Tsar Nicholas II: Myths and Reality

Click on the image above to watch this 14 minute video [in English]

This is one of the finest videos produced to date by the Mesa Potamos Publications. Thanks to the research of Father Andrew Phillips, it provides viewers with many new facts, which are often overlooked or ignored by Western historians. This video is a “MUST” watch for any one interested in the truth about Russia’s much slandered Tsar.

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Introduction

‘A weak, stupid, incompetent reactionary, who blocked progress towards a Western-style constitutional monarchy or republic. Such is the primitive Western stereotype of the much-slandered and later martyred Tsar Nicholas II, whose only real fault was probably that he was too kind. In actual fact, the above widely- repeated stereotype says very little about him, but far more about the hateful xenophobia and arrogant, hypocritical and self-justifying prejudices of those who hold it.

What they are saying in reality is that the innocent Tsar, who opposed their Western materialist ‘progress’, had to be destroyed, however embarrassing to them the barbaric manner of his and his family’s deaths. The remarkable thing is that this anti-Russian Western historiography coincides perfectly with both Soviet and pre-Revolutionary anti-Orthodox historiography. Why? Simply because its writers have the same sources – in the same anti-Christian, materialist ideology which developed in the West and which the West has spread worldwide. What are some of these myths?

Serfdom

Serfdom was not Russian – it was introduced from the West together with absolutism, i.e. tyrannical monarchism. Serfdom was gradually introduced into Russia by Western rulers or rulers with a Western mentality, notably the Emperor Peter I and the German Empress Catherine II. It lasted only some 200 years and was abolished peacefully before the USA abolished its system of slavery – only in the USA it took a dreadful war and half a million dead before slavery there could be abolished. As regards Western Europe, it should be added in the nineteenth century the condition of its agricultural workers and toiling industrial masses was little better than slavery.

Tsar Nicholas’ Personality

Tsar Nicholas spoke five languages fluently, had travelled the world and was very well-acquainted with European history. To call him stupid or intellectually limited is absurd. True, he was not an ‘intellectual’ – but then has any intellectual ever made a great ruler? If he had been weak, he would have fallen to the stress of being Tsar long before the First World War. If he had been weak, he would never have taken over the command of his Armed Forces from the incompetent in August 1915. He was not incompetent – though many of the generals, ministers, aristocrats and bureaucrats around him, including his Romanov cousins, certainly were incompetent – as well as being futile idlers.

One of the Tsar’s greatest problems here was finding disinterested, trustworthy and competent administrators. It was precisely the treachery of untrustworthy and incompetent careerists that brought about the Tsar’s abdication. To call the Tsar reactionary is also absurd. For instance, it was he who, against all the advice, appointed the brilliant liberal Petr Stolypin as his Prime Minister. He taxed the rich and gave to the poor, turning peasants into landowners – much to the irritation of certain Romanov family members and other over-wealthy aristocrats, who then plotted against the Tsar. The tragedy was that Stolypin was assassinated by a terrorist after only five years at the helm and before his reforms had obtained all the results required.

Tsarina Alexandra’s Personality

The Tsarina was not hysterical, immoral or pro-German. She identified fully with Orthodox Russia; her alienation from decadent St Petersburg society was precisely because she was moral. And having seen her kingdom of Hesse destroyed by Prussianism, she only had dislike for the German militarism that lay behind the Kaiser’s War. She certainly suffered greatly with anguish at her son’s condition, but as for hysterical, how could she have been, when she chose to wash and dress the wounds of soldiers day in, day out for two years?

Khodynka

The quite unforeseen stampede of people at Khodynka Field after the Tsar’s coronation in 1896, in which many hundreds died can hardly be blamed on the Tsar. Like recent stampedes in Western countries, it was a dreadful accident, causing the death of hundreds in a then unprecedented crowd of 500,000. The compassionate Tsar gave the families of those who had suffered large sums of his own money in compensation.

Pogroms

By far the worst anti-Jewish riots (‘pogroms’) at the turn of the century took place not in the Russian Empire, but in Berlin, Vienna and elsewhere in Western Europe. (Who has forgotten Dreyfus?). In Russia these riots were strongly discouraged and involved small numbers in Poland, Bessarabia and the western Ukraine. The Tsar’s government did its utmost to defend the Jews of his Empire, who had moved there, seeking protection from persecution in Western Europe. Thus, the Jews were kept away from large areas of Russia for their own protection from peasants, who felt exploited and aggrieved by the successful commercial genius of the Jews. As we all know, it was not Russians who killed millions of Jews in the 1940s, but Western Europeans – and, it should be said, not only Germans.

The Russo-Japanese War

A belligerent, impatient and imperialistic Japan attacked Russia without warning at Port Arthur in 1905, just as it attacked the USA without warning at Pearl Harbour in 1941. Russian unpreparedness came in part because it had spent so little on its armed forces – unlike the aggressive Western nations and their imitator – Japan. It was Tsar Nicholas who had proposed international disarmament at the Hague. To accuse this peacemaker of starting the war to create national unity is simply a myth of those who know no history. With only about a quarter of Western European and Japanese military spending, a peace-directed Russia was ill-equipped to fight a war thousands of miles from its capital. To blame the Tsar for Japanese aggression or the disastrous inefficiency of individuals in his administration before and during that war is hardly just.

Bloody Sunday

In the absence of the Tsar from St Petersburg (because of the almost successful assassination attempt on him and his family three weeks before), a violent mob (and not ‘peaceful and unarmed’, as the Western propaganda goes), burning and looting vehicles and other property revolted on Bloody Sunday in 1905. It was led by a renegade, twice-married priest, Fr George Gapon, who hanged himself the next year, when it was discovered that he was in fact a secret agent. In order to defend the fearful citizens of St Petersburg, troops opened fire and tragically killed about 100 of the mob, not ‘thousands’, as the Western propaganda goes. The soldiers had to open fire in defence of the people of St Petersburg, who had barricaded themselves inside their homes from terror. The tragedy was that people died.

Russia’s Alleged Backwardness

Russia was not as backward as the Western media make out. In many respects much of Western Europe and the USA were far more backward. In 20 years under Tsar Nicholas II the population of his realm increased from 123 million to 175 million. By 1913 the speed of industrial development in Russia had outstripped that of the USA. By 1913 its grain production had outstripped that of the USA, Canada and Argentina combined by one third. The Russian Empire had become the granary of Europe; its grain production increased by 70% between 1894 and 1914. Between 1894 and 1913 its industrial production quadrupled. In 1914 the French economist Edmond Théry predicted that by 1950 Russia would dominate Europe politically, economically and financially.

Social Insurance was introduced in 1912, and there was a factory inspectorate, but laws banning certain forms of exploitation had been passed for the first time in the world as early as the eighteenth century, including introducing a maximum ten-hour day. 80% of the arable land was in the hands of the peasants by 1914, the Tsar himself freely giving up 40 million hectares of land in Siberia. So many tens of thousands of schools were opened that by 1917 the level of literacy stood at 85% – comparable to that in the USA today. The Tsar’s Russia was not destroyed because it was ‘backward’, but because it was the last bulwark of Christianity and the materialist enemies of the Gospel, Capitalist or Communist, could not tolerate that.

World War I

The aim of the Western Allies was not only to defeat Germany. It was also to weaken and divide Russia. The West knew that with thirty more years of peace, Russia would become the most prosperous nation in the world. The West would not allow this. Thus, as soon as the Western-organised Revolution had taken place in early 1917, the USA entered the War and the American century began. By 1945 all of Western Europe had become the USA’s puppets. This was no coincidence. The Tsar’s loyalty to the Allies forbade him from making any separate peace; sadly, his loyalty and sacrifices for the Allied cause was met by the Allies’ disloyalty to him and his realm. What was remarkable about the outcome of the War was the treachery of the West. At the Tsar’s abdication, Lloyd George actually said in Parliament that through it ‘Britain has achieved one of its major war aims’!

After the coup d’état of the Bolsheviks, who seized power from the incompetent aristocrats and bourgeoisie who had carried out the Revolution, the British landed in the far north and at Baku in the far south of the Russian Empire, giving independence to Azerbaijan, as they were greedy for its oil. The Italians marched into Georgia and created an independent state there, as they were greedy for its manganese. The French occupied Odessa and intrigued for the independence of the Ukraine. Instead of equipping the Whites, the West gave its arms to the Poles, who then invaded and occupied Kiev and Smolensk. Then the Americans and the Japanese landed in Vladivostok. The renegade General Brusilov who had passed from White to Red, remarked that, ‘The Poles are besieging Russian fortresses with the help of the nations whom we rescued from certain defeat at the beginning of the War’. Even though he was a traitor to the Tsar, here he spoke the truth.

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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.

© Father Andrew Phillips. 4 October 2021

Russia’s 2nd equestrian monument to Nicholas II consecrated in Nizhny Novgorod region

On 9th July 2021, Russia’s second equestrian monument to Emperor Nicholas II was installed on the grounds of the Church of the Holy Martyr Mikhail (Gusev) in Kulebaki of the Nizhny Novgorod region.

On 17th July – the day marking the 103rd anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Nicholas II – the monument to Russia’s last emperor and tsar was officially unveiled and consecrated by Bishop Barnabas of Vyksa and Pavlovsk.

According to the initiators of the project, the installation of the monument was initially planned for 17th July 2020, however, a lack of funds delayed the project by one year. The cost of the monument was 5 million rubles ($80,000 USD), collected from donations within the diocese.

PHOTO: on 17th July 2021, Russia’s second equestrian monument to Emperor Nicholas II was installed on the grounds of the Church of the Holy Martyr Mikhail (Gusev) in Kulebaki of the Nizhny Novgorod region

PHOTO: the monument was consecrated by Bishop Barnabas of Vyksa and Pavlovsk

The initiators of the minument-project were inspired by the famous dictum of the old man Nikolai Guryanov :

“The reason for the spiritual illness in Russia is the conciliar sin of treason against the Tsar, in allowing the slaughter of the Holy Royal Family and in the unrepentance of hearts … We lost the pure, strengthening grace that poured out on the sacred head of the Anointed One, and through him on all of Russia. By rejecting the Tsar, we raised a hand to everything holy and to the Lord. Without true repentance, there is no true glorification of the Tsar. There must be spiritual awareness. ”

“The Russian people are entirely guilty for the death of the tsar,” said the rector of the Church of the Holy Martyr Mikhail (Gusev) Father Nikolai Boldyrev,  who considers the monument a step of repentance “for the sins of the fathers.” He draws parallels between the last tsar and Christ, believing that a curse hangs over Russia, and calls for repentance.

PHOTOS: on 17th July 2021, Russia’s second equestrian monument to Emperor Nicholas II was installed on the grounds of the Church of the Holy Martyr Mikhail (Gusev) in Kulebaki of the Nizhny Novgorod region

“Our goal is to return historical memory, to reveal the true image of Tsar Nicholas, so that the Russian people may know who he was for us. He knew throughout his life that he would have to suffer. Three saints told him about that he would be a martyr and that his family would perish, and that all his nobles, military leaders would betray him” said Father Nikolai – “He died for us, for the Russian people, who betrayed him, to the Russian Golgotha. He forgave everyone who slandered him,” he added.

PHOTOS: on 17th July 2021, Russia’s second equestrian monument to Emperor Nicholas II was installed on the grounds of the Church of the Holy Martyr Mikhail (Gusev) in Kulebaki of the Nizhny Novgorod region

The sculptor of the monument is Irina Makarova, who also created monuments to the Holy Royal Martyrs at the St. Seraphim-Diveyevo Convent in July 2017; the meeting of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna in Alushta, Crimea; and a monument to the Holy Royal Martyrs in Tyumen.

PHOTO: Father Nikolai Boldyrev standing in front of Russia’s second equestrian monument to Emperor Nicholas II on the grounds of the Church of the Holy Martyr Mikhail (Gusev) in Kulebaki of the Nizhny Novgorod region

Below, is a short VIDEO of the official opening and consecration of Russia’s second equestrian monument to Emperor Nicholas II, on the grounds of the Church of the Holy Martyr Mikhail (Gusev) in Kulebaki of the Nizhny Novgorod region. CLICK on the IMAGE below to watch the VIDEO – duration 1 minute, 9 seconds

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Russian news and social media continually claim that the equestrian monument of Nicholas II in Kulebaki is Russia’s first equestrian monument to Nicholas II, however, this is incorrect, Russia’s first equestrian monument to the Tsar was erected in Moscow in December 2014.

PHOTO: Equestrian of Nicholas II dominates the Monument to the Heroes of World War One in Moscow

On 16 December 2014, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu opened a sculptural composition dedicated to the heroes of World Wars I and II on the grounds of the Ministry of Defense on the Frunze Embankment in Moscow. The WWI monument features Nicholas II on horseback, recognizing and honouring his efforts during the Great War.

© Paul Gilbert. 17 July 2021

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Dear Reader: If you enjoy my articles, news stories and translations, then please help support my research by making a donation in US or Canadian dollars to my project The Truth About Nicholas II – please note that donations can be made by GoFundMePayPal, credit cardpersonal check or money order. Thank you for your consideration – PG

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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