Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about Russian History => The Russian Revolution => Topic started by: Robert Wisener, PA on April 06, 2004, 05:13:30 PM

Title: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert Wisener, PA on April 06, 2004, 05:13:30 PM
Hypothetical question.  What could Nicholas have done to preserve his throne and that of his son.  

Should he have ended Russia's involvement in WWI, publicize Alexei's illness, create a better supply of food in the capital, reorganize the Duma?  

Any thoughts?  

It seems that other Romanovs realized how bad he was screwing things up.  If he would have listened to their advice instead of leaving everything in God's hands, he may have ruled until the end of his natural life.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Reed on April 06, 2004, 05:43:05 PM
my two cents.....I think the only time that Nicolas might have saved his throne was in 1905.  Then, only if he would have continued to make sweeping democratic changes in the government along with granting the Duma.  Plus avoiding involvment in WWI. Even then it may have not been possible.  If Alexander II would have lived long enough to grant a constitution and Alexander III would have continued to make reforms...the revolution may have never happened.  Catherine the Great toyed with a constitution and freeing the serfs. Alexander I did the same.  Absolute power is said to be very intoxicating. Add to that the nobles grumbling and plotting, it would have been difficult to change.  
I guess we will never know what could have been.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: JM on April 06, 2004, 06:01:57 PM
Unfortunately Nicholas was not raised to be a constitutional monarch. He was raised to be an autocrat and he saw first-hand how ruthlessly his father ruled. That is what he believed was his duty. However, I recall that he wanted to grant reforms after the war.

Remember he was in a lofty position. He didn't and couldn't see what Russia needed. Whenever I think of his state of mind I always remeber 'absolute power corrupts, absolutely'.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Janet Whitcomb on April 06, 2004, 06:29:51 PM
You have to wonder--well, okay, I do--if the current world situation isn't headed down the same slippery slope as was Nicholas, Tsardom, and the general European hierachy.

I do agree that the probable turning point was 1905.  If, if, if . . . the reforms had been gracefully accepted . . . the earlier war with Japan--a single battle, really--hadn't been so disastrous . . . and the matter re: Alexei had benefited from a more modern approach of honesty and directness--well, then Holy Russia might have had a chance.  But so much had been heaped on Nicholas's plate, even before he became Tsar, in the way of reactionary thought and action of the majority of his predecessors.  And people in general were so fearful of medical conditions such as hemophillia, cancer, communicable diseases, etc.--something that we've only just begun to deal with openly in the last 30 years or so.  Then add into the quotient the "royal reserve" of keeping all perceived negatives hush-hush.  Queen Alexandra let some fresh air into the situation, but it wasn't until Princess Diana that "taboo" issues were being truly confronted by a "royal."  So really, to expect Nicholas and Alexandra to confront generations of inhibitions, common to royalty, "upper classes," and the world population as a whole, and deal with the already teeming economic and political issues of their nation, not to mention most of the European continet . . . really too much for any but the most intelectually dynamic and forward thinking of individuals, let alone a shy, conservative, insulated couple raised in Victorian/Edwardian times.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Reed on April 06, 2004, 08:43:23 PM
The other part of the question was about the other Romanovs.  I don't know that any of the rest of the family would have been any more prepared to rule than Nicolas.  I'm sure they thought they could do a better job, but that is up to speculation.  Powerful families have powerful infighting.  They didn't like Alexandra's influence over Nicolas. Nor was Rasputin a hit with most of the family.  They were removed enough to see some of the problems that were developing, but could they have handled them differently....who knows.  They were dealing with a mind set as well as years of autocratic rule.  Although there were strong ties with France and England, they couldn't seem to make the jump to a constitutional monarchy.  No one likes to let go of control.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Jane on April 07, 2004, 11:53:25 AM
I find it tragically ironic that Nicholas and Alexandra were unable and unwilling to adapt their roles to those of "constiutional monarchs" rather like the British throne.  Nicholas and Alexandra, with their quiet lives, could have been a fine contemporary example of the "family values" image that the British royal family historically has aspired to achieve.  They were devoted to their family, to each other, and to Russia.  As a figurehead monarch, Nicholas probably would have been quite successful, rather like George VI of Great Britain (whom he so closely rphysically resembled).  Those who met Nicholas always emphasized his personal charm, etc.  It's simply one of those ironies of history and fate that this man was born to a autocratic role for which he was, regrettably, terribly unsuited.  Could the throne have been preserved?  I doubt it.

Jane
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Reed on April 07, 2004, 01:22:17 PM
It is interesting to note that at the end of WWI, three of the largest monarchies were no longer in existence.  The only major one that survived was in England.  Although one could argue that the Romanov autocracy was simply replaced by the Lenin/Stalin autocracy.  
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Jane on April 07, 2004, 02:25:39 PM
Quote
Although one could argue that the Romanov autocracy was simply replaced by the Lenin/Stalin autocracy.  


Good point, Reed.  Any acts of oppression under the Romanovs pale in comparison to the horrible atrocities perpetrated by Stalin.  Frankly, I'd take the Okhrana and some Cossacks any day over the Cheka/OGPU/KGB.

Jane

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Reed on April 07, 2004, 04:15:21 PM
"Acts of oppression," are a matter of perspective.  I'm sure there are those who would be on opposite sides today with Iraq situation.  Which probably speaks to the fact that N&A could not see the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.  I think someone touched on the fact that N had been raised with the bias of a total autocrat.  Unfortunately, he was never trained to rule in that avenue.  Any "acts of oppression" he used, to him was simply defending the only system with which he could really relate.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Jane on April 07, 2004, 04:56:44 PM
Quote
"Acts of oppression," are a matter of perspective.



Fair enough, Reed.  In my perspective, the Jewish pogroms, for example, were oppressive actions.  

Sure, Nicholas believed in the autocratic system, which was eliminated in 1905.  Even before that, however, it was failing.  To me, in my opinion, Nicholas' unwillingness to 'move with the times' had a direct impact on his fate and that of his family.  He wasn't a stupid man, at all, but he was stubborn.  Just my two cents.

Jane
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Reed on April 07, 2004, 05:34:32 PM
I can agree with your opinion.  I would say stubborn in the final days of the empire.  Especially with several of the family and staff coming to him to try to head off what was coming.  Before that, possibly he was more motivated by traditions, customs, desires of the past.  Again I would have to say his lack of training and lack of political astuteness. He wasn't stupid, but not gifted as a statesman.  The article Bob just posted, on his duties sheds some light on his insecurity as a leader.  

Yes, the Jewish pogroms were vicious acts of oppression.  Having been raised in a country that was deeply anti-semitic surely would have greatly clouded his judgment on the treatment of the Jews.    I'm not defending him on that issue, but I see where his handling of the pogroms came from.  Much the same as our handling of the native Americans, Africans, or Japanese at different times in US history.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Jane on April 07, 2004, 05:44:09 PM
We're on the same page here.  I totally agree with your point about Nicholas' increasing intractability as the Revolution drew closer, for example.  I liked the way Greg and Penny explained it in their book--how Nicholas' religious beliefs allowed him to basically "trust in the Almighty" etc and how he and AF almost  well...not exactly willingly, but docilely, accepted their arrest/imprisonment/impending executions as the will of God.  Like you implied, one can't judge the poor man with today's sensibilities, but still, with the wisdom and vision of hindsight, it's so frustrating and sad to see where paths that could have or should have been taken were missed.  It was only the beginning of the Russian tragedy.  Am I making any sense here?  Sorry, I am suffering from sleep deprivation right now.

Jane
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Reed on April 07, 2004, 05:58:11 PM
Yes, you're making sense.  That attitude of fatalism is still...or at least was when I was there...a large part of the Russian mentality.  Without getting into theology..the idea that we have no control over events in our lives.  What takes places is what has been planned for us.  
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Jane on April 07, 2004, 07:30:32 PM
Quote
Yes, you're making sense.  That attitude of fatalism is still...or at least was when I was there...a large part of the Russian mentality.  Without getting into theology..the idea that we have no control over events in our lives.  What takes places is what has been planned for us.  


How interesting that the sense of fatalism permeates even today in modern Russia.  I know so much of it is intertwined with Orthodoxy (and like you, I don't wish to touch too much into the theology).  But it does shed light on the sense of "resignation" I think that N. II and A.F. had with relation to their experiences.  

I wonder if we could ask the Forum Admin whether a thread for people to discuss their trips to Russia could be set up somewhere on the boards.  I would love to hear about some of the thoughts, adventures and impressions you and some of the others have picked up on your travels.  Russia is some place that I still have not been (yet), and I love hearing about it.  I am a shameless armchair traveler.

Jane
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: _Rodger_ on April 07, 2004, 08:00:21 PM
There were other factors involved in the 'fatalism' of Nicholas and Alexandra.

Throughout his reign, Nicholas struggled with a bureaucracy that resistant to change, radicals that didn't think there was enough change, intrigue in his government, in his distant relatives, and constant foreign problems.

If you placed yourself in his shoes, and I know that's hard to do, the general resistance and the constant problems with running such a large and disparate empire would have been more than sufficient to make one rather resigned to fate . . .
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Forum Admin on April 07, 2004, 10:15:41 PM
To just give one small perspective on what Nicholas faced on a daily basis. He hated his socks...they were chosen for him, and the choice was based on what his father had worn. However, to even change the kind of socks he wore would have entailed the total disruption of a dozen of the house staff, not to mention shame on the soon to be former supplier, and the stiff competition between the 'new' suppliers, all desperately wanting the Imperial warrant. The total disruption of dozens and dozens of people, over socks, was just not worth it to Nicholas, so he just kept having the socks he hated, rather than upset so many people, merely over his socks. Imagine how he approached the firmly entrenched bureaucracy....
FA
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Janet Whitcomb on April 07, 2004, 11:19:02 PM
Aauurrgghh!  Excellent example demostrating the stodginess Nicholas was up against, and how he took pains (literally?) to avoid upsetting even the most seemingly insignifcant of apple carts. Also, we now have a real indication of what it was to walk in his shoes!
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on April 08, 2004, 04:06:34 AM
One wonders why he simply had the same supplier provide different socks !
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: jackie3 on April 08, 2004, 03:35:26 PM
I said some of this in the Imperial Succession thread but I firmly believe that if WWI hadn't happened the Imperial Throne wouldn't have fell and gradually the Duma would have assumed more responsibilty leaving Nicholas more time to think over matter of succession. His abdication for Alexis (which may have been illegal) right after his own proves to me that no matter how much Alix talked about "Baby" inheriting the throne - in the family's mind it was still an iffy proposition. Perhaps Olga N. coming of age would have been named future regent replacing GD Michael and in case something happened to Alexis I'm sure given time (not the quick abdication on board a train in 1917) Nicholas would have changed the House Laws (just as Paul I created them to begin with) and moved his daughters up in succession so the Vladmirovitchi would never reign (since they would have because of Misha's marriage to Mrs.Wulfret).

I truly believe that 1905 was not the turning point but 1914 and the Declaration of War. If Russia had managed to avoid the war, the Bolsheviks wouldn't have gained power (which would have meant probably no Nazis in Germany later) and I can see the next generation of Romanovs, Alexis and his sisters moving the monarchy in a more British constitutional model.

At any rate the continuation of the mis-named "Nicholas the Bloody" would have been preferable than Lenin and his successors - probably the greatest shedders of blood (of their own people) in history and thats not even counting the Russian Civil War which cost millions in lives.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: strom on February 22, 2005, 04:00:48 PM
I should like to know if anyone understands exactly how Stavka was misled on on March 1, 1917 (3.14 in Greg. cal.) in believing that the situation was calm in Petrograd.  This misconception of the surge of revolution in Petrograd was fascilitated by the infamous telegram 1833 received by Gen. Alekseev at Stavka between 1:00 and 2:00 P.M.  It was from this erroneous information (and possible other communications) that Alekseev would proceed to build a case for the abdication of the Emperor and what he believed would be an orderly transition to a civilian and representative government in Russia.  I think Alekseev came to rue the evil day of his traitorous acts.  
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: presyork on February 22, 2005, 05:35:59 PM
Hello I'm new to the board....

From what I understand, at first before the garrison revolted it was thought that the riots were under control and a reinforcement of several cavalry regiments had been ordered from the outskirts of Petrograd to come and reinforce the garrison.  The upper echelon of the imperial military wanted Nicholas to abdicate and appoint either GD Michael or even better Nicolasha as regent for Alexei.. But yes Alexeev did delay giving messages to Nicholas... These people had no idea what they ultimately were causing to happen...
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: strom on March 01, 2005, 05:01:21 PM
     The only way the throne could have been saved in March 1917 would have been if the military conspirators against the Emperor had been willing to reverse their course and reaffirm their adherance to the throne.  A temporary dictatorship in Petrograd would have been necessary probably extending until the end of the war. The remainder of the Empire would have been under the severest martial law.  
     It was intended that the Emperor be trapped at Pskov.  (He would latter say that he was "trapped [there] like a criminal.")   Indeed, I believe he was lured to Mogilev so that the abdication could be extorted from him one way or another.  
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on April 05, 2010, 10:58:45 AM
Probably the best thing that Nicholas could have done to preserve the Imperial throne would have been to get out of the Korean Peninsular before it became an issue with the Japanese.  The second best thing he could have done would have been to not enter the first world war.  Nicholas either had very poor intelligence or the inability to judge potential military enemies.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on April 06, 2010, 08:54:42 AM
I always thought that Nicholas's deciding to go to say goodbye to the troops was a set up.

At that point, I don't think the troops much cared and I think it was a way to trap Nicholas away from Alexandra and the capital.

It worked, too.  By the time Nicholas returned to the capital the revolution was at hand and the Provisional Government was in place.  Going back to Mogilev from Pskov was a stupid move.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Belochka on April 06, 2010, 09:11:08 AM
I always thought that Nicholas's deciding to go to say goodbye to the troops was a set up.

At that point, I don't think the troops much cared and I think it was a way to trap Nicholas away from Alexandra and the capital.

Why do you contend that Nikolai II was "set up"? By whom?

Eyewitness accounts to that event have recorded a very different scenario to the one you seem to think might have occurred.  
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on April 06, 2010, 09:27:43 AM
Nicholas had already become listless and malleable.

If I had just abdicated the most absolute throne in the world for its time, I would have gone straight to my family, not back to the front to say goodbye to the troops.

He must have known that this family was in need of protection from those who had forced him to abdicate and he should have known that he needed protection as well.

I have always thought it strange that he would go in the opposite direction from those who would need him the most.  His wife (no matter how obnoxious she was) and his children.

I probably have not read all of the sources that you have but every time I read about his decision to say goodbye to the troops, I have always wondered why he would do that and have thought that he was being shunted away from a place that the new government didn't want him at the time.

Since the new government had just taken away all of his rights and privileges why would they then allow him to have his own say in going back to Mogilev?  I have always felt that it suited a purpose that Nicholas just fell right in with even though he didn't realize it at the time.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Michael HR on April 06, 2010, 01:27:00 PM
As Prince Michael of Greece said in the Romanov family albums the abdication was the last great mistake of his reign, but did not of course mean that it was the last
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on August 26, 2010, 04:01:25 PM
The only way Nicky could have saved his throne would be to convert to a Constitutional Monarchy, like the British one.  Both he and Alix would no longer be autarchs, but at least they would have kept their thrones. 

Heck he might have been happier being just a figurehead monarch.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 26, 2010, 04:27:45 PM
"Nicky" as we so affectionately term him in this forum, would never have converted to the principle of constitutional monarchy, and the tragic part is, that even if he had, he would not have been able to survive as a constitutional monarch in Russia. He was demonstrably weak as a symbolic figure, he wasn't charismatic except in the narrow circle of family, courtiers, and friends. Most of all, he wasn't any intellectual or political giant. Even a Peter the Great or a Catherine the Great would have found it a challenge to emerge from the mire of 20th-century Russian political history without an ultimate defeat at the hands of public opinion. But faced with such an incredible challenge, "Nicky" of course NEVER counted, even as a contender.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on August 26, 2010, 06:22:35 PM
I agree that Nicholas himself would not have been able to save the throne for the Romanovs. But he could have given others the power to do so. Witte and Stolypin were very successful until Nicholas lost confidence in them. When Nicholas felt they threatened his powers, they fell out of favor. But with a good team around him and enough mutual trust they could have come a long way. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on August 26, 2010, 11:27:27 PM
Also, he should have stood up to Alix and given Rasputin the boot.  Many people felt that it was really Rasputin running the show when Nicky was away at the Military HQ.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on August 27, 2010, 01:40:20 AM
In the end because of his nature and because of circumstances and the natures of the people around him, I don't think there is anything that Nicholas could do to preserve the Imperial throne.  Between his actions and those that unrolled around him, he faced a perfect storm, a set of circumstances and conditions that were unique but deadly.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Belochka on August 27, 2010, 02:19:40 AM
I am inclined to agree with the last posting.

IMO as the year 1916 was drawing to a close, there was not one intervening act that could have helped preserve the autocratic monarchy. That system of government had become too archaic to co-exist with the emerging philosophies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Nikolai II just happened to be the last card in the falling deck.

Margarita
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Michael HR on August 27, 2010, 05:36:29 AM
In my humble view he should have handed the Crown to his Brother, Michael. He was one member of the dynasty who was respected by most of the family, government and the army. I have always thought Michael would have made a very good Tsar and things would have changed. By the time he did it was in any event to late. One more mistake by Nicholas.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on August 27, 2010, 10:10:16 AM
If Nicholas were going to do that, it should have been before 1905 but at that time it probably would have been better to set up a constitutional monarchy with Count Witte as the first prime minister.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on August 27, 2010, 10:56:23 AM
Yeah, when he created the Duma, that is when he should have stepped back.  He might have kept his crown then. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on August 27, 2010, 11:26:20 AM
He might have saved his family and his life if he had released power at that time.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on August 27, 2010, 04:05:53 PM
Exactly.  Of course, this is hindsight talking, he had no way of knowing that his actions, or lack thereof, would result in the brutal muder of himself and his family.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on August 27, 2010, 11:30:58 PM
actrually he had had a few warnings, more than one Tsar was assassinated or murdered and 1905 was a clear warning to what could happen.  It was only a complete lack of generosity in terms of sharing power that spelt the end for Nicholas and his family and imperial Russia.  Foresight is a valuable skill if you are a politician or a monarch.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on August 28, 2010, 09:25:08 AM
Yeah, also he could have considered what happened to Louis VIII and Marie Antionette (sp?) of France.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 28, 2010, 02:20:07 PM
I agree that Nicholas himself would not have been able to save the throne for the Romanovs. But he could have given others the power to do so. Witte and Stolypin were very successful until Nicholas lost confidence in them. When Nicholas felt they threatened his powers, they fell out of favor. But with a good team around him and enough mutual trust they could have come a long way. 

Maybe yes, maybe no. I think the political situation in early 20th-century imperial Russia was dicey, dodgy, in plain and simple terms, terribly tricky. One major problem with Stolypin was that he was not a good team player, in fact he tended to be somewhat autocratic in his own methods, so he alienated a lot of potential supporters in the political field and thus ultimately failed to build a real power base that could keep him alive as a political player in the event that he fell out of Nicholas II's favor. Which is why, when Nicholas II turned away from him, Stolypin didn't have a leg left to stand on and was fading so quickly from the political scene when he was assassinated.

It's also a point of much debate among historians of this period whether Stolypin's reforms had been moderately successful or an overall failure. One thing you're not taking into account is the Russian peasantry, which virtually every member of the educated elite (partly in reaction to the horrors of the Revolution of 1905-06) saw as a real hindrance to modernization and liberalization in Russia. This is very much reflected in authors of the period - Gorky (who himself came from the lower classes) despised the peasantry, and Chekhov wrote several stories in which Russian peasants are remarkable chiefly for their backwardness. So it's not remarkable if Stolypin's reforms were a failure, especially since a large segment of the peasantry were apparently opposed to them.

I don't know enough about Witte to make a judgment on him.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on August 28, 2010, 03:43:40 PM
Sounds like Russia was a powder keg no matter what Nicky did.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 29, 2010, 01:12:01 PM
Sounds like Russia was a powder keg no matter what Nicky did.

That's true, and no matter how impatient I get with Nicholas II when I read accounts of his reign, I always have to keep in mind that even a political genius like Peter or Catherine the Great would have found early 20th-century Russia a tough row to plough. There's no getting around it. Especially since World War I, after the death of Victoria, seemed an inevitability. And World War I, more than anything else, sentenced imperial, Romanov Russia to destruction, as it did so many monarchies in Europe.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on August 29, 2010, 04:20:29 PM
I agree that Nicholas himself would not have been able to save the throne for the Romanovs. But he could have given others the power to do so. Witte and Stolypin were very successful until Nicholas lost confidence in them. When Nicholas felt they threatened his powers, they fell out of favor. But with a good team around him and enough mutual trust they could have come a long way. 

Maybe yes, maybe no. I think the political situation in early 20th-century imperial Russia was dicey, dodgy, in plain and simple terms, terribly tricky. One major problem with Stolypin was that he was not a good team player, in fact he tended to be somewhat autocratic in his own methods, so he alienated a lot of potential supporters in the political field and thus ultimately failed to build a real power base that could keep him alive as a political player in the event that he fell out of Nicholas II's favor. Which is why, when Nicholas II turned away from him, Stolypin didn't have a leg left to stand on and was fading so quickly from the political scene when he was assassinated.

It's also a point of much debate among historians of this period whether Stolypin's reforms had been moderately successful or an overall failure. One thing you're not taking into account is the Russian peasantry, which virtually every member of the educated elite (partly in reaction to the horrors of the Revolution of 1905-06) saw as a real hindrance to modernization and liberalization in Russia. This is very much reflected in authors of the period - Gorky (who himself came from the lower classes) despised the peasantry, and Chekhov wrote several stories in which Russian peasants are remarkable chiefly for their backwardness. So it's not remarkable if Stolypin's reforms were a failure, especially since a large segment of the peasantry were apparently opposed to them.

I don't know enough about Witte to make a judgment on him.

I think these two statesmen were geniuses. And geniuses are mostly not very good team players.

Who knows how Stolypins reforms would have worked out if he had been given more time. He wanted to change urban life so that the peasants were able to deal with the problems which made life so miserable for them. But this would have taken a long time. Which there wasn't.



Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on August 29, 2010, 05:18:50 PM
Well if Peter the Great had led Russia in the 20th century, one of two things would have happened, either he would have had a very modern army or he wouldn't have been drawn into WW1
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on August 30, 2010, 09:56:29 AM
Quote
And World War I, more than anything else, sentenced imperial, Romanov Russia to destruction, as it did so many monarchies in Europe.


Sometimes I wonder if 20th Century Europe would have been better off if the monarchies had remained intact.  After all, there were no major wars in Europe in the century between the final defeat of Napoleon and the First World War.  Okay, we had the Crimean War and the Franco-Prussian War, but they were regional.  Would Europe have been better or worse if the Old Ways had stayed.  I guess we'll never know.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 30, 2010, 11:33:01 AM
I agree that Nicholas himself would not have been able to save the throne for the Romanovs. But he could have given others the power to do so. Witte and Stolypin were very successful until Nicholas lost confidence in them. When Nicholas felt they threatened his powers, they fell out of favor. But with a good team around him and enough mutual trust they could have come a long way. 

Maybe yes, maybe no. I think the political situation in early 20th-century imperial Russia was dicey, dodgy, in plain and simple terms, terribly tricky. One major problem with Stolypin was that he was not a good team player, in fact he tended to be somewhat autocratic in his own methods, so he alienated a lot of potential supporters in the political field and thus ultimately failed to build a real power base that could keep him alive as a political player in the event that he fell out of Nicholas II's favor. Which is why, when Nicholas II turned away from him, Stolypin didn't have a leg left to stand on and was fading so quickly from the political scene when he was assassinated.

It's also a point of much debate among historians of this period whether Stolypin's reforms had been moderately successful or an overall failure. One thing you're not taking into account is the Russian peasantry, which virtually every member of the educated elite (partly in reaction to the horrors of the Revolution of 1905-06) saw as a real hindrance to modernization and liberalization in Russia. This is very much reflected in authors of the period - Gorky (who himself came from the lower classes) despised the peasantry, and Chekhov wrote several stories in which Russian peasants are remarkable chiefly for their backwardness. So it's not remarkable if Stolypin's reforms were a failure, especially since a large segment of the peasantry were apparently opposed to them.

I don't know enough about Witte to make a judgment on him.

I think these two statesmen were geniuses. And geniuses are mostly not very good team players.

Who knows how Stolypins reforms would have worked out if he had been given more time. He wanted to change urban life so that the peasants were able to deal with the problems which made life so miserable for them. But this would have taken a long time. Which there wasn't.

I don't quite agree that either Witte or Stolypin were political geniuses on par with Peter or Catherine the Great, or for that matter, Lenin or Stalin - if they had been, they would have survived politically in imperial Russia, which they demonstrably did not. People can be extremely talented, as I believe these men certainly were, and still be sorely lacking in political nous, in this case, the ability to build coalitions and power bases and so on, which is the sine qua non of political genius, i.e., of achieving and maintaining real political power, in any given political system, but especially in an authoritarian (or for that matter totalitarian) one. It's my sense that both Witte and Stolypin were a little too full of themselves as political operatives, a little too self-satisfied with their own superiority, and they would have ended up on the scrap-heap of history no matter what political system they found themselves in. Because, let's face it, building friendships and coalitions and power bases is what politics is all about. How do you think Stalin came to power? It was completely through the good-old-boy network (he was extremely popular with the Bolsheviks, who saw him as much more friendly and approachable and normal than a hotheaded, arrogant, self-proclaimed "genius" like Trotsky).

Geniuses always finish last, if they let it be known that they consider themselves geniuses. If there's anything the ordinary person hates more than a genius, I have yet to hear of it.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on August 30, 2010, 04:51:23 PM
I agree that Nicholas himself would not have been able to save the throne for the Romanovs. But he could have given others the power to do so. Witte and Stolypin were very successful until Nicholas lost confidence in them. When Nicholas felt they threatened his powers, they fell out of favor. But with a good team around him and enough mutual trust they could have come a long way. 

Maybe yes, maybe no. I think the political situation in early 20th-century imperial Russia was dicey, dodgy, in plain and simple terms, terribly tricky. One major problem with Stolypin was that he was not a good team player, in fact he tended to be somewhat autocratic in his own methods, so he alienated a lot of potential supporters in the political field and thus ultimately failed to build a real power base that could keep him alive as a political player in the event that he fell out of Nicholas II's favor. Which is why, when Nicholas II turned away from him, Stolypin didn't have a leg left to stand on and was fading so quickly from the political scene when he was assassinated.

It's also a point of much debate among historians of this period whether Stolypin's reforms had been moderately successful or an overall failure. One thing you're not taking into account is the Russian peasantry, which virtually every member of the educated elite (partly in reaction to the horrors of the Revolution of 1905-06) saw as a real hindrance to modernization and liberalization in Russia. This is very much reflected in authors of the period - Gorky (who himself came from the lower classes) despised the peasantry, and Chekhov wrote several stories in which Russian peasants are remarkable chiefly for their backwardness. So it's not remarkable if Stolypin's reforms were a failure, especially since a large segment of the peasantry were apparently opposed to them.

I don't know enough about Witte to make a judgment on him.

I think these two statesmen were geniuses. And geniuses are mostly not very good team players.

Who knows how Stolypins reforms would have worked out if he had been given more time. He wanted to change urban life so that the peasants were able to deal with the problems which made life so miserable for them. But this would have taken a long time. Which there wasn't.

I don't quite agree that either Witte or Stolypin were political geniuses on par with Peter or Catherine the Great, or for that matter, Lenin or Stalin - if they had been, they would have survived politically in imperial Russia, which they demonstrably did not. People can be extremely talented, as I believe these men certainly were, and still be sorely lacking in political nous, in this case, the ability to build coalitions and power bases and so on, which is the sine qua non of political genius, i.e., of achieving and maintaining real political power, in any given political system, but especially in an authoritarian (or for that matter totalitarian) one. It's my sense that both Witte and Stolypin were a little too full of themselves as political operatives, a little too self-satisfied with their own superiority, and they would have ended up on the scrap-heap of history no matter what political system they found themselves in. Because, let's face it, building friendships and coalitions and power bases is what politics is all about. How do you think Stalin came to power? It was completely through the good-old-boy network (he was extremely popular with the Bolsheviks, who saw him as much more friendly and approachable and normal than a hotheaded, arrogant, self-proclaimed "genius" like Trotsky).

Geniuses always finish last, if they let it be known that they consider themselves geniuses. If there's anything the ordinary person hates more than a genius, I have yet to hear of it.

I don't think you can compare a statesman in Imperial Russia with some of the autocrats they were working for/with. The statesman always had to find his way between two opposing forces: the absolute rule of the tsar and the kind of progress they consider important for the future which mostly meant some erosion of the absolute power. So by definition they had an almost impossible task. The autocrat always had the last word and not because he was more genial but because he had all the power and didn't want to lose it.

How could they have a sound power base if the tsar always became suspicious and let them resign. Witte was not the first one that received this "treatment". The "fate" of Michael Speranski looks a lot like that of Witte. They had some things in common. One being that in their youth, they didn't belong to the establishment but got their way to the top by their talent and the support of Alexander I and Alexander III respectively. Both had liberal and forward looking ideas. And both were sacked when the tsar felt things became too hot to handle. (a difference between Witte and Speranski was that W was more a hard working bureaucrat with a global outlook while Speranski was more like a real intellectual in the spirit of the French Revolution). If you don't call men like these who stood almost alone in their struggle a genius then I guess it was impossible to be a genius in Imperial Russia. Do you know any?

The difference with Stalin is that in the twenties after the death of Lenin there was a power gap in the Communist Party. I guess the most ruthless one took all the power. So not comparable with Imperial statesmen.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 30, 2010, 06:07:02 PM
I don't think you can compare a statesman in Imperial Russia with some of the autocrats they were working for/with. The statesman always had to find his way between two opposing forces: the absolute rule of the tsar and the kind of progress they consider important for the future which mostly meant some erosion of the absolute power. So by definition they had an almost impossible task. The autocrat always had the last word and not because he was more genial but because he had all the power and didn't want to lose it.

How could they have a sound power base if the tsar always became suspicious and let them resign. Witte was not the first one that received this "treatment". The "fate" of Michael Speranski looks a lot like that of Witte. They had some things in common. One being that in their youth, they didn't belong to the establishment but got their way to the top by their talent and the support of Alexander I and Alexander III respectively. Both had liberal and forward looking ideas. And both were sacked when the tsar felt things became too hot to handle. (a difference between Witte and Speranski was that W was more a hard working bureaucrat with a global outlook while Speranski was more like a real intellectual in the spirit of the French Revolution). If you don't call men like these who stood almost alone in their struggle a genius then I guess it was impossible to be a genius in Imperial Russia. Do you know any?

The difference with Stalin is that in the twenties after the death of Lenin there was a power gap in the Communist Party. I guess the most ruthless one took all the power. So not comparable with Imperial statesmen.

I think there were actually plenty of geniuses in imperial Russia, it's just that most if not all of them were in literature, music, and art. As one of Russia's many great literary geniuses put it in so many words, Russian literature has traditionally been Russia's only real parliament... But your post did give me some pause, I think you've made an interesting point.

At the same time, it was obviously the very dependency on the ruler's favor of men like Speranskii and Witte that made them incredibly vulnerable to political backlash and isolation. I mean, what you are reciting is the same story, repeated over and over again, of a brilliant political statesman and reformer initially in the tsar's favor, who falls out of favor and ends his life in total obscurity, even ignominy. There was an obvious lesson in all this. You would think that by the early 20th century Stolypin would have learned it?

I do think it is possible, and one actually has to compare Russian politicians across the board, imperial and Soviet, otherwise how are we to draw any overall conclusions about anything in Russian history? Tsarist politicians seem to have been overly, even fatally dependent on the favor of the tsar. By failing to build up their own power bases they failed to maintain power and their reforms often failed to gain any real traction. That's the long and the short of it... Even the less clever American politicians, circumscribed in their powers as they are by the Constitution and massive legislation, never fail to build up a political base of support, entirely independent of the president. It's absolutely necessary if you want to have a long career and make some kind of difference in politics. It's obvious to any student of American Politics 101, which is why I'm surprised it wasn't obvious to such stellar political talents as Speranskii, Witte, and Stolypin, even if or especially since they were living in an autocracy.

By way of contrast, Stalin proved to be entirely independent of Lenin, although he pretended otherwise, after Lenin's first stroke. And Lenin went into conniptions about this, and even left an entire "Testament" on the theme of how rude and crude and unsuited for power Stalin was, and in the end, after Lenin's death, it made... no difference whatsoever, no matter how revered Lenin was (and he was very revered of course). Because Stalin had built a power base, he was the General Secretary, i.e., the chief personnel officer of the entire ruling party, and he had the entire Soviet secretariat filled with his own men, at his beck and call, and in addition, everybody who was anybody in the upper echelons of Soviet power thought he was a stand-up guy, completely reliable, salt-of-the-earth, hard-working and most of all charming as all get out - in short, all that stuff that matters so much in any actual struggle for power.

Stalin would make tons of mistakes, some of them quite major and unforgivable, as ruler of the Soviet Union, but I think his political maneuverings under Lenin prove that he was not taking Speranskii or Witte or Stolypin as his guides, rather, he was looking to role models like Napoleon after the French Revolution.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on August 31, 2010, 04:15:57 PM
And considering the horror story that Stalin set up, Nicky, by comparison, was not bad at all.   As I have said elsewhere, the poor Russians had  a revolution to get rid of what they saw as tyranny.  Instead, they got tyranny ten times worse.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 31, 2010, 05:32:28 PM
And considering the horror story that Stalin set up, Nicky, by comparison, was not bad at all.   As I have said elsewhere, the poor Russians had  a revolution to get rid of what they saw as tyranny.  Instead, they got tyranny ten times worse.

Tim, while I agree with you here, it's also true that there does exist an unspoken subtext to most Western histories of late imperial Russia and the Revolutions of 1917, which basically says (not generally directly, but reading between the lines as it were) that Nicholas II was to blame for everything that came after him. He had an opportunity, it seems, and he blew it. And tens of millions of citizens of the Russian empire suffered as a result, for almost a century to come.

A lot of Russian intellectuals I have met think the same way, but they are not afraid to say so openly and frankly, in my experience.

It's debatable whether this is a fair assessment of Nicholas II. For my part, I do think it's all but impossible as a rational, reasonable, educated human being of the modern age to read about NII's reign without coming away with the sense that yeah, this ruler had an opportunity and he did indeed blow it. Big time. My overall impression of NII is that he was a well-intentioned, well-meaning fool, but a fool nonetheless. And a fool for a tsar at precisely the wrong point in Russian history.

Still, all this doesn't necessarily mean that everything was his fault. As I've suggested in previous posts, the rot in the imperial regime went back for many reigns. NII seems to have become a convenient fall guy for almost everything that later went wrong in Russian history. Very unfair, especially since his father, Alexander III, an equally repressive and oppressive tsar, now gets accolades from Russians for being so "strong" and "tough" a ruler. As the current myth goes, World War I and the Russian Revolutions of 1917 would never have occurred on AIII's watch.

Complete and utter hogwash, as far as I'm concerned.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on August 31, 2010, 08:40:15 PM
One can't blame Nicholas for Stalin, no one had any notion that things would get worse, not better.  It would be like blaming Kaiser Wilhelm II for Hitler.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 01, 2010, 03:11:01 AM
Hindsight is 20 20 but it is not the same thing as accurate historical analysis.  So why wasn't Kerensky or Lenin responsible for Stalin.  I see Nicholas as being responsible for Russia's participation in the First World War and the high rate of Russian casualties and fatalities, I see him as responsible for retarding Russia's political development at the start of the 20th century and I see him for inhibiting political talent that may have come up with solutions for Russia's problems but he is not responsible for Stalin.  He is, however, one link in a chain of historical causality.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 01, 2010, 01:02:32 PM
Hindsight is 20 20 but it is not the same thing as accurate historical analysis.  So why wasn't Kerensky or Lenin responsible for Stalin.  I see Nicholas as being responsible for Russia's participation in the First World War and the high rate of Russian casualties and fatalities, I see him as responsible for retarding Russia's political development at the start of the 20th century and I see him for inhibiting political talent that may have come up with solutions for Russia's problems but he is not responsible for Stalin.  He is, however, one link in a chain of historical causality.

I am in agreement with you and Tim here. However, I think it is only human nature to look at a reign like Nicholas II's, when so much was actually going right for a change in Russia - I mean, it's not called the Silver Age for nothing - and think, after reading about one major blunder after another committed by Nicholas, from the "senseless dreams speech" to the Russo-Japanese War to Bloody Sunday and so on - ohmygod this poor fool had no idea what was actually at stake. He was tsar, wanted to maintain the autocracy no less, and yet we're not supposed to hold him responsible on some level for losing Russia's last chance for democratization for almost an entire century, for Russia's descent into the abyss during the Civil War and subsequently, under the regimes of Lenin and Stalin ...

No, it's human nature to look for a fall guy, and I have to say, as much as I sympathize with Nicholas and Alexandra and especially their children (who were at any rate completely blameless), whenever I read a book about NII's reign I come away so angry and perplexed that I don't wonder that Russians, who themselves and their families and certainly their country were directly and adversely affected by these events, are angry and perplexed and now basically blame Nicholas for losing the old Russia, a Russia that was ultimately destroyed and can never return.

And while I think it is human nature, I'm not saying it's rational! When I look at the large scale events, I see that Russia had serious, entrenched, endemic problems that always threatened its political stability. Which means that by the time Nicholas II came to the throne, the dice had probably been thrown, and the Romanovs and autocracy (but also liberalism) were probably losing. Still, it is possible that Russia's transition from autocracy to constitutional monarchy to democratic republic would not have been so traumatic and ultimately disastrous with another, far wiser ruler initially at the helm.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 01, 2010, 01:15:37 PM
thats what I meant by he was a link in a chain of causality.  Some people approach history like a connect the dots picture but it is usually more complex than that.  Nicholas may have produced the conditions that Stalin eventually emerged from but he is not responsible for Stalin. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 01, 2010, 01:31:58 PM
Certainly Nicholas II is not responsible for Stalin, Stalin is responsible for Stalin. And Lenin is responsible.

That said, sometimes I do think that the latter Romanovs would have been far wiser to throw caution to the winds and take a politically extreme path, whether right or left, but enforced by actual military might. (Much the same way but not even remotely as bad as the Soviets later enforced their own regime.) This would have necessitated an authoritarian government on the lines of some Latin American ones in the 1970s (which a lot of Russians I know said back in the early 1990s was the very best they could hope for their country, governmentally speaking). But under a dictatorship (like that of Peter the Great, in fact, who was never afraid to use force) a tsar could have become a figure either for real economic and social change (if not political, that would have been daring indeed) or a figure like Alexander III but tougher, upholding and reifying the past (in which case, I think the Romanovs would only have endured until 1929, tops, and the onset of the Great Depression).

Anyway, it's an interesting scenario to contemplate. I know it's dreadfully cynical, but it's one of my revisionist fantasies, I confess.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 01, 2010, 01:49:03 PM
Well an autocrat is essentially a dictator but Nicholas had some credibility in that he inherited a postion that was legitimised by the church.  A coup basically occurred with Kerensky at the head of it and it was ineffectual.  The only thing that might have prevented the onset of communism was not occupying Korea, not becoming involved in the Russo japanese War or not supporting Serbia and then entering the First World War.  Nicholas was not only a weak autocrat but someone with abysmal political judgement. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 01, 2010, 02:03:08 PM
Yes, if Russia had actually turned inward roundabout 1900, this could have been a very good thing. It was quite doable, the Soviets later proved that in an age of mass media. If Russia had turned inward, avoided the Russo-Japanese War (easily done) and World War I (geez, not nearly so easily done), then the Romanovs and constitutional monarchy, or at the very least a new republic, had a chance of surviving well into the twentieth century, at least until the Depression, and even that might have made a huge difference to the fate of millions.

I know autocrats are on some level dictators (certainly Peter and Catherine the Great were dictators), but Nicholas, while he used dictatorial powers in crushing the Revolution of 1905-06, was not generally one to raise the sword in fighting his enemies. He was hamstrung by the Western press. Belonging by marriage (doubly) to the British royal family, and being of a mild and pacific temperament, he could hardly cock a snook at respectable constitutional monarchists and democrats in the West who believed in liberal values and progress. A stronger ruler might have done precisely that, however.

Of course World War I is the great stumbling block in all my revisionist fantasies of Russian history. There was really no way to avoid it. As one of my professors put it, so many years ago, "Russia was basically faced with two choices - either to become a virtual colony of Germany or to survive as a European power." No question but that most rulers, no matter how clever and politically savvy and astute, would have chosen to survive as one of Europe's major powers.

In other words, Russia was screwed, whoever was reigning. There was no way to avoid participation in World War I, if you still wanted your country to count after World War I.

And with World War I inevitably came revolution, as Lenin himself had predicted. So I am the first to admit that all my revisionist fantasies of Russian history are precisely that, fantasies.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 01, 2010, 02:26:49 PM
well Germany was looking for expansion but they were bound on the east by their ally Austro Hungary so no expansion was possible that way.  I think it was unlikely that Germany would have invaded Belgium unless it had a good reason to.  So if Russia had not mobilized it is highly unlikely that Germany or Austro Hungary would have had the legitimacy to invade Poland or Russia, therefore there may not have been a war.  Of course the Kaiser was spoiling for a war but he needed someone to take the bait.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 01, 2010, 02:55:29 PM
But as I see it, the problem is that public opinion in Russia - and by that I mean urban, usually educated public opinion (which is really the only public opinion that counted in Russia in August 1914 - let's be blunt, the peasantry didn't count) was firmly and enthusiastically on the side of declaring war against Germany.

It wasn't just the Kaiser who was spoiling for war, plenty of ordinary people across central and eastern Europe were, too. I think it would have been difficult for any Russian monarch at this juncture to have refused to mobilize his troops. Remember those huge crowds that gathered (they were captured on film) when Nicholas II made his first public appearance after declaring war against Germany. I think those were the first truly enthusiastic crowds NII had encountered since his coronation (the 1913 tercentenary celebrations had been decidedly lackluster by comparison).




Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 01, 2010, 03:06:27 PM
One of the contributing factors that noone really speaks about is Russia's victory in the Russian Turkish wars in 1877.  As well after their defeat in Korea in the Russo Japanese war, Nicholas decided to become more involved in the Balkans in the hope of getting access to a warm water port (Constantinople).
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 01, 2010, 03:23:26 PM
One of the contributing factors that noone really speaks about is Russia's victory in the Russian Turkish wars in 1877.  As well after their defeat in Korea in the Russo Japanese war, Nicholas decided to become more involved in the Balkans in the hope of getting access to a warm water port (Constantinople).

Thanks for the information. I hadn't thought of this, and no one's brought it to my attention before.

It seems to me a warm water port is something any tsar (and/or dictator) worth his salt would aspire to. So I'm still not convinced that World War I was avoidable for Russia, (geo)politically speaking (of course it was avoidable practically speaking, but then at the most basic level almost anything is avoidable).

In terms of Russia's readiness or willingness to go to war, I think one also has to take into account the rise of the Pan-Slavist movement among educated Russians (to this day, Russian public opinion views Serbia and for that matter most of the Balkans as naturally part of the Russian sphere of interest/influence, hence Russian anger at the NATO bombing of Kosovo). Also, Russian nationalism in general was very strong at the turn of the century. As for that matter was German nationalism, Serbian nationalism, Hungarian nationalism, Polish nationalism, and so on and so forth. Nationalism was in fact a powerful political force all across Central and Eastern Europe before and after the first world war.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 01, 2010, 03:33:09 PM
There was an incident prior to 1914 when Russia did not support Serbia and it had its wings clipped.  So there was a lot of anger when Austro Hungary decided to further infringe Serbia's autonomy follwing the assassination of the Austrian crown prince.  That was one of the reasons why Russians were beying for blood.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 01, 2010, 03:53:06 PM
Yeah, they wanted blood, they got blood.  *shakes heads*
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 01, 2010, 04:04:35 PM
They had an army of 1,000,000 but they forgot about technology.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on September 01, 2010, 07:44:09 PM
They also forgot about supply lines.  They should have learned from Napoleon when it came to that, but if they did, they forgot about it 100 years later.

The Eastern Front was huge and the supply lines were long and very much out of date.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 01, 2010, 08:02:06 PM
Quote
They should have learned from Napoleon when it came to that, but if they did, they forgot about it 100 years later.

Hitler would make that same mistake in 1941.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on September 01, 2010, 08:10:16 PM
I remember reading that Russia depended on the vastness of her lands to help in the fighting off of any invaders as if the land itself was a "fifth column".    But World War I was different in what another poster already said.

Technology.  Russia was desperately behind the rest of Europe.

And then there was the lack of organization of the movement of troop trains and hospital trains and the freight trains which would have been carrying those needed supplies.

In WWI the whole supply line thing was working in reverse against the Russians as it had worked against Napoleon and as you said Hitler in 1941.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 01, 2010, 08:28:48 PM
All of you are just driving more nails into the coffin of my revisionist fantasies.

Okay, so we're all agreed that there's no way a monarchical or even a moderately democratic Russia could have emerged from the debacle of World War I?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 02, 2010, 03:38:17 AM
Well supply lines are logistics and logistics depend on technology.  Kaiser Wilhelm once studied Barnum and Bailey's Circus when it came to Germany and studied the speed of loading and unloading of railway carriages and applied this to his army.

I think if the right leader had been available, then Russia may have been transmogrified into a democracy.  The last possible leader that I know of who had the skills to accomplish that was Count Witte and he died in 1915.  By the way, Witte advised the Tsar to stay out of the conflict.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Kalafrana on September 02, 2010, 06:09:55 AM
'There was an incident prior to 1914 when Russia did not support Serbia and it had its wings clipped.'

Was this the Austrian takeover of Bosnia Herzegovina in 1908?

We also need to remember that Russia in 1914 had treaty obligations towards France and it would have been politically disastrous at an international level to renege on them.

Ann
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 02, 2010, 06:27:57 AM
I am not sure but I definitely remember one incident where Russians were annoyed that their government did not support their slavic brothers.

Well it is highly unlikely that Austro Hungary would have attacked France and Germany was not prepared to take on France directly as they knew that France had treaties with a number of other countries, including Britain.  I am not sure whether a war would have taken place had Russia not mobilized but it may have been the case.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 02, 2010, 09:51:03 AM
Sounds to me that poor Nicky just got in over his head in the First World War.  Germany was much smaller, but far more advanced.  The Industrial Revolution had more or less passed Russia by, while Germany had been built up by it.

Nicky fatally underestimated how much the IR had built Germany up.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 02, 2010, 01:16:36 PM
Well actually Count Witte was trying to industrialize Russia but he had a late start.  Most of the positive things happening in Russia from 1880 to the first world war have Witte's imprints on them.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on September 02, 2010, 02:16:57 PM
When looking for something else,  I ran across Fige's statements about Russia and if it was prepared for WWI.  He said on  p. 253:  "By 1914 Russia was spending more than Germany on her armed forces:  over one-third of all government expenditures.  It is not true, as historians later claimed, that the Russian army was unprepared for war.  In manpower and material it was at least the equal of the German army, and, thanks to the recent improvements of Russia's western railways, took only three days more than its enemy to complete its mobilization."
...[in part]...
AGRBear


>>Decades under consideration have traditionally been treated by Soviet and Western historians as a prelude to the Soviet period.  In the West, such treatment usually takes place in the context of the old but ever present controversy between the "optimists" on one hand the "pessimists" on the other.  The optimists understandably emphasize the advances of Imperial russia in industry, agriculture, education, labor, and the creation of responsible, educated citizens who were gradually becoming constructive contributors to the government's political activitiy [stet].  All these elements were moving consciously or unconsciously toward full parliamentary government--all that was need was time.  But alas, the war, with it's accompanying strains and tensions, frustrated these efforts and put an end to constitutional hopes.  The pessimists, as could be expected, described all this activity as a "superficial glow," brought about partly by the government's half solutions but offering no justification for the outcome expected by the optimists.<<  p. 4  RUSSIA UNER THE LAST TSAR edited by T.G. Stavrou.

Optimist:

Germany would not have defeated the Russians, by March of 1917  they were losing their edge because of they couldn't continue to contain  two fronts for much longer.   Germany was like a candle burning at both ends and so desperate that they sent Lenin back to Russia with a train load of gold to support the revolutionaries, who promised to end the war and give Germany just one front, the western one.

Had WWI ended with   Nicholas II  still at the helm,  he would have stood bleeding and wounded.   The exhausted and weary Emperor might well have signed his abdication if his generals had at that time demanded it.  Nicholas II would  and given his world over to his brother Michael, who would have set up a new Duma, with new rules and new blood, and they would have been on a very slow track to a parliamentary government.   There, of course,  would have been uprisings like there had been....  

Pessimist:

This slow boat was NOT taken and it ended up wrecked in a river of blood....

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 02, 2010, 02:31:23 PM
There is another hypothetical situation.  If Germany and Austro Hungary had been forced to invade Russia, sooner or later they would have been obliterated and there would have been no western front. Or at least it would have been France following up the rear of the Germans and AHs
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 02, 2010, 05:10:10 PM
There is another hypothetical situation.  If Germany and Austro Hungary had been forced to invade Russia, sooner or later they would have been obliterated and there would have been no western front. Or at least it would have been France following up the rear of the Germans and AHs

Sorry, you've lost me. I thought that was precisely what imperial Germany did do, invade the Russian empire, in the last years of the war. Otherwise, how exactly did they enforce their treaty with the Bolsheviks, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk? Could it be because they were already in place, on the ground, occupying Poland and the Baltic states, not to mention the Ukraine? Seems to me that at this point in the war Germany had any Russian government over a barrel, whether it was Kerensky's or Lenin's.

Of course, after this major victory Germany moved most of its troops back to the Western front. But yes, it's true, in invading the Russian empire Germany was over-stretching its resources (originally in the illusory hope that the "black earth" region of the Ukraine would supply much needed food to Germany), nevertheless, it was still a very real, threatening military presence in the former Russian empire in the years 1917-1918. After the signing of Brest-Litovsk (March 1918), which basically carved up the Russian empire and humiliated the Russian government in the most unconscionable way imaginable, one of the Russian generals actually left the delegation and shot himself.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 02, 2010, 09:50:48 PM
I meant going deep ino Russia itself not its political colonnies like Poland and Ukraine and I meant without Russia losing so many troops on an offensive.  This would have absorbed most of the Germans in much the same way as it did in the Second World War and would have allowed the Russians to cut off supply lines much the same way as they did during the Napleonic incursion.  In this way, Nicholas would not have been the scapegoat.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 03, 2010, 01:37:47 AM
True, the harsh Russian winter would have taken the same toll on the Kaiser's troops as it did Hitler's, a generation later.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on September 03, 2010, 02:25:41 AM
There seemed to have been the customary winter slow down during WWI.  Everyone geared up for a new "summer offensive" but didn't do much fighting during the winter unless it was to the south were the weather was not as harsh?

Also, after Brest Litvosk, the Germans took over many parts of Russia including Sevastopol as was shown by the retreat of the Sevastopol Soviet troops and the defence of the Imperial Family in the Crimea by the Germans.

Then the Germans fell back and it became time for the Imperial Family to get a move on and take up the British offer to leave on the Marlborough.


Otto von Bismark knew that Germany could not fight on both sides at the same time and always worked to steer the Kaiser from making enemies of Russia and France at the same time.  But of course he was no longer in favor and died in 1898 long before the war began and his successor von Buelow was not as smart, it would seem.

In February 1888, during a Bulgarian crisis, Bismarck addressed the Reichstag on the dangers of a European war.

He warned of the imminent possibility that Germany will have to fight on two fronts; he spoke of the desire for peace; then he set forth the Balkan case for war and demonstrates its futility: "Bulgaria, that little country between the Danube and the Balkans, is far from being an object of adequate importance… for which to plunge Europe from Moscow to the Pyrenees, and from the North Sea to Palermo, into a war whose issue no man can foresee. At the end of the conflict we should scarcely know why we had fought."[32]


It sounds as if Bismark would have said the same about Serbia.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 03, 2010, 02:48:01 AM
Unfortunately Brest Litovsk was a capitulation and not what I had in mind.  What i had in mind was the 1,000,000 plus Russian army skirmishing at points and carrying on a guerilla campaign of snipering and landmines etc.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on September 03, 2010, 03:26:22 AM
Unfortunately Brest Litovsk was a capitulation and not what I had in mind.  What i had in mind was the 1,000,000 plus Russian army skirmishing at points and carrying on a guerrilla campaign of sniping and landmines etc.

I am sorry C - but now you have lost me!
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 03, 2010, 09:10:44 AM
What I wrote originally was that instead of attacking the Austro Hungarians and the Germans, it would have been better if Nicholas had not mobilised and let the Germans and Austro Hungarians invade Russian.  Someone said well they invaded Poland after teh first world war began and that wasnt what I meant because by that time the Russian army was severely depleted.  I meant let them come as far into Russia as posssible and then form the Russian army into a combination of small units and guerilla units.  Sooner or later the German Army would have been decimated as the Russins would have been armed and assisted by the French and the British who then could have attacked from the West.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 03, 2010, 09:25:29 AM
I meant going deep ino Russia itself not its political colonnies like Poland and Ukraine and I meant without Russia losing so many troops on an offensive.  This would have absorbed most of the Germans in much the same way as it did in the Second World War and would have allowed the Russians to cut off supply lines much the same way as they did during the Napleonic incursion.  In this way, Nicholas would not have been the scapegoat.

I see what you're saying, but while such a deliberate Russian retreat into the heartland (as in 1812) might have made sense during World War I as a military strategy (and that's highly debatable), it would have been absolute political suicide on Nicholas II's part. Even in the early years of the war his empress was already commonly believed to be a German spy. If Nicholas had decided to "strategically" withdraw Russian troops into Russia proper, can you imagine what the public response in urban areas would have been? There would have been a military coup d'état and/or revolution long before February 1917, in Petersburg at least.

Also, I have to say, such a retreat makes no sense to me militarily, either, because while support for the war effort remained fairly strong in the cities throughout NII's reign, it was always relatively weak in the countryside. Where would these partisans and guerilla fighters you are talking about (who would defend the motherland from German aggression!) - I ask you, where would they have come from? The peasantry wanted nothing to do with the war, most of them didn't even know what it was about; defeatism was rampant among the rank and file of the Russian army. On too many levels it was not the same situation as it had been one hundred years before, during the Napoleonic Wars, or for that matter, as it would be decades later, when the Nazis' murderous economic and racial policies in the occupied Soviet Union drove most ordinary people to choose the lesser devil, Stalin, over Hitler (to mangle Churchill's quote).
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 03, 2010, 09:47:02 AM
Well first of all recruitment at the beginning of World War one was relatively easy as there was a great patriotic feeling about going to war.  it was only after the disaster of the  Battle of Tannenburg and then the ensuing decimation of the Russian army that enthusiasm wained.  you might be surprised how enthusiastically even people who hate their government are about defending their homeland when they are invaded.  And the Tsaritsa might have been seen as a liability or not. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 03, 2010, 10:02:03 AM
Constantinople, what you're proposing is just so politically and militarily unrealistic... if Nicholas had followed the game plan you've outlined (and I doubt his general staff would have stood for it for one second), he would have been overthrown by his own military and the urban populace would have taken to rioting in the streets. Meanwhile the peasantry would be welcoming the German troops with bread and salt in most places - not only in Poland, the Baltic States, Ukraine, and Belorussia, but even in Russia proper. The Russian peasantry didn't give a damn about Russia, most of them didn't even understand the concept of "Russia" - they were still living in the 17th century, when peasants across Europe thought of themselves as "belonging" to a particular province or region, but had no clue when it came to the concepts of nation or state. No, my old history professor was right, given such a scenario, Russia even if it managed to maintain a degree of autonomy would have emerged half its size and little more than a German satellite.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 03, 2010, 10:16:15 AM
I can see his point, Russia could have just sat there and said "bring it on" to the Germans.  Russia would have had the home field advantage, they knew the land, the Germans didn't.  Besides, as I said, the harsh Russian winter would have worked in their favour.  They knew how to deal with it, foreign invaders didn't (as both Napoleon and Hitler found out the hard way).  How many troops could Germany have kept there, considering they still had the West to deal with, and the entry of the U.S. into the war in 1917.

Had he played his cards right, things might have gone better for poor Nicky.  Alas, we'll never know.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 03, 2010, 10:36:28 AM
Well it is a hypothetical solution.  Who knows what would have happened.  In my mind the Germans would have been exhausted and depleted by about 1916 and might have used its submarines at that time to torpedo American freighters supplying the allies.  there may not have been trench warfare and possibly different methods of miltary machinery than were invented for the first world war could have been invented. But it is hypothetical so who knows but at least Nicholas couldnt have been blamed for making the first move and then a disasterous followup.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on September 03, 2010, 10:42:40 AM
I agree with Elizabeth.  Perhaps without having suffered through the defeat in the Russo-Japanese War, Nicholas might have been able to sit back and let the Germans come in (of course Alexandra was a handicap, but was she in the very beginning of the war?)

But after losing badly to Japan and suffering through the Treaty of Portland (I have always thought that New Hampshire was a strange place to have a treaty meeting) Nicholas could not just sit back.  

He could have mobilized and brought the troops to the border without stepping over the "national boundary", because Nicholas Nicholaevich was the Commander in Chief at the time and any action didn't look quite so bad on the Tsar himself.

But everyone in every country thought that this war was going to be "a piece of cake" and be over by Christmas which was only about 5 months from its declaration.  No one had any idea that it would become a slow moving trench war and just slowly kill off men and patriotism over the course of four years.

In my humble estimation, anything Nicholas could have done to preserve the Imperial Throne would have had to have begun almost from the day of the ascension.

By August of 1914, there was not too much left to do but sit and wait for the inevitable.

Constantinople - had guerrilla warfare even been invented before 1914?  Weren't the armies still studying Napoleon and Julius Caesar and trying to move about in squares and cavalry charges?  I think they would have thought it dishonorable to fight a guerrilla war in 1914.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 03, 2010, 11:04:43 AM
Well the term cmes from Spain in the Napolenic war.  It was common in the Civil war and probably a lot of wars in history and probably occurred when Russia was invaded by Napoleon.  My gut feeling is that if occurred well back into history.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 03, 2010, 12:10:05 PM
Well it is a hypothetical solution.  Who knows what would have happened.  In my mind the Germans would have been exhausted and depleted by about 1916 and might have used its submarines at that time to torpedo American freighters supplying the allies.  there may not have been trench warfare and possibly different methods of miltary machinery than were invented for the first world war could have been invented. But it is hypothetical so who knows but at least Nicholas couldnt have been blamed for making the first move and then a disasterous followup.

"Nicholas couldn't have been blamed for making the first move?" Are you serious, I mean only Western historians looking back on the event at the vantage point of fifty or more years would possibly even think so. At the time and for long afterwards NII would very much have been blamed for all this and much more, and for all of its unintended consequences. Including the western part of the Russian empire becoming a mere German province.

I think this stuff about there "may not have been trench warfare and possibly different methods of military machinery than there were invented for the first world war could have been invented" is only so much fantasy. I mean, the fact of the matter is that none of these methods and none of this machinery were ever invented during World War I. None of these things were ever invented, because at the time they couldn't be invented. Be honest, Germany was up against the wall in 1917, and if the Germans could have come up with some magical new "military machinery" to win this horrible war then they damned well would have, you can be sure.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 03, 2010, 12:24:54 PM
Well Elizabeth thanks for the history lesson.  I prefer the term hypothetical and weapons are developed to fit the situation.  When the Germans were running out of natural components for explosives, their chemists developed artificial components.  Tanks were developed to deal with trenches.  So what makes you a military genius?  Have you studied military history?  This thread is about what Nicholas could have done to preserve the throne and that embodies the actual and the hypothetical in case you didn't understand that.  So some of us will verge into the hypothetical.  Fantasy is an extremely pejorative term.  If you like, I have extended enough a vocabulary to start choosing the same types of adjectives to start adjudicating some of your posts which are even more into fantasy land.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on September 03, 2010, 03:09:49 PM
Alixz:

...[in part]...
 Constantinople - had guerrilla warfare even been invented before 1914?  Weren't the armies still studying Napoleon and Julius Caesar and trying to move about in squares and cavalry charges?  I think they would have thought it dishonorable to fight a guerrilla war in 1914.

The Russians soldiers broke into guerrillla groups and did the "hit" and "run" attacks toward  Napoleon's troops, who were retreating from Moscow in 1812, when an early winter snow began.

The old Russian generals were aware of this history.  The problem was,  many of the old generals hadn't a clue about modern warfare, which Krupp's Germany was inventing every day, or so it seemed.  When Nicholas II was visiting his generals early in the war,  he tried to explain to one of the old generals that he could not send horse soldiers toward a machine gun.  The old general, who thought he knew better, sent his men toward the machine guns   and his men were slaughtered.

p. 161 of Marc Ferro's NICHOLAS II, THE LAST OF THE TSARS:  Nicholas II>>...had allowed his generals to invite Guchkov and the members of the Duma's War Committe to visit the front, in order that they might help with the supply of munitions.  'This interference can become very dangerous,' Sukhomlinov explained.  Nevertheless, the Tsar had agreed to the consitution of the committe in question, with a vew of improving supply situations, and had dismissed N. Maklakov, the Minister of the Interior who had hindered this co-operation.<<

Figes' THE PEOPLE TRAGEDY p. 269-270:

>>It seems there were two reasons (both equally flawed) for Nicholas's decision-- and it was his decision-- to assume the command of the army.<<

>>Second, the tsar had hoped that by placing himself at the head of the army, he might help to restore its morale:  if the soldiers would not fight for "Russia", then perhaps they would fight for him.  But Nicholas II had no experience of military command and although the important decisions were all taken by his new Chief of Staff, General M. V. Alexeev, who was a gifted strategist, the Tsar's presence had a bad effect overall on morale.  For, in the words of Brusilov, 'Everyone knew that Nicholas II understood next to nothing about military matters..."<<

Was that really true?

Figes goes on to say:  >>...although the word "Tsar" still had a magical power over the troops,  he utterly lacked the charisma to bring that magic to life.  Faced with a group of soldiers,  he was nervous and did not know what to say.<<

Because Nicholas II had displaced the favorite uncle Grand Duke Nikolai Nickolaiovich,  there was a lot of  grumbles and mumbles.  And, a lot of this has been recorded by historians, who generally don't know very much about the situation in which Nikolai had placed his troops.  Nicholas II had pulled Nikolai out in order for him to "save face" since the Germans had pushed him back 200 miles...  [p. 168 Marc Ferro's NICHOLAS II, THE LAST OF THE TSARS]. And, how could Nicholas II known that good old Chief of Staff Gen. Alexeev was plotting against his own Tsar by replacing him with Nikolai,  who, by the way,  declined, and, quickly loped off to his new position in the war against Germany.  

And, it was true,  it was the new Chief of Staff  Alexeev who was running the show so when things went badly  who was really to blame?  And,  isn't it interesting that  Alexeev was to be called the 'father of the Whites', who wasn't interested in ex-Emp. Nicholas II, as their leader?

Richard S. Wortman's  SCENARIOS OF POWER p. 403 tells us using his sourse, a four-volume book TSAR EMPEROR NICHOLAS ALEXANDROVICH WITH THE ACTIVE ARMY  by Major-General D.N. Dubernskii accounts:

>>Volume I covers Nicholas's visits to headquarters and the front in September and Oct 1914.  The author points out that although Nicholas Nikolaevich was commander in chief, the tsar watched closely over the conduct of war.<<

He talks about Nicholas II visits not just to the headquarters but he walked into the trenches and talked to his soldiers.

Nicholas II set up hospitals tents filled with doctors and nurses near the front.  And, there are actual records of what was said by Nicholas II who doesn't seem to be a mumbling bumbling idiot.

Nicholas II traveled for a month going down the entire line of the war front...

Here is something that proves Nicholas II's devotion to his God whom he believed had  placed him as Emp., and, at that time, Commander-in-Chief:

p. 407:

>>In the fall of 1915, Russian armies replused the enemy's offensive in the west.  Dubenskii wrote  "The Russian Emperor, according to the ancient belief of the orthodox people, the Anointed of God, the All-Russian Autocrat, taking the sword into His hands, halted the enemy invasion."  The Brusilov offensive of 1916 penetrated into Austria, the russian army moved forward elsewhere on the front.  To Nicholas, these successes indicated divine intervention.  He had the icon of the Vladimir mother of God brought from Moscow to headquarters. "I am convinced that its blessing will be of great help to us."  On May 28, 1916, the troops carried the icons along the streets of Mogilev.  This reminded him of Borodino.<<

NICHOLAS II, THE LAST TSAR OF RUSSIA by Marc Ferro p. 168 tells us what NIcholas II did when he sat in front of his 16 minimsters:
>>And the Tsar said to them: 'An order has been given me from on high... I well remember how, when I stood before the great icon of Our Lord in our chapel at Tsarskoe Selo, an inner voice called on me to take the supreme command and to inform the Grand Duke, independently of all that had been said to me by our Friend [that is Rasputin].'<<  Nicholas II then stood and relieved the 16 ministers of their duties.  He was going to be the Commander-in-Chief and that was his final words to them.


Over on page 405:
>>Nicholas, Goremykin told the Council of Minister, never forgave himself for failing to take command during the Russo-Japanese war...<<
>>According to Dubenskii, the news that the tsar was joining the army awakened rejoicing in Russia.<<

Well,  he was, now, in charge....  Or rather,  Gen. Alexeev was in charge.  

As far as I'm concern, it was the popular  Gen. Alexeev who should share a lot of the blame for what was to follow, because, it was    Alexeev who was the "chauffeur", who didn't know how to drive to victory with his Tsar, but was consumed my the idea of over throwing the Tsar....  

[ Chaufffeur  is in reference to an article written in 1915 by V. Maklakov titled A TRAGIC SITUATION: THE MAD CHAUFFEUR, which was a parable about Nicholas II being the chauffeur who didn't know how to drive who refuses to give up the wheel to someone who does know how to drive.]  

AGRBear


Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 03, 2010, 03:37:44 PM
Interesting post.  Considering Nicholas' legendary indecisiveness, i wonder what convinced him to place himself over Generals who at least could make decisions.  He should have listened to Count Witte who wanted to stay out of the war.  I think Count Witte would understand what I said above and would know how to rally Russia around this strategy.  It is a shame he died so early, he would have been an  improvement over Kerensky.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on September 03, 2010, 07:05:17 PM
Figes tells us in A PEOPLE'S TRAGEDY  Gen. Aleveev and  Kornilov are given the credit for being  "founders" of the Whites.

(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/AGRBear/Gen-Alexeev.jpg)

I wasn't sure if I should talk about him here or over on the new thread about "But was the revolution inevitable".

Gen. Alexeev was the last chief of staff in the imperial army.  Here are a few bites and pieces Figes wrote about him:

p. 169 "The Commander-in-Chief...Admiral Alexeev knew almost nothing about the art of war.  Afraid of horses, he had to suffer the indignity of inspecting his cavalary on foot.  Alexeev's promotion had been largely due to the patronage of the Grand Duke Alexis, whom he once rescued from the French police..."

...[in part]...

AGRBear

Was it was GD Alexis who  suggested to Nicholas II that he take Alexeev as his new Chief of Staff?

I think Nicholas II should never have turned for help  from any of his Romanov relatives when it came to the war with Germany?

AGRBear

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 03, 2010, 08:11:52 PM
Well Elizabeth thanks for the history lesson.  I prefer the term hypothetical and weapons are developed to fit the situation.  When the Germans were running out of natural components for explosives, their chemists developed artificial components.  Tanks were developed to deal with trenches.  So what makes you a military genius?  Have you studied military history?  This thread is about what Nicholas could have done to preserve the throne and that embodies the actual and the hypothetical in case you didn't understand that.  So some of us will verge into the hypothetical.  Fantasy is an extremely pejorative term.  If you like, I have extended enough a vocabulary to start choosing the same types of adjectives to start adjudicating some of your posts which are even more into fantasy land.

I don't think "fantasy is an extremely pejorative term" since I've used that very same term, "fantasy," referring to myself, repeatedly in my previous posts! Actually, I am all in favor of fantasy scenarios that would have some form of constitutional government in Russia (monarchical or otherwise) surviving World War I. But I expect these scenarios to be as realistic as possible. And so far your scenarios are every bit as disappointing as my own. I confess I can't come up with a way for Russia to survive World War I intact as a constitutional monarchy, and, it seems to me, neither can you. There has to be some other scenario that would work - or will we just be forced to admit that imperial Russia was doomed in August 1914? Surely not!

N.B. If you find "hypothetical" a more user friendly term than "fantasy" then I will use that term. But I think frankly that once history is done, it's done, and any kind of revisionism is, in fact, pure fantasy. Not necessarily less worthwhile for all that, because it's still an amusing and often stimulating intellectual exercise.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 03, 2010, 09:06:18 PM
Well, it's hard to say what could or may have happened.   If Russia had not been so ill prepared for the war, things might have gone differently.  If they had won a quick and decisive victory early on, the revolution may not have happened.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on September 03, 2010, 11:51:27 PM
Whether we call it fantasy or hypothetical it is still very interesting to try to out think those who were there.

It seems to me that war develops a life of its own and it has its own needs which are met by those who want either to continue the conflict or to end it.

Various new and more deadly weapons are developed with each succeeding war.

The Gatling Gun came out of the American Civil War.  Mustard gas and tanks and refined air planes came out of The Great War.  Heavy water experiments and rocket power and atomic bombs came out of World War II.   With each new conflict and confrontation new weapons are created to meet or to try to over come them.  It is still going on today.

However, I also think that if every current modern weapon disappeared from the battle field tomorrow the soldiers would simply pick up the nearest rock or stick and continue on fighting until the last man standing.

No matter what Nicholas did or didn't do during his reign, the only way to preserve the Imperial Throne would have had to have begun (as I said earlier) almost on the day he ascended the throne in 1984.

I believe that Massie says (and I am probably misquoting him) that "it was with special care that fate chose Nicholas Alexandrovich to be the last Tsar of Russia".  Nicholas was a true fatalist and he himself believed that "all was God's will".  There was probably nothing that could have been done (outside of curing the nephritis that killed Alexander III) that could have preserved the imperial throne in Russia.

And maybe not even that would have helped.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 04, 2010, 12:00:20 AM
Quote
However, I also think that if every current modern weapon disappeared from the battle field tomorrow the soldiers would simply pick up the nearest rock or stick and continue on fighting until the last man standing.

Didn't Albert Einstein say something along the lines of he didn't know what weapons would be used in World War III, but he knew what would be used in World War IV, namely bows and arrows.  That is assuming, humanity survived WWIII at all.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 04, 2010, 12:17:39 AM
Well Russia had capable scientists in spite of Alexander lll's best efforts to close down the univeristies' science faculties, which he saw as nurseries for producing revolutionaries.  Most of the large industrial corporations in Russia before the war were foreign so there was no impetus for Russia to develop or research and develop new products or techniques and this came back to haunt her in the First World War.

Yes technology is changing fast.  The fighter jets that are being developed now may be the last jets that actually require pilots.  The next generation could be supersonic drone fighters. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 04, 2010, 12:48:23 AM
Computer controlled war machines.

*Terminator theme starts to play in my head*
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 04, 2010, 01:45:07 AM
Well the F35 by Lockheed Martin is as much a reconnaissance plane as an attack aircraft.  The generation after this plane is forecast to be pilotless and controlled from remote locatiions.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on September 04, 2010, 10:32:37 AM
I don't think it is a great idea to dehumanize war with pilot-less planes - etc.  We may think it saves lives, but all it does is remove the soldiers and their commanders from having to look into the eye of the man you are going to kill.

Once we don't have to face what we are doing to one another there is no remorse or guilt.  That is why war used to be glorified until Vietnam came into our living rooms.  Only the troops saw the destruction and devastation and those at home never knew how horrible it was.  They only thought they did.

The video games that the kids play now are leading us to that end.  Games such as War Hawk and those of that kind encourage young people to fight like real soldiers and yet there is no consequence to killing your enemy or even your own team mate unless you get kicked out of the server.

But getting kicked off the server is temporary and you can back in the "game" tomorrow.

I have often wondered if the Japanese, who are so good a perfecting these games, are teaching our children to kill without consequence and therefore getting them ready for the next World War.  A war that no one will win.

This is so off topic, but there is a voice module to these games and you can hear the players as they curse and demean each other for not killing enough or the way that others want them to.  It is disgusting because, even though these games are not meant for young children, parents are not supervising and young children are in the server every night.

I know this because my 24 year old plays this game.  He seems to know the difference between reality and gaming, but then we have been working on that since the day he began playing Super Mario Brothers and "bonking Kupas on the head" while avoiding poisonous mushrooms.

I know that there are posters here who have family who serve in the "real" military.  I wonder how they feel about war video gaming.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 04, 2010, 11:34:00 AM
Well, also very OT but I think the real problem, Alix, is that the majority of young men and boys have always liked war. They like the idea (the hypothetical, the fantasy) of war and destruction and blowing things up. This is not an original observation, obviously. It's been made over and over again by virtually everybody since the dawn of recorded history. And needless to say, the current Hollywood film industry is very dependent on this particular age and sex demographic, otherwise we wouldn't be subjected to so many bad action movies with incredible special effects costing tens of millions of dollars.

There is something biological in all this, much as I hate to say it. I'll never forget the family confabs that took place over my little nephew's desire to own a toy sword (he was what, four years old?). This was utterly shocking to his poor parents, who thought that if you raised a male child in an utterly pacific and pacifist environment then he would necessarily turn out to be utterly pacific and pacifist. Such was not the case... and it only got worse. When he was five, he wanted a water pistol. Another family confab. Of course he eventually got one because he is the apple of his parents' eyes and they can deny him nothing, if truth be told. He is now almost 11 years old and his favorite hobby is martial arts and his favorite movies are about ancient Rome, especially Gladiator - which he saw illegally at a friend's house, of course, because he's not allowed to watch television in his actual home.

Unfortunately, I think that, like poverty, war will always be with us. It's part of our biological programming, part and parcel of the human condition.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 04, 2010, 04:08:53 PM
Well the effectiveness of drones is what is driving that technology.  The ultimate goal of war is to maximise your enemy's damage and minimize your own.  Nuclear weapons are a case in point where the damage is so high they actually inhibit countries from going to war.  Pilot jet fighters mean that there is only materiel damage and not human damage on one side and heavy damage on the other side, as in the case of cruise missiles.  As well, the technological gap also provides a deterrant to some degree.  We are really on the edge of something that noone from the 20th century can fully comprehend. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 05, 2010, 11:05:18 AM
Okay, moving back on topic somewhat...

I think that poor Nicky was stuck in a job he didn't want, but felt he couldn't refuse.  After all, when God himself supposedly appoints you to the job, saying no isn't really an option.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on September 05, 2010, 02:06:05 PM
I wonder when the job became a divine appointment.  Before Alexander II inherited most of the Romanovs came to the throne through trickery and/or murder.  No divine intervention there it seems.

Alexander I was no saint and might have been involved in the murder of his father Paul I.  That made the throne pass to, not a son, but to a brother and the eldest of those, Constantine, declined the promotion.

It seems to me that it was Nicholas I (Alexander's next brother) who made the job into a divine appointment and introduced the "oath to the tsar" which then made everyone subject to the parameters of that oath.

Alexander II inherited in the usual way on the death of Nicholas I and Nicholas I died of old age (the only tsar to do so in the 19th century).  Alexander II was assassinated.  Alexander III died young of an illness (I suppose that is a natural death, but certainly not a death of years).

So how did Nicholas come to believe that he was divinely appointed?  Pobedonostov?  He should have taken a page from his great grand uncle Constantine and just "passed".  It was not as if a precedent had not been set.

Everyone talks of Nicholas passing the throne to Michael but George was still very much alive in 1894 and while not well, he was actually next in line at the time.  He died on August 9, 1899.  That five years would have made next in line, Michael 21 and ready to take over without a regency.

Interesting thoughts.  I think that because of George's illness, we tend to overlook him and think in terms of Michael and Michael being too young in 1894 to succeed without a regent.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on September 05, 2010, 02:15:49 PM
I remember when my younger son went out with his friends and shot paint shots at friends in war games and when he came home all the boys were extremely excited and at the same time shaken by the activity.   It didn't matter how smart a person was  in war games,  they could have been  killed that afternoon if the bullets had been real and not paint shots.  

Nicholas II wasn't a stranger to the sites of war.  He saw the blood and the guts with the wounded and the dead.

If the revolutionaries had wanted the guns, ammunitions, boots to reach the front,  it would have happened.  But they didn't.  The revolutionaries, therefore,  were just as guilty of all those deaths as were the political leaders that created the Great War/ WWI.

Nicholas II was caught between a rock and a hard place.  He was damned if he did.  And damned if he didn't.  

Could he have made a Treaty with Germany in order to deal stop the fighting and be able to deal  with  the wounded soldiers and   the revolutionists?  Maybe, he shouldn't have declared war in the first place....  At what point in time was it the point of no return?

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 05, 2010, 05:18:59 PM
Quote
Nicholas I died of old age (the only tsar to do so in the 19th century


Well, if the legend of Alexander I is true, that he faked his death and became a hermit, then he lived to his mid-80's.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 05, 2010, 07:46:16 PM
I wonder when the job became a divine appointment.  Before Alexander II inherited most of the Romanovs came to the throne through trickery and/or murder.  No divine intervention there it seems.

Alexander I was no saint and might have been involved in the murder of his father Paul I.  That made the throne pass to, not a son, but to a brother and the eldest of those, Constantine, declined the promotion.

It seems to me that it was Nicholas I (Alexander's next brother) who made the job into a divine appointment and introduced the "oath to the tsar" which then made everyone subject to the parameters of that oath.

No, Alix, the "job" of tsar has been a divine appointment since the early modern period, that is, round about Ivan III, Ivan IV the Terrible, 15th-16th century, if not even earlier. This is when the real ideology of autocracy was born. And truthfully speaking, Muscovy/Russia was not much different than other European monarchies of the time, it just flowered a little later. The notion that kings are put in place by God, that in short they rule by divine right, is about as old as the institution of monarchy itself. Even in China, the emperor was literally "The Son of Heaven."

Of course Nicholas could have refused to be tsar, but it would have meant bucking the system upon which his entire identity was based. Since he had been a little boy, since he was born in fact, he was always the appointed heir to the Russian throne after his father. He wasn't a reprobate like Alexander II's brother Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich, he was highly principled and conscientious. Moreover, unlike Konstantin, he was born in the era of bourgeois kings who fulfilled their duty to God and country no matter what.

Also, sorry, but I can't let this pass, AGRBear, I have no idea where you got the notion that revolutionaries interfered with the Russian war effort. (What, do you think they were like French partisans in WWII, blowing up railway lines?) Could you perhaps cite your sources for such an extraordinary claim?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on September 05, 2010, 08:06:25 PM
I have been asked to comment, so I shall this time.  The throne was definitely not god's appointment. It was  an anointment at the coronation.  I am not sure how the Empresses were treated, as they could not become priests, even for that brief time  Meaning the Catherines, Anna & Elisabeth. For reference on this see Scenarios of Power by Wortman. Not an easy read, but worth the effort. Otherwise, the throne passed passedby the  judgement of the previos emeperor, not by god.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 05, 2010, 08:50:28 PM
I have been asked to comment, so I shall this time.  The throne was definitely not god's appointment. It was  an anointment at the coronation.  I am not sure how the Empresses were treated, as they could not become priests, even for that brief time  Meaning the Catherines, Anna & Elisabeth. For reference on this see Scenarios of Power by Wortman. Not an easy read, but worth the effort. Otherwise, the throne passed passedby the  judgement of the previos emeperor, not by god.

That's certainly true by law, Robert. But it's not true in terms of the ideology of autocracy, which was quite different than the law. It was an unwritten, much older code, every bit as binding as the law, because it was custom and tradition, indeed, it dated back to Muscovite times. So while the emperor had the legal right to appoint his own successor (except that after Paul, all females were banned from succeeding), every emperor (and I believe even empress until Paul) was ideologically speaking considered God's representative on earth, indeed, even the embodiment of God on earth. Certainly, this was how the tsar was perceived by the vast majority of the population, the peasantry, up to Bloody Sunday at least.

The conflict between the 18th-century Petrine legal code (which theoretically at least placed the tsar under the restraint of the law) and the actual ideology of autocracy, which was considerably older (and basically placed the tsar above the law), would prove to be a source of endless trouble to Peter the Great's heirs, not to mention Russian reformers in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on September 05, 2010, 09:58:50 PM
 Sorry, but I still disagree.  Until an Emperor or Empress was anointed, they were not  "appointed by god"  Even the ROC  had this opinion. " God's representative on Earth" is an entirely different concept from "appointment".. .Technically, the office   was a political status with religious endorsement. Misconceptions may ensue,  however they do not change the  reality. See Theocracy & Autocracy  by Ryabuyov. Another  difficult read.  I  read it in school.  Was  a chore, but made sense. {may be hard to come by, as it is in Georgian  Slavonic, I read it in school and took took notes while  trying to translate the thing].
 Another reference  might  be  Divinity  Bestowed, a work on the the divine right of kings. I forget that author's name. But he was a Jesuit priest as I recall.
 And, of course, there is always the MUCH altered, over the centuries ROC manual of rites. Talk about a work to get through !  There is no mention now of the throne now, but it did in an old edition I read, also years ago, in school.  
 There is a definite difference in   appointment and anointment.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Michael HR on September 06, 2010, 06:56:38 AM
Robert sounds like you had a fabulous education!
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on September 06, 2010, 09:04:47 AM
Sir Robert not only had a fabulous education but he has continued to learn and learn.

He has a great depth of knowledge about world religions.

I agree with him.  I had forgotten that before Paul I the reigning or dying emperor had the right to name his own successor.  Remember how Peter I died with the paper still in hand?

So the natural order of succession did not come into play until Catherine II's son Paul I and then his son Alexander I.

When I said that Nicholas I was the only tsar to die of natural causes I actually meant that he was the only tsar to pass the throne directly to his son without dying by murder or trickery.  Alexander I may have become a hermit and lived to a ripe old age, but whether he did or didn't he did not pass his throne on to a direct heir as he had no son to pass it on to and his daughters died young.  I think that was the reason that he didn't change the Petrine Laws.  If only one of his daughters had lived, he might have been moved to change those laws as his father had sought to remove women from the line of succession, Alexander could have put them back. 

His indirect heir or "heir presumptive" as the British would call it was his brother.

Heir apparent is the other term used for direct line succession from father to son or daughter (in Britain) as the case may be.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 06, 2010, 10:04:59 AM
Sorry, but I still disagree.  Until an Emperor or Empress was anointed, they were not  "appointed by god"  Even the ROC  had this opinion. " God's representative on Earth" is an entirely different concept from "appointment".. .Technically, the office   was a political status with religious endorsement. Misconceptions may ensue,  however they do not change the  reality. See Theocracy & Autocracy  by Ryabuyov. Another  difficult read.  I  read it in school.  Was  a chore, but made sense. {may be hard to come by, as it is in Georgian  Slavonic, I read it in school and took took notes while  trying to translate the thing].
 Another reference  might  be  Divinity  Bestowed, a work on the the divine right of kings. I forget that author's name. But he was a Jesuit priest as I recall.
 And, of course, there is always the MUCH altered, over the centuries ROC manual of rites. Talk about a work to get through !  There is no mention now of the throne now, but it did in an old edition I read, also years ago, in school.  
 There is a definite difference in   appointment and anointment.

Robert, you and everybody else here have entirely failed to grasp my point. I am not talking about secular law, much less church law. I am talking about ideology, and how it impacts custom and tradition and popular belief, and vice versa.

The Petrine revolution legally affected the Russian monarchy, no question about it. Theoretically if not always in reality (because the autocratic principle survived!) it put legal restraints on this institution. But the idea that the tsar was God's representative, or even His embodiment, never died out of popular consciousness, nor did it die out of the consciousness of Peter the Great's successors on the throne of Russia. It was still very much alive as a tradition, and a very Russian tradition at that.

Robert, you are very erudite, but you have to understand, most of the Russian population in the 19th and early 20th century was not erudite - and I am talking not only about the peasantry or the middle class or the working class or for that matter the nobility, but also and especially about tsars like Alexander III and Nicholas II. Their beliefs about monarchy dated back to Muscovy, a good century or two before Peter the Great. A large part of the suicidal dynamic of Nicholas II's reign was constituted of this inherent, irreconcilable conflict between the ideology of autocracy (as propounded in the 19th-20th century by such erudite but nevertheless stupendously short-sighted, even stupid conservatives like Pobedonostsev) and the actual laws governing monarchy, not just church and secular laws dating from the 18th century but even and especially laws springing from the establishment of a constitutional monarchy after the Revolution of 1905-1906.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 06, 2010, 10:29:17 AM
N.B. If you want to get a good grasp of the popular idea of the divine right of kings, or should we say tsars, then you only have to look at the history of royal pretenders in 17th-century Russia. During this period the numerous False Dmitriis who claimed to be the royal heir Dmitrii of Uglich (in fact murdered on the orders of Boris Godunov) were never asked to show that they had been "anointed" in a "coronation." On the contrary, they were "real" tsars because they supposedly had so-called "royal marks," i.e. physical signs like birthmarks which were thought to indicate their royal status. (There is an interesting article about this, recently published in a Slavic studies journal, but the name of the author escapes me.) All of which goes to show that in our modern age Anna Anderson and her ilk had nothing special to boast about (scientifically conducted ear measurements, give me a break!).
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Kalafrana on September 06, 2010, 10:38:41 AM
'Heir apparent is the other term used for direct line succession from father to son or daughter (in Britain) as the case may be.'

Not quite. An heir apparent is an heir who cannot be superseded as heir by a person with greater priority. In Britain we still operate on the basis of male primogeniture, so a daughter can only ever be heir presumptive.

Example
Prince Charles is the heir apparent because he is the Queen's eldest son. During his lifetime, nobody with greater priority can be born and so supplant him. By contrast, the present Queen was only ever heir presumptive, because until her father's death there was always the possibility that she might have a brother who would take her place in the succession. If Prince Charles were to drop dead tomorrow, Prince William would become heir apparent as he is eldest son of the eldest son - no one can supplant him.

Ann
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on September 06, 2010, 02:10:17 PM
...[in part]...

Also, sorry, but I can't let this pass, AGRBear, I have no idea where you got the notion that revolutionaries interfered with the Russian war effort. (What, do you think they were like French partisans in WWII, blowing up railway lines?) Could you perhaps cite your sources for such an extraordinary claim?

 Do you think it was the factory owners who didn't want their supplies to reach the front?   If not them then who?  Do you think it was the soldiers who didn't want their countryman to have boots, guns and bullets?  If not, then who?  Maybe, you think  it must have been Rasputin's fault.  Or, maybe, you think  it must have been  the German born Empress because, according to rumors,   the Empress was collaborating with her uncle and his fellow generals and  causing the mess in transportation....

p. 22 of THE BLACKWELL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION edited by Harold Shukman
June 1917
>>Factory committee members were initially elected on a non-political basis, but as politics harden along party lines, members began to be elected on party slates.  In the early months, the moderate socialist dominated the committees as they did all labour organizations.  Being the committees were the first to register the radicalization that was occurring in popular attitudes.  Already the First Conference of Petrograd Factory Committees in early June the BOLSHEVIKS were in the ascendant, winning 290 votes for the resolution on control of the economy, as against 72 for the  MENSHEVIK resolution and 45 votes for the ANARCHIST resolution.<<

Let stop here for a moment.   The Mensheiks, Bolsheviks and Anarchist were REVOLUTIONARIES.  We are not talking about rebels or the simple peasants who felt they were being wronged.  Bolsheviks   >>...were a radical faction, [key words= terrorists]>> of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party when it split in 1903.  The Bolsheviks, meaning those in the majority (Mensheviks were the minority), were headed by Lenon, who believed that the revolution must be led by a single centralized party of professional revolutionaries. <<  p. 61 COMPANION TO RUSSIAN HISTORY by John Paxton.  

Mensheviks were of the same mind [terrorists] and followers of Axelrod and Trotsky who wanted a Proletarian Party to work with the liberals in order to replace the autocracy with a democractic constitution.  Better known as the group who opposed Leninists.

Anarchist-Communists.  p. 19 COMPANION TO RUSSIAN HISTORY by John Paxton: >>An utterly militant party whose members held many views similar to those of the Bolsheviks on individual issues, such as ownership of land, but, unlike them, did not believe in any state structure .  They drew their aspirations from Bakunin and Kropotkin.<<

p. 22 of THE BLACKWELL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION edited by Harold Shukman continued:  >>Even before the Kornilov rebellion the committees had become the Bolsheviks' firmest base of support within the labour movement<<

The factory owners were replaced by committee, who slowly released workers and slowed down everything and then closed down operations...

Example: >>200 mines had been closed... In response to such 'sabotage'....<< p. 22 of THE BLACKWELL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION edited by Harold Shukman.

Shall I continue or do you need more?

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 06, 2010, 05:41:07 PM
Bear, you're talking about that revolutionary year, 1917, whereas I thought you were talking about the years 1914-1916. A complete misunderstanding, as usual.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on September 06, 2010, 07:12:27 PM
Hypothetical question.  What could Nicholas have done to preserve his throne and that of his son.  

Should he have ended Russia's involvement in WWI, publicize Alexei's illness, create a better supply of food in the capital, reorganize the Duma?  

Any thoughts?  

It seems that other Romanovs realized how bad he was screwing things up.  If he would have listened to their advice instead of leaving everything in God's hands, he may have ruled until the end of his natural life.

I'm sorry, but I don't see a time limit in Robert's hypothetical question. 

Gotta run.   More later.

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on September 06, 2010, 07:42:30 PM
First, thank you  for the compliments on my education. I went to boarding schools and had  good of teachers.  For the most part, that is. I do humbly  acknowledge the flattery.
 Elisabeth, I do understand your points.  Perhaps I am being pedantic,  but what you are saying was propaganda to keep the  peasants in line [or fear] There is a  line in Fiddler on the Roof,- " May God bless and keep the Tsar, far away from us" Not my favourite show,  but it illustart es the point.
  Now, Bear, we have been  adversaries for year, but if I can  refer to some obscure church Slavonic  book from  my old school days, she is certainly entitled to cite Blackwell. I find the volume rather simplistic, but just my way at looking at things'
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 06, 2010, 07:53:09 PM
First, thank you  for the compliments on my education. I went to boarding schools and had  good of teachers.  For the most part, that is. I do humbly  acknowledge the flattery.
 Elisabeth, I do understand your points.  Perhaps I am being pedantic,  but what you are saying was propaganda to keep the  peasants in line [or fear] There is a  line in Fiddler on the Roof,- " May God bless and keep the Tsar, far away from us" Not my favourite show,  but it illustart es the point.
  Now, Bear, we have been  adversaries for year, but if I can  refer to some obscure church Slavonic  book from  my old school days, she is certainly entitled to cite Blackwell. I find the volume rather simplistic, but just my way at looking at things'

Of course it was imperial propaganda, Robert, that's the whole point. No government of this nature can survive without an ideology, which pretty much assumes there will be some kind of official (and unofficial) propaganda to put the message out.

One of the problems of the current regime in Russia is that there is no coherent ideology. What does exist is primarily based on nostalgia, and even that's muddled - one day Stalin is in, the next day he's out.

Plenty of empires have fallen for lack of a coherent ideology, or so I learned in my college course on Chinese history. If you compare Chinese history to Russian history it makes the latter look pretty amateur.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on September 06, 2010, 11:42:26 PM
No argument from me there, Elisabeth. IMO opinion, Nicholas was an incompetent fool As I said, just my opinion.   His actions speak louder than words.
 China was a bit different. The last emperor was a child and had no real control over the destiny of his dynasty. It is rather complicated,  but the theory was " Mandate of Heaven" which, if lost, made the country ripe for change. Much the same for the Shah.  Oddly, I was on my way to Iran when that revolution occurred. On a  Concord. What   a missed opportunity... but they burned down the  BA offices, so it not such a good idea. Another mis-guided monarch. Closed eyes,  failing to see the change coming. Refusing to compromise.  BIG mistake, as I see it. There are plenty of other examples- India  with the failure of the Mughals,  pretty decepit as it was,  the Ottomans,  and on and on.
 My point being, that all those regimes used the same technique- propaganda- to  try and control the people. It simply does not work for very long. Russia was not the only one to have "Potemkin villages'
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on September 06, 2010, 11:48:00 PM
'Heir apparent is the other term used for direct line succession from father to son or daughter (in Britain) as the case may be.'

Not quite. An heir apparent is an heir who cannot be superseded as heir by a person with greater priority. In Britain we still operate on the basis of male primogeniture, so a daughter can only ever be heir presumptive.

Example
Prince Charles is the heir apparent because he is the Queen's eldest son. During his lifetime, nobody with greater priority can be born and so supplant him. By contrast, the present Queen was only ever heir presumptive, because until her father's death there was always the possibility that she might have a brother who would take her place in the succession. If Prince Charles were to drop dead tomorrow, Prince William would become heir apparent as he is eldest son of the eldest son - no one can supplant him.

Ann

Ann - Thank you.  I know that males supplant females even in Britain.  I was told that even George V became not heir apparent but heir presumptive after the death of his brother Eddy who was heir apparent.  Perhaps the person who told me was wrong or did not understand the entire process.  Are you saying that only females are "heir presumptive" waiting for a male to supplant them?  Or can a brother like Andrew be "Heir Presumptive" while waiting for Charles to get his groove on and produce William and Harry.  

However isn't it true that if Charles had had only daughters that they would still have been in line of succession before Andrew as they were in direct line from the Heir Apparent?  Any child of Charles's would have supplanted his brothers even though the brothers were obviously male.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 06, 2010, 11:56:11 PM
Comparing Russia to China makes no sense until they both adopted communism.  The mandarin culture of which the Emperor was the apex was in tatters by the time that the  last emperor's mother was took power in the name of her son.  In China, the upper reaches of the bureaucracy were firmly in control and in Russia, there was a top down autocracy.  The only similarity was that both were incompetent at the end.  Sun Yet Sen's takeover was completely different to the revolutions of 1917 and he managed to maintain a quasi democracy until the japanese invasions in the 30s (as opposed to having power ripped from his hands by a domestic rival).
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on September 07, 2010, 01:22:11 AM
That was the point, Const. China was indeed an anacchronist autocracy,  but it failed for the same reasons the Russian autocracy did.. The Chinese had a highly educated   ruling class, based mostly on  merit. Nut the rules just not change. The same with all the examples I cited. If Nicholas had listened to hiss competent  advisers, he might have adopted to change and save the monarchy. NOT the autocracy however. BTW, Pu Yi was not the Dowager Empress's son.  And neither did she rule in his name. She died shortly after he was appointed. His mother had nothing to do with his reign. This is a long story and very off topic here.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Kalafrana on September 07, 2010, 04:16:08 AM
'I know that males supplant females even in Britain.  I was told that even George V became not heir apparent but heir presumptive after the death of his brother Eddy who was heir apparent.  Perhaps the person who told me was wrong or did not understand the entire process.  Are you saying that only females are "heir presumptive" waiting for a male to supplant them?  Or can a brother like Andrew be "Heir Presumptive" while waiting for Charles to get his groove on and produce William and Harry. 

However isn't it true that if Charles had had only daughters that they would still have been in line of succession before Andrew as they were in direct line from the Heir Apparent?  Any child of Charles's would have supplanted his brothers even though the brothers were obviously male.

Alixz

There is quite a lot there and I will take your points one by one:
1) Strictly speaking, neither Eddy nor George V was heir apparent during Queen Victoria's lifetime - it was their father who was heir apparent. George became heir apparent in the normal way on Edward VII's accession.
2) A brother can be heir presumptive - the obvious example is George VI during his brother's reign. Had Edward VIII produced a child of either sex by a 'suitable' marriage, he or she would have supplanted the Duke of York as heir apparent (boy) or immediate heir presumptive (girl).
3) If Charles only had daughters they would be heirs presumptive in priority to his brothers.

Hope that sorts it all out.

Ann
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 07, 2010, 05:40:10 AM
Actually the mandarin system had the appearance of a meritocracy but the problem was how people gained access to the mandarin class.  By about 1700, the entrance exams were serriously flawed.  The test involved someone who rewrote the test so that the candidate's hadwriting could not be detected.  It did not take long before the testors understood that they could make a lot of money from rewriting the exams but changing the test answers so that the candidate passed.   A long time before the time of PuYi, the mandarin class was completely corrupted and ineffectual to the point where in the mid 18th century, China could not defend itself against the British who were selling opium to balance the trade imbalance that came from imports of tea.  By the time of Pu Yi, China was a basketcase and ruled defacto by a group of foreign countries.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 07, 2010, 11:50:53 AM
that should be by the mid 19th century
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 07, 2010, 12:11:06 PM
Of course, the big difference is that the British monarchy has no real power, it hasn't for centuries.  Maybe that is why they've survived this long.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on September 07, 2010, 02:16:23 PM
.. [ in part]....
  Now, Bear, we have been  adversaries for year, but if I can  refer to some obscure church Slavonic  book from  my old school days, she is certainly entitled to cite Blackwell. I find the volume rather simplistic, but just my way at looking at things'

I view Russian history through the eyes of my ancestors, friends and others, who were  German-Russians.  None of whom knew about "some obscure church Slavonic book".  They lived and breathed their lives looking through a different Russsian portal than you and others.   Therefore,  I do appreciate your posts which inform us of  data I didn't know.

Yes, Blackwell is "rather simplistic" but sometimes simple words  help people  understand the complexity of Russian history and why it seems to have lost it's soul and cannot seem to find it.

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 07, 2010, 02:24:29 PM
No argument from me there, Elisabeth. IMO opinion, Nicholas was an incompetent fool As I said, just my opinion.   His actions speak louder than words.
 China was a bit different. The last emperor was a child and had no real control over the destiny of his dynasty. It is rather complicated,  but the theory was " Mandate of Heaven" which, if lost, made the country ripe for change. Much the same for the Shah.  Oddly, I was on my way to Iran when that revolution occurred. On a  Concord. What   a missed opportunity... but they burned down the  BA offices, so it not such a good idea. Another mis-guided monarch. Closed eyes,  failing to see the change coming. Refusing to compromise.  BIG mistake, as I see it. There are plenty of other examples- India  with the failure of the Mughals,  pretty decepit as it was,  the Ottomans,  and on and on.
 My point being, that all those regimes used the same technique- propaganda- to  try and control the people. It simply does not work for very long. Russia was not the only one to have "Potemkin villages'

Robert, it's so good to have you back!

I must say, I am in complete agreement with you here. I didn't mean to start a discussion comparing Chinese and Russian history, in comparing them (I might just have easily as compared Western Europe and China) I was only thinking about the broad sweep of history, the fact that the Chinese had a sophisticated civilization back when Europeans were still  living in mud huts. Moreover, China had plenty of peasant revolutions to boot, which the civilization has always somehow managed to absorb... I guess my point (adding to this discussion) is only that IMHO the Chinese have a far stronger sense of national identity than Russians do. Because they've been an identifiable country, an identifiable culture, an identifiable empire, for thousands of years, unlike Russia which has been all of these things, too, but for far, far shorter a length of time.

Also because, however flawed the Chinese bureaucratic system was, and I have no doubt that Constantinople is right that it became very flawed and corrupt, it nevertheless engendered this extreme emphasis on higher learning among ordinary Chinese. Which to my mind was a good thing. The Chinese, whether at home or abroad, as immigrants, stress the importance of education to their children in much the same way that Eastern European and Russian Jews did back at the turn of the twentieth century. This is not typical of all immigrant groups to the United States. For example, lot of working class English immigrants to the United States denigrated education and discouraged their children from seeking higher education (not only in a branch of the English side of my family within living memory, but I also have a friend who, when she was awarded her Ph.D. in English literature, was ribbed unmercifully by some of her English relatives and asked if she was now a real medical doctor, could she treat this or that or whatever, hahaha).
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on September 07, 2010, 03:02:34 PM
All of this falls into  one's peer's group.  

One of the reasons we moved into the area in which we live is because the children from kindergarten to their senior year just assume they are headed for college. Therefore,  they would fallen in step with their peer group.  They did and they have.

When I visit farming communities,  where the life surrounds the farm,  it no longer frowns on higher education, however, not long ago,  it was different.  The peer group wanted their eldest son to take over the farm and take care of their parents until they died.  The younger children were to remain in this community as minister or priest,  doctors, lawyers, teachers....  Life circled around families.  Someone who broke away became  an "outsider" and never felt comfortable in visiting very long with their family.

Saw it with musical families who were successful.  

Families who's parents were teachers had son and daughters who's education were  higher than their parents.

The Romanovs had their own peer group which was connected to the other royals of Europe.  Because most spoke more than one language,  they even had their own language just among cousins which held a mix of Russian, English, German French  and probably Dannish since Dagmar was a Dane.  

The Chinese peer groups were  just as dominate under Imperial China as it is today. Communism has worked itself around and has absorbed the Chinese who never knew individual freedoms and has been of one mind for thousands of years.

Russia has been different due to it's many ethnic groups.  It never has been of one mind.  Nicholas II was a man in charge of   a country full of people he didn't know or understand how restless and ripe for rebelling they were.  He inherited this problem.

The USA is a huge melting pot that came very late in the history of civilizations.  We had the good luck of having our founders understanding what was needed for different people to live peacefully side by side.  We were given individual rights and freedoms.  True,  we've have many imperfections, but we keep trying to improve with age.  

If Nicholas II could have done something to preserve the imperial throne,  he would have had to have started the moment his father died.  

Knowing the history of Russia,  I'm not ever sure what he should have accomplished first.

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 07, 2010, 03:23:39 PM
The Chinese peer groups were  just as dominate under Imperial China as it is today. Communism has worked itself around and has absorbed the Chinese who never knew individual freedoms and has been of one mind for thousands of years.

Russia has been different due to it's many ethnic groups.  It never has been of one mind.  
AGRBear

AGRBear, I can't really let this pass, you make it sound as if what reigned in imperial China, aside from an emperor, was one single political ideology, religion, culture, etc... It was in fact an astonishingly diverse array of all of these. Even hundreds of years ago China had many religions - Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, to cite only the major ones. It also had (and has to this day) a lot of ethnic minorities, chiefly because of its territorial expansion (much as Russia's territorial expansion added to its own ethnic minority population).

Your notion that Russia "has never been of one mind" while China basically always has  - is just so much nonsense. I don't understand why you have to mix up your very valid points about your family and your own experiences in the world with these historically unfounded musings. I have the impression you've certainly read widely about Russian history but your knowledge of Chinese history is even more limited than my own, if that's possible.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 07, 2010, 03:27:15 PM
Quote
The USA is a huge melting pot that came very late in the history of civilizations.  We had the good luck of having our founders understanding what was needed for different people to live peacefully side by side.

Tell that to the natives who were slaughtered and driven off their lands.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on September 07, 2010, 06:38:16 PM
Tim, I think you missed the line that followed:

>>True,  we've have many imperfections, but we keep trying to improve with age. <<

I didn't name all our imperfections but I'll toss out two biggies:  Our treatment of the Indians and Slavery was terrible....

In real life,  Nicholas II certainly wasn't perfect, however, in this "what if" world,  if he had been more prepared and understood the real purpose of the  First Duma in 1906 he should have  established elective officials that represented all of the Russian citizens and cut out the "absolute power" by the Tsar by giving the Duma some real teeth [power and money]  to establish their resolutions.  Perhaps his goal would have been something like but not exactly like the British since this would be a just the beginning stages of a new government.

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on September 07, 2010, 07:13:30 PM
The Chinese peer groups were  just as dominate under Imperial China as it is today. Communism has worked itself around and has absorbed the Chinese who never knew individual freedoms and has been of one mind for thousands of years.

Russia has been different due to it's many ethnic groups.  It never has been of one mind.  
AGRBear

AGRBear, I can't really let this pass, you make it sound as if what reigned in imperial China, aside from an emperor, was one single political ideology, religion, culture, etc... It was in fact an astonishingly diverse array of all of these. Even hundreds of years ago China had many religions - Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, to cite only the major ones. It also had (and has to this day) a lot of ethnic minorities, chiefly because of its territorial expansion (much as Russia's territorial expansion added to its own ethnic minority population).

Your notion that Russia "has never been of one mind" while China basically always has  - is just so much nonsense. I don't understand why you have to mix up your very valid points about your family and your own experiences in the world with these historically unfounded musings. I have the impression you've certainly read widely about Russian history but your knowledge of Chinese history is even more limited than my own, if that's possible.


When watching the last Olympics, one could see that they, the Chinese,  were still under the influence of  "collective happiness" and are still of one mind,  their leader's, a communist, who holds the absolute power just as the  Emperors had for thousands of years....

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on September 07, 2010, 07:33:36 PM
Tim, I think you missed the line that followed:

>>True,  we've have many imperfections, but we keep trying to improve with age. <<

I didn't name  our imperfections.   I'm sure we can agree on what many of them are.  For, now,  I'll toss out two biggies:  Our treatment of the Indians and Slavery was terrible....

In real life,  Nicholas II certainly wasn't perfect, however, in this "what if" world,  if he had been more prepared and understood the real purpose of the  First Duma in 1906 he should have  established elective officials that represented all of the Russian citizens and cut out the "absolute power" by the Tsar by giving the Duma some real teeth [power and money]  to establish their resolutions.  Perhaps his goal would have been something like but not exactly like the British since this would be a just the beginning stages of a new government.

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 07, 2010, 07:36:37 PM
When watching the last Olympics, one could see that they, the Chinese,  were still under the influence of  "collective happiness" and are still of one mind,  their leader's, a communist, who holds the absolute power just as the  Emperors had for thousands of years....

You don't think foreigners came away with exactly the same impression of Americans after watching the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics held in Salt Lake City? Bear, everything at this level is about "collective happiness" and proving we're all so much happier and better off materially and psychologically and ideologically than the rest of the world. That's the American dream, right? And considering that at the time we'd just invaded Iraq, and were embarked on an ultimately disastrous war, we were indeed pretty blind and passive, much as you seem to expect the Chinese or the Russian people to be...
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 08, 2010, 12:07:39 AM
 
Quote
their leader's, a communist, who holds the absolute power just as the  Emperors had for thousands of years....



Well, that is what Communism essentially is, an Absolute Monarchy (a privileged few have powers and perks).  All they did was change the names.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 08, 2010, 02:39:20 AM
There are several ethnic minorities in China.  these include the Zhuangs, Manchus, Huis, Miaos, Uyghurs, Dongs, Kazakhs and Tibetans.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 08, 2010, 10:41:32 AM
Nicky created the Duma, he should have stepped aside and let them run the country, while he became a figurehead, like his British relatives. 

As I said, the British Monarchy is still around, nearly a century after all the other major European ones fells.  Obviously, they were doing something right.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 08, 2010, 04:05:18 PM
Of course theoretically you're completely right, Tim. The only problem is that at the turn of the 20th century, Russia itself was not quite fitted to be a constitutional monarchy. With approximately 80 percent of the population illiterate peasants, it hardly could be... Some people even now, in the early 21st century, argue that Russia is still not ready for democracy, but I disagree with this.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 08, 2010, 05:17:55 PM
Wasn't it Count Witte who created the Duma and nicholas who acceded to it under pressure?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Silja on September 09, 2010, 12:33:20 PM
Of course theoretically you're completely right, Tim. The only problem is that at the turn of the 20th century, Russia itself was not quite fitted to be a constitutional monarchy.

Which was proved by the  chaotic  events in the Duma after the 1905 revolution and again after the Revolution of 1917.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 10, 2010, 11:30:26 AM
Seems poor Nicky was just in a no-win situation.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 10, 2010, 04:46:59 PM
I would say that Nicholas did a lot to create a no win situation
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on September 10, 2010, 05:29:41 PM
First, thank you  for the compliments on my education. I went to boarding schools and had  good of teachers.  For the most part, that is. I do humbly  acknowledge the flattery.
 Elisabeth, I do understand your points.  Perhaps I am being pedantic,  but what you are saying was propaganda to keep the  peasants in line [or fear] There is a  line in Fiddler on the Roof,- " May God bless and keep the Tsar, far away from us" Not my favourite show,  but it illustart es the point.
  Now, Bear, we have been  adversaries for year, but if I can  refer to some obscure church Slavonic  book from  my old school days, she is certainly entitled to cite Blackwell. I find the volume rather simplistic, but just my way at looking at things'

Of course it was imperial propaganda, Robert, that's the whole point. No government of this nature can survive without an ideology, which pretty much assumes there will be some kind of official (and unofficial) propaganda to put the message out.

One of the problems of the current regime in Russia is that there is no coherent ideology. What does exist is primarily based on nostalgia, and even that's muddled - one day Stalin is in, the next day he's out.

Plenty of empires have fallen for lack of a coherent ideology, or so I learned in my college course on Chinese history. If you compare Chinese history to Russian history it makes the latter look pretty amateur.


Elisabeth, Robert, maybe I don't understand you both right but wasn't that the whole point of autocracy: that the Tsar don't need any justification for his actions, so in his eyes he didn't need propaganda? That was their ideology.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on September 10, 2010, 07:03:18 PM
To a certain extent, you are correct, SW.  However he did need the imprimatur of the Church, which he was technically head of. He also needed the support of the masses  to keep order in the realm.  No one wanted another Pugachev, after all. So this was a way to keep the peasantry in line. You can see Scenarios of Power  by Wortman, vol. 2. The Emperor was supposed to take the adv ice of his ministers to rule effectively and fairly. IMO  he failed at all of these tasks.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 11, 2010, 12:34:57 AM
The Tsar used a lot of propaganda, most notably the press but also his family, which is why there were so many photographs and films of them.  The palaces and the uniforms and the formality and protocol were all forms of propoganda, as was his wealth.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on September 11, 2010, 09:37:57 AM
To a certain extent, you are correct, SW.  However he did need the imprimatur of the Church, which he was technically head of. He also needed the support of the masses  to keep order in the realm.  No one wanted another Pugachev, after all. So this was a way to keep the peasantry in line. You can see Scenarios of Power  by Wortman, vol. 2. The Emperor was supposed to take the adv ice of his ministers to rule effectively and fairly. IMO  he failed at all of these tasks

I think that they didn't care about the support of the masses that much, which became fatal in the end of course. There were several rituals though, that were associated with the public giving approval of the Tsar and his power but only in a traditional way, b.e. the giving out of bread and presents when a royal child was born or the festivities that should have taken place on Khodynka field during the coronization. Or the rituals when the tsarevitch became mature etc. In a way these rituals were propagandistic in the way that they were meant to gain public approval. Nowadays propaganda is mostly associated with putting enemies in a negative daylight. So imo this is something different.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on September 11, 2010, 09:41:59 AM
The Tsar used a lot of propaganda, most notably the press but also his family, which is why there were so many photographs and films of them.  The palaces and the uniforms and the formality and protocol were all forms of propoganda, as was his wealth.

As I said above to Robert, there is a difference between real propaganda for war aims, creating a negative image of your enemies, and certain rituals to gain public support.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on September 11, 2010, 10:24:56 AM
While we may see wealth as a propaganda issue, I believe that in Russia in the late 19th century and even before that, the tsar was expected to "shine" in front of his people.

Even in The Jewel Album of the Tsars  Prince Michael of Greece says that Catherine II understood this and had new coronation regalia made and also wore, in public, about a many jewels as she could fit onto her body.

We would now call this an ostentatious display of wealth, but in former times, the people expected that their sovereigns would be "eating off of gold plate and wearing beautiful clothing".  That was a world that the average person could not enter, but it was the home of the tsars (or the gods).  I know that the tsars were supposed to be anointed by God and not actually gods, but I used that as a way to show how far beyond the normal daily life the sovereign was supposed to be.

Before the general public discontent or upheavals that took place in 1905 and then in 1917, the tsars were actually seen by the average person incapable of doing wrong.  That is why the average Russian felt that if he could get to the Tsar then everything would be taken care of.

Please, I know that this is a simplistic view and that the intelligenza did not see the Imperial Family in this way.  Most attempts on the lives of the sovereign came, not from the serf class, but from the aristocratic class or from the educated class.  This is a far deeper subject than can be covered in my post, in a thread about what Nicholas II could have done to preserve the Imperial Throne.

Perhaps the simplest way would have been "to give it up" but do it long before 1917.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 11, 2010, 11:32:43 AM
1905, when the Duma was created, would have been a good opportunity.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on September 11, 2010, 12:26:44 PM
Alixz, I think the opulence you mention was more advertisement or "PR' than propaganda Although I suppose they may all be the same in some ways. Before mass media, that was pretty much the only way most people got their information  about who was ruling them. Now, you can't get Putin OFF the TV  for instance. Remember his belly rubbing episode,  and his super buffed up bare chested display ?  If I remember correctly, that was a hunting trip of some sort. I could  very well be wrong about that, but it was quite a display of his virility. In the case of the latter Romanovs, the propaganda was used to lie to the people [not that they were/are  the only ones to do that].  Now, everyone does it. use it i all the time, but we have media for wider exposure. In those days, all they had was paintings and later, post cards to  get the message accross.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on September 11, 2010, 01:07:16 PM
(http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/AGRBear3/PostRev2.jpg)

Meanwhile, the revolutionaries are doing their own propaganda.

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on September 11, 2010, 01:28:06 PM
 Of course they did, Bear.  Nice allegory, BTW, thanks for posting it.
 One can go  way back to Marie Antoinette [and before] for illustrations of such derogatory pictures. Some are downright nasty, but, when most people could not even read, that was the only way to get their message  out.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 11, 2010, 03:31:50 PM
Quote
Meanwhile, the revolutionaries are doing their own propaganda.

Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black, considering what kind of government they helped usher in.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 11, 2010, 05:34:42 PM
SW Propaganda is not just confined to wars.  And what is the difference between PR and propaganda?  they are closely aligned.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on September 11, 2010, 06:07:11 PM
 Good question, Const.  As I see it. PR is putting a shine on outright propaganda. The latter does not invite  feedback, the PR  does though  and is equipped to provide answers, in a way.  Of course, they are one sided answers. I do not know where you are based now but you have lived in Istanbul so have certainly seen the  "sell job" they do there. Not as bad as most, IMO,  As I said, everybody  uses both techniques. From celebrities to countries.
 I recently received an email advert  for a trip to Albania [?!]  I have no intention of going there anytime soon, but it was so obvious they used an advertising agency to get out their message. I also recently received a  catalogue of Russian tours.   I do not use tours usually,  but they certainly painted a different picture from   what I know, especially after 4 visits.
 In the case of the Romanovs, I think they simply did not know how to use  these  tools. As has been mentioned, they thought they need not justify their  actions. Well, that proved fatal. The  subsequent regimes were much more savvy about  it though.  I think Lenin  was a master at it,  Stalin had a whole staff of  poster people at hand to get his  message out.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on September 11, 2010, 06:26:22 PM
SW Propaganda is not just confined to wars.  And what is the difference between PR and propaganda?  they are closely aligned.

Constantinople, IMO the difference lies in that PR is basically about "Look how good we are" whilst Propaganda is about "Look how bad/evil they are". I don't think the Tsars used the latter form while they certainly used the first one in their rituals like coronations etc.

I just wanted to add this nuance in the discussion.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 11, 2010, 10:23:10 PM
this is a definition of propaganda:
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position.
As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda. Propaganda can be used as a form of political warfare.

this is a definition of PR

the practice of managing communication between an organization and its publics.[2] Public relations provides an organization or individual exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that provide a third-party endorsement[3] and do not direct payment.[4] Once common activities include speaking at conferences, working with the media, crisis communications and social media engagement[5], and employee communication.

thus PR is the process and propaganda is the content and therefore what I said fits in with these parameters.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on September 12, 2010, 04:51:58 PM

Const, you are riight. It is a broad definition of propaganda and both tsarist rituals and wartime propaganda fit in it.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on September 12, 2010, 07:36:02 PM
quote author=Katenka_Fyodorovna link=topic=14775.msg455913#msg455913 date=1281214796]

..[in part]...

(http://i35.tinypic.com/2w6rnz6.jpg)

BTW....if this is a modern composite made for someone over here....its on sale on ebay...
[/quote]

It was true then, as it is true today,  pretty girls who are rich and famous are copied by young girls who have dreams at night about marrying their prince, a thought put in their heads from the time they were small from hearing fairy tales about such things happening.

Also true:  How can a young russian girl  believe such a beauty is "evil" if you lived in that time and knew little of the world accept what one managed to see in magazines, with photographs like this one?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 14, 2010, 11:51:29 AM
Part of me still wishes I had that time machine.  I know, it probably wouldn't have done any good, but I would at least try.  Maybe it's just the monarchist in me talking, but I like the Romanov's, and they did not deserve to be brutally murdered like that.  Even if Nicky was an autocrat, that still does not justify his murder and it certainly does not justify the murder of his whole family.  What did Olga do to deserve such a fate?  What did Tatiana do, Maria do, Anastasia do, and so on.

A terrible crime was committed against this family, and their murderers were not punished for it.  Where is justice!?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 14, 2010, 03:42:11 PM
Maybe you woudnt have been so positive about him if you were born into a peasant family in Russia and couldn't get an education and then wound up conscripted into the Russian army in WW1, where you didnt have a weapon and never knew when food supplies were coming and you were ordered to charge German machine guns with no bullits and no other weapon.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 14, 2010, 03:52:15 PM
Quote
Maybe you woudnt have been so positive about him if you were born into a peasant family in Russia and couldn't get an education and then wound up conscripted into the Russian army in WW1, where you didnt have a weapon and never knew when food supplies were coming and you were ordered to charge German machine guns with no bullits and no other weapon.

Perhaps, but that still does not justify cold bloodedly murdering him and his family for no reason.  They had been out of power for over a year by that point, they were no threat to Lenin and his thugs.  Murdering them simply wasn't necessary.  Of course, murder is what Communists were all about, as we saw when Papa Stalin took over.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 15, 2010, 04:27:10 AM
Well actually as the head of the White Army, the Tsar and his wife and heir were great threats but it doesnt justify how they were murdered.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 15, 2010, 11:38:22 AM
Exactly, they could have easily been sent into exile.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 15, 2010, 01:40:27 PM
Well Kerensky tried that but Britain turned him down.  And with the White Army still a threat and Russia out of the war, I am sure the last thing that the Bolsheviks needed was the Tsar raising money and support for the White Army.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 15, 2010, 03:35:21 PM
But would he have.  From what I have read, Nicky seemed happy to be off the throne.  They should have sent them here to Canada, they could have settled out in the praries, we have a large Russian community out there.  I could see Nicky happily working a farm somewhere.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Silja on September 15, 2010, 04:34:13 PM
But would he have.  From what I have read, Nicky seemed happy to be off the throne.  They should have sent them here to Canada, they could have settled out in the praries, we have a large Russian community out there.  I could see Nicky happily working a farm somewhere.

More importantly, would the Whites have wanted this? The White Army was largely against a restoration of the Romanovs. They were well aware of the nation being pretty antagonistic to the former rulers by then.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 15, 2010, 10:58:26 PM
I think they ould have.  They weren't called the Tsarist forces for nothing. You just have to llook at how much energy they focused on taking Ekaterinburg.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 17, 2010, 10:18:18 AM
One has to wonder, would Nicky have taken the throne back if the White Army had reached him in time.  As I said, he seemed happy to be relieved of the burden.  I can't see him wanting it back.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on September 17, 2010, 10:48:52 AM
 I doubt that he could, TimM I am not positive,  but I do not think one  could renounce an abdication.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on September 17, 2010, 12:46:03 PM
I think anything was possible in those early years of the Bolshevik Revolution and Civil War.

Nicholas II might have been able to prove he had been forced to abdicate, therefore,  his abdication could have been null and void.  With that said,  why would he have to prove anything.  All the previous laws had been trashed by the Bolsheviks so why couldn't Nicholas II have trashed all laws and start fresh.  Those who supported him would have demanded  a government similar to what the Britsh have and Nicholas II and his family could have taken  residences  at  their palace and live happily ever after, while the new politicians in town worked on the new laws, etc. etc. etc.?

As for the uncrown Emp. Krill,  I don't think anyone was to thrilled with him anyway.  Besides,  I don't think he would have had the nerve to return to Russia and demand his rights.  Sure,  he might have been a pest through the ages but I doubt he'd been anything more.

AGRBear

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 17, 2010, 03:18:56 PM
Quote
Those who supported him would have demanded  a government similar to what the Britsh have and Nicholas II and his family could have taken  residences  at  their palace and live happily ever after, while the new politicians in town worked on the new laws, etc. etc. etc.?


Makes sense to me.  it would have been obvious at that point that the old system no longer worked and if the monarchy was to survive, big changes would have to be made.  I could see them following the British way.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 22, 2010, 06:02:23 PM
Quote
Those who supported him would have demanded  a government similar to what the Britsh have and Nicholas II and his family could have taken  residences  at  their palace and live happily ever after, while the new politicians in town worked on the new laws, etc. etc. etc.?


Makes sense to me.  it would have been obvious at that point that the old system no longer worked and if the monarchy was to survive, big changes would have to be made.  I could see them following the British way.

I can't see Russia following the British way in 1917, for one thing because Silja is right, the Russian monarchy and the Romanov dynasty were equally and thoroughly discredited in Russia by this time, amongst virtually all social classes. This is why the monarchy --and the dynasty -- collapsed so suddenly and decisively in February/March 1917. There was almost no one left to support it. By this date even a lot of monarchists and conservatives had turned their backs on Nicholas and Alexandra.

White troops did not want to bring back Nicholas II. The few Whites who retained hopes of a restoration of the Romanov monarchy had their eyes set on someone like Nikolasha, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich. No one wanted NII back on the throne, the very idea is laughable. Even Tsarevich Aleksei Nikolaevich was discredited not only because he was NII's son and thought to be a former puppet of Rasputin, but also because by this point everybody knew he was a chronic invalid (even if they didn't know the precise malady he suffered from).

The sad thing is that Nicholas and Alexandra and their children were more valuable to the Whites dead -- as murdered victims of the "evil" Bolsheviks --  than they ever were alive. Alive, they were an acute embarrassment, but dead, they were martyrs of holy Orthodox Russia murdered by wicked atheist revolutionaries ("hyenas laughing over the ruins of a great civilization," to mangle Churchill's famous description of Lenin and his cronies).
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 22, 2010, 11:43:06 PM
Quote
the Russian monarchy and the Romanov dynasty were equally and thoroughly discredited in Russia by this time, amongst virtually all social classes. This is why the monarchy --and the dynasty -- collapsed so suddenly and decisively in February/March 1917. There was almost no one left to support it. By this date even a lot of monarchists and conservatives had turned their backs on Nicholas and Alexandra.

Maybe they would have thought differently if they knew of the coming horrors of Communism.  You have to feel sorry for those poor people, they didn't know when they were well off.  Nicky may have been an autocrat, but compared to the likes of Stalin, he's not so bad.

If given a choice between Russia under Nicholas or the Soviet Union under Stalin, I'd pick Nicholas any day.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 23, 2010, 10:24:46 AM
if the White Russians considered Nicholas better dead than alive, why did they push hard into Ekaterinberg to save the Imperial Family?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on September 23, 2010, 11:35:17 AM
I do not think the IF was the goal, Const.  It was more about defeating the Reds. A strategic move.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Kalafrana on September 24, 2010, 03:16:15 AM
Also it was not the White Army as such that took Ekaterinberg, it was the Czech Legion, who were, as I understand it, largely fighting for their own reasons.

Ann
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: RichC on September 24, 2010, 12:06:39 PM
Quote
Those who supported him would have demanded  a government similar to what the Britsh have and Nicholas II and his family could have taken  residences  at  their palace and live happily ever after, while the new politicians in town worked on the new laws, etc. etc. etc.?


Makes sense to me.  it would have been obvious at that point that the old system no longer worked and if the monarchy was to survive, big changes would have to be made.  I could see them following the British way.

I can't see Russia following the British way in 1917, for one thing because Silja is right, the Russian monarchy and the Romanov dynasty were equally and thoroughly discredited in Russia by this time, amongst virtually all social classes. This is why the monarchy --and the dynasty -- collapsed so suddenly and decisively in February/March 1917. There was almost no one left to support it. By this date even a lot of monarchists and conservatives had turned their backs on Nicholas and Alexandra.

I recall one of my professors back in college telling the class how his own father had grown up in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century.  He was in high school in 1917 and a portrait of Nicholas II hung on the wall in the classroom.  When the abdication was announced by the teacher, the students spontaneously tore the portrait off the wall and destroyed it. 

My own grandmother, who was of the same generation (born in 1902) and was raised in the Russian church maintained throughout her life (she died in 1992) that Nicholas II was a cuckhold and that Alexei was fathered by Rasputin.  Of course we know that isn't true, but it's was many common people thought at the time.

The sad thing is that Nicholas and Alexandra and their children were more valuable to the Whites dead -- as murdered victims of the "evil" Bolsheviks --  than they ever were alive. Alive, they were an acute embarrassment, but dead, they were martyrs of holy Orthodox Russia murdered by wicked atheist revolutionaries ("hyenas laughing over the ruins of a great civilization," to mangle Churchill's famous description of Lenin and his cronies).

It's probably just academic but do you think the Whites were actually conscious of this at the time?  Or did the Romanov's value as martyrs only become evident after the fact?

Also, not to disagree, Elisabeth, but in the end, how much value did the dead royal family provide to the Whites?  Do you think it helped increase their power or delayed their eventual defeat?  If not, then that also goes even further to show how little anyone thought of them.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 24, 2010, 03:13:37 PM
One has to wonder what would have happened if the Whites had gotten there before the executions could take place. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on September 24, 2010, 04:27:35 PM
I Think you are correct, Ann. The  Czechs wanted to go back to their own country. Ekaternburg was just on the way home. The Romanovs meant nothing to them. After all, they started out as prisoners of war fighting against them. The Whites followed after them.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 25, 2010, 01:47:14 AM
I am not sure that the Romanovs meant nothing to them.  First of all, they would have sworn allegiance to the Tsar before the revolution and secondly, they saw in the Tsar the first promises of a Czech homeland.  Thirdly, they controlled the trans Siberian railway and this had a terminus in Vladivostock, which would have given them safe passage to Western Europe by steam ship, so there was no need to use Ekateriinburg as a route to Vladivostock.  Their main goal was to return home and to build a nation there but the reasons why they overtook Ekaterinburg had something to do with freeing the Romanovs.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 25, 2010, 11:47:48 AM
Yeah, Nicky promised the Czechs that he'd helped them get independent from the Hapsburg Empire.  The Czechs hated the Hapsburgs.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on September 26, 2010, 04:32:35 AM
Well the Czechs also hated the Slovaks and Hungarians.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 27, 2010, 10:42:08 AM
Quote
Those who supported him would have demanded  a government similar to what the Britsh have and Nicholas II and his family could have taken  residences  at  their palace and live happily ever after, while the new politicians in town worked on the new laws, etc. etc. etc.?


Makes sense to me.  it would have been obvious at that point that the old system no longer worked and if the monarchy was to survive, big changes would have to be made.  I could see them following the British way.

I can't see Russia following the British way in 1917, for one thing because Silja is right, the Russian monarchy and the Romanov dynasty were equally and thoroughly discredited in Russia by this time, amongst virtually all social classes. This is why the monarchy --and the dynasty -- collapsed so suddenly and decisively in February/March 1917. There was almost no one left to support it. By this date even a lot of monarchists and conservatives had turned their backs on Nicholas and Alexandra.

I recall one of my professors back in college telling the class how his own father had grown up in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century.  He was in high school in 1917 and a portrait of Nicholas II hung on the wall in the classroom.  When the abdication was announced by the teacher, the students spontaneously tore the portrait off the wall and destroyed it. 

My own grandmother, who was of the same generation (born in 1902) and was raised in the Russian church maintained throughout her life (she died in 1992) that Nicholas II was a cuckhold and that Alexei was fathered by Rasputin.  Of course we know that isn't true, but it's was many common people thought at the time.

The sad thing is that Nicholas and Alexandra and their children were more valuable to the Whites dead -- as murdered victims of the "evil" Bolsheviks --  than they ever were alive. Alive, they were an acute embarrassment, but dead, they were martyrs of holy Orthodox Russia murdered by wicked atheist revolutionaries ("hyenas laughing over the ruins of a great civilization," to mangle Churchill's famous description of Lenin and his cronies).

It's probably just academic but do you think the Whites were actually conscious of this at the time?  Or did the Romanov's value as martyrs only become evident after the fact?

Also, not to disagree, Elisabeth, but in the end, how much value did the dead royal family provide to the Whites?  Do you think it helped increase their power or delayed their eventual defeat?  If not, then that also goes even further to show how little anyone thought of them.

Hey, RichC, it's good to see you back here! I actually think the Romanovs only provided the Whites with staying power, not with winning power. That is, the Romanovs, all the Romanovs but especially NII and Alexandra, were a losing team by the revolutionary year of 1917, and every passing year after that only served to underscore this historical fact. (Even the pathetic attempts of certain 21st-century Romanovs to increase the currency of their dynasty are testimony to this historical fact - the Romanovs have been historically irrelevant since the revolutions of 1917.)

What thoroughly discredited but murdered Romanovs like NII and his immediate family supposedly provided for the Whites was "proof" that the Bolsheviks were evil nihilists, atheists bent on destroying Russia and everything it had previously stood for. A more liberal opposition in exile might have made an actual, convincing case for this (indeed, there was plenty of evidence, evidence abounded, to support the notion that the Bolsheviks were basically a bunch of ideologically inclined gangsters, or criminally inclined ideologues). Instead the retrograde, reactionary White government-in-exile (and many of its minions in the White emigration in Central and Western Europe) saw the entire Bolshevik coup as part of a Jewish, Zionist-led criminal conspiracy to take over the world. Which is where, understandably, most of the Western world left them stewing, and where Hitler and the new fascists (not only in Germany and Italy but also in places like Hungary, Romania, and Croatia) took them up on their proposition. Which is why to this day the White cause remains largely discredited. Like the Bolsheviks they so much hated, the Whites have a lot of innocent blood on their hands.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on September 27, 2010, 12:28:21 PM

Hey, RichC, it's good to see you back here! I actually think the Romanovs only provided the Whites with staying power, not with winning power. That is, the Romanovs, all the Romanovs but especially NII and Alexandra, were a losing team by the revolutionary year of 1917, and every passing year after that only served to underscore this historical fact. (Even the pathetic attempts of certain 21st-century Romanovs to increase the currency of their dynasty are testimony to this historical fact - the Romanovs have been historically irrelevant since the revolutions of 1917.)

What thoroughly discredited but murdered Romanovs like NII and his immediate family supposedly provided for the Whites was "proof" that the Bolsheviks were evil nihilists, atheists bent on destroying Russia and everything it had previously stood for. A more liberal opposition in exile might have made an actual, convincing case for this (indeed, there was plenty of evidence, evidence abounded, to support the notion that the Bolsheviks were basically a bunch of ideologically inclined gangsters, or criminally inclined ideologues). Instead the retrograde, reactionary White government-in-exile (and many of its minions in the White emigration in Central and Western Europe) saw the entire Bolshevik coup as part of a Jewish, Zionist-led criminal conspiracy to take over the world. Which is where, understandably, most of the Western world left them stewing, and where Hitler and the new fascists (not only in Germany and Italy but also in places like Hungary, Romania, and Croatia) took them up on their proposition. Which is why to this day the White cause remains largely discredited. Like the Bolsheviks they so much hated, the Whites have a lot of innocent blood on their hands.

General Denikin was given credit for having killed Jews. So were several other Generals  who were leading the Whites.  How much is true,  I don't know.  How much of it has been blown out of proportion by the Bolsheviks/communists for propaganda purposes,  I don't know.  It is true,  when you read books by Wilton and others, people [mostly Christians who were fighting the Bolsheviks] believed the revolutionaries were being lead by the Jews.  I know that my German-Russian communities did.  Reading the old timers articles,  they, more often than not,  named the Jewish Bolshevik leaders and/ or groups.  Unfortunately, not everyone they name were Jewish, however, they didn't know it at that time.  They thought Lenin and Stalin were 100% Jewish.  The Whites often used  misinformation  to stir up the blood of the Christians against the godless Bolsheviks, who became better at this game than the Whites ever did.  

I don't believe the Whites were discredited within our,  German-Russian exiled communities, however, under Lenin, Stalin and those who followed these two men,  the Russian history books have discredited the Whites.   And, those, who complained inside the Russian borders generally found they were given new residents in Siberia or worst.  The voices of discontent faded....  Up and until the fall of the Berlin wall,  the majority of  Russians believed Lenin and Stalin were great heros.  A great deal of this misinformation spilled over into Europe and the western world including the USA.

Here is an old article found in the New York Times  which is an example of  what the world was being told about  General Denikin's  actions in 1920.

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9A02EFDA1131E03ABC4E51DFB466838B639EDE&oref=slogin

How many Jews, Russian Orthodox, Catholics,  Protestants, Muslums....   actually perished in the hands of Whites or Reds will  never be known.  Many evil deeds were done on both sides.  

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 28, 2010, 09:35:41 PM
If you ask me, the Russian Revolution was the worst thing to happen to that poor country, it cast them into a long dark night that even now, almost a century later, they're still struggling to emerge from.  They have made some progress in the last twenty-five years or so, but still have a long way to go.

Well, it took France a long time to become a democratic country after their revolution (they went through a couple of Empires along the way).  Russia seems to be following that same path.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 30, 2010, 03:45:52 PM
If you ask me, the Russian Revolution was the worst thing to happen to that poor country, it cast them into a long dark night that even now, almost a century later, they're still struggling to emerge from.  They have made some progress in the last twenty-five years or so, but still have a long way to go.

Well, it took France a long time to become a democratic country after their revolution (they went through a couple of Empires along the way).  Russia seems to be following that same path.

I completely agree with your sentiments, TimM. Anything would have been better than the October Revolution that brought Lenin and Trotsky and Stalin and their cohorts to power. The Bolsheviks were a murderous bunch, of that there can be no doubt.

The problem with Russian history is the problem of Murphy's Law -- everything always goes wrong, the worst that could happen always does. Which is why even today -- while Putin and Medvedev are busy producing endless "progress reports" -- upper- and middle-class Russians continue to invest heavily in property abroad. Why? I bet you've already guessed. Because their ancestors in 1914 repatriated all their foreign assets to Russia, despite all the warning signals... Big, big, oh huge mistake!

Do you know that in the current economic climate of recession and depression, which Eastern Europe and the Balkans are especially suffering from, the Bulgarian housing market only stays afloat because of Russian investors? Weeeeell, after all, Bulgaria is at least a member of the European Union, and many older Bulgarians speak Russian (therefore it's easier to do business with them), also let's just say they're not such crooks as elsewhere. Plus, investing in the Black Sea region is not a bad bet, as long as one avoids the over-built, claustrophobia-inducing Sunny Beach area. But Bulgaria (thanks to Hitler) encompasses a very large extent of the Black Sea coastline. Balchik (location of Queen Marie of Romania's summer complex) is very upmarket, as is, much further south, Sinemorets, where all the mega-rich Russians build. In between are moderately priced places where middle-class Russians with a little savings invest.

But as a response to your remark, I think that France was always far better off than Russia, historically, economically, socially, and governmentally speaking. Even when 14th-century France was suffering from the Great Famine, then the Black Death (which apparently swept away a full third, and in places a full half, of its total population), it remained the richest and most populous country in Europe. Such could not be said of Russia, for much, indeed all, of its history.



 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on September 30, 2010, 04:01:13 PM
Quote
Because their ancestors in 1914 repatriated all their foreign assets to Russia, despite all the warning signals... Big, big, oh huge mistake!

D'oh!

Still, at least some of them have learned from their past mistakes.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 01, 2010, 01:15:25 AM
I seriously doubt that in 1914 anyone could anticipate the duration or intensity of the war that was to come or the subsequent revolution.  Almost noone had heard of Lenin, let alone Stalin, so repatriating assets to support Russia's war needs was not seen as a stupid move, moreover, patriotism at the most basic level.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 01, 2010, 10:17:52 AM
Yes, but Russia had been having problems with radicals for decades before.  You think that revolution might have crossed someones mind.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 01, 2010, 11:35:19 AM
I think the prevailing thinking was with a 1,000,000 man army, the war was going to be short and victorious and so most people wanted to be seeto be contributing to that victory.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Kalafrana on October 02, 2010, 09:31:48 AM
Throughout Europe there was a rush to contribute to national war efforts. In Britain, 300,000 men joined up by September 1914, a million by the end of the year. My maternal grandfather worked his passage from Canada to join up. The ship docked in Cardiff, and he wasted no time in finding a recruiting office, so found himself in the Welch Regiment, despite having no Welsh connections whatever! In Germany young men not subject to call-up were also rushing to join up, including, of course, a certain Adolf Hitler.

Ann
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 02, 2010, 11:17:33 AM
I seriously doubt that in 1914 anyone could anticipate the duration or intensity of the war that was to come or the subsequent revolution.  Almost noone had heard of Lenin, let alone Stalin, so repatriating assets to support Russia's war needs was not seen as a stupid move, moreover, patriotism at the most basic level.

Actually as far back as 1898 the Russian Jewish financier Ivan Bliokh predicted the appalling carnage of the next great European war with a barrage of statistics in his six-volume work on the subject. It made a deep impression in Russia, especially it seems on the young tsar Nicholas II, who granted a personal audience to the author. According to Robert K. Massie, Bliokh's magnum opus was one of the reasons why Nicholas II made the proposal for an international conference to discuss the arms race. This proposal ultimately led to the Hague Conference in 1899, which failed on the issue of disarmament but nevertheless "[agreed] on rules of warfare and established a permanent court of arbitration" (Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra, 65).

I certainly wasn't arguing that patriotic Russians in 1914 were "stupid," only that they were foolhardy. They could have repatriated some of their assets in support of the war effort, without sacrificing all of them. Revolution was definitely in the air, after all, after the Lena Goldfields massacre of 1912 and many other incidents of workers' protests and civil disorder in the years leading up to World War I. Lenin certainly predicted that Nicholas II would be toppled from the throne in the event of a major continental war when he wrote during his years of exile, "If only Nikolasha would give us a war."

It's all a moot point now, of course, since Russians today, including Putin himself, are busy making foreign investments, because the threat of another significant political crisis is always looming on the horizon in twenty-first century Russia.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 02, 2010, 11:48:04 AM
Yeah, you have to give Putin and Co. credit for thinking ahead.  Mind you, communications are much more easy now than they were 100 years ago.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 02, 2010, 12:06:26 PM
Yeah, you have to give Putin and Co. credit for thinking ahead.  Mind you, communications are much more easy now than they were 100 years ago.

I think Putin and his cohorts (or should I say co-whores?) in the political leadership are just cynical. They know they've only succeeded in building a house of cards. And the unfortunate Russian people, and especially the new middle class, who have suffered one blow after another, from repeated bank failures in the 1990s to the current economic recession (maybe it's more properly termed an actual depression) have no recourse but to put their savings in more secure investments abroad. Obviously many, perhaps even the majority of Russians, are not so willing to give up on their native country. Unlike their political leaders, they are probably still patriotic, but given the bitter experiences of the Soviet and post-Soviet past, they have to look after their own best interests, more importantly, the best interests of their children. This is a real conflict; I remember Russian friends back in the early 1990s who spent many anxious hours debating where their real loyalties lay, to their country or to their children, before eventually deciding on the latter, and emigrating with their families to the West.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 02, 2010, 06:03:59 PM
I wonder if things would have gone better for Russia had Lenin and his band of criminals not taken power, but rather had Kerensky's government prevailed.  All the damage the Communists did would never happen.  Russia has never really recovered from the wounds Communism inflicted upon in.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 02, 2010, 07:28:54 PM
I wonder if things would have gone better for Russia had Lenin and his band of criminals not taken power, but rather had Kerensky's government prevailed.  All the damage the Communists did would never happen.  Russia has never really recovered from the wounds Communism inflicted upon in.

I agree that Russia has never recovered from the damage of the Soviet period, which lasted almost a century after all.

But I disagree that the provisional government could have prevailed. They were committed to fighting Germany, which went against the wishes of most of the Russian people, and for that very reason, they were ultimately incapable of sustaining the struggle. If they had truly wanted to continue this war, and still secure the home front from radical extremism, they would have needed to place the government in charge of a new Napoleon. Unfortunately most of the new "Napoleons" of this period in Russian history happened to be Bolsheviks, i.e., radical extremists.

I know, it's disgusting to compare the great Napoleon to perpetrators of crimes against humanity like Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin... but there you go. History cares very little for such niceties.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 02, 2010, 11:42:25 PM
It's a shame that Lenin and Stalin can never be brought to trial for their crimes.  They have a LOT to answer for. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 03, 2010, 12:48:38 AM
Actually Napoleon is an apt analogy as he emerged from the French Revolution.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 03, 2010, 06:01:48 PM
Yeah, he did.    Mind you, he wasn't a butcher like Hitler and Stalin were.  I remember reading a quote from Winston Churchill who said something like "I won't compare Hitler to Napoleon.  I have no wish to insult the dead."
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 03, 2010, 07:29:00 PM
Well, Napoleon certainly did leave fields of tens of thousands of dead and wounded after virtually every major battle he fought throughout the length and breadth of Europe. How many were the total dead and wounded at the Battle of Borodino? Wikipedia says approximately 70,000. In the twenty-first century we find numbers like this unimaginable. But even in the American Civil War a single battle like Gettysburg cost the Union some 23,000 soldiers (and that's not even taking into account the Confederate dead and wounded). Wars in the modern Western world have been fought on an entirely different scale than in previous centuries, up until quite recently.

Nevertheless Napoleon left behind him, in virtually if not all (I think actually all) countries he conquered civil rights for everybody (even or especially minorities like the Jews), in many places a modern legal code, and in many other places (such as Slovenia) a newly established national language (which is why today there is a statue of Napoleon in a major square of the Slovenian capital city - because he was the ruler who instituted Slovenian as the national language of the Slovenian government and bureaucracy). Napoleon was the actual liberator and bearer of the ideals of the French Revolution (liberté, égalité, fraternité) throughout much of Europe in the late 18th and early 19th century.

Napoleon's legacy is the complete opposite of that of Hitler and nazism, which sought to exterminate its so-called racial enemies in the interest of racial purity and "lebensraum." Where he could, Napoleon left in his wake civil rights, as well as constructive governmental and legal policies and procedures, whereas Hitler left behind only misery, deprivation, and destruction. Napoleon sought to build up Europe -- both western and eastern -- whereas Hitler sought only to tear Europe down.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 03, 2010, 11:41:27 PM
That is why, in France, Napoleon is one of their greatest heroes.  There are tributes to him all over the place (the Arc De Triumph, I know I spelled that wrong, has all his campaigns on it).  And he is buried in a tomb in Paris (which Hitler visited when Germany occupied France in 1940).

In Germany, you'd be hard pressed to find any reminders of Hitler (although some neo-Nazi groups probably have shrines to him).

To get a bit back towards the main topic, it's good to see Russia giving Nicky and his family the honour they deserve.  Since it's impossible to get them justice (because those that murdered them are all long dead) at least we can remember them with honour.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 04, 2010, 03:38:17 AM
Well Hitler and Napoleon is inaccurate. I will have to ask Sir Martin Gilbert whether Churchill ever said that. Napoleon was not racist and did not operate concentration camps and if you think Napoleon was not bloody,then you need to read up on the Peninsular wars in Sapin and Portugal.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 04, 2010, 04:14:05 AM
The Arc de Triomphe is not a monument to Napoleon. He orered it built to commemorate  French victories from 1792 to 1815./  Defeat were not recorded.  Actually, it was not finished until  Louis Phillipe, I think, when the Napoleonic designs for the capital's   new design  were restarted, It is now  the place for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, from WWI.
 BTW, it is illegal to commemorate Hitler in Germany. I do not think there were any whilst he ruled either. Lots of swastikas, but no Hitlers that I know of.
 Russia is a different case again, but I will not go into it.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 04, 2010, 08:53:33 AM
Well Hitler and Napoleon is inaccurate. I will have to ask Sir Martin Gilbert whether Churchill ever said that. Napoleon was not racist and did not operate concentration camps and if you think Napoleon was not bloody,then you need to read up on the Peninsular wars in Sapin and Portugal.

Or Napoleon's massacre of four thousand Albanian POWs in Syria (although granted, upon initially surrendering they had given their word not to fight his army again, and they had broken their promise). At the same time, despite all the bloodletting, I think it can fairly be said that Napoleon accomplished far more good than harm. He was the ruler to introduce mandatory smallpox inoculation across Europe (which saved how many hundreds of thousands, if not ultimately millions, of lives?), not to mention the fact that he abolished serfdom wherever he conquered -- even in Poland -- with the sole exception of Russia. Which is why even today some Russians argue that their country would have been better off if Napoleon had prevailed over Alexander I, if only for a few years -- this would have been time enough to introduce some much-needed reforms. Who knows, Russia might have got rid of serfdom and had a workable legal code by the early 19th century, as opposed to some fifty years later!
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 04, 2010, 09:19:54 AM

 BTW, it is illegal to commemorate Hitler in Germany. I do not think there were any whilst he ruled either. Lots of swastikas, but no Hitlers that I know of.
 Russia is a different case again, but I will not go into it.

You of all people can go into it, Robert, I promise I for one will not go for your jugular, or even a less important artery. I will leave you intact, no matter what you say.

The hard thing for me to deal with, as far as the October Revolution is concerned, is that it was about all these wonderful ideals. And these ideals - social equality, liberty, justice for all - could have appealed to all of the European peoples, just as the French Revolution's "liberty, equality, fraternity" had just over a century previously. What stopped the October Revolution from spreading, as Trotsky and his followers so fondly envisioned it would? I think it was the twin, intertwined issues of Marx and class warfare, also the Bolsheviks' overall penchant for violence, lawlessness, and political tyranny, which scared to death the predominant middle class in Central and Western Europe. The Bolsheviks literally left this class shaking in its boots. And there was some reason for this, it wasn't just overactive imaginations. Just to give the most obvious example, there were open conflicts - indeed, pitched street battles - between the forces of reaction and those of class revolution throughout Germany after World War I, well through the 1920s and even up until 1933 and the Nazi seizure of power in March of that year.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Kalafrana on October 04, 2010, 10:04:00 AM
I don't think the October Revolution was about ideals. Rather it was a cynical coup by a narrow and extremist cabal for their own end.

To a greater extent the February Revolution was about ideals, and had the Provisional Government not been under pressure from every side, they might, given time, have established a workable democratic system.

Ann
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 04, 2010, 10:42:54 AM
I don't think the October Revolution was about ideals. Rather it was a cynical coup by a narrow and extremist cabal for their own end.

To a greater extent the February Revolution was about ideals, and had the Provisional Government not been under pressure from every side, they might, given time, have established a workable democratic system.

Ann

I sincerely doubt the provisional government could ever have "established a workable democratic system." For one thing, because they - FATALLY - kept putting off all their major political decisions until January 1918, when the Constituent Assembly was scheduled to meet. Okay, such a plan looks great, it's all very democratic and good to promise on paper that you're not going to make any big decisions about government or land reform or whatever until representatives have been duly elected from all over the Russian empire and meet to pass legislation in Petrograd in the new year... But politically speaking, such delays were absolute suicide on the part of the provisional government. Let's face it, throughout the spring of 1917 the peasantry was seizing the land for itself, it wasn't waiting for the provisional government or the Constituent Assembly to give its approval to these extra-legal appropriations. It was a done deal, it couldn't be taken back without major bloodshed. And ditto with the mass desertions by ordinary Russian soldiers from the Russian Army taking place at the same time. By midsummer 1917 the provisional government was actually no longer merely temporary (which is, after all the meaning of "provisional") but indeed already fast becoming historically irrelevant. (Hence, no doubt, the Kornilov Affair.)

And as politically tyrannical, barbarous, and murderous as I believe the Bolsheviks from Lenin onwards to have been, they were also the most politically savvy, intelligent, prescient, and proactive party in the Russian empire at this momentous time. Of course they seized power by a coup. Well, what ambitious political player with an ounce of ambition wouldn't have done so, given the fact that the provisional government was failing to administer Russia so spectacularly and publicly? And the fact of the matter is, as much as we might ourselves hate it, the Bolsheviks, unlike Russia's well-intentioned liberals, had a real, concise, concrete ideological program, very easily grasped even by the illiterate -- an immediate end to the war, land and bread for everyone -- which appealed very strongly to the peasantry (i.e., 80 percent of the total population).

As Edmund Burke put it, "the concessions of the weak are the concessions of fear." The provisional government was basically screwed once it lost the historical upper hand, which was precisely the moment when it refused to dictate future events. Unlike their political foes in the provisional govt., the Bolsheviks rarely failed in this task, and so they were rarely, if ever, perceived as weak.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 05, 2010, 11:47:16 AM
Communism should be placed alongside Nazism as one of the most murderous regimes in human history. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 06, 2010, 05:59:11 PM
Communism should be placed alongside Nazism as one of the most murderous regimes in human history. 

It has been, by the overwhelming majority of historians, Tim. Not to mention public opinion (because we count, too!).
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Kalafrana on October 07, 2010, 03:55:26 AM
'It has been, by the overwhelming majority of historians, Tim. Not to mention public opinion (because we count, too!). '

Howeve, individuals who are or have been Communists tend to be treated far more sympathetically by public opinion than former Nazis.

Would there have been anything like as much odium for the Duke of Coburg had he turned to Communism?

Ann
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 07, 2010, 09:46:39 AM
Yes the Communists werent as coldly efficiten in their disposal of people as the Nazis were.  Tim, have you read a lot of history?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 07, 2010, 10:41:56 AM
Yeah, history has always kind of been a hobby to me.  That is another reason I like coming here.  My poor friends eyes always glaze over when I start on about the Romanovs :)
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Nicolá De Valerón on October 07, 2010, 11:41:31 AM
Communism should be placed alongside Nazism as one of the most murderous regimes in human history.  

It has been, by the overwhelming majority of historians, Tim. Not to mention public opinion (because we count, too!).

Elisabeth,

I wonder, where did you find all these people ("public opinion" as you said, or those who have the same views as you and me on Communism and other isms...)? If you are able to meet them everyday, you are lucky;).

If personally, instead of these mysterious count, I've been always met mainly those who believe in the "universal brotherhood in peace" and "progressive forces of socialism". Or, I didn't understand you (then sorry), either we are living in different worlds!

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 07, 2010, 12:22:22 PM
Communism should be placed alongside Nazism as one of the most murderous regimes in human history.  

It has been, by the overwhelming majority of historians, Tim. Not to mention public opinion (because we count, too!).

Elisabeth,

I wonder, where did you find all these people ("public opinion" as you said, or those who have the same views as you and me on Communism and other isms...)? If you are able to meet them everyday, you are lucky;).

If personally, instead of these mysterious count, I've been always met mainly those who believe in the "universal brotherhood in peace" and "progressive forces of socialism". Or, I didn't understand you (then sorry), either we are living in different worlds!

Well, Nicola, in answer to your rather tricky question, I guess I meet such people every day, firstly because I am married to such a one, who basically views Soviet history, as I do,  as a tremendous, unforgivable, bloody mistake; secondly because I have read plenty of historians who express very similar if not necessarily so emotionally colored opinions in their published texts: e.g., the most obvious "culprits" of the conservative line such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Richard Pipes, Robert Conquest, and so on. But also I would include recent historians of the Soviet Union such as Anne Appelbaum, Orlando Figes, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Cathy A. Frierson and Semyon S. Vilensky (these last two are the authors of Children of the Gulag, about the many child victims of Bolshevism, not only Stalinism). Also, I must add that when I read recent histories of Nazism the parallels with the USSR are always discussed and debated precisely because they are so obvious that they demand any respectable historian's attention (see Michael Burleigh or Richard Evans on the subject of Nazi vs. Soviet totalitarianism).

Of course, plenty of Soviet revisionists exist and lead happy unconcerned lives. Indeed, back during the years of perestroika I was "instructed" by a very revisionist American Sovietologist and professor, who basically argued that despite all the bloodshed, life went on and a new society was built in Stalin's USSR. Well, I wanted to say (but as an undergraduate lacked the courage) life went on and a new society was built in Hitler's Germany, too, while the Jews were being massacred, so what exactly was her point? That we should just not worry about such moral niceties? The strong survive, while the weak should and necessarily do go to the wall, in the best of all possible worlds?

I actually agree that there are a lot of Western Soviet revisionists out there, although in my experience most of them seem to be dying off, because they usually belong to the sixties generation (or even older generations). They came to their political "maturity" (such as it was) on the works of Marx, Lenin, Mao, Sartre, etc., etc. They simply can't and don't recognize the suffering that the USSR inflicted on its own citizens and in the Soviet bloc. But then, they often have similar problems recognizing the evils of Mao and the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution. So I say, to hell with them. After all, in the end, they're mere historical relics of our ineffectual Western Sixties "Radical Left."

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 07, 2010, 03:25:46 PM
The trouble with the sixties kids is that they were admiring something they knew nothing about.  None of them ever went to the Soviet Union and saw the reality there, they just sat back, believed what they wanted to believe, and blazed up a dooby.  If I could, I would ask these people why their "universal brotherhood" brutally murdered millions, starting with poor Nicky and his family.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 08, 2010, 11:20:46 AM
Sometimes I think you provide much needed comic relief to the grim subject matter of this forum, Tim. Seriously speaking, though, I don't think the revisionist Sovietologists I came across back in the 1980s were former dooby-smoking intellectual gadabouts, in fact many (although definitely not all) of them as far as I could make out were very talented scholars descended from Eastern European and Russian emigrants who came to the United States between 1880 and 1920 or thereabouts. Their origins tended to make both them and their families particularly sensitive to issues of the imperial abuse of power. You know, whatever your particular approach is to a historical question, unless you are an absolute extremist of the radical or reactionary kind, as long as you are a serious scholar you are bound to contribute something useful to the ongoing debate.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Nicolá De Valerón on October 08, 2010, 01:15:23 PM
Well, Nicola, in answer to your rather tricky question, I guess I meet such people every day, firstly because I am married to such a one, who basically views Soviet history, as I do,  as a tremendous, unforgivable, bloody mistake; secondly because I have read plenty of historians who express very similar if not necessarily so emotionally colored opinions in their published texts: e.g., the most obvious "culprits" of the conservative line such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Richard Pipes, Robert Conquest, and so on. But also I would include recent historians of the Soviet Union such as Anne Appelbaum, Orlando Figes, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Cathy A. Frierson and Semyon S. Vilensky (these last two are the authors of Children of the Gulag, about the many child victims of Bolshevism, not only Stalinism). Also, I must add that when I read recent histories of Nazism the parallels with the USSR are always discussed and debated precisely because they are so obvious that they demand any respectable historian's attention (see Michael Burleigh or Richard Evans on the subject of Nazi vs. Soviet totalitarianism).

Elisabeth,

I think that we've slightly misunderstood each other. Not at the first time;). Plus in addition you are talking about very different thing, in contrast with me. I'm talking not about those with whom we are able to contact or meet personally in our life according to responsible choice (all our surrounding, including family, friends, partners, etc.), but about people in general/society (majority). These are rather different things. That's why I was amazed while reading your words about this mysterious "count". About historians and other intellectuals...Well, all these with no doubt intelligent and respected people (like Pipes and Solzhenitsyn) are not somehow connected with this majority and far away from them and their everyday lives (I don't know who is to blame here).  And if you ask for example an ordinary taxi driver in Munich or Los Angeles (no matter where), what is it GULAG? You'll hear:"Maybe it's our new police chef with difficult surname?" And so on and so forth.

I actually agree that there are a lot of Western Soviet revisionists out there, although in my experience most of them seem to be dying off, because they usually belong to the sixties generation (or even older generations).

You are a great optimist! I've been always thinking that actually most of "them" (with some exceptions) are still not only alive, but hold the power. They've only changed their "clothes". Just as an example with no names;). There is one big and famous organisation in Europe, which was originally started as a simple economical and free frontiers cooperation of democratic states (not a bad idea), but now this is an uncontrollable colossus with it's own "Politburo" (commissars) and future "KGB" (ongoing creature of common police). There is only one thing left to create to be a "USSR" - own GULAG, but this is a question of time.

They came to their political "maturity" (such as it was) on the works of Marx, Lenin, Mao, Sartre, etc., etc.

Oh, excellent list! But I only amazed to see here Sartre. I read probably most of his works and didn't find there any mention of the things, these guys adhere. His philosophy is absolutely unpolitical, although of course he was left in views. Existentialism in general: moral searching, difficult human choice, awareness of self identity and fighting for freedom in any forms - all these things are very close to any intelligent human being and finally a key to classical Liberalism. Again, I was amazed to saw this man here.

P.S. About your husband, it's not a mistake, it's wonderful;). I can hardly imagine someone with the opposite views near me. I mean totally opposite of course.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 08, 2010, 03:40:04 PM
Quote
I don't think the revisionist Sovietologists I came across back in the 1980s were former dooby-smoking intellectual gadabouts, in fact many (although definitely not all) of them as far as I could make out were very talented scholars descended from Eastern European and Russian emigrants who came to the United States between 1880 and 1920 or thereabouts. Their origins tended to make both them and their families particularly sensitive to issues of the imperial abuse of power

Yet, they were okay with Stalin slaughtering millions.  Tell you the truth, the dooby-smoking potheads make a lot more sense by comparison.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 08, 2010, 06:16:29 PM
I think that we've slightly misunderstood each other. Not at the first time;). Plus in addition you are talking about very different thing, in contrast with me. I'm talking not about those with whom we are able to contact or meet personally in our life according to responsible choice (all our surrounding, including family, friends, partners, etc.), but about people in general/society (majority). These are rather different things. That's why I was amazed while reading your words about this mysterious "count". About historians and other intellectuals...Well, all these with no doubt intelligent and respected people (like Pipes and Solzhenitsyn) are not somehow connected with this majority and far away from them and their everyday lives (I don't know who is to blame here).  And if you ask for example an ordinary taxi driver in Munich or Los Angeles (no matter where), what is it GULAG? You'll hear:"Maybe it's our new police chef with difficult surname?" And so on and so forth.

Hi, Nichola, I'm breaking up your post only because I'm so bad at technology and making coherent quotes and responses to quotes. Thank you for your very thoughtful post, which in turn made me think. Ponder over things for a while.

I guess because I don't know where you're from, it's difficult for me to judge your particular situation. I only know my experiences in the United States, England, and Bulgaria - where taxi drivers in general seem to be extremely right-wing. In fact, it's my impression even from my husband's travels in Russia that taxi drivers everywhere are the most reactionary souls imaginable - they're always cursing big government, communism, socialism, Marxists, feminists, left-wingers in general, you name an interest group anywhere to the left of the political center, they're cursing it.

I also guess I honestly don't see the problem with the ordinary man in the street, who, at least in the United States, seems to be far more inclined to believe the worst about communist regimes than his brethren in Western Europe.

On the other hand, it's true that certain areas like the humanities in American academia seem to be dominated by very left-wing Marxist intellectuals who nonchalantly disregard the last one hundred years of communist history (in numerous countries, not only China and the Soviet Union) in the interest of pursuing their ideological agendas... These people completely infuriate me, and it's true that they are numerous in some places. However, that said, such types are more than balanced out by the politically quite conservative types who dominate science and engineering. At least at our university, where science and engineering bring in tens of millions of research money every year if not every month, these faculty's views are more highly valued than those of their colleagues in, say, English Literature or Art History. And more students graduate from science and engineering, and make more money, and ultimately wield more influence, than students in the humanities.

I sincerely hope I haven't totally misunderstood your point all over again.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 08, 2010, 06:23:58 PM
They came to their political "maturity" (such as it was) on the works of Marx, Lenin, Mao, Sartre, etc., etc.

Oh, excellent list! But I only amazed to see here Sartre. I read probably most of his works and didn't find there any mention of the things, these guys adhere. His philosophy is absolutely unpolitical, although of course he was left in views. Existentialism in general: moral searching, difficult human choice, awareness of self identity and fighting for freedom in any forms - all these things are very close to any intelligent human being and finally a key to classical Liberalism. Again, I was amazed to saw this man here.

It's highly misleading to say that Sartre was "unpolitical." Sartre was a complete "fellow traveller," as these Western apologists for the Soviet regime have traditionally been called. He was a communist by conviction and never apologized for his support of the Soviet regime, even after the Soviet crushing of the Hungarian revolution in 1956 or, later, in 1968, when Soviet troops rolled into Czechoslovakia to destroy the "Prague Spring." Entire waves of Western communists left the communist party after events such as these; Sartre never did, and as far as I'm concerned, it's an indelible stain on his character.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 08, 2010, 08:12:04 PM
Someone should have rounded up all those fellow travellors and sent them to the Soviet Union.  Believe me, they would have opened their eyes pretty darned fast and begged to come back to the West.  It was easy for those to praise Communism who didn't live under its horrors.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Nicolá De Valerón on October 09, 2010, 05:09:58 AM
I guess because I don't know where you're from, it's difficult for me to judge your particular situation. I only know my experiences in the United States, England, and Bulgaria - where taxi drivers in general seem to be extremely right-wing. In fact, it's my impression even from my husband's travels in Russia that taxi drivers everywhere are the most reactionary souls imaginable - they're always cursing big government, communism, socialism, Marxists, feminists, left-wingers in general, you name an interest group anywhere to the left of the political center, they're cursing it.

Elisabeth, Hello.

Oh, I meant nothing particular with the word "taxi driver", as you thought. It's only a simple example of an ordinary, or better to say typical man who are far away from those intellectuals you mention. Nothing more. Of course in that case the truth about both the most radical and important totalitarian regimes of 20th century (National Socialism in Germany and National Bolshevism in USSR) which is absolutely clear for a sober-minded intellectuals, is in contrary totally unknown for these ordinary men. Moreover, even in the USA with it's excellent mass media including hundreds of TV channels and plenty of newspapers these things are absolutely unspoken properly. By properly I mean serious and long discussion with professional experts on federal channel. Sad truth. Btw, indeed, mainly all the taxi drivers in this world are a great marker of modern (mainly today's propaganda state) political atmosphere. It's not a centrist or right-wing, it's actually a "state alike".

On the other hand, it's true that certain areas like the humanities in American academia seem to be dominated by very left-wing Marxist intellectuals who nonchalantly disregard the last one hundred years of communist history (in numerous countries, not only China and the Soviet Union) in the interest of pursuing their ideological agendas... These people completely infuriate me, and it's true that they are numerous in some places. However, that said, such types are more than balanced out by the politically quite conservative types who dominate science and engineering. At least at our university, where science and engineering bring in tens of millions of research money every year if not every month, these faculty's views are more highly valued than those of their colleagues in, say, English Literature or Art History. And more students graduate from science and engineering, and make more money, and ultimately wield more influence, than students in the humanities.

Elisabeth, and not only humanities and other academical spheres! It seems to me that we are living in different times;). I've been always thinking that world itself today with it's all components is actually dominated by left wing ideology. There is a good true joke: "Bolsheviks won at the East, Menshevics at the West". "Means" are different (brutal Gulag in USSR and European social democracy with "repressive tolerance" on the West), but "Goal" is the same (brotherhood and equality). That's why I think (sure) that these innocent humanities which started their actually anti-human movements in eighties in academical circles of the USA, now are absolutely dominant and comprehensive anywhere. Absolutely! Moreover, soon there would be even serious prison sentences for these "innocent" things (5 years, like in GULAG). I remember, Vladimir Bukovsky once told interesting story, continuing the theme. He worked in the USA in mid eighties in Berkeley university laboratory (his first profession was neurophysiologist) and once going down the stairs, he saw two young women in front and decided to open the door in front of them. In response, he heard: "Male chauvinist pig!". For opening the door;). He asked his partner: "What it is? I've just wanted to open the door." He answered "It's all Berkeley. Do not pay attention". It was in mid eighties, but now these "Berkeley" innovations of mid eighties are enshrined by law and provided with prisonal sentences. And it's not funny more. It's very serious. If Russia is totally lost and there is no chance for it's full recovery in original frontiers (after all Tsarisms and Bolshevisms), there is still a chance to save at least not yet doomed and half free world from this tendency.

Btw, you've mention conservative ideas and it's political representatives. It's a very sad scene to see all these weak attempts to change this situation from their side. All the conservative movement in today's world are absolutely impotent and ridiculous. It's even far more tragic, that all the most important conservative forces (form UK Conservative party to Republicans) are aware of their own weak helpless and can only delay this tendency, but cannot fully stop or even try to change it.

It's highly misleading to say that Sartre was "unpolitical." Sartre was a complete "fellow traveller," as these Western apologists for the Soviet regime have traditionally been called. He was a communist by conviction and never apologized for his support of the Soviet regime, even after the Soviet crushing of the Hungarian revolution in 1956 or, later, in 1968, when Soviet troops rolled into Czechoslovakia to destroy the "Prague Spring." Entire waves of Western communists left the communist party after events such as these; Sartre never did, and as far as I'm concerned, it's an indelible stain on his character.

Oh, it's seems to be that this is another endless discussion "intellectuals and regimes"...What do you think about continuing it through PM's or maybe to start own thread about this? I very like to defend poor Sartre, but it seems to me that this discussion is far away from this thread (N-II and throne).
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 09, 2010, 05:44:47 PM
You know, Nicola, contrary to what foreigners often believe, the opinions of faculty and students on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley do not even remotely reflect overall public opinion in the United States. Let me tell you, from my comfortable perch here in the American heartland, most Americans think UC-Berkeley is nothing more than a remote radical leftist enclave that is doomed to fall off into the Pacific Ocean with the rest of the state of California around the year 2015.

Your friend's experience with the female student refusing to let him open a door for her is very silly. I'm surprised he was so offended. Such harmless antics can hardly be said to herald the end of Western civilization.

On the contrary, as I said before, most of the American elite tend to be self-perpetuating and they also tend to be pretty centrist, if not outright conservatives (unless we are talking about New York City or Los Angeles, but both these cities are, again, miles away from the rest of the country in terms of political tendencies). American elites are either the inheritors of pre-existing family wealth, or the progenitors of new wealth and new dynasties, usually through business, science, and technology. In short, they're usually very interested in tax havens.

I know that Fox News likes to get all exercised about the evil influence of leftists on American campuses but the fact of the matter is, you don't get anywhere in American politics spouting quotes from Marx and Engels, Lenin or Stalin, or for that matter Castro or Chavez. Basically Americans are financially conservative and socially liberal. Which is a real conflict when it comes to determining social welfare policies. But it's hardly a constitutional crisis, much less the end of democracy as we know it.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Nicolá De Valerón on October 10, 2010, 03:57:48 AM
Your friend's experience with the female student refusing to let him open a door for her is very silly. I'm surprised he was so offended. Such harmless antics can hardly be said to herald the end of Western civilization.

Elisabeth,

Mr Bukovsky is actually not my friend (he is already 67). I saw and contacted him only few times. It's a famous former Soviet dissident (12 years in prisoner cams), writer and absolutely great man. He was expelled from the USSR in 1976. Now he lives in UK and plays a prominent role in the UK UKIP party (pro UK independence). I strongly recommend all of his works for everyone who like to know the nature of totalitarian regimes and today's EU tendency.

Oh no, he was not somehow offended and this situation doesn't mean anything at all. I think that those two women are now feel themselves great and are leaders of another one underground party of progressive feminists;). It was just an example of stupidity started innocently in one of the Californian Universities, but spreaded the whole world. And it seems to me that there is no real power to stop it, including conservative forces. Nothing more.

I know that Fox News likes to get all exercised about the evil influence of leftists on American campuses but the fact of the matter is, you don't get anywhere in American politics spouting quotes from Marx and Engels, Lenin or Stalin, or for that matter Castro or Chavez. Basically Americans are financially conservative and socially liberal. Which is a real conflict when it comes to determining social welfare policies. But it's hardly a constitutional crisis, much less the end of democracy as we know it.

Agree, but I talk about absolutely different thing. About situation and tendency in this world in general. The situation itself when you get the real prisonal sentence for the words like: "women and men are different" or "global warming is campaign organized by deliberately of left EU elites" is far away from democracy and looks more Orwell's "1984" like. Interesting that people who want democracy (of course their type of democracy) and equality are creating their own political persecution and spreading new dissidents. Strange, isn't it?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 10, 2010, 06:19:03 AM
Dear Nicola, I know very well who Bukovsky is. Surprisingly enough, I've even read some of his works. He is, as you say, rather famous after all.

I also understand that Soviet dissidents coming to the US in the socially fractious period in which you describe might not have had much of a sense of humor about the new feminist etiquette. On the other hand, I myself do NOT know any women nowadays (some 30 years after Bukovsky's bad experience) - feminists like myself or otherwise - who now take offense at men opening doors for us. Times have indeed moved on since the 1970s!!!  In fact it's now, as it was previously, regarded as a common courtesy for men to open doors for women, and younger people to open doors for older people, or people in wheelchairs, or women with babies in strollers... The United States is as a rule excessively polite when it comes to dealing with strangers. And most of this politeness is entirely sincere. I know a lot of Western Europeans express contempt for Americans at cash registers who smile and say "How are you? Have a nice day" but most Americans actually mean it. And as a consumer it's a hell of a lot more pleasant than being growled at by miserable impolite British sales people. Geez, they can be rude as hell. Is there anybody ruder on this planet than a British sales clerk?

Frankly I don't know anyone who has received a prison sentence for saying such things as "women and men are different." I and my women friends say it every day. It's perfectly obvious to anyone who's had any exposure at all to very small children raised in virtually gender-role-free environments. Most little girls like dolls and most little boys like toy fire trucks. (Most, not all.) I could tell a lot of highly amusing stories about the efforts of my in-laws to promote gender-neutral toys with their son and daughter, all to no avail. And in fact this has been such a common experience over the last few generations that I think most American and West European parents have by now learned from experience and let their children pick out their own favorite toys. In this the current generation of Western parents differs from previous generations (whether pre-feminist or feminist) who consciously tried to steer their offspring in what was at the time considered the most "gender appropriate" or "gender neutral" direction.

As for global warming, I know plenty of marriages where there are vociferous arguments about this very question. So far no one has gotten a divorce, much less gone to jail. Really, Nicola, where are you picking up these bizarre impressions about the United States and Western Europe? It's absurd, and also, frankly I must say this, in my opinion actually insulting to real political dissidents, both past and present, who have had to cope with, and in places like China continue to cope with, actual prison sentences in actual forced labor camps for expressing far more politically contentious, earth-shaking, and controversial ideas than the ones you insist on discussing here.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 10, 2010, 06:21:11 AM
Anyway, getting this thread back on topic....

I think what Nicky should have done was hand over all political power to the Duma.  He was forced to create it, and he hated it.  That was his mistake.  He felt that he alone had the right to make decision about Russia, not an elected body.  Poor guy just couldn't wrap his mind around the idea that the era of absolute monarchies was over (at least in Europe).

The ironic thing is that, from what I understand, Nicky HATED being Tsar.  He felt it was more a burdern than a gift.  The Duma would have been a win-win situation for him.  1.  It would have taken the burdern of leadership off him.  2.  If the people got mad about the government, they would be mad at the Duma, not the Imperial Family.  I strongly believe Nicky would have been happy being a figurehead monarch, like Elizabeth II.  He would visit troops, cut ribbons to open hospitals, and basically do what Elizabeth does today.  Futhermore, he would have more time to chop wood and enjoy the great outdoors.  Finally, he and his family might have lived to ripe old ages.  The revolution might not have happened, or if it had, might not have been so violent and horrible (meaning the Bolsheviks might not have come to power).

In conclusion, I believe that Nicky should have gone all the way with the Duma.  If the Dowager Empress, or someone, began squawking about him giving up political power, he tells them to sod off and does it anyway.  And that is one way he could have saved the throne.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 10, 2010, 06:31:34 AM
To qupte BarabaraTuchman,
There is nothing more dangerous than weak autocrat.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 10, 2010, 06:50:26 AM
Quote
To qupte BarabaraTuchman,
There is nothing more dangerous than weak autocrat.


Yes, but had Nicky done what I suggested, he wouldn't have been an autocrat anymore.  That was part of the hatred against him, he saw himself as above everyone.  Had he willingly handed over his political power, he would have shown that he was as human as the rest of them.  That might have greatly reduced the hatred the people felt for him.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 10, 2010, 06:51:35 AM
Anyway, getting this thread back on topic....

Thank you TimM, I was getting more than a little worn out trying to defend Western democracies from the type of attacks one generally only hears on FOX News and Tea Party radio.

I think what Nicky should have done was hand over all political power to the Duma.  He was forced to create it, and he hated it.  That was his mistake.  He felt that he alone had the right to make decision about Russia, not an elected body.  Poor guy just couldn't wrap his mind around the idea that the era of absolute monarchies was over (at least in Europe).

The ironic thing is that, from what I understand, Nicky HATED being Tsar.  He felt it was more a burdern than a gift.  The Duma would have been a win-win situation for him.  1.  It would have taken the burdern of leadership off him.  2.  If the people got mad about the government, they would be mad at the Duma, not the Imperial Family.  I strongly believe Nicky would have been happy being a figurehead monarch, like Elizabeth II.  He would visit troops, cut ribbons to open hospitals, and basically do what Elizabeth does today.  Futhermore, he would have more time to chop wood and enjoy the great outdoors.  Finally, he and his family might have lived to ripe old ages.  The revolution might not have happened, or if it had, might not have been so violent and horrible (meaning the Bolsheviks might not have come to power).

In conclusion, I believe that Nicky should have gone all the way with the Duma.  If the Dowager Empress, or someone, began squawking about him giving up political power, he tells them to sod off and does it anyway.  And that is one way he could have saved the throne.

I'm not sure NII could have saved his throne even by becoming a real, committed constitutional monarch, as you argue. Unfortunately the Russian duma was not a very politically mature organization, moreover it had weak support amongst the masses (many of whom probably didn't even know of its existence, much less what it was for), and most importantly of all, as far as I can make out the duma was every bit as war-hungry as other European parliaments in August 1914. Since it was World War I that largely did in not only the monarchy but also all hope of real democracy in Russia for most of the 20th century, I don't think NII's many bad decisions really made all that much difference in the end.

Perhaps one could argue that NII's disrepute threw into disrepute the Russian duma as well as their successors, the provisional government, but I don't think this is necessarily true. Most of the duma and after them, the provisional government, had tremendous public support in the capital cities at least in the immediate aftermath of the February Revolution. On the other hand, I think if the duma had been the only real responsible government when the Russian army suffered so many defeats in the last years of the war, then not only the tsar, but parliamentary government first and foremost would have been thoroughly discredited in the cities, and then in October the Bolsheviks... would still have swept to power virtually unopposed.

I think Russia was in pretty much a no-win situation after August 1914 and the declaration of war. As Lenin wrote years before 1914, "If only Nikolasha would give us a war." He was right, that was the Bolsheviks' main chance for power and when the opportunity arose they seized it.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 10, 2010, 06:55:04 AM
Yeah, I can see the problems.  Still, one has to wonder, if Nicky had done what I suggested, would he and his family still been brutally murdered. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 10, 2010, 07:05:46 AM
Yeah, I can see the problems.  Still, one has to wonder, if Nicky had done what I suggested, would he and his family still been brutally murdered. 

Good question. I always wonder why NII didn't send his family out of Russia immediately. It was so foolish not to have done so. After all, Louis XVI of France had been offered the opportunity of seeking refuge with his family in the fortress of Metz at the beginning of the French Revolution, and he refused it  - Nicholas II knew French history, he knew what the fatal results of this decision were, not only for Louis XVI, his sister Elisabeth and his wife Marie Antoinette, but also for his child the Dauphin.

Of course during the February Revolution the children were suffering from a serious bout of measles and Grand Duchess Marie, who was on the brink of death, probably would have died if she had been moved with her siblings to a place of greater safety - Finland would have been a good option, or Denmark - but the rest of the children would have survived. As I believe one of the tsar's courtiers put it at the time, "when a hospital is on fire the first thing you do is move the patients to a place of safety," or words to that effect. He was absolutely right. There was that one window of opportunity to get the children out but after that it rapidly closed.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 10, 2010, 11:32:58 AM
Of course, Nicky had no way of knowing what would happen, hindsight again.

Must have been a bad bout of measles.  Today little kids get it and survive.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 10, 2010, 12:45:06 PM
Actually, Tim, measles in adults is often quite serious and life-threatening. Remember that in February 1917, Olga was 21, Tatiana was 19, Maria was 17, Anastasia was 15, and Aleksei was 11. So really only Aleksei and possibly Anastasia were "out" of the the acute danger zone. And I believe that Maria in addition to measles developed pneumonia, which is another reason why she hovered on the brink of death for a crucial period of time when the imperial family might have been making good its escape.

It reminds me of how Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette had to endure the torments of their eldest son, the first Dauphin, as he died of a particularly painful form of tuberculosis, tuberculosis of the spine, precisely at the same time that the French monarchy was being challenged and eventually overthrown by the Assembly. In both cases, those of the Bourbons and the Romanovs, I believe the parents were distracted by the immediate sufferings of their children and could not concentrate properly on the long-term dangers posed to their families by new and radical political developments.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 10, 2010, 01:14:58 PM
Here you are back on track and I'm going to back track for just one post more:

Good thing I was too busy watching our Cal Bears [UC Berkeley] beating FA's UCLA and Stanford  defeating USC or I would  have been posting like a crazy Bear  and really would have gotten us off subject with Elisabeth and others.

Those of us who live in California, USA  have the greatest view of the world due to our huge diversity of people in every aspect of our lives.   I remember when my husband told his Father that he was going to apply to Cal.  His very very conservative father almost had a heart attack because he viewed CAL as a liberal communist  #@*% place.  And, yes,  we, who voted for Goldwater,  were a tiny bit out of place on campus in the early 1960s when the Vietnam War was so unpopular.   Please, do remember this:  While  the anti-war groups freedom of speech were allowed,  our boys in Vietnam, including a few of my friends,   died to protect the rights of the anti-war groups.  It is very  important  to most of us [conservatives, liberals, Tea Party....] in the USA to  have "freedom of speech" and many of us will die for it,  even if we have to die for it as far away as Vietnam or Iraq.  

Our sons went to  Cal, also,  because some of the best professors, despite some of their political views, were and are the best in the world.

As for FOX and the Tea Party,  its good to hear what they are saying, as well as what the "liberal" press is saying.  I continue to view all sides of the political games being played here in the USA.  Somewhere in the middle is closest to the truth.

Now,  I'm headed off to get ready for the San Francisco Giants baseball game.  For those who are not familiar with baseball,  we are in the Playoffs for the World Series.   We're going into the third game with the  Atlanta Braves.  We have won one and they have won one.  It's the best three out of five.  So, GOOOOOOOOO Giants!!!!!

 AGRBear  :>)

Back to Nicholas II.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 10, 2010, 02:21:51 PM
Well, Bear, you've expressed in your usual exuberant style the very sentiments which I think still make the United States of America a great place to live, most of the time. Which sentiments are, basically, to paraphrase you, live and let live, try to see both sides of every conflict, don't be the first to judge, and always come down in the middle of every issue if it's at all possible. I think the spirit of compromise is what keeps this country going; sadly, it is the extremists on both sides of the political spectrum - left and right - who would like to kill all compromise and bring about a new "American Revolution" of their own making, one which in my personal opinion would be a complete disaster, not to mention an utter dead end, indeed a black hole, for this nation.

But now maybe we could get back to Nicholas II worrying about the health of his children and how this might have interfered with his political judgment during the February/March Revolution of 1917?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 10, 2010, 04:05:17 PM
Another tragic parallel.  Like Anastasia, for years afterwords, some pretenders poppled up, claiming to be the Dauphin.  Since no one at the time was sure what happened to him, there was always doubt.  Also, like Anastasia, DNA testing has debunked all those "Dauphins".
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 11, 2010, 06:34:20 AM
What defined weak for Nicholas was his inability to listen to good counsel, his inability to make good decisions and his inability to be able to foresee consequences.  Hindsight is usually 20/20.  Tim, you might want to contact the US government and tell them to stop funding the mujahadeen - oops too late on that one too.
   
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 11, 2010, 07:59:13 AM
I know this is not the most popular position to take, but I actually don't think it mattered all that much in the end whether Nicholas II was a weak or strong ruler. The fact of the matter is, Alexander III was perceived by most Russians (not only in his own lifetime, but up until the present day) as being a very strong emperor, and yet it was during his reign that most of the seeds of revolution were sown. They came to fruition during his son's reign, but that wasn't in and of itself even remotely NII's fault.

In my opinion it would have taken either a leader of tremendous vision and will like Peter the Great, or a ruler of absolute genius like Napoleon I (with his "whiff of grapeshot" that would have cured the mob of all of its revolutionary and bloodthirsty propensities) to stop the Revolutions of 1917. After World War I started, basically all the old monarchies of Europe - with the exception of Britain - who were involved in the conflict were screwed. Only a new Napoleon could have saved a republican Russia. And as I said before, there were none to be found. Russia's bad luck, as usual.

BTW, Constantinople, I don't think it was a mistake that we funded the Afghan freedom fighters, I think it was a mistake that we funded the ones we did, who tended to be die-hard fundamentalists and usually bad military commanders as well. We should have been funding someone like Ahmad Shah Massoud. He won innumerable battles against the Soviets, was pro-democracy, secular, and, of course, assassinated by Osama bin Laden's terrorists on September 10, 2001, the day before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, precisely because Massoud would have been the leader popularly elected in Afghanistan in the event that the United States invaded Afghanistan and helped to set up a democratic government, as indeed we did.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 11, 2010, 10:16:46 AM
Ironic that now Nicky and his family are more popular than they were when they lived.  Mind you, after the horror story called Soviet Russia, maybe they realized that things weren't so bad under Nicky's rule after all.  Okay, he was an autocrat, but compared to Stalin, he was a pussycat.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 11, 2010, 12:46:37 PM
Ironic that now Nicky and his family are more popular than they were when they lived.  Mind you, after the horror story called Soviet Russia, maybe they realized that things weren't so bad under Nicky's rule after all.  Okay, he was an autocrat, but compared to Stalin, he was a pussycat.

I think the current nostalgia for the imperial family can be explained much more simply. Basically I would put it down to our overall pop cultural nostalgia for pretty young white girls murdered by horrible evil men. Beautiful young white princesses murdered by evil world villains and, moreover, class upstarts (Communists!!!) like the Bolsheviks, are even better. It's all very cartoon-like and unreal to most people, because as happy, innocent Americans we always imagine ourselves on the "right" side, Superman fighting Kryptonite and the Forces of Darkness and whatever.

Look at how many E! Entertainment and A&E and History Channel programs and so on are devoted solely to the disappearance and/or murder of beautiful young white girls (by contrast, nobody in the media seems to care much about the disappearance of beautiful young black girls). I'm sorry, but if I see one more program about the murder of Sharon Tate (and God rest her soul, because she was obviously a good person), I am going to puke. Because at some point it all becomes voyeurism and prurience, plain and simple and yes, plain and simply gross.

If the media had a videotape of the imperial family's murder, they would play it over and over again, with various commentaries, until viewers became so hardened tp the carnage that they simply stopped watching. At which point the TV channels would retire the tape and go back to playing endless documentaries about Hitler. Hitler's Brain. Hitler's Family. Hitler and the Occult. Hitler and the SS. Hitler and His Henchmen. Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, and so on, and so forth.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 11, 2010, 01:46:58 PM
I think it is more that noone is suffering from the consequences of his rule now and then there was what can be best called the propogandistic value of his family.  And of course if his family hadn't been so brutally murdered in such contrasting conditions to what they lived in for the time Nicholas was Tsar, then I think that Nicholas would have been a miserable footnote in history.  I realy think that if the Bolsheviks could see what a mistake it was to murder the family, they would have arranged for their exile.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 12, 2010, 11:19:25 AM
Firstly, I want to congratulate Elizabeth on her thoughtful and erudite posts. Having only recently joined discussion group I have taken the trouble to review some past posts and your responses to the nonsense posted by Zevsda and others of (her/his) ilk was, I'm pleased to say, thrilling. Having emigrated to the US when I was three 61 years ago with Russian parents who were forced to flee as a result of the Revolution I had to listen to and read the uninformed propaganda spewed by academics and others (starting in the thirties...Roosevelt's "Uncle Joe"....Henry Wallace...right up to our good friend Angela of Berkley (she of the wild Afro) and Stephen Cohen (the unreconstructed Bukharinite) of Princeton) as I wended my way up the academic ladder. In each case it was a matter of wishful thinking, that somehow communism would progress the human condition. But the fact remains the principle tenet of communism (and interestingly early National Socialism) was, based on the Marx and Engels theory of class warfare and because the end justifies the means, the extermination of whole groups of people was excused in the name of the greater good.

But back to the thread. Personally I agree that by 1917 there was little NII could have done to change things. My own opinion is that the real cause of the collapse of the old order was due to the collapse of the army as a result of the reverses of WWI. After all the army traditionally was the principle bulwark of the state. By 1917 discipline in the army had collapsed and the Bolsheviks were having a field day sowing discord and organizing among the disaffected conscripts.  Had Tannenberg turned out differently maybe it would be a different story.  BTW, among members of my family (my Grandmother was a lady in waiting to the Dowager Empress) there was the belief that AIII would have kept Russia out of WWI and that NII was too much under the influence of Perfidious Albion.             
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 12, 2010, 11:57:59 AM
So if Nicky had stayed out of the war, things might have gone better for him?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 12, 2010, 12:51:02 PM
IMO, no. It might have postponed the inevitable and saved their lives, but the monarchy was doomed.  As I see it.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 12, 2010, 02:06:00 PM
Well I still believe the question remains of whether the monarchy could have survived absent the stresses caused by WWI. I do believe that the autocracy would not have survived given the political currents swirling in Russia post-1905 (as it didn't survive in the rest of Europe post WWI)  but were Russia to have had time to develop politically I think it would have had a good chance to have transitioned to a constitutional monarchy. It needed time for its economic development to catch up and permit its political development to proceed in a more organized and evolutionary manner. There is a good chance that NII would have been forced by events to give up real political power to the Duma or some other like but better functioning body as various segments of the country gained a voice and power through economic development. It was happening throughout eurpe and I doubt that Russia could have insulated itself from these political develoments. I believe a functioning and disciplined armed forces would have provided the means to establish and maintain order during the critical period of 1915-1918 and after to permit this process to procede. The sad thing is that bleeding Russia just ran out of time after being battered into defeat and revolution. The Petrograd Soviet could never had done what it did without the aide of deserting soldiers and sailors (and boy did they live to regret it, viz., Kronstadt among other examples).  Another "what if" but one with dire consequences.  For example, if no Stalin would there have been a 1939 Pact with Hitler which enabled him to attack westward having secured his eastern front?  In fact, were there no Bolshevik threat (perceived or real) could the Weimar Republic have survived?  The great unknowns which cost the lives of millions.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 12, 2010, 03:18:17 PM
Yeah, I could see Russia becoming a constitutional monarchy like Britain, if it had been given the time.  Sadly, time ran out.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on October 12, 2010, 04:14:30 PM
Yeah, I could see Russia becoming a constitutional monarchy like Britain, if it had been given the time.

Why do everybody make the assumption that once absolutism was abandoned, parliamentary-constitutional monarchy ŕ la Britain was the next step? Don't you think Russia, with its tradition of a strong executive rather would have followed the German-Prussian model of non-parliamentary constitutional monarchy? (Even today Russia is a presidential democracy like the USA, not a parliamentary democracy like the Western European states.) Or do you think monarchy and non-parliamentary democracy are mutually exclusive? (I agree that argument has historical evolution on its side, just look at how parliament became supreme in Britain (17-18th centuries), the Netherlands (1848), Norway (1884), Denmark (1901), Germany (1919), Sweden (WW1), France (5th Republic?) etc.)
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 13, 2010, 01:58:38 AM
Actually with about 80% of the population illiterate and very religious, it really did take a huge number of deaths and serious food shortages to motivate the Russian populace to demonstrate and call for the overthrow of the Romanoff regime.  Had it been allowed to evolve,it is difficult to imagine what Russia would have looked like. It may have gone towards a constitutional monarchy or it may have operated on the basis of a diluted and devolved autocracy.  Itmay also have been transmogrofied into its own political form. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 13, 2010, 10:04:31 AM
I maintain that with economic development generally comes political maturation. This maturation, in my view, tends to be expressed as a pluralistic democratic society as various social groups become empowered economically and begin to vie for political power.  However, as was pointed out cultural factors cannot be discounted.  Since the time of the Mongol occupation Russians have been accustomed to a strong central government typically embodied in a central figure (e.g., the Tsar, Stalin and now Putin (althnough Medvedev might disagree), for example), the “Вож” or leader.  Interestingly, in recent polls Stalin is still admired by at least 40-50% of all Russians for his leadership role in WWII and his supporters are willing to discount or excuse his butchery.  Russians have been historically uncomfortable with weakness and disorder which in the past has often led to invasion (cf., the Poles and the "time of troubles"). The Russian Orthodox Church has also tended to support this arrangement by being closely tied to and supportive of the state.  So I'm in agreement that political development in Russia would not have necessarily followed the English parliamentary model (although even that developed only after some pretty harsh blows against the monarchy (e.g., the Magna Carta, Oliver Cromwell, Charles the First's beheading, the revolution of 1688, etc.)  and, in fact, the historic cultural ties with Germany could have resulted in a Reichstag-like body but I believe with a reduced monarchical influence.  BTW, with economic development typically comes greater literacy (you cannot get ahead economically if you can't read or write) so that would have improved with time as well and therefore you would have had a more educated electorate. Further, while the literacy rate in pre-revolutionary Russia among the masses may have left something to be desired, the educational infrastructure was there.  It just needed to spread and be accessible to and participated in by more people which would also have come in time.  Certainly Russian institutes of higher learning equaled or exceeded those in Europe and the Ubnited States of the time.   
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 13, 2010, 10:25:53 AM
Of course, this is all guesswork, we'll never really know.  But I like trying to come up with a scenario that not only allows Nicky and his family to live, but allows him to keep his throne.  Being a figurehead monarch is better than having no throne at all.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 13, 2010, 12:23:48 PM
Agreed and frankly I think a monarchy suits the Russian character, but that's one man's opinion.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 13, 2010, 03:27:44 PM
Make that two men's opinion.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 14, 2010, 10:34:35 AM
I do believe that the only time in Russia's history that the time was called "Golden Age " was under Cath.  II  "The Great".   Perhaps it was and is a  time for a change.  :>)

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 14, 2010, 01:09:16 PM
Well if you consider the self imposed main contender for monarch, then she would be a disaster.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 14, 2010, 07:33:40 PM
Firstly, I want to congratulate Elizabeth on her thoughtful and erudite posts. Having only recently joined discussion group I have taken the trouble to review some past posts and your responses to the nonsense posted by Zevsda and others of (her/his) ilk was, I'm pleased to say, thrilling. Having emigrated to the US when I was three 61 years ago with Russian parents who were forced to flee as a result of the Revolution I had to listen to and read the uninformed propaganda spewed by academics and others (starting in the thirties...Roosevelt's "Uncle Joe"....Henry Wallace...right up to our good friend Angela of Berkley (she of the wild Afro) and Stephen Cohen (the unreconstructed Bukharinite) of Princeton) as I wended my way up the academic ladder. In each case it was a matter of wishful thinking, that somehow communism would progress the human condition. But the fact remains the principle tenet of communism (and interestingly early National Socialism) was, based on the Marx and Engels theory of class warfare and because the end justifies the means, the extermination of whole groups of people was excused in the name of the greater good.

Thank you so much for your many kind words, Petr! You make it worthwhile to post, I must say. If it weren't for the fact that I've already married him, I would have thought I'd just met my soul mate. I agree with most of your opinions, obviously. But because I am argumentative by nature, I will quibble with a few details (as I always tell my husband, before I launch into yet another argument!).

As a matter of fact I don't think National Socialism preached class warfare, it preached racial warfare - but granted, the two things - class and racial warfare - were very similar, even roughly the same in their outcome, so I get your point. I do think nazism was more immediately catastrophic for humankind than communism - more quickly fatal, more decisively death-dealing, especially if it had been allowed to prevail (since it envisaged the actual physical extermination of entire racial groups, not only the Jews and Roma, on an actual assembly line of mass murder). Communism has always been more of a drip, drip, drip affair (with alternately rising and subsiding waves of terror, as Solzhenitsyn has described them, and interspersed with these, the not infrequent tsunami, as I would describe such phenomena as collectivization and the Great Terror). But perhaps because of this very fact - the drip, drip, drip nature of communism - it has been more insidious than nazism in the long run. After all, as you point out, lots of really well-intentioned, good people have fallen under the sway of its so-called promise. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, we all know, what possible promise did Lenin ever hold out? Much less Stalin? Tyranny, slavery, and mass murder? Or Brezhnev? Stagnation and backwardness?

But of course way back when the picture looked very different to thousands of out-of-work white and black Americans during the Great Depression. I have no difficulty at all understanding how these people were attracted to the Soviet ideal of a workers' paradise. (And there are actually a handful of memoirs left behind by some of these people, many of whom, much to their amazement, ended up in the Gulag at the end of the 1930s.) What I have a hard time stomaching are modern-day academics and other well-fed intellectuals who seem to take some kind of strange pleasure in imagining "what might have been" if only Stalin hadn't come to power. All these historical hypotheticals or "counterfactuals." These individuals seem honestly to believe that Bolsheviks like Trotsky or Bukharin or whoever had no "real" blood on their hands. Granted, it's only pie in the sky, but frankly I find it disturbing after all the revelations that have come out of post-Soviet Russian archives.

But forgive my rant, you've heard it all before. Of course, it's all your fault, Petr, it only takes a few words of encouragement to get me on my high-horse!
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 14, 2010, 07:50:53 PM
I maintain that with economic development generally comes political maturation. This maturation, in my view, tends to be expressed as a pluralistic democratic society as various social groups become empowered economically and begin to vie for political power.  However, as was pointed out cultural factors cannot be discounted.  Since the time of the Mongol occupation Russians have been accustomed to a strong central government typically embodied in a central figure (e.g., the Tsar, Stalin and now Putin (althnough Medvedev might disagree), for example), the “Вож” or leader.  Interestingly, in recent polls Stalin is still admired by at least 40-50% of all Russians for his leadership role in WWII and his supporters are willing to discount or excuse his butchery.  Russians have been historically uncomfortable with weakness and disorder which in the past has often led to invasion (cf., the Poles and the "time of troubles"). The Russian Orthodox Church has also tended to support this arrangement by being closely tied to and supportive of the state.  So I'm in agreement that political development in Russia would not have necessarily followed the English parliamentary model (although even that developed only after some pretty harsh blows against the monarchy (e.g., the Magna Carta, Oliver Cromwell, Charles the First's beheading, the revolution of 1688, etc.)  and, in fact, the historic cultural ties with Germany could have resulted in a Reichstag-like body but I believe with a reduced monarchical influence.  BTW, with economic development typically comes greater literacy (you cannot get ahead economically if you can't read or write) so that would have improved with time as well and therefore you would have had a more educated electorate. Further, while the literacy rate in pre-revolutionary Russia among the masses may have left something to be desired, the educational infrastructure was there.  It just needed to spread and be accessible to and participated in by more people which would also have come in time.  Certainly Russian institutes of higher learning equaled or exceeded those in Europe and the Ubnited States of the time.   

Of course cultural heritage is very important in the evolution of any nation or people's history. At the same time, maybe France is a better analogy to Russia than Great Britain or the United States. Didn't Charles de Gaulle devise a government with a very strong executive branch for the precise reason that the French were more comfortable with, if not authoritarian rule, then something vaguely resembling it? Monarchs like Louis XIV and emperors like Napoleon I and so on?

I also think something very significant was happening with the demographics of Russia around the time of the Revolutions of 1917, just as something very significant was apparently taking place, demographically speaking, during the French Revolution in 1789. As I recall reading (unfortunately I can't find the source now! I will definitely look for it) both countries at the time of their respective revolutions were undergoing massive demographic change, to the extent that a hitherto unprecedented, or at least highly unusual, percentage of their populations was thirty years old or younger. Such a development was and is significant in terms of social - and by extension, of course, political - stability. Young people are far more willing to embrace social and political, even radical, change than older people. The latter tend to be far more cautious and even pessimistic than young people, who generally view change as an opportunity. It's quite possible that the very same youthful enthusiasm that supported Russia's entry into war in 1914 also supported its entry into revolution less than three years later.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 14, 2010, 08:15:45 PM
Well if you consider the self imposed main contender for monarch, then she would be a disaster.

I agree,  I don't think the "self imposed main contender" is what Russia needs at this time.

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 15, 2010, 07:19:00 AM
Quote
I do believe that the only time in Russia's history that the time was called "Golden Age " was under Cath.  II  "The Great".
   

Well, we know when the Dark Age was, the Soviet years.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 15, 2010, 07:23:12 PM
...[in part]...

... with economic development typically comes greater literacy (you cannot get ahead economically if you can't read or write) so that would have improved with time as well and therefore you would have had a more educated electorate. Further, while the literacy rate in pre-revolutionary Russia among the masses may have left something to be desired, the educational infrastructure was there.  It just needed to spread and be accessible to and participated in by more people which would also have come in time.  Certainly Russian institutes of higher learning equaled or exceeded those in Europe and the Ubnited States of the time.  

In 1900  were the colleges and universities of the USA and Europeans worst, equal or  better than the Russians?

I don't think we can just count the numbers of  colleges and schools.  Each European country had it's own historical method.    The USA was still being  settled and territories hadn't even become states.  In the mid west one room school were being built...  Teachers often had no more than 8 years of schooling....  Russia was larger and yes older.  As Petr posted,  >>the educational infrastructure was there<<  and under Nicholas II was improving everyday.

From 1800 to 1840 Russian villages didn't often have any kind of school.  If any learning was achieved,  it was usually given by the local priest.  The German-Russians more often than not,  as soon as they were able, built in their colonies a school.  Usually, among the German emigrant their was one schoolmaster who took up the task of teaching the children.  Books consisted of the old German books which included the ABC primers, Cathechism and bible history.  Added to this were arithmetic, singing and physical exercises.  Since books were precious, slates and chalk were used by the school children.  Classes were in one room and the number of children could vary from a handfull in the early years to 80 to nearly 200 by 1859.

In the early 1840s the  man who established the first central schools was the state Councilor von Hahn, who at that time was the president of the Welfare Committee.  He, also, insisted that all students learn Russian.  The children were to attend school for 150 days, but, the school rooms in the farming areas were often void of students between Sept to Nov and then Feb to May.

In 1860 The Russian government placed the German-Russian colonies under the administration of the district officials.

By 1881 all the students who graduated had to have pssed an examination in order to gain a teaching licenses.

1892 the Russian officials held the  right to appoint all the school teachers.

There was unrest in the German-Russian colonies becuase they  had to pay their teachers, build the buildings with their own funds, and were told how many hours of German could be taught, and, were told that  religion was not to be part of the regular school hours.  Land taxes upon the German-Russian colonists paid for Russian school and teachers in near by villages.  In the late 1800s,  educational standards were rising for all.

More schools of higher education were built.

Secondary schools taught Russian, German, mathematics, world history, Russian history, geography, natural sciences, music, singing and drawing.

Under Alex. III, anything German was to be set aside and   Russianization of German-Russians and all other  Russian citizens was demanded.

With the industrial ages in Russia,  the majority of the peasants who left their villages were able to read and write.  Even though the geography and other studies are quickly forgotten,  they  sent letters home telling others what was happening in the cities.   Their world was becoming broader.  And,  many realized the better education a person had,  the better job a person  found in the cities.  Another thing noticed later by historians was:   the peasants who left their family and the villages, didn't have the same kind of attachments to others in the cities and their attendance to church was more and more sporadic or done at all.  Going to political meetings often times filled this void.  Tea and coffee houses rang with  political and war news

The youth, as Elisabeth voiced, was being introduced to all kinds of new ideas.

...[in part]....Young people are far more willing to embrace social and political, even radical, change than older people. The latter tend to be far more cautious and even pessimistic than young people, who generally view change as an opportunity. It's quite possible that the very same youthful enthusiasm that supported Russia's entry into war in 1914 also supported its entry into revolution less than three years later.

And, so,  the Social Democratic Labor Party had a steady diet of  in experienced impatient youths, who believed things had to change because they couldn't continue as they were, and,  the Bolsheviks took full advantage of them and others.  The youths  had no idea that the Bolsheviks devoured their young and old if they got in their way of the Revolution of 1917.  

AGRBear  
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 16, 2010, 03:45:58 AM
By the time of Alexander lll, the US already had several universities.some of them like Harvard and Yale were already centuries old and others like the University of Virginia were very esteemed.  Russia probably had far fewer universities and when Alexander lll came into power,he had almost no respect for universities or university students.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 16, 2010, 11:35:44 AM
Well, a lot of revolutionary ideas were coming out of universites in 19th Century Europe, so I can see why Alex III might have been wary of them.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 16, 2010, 12:06:11 PM
Well, thanks as usual, AGRBear, for thoroughly muddling my ideas. I only said, that Russia experienced a major demographic shift during the reign of Nicholas II if not earlier - a much higher percentage hitherto of people aged thirty years or younger - who were (and this is basically speculation) probably more susceptible to and accepting of social and political change than their elders. Because young people generally do embrace change while older people are far more wary of it on the basis of experience. I was not saying by any stretch of the imagination that most Russian youth had become Social Democrats or Bolsheviks. In fact, I believe the vast majority of Russian youth, even when they did become converted to leftist political parties, stayed surprisingly Orthodox in their beliefs, even loyal to the tsar up until Bloody Sunday of January 1905. That was the first major shock to the belief system of young Russians, apparently, and it was followed by the even ruder awakening of World War I.

Students at Russian universities made surprisingly moderate demands of the state, most of the time. The autocracy completely misread the situation and overreacted during the reigns of Alexander III and Nicholas II. Both tsars seem to have believed that a little education was all right for the masses, and even perhaps beneficial for the state (literacy rates rose appreciably in the last decades of the imperial regime), but not a lot of education. The last tsars were deeply suspicious of university students, because most of these students were indeed liberal progressives in their political sentiments - but then, even Alexander II, the Liberator Tsar, in his last years generally mistook ordinary liberalism among students for radicalism (tearing down the state as opposed to merely reforming it). Alexander III obviously saw the universities as hotbeds of revolution and passed this belief down to his son Nicholas. But it was basically paranoia. Understandable paranoia, after the assassination of Alexander II, but paranoia nonetheless.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 16, 2010, 12:26:27 PM
By the time of Alexander lll, the US already had several universities.some of them like Harvard and Yale were already centuries old and others like the University of Virginia were very esteemed.  Russia probably had far fewer universities and when Alexander lll came into power,he had almost no respect for universities or university students.

All the major Russian cities [St. Petersberg, Moscow, Kiev, Odessa...] had universities.  I believe it was Cath. II "the Great" who created school of higher education for young women as well.  Cities like Ekaterinburg had specialized schools such as  the School of Mines....  Kiev, Tifilis and other cities had their Schools of Theology...  I will dig a little deeper because I'm not sure how old or how many actually existed by the early 1900s.  If someone knows,  let us know, if you'd be so kind.

Under Nicholas II,  there were more and more different newspapers and magazines in many languages being sold and found in "reading rooms" which existed in cities, towns and villages.

Well, a lot of revolutionary ideas were coming out of universites in 19th Century Europe, so I can see why Alex III might have been wary of them.

I believe it was under Alex. III who limited the number of Jewish students into the universities because he believed they were at the root of "trouble makers" in and outside of Russia.

Here are a few quotes from  Alexis Wrangel's  THE END OF CHIVARLY about the army under Alexander III and Nicholas II.

p. 1
>>Between the Turkish War in 1878 and the Japanese War in 1902,  Russia was at peace....<<

>>Under...Czar Alexander III, nothing stirred... It was the age of portly officers, who ate and drank well, slept long hours and took little exercises.<<

>>The Japanese War came as a rude awakening....<<

Nicholas II placed Grand Duke Nicholas as inspector general of cavalry and >>...A period of intense reforms started....  The reforms started at cadet school level and went right through the entire cavalry structure.<<  

>>The Czar's uncle....A giant of 6'6" with a voice like a foghorn ... became the terror of the Russian cavalry's officer corps.  Young officers assigned to his staff [p. 2] during maneuvers regarded the "privilege" as nothing short of martyrdom.  rare was the one who stayed the course and emerged with only a reprimand; the general rule was arrest.<<

>>More attention was also paid to the development and education of the soldier. The illiterate were taught to read and write, the standards of the regimental NCO schools were raised, and summer maneuvers became intense exercises at all levels of command, rather then the pleasant military rides of the gay nineties.  A cavalry officer's life became more work and less play.<<

p.11

>>August 1, 1914 saw the Russian cavalry well-equipped, well-trained and well-staffed, particularly in its junior and middle levels of command: platoon, squadron and regimental commanders.  The higher echelons, with some exceptions, still suffered from the constipation of minds and bodies resulting from 25 years of peacetime soldiering (1877 -1902).  (1877-1902).<<

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 16, 2010, 12:58:34 PM
Well, thanks as usual, AGRBear, for thoroughly muddling my ideas. I only said, that Russia experienced a major demographic shift during the reign of Nicholas II if not earlier - a much higher percentage hitherto of people aged thirty years or younger - who were (and this is basically speculation) probably more susceptible to and accepting of social and political change than their elders. Because young people generally do embrace change while older people are far more wary of it on the basis of experience. I was not saying by any stretch of the imagination that most Russian youth had become Social Democrats or Bolsheviks. In fact, I believe the vast majority of Russian youth, even when they did become converted to leftist political parties, stayed surprisingly Orthodox in their beliefs, even loyal to the tsar up until Bloody Sunday of January 1905. That was the first major shock to the belief system of young Russians, apparently, and it was followed by the even ruder awakening of World War I.

Students at Russian universities made surprisingly moderate demands of the state, most of the time. The autocracy completely misread the situation and overreacted during the reigns of Alexander III and Nicholas II. Both tsars seem to have believed that a little education was all right for the masses, and even perhaps beneficial for the state (literacy rates rose appreciably in the last decades of the imperial regime), but not a lot of education. The last tsars were deeply suspicious of university students, because most of these students were indeed liberal progressives in their political sentiments - but then, even Alexander II, the Liberator Tsar, in his last years generally mistook ordinary liberalism among students for radicalism (tearing down the state as opposed to merely reforming it). Alexander III obviously saw the universities as hotbeds of revolution and passed this belief down to his son Nicholas. But it was basically paranoia. Understandable paranoia, after the assassination of Alexander II, but paranoia nonetheless.

Obviously I wasn't clear enough in my post.  I was agreeing with Elisabeth and added my side notes, which  Elisabeth believes  "muddled" her post.  Nothing is ever just black or white, only shades of gray.

I will have to agree that the peasants in the cities had remained religious.  More often than not, the " new commers", who had come to the cities to work, didn't attend church.  At first the long hours of work got in the way...  Not wanting to go to a new church was part of this lapse...  Somewhere on this forum,  I wrote a post which provided a source about the fears of the Russian church as they realized their followers were no longer attending church and something had to be done  about these lost souls living in the cities whom they weren't able to reach due to the changes of society in the early 1900s.

The followers of Bolshevism ousted "God" and I don't recall communism changing this policy.  Churches were not legal until long after the fall of the Berlin Wall.  So,  somewhere along the line,  many of the new generation had lost touch with their church and god.

Up to  the day Nicholas II was crown and he gave the appearance that he did not care about the people who had accidently died earlier that day, which was followed by "Bloody Sunday" of 1905,  the majority of peasants had remained loyal to the Tsar, but,  afterwards,  these two events had created a gape between Tsar and the peasants and this gape   grew wider and wider  until there was no hope  of returning to what was before....

The "ordinary liberalism" did cause Alexander II, III and Nicholas II a great deal of real fear of losing absolute power and was hardly something just in their head which you've labeled as  "paranoia".   And, in the end,  the Tsar lost more than the crown, he and many members of his family were executed.

AGRBear

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 16, 2010, 01:05:40 PM
Quote
Churches were not legal until long after the fall of the Berlin Wall.


I think Albania was the only European Communist country to offically outlaw religion, they did it in 1967.  That law was abolished in 1991.

There is North Korea, of course.  However, they have not so much outlawed religion as develop one of their own, around Kim Il Sung.  He has practically become their Christ.  They made him President Eternal, or something like that.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 16, 2010, 02:10:11 PM
Obviously I wasn't clear enough in my post.  I was agreeing with Elisabeth and added my side notes, which  Elisabeth believes  "muddled" her post.  Nothing is ever just black or white, only shades of gray.

I will have to agree that the peasants in the cities had remained religious.  More often than not, the " new commers", who had come to the cities to work, didn't attend church.  At first the long hours of work got in the way...  Not wanting to go to a new church was part of this lapse...  Somewhere on this forum,  I wrote a post which provided a source about the fears of the Russian church as they realized their followers were no longer attending church and something had to be done  about these lost souls living in the cities whom they weren't able to reach due to the changes of society in the early 1900s.

The followers of Bolshevism ousted "God" and I don't recall communism changing this policy.  Churches were not legal until long after the fall of the Berlin Wall.  So,  somewhere along the line,  many of the new generation had lost touch with their church and god. AGRBear

Despite your protestations, AGRBear, you have indeed muddled my post -- yet again in your latest outpouring. The so-called newcomers you mention, the peasant workers who during the late tsarist period migrated to the cities for factory work, did indeed stay Orthodox and continue to attend church, for the most part, but especially for specific rites of passage such as marriages and christenings and funerals (there have been several studies of the Russian proletariat in the last years of the Romanovs, and the overall consensus is that the majority of workers, no matter what their political affiliation, remained Orthodox both in faith and practice).

After the October Revolution, the Bolshevik leadership quickly found -- well, perhaps not so quickly, perhaps it took them a few decades -- that Orthodoxy in particular and religion in general were not so easy to eradicate in the new USSR. Religion remained (barely) legal and frequently persecuted throughout the mid to late Soviet period. At times, such as during World War II, the Russian Orthodox Church was actually supported by the state in order to buttress Russian nationalism in the face of Nazi aggression.

For that matter, relatively comfortable and indeed, even mutually gratifying church-state relations were not uncommon in the communist bloc after World War II. Perhaps most notoriously, the Romanian Orthodox Church actually worked in tandem with the communist state to support Romanian nationalism and repress other religions (mainly Protestantism -- the Romanian Orthodox Church in fact willingly took as gifts the buildings and lands that the communist state had forcibly confiscated from Romanian Protestant churches).
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 16, 2010, 02:25:56 PM
I'll have to find the source which was from the Russian Church archives and I merely repeated the translation.  

When I find it,  I'll bring it here so you, too, can read it and we can discuss it more fully, if you'd like..

Yes, it's true,  many Russians remained loyal to their God.  Many lost their lives defending their belief.   And, yes,  those who survived secretly, and let me repeat, secretly held on to their faith.  Their numbers grew less and less from 1917 to the 1980s....  Now,  everything has changed.  Churches are opening.  Candles are burning.

However, publicly,  under the godless Lenin, Stalin and other communist leaders,  churches were closed and turned into stables or something else.

As for the Romanian Orthodox Church,  this information is interesting and I refrain from giving my opinion on such actions, accept in saying:  I believe in freedom of religion.

>>For that matter, relatively comfortable and indeed, even mutually gratifying church-state relations were not uncommon in the communist bloc after World War II. Perhaps most notoriously, the Romanian Orthodox Church actually worked in tandem with the communist state to support Romanian nationalism and repress other religions (mainly Protestantism -- the Romanian Orthodox Church in fact willingly took as gifts the buildings and lands that the communist state had forcibly confiscated from Romanian Protestant churches).<<

AGRBear



Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 16, 2010, 02:51:13 PM
True Elizabeth. The ROC was never illegal, but it had it's drawbacks.  If one attended  the Church, one couldnot be a member of the party, which was  perhaps the only way to get decent jobs and progress "up the ladder" The Patriarch was often, up until the fall of Communism, accused of collaboration with the Soviets. They claimed it was necessary for the survival of the Church.
 As Church attendance dropped, churches were closed and nationalised.  Simply because they were not being used. Many were destroyed unless they had some special artistic value, in which case they were made into museums.  St Petersburg had way more churches that needed anyway, so they were not sorely missed. I recently was in Moscow for Easter Sunday [Orthodox], which coincided with May Day celebration and Lenin's birthday. What contrast between the 3 events.  My friend & I attended several Orthodox services and I noticed the congregation was much the same as it was before the  collapse of the Soviet regime- little old ladies and their grand daughters. Fe middle aged women and even fewer men.
 Poor old Lenin had  a few, and I mean FEW, a couple of dozen at most, attending  his tomb on Red square. Banners a flutter.
 The REAL celebration was  the May Day parade. Thousands  attended that and of course the parade itself was massive. Communism was  long gone, but that parade is still a symbol of national pride. Still had a military bent, but noe as agressive as it used to be.
 All-in-all, a very interesting day.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 16, 2010, 04:37:42 PM
May Day predates Communism, in fact, the earliest version dates back to the Roman Empire.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Day


Quote
Poor old Lenin had  a few, and I mean FEW, a couple of dozen at most, attending  his tomb on Red square. Banners a flutter.

They ought to just bury the guy and be done with it.  Lenin himself stated in his will that he wished to be buried next to his mother, so finally do as he wished.  Go figure, he gets this big fancy tomb while poor Nicky and his family were just tossed into the mud without even a cross to make the place.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 16, 2010, 06:54:55 PM
I was referring to the strictly Russian version of May Day, which has nothing to do with the ancient or otherwise historical celebrations.
 As for Lenin I know it was a  ploy by Stalin to legitimise his "succession" and that Lenin himself did not want any sort of monument or memorial.  But once dead, what could he do ? There have been all sorts of ideas to move him,  even to the Novodevinchy cemetery, where other  Communist leaders are buried. But  so many protest erupt,  the leadership just postpones a decision. Nothing ever gets done. Personally, I think it causes no harm. It means something to a lot of people and frankly, a lot more simply do not care. I was told, during tourists season, they [the tourists] made up  the long lines.  Just a curiosity I imagine. Unlike Chine, where thousand of Chinese queue hours to see Mao,.  Tourists can get in ahead of them, but I was not interested. Besides, I did not think it fair.
 There are still plenty of statues of Lenin around. One, in front of the St Petersburgh City Hall,  makes it look like he is directing traffic on the very busy street. It is very iconic, and the people do not want it removed, they are rather fond of it, not because of Communism, but it is part of  StP history, and it is fun for them.
 Stalin, of ourse  was mostly dismantled  by Kruschev. Although he  still has his admires and a younger following, there is no movement to  put up new monuments for him. I think [along with my Russian friends] that the government want to concentrat on what will bring in tourists $$$s and Stalin  i would just not crack it, except for  some  fanatc neos.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 16, 2010, 09:42:46 PM
Dear Robert, wonderful and insightful observations as usual. Just give me some time to think about what you've told us. Saturday nights are not good for thinking things through, needless to say...
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on October 16, 2010, 10:01:10 PM
May Day predates Communism, in fact, the earliest version dates back to the Roman Empire.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Day

Википедия: Первое мая: (http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9F%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%B5_%D0%BC%D0%B0%D1%8F_%28%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B7%D0%B4%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%BA%29#.D0.9F.D1.80.D0.BE.D0.B8.D1.81.D1.85.D0.BE.D0.B6.D0.B4.D0.B5.D0.BD.D0.B8.D0.B5)
"В языческие времена в Западной Европе и на Британских островах первого мая праздновалось начало весеннего сева."

You don't understand Russian? Let me help you.... (http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Google+Translate)
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 16, 2010, 11:16:08 PM
Unique user name.  it looks like something you'd find carved on an Egyptian Pyramid.  It just jumps right out at you.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 16, 2010, 11:18:22 PM
May Day is a celebration of workers rights and to use Spartacus as one example, it was clear in Roman times that there was no celebration of workers' rights. What you were referring to was probably more like a spring bachanalia, something similar to the origins of Easter.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 17, 2010, 11:35:14 AM
Well what I meant was that there was a May Day long before anyone ever heard of Karl Marx.  The Commies may have taken credit for it, but in reality they just stole and corrupted it like the thugs they were.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 17, 2010, 12:01:34 PM
TimM,  The  Communist celebrations had NOTHING to do with other  May Day celebrations.  As has been mentioned, it was initially a celebration for workers. That has spread  to many countries now. Usually socialist or semi socialist.  The Communist stole it from no one. Eventually, I think right after WWII it became a showcase  for   the Soviet Union's ability to defend itself leading into a display of it's latest and most powerful armaments. Although workers rights sort of took a back seat, the various workers groups still participated.
 My whole point about this;  the fall of the Romanovs was no big deal to the vast majority of Russians.  They were quickly forgotten and convinced that a better life was coming. In some was it did, at great sacrifice. When WWII came about,many remember the    disaster that was Imperial leadership in the previous war and  did not care torepeat that humiliation.   Stalin, of course manipulated that sentiment toward a final, costly victory.
 Once the dynasty had fallen, it was  quickly relegated to the dustbin, it was tottering as it was beforehand. The country was quite unstable and it did not take much to finish the job. Even the Civil War was not about restoring the monarchy, it was about preserving capitalism and privilege.
 And now, the Romanov are looked at as museum pieces. No Russian goes ga-ga over those grand duchesses or any of the others. Ghat is  for the foreigners.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 17, 2010, 12:14:00 PM
Quote
the fall of the Romanovs was no big deal to the vast majority of Russians.  They were quickly forgotten and convinced that a better life was coming.

Boy, they sure were wrong on that count.  The only ones who had a better life were the Communist bigwigs.  For more of the Russian people, they just got oppression many times worse then they did under the Tsar.


Quote
No Russian goes ga-ga over those grand duchesses or any of the others.

Well, I wouldn't say that.  We have Russian members here, after all.  I guess it just depends on who you talk to.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on October 17, 2010, 12:17:48 PM
Well what I meant was that there was a May Day long before anyone ever heard of Karl Marx.  The Commies may have taken credit for it, but in reality they just stole and corrupted it like the thugs they were.

Yes, there was a May Day in for example the British Isles, a remnant of the Celtic festival of Beltane. And in Germany, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and Estonia the night before was celebrated as Walpurgis Night. But as far as I can see, most Slavic countries did not celebrate May Day before Communism! The pagan Slavic spring festival was instead incorporated into the lavish Orthodox celebration of Easter.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 17, 2010, 12:34:54 PM
I shouldn't have said:  >>Churches were not legal until long after the fall of the Berlin Wall.  So,  somewhere along the line,  many of the new generation had lost touch with their church and god.<<    Evidently, no one passed a law.  Fooled me.  

True Elizabeth. The ROC was never illegal, but it had it's drawbacks.  If one attended  the Church, one couldnot be a member of the party, which was  perhaps the only way to get decent jobs and progress "up the ladder" The Patriarch was often, up until the fall of Communism, accused of collaboration with the Soviets. They claimed it was necessary for the survival of the Church.
 As Church attendance dropped, churches were closed and nationalised.  Simply because they were not being used. Many were destroyed unless they had some special artistic value, in which case they were made into museums.  St Petersburg had way more churches that needed anyway, so they were not sorely missed. I recently was in Moscow for Easter Sunday [Orthodox], which coincided with May Day celebration and Lenin's birthday. What contrast between the 3 events.  My friend & I attended several Orthodox services and I noticed the congregation was much the same as it was before the  collapse of the Soviet regime- little old ladies and their grand daughters. Fe middle aged women and even fewer men.
 Poor old Lenin had  a few, and I mean FEW, a couple of dozen at most, attending  his tomb on Red square. Banners a flutter.
 The REAL celebration was  the May Day parade. Thousands  attended that and of course the parade itself was massive. Communism was  long gone, but that parade is still a symbol of national pride. Still had a military bent, but noe as agressive as it used to be.
 All-in-all, a very interesting day.

Long before Lenin was born, German-Russians loved to celebrate "May Day", as did their ancestors in the German states.  There use to be what was called a "May Pole" and long ribbons were attached to the top of the pole and the children, each with the end of one of the ribbons,  would braid the ribbon around the pole as the girls went to the left and the boys to the right. The celebration was connected to "love" and "courtship".   Maybe they discovered way-back-when this celebration from the Romans...

I find it interesting that in 1889 the International workers' Congress in Paris made May Day as a public holiday,  in 1919 the National Assembly in Weimar made May Day a public holiday to mark a day for parades and  public speeches, which were more often than not organized by the workers unions, now, they call it "Labour Day, and, later the communists added their own flare to May Day.

The older I become,  the more and more I realize that life today is always connected to yesterday's yesterday.

Nicholas II was caught like a crown fly in the web of his "yesterdays",  his father's "yesterdays" and all the Romanovs'  "yesterdays".

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 17, 2010, 01:20:29 PM
You know perfectly well, Bear, that the Russian May Day has nothing to do with be ribboned girls dancing around poles.
 It is a demonstration [all ideals as opposed to reality]the honour of labour, industriousness,  defence and self reliance. It is also a major national holiday. I have been to a few former Soviet countries and it is still celebrated, if toned down a bit to prevent ultra nationalist conflict.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 17, 2010, 01:39:21 PM
You know perfectly well, Bear, that the Russian May Day has nothing to do with be ribboned girls dancing around poles.
 It is a demonstration [all ideals as opposed to reality]the honour of labour, industriousness,  defence and self reliance. It is also a major national holiday. I have been to a few former Soviet countries and it is still celebrated, if toned down a bit to prevent ultra nationalist conflict.

Girls and boys danced around the May Pole while the workers from Paris to Moscow made the day in honor of labor.  Two different answers to two different posts which are linked to the same day, May One. To add to this,  it is not uncommon for the victor to take a date or a place  of celebration and make it their own. 

Back to education for a moment.  While looking for my post about the Russian Church leaders being upset about the lack of attention by the "new comers",  I found this in the thread called Bloody Sunday which is locked so I can't bring the quote here.  It is under AGRBear #531:

>>Quote from: Finelly on August 15, 2005, 12:29:39 PM
.....[in part]....
 By 1914, Imperial Russia had 8 million young people enrolled at all educational levels; 112 thousand students were enrolled in ninety-one institutions of higher education; there were reckoned to be 12,586 public libraries in Russia with 8,900,000 volumes; and the daily circulation of newspapers equalled 2,729,000 copies.<<

I have a feeling that the post I wanted to repeat may be in a  locked down thread because running various key words in SEARCH isn't  bringing up my post.  And,  I just don't remember where I read it. 

AGRBear

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on October 17, 2010, 01:44:01 PM
AGRBear, I think your information about German-Russians celebrating Walpurgis Night / May Day is very interesting! Obviously this was a custom (inlcuding Maibäume, maypoles) they brought with them from Germany and not at all a Slavic custom!

Robert, you do understand that AGRBear is talking about the Russian-German communities' May Day celebrations in Tsarist times, not the Soviet custom?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 17, 2010, 02:05:25 PM
TimM,  The  Communist celebrations had NOTHING to do with other  May Day celebrations.  As has been mentioned, it was initially a celebration for workers. That has spread  to many countries now. Usually socialist or semi socialist.  The Communist stole it from no one. Eventually, I think right after WWII it became a showcase  for   the Soviet Union's ability to defend itself leading into a display of it's latest and most powerful armaments. Although workers rights sort of took a back seat, the various workers groups still participated.

On this I have to agree with Robert. May Day as a day of international celebration for workers actually originated in the United States in the late 19th century and had nothing at all to do with pagan celebrations of the 1st of May. Check out the following website, which provides a concise account of the first workers' May Day and its tragic aftermath, the Haymarket Massacre.

http://www.holtlaborlibrary.org/mayday.html

Here's a brief excerpt from this web page (actually the intro):

"May 1, 1886, became historic. On that day thousands of workers in the larger industrial cities poured into the streets, demanding eight hours [per working day]. About 340,000 took part in demonstrations in Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Baltimore, Washington, New York, Philadelphia, Boston and other places. Of these nearly 200,000 actually went out on strike. About 42,000 won the eight-hour day. Another 150,000 got a shorter day than they had had before."

My whole point about this;  the fall of the Romanovs was no big deal to the vast majority of Russians.  They were quickly forgotten and convinced that a better life was coming. In some was it did, at great sacrifice.... Even the Civil War was not about restoring the monarchy, it was about preserving capitalism and privilege.

Again, I'm in agreement with Robert here. The Romanovs had thoroughly discredited both themselves and the institution of monarchy by time of the February Revolution. Much of the opprobrium that attached to Nicholas and Alexandra was of course unfair (that Alexandra was a German spy, that both she and Nicholas were mere minions of Rasputin the Mad Monk) but it was widespread among the educated classes and the military and really, those were the classes that counted during the first Russian revolution.

The peasants' own indifference to the fate of their monarch is remarkable, but IMO it was mainly a by-product of the trauma of World War I (although Khodynka Field and Bloody Sunday also have to be taken into account). War casualties were so incredibly heavy on the Russian side (although not, relative to population, as heavy as they were in France and Serbia) that this undoubtedly created a great deal of disillusionment with the powers that be. Also, there was the peasants' land hunger, which far outweighed any residual loyalty they might have felt towards the tsar.

It's also true that the Soviet state brought about a degree of social mobility that simply would not have taken place as rapidly if the Romanovs had continued in power. This is not to say that imperial Russia was static in its class structure - far from it, when a working-class boy like Gorky could become a famous writer, and a grandson of serfs, Anton Chekhov, an even more famous and esteemed writer. But Robert is correct, I think, to point out that social mobility for the lower classes -- who were not in the main either first- or second-rate writers, or writers at all, for that matter -- greatly increased under Lenin and particularly Stalin. That said, I frankly don't think it was worth all the bloodshed. Whatever gains were made were more than cancelled out by the horrific fates ascribed to millions of Soviet citizens, most of them lower class (peasants and workers) who were literally consigned to the dustbin of history, that is, the Gulag. It has to be remembered that virtually every Soviet citizen down to the very last days of the Soviet Union, including the country's last premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, had at least one near relative who had been unjustly imprisoned, often even died, in Soviet forced labor camps.

And now, the Romanov are looked at as museum pieces. No Russian goes ga-ga over those grand duchesses or any of the others. Ghat is  for the foreigners.

To some degree this is true, most mature Russians don't go nuts over grand duchesses (but then most mature Westerners don't either!). On the other hand, to play devil's advocate, there is a great deal of (often misplaced) nostalgia in contemporary Russia for emperors like Peter the Great and Alexander III. Doesn't Putin even have a portrait of Alexander III hanging in his office? And now the current head of state Medvedev has grown a beard and mustache and everybody in Russia is saying he's the spitting image of Nicholas II... But I think he was actually aiming to look like Alexander III, don't you?!?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 17, 2010, 02:30:56 PM
Bear, with a population of at least 168 million,  the education system was hardly universal. And, even then it was extended mainly to the middle and upper classes. With patronage,  the  ones who showed promise in the lower classes could gain entry to higher education.
 And FP, I know what Bear is talking about, but everyone seems to miss my point- I am talking strictly about Russian/Soviet May Day.  I do not care if the goats  dance around the maypole with the kiddies,  that is not what I am talking about, not even Morris  dancing in the English villages.
 In Russia, it was/is a day to show off achievements [real or imagined] and wave the red banners of Socialism.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 17, 2010, 02:33:51 PM
Bear quote revised: >>I find it interesting that in    [let me add: " on 1 May  1886 the US  had a workers strike.   Three years later"]  in  1889 the International workers' Congress in Paris made May Day as a public holiday,  in 1919 the National Assembly in Weimar made May Day a public holiday to mark a day for parades and  public speeches, which were more often than not organized by the workers unions, now, they call it "Labour Day, and, later the communists added their own flare to May Day.<<

Bear doesn't dispute this.  Why would I?  Surly we can discuss both May Day celebrations without getting our snickers all twisted.  Afterall,   this thread is about Nicholas II.

Both Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra had plenty of German ancestors who celebrated May Day,  the one about "courtship" and "love"  long before 1 May 1886.

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 17, 2010, 03:08:38 PM
Alexander III Elisabeth ? Are you sure ? That old reactionary probably hastened the demise of the monarchy.  I know  the Presidential Guards parade in the uniform on Alexander i. [Putin instituted that]. I could see  Alexander II, maybe, but the 3rd ...Odd.
 I also doubt very much Medvedev is trying to conjure up  an image of Nicholas II. In walking through Moscow  & St Petersburg, one can run into any number of Nicholas IIs.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 17, 2010, 03:21:18 PM
 
Quote
And now the current head of state Medvedev has grown a beard and mustache and everybody in Russia is saying he's the spitting image of Nicholas II...

I heard that he has a portrait of Nicholas II in his office as well.  Not sure if that is true or not.  

Another twist of history.  In the bad old Soviet days, it was forbiddon to even talk about the Romanov's.  Now Russia's leaders have pictures of them in their offices.  

As I said, the Commies wanted to totally obliterate the Imperial Family from history, however, they failed.  Instead it is their murderous ideas that have been tossed into the gutter, and I for one am glad.   Commuinism is no different than the Nazis or the Taliban, in my opinion, if you don't comply, you're dead.  I am of the strong opinion that if the Russians in 1917 had ANY idea that their revolution would usher in the horror story called the Soviet Union, they would have BEGGED Nicky to stay on the throne.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 17, 2010, 03:56:11 PM
Nobody in the current Russian government is deliberately conjuring up the image or memory of Nicholas II, believe me... the government is fragile enough as it is without invoking that particular specter of hideous bad luck!

No, it's a portrait or portraits of Alexander III that hang in the presidential offices and no big surprise there... Alexander III, whether Robert believes me or not, is nevertheless a figure attracting a huge wave of nostalgia in Russia at the present time...especially among the elites, i.e., the real power-brokers.

It all summons to mind (at least my mind!)  Louis XV's famous last words: "Apres moi le deluge."
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 17, 2010, 04:01:37 PM
You may well be right, Elisabeth, I just have not heard of it, and I do have a wide variety of friends in Russia that keep me posted and I shall ask them what the story is.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 17, 2010, 04:51:42 PM
Quote
Nobody in the current Russian government is deliberately conjuring up the image or memory of Nicholas II, believe me... the government is fragile enough as it is without invoking that particular specter of hideous bad luck!


Poor Nicky, the guy just can't catch a break  :(
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on October 17, 2010, 05:05:03 PM
Quote from A People's Tragedy by Orlando Figes:

"...... he (Nicholas) might have saved his dynasty by moving away from autocratic rule towards a constitutional regime during the first decade of his reign, while there was still hope of appeasing the liberals and isolating the revolutionary movement."

I guess this sums it up.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 17, 2010, 05:17:29 PM
With all due respect to Orlando Figes, even or especially a constitutional regime in Russia would not have survived World War I. Russia simply did not have the infrastructure to survive such a massive trauma as the first world war. Even much more firmly established monarchies like those of Germany and Austria-Hungary did not survive the conflict. It's simply unrealistic, in my book, to imagine that things might have turned out differently in Russia, if only, if only... The fact of the matter is, things turned out the way they did for a reason, or for many reasons as the case may be.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 17, 2010, 05:43:24 PM
Wasn't Figes recently discredited ?
 Anyway, I agrre Elisabeth. The country was simply not ready for stability,even after the Civil War,it took some time to get the new system operating properly. For better or worse.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 17, 2010, 07:31:20 PM
Wasn't Figes dis credited recently ?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 17, 2010, 11:15:56 PM
Quote
With all due respect to Orlando Figes, even or especially a constitutional regime in Russia would not have survived World War I. Russia simply did not have the infrastructure to survive such a massive trauma as the first world war. Even much more firmly established monarchies like those of Germany and Austria-Hungary did not survive the conflict. It's simply unrealistic, in my book, to imagine that things might have turned out differently in Russia, if only, if only... The fact of the matter is, things turned out the way they did for a reason, or for many reasons as the case may be.

The sad thing about the First World War is that if left Europe worse off then before.  Russia entered into a Dark Age that would last the next seventy-five years, Germany was left with a weak and useless government, that allowed Hitler to come to power, someone had the dumb idea of putting the Serbs, Croats, and other groups that didn't get along in one country (which resulted in the bloody conflict of the early 1990's).

Seriously, weren't things better off before WW1?  Europe enjoyed a century of peace and stability between Napoleon's final defeat and World War 1 (the Crimean War and the Franco-Prusssian War notwithstanding).  Of course, nothing lasts forever.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 18, 2010, 03:43:03 AM
Actually Tim while I am not a fan of communism, for the 80% of Russians who were illiterate, could not afford education or medical care, life got better under communism. For the 0.002% of Russians who were nobility, life, if they still had it, deteriorated exponentially.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Kalafrana on October 18, 2010, 06:35:34 AM
'Wasn't Figes dis credited recently ?'

Certainly. He was found to be posting anonymous reviews of books by his main rivals (such as Robert Service) on the Amazon website. He went one further when this emerged by initially blaming his wife. When he finally admitted it, he claimed he was suffering from depression brought on by researching the horrors of Stalin's regime and promptly went on sick leave from his university job.

Hardly creditable, but I don't think it affects the reliability of his historical analysis.

Ann
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 18, 2010, 07:08:06 AM


Seriously, weren't things better off before WW1?  Europe enjoyed a century of peace and stability between Napoleon's final defeat and World War 1 (the Crimean War and the Franco-Prusssian War notwithstanding).  Of course, nothing lasts forever.
[/quote]
 Really, TimM ?
 Perhaps you may have forgotten; the Balkan wars, the wars for the unification of Italy,  Spanish -American war. the Boer war,  the  revolutions of 1848,  the Prussia-Austria war,  any number of colonial wars, political assassinations, including  some  royals, the Irish liberation struggles,  the Russia-Japan war, , etc. Peaceful indeed.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 18, 2010, 11:11:36 AM
'Wasn't Figes dis credited recently ?'

Certainly. He was found to be posting anonymous reviews of books by his main rivals (such as Robert Service) on the Amazon website. He went one further when this emerged by initially blaming his wife. When he finally admitted it, he claimed he was suffering from depression brought on by researching the horrors of Stalin's regime and promptly went on sick leave from his university job.

Hardly creditable, but I don't think it affects the reliability of his historical analysis.

Ann

As far as I know, his book A PEOPLE'S TRAGEDY is still creditable,  however, due to his recent depression,  he  is presently on "sick leave".     Depression is very serious and the medical world is still in the "dark ages" in giving treatment.  A person can do some very strange things which he or she wouldn't ordinarily do when in a  stable state of mind.  Sometimes rest and pills can pull a person free of depression,  sometimes nothing can help.  The 20 million shadowy horrors Figes was discovering will probably haunt him the rest of his life.  Stalin was a vicious uncaring beast who cared little for human life.  

I and others hope Figes will recover.  

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on October 18, 2010, 11:12:53 AM
Please, posters, refrain from using the derogatory term "Commies" when posting about the Communist Era.

This has been mentioned before, but I thought that I should remind everyone.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 18, 2010, 12:01:05 PM
Actually Tim while I am not a fan of communism, for the 80% of Russians who were illiterate, could not afford education or medical care, life got better under communism. For the 0.002% of Russians who were nobility, life, if they still had it, deteriorated exponentially.

For many, life did improve, as long as you were a loyal comrade,  turned in your mother and or father if this was asked of you by the Party,  be a part of placing people into cattle cars with no water and food and ship them off to Siberia,  be always afraid of the "knock in the night",  starve to death while Stalin sent tons of grain to places outside of Russia...... And,  of course,  take the rich and candle stick maker  and line them up and shoot them because  the comrads wanted what wasn't theirs.... Life deteriorated and before 1938 about 20 million Russians had died.....

Today,  travel to the small farming villages which aren't in the tourist pamhlets.  Families,  who moved into the German-Russian homes,   are  in homes my ancestors built back in the early 1800s with no running water, these Russians are still moving around with cart and horse, a broken tractor, if any, is standing by the fields.  There are German-Russians who escaped   are, now, going back to these old villages, and, with their own money building schools and supplying the Russian students with paper, pens, etc. ect..  There are no German-Russians left in these villages because those who had continued to live in these areas between WW l  and  WWII  and had not escaped,  were  shot, imprisoned, starved, vanished,  or shipped  Siberia. From 1939 to 1940,  a treaty between Hitler and Stalin uprooted the rest of the German-Russians and deported them to Poland and Germany.  Those who refused vanished or ended up in box cars which took them to camps in Siberia.

So,  when did this "better" and "more educated" communist world start to occur?

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 18, 2010, 12:22:48 PM
Quote
Spanish -American war. the Boer war

Neither of those wars were fought in Europe.  The S-A was fought in Cuba and the Philippines while the Boer War was fought in South Africa.



Quote
Please, posters, refrain from using the derogatory term "Commies" when posting about the Communist Era.

This has been mentioned before, but I thought that I should remind everyone.


Sorry about that, Alixz.  I'll respect your wishes on this.


I think Bear hit it right on the head.  The only people who had it good in Communist countries were the bigwigs, and those willing to sell their souls to them.  Anyone who wasn't willing to comply was jailed, tortured, and killed.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 18, 2010, 12:36:04 PM
They were fought by Europeans, TimM. There is also the war for Greek Independence and a couple of French Revolutions to add to the list. There were  conflicts in Spain, eventually leading up to that civil war later.. Assassination and revolution in Portugal
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 18, 2010, 01:31:11 PM
Well Bear, people were doing that in the US in the 1950s under McCarthy ism too.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 18, 2010, 01:57:18 PM
Well Bear, people were doing that in the US in the 1950s under McCarthy ism too.

I was alive and well during that time,  and,  no one told me, my cousins [from California to New Jersey] or friends to tell on our parents for any political reasons.

Where did you read we did?

AGRBear

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 18, 2010, 03:23:36 PM
Quote
I was alive and well during that time,  and,  no one told me, my cousins [from California to New Jersey] or friends to tell on our parents for any political reasons.


One thing this great board does is debunk a myth about the Internet, namely that the "Internet generation" is all made up of people under thirty. There is a misconception among some people that anyone born before the 1980's has no clue about the Internet and how it works.  Well, this board certainly blows that myth out of the water.  I was born well before the 80's, and here I am.  Also, there are quite a few posters here, from what I have read, we're around to watch Classic Star Trek when it originally aired (1966-69).  I was alive then, but I was still in diapers.  Nice to see this is a board that all ages can share and enjoy.

Anyway...

Maybe it's just the monarchist in me, but it makes me mad that poor Nicky and his family were brutally murdered, and then thrown in the mud like some road kill.  He may have been a bad leader and made some bad choices, but that does NOT justify what happened to him and his family.  Worst of all, none of the monsters that committed this crime got punished for it, quite the opposite, they got rewarded!

That was Communism folks, a bunch of murderers and thugs.  Rush Limbaugh once said that perhaps some Communist should be preserved in museums so the world can never forget what these people were and what they stood for.  I think he was right, Communism, along with Nazism, should be remembered with horror, so no such barbaric system can ever be imposed again.  Those that do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 18, 2010, 03:34:19 PM
Well Bear, people were doing that in the US in the 1950s under McCarthy ism too.

While Bear does tend to exaggerate, I have to say that I don't agree with you here, Constantinople. As awful as McCarthyism was, it nevertheless was not even remotely comparable to the witch hunts that went on in the Soviet Union during the Lenin and Stalin eras and even as late as the Brezhnev period. Even under Brezhnev, a great poet, a future Nobel Prize winner like Joseph Brodsky was arrested, put on trial, and actually found guilty of anti-Soviet activity -- for writing poems! And his sentence: exile to Siberia! Hard to believe that this could have happened in Russia in the last decades of the twentieth century, when supposedly Stalinism was but a mere relic of an ignoble past! And yet there were other Soviet poets sentenced to prison and exile during this same time frame, Irina Ratushinskaia, for example.

For that matter, what was I thinking? I forgot to mention the most notorious example of all - the KGB's attempt to assassinate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in the early 1970s, when the great writer was putting the finishing touches on his magnum opus (his finest work, too, IMHO) The Gulag Archipelago, and arranging for it to be published in the west. This assassination attempt - via an injection of poison, administered surreptitiously, much like that which claimed the life of a Bulgarian dissident living in England around the same time - is well documented by numerous sources, it is an actual historical fact. That Solzhenitsyn survived was, I suspect, a testimony both to his physical strength and to his will to live after his bout with cancer more than a decade before. But the KGB (and by extension, their employers, the Soviet state) fully intended to kill him, of that there can be no question.

As horrible a person as McCarthy was, I don't think he was quite capable of resorting to such measures, given American institutional restraints and our legal system (although, no doubt, transposed to the Soviet state, as a Soviet official, McCarthy would have found it all too easy to adapt to this new environment of rampant lawlessness and political violence and would have become every bit as vicious as Ezhov or Yagoda).
 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on October 18, 2010, 03:57:21 PM
Wasn't Figes recently discredited ?
 Anyway, I agrre Elisabeth. The country was simply not ready for stability,even after the Civil War,it took some time to get the new system operating properly. For better or worse.

Robert, his works are certainly not discredited. Maybe his actions are, but not his works.

Furthermore, I am a little amazed at how members of this board are so self assured in making conclusions which to me are far from evident.
Why was the country not ready for stability? With a Tsar who would make a serious effort to make an appeasing politic statement and stick to this politic statement, no matter what difficulties he would encounter, who knows how history would have turned out?

It is just that Nicholas wasn't that kind of man.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 18, 2010, 03:57:59 PM
TIMM,  you are mistaken about the murderers.  They were not  "rewarded". Actually, several were shot later because they were talking about what happened,. often  trying to make excuses for themselves.
 And,  I do not have any sympathy for  "poor Nicky". He and Alexandra died because of their actions, or lack thereof.  It is a real crime that the children  were caught in the crossfire. IMO  they should have been away before Tobolsk, when there was a chance to save them.  I do not know  if Alexei  could have gone, but the Grand Duchesses certainly
 In any case, we have strayed a long way off the topic here.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 18, 2010, 04:17:34 PM
Wasn't Figes recently discredited ?
 Anyway, I agrre Elisabeth. The country was simply not ready for stability,even after the Civil War,it took some time to get the new system operating properly. For better or worse.

Robert, his works are certainly not discredited. Maybe his actions are, but not his works.

Furthermore, I am a little amazed at how members of this board are so self assured in making conclusions which to me are far from evident.
Why was the country not ready for stability? With a Tsar who would make a serious effort to make an appeasing politic statement and stick to this politic statement, no matter what difficulties he would encounter, who knows how history would have turned out?

It is just that Nicholas wasn't that kind of man.

Look, I'm very sorry if I gave the impression that I was disagreeing with Orlando Figes because of his recent, much-publicized problems with his colleagues. Excuse me, I own all of Figes's works and I am a great admirer of his. I was indeed upset about the scandal swirling around him last spring and, it's true, somewhat disillusioned by his initial response to accusations of professional wrongdoing. On the other hand, as I stated in the thread I started to discuss this issue, Figes is not an axe murderer. It's not as if he'd actually killed somebody or done anything else equally unforgivable. As far as I'm concerned, if he's been suffering from personal problems and that led him to indulge in some unprofessional behavior he was later ashamed of, well, that only means that he's like 90 percent of the rest of us. (I would say 99 percent but I realize there is a moral minority out there.)

No, I disagree with Figes's assessment that Russia could have survived as a constitutional monarchy through and after World War I, based on Figes's own conclusions about the overall failure of Stolypin's land reforms. Dear Sergei, read A People's Tragedy again. Figes says, repeatedly, that the majority of Russian peasants, particularly the village elders, who carried the most local clout, remained resistant to the new land reforms and actually hindered their implementation wherever they could.

As long as the peasants were unsatisfied and unsocialized there was very little chance that Russia could emerge as a democracy in the early twentieth century. That's just the way I see it. The peasantry made up some 80 percent or more of the total population. How can you build a responsible citizenry or a viable civil society on a population that is, for the most part, functionally illiterate and hostile to all authority outside of the narrow confines of the village? It's impossible. It was impossible. It didn't work. What the provisional government found in the spring and summer of 1917 was that the peasantry was taking matters into their own hands, without asking for any permission, and seizing the land from the nobility and gentry and other property holders. In other words, the peasantry did not give a damn if the provisional government had decided that it would only legislate land reform and partition when the Constitutional Assembly met in January 1918. Long before this date, the peasantry had actually presented the provisional government with a done deal. The land question had been settled -- period. And if the provisional government had been even remotely sensible they would have taken a page from Napoleon and realized they had to have the peasantry on their side to make their revolution succeed.

Instead they were basically fools and allowed Russia to descend into an abyss of utter chaos and violence. There wasn't a single Napoleon among them. There were plenty of would-be Napoleons on the Bolshevik side, however. Which was Russia's bad luck, as usual.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 18, 2010, 04:18:23 PM
Well Bear, people were doing that in the US in the 1950s under McCarthy ism too.

While Bear does tend to exaggerate, I have to say that I don't agree with you here, Constantinople. As awful as McCarthyism was, it nevertheless was not even remotely comparable to the witch hunts that went on in the Soviet Union during the Lenin and Stalin eras and even as late as the Brezhnev period. Even under Brezhnev, a great poet, a future Nobel Prize winner like Joseph Brodsky was arrested, put on trial, and actually found guilty of anti-Soviet activity -- for writing poems! And his sentence: exile to Siberia! Hard to believe that this could have happened in Russia in the last decades of the twentieth century, when supposedly Stalinism was but a mere relic of an ignoble past! And yet there were other Soviet poets sentenced to prison and exile during this same time frame, Irina Ratushinskaia, for example.

For that matter, what was I thinking? I forgot to mention the most notorious example of all - the KGB's attempt to assassinate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in the early 1970s, when the great writer was putting the finishing touches on his magnum opus (his finest work, too, IMHO) The Gulag Archipelago, and arranging for it to be published in the west. This assassination attempt - via an injection of poison, administered surreptitiously, much like that which claimed the life of a Bulgarian dissident living in England around the same time - is well documented by numerous sources, it is an actual historical fact. That Solzhenitsyn survived was, I suspect, a testimony both to his physical strength and to his will to live after his bout with cancer more than a decade before. But the KGB (and by extension, their employers, the Soviet state) fully intended to kill him, of that there can be no question.

As horrible a person as McCarthy was, I don't think he was quite capable of resorting to such measures, given American institutional restraints and our legal system (although, no doubt, transposed to the Soviet state, as a Soviet official, McCarthy would have found it all too easy to adapt to this new environment of rampant lawlessness and political violence and would have become every bit as vicious as Ezhov or Yagoda).
 

I agree accept for this part:

"...Bear does tend to exaggerate...."  

Since you believe I have,  what true story would you like me to post first?  Maybe, the story about my great uncle who was arrested in the middle of the night by  Bolsheviks who tossed him into a cattle car where there were so many people they couldn't even sit down, but,  as the people died, because there was no water and no food,  more room was available after  the bodies were tossed  along the rail side by the guards where the animals, birds and insects soon left bare white bones of  infants, small children, old women and men, and then the young and middle aged...  After weeks of travel there was enough room for everyone to lie down.... He spent from 1918 to 1956 in a Siberian mine.   Meanwhile,  his lovely wife and six children were labeled "enemy of the people" and no one was allowed to feed them, so,  guess what happen.    The littlest ones ate the tips of their fingers off as they slowly starved.... All of his family died of starvation.

Bear doesn't need to exaggerate.  This true story can be followed 20 million times over as people died in similar ways due to Lenin and Stalin's direct actions.

I do realize that there are horror stories which can be told by those living under the Romanovs, but, we were not talking about the Romanovs at this point in time,  even though I've tried to pull us back to Nicholas II a couple of times.


AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 18, 2010, 04:31:11 PM
Quote
TIMM,  you are mistaken about the murderers.  They were not  "rewarded". Actually, several were shot later because they were talking about what happened,. often  trying to make excuses for themselves.

First of all, it's just Tim.  Second of all , maybe some of those thugs got shot, but most got away scot free.  Peter Ermakov, one of the worst of the lot, spent the rest of his life proudly boasting about his role in the murders (often grossly overplaying his own role).  The man was a murderer, a thug, and a drunk, and he ended up being a "hero".  Blecchhhh!!


Quote
And,  I do not have any sympathy for  "poor Nicky". He and Alexandra died because of their actions, or lack thereof
 

Well, I see we disagree here.   As I said, if Nicky was a bad leader, put him on trial, give him a chance to speak in his own defense.  You do NOT just murder him and his family cold bloodedly.  However, as I said, Communists were cold blooded killers, and that is what they did best.  Bear's most recent post only reinforces that.   
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 18, 2010, 04:34:04 PM
You know, Bear, please forgive me if I hurt your feelings, but it was unintentional, because I wasn't referring to the sufferings of your German ancestors in the Soviet Union. I know very well those sufferings were real enough, only too real. I just sometimes get a little exasperated with your seeming inability to have any truck with communists whatsoever, even Western communists.

There are some communists I like, and I think most reasonable people would like if they had a heart in them... Even Soviet communists. For example, I adore the poet who almost despite himself became the poet of the newly established Soviet state, Vladimir Mayakovsky. Who cannot but love these lines he wrote just before he killed himself in 1930?

"Love's boat has smashed against the daily grind.
Now you and I are quits. Why bother then
to balance mutual sorrows, pains, and hurts.
Behold what quiet settles on the world.
Night wraps the sky in a tribute from the stars.
In hours like these, one rises to address
The ages, history, and all creation."

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 18, 2010, 04:54:51 PM
OK Tim, I was just responding to you by the name you have posted.
 And, no, we do  not really disagree, much. I may have no sympathy for N&A,  but  I too deplore the treatment they received at the hands of the Bolsheviks. A trial- yes, legitimate  in ful lworld view. In Moscow. I doubt the outcome would be much different, though. Just more civilised with the veneer of legitimacy. And the children  might have been saved.
Bear, you do not remember the Japanese  confications and internment camps ?
 And, I still remember the lectures in school  about  telling the principal if we saw or heard anything about Communism- even in our own families. What a thing to tell children. I was pretty young butI got the message and I did not like it. Fortunately, my school, at that time, stopped at allowing the John Birch society on  campus to lecture us. This was at the tail end of the "Red Scare"  era, so it did not last all that long for me.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 18, 2010, 05:18:28 PM
Quote
A trial- yes, legitimate  in ful lworld view. In Moscow. I doubt the outcome would be much different, though. Just more civilised with the veneer of legitimacy. And the children  might have been saved.

Exactly, no matter what sentence Nicky may have gotten, the children would have been spared (and maybe Alix too).  They probably would have been sent into exile.

As for what happened with McCarthy and all that in the 50's, that was bad.  Granted no one was killed, but peoples careers were destroyed all the same.  The worst example was what happened in Hollywood at that time, and many an actor found themselves out of work if even a HINT of them having Communist sympathies.  Same with writers, directors, and producers, who found themselves blacklisted.   I remember a movie that came out some years back, The Majestic, starring Jim Carrey, which was set in that time period.  Carrey played a writer who had been blacklisted and had lost him memory.  He found his way to a small town when everyone thought he was a World War II soldier named Luke, who had gone MIA.  Carrey's character greatly resembled Luke.  At the end of the movie, he got his memory back and was shown testifying before Congress.  I remember him saying something like "This is not the country that Luke died to protect".  Thankfully, once McCarthy was gone, the U.S. came to its senses.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 18, 2010, 05:29:40 PM
Quote
A trial- yes, legitimate  in ful lworld view. In Moscow. I doubt the outcome would be much different, though. Just more civilised with the veneer of legitimacy. And the children  might have been saved.

Exactly, no matter what sentence Nicky may have gotten, the children would have been spared (and maybe Alix too).  They probably would have been sent into exile.

Actually, I doubt very much Alix would have been saved, and certainly not the heir Aleksei Nikolaevich. He would have been done away with, one way or another, probably surreptitiously, just as the poor second dauphin Louis Charles was done away with (in secret) during the French Revolution.

Perhaps the daughters would have survived, if they had been part of an official exchange of prisoners, something that would have reflected if not exactly well, then not too badly, on the new Soviet government. But I doubt it.

I think the whole family was for all intents and purposes doomed once Lenin and the Bolsheviks took power. Not because Lenin was himself personally bloodthirsty or desperate for vengeance (I think he was far too cold-blooded for such heated emotions), but because it simply wasn't politically expedient to leave the family alive. And whatever you say about him, Lenin was always the absolute master, indeed dictator, of the politically expedient.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 18, 2010, 11:18:00 PM
I have been away and have been catching up and must congratulate the participants in this thread. Its a pleasure to read the discourse but being argumentative as well I can't help but make this observation in response to one of the comments from Constantinople I believe: "Actually Tim while I am not a fan of communism, for the 80% of Russians who were illiterate, could not afford education or medical care, life got better under communism. For the 0.002% of Russians who were nobility, life, if they still had it, deteriorated exponentially."

This view always aggravates me for two reasons (and perhaps I'm being unfair in the following inferences but I've heard them so often that I assume that they are now generally being taken for granted):
Firstly, there is the implication that absent communism life for "80% of Russians" would not have gotten better. Secondly, there is an implication that somehow communism was an inevitable development in Russia. There is a hint of this thinking in Elizabeth's remark about the difficulty of creating a democratic state because Russia was an agrarian state composed of "illiterate" peasants (there's that categorization again) with the further implication that nothing short of a revolution would change matters. As I have stated elsewhere absent the Great War it is not clear that Russia would not have developed along more democratic lines and that its citizens would have benefited both politically and materially. WWI was such a cataclysmic disaster that virtually no country escaped unscathed. Even the US which entered the war late and did not suffer anything like the casualties that the European countries was adversely affected (one has only to read Hemingway).  We today really have no frame of reference as to the effect on society that the war had. My Grandmother who was born in the 1880's and died in 1968, having been a lady in waiting to the Dowager Empress, a nurse in the Russo Japanese, the Great and Civil Wars and having lived through exile, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, when asked always told me that WWI changed everything.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 18, 2010, 11:27:18 PM
Quote
when asked always told me that WWI changed everything.



Well, it did. 

World War I allowed the Communist take over of Russia, which in turn allowed Stalin to spread Communism to other counties after World War II, which led in turn to the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  What Lenin and his thugs started in 1918 steamrolled throughout the 20th Century, leaving death and misery in its wake.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 19, 2010, 12:11:09 AM
As I indicated elsewhere Russia was in the throes of rapid economic development which was brutally interrupted by the war. Development that could have changed the political landscape and ushered in a constitutional monarchy for example. Furthermore, the war destroyed the Army which I believe would have been the principle source of stability for the state and could have permitted a more evolutionary political development by helping maintain order in the face of the revolutionary onslaught post-1905. All of this flies in the face of the seemingly accepted western view in certain liberal circles that somehow communism was good for Russia and was inevitable.  Perhaps, social upheaval is necessary for progress but I believe with Edmund Burke that evolutionary rather than revolutionary change is more lasting and beneficial to mankind.  One must also ask at what price progress? Was the blood of 20 million innocents necessary? Communism like Nazism is inherently evil because it subjugates individual liberty to the will of the state. If mankind could be assured that the exercise by the state of its power would under all circumstances be benevolent then perhaps (although I doubt it) an argument could be made in its favor. But the fact is that mankind is imperfect and as Lord Acton so aptly put it power corrupts...etc. It is the true genius of the Founding Fathers that they recognized this fact and in crafting our political system created the vaunted systems of checks and balances. I don't doubt that there were and are nice communists as no doubt there may have been some nice Nazis as well but the fact remains that any political ideology that is willing to sacrifice the individual for the "greater good" is, in my view, because of the inherent fallibility of man, easily corrupted and highly suspect.  

Which gets us back to this thread what could Nicholas have done to preserve the throne. I found the discussion of Alexander III interesting in this regard. Again the Western liberal view is that he was reactionary, that he damaged the monarchy and there is surprise that Putin would have his portrait in his office. I should tell you that there is another view. That but for his early death there was a chance that he would have kept Russia out of the WWI.  That while he did hold reactionary views (perhaps understandable given this father's murder, the times he lived in and the threats he faced) he might have been able to maintain stability and order which would have permitted the development I alluded to above.  The contrast between father and son is perhaps instructive and Alexander III is never given credit for not having those attributes of character that Nicholas II is often criticised for having (e.g., his weakness and indecisiveness ).   I believe that one should put his reign in its historical context. For example, one of my  forebears M. N. Katkov (check him out on Wikipedia) as a well known journalist and publisher started out as a major public supporter of Alexander II's reforms (he was a liberal and published Dostoevsky) and yet in the face of the terror of the 1880s became a staunch conservative supporter of Alexander III.  It is perhaps  difficult for us (unless you consider the current public reaction to Al Quaida) to understand the corrosive effect that the Narodnaya Volya and the other anarchists had on Russian Society of the time.    
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 19, 2010, 02:39:52 AM
It was not my intention to defend the excesses of the Soviet Union. Merely to point out that the US was not exempt from people fingering and turning in relatives for Anti US senntiments.  The victims may not have been exiled in a physical sense but they were exiled financially and in terms of having their careers ruined and a few were imprisoned.
         My initial point was we have usually focused on the evil side of the Russian communist system but as bad as that was, the standard of living of the majority of Russians (the illiterate serfs) actually improved materially under communism, as did opportunities for them. This was obviously not the case for the aristocracy or for the middle and upper classes.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on October 19, 2010, 10:13:20 AM
For many years, I viewed the fact that the Grand Duchesses did not leave the Alexander Palace or that Alexandra and the girls (I hate to call them children because they were not they were young women) and Alexei did not "escape" before they were formally imprisoned as stupidity on Alexandra's part.

Believe it or not it was after I read Snow Mountain a novel by Catherine Gavin, that I more fully understood the effect that measles had on the family and on the Grand Duchesses.  This was not the "garden variety" sickness that I experienced when I was a child (and which hardly anyone experiences anymore because of mandatory vaccinations) this was a debilitating illness that could, in 1917, kill.

Ms. Gavin, while not writing history books, does draw on historical sources to write the backbone of her stories and then adds the "romantic touch".

Measles at the turn of the century could cause deafness, blindness and, of course, end in death. 

I used to ask, sick or not, why didn't they just pack up and get out of there?  With more research and more study, I can now understand why they didn't. 

So one of the myths about why the young women did not leave their parents for freedom has been debunked.  Not only did they not want to go, and I think part of that was due to the fact that they did lead such a sheltered life and could not imagine leaving, but after they all came down with the measles one after another, they were, in fact, deathly ill and just couldn't leave.

I do remember having the measles when I was 14, just a little younger than Anastasia, and I had them under my eye lids.  I had to have a wet cloth kept over my eyes at all times, so that I would not open them and scratch the cornea.  I could have been left blind by what used to be called a "childhood illness".

So Alexandra, even if she wanted to, could not take her sick family and just leave for freedom.  Not only were the young women at risk, but then Alexei with his clotting disorder also came down with the measles and, at that point in medical history, who knew what it would do to him if he were moved?

By the time everyone was back to more stable health, the family had been arrested and confined to the Alexander Palace and any chance for "getting away" was then gone.

Fate, as seems to be the norm for Nicholas II and his family, played one more cruel trick on the Romanovs.  This then put them in the position that Kerensky tried to mitigate by sending them East instead of West for their safety.

It might have been at that time that the Grand Duchesses could have stayed behind and then been separated from the fate that later took their lives, but if one thinks of what life was like in August of 1917 with the war still raging and the Dowager Empress still in Russia with most of the other relatives, where would they have gone for safety?  I imagine that going East with their parents seemed to be the best solution.  After all they had no idea that in just a few months Lenin would return to Russia or that the October Revolution would unseat Kerensky and send him flying from the country.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 19, 2010, 11:52:45 AM
Yeah, once again we have the benefit of hindsight.  Once Lenin and his band of murderers and thugs took over, poor Nicky and his family were doomed.  They were the first victims of the horror story called Communism, and they would not be the last.  I wonder if anyone has crunched the numbers to see just how many human being were wiped out by Communism.  I imagine it's in the millions, if not billions.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 19, 2010, 01:45:05 PM
You know, Bear, please forgive me if I hurt your feelings, but it was unintentional, because I wasn't referring to the sufferings of your German ancestors in the Soviet Union. I know very well those sufferings were real enough, only too real. I just sometimes get a little exasperated with your seeming inability to have any truck with communists whatsoever, even Western communists.

There are some communists I like, and I think most reasonable people would like if they had a heart in them... Even Soviet communists. For example, I adore the poet who almost despite himself became the poet of the newly established Soviet state, Vladimir Mayakovsky. Who cannot but love these lines he wrote just before he killed himself in 1930?

"Love's boat has smashed against the daily grind.
Now you and I are quits. Why bother then
to balance mutual sorrows, pains, and hurts.
Behold what quiet settles on the world.
Night wraps the sky in a tribute from the stars.
In hours like these, one rises to address
The ages, history, and all creation."



Beautiful poem.  Thank you.

I assume you've forgotten but from the very start,  I have made it very clear that I judge people individually.  Having been on the campus of UC Berkeley from 1962 to 1968 it would have been impossible for me not to have known communists.  In fact, where we lived,   we had many neighbors  who were communists from all parts of the world, not just Russia. And, I had long long talks with them  [mostly the women as it was usually the husband who was going to school, but, not always].   I learned from them exactly how they felt.  I can recall more than a dozen times the women or men told me that there never could be a question that they would return to their country because they feared for the safety of their families in their country. Some had been told right out front that if they didn't return they and their families would suffer the consequences.  Some of us became very close friends which stopped when they returned home.  Much to my surprise,  they did not forget me.  Years later,  when these people and their families  applied to return to the US they often used me as reference....

Without knowing me personally and without asking me,  you have made an assumption that Bear dislikes an entire group of people, in this case all  the communists.  Perhaps I should have made my position clear more often. I hope I have, now.

We have been discussing the Bolsheviks and communists in general terms.  It was  and is their politics which causes me to break out in a rash.  I  hope no one misunderstand this:  I even understand why at that time in our history that  McCarthy was trying to weed out the communists.  Of course,  I will never agree on his tactics.  And, it is a sad note to our US history that such actions  were ever allowed.   All the "I'm sorry" will never mend the innocent people who were broken.  And, yes,  I recall the history of the Japanese camps during WWII.  Perhaps more so than most.  My childhood best friends were Japanese who lived on the north corner of our block.  My small American town had a large community of Japanese who were prisoners in these WW II camps while their sons and or fathers were fighting in our US forces.  Our town did not condemn our Japanese neighbors and friends. Most of their families had been living in the area longer than most of earlier European settlers because their ancestors migrated to California in the mid 1800s...  As a community, the non-Japanese  took care of empty Japanese homes and businesses,  knowing full well they hadn't been helping the enemy, and,  when they were released,  which the Japanese were and so our neighbors and friends  were able to return to their homes and businesses.  I heard first hand that our govt.  didn't do very well in caring for these Japanese as they should have.  My one friends mother lost a child because there hadn't been a doctor sent to them....  Our govt.  hasn't been nor will it ever be perfect.  I do hope, however,  that we learn through our mistakes.  It was not long ago, and I must say long overdue,  that some of the Japanese who suffered this disgrace have received some compenstations but  all the "I'm sorry" will never mend the people who were broken.

The German-Russians were just a small percent of the 20 million who perished.

The reasons I'm interrupting this conversation which has turned back to Nicholas II is because I want my fellow citizens as well as those outside of the US to know that you cannot believe everything you read in books, newspapers and magazines.   A person should judge individuals for their actions and not condemn anyone because of who their parents are or their color of skin  or where they celebrate their religion, not even if they are from a different political party...

And, yes, the US is having a problem with the terrorists who flew into the buildings in New York and Washington DC  and those who were stopped by a plane full of very brave Americans and others [I assume].  We're at this moment losing young men in a war with these terrorists.

The Romanovs were fighting terrorists and lost.

Nicholas II was constantly afraid of being assassinated.   One of the reasons he left the palace just before Blood Sunday in 1905 was because an attempt had been made on life just shortly before and his advisors nearly pushed him out the door and onto the train.

AGRBear




Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 19, 2010, 03:52:35 PM
Quote
The Romanovs were fighting terrorists and lost.

Yeah, and these same terrorists went on to kill countless more people.  As I said, Nicky and his family were just the first victims to Karl Marx's twisted ideals.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 19, 2010, 08:04:27 PM
Nicholas II and his family were not the first victims  of the terrorists.  There were others before  Lenin took over the leadership.  I won't go into a list of names at this time. I will refer to  the first largest group of victims that probably changed the course of Russia's future  more than anything else in pre-war times.  They were the poor souls   who with only good intentions followed Gapon toward the palace on Bloody Sunday in 1905, and,  ended up running for their lives.  Some were wounded,   maimed, or killed.  Let us not forget  the soldiers,  who were given no choice but to charge with sabers drawn after THE  "mysterious first shot"  was fired, because they were, also, victims, while Gapon and the other terrorists quickly slipped away and went back to their favorite haunts and celebrated their success.

If you haven't read the thread on Bloody Sunday,  please,  when you have time,  learn about that day and it's importance in Russian history.
http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=1754.0

AGRBear

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 20, 2010, 03:29:52 AM
All I have to say to people who can't accept that communism benefited a large per centage of the population is that they are blinded by their prejudices.  For Russia in the 19th century to have virtually no middle class and the vast majority of its population illiterate meant that it existed in conditions equivalent to the middle ages in Europe. Communism was not inevitable in Russia in 1917 and without Lenin it may not have dominated Russian politics but the ineffectiveness of the Russian ruling classes combined with Lenin and Trotsky/'s organization abilities allowed it to dominant. The ossified aristocracy,which had been more concerned with their own welfare for too long combined with the Imperial Family who were more concerned with maintaining absolute power at the cost of political development left Russia with few people able to organize an alternative political strategy. They had all the cards but they did not know how to play the game.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 20, 2010, 10:32:26 AM
I beg to disagree. It has always struck me that most western evaluations of communism and its role and effects in Russia starts with certain preconceived notions and prejudices based upon (a) the utopian tenets and, of course, the worthy goals of the communist state ("to each according to his need") and (b) the belief that Russia at the turn of the century was stagnant, "ossified" and not capable of change absent a revolution. As to the former, there is no and has never been any communist or even proto-communist state that is or has not been characterized by gross abuses of human rights (look at Mao's China and Cuba and Venezuela today). To excuse this behavior by saying that the populace has good medical care (cf., Michael Moore) is to exhibit the same prejudice and subjective evaluation which the left accuses critics of communism. As to the second point, recent scholarship points out that prior western views of pre-revolutionary Russia were quite superficial and failed to recognize various currents of reform and change as well as rapid economic development which could have presaged results more "acceptable" to western notions of what constitutes a modern democratic state. Indubitably, Russia's development at the turn of the century was starting from a postion well behind the rest of Europe but the important point was the rapid rate of change, which came to a screeching stop with the advent of WWI. In fact, some sociologists blame the revolution on the fact that peasants were moving from the countryside into 19th century style factories at a rapid clip without the time to acclimate themselves to the change in condition involved unlike the urban working classes of England, Germany, France and the US. By the way, some of the most vocal proponents of change were members of the "ossified aristocracy".  So who exactly is "blinded by their prejudices"?                 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 20, 2010, 10:48:26 AM
Exactly, despite what Karl Marx might have hoped, there was a class system in Communism, two.  You had the people on top, and the people on the bottom, just no one in between.

The Russian Revultion was greatly summed up in George Orwell's book, Animal Farm.  In the book, the animals rebel against their neglectful farmer, Farmer Jones, and drive him off the farm.  The proclaim their own society and say that all animals are equal, that they will not become like their famer.  However, the pigs, led by one named Napoleon, gradually begin taking over and soon the other animals find themselves in a new dictatorship, led by Napoleon.  The book ends with one of the animals realize that there was no difference between the pigs now and the humans that once ruled them.

A little footnote to this.  An animated version of Animal Farm was made a few decades back.  The producers felt the ending of the book was too downbeat, so they altered it slightly.  In the movie, when the other animals realized that Napoleon was just another Farmer Jones, they march on the farmhouse and overthrow him.  This, decades before the fact, nicely forshadwed the overthrow of Communism in the late 1980's and early 90's.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 20, 2010, 12:28:05 PM
As I said before, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 20, 2010, 02:34:34 PM
obviously you have a romanticised view of Cuba before the revolution.  It was controlled by the mafia and had an illteracy rate of 22% and a semi literacy rate of 60%.  the average person  had a grade 3 education with no prospect of a decent life.  After the revolution, that rate dropped to 1% and the average education increased to 12 years.
    As for China, it was a country that had been strangled by warlords, overrun by the Japanese and then strangled and robbed by the Generalisimo Chiang Kai.  Prior to the war, Chiang was more concerned with finding communists than he was in fighting the Japanese.  Chiang even asked the Japanese in 1945 to delay their surrender so that he could grab control of the KMT (Kuomingtng) and then China.  Chiang even alienated both the Americans and British after both had funded his battles against the communists.  HIs wife, Madame Chiang held a similar reputation to that of Imelda Marcos as a spendthrift who was not afraid to use government money to fund her lifestyle.

As for Chavez, I have nothing good to say about him.  He has taken a prosperous country that had relatively decent income distribution and taken into the relm of a country gripped by a personality cult.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 20, 2010, 03:31:20 PM
I have been away and have been catching up and must congratulate the participants in this thread. Its a pleasure to read the discourse but being argumentative as well I can't help but make this observation in response to one of the comments from Constantinople I believe: "Actually Tim while I am not a fan of communism, for the 80% of Russians who were illiterate, could not afford education or medical care, life got better under communism. For the 0.002% of Russians who were nobility, life, if they still had it, deteriorated exponentially."

This view always aggravates me for two reasons (and perhaps I'm being unfair in the following inferences but I've heard them so often that I assume that they are now generally being taken for granted):
Firstly, there is the implication that absent communism life for "80% of Russians" would not have gotten better. Secondly, there is an implication that somehow communism was an inevitable development in Russia. There is a hint of this thinking in Elizabeth's remark about the difficulty of creating a democratic state because Russia was an agrarian state composed of "illiterate" peasants (there's that categorization again) with the further implication that nothing short of a revolution would change matters. As I have stated elsewhere absent the Great War it is not clear that Russia would not have developed along more democratic lines and that its citizens would have benefited both politically and materially. WWI was such a cataclysmic disaster that virtually no country escaped unscathed. Even the US which entered the war late and did not suffer anything like the casualties that the European countries was adversely affected (one has only to read Hemingway).  We today really have no frame of reference as to the effect on society that the war had. My Grandmother who was born in the 1880's and died in 1968, having been a lady in waiting to the Dowager Empress, a nurse in the Russo Japanese, the Great and Civil Wars and having lived through exile, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, when asked always told me that WWI changed everything.

Petr, I'm so glad to see you back here. I think you are correct to make the arguments you do - the only problem is, World War I. It was for all intents and purposes unavoidable, was it not? So even if the economy was growing rapidly and the literacy rate was appreciably growing among the Russian peasantry and proletariat by the early 1910s (as all of the above demonstrably were!) that's still not enough. World War I rent the entire fabric of the body politic from top to bottom. What was retrievable after such major, repeated trauma?

Perhaps to say this is blasphemous, but I do think a lot of history boils down to individual personalities, brains as it were, and I simply don't see anyone in the political elite on the side of monarchy or democracy who quite had the personality or, more importantly, the brains, to prevail over Lenin and his Bolsheviks after the Revolutions of 1917. Which revolutions, as Lenin himself hinted ("If only Nikolasha would give us a war") IMHO only came about when they did because of the first world war.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 20, 2010, 03:43:14 PM
Quote
As for Chavez, I have nothing good to say about him.  He has taken a prosperous country that had relatively decent income distribution and taken into the relm of a country gripped by a personality cult.

And the ironic thing was that the people willingly elected him, like the German people did to Hitler in 1933.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 20, 2010, 04:04:08 PM
Quote
As for Chavez, I have nothing good to say about him.  He has taken a prosperous country that had relatively decent income distribution and taken into the relm of a country gripped by a personality cult.

And the ironic thing was that the people willingly elected him, like the German people did to Hitler in 1933.

Oh, please, don't compare Chavez to Hitler. That's too much. Too much for me at least to stomach... Not only is there the great discrepancy of power (no Latin American country even in the 21st century measures up in political power to the Germany of Central Europe in the early 20th century, Treaty of Versailles or no!). For another thing, Chavez is an idiot and Hitler, pardon me for saying so, was a genius, albeit a completely evil, crazy, and undoubtedly even psychotic genius. There's simply no comparison.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 20, 2010, 04:18:14 PM
I wasn't comparing so much the men themselves, rather how they came to power.  The fact was that both men achieved office through elections, not a military coup.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 20, 2010, 04:25:40 PM
Which just goes to show that the masses can be foolish in the extreme, if not outright stupid at times. As Joseph de Maistre put it, "toute nation a le gourvenement qu'elle mérite." Every country has the government it deserves.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 20, 2010, 05:17:01 PM
Dear Elizabeth I actually agree with you and you are not being blasphemous when you say that the role of Lenin in crafting the revolution (in Churchill's colorful words as only he could express --shipped across Germany in a locked box car "like a caged bacillus") cannot be underestimated. Its almost proof of the Hegelian or was it  Nietzsche's (I can't remember --its been awhile since I've read them -- thankfully) notion of the ability of the single special individual to affect the course of history (can't the same be said of good old Adolf and Mao and all wonderful leaders of their ilk). Russia was the victim of the perfect storm, the War, the presence of Lenin, the early death of Alexander III and the succession of Nicholas. The fact that Alexandra converted to Orthodoxy (but that's the subject of another thread).  Obviously, one can't discount the fact that the condition of Russia in the 19th century presented fertile ground for all this evil to ripen and bear fruit. Let's start with the death of Paul, Alexander I's abdication and the effect that had on Nicholas I whose handling of the Decembrists and subsequent repressive regime fomented Kropotkin, Chernyshevsky and their followers which led to the assassination of Alexander II which led to Alexander III which led to Nicholas. These are all people who like me and you are formed by their experiences and the times in which they lived.  There was a wonderful sympathetic commentary on Nicholas I by Winston Churchill in his book World Crises (it was quoted in a post in this Forum but I've been unable to find it).  As for whether WWI was unavoidable, that is a question for the ages! Barbara Tuchman's book The Guns of August makes an interesting point about the effect of Austria's General Mobilization Order, kind of an early twentieth century version of the "doomsday machine", once it got started the dominoes fell one by one as each country issued its own mobilization orders.  There is some evidence that the Kaiser was initially resisting mobilizing his troops and cautioning the Austrians which raises the interesting question, again, that were Alexander III still alive could he have restrained Willi (Willi, after all, considered Nicholas II a nice boy but certainly not on par with him which in turn created some resentment). The other possible restraining presence was Edward VII but he died and George V certainly wasn't his equal in foreign affairs. That would have left Alexander as the possible restraining force on the European royal houses. Given his conservative inclinations it certainly was in the realm of possibility. He alone had the force of character to restrain his own General Staff.   If Germany hadn't mobilized then France wouldn't have mobilized and Russia probably wouldn't have either leaving Austria sitting alone and its a possibility that the matter could have been resolved diplomatically (certainly without the conflagration that ensued) .  Who knows? There is also an interesting line of thought that the "Progressive Block" (Miliukov, Rodzianko, etc.) went after Nicholas after the murder of Rasputin did not have the desired political effect and in fact there were indications that Russia was beginning to show signs of impending victories on the Eastern Front particularly as against Austria (cf. the discussion in this Forum regarding Belochka's new book "The Murder of Grigorii Rasputin"). Obviously, any such victories would have strengthened the monarchy immensely.  This is why history is so fascinating and also why Santayana was right "...those that don't know their history are doomed to repeat it".        
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 20, 2010, 07:31:01 PM
Quote
Alexander I's abdication


I see you're familiar with the legend of Alexander I faking his death and living as a hermit for decades aftewards.  It really is fascinating and has yet to be debunked.  For all we know, it might have happened.  It was easier to do things like that back then.

Anyway...

Regardless of how good or bad a leader Nicky was, I'm just glad he and his family are rememberd.  Here we all are, nearly a century after they last walked this Earth.  We colour pictures, paint pictures, write fan fictions, honour their birthdays, and have fascinating discussions, like this one.  One of the good legacies of Nicholas II is this great board we're all part of.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 21, 2010, 09:17:25 AM
Petr, you have a great line there, "Russia was the victim of the perfect storm" -- not only is this a catchy and memorable phrase, it's actually true. You're right that if circumstances had been radically different in 1914, if say, Alexander III, and even or especially Queen Victoria had still been alive (although Victoria would have sided with Germany, not with Russia, doubtless she would have tried to broker an agreement) one or both of them might possibly have prevented the outbreak of World War I, or at least (in my view) delayed it for a decade or so... at which point it would nevertheless have broken out and Russia still would have had a revolution. Perhaps a different sort of revolution, however.

To me, the saddest thing, the most tragic thing about Russian history is how Russia always seems to be running out of time. It's a recurring theme, a leitmotif (even now, with the Putin-Medvedev government). The Russian people can't keep up with the West, they're struggling to the utmost to catch up with the West, and instead the West catches up with them, and deals a veritable death blow to whatever progress they've made. Marx, Kaiser Wilhelm and his generals, Hitler and his generals... the list seems to be endless. And one could extend it backwards, actually, into the Time of Troubles of the early seventeenth century.

And Tim, I have to say this, I don't think it's any great shakes that we spend so much time remembering and commemorating Nicholas II and his family. If only we could spend as much time paying tribute in some way to the millions of individual citizens of the Russian and Soviet empires (and their satellites) who died during the twentieth century as a result of political persecution at the hands of the state. But of course that's impossible. Which is probably why many of us here tend to fixate on individual victims like the imperial family, just as ordinary people who mourn the Holocaust but have no personal connection to it tend to fixate on Anne Frank and her family. This is an all too human and completely understandable impulse of compassion. But it's nothing to celebrate, exactly, when we're discussing historical figures who -- unlike the very ordinary Frank family and their friends -- had an incalculable impact on the course of world history.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 21, 2010, 10:28:49 AM
Chirchill is entirely appropriate.  Great quote.  Churchill was one of the few Allied leaders who had the prescience to see how disastrous communism would be and was willing to deal with it by interceding.  Unfortunately after Gallipoli, his credibility was less than it should have been.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 21, 2010, 10:57:17 AM
And he had to make a deal with the Devil (Stalin) in order to defeat Hitler.  However, he never trusted Stalin, not one bit, and he was right.  His "Iron Curtain" speech is still well remembered today.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 21, 2010, 12:41:13 PM
Quote
Alexander I's abdication


I see you're familiar with the legend of Alexander I faking his death and living as a hermit for decades aftewards.  It really is fascinating and has yet to be debunked.  For all we know, it might have happened.  It was easier to do things like that back then.

There's a very good relatively recent book by Alexis Troubetskoy on the legend of Fyodor Kouzmich and he had the opportunity to speak with GD Olga regarding what the family belived was the true story. 

Petr
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 21, 2010, 01:11:25 PM
Unfortunately if it hadn't been for Stalin and the Eastern front, Hitler probably would have won the war.  The Russians asorbed enough of the Nazi brunt that they weakened the German war machine sufficiently for the D Day landings and subsequent battles to be feasible.  If HItler hadnt attacked Russia, I can't imagine what the outcome of the war would have been.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 21, 2010, 01:22:54 PM
 Unfortunately, the Allies pulled the same stunt in WWI.  Russia had huge sacrifice in that conflict as well,  diverting Axis attention from the Western Front. Then when Nicholas was in crises, they left him to the wolves.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 21, 2010, 01:55:30 PM
I think they were called the Great Powers and not the Axis but I agree
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 21, 2010, 02:37:44 PM
Unfortunately if it hadn't been for Stalin and the Eastern front, Hitler probably would have won the war.  The Russians asorbed enough of the Nazi brunt that they weakened the German war machine sufficiently for the D Day landings and subsequent battles to be feasible.  If HItler hadnt attacked Russia, I can't imagine what the outcome of the war would have been.

Absolutely correct although "unfortunately" should probably be "fortunately" . There is a very good book called "Absolute War" about the Eastern Front, the history of which is often overlooked in the West. Just between June 1941 and December 1941 the Soviet Army took approximately 5,000,000 casualties (it had to replace almost its entire army). Of course, there are a lot of questions regarding the degree to which Stalin was responsible for the losses given his refusal to accept good intelligence about German intentions (viz., Sorge in Japan for example and right up to the invasion itself from German defectors much to Zhukov's distress). Furthermore, query whether Germany would have attacked France but for the 1939 Pact (given Hitler's insanity he probably would have done so anyway but he would have had to keep some forces in reserve on the Eastern Front just in case limiting his attacking forces on the Western Front and possibly giving the Brits and the French a better shot at defense). A historical tidbit...the invasion of Greece threw the German General Staff's timetable off by several months (they were well aware of Napoleon's problems) and even so they got to Moscow by December. Had Barbarossa started a few months earlier possibly lessening the effect of the Russian winter on the advance of German forces and the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe no telling what would have happened.    Another historical what if.     

The following by way of comparison  might interest you:

  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties#Casualties_by_branch_of_service:
 
 
USA Casualties:
 
The Army (230,000), Army Air Corps (88,000) and Navy (62,600) all had more KIA's than the Marine Corps (24,500).
 
The Army Air Corps and Navy both had more KIA's than wounded, testament to what happens when a plane or ship goes down.
 
The Marine Corps had the second highest KIA percentage rate for total men serving during the war, 3.67%, the Merchant Marine's 3.9% was the highest.
 
The Marine Corps had the second highest casualty percentage rate, 13.85%, the Army and Army Air Corps had a combined 7.85%
 
The Army Air Corps suffered a total of 105,479 killed and wounded out the 3,400,000 who served

The Marine Corps suffered a total of 92,718 killed and wounded out the 669,100 who served
 

The precise number of Soviet casualties is difficult to calculate because of the shear number and the record keeping was imprecise.  This may be one instance when a communist regime because of its ruthlessness and its ability to control its population may have benefited mankind. Even so, 1 to 1.5 million Russians fought with the Germans in Vlasov's army and other groups which of course raises a separate question addressed in another thread.
 

 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 21, 2010, 03:05:43 PM
To me, the saddest thing, the most tragic thing about Russian history is how Russia always seems to be running out of time. It's a recurring theme, a leitmotif (even now, with the Putin-Medvedev government). The Russian people can't keep up with the West, they're struggling to the utmost to catch up with the West, and instead the West catches up with them, and deals a veritable death blow to whatever progress they've made. Marx, Kaiser Wilhelm and his generals, Hitler and his generals... the list seems to be endless. And one could extend it backwards, actually, into the Time of Troubles of the early seventeenth century.

And Tim, I have to say this, I don't think it's any great shakes that we spend so much time remembering and commemorating Nicholas II and his family. If only we could spend as much time paying tribute in some way to the millions of individual citizens of the Russian and Soviet empires (and their satellites) who died during the twentieth century as a result of political persecution at the hands of the state. But of course that's impossible. Which is probably why many of us here tend to fixate on individual victims like the imperial family, just as ordinary people who mourn the Holocaust but have no personal connection to it tend to fixate on Anne Frank and her family. This is an all too human and completely understandable impulse of compassion. But it's nothing to celebrate, exactly, when we're discussing historical figures who -- unlike the very ordinary Frank family and their friends -- had an incalculable impact on the course of world history.

I agree but you know if you read the Apocalypse salvation is supposed to come from the East. Stalin was credited with this line "The death of a child is tragic, the death of a million children is a statistic." (Just shows you what his mindset was.)
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 21, 2010, 03:42:22 PM
Unfortunately if it hadn't been for Stalin and the Eastern front, Hitler probably would have won the war.  The Russians asorbed enough of the Nazi brunt that they weakened the German war machine sufficiently for the D Day landings and subsequent battles to be feasible.  If HItler hadnt attacked Russia, I can't imagine what the outcome of the war would have been.

Absolutely correct although "unfortunately" should probably be "fortunately" . There is a very good book called "Absolute War" about the Eastern Front, the history of which is often overlooked in the West. Just between June 1941 and December 1941 the Soviet Army took approximately 5,000,000 casualties (it had to replace almost its entire army). Of course, there are a lot of questions regarding the degree to which Stalin was responsible for the losses given his refusal to accept good intelligence about German intentions (viz., Sorge in Japan for example and right up to the invasion itself from German defectors much to Zhukov's distress). Furthermore, query whether Germany would have attacked France but for the 1939 Pact (given Hitler's insanity he probably would have done so anyway but he would have had to keep some forces in reserve on the Eastern Front just in case limiting his attacking forces on the Western Front and possibly giving the Brits and the French a better shot at defense).

I do think it's a legitimate question, whether World War II would ever have got off the ground in Europe if it had not been for the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. I kind of doubt it would have. Hitler was certifiable in many (most) regards but for that very reason he might also have been a very nervous, nervy leader -- who would have backed off fighting a two-front war. Even in the wake of stupendous victory -- e.g., after conquering France, Hitler suddenly decided to stop the advance of his Panzers and thereby let the bulk of the British forces escape from Dunkirk, a serious mistake. Why did he do this? Historians can't agree, but it could be that Hitler, always the gambler, and having experienced an unforgettable winning streak (Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, etc., etc.) became suddenly anxious that it was all too good to be true and his luck would suddenly run out.

I think it's possible that if Stalin had not done a deal with Hitler in carving up Poland and the Baltic States, World War II might never have happened. Hitler would have continued his aggressive demands, no doubt about that, but they would have been more easily contained.

There's one theory that Stalin actually admired Hitler a great deal (as Hitler, judging from his Table Talk, admired Stalin, for not having those terrible "bourgeois" inhibitions that he, himself, Hitler, suffered from, and which so often, he said, held him back!!!). According to this theory Stalin couldn't believe the intelligence he was getting from his secret service and spies like Viktor Sorge, because he honestly believed that Hitler was his "friend" (as such friends in the international political mafia go) and would not invade the Soviet Union for at least another year. All that's sure is that Stalin made a major blunder in June 1941 which cost the Soviet Union literally hundreds of thousands of soldiers (taken prisoner by the Wehrmacht) and tons of war materiel.

And the fact of the matter is, if it hadn't been for Lend Lease, American assistance, the Soviet Union would not have been able to recover as quickly as it did from Operation Barbarossa. In fact, if it hadn't been for the United States I doubt very much Stalin's troops could have rolled into Berlin when they did - it would have taken many more years, maybe a decade, maybe even decades, of incredible loss and hardship. Robert Harris has a wonderful "counterfactual" novel, Fatherland, set in the 1960s, about what would have happened if the USA had stayed out of World War II and Britain had signed a separate peace with Nazi Germany.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 21, 2010, 03:47:10 PM
Quote
I think they were called the Great Powers


Actually it was the Central Powers.


Quote
USA Casualties:
 
The Army (230,000), Army Air Corps (88,000) and Navy (62,600) all had more KIA's than the Marine Corps (24,500).
 
The Army Air Corps and Navy both had more KIA's than wounded, testament to what happens when a plane or ship goes down.
 
The Marine Corps had the second highest KIA percentage rate for total men serving during the war, 3.67%, the Merchant Marine's 3.9% was the highest.
 
The Marine Corps had the second highest casualty percentage rate, 13.85%, the Army and Army Air Corps had a combined 7.85%
 
The Army Air Corps suffered a total of 105,479 killed and wounded out the 3,400,000 who served

The Marine Corps suffered a total of 92,718 killed and wounded out the 669,100 who served

Interesting fact about World War II.  Although the U.S. suffered casualties, the U.S. itself was the least touched of the Four Powers.  With the exception of Pearl Harbour, no U.S. city was bombed.  Washington D.C. was not pounded nightly by bombs (like London was), directly occupied (like Paris was) or threatened with attack (like Moscow was).   They lost soldiers like everyone did, but the country itself was never touched the way the other three of the Allied powers were.

Ah, once again, we're WAY off topic.  Funny how that keeps happening!

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 21, 2010, 03:49:15 PM
What difference does it make what they were called We all know who we are talking about.  Anything else is just being pedantic.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 21, 2010, 04:01:34 PM
Whatever...

Getting back to Nicky and his family, Wikipedia can really piss me off.  Why do they insist on calling it an execution when it was, in fact, a murder.  Execution implies some kind of due process was followed, and it clearly wasn't.  Nicky and his family were MURDERED, period.

Of course, some call the St. Valentine's Day Massecre an execution too, when it was a murder. 

Murder is murder, no matter if it was Lenin or Al Capone that gave the orders.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 21, 2010, 04:06:00 PM
What difference does it make what they were called We all know who we are talking about.  Anything else is just being pedantic.

It maybe be "pedantic",  my guess is that it was just a simple correction with nothing else intended.  

Many young people, who don't have the knowledge of history,  read these threads so it helps that the correct labels are used so they can find more on the subject when they use google.  

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on October 21, 2010, 04:13:50 PM
Elisabeth and Petr, thanks for the excellent posts here on this thread. I couldn't have said it better. Fully agree with you both.

WWI was devastating fot Tsarist Russia. It brutalized the masses, consider how many Vietnam veterans were traumatized, and then consider that in WWI the numbers were much and much larger. It brought violence of the front right into the backland. Also consider the giga inflation, people waiting 8 hours for a loaf of bread etc. etc.

Also I agree, and am happy to read from you that you also assume that Alexander III could have made a big difference. Because an important factor which troubled relations between countries was Pan Slavism and the Russian need to bother themselves with the Balkan. Pan Slavism sentiments were growing after the Russo Japanese war, as the Balkan became important as a means of diverting attention of interal unrest. My guess with Alexander III would be that he would ignore the Pan Slavist sentiments. He was standing "with his back to Europe" while Nicholas had a European outlook and was under influence of these forces. Alexander would probably have dealt with Revolutionary activity internally, without looking for a way out, as Plehve said "to look for a short and victorious war to appease the public". In my opinion Alexander III is very underestimated even if there is a rivival of interest in Russian media. In Western countries he is still very much unknown and as best known as "the man between" (the son of a famous Tsar and the father of the most tragic Tsar) and that his politics had the effect of leading the country directly into revolution and misery. I agree that his reactionary politics were bad for the Russian people but he did not invent them himself. In the beginning of his reign he was very much under influence of the conservative opinionmakers, like Pobedonostsev. And there are indications that, in the end he freed himself of this influence.

Alexander III is also much judged on his supposedly low intelligence. While he was not an intelligent man on the rational way, he certainly was intelligent on the human side (EQ instead of IQ). Finally he didn't like adventurism and vanity.

All qualities which could have been vital in the period just before WWI, as opposed to the mental delusions which prevailed in so many state Leaders at that time.

My guess would be that the European politics of the era leading to WWI were a very delicate task, a task of balancing interests, as politics always are, and some of the polticians, unfortunately the most important ones, like Wilhelm and like Edward Grey by example, led themselves carry away with nationalist and revanchist sentiments. I personally don't think WWI was unavoidable. Usually Wilhelm is blamed for adventurous politics. But they were all to blame.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 21, 2010, 04:22:55 PM
Quote
Elisabeth and Petr, thanks for the excellent posts here on this thread.

Hey, what about me, Robert, Constantinople, and Bear?  We're contributing here too :)

I'm having a blast posting in this thread.  Debating can be fun.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on October 21, 2010, 04:28:22 PM
Quote
Elisabeth and Petr, thanks for the excellent posts here on this thread.

Hey, what about me, Robert, Constantinople, and Bear?  We're contributing here too :)

I'm having a blast posting in this thread.  Debating can be fun.

I am sorry. You are absolutely right. It is just that the conversation between them two triggered my response.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 21, 2010, 05:08:52 PM
And the fact of the matter is, if it hadn't been for Lend Lease, American assistance, the Soviet Union would not have been able to recover as quickly as it did from Operation Barbarossa. In fact, if it hadn't been for the United States I doubt very much Stalin's troops could have rolled into Berlin when they did - it would have taken many more years, maybe a decade, maybe even decades, of incredible loss and hardship. Robert Harris has a wonderful "counterfactual" novel, Fatherland, set in the 1960s, about what would have happened if the USA had stayed out of World War II and Britain had signed a separate peace with Nazi Germany.

There's a similar book (I forget the title) which is premised upon a successful invasion of Britain (which came close to reality).  Its interesting that most of the trucks used by the Soviet Army were manufactured by Ford. However, if there is one thing that Stalin did do right it was that he moved all his armaments factories to the Urals, a remarkable feat. Ultimately, that is what allowed the Societ Army to reach Berlin. Probably the best tank of WWII over all was the T-34 (the German Leopard and Panther were great tanks but were difficult to maintain and were not manufactured in sufficient numbers to make a difference) which was manufactured in those factories. It was the T-34 that won the battle of Kursk the greatest tank battle of all time (except possibly the one in the first Iraq war).   
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 21, 2010, 05:14:11 PM
Elisabeth and Petr, thanks for the excellent posts here on this thread. I couldn't have said it better. Fully agree with you both.

WWI was devastating fot Tsarist Russia. It brutalized the masses, consider how many Vietnam veterans were traumatized, and then consider that in WWI the numbers were much and much larger. It brought violence of the front right into the backland. Also consider the giga inflation, people waiting 8 hours for a loaf of bread etc. etc.

Also I agree, and am happy to read from you that you also assume that Alexander III could have made a big difference. Because an important factor which troubled relations between countries was Pan Slavism and the Russian need to bother themselves with the Balkan. Pan Slavism sentiments were growing after the Russo Japanese war, as the Balkan became important as a means of diverting attention of interal unrest. My guess with Alexander III would be that he would ignore the Pan Slavist sentiments. He was standing "with his back to Europe" while Nicholas had a European outlook and was under influence of these forces. Alexander would probably have dealt with Revolutionary activity internally, without looking for a way out, as Plehve said "to look for a short and victorious war to appease the public". In my opinion Alexander III is very underestimated even if there is a rivival of interest in Russian media. In Western countries he is still very much unknown and as best known as "the man between" (the son of a famous Tsar and the father of the most tragic Tsar) and that his politics had the effect of leading the country directly into revolution and misery. I agree that his reactionary politics were bad for the Russian people but he did not invent them himself. In the beginning of his reign he was very much under influence of the conservative opinionmakers, like Pobedonostsev. And there are indications that, in the end he freed himself of this influence.

Alexander III is also much judged on his supposedly low intelligence. While he was not an intelligent man on the rational way, he certainly was intelligent on the human side (EQ instead of IQ). Finally he didn't like adventurism and vanity.

All qualities which could have been vital in the period just before WWI, as opposed to the mental delusions which prevailed in so many state Leaders at that time.

My guess would be that the European politics of the era leading to WWI were a very delicate task, a task of balancing interests, as politics always are, and some of the polticians, unfortunately the most important ones, like Wilhelm and like Edward Grey by example, led themselves carry away with nationalist and revanchist sentiments. I personally don't think WWI was unavoidable. Usually Wilhelm is blamed for adventurous politics. But they were all to blame.

Thanks so much, Sergei, it's true that we all contribute but it's nevertheless nice to hear that my posts are stimulating for thought and discussion! That's all I want, really, when I post, probably all that any of us want?

This post of yours certainly set off a train of thoughts in my head... I'm not nearly as familiar with the diplomatic history of World War I as you are. All I can say, from my standpoint of very general knowledge, is that probably no war is unavoidable. Of course, most of us were born in an age of nuclear weapons and as a result another world war is inconceivable (although I guess it was quite conceivable during the Cold War, at least theoretically -- still, that particular armed conflict was indeed avoided!). Without nuclear deterrence, however, it seems that wars on a vast scale, world wars in fact, are much more likely to occur...

I do think someone of Alexander III's strength of personality and character might have delayed a world war during the time he lived, if he had only lived longer. I agree that AIII is underestimated (except possibly by Putin and his cronies in the current Russian government) in so far as he apparently had, as you say, a pretty high EQ, in other words, he knew what was what, he could "read" people and make his own judgments with minimal second-guessing and probably no self-doubt whatsoever. Very unlike his son and successor Nicholas II, poor soul. Which is not to say that AIII didn't make some major mistakes, including tamping down on the zemstvos (although they seem to have flourished despite him) and overreacting to political activism in the universities (his political persecution forged a whole new generation of revolutionaries, unfortunately).

On the other hand, to play devil's advocate, Pan-Slavism was only a strand of nationalism, and Russian nationalism, like other nationalisms, was obviously on the rise at the beginning of the 20th century. It's been argued recently (by Niall Ferguson for one) that World War I was not initially (or ever) as wildly popular as previous historians had claimed; nevertheless, in Russia the declaration of hostilities against Austria-Hungary and Germany seems to have been met with great acclamation, at least in the cities. What tsar could have withstood such a tide of popular opinion? Okay, maybe Alexander III could have. Maybe. But if not in 1914, then in 1924... sooner or later he would have been gone, and the tides of war would still have been churning.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on October 21, 2010, 05:58:52 PM
Elisabeth, thanks for your reaction.

It was generally believed in 1914 by the inner circles of Nicholas and the political parties on the right that participating in a war against Germany and defeating the "Teutonic barbarians" could save Nicholas the throne. And he must have been confirmed in this thought when he saw the public's enthousiasm on the day of the mobilization. Certainly, revolutionary activities had increased - again - from 1912 until 1914 so the thought may not be that strange when he saw the public united around him. Even the Duma dissolved itself! So he could rule alone again, what he always wanted.
But this public's enthousiasm may have been a facade of middle class people who were encouraged to show up and pay him their support. Certainly the peasants and workers would have nothing to do with war.

And what you say about nuclear deterrence is true. In 1914 there was of course no such thing and so, with the coalition system and growing nationalism, there was always a chance for war. And there were a number of statesmen who held very heroic beliefs on warfare, the more because they hadn't experienced the horrors of war themselves and didn't understand that a modern full scale war would be something never experienced before.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 21, 2010, 06:41:32 PM
"And there were a number of statesmen who held very heroic beliefs on warfare, the more because they hadn't experienced the horrors of war themselves and didn't understand that a modern full scale war would be something never experienced before."

Which leads me to repeat what my Grandmother told me...WWI changed everything!
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 22, 2010, 09:30:30 AM
Kaiser Wilhelm definitely understood the scope of modern war and if you read about his preparations, you can see he spent a lot of time p[reparing the scientific basis and logistical basis for a continent wide war in the 10 or 15 years prior to 1914.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 22, 2010, 11:22:14 AM
If Nicky had stayed out of the war, I wonder if the revolution would have happened.  Or would he have had time to turn Russia into a Constitutional Monarchy?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 22, 2010, 11:32:10 AM
I wonder to what extent the Kaiser played a personal part in the development of those plans or was it really Schlieffen and Von Moltke who crafted the plans and presented them to the Kaiser for approval. Was he aggressive yes but did he really understand the consequences and could he have been restrained under the proper circumstances.  Actually I've read that he may have lost control of the General Staff which then proceeded to execute the plans that they had worked on so diligently for so many years so the question could be who had the real whip hand, the Kaiser or the Army. Having been in the military I can see how people get invested in plans and once in that mindset its difficult to change their views (WMD anyone?).    
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 22, 2010, 01:58:10 PM
In spite of having a parliament to answer to, the Kaiser more or less did what he wanted to do.  The Kaiser was personlly involved in the direction of the army.  I think that the von Schliefn plan only came into play after the initial disaster suffered by the Germans at the hands of the Russians, but I am not sure.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 22, 2010, 03:06:20 PM
If you'd like to know about the Kaiser,  an excellent book to discover your answers is in:
The Arms of Krupp: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Dynasty that Armed Germany at War by William Manchester (Mar 4, 2003)

An eye opener for many who are not familiar with Wilhelm II and Krupp Works.

Someone mention "Fatherland".  Another good book.

As for Alex. III's having lived up and through 1914,  he  did indeed disliked war and probably wouldn't have been a part of a WW I, but,  if that had been the case,  Germany, who was very prepared for war,  would have marched into London then turned eastward.   Alex. II may have held off the revolutionaries until 1918 but a war with Germany would have been even bloodier....  For an example: The siege like what  occurred in WW II in Stalingrad [Tsarytsin to 1925 and Volograd after 1961] would have occurred sooner.   Out of  48,190 houses,  41,685 houses were destroyed [mostly due to fire since most houses were of wood].  From 1941 to  1942 some 200,000 were lost in this city.    

The results would have probably been the same for Wilhlem II as what happen to Napoleon in Russia in 1812, but,  then, maybe not.  If not,  the  German Empire would have turned their eyes toward the rest of the world, including the USA.  The one thing that may not have happen was the rise of Hitler if Germany had been victorious.

AGRBear  

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 23, 2010, 01:47:15 PM
If the Russians had not taken the bait, then Kaiser Wilhelm would have probably been left festering.  Without a reason, he probably knew that he could not just start a war.  I think that he would have moved towards the Middle East and would have made deals with the Ottoman Empire to develop German economic interests in Iran and Iraq.  Britain had a significant navy and probably the Germans wouldnt have been able to invade Britain but theywould have been able to conquer western Europe and once Germany had secured energy supplies from the middle east, then it would have been able to develop into a real powerhouse by the 1920s and at some point a more serious war would have started.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 23, 2010, 03:27:39 PM
Suppose the Russians had chosen to do what they had done with Napoleon a century earlier, just dig in and let the Germans come to them.  What would have happened?  Could the Kaiser's forces overcome the harsh Russian winter?  Napoleon coudn't, Adolf Hitler couldn't (and let's not forget that Hitler had much more advanced military technology than the Kaiser did).  Could Willie have succeeded where Napoleon and Hitler failed?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 23, 2010, 11:47:38 PM
Tim, I have argued the same point and ti would depend on whether the Germans decided to fight a one front oor two front war.  The problem was logistics and the answer lies in how successful the Germans would have been. There wouldnt have been  a trench warfare situation in Russia and the Germans actually were developing artificial solutions to their armaments problems. Germany had the most advanced Chemical industry in the world and had mastered the industrial solutions to high outputs for weapons manufacturing.  Hitler lasted a lot longer in Russia than Napoleon did  so I imagine that the answer would have lied in the logistics of each side. One thing about Russia in 1914 onwards is that it did not have support. In other words, western countries like Britain, France and the US were not willing to finance or lend equipment to Tsarist Rusisia so that when the Russians ran out of ammunition or weapons, they would have been fighting the Germans hand hand and fighting against machine guns and things like gas. Stalin got a lot of support from both America and Britain in terms of arms and that was one reason why he defeated Germany.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on October 24, 2010, 10:52:44 AM
I had posted this under the Red and White thread,  but,  the more I think about it,  perhaps this is what Nicholas II should have done to preseved the Imperial throne, so, I'm repeating it here:

Figes  A PEOPLE'S TRAGEDY p. 416:

>>As Breslov saw it,  the soldiers were so obsessed with the idea of peace that they would have been prepared to support the Tsar himself, so long as he promised to bring the war to an end.  This alone, Brusilovs claimed, rather than the belief in some abstract 'socialism', explained their attraction to the Bolsheviks.  The mass of soldiers were simply peasants, they wanted land and freedom, and they began to call this "bolshevism' because only that party promised peace.<<

AGRBear

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 24, 2010, 09:49:23 PM
A couple of thoughts and observations. As I pointed out earlier Hitler came damn close to doing what Napoleon couldn't do. Actually we have Mussolini to thank because of his botched invasion of Albania Hitler wound up invading Greece delaying Barbarossa by almost two months. Using the same actual rate of the German advance had the invasion started two months earlier Hitler's forces would have been on Moscow's doorstep by October well before the weather made air operations and transportation difficult (remember German troops were sent into battle totally unprepared for winter because the original plan had most of the objectives reached before then). As for Russian performance in WWI, the fact is that after the disasterous opening campaigns (e.g., Tannenberg) towards the latter half of 1915 and 1916 there were signs of improvement on the battle field, particularly against the Austrians. I have read in another thread that the "Progressive Block" turned its attention away from Rasputin and Alexandra and focused on NII because they feared that there was a possibility that Russian victories on the battlefield would strengthen NII's position with the masses.  There was some western assistance (principally financial I believe) but certainly nowhere near the level of Lend Lease during WWII. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on October 25, 2010, 03:09:32 AM
Fighting the Austrians would have been easy but the Germans were another matter. As for financial support, until Kerensky came into power,the Allies made Russia pay in cash for all supplies. There was not even any credit. This was particularly the case as far as the Americans were concerned.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 25, 2010, 12:38:56 PM
So we helped a bloodythirsty tyrant like Stalin save his a**, yet we let poor Nicky get thrown to the wolves.  Boy did we have our priorities wrong!
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 25, 2010, 01:33:27 PM
So we helped a bloodythirsty tyrant like Stalin save his a**, yet we let poor Nicky get thrown to the wolves.  Boy did we have our priorities wrong!

Well, there were those 20 MILLION ODD SOULS in the Soviet Union who lost their lives to the second world war, which face it, would never have begun without Hitler. (Leave aside Stalin's blame for a moment and focus on the main culprit, the catalyst, the actual primary cause of the whole goddamned horror show.)

And yes, I'm sorry, but I must point this out, "poor Nicky" wasn't even remotely as bright or as well-intentioned as Louis XVI of France, and I see hardly anyone here bemoaning Louis XVI's brutal fate at the hands of the French Revolution. All this sympathy for NAOTMAA is highly suspicious to me. I suspect most of it is purely sentimental and mainly based on a love of beautiful photographs of beautiful, rich, well-fed, well-bred, and yes, very powerful people.

Ooh, fashion, as David Bowie put it.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: aleksandr pavlovich on October 25, 2010, 02:14:25 PM
Re Reply #377 and "Elisabeth"   Perhaps somewhat off-topic, but relating to your Reply #377:  IMO, I could not agree more with your last  sentence of your reply! Spot on!  Again IMO, one of the "spin-offs" of this "fascination-association" is specifically the so-called "IF reincarnations" and "past-life memories" drivel of the Russian and related royal families that, thank God, has been stopped HERE, but sprout occasionally on other sites.  Interestingly enough (and related to your mention of Louis XVI), is/was a former poster here who explains in one of his other humorous fascinatingly self-inventive sites, that his poor retention knowledge of high school French is that it is the last language he remembers in the brutal times in HIS "past-memories of another life" as being the Dauphin, Louis-Charles (aka "Louis XVII") !  REALLY, now! Where have we heard THAT before?  Could it be a parallel to Anna Anderson and her reluctance to speak Russian, since as she explained, it was the last language that she heard in her (also imaginative) "former-life"?   Best regards, and thank you for your interesting viewpoints,   AP.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 25, 2010, 03:03:44 PM
Re Reply #377 and "Elisabeth"   Perhaps somewhat off-topic, but relating to your Reply #377:  IMO, I could not agree more with your last  sentence of your reply! Spot on!  Again IMO, one of the "spin-offs" of this "fascination-association" is specifically the so-called "IF reincarnations" and "past-life memories" drivel of the Russian and related royal families that, thank God, has been stopped HERE, but sprout occasionally on other sites.  Interestingly enough (and related to your mention of Louis XVI), is/was a former poster here who explains in one of his other humorous fascinatingly self-inventive sites, that his poor retention knowledge of high school French is that it is the last language he remembers in the brutal times in HIS "past-memories of another life" as being the Dauphin, Louis-Charles (aka "Louis XVII") !  REALLY, now! Where have we heard THAT before?  Could it be a parallel to Anna Anderson and her reluctance to speak Russian, since as she explained, it was the last language that she heard in her (also imaginative) "former-life"?   Best regards, and thank you for your interesting viewpoints,   AP.

Dear Aleksandr Pavlovich, thank you for your interesting viewpoints. I am always fascinated by these stories of people, the large number of them no doubt con artists, but some of them also certifiably crazy, and yet others perhaps just very canny artists or self-promoters  (?!) who adopt royal guises as selves, in order to have a better or more interesting life. Well, who can blame them, really? Who am I to say, you, So-and-So, should not assume this persona because it is false and you are not that person. I despise sentimentalists and actually have some sympathy for the Anna Andersons of the world, who somehow transformed pretendership into an art form. And like a lot of artists, Anna Anderson was undoubtedly mentally ill as well... still, she gave the poseurs of the Russian white émigré community a run for their money didn't she?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 25, 2010, 03:25:57 PM
Er, isn't that the whole point of this board, to come and talk about Nicky and his family (plus other Romanov relatives).  I can't speak for others, but I myself have always felt what was done to Nicky and his family was a crime of murder, nothing more, nothing less.  They were murdered by brutal monsters, representing a monster ideal that went on to slaughter countless millions more, before it was finally chucked into the bin of history, where it could rot next to that other horrible 20th Century idea, Nazism (sadly both ideas live on today in some form or another, of course).

As I said, even if Nicky was a bad leader, you don't just murder him, you put him on trial, follow due process.  Worse leaders got their day in court, the Nazis at Nuremberg, Slodboden Milosevic (sp?) of Serbia in The Hague.  Nicky, who was far less a tyrant, wasn't even given a chance to speak in his own defence, and the rest of his family certainly did nothing to deserve what happened to them.  They were murdered, and none of the monsters that perpetrated the crime, the shooters in the basement, or the leaders that ordered it, were ever brought to justice (to compare, a Mafia Don is just as guilty for having someone killed as the hit man that actually pulled the trigger) for this crime. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: aleksandr pavlovich on October 25, 2010, 03:33:56 PM
Re Reply # 379:  Thank you, "Elisabeth," for your kind response!  At the risk of being off-topic, I will reply as thus:  As to Anna Anderson:  Yes, she indeed did give the public a "run for the money!"  Unfortunately, the vast majority of the posters to which I refer that were not only here, but elsewhere, are not past their 23rd birthday!  How sad to waste all that time ( NOT in so-called the "fan-fiction" mode; that is "FICTION") in trying to convince others of their alleged persona, when in at least one former poster's case, apparently his own intimate family does not believe him! To extend it further, can one imagine openly announcing to one's high school class or college class, that "I am/have the past memories of HIH/HRH XXXXX!"  
     It is my considered opinion, that reading closely and cosistently these younger posters' "contributions" on their various sites/boards, that almost to a person, they are IMO compensating for some real (not perceived) deficit in their lives that they openly reveal either directly or covertly, that leads them to "escape" to another world/another time to ease the burden of family problems, health, neurological, and emotional day-to-day existences.  The subjects that they choose invariably are somewhat distant in time.  As I have said before, I'm still waiting for one of them to reveal that they are or "have the memories"  of Diana Spencer, once Princess of Wales! Won't happen!  It's too close in time and can be too readily checked.  Again, best regards,  AP.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 25, 2010, 04:07:49 PM
Well Aleksandr Pavlovich I agree with you totally, but really its sad. By the way, who is the more culpable, the poseur or the person who gives credence to and spreads the bogus claims. I have always thought that you can dismiss the poseur as a person suffering from mental defect, but the person who spreads falsehoods is doing so with calculation which really merits public opprobrium.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: aleksandr pavlovich on October 25, 2010, 04:13:50 PM
Re  Reply #382:  Thank your, Petr, for your nice response!  You DO pose an interesting question:  "Who is the more culpable, the poseur or the person who gives credence....to the bogus claims?"  IMO, to "successfully" carry out the charade, it requires BOTH.  As the English expression says:  "It takes two to tango!"  Also, the deception becomes self-perpetuating: both parties eventually must support the other, otherwise it all falls apart with usually considerable "loss of face."       With kind regards,  AP.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 26, 2010, 11:30:14 AM
Re Reply # 379:  Thank you, "Elisabeth," for your kind response!  At the risk of being off-topic, I will reply as thus:  As to Anna Anderson:  Yes, she indeed did give the public a "run for the money!"  Unfortunately, the vast majority of the posters to which I refer that were not only here, but elsewhere, are not past their 23rd birthday!  How sad to waste all that time ( NOT in so-called the "fan-fiction" mode; that is "FICTION") in trying to convince others of their alleged persona, when in at least one former poster's case, apparently his own intimate family does not believe him! To extend it further, can one imagine openly announcing to one's high school class or college class, that "I am/have the past memories of HIH/HRH XXXXX!"  
     It is my considered opinion, that reading closely and cosistently these younger posters' "contributions" on their various sites/boards, that almost to a person, they are IMO compensating for some real (not perceived) deficit in their lives that they openly reveal either directly or covertly, that leads them to "escape" to another world/another time to ease the burden of family problems, health, neurological, and emotional day-to-day existences.  The subjects that they choose invariably are somewhat distant in time.  As I have said before, I'm still waiting for one of them to reveal that they are or "have the memories"  of Diana Spencer, once Princess of Wales! Won't happen!  It's too close in time and can be too readily checked.  Again, best regards,  AP.

Actually, your reply brought me up short because I believe you're absolutely right. And in retrospect, I see that I myself as a child and teenager was "guilty" of using the IF as a means of psychological escape. I think for a lot of very young people going through things they don't understand intellectually, but feel all the time in a very devastating and immediate way (parental divorce, abuse, addiction, death, etc.)  -- stories of murdered royalty (not only the IF, but also Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Mary Queen of Scots, Anne Boleyn, etc., etc.) and even just dead-before-their-time glamorous royalty like Princess Di and Princess Grace -- have a tremendous, almost atavistic appeal. It's as if the child or teenager who is suffering from external forces s/he doesn't understand needs some kind of recognition for his/her suffering and can only find it by identifying with a public figure who went through a very public ritual of suffering (murder or assassination, for example) and now receives public recognition of the injustice dealt to them and the suffering it caused.

By identifying with this historical figure, the child or teen, who usually has incredible empathy for the suffering of others because of his/her own suffering -- manages to transcend that personal suffering and at the same time find a socially acceptable outlet for it, as well as second-hand public recognition of it. To me it's perfectly understandable why the Romanov children, like Anne Frank, are so deeply appealing to kids like these. And I think actually we should treat this pattern of behavior with empathy and not condemnation, even when the kid is claiming they're channeling a Russian grand duchess!

I reserve my condemnation for adults (above the age of 25-30, which to my mind is the new Age of Reason) who should know better, or at least have some degree of self-awareness for their actions and interests (or "obsessions," as the case may be! because we're all "obsessed" with something, to one degree or another!).
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 26, 2010, 11:56:44 AM
There is a thread in the Having Fun section devoted to Reincarnation Of The Romanovs (or lack thereof).  Perhaps this discussion should be moved there.


http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=5700.0


Let's get back to Nicky and his throne, folks.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 26, 2010, 12:55:00 PM
Gee, thanks for your usual thoughtful consideration of the matter, Tim. I wouldn't think my post had anything to do with "Having Fun" but I guess I'm wrong, all these kids want to be told flat out that they're delusional and in need of psychological help. I mean, heaven forfend that we discuss these things outside of their hearing and spare their feelings.

I do think my last post addressed a pressing issue in this forum, but since apparently nobody else here has the courage to address it, then perhaps what I wrote should be deleted by the moderator. That would be a great shame, in my opinion, but there you go. Maybe this forum is for pure entertainment. I wouldn't want anybody wasting their brain cells on their fellow human beings as opposed to JUST HAVING FUN with those glamorous dead Romanovs.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 26, 2010, 04:18:54 PM
First of all, Elizabeth, I'm getting tired of you jumping down my throat everytime I turn around. I'm guessing you just don't like me.  Well, truth be told, the feeling's mutual.

Second, as for these "delusional" kids?  Uh, how do you know they're as such.  Unless you're in the psychological field, you have no bases for such a claim.  People have been claiming to be so-and-so reincarnated for ages now, but are perfectly normal otherwise.  Take Shirley MacLain for example, she believes she's been reincarnated several times.  I may not share her beliefs, but I don't think she needs professional help.  Buddists believe in reincarnation, do you think they all need professional help.

Third, I never said anything should be deleted.  Rather it should be moved into an existing thread that already addresses this subject.  Whether that thread belongs in the Having Fun section is debatable.  Perhaps the Moderators should move it elsewhere, but that is their call to make.

Fourth, this thread is about how could Nicky have saved his throne, not reincarnations or lackthereof of the Romanovs.  I merely pointed that out.  If Alixz or any of the other Mods had done the same, would you have jumped down their throats as well?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 26, 2010, 05:54:43 PM
As a matter of fact I think this entire thread, "What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne" is an interesting counterfactual at best, at worst just another fantasy scenario built around those glamorous dead Romanovs.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 26, 2010, 06:45:22 PM
Well, I like some of the aspects of this board, including the Having Fun section.  It's interesting to read the Fan Fictions and see the pictures that some posters here work on.

As for the whole "What if?" thing, everyone does that, and not just for the Romanovs.  I'm sure a lot of people ask "What if Al Gore had won the 2000 Presidential Election?"  Well, as far as that is concerned, 9/11/01 would probably still have happened, but perhaps Bush's Blunder, AKA the Iraq War would have been avoided.

The people ask the same thing about "What if Nicky had kept his throne?"  I myself have stated that the 20th Century might have been a bit less bloody, plus the U.S. would not have gotten involved in Afghanistan in the 80's, which helped give rise to the Taliban, Al Quaeda and, 9/11/01.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on October 27, 2010, 06:36:56 AM
As a matter of fact I think this entire thread, "What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne" is an interesting counterfactual at best, at worst just another fantasy scenario built around those glamorous dead Romanovs.

Elizabeth I respectfully disagree at least to the extent that the discussion has triggered some interesting comments and historical references from you, Bear and Griffh, for example, and Tim's passion always makes the Board more interesting. Disputatious posts are the spice of life and keep the arteries from hardening. Seriously, "what if" discussions in historical analysis as in science often advances our knowledge by making heretofore unthought of connections.  Actually, I think the Romanovs were more tragic than glamorous, not only for themselves personally, but for the Russian people as a whole, but then again as I keep saying, they were only human.     
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 27, 2010, 11:01:20 AM
Yeah, they were.  The sad irony was that murdering them just wasn't necessary.  They had been out of power for over a year at that point, and no one wanted them back in.  Of course, murderers and thugs like Lenin and Co. didn't consider that.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: LisaDavidson on October 29, 2010, 05:51:55 PM
I've been asked to take a look at this thread and perhaps to address some of the issues being raised.

First, I am disappointed that a disagreement between members has become personalized. TimM, you need to write me by PM so that we can figure your part in this out together.  I am already in contact with Elisabeth. My point is, we don't need for our members to agree with one another, but disagreements can and should remain civil and certainly not personal.

Second, this Forum grew out of the original Alexander Palace Time Machine and our intention was that the Forum would be a place where many points of view could be discussed. So, provided the rules are followed, we welcome points of view from the Romanovs as martyrs to the Romanovs as target practice. We have no ideological litmus tests. (Although my personal opinion remains that the IF was murdered, I don't expect others to agree with me.).

Third, the topic is "What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne" and this is in the History section of the Forum. I would ask members to confine their posts to the topic and to keep the section in mind. For those who think this topic belongs elsewhere, I respectfully disagree. It has been around since 2004, which I believe was the year we started the Forum.

If you have any questions about this post, kindly respond to me privately.

Lisa Davidson
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on October 29, 2010, 07:51:04 PM
I do think my last post addressed a pressing issue in this forum, but since apparently nobody else here has the courage to address it, then perhaps what I wrote should be deleted by the moderator.

No, I, at least, don't think so. I think your psychological explanation of why some people obsess about the Romanovs and other tragic royals was very enlightening. You know, we have to keep in mind that everybody isn't as intellectually inclined to deal with their thoughts and emotions in an analytical way, like we who read Marx, Freud, Adorno, Dostoyevsky, Hannah Arendt etc. to understand our own neurosis or deal with all the evil in the world and think we have dealt with it when we have developed a theory and given it a fancy name. Others do it more intuďtively and obsess about NAOTMAA or Anne Frank, the symbols of two genocides / human tragedies hard to grasp in all their enormity.

I never quite understood how saints were made in the Middle Ages untill I witnessed the hysterical worship of the late Diana of Wales. Only then did I understand why NAOTMAA and Ella's distant ancestor Saint Elisabeth, Landgravine of Thuringia could become a venerated saint, a worshipped demi-godess who performed miracles, not su much because of what she did or didn't do herself (unlike saints like Max Kolbe), but because of what people projected unto her and what she represented to them.

For a "cold intellectual" like me, I think it's awfully fascinating to study, but like you Elisabeth I think it's important to try to draw a clear line line between the legitimate fan worship and historical analysis.

Er, isn't that the whole point of this board, to come and talk about Nicky and his family (plus other Romanov relatives).  I can't speak for others, but I myself have always felt what was done to Nicky and his family was a crime of murder, nothing more, nothing less.  They were murdered by brutal monsters, representing a monster ideal that went on to slaughter countless millions more, before it was finally chucked into the bin of history, where it could rot next to that other horrible 20th Century idea, Nazism (sadly both ideas live on today in some form or another, of course).

As you can understand from my above statement, I understand where you're coming from, but I think you need to remember that for most people it's not like it was representatives for a monster system murdering representatives of an innocent system. Both Tsarism and Bolshevikhism were systems that had little regard for human life. How could the Bolshevikhs live with the IF's family's blood on their hands? How could the Autocrat, who believed he had been given a mandate by God, live with himself, innocently playing with his carefree children, knowing that other children died from malnutrition and exhaustion in slums and factories in his empire? And send other people's children into wars just in order to protect the throne for his own semi-invalid son? Is "they will get their reward in Heaven" a much better reason for evil than "they were enemies of the people"?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on October 29, 2010, 08:49:19 PM
You know, we have to keep in mind that everybody isn't as intellectually inclined to deal with their thoughts and emotions in an analytical way
Baltic moment! The word I needed was "to intellectualize".
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on October 30, 2010, 04:35:10 PM
 
Quote
it's not like it was representatives for a monster system murdering representatives of an innocent system

Yes, but that still does not justify those brutal murders.  As I said, if Nicky was guilty of a crime, you try him for said crime.  As for the others, certainly OTMA was not guilty of any actions authorized by their father. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on October 30, 2010, 04:45:50 PM
As for the others, certainly OTMA was not guilty of any actions authorized by their father.

That is true and although they were just a drop in the ocean of deaths during Tsarism (due to exploitation) and Bolshevikhism (due to assassination and genocide) it remains true, I agree with you on that.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Elisabeth on November 02, 2010, 11:06:27 AM
I think your psychological explanation of why some people obsess about the Romanovs and other tragic royals was very enlightening. You know, we have to keep in mind that everybody isn't as intellectually inclined to deal with their thoughts and emotions in an analytical way, like we who read Marx, Freud, Adorno, Dostoyevsky, Hannah Arendt etc. to understand our own neurosis or deal with all the evil in the world and think we have dealt with it when we have developed a theory and given it a fancy name. Others do it more intuďtively and obsess about NAOTMAA or Anne Frank, the symbols of two genocides / human tragedies hard to grasp in all their enormity.

I never quite understood how saints were made in the Middle Ages untill I witnessed the hysterical worship of the late Diana of Wales. Only then did I understand why NAOTMAA and Ella's distant ancestor Saint Elisabeth, Landgravine of Thuringia could become a venerated saint, a worshipped demi-godess who performed miracles, not su much because of what she did or didn't do herself (unlike saints like Max Kolbe), but because of what people projected unto her and what she represented to them.

For a "cold intellectual" like me, I think it's awfully fascinating to study, but like you Elisabeth I think it's important to try to draw a clear line line between the legitimate fan worship and historical analysis.

Dear Fyodor Petrovich (and I always do want to address you, unconsciously, as Fyodor Mikhailovich! it's funny!), thank you for your thoughtful remarks about my previous post. I admit, I was feeling rather discouraged about it because it seemed that no one was trying to understand what I was attempting to express. But I do think it's important to understand why so many well-behaved, well-intentioned, fundamentally nice, good citizens of democratic countries like the US and Great Britain obsess on dead royalty the way they do. Lots of people -- I know lots of scholars of Russian history -- believe it is pure voyeurism, plain and simple. And while I'm sure that voyeurism exists in some small percentage of the population who dwell over details of the murder of the IF in all the gory details, I think most kids who obsess on these same murders are trying to work out personal problems in the only way they know how. It's not "voyeurism," with all its bad connotations.

If anything, it's the exact opposite of voyeurism.

I have an acquaintance with an adolescent daughter, 14 years old. This teenager draws pictures of very large-eyed, sad young girls almost obsessively. If these pictures weren't so skillfully drawn, they would be quite disturbing. As it is, you can kind of convince yourself that okay, she's a budding artist who's just into a particular theme (as opposed to, obsessed with a particular theme of overall misery). But since I know her personal history, I also know there's more to the story.

I guess all I would wish is that people would not be so condemnatory of kids with, what shall we say, unhealthy obsessions with the IF. They're doing the best they can and maybe all they need is a supportive adult shoulder to cry on. At any rate, I think any mental and emotional exercise that takes one out of one's self and into another person's shoes, especially a suffering person's shoes, is fundamentally a good thing. I agree it can be taken to unpleasant lengths and even assume all the characteristics of mass hysteria. But on the individual level, on the level of the child or young adult, there's always hope that the unhealthy obsession will grow into a healthy one, one preoccupied in a constructive way with Russian history, or social welfare, or crime prevention, or whatever. You never know, with kids. They're surprisingly resilient and resourceful people.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on November 02, 2010, 12:13:50 PM
As you can understand from my above statement, I understand where you're coming from, but I think you need to remember that for most people it's not like it was representatives for a monster system murdering representatives of an innocent system. Both Tsarism and Bolshevikhism were systems that had little regard for human life. How could the Bolshevikhs live with the IF's family's blood on their hands? How could the Autocrat, who believed he had been given a mandate by God, live with himself, innocently playing with his carefree children, knowing that other children died from malnutrition and exhaustion in slums and factories in his empire? And send other people's children into wars just in order to protect the throne for his own semi-invalid son? Is "they will get their reward in Heaven" a much better reason for evil than "they were enemies of the people"?

Dear Фёдор Петрович, I'm not sure that equating Tsarism and Bolshevism is appropriate as "systems that had little regard for human life." Without excusing any social injustices that may have existed in pre-revolutionary Russia I would like to point out that Tsarism did not have as its principle tenant class warfare which excused the extermination of whole groups of people. Furthermore, I don't believe the Nicholas II sent "other people's children into wars just in order to protect the throne for his own semi-invalid son" anymore than George V entered the war to ensure that Edward VIII would inherit the Throne. Russia had treaty obligations (one may have different notions as whether it should have ever entered the Entente, but the fact was it did in large measure to contain threatened German imperialism as a measure to ensure peace). I also personally do not believe that the Tsar was so heartless that he didn't feel for "other children [who] died from malnutrition and exhaustion in slums and factories in his empire" anymore than than William McKinley,Teddy Roosevelt, Edward VII/George V/ and M. Poincare were heartless. There is plenty of evidence regarding the charitable work of the IF. Although an autocracy Russia was also a capitalist state where the means of production were in private hands like in the rest of Europe and accordingly there were limits as to what the Crown could do. Again one must always put things in context when dealing with the past.  There is nothing to say that given time Russia wouldn't have also improved working conditions sufficiently as to ameliorate pre-revolutionary labor conditions as happened in the West. But I can assure you that it would have been better than Stalin labeling 12 year olds "enemies of the people" to be "repressed" because of who their parents were (cf., The Whisperers, by Figes).

By way of comparison this from Wikipedia as to US child labor laws:
"The National Child Labor Committee, an organization dedicated to the abolition of all child labor, was formed in 1904. It managed to pass one law, which was struck down by the Supreme Court two years later for violating a child's right to contract his work. In 1924, Congress attempted to pass a constitutional amendment that would authorize a national child labor law. This measure was blocked, and the bill was eventually dropped. It took the Great Depression to end child labor nationwide; adults had become so desperate for jobs that they would work for the same wage as children. In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which, among other things, placed limits on many forms of child labor."


         
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on November 02, 2010, 01:11:00 PM
Being staunchly anti communist, I would have to say that if Nicholas had been more concerned about workers' rights and the lives of his soldiers, who were massacreed due to incompetence, idiocy in the leadership of the army and poor strategies, then there may not have been a revolution.  Most of the charity work was token at best.  To cite one comparison, the cost of the Imperial Yacht Shtandart was equivalent to the annual budget for education for all of Russia.  Nice charity.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on November 02, 2010, 02:13:58 PM
Well we have had this discussion before. My only point is that when judging Russia's past one must put Russia at the turn of the century in context with what was happening in the rest of the world at that time (I sound like a broken record but apparently I have to constantly remind people of this point). That is not to excuse social injustice that existed in Russia as it did in many other places of the world at that time (and as it continues to exist today). Could conditions have been better, of course. Would a constitutional monarchy have been better, I would probably agree (but that is not to say that were any functioning parliament to have existed at that time it would have been any better in dealing with social issues than the the British Parliament and US Congress (then and today), for example).  But I firmly believe to equate pre-revolutionary Russia with post-revolutionary Russia under the communist yoke as being two peas in a pod is simply incorrect (which was after all the point of my post). No Tsar in the history of Russia  killed as many of his own people as Stalin did in the fifteen to twenty years before WWII, without counting the fear and misery he imposed (I venture to say that if you added up all the victims of all the Tsars they wouldn't equate to what he did). 

Picking out examples of extravagance is a bit of a cheap shot (I'm sure the Kaiser's yacht was not inexpensive to run) but then again the Vanderbilts, Astors, Morgan, Harriman, Rockefeller, et. al. (not counting the British Aristocracy) weren't exactly pikers when it came to spending money (cf., Marjorie Merriwether Post's Flying Cloud).  By the way, it was only recently that the British Government decommissioned  the Queen's yacht H.M.S. Britannia (which, I believe, is considerably larger than the Shtandart). I guess you would want Larry Ellison and Paul Allen to sell their yachts and send the proceeds to the Department of Education.  However, unlike Ellison's or Allen's yachts the Shtandart (like the Britannia) was also used for diplomatic purposes (for example, the pre-war visit of the French President who was entertained on the yacht).  Entertaining the crowned heads of Europe (which, after all, arguably served Russia's diplomatic purposes and was an Imperial obligation) did not mean taking them to the equivalent of a Seven Eleven.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on November 02, 2010, 02:40:01 PM
Well for one thing Germany was spending a lot more on education than Russia was and had a much higher literacy rate.  Germany also had a parliament of sorts to ratify the expenditures.  As for the individuals you mentioned, none of them were using the wealth of the nation to pay for their extravagances and they weren't diverting the country's money into these extravagances.  And by the way the reason we are having this discussion is the same reason we had it before, namely someone mentioning how generous the Tsar was with charity.  That charity was a fraction of what a government should have been doing for its people.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on November 02, 2010, 03:50:34 PM
And by the way the reason we are having this discussion is the same reason we had it before, namely someone mentioning how generous the Tsar was with charity.  That charity was a fraction of what a government should have been doing for its people.

No the reason is the one outlined in my post. You can't equate pre-revolutionary Russia with post-revolutionary Russia.  The latter was much worse than the former. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on November 02, 2010, 04:46:12 PM
Quote
And send other people's children into wars just in order to protect the throne for his own semi-invalid son

Well, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had no qualms about sending other people's children into war for no good reason (hello Iraq).


Quote
You can't equate pre-revolutionary Russia with post-revolutionary Russia.  The latter was much worse than the former

That's for sure, the Communists murdered more people in seventy-five years than the Romanovs did in three hundred.  Stalin's regime alone probably murdered more people.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on November 02, 2010, 06:03:12 PM
Dear Fyodor Petrovich (and I always do want to address you, unconsciously, as Fyodor Mikhailovich! it's funny!), thank you for your thoughtful remarks about my previous post. I admit, I was feeling rather discouraged about it because it seemed that no one was trying to understand what I was attempting to express. But I do think it's important to understand why so many well-behaved, well-intentioned, fundamentally nice, good citizens of democratic countries like the US and Great Britain obsess on dead royalty the way they do. Lots of people -- I know lots of scholars of Russian history -- believe it is pure voyeurism, plain and simple. And while I'm sure that voyeurism exists in some small percentage of the population who dwell over details of the murder of the IF in all the gory details, I think most kids who obsess on these same murders are trying to work out personal problems in the only way they know how. It's not "voyeurism," with all its bad connotations.

If anything, it's the exact opposite of voyeurism.

I have an acquaintance with an adolescent daughter, 14 years old. This teenager draws pictures of very large-eyed, sad young girls almost obsessively. If these pictures weren't so skillfully drawn, they would be quite disturbing. As it is, you can kind of convince yourself that okay, she's a budding artist who's just into a particular theme (as opposed to, obsessed with a particular theme of overall misery). But since I know her personal history, I also know there's more to the story.

I guess all I would wish is that people would not be so condemnatory of kids with, what shall we say, unhealthy obsessions with the IF. They're doing the best they can and maybe all they need is a supportive adult shoulder to cry on. At any rate, I think any mental and emotional exercise that takes one out of one's self and into another person's shoes, especially a suffering person's shoes, is fundamentally a good thing. I agree it can be taken to unpleasant lengths and even assume all the characteristics of mass hysteria. But on the individual level, on the level of the child or young adult, there's always hope that the unhealthy obsession will grow into a healthy one, one preoccupied in a constructive way with Russian history, or social welfare, or crime prevention, or whatever. You never know, with kids. They're surprisingly resilient and resourceful people.


Very interesting thoughts!

I agree many people are far too sentimental over the Romanovs. Of course their murder is mostly to blame for that. And the fact that we have some insight in their actual thoughts through the diaries. Or, are they really their most intimate thoughts? How did Nicholas cope with the immense burden of being Tsar autocrat for instance. Nothing is mentioned in his diary he only speaks about walking, playing with the kids, dining etc. But I am sure he must have had those thoughts, maybe on a subconscious level.

Here I am making thoughts on how Nicholas must have felt. There is the problem: We tend to make the Royals our acquaintances. We make them our friends. If we were to live in Tsarist Russia we might as well be revolutionaries, with our goal to eliminate the aristocracy.  

Maybe I am a sentimentalist too.


BTW: I am a Boyar now!! I am gonna tell this to my kids tomorrow, they had fun with me for being a "newbie"



Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on November 02, 2010, 06:15:35 PM
I agree you can't equate Tsarist Russia with Communist Russia, simply because the former was a largely agrarian economy that never could achieve the totalitarian aspect industrialized, Stalinist Russia did. Stalin could persecute people on quite another scale than the Tsars because he had the ressources to do it. (Think of an armoured tank versus a soldier on a horse, just as an example of the technological divide. Or surveillance gadgets versus a human Okhrana agent. Contrary to what you instinctively might believe, it takes a lot of work and ressources to kill millions of people carefully selected by rather arbitrary criteria. Just ask the Nazis.)

Besides, the Soviet Union offered the general population an existence where their basic needs were catered to (food, work, housing, health care, education etc.) if they just conformed by supporting the system and didn't show any opposition to the status quo. If you demanded more freedom than your "right" to occassionally get totally drunk on vodka, you were mercilessly persecuted. That's why it, like Nazi Germany, is called a totalitarian regime. Tsarist Russia pretty much let people fend for themselves and didn't do very much to protect the weak against material exploitation by the strong.

Simplified:
Under the Tsars, you were pretty free to do many things and argue even more things. But you might easily die of hunger, malnutrition or other conditions we think of as inhuman and animal-like before you got that far.
Under the Communists, you would be put to death if you did or argued certain things. Otherwise, you could lead the relatively carefree existence of a dumb and mute draught animal who obeyed his master in all things.

NB Tsarist Russia would not have been any worse than any other laissez-faire regime IF people had not been more exploited by those who owned the means of production than elsewhere. And Communist Russia (and Nazi Germany) would not have been so much more worse than many other welfare states IF so many people had not been killed because they did not conform to certain norms.

The forces that gave ordinary Russians a lifestyle more similar to OTMA's than that of serfs (that is, if you think of "freedom from want" and don't distinguish between real diamonds and glass beads, which both serve the same purpose) were also used to kill millions of people for more or less arbitrary reasons.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on November 02, 2010, 08:12:37 PM
Being staunchly anti communist, I would have to say that if Nicholas had been more concerned about workers' rights and the lives of his soldiers, who were massacreed due to incompetence, idiocy in the leadership of the army and poor strategies, then there may not have been a revolution.  Most of the charity work was token at best.  To cite one comparison, the cost of the Imperial Yacht Shtandart was equivalent to the annual budget for education for all of Russia.  Nice charity.

You've been reading to many history books written by people who were believing all the rubbish that the communist world was churning out about Nicholas II.   I have given you sources that show Nicholas II was concerned about his soldiers.  He demanded that the officers and their men learn how to read and write.  He raised their pay.  And,  a private no longer had to serve the full 20 years and never see his family, again,  he could serve 3 to 5 years and then be on reserve.  Nicholas II made sure that his soldiers were supplied with modern equipment.  I believe one of his favorites was his tank.   He loved airplanes and he started pilot schools and supplied airplanes.  Since his interest had been....  To make a long story short,  his soldiers were as well prepared as the Germans, accept for "Big Bertha",  a huge cannon that shook the ground when it was fired.  I believe contracts were made with foreign companies for trucks and cars like the one that carried the bodies of the Roman family toward the Four Brother's Mine in 1918....  Just one visit to the front lines and he demanded doctors and nurses to move closer to the front lines....

Why do you continue to think it was Nicholas II's strategies that cause the Russians to retreat in 1917?  The only reason he took over his uncle's job was because his uncle was failing on the front and to prevent the old boy from being embarrassed,  he took Command.  A few of his other generals, one of which was giving Nicholas II advice,  were plotting to pull Nicholas II off the throne.  That was great timing!   I've given my thoughts on the reasons why supplies were cut by the Workers, lead by the revolutionaries....  Have you looked at maps showing the Russian positions before and after Nicholas II took command when supplies were still flowing to the front?

You have told us that the expenses for their yacht was more than was spent on education.   Boats are darn expensive.  I know, we have boat.  So,  let's discuss this.  Let's say the yearly expense was.... ah... I don't know what it was, so,  let me just  throw out a number.  Let's say to keep her [the boat] clean, running properly and fully ready with staff and sailors was about   $100,000 in 1914.  This meant many people were involved who would not otherwise had a full time or part time job.  This was a time when a person and a small family here in the US could live on less than $30 a month.  I'm sure it was a lot less in Russia.  This meant those who had money could buy food, clothes, etc. from others who could earn a comfortable living... Like a snow ball rolling down hill,  the money touched many lives.  Plus, there was the "honor" of working on the Tsar's boat.  Like the money, the connection to these workers  spilled over the rest of the family...   [Putting people to honest work is better than welfare....]   Did the Romanovs do enough for the poor?  No.  Could they have done more?  Yes.  

Does anyone know how many people were actually on the payroll of the Royal Family which would have included more than a yacht, it would have included their residences, which needed furniture makers, textile goods, glass and candlestick makers, then there was the need of jewelers,  tailors, seamstresses... stable men,  blacksmiths,  wheelsmiths,  sleigh makers, guards,  gardeners,  shop keepers,  etc. etc. etc....... ?

Serfdom went out under Alexander II.  

Russia digressed back farther than serfdom when slavery returned under Stalin.

AGRBear  
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on November 02, 2010, 08:37:40 PM
He demanded that the officers and their men learn how to read and write.
You mean there were officers who did not know how to read and write!?  

Quote
He raised their pay.
 
And where did that money come from? Like all bureaucrats, NII himself didn't produce any revenue. One word: Taxation, direct or indirect. Some revenue-producing, taxpaying souls somewhere had to eat more cabbage and less meat so that unproductive soldiers could eat more meat.

Quote
The only reason he took over his uncle's job was because his uncle was failing on the front and to prevent the old boy from being embarrassed,  he took Command.
This seems so typical NII: Admirable in itself, but very short-sighted: "The means justify the end".

Quote
You have told us that the expenses for their yacht was more than was spent on education.   Boats are darn expensive.  I know, we have boat.  So,  let's discuss this.  Let's say the yearly expense was.... ah... I don't know what it was, so,  let me just  throw out a number.  Let's say to keep her [the boat] clean, running properly and fully ready with staff and sailors was about   $100,000 in 1914.  This meant many people were involved who would not otherwise had a full time or part time job.

NII was not a private billionaire who helped out unemployed people during a depression. This was state money spent on ferrying the IF around their vacation spots. Of course, extremely important for the well-being of the Autocrat (on whose mental faculties the state in theory depended), for diplomacy and for the prestige of the Russian Navy, but don't you think these state employees could have been employed in more productive capacities, that benefitted more "clients" than just the IF? For example in teaching, since we are comparing with education. (But theoretically they could also have knitted warm woollen socks for the poor or sanitized slums, to use examples ŕ la Alexandra and Emperor Joseph II.)
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on November 02, 2010, 09:23:08 PM
While the state-payed crew of the Shtandart were running a hypothetical Non-Fee Paying Institute of Useful Learning, a boarding school of imperial standards!, NAOTMAA could have taken a normal passenger train (second class) to the family cabin at Langinkoski in Finland and spent their simple, wholesome holidays there, recuperating from their arduous duties with only a live-in maid. Lol, I'm beginning to sound like TimM! The tragedy is of course that NAOTMAA actually might have preferred that, if they were not so bound by tradition.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on November 03, 2010, 01:04:50 AM
For a lot of people communism was far worse than imperial Russia and for a lot of people, Imperial Russia was far worse than communism.  If you can't read or write, there is not much hope of improving yourself.  If there is a class system and you are stuck at the bottom of it, there is not much good you can see in that system.  If you had a lot of wealth and it was expropriated, Then you don't see too much good in that system. Stating that one system was worse than the other depends on perspective.  Personally I prefer Imperial Russia over the overwshelming banality of communism but I never had to experience the worst aspects of either.  Both were autocratic police states and both were open to excesses.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on November 03, 2010, 11:40:50 AM
For a lot of people communism was far worse than imperial Russia and for a lot of people, Imperial Russia was far worse than communism.  If you can't read or write, there is not much hope of improving yourself.  If there is a class system and you are stuck at the bottom of it, there is not much good you can see in that system.  If you had a lot of wealth and it was expropriated, Then you don't see too much good in that system. Stating that one system was worse than the other depends on perspective.  Personally I prefer Imperial Russia over the overwshelming banality of communism but I never had to experience the worst aspects of either.  Both were autocratic police states and both were open to excesses.

I agree with you on this, Constantinople.

I would like to add that, while Imperial Russia was an autocratic police state, the Soviet Union was Totalitarian as well, which meant the state wanted to control the minds of its population. So in the sense of lack of freedom, the Soviet Union was worse.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on November 03, 2010, 12:53:13 PM
Yes I agree with you that in most senses the Soviet Union was worse unless you look at the lack of literacy in imperial Russia, the lack of adequate housing, the general lack of medical care to most people and the lack of upward mobility for those in the lowest strata of society.  If you were a landless peasant in Imperial Russia, communism probably was an improvement.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on November 03, 2010, 01:54:40 PM
The problem is that the "excesses" of one far out weighed the "excesses" of the other. To refer to communism as "banal" is to overlook shear evil unless by banality you mean the Hannah Arendt description of Nazism. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on November 03, 2010, 03:02:41 PM
The banality of evil usually reflects the banality ot the perpetrators.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on November 03, 2010, 03:46:27 PM
If you were a landless peasant in Imperial Russia, communism probably was an improvement.

Unless you were declared a Kulak or one of the 10 million Ukrainians who perished in the Holodomor.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on November 03, 2010, 06:41:23 PM
As I said, there WAS a class system in the Soviet Union, the people on top, the people on the bottem.  There was no in between.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: LisaDavidson on November 03, 2010, 07:01:59 PM
Perhaps I'm missing something here, but this topic is not "life in the USSR" versus "life in Imperial Russia".

The topic is, what could Nicholas II have done to preserve the Imperial Throne?

Kindly return to topic, and feel free to start a separate topic as outlined in my first sentence.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on November 04, 2010, 08:21:03 AM
I don't think you can define kulaks or kurlaks as landless peasants.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: AGRBear on November 05, 2010, 06:02:28 PM
Somewhere I posted the complete definition of "kulack" but I can't find it.  Must be under one of the lock down threads.   So, let me see if I recall the meaning of the word originally.   It had to do with landowners being labeled as "being tight fisted" and the revolutionary propaganda turned the meaning toward all  landowners,  the enemies of the people,  because all of them had used his fists on his workers...  To be accurate,  there are many stories about very real and horrible  abuses some landowners did to their workers.   That was the tie to landowners.  However, once the Bolsheviks had control,  they could label ANYONE a "kulack" and ship him/her, them off to a concentration/labor/slave camps.   Therefore, the "kulack" was anyone who had something the Bolshevik's wanted.

AGRBear
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on November 06, 2010, 04:31:33 AM
First of all, the Russian army was woefully unprepared for the First World War and if you look into the reasons, many of them had to do with Nicolas' regime and policies.  To send unarmed men against trenches armed with state of the art machine guns seems ludicrous and to continue that through 3 years seems like the essence of not learning from your mistakes.  To state that all measures were being undertaken to teach soldiers to read and write seems counter intuitive.  They should have had those skills before they entered the army.  And why weren't the soldiers equipped? because of the fallout of Bloody Sunday and a number of pogroms, the Jewish lobbies and mass media had a field day with Nicholas and democratically elected governments refused to extend credit for arms that were needed.  Even when the arms arrived in Archangel and Vladivostock, they were not shipped to the fronts because of logistical incompetence.

As for the Kulacks, their parameters were probably open to interpretation by the Tsarist government, the Bolsheviks and the Kulaks themselves.

Of course I read history books but the concept of too many never occurred to me.  What do you do? Borrow Tim's time travel machiine?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on November 06, 2010, 06:49:04 AM
I think it is fair to say that the Russian Army was unprepared for WWI, however, I think to ascribe this totally to the regime is somewhat unfair. Obviously, to use Harry's maxim the "buck stops here" so the blame for any unpreparedness always falls on the government in power. But the same could be said of France and England as well (which were equally unprepared for what followed). Undoubtedly at the commencement of the war Russia was undersupplied with weapons, but unlike Germany which had been preparing for war for a number of years and was fundamentally a militaristic regime, Russia's army was a peacetime army so just like the US (both in WWI and WWII) it took time to ramp up. By 1917, however, wartime production was supplying the front lines with adequate supplies of machine guns, artillery, planes and tanks. Should Nicholas' government have recognized the German threat earlier and begin rearmament sooner, probably. Then again Russia's defensive strategy was always to be based on shear numbers of its army (which is the strategy followed by the soviets in WWII) and, in any case, the general popular wisdom was that it was going to be a short war. Up until WWI all wars were relatively local affairs which did not deploy the massive forces over lengthy front lines and did not involve the enormous logistical problems and total national mobilization which characterized WWI (the first real modern war). Up until WWI Russia's wartime experience involved regional skirmishes like the Russo-Turkish war and before that the Crimean War so there really was no experience on which to fall back on (frankly I believe that at the outset the German generals probably outmatched the Russian general staff)  and unlike the Germans the Russian general staff had not developed elaborate wartime plans in advance.     
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on November 06, 2010, 06:56:08 AM
Unlike Harry Truman, Tsar Nicholas was an autocrat, which means he had complete control of all aspects of government.  Not only did he have control, but he fought hard against any form of power sharing, so the buck did start and end with him.  First rule of autocracy, if you want to be in control and your power comes from God, then make sure God is feeding you informatiion about your potetnial enemies.  Rule two, make sure that if you have absolute power, you know what you are doing and what you are doing with that power.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on November 07, 2010, 04:46:56 PM
And why weren't the soldiers equipped? because of the fallout of Bloody Sunday and a number of pogroms, the Jewish lobbies and mass media had a field day with Nicholas

Constantinople, what do you mean with this? I don't understand what you are saying.

You also said the Duma was refusing credit for the army? Where did you read this?
I never heard the Duma had the power to do that.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on November 07, 2010, 05:10:14 PM
I think it is fair to say that the Russian Army was unprepared for WWI, however, I think to ascribe this totally to the regime is somewhat unfair. Obviously, to use Harry's maxim the "buck stops here" so the blame for any unpreparedness always falls on the government in power. But the same could be said of France and England as well (which were equally unprepared for what followed). Undoubtedly at the commencement of the war Russia was undersupplied with weapons, but unlike Germany which had been preparing for war for a number of years and was fundamentally a militaristic regime, Russia's army was a peacetime army so just like the US (both in WWI and WWII) it took time to ramp up. By 1917, however, wartime production was supplying the front lines with adequate supplies of machine guns, artillery, planes and tanks. Should Nicholas' government have recognized the German threat earlier and begin rearmament sooner, probably. Then again Russia's defensive strategy was always to be based on shear numbers of its army (which is the strategy followed by the soviets in WWII) and, in any case, the general popular wisdom was that it was going to be a short war. Up until WWI all wars were relatively local affairs which did not deploy the massive forces over lengthy front lines and did not involve the enormous logistical problems and total national mobilization which characterized WWI (the first real modern war). Up until WWI Russia's wartime experience involved regional skirmishes like the Russo-Turkish war and before that the Crimean War so there really was no experience on which to fall back on (frankly I believe that at the outset the German generals probably outmatched the Russian general staff)  and unlike the Germans the Russian general staff had not developed elaborate wartime plans in advance.     

I would like to make a few comments on your post:
No country was prepared for a all pervasive, year lasting war. Indeed they expected to "be home before christmas". But the Russian army was especially quick in being out of munition. I believe after a few months of war. This was partly due to the fact that transportation was especially difficult in Russia. The harbours were blocked with mines but also a reason was lack of infrastructure.

I am not so convinced that German politics was the main cause of WWI. Although Wilhelm II no doubt was an irresponsible, and very vain man, he is not solely to blame for all the war threat that was present at the time. All countries had battleplans, all countries were eager to humiliate the enemy, some countries were eager to overcome an internal crisis with a quick victory and, most of all, all countries were suffering from delusions on how romantic war was. Indeed, previously, wars had been fought with  armies into the ten thousands and who could have foreseen that this one would be with armies in the millions.
Although there were people with especially future-casting gifts, like this one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Gotlib_Bloch

But, since you have a very famous grandfather, you may know much more on this subject than me. So please enlight me!
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on November 07, 2010, 09:25:14 PM
Unlike Harry Truman, Tsar Nicholas was an autocrat, which means he had complete control of all aspects of government.

I'm not sure you are correct. Perhaps in theory he had "complete control of all aspects of government" but in practice he had to deal with a large and unwieldy 19th century bureaucracy. I think that there's this thought that all he had to do was snap his fingers and his will was done because he was an "autocrat", but reality is not that simplistic. Governments don't work that way even totalitarian ones (both Hitler and Stalin had to deal with their own bureaucracies but of course they were much more ruthless and quick to liquidate any opposition) and the pre-revolutionary Russian government was notoriously inefficient (I think that in fact that was the greatest contribution to Russia's unpreparedness for WWI and not whatever Nicholas did or failed to do). Actually the civil service was quite static with a rigid ranking system which made advancement slow and difficult and penalized initiative (does that have a familiar ring?). He could fire a minister but often ministers came and went while the departments they were ostensibly in charge of continued to grind away in the same manner they acted for the preceding 50 years. The paper work was fierce (I've seen examples) with a level of formality that was mind numbing.

Dear Sergei: Bear had quoted from my Uncle's book about the state of the Army on the eve of WWI and it was clear that as a peacetime army it was unprepared for war (and by the way this was realized and there were reforms under way). Yes all governments had contingency plans but since Bismarck the German government (really the Prussian State which was driving the bus) was much better prepared because the Army held such great sway within the Government. After all it was in their genes since Frederick the Great and it wasn't just the Kaiser.  The Junkers were basically military men.  As I posted earlier there is evidence (cf. Tuchman's Guns of August) that the Kaiser tried to put the brakes on but I think when push came to shove the General Staff probably had the final persuasive voice over the civilians in the Government.  I've read snippets of the German plans for mobilization. In many ways its a masterpiece because of the logistical efficiencies particularly in the use of the railroads.  Look at how fast Hindenburg and Ludendorff were able to move their troops to the Western Front after Brest-Litovsk. As you pointed out, Russia did not have anywhere near the same level of internal transportation infrastructure that Germany did (by the way this was a deliberate defensive strategy going back a long time and, for example, is the reason why Russia uses a different track gauge than the rest of Europe but that strategy comes at a price).   

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on November 07, 2010, 10:34:06 PM
Unlike Harry Truman, Tsar Nicholas was an autocrat, which means he had complete control of all aspects of government.
I'm not sure you are correct. Perhaps in theory he had "complete control of all aspects of government" but in practice he had to deal with a large and unwieldy 19th century bureaucracy.

I am intrigued that this is the first time I've seen this question, which French and Danish-Norwegian historians have been debating for ages, pop up: How absolute does an absolute ruler rule? How autocratic is an autocrat really?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on November 08, 2010, 01:19:28 AM
How they rule varies.  The real question is about power and autocrats have unlimited power, which means they have the power to do what they want to do.  In Nicholas' case the question of protocol keeps emerging but he ultimately had the power to change those protocols.  Ultimately there was noone to counter his decisions so if the consequences were bad, he was responsible and if he should have made other decisions, then he had the power to do that, it was his option not to.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on November 08, 2010, 01:44:39 AM
The real question is about power and autocrats have unlimited power
The less often the autocratic power is exercized, the less practically possible will it be to exercize it. In the end it will be regarded as a coup d'etat. (Like Gustaf III of Sweden's.)

Come to think of it, perhaps there is a distinction between "absolute monarchies" like Louis XIV and the Danish and Prussian kings who nevertheless acted pretty constitutionally because they more reigned than ruled, delegating their absolute power - and autocrats, who rule themselves? For English-speakers it might not be that obvious, but for Russians (and Scandinavians) it's obvious that the Emperor was cамодержец (selvhersker): self-ruler, i.e. he himself ruled.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on November 08, 2010, 11:33:35 AM
And why weren't the soldiers equipped? because of the fallout of Bloody Sunday and a number of pogroms, the Jewish lobbies and mass media had a field day with Nicholas

Constantinople, what do you mean with this? I don't understand what you are saying.

You also said the Duma was refusing credit for the army? Where did you read this?
I never heard the Duma had the power to do that.

Constantinople, I repeat my question for you:

What do you mean by this sentence?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on November 08, 2010, 11:39:02 PM
What I was saying is that the consequences of Imperial Russian events like the pogroms, Blooody Sunday, the attempt to suppress the Duma meant that the media in democratic countries like the US and Britain painted the Russian Tsarist regime in an extremely negative light and this had an effect on the governments of the day.  For example, the Brritish Japanese alliance that led to Britain supporting Japan in the Russo Japanese war and both America and Britain not extending credit for arms to Russia during World War 1.  This in turn led to Russia having a massive army that was not equipped properly.  If the Russians had been sold more arms on credit and had ample equipment like mortars and machineguns, the Germans would have been less successful and probably their allies, Austro Hungary would have been evicerated by the Russians.  Instead, when weapons broke down, there often was no replacement, when regiments ran out of ammunition, they often had to do things like bayonet charges against machine gun nests.  As well this also affected aspects of training where the Russians did not have access to American or British training for their soldiers.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on November 09, 2010, 11:59:50 AM
What I was saying is that the consequences of Imperial Russian events like the pogroms, Blooody Sunday, the attempt to suppress the Duma meant that the media in democratic countries like the US and Britain painted the Russian Tsarist regime in an extremely negative light and this had an effect on the governments of the day.  For example, the Brritish Japanese alliance that led to Britain supporting Japan in the Russo Japanese war and both America and Britain not extending credit for arms to Russia during World War 1.  This in turn led to Russia having a massive army that was not equipped properly.  If the Russians had been sold more arms on credit and had ample equipment like mortars and machineguns, the Germans would have been less successful and probably their allies, Austro Hungary would have been evicerated by the Russians.  Instead, when weapons broke down, there often was no replacement, when regiments ran out of ammunition, they often had to do things like bayonet charges against machine gun nests.  As well this also affected aspects of training where the Russians did not have access to American or British training for their soldiers.

I totally agree with you.

But, there is more: One more reason for the British to give a negative portrayal of the Russian Empire was that they were opponents on world power. They were both big imperialistic countries who had an interest in portraying the other one in a negative way to ignite public indignation. Some time ago I read here on the forum that the British press wrote negatively about the Romanovs after the revolution (more specifically on Marie Feodorovna as the mother of Nicholas). Then I remembered the words of Reagan when he called the Soviet Union "The Evil Empire". What I am trying to say is that countries, especially Imperialistic countries have an interest in propaganda in which they give a negative picture of their opponent. When there is a difference in government type, this also helps to arouse the public opinion, because that is what it is all about.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Constantinople on November 09, 2010, 10:45:06 PM
The problem with that approach is that it also weakens potential allies. If Russia had enterred into the Russo Japanese war, it would have been a much stronger country with its navy and reputation intact and without a revolution to fuel the potential for the overthrow of the government.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: mcdnab on November 10, 2010, 06:31:27 AM
I think that the personal relationships between Marie Feodorovna and her sister Queen Alexandra has often clouded the real politik of British Russian relations. Russia and Britain were strong imperial rivals particularly in the Middle-East and had been for much of the 19th century - Britain's continuing support for Turkey was a particular issue because propping Turkey up had an impact on the emerging Balkan states which tied in strongly with the emerging pan-slavism and pan-orthodox movement. Nicholas, despite his affection for Uncle Bertie, celebrated British defeats during the Boer War for example.
It was ironic that in society there was a spurt of anglophilia in Russia during the last decades of the Tsarist regime.

The growing left wing political movements in Britain had a particular loathing for Russia as one of the last bastions of absolutism, many Russian revolutionaries and jewish emigrees fleeing persecution had ended up in Britain. It was one of the reasons why Nicholas II visited Queen Victoria at Balmoral and made no official visit to London because of fears over his security.

There was a strong anti-german view that grew in the Russian and British courts both Marie and Alexandra never forgave the Danish Prussian war and the humiliation it had heaped on their father that fed into the existing views of Alexander III, Nicholas II and Edward VII and the families almost universal dislike of the Kaiser. The Kaiser of course believed he had an excellent relationship with Nicholas and allowed treaties to fall in the 1890s the effectively forced Nicholas into the treaty with France. It was of course ironic that his pro-french uncle Edward VII was equally pushing his government into a treaty with France, that would result in the most unlikely of allies.

Britain could and probably should have kept out of the war in August 1914 and may well have done so if Germany hadn't invaded Belgium.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on November 10, 2010, 02:04:18 PM
Dear Sergei: Bear had quoted from my Uncle's book about the state of the Army on the eve of WWI and it was clear that as a peacetime army it was unprepared for war (and by the way this was realized and there were reforms under way). Yes all governments had contingency plans but since Bismarck the German government (really the Prussian State which was driving the bus) was much better prepared because the Army held such great sway within the Government. After all it was in their genes since Frederick the Great and it wasn't just the Kaiser.  The Junkers were basically military men.  As I posted earlier there is evidence (cf. Tuchman's Guns of August) that the Kaiser tried to put the brakes on but I think when push came to shove the General Staff probably had the final persuasive voice over the civilians in the Government.  I've read snippets of the German plans for mobilization. In many ways its a masterpiece because of the logistical efficiencies particularly in the use of the railroads.  Look at how fast Hindenburg and Ludendorff were able to move their troops to the Western Front after Brest-Litovsk. As you pointed out, Russia did not have anywhere near the same level of internal transportation infrastructure that Germany did (by the way this was a deliberate defensive strategy going back a long time and, for example, is the reason why Russia uses a different track gauge than the rest of Europe but that strategy comes at a price).   


Dear Petr

First of all, I agree with you on the things you mention here.

But I think there is more to say about the origins of WWI. Lately I have been reading about the ABC Memorandum of 1901. http://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/The_Genesis_of_the_%22A.B.C.%22_Memorandum_of_1901

It explains that the Germans were not the sole cause of WWI. British foreign politics underwent a change after 1901. It became more anti-German and more pro-Russia.
This sounds fine, but the result was that the tensions between the alliances were increasing. So I have objections to the image that WWI was inevitable because Germany was steering directly into war. There were more players to the game. The Germans may have been a militaristic people (what you said stemming from Frederick the Great) but this didn't immediately lead to war. They just wanted to become a co-player in the land grabbing game of the other powers.

So maybe in july 1914 a train was set in motion that could not be stopped anymore, but the origins come from much earlier and all the countries - at least the countries with imperialistic goals - were to blame for this. It is an old opinion (imo it is a myth) that Germany was the sole country to blame for WWI. Therefore the conditions of the Versailles Treaty were so unjust to Germany. And this was soil for Nazism to grap the power.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on November 10, 2010, 09:58:11 PM
Dear Sergei--

Your post was very interesting and highlights why the study of history is so fascinating. You are completely correct in that there were many fathers who sired that horrible bad seed that turned out to be WWI. But I believe the complexity of the situation makes it difficult to point to one single cause. Undoubtedly Germany's imperialistic tendencies created difficulty (viz., the Morocco Affair and don't forget the "Berlin to Baghdad Railroad" with its designs on the Balkans (which displeased the Russians) and the way Britain perceived it as a threat to its interests in the Middle East). The Germans were also rubbing up against the British in East Africa and in China. To point out the ambiguities your comment about Britain's overtures to Russia commencing in 1901 should be contrasted with its actions in supporting Japan and refusing coaling and passage through the Suez Canal to the Russian Fleet forcing it to wend its way around the world to meet its tragic fate in the straits of Tsushima. Undoubtedly there was anglophilia in the Russian Upper Classes (there was a great demand for English nannies and both my mother and my grandmother had them which proved fortuitous in exile since it made their English language skills very good) but Britain was very adept at serving its interests first and formost which could and did lead to duplicitous action on occasion (viz., Ambassador Buchanan and the Rasputin Plot and Lloyd George's sell out of my Grandfather at the behest of the unions -- but as a consolation prize they made him a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George--typical). Britain perfected Realpolitik and managed to play hardball under a veneer of civility (some might call it hypocrisy). Then again it was protecting its interests which was, after all, its obligation. There is another point to bear in mind.  We live in the 21st Century under the threat of nuclear annihilation if, God forbid, a conflagration of the size and magnitude of WWI broke out. The Governments of that time had no such restraining influences and significant portions of their populations were still under the romantic influence of "La Gloire", i.e., the nobility and heroism of war.  WWI was such a departure from what came before that I don't believe anyone realized what a disastrous tragedy it would become.

REgards,
Petr               
Title: Re: Was Rasputin contribute to the fall of the Romanov Dynasty?
Post by: dorlev on December 15, 2011, 06:15:45 PM
There were many reasons for the fall of the Romanovs, but I believe that Rasputin's ability to stop Alexei's internal bleeding, coupled with Nicholas and Alexandra's state of denial about the political situation, sped the demise of the Romanovs.
What do you think?
Dora
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on December 23, 2011, 05:51:40 PM
My take on Nicholas II and how he might have saved his throne but first i am going to list his problems:
to begin with he ruled a COLONIAL EMPIRE not a country. There was no sense of national identity and about 50% of the population was Russian. It fell apart in 1917, it nearly fell apart in 1905 and in 1941-42, and it finally fell apart in 1991. nicholas upbringing and all the people around him convinced him that autocracy was the best way to rule Russia and he sincerely believed it. Nicholas in his early years really tried to govern well as he saw it for the good of his people. He was also convinced democracy/liberalism ect could lead to disorder ect and it got his grandfather AII murdered. However for an autocracy to work it needs a autocrat who is respected ot feared or both. Nicolas II was neither even among members of his own family. i understand there were a lot of Nicholas jokes around back then. To make things worse the autocratic policies of his father AIII that he carried on did a great job at antagonising people creating revolutionaries and making a whole of other people into either their supporters or so apathetic they didn't care. Meanwhile, the Ohkrana, the gendarmes and police ect just did not have the power ect to deal with them. Read the book "Young Stalin" on these problems.
 Then it seems throught his life he suffered from bad luck. His father AIII did not teach him the basics of ruling, so he to OJT. His coronation had the disaster at Khodynka Meadow. The Russo-Japanese War was a disaster from start to finish no one could have predicted the war would have gone that badly. Bloody Sunday, a tragedy of Errors. The 1905 Revolution, for awhile Nicolas II could not understand why people were in revolt against him. When he grants reforms like the Duma ect part of the population is mad at him for not doing enough and part of the population are in contempt of him for granting such reforms. Then there is his wife Alexandra, love of his life. A shy princess from a minor court who became a overnight empress of a great empire. She bombed with St Petersburg society from day one and never recovered. To make things worse after a miscarrige, 4 girls she finally gives him a son who has hemophilia and wrecks her health in the process. Then in 1907 the Austrians annex Bosnia a major humilation for Russia. So in 1914 Nicholas either had to go to war to save Serbia or suffer another major humilation that could have cost him his throne. Pre WW I Russia had three options: become a colony of Germany, fight Germany and Austria-Hungary alone or fight them as part of an alliance with England and France. So you can say Nicholas II is stuck between a rock and a hard place in terms of options.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on December 23, 2011, 07:10:19 PM
Part 2 Nicholas II and WW I:
The Russian rail system It was poorly managed with a big split between the miltary and civilians. Add to this of the 20,000 locomotives operational in 1914 over 25% were over 20 years old. Add this to the fact that a massive job during the war in supplying the army ect. So at the start of 1917 only 10.200 were still running. the extreme cold of the winter of 1916/17 didn't help matters. so by early 1917 it was falling apart. Note during WW II the Soviets had a much better rail system, and all sorts of new lend lease locomotives ect provided free. it looks like better management could have helped.
 National Unity goverment it might have helped somewhat if Nicholas II had tried to set up some sort of national unity goverment in 1914 by giving some cabinet posts to members of the Duma. Of course it should be pointed out that some of these Duma members were so radicalised at this time it may not have worked out to well
 FOOD the army's meat ration went from .4 kg a day in early 1916 to .2 kg a day by the end of the year. i understand there may have also been cuts in the army's bread ration as well. More food needed to be grown and got to the people and the army. Note under Lend Lease the Soviets recieved massive amounts of food aid from the allies.
Better minesters: Goremykin and Sturmer should have never been appointed, who would thought Protopopov would have such an idiot, should have kept Sazonov and Polivanov. The naval minister Ivan K Grigorvich was a good one but even he couldn't prevent the fleet from mutinying.
Better generals: a. N. Kuropatkin was a disaster as general during the Russo-japanese war and it seems in WW I every time the man suffered a defeat he was promoted!? Then there is N.N. Yanushkevich GD NN chief of staff 1914-15. Then there are the aristocratic and royal idiots Nicholas II put in command of the Guards army who did a real good job at getting their troops slaughtered.
Fewer Refugees and deportees: Russia had to deal with several million refugees and deportees during the war. This is because in part Yanushkevich decided to deport Jews and Germans from western Russia to the East because he considered them to be a security threat. He also ordered a scored earth policy during the 1915 retreat. This placed a major burden on the already overworked railroads and dumped a whole lot of people all over the empire who if they didn't like the goverment pre war they sure hated it by 1917. this helped the country fall apart in 1917.
Call up fewer troops: there were lots of complaints from early in the war onward about the army calling up to many men who could not be properly taken care of ect. result in early 1917 there were 160,000 men around Petrograd in barracks designed for 20,000. no wonder they mutinied.
Order a calm down: Nicholas II really needed to counter the anti-german spy hysteria by telling people to calm down and point out that Alexandra is 100% loyal ect. This hysteria undermined the goverment. Of course, Lenin and his gang got transported across germany to get to Russia and hardly anybody said anything about it. Or all that gold and other aid he recieved from the germans too.
Proabition it should have never been started or it should have been repealed within a year. it deprived the goverment of much needed revenue and helped cause the inflation that caused the 1917 revolution.
 These measures and others might have enabled Russia to hang on a little longer and possibly could have saved Nicholas II throne.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on December 24, 2011, 05:37:37 PM
Then there was his decision to go to the front to command the army and leaving Alexandra behind to run the goverment. While it did boost morale of his troops somewhat and it did convince England and France that Russia was going stay in the war in the long run it was a disaster. leaving the strong willed but totally inept Alexandra to run the goverment helped cause the goverment to fall apart by the winter of 1916/17. However, it should be pointed out he did make monthly or so visits to the capital and at Stavka he was frequently working on goverment matters leaving military matters mostly to General Alexeiev. It probably would have been a better idea to fire Yanushkevich in August 1915 and replace him with Alexeiev chief of staff and leave GD NN as army commander. However, looking at Nicholas II 1800s mindset he felt he had to take over army command because he was the Tsar and his country was at war and in danger ect.
 The book "The Eastern Front 1914-1917" by Norman Stone points out the Russian army DID NOT suffer from a shortage of ammunition in the 1914-15 period. What they suffered from was a inability to manage their ammunition supply effectively and they were defeated in the 1914-15 period do to better German generalship, strategy and tactics.
 More bad luck Nicholas II goes to visit Stavka in early 1917 and the revolution breaks out. his children get the measles and can't go anywhere! He can't get back to them and is persuded to abducate. The family can't leave the country because the children are still sick and their request for asylum is rejected. plans to save them all fail and they all get murdered. With just a little more luck he probably would not have lost his throne let alone his life and the lives of the rest of his family.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on December 31, 2011, 06:51:22 PM
More Nicholas II and WW I: In 1914 the Russian economy was booming and if it continued to grow at the same rate a French economist stated Russia would be the leading economic power in the world in 1950. Also in 1914 the Russian army was in the middle of a major expantion and reorganization which was to be finished in 1917. This would have left Russia a superpower so strong the germans and Austro-hungarians would have had no chance against russia in a war. For them war in 1914 was their last chance to defeat Russia and the assassination of Archduke franz Ferdinand and his wife gave them the excuse they needed.
 Sukhomlinov the war minister who is often blasted as a corrupt incompetant, who flattered the inept Nicholas II on the state of the Russian army. In reality he may have been somewhat corrupt but he was not a incompetant. sukhomlinov did a good job of preparing the russian army for a refight of the Russo-Japanese war! Also just about everyone thought WW I would be over in a year or so. Finally, in 1914 while all the crowds of people were cheering in St Petersburg and Moscow at the start of the war men throughout Russia were getting married. one million new peasnt households came into exhistance in 1914-15. A fact that has puzzled agricultural experts since. However, conscription experts are not surprized at all. Married men were exempt for the draft in czarist Russia!
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on December 31, 2011, 07:35:59 PM
Dear James;
I greatly appreciate your posts because they confirm what I have been saying for a while now in various posts, namely, that Imperial Russia was on the verge of making a full transition from an agrarian economy to a modern industrialized state and that, if anything, the Revolution and the disastrous policies of the communists delayed that transition. Thus, had WWI not occurred there is every reason to believe that Russia would have made a relatively peaceful transition (perhaps with a more liberal political system such as a constitutional monarchy) without the bloodshed of the Revolution and the ensuing Civil War (not to mention what followed).

Now getting back to the origins of WWI, there is a brand new book just published entitled "The Russian Origins of the First World War" by Sean McMeekin (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 2011) which posits "...a major reinterpretation of the conflict, Sean McMeekin rejects the standard notions of the war's beginning as either a Germano-Austrian preemptive strike or a 'tragedy of miscalculation.  Instead, he proposes that the key to the outbreak of violence lies in St. Petersburg...." [Inside flyleaf] I haven't got to it yet as I'm plowing through "Lords of Finance", a history of the four principal central bankers during the period after WWI (quite topical under our present circumstances), but I suspect that its based on the old Russian desire to control the Dardanelles. In that regard, Orlando Figues' recent book on the Crimean War is a fascinating prelude to what came later (including NI's efforts, through various 19th Century Turko-Russian wars, to achieve that goal).

Petr         
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Павэл on January 01, 2012, 12:38:05 AM
A few bits to pick at others mentioned:

Firstly, if Russia stayed out of the war, then France would have fallen:

It can be reasonably argued that the most critical moment in the First World War was when the Russians attacked East Prussia. This would have secured their northern flank straight against the Baltic. It failed abysmally but the Germans panicked and sent 16 divisions earmarked for France eastwards instead. They arrived too late to make a difference in East Prussia (the battle already secured) and were absent from the French front as well. The absence of these 16 divisions made all the difference - at First Marne (where the Germans were halted only a few miles short of Paris), the British Expeditionary Force was 4 divisions longer than the Germans allowing II Corps to curl round the Northern flank of the Germans and peel their line backwards - forcing the germans to shore it up and so weaken the main thrust in the centre, which then failed to break the French line. If you add 16 divisions these (the important part) were, under the original war plans to be allocated to the far end of the North flank, making the German line 12 divisions longer instead and thus forcing the tiny BEF (already badly mauled at Mons) to be peeled back!

And once France was gone - that leaves Russia alone and friendless. If Russia cannot cope when combined with France and Britain, what hope does she have alone? The entire German expansion policy since the 1850s had been about isolating potential rivals in turn.

Secondly (perhaps this should go elsewhere, but it was mentioned here.)

Olga was too headstong to be Regent. Tatiana might have managed, but Tatiana also tended to do what her mother told her to do - and the empress wasn't exactly 'today's top tip' for governmental decision making (she effectively ran the country during the war and it could be said was in charge of Nicholas II anyway.) Moreover, to alter the country's inheritance system so swiftly was unlikely. Constitutional monarchies exist because they changed slowly. So many rule changes so swiftly would have been a destabilisation itself.

And as for the children themselves, were they up to the art of statehood? Who is going to teach them? If King & Wilson are correct they had already had their education 'ruined' by a narrow syllabus. They would still have been under N&A's general governance so would still have had no friends or experiences, etc. On top of that - being 'a nice sort of lass/chap' (or a good nurse) does not automate the ability to appreciate higher level decision-making. Anyone here had a really useless boss/manager? You'll find that they are often good workers who are over-promoted. Even Tatiana (with her chairing of meetings) would have had her work cut out on international relations or how to 'guide and advise' on the pitiful state of Russian agriculture or........and on and on. Then - maybe it's just my reading of it - Tatiana herself displays the fragility of her emotions many times herself during exile.

Thirdly - men like Stolypin were themselves ruthless politicians. Would they have kicked up enemies enough. Not that that matters - Stolypin was assassinated anyway.

Finally - if Germany does lose the war (Russia in or out) she would still have destabilised (the country's social problems were inherent to Germany not simply an 'import' from Russia.) A Weimar-style state would probably have occurred anyway as would have the '29 stock market crash. The reparations would still have been huge (France had been invaded twice now in 40 years and been humiliated last time). Enter the Nazis.

And would a tsarist/Duma government (however reformed) had had the ruthlessness to pursue the war against the Nazis?

Paul
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Sergei Witte on January 01, 2012, 05:52:38 AM
Same question would be: How could Wilhelm have preserved the throne or Franz Joseph. Only answer relevant: prevent WWI from happening.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on January 01, 2012, 05:27:21 PM
Firstly, if Russia stayed out of the war, then France would have fallen:

Agreed. There is an very interesting parallell with WWII. Had there been no Eastern Front it is unlikely that D-Day would have been successful.

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Secondly (perhaps this should go elsewhere, but it was mentioned here.)

Olga was too headstong to be Regent. Tatiana might have managed, but Tatiana also tended to do what her mother told her to do - and the empress wasn't exactly 'today's top tip' for governmental decision making (she effectively ran the country during the war and it could be said was in charge of Nicholas II anyway.) Moreover, to alter the country's inheritance system so swiftly was unlikely. Constitutional monarchies exist because they changed slowly. So many rule changes so swiftly would have been a destabilisation itself.

Since we are playing "what if" the argument is that absent WWI there would be no abdication but that increased prosperity would have developed the middle class who would have demanded greater political rights and participation in government so the changes wrought by the 1905 revolution would have continued to develop. 

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Thirdly - men like Stolypin were themselves ruthless politicians. Would they have kicked up enemies enough. Not that that matters - Stolypin was assassinated anyway.

It was that lack of ruthlessness that is attributed to NII which some claim permitted the Revolution.

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Finally - if Germany does lose the war (Russia in or out) she would still have destabilised (the country's social problems were inherent to Germany not simply an 'import' from Russia.) A Weimar-style state would probably have occurred anyway as would have the '29 stock market crash. The reparations would still have been huge (France had been invaded twice now in 40 years and been humiliated last time). Enter the Nazis.

And would a tsarist/Duma government (however reformed) had had the ruthlessness to pursue the war against the Nazis?

Of course if there was no WWI Germany would have had a much different history and WWII could arguably have been avoided.

Petr
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on January 08, 2012, 09:44:20 PM
Petr thank you for liking my postings. I understand the book The Russian Origins of the First World War is getting go reviews I will try and read it one day.  As for the newbie with the Russian name the force the Germans  sent from the west to the east during the 1st battle of the Marne was not 16 divisions. It consisted of two army corps of i believe 2 or 3 divisions each and a cavalry division. This force could have made a difference at the first Marne and was too late for the Battle of Tannenberg. so you can say the Russian army saved Paris in 1914. sadly the Allies forgot about all the sacrifices of Nicholas II and his army during WW I. After he abdicated they abandoned him and left him and his family to die at the hands of the Bolosit seems they never forgot Bloody Sunday etc.. Meanwhile during WW II Stalin got Billions in lend Lease aid without which he would have lost. Nicholas II had to pay for all of the aid Russia received during the war. It also seems after 22 June 1941 the Allies forgot all the bad things Stalin ever did like being a mass murderer, the Molotov Ribontrop pact, invading Poland Finland, annexing the Baltic states and parts of Romania. then there are the useful idiots etc that couldn't say enough nice things about the man.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 20, 2012, 08:12:26 AM
. . . Imperial Russia was on the verge of making a full transition from an agrarian economy to a modern industrialized state . . . .

I think it was the mishandling of that transition by ill-conceived government policies that had a lot to do with the revolutions of 1905-06 and 1917.  Remember that, other than the embarrassment of the losses to Japan and its exposure of government incompetence, the revolution of 1905-06 occurred independently of the massive economic and demographic dislocations of the WWI years.

Alexander III, for all his reactionary bent, had been smart enough to follow Bismarck's example in instituting worker welfare legislation to keep industrial working conditions from becoming a powder keg of revolutionary sentiment.  However, Nicholas' government reversed course in an attempt to make Russia more attractive to the foreign capital it needed to fund its industrialization.  In effect, Nicholas was trying to make Russia a cheap industrial labor center in much the same way that India a century later became a cheap labor source of technical and engineering work for western companies.

Coupled with this deliberate government-sponsored degradation of working conditions, Nicholas' government failed (despite Stolypin's efforts that Nicholas never really supported) to move toward long-term resolution of the land questions that Alexander II's emancipation of the serfs opened up and that occupied the vast majority of Russia's population in the countryside.  Consequently, as more peasants needed to migrate to the industrializing cities to support themselves, a seasonal migration was set up that had at least two deleterious effects on social stability.  The first was that hordes of peasants descended on the industrial cities to work in factories in the non-farming seasons and then returned to the countryside for planting and harvest.  Urban landlords did not see this population as stable enough (or well-paid enough, especially with some of their earnings sent back to support their rural families) to warrant investment in worker housing, and consequently these workers were funneled into vastly over-crowded living conditions for months at a time.

The second effect of this migration had to do with the spread of education and information.  Some of the factory work, especially tool-making and machining, required reading and math skills that necessitated the education of peasants to levels they would not have seen in their villages.  With this exposure to education came an exposure to the reading clubs, the emerging worker-oriented press, and self-improvement societies that were burgeoning in the cities.  (Father Gapon of Bloody Sunday fame was one of the many priests who were active in worker self-improvement circles -- with the support of Church and government authorities who, seeing these developments as worrisome but inevitable, wanted to keep them under the direction and influence of the authorities.)  But these peasants with their new-found learning and broadening awareness of their world returned each year to their formerly-isolated villages, bringing new ideas with them.  More perhaps than any other phenomenon, the creation of this conduit of information from the classroom to the urban workers to the rural peasantry set up the channels that anti-government parties were later to exploit.

And, finally, there was a third aspect of government policy that fostered revolutionary conditions.  That was allowing a huge buildup of industrial workers in brutal working and living conditions in the suburbs of large cities, especially near the government centers of St. Petersburg.  Russia had a storied history of tsars telling people and enterprises where they must locate or where they could not locate.  In order to defuse resistance to his rule in lands he expropriated as he was assembling the Russian people into a nation, Ivan III forced mass relocations at all levels of society, including his nobility.  Peter the Great forced mass relocations of workers first to build his naval shipyards and later to build his new capital on the Neva and then ordered his nobility to move there.  Catherine the Great established the Pales of Settlement.  And the tradition continued unabated under Lenin and especially Stalin, with his relocation of WWII industry beyond the Urals and the establishment of the "secret cities" where post-war technologies could be developed away from prying eyes.

Not only had Nicholas' government allowed powder kegs of revolutionary sentiment to be filled by misguided policies, they allowed those powder kegs to be stored almost under their palace windows.  
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 20, 2012, 10:15:22 AM
Of course if there was no WWI Germany would have had a much different history and WWII could arguably have been avoided.

Petr

It is very interesting that I had been saying this for about 40 years and only lately have I seen it written into books by "authorities" on the subject.  
But is was more the conditions set by the Treaty of Versailles not World War I itself that set the Germans on their course during the twenty years between the two wars.

I just finished reading about the Marshall Plan that helped to rebuild Europe after WWII and even then, there were officials who wanted to redo the strong invectives against Germany. Thankfully Truman and Marshall had the good sense to know that, if that was done again, conditions would be set in motion that would have lead to yet another war and this time the Soviet Union would not be on the side of anyone but themselves.

But I think that Tsarfan has something in his points about Nicholas II and the loss of his throne. The romantics here seem to think that just putting one of the Grand Duchesses in charge would have changed everything, but I doubt that it would. They were not trained to rule and the people who wanted the autocracy gone wouldn't have cared who sat on the throne just how to get rid of the royal family. As example, I give you Michael II and his non-rule and his decision to only take the throne by a vote of the constituent assembly.  Even he knew that it didn't matter who sat on the throne only that the throne was gone.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Vanya Ivanova on June 20, 2012, 10:24:01 AM
Fascinating post Tsarfan, it really highlights the social instability in Russia brought about by the speed of industrialisation. I have always felt the roots of the revolution went back as far as the Crimean War. It was this humiliating defeat for Russia that precipitated Alexander II's sweeping reforms that culminated in the Emancipation of the Serfs in 1861. It was only a 56 year period between this and the 1917 revolution. The Emancipation act as I understand it was primarily to facilitate Russia's development as an industrial nation.

I personally feel people make too much of Alexander III and Nicholas II's reaction to the murder of Alexander II. It undoubtedly did effect them and their style of goverment but did not in any way effect their continuation of Alexander II's policies of industrial and economic reform. For me it was this or rather the speed at which it occurred that did not allow Russian society to make the myriad of complex socio-economic adjustments necessary for a stable transition from an agrarian/feudal to an urban/industrial society.

As Petr and James pointed out in their posts economically and militarily Russia was actually in some ways in pretty good shape in 1914, however all the social structures had been turned on their head and momentous changes had occurred at break neck speed so this success had no foundations. Its true of course mistakes were made with regards to workers conditions etc but the same mistakes were made in other european industrialised nations, Britain for instance and did not result in revolution as the process came about much more slowly. I find it laughable that people blame Empress Alexandra for the revolution, before 1916 when the war really started to turn against Russia there is no real evidence that she was even unpopular with the general populace. She was not a success with her husband's family that is certainly true and the family's self imposed isolation in order to keep the Tsarevich's illness a secret also didn't help.

However in my opinion this had little or no effect on bringing about the revolution, they are details not reasons. The very fabric of Russian society had been torn apart with the Emancipation act and then rapid industrialisation. What it meant was that the country changed from the bottom upwards too fast and too late. The whole social landscape of Russia had changed overnight and the elite being the most removed from the 'means of production' were the last to realise it. Nicholas II was the product of a background and education that was part of a Russia that by the time he became Tsar no longer existed, all his beliefs and education and experience were completely out of touch with what was happening in his country. Therefore in my opinion there was realistically virtually nothing he as an individual could have done to preserve the throne.

The aristocracy and Imperial family simply could not keep pace with the changes they (in the form of Alexander II) had initiated, Nicholas II was simply not equipped by his education and background to deal with the problems he was forced to face and as James pointed out was also dogged by bad luck and impossible choices. I truly believe it would not have made any difference if he had been severe like his father or a modernising reformer like his grandfather, by 1917 Russia was in meltdown and only an absolute monster like Stalin was able to hold it together by brute force and even that has not lasted.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 20, 2012, 01:16:53 PM
Therefore in my opinion there was realistically virtually nothing he as an individual could have done to preserve the throne.

This is to me one of the great conundrums of Russian history.

On the one hand, there were certainly huge stresses building in Russia in the last half of the 19th century as Alexander II's emancipation of the serfs without effective land reform and the acceleration of industrialization produced huge economic and social dislocations.  And autocracy, especially in the hands of his successors, was proving too brittle to deal with the conditions, especially beginning with the famine of the early 1890's.

On the other hand, the long-standing desire of the peasants for land redistribution (manifested, for example, in the wave of peasant uprisings of the 18th century) and the fanning of that desire with emancipation -- coupled with the disruption of the commune-oriented culture in the villages as a few enterprising peasants tried to break free from the traditions of the mir  to seize what opportunities half-hearted land reforms did offer them -- still  did not produce a revolution in the countryside until 1905, which the government quelled until well into 1917, despite the huge stresses WWI introduced.

Few people know that, even after the February revolution of 1917, the workers in most factories, despite occasional strikes and demonstrations, formed committees to keep their factories running (and their paychecks coming) to produce armaments for the armies and supplies for the cities.  Lenin had spent 17 years in exile prior to April 1917, despairing that revolution would come to Russia during his lifetime.  The liberal and centrist parties, and even the socialist leaders by and large, wanted to participate in monarchical government, not to supplant it.  (One of the most bizarre aspects of the first months following the February revolution was the scramble of the various parties not  to be held accountable for running things.) 

This suggests to me that Russian society, as most societies, had huge entropy in its body politic which would require enormous forces to turn into the overthrow of the government and its entire social order.  People did not look to the government to give them hope.  They just wanted the government not to deprive them of hope.

One of the points historians have made is that where Russia differed most fundamentally from western Europe was in its attitude toward its people and their rights.  In western Europe, the assumption was that individuals had the right to do what they wanted unless the activity was proscribed by government.  In Russia, the assumption was that individuals had no right to act unless the government authorized their actions.  (This has been amply demonstrated by study of the kinds of applications that flowed through Russian bureaucracy year in and year out.)  Ironically, much of the reason autocracy survived as long as it did was that the reach of government, due largely to lack of its presence in the countryside, was so shallow.  So, whereas western Europeans were left alone by their governments as a matter of ciivil rights, in Russia people were left alone -- and therefore found the central government tolerable -- largely by being ignored.  (Oddly enough, up until Nicholas gave the game away with Bloody Sunday in 1905, this was the reason that peasant myth held the tsar as their protector from the predations of the gentry if only he could be made aware of their issues.  In real, practical terms most peasants in Russia viewed their landlord as the only government that touched them, and therefore the only government that mattered to them . . . not the semi-mystical tsar in the Oz they knew only by the name of St. Petersburg.)

And it suggests further that Nicholas and his regime could have survived without having to solve  all the problems confronting Russia as it adjusted to emancipation and industrialization.  All he really had to do was avoid  making colossal blunders that deprived people of hope of any coming improvement of opportunity.

To me, Nicholas' reign was made catastrophic not by what he failed to do but by the building crescendo of blunders he committed as his reign progressed:  the "senseless dreams" speech; the reversal of his father's workers welfare legislation; the mishandling of the St. Petersburg demonstrations in January 1905; the gross insensitivity to the situation at the opening of the Duma and his systematic attempts to undo the embryonic constitutionalism forced on him in 1906; the use of the land captains and the notorious Black Hand to end-run his own bureaucracy in the countryside to supplant regularized government with arbitrary and often sadistically brutal government; his ignoring his ministers' advice not to assume supreme military command in 1915; his putting his ministers in the untenable position of having their reports and advice to him filtered through Alexandra (and thereby somewhat through Rasputin); the series of bizarre ministerial appointments in 1915-16; and, finally, his ill-informed and ill-advised order to reprise the infamous Bloody Sunday blunder of using state violence against peaceful demonstrations in St. Petersburg on February 26, 1917.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on June 20, 2012, 02:58:14 PM
Great conversation everyone!

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This is to me one of the great conundrums of Russian history.

How about world history? The number of things that have been pointed out just in the past few days of this discussion are rather mind boggling. I believe certain aspects of the decline and fall of the empire have been overstated just as others that are often disregarded ought to be given more weight.

Take a second to compare the fall of the Romanovs and Russian Empire with the Decline of Ancient Rome. Wikipedia devotes an entire webpage to the latter topic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decline_of_the_Roman_Empire). It also points out how nearly three decades ago a German professor published a collection of 210 theories (that has since been added to) on why Rome fell. TWO HUNDRED & TEN?!

I wonder how much the nature of human psychology and our ability to process events within our normal thought pattern comes into play. For instance, you can look back on an unfortunate event...say a person killed by a drunk driver, and give any number of reasons why their life was cut short that evening. Some are poignant, others offsetting, still more are irrelevant. If I were to draw up a list of a dozen reasons why that innocent person was killed the truth may be that the specific fate of the tragedy lie in just one decision. Take out any one of those twelve fateful steps (no pun intended) and the tragedy never takes place. Then again it could be argued that such tragedy was inevitable and that the driver who committed this vehicular manslaughter would eventually have injured themselves or someone else due to their often drunken and irresponsible behavior.

Is there one specific decision in the laundry list of events that contributed to the tragedy of Tsar Nicholas, specifically, and his empire in general that could have drastically altered history? And even if we were able to pinpoint that one decision does it guarantee the Tsar, knowing full well his tendency for poor decision making, wouldn't have simply replaced one bad choice with another? Are there really 210 reasons for anything? Is there ever just one?

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On the other hand, the long-standing desire of the peasants for land redistribution (manifested, for example, in the wave of peasant uprisings of the 18th century) and the fanning of that desire with emancipation -- coupled with the disruption of the commune-oriented culture in the villages as a few enterprising peasants tried to break free from the traditions of the mir  to seize what opportunities half-hearted land reforms did offer them -- still  did not produce a revolution in the countryside until 1905, which the government quelled until well into 1917, despite the huge stresses WWI introduced.

Indeed, and much like the American Civil War not beginning with the Kansas-Nebraska Act in early 1854 but officially some seven years later. The main difference of course being that no elected official with half a brain could have been oblivious to the growing turmoil during the 1840s & 50s that led to the breakout of war, finally, in 1861. Yet those members of the Russian government in the first seventeen years of the 20th century were largely cut off from their countrymen...the product of an autocracy (then but a semi-autocracy) instead of a representational democracy. The American Civil War like the Russian Revolution was certainly a battle of ideologies but the added fuel to the fire of the latter comes from it also being a classicist struggle in the way the former was not (if you don't include the slaves themselves of course).

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This suggests to me that Russian society, as most societies, had huge entropy in its body politic which would require enormous forces to turn into the overthrow of the government and its entire social order.  People did not look to the government to give them hope.  They just wanted the government not to deprive them of hope.

Well said! Go figure...those lefty radicals of a century ago would fit in nicely with the American Republican Party of today. "Just get out of our way", "Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem" :-)

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One of the points historians have made is that where Russia differed most fundamentally from western Europe was in its attitude toward its people and their rights.  In western Europe, the assumption was that individuals had the right to do what they wanted unless the activity was proscribed by government.  In Russia, the assumption was that individuals had no right to act unless the government authorized their actions.

Interesting that we needed a bloody revolution, heinous murder, and countless deaths for this to essentially change NOT AT ALL during the subsequent Soviet regime! It would almost be funny if it weren't so damn sad...

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In real, practical terms most peasants in Russia viewed their landlord as the only government that touched them, and therefore the only government that mattered to them . . . not the semi-mystical tsar in the Oz they knew only by the name of St. Petersburg.

They could teach a few of us modern Americans a thing or two about politics and the system in which we live (even having lived themselves in a different system). Everyone thinks the federal government has so much control over their day to day lives and most of our praise and scorn is hoisted upon the President and congress. In reality most of the decisions that matter the most to the most citizens are decided by people who we often don't even know the names of.

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To me, Nicholas' reign was made catastrophic not by what he failed to do but by the building crescendo of blunders he committed as his reign progressed:  the "senseless dreams" speech; the reversal of his father's workers welfare legislation; the mishandling of the St. Petersburg demonstrations in January 1905; the gross insensitivity to the situation at the opening of the Duma and his systematic attempts to undo the embryonic constitutionalism forced on him in 1906; the use of the land captains and the notorious Black Hand to end-run his own bureaucracy in the countryside to supplant regularized government with arbitrary and often sadistically brutal government; his ignoring his ministers' advice not to assume supreme military command in 1915; his putting his ministers in the untenable position of having their reports and advice to him filtered through Alexandra (and thereby somewhat through Rasputin); the series of bizarre ministerial appointments in 1915-16; and, finally, his ill-informed and ill-advised order to reprise the infamous Bloody Sunday blunder of using state violence against peaceful demonstrations in St. Petersburg on February 26, 1917.

Care to add about 200 more reasons to that list for me Tsarfan? :-) Just kidding...great insight and thanks for sharing!
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on June 20, 2012, 04:25:08 PM
I see this thread has roared back to life...

In many ways, the Russian Revolution still haunts the world.  It led to Lenin and Co., taking over, which led to Stalin, which led to Stalin spreading Communism to other parts of the world after World War II.  This led to the Korean War and later, the Vietnam War.  Finally, it led to the Soviets invading Afghanistan in 1979, which led the U.S. to back resistence fighters there.  From these resistence movements, Al Quaida and the Taliban arose (bet the U.S. never dreamed they would turn on them, like the Frankenstein monster turned on his creator).

If Nicholas II had kept his throne, perhaps the 20th Century would have been a lot less bloody.  Nearly a century later, as I have said, we're still reaping a bitter harvest from the events of 1917-18.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 20, 2012, 06:01:36 PM
Did Nicholas II do in Russia what President Buchanan did in the US?  That was to make a decision to "drift".

I have been reading a set of books - one called Profiles in Folly and the other called Profiles in Audacity. They are written by Alan Axelrod (I don't know if there is any connection to David Axelrod the present head of Obama's re-election campaign).

In Profiles in Folly one of the sections is called "The Decision to Destroy" and in that section is the history of Buchanan's road to the presidency and what he did or didn't do about the Kansas-Nebraska problem in 1855.

What Axelrod makes clear is that both Buchanan and Lincoln were more intent on saving the union and obeying the Constitution (which at that time allowed slavery) than eliminating the evil of a slave holding section of the country.

Perhaps (without conscientiously doing so) Nicholas II - in order to preserve the autocracy he knew against the constitutional monarchy that he didn't know - simply made the same kind of decision Buchanan made (and Lincoln made in the first part of the war) to drift with the current and allow the laws that stood to be the arbiter of what kind of action could be taken.

In both countries, this resulted in a Civil War. In America, North against South, and in Russia, the now more educated and now freer bottom rung of society against the top rung.

The point has been made that Nicholas's education was all wrong for the times he lived in and had nothing at all to do with the "restless giant now waking outside the palace walls".

I have read that even the decision to do nothing is still a decision. I think that Nicholas II believed that the autocracy he was used to and the country he believed to be actually around him would continue to hold its own if he just let the laws that stood take their course.

I know that Buchanan felt that way about slavery. After the Dred Scott decision, Buchanan believed that the Supreme Court had put the problem to rest and that the Constitution would take care of the problem in the future as it was the ultimate law of the land and it allowed slavery.

Nicholas, on the other hand, had no constitution, but he had 300 years of Romanov rule to support his decisions.

Neither Buchanan nor Nicholas II understood that people in bondage - slaves or serfs - want nothing more than what everyone else has. Basic human rights.

Unfortunately in both the US and in Russia the elimination of bondage was not accompanied by any kind of life training or education that would have helped those who had been freed to start a new and different kind of life.

In Russia this meant that a few individuals with the power of persuasion and the charisma that made people want to follow them took over. Could Nicholas have changed any of this?  Perhaps, but he would have had to begin on day one of his reign and I don't believe that he understood that, even then, Russia was changing and he didn't know that he needed to change as well.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 20, 2012, 07:02:36 PM
. . . Nicholas II - in order to preserve the autocracy he knew against the constitutional monarchy that he didn't know - simply made the same kind of decision Buchanan made . . . .

Figes makes a related point in A People's Tragedy in explaining Nicholas' abdication and the almost eerie calmness and sense of relief he demonstrated afterward.  Autocracy was something Nicholas knew and understood.  Constitutional monarchy was something in which he felt adrift, and Nicholas preferred to give up the fight to hang on to the monarchy altogether rather than to take on the burden of learning how to be a constitutional monarch.

However, I think that point applies applies more to Nicholas' state of mind after several exhausting years of declining war fortunes than to earlier in his reign.

If Nicholas was inclined to drift (and I do think that was a large component of his personality all his life) regarding his role as tsar, I think he would have let the imperial bureaucracy continue to evolve to deal with changing conditions in Russia and to accept with more enthusiasm the advice of first Witte and later Stolypin -- both staunch monarchists -- about how to adapt to changing times.  The imperial bureaucracy was, in fact, doing a credible job at levels of government that did not draw the attention (and consequently the interference) of those around the throne and was adjusting along the way to the changing situation.

But Nicholas, who confused staying busy at inconsequential paperwork with effective government, showed a rather surprising degree of energy and application around one signally important issue:  the definition of autocracy.  Up until Alexander III's time, Russian rulers had generally stayed on the course charted by Peter the Great for administration of royal government along western lines.  But Nicholas made it a personal mission to return Russia to what he perceived to be Russia's true form of autocratic government -- that of a personal rule based on a direct communion with the people.

This showed up symbolically in his honoring of Tsar Alexis as the greatest of his forebears, although Nicholas seemed not to understand that Alexis -- another passive tsar with a bent for mysticism -- had almost ceded royal authority to the Church under Nikhon . . . and that it was only Peter the Great's handling of the church between 1700 and 1721 that ensured the permanent dominion of the monarchy over the Church.  And Nicholas' drive to impose an archaic version of autocracy on a modernizing Russia showed up in very real ways in the unrelenting campaign Nicholas undertook after 1906 first to marginalize the Duma (and the ministers, especially Witte, who were willing to work with it) and then to ignore it altogether.  Had Nicholas been willing to appoint a government responsible to the Duma instead of to his wife and Rasputin in the final two years of his reign, he -- and Russia -- might have had a chance.

But you are right.  Ultimately, he preferred no throne to a constitutional throne.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on June 21, 2012, 01:20:11 AM
Imagine this, the Provisional Government comes to Nicholas and says the following:

"Tell you what, if you agree to give up the autocracy and become a Constitutional Monarch, we'll let you have your throne back.  If you don't agree, the monarchy is gone for good.  What do you say?"

I wonder what Nicholas's response would have been.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Vanya Ivanova on June 21, 2012, 06:25:45 AM
Its a good point Tim, was he really ever offered this?, my understanding is that it wasn't an option put forward, once GD Michael turned the throne down that was it but as others have said I suspect it would have gone against everthing he believed.

I have to say Tsarfan, as much as I concur with all the excellent details of your analysis, I struggle with the emphasis on the mistakes made in the last few years of Nicholas II's reign and the involvement of his wife/ Rasputin etc. Of course it didn't help, but the regime was irreparably damaged before that point in my opinion and by much larger forces than an emotionally distraught mother and an opportunist mystic.

Can one really effectively argue that had Alexander III lived and been on the throne in 1914 that there would still have been no revolution? It was only 56 years, (one generation) from the Emancipation act to the Revolution of 1917.

The tidal wave of change unleashed by the Emancipation of the serfs had really started to gather an alarming momentum by the time Nicholas II became Tsar. I think the 'Senseless Dreams' speech perfectly illustrates that he believed himself to be a 'shepherd to his flock' a 'father to his children' and that the status quo was ordained by God, and that his  duty to his people was to protect them from themselves. That their desire for change was against 'God's law'. Of course to us now this is akin to madness, but my whole point is realistically Nicholas II given his background and education and the times he lived in could not really be expected to have thought otherwise. The pace of change forced on him was also immense and few leaders in history have been able to effectively overhaul/suppress their entire belief system in order to maintain control and then also in a very short space of time.

I fail to see any evidence that Alexander II and Alexander III would have believed anything fundamentally different. The only difference being that Nicholas II was perhaps in some ways as Tsarfan pointed out actively more resistant to social change than his predessors. He genuinely believed it was his duty to prevent it from happening, to 'protect' his people from these changes. Nicholas II saw it as a dereliction of duty not to oppose the social reforms. This was out of a sense of duty not a desire for personal power. In that sense I would say I disagree with the view that he 'drifted'. He made a conscious effort to oppose social reform and promote industrial growth, in my opinion, which is obviously a recipe for disaster.

His father and grandfather were simply not faced with the same level of demands. The analogy made by Alixz between ideological incentives/viewpoints involved with American Civil War leaders and Nicholas II is very pertinent. Lincoln is only now being reassessed as not being entirely the humanitarian hero he has previously been seen to be. It was only in the very late stages of that war that he even really considered the enslaved African's 'human rights'. The war was started fundamentally over an issue of commerce and those rights were not honoured afterwards.

So if a self made man of the world like Lincoln had no real issue with enslaved people ( my understanding of that war being it was started to protect northern industry and wages from the unfair competition of the south's fiscal advantage of a 'free' labour force) then how can we expect the unwordly, sheltered and retiring Tsar Nicholas II to have been enlightened enough to hand his people entitlements and powers that were completely alien to him.

If the serfs had been emancipated in the reigns of either Paul or Nicholas I then perhaps Nicholas II might have had a chance of preserving the throne. I agree that Nicholas II was not very good at the job of being Tsar but had he lived in earlier times these mistakes would not have resulted in the loss of the throne. Russia had remained a medieval, fuedal society far too long and change came too fast and too late and Nicholas II and his much maligned wife simply cannot in my opinion take all the blame for that.



Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 21, 2012, 07:48:45 AM
I don't know, TimM.  But I tend to agree with Figes that Nicholas preferred no throne to a constitutional throne.

Although there is a view growing among some historians that Alexandra's influence over Nicholas has been overstated, I do not believe that to be the case.  Once Nicholas and Alexandra became separated for long periods when Nicholas took over supreme military command, many of the conversations they would have had in person became memorialized in written correspondence, and it paints a compelling picture of a very hen-pecked husband and of a wife who was determined that Nicholas not yield an inch of his authority to demands for a government responsible to the Duma.

The same view that Alexandra really exercised little influence over Nicholas' political decisions also holds that Rasputin's influence on government affairs has been overstated.  I do not believe that to be the case, either.  There is just too much anecdotal evidence of both their involvements.  For instance, after the abdication Anna Vyrubova recounted a heated conversation she overheard between Nicholas and Alexandra late one evening in his New Study at the Alexander Palace in late July 1914 when Nicholas was deciding to mobilize.  During that argument, Alexandra pressed the point that Rasputin was against the war as he felt it would bring disaster to Russia.  That indicates not only that Alexandra clearly involved herself in her husband's political decisions, but that Rasputin was discussing far more than family health and spiritual matters with Alexandra well before Nicholas departed for Stavka in 1915 and left Alexandra behind as ostensible caretaker in St. Petersburg.  Alexandra was also known to sit behind the column screen on the loge of Nicholas' New Study so that she could eavesdrop on his audiences with government officials.

Then in 1916 Alexandra in a letter urged Nicholas to make use of the comb she sent him that had been blessed by Rasputin.  Nicholas wrote back that he made sure to use the comb before meeting with his advisors -- a phase of the reign I like to call "Government by Magic Comb".  This kind of anecdotal evidence of Alexandra's and Rasputin's bizarre involvement in running things is backed up by much more empirical evidence.  Alexandra's letters to Nicholas contain advice she is passing along from Rasputin on finance, land reform, food supplies, transport.  And their influence shows up in what became derisively known as the "ministerial leapfrog" whereby between September 1915 and February 1971 Nicholas had five  Ministers of the Interior, four each  of Prime Ministers and Ministers of Agriculture, and three each  of Foreign Ministers, War Ministers, and Ministers of Transport.  It is hardly a wonder that the entire bureaucratic apparatus was overcome by confusion and finally paralysis as the revolution approached.  The longest-lasting of the ever-rotating Prime Ministers during this period was the obsequious Boris Stürmer, an almost laughably incompetent rube who turned to Alexandra and Rasputin so often for direction on what to do next that he was parodied even by the extreme right wing with comparisons to Chichikov in Gogol's Dead Souls.

Olga Alexandrovna reported that during the family's time at Ai Todor, to where the remaining imperial fled for safety after the abdication, her mother the Dowager Empress vehemently blamed Alexandra for the whole mess.  Certainly there was no love lost between those two, and Marie would have been inclined to grasp at any interpretation of events that moved blame from her son to Alexandra.  However, Marie was perhaps the most politically savvy of the senior Romanovs -- having been a firm supporter of Stolypin and others of Nicholas' best ministers -- and she was in a position to know much more about what passed between Nicholas and Alexandra than many other commentators over the years.  Personally, I think her assessment carries some weight, at least insofar as it indicates that Alexandra exercised heavy influence over her husband's political decisions.

I go on at length to make the case of Alexandra's influence over Nicholas, because I believe her views on constitutional monarchy as an answer for Russia would have been relevant -- perhaps even dispositive -- to Nicholas' decision whether to accept such a role had it been offered.  And I believe she would have remained implacably hostile to it.

One could argue that, given the alternative of complete abdication, Alexandra would have yielded to necessity.  But I do not believe Alexandra would have acknowledged that necessity, even in March 1917.  When the family was in captivity at Tobolsk, Alexandra attempted to block a meeting between Nicholas and a delegation from the Provisional Government without her being present, complaining that the last time she had let him meet alone with such representatives he had lost his throne.  It appears that, even sitting under house arrest after a full-blown revolution, Alexandra nursed some strange fantasy that Nicholas had control of events in March 1917 . . . had he only  decided to assert it.

(Sorry, Vanya.  I only saw your post after this one went up.  You raise some points to which I'd like to respond a bit later once I get a couple of chores behind me.)
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 21, 2012, 09:22:55 AM
The similarity of the freeing of the serfs and the freeing of the American slaves without a program to induct them into a productive place in society is very interesting as it happened in two countries so far apart in both distance and ideology.

Of course, no one knows exactly what Alexander II had planned for the introduction of the freed serfs into Russian society (with a small s) and Russian commerce. However the strip farming and collectives that grew out his actions didn't help the serfs and only set the future rebellion into motion.

However, we do know that Lincoln had many reasons for freeing the salves when he did. He wanted to destroy the South's economy and prevent it from continuing to grow and prosper and so win battles. He freed only those slaves that were held in the States currently in rebellion and not in the country as a whole and this caused an economic collapse and created a group of untrained and uneducated people who could not take care of themselves and so destroyed the South's ability to fight (and also placed a greater burden on the food supplies and the supplies of other non- durable goods). This did not place a greater burden on the North as Lincoln was not freeing every slave, only those in the Confederacy (and it is doubtful that he had the authority to pass any law that applied to the states that were no longer part of the Union and so not exactly under his dominion.)

Both Nicholas II and Lincoln had one thought in mind and that was to preserve the status quo in their respective countries. Lincoln wanted to preserve the Union against all invasion or secession. Nicholas II wanted to preserve the autocracy as the only means of government. In both countries the slaves and serfs were incidental - almost collateral damage.

I agree with Tsarfan. Alexandra was a looming factor in the decisions that Nicholas II made.  Rasputin was a looming factor in the decisions that Alexandra made and then passed on to Nicholas. It has become popular to discount Alexandra's contributions and Rasputin's contributions to the overthrow of the monarchy. Nicholas should not have left his wife in charge and run off to Stavka to "play" with the army. He was no career soldier and had no proper training in running the army of a country as large as Russia.

I also agree that the turn over of prime ministers and other officials at such an alarming rate must have left the government without a firm basis from which to make a stand. Nicholas and by extension Alexandra and Rasputin were responsible for the high turnover and confusing styles of governing. It make sense that there was never a time when the representatives of that government offered Nicholas a place as a Constitutional Monarch or even a "figure head".
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 21, 2012, 10:32:13 AM
did. He wanted to destroy the South's economy and prevent it from continuing to grow and prosper and so win battles. He freed only those slaves that were held in the States currently in rebellion and not in the country as a whole and this caused an economic collapse and created a group of untrained and uneducated people who could not take care of themselves and so destroyed the South's ability to fight (and also placed a greater burden on the food supplies and the supplies of other non- durable goods). This did not place a greater burden on the North as Lincoln was not freeing every slave, only those in the Confederacy (and it is doubtful that he had the authority to pass any law that applied to the states that were no longer part of the Union and so not exactly under his dominion.)

Agreed.  I would add only one point, and it is the one that I think was critical to the timing of the Emancipation Proclamation.  Lincoln concluded that England was on the verge of granting recognition to the Confederacy as a sovereign nation in order to free England's hand in more openly supporting the South and thus the flow of raw cotton to English textile mills.  Lincoln knew that by declaring emancipation of the South's slaves, it would put England in the unpalatable position of defending a nation who was at war for at least one stated purpose, not only of preserving slavery, but of spreading it.  (It was this issue of propagating slavery in the new territories as the U.S. expanded westward that had scuttled the Missouri Compromise and that had drawn Lincoln back into national politics in the mid 1850's.)
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on June 21, 2012, 10:51:11 AM
Wow, this discussion is moving along at breakneck speed and I can barely keep up. Fascinating though. Some more thoughts. I'll start by addressing the second to the last post from Alixz.

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What Axelrod makes clear is that both Buchanan and Lincoln were more intent on saving the union and obeying the Constitution (which at that time allowed slavery) than eliminating the evil of a slave holding section of the country.

Certainly. Lincoln's famous quote about being willing to free all, some, or no slaves in order to preserve the union is testament to that.

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Perhaps (without conscientiously doing so) Nicholas II - in order to preserve the autocracy he knew against the constitutional monarchy that he didn't know - simply made the same kind of decision Buchanan made (and Lincoln made in the first part of the war) to drift with the current and allow the laws that stood to be the arbiter of what kind of action could be taken.

The "drift" concept seems to make sense. But I think it's worth noting that, right or wrong, Nicholas's thoughts regarding the preservation of his autocracy differ a bit than the logic behind Buchanan's. Nicholas was trying to preserve all aspects of a system already in place (at least prior to the Manifesto) whereas Buchanan was attempting to compromise and thread the needle between two ideologically opposed view points. He was a "Dough Face" that lacked conviction which is why in my mind, and in the opinion of many, he ranks at or near the bottom in virtually all rankings of US Presidents. More on that in a moment...

You do point out some interesting similarities between the two men however that help reveal the complexities of their situation. Buchanan was viewed with contempt and his actions considered treasonous in the north. The south meanwhile looked upon him as an ally, someone who was loyal to the constitution and the will of the Founding Fathers by preserving a system already in place. We could argue the same situation applies to Nicholas II.

The problem, or perhaps the paradox, with Buchanan is that while he didn't support the south's right to secede he did very little to stop it from happening. What could he have done by 1860/61 some would ask. He had already destroyed his legitimacy with at least half of the country and was clearly a weak leader (not unlike someone else we know, perhaps?). Still I think it was a direct violation of his oath to protect, preserve and defend the union (and the rights of its citizens) to step aside and do nothing. He was an outgoing President who needed to worry little about losing political capital unlike a Tsar upholding a "semi-autocratic" system and eventually passing it along to his son/family member. Buchanan showed neither courage nor conviction.

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I have read that even the decision to do nothing is still a decision. I think that Nicholas II believed that the autocracy he was used to and the country he believed to be actually around him would continue to hold its own if he just let the laws that stood take their course. I know that Buchanan felt that way about slavery. After the Dred Scott decision, Buchanan believed that the Supreme Court had put the problem to rest and that the Constitution would take care of the problem in the future as it was the ultimate law of the land and it allowed slavery.

Certainly both men can be criticized for their naivety. Buchanan at the very least saw the issue of slavery building up when he decided to run for President in 1856 and attempted to redeem his Democratic Party after the lost Presidency of Franklin Pierce. Nicholas didn't view the radical and revolutionary elements in his society the same way, nor were they as obvious as the slavery issue was to the United States in the first part of his reign. Willfully ignorant perhaps, but I don't see this as being as contemptible as Buchanan's blantant pro-southern sympathies (especially as a Northerner).

It's also worth noting that Nicholas, as the heir to throne in an autocracy, had his role of Tsar thrust upon him in an untimely manner and without proper experience. Buchanan on the other hand was a career politician who CHOSE to run for President in 1856 knowing full well what he was getting himself into.

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Neither Buchanan nor Nicholas II understood that people in bondage - slaves or serfs - want nothing more than what everyone else has. Basic human rights.

I agree but the elements involved in their respective civil wars differ. The slaves themselves, by and large, were not taking up arms against Buchanan and the eventual Confederate States. The revolutionaries however were the one's who ultimately battled against their government in Russia. In America it was the sympathies of the abolitionists that sparked war against those looking to preserve their cultural and economic system. Furthermore had the South won the war they simply would have been granted the right to secede from the union. In Russia however the victory of Red Army was as a conquering force set on creating a new political system...not simply the right for Moscow and Siberia to break off into its own country. Yes? Bottom line is that I feel like Nicholas II had issues to deal with that a James Buchanan could scarcely imagine.

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Unfortunately in both the US and in Russia the elimination of bondage was not accompanied by any kind of life training or education that would have helped those who had been freed to start a new and different kind of life.

We certainly both agree on that. Interesting how the virtual enslaving of American workers in the industrial system largely took place after the Civil War, whereas in Russia it ran concurrently with the revolution.

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In Russia this meant that a few individuals with the power of persuasion and the charisma that made people want to follow them took over. Could Nicholas have changed any of this?  Perhaps, but he would have had to begin on day one of his reign and I don't believe that he understood that, even then, Russia was changing and he didn't know that he needed to change as well.

Surely. I'll bring this to a close by mentioning how I find it interesting that the northern viewpoint of the south and slavery in the 1850s was not unlike the American viewpoint of Communism and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. They had no desire to start a war. Rather to contain and allow the systems of slavery/communism to smother itself from within. If the US Civil War had been avoided would the system of slavery have carried on for several more decades before eventually collapsing? Would a bloody war, most logically right after WW2, have destroyed communism and shattered Soviet domination of Eastern Europe? Fascinating questions indeed!
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Vanya Ivanova on June 21, 2012, 11:05:28 AM
I'm sorry I just don't see how you can concentrate on the events of the last few years of Nicholas II's reign as being the deciding factor in why the Revolution of 1917 came about. The Empress and via her Rasputin undoubtedly had a very negative impact on events at this time. However my point is their 'medling' in these few years could not have caused a Revolution.

The causes of the 1917 Revolution in my opinion ran much deeper and had started much earlier. By stating that I'm not defending Nicholas and Alexandra, their regressive almost obsessive belief in the divinity of the autocracy meant that they were in complete opposition to what was happening in Russia, they wanted the country to progress economically but at the same time regress socially. Nicholas II was very active in trying to 'turn back the clock' or put 'the genie back in the bottle as it were', because he and his wife truly believed that was God's design.

However my point is that the speed of change unleashed by the emancipation of the serfs did not give Russia's social structures and institutions time to adjust, the autocratic monarchy most of all.

On a slightly different vein in response to a point made by Tsarfan, if Alexandra is culpable for the Revolution by her failure as an Empress then Maria Feodorovna is too as she played a large part in bringing that failure about. She did absolutely nothing to help her young inexperienced daughter-in-law in her role as Empress. In fact she became the centre of all antagonism and resentment towards Alexandra that culminated in Felix Yussopov murdering Rasputin.  

Alexandra was unpopular with the court and the wider Romanov family to a large extent because of Maria Feodorovna. Tsarfan you make the point that the Dowager Empress was the most savvy of the senior Romanovs but I would counter that by stating that her actions to undermine her daughter in law actually also fundamentally undermined her son and made him more isolated. I fail to see what is savvy about that. I can only assume that as she loved the attention and status of being 'The Empress' so much she resented having to step out of the limelight for her daughter in law.

I apologise for any offence this statement may cause, but in my opinion Maria Feodorovna, was a vain, selfish and unkind woman.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on June 21, 2012, 11:07:26 AM
I see this thread has roared back to life...

In many ways, the Russian Revolution still haunts the world.  It led to Lenin and Co., taking over, which led to Stalin, which led to Stalin spreading Communism to other parts of the world after World War II.  This led to the Korean War and later, the Vietnam War.  Finally, it led to the Soviets invading Afghanistan in 1979, which led the U.S. to back resistence fighters there.  From these resistence movements, Al Quaida and the Taliban arose (bet the U.S. never dreamed they would turn on them, like the Frankenstein monster turned on his creator).

If Nicholas II had kept his throne, perhaps the 20th Century would have been a lot less bloody.  Nearly a century later, as I have said, we're still reaping a bitter harvest from the events of 1917-18.

Well said Tim!

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Figes makes a related point in A People's Tragedy in explaining Nicholas' abdication and the almost eerie calmness and sense of relief he demonstrated afterward.  Autocracy was something Nicholas knew and understood.  Constitutional monarchy was something in which he felt adrift, and Nicholas preferred to give up the fight to hang on to the monarchy altogether rather than to take on the burden of learning how to be a constitutional monarch.

Nicholas also regretted his decision to abdicate once he learned of the separate peace his new government made with the Germans. I'm not sure what level of confidence he had that Russia would continue to fight and eventually win the war...but is it reasonable to believe that Nicholas would have fought harder to keep his throne, even as reduced constitutional monarch, had he believed that his country would sign the Brest-Litovsk treaty?

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However, I think that point applies applies more to Nicholas' state of mind after several exhausting years of declining war fortunes than to earlier in his reign.

I'm glad you mentioned you this. Sometimes people make mistakes and lose perspective simply because they're worn out! There isn't always a predictable confluence of events that explains everything.

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But Nicholas, who confused staying busy at inconsequential paperwork with effective government

lol, busy work that his Grand Duke relatives and ministers rather intentionally burdened him with.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 21, 2012, 11:07:33 AM
Can one really effectively argue that had Alexander III lived and been on the throne in 1914 that there would still have been no revolution?

Maybe.

Alexander was certainly interested in bottling back up the alarming liberal tendencies of which he felt his father was too tolerant.  And it was Alexander III's view of autocracy which set the stage for his son's more open rejection of the Petrine concept of "autocracy by process" in favor of the Muscovite concept of arbitrary personal rule based on the tsar's personal fiefdom of the Russian soil.

But Alexander III had a common sense of which his son was devoid.  I have mentioned earlier that Alexander was astute enough to follow Bismarck's lead in instituting worker welfare laws in Russia so that the worst abuses of the factory owners were held in check.  His son, succumbing to pressure to attract foreign capital with cheap labor, relaxed these regulations, both by revoking some laws outright and by reducing the number of government inspectors in the factories.  The result was that factories became powder kegs they might not have become had Russian government policy continued to seek ways to absorb the shock of rapid industrialization along the lines with which Germany, England, and the U.S. were experimenting.

On the cultural front, liberals first thought that Alexander's Russification policies would speed the demise of autocracy across the multi-ethnic empire.  Somewhat unexpectedly, the opposite turned out to be the case, at least in the short term.  Some of the intelligentsia actually welcomed Russification and began to celebrate it in literature, music, fine art, and architecture.  And the rancor it stirred up among the nationalities actually nudged some liberals into the growing ranks of Russian nationalists.  If Alexander III had lived long enough for Russification to snap back on him, it would have been more likely to have been in nationalistic break-away movements on the periphery of the empire rather than an assault on the autocracy of core Russia.

Nor do I think that Alexander III would have been drawn into war with Austria and Germany so easily.  While Alexander was no fan of Bismarck's foreign policy, he was careful to avoid an open breach with his fellow monarchs and even went so far as to float the idea of renewing the Three Emperor's Alliance.  And while he maintained friendly relations with France, he would have been more circumspect than his son in getting drawn into a formal Russo-French alliance.  By the same token, although Alexander was an adherent of pan-slavism as a cultural and political force, he actually stopped short of military engagements in support of central-European Slavs even when the opportunities presented themselves.  In other words, Alexander -- or at least the ministers he chose -- had a finesse and an ability to thread the needle that was lost in his son's reign.

Alexander, for all his bulk and personal bumptiousness, actually had some subtlety to his make-up.  Nicholas, for all his personal elegance and demure politeness, was devoid of subtlety in anything that mattered.

(This is going to be a long post, so I'll continue in the next one.)
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on June 21, 2012, 11:15:10 AM
Just to clear things up, my little scenario above was a "What If?" question.  I've always wondered, had Nicholas been offered the choice of being a Constitutional Monarch, or none at all, which way he would go.  The Romanovs might still be on the throne of Russia today had they adopted a British-style Monarchy.

Alexandra should have looked to her grandmother (Queen Victoria) for guidence on how a succesful Monarchy works.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 21, 2012, 12:15:21 PM
If the serfs had been emancipated in the reigns of either Paul or Nicholas I then perhaps Nicholas II might have had a chance of preserving the throne. I agree that Nicholas II was not very good at the job of being Tsar but had he lived in earlier times these mistakes would not have resulted in the loss of the throne. Russia had remained a medieval, fuedal society far too long and change came too fast and too late and Nicholas II and his much maligned wife simply cannot in my opinion take all the blame for that.

I think you are perhaps discounting too much the tremendous entropy a governmental system as old and relatively stable as Russia's could still command.  Despite an almost full-blown revolution in 1905, Nicholas had succeeded in putting the genie back in the bottle and within a few years even of negating the Duma as a significant curb on his power.  All the main political parties in Russia were seeking to work inside the government, not to overthrow it.  By 1917 Lenin had given up on seeing revolution in his lifetime and, except for a few months in 1905-06, had spent the past 17 years in exile.  The Social Revolutionaries had moved toward the center.  The Kadets were in the ascendant.  Trotsky was biting his nails in frustration at the ebbing away of revolutionary energy among the urban populations.  The Mensheviks had given up on rousing the peasants and ended their summer romances with the grossly-misunderstood politics of the countryside.

In my view, and especially with the outpouring of pro-government sentiment at the outset of WWI, it took an extraordinary series of missteps to bring the whole system crashing down inside of 30 months.

Nicholas II was not the first tsar who could have lost his throne had he not acted adroitly in the crunch.

His idol, Tsar Alexis, almost allowed the Church to acquire political power equal to the monarchy, which Nikon might have succeeded in doing had Nikon's personality been less prickly and had Alexis not been fortunate in the choice of talented advisors who lured him back from the brink.

Alexis' son, Peter the Great, flush from his success in the Great Northern War, overextended himself too early afterward against the Ottoman empire and very nearly lost his empire and his personal freedom to military defeat.  It was only the quick thinking of his wife Catherine who, knowing of the seedy character of the Ottoman Bey, collected all the jewels on hand from among the traveling court to bribe the Bey (who was a somewhat indifferent ally of Charles of Sweden) to release the military grip he had on Peter.

(Speaking of Peter the Great, I would argue that Peter actually put Russia under more stress than industrialization did two centuries later.  Peter uprooted his nobility, both physically and culturally; he imposed with brutal force an unpopular westernization campaign; he taxed the peasantry to the breaking point and imposed state monopolies on almost all the stuff of their daily lives to the point that the Russian population basically had to shop at a vast state-run company store; he conscripted vast armies of men to staff his shipyards, to man his armies, and to build his new cities on the Sea of Azov, the Neva, and elsewhere.  The burdens Peter placed on his people reached wider and deeper than anything that happened in the last three reigns of the Romanovs.)

Catherine the Great's reign was beset by prolonged waves of peasant uprisings that have largely been forgotten by modern historians but were, in part, the blow back from the huge depredations Peter's policies had imposed on Russia two generations earlier.  In one of those uprisings, the Pugachev Rebellion, Catherine, distracted by military matters to the west, delayed too long in recognizing the threat.  By the time Catherine turned in a near-panic to confront Pugachev, he had actually been declared tsar in vast stretches of the Russian hinterland.  It was this experience, more than the French Revolution, that triggered her hard turn right from liberalism to reactionism in her later reign.

Nicholas I came perilously close to being unseated by a coup aiming to establish a constitutional monarchy in 1825.  Although the coup had only 3,000 armed participants (many from the nobility), they had the Winter Palace and the emperor and his family in their sights as well as enjoyed some apparent support in the population of St. Petersburg.  Had Nicholas I not shown resolute calm and known how to balance daring with circumspection, the scales could have easily tipped to his overthrow.

And Nicholas II himself had a very close scrape with being overthrown in 1905-06, when all the forces unleashed by industrialization were already in full train.

However, there was one critical factor in every one of these above salvaged situations:  there were at least some important constituencies who wanted that particular ruler to remain at the helm and to whom the ruler could appeal, either tacitly or openly, for support.

By March 1917, NO constituency wanted the government in the hands of Nicholas and Alexandra.

Not the imperial ministers.  Not the military commanders.  Not the centrist or rightist Duma parties.  Not the workers.  Not the peasants.  Not the Church hierarchy (which, though it is seldom mentioned, had quietly abandoned its loyalty to Nicholas over Rasputin).  Not even the Romanov family.

And this difference was not the result of emancipation, industrialization, or war.  It was the result of an incredible series of bone-headed moves beginning in 1915 and building to a crescendo of near delusional madness by February 1917.

(By the way, Vanya, don't worry about offending me.  I agree with the points you made about Marie Feodorovna.  And don't worry about offending me in any case.  If my posting continues, you'll soon find that I can get pretty energized around a point myself, and I have to be willing to get as good as I give.)
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 21, 2012, 12:44:07 PM
And as for Alexandra looking to Queen Victoria for an example. QV was a very bad example for almost 20 years after the death of Albert and if Britain hadn't been a Constitutional Monarchy, she would have lost her throne.

She was losing support because of her apparent inability to get over Albert's death and her loss of the one person she had leaned on for so long.

There is a new view that Albert actually changed Victoria's view of herself from monarch to "little wife" and that her sex made her unable to handle the role she had been born into and that she had, until her marriage to Albert, handled very well.

Victoria began to lean on and depend on Albert for many things. Their relationship changed from his role of blotting her signature, to her role becoming subservient to his.  I am not sure that Alexandra saw her grandmother in the same light that we now understand her in. Albert was beginning to whittle away at Victoria's self image and Victoria had to relearn to be a monarch. It took her a long time.

By the time that Alix was old enough and aware enough to understand the British system, Victoria had rebounded but she was always scrapping with her Prime Ministers. Threatening not to receive them if she didn't like them or issuing ultimatums that somehow were always fulfilled. This is the Victoria that Alexandra grew up with.

I am not sure that Alexandra could have become the domineering consort she was if she truly understood her grandmother's role in a Constitutional Monarchy.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on June 21, 2012, 02:08:26 PM
Quote
And this difference was not the result of emancipation, industrialization, or war.  It was the result of an incredible series of bone-headed moves beginning in 1915 and building to a crescendo of near delusional madness by February 1917.

This simple point made by Tsarfan towards the end of his last post really resonates with me. I'm not fully convinced the final 8-10% of Nicholas II's reign contained more blunders and was more to blame for the downfall of the empire than the series of events that took place in the first 90+%, but it is a compelling case...

After all take Russia's declaration of war and entrance into WWI as an example. Most of the country seemed to be rallying around their Tsar and it was a time of national unity. This coming in spite of missteps and other cataclysmic events earlier in his reign. Russia was confident and seemed to expect a swift and resounding victory over Germany and the Central powers.

I'd almost draw a parallel between this and what took place in the US, on a smaller & far more peaceful scale, between 2001-05. National unity and American pride in the months following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. President Bush's approval ratings at 90%. The subsequent Iraq War started popularly and with military success not unlike the first months of WW1 for Russia.

By 2004 (like 1917) however public confidence had eroded significantly and the nation has been ideologically polarized in a way that we have not seen since at least the end of Vietnam War (and it's only grown worse since). The big difference here is that Bush narrowly survived the 2004 election unlike Nicholas who was unable (or unwilling) to keep his throne in March, 1917. Never the less roughly five years after the start of WW1 Nicholas was dead...and roughly five years after 9/11 (Hurricane Katrina, gas prices, slumping economy, costly war with no end in sight) for all intents and purposes so was Bush's Presidency...

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 21, 2012, 03:30:24 PM
On a slightly different vein in response to a point made by Tsarfan, if Alexandra is culpable for the Revolution by her failure as an Empress then Maria Feodorovna is too as she played a large part in bringing that failure about. She did absolutely nothing to help her young inexperienced daughter-in-law in her role as Empress. In fact she became the centre of all antagonism and resentment towards Alexandra that culminated in Felix Yussopov murdering Rasputin.

Marie Feodorovna certainly did little to ease her daughter-in-law into her role and into St. Petersburg society, and Marie could be rather petty as evidenced by the unseemly tug of war over use of the crown jewels.  But Alexandra was extremely resistant to receiving coaching and advice, as evidenced by Alexandra's booting her own sister Ella out of the Alexander Palace when she appealed to Alexandra late in 1916 to change course.

Also, some of Alexandra's early (but long-remembered) gaffes in court functions came on so suddenly that I'm not sure Marie even had time to realize that her daughter-in-law was socially inept until some of the harm was already done.  One should remember that Nicholas and Alexandra were advised by both families to delay their marriage for a while after Alexander III's death.  This advice came most urgently from Ella, who had married into Russia and the Romanov family earlier and understood the challenges Alexandra would face.  It was Ella who alerted Alexandra to the superstitiousness of the Russian people and to a particular superstition about a tsarina arriving behind a hearse, a point of reference a peasant would associate indefinitely with his or her image of the tsarina.  And it was Alexandra who prodded Nicholas to a quick marriage during the mourning period, in the face of all advice.

And Marie, who herself was given almost no time to adjust from becoming a very active and accomplished empress to being a dowager, could not help but have been offended by this rush to assume the imperial mantle, especially as in that era it implied a certain disrespect for the memory of Alexander III.  Also, knowing her son as she did and having had a preview of her daughter-in-law's intractability and her hold on Nicholas' opinions, it would have been hard for Marie not to have suspected something ulterior in Alexandra's rush to become her new husband's self-appointed helpmate -- the excuse Alexandra gave herself and others for the quick marriage.  

Had Alexandra spent a bit more time in Russia as a fiancee instead of as an empress, she would have given herself some breathing room to observe customs and to get to understand orders of precedence and the undercurrents of personal influence that mattered so very much to the courtiers, many of whom she so soon offended by not understanding their place in the scheme of things.  But by insisting on putting herself out to the public as an empress -- with an empress' duties -- so very early, she deprived herself of a chance to watch, absorb, and learn.

Marie had had that chance during her own early years in Russia, and she used them to good effect, including becoming fluent in the language.  Alexandra would have none of it, including not being bothered to master the language much beyond an ability to communicate with servants.

However, while I tend toward the view that it would have been hard for Marie to help Alexandra, I do admit it would have been easier for her to refrain from undercutting Alexandra.  As an empress herself, she should have been more alive to the damage that could do to the prestige of the monarchy.

Of course, Marie Feodorovna was almost a slacker in undercutting her daughter-in-law compared to the snake-tongued Marie Pavlovna the Elder, whose ambition to see her husband's branch of the family on the throne did not relent until there was no throne left to covet.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 21, 2012, 05:06:28 PM
Didn't Nicholas, though, say that he needed to marry Alexandra as soon as possible to keep her close to him?  Was that because Alexandra had put the idea into his head or did he truly feel that way?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on June 21, 2012, 05:30:02 PM
Quote
By the time that Alix was old enough and aware enough to understand the British system, Victoria had rebounded but she was always scrapping with her Prime Ministers. Threatening not to receive them if she didn't like them or issuing ultimatums that somehow were always fulfilled. This is the Victoria that Alexandra grew up with

So Alix may have had the misguided impression that Victoria was the one calling the shots in Britain, when in fact, it was Parliament and the PM that really made all the political decisions.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 21, 2012, 05:47:34 PM
Its possible. I would have to look up the dates and see just when Victoria came back from the "dead" to pay a little more attention to what was going on around her.
It does seem, when looking at the historical accounts, that she had an awful lot to say. Much more than a typical Constitutional Monarch would have.
And Disraeli seemed to be able to wind her around his little finger but she detested Gladstone. So it would mean taking a look at who was in power and what was going on during Alix's formative years and after the death of Princess Alice brought the Hessian children more and more into Victoria's orbit.
But Victoria was seen as the doyenne of monarchs and was queen of not only her country but Empress of India as well (although Alix may have been already married to Nicholas by then). To Alix, she may have seemed much more powerful than she was.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on June 22, 2012, 01:02:03 AM
Quote
But Victoria was seen as the doyenne of monarchs and was queen of not only her country but Empress of India as well (although Alix may have been already married to Nicholas by then). To Alix, she may have seemed much more powerful than she was

And of course, making sure her children married into the other Royal Houses of Europe must have given her a lot of influence.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Kalafrana on June 22, 2012, 02:23:48 AM
Victoria is really a transitional figure in the evolution of constititional monarchy in Britain. The monarch still had a good deal of political power, though that was declining, and the modern concept of  a non-political public service monarchy (exemplified by George V, George VI and Elizabeth II) was starting to emerge, particularly in the later stages of her reign. Victoria's 'Widow of Windsor' phase lasted roughly from Albert's death up to the mid-1870s. From then she began to be seen in public more, though not much compared with her successors, and increasingly her children and then grandchildren were taking on a public service role.

But Victoria was obsessed with mourning, in what was, to my mind, a very self-indulgent fashion,  and, in that respect, was a very bad role model for Alexandra as a girl and young woman.

Ann
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Vanya Ivanova on June 22, 2012, 04:45:46 AM
In response to Tsarfan's posts re Alexander III and Maria Feodorovna , I have to say they are both very generous assessments.

Alexander III was in the thrall of Pobyedonostsyev, a man who in my opinion is far more to blame for the Russian Revolution than Alexandra Feodorovna. Pobyedonostsyev believed that 'all human nature is sinful' and that 'any attempt at social reform was an act of violence and a crime'. In his role as effective head of the Orthodox church he indoctrinated Alexander III and Nicholas II with these beliefs. The difference being that Alexander III actively chose Pobyedonostsyev's advice whereas his son had it forced upon him at a very young age.

One of the very first acts of Alexander III's  reign was to overturn all his father's moves towards consultive commissions to the monarchy. However for me the single most disastrous act of his reign was the creation of the 'land captains' a move that effectively tried to reverse the Emancipation Act and led to the suppression of the 'Zemstvo' local elective councils. This in my opinion is what in turn led to the Revolution of 1905.

It was Alexander III also who introduced the policies of Pan-slavism, which in essence was why his son was drawn into WW1. Alexander III again under Pobyedonostsyev's influence brought in the 1882 May laws' that were effectively state sponsored anti semitism.

As a father he again chose Pobyedonostsyev as Nicholas's tutor to ensure his son was brainwashed with this ideology. At the same time he completely undermined Nicholas and in fact all his son's confidence in their own abilities. The result being that by the time he died suddenly in 1894, his son and heir was incapable of formulating his own thoughts and ideas and had no confidence other than to continue with what his father believed in. In fact Nicholas II had almost no personal confidence at all which was why he became so reliant on his wife.

Nicholas II's one act of defiance was to marry Alix of Hesse. Alexander III and his wife quite astutely recognised that Alix of Hesse was 'hysterical and unbalanced'. However their main objection was that she was German. Maria Feodorovna like the rest of the Danish royal family was militantly anti- german. I suspect this was the overriding reason why she was so hostile towards her daughter in law.

Russian court etiquette gave ritual precedence to a dowager over a consort, something Maria Feodorovna quite unnecessarily exerted to the letter over Alexandra. The thing I find most un forgivable with the Dowager Empress was her behaviour towards Alexandra after she (Alexandra) informed Nicholas's immediate family of Alexei's hemophilia just after the child almost died in the Spala incident of 1912. Rather than show sympathy and try to help, she betrayed her daughter in law's confidence by passing the information onto the wider court (and straight in to the hands of GD Vladimir and co) and then used it as further evidence to support the idea that as the mother was the carrier and a foreigner to boot (she obviously forgot she was not Russian herself) that it was all Alexandra's fault.

This coupled with the incredibly cynical move of marrying her youngest daughter to a known homosexual man twice the bride's age, shows her to have been extraordinarily lacking in empathy, compassion and decency. One also has to question her intellect as by allowing the court to know that her grandson would be unlikely to reach adulthood she severely undermined her son's regime and this must have been a factor in why as Tsarfan pointed out none of the constituent institutions wanted to support Nicholas II when the final crisis came.

On the other hand to give credit where its due, Alexandra, despite enormous provocation never once critiscised her mother in law. Also, so much emphasis is placed on Alexandra's shortcomings without taking into account the fact that Alexander III and his consort were so anti german that by time Alexandra arrived antipathy towards all things German was so established and prevalent both at court and in the wider populace as to make her a figure of resentment before she even set foot in Russia. WWI only exaggerated this and the last Empress was hated mostly because she was a German not because she was an inept communicator and ended up relying on a mystic etc although that of course compounded the situation.

I completely concur that Nicholas II was an inept ruler and that his unbalanced wife had undue influence and that this led to a system of governance epitomised by the 'magic comb' as Tsarfan so adroitly pointed out. I am also willing to concede that this coupled with the strains of WWI (which let us not forget resulted in Germany and Austria losing their monarchies) did in part most likely lead to the February Revolution of 1917.

However it cannot in my opinion adequately account for the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, the civil war of 1918-21 and the creation of the Soviet Union. For that Nicholas and Alexandra were only part or rather a continuation of the problem. The emancipation of the serfs being almost immediately followed by a repressive reactionary move to overturn all social reform brought into policy by Alexander III under Pobyedonostsyev's influence are in my opinion the root causes for that.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 22, 2012, 08:09:40 AM
In response to Tsarfan's posts re Alexander III and Maria Feodorovna , I have to say they are both very generous assessments.

I think the question of Alexander III's policies hits on a core question:  whether the revolution was brought on by too zealous a pursuit of the principles of autocracy or by too clumsy a use of those principles.

I am no fan of Alexander III's policies.  In fact, I give a guest lecture series at a local college on how too many centuries of autocratic rule in Russia created deeply-ingrained attitudes toward government and the governed that run as an unbroken current from autocracy through the soviet era into modern Russia.  And, believe me, I do not go easy on Alexander III (or Pobyedonostsyev, who gets prominent mention).

But in my earlier post I was responding to your suggestion that there would have been a revolution in the early 20th century even had Alexander III remained on the throne.  Of that I am not so sure.

The Russian people have submitted to incredible oppression and even cruelties by their rulers.  The Oprichniki of Ivan IV.  The mass intrusions on Russian life and customs of Peter the Great.  The creation and later expansion of the Pales of Settlement.  Furtive state sponsorship of the Black Hand.  The Red Terrors of Lenin and especially of Stalin.  The murder of journalists and the open rigging of voting under Putin.  So what western liberalism views as "bad" policies do not necessarily beget revolutions in Russia.

I did not say that I liked Alexander's policies on Russification, pan-slavism, anti-semitism, or industrialization.  I said I thought he had an ability to thread the needle in imposing brutish policies in a way that did not trigger an unmanageable backlash.


The difference being that Alexander III actively chose Pobyedonostsyev's advice whereas his son had it forced upon him at a very young age.

Having something forced on you at a young age does not mean that one is condemned to live with it all his life.  Many of Nicholas' predecessors rejected the policies and the ministers of their predecessors once they attained power.  In fact, the list is so long that I won't go over it here unless someone wants more information, but Alexander III himself is prominent on it.  (If Nicholas was going to revere his father so slavishly, it's a shame he didn't revere Alexander's determination to forge a different path from his predecessor.)  But Nicholas chose  not only to retain Pobyedonostsyev as an advisor but to make this extraordinarily vicious anti-semite Procurator of the Holy Synod.  If the argument is that Nicholas was too weak-willed to dump advisors whose advice he saw as flawed once he became master of his own fate, I think that rather bolsters the argument that Nicholas lacked the ability to thread any needles.


One of the very first acts of Alexander III's  reign was to overturn all his father's moves towards consultive commissions to the monarchy. However for me the single most disastrous act of his reign was the creation of the 'land captains' a move that effectively tried to reverse the Emancipation Act and led to the suppression of the 'Zemstvo' local elective councils. This in my opinion is what in turn led to the Revolution of 1905.

I agree with your assessment of the damage done by the Land Captains.  In an earlier post I mentioned them as a proximate cause of the revolution in the countryside.  But again, it raises the question of Nicholas' being responsible for his decisions to carry over his father's policies.  The Land Captains actually became the focus of the struggle during Nicholas' reign between the Petrine model and the Muscovite model of government.  On average, they were less educated, more reactionary, and more arbitrary than their bureaucratic counterparts.  There were repeated appeals to Nicholas from within his own bureaucracy prior to 1905 to abolish them, accompanied by warnings that they were undermining the prestige of and the loyalty to the monarchy in the countryside.  But Nicholas, who was leery of the liberalizing tendencies of his bureaucracy and felt the Land Captains would execute his will in the countryside more reliably, refused.

(Sorry.  Too long.  Gotta do another two-parter.)
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 22, 2012, 08:11:47 AM
(Continued from above)
Alexander III again under Pobyedonostsyev's influence brought in the 1882 May laws' that were effectively state sponsored anti semitism.

Agreed.  However, anti-semitism is hardly the stuff out of which revolutions arise in Russia.  In fact, as the summer offensive of 1917 approached and the troops began to desert in droves -- and particularly the troops of the northwestern theater who were the most "Bolshevized" -- they often stopped over to raid the liquor stores of the towns through which they passed and then engaged in drunken massacres of the local Jews.  Even in modern Russia, for all its ostensible rejection of tsarism, anti-semitism is alive and well.  Some of the recent writings that have come from within the resurgent Orthodox Church have been truly astonishing to those who aren't acquainted with the deep undercurrents of anti-semitism in Russian society.


Nicholas II's one act of defiance was to marry Alix of Hesse. Alexander III and his wife quite astutely recognised that Alix of Hesse was 'hysterical and unbalanced'. However their main objection was that she was German. Maria Feodorovna like the rest of the Danish royal family was militantly anti- german. I suspect this was the overriding reason why she was so hostile towards her daughter in law . . . .  The thing I find most un forgivable with the Dowager Empress was her behaviour towards Alexandra after she (Alexandra) informed Nicholas's immediate family of Alexei's hemophilia just after the child almost died in the Spala incident of 1912. Rather than show sympathy and try to help, she betrayed her daughter in law's confidence by passing the information onto the wider court (and straight in to the hands of GD Vladimir and co) and then used it as further evidence to support the idea that as the mother was the carrier and a foreigner to boot (she obviously forgot she was not Russian herself) that it was all Alexandra's fault.

We had quite an interesting discussion on this forum a few years back about how widespread the knowledge of Alexis' hemophilia actually was.  It turns out that what Nicholas and Alexandra thought was a huge state secret was anything but.  In fact, the western press, particularly in England, was reporting by 1912 that the "royal disease of Victoria" had been visited upon the Romanovs.

But there was something even more interesting.  It turns out that before the time of Nicholas and Alexandra's engagement the medical community was aware that hemophilia was a genetic disease, that it was transmitted by female carriers, and that it was showing up in the offspring of Victoria's daughters.  And, while the Romanov name was not yet connected to the disease, the British press was reporting openly at the time on its presence among the British royal house.

Any royal marriage as significant as that of a Russian tsesarevitch would have been the object of scrutiny from many quarters.  There would have been discussions in the diplomatic community of Europe.  There would have been discussions among the medical community that served the imperial family, as the bride's ability to bear children was a matter of state concern.  I therefore think it was highly likely that Alexander and Marie were apprised of the possibility that Alexandra could introduce hemophilia into the Russian royal line and that this was one of their objections to Nicholas' marrying her.  Given the intensely sensitive nature of such discussions, I do not think it surprising that such discussions -- if they occurred -- were not captured in the personal correspondence of the time.  But I simply do not find it tenable that knowledge of such a condition, known to run in Victoria's female line and openly discussed in the press, would not have been passed along to Alexander and Marie by their diplomats or their doctors.

And, if my suspicions are true, I think it goes a long way toward explaining the exaggerated guilt and the accompanying hysteria of Alexandra when Alexei was diagnosed and the admittedly nasty behavior of Marie when the Spala attack dashed the last shreds of hope of containing a story that had long been a source of friction and embarrassment inside the senior family.  Alexandra had simply done that one thing which was the most damaging thing a female could do to a royal house  burdened by the Succession Law of Paul -- she had made male succession incredibly problematic (not to mention making her daughters less attractive in the marriage market).  In short, the Romanov genetic currency became highly devalued.

As for the rest of your points about Marie, I agree with you.  While I still maintain that she was an effective empress and was particularly savvy in pressing upon Nicholas the need to retain Stolypin when he was under full attack by Alexandra and Rasputin, she was a nasty little piece of work in her own ways.  (In fact, I recently read Julia Gelardi's book on the four senior Romanov women, and Olga of Greece is about the only remotely likable one in the bunch.)
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on June 22, 2012, 09:41:54 AM
Quote
But there was something even more interesting.  It turns out that before the time of Nicholas and Alexandra's engagement the medical community was aware that hemophilia was a genetic disease, that it was transmitted by female carriers, and that it was showing up in the offspring of Victoria's daughters.  And, while the Romanov name was not yet connected to the disease, the British press was reporting openly at the time on its presence among the British royal house.

This is a helpful piece of information to consider as we had a rather lengthy discussion on the topic in the "mini-series project" thread. It was difficult constructing the necessary scene where doctors reveal to N&A that their son is inflicted with the Royal Disease. We disagreed on the level of prior knowledge the Imperial couple had of Alix's potentially transmitted disease. There was just so much to consider...

1) Was Alexandra perfectly aware of the risk of passing the disease on to her son?
      A) If so did she also make Nicholas aware?
      B) If so were Nicholas's parents also aware?
      C) And if so why did Alexander and Marie ultimately acquiesce to the marriage?
      D) Did they assume the couple would end up having several boys and that at least one of them would be healthy enough to assume the throne if and when necessary?

2) Was Alexandra aware but believed it only to be a remote possibility that her son could inherit the disease?
      A) If so was Nicholas never made fully aware of the risk?
      B) If so were his parents also pretty much in the dark about it?
      C) Did giving birth to four healthy daughters prior to Alexei equip the Empress with a false sense of confidence (ignorance)?
      D) If so were N&A subsequently shocked, even though they were aware of some risk, when their son's illness was revealed?

3) Was Alexandra completely unaware that her son could have inherited the disease through her?
      A) If so, Nicholas too would almost certainly have been ignorant of the risk.
      B) It's also likely his parents were unaware, or at least unconcerned, as well.
      C) Therefore Alexei's illness, especially coming after the births of four healthy daughters, was a complete shock to the family.

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Any royal marriage as significant as that of a Russian tsesarevitch would have been the object of scrutiny from many quarters.  There would have been discussions in the diplomatic community of Europe.  There would have been discussions among the medical community that served the imperial family, as the bride's ability to bear children was a matter of state concern.  I therefore think it was highly likely that Alexander and Marie were apprised of the possibility that Alexandra could introduce hemophilia into the Russian royal line and that this was one of their objections to Nicholas' marrying her.  Given the intensely sensitive nature of such discussions, I do not think it surprising that such discussions -- if they occurred -- were not captured in the personal correspondence of the time.  But I simply do not find it tenable that knowledge of such a condition, known to run in Victoria's female line and openly discussed in the press, would not have been passed along to Alexander and Marie by their diplomats or their doctors.

On the surface this all makes sense...but because it does I'm baffled that even in his deteriorating state Alexander III could have allowed his son to jeopardize the line of succession by choosing to marry a woman carrying such a disease. I can see how because of the seriousness of the discussions, as you mentioned, that they were kept secret and not written down. But can we really imagine that discussion? Nicholas chatting with dear old mom and dad of his desire to marry the German princess. "Oh Nicky it's not that we think ill of her, just that you are one day to become a Tsar and one your responsibilities is to sire and heir to throne...Princess Alix places that in jeopardy because of the disease she might be carrying."

What could Nicholas have said in respond to that? "I don't care, I love her and want to marry her." Does really sound like the behavior of a person who so idolized and attempted to mirror his entire reign after his father? Also what was Marie's reaction after Alexei's birth and the revelation of his debilitating illness? Seems to me that, not caring for Alexandra to begin with, she would have taken the "I told you so" approach. Heartbroken and perhaps not the least bit angry and her son ignoring the advice of his mother and father years ago.

I know Marie had considered younger brother Michael a better fit for the throne than Nicholas, but are we talking about the possibility of a Alexander-Marie conspiracy? Did they allow for their son to marry Alix knowing full well that the couple may give birth to an invalid son because they were comfortable with one of the following... A) One or more male children given birth to and inflicted with the illness would never live to see adulthood anyway, but that was palatable since the throne would be occupied by a healthy Romanov male through the line of succession. B) Even if the infected heir did succeed to the throne they would likely abdicate in favor of either a living younger brother of Nicholas, a younger brother born healthy, or a Romanov cousin. C) Despite the risk there was still a chance a N&A could give birth to a healthy heir.

Do we have anything or think anything of this?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 22, 2012, 10:18:37 AM
I hope I'm not taking this thread off track into hemophilia, but I would like to repost an old post of mine from 2005 on this board:


I think there's a timeline to this argument, too.  I agree that when Leopold's hemophilia was publicized in the medical press in 1868, it would probably have been of interest to but a few specialists.  However, the fact that the diagnosis warranted publication in one of the leading medical journals of the day indicates that it was viewed as significant by those specialists.

When Frederick was diagnosed five years later, however, I think the situation would have changed.  The disease, which was usually fatal in that era, was known by the medical community to be passed hereditarily.  Now two of Victoria's progeny had the disease.

Then Waldemar (who bled to death at age four) was diagnosed.  At that point, two of Alice's progeny were known to have had the disease -- i.e., one of her three sons and the first of her grandsons.  So there could have been no doubt by the time of Alix' engagement that her mother was a carrier.  In fact, fully half of Alice's male descendants had presented with hemophilia by the time of Alix' engagement.  (Eventually three of Alice's six grandsons were to have the disease.)

How likely is it that the community of doctors who took care of the royal family would not have understood the significance of that and at some point raised the issue with Victoria and others in the family?  I think it very unlikely.

The more difficult question for me is whether Alexander III and Marie Feodorovna would have been alerted.

I do not know what specific inquiry they ordered into Alix' suitability.  What I do know from studying European monarchical history is that it was almost universal practice to thoroughly investigate the backgrounds of candidates for marriage into the direct line of succession to a throne.  Geneaology was examined.  The diplomatic corps was asked to scour the landscape for rumor and innuendo that might signal incipient problems that could later erupt into significance.  Direct and lateral lines were checked for hints of such "family" diseases as madness or "melancholy".  (Remember that, even as early as Leopold's diagnosis, when Victoria protested that the disease could not have come from her, rumors became widespread in diplomatic circles about the "curse of the Coburgs".)

Would it have really gone unnoticed and unreported to Alexander and Marie that Alix' uncle, brother, and first-born nephew had the "bleeding disease"?



As I re-read this post, I renew my suspicion that Alexander and Marie knew about the risk of hemophilia Alexandra was bringing into the family.

Why would Nicholas still have persisted in the engagement?  Well, he would not be the first 20-something who, in the throes of new love, threw caution and all good advice to the wind.  The young have an amazing ability to convince themselves that they will beat the odds in life.

And why would a rapidly-failing Alexander agree to let this risk enter the family?  Well, because Nicholas was going to be master of the choice soon, anyway, with Alexander knowing his death was looming.  Perhaps he just decided to go to his grave having conferred a blessing on his son for something his son was going to do in any case.

Now I'm going to say no more about hemophilia on this thread, as I do not want to derail the original topic.  I certainly might be wrong in my suspicion, and I'm willing to pursue the discussion further on a thread dedicated to the topic of hemophilia.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Vanya Ivanova on June 22, 2012, 10:24:00 AM
As Tsarfan stated the fact that there is no evidence that such discussions took place in the correspondence of those involved could perhaps be due to its sensitive nature. There's no evidence of such discussions either when Ella married into the Romanovs, or for the marriages of Irene and Victoria. However Alix's match was much more high profile. As a result though any discussion of what they did or didn't know about hemophilia before Alexei was born is pure conjecture.

In my opinion its best avoided unless any 'evidence' to support it comes to light. My own personal view is that the reason there is no documentary evidence of this subject being broached before Alexei was born was because it didn't happen and that Alexei and then the two Spanish princes were what brought the full extent of the disease to everyone's attention. Mainly because none of the previous victims had been high profile heirs.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 22, 2012, 10:57:59 AM
My own personal view is that the reason there is no documentary evidence of this subject being broached before Alexei was born was because it didn't happen and that Alexei and then the two Spanish princes were what brought the full extent of the disease to everyone's attention. Mainly because none of the previous victims had been high profile heirs.

Sorry.  I know I'm persisting in taking us off track, but . . . .

By the time of Alexei's birth four of Victoria's nine male descendants -- almost 50% -- were already known to be hemophiliac (Leopold, Friedrich, Waldemar, and Heinrich).  The related royals, even the very senior ones, maintained extensive family correspondence across national lines, and this correspondence was full of chatty gossip about the rather inconsequential doings of nieces, nephews, and cousins who had no dynastic significance.  While I am not aware of any correspondence which referred to Alexander's and Marie's knowing Princess Alix was a carrier prior to her marriage to Nicholas, there is  extant written correspondence among the family about hemophilia as it was showing up.

I think it quite possible that at the time of Ella's marrying into the Romanov family in 1884 -- ten years before Alexandra's engagement and into a branch not in direct line of succession (and to a Grand Duke who was thought to be homosexual, to boot) -- there would have been no focus on hemophilia.

I think that ten years later -- with the intervening additional death of Leopold due to hemophilia and the fact that Alexandra was to produce an heir -- it was much more likely that there was concern raised privately about hemophilia.

But I find it almost inconceivable that by 1904 the fact that almost half of Victoria's male descendants were being born with hemophilia would have drawn no attention from the Russian royals who were looking to Alexandra for an heir (except, of course, for Marie Pavlovna and Kyril, who would just as soon she not be accommodating).  
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Kalafrana on June 22, 2012, 11:20:51 AM
Leopold died in March 1884, shortly before Ella's marriage. Waldemar was then born in 1889 - here was one of Alexandra's sisters producing a haemophiliac heir, only confirming any suspicions that the disease had appeared in Alice of Hesse's descendants. In addition, VMH's eldest daughter Alice was deaf.

Surely there would be some alarm bells.

Ann
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 22, 2012, 04:19:15 PM
One would think so, but hope springs eternal.  I know many families who have a disability gene and yet no one stops having kids or stops marrying because they are afraid of that disability reaching into the next generation.

I know that hemophilia was fairly well understood, but not so well understood that it would cause fear in marriages.  Even if 50% of Victoria's male descendants died as a result of the disease, she also had other healthy male descendants.  Anyone young and in love would think "that doesn't mean me" and go ahead with plans.

Also, it was mentioned that Alice Battenberg was deaf, but that isn't a symptom of hemophilia and it didn't stop Prince Andrew of Greece from marrying her or Princess Elizabeth (now queen) from marrying Prince Philip. I was wondering if Alice's deafness was a result of a mild case of measles either during the pregnancy of her mother or perhaps a mild case of her own during childhood that was not properly diagnosed.

I have always said that neither Dagmar nor Alix kept in mind where they originally came from. Dagmar's family was a "poor relation" of the Danish Royal Family and Alix's family was also not on the rich or winning side of the Prussian Family tree.

They both let their improvement in social status go to their heads. Dagmar forgot that she had to have help when she married Alexander III. And the whole "hatred of Germans" thing over the duchies of Schleswig-Holstein was carried just too far by both Queen Alexandra and Dagmar of Denmark.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on June 22, 2012, 04:38:12 PM
The hemophilia gene seems to be extinct now.  None of the current Windsor's have it.  Of course, even if they did, it is manageable now.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Kalafrana on June 23, 2012, 08:46:24 AM
Deafness has nothing to do with haemophilia, so far as I know, but some cases are hereditary, and that would be another reason for Nicholas's parents being against his marrying Alexandra. I would agree that young people in love tend to discount the possibility of inherited disease, but their parents might well think differently.

Interestingly, I have just finished reading Philip Eade's book 'Young Prince Philip' (very interesting read). There were concerns about his parents marrying, mainly because they were both very young - when they met and fell in love Andrew was 20 and Alice 17. As to whether Alice's deafness was a concern, Andrew had four elder brothers, of whom Crown Prince Constantine also had quite a quiverfull of sons, so the chance of Andrew or his children coming into the Greek succession were remote.

Ann
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on June 23, 2012, 04:52:30 PM
I take it, Ann, that this book is about the current Prince Philip.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Kalafrana on June 24, 2012, 01:25:27 AM
'Young Prince Philip' is indeed about the Duke of Edinburgh, and covers his life up to the coronation in 1953.

Ann
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Vanya Ivanova on June 24, 2012, 11:45:34 AM
Going back to Nicholas II, I have found some of the recent posts on this subject absolutely fascinating and informative. My overview that the 'Cause and effect' of the Russian Revolution was not all located in Nicholas II's reign however has not fundamentally changed.

In essence my view is ( I appreciate I sound like a stuck record here) that to fully understand the cause and effect of the Russian Revolution, you have to look at the reigns of his predecessors aswell. You also have to look at the history and influence of the Orthodox church.

By the middle of the 19th century whilst all the other major European powers had long established forms of broadly representational government and industrialisation, Russia still had 85% of her of populace in enslavement. I have to state that again, 85%! With the stroke of a pen (notably not a gun or a sword) the Emancipation Act of 1861 transformed the overwhelming majority of Russians from slaves to citizens ( in theory at least) literally overnight.

This grotesque status quo had been held in place by brute force but also and perhaps more so by religious dogma. By the end of the 18th century serfdom in Russia had started to become an embarassment to its rulers. The scale of the Russian Empire combined with this grotesque social imbalance meant that the Tsar's were utterly reliant on the nobility to govern their vast dominions and repeated attempts to tackle the issue of the serfs as far back as Alexander I and Nicholas I were not carried out because neither of those Tsars felt able to stand up to the nobility. In this respect there was a direct correlation between pre revoltionary France and Russia in that an autocratic monarch was reliant on but not able to control a bloated and corrupt nobility.

One can excuse Alexander I and Nicholas I ( perhaps Nicholas I more so after the Decembrist Revolt and for the fact that he also lacked Alexander I's intellect) for not having tackled the issue for various reasons. However my argument is that because these Tsars allowed serfdom to continue well into the 19th century irrevocable harm was done to Russia. Alexander II's assassination meant that the first Tsar since Peter the Great, with enough vision and intellect to try to take the country in hand died before his policies could be fully enacted.

The Emancipation Act had given 85% of Russia's population expectations. Expectations and a sense of entitlement. Even if those were not met and their lives in material terms changed little after the Act the all powerful human ideals of freedom and citizenship had been 'let out of the bottle' as it were.

Then in steps Alexander III, an intellectually impoverished reactionary who unfortunately combined these failings with energy, confidence and determination. Alexander II had also set in motion as discussed a radical program of industrialisation for Russia, but unlike his son and grandson, he intended to combine that with socially progressive policies.

Alexander III set in motion the promotion of industrialisation (ie harsher working conditions) with the regression of social reforms ( the dismantling of former Tsar's policies to allow some level of local autonomy/representative governance).

The end of Alexander III's reign coincided with the end of the 19th century, a century that had seen Russia simmer and boil with seismic social change and conflict. In my opinion the country was due to explode because in one generation 85% of the populace had been given the hope and expectation of freedom that had then been in real terms then thwarted and denied.

Nicholas II blindly continued his father's regressive policies with vigour aided and abetted by his emotionally unbalanced wife. Owing to his son's illness and his wife's nationality and mental health the couple became extremely isolated which futher damaged Nicholas II's already weak judgement. This situation was brought to a head by WWI. My whole point is that by the turn of the 20th century Russia was already on an inevitably violent and momentus collision course between two idealogies. Nicholas II's failings undoubtedly helped to accelerate this but he cannot be blamed alone for its creation.

The speed at which the monarchy crumpled is testimony in my opinion to the fact that the institution's foundations had been eroded long before Nicholas II even came to throne. Its all well and good to say if Nicholas had been a more able ruler etc that the revolution might not have happended and to concentrate on his wife's influence. For me that's a gross oversimplification. Alexander III handed his son a time bomb that was set ticking at the start of the 19th century. The end of the regime came about on Nicholas II's watch as it were and so its only natural to concentrate on his failing alone.

To concentrate on hysterical empresses and mad monks is to do an injustice to the millions of people who fought tooth and nail for basic freedoms we take for granted. Nicholas and Alexandra's delusional inflexability did however increase the chasm of anarchy that resulted when that collision came. That chaos led to the Soviet Union. Nicholas and Alexandra compounded a pre existing situation they did not create it.

 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on June 24, 2012, 12:26:44 PM
Excellent analysis, Vanya. I tend to agree with you whole heartedly. IMO, the causes for the revolution had much to do with the past record rather than the romantic drama of NII's family., As you said. Also, the role of the nobility  is all too often overlooked. Especially, with all of their representative powers, they were, essentially absentee land lords.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 24, 2012, 01:51:46 PM
My overview that the 'Cause and effect' of the Russian Revolution was not all located in Nicholas II's reign however has not fundamentally changed.

Nor should it, as I think you are fundamentally right.  There is absolutely no question that Nicholas did not create the tensions in Russian society that helped bring about the collapse of tsarism.  But I believe that is a different question from whether those tensions would have inevitably caused a revolution had Nicholas not made the astonishing array of mistakes in 1915-17.

And here is my main reason for saying this:  the soviet government which followed the tsarist era continued for almost a century all of the oppressive policies that you seem to feel would have caused a revolution against a more competent tsar than Nicholas.  

Lenin's Cheka in the early 20th century and Andropov's Fifth Directorate in the later 20th century were direct lineal descendants of Ivan IV's Oprichniki, of Peter the Great's Fiscals, of Nicholas I's Third Section, of Alexander II's Okhrana, and of Nicholas II's Black Hundreds.  If the revolution had been because the Russian population would not tolerate a police state, then a police state would have ended with Nicholas II.

If the Russian people by 1917 had had enough of secret government operations and government servants with personal loyalties to the leader instead of to the people and to principles of free government, then Putin and his Soloviki would not be running Russia today.

If the freed Russian peasantry would accept nothing less than acquiring ownership of the gentry lands, then the agricultural collectivization of the soviet era would have been impossible.

If famine and desperation would beget a revolution in Russia, then Lenin would have fallen with the Povolzhye famine of 1921-22 that killed five million people.

If the Russian people had lost their tolerance by 1917 for an economy managed for the good of the state and a few cronies close to the center of power instead of for the economic betterment of its citizenry, then the forced relocations , the labor conscription, the establishment and direction of factories by the state, the state monopolies, state determination of who studied what by the tsars would not have continued unabated (and imposed under Stalin with a fury unseen since Ivan III and Peter the Great) with the thirteen 5-Year Plans of the soviet era, the secret cities of the Cold War, and the cynical abandonment of those economic wastelands and their squalor-ridden populations by the Putin era.

If the Russian people were no longer willing to tolerate the ownership of the land and its natural resources by the few, then the oil, gas, and mining oligarchs of this new century would have no purchase at rigged state auctions.

If the Russian people of 1917 demanded open government, freely elected, then a former KGB agent would not have managed to suppress other parties through fair means and foul to build a new personal dynasty since 1999.

If the Russian people were prepared to turn their backs on anti-semitism and the concept of mystical power joined with state power to run their lives, then there would not be the resurgence of the Orthodox Church in Russia today accompanied by the orgy of church building and restoration supported by the government . . . or the blatant maneuvering of Putin's government to associate itself in the popular mind with the legacy of the tsars.

In fact, by summer of 1917 every liberal and almost every leftist party in Russia, including the Petersburg Soviet, had become thoroughly disgusted with the aspirations of the Russian workers and peasants and were doing everything to avoid taking control of Russia.  When the 20,000 workers, soldiers, and sailors gathered outside the Tauride Palace in July of that year to beg the Soviet to take the government out of the hands of the Provisional government, the Soviet leaders were literally hiding under desks.  Even Maxim Gorky, who had once funded the Bolsheviks' underground operations, had turned his back on the revolution.

Had it not been for the diabolically slippery presence of the uncannily lucky Lenin behind the scenes, Bolshevism could well have ended that summer, and the July uprising of that summer could well have turned the tide toward successful counter-revolution.  On July 18, Kerensky -- at the height of his nation-wide popularity and actively seeking rapprochement with the rightist Kadets -- moved into the Winter Palace, setting up his office in Alexander III's suite, putting his tuckus to bed in the imperial bedroom, and pulling the billiard table that was being packed to send with Nicholas to Tobolsk back for his own use.

I do not accept the Tolstoyan view that history is a great tidal wave of inevitability, little impacted by individuals.  I think Nicholas II made a revolution for himself that could have been avoided short of reengineering Russia's entire political system.  And I think that revolution could easily have failed but for Lenin's presence in the mix in 1917.

(continued below)
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 24, 2012, 01:52:30 PM
(continued from above)

You also have to look at the history and influence of the Orthodox church . . . .  Russia still had 85% of her of populace in enslavement . . . .  By the end of the 18th century serfdom in Russia had started to become an embarassment to its rulers . . . repeated attempts to tackle the issue of the serfs as far back as Alexander I and Nicholas I

The Orthodox Church was itself a serf holder, with 5% of the Russian people owned by the Church at the time of emancipation.  Nevertheless, I would argue that the problem was not the Orthodox Church's influence on government policy, but rather the control by the government of the Church.  For all intents and purposes, since 1721 the Orthodox Church had become a department of the state, with the Holy Synod acting as a Ministry of Religion.  While I understand Peter's reasons for subjugating the Church to the autocracy, it did have the disastrous effect of removing the one institution in Russia that -- in the right hands -- could have exerted a braking effect on the excesses of autocratic power.

I think the embarrassment pre-dates the end of the 18th century.  One of Catherine II's first acts as empress in 1762 was to reverse Peter the Great's policy of creating industrial serfs and to forbid factory and mine owners from purchasing serfs unless as part of a purchase of land to which serfs were already attached.  Of course, she quickly got her hands burned, but she nevertheless persisted in having General Vyazemsky -- who was sent in to quell the resulting unrest -- report to her candidly on the serf complaints with an eye to addressing them.  However, caught as she was between having to maintain the nobility's support of what was (let's face it) an illegitimate reign and wanting to pursue Enlightenment principles in dealing with serfs, Catherine entered a prolonged period of schizophrenic policies regarding serfdom which promptly ended with the Pugachev rebellion in a fresh certainty not to tamper with what she came finally to view as an evil but an inevitable condition of Russian national life.


Alexander II had also set in motion as discussed a radical program of industrialisation for Russia, but unlike his son and grandson, he intended to combine that with socially progressive policies . . . .  Alexander III set in motion the promotion of industrialisation (ie harsher working conditions) with the regression of social reforms ( the dismantling of former Tsar's policies to allow some level of local autonomy/representative governance).

True, Alexander III was anything but a social reformer.  However, he did actually follow Bismarck's example in trying to defuse social pressures arising from industrialization through a range of worker welfare laws, including limiting work hours, proscribing child labor, providing rudimentary social insurance, and establishing a cadre of factory inspectors to enforce the regulations.  It was Nicholas II who unwound much of this scheme.

But I think one has to be very careful in throwing industrial working conditions and local political autonomy in the countryside into the same policy hopper.  Despite the two-way conveyor belt of seasonal migration between farm and factory, the urban industrial workers and the peasants who stayed on the land (as most did) had different economic interests, they soon came to have different levels of education, and they tended to coalesce into very different political parties with very different priorities and agendas.  One of the unbridgeable gaps that fragmented the socialist and communist movements from the 1890's on was differing views on industrial policy and peasant policy.

And Lenin's utter -- and I do mean utter -- contempt for the humane treatment of individual workers and peasants actually surpassed anything I have ever found in the attitudes of any of the tsars, excepting perhaps Ivan III, Ivan IV, and Peter I.  Yet Lenin's policies toward both set the stage for seven decades of rule that died not with a revolution, but with a sigh and a whimper.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on June 24, 2012, 05:24:05 PM
             I find this thread very informative but I must say it tends to overlook one glaring inconvenient fact, the advent of WWI. Further, as I have previously mentioned in other threads, it overlooks economic developments that were taking place through the end of the 19th and into the early 20th century in Russia.  Finally, I believe it overstates AIII's faults and overlooks some of his positive qualities.

As for the first, the army (along with the church and the nobility) was a major support of the government. WWI changed the complexion of the army bringing in a large number of politicized conscripts which coupled with early reverses demoralized the rank and file and ultimately some (but not the majority) of the officer corps including some of the general staff resulting in a breakdown in discipline. Had Russia not entered into WWI I doubt there would have been a revolution. Furthermore, I believe that had AIII not died so early, as an avowed nationalist who was not so enamored with the British and French, he would have kept Russia out of the war (further, I think he would have had a better chance of putting the brakes on Wilhelm’s more aggressive impulses).

Next, one must put Russia's development in context of the world around it. While perhaps supported if one confines oneself to a Eurocentric world view, I think it's an inconvenient fact to the serfdom analysis that Russia emancipated its serfs before America emancipated its slaves. What is important in my view was the RATE of industrialization taking place in Russia when compared to other industrialized countries. In one generation Russia was in the process of overtaking well developed countries that had the benefit of an extended period to allow the development of a proletariat adjusted to 19th century factory conditions.  Also, factory conditions in Russia were not that different from those in the United States or England at that time. However, as was mentioned, in Russia a permanent industrial working class was only in the early stages of development. Instead you had peasants shuttling between the country and the cities creating an understandable social identity crisis (viz., Durkheim).

While AIII was certainly conservative, on the other hand he was not as one-dimensional as perhaps liberal historians would like to believe. One has only to read Witte’s memoirs to appreciate AIII’s better qualities. By the way, having one’s father blown up by anarchists is not a recommendation for a liberal outlook. Just recently a statue of AIII was unveiled in Novosibirsk in recognition of AIII’s efforts to construct the Trans-Siberian Railroad that opened up the vast Russian hinterland not unlike what happened in the U.S. several decades earlier.  Industrialization in Russia were it to have been allowed to run its course undisturbed could have developed an extensive middle class which ultimately would have asserted itself and in my view would have moved Russia towards a constitutional monarchy.  In this regard if AIII’s reign was extended and not cut short I believe it would have had an overall positive impact on Russia’s development.  I await Margarita Nelipa’s biography of AIII with great anticipation because I believe it’s time for a reevaluation of the man and his policies.

Finally, there is the matter of Russian cultural history. I believe that there is such a thing as a national identity shaped by history. As the gateway to Europe, Russia has had a long history of invasion and occupation (viz., the Mongol invasion) , which has resulted in a natural predilection for stability and safety. This, coupled with a long agrarian history, has resulted in an inherent conservative stoic outlook in a people resistant to change which is willing to exchange personal liberty for order embodied in a strong central government (interrupted by periodic rebellions). While this does not fit the accepted western view of the preferred form of government, it might explain why even at this late date after all the horrid disclosures almost 50% of the Russian people consider Stalin a great leader, a “Vozhd”, and Putin enjoys some measure of grudging popularity.  By the way, for westerners this stoicism seems incomprehensible but one needs only read Dostoyevsky to understand the Russian belief that only through suffering does one achieve redemption.                         
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 24, 2012, 10:55:07 PM
I find this thread very informative but I must say it tends to overlook one glaring inconvenient fact, the advent of WWI.  Further, as I have previously mentioned in other threads, it overlooks economic developments that were taking place through the end of the 19th and into the early 20th century in Russia.  Finally, I believe it overstates AIII's faults and overlooks some of his positive qualities.

I think one must distinguish between things that can fuel a revolution and things that can ignite one.  While I agree with Vanya that the fuel of revolution was building throughout the second half of the 19th century (I would actually put the date back to the reign of Ivan III in broad terms and to the reign of Nicholas I in more specific terms), I think the ignition sparks came from Nicholas II . . . and his wars.  It is no coincidence that the revolutions of 1905-06 and of 1917 followed on the heels of catastrophic military reversals.

While I tend to be perhaps a bit less positive than you on Alexander III's reign -- particularly his aggressive anti-semitism and the political manifestations of his Russification -- I do agree that his reign was not the rule of the devil incarnate.  And I think you are right that Alexander III might well have avoided Russia's getting pulled into WWI.  (I would add that he certainly would have shut down the clamor in court circles to launch the Russo-Japanese war.)

I also agree that rapid industrialization was not, in and of itself, a catalyst for revolution in Russia.  Moreover, as I have posted at least twice on this thread, I think Alexander was actually pursuing policies to ameliorate its worst depredations on the people -- policies that were dangerously reversed by his son.  One of the things that is often misunderstood is that many peasants migrated to urban factory work not because they had to, but because they wanted to.  Conditions were often harsh, but for many jobs -- especially tool- and die-making -- the factory owners needed workers with more education than the village commune offered.  As a result many peasants migrating into the cities were taught to read and to do basic math, and with that they developed a taste for self-improvement that actually became something of a fad among the younger workers.  This very quickly mushroomed into reading rooms, into worker-oriented newspapers, into Sunday lecture series and, finally, into political organization for collective advancement of their interests.  The diaries and correspondence of many of the workers who became prominent revolutionaries in the 1910's reveal young men in the 1890's and 1900's who made enough money to send some back to their families, who had enough free time to visit reading rooms and attend lectures and, rather charmingly, took pride in their ability to don the fashions of the middle class and sport their budding sense of individual worth.

In fact, many of the peasants who first migrated to the factories for seasonal work later opted to stay in the cities, as they found themselves more out of step and less patient with the patriarchal narrow-mindedness of the village commune culture.  This became particularly prominent as a political phenomenon with Witte's and Stolypin's attempts at land reform.  Government policy was aimed at producing a new class of enterprising yeoman farmers by giving peasants financial assistance to buy land, funding for capital investments in modern equipment, and training in up-to-date crop rotation and farming methods.  While these attempts helped to build a small class of prosperous kulaks, the execution always fell short of government aims.  And the reason was that the peasants who had stayed on the land wanted nothing to do with such changes.  They simply wanted all the gentry landlords to be divested of their land, to have that land handed over to them, and to divide and farm it by the age-old customs of the village commune.  There were innumerable cases of both "citified" peasants returning to their villages (with factory money and factory education in their pockets) to try to take up progressive farming or of government agricultural agents sent in to train peasants on modern farming methods only to be falsely reported by villagers to the Land Captains as treasonous trouble-makers who were trying to foment revolution in the countryside.  (Later, in the civil war, this suspicion of progressive farming and resentment of the wealth it created was to manifest itself in the peasants' joining the Bolsheviks in murderously eliminating the entire class of kulaks.)

(continued below)
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 24, 2012, 10:55:55 PM
(continued from above)

In this regard if AIII’s reign was extended and not cut short I believe it would have had an overall positive impact on Russia’s development.  I await Margarita Nelipa’s biography of AIII with great anticipation because I believe it’s time for a reevaluation of the man and his policies.

I think it is quite possible that, had Alexander III lived longer, the take on his reign might be somewhat different.  However, the chances of his living a lot longer were not that good.  The average age of death of Romanov-era rulers was 44.  The one who lived longest (Catherine II) died at 67.

It is time for a balanced, comprehensive biography of Alexander III.  I hope an author who seems to accept the notion rather literally that a tsar ascended above the mortal sphere through the mystical power of the coronation ceremony can strike that balance.


Finally, there is the matter of Russian cultural history. I believe that there is such a thing as a national identity shaped by history. As the gateway to Europe, Russia has had a long history of invasion and occupation (viz., the Mongol invasion) , which has resulted in a natural predilection for stability and safety. This, coupled with a long agrarian history, has resulted in an inherent conservative stoic outlook in a people resistant to change which is willing to exchange personal liberty for order embodied in a strong central government (interrupted by periodic rebellions). While this does not fit the accepted western view of the preferred form of government, it might explain why even at this late date after all the horrid disclosures almost 50% of the Russian people consider Stalin a great leader, a “Vozhd”, and Putin enjoys some measure of grudging popularity.  By the way, for westerners this stoicism seems incomprehensible but one needs only read Dostoyevsky to understand the Russian belief that only through suffering does one achieve redemption.                         

This is the very reason that -- no matter how offensive to western liberal sensibilities the reigns of the tsars are -- i do not believe a revolution was ordained for Russia had Nicholas II not committed so many almost unbelievable blunders in the last two years of his reign.  If fact, several years ago on this forum there was some discussion about both Nicholas and Alexandra having been in the throes of cocaine addiction as a result of the opiates their physicians were providing to help them deal with stress and, in Alexandra's case, a hysteric personality disorder.  (Botkin himself once privately referred to the empress as "not normal" -- an absolutely extraordinary comment given how guarded the language would have been in referring to an unbalanced empress.)  For my money, it almost takes something like cocaine to explain some of the ham-fisted handling of things.

Russian literature is riddled with the tone of Dostoyevsky.  And I think the Russian character is marked by more than stoicism.  It is fatalistic resignation, engendered by centuries of a Church working hand in hand with tsars to convince the people that things are as God ordains them.  There is a passage from a very obscure novel, The Flames of Moscow, by the very obscure Russian author Ivan Lukash, written from exile in the 1920's.  I think it captures this point poignantly, as Lukash describes a simple soldier standing guard outside Emperor Paul's palace shortly before his murder:

"When Koshelev was on night duty at the barracks he often read the Bible, fitting a candle over the wooden box on which he sat.  He had never read the Bible before, and now, during those night readings, he began to grasp something new -- some humble and painful truth that he could not have put into words; he began to understand that men's talk about changing and improving life never comes true, that life is not in human hands and does not obey men's words and wishes; that the mysterious power of God is alone accomplished in everything that happens on earth."

And this view was not just that of a simple soldier bending over a box in a barracks.  It is the same perspective that informs Tolstoy's view of history as something driven by forces beyond the individual, whereby even the titans of history such as Napoleon do not create events but simply ride along on their tide.  It is a uniquely Russian view of the world.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Vanya Ivanova on June 25, 2012, 05:07:50 AM
I'm sorry but this belief that its just part of the 'Russian character' to actively want to be tyrannised is again a gross oversimplification and denial of the level of brutality and slaughter that has been employed against Russia's populace by its various leaders.

Lets take the Kulaks as an example.

Under Nicholas II, his minister Stolypin's land reforms (brought in to help quell the revolutionary ferment that raged across the country post 1905) brought into being a peasant middle class, the Kulaks. This was undeniable social progress brought about by revolutionary agitation.

After the Civil War ended, Lenin termed this new 'class' as enemies of socialism (or rather the farce that was Marxist-Leninism) but it wasn't until Stalin's collectivisation of farms in the 1930's that the sinister policy of 'DeKulakivisation' was brought into being. They resisted and so Stalin wiped them out. He didn't bring in policies to suppress them, he murdered them and stole their property and deliberately set out to do so from the start. An entire class, millions and millions of people. Simply because they got in the way of his Five Year Plans. The Kulaks DID resist, and killed livestock and destroyed crops rather than let the state take them but they were unarmed and un prepared for the scale of brutality unleashed upon them. They didnt fatalistically aquiesce to a tyrant, they were annihilated!!!!!

I agree with Tsarfan that Lenin's brand of 'Marxist- Leninism' can really be interpreted as the means (human rights abuses) justifies the end (staying in power and pretending you believe in Marxist ideals to justify everthing you do) charcaterised by the his NEP's. However it wasn't until Lenin's successor Rykov and Trotsky's 'United Opposition' were defeated by Stalin that there was a real end to any viable hope of genuine social reform in Russia. However ask most people today who Alexei Rykov was and you will most likely be met with a blank stare.

The one glaring omission from both Tsarfan and Petrs' analysis is Joseph Stalin. This was an individual who had only one ideal or belief, POWER.

Stalin's 'Reign' for it was that, was a reign of terror. As stated this started for ordinary Russians with the obliteration of the Kulaks, then for the army, and legislative with the 'Purges', personified by Beria and his infamous Lubyanka Prison. Stalin's montrous paranoia permeated every aspect of Russian life. He literally murdered anyone he felt vaguely threatened by and their granny, cousins and next door neighbour too just to be sure. He ensured there were no power structures to rival his own therefore returning Russia to the autocratic model of goverment. The brutality of his regime was unprecedented in not just Russian history but I would argue in its scale, human history.
 
However, Stalin's reign coincided with the Nazis invasion. They unleashed a similar level of brutality and slaughter upon the Russain people during their invasion. Stalin's successful defeat of the Nazis and the fact that his brutal policies did turn Russia into an industrial and military super power is the reason why he is still considered with any ambiguity in Russia today. He saved them from the Nazis and gave Russia status. Stalin of course made absolutely sure it was seen this way. A very good example of this being his immediate rebuilding of Leningrad's palaces and monuments in order to erase any testimony to the bravery and hardship suffered by the people of that city during the siege, lest their heroism rival his own.

After Stalin, began 'destalinisation' started by Krushchev and ending with Gorbachev and his perestroika policy, ie a move to re establsih some form of consultive governance. This led to the unarguably democratically elected Yeltsin. It genuinely seemed at this point that things might change but the moment Yeltsin came up against any resistance to his policies he decided to dispense with democracy. Again he was met by resistance, 187 people died trying to defend the parliament building in Moscow. Yeltsin's coup only succeeded because the army decided to support him and brutally repress resistance.

Under Putin, Yeltsin's Tsarevich, and from Stalinist nobility we have a very curious situation whereby he is obliged to maintain the facade of democracy. This in itself personally gives me hope and again many many Russians have and continue to die trying to resist the tyranny of this latest 'tsar'.
 
Therefore in my opinion the view that Russians are essentially all masochists who love nothing more than a bloody tyrant is also a form of 'western romanticism' although of the most vulgar variety.

I do however take Tsarfan's point that with regard to Nicholas II there is an issue of 'ignition' to a volatile situation as opposed to inevitability. Also in respect to Petr's point that Alexander III's reign was not entirely negative I also concede to some extent. His transgressions pale into insignificance against Lenin and Stalin's.

Nicholas II was always on the 'back foot' spending his entire reign reacting to the effects caused by his father's reactionary policies. He too was an active reactionary and his inflexibility on the point of the divinity of the autocracy meant there was nothing he a would rather than could have done to save the throne. There are compelling arguments that WWI actually delayed his demise not accelerated it but that's a whole other post.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Vanya Ivanova on June 25, 2012, 06:39:02 AM
As an aside both Tsarfan and Petr have illustrated their analysis by referring to the Russian literary giants of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, both these writers in my opinion are too preoccupied with their intensely personal struggles with religion and morality for their works to be an adequately balanced discussion of contemporary life in Russia on the cusp of revolution. Personally I have always preferred the more moderate Turgenev. For me his novel ' Fathers and Sons' is the most brillant evocation of the social conflict taking place in late 19th century Russia.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 25, 2012, 07:53:42 AM
I'm sorry but this belief that its just part of the 'Russian character' to actively want to be tyrannised is again a gross oversimplification and denial of the level of brutality and slaughter that has been employed against Russia's populace by its various leaders.

I think the term "Russian character" implies more than I have argued, as "character" implies something inborn or even genetic.  What I believe is that centuries of any form of government develop shared attitudes about government in a population which build up a huge momentum that keeps that form of government going unless and until a large force (or forces) build up to derail or redirect it.

Russian history, like any other nation's, has had large forces build up that could have dislodged -- and even came close to dislodging -- autocratic government.  I think emancipation and industrialization were certainly two of the largest such forces seen in Russian history.  However, in Russia those forces never quite built up enough of their own momentum to overcome the momentum of centuries of autocratic rule.

The result, I think, is a nation of people who simply crave to be left alone by their government rather than to participate in it.  Russians (and I'm speaking "on average" here) simply have no instilled cultural belief that government is something they should do for themselves and rather believe that government is something done to them.  This is one of the reasons that I think the dark comedy that ran between February and October 1917 was marked by one political party after another -- including the Soviet -- refusing to stand up and accept the responsibility of governing a nation descending into chaos.  Even the professional politicians did not think governing was their business.

If this were not so, I can simply make no sense of the fact that a nation of between 100 and 200 million people, having been freed of tsarism, would so quickly re-subjugate themselves to the cruel and dictatorial rule of the very few.

I absolutely agree with you that Stalin was just a tsar by a different name.  But it begs an enormous question:  how was Stalin able to arrogate this power to himself within a decade of a revolution that was meant to overthrow tsarism?

The book Kremlin Rising, which recounts Putin's rise to power, contains some fascinating and very disturbing data that suggest a level of political and social dysfunction at the national level that is simply astounding:

- with 171 deaths for every 100 births, Russia has the fastest population shrinkage in the industrialized world
- 40,000 Russians die of alcohol poisoning each year (double the 1988 rate)
- 17,000 Russians a year drown while drunk
- 2,400 Muscovites (200 a month) die by falling, jumping, or being pushed from windows
- males commit suicide at the second-highest rate in the world (behind only Lithuania)
- the average male lifespan is 58 years (behind Bangladesh and Bosnia)
- the tuberculosis rate is 30 times that of the U.S.
- the syphilis rate is 400 times that of western Europe

Heading into WWI 10% of the disposable income of the working classes was spent on vodka.  In fact, the government ban on vodka sales during WWI, in an attempt to reign in drunkenness, precipitated miniature crises both in government finance and troop discipline.  And in Russia, more than any other country, endemic wholesale drunkenness has been a public policy issue.  Russia even had its peculiar response to the problem -- the traditional vytrezvitel (sobering-up room) -- which the government in 1902 actually began to run as a state institution.

Like it or not, these are data that indicate a deep social psychosis at a national level and that actually put Russia at risk of becoming a failed nation.  One of the most disturbing but little-publicized facts is that three of China's most populous provinces border on a vast stretch of eastern Russia that contains some of the world's largest reserves of strategic minerals.  But that region is quickly emptying itself of Russians, having dropped in population by seven million in the past two decades.  If the current epic trend in Russia's population decline continues, even government estimates predict a drop from 144 million to 102 million by 2050 (and independent estimates put the figure as low as 77 million).  China and Russia are fast moving toward a population ratio of 10-to-1.  This is the kind of imbalance between power and command of vital resources that history often resolves with warfare.


Personally I have always preferred the more moderate Turgenev. For me his novel ' Fathers and Sons' is the most brillant evocation of the social conflict taking place in late 19th century Russia.

Nihilism?  Well, there you are.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Vanya Ivanova on June 25, 2012, 10:55:29 AM
Turgenev may have coined the phrase Nihilism and that is certainly what the main character of 'Fathers and Sons' is. However my understanding of the book is that it is a discussion of that 'malaise' in Russian society rather than a promotion of nihilist ideals. My personal view is that nihilism is not a credible/practicable politcial viewpoint. 'Father's and Sons' is not a promotion of Nihilism any more than 'Crime and Punishmen't is simply a promotion of anti semitism. Although I'm sure many people will argue that it is.

Tolstoy's 'christian anarchy' sadly has had much more influence outside Russia than inside it. I personally have immense admiration for Tolstoy's views and beliefs and they are far closer to my own than nihilism. My point was that Tolstoy's views were not (again sadly) a reflection of what was happening within the upper classes of Russia at that time in general rather what Tolstoy wanted to be happening.

Tsarfan makes the point that via a complex set of historical socio-economic and religious factors that Russia has developed and become habituated to a unique and seemingly indelible political 'footprint'. That being that Russians do not on the whole want to take an active role in their own governance and have become incapable of being governed in any way other than despotism. I apologise if that is not a correct assessment however.

Furthermore Stalin's rise to power is given as evidence of this along with Russia's current decline and debasement.

In my opinion the French Revolution has some useful parallels in this respect. The departure of the Bourbon's left France with a chasm in its former social structures that enabled a bold and brilliant but equally dangerous and despotic Napoleon to rise to power. In my opinion in a similar way the departure of the Romanov's so completely and so speedily from Russia's political scene also created a gap, chasm, choas in the social order that allowed the equally dangerous Stalin to rise to power. Both men appeared out of nowhere and just seized the opportunity. Stalin achieved and maintained his power as I have said only with an unprecedented level of barbarity not habituated aquiescence.

Nicholas II by resisting the social changes that were being pressed upon him by revoltionary agitation made the situation more explosive and violent. The violence brought with it chaos and disorder as opposed to the social reform that was desired. However the Revolutions of 1905 and 1917 are unequivocal proof that Russian's were and are capable of taking control of their own governance. As Tsarfan stated it was largely luck that enabled Lenin to win the Civil War. The Civil War is again proof positive that Russians are not incapable of taking or at least attempting to take control of their system of government. My own personal view as to why things have seemingly always been so barbaric in Russia is the sheer scale of the country. This has resulted in centralised goverment that is inherently isolated and remote from the majority of the populace. This scale has also led to extremes in order to tie the whole thing together.

I think the recent social unrest following Putin's latest 'election' also shows that there is still hope that Russia might yet one day throw off the yoke of despotism.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 25, 2012, 11:58:16 AM
My personal view is that nihilism is not a credible/practicable politcial viewpoint. 'Father's and Sons' is not a promotion of Nihilism any more than 'Crime and Punishmen't is simply a promotion of anti semitism.

Actually, Vanya, I had my tongue in my cheek when I made the comment about Turgenev.  Sorry . . . I just couldn't resist.


However the Revolutions of 1905 and 1917 are unequivocal proof that Russian's were and are capable of taking control of their own governance.

And Nicholas' success in eviscerating the constitutional reforms of 1906, the quick rise of Lenin and Stalin on the heels of revolution, and Putin's "managed democracy" are unequivocal proof that they are willing to hand it right back to autocrats and despots at the first opportunity.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on June 25, 2012, 12:03:22 PM
Quote
One of the most disturbing but little-publicized facts is that three of China's most populous provinces border on a vast stretch of eastern Russia that contains some of the world's largest reserves of strategic minerals.  But that region is quickly emptying itself of Russians, having dropped in population by seven million in the past two decades.  If the current epic trend in Russia's population decline continues, even government estimates predict a drop from 144 million to 102 million by 2050 (and independent estimates put the figure as low as 77 million).  China and Russia are fast moving toward a population ratio of 10-to-1.  This is the kind of imbalance between power and command of vital resources that history often resolves with warfare.

Sounds to me that China just has to bide its time, then it could move in and grab that whole area.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 25, 2012, 02:29:02 PM
Sounds to me that China just has to bide its time, then it could move in and grab that whole area.

This depopulation of Russia should be a very worrying trend for the western powers for several reasons.  In the first few years after the fall of communism, there was hope across the west that Russia was finally on the threshold of coming to the table of western liberalism with her vast natural resources, her scientific talent, her diplomatic clout, and her strategic location at the geographic and cultural junctures of the west, the mid-east, and China.

But Russia has always had a love-hate relationship with the west and something of an inferiority complex regarding it, and depopulation will feed into that.  She has already lost a third of the territory she controlled at the peak of tsarism due, in part, to the inability to contain nationalist movements in the post-soviet era.  And her responses to this -- virulent nationalism, xenophobia, resurgent anti-semitism, trying to build a bridge from the current regime back to the glories of the tsarist past, and even the rehabilitation of Nicholas II -- do not auger well.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on June 25, 2012, 03:19:04 PM
While off thread, actually in the Far East China's penetration of Russian Siberia is already a fact.  The number of Chinese businesses in Vladivostok, for example, is quite remarkable and there is much more north south trade than east west trade (other than for oil and gas) to the extent that China probably doesn't have to physically annex Siberia to get the same result.

I have just finished reading Peter Massie's biography of Catherine the Great and a leitmotif throughout the book was Catherine's realization that western theories of governance as epitomized back then in the works of Montesquieu, Diderot and Voltaire simply were inapplicable in Russia (a view hardened by the Pugachev Rebellion).  Personally, I believe a strong central government may be the only thing that works in a country which spans ten time zones with a population including over 20 different nationalities which don't espouse a "melting pot" ethos. In the past various reigns tried to address this through Russification programs (viz., NI and AIII) with mixed results. BTW, this is not an argument reserved for Russia but to a lesser extent is reflected here at home in the US, i.e., the tension between individual liberty (and/or states' rights) and the role of a powerful central government (viz., Hamilton vs. Jefferson, Jackson vs. Biddle and the National Bank, Douglas vs. Lincoln, Roosevelt vs. Henry Cabot Lodge and the Supreme Court, and in today's manifestation, witness the debate over the constitutionality of the personal mandate in Obamacare to be resolved in the next few days). So whatever one thinks of Putin (and I guess I could be regarded as a detractor if only because I think he has missed a number of golden opportunities to quell corruption and to move Russia along a more progressive path) I don't think it's wise to simply dismiss him as a wanna be autocrat and not perhaps consider him sadly as a reflection of something deeper in the people's psyche.

Petr           
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 25, 2012, 04:12:20 PM
While off thread, actually in the Far East China's penetration of Russian Siberia is already a fact.  The number of Chinese businesses in Vladivostok, for example, is quite remarkable and there is much more north south trade than east west trade (other than for oil and gas) to the extent that China probably doesn't have to physically annex Siberia to get the same result.

I think you are right that China does not have to annex Siberia to get the same result . . . for now.  But peaceful trade depends on peaceful relations, and Sino-Russian relations have been checkered at best.  As China becomes more dependent on Russia's strategic mineral reserves to keep its growing military engine running, it will become less able to tolerate disruptions -- or the threat of disruptions -- in the supply line.

This is probably idle worry on my part.  I certainly hope so.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on June 25, 2012, 04:53:49 PM
Of course, if a shooting war ever did loom between Russia and China, one should take into account that both countries have nuclear weapons.  Whether they would dare use them is anyone's guess.

Russia is so damned big, it's a wonder anyone could control it.  I mean in the old days it would take weeks for a message to travel from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Petr on June 26, 2012, 05:24:12 AM
Correction: Robert K. Massie, Catherine the Great  (Random House, 2011)

A very readable biography written in the typical Massie fluid style.


Petr
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on June 26, 2012, 04:26:21 PM
From what I have read here, it seems the deck was stacked against Nicholas even before he came to the throne.  He was just the guy unlucky enough to be there when it all blew up.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 27, 2012, 06:30:04 AM
He was just the guy unlucky enough to be there when it all blew up.

Nicholas was far more than just the guy unlucky enough to be there.

He was the guy who clung intransigently to the unbridled power to ordain the fate of over 100 million people.

He was the guy who, instead of trying to curtail the miseries of rapid industrialization, removed protective legislation in order to speed it up further.

He was the guy who refused, despite advice and pleas, to curb the loutish excesses of Land Captains until the revolution of 1905-06 forced it upon him.

He was the guy who ordered armed troops out against unarmed civilians in 1905 and -- failing to grasp the lesson of the backlash from that -- did it again in February 1917.

He was the guy who took very calculated steps after 1906 to reverse the fledgling moves toward constitutional government.

He was the guy who inflamed anti-semitism by furtively supporting the vigilantism of the Black Hundreds and who funded vicious anti-semitic propaganda.

He was the guy who failed to support his two ablest ministers, Witte and Stolypin, and instead favored lackeys and non-entities in critical posts.

He was the guy who took over supreme command of his military against the advice of almost everyone but an unstable wife and her starets.

He was the guy who left civilian government in the hands of that unstable wife and a religious charlatan for two critical years in a major war.

He was the guy who by February 1917 had lost the support of his army, his navy, his Church, his ministers, his bureaucracy, his extended family, and his people.

Russia would have been far better off if Nicholas had just been there and let others with more intelligence and judgment run things for him.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on June 27, 2012, 07:13:44 AM
I knew Tsarfan was going to react strongly to your last post there Tim, lol.

I happen to agree that Nicholas was unlucky but quite clearly he was a dubious character as well. His poor leadership allowed for the "luck" of his enemies such as Lenin.

I'm curious how much potential there was for Nicholas to have been a good Tsar in those early years. We always talk about the bad timing of Alexander III's death and Nicholas's lack of preparedness, which he himself admitted to, in assuming the throne. Yet even one of those able ministers you speak of, Witte, considered the younger Nicholas to have within him the skills necessary to be a perfectly capable Tsar.

All in all his family really did him no favors it would seem. Far from being unlikeable the one thing any leader ought to be able to count on are his relatives. In this instance the people who ought to have been the most supportive failed him at almost every step. His father for going almost out of his way to keep his son, and heir to the throne, ill equipped to face the eventual challenges that were certain to present themselves. His mother and her questionable council (not entirely her fault since she too was thrust into a difficult role with the untimely passing of her husband). His selfish, glib, and power hungry uncles (AKA Grand Duke's). The back stabbing Vladimirovich wing of his family conspiring against him. And then of course his emotionally unstable and inflexible wife and her shallow guidance.

With family like this who needs enemies?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 27, 2012, 08:14:48 AM
All in all his family really did him no favors it would seem. Far from being unlikeable the one thing any leader ought to be able to count on are his relatives.

I agree that Nicholas' family had their own failings, including not working harder to coach Alexandra, and that Marie Pavlovna the Elder's behavior, in particular, was totally out of bounds.

But there are so many signs that Nicholas, seen at the close quarters from which his family would have seen him, was very weak raw material for a tsar who was determined single-handedly to run an enormous country fomenting with economic and social change.

When Witte suggested to Alexander III that he invite Nicholas into government councils, Alexander asked Witte whether he had ever heard the tsesarevich express a single serious thought.  After dinner on the day when Grand Duke Sergei had been blown to bits in Moscow, Nicholas and a cousin were playing at trying to push each other off a couch.  His diaries, even on days when momentous events unfolded, are full of insipid comments on the weather, who dropped by, and what he had to eat.  They reveal almost nothing of his thoughts on significant events.  Just weeks before the revolution, with the wheels falling off the cart on the military front and with his cities enduring food and fuel shortages, Nicholas' correspondence to his wife from Stavka reports hours-long walks into the countryside, wandering into empty churches to soak up the atmosphere, and his relief at not being bothered by ministers and counselors.  When he did have to endure those nettlesome meetings, Nicholas prepared himself by combing his hair with the magic comb Alexandra sent him from Rasputin.  When, in the last days of the monarchy, Grand Duke Sandro went to Tsarskoye Selo to warn the tsar of an impending collapse of the government, he ended up talking mostly to Alexandra who was propped up in bed eating crackers while Nicholas sat silently on the side.  Sandro left having no idea what the tsar was going to do or whether he was going to do anything.

Nicholas had a very unfortunate combination of extreme malleability in the hands of those whose advice squared with his inclinations and extreme rigidity with those whose advice he found inconvenient.  Combined with his absolute authority over the family, it did not make him very coachable.  In fact, Nicholas' entire reign was hobbled by a repeating of mistakes and a lack of "learning moments".  




Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 27, 2012, 09:26:40 AM
The Emancipation Act had given 85% of Russia's population expectations. Expectations and a sense of entitlement. Even if those were not met and their lives in material terms changed little after the Act the all powerful human ideals of freedom and citizenship had been 'let out of the bottle' as it were.

I agree that this was done without the sword or the gun, but as in the US, it was done without proper education or training to live in a new world order. Therefore, the result was the same. A large group of people who were now free but little changed in their lives in material terms. The reason that there was no further upheaval in the US at that time is because the civil war ended with the freedom of the slaves (within a few years of the emancipation proclamation) and did not continue or begin as it did in Russia by the emancipation of the serfs.

Also, in the US there is a change of executive at least every four to eight years (Lincoln only had 4 and a smidgen) and so there would be no long term rulers (like Nicholas II) continuing in the path that he chose 25 years ago. A path that was now out of date and very reactionary.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on June 27, 2012, 10:03:21 AM
Alixz) Absolutely. Your second paragraph in particular makes a point worth underlining. Just the ability for the people in a democratic republic to change their leadership, if they feel it necessary, every two to four years allows for built in stability in a way an unpopular autocracy can appear hopeless to the masses. At times I feel like elections in America were the only thing that kept the peace and the wolves at bay...an exception to this quite clearly being Lincoln's victory over Buchanan in 1860.

The way Republicans have been acting the past few years I feel like their hope for an Obama loss in November is the only thing that has kept them from taking up arms against the federal government, lol. But that's just it...the system works, even if the citizens themselves often behave in a questionable manner. Conservatives aren't stuck with an Obama for (potentially) decades just as liberals weren't hitched to Bush. Divided government also allows our people to curb the power of an executive when we think they get out of hand as witnessed by Bush's midterm defeats in 2006 and Obama's thumping in 2010.

Subsequently if the liberals vote their guy in and he fails to live up to expectations (as many would suggest Obama has) they really only have themselves to blame...Autocratic rule on the otherhand is hopeless and infuriating for it's critics in a society. Perhaps the worst part being that after an extended period of time having to "deal" with a Nicholas II, instead of the hope and promise of regime change after his death you wind up getting stuck with an Alexei or Michael Romanov (just as you were stuck with Nicholas after Alexander III's reign) It's a one-party system!

Tsarfan) What you say makes sense. You could have added to your list that supposed story of Nicholas reading about a disastrous defeat for his navy in the Russo-Japanese War, crumbling up the note and then continuing in with his game of tennis! I suppose you're correct that Nicholas could have dine more to at least give the correct impression and endear himself to his family members and ministers. But while full of rather bizarre idiosyncrasies Nicholas was still a hard worker and dedicated countryman. Further, the criticisms you've posted are largely directed towards the more experiened over-30 Nicholas. Not the rather naive and green young man who inherited the throne quite suddenly. That Nicholas needed and deserved much more, in my opinion, than what he actually received from those closest to him...



Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 27, 2012, 10:37:46 AM
Not the rather naive and green young man who inherited the throne quite suddenly.

And that, in a nutshell, is why monarchy is a hopelessly inadequate institution for running modern complex societies.

Look at it this way.  Any large, successful business that seeks to fill a senior position finds that only a small percentage of people have the intelligence, judgment, skills, and experience for the job.  Yet autocracy turned over the running of a vast nation to an eldest son without regard to whether he had any of those traits.

There is a reason that 26% of Romanov rulers (plus two heirs) were murdered . . . and that 60% of those who were murdered were murdered by or with the complicity of their own families.

Autocracy offers no means but violence to address serious inadequacies in a ruler.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 27, 2012, 11:07:47 AM
I would say that Alexander's lack of confidence in Nicholas and his inability to see the future as his son would rule it was a failing on the part of Alexander. He treated his son like a child even when the son was fast becoming a man who would someday take his place.

I often wonder how Victoria managed to have a son like Edward VII (notwithstanding his womanizing) who came to throne with hardly any training and no confidence from his mother and still managed to keep the British Monarchy on the throne and in a reasonably peaceful state.

Alexander was more concerned to put Nicholas in a womanizing state and put no confidence in him as a future ruler and both heirs - raised along the same lines - turned out so differently. Edward did have a healthy parliament which Nicholas never had even during the Duma period.

But neither heir was given the proper training to become the best heir he could be. Yet, the British Monarchy stands today and Russia's autocracy is almost 100 years gone.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 27, 2012, 11:36:23 AM
Edward did have a healthy parliament which Nicholas never had even during the Duma period.

I'm not sure what you mean by a healthy parliament, but Nicholas had a Duma constituted more or less as he wanted it to be.  He dissolved the lower house and changed the electoral laws until he got a lower chamber he felt he could tolerate.

But more importantly, he rigged the Duma to eviscerate it of any real power.  Convoking the Duma in August 1905 only under extreme duress, he set about undermining its authority as soon as possible.  The Fundamental Law he promulgated in April 1906 declared Nicholas "Supreme Autocrat", thereby making it clear that he accepted no real constitutional limits on his authority.  But, to give this declaration real teeth, the Fundamental Law created out of an old tsarist institution -- the State Council -- an upper house of the Duma specifically aimed at making any actions of the lower house which the tsar did not like a dead letter.

This new upper house had its chairman appointed by the tsar and fully half its members directly appointed by the tsar.  Of the remaining half, 18 seats were to be elected by the Assemblies of Nobility and 6 filled from the Russian Orthodox Church (which, through the Holy Synod, was under the tsar's thumb).  And this chamber had power to veto any law passed by the lower chamber, as did the tsar himself.

With Nicholas' establishing a new State Council on these terms, constitutionalism died in Russia almost as soon as it was born.

If Nicholas was deprived the support of a healthy parliament, in the sense of its being a legitimate voice of the people at large with an ability to impact government policy and therefore defuse revolutionary impulses, it was by his own doing.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on June 27, 2012, 12:31:33 PM
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And that, in a nutshell, is why monarchy is a hopelessly inadequate institution for running modern complex societies.

You won't hear any argument from me on this point. I'll expand on that nutshell by saying human beings seek self determination. They naturally do not want to be ruled and accept governance only because intelligent people living in complex societies, as you point out, realize that some system of legislation, control and security is necessary for the greater good.

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Look at it this way.  Any large, successful business that seeks to fill a senior position finds that only a small percentage of people have the intelligence, judgment, skills, and experience for the job.  Yet autocracy turned over the running of a vast nation to an eldest son without regard to whether he had any of those traits.

Nice way of putting it. Accordingly we have seen how businesses suffer, at times, when they use nepotism rather than credentials to steer the ship. The only defense (call it "excuse") I can offer up for a system of autocracy is...

1) The idea that someone such as Nicholas who was raised in the court and trained by his father Tsar would be the best equipped to handle the job. Now we obviously know that this didn't happen with Nicholas, a criticism of Alexander III that's always mentioned and I will touch on again momentarily. But in theory at least the son of the Emperor would seem like an obvious choice on the short list of successors. Even in America we have had two sons of President's become President's themselves, one grandson, and at least two other relatives (Roosevelt's). Additionally five Vice President's have been elected President.
2) The underlying role of religion and how many surely believed, particularly the lesser educated, that Nicholas was Tsar by birthright. Just as a Catholic believes in the role of the Pope at the head of its church the Tsar was a divine ruler, as in the divine right of kings to be the subject of no earthly authority but deriving their right to rule directly from the will of God. Nicholas surely believed this and expected that his "good" Russian subjects believed it as well.

It's easy for us to consider that this type of logic is diluted and out of touch. Yet if you believe, to this day, in Monarchism and the divine right of kings than, like Nicholas, you don't even accept the premise of the argument much less the debatable suggestion (circa late-18th & early-19th century) that autocracy is the wrong way to govern. The idea that the Tsar rules because it's God's will obviously outweighs any notion of democracy and republican values as being a logical alternative. Who knows, maybe Nicky and his predecessors were right all along... ::)

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There is a reason that 26% of Romanov rulers (plus two heirs) were murdered . . . and that 60% of those who were murdered were murdered by or with the complicity of their own families.

Autocracy offers no means but violence to address serious inadequacies in a ruler.

No doubt. When there is no relief in sight people are prone to take matters into their own hands. Even good leaders get shot at though. If Obama wins the upcoming election with 99.99% of the popular vote it still only takes one crazy person with the will and means necessary to assassinate him.

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I would say that Alexander's lack of confidence in Nicholas and his inability to see the future as his son would rule it was a failing on the part of Alexander. He treated his son like a child even when the son was fast becoming a man who would someday take his place.

A big failing! Perhaps he had planned all along to change the rules of succession so that Georgy or Mikhail would one day come into power. A conspiracy against his eldest son that never unveiled itself due to Alexander's untimely passing. Pure speculation of course but it's almost hard to believe a man as capable of Alexander, after witnessing his own father's sudden death, would allow for the heir to the throne to remain so immature into his later 20s.

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I often wonder how Victoria managed to have a son like Edward VII (notwithstanding his womanizing) who came to throne with hardly any training and no confidence from his mother and still managed to keep the British Monarchy on the throne and in a reasonably peaceful state.

A constitutional monarch reigning over a more socially stable (and smaller) culture and spared the inconvenience of having to deal with World War I is a big difference from an autocratic ruler of a vast and complex domain who was in the grips of a major war, don't you think?

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Alexander was more concerned to put Nicholas in a womanizing state and put no confidence in him as a future ruler and both heirs - raised along the same lines - turned out so differently. Edward did have a healthy parliament which Nicholas never had even during the Duma period.

There are those who have suggested that Nicholas would have made an excellent constitutional monarch. I'm not exactly sure where they get that from other than his temperament and charisma seemed better suited for a reduced role in governmental leadership. But as you pointed Edward VII performed his role ably as did George V, by no means a brilliant visionary, later on.

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But neither heir was given the proper training to become the best heir he could be. Yet, the British Monarchy stands today and Russia's autocracy is almost 100 years gone.

I give the British a lot of credit. Obviously they put themselves in a better position to hold things together during the social and political chaos than engulfed Europe in the first two decades of the 20th century. Expanded a little on my comment above I think it's plenty arguable that Nicholas under the same set of circumstances would have been every bit as effective a rule as Edward VII or George V.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 27, 2012, 02:13:08 PM
What I meant by "healthy parliament" is that in England the parliament could not be prorogued or stripped of its power by the monarch - see Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson - but in Russia, Nicholas did just that.

I know that Edward VII did not have the problem of WWI and that a lot of the upheaval took place under Victoria - Khartoum, Crimean War, Boer War so he did not have to tend to a country at war as Nicholas did. But Nicholas decided to go to war against the Japanese (who knows for what reason as we have been given several) and his "small victorious war" didn't pan out.

My only comparison was that both Edward VII and Nicholas II were raised without the confidence of their parents. It has even been said that Empress Marie would have picked Michael over Nicholas. Prince Albert extolled the virtues of Princess Vicky over all of his children.

What they did with that role and how they handled the changes that came after the death of the monarch is what I was comparing. Edward - always said to be likable and Nicholas also said to be likable personally, both handled their new roles quite differently. Of course Nicholas was mildly impressed by Kaiser Wilhelm and Edward VIII detested him but that, I think, was because of the age difference and the fact that Edward was an uncle not a cousin.

Even had Edward VII wanted to change the parliament, he couldn't have, but Nicholas chose not to work within the boundaries set by the general election and only after Grand Duke Nicholas threatened to shoot himself if he didn't. Then Nicholas set about trying to undermine (and he succeeded quite well) the whole process.

So did Edward succeed because of the solid background of a public Parliament and Nicholas fail because he didn't have one?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 27, 2012, 02:52:57 PM
So did Edward succeed because of the solid background of a public Parliament and Nicholas fail because he didn't have one?

There's a wonderful line in the movie The King's Speech.  George V has just read his Christmas message over the radio and he comments to the tongue-tied Duke of York that there was a time when about all a monarch had to do in front of the people was not to fall off his horse.  I think Edward succeeded largely because he didn't fall off his horse.  This is not to say he could not have been successful carrying the burden of actually governing England (I really don't know enough about him to have an opinion), but the English system did not call upon him to do so.  The English Parliament and the Cabinet were not just supports for Edward's government of England.  They were the government of England.  Edward was the cherry on the sundae that made it look all tasty.


Yet if you believe, to this day, in Monarchism and the divine right of kings than, like Nicholas, you don't even accept the premise of the argument much less the debatable suggestion (circa late-18th & early-19th century) that autocracy is the wrong way to govern.

The truly interesting thing to me is that the most talented of Russia's monarchs did not actually believe in the divine right to rule or the incontestable right of heirs to the succession.

Ivan III, for all his later posing on the dais of divine rights, was openly cynical in his destruction of the rights of his siblings and the appanage principle of power distribution which, up until Ivan decided differently, had been God's way of seeing Muscovy ruled.

Peter the Great was certainly willing to see his son die -- if he was not actually directly complicit in it -- in order to preserve the turn toward western Europe that Peter had engineered.  And the accession of Catherine I -- a low-born commoner -- was based not on any divine right of inheritance but on the desire to keep the "new men" that Peter had pulled from obscurity based more on merit than pedigree in the saddle after his death.

And Catherine the Great, if she believed in the divine right of an anointed tsar to rule unhindered, would not have staged a coup against her husband.  And if she believed in an heir's right of inheritance, she would have had her son declared tsar and served as his regent.  And, even beyond the question of her actions regarding Peter III, it was on her standing orders that Ivan VI -- incontestably holding a legitimate dynastic claim to be tsar -- was murdered in the jail cell to which Elizabeth had packed him away in early childhood.

And if Alexander I believed in the divine right of an anointed tsar, he would not have sat quietly in his room, knowing that a cabal had moved into action to oust his father.

While the most capable of the tsars expected their people to swallow notions of their divine rights, they themselves would have none of it when it got in the way of their policies or their ambitions.  The divine rights of tsars was a fiction to which the masses of the governed were expected to kneel.  The tsars themselves -- at least the talented ones -- knew exactly where that bear s*#t in the woods.

Nicholas' slavish adherence -- to the point of losing the throne and destroying the dynasty -- to a principle his strongest predecessors did not take seriously is, to me at least, just another indication of how clueless the man could be about how things really worked, even in the House of Romanov.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Russian Art Lover on June 27, 2012, 04:08:59 PM
What I meant by "healthy parliament" is that in England the parliament could not be prorogued or stripped of its power by the monarch - see Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson - but in Russia, Nicholas did just that.

I know that Edward VII did not have the problem of WWI and that a lot of the upheaval took place under Victoria - Khartoum, Crimean War, Boer War so he did not have to tend to a country at war as Nicholas did. But Nicholas decided to go to war against the Japanese (who knows for what reason as we have been given several) and his "small victorious war" didn't pan out.

My only comparison was that both Edward VII and Nicholas II were raised without the confidence of their parents. It has even been said that Empress Marie would have picked Michael over Nicholas. Prince Albert extolled the virtues of Princess Vicky over all of his children.

What they did with that role and how they handled the changes that came after the death of the monarch is what I was comparing. Edward - always said to be likable and Nicholas also said to be likable personally, both handled their new roles quite differently. Of course Nicholas was mildly impressed by Kaiser Wilhelm and Edward VIII detested him but that, I think, was because of the age difference and the fact that Edward was an uncle not a cousin.

Even had Edward VII wanted to change the parliament, he couldn't have, but Nicholas chose not to work within the boundaries set by the general election and only after Grand Duke Nicholas threatened to shoot himself if he didn't. Then Nicholas set about trying to undermine (and he succeeded quite well) the whole process.

So did Edward succeed because of the solid background of a public Parliament and Nicholas fail because he didn't have one?



Edward was actually involved in quite a serious constitutional crisis. It was over the passing of the Parliament Bill in 1910. Basically, he was required to create hundreds of new Liberal peers in order to overcome the Tory majority in the unelected House of Lords vetoing important welfare reforms passed by the elected House of Commons. But he refused. It was only after he died and was succeeded by George, who was prepared to create the peers (his reasons were another matter), that the crisis was resolved.

PS. I know it has been said that Empress Marie would have picked Michael over Nicholas, but I am not sure where that information comes from. I sometimes think it may be from Massie, who has been responsible for a lot of misinformation. But Sergei Witte mentions the following conversation over Nicholas's abilities with the dowager empress in his memoirs: "Do you mean to say that His Majesty does not have the character to be an emperor?" "That is correct," Marie Feodorovna replied, "but should anything happen, he would be replaced by Misha, who has even less will and character." Source: Witte, Vospominaniya, Moscow, 1960, Vol. 3, p. 43.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on June 27, 2012, 05:01:56 PM
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Yet, the British Monarchy stands today and Russia's autocracy is almost 100 years gone

And that was the whole problem.  Had Nicholas the sense to adopt a British style Constitutional Monarchy, the Romanovs might still be on the throne of Russia today (and the Russian people would have been spared the horror story called the Soviet Union).


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If Obama wins the upcoming election with 99.99% of the popular vote it still only takes one crazy person with the will and means necessary to assassinate him.

Like what happened in Dallas nearly fifty years ago.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 27, 2012, 09:01:30 PM
Not to get too far off the subject, Kennedy did not win with a large majority. In fact it was the slightest of majority of the popular vote and lot of those who voted for him were already dead and buried in the Chicago cemeteries.

Everyone thinks that the Bush/Gore conflagration was a big thing, but it was nothing compared to old Joe Kennedy buying the election for his son.

Back to Nicholas, he could not accept that he should be a cherry on top. He wanted the whole sundae.

As for Catherine - if she truly believed in anything she only believed that she should be monarch and she wasn't even Russian!
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on June 27, 2012, 11:17:43 PM
I'm sure Tim is referring to the symbolism of Kennedy's assassination. Keep in mind that while no leader anywhere is going to draw virtually 100%  Kennedy's average approval rating during his Presidency (over 70%) is the highest of any President since World War II. Yet it was he who was the only President in the past 111-years to be assassinated.

With regards to the 1960 election. Yes voter fraud was an issue but even if Kennedy had, probably deservedly lost, Illinois he still had enough Electoral votes to win a majority and therefore the election. The one other major contested state was Texas, but investigations suggested afterwards that Kennedy's margin of victory there, while modest, was still too large to have been overturned as the result of voter fraud. Certainly it didn't come down to the 537 votes that separated Bush & Gore in Florida circa 2000.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on June 28, 2012, 12:12:07 AM
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I'm sure Tim is referring to the symbolism of Kennedy's assassination

Yeah, that is what I meant.  No matter how popular you are, no matter how many votes you get, one guy with a gun can permanently remove you from office.


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Back to Nicholas, he could not accept that he should be a cherry on top. He wanted the whole sundae

And he lost it all.  The guy needed someone to tell him the truth, even if he didn't want to hear it.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 28, 2012, 07:33:19 AM
The guy needed someone to tell him the truth, even if he didn't want to hear it.

He had that someone, in the persons both of Sergei Witte and Peter Stolypin.

Witte was a superb Finance Minister under Alexander III and Nicholas II, expanding Russia's railroads, reforming its currency, beginning land reforms that Stolypin later picked up, negotiating favorable trade agreements, and increasing the inflow of foreign capital.  But in 1903 Nicholas, bending to pressure from the nobility, moved him to the chair of the Council of Ministers -- a post that, while an ostensible promotion, actually removed him from real power.  Nicholas brought him back to the fore to negotiate a surprisingly favorable treaty for Russia to end the disastrous Russo-Japanese war and then turned to him as Prime Minister to save the imperial bacon during the 1905-06 revolution.  But as soon as Nicholas felt himself sufficiently back in control, he banished Witte -- whose reforms angered the nobility and whose marriage to a converted Jew in 1892 had engendered a lasting hostility to him in fancy society -- in August 1906 to the State Council.

Even setting aside all of Witte's wide range of significant accomplishments, Nicholas might have held onto his throne if he had taken just two pieces of advice from Witte.  The first was for Russia not to occupy the Liadong Peninsula and build Port Arthur -- actions which precipitated the Russo-Japanese war, which triggered the 1905 rumblings, that begat the Bloody Sunday massacre, which snapped the remaining bonds of loyalty of the Russian masses to the tsar, that then ignited revolution across Russia.  The second was Witte's pleas not to enter WWI -- actions which . . . well, you get the idea.

Then there was Stolypin, a man perhaps less talented than Witte, but a man who was determined to help the monarchy save itself through land reforms, through making the Duma a viable partner of and therefore support for the monarchy, and through trying to disassociate Nicholas from the calamitous involvement of Rasputin in royal doings.  This last attempt to serve his tsar brought him under unrelenting attack by Alexandra, which eroded Nicholas' confidence in him and would have cost him the Prime Ministership prior to 1911 had Marie Feodorovna not lobbied desperately with her son to retain him.

Stolypin is significant, too, as an under-recognized example for the tsar as Nicholas and his wife sank into progressively more bizarre behavior around their obsession with Alexei's illness.  In 1906, Stolypin was targeted in the first of what were to be twelve attempts on his life.  A bomb went off during a reception at his house, in which 27 people died.  Among the dead was Stolypin's 15-year-old daughter and among the seriously injured was his 3-year-old son.  But this event did not send Stolypin spiraling off the rails into blind reaction, determined efforts to deny political reality, and a hysterical mysticism.  He did what Alexander II did when his son and heir died.  He retained his perspective, kept his balance, and soldiered on.  

Late imperial Russia was not devoid of talented men who were dedicated to the preservation of the monarchy.  It was Nicholas' signal failing that he failed to exploit that talent and instead preferred the company of people who did not challenge Nicholas' own limited intellect, who did not urge him to actions against his personal biases, and who did not dare cross swords with a wheedling and nagging wife and her beloved starets.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on June 28, 2012, 08:29:19 AM
Tsarfan, again excellent points. Just posing a quick question here...

Nicholas talked about implementing reforms in Russia but that they had to wait until victory in the Great War over Germany was secured. Let's just assume for a moment that he would have held onto to his throne either by A) not entering the war to begin with and focusing more closely on domestic issues, or B) through the type of swift victory over the Central Powers that was expected by many from the outset.

Do you believe Nicholas would have actually turned into something of a reformer, or at least ceded considerable domestic power to the Duma, and subsequently quell the revolution and remain on the throne as a powerful (albeit a proper constitutional) monarch?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 28, 2012, 09:15:43 AM
From my point of view - no - as long as he continued to bow to his wife and the insanity that was devotion to Rasputin.,  I believe he would have seen any actions that he took or that just happened to work as "the will of God" and continued on in the way he was going.

Alexandra did not like Witte or Stolypin for various reasons just as she didn't like Grand Duke Nicholas. Anyone who might upset her world and show her the truth was immediately rejected. Anyone who didn't fawn over Rasputin was also cast aside.

As long a Nicholas continued to be weak and vacillating at even turn and over every decision nothing could have saved his throne for "Baby".

Nicholas would have had to have a complete personality adjustment to have done anything to save his throne and by 1905 it was too late.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 28, 2012, 10:32:23 AM
Do you believe Nicholas would have actually turned into something of a reformer . . . ?

No, I don't.

Russian history is replete with monarchs who claimed to desire to reform and modernize Russian government but presented one excuse after another why the time was not yet ripe -- excuses that were themselves mostly the results of tsarist policies that discouraged social development, such as Nicholas I's censorship of literature and banning of foreign study or Alexander III's May Laws and their restrictions on allowing Jews access to higher education and most of the professions.

I see only three real attempts in Russian history to reform the Russian social and political system at its base.  The first was Peter the Great's insistence that service to the state rather than individual self-aggrandizement was the first duty of his nobility.  To this end, Peter introduced forced education of the nobility in Russia, forced study abroad for select sons of the nobility, drafting into state service for technical and engineering work, and serious (albeit largely still-born) attempts to uproot the corruption that has been for centuries and remains an endemic part of Russian public life.  If any ruler had an excuse to use the backwardness of the people to delay reform, it was Peter.  Yet, instead of delaying reform, he faced into the problem of Russian backwardness and tackled it head on.

The second notable attempt was Catherine the Great's two-year attempt early in her reign to develop and implement her Nakaz, a blueprint for government and civil rights that was patterned on the Enlightenment thinking of western Europe.  But sitting on an unstable throne in her early years which had to be propped up through buying the support of key nobility with huge grants of land and serfs, she found herself unable to sail far into the headwinds of resistance from the nobility, the Church, and the gentry.  Even after the collapse of the Nakaz project, Catherine toyed with other less provocative attempts at reform.  But sometimes these efforts were one step forward and two steps backward, such as when she created the first Pale of Settlement largely to relieve the fledgling trading classes of urban Russia, especially in Moscow, of the competition from more experienced Jewish merchants.  Then the challenges (and opportunities) of foreign policy, especially regarding Poland, caused her actually to roll back an existing constitution (the May Constitution of Poland) as her hand reached out to grab her share of the Polish partitions which she largely engineered.  And after the Pugachev Rebellion all reform bets were off for good as Catherine sank into good old-fashioned reaction.

The final serious attempt at reform was, of course, under Alexander II, who emancipated the serfs and might have been on the verge of granting a general constitution to Russia had he not been assassinated -- ironically by terrorists who wanted to stop tsarist reform lest its feared success take the wind out of the sails of revolution.

For three centuries of Romanov rule by around two dozen tsars and tsarinas, this really isn't much of a list.



Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on June 28, 2012, 12:21:07 PM
Tsarfan & Alixz I tend to agree with you both.

I'm wondering however what being pushed to the brink and just barely surviving would have done to Nicholas psychologically. Whether he finally might have gotten the hint. But probably all he would have done is take a nice vacation down in the Crimea before returning home rejuvenated and ready to consider the survival of his throne as another example of God testing the resolve of both he and the Russian people still "loyal" to his rule.

That said I think the circumstances involving Nicholas would be difficult to compare with the three "reformers" you mentioned. Their country and reign were not pushed the edge the way my scenario involving Nicholas just barely surviving the revolution and/or WWI was. Stubborn, but sensitive I think there is a chance that a chastened Tsar Nicholas might have acquiesced to necessary reforms. Again I'm assuming that the only way he would have been in a position to do this in the first place would have been to reluctantly accept his role a constitutional monarch similar to cousin George V, so his responsibility would have been more along the lines of getting out of the way of the Duma rather than heavy handed legislation. It doesn't take a superior intellect to do that much...

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From my point of view - no - as long as he continued to bow to his wife and the insanity that was devotion to Rasputin.

True and Rasputin's influence would likely have been even stronger for two simple reasons. A) If the war had gone well for Russia or if there had been no war at all there is a good chance he never would have been murdered in the first place. B) He surely would have played up victory in the war and the quelling of any revolution as a sign from God...and since God was clearly communicating his wisdom to the Tsar and Empress through the Starets...

On the other hand Nicholas did abdicate against the will (although of course she wasn't present at the time) of his wife. Obviously a major decision he made without the council of the woman he respected most is kind of surprising and out of character, no?

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Nicholas would have had to have a complete personality adjustment to have done anything to save his throne and by 1905 it was too late.

And herein lies the root argument. When did Nicholas reach the point of no return? Tsarfan has argued quite convincingly that it was myriad of blunders committed by the Tsar after World War I that truly sank his reign and the Empire. Alixz on the other hand echoes the sentiment shared by many. That events which had been building up for decades led to an inevitability, if far from immediately apparent at the time, once "Bloody Sunday" lit the revolutionary fuse...
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 28, 2012, 01:54:21 PM
And yet I feel sorry for him in the long run. He wasn't effectively prepared (for what ever reason that Alexander II or Marie had) and he was encouraged to "play the young gentlemen" instead of getting down to business.

I too have been taken aback by his reaction to the murder of Serge. It was as if the government of Russia was one big play pen to Nicholas and he couldn't even stand up and actually see what was going on around him.

I will always wonder what (besides the illness of Alexei) made him make the decision to abdicate. He must have known how badly it would go over back at the Alexander Palace. It was truly, to me, a sign of just giving up. He simply couldn't handle the pressure anymore from the government, the war, the revolutionaries and his wife.

That is what makes me feel the most bad for him. He had no where left to turn (he had pushed all good a logical advice givers away) and he must have been totally overwhelmed. I think he was fool enough to think that he would be sent to Livadia or somewhere else out of the way and allowed to live in what he thought of a peace.

I have never thought of either Peter or Catherine as "great" because they killed and terrorized all of their subjects into - well - subjects. Some of the things they did were beyond horrible, but they managed to keep their thrones and rule Russia. That is probably what gave other monarchs the impression that Russia only answered to the knout or the lash. Being at peace with their subjects didn't seem to keep then in line, so go with the army and the torture.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Louis_Charles on June 28, 2012, 03:08:08 PM
I don't think that Catherine killed or terrorized that many people. Anyway, this has been a fascinating thread to read, and I will be throwing my two kopeks into it over the weekend. But I have been simply appalled by a lot of my reading in the past few weeks. Once you get past the "great love story" aspect of Nicholas and Alexandra, they emerge as a couple of mulish pinheads. Their behavior would have been barely tolerable in the early eighteenth century, but for two educated human beings to cling so stubbornly to the crackpot theories of divine right in the early twentieth defies belief. I would be more forgiving of the whole lot of them had not millions of people died in World War I.

Simon
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 28, 2012, 04:11:33 PM
I always think of the partitioning of Poland and the Pugachev Rebellion and a few other skirmishes where she sent Orlov and his contemporaries.

But I agree with you Simon, mulish pinheads - exactly.

There was always a lot of grab and take in the 18th century and it wasn't all done in Russia. Who ever gave Catherine and Frederick of Prussia and the Austrians the idea that they had the right to partition anything?

The nineteenth century began with Napoleon and the War of 1812 and then Alexander (perhaps his conscience did get the best of him where his father was concerned) disappeared and left Nicholas I to rule without anyone actually knowing that Constantine didn't want the title? Nicholas I did better with his son than most but his own vision for Russia was pretty backward. Alexander II tried to prepare Nixa, but illness and poor medicine put rest to that. And so Russia got Alexander III and his narrow vision for the Slavophile Russia along with Podestonotsov. The ultimate in backward thinking and he was passed down to Nicholas II.

But the one thing that always confuses me is Alexandra who came from a different culture and should have known better and should have been the perfect foil to Nicholas's "God's Will" but wasn't. Mainly because her mother and her grandmother dwelt so long on the deaths that they lived through and then passed on the problem to Alix, but not to Victoria (who was the stalwart of the family) or even Irene who had two not one but two sons with hemophilia (I know they weren't in direct line - but still) or the pragmatic Ella who married Sergei (now there is a downer if ever there was one).
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on June 28, 2012, 04:22:05 PM
I don't think that Catherine killed or terrorized that many people. Anyway, this has been a fascinating thread to read, and I will be throwing my two kopeks into it over the weekend. But I have been simply appalled by a lot of my reading in the past few weeks. Once you get past the "great love story" aspect of Nicholas and Alexandra, they emerge as a couple of mulish pinheads. Their behavior would have been barely tolerable in the early eighteenth century, but for two educated human beings to cling so stubbornly to the crackpot theories of divine right in the early twentieth defies belief. I would be more forgiving of the whole lot of them had not millions of people died in World War I.

Simon

"Simply appalled"? May i ask by what Simon...in this thread or in general? I hope you don't think we are being soft on Nicholas & Alexandra. My feelings are roughly in line with what Alixz expressed in her most recent post but I certain don't champion his virtues and turn a blind eye to his obvious and almost criminally negligent failures as a leader. If you're appalled that we aren't tougher on Nicky in this thread I'd think you'd be about ready to set fire to much of the rest of the AP! lol.

To your last sentence on being more forgiving of the "whole lot", I'm guessing that means the monarchs from across Europe who got their countries involved in the war. Does that extend to US President Woodrow Wilson? Can't say I disagree here, and it was a preposterous war. But much of what was building up in Europe began well before the reign of monarchs who declared war on each other in 1914. Furthermore, and while it was more symbolic than anything else (and you can blame the Keiser and Germany in part for that), Nicholas II does deserves some credit for initiating the Hague Conference in 1899. He wasn't just some war monger...
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on June 28, 2012, 07:16:50 PM
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I will always wonder what (besides the illness of Alexei) made him make the decision to abdicate. He must have known how badly it would go over back at the Alexander Palace. It was truly, to me, a sign of just giving up. He simply couldn't handle the pressure anymore from the government, the war, the revolutionaries and his wife.

I don't think he has much choice in the matter.  Once he lost the support of the military, it was game over.  Had he said "Abdicate!?  Hell no!" and dug in his heels, he would have been removed by force.

The sad thing is that, had he chosen to become a Constitutional Monarch, he could have still did the things he enjoyed doing, giving receptions, going hunting, chopping wood, and he would not have had the pressure of running a country on his head.  Poor guy didn't realize how easy giving up the autocracy would have made his life.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on June 28, 2012, 07:35:56 PM
I tend to agree with you, Tim. However, I think the guilt of breaking his vow to preserve the autocracy would have got to him as well. And, personally, I think the monarchy itself was doomed. Autocracy or constitutional. As we all seem to agree,  the push for radical reform was beyond the need for even a ceremonial monarchy.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Louis_Charles on June 29, 2012, 08:59:50 AM
Edubs,

I am certainly not appalled by this thread! It's been a fascinating and educational read. No, I've been doing a lot of outside reading in the past few months. More political history than biography, for a change, and mostly French, Russian and German. And yes, I meant the Kaisers and Tsars who waltzed Europe into World War I. Do I include Wilson? Not until 1917. I doubt an American president in 1914 had the clout to put a stop to it through his influence --- Roosevelt didn't have it in 1939. And the French and English governments didn't behave all that much better. But while it is obvious that World War I was not only the result of Nicholas II's actions, it was at least the result of his intransigient refusal to leave foreign policy to competent ministers.

Simon
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on June 29, 2012, 12:40:54 PM
Edubs,

I am certainly not appalled by this thread! It's been a fascinating and educational read. No, I've been doing a lot of outside reading in the past few months. More political history than biography, for a change, and mostly French, Russian and German. And yes, I meant the Kaisers and Tsars who waltzed Europe into World War I. Do I include Wilson? Not until 1917. I doubt an American president in 1914 had the clout to put a stop to it through his influence --- Roosevelt didn't have it in 1939. And the French and English governments didn't behave all that much better. But while it is obvious that World War I was not only the result of Nicholas II's actions, it was at least the result of his intransigient refusal to leave foreign policy to competent ministers.

Simon

I think some of the ministers are guilty of giving mixed signals. Aside from Witte there has been much debate about Sergey Sazonov's apparent failings. Nicholas Hartwig on the other hand was an extreme Pan-Slavist, practically an agent for Serbia, whose policies regarding the German Empire exacerbated an already tense situation.

Nicholas couldn't really be saved from himself once the war began. Prior to the war however it was Kaiser Wilhelm that I still believe deserves the lion's share of the blame even though his country deserved a better shake than what they got with the Treaty of Versailles. Nicholas certainly didn't want war with Germany. He did mobilize against the Austrian border but could you not suggest this move was necessary in anticipation of Russian's (possible) eventual needs?

The Kaiser largely ignored cousin Nicky's requests for peace through a series of exchanged telegrams. Nicholas's appropriately issued stern warnings as any leader, who is not a feckless wimp, should. Still peace was very much priority at the beginning of the war.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 29, 2012, 02:09:00 PM
Nicholas mobilized to honor his commitment to the Serbs. I don't think he wanted the war, but with Nicholas it was hard to tell. He wanted Russia to stay the way it was and he wanted to be honored as a great tsar. I don't know how he could have stayed out of the war thinking that way.

And it was still that old "Russia into Constantinople" thing that no tsar seemed to be able to give up. Greece was just as bad earlier when they decided that Constantine and Sophie on the throne would get them back to Constantinople.

I blame Austria for not accepting the acceptance of their terms to Serbia and acting as though the Bosnians had not even offered to get down and grovel.  Franz Joseph was too old and too out of date to make any sensible decisions. I don't think he cared that much about Franz Ferdinand and he certainly didn't care of his wife. In fact he made some dumb comment about God's judgment on Franz Ferdinand for marrying Sophia and this was a just punishment.

Empire building is what it was all about. Germany, Austria and Russia all wanted more territory (although Kaiser Wilhelm wanted respect from Great Britain and just couldn't get it) and there was so much counter espionage going on in all the courts that no one ruler even knew just how much they were being betrayed not only by their enemies but their friends as well.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 29, 2012, 03:01:11 PM
Nicholas couldn't really be saved from himself once the war began. Prior to the war however it was Kaiser Wilhelm that I still believe deserves the lion's share of the blame even though his country deserved a better shake than what they got with the Treaty of Versailles.

Certainly the 1920's proved that the Treaty of Versailles was bad policy that ordained any attempts to build a stable German democracy to failure.  However, the question of what the Germans deserved is more a moral than a practical one.  Germany invaded neutral Belgium, thereby drawing England into the war.  Germany engaged in mean-spirited -- I would say almost envy-driven -- cultural warfare, such as when it burned the great medieval library at Liege for no military reason whatsoever.  Kaiser Wilhelm egged Austria on in taking an intransigent position against Serbia after the assassination of Ferdinand -- who had seriously alarmed Wilhelm with his liberal tendencies and particularly his desire to back Austria away from the precipice of nationalism run amok.  And the treaty of Brest-Litovsk had given the allies a foretaste of just what a German victory would have looked like.  It would have made the Treaty of Versailles look like a birthday cake.

Nicholas' willingness to risk war in July 1914 was a reckless gamble for a country as unstable and unprepared as he should have known Russia to be.  Although military reform had been undertaken after the debacle of the Russo-Japanese War, Russia was still poorly prepared and untested for a war with Germany and Austria.  (After the fatal difficulties Russia had in getting supplies to her troops on the Pacific in 1904-5, one would think that things such as Russia's non-standard railroad gauge would have suggested difficulties about getting supplies to troops who would have to operate beyond Russia's borders in Europe, especially against a highly-mechanized German supply system.)  Moreoever, Stolypin's land reforms had stalled far short of government goals to build a class of yeoman farmers who would bring political and social stability to the countryside, leaving the situation in the countryside unsettled.  And 1912 had seen a resurgence of labor unrest unlike any since 1906, telegraphing that there was trouble brewing in the undercurrents of the urban working masses -- the very people the nation would be dependent upon for producing armanents.

Nicholas had allowed himself to be deluded by the self-congratulatory orgy of festivities his government staged to celebrate the 1913 Tercentenary of Romanov rule.  The diaries and reports of western ambassadors from that year were full of observations that the crowds were noticeably unenthusiastic, seeming more to be curious about the spectacle instead of motivated by the chance to rejoice in Romanov rule.  Yet Nicholas, and especially Alexandra, left each stopover more convinced that the crowds were adoring and the dynasty secure outside the confines of cynical and depraved St. Petersburg and its nettlesome government officials who were always seeing dark clouds where there was really a sunshine of devotion to autocracy.

The Potemkin villages of Catherine's time were a political myth.  The Potemkin villages of 1913 were very real . . . and very dangerous.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on June 29, 2012, 03:56:46 PM
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Nicholas had allowed himself to be deluded by the self-congratulatory orgy of festivities his government staged to celebrate the 1913 Tercentenary of Romanov rule.  The diaries and reports of western ambassadors from that year were full of observations that the crowds were noticeably unenthusiastic, seeming more to be curious about the spectacle instead of motivated by the chance to rejoice in Romanov rule.  Yet Nicholas, and especially Alexandra, left each stopover more convinced that the crowds were adoring and the dynasty secure outside the confines of cynical and depraved St. Petersburg and its nettlesome government officials who were always seeing dark clouds where there was really a sunshine of devotion to autocracy.

Thanks for bringing the Tercentenary up in particular as I have always been curious about some of the stories and whether they were true or designed as Pro-Tsarist government propaganda. The one story about the crowd, during a particular stop along the "parade route", wanting to get close enough to the Tsar and his family just to be able to kiss their shadows as they walked by sounds particularly preposterous. Can anyone shed some light (pun intended) on this? Then again we do have proof of certain "incidents" that clearly weren't exaggerated or staged. Take the one we heard from Gillard (I think) riding along side of Alexei in the back of an automobile. The crowd surrounds the vehicle which stops and people start reaching in through the windows desperately trying to touch the boy. The one woman after successfully doing so exclaims, "I've touched the Heir! I've touched the Heir!"

Obviously if stories like that are true I wouldn't really blame the Tsar and Empress for thinking about the people and their devotion to throne the way they did heading into the Great War. On the other hand it was pretty ridiculous of them trying to scoff at high society and play the role of "the People's Tsar/ina" while living in palaces and "jet setting" across Europe. A common mistake among politicians. I always enjoyed the rather self deprecating Springsteen lyric that comments on this interesting dichotomy..."Now a life of leisure and a Pirate's treasure, don't make much for tragedy...it's a sad funny ending when your find yourself pretending, a rich man in a poor man's shirt" :-)
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 29, 2012, 04:21:38 PM
Nicholas had a masterful group of "handlers".  Even during the 1912 celebration of the Battle of Borodino, there was supposed to be a old man who had actually been at the battle, but it was a farce set up to make the Tsar happy.

Nicholas was easily led, and not just by Alexandra. He wanted to see warm happy thoughts everywhere for Russia and its from of government.

But Simon is right about the Treaty of Brest Litovsk being a small taste of what might have come from a German victory.  But I still think that empire building by the victorious Allies made it worse. France and England wanted land and got it through the Treaty. The redrawing of Palestine and also the Vietnam situation which was brought on by France's desire to keep building and holding on to its empire in the Southeast Asia.

And even in the original Nicholas & Alexandra by Massie (and we know that his book does contain errors) - we see the people being "forced" to participate in the Tercentenary but turning away after the parade had passed by.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 29, 2012, 04:42:25 PM
The one woman after successfully doing so exclaims, "I've touched the Heir! I've touched the Heir!"

I think these stories are largely true.  Seeing a tsar or any member of the imperial family was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most Russians and one that was bound to inspire a certain awe and excitement regardless of one's view of the regime.  But awe is not support -- something which the Nicholas who tried and failed to capitalize on awe at the opening of the Duma at the Winter Palace in 1906 never understood.  

During the last presidential race I was in small meetings with both Barack O'Bama and John McCain.  During George Bush, Sr.'s presidency he toured my work place.  During the Clinton administration I attended a meeting with his staff in the Roosevelt Room of the West Wing.  I supported the politics of some of these men and resented the politics of others.  But -- and I hope I'm a touch more sophisticated than a Russian peasant -- each time I felt a distinct awe at being in the proximity of that kind of power.  It just happens.

It was another symptom of Nicholas' political blindness that he would dismiss the epidemic political assassinations of the latter 19th century, the urban rebellions of 1905, the arson that lit up the night on gentry estates in 1906, and the widespread strikes of 1912 as true signs of how Russians viewed autocracy and instead trust the turnouts at gaudy, highly-staged, government-sponsored festivals as the real pulse of the political health of his dynasty.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 29, 2012, 05:11:31 PM
It is probably just me, but being in proximity to that kind of power would make me more judgemental of these people.  I would want to know what makes them think that they are any better or smarter than the rest of us "peasants".

Mostly I see fault in those who profess "public service" because in the end, they get the better health care and better pensions and then all of the private sector work they can handle. I find it hard to accept that they are worth all that much.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on June 29, 2012, 05:34:03 PM
It is probably just me, but being in proximity to that kind of power would make me more judgemental of these people.  I would want to know what makes them think that they are any better or smarter than the rest of us "peasants".

That happens, too.  The sense of awe upon meeting people who wield real power is sort of an "of-the-moment" thing that rapidly succumbs to more work-a-day concerns and more rational analysis once the moment passes.

Failure to grasp the fleeting aspect of these reactions was part of what so misled Nicholas and Alexandra deeper into their ossified convictions that autocracy was the only suitable form of government for Russia and that "the Russian people" agreed.  I mean, why else would they come to a parade . . . right?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on June 30, 2012, 02:08:19 AM
In many ways, World War I was a quarrel among many of the Royal Houses of Europe.  In the end, only the British Monarchy remained.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on June 30, 2012, 01:33:24 PM
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Nicholas had a masterful group of "handlers".  Even during the 1912 celebration of the Battle of Borodino, there was supposed to be a old man who had actually been at the battle, but it was a farce set up to make the Tsar happy.

Nicholas was easily led, and not just by Alexandra. He wanted to see warm happy thoughts everywhere for Russia and its from of government.

Funny you mentioned this Alixz as I commented on it a couple of weeks ago on the "Borodino 1912" topic thread. Below is what I wrote at the time...

I'm fascinated by this supposedly 122-year old veteran of the war that the Tsar was introduced to, spoke with, and was quite emotionally overwhelmed by on the hundredth anniversary of the battle. Do we know anything more about this person?

Logic suggests that this person was a fraud. Not only because he more than likely was not 122 at the time but probably could not possibly have served in the military in 1812 regardless of his age. With this in mind it's too bad Nicholas was so taken in by him. Here is some information I dug up that was interesting to me and might be to some of you...

- The only verified 122-year old in history is well known French woman Jeanne Calment who died in 1997.
- Current oldest living person is 115-year, 294-day old American Besse Cooper who was born in Tennessee and currently lives in George.
- The only other person to have supposedly lived past the age of 120 was Shigechiyo Izumi of Japan. He was 120-years, 237-days when he passed away in 1986 but his claim has largely been refuted.
- The oldest verified Russian (or Russian Empire) in history was Lillian Joelson who died at the age of 111 in 2007.
- There are only three verified supercentenarians to have been alive before 1800 that could possibly have fought in an 1812 war. None of them lived past the age of 113, and all of them died well before 1912.
- Currently there are thirty claims and only 23-verified living people who were born before 1900. We are quickly drawing to a close our living links to the 19th century :-/


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During the last presidential race I was in small meetings with both Barack O'Bama and John McCain.  During George Bush, Sr.'s presidency he toured my work place.  During the Clinton administration I attended a meeting with his staff in the Roosevelt Room of the West Wing.  I supported the politics of some of these men and resented the politics of others.  But -- and I hope I'm a touch more sophisticated than a Russian peasant -- each time I felt a distinct awe at being in the proximity of that kind of power.  It just happens.

That's a pretty impressive resume you have there Tsarfan. From what I've heard others say the Oval Office was designed to intimidate, yes? I too am critical of power and privilege and yet I too would surely would be awe struck by my surroundings in this instance. It's only later, and with the benefit of time, that I might reassess the person/people I just came in contact with...but this is only natural. You may not care for a particular band, for instance, but your friend gets you a ticket and suddenly you are taken back stage. Now partying with the rock starts themselves gives you a different perspective. Suddenly their musical virtues improve considerably. Now they've become a band you love or at least kind of like...the quality of their music gets buried. I think Clinton as a politician knew this as well as anyone. Not that he was going to throw the doors of his White House open to any visitor who wanted to meet and chat but from what I've come to understand he had amazing ability to make anyone, friend or foe, feel like the only person in a room. Shaking hands with the President and getting to know them on a personal level (even if only for a few moments) helps you forget a little your objections to their foreign policy, position on taxes, or stance on abortion, etc.

Nicholas let himself be deceived but smarter and more accomplished leaders have also fallen into such a trap. Virtually every US President has at least one example of this...although admittedly their failure to judge public opinion is not along the same lines as Nicholas, through his negligence, assisting in the collapse of his entire empire. Still I think there are some very good personal qualities about Nicholas that I would like to see more of in the career politicians that lead us today...
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Louis_Charles on June 30, 2012, 01:41:56 PM
Not really; I mean, yes, the British monarchy survived, although it didn't enter the conflict as any great shakes, so its survival is largely irrelevant (not that I don't like the faces on the tea towels and the commemorative cups). And I do agree that Kaiser Wilhelm was much more "responsible" for the outbreak of the war than the Tsar. Although if it comes to the blame game, I don't let Franz Josef off the hook just because he was doddering by 1914. There is plenty of evidence that he, and certainly his government, saw the murder of the Heir as a chance to defenestrate Serbia. And surely the war was the result of the substantial naval race between Germany and the UK (sorta-kinda Wilhelm's idea, but let's face it, he didn't have the focus for a long term project like that, so I'd be inclined to chalk it up to the German government), the long-term bad blood between France and Germany after 1870, and Russia's usual interest in a breakout to the Mediterranean and leadership of the Slavs?  I think it is more correct to say that Nicholas and Wilhelm and Franz Josef could conceivably have stopped the war in the immediate summer of 1914. Sorry, cousinly exchanges of telegrams are not how that works --- order your General Staff to demobilize, and see what happens. Nicholas reserved control of the army to himself after 1905, after all.

Simon

This probably sounds crankier than I actually feel. It's really hot!!!
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on June 30, 2012, 01:58:03 PM
Not cranky at all and exactly what I was trying to say earlier.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on June 30, 2012, 06:33:34 PM
Quote
That's a pretty impressive resume you have there Tsarfan. From what I've heard others say the Oval Office was designed to intimidate, yes? I too am critical of power and privilege and yet I too would surely would be awe struck by my surroundings in this instance. It's only later, and with the benefit of time, that I might reassess the person/people I just came in contact with...but this is only natural. You may not care for a particular band, for instance, but your friend gets you a ticket and suddenly you are taken back stage. Now partying with the rock starts themselves gives you a different perspective. Suddenly their musical virtues improve considerably. Now they've become a band you love or at least kind of like...the quality of their music gets buried. I think Clinton as a politician knew this as well as anyone. Not that he was going to throw the doors of his White House open to any visitor who wanted to meet and chat but from what I've come to understand he had amazing ability to make anyone, friend or foe, feel like the only person in a room. Shaking hands with the President and getting to know them on a personal level (even if only for a few moments) helps you forget a little your objections to their foreign policy, position on taxes, or stance on abortion, etc

Of course, the big difference between a U.S. President and an Autocrat is that if you don't like the policies of said President, you can vote him out.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on June 30, 2012, 08:35:01 PM
Yes, Tim.  And autocrats just get shot or blown up.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on July 02, 2012, 05:10:06 PM
Bit of a drastic solution.

I wonder if Nicholas ever thought about that, what happened to his grandfather could happen to him. 
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 02, 2012, 05:21:33 PM
He must have. Especially considering the history of his dynasty. An even more intersting question might be  how much did that history & memory effect his actions ?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on July 02, 2012, 07:03:48 PM
We have evidence that it adversely effected Alexander III and so it makes sense that his 12 year old son would have been just a adversely effected by watching his Grandfather die in pieces.

The only thing that doesn't make sense it that when the same thing happened to Sergei, Nicholas didn't even take time to stop "playing" or whatever he was doing when notified. Unless he was numb by then. And I guess that would make his adherence to the "God's will" way of thinking more understandable. Not understandable in the way that a grown man should have acted as he did, but understandable that he had seen so much of death and dismemberment that he decided there didn't seem to be anything he could do to stop it and so it was "God's will" that he and his family suffer.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on July 02, 2012, 11:12:52 PM
What was Alexandra's reaction when having first heard the news? Shock & horror, ordinary saddness, numbness...what? Nicholas adored his wife...would he not have mirrored her reaction somewhat? Seems odd that she would have been in shambles and her husband practically goofing off, no?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on July 03, 2012, 09:34:14 AM
I have to look it up but I seem to remember that he was "goofing off" with Sandro? Somebody or another and didn't even stop what he was doing.  Maybe that is another time, but I will get to looking it up.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on July 03, 2012, 10:18:46 AM
I have to look it up but I seem to remember that he was "goofing off" with Sandro? Somebody or another and didn't even stop what he was doing.  Maybe that is another time, but I will get to looking it up.

Yeah it sounds out of character for both of them. If Nicholas was with his wife I can't believe he'd act so callous toward an event that would almost certainly have been deeply upsetting to her. If he wasn't with her I'd think he'd make a point of going to her almost immediately. Even if, for whatever reason, he didn't care about Serge's death personally I'd think he'd at least act like he cared in front of his wife and other family members...
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on July 03, 2012, 12:33:13 PM
Sad thing was that he didn't even want to become Tsar, but his autocratic mindset took over.  He thought that if God offered you the job, turning it down was not an option.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 03, 2012, 02:49:51 PM
The relationship between Nicholas and Sergei was complicated.  While Sergei was one of the staunchest supporters of Nicholas' reactionary instincts, Sergei had been the flash point of the conflict between the two political factions of the Romanov family (one advocating harsh responses to liberalizing tendencies and one more conciliatory) more than once, and if Nicholas hated anything it was being caught between people who exercised opposing influences over him by dint of stronger personalities.

This had been the case almost from the start of the reign, when Sergei's turf disputes with court officials and other bungling contributed to the disaster at the Khodynka field that left over a thousand people dead at the height of the coronation festivities.  One faction of the family felt Sergei was at least partly to blame and that Nicholas had to demonstrate a determination to get to the bottom of things, and the other faction felt that no suggestion of taint on a member of the imperial family could even be suggested.  Consequently, Nicholas cast the mold early on for the pattern of indecisiveness that was to plague him throughout his reign when he first authorized a thorough, candid investigation of the stampede and then quashed it.  (Upon hearing of the quashing of the investigation, one imperial uncle grumbled that Nicholas I would have banished Sergei from public life for such mismanagement.)

Sergei developed a reputation for harshness when, upon assuming governorship of Moscow in 1892, he took over execution of his brother Alexander III's orders to expel the 20,000 Jews from Moscow and continued with the expulsions through mid-winter, despite appeals from his own police commissioners to wait for warmer weather.  This willingness to impose his style of political conservatism in particularly brutal ways ignited rumors of sadistic tendencies and soon resulted in the signal accomplishment of being hated both by the intelligentsia and by the Muscovite nobility and merchant classes (who were meant to be the primary beneficiaries of the expulsion in the first place).

Shortly before Sergei's assassination he had resigned from the governorship of Moscow in protest over Nicholas' listening to the advice of ministers who were trying their best to save the regime from the revolution that was slowly engulfing the monarchy.  In fact, he was on the way to his office to wrap up his affairs as governor when he was blown up.  Neither Nicholas nor Alexandra attended the funeral, as the intense hatred Sergei had engendered made it too risky.

But there is an interesting anecdote from exactly this time period that indicates just how disconnected from reality Nicholas could be.  Grand Duke Paul, who had been banished from Russia for his morganatic marriage, was allowed to return to Russia for the funeral.  Upon returning to Paris immediately afterward, Paul confided the following to Maurice Paleologue, who recorded it in his diary on March 5, 1905:

the tsar "discussed the war with alarming complacency . . . .  The revolutionary outbreaks hardly worry him at all; he claims that the masses are not in the least interested in them; he believes he is one with the people."

On the same trip, Paul found Marie Feodorovna to be "extremely pessimistic about the future", acknowledging that Russia had already lost the war and predicting a revolution if Russia did not at once make peace with Japan.

At the time Paul made these observations about Nicholas' non chalant attitude the Bloody Sunday massacre, which had ignited world-wide indignation at Russia and Nicholas in particular -- as well as violent unrest at home -- was less than two months behind him.  His uncle, a senior Romanov and especially strident monarchist, had just been blown to bits.  It was not even safe for a tsar to attend an uncle's funeral.  The Battle of Mukden, begun on February 20, was dismantling Russia's Manchurian Army piece by piece.

Why would it be any surprise that Nicholas was playing on a sofa that evening?



Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on July 03, 2012, 03:01:09 PM
Good point. Is there reason to believe that the horsing around on the sofa "incident" may have been taken slightly out of context however? Perhaps by the same the people who searched high and low for examples to portray the Tsar, as you said, as being alarmingly disconnected and complacent? I've attended any number of funerals where afterwards friends and relatives are joking around as if it's a holiday gathering. Sometimes people emotionally want to distance themselves from the pain and sadness of losing a loved one as quickly as possible and at times tread too far into appearing insensitive and disrespectful.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on July 03, 2012, 03:25:47 PM
I don't think that Sergei was a "loved one" to either Nicholas or Alexandra. Sergei was Ella's husband, but I somehow never get the impression while reading about them that Alexandra liked or disliked Sergei. While she might have been upset for her sister, I don't think she that sorry to see Sergei gone. Not that she was a horrible person who wanted him to die, just disinterested.

Remember this all happened about 6 months after the birth of Alexei and about when the nature of his illness and his possibility that he wouldn't survive to take the throne was first hitting the Imperial couple. I'll bet Alexandra had a lot more on her mind than her sister's husband's death.

But the indifference of Nicholas at the time can not be laid at Alexandra's door. Nicholas was just always in the wrong state of mind at the wrong time. He truly did not understand that the country was rising up against him and his autocracy. Even the murder of his grandfather and the other terrors were always thought to be the action of a small group who truly didn't represent the people of Russia - the real people as he thought of them.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on July 03, 2012, 03:35:50 PM
Quote
I don't think that Sergei was a "loved one" to either Nicholas or Alexandra. Sergei was Ella's husband, but I somehow never get the impression while reading about them that Alexandra liked or disliked Sergei. While she might have been upset for her sister, I don't think she that sorry to see Sergei gone. Not that she was a horrible person who wanted him to die, just disinterested.

She did stand up for him after he came under some fire for his complicity in the Khondynka tragedy however. That of course was nine years earlier though and certainly attitudes can change over time...

Quote
Remember this all happened about 6 months after the birth of Alexei and about when the nature of his illness and his possibility that he wouldn't survive to take the throne was first hitting the Imperial couple. I'll bet Alexandra had a lot more on her mind than her sister's husband's death.

Yes quite possible. It's just surprising that emotions would not have run high. Tsarfan did a good job of explaining the disconnect of the IF, and Nicholas specifically, but you'd think out of fear as much as out of sadness there would have been some type of mourning at the loss of an important head of state to an assassination, even if that person was on his way out. It's awful to think about how numb they must have been to such tragedy in that day and age. Even as wealthy and privileged they were always so susceptible to sudden, often brutal, deaths of family members and friends. Craziness!

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Vanya Ivanova on July 04, 2012, 05:34:49 AM
The Sofa incident is 2nd hand, as far as I can see its from the memoirs of Bernhard von Bulow the German statesman who had been 1st secretary to the German Embassy in St Petersburg. The story was related to him by Prince Friedrich-Leopold of Prussia who happened to be visiting the Russian court at the time of Grand Duke Sergei's assassination.

The Prince was to be a dinner quest at Peterhof where the Tsar was staying.

''The Prince made enquiries as to whether dinner was still on, or whether, after being dealt such a blow by fate, the Emperor wanted to be alone. The Prince received the reply, that he could come to dinner without any problem.

The Empress, its true, did not appear, but the Emperor, and his brother in law the Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich (Sandro), who was there at the time, were both in splendid mood. There was no mention of the murder of the Grand Duke. After dinner, the Emperor and his brother in law, to the amazement of their German guest, amused themselves by trying to push each other off the long narrow sofa.''

Obviously you have to allow for the vagaries of translation and the fact that this is 2nd hand information which can create 'chinese whispers'. Also Prince Friedrich-Leopold is known to have hoisted a red flag above his home near Berlin in support of the communists during the German Revolution of November 1918-August 1919, so he may have had his own 'agenda' with this story. However its very unlikely its entirely made up.

What I find interesting about this is that the Tsar was with Sandro during this incident, a man who in his later memoirs was perhaps one of the Grand Duke Sergei's most vociferous critics.

Nicholas II's own diary entry for this day is also interesting when contrasted with his sister Xenia's (and of course Sandro's wife) and the fact that he forbade any of the family including the Empress from rushing to Moscow to comfort Grand Duchess Ella and the two foster children. It would have been dangerous for them to do so of course.

Nicholas's diary

'' A terrible crime was perpetrated in Moscow: Uncle Sergei was killed at the Nikolsky gates (of the Kremlin) by a bomb thrown at him as he was driving in his carriage, his coachman was fatally wounded.

Poor Ella, bless her and help her, Lord!

Xenia's diary

'' They killed poor Uncle Sergei in Moscow this afternoon! Its simply appalling, appalling, terrible, sad and shameful. He was out in his carriage, when some swine threw a bomb, and he was killed outright and blown to bits!

No, its simply not possible! Poor Ella, how terribly sorry I feel for her- what unimaginable grief, and she is all alone there. I wish I could go to her, and be with her, the poor thing- these are terrible times in Moscow.''

Also its documented that on the morning of the day he died Grand Duke Sergei was said to be in great spirits as he had just received a gift of a gold framed portrait of his brother Alexander III from his nephew Nicholas II. This was seen as a mark of special favour from the Tsar to his uncle or had certainly been taken that way by Grand Duke Sergei. Nicholas's diary expresses condemnation of the crime and sympathy for Ella but seemingly nothing for Sergei himself unlike Xenia who clearly feels grief for both Sergei and Ella.

Personally I don't know what to make of it. On face value when combined it with the 'sofa story and splended spirits' suggests that the Tsar was actually relieved in some way that his Uncle was gone and certainly not personally upset. Thats very interesting when you consider he had sent a gift that very day acknowledging Grand Duke Sergei's closeness to Alexander III for whom he had been a uniquely trusted ally. Indeed Grand Duke Sergei was the surviving embodiment of all Alexander III's views and beliefs.

Both of Grand Duke Paul's children who were effectively fostered by Grand Duke Sergei found him a difficult person even though he clearly had their best interests at heart. Therefore perhaps Nicholas felt a personal anipathy towards this stern uncle but nevertheless acknowledged a sense of duty to him owing to the closeness he had with his father? Perhaps as Tsarfan pointed out, the difference of political opinion at a time of such turmoil, compounded by a personal dislike of the man and his attempts to exert influence over him meant that Nicholas was appalled at the crime but personally relieved this troublesome relative was out of the picture?

(the diary quotes and Bernhard von Bulow memoirs are all from Andrei Maylunas & Sergei Mironenko's ''A lifelong Passion''- the gift incident from Christopher Warwick's ''Ella, Princess, Saint and Martyr'')
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Kalafrana on July 04, 2012, 07:30:56 AM
Hm.

My experience of deaths in the family, both among my family and friends and when dealing with clients as a probate solicitor, is that initially things are often a bit unreal, and the family are often quite cheerful and concentrating on normal things. It's only later - at the funeral and after - that it all sinks in. There is a distinct practical difference between the death of Alexander II and that of Sergei Alexandrovitch in that Nicholas actually saw his grandfather as he was dying with a leg blown off etc., whereas Sergei's death happened 400 miles away and the initial news presumably came by telegram. If the 'sofa' incident did happen, it may well be simply mildly odd behaviour while in the unreal phase (we are informed that the fact that Amanda Knox was reported to be turning cartwheels after her flatmate Meredith Kercher was murdered had no bearing on what she thought about her).

Incidentally, I have read that Bulow's memoirs are not entirely to be relied on.

Ann

Ann
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Vanya Ivanova on July 04, 2012, 08:54:22 AM
I completely agree Ann, 2nd hand stories like this have to be taken with a big pinch of salt. Without seeing the original document in German phrases like 'splendid mood' could have originally been more akin to synonyms like 'admirable mood' or 'noble mood' which would put an entirely different tone to the events. Then if you add in that both the 1st hand witness and 2nd hand recipient of the story may not be entirely reliable its means one can't draw too many conclusions either way. Certainly the consensus of Nicholas II as an indivdual was that he was empathetic and kind.

He also as discussed at length on this particular board shared with his assassinated Uncle a rather extreme form of fatalism that everything was 'God's will'. Later in captivity his deeply held religious views can I think be summed up by his daughter Olga's quote of him in one of her letters from Tobolsk:

''Father asks to ... remember that the evil which is now in the world will become yet more powerful, and that it is not evil which conquers evil, but only love''

This is a direct and reliable quote, as is the fact that he described the incident in his diary and had sent his Uncle a personal token the day the Grand Duke died. Therefore I think on reflection if he was joking around with Sandro that day it was unlikely that the reason was because he didn't care, more likely is that the deeply ingrained fatalism just allowed him to accept it extraordinarily quickly or as others have mentioned it was a form of shock.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Forum Admin on July 04, 2012, 09:22:40 AM
We have evidence that it adversely effected Alexander III and so it makes sense that his 12 year old son would have been just a adversely effected by watching his Grandfather die in pieces.

The only thing that doesn't make sense it that when the same thing happened to Sergei, Nicholas didn't even take time to stop "playing" or whatever he was doing when notified. Unless he was numb by then. And I guess that would make his adherence to the "God's will" way of thinking more understandable. Not understandable in the way that a grown man should have acted as he did, but understandable that he had seen so much of death and dismemberment that he decided there didn't seem to be anything he could do to stop it and so it was "God's will" that he and his family suffer.

OK.  Been reading, not commenting for a while.  One needs to be careful in reviewing history to not "Monday morning" quarterback, nor impose 21st Century values/mores on 19th century Victorians. Nicholas was, as a young man, close to Sergei and his other Uncles.  The murder of Sergei was, while saddening, perhaps not a total surprise.  The murder of Alexander II was a profound moment for Nicholas, one which I liken to the assassination of JFK was to all subsequent Presidents. Please do not forget that it was Nicholas himself who ordered the creation of the Personal Secret Security service (see Spiridovitch, Vol I, Ch 1).  Families react differently when a tragedy happens... a personal anecdote:

My maternal Grandmother had been installed living in my parent's home after a severe stroke left her unable to live alone.  My parents had prior pre paid for a wonderful golfing tour of Scotland for my Dad, including a round at St. Andrews (a lifelong dream of his).  I told my parent that they had to go, there was no way to know if anything would or would not happen while they were gone, and my Mom needed the break.  I moved into their house from my apartment to help care for my Nanny, aided by my older sister and her husband.  Early one morning, the caregiver woke me up, she was having another stroke.  I dialed 911 and went to her bedside.  In the few minutes before EMS arrived, my grandma passed on while I held her hand.  After the ems, police etc finished their reports etc, I had to call the funeral home to come get her.  By this time, my sister and her family and a cousin had all come to the house, and we were dealing with it all, waiting for the funeral home to come.  In the midst of the confusion, the doorbell rang and I went to answer, my older sis close behind.  A man at the door said "I have a delivery to drop off"....I stood stunned and all I could think to say was "Wait, a delivery? NO, we need a pick up not a delivery.... We have one dead body and don't need another"  The poor guy looked stunned and turned white. He said, "No, I have a big chair to deliver, I'm with the upholstery shop"....I'd forgotten Mom had sent off a big chair to be re-covered to go into my Grandmothers room....I turned to my Sister and we both burst out laughing, and couldn't stop for some ten or fifteen minutes...

Was I callous? Of course not....did I think about "Gods will" or any such thing? Did I not care?  Of course I cared...none of those things came into play...Simply, in times of stress, a little laughter can go a long way to help one cope....We all adored Nanny, she was the rock and matriarch of the family...and my sister and I still laugh about the "pick up not a delivery" today over 20 years later....

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 04, 2012, 09:41:13 AM
I agree that such reactions to deaths in families are not uncommon.  However, this was more than a family death.  No matter what Nicholas' feelings about Sergei personally, this was not just an old uncle who fell victim to a random mugging.  This was a political attack on a senior government official (Sergei was still the Commander of the Moscow Military District), on the government itself, and on the dynasty.

Coming just weeks after Bloody Sunday had triggered growing unrest across the country, Nicholas' cavalier mood immediately after such an attack is almost incomprehensible.  It presaged the same attitude that was evident twelve years later in his quiet walks and calm reveries in the countryside around Stavka, glad to be free of annoying meetings with ministers and councillors, as Russia descended into chaos.  (And let's not forget that, whether or not Friedrich-Leopold's telling of the sofa story or von Bulow's recounting of it was scrupulously accurate, it does square with the general attitude of Nicholas at the time as reported by Grand Duke Paul to Paleologue and by Marie Feodorovna in several conversations with various officials as her frustration with her son grew.)



Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 04, 2012, 10:00:08 AM
Here's something interesting on which to chew:

There are no known plots that got beyond the early planning stages to assassinate either Alexander III or Nicholas II.  (The train derailment at Borki is now accepted to have been an accident.)  Yet during this same time period numerous Russian government officials were killed.  Moreover, in the same 36 years covering the reigns of Alexander and Nicholas, 18 monarchs or heads of state were attacked of killed outside of Russia.

Why were these two never targeted?

(It is not enough to say that they had strong security.  They did, but there were numerous opportunities to attack them.  When Stolypin was shot at the Kiev Opera House, Nicholas was sitting in the front row of a low box, well within pistol or bomb-tossing range.  Also, at whistle stops on rail trips, Nicholas often appeared at the window of his car to wave to crowds gathered on the platform to catch a glimpse of him.  Both tsars were exposed to huge crowds during their coronations.  During the Tercentenary celebrations Nicholas moved in open cars through large crowds.  Remember, too, that even with late 20th-century security protocols, gunmen got within reach of John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, and John Paul II.)

So . . . why did the "tsar liberator" Alexander II get killed and the reforming Prime Minister Stolypin get killed, yet Russia's last two reactionary tsars never suffered even serious attempts on their lives?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Forum Admin on July 04, 2012, 10:07:52 AM
I agree that such reactions to deaths in families are not uncommon.  However, this was more than a family death.  No matter what Nicholas' feelings about Sergei personally, this was not just an old uncle who fell victim to a random mugging.  This was a political attack on a senior government official (Sergei was still the Commander of the Moscow Military District), on the government itself, and on the dynasty.

Coming just weeks after Bloody Sunday had triggered growing unrest across the country, Nicholas' cavalier mood immediately after such an attack is almost incomprehensible.  It presaged the same attitude that was evident twelve years later in his quiet walks and calm reveries in the countryside around Stavka, glad to be free of annoying meetings with ministers and councillors, as Russia descended into chaos.  (And let's not forget that, whether or not Friedrich-Leopold's telling of the sofa story or von Bulow's recounting of it was scrupulously accurate, it does square with the general attitude of Nicholas at the time as reported by Grand Duke Paul to Paleologue and by Marie Feodorovna in several conversations with various officials as her frustration with her son grew.)


Actually Mike, that was the catalyst for the creation of the Secret Personal Security Police, headed by Spiridovitch.  I'll send you the chapter.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Forum Admin on July 04, 2012, 10:11:05 AM
Here's something interesting on which to chew:

There are no known plots that got beyond the early planning stages to assassinate either Alexander III or Nicholas II.  (The train derailment at Borki is now accepted to have been an accident.)  Yet during this same time period numerous Russian government officials were killed.  Moreover, in the same 36 years covering the reigns of Alexander and Nicholas, 18 monarchs or heads of state were attacked of killed outside of Russia.

Why were these two never targeted?

(It is not enough to say that they had strong security.  They did, but there were numerous opportunities to attack them.  When Stolypin was shot at the Kiev Opera House, Nicholas was sitting in the front row of a low box, well within pistol or bomb-tossing range.  Also, at whistle stops on rail trips, Nicholas often appeared at the window of his car to wave to crowds gathered on the platform to catch a glimpse of him.  Both tsars were exposed to huge crowds during their coronations.  During the Tercentenary celebrations Nicholas moved in open cars through large crowds.  Remember, too, that even with late 20th-century security protocols, gunmen got within reach of John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, and John Paul II.)

So . . . why did the "tsar liberator" Alexander II get killed and the reforming Prime Minister Stolypin get killed, yet Russia's last two reactionary tsars never suffered even serious attempts on their lives?

Nicholas II was in fact targeted.  Spiridovitch recounts at least three serious attempts on his life, in detail.  It was actually a testament to the abilities of Spiridovitch and his men that none came to fruition.  In one particular event, Spiridovitch himself actually dressed at the Emperor and rode in the Emperor's car to flush out the assassins (successfully) while Nicholas rode in another vehicle on a different route at the same time...

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 04, 2012, 10:14:55 AM
You are correct.  I first mentioned no attempts that got beyond the planning stages, but I then said they were never targeted.  Clearly Nicholas was targeted.

Could you give any more details about the three attempts on Nicholas?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Forum Admin on July 04, 2012, 10:52:22 AM
Winter 1906-07: The "Central Committee" under Azyef formed a "Combat Detachment" headed by one Siberberg, who engaged another terrorist named Naumov, to be charged with the murder of Nicholas II.  They attempted to gain entry into the Imperial Court Chapel at Peterhof and took singing lessons in order to gain entry as singers!  That didn't work so they decided to try to kill him while he was taking his usual walks in the Babolovski park. They were also targeting Stolypin and Nicholas Nicholaievich as well.  Some thirty people were arrested after a three month long surveillance between Spiridovitch's team and the Okhrana in late March 07.

1908: Savinkov and Karpovich who had been meeting with the other Socialist Revolutionary party members in London learned that the Russian Cruiser "Rurik" was in Glasgow, Scotland and sent several to recruit members of the crew who were known to be of Socialist leanings. Two were chosen: Sailor Povarenkov and machinist Avdeyev.  Revolvers were smuggled aboard, and Avdeyev himself was chosen for the task.  Nicholas went to review the ship and crew on September 24 and spent two hours on board. While both men had  been in front of the Emperor, there were too many people around and for too brief a moment to actually pull it off.  They were later arrested.

In 1910, Savinkov decided, emboldened by the successful assassination of Karpov in late 1909, to kill Nicholas on the streets of Petersburg, who was finally appearing in public again on the streets there for the first time since the 1905 Revolution. The huge amount of security and Okhrana surveillance thwarted all attempts and Savinkov gave up on trying in Petersburg.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on July 04, 2012, 12:38:41 PM
Here's something interesting on which to chew:

There are no known plots that got beyond the early planning stages to assassinate either Alexander III or Nicholas II.  (The train derailment at Borki is now accepted to have been an accident.)  Yet during this same time period numerous Russian government officials were killed.  Moreover, in the same 36 years covering the reigns of Alexander and Nicholas, 18 monarchs or heads of state were attacked of killed outside of Russia.

Why were these two never targeted?

(It is not enough to say that they had strong security.  They did, but there were numerous opportunities to attack them.  When Stolypin was shot at the Kiev Opera House, Nicholas was sitting in the front row of a low box, well within pistol or bomb-tossing range.  Also, at whistle stops on rail trips, Nicholas often appeared at the window of his car to wave to crowds gathered on the platform to catch a glimpse of him.  Both tsars were exposed to huge crowds during their coronations.  During the Tercentenary celebrations Nicholas moved in open cars through large crowds.  Remember, too, that even with late 20th-century security protocols, gunmen got within reach of John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, and John Paul II.)

So . . . why did the "tsar liberator" Alexander II get killed and the reforming Prime Minister Stolypin get killed, yet Russia's last two reactionary tsars never suffered even serious attempts on their lives?

Possibly the same reason why Gerald Ford was shot at multiple times despite being in office for only 2 1/2 years and not doing a whole lot one way or the other (Nixon pardon aside) to ruffle feathers. Yet two vilified President's George W. Bush and Barack Obama having served a combined 11 1/2 years have not been targeted once...

Perhaps Alexander II getting killed showed some of the radical revolutionaries that eliminating a Tsar doesn't fundamentally change things...only an overthrow of the entire system could create lasting change. Lenin certainly knew this...he ever criticized his own brother Alexander's failed attempt to assassinate Alexander III.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 04, 2012, 02:48:38 PM
Possibly the same reason why Gerald Ford was shot at multiple times despite being in office for only 2 1/2 years and not doing a whole lot one way or the other (Nixon pardon aside) to ruffle feathers. Yet two vilified President's George W. Bush and Barack Obama having served a combined 11 1/2 years have not been targeted once...

I think their best protection has been their vice presidents.  Who would have preferred Cheney to Bush or Biden to Obama?


Perhaps Alexander II getting killed showed some of the radical revolutionaries that eliminating a Tsar doesn't fundamentally change things...only an overthrow of the entire system could create lasting change. Lenin certainly knew this...he ever criticized his own brother Alexander's failed attempt to assassinate Alexander III.

I have always subscribed to the view that the radicals of Alexander II's era feared that his reforms would blunt the chances of their revolutionary movement finding soil in which to grow.  But the revolutionary movement in Russia evolved considerably after 1881, becoming something that almost made the people who targeted Alexander look quaint.  To me, they have always had something of the flavor of the Weather Underground in the U.S. -- a group of extreme and somewhat sociopathic radicals who spun pseudo-intellectual dreams of a revolution that left most of society indifferent.  By the time Lenin returned to Russia in 1917, the revolutionary movement that mattered consisted not of the older revolutionary elite trying to find an audience, but of masses of disaffected workers and peasants who were actively looking for someone to lead them.  The Bolsheviks up until late 1917 had no real following, even among the soviets.  Lenin and his small cadre simply offered themselves up as the leaders the workers of St. Petersburg were futilely demanding the St. Petersburg Soviet be, and they stepped adroitly into a power vacuum.


As for my suggestion that we bat around the question of why Alexander III and Nicholas II were not successfully targeted for assassination, it doesn't hold much prospect for taking use anywhere interesting.  Rob pointed out that Nicholas was a target more than once, and he may well be correct that Nicholas' surviving to abdicate had less to do with the revolutionary movement and more to do with an effective security force.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Forum Admin on July 04, 2012, 03:05:59 PM
I believe that the successful murders of Karpov and Stolypin show the Revolutionaries were still trying indeed, but it was the security surrounding the Imperial Family that kept them alive by forcing the Revolutionaries to focus their efforts on "easier" targets.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on July 04, 2012, 11:02:38 PM
Tsarfan, due respect I must disagree with you on your assessment of Bush and Obama surviving radical assassination attempts due to the fact that they simply appear to be the better option than the next guy down the rung. Assasins are sociopaths and rarely are they smart or sophisticated enough to see the bigger picture. Those thugs who assassinated Alexander II or tried to take out Alexander III are about as pitiful as the when a gang of depraved Middle Easterners blows up a fruit stand in Israel or crashes planes into a couple of buildings in New York. They make Nicholas & Alexandra's reliance on religion look like downright atheistic by comparison.

Those dipshits, for lack of a better term, probably couldn't even name the sitting Vice President in half the instances. Their agendas are as sickening as predictable. I liken them more to the Joker in the Batman films, as in..."do I look like a guy with a plan?...I just do things!"

I'm sorry I just find that far too often we find ourselves validating the radicals and the prententions of the under class. It'd be cool if there was something more to it all but as a proud member of the so called "slacker generation" most people get all hot bothered by something when they're A) hopelessly liberal and confused or B) just interested in a scene.

I stopped believing in the validity of their "cause", if you can call it that, after realising something that you point out perfectly. The Tsar liberator was cramping their style. They were feckless political opportunists who, as the Bolsheviks proved by their lack of overall support even at their height (not unlike the Nazi Party who consistently accumulated well under 50% support) of their revolutionary success, were more than willing to dominate through the only means they knew knew how. The subversion of the under educated masses in combination with their appeal to the liberal elite at home and abroad.

This much I think we agree on as indicated by your most recent post. It's a damn shame they were led astray by some "6-10 team" they thought was "Super Bowl" worthy. Then to let that lousy team become dominant only by decimating the rest of the league in an unfair manner.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on July 05, 2012, 02:27:12 AM
Quote
Tsarfan, due respect I must disagree with you on your assessment of Bush and Obama surviving radical assassination attempts due to the fact that they simply appear to be the better option than the next guy down the rung. Assasins are sociopaths and rarely are they smart or sophisticated enough to see the bigger picture. Those thugs who assassinated Alexander II or tried to take out Alexander III are about as pitiful as the when a gang of depraved Middle Easterners blows up a fruit stand in Israel or crashes planes into a couple of buildings in New York. They make Nicholas & Alexandra's reliance on religion look like downright atheistic by comparison.

Those dipshits, for lack of a better term, probably couldn't even name the sitting Vice President in half the instances. Their agendas are as sickening as predictable. I liken them more to the Joker in the Batman films, as in..."do I look like a guy with a plan?...I just do things!"


Some of these guys have an agenda.   Some political, some just crazy.

John Wilkes Booth, for example, was committed to the Confederate cause.  When he saw it was lost, he decided to get in one last hurrah for it, by killing the leader of those that had defeated the Confederacy, Abraham Lincoln.

On the other hand, John Hinckley, the guy that tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan, wanted to impress Jody Foster!
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 05, 2012, 06:09:13 AM
Tsarfan, due respect I must disagree with you on your assessment of Bush and Obama surviving radical assassination attempts . . . .

I disagree with it, too.  It was meant as a joke, albeit a rather flat one I suppose.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on July 05, 2012, 08:22:55 AM
So you're telling me my big rant was based on my misunderstanding of a joke?! lol, that figures...
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 05, 2012, 09:24:31 AM
Well, it was a pretty pitiful joke.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on July 05, 2012, 02:01:39 PM
I think in Booth's case, he was at the end of his rope. He originally wanted to kidnap Lincoln and that was the plan. He just couldn't get the support. He couldn't get the support to kill all of the other officials he targeted on that night as his "band" either got "cold feet" or got drunk or simply were too nervous and missed the mark.

That's what comes of expecting others to do a job for you?  But the only thing he could do alone was to kill the President and he couldn't even do that without breaking his leg and setting himself up for eventual capture.

However it is interesting (I never thought about it before) that the night that Stolypin was killed in Kiev - why didn't the assassin simply turn the gun upward and shoot at Nicholas instead?  I doubt it was in deference to the Grand Duchesses sitting with him.

I wonder if it still had to do with the idea that (at that time) the Tsar was still untouchable and the way to proceed was to attack at the other supporting figures.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Forum Admin on July 05, 2012, 02:55:57 PM


However it is interesting (I never thought about it before) that the night that Stolypin was killed in Kiev - why didn't the assassin simply turn the gun upward and shoot at Nicholas instead?  I doubt it was in deference to the Grand Duchesses sitting with him.

I wonder if it still had to do with the idea that (at that time) the Tsar was still untouchable and the way to proceed was to attack at the other supporting figures.

Actually, we have Spiridovitch's first hand account up on the APTM main site.  In a nutshell: It happened during Intermission, he shot Stolypin down in the Orchestra seats, Nicholas and his family were out of their box, in an adjacent room having tea. Their box was empty.  Also, he was tackled to the ground within seconds of the shooting. He had little time to try for Nicholas, and even if he had the minute or two, the Imperial Box was empty.

http://alexanderpalace.org/palace/stolypin-murder-1911-kiev.html (http://alexanderpalace.org/palace/stolypin-murder-1911-kiev.html)
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on July 05, 2012, 05:23:30 PM
Quote
I think in Booth's case, he was at the end of his rope. He originally wanted to kidnap Lincoln and that was the plan. He just couldn't get the support. He couldn't get the support to kill all of the other officials he targeted on that night as his "band" either got "cold feet" or got drunk or simply were too nervous and missed the mark

I read that most of the others just chickened out because they didn't want to risk getting caught and hanged.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 05, 2012, 06:10:40 PM

Actually, we have Spiridovitch's first hand account up on the APTM main site.  In a nutshell: It happened during Intermission, he shot Stolypin down in the Orchestra seats, Nicholas and his family were out of their box, in an adjacent room having tea. Their box was empty.  Also, he was tackled to the ground within seconds of the shooting. He had little time to try for Nicholas, and even if he had the minute or two, the Imperial Box was empty.



True.  But Bogrov managed to get a gun into the opera house and had his choice of when to shoot.  Why didn't he just walk down the aisle during the performance to shoot Stolypin?  In fact, he would probably have had a better chance of getting away while people were not milling around and crowding the aisles and halls during an intermission.  And as he probably had the choice of when and where to shoot, why not shoot the tsar?

Bogrov had been an Okhrana agent since 1906, and even Alexander Solzhenitsyn credited the rumors that Bogrov was actually working on behalf of extreme rightist elements who wanted to put a stop to Stolypin's reforms.  Stolypin was, in fact, the object of spying by court circles.  P. G. Kurlov, who was Alexandra's choice to run the secret police over Stolpyin's strong objections, kept Stolypin -- the Prime Minister of Russia answerable only to the tsar -- under surveillance, intercepted his mail, and kept Alexandra informed, particularly on anything related to Rasputin.  (In fact, Kurlov has been suggested as the prime suspect for arranging the assassination of Stolypin, a man who was only holding onto office at that point due to Marie Feodorovna's direct intervention with her son, who was under constant pressure from Alexandra to dump him.)

Bogrov was tried by military court and hung ten days after the shooting, over the protests of Stolypin's widow.  And there is a particularly intriguing epilogue:  Nicholas ordered a stop to the judicial investigation of the assassination.  Now, why would the tsar not want to get to the bottom of the murder of his Prime Minister?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on July 05, 2012, 06:26:14 PM
I wonder why the assassins just didn't shoot Alexandra.

I know that killing women was not thought about the way it is today and that it was the men who were thought to be in charge, but there were attempts of Queen Victoria's life a few times.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Forum Admin on July 05, 2012, 08:55:07 PM

Actually, we have Spiridovitch's first hand account up on the APTM main site.  In a nutshell: It happened during Intermission, he shot Stolypin down in the Orchestra seats, Nicholas and his family were out of their box, in an adjacent room having tea. Their box was empty.  Also, he was tackled to the ground within seconds of the shooting. He had little time to try for Nicholas, and even if he had the minute or two, the Imperial Box was empty.



True.  But Bogrov managed to get a gun into the opera house and had his choice of when to shoot.  Why didn't he just walk down the aisle during the performance to shoot Stolypin?  In fact, he would probably have had a better chance of getting away while people were not milling around and crowding the aisles and halls during an intermission.  And as he probably had the choice of when and where to shoot, why not shoot the tsar?

Bogrov had been an Okhrana agent since 1906, and even Alexander Solzhenitsyn credited the rumors that Bogrov was actually working on behalf of extreme rightist elements who wanted to put a stop to Stolypin's reforms.  Stolypin was, in fact, the object of spying by court circles.  P. G. Kurlov, who was Alexandra's choice to run the secret police over Stolpyin's strong objections, kept Stolypin -- the Prime Minister of Russia answerable only to the tsar -- under surveillance, intercepted his mail, and kept Alexandra informed, particularly on anything related to Rasputin.  (In fact, Kurlov has been suggested as the prime suspect for arranging the assassination of Stolypin, a man who was only holding onto office at that point due to Marie Feodorovna's direct intervention with her son, who was under constant pressure from Alexandra to dump him.)

Bogrov was tried by military court and hung ten days after the shooting, over the protests of Stolypin's widow.  And there is a particularly intriguing epilogue:  Nicholas ordered a stop to the judicial investigation of the assassination.  Now, why would the tsar not want to get to the bottom of the murder of his Prime Minister?

According to Spiridovitch, Bogrov did not enter the Theatre until after the second act started. Bogrov was being watched by Kuliabko, who didn't order Bogrov to leave until then... Bogrov was a double agent, spying on the Revolutionaries and being paid for his information by the Okhrana.  He was, according to their investigations, working alone to prove himself to the revolutionaries as trustworthy.  Nicholas ended the investigation, because it was clear at that point that Bogrov was acting alone... I can send the full translation of Spiridovitch on the subject. if you want.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 05, 2012, 11:28:26 PM
Actually I would enjoy reading Spiridovitch's recounting of the assassination.  It's a shame that his memoirs are not available in English.

But this story still bugs me.  It seems extraordinary that Bogrov, in an attempt to prove himself to the revolutionaries as trustworthy in order to continue gathering intelligence for the Okhrana, would choose a target as prominent as the Prime Minister.  He could have shown his bona fides as a revolutionary by picking a slightly less senior official.  It's sort of like killing the patient to stop the infection when there is a bottle of antibiotics standing on the table which could do the job with somewhat less consequence.

And surely Bogrov must have known he would be apprehended when he not only picked a venue that would be crawling with security due to the tsar's presence but chose a moment when the milling crowds would have made his escape especially difficult.  What would be his purpose in trying to maintain his cover as a double agent if he thought he was going to be hanged for it?

As a double agent, this whole scenario only makes sense if Bogrov had reason to believe he had some sort of immunity for killing Stolypin.

And I don't understand why Nicholas needed to stop the investigation if he was certain it could only conclude that Bogrov was acting alone.  Why be seen to interfere with the conduct of a much-followed judicial investigation if the outcome could only be benign for the regime?

The fact that the head of the secret police was spying on a Prime Minister who was unquestionably a devoted monarchist and doing everything he could to restore the dynasty's grip on power is an indicator of how bizarrely dysfunctional the imperial regime had become.

Through its surreptitious support of the Black Hundreds, the government was funding unprovoked physical attacks on the tsar's own subjects.  Through the Ministry of the Interior, incendiary and viciously cynical publications such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were deliberately stirring up domestic violence.  The tsar was granting audiences and honorifics to newspaper publishers who openly incited pogroms.  Okhrana agents were assassinating senior government officials.  A tsar in the thrall of an unstable wife was using a magic comb to prepare for meetings with generals and advisors.

The last decade of the imperial regime simply beggars belief by any standard of rational government.  In the final analysis, autocracy was not the problem.  Institutionalized insanity was.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Alixz on July 06, 2012, 08:30:47 AM
I agree with Tsarfan. The idea that a double agent in the payment of the Okhrana sent to ingrain himself with the Revolutionaries doing something so public that he could hardly use it for currency in the future makes no sense. That might be why it looked as if he was acting alone. Neither side - the Okhrana nor the Revolutionaries -it would seem would have advised him to go into public and kill a prime minister.

Kuliabko "ordered Bogrov to go into the theater during the intermission"?  Sounds to me like Kuliabko was doing a little bit of work on his own. If all the Revolutionaries needed was some form of good faith gesture from Bogrov, then going into a crowed theater, shooting the Prime Minister and getting caught wasn't going to prove anything to anyone.  It actually made Bogrov look like he must have been acting alone because neither the Okhrana nor the Revolutionaries got anything more form him.

What about the background of Kuliabko?

What about a cabal who wanted the Prime Minister dead and used Bogrov to get the deed done - it had been tried before - and "to Hell" with the Okhrana/Revolutionary information connection.

Maybe Bogrov or Kuliabko or the local Okhrana were "triple" agents?
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Forum Admin on July 06, 2012, 08:59:58 AM
You both need to go read the link I gave you. Kubliako never ordered Bogrov to go into the Theatre. He ordered B to go HOME...

OK. Bogrov was burned as a double agent to the Okhrana.  The Revolutionaries excluded him out of suspicion.  So, being burned the Okhrana stopped paying him and Bogrov was trying to play both sides.  Since the Okhrana had no use for him, he decided to go back to just the Revolutionaries and Stolypin was exactly the highest target possible and would ensure his success.  To me, though Spirid. never says it, I think Bogrov did it as a means of suicide/Martyrdom...he had to know he would never walk out of the theatre after shooting Stolypin.  Sort of like todays "suicide by cop"...

Read the long story posted. The investigation was stopped more because the ineptness of the Kiev police was embarrassing to the regime more than anything else.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Louis_Charles on July 06, 2012, 01:53:03 PM
It doesn't appear from the account that anyone could have been moving in the aisles during the performance, so the opportunity to shoot was only going to come at intermission. Bogrov's action makes sense. However, the account raises more questions than it answers (shades of the Warren Commission). It doesn't mean that it's false, but it does mean that there are legitimate questions. Spiridovich seems to hear everything about Bogrov and what people said to him through hearsay. Is this just a fragment of a longer report? Are there statements from those involved, especially what might be called Bogrov's "handlers"? Why bother sending the man home to confine him, and then not checking to be sure he actually went? It was also interesting to read that Stolypin gestured to the Tsar to leave his box (presumably out of fear for his safety), but I didn't see anything about Stolypin blessing the Tsar with the gesture of the cross, something that I have heard happened.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on July 06, 2012, 05:53:45 PM
Quote
I know that killing women was not thought about the way it is today and that it was the men who were thought to be in charge, but there were attempts of Queen Victoria's life a few times

And the wife of Francis Joseph, Elizabeth (Sissi) was murdered by an assassin.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 06, 2012, 06:02:22 PM
So was Draga, Queen of Serbia.
 And, killing Alexandra would have done nothing for any cause. Except perhaps to make her a martyr in the eyes of her immediate family. It would not have altered in any way the autocracy. If anything, it would make the regime even more harsh.
 Nicholas could have conceivably remarried and had another heir. That is, if he could find someone to marry into that disfunctional family.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 06, 2012, 11:58:06 PM
However, the account raises more questions than it answers . . . .

It certainly does.  And the name Kurlov is the needle pulling the thread of Bogrov through the whole fabric of the story.

Kurlov goes to Stolypin to tell him that Bogrov is going to report on a meeting of terrorists set for the day of the opera, so that Stolypin and his security guard will not be surprised to see Bogrov show up at the opera house where he would find the security people to whom he was to report.  And that security guard was not Stolypin's usual stalwart protector Deksbach, who had seen Stolypin safely through several assassination attempts, but one Yessoulov who had been substituted for the Kiev ceremonies.

Yet this supposed terrorist meeting, where bombs for attacks on the assembled tsarist officials were to be handed out, was inexplicably rescheduled for the next day when the opportunity to find all the targets assembled in an enclosed space would have passed.

Then, despite careful planning to keep anyone out of the theater who was not pre-cleared for a special pass, Bogrov is somehow given a pass and allowed inside the secured perimeter when his contact, Kurlov's deputy Kuliabko, could just have easily stepped outside to meet him and receive the report.

Then Kurlov, supposedly alarmed at seeing Bogrov inside the theater, orders Kuliabko during the first intermission to eject Bogrov and escort him back to his lodgings where he was to be confined.

Kuliabko confirms to Kurlov that Bogrov had been escorted out and was confined in his apartment.

It later turns out that Kuliabko had supposedly delayed ejecting Bogrov from the theater and even then did not bother to be sure he was confined to his apartment, as ordered and as supposedly reported back to Kurlov.

Bogrov was either the very lucky beneficiary of an extraordinary series of intelligence errors and security gaffes in what Spiridovitch paints as a thoroughly-planned and tightly-run operation . . . or he had some inside help.

To me, the notion that so many unlikely events all aligned perfectly to put Bogrov, gun in hand, in front of Stolypin that evening smacks to me a bit of all the happy accidents and fortuitous coincidences that had to align to get Anna Anderson out of that basement in Ekaterinburg or Marga Boodts delivered safely from Ekaterinburg to Vladivostok in a sack of hay.  Most people have some luck.  A few people have lots of luck.  But very few people have lots of luck combined with perfect timing at critical junctures.


Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Russian Art Lover on July 07, 2012, 05:18:25 PM
I wonder why the assassins just didn't shoot Alexandra.

I know that killing women was not thought about the way it is today and that it was the men who were thought to be in charge, but there were attempts of Queen Victoria's life a few times.

Alexandra was certainly unpopular, first with the Rasputin scandal and then with the war leading to rumours that she was on the side of the enemy.

Towards the end, the rest of the family certainly wanted Alexandra removed one way or another, after she started having Romanovs arrested (Dmitry Pavlovich) after the murder of Rasputin and banished from Petrograd (Felix, Uncle Bimbo).

When Sandro visited Maria Fyodorovna in Kiev and told her what was going on, she wrote in her diary: "It is simply a madhouse, headed by this fury... His story made Olga and I shudder... She has evidently gone completely off her head with madness and desire for revenge."

Slightly later, Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich wrote to Maria Fyodorovna about the logical follow-up to the removal of Rasputin: "After we have removed the hypnotist, we must try to incapacitate the hypnotised. No matter how hard it is, she must be sent as far away as possible, either to a sanatorium or to a convent. We are talking about saving the throne -- not the dynasty, which is still secure, but the current sovereign. Otherwise, it will be too late... The whole of Russia knows that the late Rasputin and A. F. are the one and the same. The first has been killed, now the other must also disappear…" [Source: GA RF, F. 642, Op. 1, D. 2350, L. 34 (verso), 35]

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 07, 2012, 09:39:26 PM
Alexandra was certainly unpopular . . . .

Alexandra seemed to go out of her way to offend her husband's subjects.  On a trip to the Crimea the imperial train stopped at a waystation.  The Minister of the Court told the tsar that a crowd had assembled on the platform, anxious to catch a glimpse of their tsar and tsarina.  Though reluctant, Nicholas bent to the pleas of his suite to go to a window and wave to the crowd.  Alexandra, however, maintained her refusal.  When the incident came to Marie Feodorovna's attention, she erupted in indignation at Alexandra's overbearing arrogance, complaining that she felt herself above having to trouble to win the affection of the people by even the simplest of measures.

As impolitic as the senior GD Marie Pavlovna's unleashing her acid tongue against the imperial couple could be, she hit the nail on the head when she famously commented, in unmistakable reference to Alexandra, that "one ought to know one's job".


Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on July 08, 2012, 05:27:42 PM
Quote
And, killing Alexandra would have done nothing for any cause. Except perhaps to make her a martyr in the eyes of her immediate family. It would not have altered in any way the autocracy. If anything, it would make the regime even more harsh

Yeah, Nicholas might have sought revenge against those that murdered his wife.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Vanya Ivanova on July 11, 2012, 06:32:30 AM
in reference to Tsarfan's and others quotes regarding Empress Alexandra's desire not to engage with her subjects:

The Empress was the only WWI consort to become a fully qualified 'hands on nurse' along with her two elder daughters. The only part exception being Queen Marie of Romania. However Marie and her daughters were 'nursing assistants' for the Red Cross and fulfilled a role much closer to that of the younger Grand Duchesses Maria and Anastasia, in providing morale with their presence (although they did help bandage etc). Empress Alexandra was the ONLY consort to actually get involed with the 'blood and guts' reality of operations and actual day to day nursing care for wounded troops.

One simply cannot imagine either Maria Feodorovna or Maria Pavlovna (the elder) ever doing such a thing. Alexandra we know was painfully shy, these two particular women knew that perfectly well and such quotes about Alexandra 'not knowing her job' are deeply biased by their own respective agendas. The facts speak for themselves, whilst she may have been too shy to wave to her subjects sometimes, when it came to it, unlike any of her contemporary detractors she was prepared to immerse herself and her daughters in their subjects personal care, blood, pus, sick and all. Whatever else one may say about Empress Alexandra you simply have to concede that this was an extraordinarily brave and selfless thing to do.

Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: edubs31 on July 11, 2012, 07:21:53 AM
I very much admire the Empress for her nursing (and for involving her daughters as well). It's just about the only thing she did to ingratiate herself, sadly and foolishly, to common Russians during the years leading up to the revolution. I think part of the point that Tsarfan was making and a sentiment I share in is that even her efforts in the hospital, however, were done on her terms not someone elses. Taking those small steps like hand waving and other pleasant gestures towards the masses and while in Court seems have eluded her. It wasn't her "job" as Empress to get her hands dirty in the OR...a selfless act that we appreciate much more after the fact than most probably did at the time. On the other hand she failed quite spectacularly in those areas that would be deemed important to the role of Tsarina.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Kalafrana on July 11, 2012, 08:05:05 AM
Erik

Going on from what you say, one of Alexandra's major problems was that everything she did was on her own terms! Further, her self-righteousness about what she did and conviction that only she knew what Russia needed were bound to alienate those around her.

Ann
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 11, 2012, 10:50:49 AM
The Empress was the only WWI consort to become a fully qualified 'hands on nurse' . . . .

Queen Olga of Greece worked as a nurse, both in Greece and later in Russia.  In fact, at the time of the revolution she was living back at her family home, the Pavlovsk Palace, which she left early every morning and to which she returned in the evening after working a full shift in a hospital.  And her successor as Queen of the Hellenes, Sophie of Prussia, also worked as a nurse.

In fact, nursing became something of a fad among the higher nobility during WWI.  Olga Alexandrovna did it.  Marie Pavlovna the Younger did it.  Elizabeth Feodorovna did it.  (Even the popular miniseries Downton Abbey alludes to this phenomenon in a scene in which Maggie Smith, playing the crusty Dowager Countess of Grantham, supports her granddaughter's decision to become a nurse by noting that the royals had made it respectable by doing it themselves.)
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: TimM on July 11, 2012, 10:58:01 AM
Alexandra's nursing may have won her some points, but by then it was far too late.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Forum Admin on July 11, 2012, 11:07:14 AM
Alexandra was more of a symptom than the cause of the downfall.  Seriously. It goes way too far to believe that the Russian people gave up on the Imperial system because of anything Alexandra did or did not do. Nursing had nothing to do with anything.  It was the entire system that failed during the combined stresses of Russia becoming a more modern European style society and the total failure of the infrastructure to cope with the stress of fighting (and losing) World War I.

For all of Alexandra's faults, nothing she could have done would have changed anything other than the feelings of Nicholas' immediate family and some of the major Aristocratic families.  If she had been Marie Feodorvna in character, then all that would have changed would have  been the Romanovs, Yussopovs, Golitsyns etc would have liked her and been perhaps more loyal to Nicholas.  But, that would still not have stopped the middle class and intelligensia from becoming dissatisfied with the status quo, and would not have provided bread on the streets of Petersburg and Moscow and Kiev and Odessa....

They could have worshiped Alexandra at Court, and that would have done nothing to deter the foot soldiers and common sailors from losing faith in the system and disobeying their officers.

The Titanic had hit the iceberg and nothing could have been done to change it.  To wish Alexandra was a better person and think that would have changed anything would be the same thing as wishing J. Bruce Ismay was a hero instead of saving himself. The ship would still sink either way...the damage was irreversible and Alexandra's faults were only minor roles to play.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Vanya Ivanova on July 11, 2012, 11:12:39 AM
I suppose it ultimately boils down to a question of philosophy. Alexandra is a perfect example of Aristotle's notion of an individual striving for personal moral excellence and what can happen when that is at odds with the needs of the society they live in. Alexandra's religious beliefs meant that in everthing she did she strove to be an 'excellent' christian, wife, mother and Empress. In reality of course this in effect turned her into an inflexible fanatic. However, her motivation was for personal moral excellence and the common good.

The most pertinent question is therefore, why was her belief system and goals so out of step with the needs of the society she lived in? The main but not entire reason is that she lost rationality and perspective due to extreme personal tragedy. The sheer level of physical suffering her son endured compounded by the dynastic burdens that resulted from his health and the fact that she felt to blame (and was blamed ) meant that she was utterly desperate.

As a result when Rasputin came along she believed God had sent him to help her, her son and Russia. To be fair it has to be remembered that for whatever reason Rasputin WAS able to help her son when no one else could and most probably DID save the Tsarevitch's life on more than one occasion. Alexandra was more desperate in this respect than Nicholas because as Empress it was 'her job' to provide an heir. Her interfering in politics at the end of her husband's reign was largely out of a sense of gratitude to God for having sent someone to help her/Alexei/Russia. Alexandra's complete disconnect from reality (and that of Nicholas's for that matter) is summed up perfectly by her genuine surprise at the Revolution of 1917.

Its one thing to point out her mistakes as Empress, of which there were many but to fully understand the events you have take into account this woman's tragic situation and flawed but compassionate character aswell. To say that she was just simply, haughty or self righteous is to turn her into a two dimensional storybook character. The truth is much more complex and interesting than that.
Title: Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 11, 2012, 01:06:19 PM
Alexandra was more of a symptom than the cause of the downfall.  Seriously. It goes way too far to believe that the Russian people gave up on the Imperial system because of anything Alexandra did or did not do.

I agree that Alexandra was in good measure a symptom more than a cause of what was wrong with Russian autocracy by the late 19th century.  However, I would not absolve her entirely of fault in bringing down the monarchy.

It really hinges on the question of whether, despite all the stresses in the system arising from industrialization, emancipation without land reform, and related tensions, autocracy could have somehow weathered the storm of WWI had Nicholas not made some incredibly unfortunate decisions after 1905 and especially from 1915 onward.

If one is of the view -- and I'm not entirely sure that I am -- that another revolution could have been avoided had a different tsar been on the throne after 1905, then I think Alexandra does bear some blame for bringing down the monarchy.  She was resentful of Witte and implacably hostile to Stolypin, both of whom might have had a chance to stabilize Russia had Nicholas given them more unstinting support.  And it was her hostility to both that influenced in some measure Nicholas' shabby dealing with them.  (Remember that she even had Stolypin spied upon.)  And it was certainly her encouragement that Nicholas refuse all pleas for ministries responsible to the Duma, her insistence that Nicholas reject his counselors' advice and replace his uncle as Supreme Commander of the Military, and the almost unbelievable spinning jenny of mediocre or downright absurd ministerial appointments that she and Rasputin worked to bring about once Nicholas was out of St. Petersburg that had a lot to do with destroying any remaining fragile chances of holding the government together as Russian military reverses mounted.

As each of the pillars of monarchical support collapsed, Alexandra's handprints could be found somewhere on the side of the pillar.  She might not have had the strength to push it over alone, but she did her share of the heaving, albeit unwittingly.

The senior nobility and even some Romanovs became so disillusioned with her that they were willing to undermine the tsar's moral authority and the dynasty's reputation to get at her.  (Not only did crabby old Aunt Miechen run her mouth all over Europe, but Marie Feodorovna made astonishingly candid and disparaging comments on both Nicholas and Alexandra to foreign emissaries.  And GD Dmitri and Russia's richest heir actually turned to murder.)

The senior military commanders, having seen the tsar's performance as Supreme Commander and his malfeasance in civil government as the ministerial system became a widespread joke in the hands of his wife, came to view abandoning the tsar as the only means of avoiding military defeat.

The dominant voices in the Duma -- none of whom sought the overthrow of the monarchy -- became utterly disillusioned of being able to work with Nicholas while he listened to his wife on ministerial appointments