Honouring Imperial Russia’s WWI soldiers

Никто не забыт, ничто не забыто!
No one is forgotten, nothing is forgotten!

Russia’s entry into World War One in August 1914, was based on Russia’s commitment to defending Orthodox Serbia, its pan-Slavic roles, its treaty obligations with France, its concerns over German or Austro-Hungarian dominance in the Balkan region, and its concern for protecting its status as a great power.

1st August – marks the official Day of Remembrance of Imperial Russian soldiers who died in the First World War of 1914-1918. The commemoration day was officially introduced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2012. It is on this day, which officials lay wreaths to World War I memorials, Russian cities organize exhibitions dedicated to the war and military units hold solemn assemblies.

During the Soviet years, the First World War and those brave Russian soldiers who gave their lives for the Fatherland, was virtually ignored and forgotten. Soviet dogma dictated that the Great War was a clash of imperialist powers.

How many Russian soldiers laid down their lives “For Faith, Tsar and Fatherland!”? How many fathers, husbands, sons never returned home? According to some estimates, the number exceeds 1,600,000 people, the largest number of casualties among the soldiers and officers of the countries participating in the First World War. The estimate does not include civilian casualties.

Dozens of monuments to soldiers of the Russian Imperial Army, who fought and died during World War One, have since been erected in major cities across Russia. Below, are just three of the finest:

On 16th 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 Defence on the Frunze Embankment in Moscow.

The WWI monument features Emperor Nicholas II on horseback, recognizing and honouring his efforts during the Great War.

Monument to the Heroes of the First World War on Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow, opened on 1st August 2014. Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna is depicted in this monument, providing aid to a wounded soldier.

Monument to the Heroes of the First World War in St. Petersburg, installed at the Vitebsk Railway Station on 1st August 2014. It was from this station, that Emperor Nicholas II travelled on the Imperial Train along a specially built line to Tsarskoye Selo.

Никто не забыт, ничто не забыто!
No one is forgotten, nothing is forgotten!

© Paul Gilbert. 1 August 2022

Nicholas II orders uniforms for Victory Parade 1917

There is a common myth that during World War One, Russia’s only breakthrough was the Brusilov Offensive in September 1916. There were allegedly no other successful campaigns. This myth is absolutely incorrect. Shortly after Nicholas II assumed command of the armed forces in 1915, the Russian Imperial Army carried out at least 15 major victorious operations, not counting the Brusilov Breakthrough.

PHOTO: Victory Parade uniform on display in the Russia in the Great War Museum,
Sovereign Marshall Chamber, Tsarskoye Selo

Nicholas II was so confident of Russia’s victory against Germany and Austria during the First World War, that in 1916, he ordered a new uniform be designed for the Victory Parade he planned to hold in Berlin, and then in Constantinople in 1917.

The new uniform was designed by Viktor Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov (1848-1926), a Russian artist who specialized in mythological and historical subjects. The uniforms were sewn in Siberian factories and stored in army warehouses in Petrograd.

PHOTO: The khaki cloth  “bogatyrka” cap

The uniform consisted of a long-brimmed overcoat, with a leather jacket and trousers, leggings and and a cap designed for troops of the army and air force, as well as the crews of armoured car, armoured trains and scooters. The khaki cloth cap was called a “bogatyrka” – because of the similarity with the ancient helmets of Russian heroes.

Following the 1917 Revolution, this uniform was redesigned for use by the Cheka – the Bolshevik secret police.

© Paul Gilbert. 5 March 2021

The October Revolution 1917 in the International Context. Interview with Professor Dominic Lieven

CLICK on the IMAGE above to watch VIDEO in English. Duration: 24 minutes.

A remarkable interview with Cambridge Research Professor D. Lieven (born 19 January 1952) about the reasons for and the outcomes of the 1917 October Revolution, as well as his family’s personal experience with it. He also speaks about Russia’s involvement in WW1, the Russian-German relationships, and gives an extraordinarily objective evaluation of Tsar Nicholas II’s abilities as a ruler, and comments on the most important decisions during his reign. Dominic Lieven is a research professor at Cambridge University (Senior Research Fellow, Trinity College) and a Fellow of the British Academy and of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Professor Lieven is the third child, of five children, of Alexander Lieven, of the Baltic German princely family, tracing ancestry to Liv chieftain Kaupo. He is the elder brother of Anatol Lieven, British author, Orwell Prize-winning journalist, and policy analyst, and he is distantly related to Christopher Lieven (1774–1839), who was Ambassador to the Court of St James from Imperial Russia over the period 1812 to 1834, and whose wife was Dorothea von Benckendorff, later Princess Lieven (1785–1857), a notable society hostess in Saint Petersburg and influential figure among many of the diplomatic, political, and social circles of 19th-century Europe. Lieven is a great-grandson of the Lord Chamberlain of the Imperial Court of Russia.

He is the author of numerous books on on Russian history, on empires and emperors, on the Napoleonic era and the First World War, and on European aristocracy, including: Russia’s Rulers Under the Old Regime, Yale University Press (1989); The Aristocracy in Europe 1815/1914, Macmillan/Columbia University Press (1992); Nicholas II: Emperor of all the Russias, John Murray/St Martin’s Press/Pimlico (1993); and The End of Tsarist Russia: The March to World War I and Revolution, Penguin Random House (2015).


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.

© Mesa Potamos Monastery. 30 October 2020

Nicholas II and the Armenian Genocide


Although the Russians began World War I by losing terribly to the Germans, their battles against the Turks went much better. After several serious defeats, it seemed that Russia was on the cusp of freeing the Armenian people from the Turkish yoke. However, that’s not what happened. Seeing how badly they were losing, the Turks vented their frustration on the Armenian population. The genocide began.

Because of the failures on the Western Front, many troops were siphoned off from the war with Turkey. Despite this reduction, the Russians continued to advance on the Turks through 1914 and 1915. However, the reduced number of soldiers made it impossible for the Russians to prevent the genocide. It began on 24th April 1915.

As soon as the killings began, Emperor Nicholas II ordered his army to do everything possible to save the remaining Armenians. Of the roughly 1.65 million Armenians living in Turkey, 375,000 escaped into Russia. That’s almost 25% percent of the entire population.

According to G. Ter-Markarian’s seminal work on the Armenian Genocide, this is how Nicholas II managed to rescue so many Armenians:

‘In the beginning of the disaster of 1915, the Russian-Turkish border was opened by order of the Russian Tsar. Massive crowds of refugees entered the Russian Empire. I heard eye-witness accounts of the extreme joy and tears of gratitude of the sufferers. They fell on Russian soil and kissed it. I heard that the stern, bearded Russian soldiers had to hide their own tears. They shared their food with Armenian children. Armenian mothers kissed the boots of Russian Cossacks who took two, sometimes three Armenian boys on their own saddles. Armenian priests blessed the Russian soldiers with crosses in their hands.


Cover of the June 30, 2016 issue of ‘Excelsior’ carried an illustration of a Russian soldier on horseback with a refugee child in his arms. The picture was captioned, ‘The Symbol of Protection of the Armenians by Russians.’

‘At the border, many tables were set up. Russian government workers accepted the Armenians without any papers. They gave each member of a family a single ruble and a special document that allowed them to travel anywhere in the entire Russian Empire for a year. The document even gave them free public transportation! Soup kitchens were set up nearby as well.

‘Russian doctors and nurses handed out free medicine. They were present to offer emergency services to the sick, wounded, and pregnant.’

A number of committees and organizations were engaged in the Armenian refugee relief effort, among them the Committee of Her Highness Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna. The Tatiana Committee, established on Sept. 14, 1914, was a major initiative. Among the committee’s main responsibilities were providing one-time financial support for refugees; assisting in repatriation or resettlement, as well as refugee registration; responding to inquiries from relatives; and arranging employment and housing assistance.

The state treasury supported the activities of the Tatiana Committee, and donations from various institutions, committees, and individual donors offered significant sums. The committee also deployed the power of the press and placed appeals in newspapers to raise money. As a result, by April 20, 1915, it had raised 299,792 rubles and 57 kopeks (about $150,000). Acknowledging the potential of artistic events in promoting fundraising, the Tatiana Committee hosted charity concerts, auctions, performances, and exhibitions. A.I. Goremykina, the wife of the prime minister, organized an arts night in Marinskii Palace on March 29, 1915, which was a great financial success. An auction of paintings by famous Russian artists brought the Tatiana Committee 25,000 rubles from that one event alone.


On 24th October 2015, a monument to Emperor Nicholas II was unveiled in the Armenian Museum in Moscow

As a result of the 375 thousand Armenians saved, that is, the Russian Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II saved 23% of the entire Armenian population of Turkey. As historian Paul Paganutstsi wrote: “For one thing it is his [Nicholas II’s] salvation for which he can be counted among the saints.”

At the insistence of Nicholas II, a declaration of allied countries was adopted on 24th May 1915, in which the genocide of the Armenian population was recognized as a crime against humanity.

On 24th October 2015, a monument to Emperor Nicholas II was unveiled in the Armenian Museum in Moscow. It is regrettable, however, that in Armenia itself there is still no monument to Emperor Nicholas II, and in Armenian publishers books of falsifiers and Russophobes are coming out, which are trying to slander the great emancipating mission of the Russian Empire. But the memory of the Armenian nation Russia will always be a liberator.

© Paul Gilbert. 2 November 2019