Nicholas II Vintage Newsreels No. 1 – 5

No. 1 – Emperor Nicholas II in Crimea. Easter 1916

For Orthodox Christians, the annual Orthodox feast is Easter, which is celebrated lavishly with family. On that day, all the children of God are equal.

If possible, Emperor Nicholas II and his family spent Easter at Livadia. The Emperor and Empress greeted the entire household with the traditional three kisses of blessing, welcome and joy. To members of the Court and the Imperial Guard, the sovereigns gave their famous Easter eggs. Some were simple: exquisitely painted eggshells from which the yolk had been drawn through tiny pinholes. Others were more elaborate created by Faberge.

As seen in this vintage newsreel, the tsar exchanges the traditional three kisses of blessing, welcome and joy to each officer and soldier, repeating the words ’Christ is Risen!’ to which the soldier replies ’Truly, he risen!’ Each is presented with an egg, which are carried in small wooden boxes by a line of officers, who are laden with boxes filled with Easter eggs

Sir John Hanbury-Williams recalled in his diary on 23rd April 1916:

“A perfectly beautiful Easter morning. There bad been a midnight service, and then we all paraded at the Imperial house, H.I.M. presenting us each with china Easter eggs made by Fabergé.”

Duration: 1 minute, 24 seconds with musical background

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No. 2 – Emperor Nicholas II in Smolensk. 31st August 1912

The newsreel opens with the Imperial Train arriving at the railway station in Smolensk, whereby the Emperor walks down the platform to review the honour guard. He is then seen receiving gifts and the traditional bread and salt from local officials and dignitaries.

At 2:39, you will notice a rather plump chap appearing from the right hand side of the screen. This is Prince Vladimir Nikolaevich Orlov (1868-1927), one of Nicholas II’s closest advisors. Between 1906-1915, Orlov headed the Emperor’s Military Cabinet, he also served as the the Emperor’s personal chauffeur. For many years, he was one of Nicholas II’s most trusted aides, however, his negative feelings towards Rasputin, eventually led to his dismissal from the Imperial Court.

Further into the newsreel, we see carriages carrying the Imperial Family arriving at the Cathedral Church of the Assumption. Their visit coincided with events marking the 100th anniversary of the Patriotic War of 1812. Upon leaving the cathedral, they pass by students of the Smolensk Diocesan School. If you watch closely, you will see the dedicated Minister of the Imperial Court, Baron V.B. Fredericks, who constantly shadowed the Emperor.

The newsreel concludes with a view of the Imperial Family, standing on a hill overlooking Smolensk.

Duration: 5 minutes, 54 seconds with musical background

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No. 3 – French President Raymond Poincare’s State Visit to Russia, 1912-1914

In this newsreel we see Emperor Nicholas II with President Raymond Poincare of France at Krasnoye Selo, the summer military capital of the Russian Empire. We see Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and her daughters getting into some of the fine automobiles which the Emperor was so fond of.

This is followed by a parade of grand dukes and generals on horseback. Empress Alexandra Feodorovna is then seen riding in an open carriage with President Raymond Poincare, the Emperor on horseback riding along side.

Members of the Imperial Family join Poincare in a tent, positioned on a slight hill, where they can witness manoeuvres in honour of the French president’s state visit. Towards the end of the footage, the Empress is seen nodding as soldiers file past the tent and its guests.

Duration: 4 minutes, 19 seconds, no audio

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No. 4 – Emperor Nicholas II at Revel in 1908

[1] Arrival of the Imperial train in Revel (modern day Tallinn, Estonia). We see Emperor Nicholas II, along with members of his family and retinue walking along the platform

[2] A launch carries the Emperor and his family to the Imperial Yacht ‘Standart’

[3[ Arrival of a train in Revel carrying the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, Queen Olga of Greece, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, Prince P.A. Oldenburg, among others

[4] A launch carries the Dowager Empress and members of the Imperial Family to the Imperial Yacht ‘Standart’

[5] The arrival of the British Royal Yacht ‘Victoria and Albert’, carrying King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra at Revel, 27th May 1908

Duration: 8 minutes, 30 seconds with musical background

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No. 5 – Historic visit to Riga in the summer of 1910 by Emperor Nicholas II

At the beginning of the newsreel we see the Imperial Yacht ‘Standart’ sailing into the harbour. It is one thing to admire the ‘Standart’ in photographs, however, it is only when one views it in a moving image, that one can put into perspective the sheer size of this magnificent “floating palace” – 128 m (420 feet) in length and 5557 tons standard in weight. It was the envy of all the royal houses of Europe and Great Britain.

Nicholas II’s visited Riga with his family for three days – from 3 to 5 July 1910. The Imperial Family arrived for the celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the capture of Riga from Sweden by Russian troops, making it part of the Russian Empire.

The highlight of the visit was the grand opening and consecration of the monument to Emperor Peter I on the Alexander Boulevard in Riga, which is also featured in this video.

Alexandre Spiridovitch writes about the tsar’s 1910 visit to Riga in his memoirs Last Years of the Court at Tsarskoe Selo Volume II (1910-1914) – first English language edition published in 2017 [now out of print].

Duration: 5 minutes, 1 second with Russian language audio

© Paul Gilbert. 26 April 2020

VIDEO: French President Raymond Poincare’s State Visit to Russia

I am delighted to share this vintage newsreel depicting French President Raymond Poincare’s State Visit to Russia. Pomcare visited Tsar Nicholas II in St. Petersburg on two occasions in 1912 and 1914.

Pomcare visited Tsar Nicholas II in August 1912, to bolster France’s military alliance with the Tsarist state.

In his book July 1914: Countdown to War (published in 2014) Russian historian Sean McMeekin claims that Poincaré won election as President of the Republic in 1913, his electoral victory aided by some two million francs in Russian bribes to the French press.

In 1913, it had been announced that Poincaré would visit St. Petersburg in July 1914 to meet Tsar Nicholas II. Accompanied by Premier René Viviani, Poincaré returned to Russia for the second time (but for the first time as president) to reinforce the Franco-Russian Alliance and giving France’s support for Russian military mobilization during the July Crisis of 1914.

In this newsreel we see Emperor Nicholas II with President Raymond Poincare of France at Krasnoye Selo, the summer military capital of the Russian Empire. We see Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and her daughters getting into some of the fine automobiles which the Emperor was so fond of.

This is followed by a parade of grand dukes and generals on horseback. Empress Alexandra Feodorovna is then seen riding in an open carriage with President Raymond Poincare, the Emperor on horseback riding along side.

Members of the Imperial Family join Poincare in a tent, positioned on a slight hill, where they can witness manoeuvres in honour of the French president’s state visit. Towards the end of the footage, the Empress is seen nodding as soldiers file past the tent and its guests.

Duration 4 mins., 19 sec. Very impressive!

© Paul Gilbert. 17 April 2020

VIDEO: Visit of Emperor Nicholas II to Riga, July 1910

This vintage newsreel captures events of the historic visit to Riga in the summer of 1910 by Emperor Nicholas II.

At the beginning of the newsreel we see the Imperial Yacht Standart sailing into the harbour. It is one thing to admire the Standart in photographs, however, it is only when one views it in a moving image, that one can put into perspective the sheer size of this magnificent “floating palace” – 128 m (420 feet) in length and 5557 tons standard in weight. It was the envy of all the royal houses of Europe and Great Britain.

Nicholas II’s visited Riga with his family for three days – from 3 to 5 July 1910. The Imperial Family arrived for the celebration marking the 200th anniversary of the capture of Riga from Sweden by Russian troops, making it part of the Russian Empire.

The highlight of the visit was the grand opening and consecration of the monument to Emperor Peter I on the Alexander Boulevard in Riga, which is also featured in this video.

Alexandre Spiridovitch writes about the tsar’s 1910 visit to Riga in his memoirs Last Years of the Court at Tsarskoe Selo Volume II (1910-1914) – first English language edition published in 2017 [now out of print].

© Paul Gilbert. 8 April 2020

UPDATE: Nicholas II Equestrian Monument in Kulebaki

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Photo © Irina Makarova

On 13th December 2019, I published an article Nicholas II Equestrian Monument Planned for the Russian city of Kulebaki (with photos) of a truly splended equestrian monument of Nicholas II by the sculptor Irina Makarova, which is to be installed in the Russian city of Kulebaki in July of this year.

I am pleased to share the following three videos by Max Bataev, which depict the process of creating this impressive equestrian of Russia’s last emperor and tsar:

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

Note: the Russian media refer to this monument as the first equestrian monument of Nicholas II to be established in Russia. The Kulebaki monument will be the second equestrian monument to Nicholas II in Russia, the first was established in Moscow.

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Ministry of Defense on the Frunze Embankment 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. 4 April 2020

Nicholas II celebrates the Blessing of the Waters, 1904

Note: the video above features a compilation of vintage photographs, set against the ‘Troparion on the Feast of the Epiphany’ sung by the Sretensky Monastery Choir

On 19 (O.S. 6) January 1904, Emperor Nicholas II took part in the annual celebrations marking the Feast of the Epiphany in St. Petersburg.

The Emperor along with members of the Imperial Court, and senior members of the Russian Orthodox Church proceeded down the Jordan Staircase from the first floor of the Winter Palace to the bank of the Neva River for the Blessing of the Waters at Epiphany in commemoration of Christ’s Baptism in the river Jordan.

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Nicholas II descends the stairs leading down to the Neva for the Blessing of the Waters

Situated near the northern entrance to the Winter Palace, a temporary wooden pavilion was constructed on the embankment in front of steps leading down to the Neva. The Metropolitan of St. Petersburg dipped a cross in a hole made in the ice. A small cup was then dipped into the water and presented to the Emperor, who took a sip and then handed the cup back to the Metropolitan. Prayers were said for the health of the Tsar and his family.

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The above photo shows the spot on the embankment of the Neva River, where the temporary wooden pavilion was constructed for the Blessing of the Waters in the early 20th century.

© Paul Gilbert. 19 January 2020

God, Save the Tsar! Боже, Царя храни!

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Imperial Anthem of the Russian Empire

God, Save the Tsar! (Russian: Боже, Царя храни!; transliteration: Bozhe, Tsarya khrani!) was the national anthem of the former Russian Empire. The song was chosen from a competition held in 1833 and was first performed on 18 December 1833. The composer was violinist Alexei Lvov, and the lyrics were by the court poet Vasily Zhukovsky. It was the anthem until the Russian Revolution of 1917, after which Worker’s Marseillaise was adopted as the new national anthem until the overthrow of the Russian Provisional Government.

In 1833, Tsar Nicholas I ordered Count Alexey Fyodorovich Lvov (1799-1870), the violinist and army general who was his court composer and aide-de-camp, to compose new music to replace the air that since 1816 had served as the music for the Russian Empire’s Anthem God Save the Tsar, namely Henry Hugh Carey’s God, Save the King. The lyrics of “God Save the Tsar” (Bozhe Tsarya Khranii) date from 1815 and came from Prayers of the Russian People by Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky (1783-1852), an officer and poet who served as tutor to the Tsesarevich Alexander Nikolayevich, the future Tsar-Liberator Alexander II.

After some initial creative difficulties, the melody that would serve as the anthem of the Russian Empire for the remainder of its existence came to Lvov in the course of a single night’s inspiration; he succeeded in creating a work of majesty and power that was suitable for the army, the church and the people – indeed, for the entire realm. None other than the great Alexander Pushkin himself reworked Zhukovsky’s verses to adapt them to Lvov’s new hymn. It was the first national anthem in Russian history to feature music and lyrics by Russian authors.

Upon hearing its beautiful strains for the first time, Nicholas I ordered the work repeated several times. At the close of the final rendition, the Tsar – a stern and military-minded ruler who was to be vilified by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as the “Gendarme of Europe” for his crushing of the forces of revolution wherever they appeared – clasped the composer’s hand with tears in his eyes and uttered the single word: “Splendid!”

The public premier of God, Save the Tsar took place on 6 December 1833 at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, where it was performed by a choir of one hundred singers and two military bands. At Christmas that same year, by the Tsar’s personal order it was performed by military bands in every hall of the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. A week later, the Emperor issued a decree declaring the anthem a “civil prayer” to be performed at all parades and official ceremonies. As was the case with the Preobrazhensky March, the most widely-used arrangement for military band of God, Save the Tsar was created by Ferdinand Haase; it was the shortest anthem in the world at eight lines.

During the Coronation of Tsar Alexander II in 1855, Lvov led one thousand singers and two thousand musicians in a rendition of God Save the Tsar, the first performance of the anthem at a coronation. As Lvov directed the choir and orchestra, he, by means of galvanic batteries, set off forty-nine cannons, one by one, sometimes on the beat. At the conclusion, hundreds of Roman candles and rockets soared into the sky.

God, Save the Tsar! remained the Russian Empire’s national hymn until the February Revolution of 1917.

Sources: Brandenburg Historica; Scenarios of Power (Wortman, Richard S.)

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LYRICS

Русский

Боже, Царя храни!
Сильный, державный,
Царствуй на славу, на славу нам!

Царствуй на страх врагам,
Царь православный!
Боже, Царя храни!

English translation

God, save the Tsar!
Strong, sovereign,
Reign for glory, For our glory!

Reign to foes’ fear,
Orthodox Tsar.
God, save the Tsar!

Below, are a selection of videos which present a variety of renditions of God, Save the Tsar! Боже, Царя храни!, performed by Russian Orthodox and professional choir ensembles – courtesy of YouTube:

1. Beautiful rendition of God, Save the Tsar! with vintage newsreels of the Imperial family. Duration: 2 minutes, 38 seconds

2. Performed by the Kuban Cossack Choir. Duration: 1 minute, 38 seconds

3. Performed by the Mikhailovsky Theatre Orchestra and Choir. Duration: 1 minute, 46 seconds

4. Performed by Varya Strizhak. Duration: 3 minutes, 19 seconds

5. Performed by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, and the State Academic Choir. Duration: 2 minutes, 33 seconds

6. Performed by the Alexander Nevsky Lavra Choir. Duration: 2 minutes, 10 seconds

7. Performed by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Duration: 1 minute, 4 seconds

8. Performed by the Columbia Military Band in 1914. Duration: 3 minutes, 16 seconds

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© Paul Gilbert. 11 January 2020

Exhibition: Imperial Yacht Standart and the Family of the Last Russian Emperor

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NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally posted on 15 February 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

The following exhibition ran from 26 January to 4 April 2018

The exhibition Imperial Yacht Standart and the Family of the Last Russian Emperor, opened on 26 January at the Central House of Artists in Moscow. The exhibition is based on memories and original photographs from the personal archive of Captain 2nd Rank Nikolai Pavlovich Sablin (1880-1937), who served on the Imperial yacht Standart from 1906 to 1914.

A significant part of these historic images were photographed by the co-owner of the photographic studio “K. E. von Gan and Co., the famous Russian photographer AK Yagelsky, who had the title of Court photographer of His Imperial Majesty. Yagelsky also owned the right to conduct filming of the imperial family. The exposition includes photographs of the photographic studio K. E. Von Gan and Co., as well as unique newsreel footage taken on board the imperial yacht. In addition to the photographs, original letters of Emperor Nicholas II written on board the ship, watercolours and a collection of postcards dedicated to the Imperial yacht, a yacht logbook and a number of other unique documents will be on display.

The photos taken on board the yacht Standart are not widely known to the general public and are associated with the inner life of the royal family, moments not intended for an outsider’s eye and therefore very sincere and direct.

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The exhibition was first shown at the State Museum and Exhibition Center ROSPHOTO in St. Petersburg, from 2 August to 24 September 2017 and in Smolensk from 18 October to 15 December 2017. Click on the VIDEO above to view highlights from the St. Petersburg venue.

The exhibition Imperial Yacht Standart and the Family of the Last Russian Emperor, runs until 4th April 2018, at the Central House of Artists in Moscow.

Click HERE to visit the ROSPHOTO site for more information and photographs of the Imperial Yacht Standart – in Russian only.

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© Paul Gilbert. 15 December 2019

Multi-media Exhibition Dedicated to Nicholas II in Moscow

NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally posted on 17 March 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

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An exhibition dedicated to Russia’s last emperor and tsar has opened Kvadrats Gallery, situated in Sokolniki Park in Moscow.

Sokolniki Park is situated not far from the center of the city, near Sokolnicheskaya Gate. The park gained its name from the Sokolnichya Quarter, the 17th-century home of the tsar’s falconers (sokol is the Russian word for falcon). It was created by Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich (father of Peter the Great), a keen hunter who loved to go falconing in the area.

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The multi-media exposition is timed to the tragic date in Russia’s history – the 100th anniversary of the death of Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna and their five children in Ekaterinburg on the night of 16/17 July 1918.

After their murders, Bolshevik and Soviet authorities did everything in their power to blacken the name of Nicholas II and forever erase the memory of his life, his reign and his service to Russia. During the past century, historians and biographers have shamefully been content to carry this negative image of Nicholas II in their books and documentaries. This is why the period of Nicholas II’s 22-year reign remains enveloped in all sorts of lies and myths, despite the release of new documents in Russian archives which challenge their often biased assessments of him.

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The organizers of the multi-media exhibition project share facts about the life of Russia’s last emperor and tsar, with the hope of restoring the historical truth, and reminding the public that during the reign of Nicholas II the Russian Empire was one of the strongest, most powerful and prosperous countries in the world.

The exhibition includes a collection of “revived” paintings created by famous Russian masters of fine art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These are complimented with contemporary works, which include paintings by Orthodox artist Pavel Ryzhenko (1970-2014).

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© Paul Gilbert. 13 December 2019

The Emperor’s Family: The Museum of Holy Royal Passion-Bearers in Moscow

NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally posted on 14 April 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

On 10th April 2018, the Museum of Holy Royal Martyrs opened in the Museum of Russian Art in Moscow. The permanent exhibit Family of the Emperor includes personal items, historical relics, photographs and other exhibits which reflect the life of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II and his family. Many exhibits are presented to visitors for the very first time.

“There are a lot of personal items here of the Emperor Nicholas II and his family, including an icon, a napkin, photographs, and more. Not only are they historical artifacts, they have a cardinal value for Orthodox people, like any object of a loved one who has left us” – said Konstantin Kapkov.

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Konstantin Kapkov. Photo: TV channel “Tsargrad”

The exposition features items from the private collection of the famous Moscow artist-restorer Alexander Vasilyevich Renzhin, who over the past few decades has reverently collected everything connected with the memory of Nicholas II, his family and his ancestors. Renzhin is a collector, artist, icon painter, art historian, researcher, restorer, and an expert of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation in the field of paintings and church art. He is the Founder and head of the icon painting workshops Kupina (1987) and Kanon (since 1995).

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Vladimir Lavrov. Photo: TV channel “Tsargrad”

Doctor of Historical Sciences, and member of the Council of the Double-Headed Eagle Society Vladimir Lavrov notes:

“The year marking the 100th anniversary of the murder of the last Tsar and his family should be a year of historical memory. We must live it with honour, and it is very important that a center, a museum of spiritual and moral education, centered on the fate and reign of Nicholas II, be created. It is of great importance that the museum be Russian, Orthodox, and in Moscow … “

As a convinced monarchist, the creator of the exposition is convinced that this year will be the beginning of the revival of the historical form of government in Russia. Just as it happened in 1613 after the feat of the national hero Ivan Susanin. The feat, glorified in Mikhail Glinka’s opera Life for the Tsar, which sounded, including, at the last coronation in 1896.

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Alexander Renzhin. Photo: TV channel “Tsargrad”

Alexander Renzhin shared with his aspirations about Russia’s future with Russian television network Tsargrad:

“We placed Glinka’s score with in our exposition, and in front of it sits a double-lamp, which was specially made for the coronation of the Emperor Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, held in Moscow in May 1896. But now the lamp lies unlit. But it is my hope, that in Russian patriotic circles, we will find opportunities to revive not only Orthodoxy in it’s highest form during the era of Nicholas II, but we will revive autocracy and relight this lamp!”

The permanent exhibition Family of the Emperor is open daily, except Monday, in the Museum of Russian Art in Moscow.

© Paul Gilbert. 12 December 2019

Museum of the Family of Emperor Nicholas II in Tobolsk

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The Museum of the Family of Emperor Nicholas II opened in Tobolsk on 26 April 2018

NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally posted on 26 April 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

Watch the VIDEO (above), to see the interiors of the museum and it’s many exhibits. The commentary is in Russian, however, do not not allow that to prevent from watching if you do not speak the language. The museum is indeed a beautiful tribute and memory to the Imperial family during their 8 months in Tobolsk.

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On 26th April 2018, the long awaited Museum of the Family of Emperor Nicholas II opened its doors in the Siberian city of Tobolsk. Governor Vladimir Yakushev called the event “significant not only for the region, but for the whole of Russia.”

The guest of honour at the opening of the museum was Mrs Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovsky, a well-known Russian public figure, and widow of Tikhon Nikolayevich Kulikovsky, the eldest son of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, nephew of Nicholas II and grandson of Alexander III. In addition, descendants of the tutors of the Tsesarevich Alexei, who accompanied the Imperial family to Tobolsk, arrived from France and Switzerland.

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Mrs Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovsky

Mrs Kulikovsky said that she liked the museum, and noted the excellent work of its employees. According to her, it is impossible, however, to add the original atmosphere of the time when the family of Nicholas II lived in the house, Olga Nikolaevna, undoubtedly the museum was made with love. When asked what kind of feeling the museum created for her, she said: “Longing for the times when the Imperial family lived here.”

The museum is the first museum in Russia, dedicated entirely to the family of Emperor Nicholas II. The museum is housed in the former governor’s house, where the Imperial family lived from 6th August, 1917 to 13th April, 1918. The mansion became a prison for the Imperial family before the Bolsheviks sent everyone to them all to their deaths in Ekaterinburg.

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During the past year historians have collected their personal belongings: furniture, icons, Alexandra Feodorovna’s gospel, and Alexei’s “magic lantern” – the prototype of a modern projector. In addition, the new museum will temporarily feature exhibits from the Central Museum of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the Russian National Museum of Music, which include porcelain Easter eggs of 1912 with the monograms of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna, and a balalaika made in the studio of the court master Franz Paserbsky.

After the Revolution, the Governor’s house was renamed the “House of Freedom”. During the last 50 years, the former Governor’s mansion at Ulitsa Mira, 10 was occupied by the district administration. Historians had argued for many years that a building with such a history should be utilized as a museum dedicated to the Imperial family.

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In the museum’s exposition there are unique items related to the period of the Imperial family’s 8-month residency: Imperial porcelain, napkins with monograms, silver appliances. One of the most precious exhibits is Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s silk shawl. The Empress gave the shawl to the wife of the doctor in gratitude, who had treated the Tsesarevich Alexei.

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The Museum of the Family of Emperor Nicholas II in the former Governors Mansion, Tobolsk

© Paul Gilbert. 12 December 2019