small, rolling table was wheeled in, laden with six fat albums in cloth and leather, all peeling and cracking at the edges. We opened the first album. Here were photographs of an Edwardian family in the lighter moments of life. But, incredibly, they were not just any Edwardian family; they were the Russian Imperial family, which a few years later would be obliterated in the revolution, along with so much of the life and culture of Old Russia. Turning the pages, we found hundreds of pictures, collectively confirming the millions of words that I had read about the life of this couple and her children. It was an extraordinary collection: the most complete set of intimate photographs of the imperial family to survive the holocaust of the revolution. Not only had most images of this kind been lost, scattered or confiscated during the revolution itself, but afterwards there were stories of attempts by Soviet agents to locate, remove, and destroy from all public and commercial archives any photographs depicting the last tsar and his family as normal human beings, whose faces and activities might arouse a shred of interest or sympathy.

But here they were, like Tutankhamen’s treasure, miraculously surviving. We have them today because of an unusual set of circumstances. The years when these pictures were taken coincided with the first days of the age of popular photography. The capturing of images on a light-sensitive surface was half a century old by the turn of the 20th century, but it was during the pre-war years of the Edwardian era that amateurs began regularly to take informal pictures – we call them snapshots – of family and friends, on guard and off. Kings and Queens, no less than nobleman and middleclass folk, issued the command: “Look this way! Now hold very still!” pointing their Brownies at each other.

Nicholas II had an especially keen interest in photography. [see my article Nicholas II: The Amateur Photographer – PG] It was he who commissioned the extraordinary collection of color photographs of the Russian Empire by Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii, a collection that has recently been published. Traveling for six years across the expanse of Russia, Prokudin-Gorsii took pictures of rivers, lakes and forests, of simple wooden churches and thick-walled fortress monasteries, of muddy village streets and everyday peasant life, of canals, locks and bridges, and brought them back so that the Emperor could see his Empire. Naturally, like most monarchs of the day, Nicholas II also employed official court photographers who recorded the ceremonial scenes of pomp and flourish which went with the specialized work of royalty. In addition, however – and this is where we today are extremely fortunate – Nicholas kept some of these photographers on assignment even when he and his family were off-duty; now the cameraman’s task was to capture moments of intimate family life. And so the shutters clicked while the Emperor went rowing, finished a set of tennis, or strolled off into the woods in search of mushrooms. They recorded the Empress knitting on her yacht or wading barefoot along a rock-strewn beach. They caught the little Tsarevich Alexei playing soldier and teasing his kittens. Sometimes, the cameras were in fact, held by royal hands – several of the pictures in this book were taken by Empress Alexandra herself.

Once the films had been processed, duplicate prints were delivered to the Imperial apartments. There, after dinner, the family hugely enjoyed settling down to an evening of pasting pictures into green leather albums stamped in gold with the Imperial monograph. After 1907, the Empress’ closest friend Anna Vyrubova, joined this intimate circle. She too had copies of the prints, and she arranged and captioned them in her own albums.

© Paul Gilbert. 19 August 2020

 

 

Fundraising for equestrian monument to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II

0295

The installation of Russia’s second equestrian monument to Nicholas II has been delayed due to lack of funds.

The amount of 2.3 million rubles ($31,000 USD) has already been collected, however, a further 2.7 million rubles ($37,000 USD) is still needed. The equestrian monument to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II has already been cast and is located at the plant in Zhukovsky.

The following video shows Russian sculptor Irina Makarova making final preparations on her equestrian monument of Nicholas II – 15th July 2020

The monument was planned to have been installed on 17th July on the grounds of the Church of the Holy Martyr Michael (Gusev), in Kulebaki, Nizhny Novgorod Region.

Click on the following links to read Nicholas II Equestrian Monument Planned for the Russian city of Kulebaki and UPDATE: Nicholas II Equestrian Monument in Kulebaki

© Paul Gilbert. 9 August 2020

Nicholas II in the NEWS – July 2020

0292b

At the end of each month I will post links to noteworthy articles about Nicholas II from English language media sources, complemented with photos and videos.

Please click on the titles (highlighted) below to read each respective article:

Inherited Love: On the families of the parents of holy Royal Martyrs Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra by Xenia Grinkova. Published in Russian Orthodoxy on 31st July 2020

When we look at the life of the holy Royal Passion-Bearers, their podvig as a family strikes us most. Truly, they succeeded in embodying the Christian family ideals on the earth and bringing up their daughters and son in it like nobody else. And, of course, it was from their wise parents that the saints, like “most honorable branches of the pious root” (from the service to Right-Believing Prince Alexander Nevsky), received the rudiments of what later blossomed forth and led them to heavenly abodes.

banner3

The Khodynka tragedy: A coronation ruined by a stampede by Yulia Afanasyenko Published in Russia Beyond on 23rd July 2020

A huge public celebration of the coronation of Nicholas II was planned at the Khodynskoe field in Moscow, but poor organizing caused a disaster.

This terrible tragedy is one in which contemporary historians like to flog like a dead horse, some of whom blame the newly crowned emperor for the incident. Sadly, it is one which haunted him to the final days of his reign.

indifference

A Life Blessed by the Tsaritsa by Vladimir Soloviev. Published in Russian Orthodoxy on 17th July 2020

Not long ago was the fortieth day after the repose of Archbishop Agapit (Gorachek) of Stuttgart (ROCOR). More and more reminiscences about this remarkable man have been sent to the Russian website Pravoslavie.ru and continue to come; that is what an indelible impression this bright personality has left in the hearts of those who knew him.

This is a story of Archbishop Agapit, but through him of the “Ekaterinburg remains”—bone fragments discovered in a gully outside Ekaterinburg, which recent investigations have shown with near certainty to be those of the Royal Family. These investigations were conducted for over ten years on the highest level. They encompassed all aspects of forensic science, including genetic testing in a number of laboratories. It is told by one of the main investigators, who through his work gained a personal understanding of Archbishop Agapit’s close connection with the Holy Royal Martyrs and his service to them in this important matter.

*** 

VIDEO OF THE MONTH: Nicholas II. The Early Years

Rare photographs from the childhood and teenage years of Tsar Nicholas II, whose exceptional virtues from his earliest years of age were politeness, affability, and affection. His characteristic shy, tender, and somewhat sad smile always made an impression on all. He tried to see only the good side of people and was ready to show love to all.

All the quotes used in the captions of this video are from the book “The Romanov Royal Martyrs: What Silence Could Not Conceal”.

Duration: 8 minutes, 47 seconds

***

0292a

THANK YOU to every one who responded to my annual summer appeal for donations. Your contributions will help me greatly with my research to clear the name of Russia’s much slandered tsar during the coming year ahead.

There are many web sites, blogs and Facebook pages dedicated to the Romanovs. Therefore, I am especially grateful to those of you who follow my work faithfully on a daily basis.

I work very hard searching Russian archival and media sources to bring something new to the table every day. This includes articles researched by a new generation of Russian historians; news on the Romanovs, their palaces, exhibitions, etc; photos, videos and more.

Click HERE to make a donation with GoFundMe

Click HERE to make a donation by credit card or PayPal

Click HERE to make a donation by personal check or money order

THANK YOU for your consideration, and for your continued interest and support of my work.

PAUL GILBERT
Independent Researcher and Publisher

© Paul Gilbert. 31 July 2020

Documentary – The Murder of the Romanovs: Facts and Myths

Daria Strizhova talks with Elena Chavchavadze about her new documentary. Please note that this video is only available in Russian (click on the image above to watch)

On July 19, the television channel Russia-1 showed the second film of “The Murder of the Romanovs” documentary project. This new Russian-language documentary sheds light on one of the most tragic pages in the history of the Russian state.

The first film, “Regicide: A Century-long Investigation” tells about the origins of the investigation into the murder of the Imperial Family. The second part, “Murder of the Romanovs: Facts and Myths” is the result of the painstaking research work by E. N. Chavchavadze and G. I. Ogurnaya—who together, introduce the viewer to unique archival documents.

—Elena Nikolaevna, tell us about the background of making these films dedicated to the Imperial Family. How did it all begin?

—Part of the code of honor for me and my family is to always seek the truth in everything. By the time we started working on the films on the murder of the Romanov Dynasty for the TV channel Russia, we had already filmed five episodes of the series, “Romanovs: A Royal Matter,” “War and Peace of Alexander I,” “Alexander III: Strong, Powerful.” The material itself showed us which direction to go next. And it was impossible to avoid the topic of regicide.

I was worried, realizing that the topic is too big. Let’s recall the words of Voykov who said: “The world will never find out what we did to them.” This poses a challenge to researchers. Is it possible to unravel this tragic mystery? But you know how it is: Fear has big eyes. As far as I know, a number of fundamental studies by anthropologists, criminologists, geneticists, graphologists, and other scientists are nearing completion. And we hope that the next film in the cycle will be dedicated to the results of this long-term work.

—Your film is called, “Murder of the Romanovs: Facts and Myths.” I’d like to dwell on this in more detail. What is a fact and what is a deliberately created myth? The film quotes Lenin’s words: “We don’t need to tell Joffe the truth (about the murder), so it will be easier for him to lie later.”

—We tried to clearly show the mechanism by which a myth turns into fact, and a fact becomes a myth and dissolves with time.

I must say that the plan of “blurring” the truth worked on a global level. All the Bolsheviks’ negotiations and diplomatic correspondence was constructed so as to divert suspicion away from the top of the Soviet leadership. This is a very thoughtful, masterly calculation. Only such a position would have allowed them to remain in power, as at that time they were entirely dependent upon Germany.

And how “interesting” the newspaper articles were! How well they were edited—again with an understanding of the colossal power of influence on the public consciousness! It’s in the papers, so it must be true.

When the investigator Sokolov managed, with much difficulty, through Prince Orlov’s agency in Russia, to get an agitation pamphlet talking about the murder of the Imperial Family while he was in France, he included it to the case. But this primitive article, intended for the proletariat, had been carefully edited by someone by then. We don’t know who the editor was, but probably it was Pokrovsky, a famous falsifier of history. But he was certainly a very astute man. But unfortunately, Sokolov took it all at face value. And today many people adhere to the theory that was presented in his book, because it was the only work on the topic of regicide at the time. And given that the book was created under certain conditions, under the pressure of the circumstances, and on the basis of such obviously unreliable documents, who will figure out the truth? The investigator Sokolov did a great job, and no one belittles the significance of his works for history. But, you know, the details settle everything.

—Unfortunately, the majority form their personal opinion not based on documents, not on the materials of the investigation, but on articles in the press and online. How many books have been written justifying this or that theory!

—And therefore, I think it’s necessary to dive into the archival material, to compare facts. Who was familiar with whom and when; where could this or that declaration have come from? Beginning my work on the film, the director G. Ogurnaya and I decided not to stick to any of the previously voiced theories. We simply did our work, during which connections and details started to emerge. Our films feature previously unknown documents that have only now become available—in particular, the note of Colonel Baftalovsky, which is of great interest. It is the testimony of the officers who were the first to arrive at Ganina Yama.

—There is an opinion, including from experts, that they could in no way have destroyed their bodies at Ganina Yama; and there are opposite statements as well. This is difficult to understand…

—Clothing and personal items were burned. Baftalovsky’s note is a very important testimony. Undoubtedly, the interest around this topic is so great that various people sprout up like mushrooms in the information space, clearly and colorfully expounding various theories. And amateur trackers—they are innumerable—sometimes write appalling nonsense. But people believe them, revere them, and look up to them. But there is another position, which was voiced by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, and for us it is the only true and possible one: it is the path of painstaking work and conscientious scientific methods. I believe the truth will be voiced by the Russian Orthodox Church.

The first film—“Regicide: A Century-long Investigation”—is dedicated exclusively to the murder that was committed in the Ipatiev House. The second film—“Murder of the Romanovs: Facts and Myths,” which was aired thanks to the channel Russia-1 and the History of the Fatherland Foundation—covers a short period of time in the summer of 1918 and reveals a certain connection between three crimes. At first we had the idea of focusing more on each of the events and making an individual film for each—on Perm, Alapaevsk, and Ekaterinburg—and we could have gathered enough material for this. But, unfortunately, we were limited by screen time. So we tried to isolate the main points.

Even now you can find opinions among the researchers dealing with the Romanovs that, for example, Alapaevsk (the murder of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth) and Perm (the murder of Grand Duke Michael) were both the decision of the local Council of People’s Commissars. Gabriel Myasnikov, for example, wrote an entire book about this. But when we went to Perm and started talking with people who work in the archives with the originals, we were presented a completely different picture. We were fortunate enough to meet some wonderful archivists.

—You managed to convey their very conscientious attitude to the work: It’s not just an academic interest, but a deep personal experience.

—People work for decades with great love for their inconspicuous but extremely important work, not expecting any encouragement or reward. They know their topic incredibly well. As you have correctly noted, they perceive what happened as if it happened yesterday in front of their eyes. Just like us, they perceive these events very deeply, and I’m glad that our joint work on the film expands our circle of not only professional acquaintances, but also personal ones.

—The film provides a unique archival audio recording. How did you manage to get it?

—It’s a restored archival audio recording that was preserved as “top secret.” It just recently became available to researchers, and, indeed, it sheds light on many facts. Other materials are stored in the Russian state archive of socio-political history. Many storylines from this story were not included in the film. We would be happy to continue this work, but not before all the appointed examinations are finished. This is science, not the pursuit of spectacular sensations. Even if the resolution of the investigation doesn’t suit someone, or disappoints someone, or someone says: “No, it can’t be,” because some materials came from people who aren’t very religious, for example—it’s still an insufficient argument.

—How much only the information trail from Geliy Ryabov is worth…

—Geliy Ryabov became a believer in much thanks to what happened. He spoke with Archpriest Alexander Shargunov and passed on some of his findings to him. We filmed Fr. Alexander for “Regicide: A Century-long Investigation.” Ryabov’s second wife told us a lot. All the circumstances of his story turned out to be simpler and more logical, and in the end, everything really falls into place, like pieces of a puzzle.¹

The murder of Tsar Nicholas II is spoken of as a ritual act, but it would be more correct to speak of it as sacred; and I, as a researcher, cannot completely deny this. But to be fair, it should be said that when we were in New York, working with newspapers published before the revolutionary events of 1917, we came across cartoons in articles about Russia where the head of Emperor Nicholas II was drawn separately. Can be this be considered an argument for the theory about his decapitation? I don’t think so. Why would they have carried his head to Moscow, thus taking a completely unjustified risk, since random people could have witnessed it? And as you’ve probably already realized from the documents presented in our film, the last thing in the world Lenin and his cohorts wanted was to be connected with the murder of Emperor Nicholas—for political gain, of course. And these people knew how to appreciate benefits.

—In other words, the expression “sacred murder” has a symbolic meaning?

—The expression “sacred murder” is just not only in relation to the Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich, but first of all to Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, who in fact was the main contender for the Russian throne.

The reception of power was postponed until the Constituent Assembly was called. And if Kolchak had managed to win, no doubt the Constituent or National Assembly would have been called first. It’s quite likely that it would have called Michael Alexandrovich to head the state, because the dynasty was not interrupted. The Pavlovian Laws (the Act of Succession of 1797) provided that if someone leaves, then another member of the dynasty is placed on the throne by force of law, “so the state wouldn’t be without heirs, so the heir would be appointed by the law itself, so there wouldn’t be even the slightest doubt as to who is to inherit, so as to preserve the right of birth in the inheritance, without violating the rights of the natural heir, and to avoid difficulties in the transition from generation to generation.”

That’s why the murder of Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich was first. The Bolsheviks weren’t sure of their position; they had to hurry. According to the documentary evidence, the greatest amount of disinformation was aimed at concealing the murder of Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich.

As bitter as it is to realize, investigator Sokolov and other researchers paid very little attention to the investigation in Perm. The official story is that it was a disappearance. A man disappeared. He was there, and then he suddenly disappeared. There was a lot of evidence that he was seen here and there, then in Harbin, then somewhere else. The officers swore they caught a glimpse of him in the crowd—a mass psychosis, an unwillingness to accept the reality. If Michael Alexandrovich is alive—no matter where—it means they have hope. And Russia has hope. Do you get it? This is a very deep motive. And it is this motive that can cast doubt on all such evidence taken together.

When we put the three murders in a line, a lot of things became obvious. At that time, the English Consul Preston—who reported in London on what was happening—was in Ekaterinburg, along with a mass of representatives of international organizations, including the American, Finnish, and Swedish Red Cross. It was full of outside observers. The Brest Peace, which was treasonous to Russia, had already been concluded. The Germans were sitting in the Council of People’s Commissars—just like the Americans sat in our government under Chubais² a few decades later.

—There is the view that a “ticking time bomb” was placed under the edifice of the Russian state at this time. What do you think about this?

—I agree with this hypothesis. It’s no accident that the name “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” doesn’t have the word “Russia” in it. An interesting fact: In August 1916 in Switzerland, there was a meeting of bankers from warring powers, including Germany, to which Russia was not invited.

Russia was to be divided into spheres of influence according to the principle of divide and conquer. This would have been impossible to do under the existing monarchy. Lenin was entrusted with ensuring that Russia lose the war. The plan was to have Russia leave the war through the revolution and, as a result, violate the agreements with its allies about how no one warring party should conclude a separate peace treaty. This would automatically exclude Russia from the list of future winners, which is what happened. A massive information attack to discredit Tsar Nicholas II was carried out throughout the entire world. When we were dealing with this historical period for the film “Revolution: A Trap for Russia” and were communicating with English researchers, they said that in England society was even more certain than in Russia that revolution was coming in Russia, that the Tsaritsa was a German spy, and that everything was controlled by Gregory Rasputin, and so on. That’s how the propaganda worked.

0291a

—One of the conclusions of your film is that the facts of the history are very malleable, and to establish the truth, we still have to reexamine and reevaluate our past. The question for modern man is: If this was done on such a scale and with such success, is it possible that the mechanism turning myths into facts is still active today?

—Of course. We see this in the example of our brothers in Ukraine, or if we look at what is happening in the United States right now. If we replace the word “proletariat” with “black,” we’ll get a traced copy of the events of a century ago in Russia. The scenery changes, but the rhetoric remains the same: “oppressors and the oppressed”—it’s nothing new.

There’s an expression: You have to accept your past, your successes, and your failures. It seems to me this is happening in Russia now. The best thing we can do is to accept the historical truth. It’s my Russia, and I accept its history as God gave it to us, to paraphrase Pushkin.

***

1. Together with Alexander Avdonin, in 1979, Ryabov discovered the remains that are believed to belong to the Royal Martyrs.—Trans.

2. A Russian politician and businessman who was responsible for privatization in Russia as an influential member of Boris Yeltsin’s administration in the early 1990s—Trans.

© Daria Strizhova / Pravoslavie.ru. Translated by Jesse Dominick. 27 July 2020