Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty => Nicholas II => Topic started by: Marya Pavlovna on March 03, 2005, 12:58:28 AM

Title: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Marya Pavlovna on March 03, 2005, 12:58:28 AM
Can someone please tell me the exact day of Nicolas' abdication, I'm supposto do a speech about the Romanovs tomorrow and I don't know the exact date, so can someone please post it up?

Thank you!

~Masha~
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: nigbil on March 03, 2005, 02:53:47 AM
Pskov, March 2nd 1917 3:00pm (OS)
This is the 2nd and final abdication in favour of his brother GD Mikhail Alexandrovich.
(source: "The Russian Revolution & the Soviet State 1917-1921 Documents" by my old tutor Martin McCauley.)
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Daniel Briere on March 03, 2005, 09:36:44 AM
Nigbil is right about the date and time inscribed on the Abdication manifesto. But Nicholas II didn’t sign the last one at 3:00 PM but at 11:40 PM later that day. As he had originally signed his first abdication at 3:00 PM (in favor of Alexis) and didn’t want to appear as having bowed to pressure of the emissaries of the Duma when he signed his second abdication (in favor of Michael), the original time was kept. He also signed two orders - one naming Prince Lvov as President of the Council of Minister, the other one naming Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaevich as Commander-in-Chief - both of which dated before the abdication.

As Nigbil wrote, the date of (Thursday) March 2 was according to the old Russian (Julian) calendar. In the West it was already March 15 …the Ides of March. Oddly enough, on his way to Mogilev the week before, Nicholas II had been reading Julius Ceasar. That night, after his abdication, he wrote in his diary: “Around me there is nothing but treason, cowardice, and deception”. Did he remember that on the same date – the Ides of March -  Julius Ceasar had fallen victim to his entourage’s treason?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: nigbil on March 03, 2005, 09:52:08 AM
Daniel, that is fascinating.
So the poor man stewed on what he was doing for almost 9 hours before signing the second act. I know he did not contact the Empress but was that because the telephone lines were down?

Also within the Orthodox calendar, whose name date was March 2nd. If it was Job (I'm sure it was not) that would fit with the fatalism that shrouded his life.

Lastly, and its probably part of another thread, is a legalistic question; if he had signed once (in favour of his son) presumably in law he was no longer Tsar and Emperor of All the Russias? Therefore by a strictly legalist reading, he could not abdicate again?
Nigbil
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Georgiy on March 03, 2005, 02:41:33 PM
Quote
Also within the Orthodox calendar, whose name date was March 2nd. If it was Job (I'm sure it was not) that would fit with the fatalism that shrouded his life.


March 2 is the feast of Hieromartyr Theodotus, Bishop of Cyrenia. He was a Bishop in the early 300s during one of the persecutions of Christians, openly proclaiming Christ. His arrest was ordered, but before they could arrest him, he went to the Governor by himself. They tortured him including by nailing him to an iron bed under which fire was lit. But all through the tortures he didn't cease from preaching Christianity. They threw him in prison, where he remained until the reign of St Constantine the Great. He died in 326.

Also commemorated that day are:St Arseny Bishop of Tver and St Sabbaty of Tver. Virgin-martyr Euthalia of Sicily, Martyr Troadius of Neocaesaria, Venerable Agathon of Egypt, and the 440 Martyrs slain by the Lombards in Sicily.

An icon of the Theotokos enthroned was discovered in Russia on the very day that the Tsar abdicated, and is commemorated on this day too. For the pious it has come to signify that the Mother of God is the protectress of Russia while there is no Tsar.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: strom on March 03, 2005, 08:05:08 PM
"Oddly enough, on his way to Mogilev the week before, Nicholas II had been reading Julius Caesar."

I wonder how "odd" or coincidental this is.  GD. Michael had warned his brother that something was up at Stavka, and the Emperor might have heard from other sources that treason was in the air.  It is likely that the the Emperor had not counted on an alliance of the liberal Duma wing and the military, but he was right in trying to insure that his military was loyal.  When he could not force the military to fight the revolution, he tried to save what he could.  I am not sure it would have made any difference if he has stayed at Stavka because his military was not going to fight a civil war.  
The Emperor was right to plan a military dictatorship.  That was the only viable way to save the monarchy.  
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Daniel Briere on March 06, 2005, 11:11:31 PM
I guess a whole book could be – and probably should be – written about Nicholas II’s abdication. Most historians only give it a few lines, his biographers only a few pages at the most. Participants’ self-serving memoirs aren’t questioned and many events are distorted or even never mentioned at all.

Nigbil, to my knowledge the Emperor didn’t try to contact the Empress before taking his decision to abdicate because he was forced to act much more quickly than it seems. Even if he had wanted to, he knew it could only be through General Ruzsky which wasn’t very sympathetic to either of them. For instance, when the Imperial train arrived at Pskov (March 1/14), according to Palace Commandant Voiekov, who had asked General Ruzsky if he could use his Hughes Apparatus (a type-printer telegraph used by Government and military officials) to send some of the Emperor’s telegrams, Ruzsky replied he couldn’t allow anyone to use his Staff equipment without his consent and that it was impossible to do so at the present time! If true, his insolence was close to insubordination, and should have been a sign that he couldn’t be trusted.

There were very few long-distance telephone lines in Russia at that time : no one mentions any phone conversation from Pskov (so I don’t know if there was a line there), but there indeed was a line between Tsarskoe Selo and the Headquarters in Moghilev : it was unreliable, involved some shouting and, of course, wasn’t secure. Nicholas only managed to speak on the phone with his wife after his abdication when he went back to Moghilev. They usually communicated with each other by letter (usually carried by Court messengers) or coded telegram, but during the fateful day and a half Nicholas spent wandering around on his train, the telegrams the Empress sent him came back undelivered with the mention « Address of person mentioned unknown ». She sent two officers from His Cossack Escort with some letters, but they only arrived, in Moghilev, after he had abdicated.

During the February Revolution, military and government officials had «conversations» using a «direct line». Some authors have mistaken these words as meaning they were using the telephone, but they weren’t. They were using the Hughes Apparatus instead, a type-printer telegraph which had a keyboard that enabled words to be slowly printed out at both ends of the line. Thus «conversations» could be had using two of these devices: it involved making an appointment with the other party who had to go to a place where there was such a machine. It was a time consuming process as one party would dictate one sentence to a telegraph operator, then, after having read it on tape, the other party would dictate his reply to « his » telegraph operator, and so on. A whole conversation could take hours. General Alexeev and President of the Duma Rodzianko communicated this way a few times, Grand Duke Michael had a similar conversation with Alexeev on the evening of February 27/March 12 and so did General Ruzsky at Pskov with Rodzianko and Headquarters. It doesn’t seem the Emperor ever participated in such a dialogue himself. Instead he would write a text and give it to an aide or an officer trusting that they would go to the telegraph office to have his messages or orders sent. As the Emperor had no means of communication on board his train, the telegraphs at railway stations were used to send messages or receive information. And so, from Moghilev to Pskov, at every train station where the Imperial train stopped, members of his entourage were seen running frantically to the telegraph office to get some news or send some telegram. As most of the railways and telegraphs quickly fell under the control of the Provisional Government, needless to say the information they got wasn’t always accurate. Rumors and disinformation spread all along the railway lines like wildfire so it must have been extremely difficult to get a clear picture of what was really going on. The Emperor certainly understood the importance of having reliable means of communication at his disposal. On March 1/14 at 4:00 when his train was stopped only a 100 miles from Petrograd at Malaya Vishera (the road ahead was said to be blocked by insurgents), his entourage was wondering where to go : Moscow? Back to Moghilev? He asked where was the closest Hughes Apparatus located : it was at the Northern Front Headquater at Pskov. So there they would go. Ironically, he would be prevented to use it there, but it would be used by Ruzsky to plot his downfall with Rodzianko and Alexeev.

Oddly enough, before leaving Moghilev (at 5:00 AM on February 28/March 13), the Emperor didn’t send a telegram to his wife to let her know he was leaving later than expected. His trains (there were always two of them) were not taking the direct railway line to Tsarskoe Selo in order not to hinder the movement of General Ivanov’s non-existant Expeditionary Force to Petrograd and other military trains necessary to supply the Army. Rather they were going east to Smolensk and Viazma then north. It was only when they stopped at Viazma at 3:00 PM that he managed to send a telegram to the Empress which must have been held up somewhere as it took almost 2 hours to reach Tsarskoe Selo. This route added 200 miles – 9 hours – to the trip. Who knows what could have happened if the Emperor had followed General Ivanov’s train instead : he would have probably made it to Tsarskoe Selo and thus would have escaped his «loyal» generals.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Daniel Briere on March 06, 2005, 11:13:44 PM
As for « stewing » for a long while about his abdication, the timeline proves he didn’t. He arrived at Pskov at 8:00 PM on March 1/14. After supper, general Ruzsky (Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Front) presented him with a plea from Alexeev to make some constitutional changes and grant a government reponsible to the Duma, with Rodzianko as Prime Minister. In less than an hour, Nicholas II had agreed to it, and later agreed to recall general Ivanov and the regiments which had been ordered to Petrograd to restore order, as it was argued the new constitutional order would be enough to calm things down (either some wishful thinking on the part of the generals of a clever ploy to prevent the remaining loyal forces in the capital receiving reinforcments). While the Tsar went to bed, General Ruzsky went to the telegraph office to have a « conversation » (using the Hughes telegraph) with the President of the Duma, Rodzianko, and inform him of his triumph. The telegraphic dialogue went on for 4 hours, until 7:30 AM on March 2/15 : Rodzianko managed to « persuade » Ruzsky (and Alexeev) that the Emperor’s decision had come too late and that the only way to stop the Revolution was to obtain his abdication in favor of his son, with GD Michael Alexandrovich as Regent. At Stavka, General Alexeev – who had received the transcripts of the Ruzsky-Rodzianko conversation, waisted no time : he asks his staff to write a draft for an abdication manifesto. A short while later, fearing that Ruzsky alone might not be able to persuade Nicholas II to abdicate, Alexeev sends a telegram to all Commanders-in-Chief and Fleet Admirals asking them to beg the Emperor to abdicate to save Russia from Revolution, Civil War and defeat.

At 10:30 AM, after having slept a couple of hours, General Ruszky boards the Imperial train and hands Nicholas the transcript of his conversation with Rodzianko. The Tsar seems ready to acquiesce, in order to prevent bloodshed. But, as they were speaking, a telegram from General Alexeev is brought to Ruszky : it is the telegram sent to all Front Commanders. As the Tsar asks Ruzsky what his answer would be, the general replies that such a momentous decision needs some reflection and that maybe they should wait for the other Commanders’ answers. At 2:30 PM a long telegram arrives from Headquarters with the answers of the 3 other Commanders-in-Chief, including Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaevich. They were all begging the the Emperor to abdicate. Ruszky, along with 2 of his generals, brought this telegram to Nicholas II. In less than 30 minutes the Tsar agrees to abdicate in favor of his son. A few minutes later, he hands Ruzsky the text of 2 telegrams: one to Rodzianko informing him he was ready to abdicate in favor of his son, as long as he would be allowed to stay with him until his coming of age. The other one, to Alexeev, saying that he was ready to abdicate in favor of his son. But he still hadn’t signed anything, apart from these telegrams.

Ruzsky had already received the text of the abdication manifesto from Headquarters and he could have had the Emperor sign it right away. But right after Nicholas II’s decision to abdicate in favor of Alexis, Ruszky receives a telegram from Petrograd saying that 2 emissaries from the Duma were en route for Pskov. Not knowing what they wanted, he informs Nicholas II and they decide that they should wait for them before Nicholas signs anything. The Duma deputies Guchkov and Shulgin arrive at Pskov at 10:00 PM. They thought they would have a tough job convincing Nicholas II to abdicate, but he told them he was ready to abdicate, only this time it was for himself AND his son. The deputies were quite surprised, but nevertheless agreed. Having an amended manifesto ready took a while and the Emperor signed it at a quarter to midnight. So he signed his abdication only once, not twice.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Daniel Briere on March 06, 2005, 11:26:03 PM
What strikes me is how easily the abdication of Nicholas II was achieved. In less than three days, the words of only three men – Rodzianko, Ruzsky and Alexeev – would suffice to persuade Nicholas that Russia was on the verge of revolution and that he needed to hand over the Government to the Duma, then that the situation was so desperate that the only option was his abdication. As the Emperor didn’t have any political advisor in his entourage – members of the Imperial Suite were military men for the most part and he never discussed politics with them – he had no one to turn to for « independant » advice outside his courtiers - who would never contradict him anyway - and his ministers whom he didn’t trust much, except a few odd ones (like Court Minister Freedericksz who was senile and Protopopov who was more than « odd » and out of reach). The generals would fill in the gap and themselves would be quickly out manoeuvered by a few astute politicians. During his reign, Nicholas had lived « in splendid isolation », and took care of everything himself. He didn’t even have a private secretary who could have helped him with the petty details of government which overwhelmed him. Adding the burden of Supreme Commander of the Army on his shoulders, on top of the responsability of governing a vast Empire, was really too much for one man alone. This, Nicholas II failed to understand it. On the train from Moghilev to Pskov, far from the only person he really trusted but not always listened too – his wife - he must have felt more isolated than ever. He arrived at Pskov a broken man, exhausted by the burden of waging war and trying to govern at the same time. In the last months he had suffered from what is now called a burn out and, only a few days before, while at church, had experienced all the symptoms of what he tought to be a heart attack (although he might have been a panic attack instead). At Pskov he didn’t really give his generals a good fight. Although I’m no psychologist, I think that – deep down -  he had already abdicated a while ago. Unknown to them, and to himself even, his generals provided him with a way out he could only have dreamt about and rejected on the basis of his deep faith and high sense of duty. What he couldn’t do on his own, others – his generals – would force him to do.  He had known for a while about all kinds of plots, in the Duma, in the Army, even in his own family – and did nothing. To me, his physical and mental exhaustion, and unexpressed desire to end his sufferings, is the only (psycho-)logical explanation to his quick surrender to his generals. By letting himself get « caught like a mouse in a trap » (as the Empress put it), he committed political suicide.  

He left back for Moghilev almost immediately (at 01:00 AM, March 3/16). It suddenly occured to him that he hadn’t even asked his brother’s opinion before abdicating on his favor. He wrote a telegram « To His Imperial Majesty Emperor Michael »  apologizing for not having informed him beforehand. Oddly enough, it wasn’t sent before 3 :00 PM and Michael was one of the last person to learn that he was Emperor of Russia! He had spent his only night as Emperor not knowing he even was! He learned it in the morning, apparently from Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich.  Later that day, members of the Provisional Government – under pressure from the Petrograd Soviet -managed to have him sign a very odd document which took hours for lawyers to write. Although the press reported that Michael had abdicated, he hadn’t : his manifesto didn’t say he was abdicating, nor that he had even accepted the Throne, only that he would accept it, providing a Constituent Assembly would later ask him to. This was quite clever because if Michael had indeed abdicated, the Succession would have gone to Cyril as the Throne couldn’t be vacant according to the Law. To prevent this, the new governement simply said that it had been collectively invested with the Supreme Power. No one bothered to protest, not even Cyril who had previously pledged allegiance to the new government. It took him five years to realize that the Russian Throne was vacant and two more to announce that, according to the Fundamental Law of the Russian Empire, he had automatically become Emperor. By then, of course there was no Throne for him to sit on, although some argued that since the Constituent Assembly never got to make a regime change (the Bolsheviks shut it down it after its first meeting), legally Russia still was a monarchy. Stalin must have had a good laugh!

Nigbil your « legalistic » questions about Nicholas II’s abdication are quite valid when applied to Michael Alexandrovich’s situation. More about that later.

Strom : to which plan of military dictatorship are you thinking about? There seems to have been more than one, some unknown to Nicholas II.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: presyork on March 07, 2005, 12:37:52 AM
Daniel,


Your detail of the day of the abdication is very good, I havent found books that describe it as well as that. Specifically the point of how Nicholas II had not signed the abdication document till the duma representatives arrived and amended it to include Alexei. What I have always wondered is what happened after Nicholas II abdicated, I know he went to mogliev, and I have read the Dowager Empress spent time with him but did his Imperial Guard and aides completely abandon him? It almost seems to me that he should have made preparations to for the worst and gotten assurances for protection from the provisional government for him and his family and at worst be sent to the crimea...  
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Elisabeth on March 07, 2005, 11:09:01 AM
Quote
What strikes me is how easily the abdication of Nicholas II was achieved. In less than three days, the words of only three men – Rodzianko, Ruzsky and Alexeev – would suffice to persuade Nicholas that Russia was on the verge of revolution and that he needed to hand over the Government to the Duma, then that the situation was so desperate that the only option was his abdication....

At Pskov he didn’t really give his generals a good fight. Although I’m no psychologist, I think that – deep down -  he had already abdicated a while ago. Unknown to them, and to himself even, his generals provided him with a way out he could only have dreamt about and rejected on the basis of his deep faith and high sense of duty. What he couldn’t do on his own, others – his generals – would force him to do.  He had known for a while about all kinds of plots, in the Duma, in the Army, even in his own family – and did nothing. To me, his physical and mental exhaustion, and unexpressed desire to end his sufferings, is the only (psycho-)logical explanation to his quick surrender to his generals. By letting himself get « caught like a mouse in a trap » (as the Empress put it), he committed political suicide.


Daniel, all of your comments are extremely insightful, and I'm particularly struck by the ones I'm quoting here... But do you really think Nicholas could have retained the crown without the support of his chief generals in the army? Do you think it might have been his own slow, dawning realization that he had lost the support of the all-important army that finally led to his psychological surrender and formal abdication? (Was General Alexeev's disloyalty perhaps the turning point?) After all, NII had retained the support of the army during the Revolution of 1905...

Or were there still army commanders in March 1917 that Nicholas could have turned to in his hour of desperate need?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Tsaritsa on March 10, 2005, 03:35:55 AM
I have always believed Nicholas abdicated for the good of Russia.  When it became clear that the country would be immersed in civil war and revolution if he remained on the throne, he abdicated.  

For Nicholas his life had been spent in duty to his country and people.  While he was weak and made many errors in judgment he ruled with a pure heart.  IMHO.  

In the end, he gave his throne up to save Russia.

Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: strom on March 11, 2005, 11:31:48 AM
Briere asks me what was the Emperor's plan for a military dictatorship.  The only one that I know of would have been that headed by Gen. Ivanov.  I think that was foiled by the Duma and Stavka conspirators.  It would be interesting to know more what Ivanov thought about the Emperor's plan.  
Also, the Emperor made the decision to return to Stavka very suddenly on February 21/ March 7 after a private audience with Gen. Gurko.  (Gen. Gurko had replaced Gen. Alekseev as Chief of Staff on Alekseev "illness" in Nov. 1916.)  I assume the Emperor had also talked to GD. Michael on that date and had heard of the "disaffection" of the leading military at Stavka.  Alekseev's return to Stavka on 2.19 "surprised" the staff. I wonder if the Emperor was only informed of that return after the fact and if He was not merely surprised but angered.  Was this return of Alekseev grounds in itself for the Emperor's suspician?  In any event, the plans to depose the Emperor were known in society generally because Lili Dehn heard of them probably immediately after the Emperor left for Stavka through her aunt.  
The point of all this is that the collapse of the Russian empire was a planned event.  It took organization, cooperation and money.  It would appear that most of this devolves on the head of A. Guchkov, the chairman of the War Industries Committee, who apparently diverted a percentage of the funds of the committee for his own use (per Oldenburg in Last Tsar).  One is reminded of the megalomania of J.P. Morgan and other recent "Merchants of Death."  Guchkov testified in Aug. 1917 "I decided on the need for the soveriegn's abdication long before the time of the actual overthrow."    
   
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Erichek on March 14, 2005, 02:38:31 PM
I think Daniel Briere's account is a very interesting one.

Daniel, anyone, what do you think the outcome might have been if Nicholas had not given in to the pressure to abdicate? Suppose Alexandra would have been there, or his mother, or anyone from the family?
And would the standing army (meaning the soldiers at the front) have fought for him? Would civil war have broken out already then?

Any thoughts anyone?


Erichek
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: strom on March 14, 2005, 03:43:50 PM
Guchkov and the other conspirators figured the best place to constrict the manuverability of the Emperor would be while he was in transit.  Communication was most important to control and Ruszky effectively closed the Emperor off from outside contact as soon as the Imperial Train arrived at Pskov.  I think the conspirators were quite aware how much the Emperor depended on the Empress and figured that He could be compelled to leave Stavka if his family was personally threatened.  The Emperor was already aware of these personal threats before he left on Mogilev (Stavka).  I do not believe that the Emperor really knew the depth of the growing military and political conspiracy before he left Stavka, but once he boarded that train his fate was sealed.  As the Empress said "It was a trap!"  
  Nicolas might not have abdicated if the military had stood firm behind him or were standing firm.  Though he had tried to separate the military from political influence it is clear that his efforts in that regard were futile.  (Sometime that winter, He had demanded that Gen. Alekseev break off contact with the Duma conspirators !) It is clear that he did not understand the depth of the disaffection within his military until after arriving at Pskov and receiving the telegrams from the military commanders asking Him to abdicate.  That was the final straw.  He knew he could not win the political impasse without a military dictatorship, and his military was not going to support him.  It is important to remember that the Imperial army effectively was destroyed not long after the March revolution though I do not have the actual info at my fingertips today.  It was accomplished via a directive of the Duma!  As Shulgin would later say (I paraphrase) the Duma functioned under the aegis of the Imperial cadres but once that was destroyed there was nothing to dsave the Constitutution of Russia from the Terrorists, i.e. Bolcheviks.  
  After the Abdication, the Emperor, of course, tried to save what he could and even imagined (as he had been told) that all would be well in the short and long term.  There were many big and small lies.  
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: James1941 on March 21, 2005, 12:36:00 PM
Daniel's account of the Tsar's psychological burnout is right on the money. Not often mentioned but only hinted at by a few authors is the fact that the Tsar was also using harmful drugs. He regularly took cocaine for colds and stuffy nose. He was also taking "drugs" prescribed by a Tibetan faith healer whose name was Badmaev I think. The contents of these "drugs" is not known. This dosen't mean Nicholas was a drug addict in the illegal sense. Drugs such as cocaine, opium and morphine were widely used by doctors to treat all kinds of illnesses. However, the effect of these drugs on the body and the mind is now well known. Several accounts refer to the Tsar's  dreaminess and unaccounted for periods of elation, classic symptoms of drug use. Could this have accounted for his giving up so easily and his lack of fight?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: cochise_stone on March 22, 2005, 03:01:29 AM
"I will adhere as unswervingly to the principles of autocracy as my father did"
Hey guys, got that quote, for a quote analysis of a sac tomorrow.....does anybody wanna help me disect it a little....
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: bluetoria on March 22, 2005, 10:35:15 AM
Hello cochise-stone  :)
Didn't that speech dampen the expectations of many people who had expected a more liberal rule from Nicholas? I suppose he tried to live up to it - if only out of respect for his father & on the advice of his uncles & more reactionary advisors - but in the end he couldn't. Firstly he was forced to make the 1905 concessions & ultimately to abdicate.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: nigbil on March 23, 2005, 02:58:05 AM
Thank you Daniel for the minutiae of the abdication - it is fascinating and it has been so often overlooked.

I wonder, like Erichek, what might have happened if Nicholas had been able to talk to his wife - either by telephone or by Hughes telegraph (was there one at the Alexander Palace?) on 1st March. She, presumably, might have persuaded him to try to stick it out by rallying whatever loyal generals he could find. Or indeed, what would have happened if, face to face, he demanded the loyalty of those around him in the name of Russia and 300 years of Romanov rule. Ever the fatalist, he went like a child, without resisting. Daniel is probably right when he says he was a broken man - but I don't personally have much sympathy for him at this point.

He clearly over-estimated his own abilities and should never have taken over the conduct of the war from NN. Had he been able to stay in the capital running the civil administration, he might have realised that feeding the cities was a higher priority than it was given. And as to having " ministers whom he didn’t trust much" strikes me as folly beyond belief..........
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: griffh on April 09, 2005, 07:41:46 PM
What a wonderfully reasoned thread on the abdication.  Just to say that March 2 fell on a Friday in 1917.  There is a great calander website that is really helpful but I forget it's name.  I will look it up however.  The other emotionally charged aspect besides the connection with Julius Ceasar was how closely the events of Feb and March of 1917 paralleled the events that lead up to the assassination of Nicky's grandfather, Alexander II.  Alexander II had been assassinated on March 1/14 and it was such a similar political situation.  Mil  

Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: lexi4 on April 09, 2005, 08:49:57 PM
Quote
Daniel,


Your detail of the day of the abdication is very good, I havent found books that describe it as well as that. Specifically the point of how Nicholas II had not signed the abdication document till the duma representatives arrived and amended it to include Alexei. What I have always wondered is what happened after Nicholas II abdicated, I know he went to mogliev, and I have read the Dowager Empress spent time with him but did his Imperial Guard and aides completely abandon him? It almost seems to me that he should have made preparations to for the worst and gotten assurances for protection from the provisional government for him and his family and at worst be sent to the crimea...  


I  have wondered that too. Why didn't he get some kind of assurances that he and his family would receive protection and leave the country? He probably wasn't in much of a position to bargain. But I wonder why he didn't try. I wonder if he fully realized what could be ahead for the IF. Do you think  Nicholas ever thought that the IF family would be executed?  I also wonder, what the out come of the situation would have been had he not been disconnected from Alexandra. She was his most trusted advisor and I think he had a hard time with decisions with out her.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: griffh on April 09, 2005, 09:44:55 PM
What a wonderful thread on the abdication and how clearly and really for the first time the depth of betrayal is exposed.  Just to say that there is a really wonderful calendar website and Feb 16/ March 2 falls on a Friday.  

I just wanted to add that not only was there the striking parallel with Caesar, but there was the overwhelming parallel with Nicky’s grandfather’s assassination which had occurred on March 1/15 1881.  It will be remembered that in Feb. 1881 Loris Melikoff reported that a new plot had been laid by the Revolutionary Executive Committee, but its plan could not be discovered by any amount of searching. Thereupon Alexander II decided that a sort of deliberative assembly of delegates from the provinces should be called. Always under the idea that he would share the fate of Louis XVI, he described this gathering as an assembly of notables, like the one convoked by Louis XVI before the National Assembly in 1789.

The scheme had to be laid before the Council of State, but then again he hesitated. It was only on the morning of March 1 (14), 1881, after a final warning by Loris Melikoff, that he ordered it to be brought before the council on the following Thursday. This was on Sunday, and he was asked by Melikoff not to go out to the parade that day, there being danger of an attempt on his life. Nevertheless he went. He wanted to see the Grand Duchess Catherine, and to carry her welcome news. He is reported to have told her, "I have determined to summon an assembly of notables." However, this belated and half-hearted concession had not been made public, and on his way back to the Winter Palace he was killed.

Just like the political atmosphere in Feb 1881, the same revolutionary tensions and plots abounded in Feb. 1917.   There were so many plots to overthrown the crown that they are overwhelming in themselves and involved almost every member of the Imperial family in one way or another as a perpetrator or a principle.  

In February 1917 Nicky had returned from Moghileff for the opening of the parliament which he chose not to attend.  However he remained in close touch with his ministers as there was a very ominous feeling permeating the opening session.  It was a few days after this that Nicky decided to return to Moghileff but before he did this he called his council together on Thurs Feb. 22/Mar 8.  Like Loris Melikoff had implored Alexander II, Nicky’s ministers implored him to sign two edicts, one granting a responsible ministry which the Duma was demanding.  If that edict was not enough to quell the opposition, the second edict granted a constitution as a free-will gift from the Czar.  I think that this helps us understand the beautiful and generous wording of the abdication as almost a reflection of what the second edict must have sounded like.    

The ministers wrote out the two edicts and return that evening for Nicky to sign.  If this is not a parallel with Alexander II really don’t know what is and emotionally it must have drained Nicky, not to mention the fact that he had to then return to the Alexander Palace and face Alix.  I think that Alix even refers to the argument in her letters to Nicky after he returned to Moghileff, but maybe I am mistaken here and all my books are packed to I can not check my sources.  
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: griffh on April 09, 2005, 09:45:44 PM
I also believe that their argument was so heated that raised voices could be heard by the staff, but I also might be mistaken.  Anyway sometime that night or in the early hours of the Friday morning, Feb. 23/Mar 9 the edicts were destroyed   By Friday afternoon Protpopoff was given a signed blank that put unconditional power in his hands and permission to tell the council of ministers in his own time.  Against both Alix, his family and the council’s advise, Nicky bolted that afternoon back to Moghileff.  That same day the black bread riots erupted in St. Petersburg.  Whether they were orchestrated by Guchov or Protopopoff will forever remain a mystery, but clearly the shortages were a political ploy.  The disturbances became more violent and continued until Sunday Feb 25/Mar 11.  Still the council of ministers knew nothing of the destruction of the edicts and it hit everyone like a thunderbolt when it was announced in Sunday’s paper that the blank that Nicky had signed was used to dissolve the Duma.  It seemed to be such a double blow as the Parliament had voluntarily closed its session on Tuesday in order to give Nicky enough time to present the first edict which they were sure was going to be published in the Sunday paper.  Nicky had now been at Moghileff for two and a half days hiding out from everyone, it appears.  I don’t believe he had to be on drugs to feel totally drugged and in shock by the time he returned to Moghileff or as he quietly waited in dread for the response to his inability to stand by the edicts.  

From the remarks Nicky made about Protopoppoff especially after enough time had elapsed for him to get a good look at the man, Nicky does not appear to have much respect for him so it was not as if Nicky was convinced of the arguments about preserving the autocracy.  And as the government, especially the brutal nature Guchov, had targeted Alix for extermination and she rightly wanted him to be hanged, still Nicky could not sanction his wife incarceration in a monastery which was what Guchov was demanding.  Nicky went so far as to suggest that when the children recovered their health that for Alexis’ sake, Dr. Botkin had suggested that she and the children retire to the Crimea for the rest of the war.  Clealy Nicky was torn in so many different directions, plus the painful memories that even the weather must have brought back to him at twelve standing at the foot of his grandfather’s bed watching the mangled body die, and as the G.D. Alexander said, with hysterical sobbs of the blood drenched Princess Yourievskaya and the macabre rattling of Nicky and his mother’s iceskates which they were still holding.

By Monday Feb 26/Mar 12 building were burning in the capital and the town was in an uproar, but the cabinet met in Marie Palace in defiance of being disbanded and unanimously voted to dismiss Protopopoff (which was the first time a minister had been dismissed by his colleagues), then they all sent a letter of resignation to Nicky at Moghileff.  Protopopoff immediately begged for mercy and immediately turned on Alix in a failed attempt to clear himself but none of his last minute ditch efforts kept him safe and he ended up in the Fortress.  Mon Feb 26/Mar 12 Alix spoke to Nicky directly by their private wire on the phone telling him that she could see part of St. Petersburg on fire.  I think Nicky reassured her that General Ivanov was on his way to the capital.

Tues. Feb 27/Mar13 Rodzanko sent three telegrams to Nicky which Woyeikoff at first kept from him but they were so terrifying that finally Woyeikoff gave all three to Nicky who started at them uncomprehendingly saying that Protopopoff had assured him that there was no real danger (i.e. that the disturbances were to be staged).  Unlike the reports of Nicky being indifferent, once he caught on that this was a real disturbance and had reached threatening proportions in the capital he verbally whip lashed Woyeikoff and with rapid preparations the Imperial train was readied and departed two hours later on the evening of Feb 27/ Mar 13 hoping to reach the capital by Wed. Feb 28/ Mar 14.  That night the train was re-routed to Pskov.  On Thurs Mar 1/ Mar 15 Nicky talked with Alix on their private wire at Pskov and now she said that the fires in St. Petersburg had grown to an alarming degree but her main concern was the health of their children as Alexi was now dangerously ill with measles.  It was at Pskov on Friday Mar 2/ Mar 16 that Nicky abdicated to the deputation of ministers from St. Petersburg.  After the abdication was signed and the deputation of ministers were on their way back to the capital, Nicky again spoke with Alix over their private wire Friday Mar 2/ Mar 16 evening before departing from Pskov himself for Moghileff and he did not mention the abdication, understandably given Alix’s reaction over the two edicts from a week ago.  

When Nicky returned to Moghileff he did not attempt to use his quarters in the palace there but remained in his train.  There is no record of him talking with his wife by private wire for the next four days.  He was allowed to drive about freely and he spent a great deal of time with his mother who had come in her train from Kiev.  Woyeikoff tried to abandon Nicky and attempted to join the Maire’s staff but was rejected, fled and ended up in the Fortress along with Protopopoff.  On the forth day, Nicky was told that he was now under arrest.  
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Lass on April 11, 2005, 06:21:05 PM
I started a thread in another part of the forums, but was told to come here for the answer. ::) Without trying to interupt the flow of thought here, may I ask - was it legal for the Tsar to abdicate for his son? I know he did it, but was it legal?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Georgiy on April 11, 2005, 09:54:26 PM
I think that is being discussed in a different thread - "Was Aleksey ever Tsar?" on the Alexei pages.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Daniel Briere on April 12, 2005, 12:17:48 AM
I guess poor Lass will get tired of running around from thread to thread in the hope of getting an answer to his question!  :-/  He was right to ask his question in the “The Final Chapter” in the first place (where it belongs) and I for one, plead guilty to discussing the question of abdication here and elsewhere…So for Lass, here is a short answer: Nicholas II’s abdication on behalf of his son was NOT legal. As for Alexis, since he was a minor, he couldn’t renounce his own rights (or abdicate) until his majority (at 16).

Here is what Nicolas de Bazily (the lawyer who wrote the draft of Nicholas II’s abdication in favor of Alexis, not Michael) wrote in his memoirs about the succession: “As for the succession to the throne, it was regulated in the strictest manner by the Fundamental Laws. They stipulated that if the reigning monarch had a son or several sons, it would be this son or the eldest of these sons, minor or not, who should necessarily succeed him on the throne. The order of succession could not be modified by Emperor Nicholas. In fact, like his predecessors, Nicholas had at the time of his accesssion solemnly pledged to respect the manner of succession established by the Fundamental Laws. Only an amendment of these laws could introduce a change in the order of succession to the throne. Furthermore, since the reforms of 1906, no change could be made in the Fundamental Laws without the approval of the legislative chambers, that is, the State Council and the Duma. But no Fundamental law had been enacted to modify the provisions relative to the order of succession. Thus Nicholas II could only abdicate in favor of his legitimate heir, his young son Alexei.”

It is interesting to note that after Nicholas returned to Moghilev he changed his mind again and asked General Alexeev (his former Chief of Staff) to inform the Provisional Governement that he was ready to abdicate in favor of Alexis instead of Michael. General Alexeev declined to do so, answering it was too late for that. Maybe Nicholas had realized his decision had been illegal (who knows...), but he probably had understood he had made a big mistake in abdicating in favor of Michael and that, after his brother had temporarily refused to accept the throne, the only hope of saving the monarchy was to have the young and innocent Alexis as emperor. Although one could say that Nicholas II’s abdication was illegal too, as he had signed it under a great deal of pressure (as it was the case for Michael’s manifesto), my view is that immediately after Nicholas II abdicated, the crown had passed to Alexis. In 1797 Paul I edicted a law establishing the order of succession. He explained its aim: “that the State never be without a successor; that the successor be determined by the law itself; that there be not the slightest doubt as to the successor..."   He wanted to avoid the problems who had arisen a few times since the death of Peter the Great. There would be (so he tought!)  no more vacant throne or disputes about a successor. As the Fundamental Laws say, the Heir to the Throne succeeds immediately (and automatically by virtue of the law) after the demise of the Emperor. Therefore by law, tsarevich Alexis became Emperor Alexis II a few minutes before midnight on March 2/15, 1917.

A Constituent Assembly was to decide on the form of Government (to keep the monarchy or have a republic). This Assembly was later elected but the Bolsheviks dismissed it at gunpoint after its first and only meeting. As no freely elected representatives of the Russian People ever got to decide to abolish the monarchy, one could argue that, legally,  Alexis was Emperor of Russia until his death.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: strom on April 24, 2005, 01:25:40 PM
To Daniel Briere:
I know how much the niceties of legalize sooth the shattered conscious of this age, but I wonder how much these mattered to the Emperor when he faced the disintegration of his immediate family, the only close support he had known for some time and especially since the death of Father Gregory.  No one would have wanted Alexis to succeed more than the Imperial couple but how could that have united a divided Russia at this critical moment in its political and cultural history.      
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: griffh on April 24, 2005, 09:29:50 PM
Strom I really think you have made a wonderful point that is very much closer to where Nicky was thinking.  One of the things was most tragic about the last few years of Nicky's reign was the interception of letters that the even family members were writing about the need to get rid of Alix that the secret police were then passing on to Nicky and Alix to read.  

While historians acknowledge the terrible impact that the intercepted letters had on Nicky and Alix as they began to understand how hated they were and how compromised their own family was.  I believe that Alix read both letters from Princess Z. Yousoupoff and her own sister that show complicity with the murder of Rasputin.  While historian acknowledge the depressing impact the intercepted letters had on Nicky and Alix, still they show so little understanding when interpreting scenes such as the GD Alexander's famous last interview with Alexandra.  They emphasize how inflexible and distant Alix is as she listens to the GD, even when he looses all control and starts shouting, with Nicky sitting quietly the whole time smoking.  

No one make mention of the fact that one of the GD Alexander's brothers has openly stated Alix should be illiminated.  How is Alix going to react to the GD Alexander's pleas for a more liberal government when behind that plea a plot against her life.        

But you know, actually as I have thought about it I think that the real culprit of the revolution is not Alexandra, Nicky, or even Rasputin, I think that they were all scapegoats.  I think the real cause of the Revolution was WW1.  

When my books are unpacked I will try and share some of the statistics of what happened to America when it tried to mobilize a million men on entering the last year of the war and the near crisis and popular revolt it brought on.  I think reviewing those facts will give a much clearer sense of how remarkably well Russia did through three long years of war.    

In connection with this I was also aware that if you study the year that the GD Nicholas was Commander and Chief you begin to read descriptions of how altered his behaviour becomes after a year of the constant slaughter of the Russian Army and then the reverses in Gallacia, and how the GD Nicholas becomes distant and depressed.  The description of his mental state just before he was replaced by Nicky are very similar to the descriptions of Nicky close to the abdication.  

I feel that the abdication was a way of Nicky trying to save Alix life' and the what ever would be left of his son's life.   I think that on a personal level, as Strum has said, the abdication is Nicky's last desparate attempt to save all that he really had in life, his dear misunderstood wife and his precious children.  

It also occurs to me that no historian wants to look at the abdication too closely as it would compromise too many people including the Allies.  I have always found it rather curious that America did not enter the War until the Czar abdicated and that America was the first nation to recognize the Provisional Government as legitimate.  

The Allied Ambassadors involvement in the Revolution has always remained a unsolved question especially when one considers that Paleologue at one point offered asylum for the Empress in France for the remainder of the war, and Princess Cantacuzene repeats a conversation just before the revolution with a woman she describes as Lady ____, who she describes as the wife of a dipolmat and who could be non other that Lady Buchannan the wife of the British Ambassador.  

While calling on the Lady, the Princess relates that the topic of conversation had focused on the hard conditions in St. Petersburg, newly renamed Petrograd, when Lady ______, the wife of the dipolmat said:

"But really, what can you expect when the party in power is a Germanophile party, led by a woman not normal, who is in the hands of the enemy, and working for them?  It is really terrible about the poor Empress, you know; all all those horrible creatures about her!  I am sure if no one does anything about it there will be a revolution one of these days!"  And the Princess adds that the last part of the statement was made in a threatening tone as the Lady settled her skirts with great energy.  

Princess Canatcuzene did not let the matter rest there without defending the Empress's honor and replied to the Lady:

"Why surely, dear Lady_____, you don't believe all the gossip you hear?  One must not, you know.  We don't; as for instance, there are rumors being floated that your husband was mixed up in Rasputin's murder, and we don't believe that; so you must not accept as truth all that the busy-bodies say of us Russians at court.  We are not half so bad, really, as we are made out to be."

The Princess said that the diplomat's wife changed the conversation immediately and spoke instead of the lovely Order of St. Catherine that the Empress had recently decorated her with.  

Oh and I wanted to add that I just learned, and I am sure that everyone else already knows this, so forgive me my ignorance, but the Julian calander for the 19th century was 13 days behind our calander and in the twentieth century 12 days so I am sorry to have challenged that dates and mine were two days off in the thread.  
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Georgiy on April 25, 2005, 05:08:32 PM
Quote
the Julian calander for the 19th century was 13 days behind our calander and in the twentieth century 12 days

Other way around! It became 13 days different with the 20th Century, and is still 13 days different.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Erichek on May 04, 2005, 12:07:37 PM
Or, in proper English: "he led them to the basement himself".

I do remember Radzinsky making this comment about Nicholas II, and he referred to the basement-like chamber in Ipatiev house where Nicholas II and his family were shot.

Thus, Radzinsky puts the 'blame' for the Romanovs' awful end on Nicholas' shoulders.

Dear forum members, what are your thoughts on this one?


Erichek
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Ortino on May 04, 2005, 04:11:57 PM
I actually agree with Radzinsky in the sense that Nicholas' actions lead him and his family to that end. Had he been able to rule efficiently and effectively, there would have been no need for a revolution or a reason for such radical sentiment. Nicholas' inability to do so did lead them to the grave.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: lexi4 on May 04, 2005, 04:37:16 PM
I think Nicholas's inablility to lead was only part of it. A small piece of a bigger picture. What do you think?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: etonexile on May 04, 2005, 05:52:35 PM
Why didn't the former Czar use the issue of the safe departure of his family from Russia as a barganing chip before he would agree to abdicate the throne...?

Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: bluetoria on May 04, 2005, 06:03:17 PM
Perhaps he believed that Misha would become Tsar & little else would change?
He may have believed that the revolutionaries only wanted to be rid of him & that there would be no danger to his family. After all, he was presented the abdication manifesto in a very civilized manner. Maybe?  :-/
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: jtareb on May 04, 2005, 09:56:27 PM
From what I've read he appeared to be in a state of shock about the whole situation. The very idea that the army around whom Romanov rule had been built would desert the Tsar was devestating. N2 only wanted to go back to his family.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Ming on May 05, 2005, 11:49:27 AM
I agree with the "shock" theory.  He had surrounded himself with "yes" people, and had an unrealistic picture of reality for a very long time.  Also, the only person he REALLY listened to was his wife.  He was a wonderful family man, but was in no way prepared to be Tsar, and he knew it and his mother knew, and a lot of people knew it.  I think he just wanted to go home, to his family, and chop wood and dig in his garden and not have to be Tsar anymore. I don't think it ever occured to him that his family would be harmed. At this moment, his whole world was closing in on him, and all he wanted was to go home to the one person who loved him and believed in him...his wife.  To them, family was everything.  Which is not in the least a BAD thing...but for the Tsar...he never did find the balance that was needed to be both a Tsar and a family man.

On the other spectrum, in England, it seems that the royalty know how to be good royals, but sort of have the "family" thing messed up.

Balance is a very, very hard thing to find...for us all.  I can't even imagine what it must be like for royalty.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: RichC on May 05, 2005, 02:32:44 PM
Quote
Why didn't the former Czar use the issue of the safe departure of his family from Russia as a barganing chip before he would agree to abdicate the throne...?



I think he fully expected they would be allowed to go to England in short order.  I don't think he and his wife realized how they were perceived in England.  It must have been very hard to take when they realized they had been abandoned by the "Windsors".

Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Ming on May 05, 2005, 02:52:39 PM
I kind of hate to even think of this, but am wondering what the rest of you think:

When do you think...or know...or guess that the IF KNEW what would eventually happen to them at the end?

Did they ever give up hope of escape?  

Do you think they knew what would happen, but just not exactly when?

It does sound like, to me, they were startled when the "verdict" was read to them, seconds before the end.

I wonder if part of that shock was that they never really believed it would happen, or that it wouldn't happen THEN, or to all of them, etc.

I don't know if anyone can ever be prepared for a situation like that.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Tsarfan on May 05, 2005, 04:56:36 PM
They certainly did not know the "when" of it.  Alexandra's diary entry just hours before the execution was as laconic as ever, and the family dressed calmly and walked down the stairs into the basement with no signs of awareness.

My guess is that they all had their individual cycles of hope and despair.  There are some reports that Olga appeared to be the most cognizant that things could not end well.  Their only real hope of escape seemed to be at the hands of the Germans, and she knew her father would never cooperate in such an attempt.

Alexei seemed clearly depressed near the end, which could as easily have arisen from his last bout of illness as from a presentiment of doom.  However, he did apparently injure himself deliberately at Tobolsk which, given his condition, seems tantamount to a suicide attempt.

Anastasia and Marie seemed to stay more or less chipper up until the end.  While some of this was merely the exuberance of healthy young girls, it also indicates that they were not in a setting over which hung the absolute certainty of doom.

During the early stage of their captivity in Tsarskoye Selo, Alexandra upbraided one of her daughters for crying by remarking that she would have a lot more to cry about later.  Was that a presentiment or a parent's annoyance at a temperamental child?  Hard to tell.

In the final weeks before their murder, the family changed their sleeping arrangements and began staying up to all hours fully dressed.  This apparently was in response to some letters apprising them of escape plans which were planted by the Ural Soviet in order to entrap them in a pretext for the executions.

My guess is each of your questions would be answered differently by different captives on different days.  
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: bluetoria on May 06, 2005, 10:55:39 AM
Quote

My guess is that they all had their individual cycles of hope and despair.  
My guess is each of your questions would be answered differently by different captives on different days.  


Yes, I agree. I suppose it must be natural for anyone who is held in captivity to go through this. It is probably similar to how hostages have felt.
Alexandra's concern about their 'medicines' seem to suggest she hung on to the hope that they would eventually find freedom elsewhere...but she must have had her doubts sometimes.

Quote

Alexei seemed clearly depressed near the end, which could as easily have arisen from his last bout of illness as from a presentiment of doom.  


I think, apart from the terribly sad last entry in Alexandra's diary (in that everything was so ordinary), that one of the saddest things is reading Alexei's diary entries during captivity...his absolute BOREDOM! It must have been unbearable stuck in a stifling house for months with absolutely nothing to do & nothing to look forward to except uncertainty.  
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: lexi4 on May 06, 2005, 10:44:44 PM
Quote

I think he fully expected they would be allowed to go to England in short order.  I don't think he and his wife realized how they were perceived in England.  It must have been very hard to take when they realized they had been abandoned by the "Windsors".


I agree. I think he was also led to believe that. According to Massie, England orginally said the IF could come to live there and later withdrew the offer.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: zoya_konstantinovna on May 29, 2005, 11:21:37 PM
why did Nicholas II abdicate
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: lexi4 on May 29, 2005, 11:38:06 PM
Zoya,
You may want to check some of the other threads about Nicholas. I think this has been discussed. But one reason was because he really believed he was doing the right thing for Russia. And all of his Army had turned against him. A great book to read it Robert Massie Nicholas and Alexandra. I learned a lot from that book.
Welcome
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Belochka on May 31, 2005, 02:27:18 AM
Quote
Zoya,
 And all of his Army had turned against him.


The Emperor lost the support of his appointed Generals. Surrounded by individuals who were predisposed to his downfall, in isolation the Emperor believed that his abdication was the only political choice he could make. This unprecedented action was to ensure that Russia would win WWI against Germany. His final proclamation was his testament to that belief.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Robert_Hall on May 31, 2005, 09:45:54 PM
Could you at least look through the threads before posting repetitive questions?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Romanov_Fan19 on July 26, 2005, 02:45:22 PM
I Have been thinking about this   and have come to  the conclusion  that   it wasnt  ALL  his fault  its not fair  to his memory to blame for  everything (I Think)  everyone makes mistakes after  all      thats my  2  cents anyway :D
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: rskkiya on July 26, 2005, 02:52:18 PM
Yes I think that he did lead them to the basement himself.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Laura Mabee on July 26, 2005, 08:46:40 PM
I don't think that the everything was all of Nicky's fault. Yes, he was a bad Tsar, but there was revolutiom before he came about. WWI and Rasputin didn't help the the family either... those were out of Nicky's hands.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: David_Pritchard on July 26, 2005, 10:32:01 PM
Quote
I don't think that the everything was all of Nicky's fault. Yes, he was a bad Tsar, but there was revolutiom before he came about. WWI and Rasputin didn't help the the family either... those were out of Nicky's hands.


Was there revolution before Nicholas II came to the Russian Throne? Yes, the 1825 Decemberist Revolution. The 1905 Revolution was of the Emperor's making, the failed and humiliating war with Japan, the lack of even the most basic democratisation, the disaster of the Coronation and the Balls that just could not be cancelled, turned loyal Russian people against the Emperor.

World War One was also in the hands of Nicholas II, he was the sole person to make a declaration of war, it was his trust in the French and their phony military intelligence that brought Russia into the war. Remember that Austria-Hungary and Germany did not declare war on Russia but rather it was Nicholas II standing on the balcony of the Winter Palace who declared war on them.

The presence of Rasputin, speaking to, visiting, writing to any member of the Imperial family could have been stopped with a signature on an Ukaze, the monster Rasputin could have found himself in an Chuchi igloo in Chuhotka for the remainder of his life.

Let us not forget that Nicholas II was God's Annointed Tsar-Autocrator. Without his permission no one could divorce, adopt or change their name. If only he had the power to change things, then only Nicholas II he can be held responsible when they go terribly wrong.

DAP
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Laura Mabee on July 26, 2005, 11:31:02 PM
David,
I am under the impression that war was declared against Russia before Russia decalred to be in the war (WWI). Are you suggesting that WWI wouldn't have envolved Russia? I believe that I have read that Germany declared War on Russia, before War was declared back. Nicky -from what I understand- did not like wars. Before Nicky was at the throne revolutionaries were everywhere. Even when a Tsar did something right (Alexander II-Serif declaration) revolutionaries would go at him anyway.  I think no matter the reign there will be revolutionaries....
About Rasputin, Do you really think it was up to Nicky to have him associated with the family? As I recall he tried to send him away once, but Alix would have none of it. Nicky was a weak man, but I believe a revolution and their over-throw was destined before Nicky got the throne. Do I think Nicky's poor rule helped accelerate the Revolution? Yes.. but I do believe it was destined before his actions.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: David_Pritchard on July 27, 2005, 12:11:57 AM
Nicholas had the final say about the disposition of Rasputin, that he allowed himself to be nagged and bullied by his hysterical wife is another issue. In the end it was his word that was law not Alix's.

There were revolutionairies of the 1880-1915 period in every country. Let us not forget President Garfield, President McKinley, the Austrian Empress were murdered by anarchist/nihilist types. Nicholas II inspired two revolutions, not just revolutionary activities.

DAP
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: clockworkgirl21 on July 27, 2005, 03:28:19 AM
I do think Nikolai had a large role in "leading them to the basement himself". He was a weak ruler, and Rasputin didn't help any. Really, I can't blame him for Rasputin, though. How many of you would be able to turn away the only man who really helped your ill son?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Laura Mabee on July 27, 2005, 01:19:48 PM
My attitude towards this is pretty much like clockworkgirl21's.  :-/
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Valmont on July 27, 2005, 07:56:43 PM
We all make mistakes.. I do not think it was ALL his fault  even though he had a lot  of doing regarding that. I agree that he had  the FINAL word regarding EVERYTHING. and he knew it... Why he didn't??.. I think we'll  never know... besides, as clockworkgirl21 says?.. Who would have done different regarding Rasputin  if anyone would have been in Nicholas shoes??
I think he did not use his power the way he was meant. He was the Tsar and loved or hated he still have the power that ALL rulers have over their people. I think he could have done different, I guess he did not know how... and THAT I can only guess... I wasn't there... you know???
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: xX_Mashka_Xx on July 27, 2005, 08:21:17 PM
He was only partly to blame. Alot of the Russian people's hatred towards the royal family, was because of, to them, the unknown influence Rasputin had on the IF. Also the war. The Tsar was often with the soldiers & the matters were left to governmant officials, many of them incompetent(due to the fact they were chosen by Father Grigori). Also, there were uprisings during the reigns of previous Tsars just before Nicholas. The revolution was bound to happen, and it just so happened that the major things that trigerred the revolution, came about during Nicholas's reign. It didn't help though, that Nicholas had very liitle preparation in becoming Tsar of Russia. It wasn't all his fault, alot of it wasn't.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Belochka on July 28, 2005, 02:58:33 AM
Nikolai innocently followed instructions in good faith, unaware what was to come. He was unknowingly deceived by the malicious intent of Yurovsky.

It is erroneous to presume that Nikolai was in any way responsible for the act of others forcing him to "lead them to the basement" in order to be brutally murdered.

Blame Yurovsky, blame Lenin and his cohorts for their callousness, blame the bolshevik mentality seeking to destroy all visible remnants of the Imperial government -  for it was they who were responsible; they performed or endorsed the act of pre-meditated coldblooded serial murder against the I.F. and other innocents who accompanied them.  



Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Marialana on July 28, 2005, 06:28:45 AM
I will agree that Nicholas lacked many of the capabilities needed in being a strong leader & Tsar. Many of his decisions, including listening to the wrong people too many times, caused a huge backlash & buildup of resentment against him. But there were so many other factors at work which ultimately caused the Revolution. In my opinion, it would have happened with or without his character flaws, it was only a question of when. Russia had been on the brink, so to speak, for a long time coming. In addition, I truly believe that the mistakes he made came out of true devotion to his work and the sincere belief that he was doing what was best for Russia & his family. That goes along way in understanding his actions, and I don't blame him in a way that speaks negatively towards him at all - I have nothing but respect for the man.
That said, I believe that Nicholas was responsible for his mistakes and his government's many missteps. He was not, however, responsible for the brutality & inhumanity perpetrated upon him & his family that night in 1918. The responsibilty for that lies with his murderers alone.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Valmont on July 28, 2005, 07:20:53 PM
I agree with Marialana 100%.........


Arturo Vega-Llausás
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Belochka on July 29, 2005, 03:26:39 AM
Full responsibility for Nikolai's death lies at the hands of the Soviets. For Radzinsky to suggest responsibility lies else where - is vulgar and deceptive.

Radzinsky's pathetic statement only serves to divert his audience away from the band of murderers who participated in the crime; under the auspice of the Leninist government.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: AlexP on July 31, 2005, 07:58:39 AM
This is a very delicate topic to discuss for many reasons.

Let's try to consider the topic historically.

Anyone in power is in power because there are bases of support that allow that person to remain in power.

The High Nobility

It is extremely fair and honest to say that Nicolas II totally alienated the "dvorianstvo" and they became exceedingly hostile to him.  In terms of the nobility, he simply was too liberal in their pre-1917 conception of things.  So they set out, collectively or not, to destabilize him.  And to a large degree, they succeeded.

L'Affaire Raspoutine.

The second base of power for the monarchy was the church, even though Peter the Great believed he had emasculated it centuries before.  With the growing influence of Rasputine, and with all of the nefarious appointments he made to the clergy (there was one Metropolitan of St. Petersburg that was such a voracious lover of little boys that the Emperor was forced to send him packing), by 1916, the respectability of the church, vis-a-vis the working masses and the bourgeoisie, was in complete shambles.  That surely assisted in  quickening the demise of the monarchy.

The Army and The War

This is an extremely complex issue here.  Nonetheless, when the Emperor replaced the Grand Duke as head of the Imperial Armies, that was a major catastrophe.  The blame for disaster could only lie at the Emperor's hands.  And add this to the Empress's very direct meddling in politics, by the end of 1915-1916, the Emperor had lost the real and effective support of the Army.  Revolution, or at least change, became inevitable.

The Empress

The Empress had a tremenduous and serious public relations problem with the Russian people.  She was perceived, by both the Nobility at Court, and the people at large, as a German, not as an Englishwoman.  A majority of those close to her in the final years were either Baltic Germans, or Balts with German-sounding last names, whether or not the family had been in Russian for three-or-four hundred years did not matter in the eyes of the people.  Her dealings with Rasputin caused her to be lambasted in the underground, but freely available, press, and on the occasion even newspapers subject to direct censor like Petersburg Vedemostii would find a way to print an article about her without mentioning her name or status.  And yet all knew.

So yes, indeed, the Emperor, may his soul rest in peace, had a dominant role in the catastrophe that followed, the chaos that ensued in beloved in Mother Russia and the subsequent persecution of the Church.

Qui sème le vent récolte la tempête.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Laura Mabee on July 31, 2005, 09:27:53 AM
Quote
He was not, however, responsible for the brutality & inhumanity perpetrated upon him & his family that night in 1918. The responsibilty for that lies with his murderers alone.


Couldn't have said that better myself!
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Ortino on August 09, 2005, 11:20:57 AM
Quote

Was there revolution before Nicholas II came to the Russian Throne? Yes, the 1825 Decemberist Revolution. The 1905 Revolution was of the Emperor's making, the failed and humiliating war with Japan, the lack of even the most basic democratisation, the disaster of the Coronation and the Balls that just could not be cancelled, turned loyal Russian people against the Emperor.

World War One was also in the hands of Nicholas II, he was the sole person to make a declaration of war, it was his trust in the French and their phony military intelligence that brought Russia into the war. Remember that Austria-Hungary and Germany did not declare war on Russia but rather it was Nicholas II standing on the balcony of the Winter Palace who declared war on them.

The presence of Rasputin, speaking to, visiting, writing to any member of the Imperial family could have been stopped with a signature on an Ukaze, the monster Rasputin could have found himself in an Chuchi igloo in Chuhotka for the remainder of his life.

Let us not forget that Nicholas II was God's Annointed Tsar-Autocrator. Without his permission no one could divorce, adopt or change their name. If only he had the power to change things, then only Nicholas II he can be held responsible when they go terribly wrong.

DAP


I completely agree with David_Pritchard. All the points he made are my thoughts exactly. Nicholas had a choice in all these matters, yet he managed to screw them all up. Yes, Nicholas can of course not be blamed for the actual carnage he and his family encountered in July 1918, but Nicholas can be blamed for the events that led to their deaths.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Finelly on August 09, 2005, 02:45:55 PM
This weekend, I re-read the letters of Alexandra and Nicholas during WWI.  I was reminded how dominant Alexandra was, how patronizing in her letters to him.  The man did not seem to have a great deal of backbone during this period of his life.

Obviously, this is a complex subject and there is no one answer.  But I am struck by the fact that in a way, Alexandra was leading Nicholas during those years.....

A case of the blind leading the blind to the Room of Special Purpose?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Ortino on August 09, 2005, 03:22:39 PM
Quote
This weekend, I re-read the letters of Alexandra and Nicholas during WWI.  I was reminded how dominant Alexandra was, how patronizing in her letters to him.  The man did not seem to have a great deal of backbone during this period of his life.


Yes, I myself have noticed this. I don't think that Nicholas ever had any real backbone but had a false sense of security and "confidence" in his position. When I see these letters, I feel sorry for Nicholas since Alexandra continuously pressured him about being strong and doing things for "Baby's sake". I don't think he was ever prepared for this kind of pressure. Perhaps though during the war that is what Nicholas needed most, strength from another.  
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Finelly on August 09, 2005, 10:19:27 PM
When I see these letters, I feel sorry for Nicholas since Alexandra continuously pressured him about being strong and doing things for "Baby's sake". I don't think he was ever prepared for this kind of pressure. Perhaps though during the war that is what Nicholas needed most, strength from another.  

Well, he needed strength, but intelligent strength. Rational strength.

When I read the letters from a personal view, I think that if I wrote such letters to my husband, I woiuld be a single woman.  And if he were to write those types of letters to me, he'd be single.  It seems so disrespectful to me......but it was their relationship, not mine, thank God!
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: AlexP on August 09, 2005, 11:26:39 PM
Quote
I do think Nikolai had a large role in "leading them to the basement himself". He was a weak ruler, and Rasputin didn't help any. Really, I can't blame him for Rasputin, though. How many of you would be able to turn away the only man who really helped your ill son?


Indeed, clockworkgirl21, your points are well taken.

Weak rule, Rasputin didn't help, but no parent wishes the death of their child.

Thank you.

A truly vitriolic combination.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: rosebud on August 10, 2005, 01:33:41 PM
I have always wondered how the whole thing (revolution) was let to happen. It was not just the flow of events. There were so many social circles to which it would have had an effect on if happened. It wasnt just Nicholas, although he had made some bad decicions while choosing his counselors, his family life was determinating his choices and the world was changing too quickly to keep up with.
But the remembrance of 1789, Paris and the clear marks of it in the air...
Why didnt the high nobility whose position was at risk, do anything (or did they)? They could have influenced N if wanted. Intellectual, powerful men. Was it some how better, necessary or where they obliged to stay in hostile relations to the court?
Or am I looking at this from an anachronistic point of view?

I suppose nowadays it is fashionable in historiology to think and research what would have happened if  even one choice which led to known result was done differently. Contrahistory or something. It could be very interesting in this case.

contrahistory
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Finelly on August 10, 2005, 01:55:32 PM
Rosebud - I have had the same curiosity.

Was it simply that people were short-sighted (and why not?  How many people look to the long-term in their daily interactions with others?) and reacted to Alexandra's influence and Nicholas' weakness with hostility, rather than attempting to be pro-active and gently, in a more friendly way, influence them?

The immediate hostility between the Imperial couple and the rest of the court was, in my opinion, a contribution to the downfall.  The inherent snobbery among the nobility did nothing to aid in the situation.  Granted, Alexandra kept everything private and did not show her more vulnerable side to anyone.  Yet why is it that people did not search deeper and attempt to get through?  

I often wonder, as I read about the impovrished emigres of the nobility after the Revolution, if they had any idea how silly they appeared, with their fixation on the way things were, without any concept of their own role in the situation.  Maria Pavlovna's memoirs are the only first-person accounts I have read that really delve into the nobility's utter disregard for reality during those days.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: AlexP on August 10, 2005, 08:31:25 PM
Quote
I have always wondered how the whole thing (revolution) was let to happen. It was not just the flow of events. There were so many social circles to which it would have had an effect on if happened. It wasnt just Nicholas, although he had made some bad decicions while choosing his counselors, his family life was determinating his choices and the world was changing too quickly to keep up with.
But the remembrance of 1789, Paris and the clear marks of it in the air...
Why didnt the high nobility whose position was at risk, do anything (or did they)? They could have influenced N if wanted. Intellectual, powerful men. Was it some how better, necessary or where they obliged to stay in hostile relations to the court?
Or am I looking at this from an anachronistic point of view?

I suppose nowadays it is fashionable in historiology to think and research what would have happened if  even one choice which led to known result was done differently. Contrahistory or something. It could be very interesting in this case.

contrahistory


Rosebud,

First of all, the High Nobility as you write, did indeed try to do something about the situation.  Many, many burned their bridges with the Emperor trying to persuade him to either put the Empress into a Convent, a mental institution, or simply divorce her.  All Petersburg society was of what the Empress, and frankly, her Germanic-sounding Camarilla, were doing to the Empire and the Monarchy.  What many do not realize, perhaps from now far off, is that if the Emperor and the Empress were so alone at the end, it was because they had literally put themselves into a corner from which there was no exit.

All are interested in their own proper survival -- as are you, and as are I.  The Nobility understood perfectly that the fall of the Empire meant the end of their gilded lives.  Many in the Nobility lived only off "la rente" from their vast land holdings and were unable to transfer funds overseas.  Those that could, did to a certain degree.  Additionally, the Church itself tried to intervene with the Emperor and there was quite a not-nice-scene between the Emperor and the truly-religious Metropolitan of Petersburg (who had replaced Alexandra's and Rasputin's disasterous choice, a complete "debauche").  But the truth would not be heard.

Had Nicholas taken the great step of sacrificing his wife for the Empire, the Empire would have undoubtedly been saved.  By late 1916, early 1917, the Empress had become the focal point for everything that the Russians believed to be evil, German, disgusting, or all.  There is no question about it.  Remember -- that they were such "damaged goods" that not even the British, where her sister the Queen Mother still lived, would allow them asylum.  The only alternative that seemed to be possibly was South Africa, but even the South Africans balked.  That is simply how much and how bad the stench of Alexandra had become around the world.

No one was prepared for the Revolution, except one certain group of newly emancipated, and no one was prepared for its consequences.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: rosebud on August 10, 2005, 10:31:29 PM
Thank you Alex.
There is still something that seems unbelievable to me. If the role of the empress in the concrete game (or was she more symbolizing something to be hated) was really that enormous, how could it be that nobody really found a solution that could have worked in the situation (to make her silent or unpower her). They just didnt catch the basics of Ns psyche and the set of his values? How could he have sacrificed his wife in a "send her to mental institution" kind of manner? He was basicly a family man, quite simply, didnt they understand that? How many man could bring himself apart his inner and most emotionally loaded world and crush it all into pieces because it seems to be the right and honorable way to solve greater things and save something else.  He might have gone into his shell after this kind of world crashing suggestions (who wouldnt). And then it is all lost...

Oh dear now I have to rush so my beautiful idea stops short.
R
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Finelly on August 11, 2005, 12:28:52 AM
Agreed, Rosebud.  The demands made on N regarding A were ones he could never have accepted.  And they were cruel to even be asked of him.

From a more sociological perspective, this entire situation was one where I think people COULD have focussed on finding an acceptable solution to a problem based on common goals, but instead chose to focus on the extreme differences, which inevitably leads to more hostility, not less.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: AlexP on August 11, 2005, 01:46:15 AM
Quote
Thank you Alex.
There is still something that seems unbelievable to me. If the role of the empress in the concrete game (or was she more symbolizing something to be hated) was really that enormous, how could it be that nobody really found a solution that could have worked in the situation (to make her silent or unpower her). They just didnt catch the basics of Ns psyche and the set of his values? How could he have sacrificed his wife in a "send her to mental institution" kind of manner? He was basicly a family man, quite simply, didnt they understand that? How many man could bring himself apart his inner and most emotionally loaded world and crush it all into pieces because it seems to be the right and honorable way to solve greater things and save something else.  He might have gone into his shell after this kind of world crashing suggestions (who wouldnt). And then it is all lost...

Oh dear now I have to rush so my beautiful idea stops short.
R


When one is Emperor or when one is President, one respond to a higher level of goals and higher level of needs than others.  An Emperor has a greater sense of duties and a much higher threshold of what is required.  He was given a choice between his wife and the Empire and he sacrified the Empire, and eventually this caused the death of 75 million souls of his former Empire.  As someone wrote of him at that him, "It took him six years to grant a Duma, and two minutes to renonce the throne".

And in the end, the madness of Alexandra, and there is no other word for it, caused a great conflagration.

Sometimes in life there are unfortunate choices one has to make.  The Emperor, as Emperor was confronted with one of those.  And prior to him there had examples in Russian history where a sovereign had sacrified a husband or wife for the overall good of the Empire.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Finelly on August 11, 2005, 01:56:46 AM
When one is Emperor or when one is President, one respond to a higher level of goals and higher level of needs than others.  An Emperor has a greater sense of duties and a much higher threshold of what is required

True, and Nicholas himself acknowledged that he was neither educated nor prepared to assume those responsibilities at any particular level.  

Question:  Did the rest of the nobility, or even just the rest of the family, have any high responsibilities?  That is to say, what were their obligations in helping him to understand his role and the required threashold?  
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Tsarfan on August 11, 2005, 07:08:00 AM
Quote
The demands made on N regarding A were ones he could never have accepted.  And they were cruel to even be asked of him.


Nicholas' father considered renouncing his rights to the throne in order to pursue his passion for Maria Emilovna.  But he finally decided to sacrifice his own desires in favor of his duties to the dynasty.

I admit it would have been very hard for Nicholas to put Alexandra aside once she had become the mother of their five children and they had built a life together.  But Nicholas was determined to pursue his own passion over his duty to the dynasty in insisting on marrying Alexandra long before their lives were entwined.  While hemoephilia was not well understood at the time, it was known to run in families through the female line.  And Nicholas and his parents knew that Victoria's female progeny carried the disease.  I cannot imagine there were not intense private debates about the risk of introducing the disease into the Russian royal family.  (In fact, I've often wondered if the reason that Nicholas and Alexandra were so secretive and engaged in so much denial about Alexei's inability to rule might have been their mortification that the warnings of others had been justified.  And I've wondered if this is part of the reason that the rest of the family made so little public pretense of supporting the ruling couple that had heedlessly brought this disease into the dynasty.)

Yet Nicholas insisted on going ahead with the marriage.

The right to be tsar -- with all that implies -- does not come without a price.  Nicholas was not willing to pay it as tsarevitch, and he was not willing to pay it as tsar.  His self-indulgence ended up costing him and his country far more than just his wife.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: AlexP on August 11, 2005, 07:20:07 AM
Quote

Nicholas' father considered renouncing his rights to the throne in order to pursue his passion for Maria Emilovna.  But he finally decided to sacrifice his own desires in favor of his duties to the dynasty.

I admit it would have been very hard for Nicholas to put Alexandra aside once she had become the mother of their five children and they had built a life together.  But Nicholas was determined to pursue his own passion over his duty to the dynasty in insisting on marrying Alexandra long before their lives were entwined.  While hemoephilia was not well understood at the time, it was known to run in families through the female line.  And Nicholas and his parents knew that Victoria's female progeny carried the disease.  I cannot imagine there were not intense private debates about the risk of introducing the disease into the Russian royal family.  (In fact, I've often wondered if the reason that Nicholas and Alexandra were so secretive and engaged in so much denial about Alexei's inability to rule might have been their mortification that the warnings of others had been justified.  And I've wondered if this is part of the reason that the rest of the family made so little public pretense of supporting the ruling couple that had heedlessly brought this disease into the dynasty.)

Yet Nicholas insisted on going ahead with the marriage.

The right to be tsar -- with all that implies -- does not come without a price.  Nicholas was not willing to pay it as tsarevitch, and he was not willing to pay it as tsar.  His self-indulgence ended up costing him and his country far more than just his wife.


Tsarfan, this is an excellent posting.  Thank you very much.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Forum Admin on August 11, 2005, 09:11:01 AM
Alex,
I have read the memoirs of several noble family members who wrote after the Revolution different versions of the same thought:
"If we had really known what would have happened (the Revolution) we would have stood behind the Tsar...but we had no idea." Is it totally fair to place all the blame on Nicholas and Alexandra? All Russians swore their oath to Nicholas, did some not betray the oath they swore?
I am not necessarily defending N&A, nor attacking anyones view. I am just curious to see your thoughts on this.

Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: rosebud on August 11, 2005, 09:45:26 AM
Alex wrote: When one is Emperor or when one is President, one respond to a higher level of goals and higher level of needs than others.  An Emperor has a greater sense of duties and a much higher threshold of what is required.  He was given a choice between his wife and the Empire and he sacrified the Empire, and eventually this caused the death of 75 million souls of his former Empire.

I believe there has never been a ruler who really represented the abstract ideas we do connect to a perfect ruler. They have all been men and had their weaknesses. Maybe even more so when the power was inherited and wasnt about will or ability at all.

Maybe the best choice N could have done would have been renouncing the throne in 1894 because he then really understood how incompetent he was. But that was a thought not even considered, a pure impossibility.
And I still have trouble to believe it all was so much about Alexandra. Or Alexandra versus empire -situation (which was an aggravation?) Nicholas was henpecked and wasnt the first man (or ruler) to be so. The turn of the century wasnt anything like the middle ages, I would hope that there was different ways to deal with dreadful women than "off with their heads"-tactic. But it seems to be that there wasnt. Would things have get any better after she would have been locked up? How? Nicholas would have been depressed or full of self contempt. And it was then he would have done better choices? There was so many things wrong and unfare in Russia and had been a long time; it was his cross to bear to answer for the consequences his more perfect predecessors had created. I think the knot situation would have been too much for most of men to solve (without death and hatred anyway). And of course bad things do cumulate.

Tsarfan, your explanation for the hiding of Alexeis disease was interesting. I have always wondered why in the earth they did it, they would have even get sympathy from the people if publicized it. And does anyone have any clue from where Victoria got the disease to the family? (maybe there is a thread about it, havent noticed yet)

R

Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Ortino on August 11, 2005, 10:54:22 AM
Quote

Tsarfan, your explanation for the hiding of Alexeis disease was interesting. I have always wondered why in the earth they did it, they would have even get sympathy from the people if publicized it. And does anyone have any clue from where Victoria got the disease to the family? (maybe there is a thread about it, havent noticed yet)

R



  How exactly Victoria acquired the gene for hemophilia is not known, but there are two possible explanations:

1. She got it from her parents. Which parent it would have come from is not entirely known, but the duchess of Kent could have gotten it from her Coburg ancestors. However, there was not a single case of hemophilia in her Leiningen children or their descendents. It is possible that she had a mutation in her genetic makeup, but the chances of this are very small. Her presumed father, the duke of Kent, came from one of the most well documented families and since the disease is relatively obvious in its victims, any case of hemophilia would have been noticed. I have read though that the duke of Kent may not have been Victoria's real father and that is where the strain of hemophilia may have come in.

2. Victoria herself. Since the disease can surface from genetic mutations, it is possible that this occurred with Victoria. However, genetic mutations are rare and about 80% percent of all hemophiliacs have an identifiable family source for the disease.

The best answer to this is I think is that it simply came from one of her family members.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: AlexP on August 14, 2005, 10:04:20 AM
Quote
Alex,
I have read the memoirs of several noble family members who wrote after the Revolution different versions of the same thought:
"If we had really known what would have happened (the Revolution) we would have stood behind the Tsar...but we had no idea." Is it totally fair to place all the blame on Nicholas and Alexandra? All Russians swore their oath to Nicholas, did some not betray the oath they swore?
I am not necessarily defending N&A, nor attacking anyones view. I am just curious to see your thoughts on this.



Dear Rob,

I apologize for the delay in answering your post.  I needed time to reflect on this.

I am not so much interested in blame, as to why it happened and what were the events or persons that caused it to happen.

1.  I postulate that Alexander III delivered an economically-advancing nation to his son Nicholas II but a nation that was more economically-advanced than it could truly mentally handle;

2.  Alexander III gave his son a particularly flawed education (with all of the Pobedenostovs, etc., etc.) that produced not a great reasoner, nor even a moderately-abled reasoner, but an extremely  perfectly-charming if not highly-perfidious 17th Century English gentleman;

3.  For whatever reason, in the early years of the Monarchy, Nicholas leaned too heavily upon all of the Grand Dukes, particularly the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovitch,  for policies which caused more far more ruin to the monarchy than relative good;

4.  Subsequently Nicholas II, for whatever reason, employed and then destroyed some brilliant Prime Ministers -- von Witte and Stolpyin come to mind -- whose policies would and could have saved the Empire and who policies would and could have saved his throne.

5.  Psychologically speaking, in the gravest of all errors a monarch or future monarch can make (a la Charles Prince of Wales) the Emperor placed personal satisfaction, gratification and pleasure above his duties as Supreme Autocrat of All the Russias.  In this, he lost the Russian people.  He had no true concept of the Nation, only a true concept of Self.  It was pure Louis XIV -- "l'Etat --c'est moi."

6.  Psychologically speaking, Nicholas possessed no great character traits which would have allowed him to bridge and transcend the extreme gaps before him and to remedy the extreme and rapidly accelerating perils that he faced.  His policies were negative and regressive to an incisive extreme in a rapidly changing world which he did not and which he could not grasp.

7.  Additionally, Alexandra Feodorovna was exceptionally ill prepared for the role which she assumed.  Remember -- this role was not thrust at her -- she assumed it.  She possessed no great education to speak of, and her values at best were those of a petit-bourgeois German hausfraus with English overtones in a country that was turning towards its Slavic origins once again and which rightly or wrongly inherently despised all things German -- perhaps because of the presence of the Baltic Camarilla at Court.  Wrong place, wrong time, woefully wrong person.  

8.  Psychologically speaking, Alexandra Feodorovna would have been classified today, I am sorry to write this, perhaps as mentally unstable or disturbed .  She carried with her the indelible stain of having produced a sick-and-dieing child which surely tortured her and caused her untold mental anguish and she then simply fled from reality into a world of religion, occultism and the like.  She had no idea at all what the Russian people were and she failed to grasp the concept of "reign but not rule".  She imposed her petit-bourgeois Germanic values on the ministers and on the Court in the Emperor's absence and the Court and even the ministers seethed and began to revolt.  She stuffed the Church with pedophiles and complete religious incompetents and secretly lost the support of the still-remaining righteous Church hierarchs.  It was Marie-Antoinette all over again, with "l'affaire du collier".

9.  Nicholas should have had before his very eyes the events of the French Revolution and yet he did not.  Two Germanic Queens, two loathed and hated Germanic queens, one of exceptionally dubious morals, one of rather impeccable morals but of dubious tastes in friend, both out of touch with and loathed by their respective populaces.  He should have recognized himself as the modern Louis XVI who could not take a firm decision and who did not understand his people nor even know them and yet did not.  He became mired in the petty details.  He saw the tree and missed the forest.

10.  Nicholas failed to understand that the people, the peasants and the nobilityof the Empire profoundly demanded change, albeit passively, and he should have instituted the necessary reforms to protect his Dynasty and to save the Empire.  The very famous saying from Marzarin comes to mind "pour avancer il faut reculer".

11.  But he should have realized that from about 1914 on, when the Empress was held forth as the summatum of all things evil in Russia, in all elements of society and in all corners of the Empire, and that rude pornographic sketches of her purportedly entertaining Rasputin sexually were being flounted all over the land in spite of the Okrhana and the censors, that he needed to "bite the bullet" and somehow divest himself of her or divest himself of the monarchy.  In this he remained supremely egotistical.  He sacrified a nation and a monarchy and 75 million persons for his own personal good.

12.  And all of this together caused Revolution that killed nearly 75 million persons over 80 years and wasted all of the power of Russia's economic prowess. Had he considered what things might really be like, and given his limited mental ability he was not able to do so, the fundamental changes then demanded in Russia would have been far less costly -- and far less bloody -- than that which ensued.  In his lack of ability to share anything, he lost everything, including first and foremost his life.  Tolstoy spoke and wrote but Nicholas did not listen.  Ostrovsky spoke and wrote and Nicholas did not listen.

How could the two of them not see this all and not see it coming?

13.  What did your President Harry S. Truman used to say? "The buck stops here".

With kind regards from Shanghai,


A.A.

Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Ortino on August 14, 2005, 01:30:25 PM
Quote


3.  For whatever reason, in the early years of the Monarchy, Nicholas leaned too heavily upon all of the Grand Dukes, particularly the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovitch,  for policies which caused more far more ruin to the monarchy than relative good;

4.  Subsequently Nicholas II, for whatever reason, employed and then destroyed some brilliant Prime Ministers -- von Witte and Stolpyin come to mind -- whose policies would and could have saved the Empire and who policies would and could have saved his throne.

5.  Psychologically speaking, in the gravest of all errors a monarch or future monarch can make (a la Charles Prince of Wales) the Emperor placed personal satisfaction, gratification and pleasure above his duties as Supreme Autocrat of All the Russias.  In this, he lost the Russian people.  He had no true concept of the Nation, only a true concept of Self.  It was pure Louis XIV -- "l'Etat --c'est moi."

6.  Psychologically speaking, Nicholas possessed no great character traits which would have allowed him to bridge and transcend the extreme gaps before him and to remedy the extreme and rapidly accelerating perils that he faced.  His policies were negative and regressive to an incisive extreme in a rapidly changing world which he did not and which he could not grasp.

7.  Additionally, Alexandra Feodorovna was exceptionally ill prepared for the role which she assumed.  Remember -- this role was not thrust at her -- she assumed it.  She possessed no great education to speak of, and her values at best were those of a petit-bourgeois German hausfraus with English overtones in a country that was turning towards its Slavic origins once again and which rightly or wrongly inherently despised all things German -- perhaps because of the presence of the Baltic Camarilla at Court.  Wrong place, wrong time, woefully wrong person.  

8.  Psychologically speaking, Alexandra Feodorovna would have been classified today, I am sorry to write this, perhaps as mentally unstable or disturbed .  She carried with her the indelible stain of having produced a sick-and-dieing child which surely tortured her and caused her untold mental anguish and she then simply fled from reality into a world of religion, occultism and the like.  She had no idea at all what the Russian people were and she failed to grasp the concept of "reign but not rule".  She imposed her petit-bourgeois Germanic values on the ministers and on the Court in the Emperor's absence and the Court and even the ministers seethed and began to revolt.  She stuffed the Church with pedophiles and complete religious incompetents and secretly lost the support of the still-remaining righteous Church hierarchs.  It was Marie-Antoinette all over again, with "l'affaire du collier".

9.  Nicholas should have had before his very eyes the events of the French Revolution and yet he did not.  Two Germanic Queens, two loathed and hated Germanic queens, one of exceptionally dubious morals, one of rather impeccable morals but of dubious tastes in friend, both out of touch with and loathed by their respective populaces.  He should have recognized himself as the modern Louis XVI who could not take a firm decision and who did not understand his people nor even know them and yet did not.  He became mired in the petty details.  He saw the tree and missed the forest.

10.  Nicholas failed to understand that the people, the peasants and the nobilityof the Empire profoundly demanded change, albeit passively, and he should have instituted the necessary reforms to protect his Dynasty and to save the Empire.  The very famous saying from Marzarin comes to mind "pour avancer il faut reculer".

11.  But he should have realized that from about 1914 on, when the Empress was held forth as the summatum of all things evil in Russia, in all elements of society and in all corners of the Empire, and that rude pornographic sketches of her purportedly entertaining Rasputin sexually were being flounted all over the land in spite of the Okrhana and the censors, that he needed to "bite the bullet" and somehow divest himself of her or divest himself of the monarchy.  In this he remained supremely egotistical.  He sacrified a nation and a monarchy and 75 million persons for his own personal good.

12.  And all of this together caused Revolution that killed nearly 75 million persons over 80 years and wasted all of the power of Russia's economic prowess. Had he considered what things might really be like, and given his limited mental ability he was not able to do so, the fundamental changes then demanded in Russia would have been far less costly -- and far less bloody -- than that which ensued.  In his lack of ability to share anything, he lost everything, including first and foremost his life.  Tolstoy spoke and wrote but Nicholas did not listen.  Ostrovsky spoke and wrote and Nicholas did not listen.

How could the two of them not see this all and not see it coming?

13.  What did your President Harry S. Truman used to say? "The buck stops here".

With kind regards from Shanghai,


A.A.



I agree with most of what you said, but just a few questions and comments:

3. I was under the impression that Nicholas' uncles intimidated and berated him so terribly that he generally shied away from them and their advice. So how exactly did he lean on them too heavily?

4. Yes, he shouldn't of dismissed Witte, but how exactly was Stolypin's assassination his fault? Such a thing was beyond his control. Yes, Stolypin probably could have saved the Empire, but I wouldn't blame Nicholas for that.

5. Yes, Nicholas was interested in his own pleasure and satisfaction, but I don't think he necessarily put these entirely above his responsibilities. He used pleasure (the Crimea, tennis, family time etc.) as an escape from the continous pressures he faced as Emperor, which as you pointed out, he was unprepared for.

6. Too true, but as much as Nicholas' bad policies demonstrated that he couldn't handle the job, Alexander III gave him no real preparation to speak of. He was trained as a soldier, not a diplomat. He had no true knowledge of how to handle diplomacy, ministers, or how to run the internal affairs of the country. I'm not excusing him, for he is far from innocent in the destruction of his family and his Empire, but it wasn't entirely his fault.

9. The French Revolution was over a hundred years earlier, so how exactly was Nicholas supposed to examine its causes? I wouldn't be surprised if he considered it a misfortune on their part, but nothing that could affect his countr. Russia had a very different social structure than the French at the time of the French Revolution. Besides, I'm sure he was comforted by the fact that his Empire had been held together for 300 years with equally terrible rulers as him. Why would Nicholas presume that it would suddenly fall apart and even more so under his rule?

10. Yes, Nicholas should have understood better the people's desires for reforms and what should have been done, but governmentally speaking, introducing reforms to cut down his power over the people would have destroyed 300 years of tradition. Nicholas believed what every Russian ruler before him did; he was entitled to his power and that it was given to him by G-d. Nicholas was also not like his father in that he did not have that connection with the people. Alexander III connected with the average peasant and understood their needs, but Nicholas probably never had any real exposure to or understanding of the true amount of poverty in his country. While he grew up in a simplistic setting, he never exactly went touring slums. He didn't have a Marie beside him either, who would have drawn the nobility closer to him.

11. Like I said before, yes, Nicholas should have realized what was going on around him, but why should he have presumed that he would one day have to give up his throne? It would have been the proper thing to do, but few rulers in history have been willing to sacrifice their status without a struggle. Nicholas believed in the power and holiness of his position and he held onto it for this reason. With 300 years worth of Tsars, I find it hard to believe that he would have realized the necessity of abdicating.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Finelly on August 14, 2005, 01:45:22 PM
Every major event in history is a combination of circumstances within a given context.  In general, all classes of society bear responsibility for an event in which the entire foundations of society are overturned.

In this case, we have all spent endless hours, as have numerous scholars, evaluating and analyzing the personalities of Nicholas and Alexandra and the upswell of hostility towards the monarchy and autocracy by the lower classes.  

But there are middle groups, and they are less the focus of any examination and criticism, which, in my opinion, is preventing anyone from gaining a well-rounded perspective on the events leading to the Revolution.

It is not enough to say that the "nobility" (and it, like any other social class, was comprised of a mix of people of varying political and social persuasions) did what it could, burning bridges, etc.  Obviously, the general approach taken did not work.  In fact, it served to push Nicholas more towards Alexandra and away from his responsibilities as a monarch.

Therefore, we may appropriately ask:  What could the nobility have done differently?  How could they have approached the problem in a manner designed to facilitate a rapprochement?  What insights did they seek to gain into the personality of Alexandra and the best methods to gain access to her and persuade her differently?  Did the nobility's almost immediate negative reaction to Alexandra cause them to be unable to explore new avenues in a relationship to her?  Was it all lost from the beginning?

We see so many of the nobility after the Revolution blaming everyone else, from N and A to Rasputin to Bolshevism and the rage of the "small people".  Rarely, if ever, is the microscope turned inwards.  

Blame is not really the issue.  Accountability is, as is the understanding that in the dance that led to riots and slaughter was made up of many, many dancers.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Dominic_Albanese on August 14, 2005, 02:23:31 PM
Alex - Your analysis is excellent - probably the best summary I've seen in a single place ever.

Ortino - I'm going to answer some of your questions based on my reading.  Others no doubt will have additional information.

My responses are in {}'s.  I *hate* all caps!

best,
dca

Quote

 I agree with most of what you said, but just a few questions and comments:

3. I was under the impression that Nicholas' uncles intimidated and berated him so terribly that he generally shied away from them and their advice. So how exactly did he lean on them too heavily?

{DCA:Ortino - you are right - his uncles did intimiate him.  I'm not clear about the berated piece but lets not argue of symantics.  As you know, Nicholas couldn't have been more unprepared for the throne - so he naturally turned to his Uncles, the son's of Alexander II.  In the early part of his reign he followed their instructions almost to the letter and ultimatley that set the tone for the entire reign.  I would argue that *one* of the reasons he was so reactionary was because he followed his Uncles direction for the first several years of his reign.}

4. Yes, he shouldn't of dismissed Witte, but how exactly was Stolypin's assassination his fault? Such a thing was beyond his control. Yes, Stolypin probably could have saved the Empire, but I wouldn't blame Nicholas for that.

{DCA:Stolypin had already been 'cut loose' in Nicholas's mind by the time he was assinated.  Stolypin no longer enjoyed N II's confidence and knew he was on his way out.  Why?  Because Stolypin was overshadowing N II and he had made an enemy of Rasputin.  There is a relatively new book on Stolypin you may want to read.}

5. Yes, Nicholas was interested in his own pleasure and satisfaction, but I don't think he necessarily put these entirely above his responsibilities. He used pleasure (the Crimea, tennis, family time etc.) as an escape from the continous pressures he faced as Emperor, which as you pointed out, he was unprepared for.

{DCA:Hard to tell.  This, in my mind, ties back into his desire to be a 'country gentlemen' and not a Tsar.  Think of the work schedule of Peter the Great, Alexander I, Nicholas I, Alexander II and especially Alexander III.  They too had families, but I've never, ever read that any of them put their family life or desire for pleasure ahead of their duties.  Don't get me wrong, this is a reasonable thing to expect - but not when you demand to be the autocratic leader of the worlds largest country *and* you are willing to go to war to expand its boundries (i.e. the 1905 war with Japan)

6. Too true, but as much as Nicholas' bad policies demonstrated that he couldn't handle the job, Alexander III gave him no real preparation to speak of. He was trained as a soldier, not a diplomat. He had no true knowledge of how to handle diplomacy, ministers, or how to run the internal affairs of the country. I'm not excusing him, for he is far from innocent in the destruction of his family and his Empire, but it wasn't entirely his fault.

{DCA:Again, your absolutley correct - no one expected Alexander III to die so young.  Frankly, I put more of the blame for this on Alexander III & Marie than on Nicholas.  Although if I am going to someday become Tsar it seems like I might spend abit less time chasing ballerinas' around and more time being highly useful in the Committee's I have been assigned to (Witte once said that N II was not effective as the leader of the Trans Siberian Railroad committee which A III had appointed him to}.  But, I do agree that A III woefully underprepared N II for the job he had to face.}

9. The French Revolution was over a hundred years earlier, so how exactly was Nicholas supposed to examine its causes? I wouldn't be surprised if he considered it a misfortune on their part, but nothing that could affect his countr. Russia had a very different social structure than the French at the time of the French Revolution. Besides, I'm sure he was comforted by the fact that his Empire had been held together for 300 years with equally terrible rulers as him. Why would Nicholas presume that it would suddenly fall apart and even more so under his rule?

{DCA:I'm alittle out of my league here because I don't know alot about the French revolution - but I guess my question to you would be how could he not know his country was falling apart?  One way he didn't know was to "hide" in the Alexander Palace.  Have you ever read about the good will generated by N II and his family as a result of the Romanov 300 year celebrations?  Not only did it let him be seen in his country - it got him out from under the same stale couriers who told him what he wanted to hear on a daily basis.  Finally, Nicholas was a student of history.  France was a major Russian allie, he spoke french and understood french culture.  This is, in my opinion, yet another example of him doing the ostridge (sticking his head in the ground) instead of being out and about being seen and seeing for himself how his people lived.}

10. Yes, Nicholas should have understood better the people's desires for reforms and what should have been done, but governmentally speaking, introducing reforms to cut down his power over the people would have destroyed 300 years of tradition. Nicholas believed what every Russian ruler before him did; he was entitled to his power and that it was given to him by G-d. Nicholas was also not like his father in that he did not have that connection with the people. Alexander III connected with the average peasant and understood their needs, but Nicholas probably never had any real exposure to or understanding of the true amount of poverty in his country. While he grew up in a simplistic setting, he never exactly went touring slums. He didn't have a Marie beside him either, who would have drawn the nobility closer to him.

{DCA:Excellent point - but again I think you see N as more of a victim of circumstances than someone who should have been atleast partially in control of his destiny}

11. Like I said before, yes, Nicholas should have realized what was going on around him, but why should he have presumed that he would one day have to give up his throne? It would have been the proper thing to do, but few rulers in history have been willing to sacrifice their status without a struggle. Nicholas believed in the power and holiness of his position and he held onto it for this reason. With 300 years worth of Tsars, I find it hard to believe that he would have realized the necessity of abdicating.

{DCA:See comment above - No he shouldn't have thought at the beginning of his reign (or in the middle) that he might have to abdicate (what about in 1905??).  But by the time he was forced to abdicate he should have had a sense of what was happening around him, to his people, his army et. al.  In fairness, N II, in 1917 was a broken man and because of that (and because of his belief in God taking care of everything & he being born under the sign of St. Job) he felt he had no control over his destiny.  Remember, there was some question about him having a heart attack in church at Moltovi (Headquarters), about his use of cocaine (remember back then cocaine was a regularly used, legal drug - I'm not implying he was a drug addict).  He was exausted, completely burnt out, isolated, out of touch and broken.  I would argue a mere shell of his original (weak) self.  It is frankly a miracle that he lasted as long as he did.}


DCA: Ortino, Please don't perceive me as anti-Nicholas.  N II is a easy target and there are those who have a never ending list of criticisms to level at him.  I wish people would give him more credit for the circumstances of the times and the things he didn't have control over.  He *was*, to a certain extent, a victim of circumstances, he had an enormous work ethic but he didn't work smart, He was a personable & happy young man who became isolated, sullen and parnoid (in large part because of Alexandra).  He deeply believed he had the best interests of Russia at heart.  He was a patroit second to none and without hesitating put his country's honor ahead of his own and the dynastys during WWI.

Great discussion - thanks for allowing me to chime in.  I do wish this darn thing had a spell checker!

best,
dca
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Finelly on August 14, 2005, 02:35:51 PM
As I recall, he would be confronted by one uncle and make a decision.

The next day, another uncle would confront him and he would change his decision.

There was something about the railway and who would have authority over it that led to him changing his mind 17 times in 17 days after incessant badgering by the uncles and diplomats who had differing ideas........

This says less about the uncles than it does about Nicholas, I think!
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Dominic_Albanese on August 14, 2005, 02:48:47 PM
Quote
As I recall, he would be confronted by one uncle and make a decision.

The next day, another uncle would confront him and he would change his decision.

There was something about the railway and who would have authority over it that led to him changing his mind 17 times in 17 days after incessant badgering by the uncles and diplomats who had differing ideas........

This says less about the uncles than it does about Nicholas, I think!


It sure does - it also speaks to a cronic and consistent complaint by all his ministers, family and the Court.  I think you'll find that Alix was pretty vocal about this behavior as well (and I don't mean in a positive way) ;D!!

best,
dca
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: AlexP on August 14, 2005, 04:23:36 PM
Quote
Alex - Your analysis is excellent - probably the best summary I've seen in a single place ever.

best,
dca


Carissimo Domenico,

Thank you for your kind words.  I will come back to comments about the Emperor and Stolypin later today.  They deserve more attention.

With all of the best,


A.A.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Finelly on August 14, 2005, 08:47:38 PM
It sure does - it also speaks to a cronic and consistent complaint by all his ministers, family and the Court.

And yet knowing this, there isn't much evidence that they attempted to devise new strategies for handling it and influencing Nicholas to make better decisions.  

It just seems to me that there was nobody, or only a few people who were far-sighted enough to realize that instead of reacting to N's indecisiveness and inability to rule well, and Alexandra's emotional instability and fundamental misunderstanding of the autocracy they should be proactive in developing ways to solve the problems collectively.

Was it the inherent snobbery of the court, or were they, in a sense, also following a self-destructive path out of passivity?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Finelly on August 14, 2005, 11:00:17 PM
I think it is entirely appropriate to analyze the role of all parties in the Revolution and the downfall of the monarchy.

We have certainly all agreed that the revolutionaries themselves ("godless ones", "bloodthirsty ones") were out of control and that their vision failed in the extreme.  We have certainly psychoanalyzed Alexandra.  The same for Nicholas.

Fear of exploring the role of the nobility with regard to the destruction of Imperial Russia should not limit our attempts to understand what happened.  

It takes two to tango.  It takes a lot more than that to create a revolution that destroys millions of lives, an autocracy that has lasted for generations, and five innocent imperial children.

If the question is whether Nicholas led them all himself, then consideration of the roles of others is not only appropriate, but mandatory.  
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Finelly on August 15, 2005, 12:41:11 PM
utzu etza ve tufar.  Dabru davar ve lo yakum ki imanu el.

Back to the topic, I hardly think that it was fair of Radzinsky to place the blame for the downfall of Imperial Russia solely upon the shoulders of Nicholas.  We know that Alexandra was a loose canon.  We know that the Imperial family was not unified in its position on the various decisions over which Nicholas waffled.  And we know that the father of Nicholas was lamentably lax in his preparation of his son to rule such a huge and great nation.  As always, it is a combination of elements that leads to the greatest of horrors.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: AlexP on August 15, 2005, 06:23:05 PM
Quote
Thank you Alex.
He might have gone into his shell after this kind of world crashing suggestions (who wouldnt). And then it is all lost...
R


Dear Rosebud,

I meant to address this earlier but yesterday was a day of digression. So this morning I will address this message.

The Emperor had two of the best Russian Prime Ministers of the entire Imperial Regime -- von Witte and P.A. Stolypin.  They were oratorical genuiuses as well as brilliant statesman and gift academics.  Remember, it was von Witte, I believe, who insisted to the Sovereign that the Russo-Japanese War come to end before it destroyed the Nation (a war that Nicholas had helped instigate).  It was Stolypin and von Witte, together but severally, over an approximately ten year period of time who helped to stabilize the economy and to calm the uproared masses.  And Nicholas would have none of it in the end (with Alexandra in the background).

Everyone quotes Stolypin's famous saying which he gave to a speech in the Imperial Duma ("im nuzhna velikaya potreceniya, a nam nuzhna velikaya Rocciya") without realize that this is the very same message that he had been giving the Sovereign in private for year.  Again, the Empress was SO rancourous towards this gift and brilliant statesman that she was BARELY civil to him.  And worse, recent studies into the assassination of Stolypin have lead to the very door of the Emperor himself, the very, very door.  It is terrible.

So yes, the Emperor received much adviced, none of which he heeded and some of it from the best statesman Imperial Russia produced.

But then again Louis XVI had Necker, who so brilliant and who would have Royal France, but Marie Antoinette also hated him vociferously.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Fay on August 18, 2005, 02:46:10 AM
Well, I do not think it was hard to be a better Tsar than Nicky, and I am not being malicious here, we all know perfectly well what he was like. Apparently Michael must have been more charismatic and decisive than his brother. As for the abdication, then yes, the pressure on Nicholas renouncing the throne was really great. He did not have a choice.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Jim Wilhelm on August 23, 2005, 04:47:33 PM
Please...With all the people he must have had contact with during all those months...Did no one ever tell him..."Look you'd better get your family and yourself out of the country NOW or you'll all end up as toast"...?  Surely the answer is "yes".  Why wouldn't he have taken such advice? Was he that out of touch with reality?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Georgiy on August 23, 2005, 05:17:23 PM
I don't think he really wanted to leave Russia - it would be like running away, being a coward and traitorous. Also he might have thought there would be some kind of trial and possibly thought he would be able to defend his actions.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Ortino on August 23, 2005, 06:21:18 PM
There was supposed to be a trial apparently, something obviously that never happened. Newspapers in America ran stories about the "trial"; how Nicholas had been sentenced to death and that the family were all alive.  I'm sure even when they were told they were not going to England Nicholas could not have possibly imagined their murder, especially the children's. I would think that if he thought about the end, he could foresee his own death, not his family's. They also were told days before their murder that they were going to be rescued, something that I'm sure would have given them a renewed sense of hope in their situation.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Marialana on August 23, 2005, 06:41:39 PM
I'm not sure why it would've ever occurred to Nicholas that abdication would equal his family's murder. What happened to them was completely outside of his frame of reference. The downward spiral that followed the abdication would've been a shock to anyone who lived their lives in a very safe, civilized cocoon. The thought that his children should pay in blood for his misdeeds was so preposterous and evil, and  so opposite to everything the man had ever known. Even if someone had told him that it could happen, I doubt he really would've believed that such a hideous thing would be allowed to take place in any civilized world. I don' t think he was out of touch with reality,  just out of touch with human brutality, which are two different things. In my opinion, the first one makes him foolish, the latter makes him an exceptional man.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Tania+ on August 23, 2005, 08:02:11 PM
Dear Marialana,

I can't agree with you more. 80 years since the horrid brutal murder of the IF, and still as a reader it is impossible to comprehend the actions of such sheer insanity. It's outside any 'thinking human being's mind'.
They were not speaking, or interacting with civilized human beings. To think and do that with even one human life is oneous. But these thugs continued to do it to millions of lives. When in any society, should children most of all pay for their lives to end in such a horrible way? I don't think any person here on this website, or anywhere in the world would act on such devil oriented plans, except if they were insane.

Nicholas was an exceptional man, as was his wife, and his children, [imho]. As parents and children, they were beyond caring human beings.

As most human beings being held hostage, then and now, most hostages never want to give up hope. For the IF they were not just dealing with insanity, they were dealing with people who wanted revenge, and for others to feel the hopelessness they felt. They were dealing with people who wanted and did erase human life on a mass scale, so they could control, manipulate, and continue to hold people hostage indefinately.

Our family not only escaped from communism, and all it's horrible issues, but many had to live through it. It's one thing to read history, it's another thing to live through it. It's twice as hard to know you live in freedom, while loved ones are going through hell, or were forced to die in hell.

When one write's, especially on this subject matter, it's important to keep 'a human face' on it. These are not just the mechanics of politics, it has affected human lives !

How would each of us fare in and through such circumstances for one day, or for the length of time the IF and others did?

Would any of you on this site, turn in your family, your children, for your feedom, or your life ?

Would they?

Tatiana

"I'm not sure why it would've ever occurred to Nicholas that abdication would equal his family's murder. What happened to them was completely outside of his frame of reference. The downward spiral that followed the abdication would've been a shock to anyone who lived their lives in a very safe, civilized cocoon. The thought that his children should pay in blood for his misdeeds was so preposterous and evil, and  so opposite to everything the man had ever known. Even if someone had told him that it could happen, I doubt he really would've believed that such a hideous thing would be allowed to take place in any civilized world. I don' t think he was out of touch with reality,  just out of touch with human brutality, which are two different things. In my opinion, the first one makes him foolish, the latter makes him an exceptional man."
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: sckkr on August 26, 2005, 11:28:44 AM
One possible reason is that Nicholas by the reading the series of notes signed an officer. The Tsars reaction and response to these letters and also in N diary entries which of course Yurovsky was reading every night. In this sense N played into the hands of his captors. The Ural Soviet had planned this all along. The murder of the imperial was a well planned and rehersed act. In this sense Nicholas unknowningly condemed them all.
Your thoughts
Stu
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Alixz on August 27, 2005, 11:37:04 PM
"It's a long and winding road that leads to your door"  The Beatles.

I believe there are just too many causes of the murder of the Imperial Family to blame any one in particular.

I have often wondered why Nicky didn't send Alix to a convent, but if Alexie had died with her gone, he would have hated himself forever.

I think the basic premise of the autocracy that Nicky was chosen by and annointed by God is what kept him plugging away.

Many of you make the point that he should have put the welfare of the country above his own and his family's, and perhaps he should have, but he was, after all, a man.  An imperfect human.  

The family kept the seriousness of Alexies illness a secret because they felt that it would undermine the country's confidence in the future of the dynasty.

Perhaps Nicky should have changed the laws of seccession to give the country and his family a greater sence of well being about the future, but he did not have the cooperation of Michael either.  Michael put his own personal satisfactions above his duty by marrying Natalia.

I could go on and on.  As I said "it is a long and winding road" (or as The Beatles said).

There is not just one person to look to for blame.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Belochka on August 29, 2005, 02:28:59 AM
Quote
Thus, Radzinsky puts the 'blame' for the Romanovs' awful end on Nicholas' shoulders.

Erichek


Radzinsky's interpretation of events appears to follow the much earlier writing of A. F. Kerensky, in his brief work, translated from the French,  Tragediya Dinastii Romanovih (The Tragedy of the Romanov Dynasty) Moscow, 2005, p 25 where he asserts:

..." from their own Imperial Palace apartments, the Tsar made the first step towards his own death."

[my translation]

Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Belochka on August 30, 2005, 01:27:40 AM
I would like to add that IMHO, in retrospect, it is so easy for both Kerensky and Radzinsky to make such statements.

However what both their statements tend to ignore is that Nikolai had NO control where he was to be lead ...  
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: RussMan on August 31, 2005, 01:51:11 PM

 There is an enormous wealth of info here. :)

I think Nick was forced to abdicate, but he was not expected to abdicate for his entire family. The Duma expected him to abdicate for himself only, and let Alexei rule in his place, likely so that the Duma could control him.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: brendan on September 06, 2005, 02:49:11 PM
I agree with RussMan. The idea of a forced abdication might seem like a crazy conspiracy theory to anyone who has never considered it, but there is actually a great deal of evidence to support this.
1. Tzar Nicholas's last journal entry on the day of supposed abdication talked about being surrounded by untrustworthy people. Wouldnt ANYONE making such an important decision have at the very least mentioned the decision?
2. The next day the Tzar was reported as being in a carefree and almost  youthful mood. Even if the abdication was voluntary, the mood almost certainly would have been more somber and reflective. While its been said often that Nicholas never wanted the throne, there is no evidance to back this claim, other than opinions expressed by people other than Nicholas.
3. Its not a matter of opinion to say that Nicholas consulted Alexandra in the majority of his decisions. One can make the case that due to pressure being placed on him, he didnt have time, however why wouldnt he have sent a telegram to his wife the next day then? Instead he Supposedly sent not just one but 2 telegrams to his brother saying basicly "good luck".
He had know contact with Alexandra until he arrived back at the palace ONE MONTH LATER.

Theres alot of other odd things about this such as, the reason we are told he didnt contact Alexandra during this time was due to being so close to German front and communications lines were down. How did he manage to contact his brother than?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: brendan on September 06, 2005, 10:36:27 PM
I KNOW this has been brought up in other threads, but since this is the first thread questioning his abdication as a MAIN topic, it should be kept going for anyone interested.  This subject WAS dealt with in passing on other boards, but its should be looked into more.
Im not trying make anyone angry by keeping this going, so I guess my my advice to those who are tired of the subject is to just ignore this thread.


Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Jim Wilhelm on September 22, 2005, 05:44:28 PM
Quote
I actually agree with Radzinsky in the sense that Nicholas' actions lead him and his family to that end. Had he been able to rule efficiently and effectively, there would have been no need for a revolution or a reason for such radical sentiment. Nicholas' inability to do so did lead them to the grave.

See? This is a simple but profound statement. Revolution was not inevitable. If N2 had not allowed his neurotic wife to isolate him in a cocoon out at Tsarskoe Selo, if he had not surrounded himself with idiotic advisors, if he had listened to reason and avoided war with Japan, if he had been there to address the crowds on Bloody Sunday, there might not have been a revolution. Other discussion threads beg the question..."Foolish Nicholas"? "Was Nicholas at Fault"? The answer is "yes" on both counts.

Jim Wilhelm
Albuquerque, NM USA
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: rskkiya on September 25, 2005, 05:37:55 PM
Quote
See? This is a simple but profound statement. Revolution was not inevitable. If N2 had not allowed his neurotic wife to isolate him in a cocoon out at Tsarskoe Selo, if he had not surrounded himself with idiotic advisors, if he had listened to reason and avoided war with Japan, if he had been there to address the crowds on Bloody Sunday, there might not have been a revolution. Other discussion threads beg the question..."Foolish Nicholas"? "Was Nicholas at Fault"? The answer is "yes" on both counts.

Jim Wilhelm
Albuquerque, NM USA


I agree.
Nicholas was AT NO POINT DOOMED...
  However by his own inaction/poor judgement/or lack of critical analysis, he trod the sad path that led to his families eventual execution. [I will argue that this was not an act of murder but of execution - but that's an altogether different topic..]

  I do not believe in fate and although he (NII) may well have considered that everything in his reign was 'G-D's will' - at some point indeed - at almost any point- he could have acted in some manner to change, abate or lessen the difficult situation that he and Russia faced.
Many people at numerous opportunities asked him - again and again- to reconsider his actions.
He did not.

rskkiya
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Belochka on September 27, 2005, 01:41:15 AM
Quote
I do not believe in fate and although he (NII) may well have considered that everything in his reign was 'G-D's will' - at some point indeed - at almost any point- he could have acted in some manner to change, abate or lessen the difficult situation that he and Russia were facing.
Many people at numerous opportunities asked him - again and again- to reconsider his actions.
He did not.

rskkiya


Nikolai could not change because of the Oath he pronounced. He believed he must remain faithful to that ancient autocratic concept which he inherited as did his father before him.

He was unable to modify that spiritual bond to accord with the rapidly changing democratic world except by giving away his own power in totality.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Tsarfan on September 28, 2005, 08:26:54 AM
Imagine if Peter the Great or Catherine the Great had decided they could change nothing in the situations they inherited.

Nicholas' own father, to whose memory he supposedly felt so duty bound, was quick to throw out his own father's liberalization policies and to change Russia's course.  Why did Nicholas reject that part of his father's legacy but act as if the rest of it was inviolable?

The job of monarchs is to confront change and deal with it.  Nicholas, in deciding that he had no right to change anything, trod the path of all losers throughout history -- to their own doom.  This "sacred oath" thing was just an excuse to do nothing about the changes lapping on autocracy's shores.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Donielle on September 28, 2005, 08:49:18 AM
I agree with Tsarfan and others,that indeed tides could have been turned if only The Tsar had not been so obstinate ,due to being ill-advised by a variety of people he relied on.It will always behoove me as to why he did not leave the country with his family.He must have sensed the danger.-D
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Jim Wilhelm on September 28, 2005, 05:56:02 PM
All:

Devil's advocate again here.  What if N2 had decided to stay in St. Pete and make sweeping changes to the government, grant more power to the Duma, redistribute the wealth...he would have been assassinated, wouldn't he?  I think so.

Jim Wilhelm
Albuquerque, NM USA
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Tsarfan on September 28, 2005, 07:10:22 PM
Maybe.  His grandfather was, and attempts were made on his father's life.

The dilemma the Romanovs created for themselves was that, by allowing no political participation, elements of the educated classes began to radicalize at least by the early 19th century.  By the time Alexander II began to court liberalization, the left had already concluded that tsarism had to go no matter what, and they feared the possibility that Alexander would give the monarchy an extended lease on life by granting moderate reforms.

If Nicholas was choosing his policy direction in an attempt to avoid assassination, he had evidence before him that neither liberalism nor reaction would serve the purpose.

I can hardly see how risking revolution -- which Nicholas must certainly have known was a real possibility after 1904 -- looked like a safer path.  And, of course, the actual outcome was not only his own death, but that of his family.

A lot of people on this board think WWI made the Russian revolution inevitable.  I don't agree, but the reasons behind my views are no more compelling than theirs.

What I do know is that when WWI toppled the Hohenzollerns and the Hapsburgs, their landings were considerably less violent -- and monarchical sentiment remained a signficant political force in Germany and Austria long after the fall of their eagles.  There was a viciousness to the Russian's handling of Nicholas and his family -- and a widespread consensus for sweeping away all remnants of tsarist institutions -- that derived its energy from sources far deeper than WWI.  (I know many will point out that it was the Bolsheviks that killed the Romanovs.  But one must remember that while the Bolsheviks in Ekaterinburg delayed the murders for reasons that are still not entirely clear, they had to manage crowds that periodically assembled in the square before the Ipatiev house to demand Nicholas' destruction.)

Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: RichC on September 28, 2005, 08:47:53 PM
Quote
All:

Devil's advocate again here.  What if N2 had decided to stay in St. Pete and make sweeping changes to the government, grant more power to the Duma, redistribute the wealth...he would have been assassinated, wouldn't he?  I think so.

Jim Wilhelm
Albuquerque, NM USA



Hi Jim.  I don't think there was any more chance of Nicholas being assassinated after embarking on a policy of liberalization than sticking to a reactionary policy.  If he had allowed more, gradual,  liberalization, after the establishment of the Duma -- I believe there would have been less chance of assassination (or the cataclysm that followed).  Just my opinion.

Quote
There was a viciousness to the Russian's handling of Nicholas and his family -- and a widespread consensus for sweeping away all remnants of tsarist institutions -- that derived its energy from sources far deeper than WWI.


But this strain of viciousness is evident throughout Russia's entire history -- to this day.  Is it not?  

Perhaps the same viciousness which led to Nicholas' death also led to Katyn, the Purges, the Gulag, the Pogroms, Bloody Sunday, the Oprichnina, Khodynka Meadow (over 1000 dead, I know it was an accident, but my God, they went dancing that night -- can you imagine if something like this had happened at Edward VII's coronation? -- *everything* would have been immediately cancelled, all the foreign visitors sent home, and the entire nation would have gone into mourning).
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Tsarfan on September 29, 2005, 06:31:02 AM
Quote
But this strain of viciousness is evident throughout Russia's entire history -- to this day.  Is it not?


So true.  The brutality that Russia once had in common with other societies never evolved out of Russian affairs to the extent it did further west.  Even as late at the 19th century, a tsar was willing to accept a horrendous accident and death rate among workers in order to get the Winter Palace repaired over a single winter after the 1837 fire -- despite having numerous other palaces at his disposal.  Life just seemed to remain cheaper in Russia.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: RichC on September 29, 2005, 08:17:49 AM
Quote

So true.  The brutality that Russia once had in common with other societies never evolved out of Russian affairs to the extent it did further west.  Even as late at the 19th century, a tsar was willing to accept a horrendous accident and death rate among workers in order to get the Winter Palace repaired over a single winter after the 1837 fire -- despite having numerous other palaces at his disposal.  Life just seemed to remain cheaper in Russia.


I wonder how much this attitude (that a life is cheaper in Russia) had to do with the development of the idea of sub'da, which Belochka mentioned on the other thread (the "is Nicholas to blame" thread).  Does anyone care to comment?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Caleb on October 02, 2005, 09:08:35 PM
Well I do think that Nicholas in a way was somewhat responisble. But I don't think that Nicholas was entirely responisble for the murders. I think he could have a better ruler, but his conservative attitudes, I think he picked up from his father & Alexandra. I do, in a way place the blame on King George V, in that he refused to take the Romanovs in, in a way, forfeiting family for popularity. Now I'm not trying to beat George V's image into the ground ( I might have been tempted to do the same thing, that he did), but I think George could maybe have sent them to Australia, perhaps, until the war was over. I'm also not sure if this was possible, but George could have seen if a neutral country would have taken the Romanovs at least until the war was over. This is just my opinion though.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: imperial angel on November 04, 2005, 10:40:49 AM
Yes, he was forced, by circumstances. However, I would not argue this is a forced abication. Many people, and rulers in history were forced by circumstances. Of course, it is one form of force. I think the only thing he could do was to abdicate, he did not have much more to offer his country as Tsar. Someone else needed to come in, whether it was a Romanov or not. The Romanov dynasty could have saved themselves even at this point, had there been a Romanov who was up to the task, and had strong leadership. I don't the Romanov dynasty was over. Nicholas undoubtedly made the best decision by abdicating at that point in time. He thought of others, not of himself.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Alixz on November 22, 2005, 10:28:02 PM
Kerensky was speaking in grandios statements that he knew the world would read.

How easy it must have been for him sitting then so safely away from the turmoil both in time and distance to make his pronouncement that "Nicholas trod..."

What literary garbage!  Kerensky ran like a rabbit when the Bolsheviks showed up.  He was even weaker than Nicholas.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Caleb on November 23, 2005, 01:00:22 PM
Quote
All:

Devil's advocate again here.  What if N2 had decided to stay in St. Pete and make sweeping changes to the government, grant more power to the Duma, redistribute the wealth...he would have been assassinated, wouldn't he?  I think so.

Jim Wilhelm
Albuquerque, NM USA

You brought up an interesting point that maybe Nicholas felt stuck in between a rock & a hard place, in that he could face the similar fate of his grandfather, but on the other hand he could be so hated that he could have been assasinated for doing nothing.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Elisabeth on November 28, 2005, 07:39:34 AM
Quote
I wonder how much this attitude (that a life is cheaper in Russia) had to do with the development of the idea of sub'da, which Belochka mentioned on the other thread (the "is Nicholas to blame" thread).  Does anyone care to comment?


Interesting question. I think both attitudes (that life is cheap, and that man is helpless against fate) stemmed from the institution of serfdom more than anything else. The vast, overwhelming majority of the population was virtually enslaved and mired in poverty and illiteracy for hundreds of years. The civic virtues familiar to us in the West could hardly have taken root, much less flourished, in such unpromising soil. Nor could any sense that one had control over one's destiny... As for the elite, the Russian nobility's inherently callous, brutalizing attitude toward "their" peasantry was very slow to change -  it wasn't until the 1790s that the idea that serfs were human beings just like themselves finally began to take hold (with the publication of Radishchev's famous Journey from Petersburg to Moscow and Karamzin's sentimental tale about a serf girl seduced and jilted by a nobleman, "Poor Liza"). The abolition of serfdom had to wait until 1861, and even afterwards, the peasantry still made up over 80 percent of the total population, and most of them remained illiterate.

This is why I think it is somewhat unrealistic to expect that even a tsar of the calibre of Peter the Great, in Nicholas II's shoes, could have replaced the old autocratic system with strong democratic institutions, a large middle class and a healthy civil society within the short space of time remaining until the revolution of 1917. I have trouble "blaming" Nicholas entirely for the revolution because unlike Tsarfan I see it as all but inevitable in a country with such endemic social and administrative problems as early twentieth-century imperial Russia. (Perhaps, perhaps, if reforms had proceeded apace from 1861, with no interruptions, and there had been two successive tsars of the calibre of Peter, instead of Alexander III and Nicholas II - then Russia might have stood a chance. I honestly don't know.)

But surely no one can seriously blame Nicholas for the manner of his death and that of his family! Maybe Radzinsky was merely employing a poetic turn of speech for the sake of dramatic effect when he seemed to do so. I think he's a Romantic writer very prone to this type of melodramatic exaggeration.       
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Alixz on November 28, 2005, 11:57:30 AM
Just what gave Peter such "caliber"?  He was simply ruthless and gave no quarter to anyone who opposed him including his son!

I have said many times in other threads that Peter was not "Great" he was ruthless.  Catherine was not "Great" she participated in her husband's murder and had endless affairs to keep herself in power and have power over others.

Peter fought wars to enlarge Russia.  Nicholas tried that.  Catherine fought wars to enlarge Russia.  Just because they won, they were great!  Were they better advised or just plain lucky!  Didn't it take 30 some odd years for Potemkin to get the Crimea for Catherine?  How long would she have let it go on?  "Life certainly was cheaper."

And Peter and Catherine brought "enlightenment" to Russia, but a what cost?  The numerous lives lost in building St. Petersburg and the numerous lives lost in all the wars.

If Nicholas were ruthless, (he has been accused of being just that) or helpless (he has been accused of being that, too) or just plain stupid ( again...) would we of the 20th - 21st centuries have changed our opinions of him?

Nicholas was just the sum of all he knew and did not know.  The same as all of us.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Elisabeth on November 28, 2005, 01:08:15 PM
Alixz, comparing Nicholas II to Peter the Great is like comparing Louis XVI to Charlemagne. With all due respect, you need to develop some historical perspective on what makes rulers "great" and what doesn't. There are actual achievements involved in the attribution of "greatness" to any ruler. For example, whether or not you approve of Peter's methods - and nowhere did I say I approved of them! - they were nevertheless highly effective. Russia became a European power under his watch and the elite and army became if not thoroughly modernized, then roughly speaking so. Peter was a dynamic, innovative and very intelligent ruler, open to change. (Again, I am not saying I personally like Peter, or approve of his treatment of the Russian people, I am simply stating facts!) Nicholas, whatever you say about him, was none of these things and his accomplishments were negligible compared to Peter's. Not only that, but what he did accomplish (e.g. the October Manifesto) was usually under the duress of his ministers and he was not above trying to reverse such reforms later. I feel sorry for Nicholas as an individual trapped in a role that was not of his making, but as a tsar he was a disaster.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Alixz on November 28, 2005, 06:10:52 PM
I question Peter's methods of bringing "enlightenment" to his country.

Do the ends jusity the means?  Do "great" rulers have to be ruthless? Do we forgive Peter for having his son tortured to death? Do we forgive Catherine for helping to plot the murder of her husband?

Were the average people of Russia truly better off because Peter got Sweden or Catherine got Yalta?  Most likely not.  Most likely the average person cared less about "westernization" and "expansion".  Did either of them free the serfs?  Did either of them end hunger and drunkeness?

I know that Nicholas was weak and he did neither of these things either.

But I am off topic.  The subject is was Nicholas solely responsible for his fate and the fate of his family and autocracy.

I will always say no to that.  Not out of romanticism, but out of my belief that we are all the sum of parts that make up the whole and many parts were needed to send Nicholas to his fate.

I don't believe that he could have prevented it by himself either.  He needed help(not help he would have asked for, I'm sure) to get to Ekaterinberg and he would have needed even more help(help he rejected) to never get there.

I hope that you understand my posting.  IMHO none of us gets anywhere alone in this life and everything we do and every interaction with another is just one more piece of a whole puzzle that is our destiny.


Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: James1941 on December 23, 2005, 08:20:04 PM
If he was going to put down the disorders in Petrograd and anywhere else they might spring up, the tsar needed the army. He needed his generals to march the army to the city and put down the revolt. Thus, he was forced to sound out his generals as to whether they would support him in this endeavor and continue the war. The generals were "polled" so to speak. The results came back decidedly against Nicholas. The majority of the generals stated they would not support using force against the demonstrators and strikers.
There is some indication that they had joined in a plot to force Nicholas aside because of the war situtation and the unpopularity of the government. In any case, without the support of the army Nicholas realized his rule was bankrupt and he had no power, so he did what was asked of him. Unfortunately he bungled this also.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: marina on March 31, 2006, 06:46:22 AM
Is Nicolas II guilty for what happened to him and to his family?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Yseult on March 31, 2006, 03:13:30 PM
For sure, tsar Nicholas never deserved an cruel execution in a cellar of Ipatiev without a previous trial. He and his wife and children never deserved be killed by firing squad and finished off by bayonets.

But, If you ask if Nicholas deserved to loose his crown, his throne, his empire...from my point of wiew, yes, he deserved it. He was so unexperienced when he became tsar after the death before of time of his father...true. But he rested unable to understand the signs of times. Autocracy was not the way, but he fight against wind and tide to reasure the autocracy. When he was forced to acept a Duma, he almost inmediately came into conflict with the parlament; when the second Duma replaced the first Duma, closed as he ordered, the relationship never grew up to an understanding and later changed the electoral laws to made sure that the next Dumas to have a more conservative containt, and it was not fair play. He banished the most clever ministers if they seemed (relatively) liberals, as Witte or, in the last times, Stolypin (Stolypin was not in fact an liberal but he had comon sense enough to admit they need to make some reforms).

Nicky made a lot of mistakes, but the more remarcable mistake was to allow the tsarina involving herself in politics. Alicky was simply minded and obtuse at the same time. She believed in autocracy more than his husband and she encouraged him to send away Witte or Stolypin because these men were not friends to "Our friend" Rasputin. She also encouraged him to assume the role of commandant en chief of the armies during the war, dismissing Nicolasha from this position. She remained at home and domestic issues were in her hands, a stupid choice of Nicky. He really loved his wife, and was devoted to her, but to let Alicky free to make this or make that when she was really hated at this time...what a foolish thing!

Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Ortino on April 01, 2006, 08:39:21 AM
This has been discussed in similar threads. Please refer to those first before posting a new one.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: marina on April 01, 2006, 08:59:59 AM
Yes but this is a POLL and the thread is here only to argue your vote. I'm also fed up to see many as discussion only about family's physique, kindness and bla bla bla. I would like to see more topics about history and if it has been already discussed, that's fine!!! Nobody blames a host of topics of pictures. Even me, I join in it.  
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Angie_H on April 04, 2006, 07:33:04 AM
Quote
This has been discussed in similar threads. Please refer to those first before posting a new one.
Kinda hard to do at the moment since we can't access them  :-/
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Ortino on April 04, 2006, 08:11:24 AM
Quote
Quote
This has been discussed in similar threads. Please refer to those first before posting a new one.
Kinda hard to do at the moment since we can't access them  :-/

Has the search button malfunctioned or something?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: ordino on April 04, 2006, 09:17:17 AM
Poor man. He did what he believed correct.  At the end, he did not try to go out of Russia, he was an autocrat, but no for himshelf election but for education. Maybe the fatal error was the absence of a good adviser near him. For instance, the brothers of Alexander III, maybe they did must help him much, much more. Really no guilty.
Ordino :)
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Angie_H on April 04, 2006, 09:31:55 AM
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This has been discussed in similar threads. Please refer to those first before posting a new one.
Kinda hard to do at the moment since we can't access them  :-/

Has the search button malfunctioned or something?
The Search button only lets you get up to 15 results  :-/ (the old site let you put up to a 100 in the results field) and you can't access some pages because of the move to the new server. Older pages can not be accessed, you get an error message. The FA said they are trying to make the old site a "read only" site, but I don't think it's happened yet.  
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Mazukov on April 04, 2006, 10:59:57 PM
I think it's a tough question to ask, could he have done more. i would have to say of course he could have. if he is to fault it would be his lack of good advise, or his lack in taking good advice.

We do know that he wasn't an evil man in the lines of a stalin he more or less wanted to keep the status quo. in that erra of change much like today coming into a new centry, he lacked the forsite to behond the past.

was he guilty of crimes? did he purge his nation? did he comit mass murder for the sake of keeping his power. history says no.was he guilty of being nump at the helm yes he was.

if we look at western leaders of this past centery, churchill, fdr, trumen, ect,, they all did things that didn't go well.i'm not sure there has been a leader that hasnt always done what was right. for whatever reason. then we have leaders like satlin,hitler, ect men in this company were simply evil and guilty of all sort of crimes against there own people. if he is guilty of anything it in being a weak leader in a time when his nation needed a strong leader who would have been willing to make strong changes that would have been a benafit to the masses rather than to the people of uper class.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: marina on April 05, 2006, 06:26:34 AM
So responsible but not guilty?  :-?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Laura Mabee on April 05, 2006, 05:30:39 PM
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So responsible but not guilty?  :-?
I think the answer your looking for is difficult to answer given only three options. There is to much involved (in my opinion) to make it such a simple answer.

Ortino was right in the fact that there was another thread, in fact, there is a whole slew of them. So much so, that the FA made a seperate part of the forum for it.
Check it out here (http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/YaBB.cgi?board=trial)

 :)
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Caleb on April 06, 2006, 08:34:58 PM
I think that Nicholas, shared only SOME of the blame. I think quite a bit of the blame goes to the "People's Will", in that, I think had Alexander II not been assasinated in the way he was, I think neither Alexander III, nor Nicholas II would have been quite so reactionary. I also think that some of the blame goes to the church, in that the leader of the Holy Synod used his influence over Alexander III & Nicholas II to instigate many of the pogroms in Russia, particularly against the Jews. (I'm not just singling out the Orthodox Church, because I think when you have an autocracy, religous groups & ministers can get the monarch to go one way or the other. This is especially true when one religous group has a "monopoly" on a country.) I think that people need to know where to draw the line. It's fine with me when someone tries to instigate some form of morality in the laws. Particularly in the 20th century the morality that the United States was founded on was being forgotten, causing problems in many areas. (Sorry if I offend anyone but this is how I strongly feel) Also however relgious groups need to know when to stop, personally dictating the policies of the government, becuase, you'll either have extremists on one side, or everything will come loose because of near anarchy. So, I feel that we need morality in a government, but I do think that we do need to have some type of place where we draw the line. Anyhow....to say that Nicholas is guilty, would probably imply that Nicholas soley took the blame for what happened. I think he acted a BIT on his own initiative, but I think he was dominated too much by the past (especially his father's legacy of being a reactionary) & bad advise. I think the old addage that someone was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" could somewhat be applied to Nicholas. To sum it up. Nicholas II as a politician wasn't totally innocent, but he CERTAINLY wasn't totally guilty.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: marina on April 07, 2006, 06:36:39 AM
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I think that Nicholas, shared only SOME of the blame. I think quite a bit of the blame goes to the "People's Will", in that, I think had Alexander II not been assasinated in the way he was, I think neither Alexander III, nor Nicholas II would have been quite so reactionary.  

"People's Will" as you write it was, for me, justified. We have to make a difference between terrorist and all these people who just wanted a better world, a fair world. I remember "Doctor Zhivago" when he demonstrates in the streets, thinking naively that communism will save them. One year later, all these people have been robbed, some of them have been killed. It gives me the occasion to think of all anonymous people who have also been victim of red terror; We write a lot about Imperial family (normal!), but too little about them.    
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: imperial angel on April 19, 2006, 11:09:14 AM
I would choose the last one. Yes, he made serious mistakes, but they were not meant, in the sense of being intentional, like Stalin, or the Communists in general, or some of Russia's pre Romanov rulers. He did end up making mistakes, and a leadership role wasn't the best thing for him. He stuck to doctrines such as Fatalism, which made him accept bad things, almost as if willing them, and not try to change, them or even think change is possible-which is fine in personal life, but when you are ruling an empire, it isn't so much.  And also the autocracy, that everything that the autocrat did was right, and that letting any power go to others was wrong, the autocracy was God's will. And also naive notions of the Russian peasantry supporting their father Tsar, ignoring the realities of their lives. Everything the autocrat did, was God's will, and could never be wrong, when obviously, that wasn't true. Nicholas believed all these things, and let them dominate the goverment, and also let his wife govern later according to these ideals.

But he did not realize these things were intentionally harmful, that change and reforms were the future, and that constituinal monarchy was as well. He believed he was doing his best, and the best for Russia. He did not intentionally let innocents die, for political crimes they did not commit, nor for no reason, like Stalin and the Communists, intentionally. These things may have happened, but they were not his ideas. He did not realize the course he followed may not have been the best, and he most likely thought it was the correct one. His was merely weak, not harmful leadership.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: JD on April 27, 2006, 10:57:00 PM
This isn't necessarily about NicII in particular, but I've read here a couple times of both he and Alexandra complaining at various times that even the simplest change (say, the color of their socks) required a massive, painful bureaucratic effort. As a result the Tsar & Tsarina were essentially prisoners of the bureaucracy that was supposed to serve them. It's hard to believe that were this literally true, serious efforts wouldn't be made to change it - for reasons of both comfort and, even more importantly, national efficiency.  

Was this literally true, or were these idle complaints from insanely overprileged people taken out of context? I don't deny the Russian bureaucracy had its problems, but this is hard to believe. And these complaints were about banal domestic issues, I have no idea how such a lurching behemoth might effect matters of important change.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: imperial angel on May 01, 2006, 10:54:51 AM
Well, I suppose that all rulers be they kings, presidents, or dictators are slaves to bureacracy, depending on the country, the era, and the amount of control they have over the goverment. As an autocrat, dealing with an inefficient goverment that was wracked by pressures, challenges, and changes, and a rather out moded system, there was obviously going to be issues with the bureacracy. I have heard this before, and I think the bureaucracy of that time in Russia was indeed like that. So I would judge the last Romanov rulers did become victims of this. If they had reorganized the system, perhaps they would not have been.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: imperial angel on May 03, 2006, 08:31:10 AM
I thought more on this, and I realize that the system would have been rather inefficient even if they did institute change, it would have taken years before they were not slaves to the bureaucracy. And I suppose change would have led to more bureuacracy to deal with changes, and implement them.  ;)
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: strom on September 03, 2006, 02:29:34 PM
I hope someone can help me.  I am interested in the various statements the Emperor made after his abdication in which he explained what happened on the train both in the journey to Pskov and after his arrival there.  Those that I have found seem to be strangely terse and weighted.  I should like to receive a record of the various recorded statements and sources in English and/or French if possible.         
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Amanda_Misha on March 17, 2007, 09:48:36 PM
Being guilty or not, it deserved a trial I publish and I joust, he didn't deserve to die in that way neither that  they murdered from a cruel way to their wife neither their girls neither to their baby that you/they didn't have anything to see with which the one made or I stop to make neither that they hurt anybody but I eat to Ella and family or their brother Michael, guilty or not, it didn't deserve this.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: ilyala on March 18, 2007, 01:58:46 AM
he was guilty of not being open to the voice of the people - it would have been heard had it been listened. he was guilty of listening only to what suited him. he was guilty of not being open to options (he just HAD to keep autocracy intact). he was guilty of letting the tragedy of his personal life influence his ruling (alexei and rasputin). he was guilty of allowing his wife to influencing in doing exactly what he was NOT supposed to do.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Bob_the_builder on May 18, 2007, 06:42:07 PM
I'm sorry, but I don't think Nicholas was a good person. He was flat out cruel to the Jews in his country, and just because his father was that way dosen't mean he had to as well. Millions died under his reign because of his stupid decisions. I don't know if he should have been executed but surely he should have been punished. He may have been a good family man but politically he was not a good person. Alexandra was just as guilty in my opinion for the destruction of the empire.

However, the is no excuse for the murder of the children, who were innocent by any stretch of the imagination.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Rosemary* on May 19, 2007, 09:36:19 AM
Nicky reminds me of a spoilt child taking on himself the mantle of God.  I can't remember the direct quote, but he once signed his name as "Master of all the Land"  .  To me, he is like a child playing with toy soldiers and toy peasants.  He had a vague love of the people, but only as it reflected back on himself as their ruler.  Nicky was spoiled, but he wasn't bad.   

So, in my mind, he is not guilty of evil intent, but he is guilty of careless consequence. The Russian people, in my opinion, were committing a symbolic form of patricide and matricide.

These assassins are the people who, in my mind, will be held accountable.

Just my opinion.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Vasiliy on May 19, 2007, 10:25:29 AM
Millions died under his reign because of his stupid decisions.

What millions ?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: dmitri on June 25, 2007, 12:50:46 AM
I think he was guilty of creating the conditions that allowed the revolution to occur. In wiser hands it could have been prevented. He never learned from his mistakes. I do think it was appalling what happened to him and his family. None of us should though forget the millions of deaths he caused by his policies. What about feeling sorry for those people as well? Sadly he did nothing to prevent the death of his family. How much did he really feel sorry for the victims of the Russo-Japanese war who he sent off to slaughter and the many russians he sent off to die in world war one? He couldn't even arrange sufficient food in St.Petersburg. He was warned of the consequences but he chose not to listen. Witte got him out of the mess with the Japanese. Why on earth did he mobilise the Russian forces to threaten Germany? No sane ruler would have done that. The killing of an heir to a great empire was something he should have deplored. Instead he threatens that empire and her stronger ally to defend an insignificant country like Serbia. How foolish was that? He also makes himself commander-in-chief in 1915 so that all the losses are directly blamed on him and leaves his capital undefended in the hands of a woman his people hated who went from crisis to crisis. Sorry I can see so many good things about Nicholas II but in the end you have to see the chaos he caused as Tsar due to his foolishness. His children deserved much better and so did the Russian people. He is not greatly loved in Russia. They prefer other Tsars. Perhaps it is not surprising that they have a strong Tsar today in power in everything but name. If you get the chance visit Russia and many things become clear. When I first started reading about Nicholas and Alexandra I saw the family and felt sorry but when you do intensive research you find out far more and move away from the fairy tale and see the awful reality. Remember until 1905 the Tsar was the government in Russia. After then he still had considerable power. Even a few weeks before the revolution he was warned how to stop it and chose to ignore all the advice. That is why the Provisional government was formed. It was out of sheer desperation. The fact that the provisional government did not succeed is another matter. Staying in power is what counts and Nicholas and Alexandra went from crisis to crisis appointing the wrong and most incompetent men to run their government. It is therefore no surprise that it all collapsed. I just wish the Romanovs had toppled Nicholas II and put in one of their own. That is how they had survived in the past. The weak went and the strong came in to rescue things. Elizabeth, Catherine II, Alexander I and Nicholas I are examples of this. It is interesting to read Maria Feodorovna. She knew Russia could not afford war. Of course she was not listened to like so many others. It was a terrible and great shame. You have to really wonder why Nicholas II has been made a Saint compared to great Tsars like Peter the Great who actually achieved something useful.   
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: dmitri on October 05, 2007, 07:43:17 AM
I wonder whether Nicholas II ever truly wondered about the consequences of abdication? I really wonder whether he really gave this any thought at all. He signed everything away so easily and even signed away his son's rights claiming bad health would be a problem. Did he ever think that perhaps Alexis could have been the bridge that allowed a transition to a different regime? Didn't he realise Maria Feodorovna has said that Michael would never be able to be relied on in an emergency? Where was this man's head? Given that he was going back to St. Petersburg and could not get through and decided to go to Pskov instead where he eventually abdicated, perhaps he never gave himself any alternative to launch a counter offensive. He just signed everything away without any form of resistance. What do others think?
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Mazukov on October 05, 2007, 01:09:57 PM
I think he simply gave up. All he wanted to do at that point was go home, anyway he could. No he didn't think about what would come out of it in the ling run. I don't think he could think past what he wanted to do at that time. that was to go home.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: mr_harrison75 on October 05, 2007, 08:43:28 PM
I agree with Mazukov.

We know that Nikolaï didn't want to be tsar in the first place, but he tried to do his job by sense of duty, but his heart wasn't really into it, although he deeply loved Russia.

I think that he simply had enough after 20 years of troubles, riots and malcontentment. One thing that really precipitated his decision I think was his discussion about Aleksei with Professor Federov, asking how long Aliosha had to live; perhaps he simply decided that he wanted to enjoy his son's last few years with the rest of the family, and in peace!

I'm sure he knew that he was unpopular at the time, and perhaps he thought that since the people didn't want him anymore despite his efforts, he could indulge to abdicate...

I know that later, he regretted, when seeing what Russia was becoming, but it was too late...
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Victor on October 06, 2007, 03:46:55 AM
I don't think he concidered the consequences of the abdication.I think the Tsar couldn't think straight at the time.He was overtired and had no support and no one advising him well,no one behind him,backing him up,no one to turn to.He said in his diary"all around me I see cowardice and decite".If only one of his uncles had been on hand.Even if their advice had not been the best,they would have strongly led him through the difficult time.Nicholas perhaps thought Russia could run along nicely as a republic like France,still fondly allowing for deposed royals and suporting an aristocracy and his family would still have conciderable wealth.Bad idea.Or maybe he thought the country would rally around Michael?Obviously he didn't see the upheaval his decision would cause,the end of everything he had ever known.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Amanda_Misha on October 06, 2007, 09:18:26 PM
Perhaps Nicholas thought that with its abdication the country would calm or perhaps that Michael could control better the situation. But it was not thus :(
 
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Mazukov on October 09, 2007, 02:06:34 AM
We had talked about this last night my wife and I, and she thinks that he was scared to death when they blocked his train. And thus, caved in right away when there was not many of his people around to protect him.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Alixz on May 01, 2008, 08:20:21 AM
I have been reading a lot of letters and orders that Nicholas sent to Petrograd to Rodzianko during the beginning of the upheaval and those that he sent to Alexandra.

I also have some diary entries and some information that comes from Count Fredericks.

On February 26, 1917, Rodzianko sent a telegram to the Tsar:  "Situation grave.  Anarchy in capital. Government paralysed.  Transport... has reached complete breakdown. Public discontent growing. Disorderly shooting occurring on the streets.  Military units are firing on each other. Vital to call on a figure trusted by the country to form a new government. No time to lose. Any delay is as good as death.  I pray God that in this hour the blame will not fall on Him who wears the crown."

Nicholas's reaction?  He reportedly told Count Fredericks, "That fatty Rodzianko has again written all sorts of nonsense to me and I am not even going to reply."

On that day as usual he [Nicholas] attended Liturgy, later walked for quite some time along the highway leading to  Bobruisk received a senator, and in the evening played dominoes with his retainers.

The Sunset of the Romanov Dynasty by Mikhail Iroshnikov - Liudmila Protsai and Yuri Shelayev

Now, there are errors in this book.  I have found a number of wrong dates and wrong identification of people in pictures, however this is just the first of the information that I plan to post.

But, my question is this - What happened to Nicholas II during the last months of 1916 and the beginning of 1917?  It seems as if he has lost all reason and all caring about anything.

Was he taking drugs or being drugged?  Had his mind finally snapped from all of the pressures he had lived under for the past 22 plus years as tsar and the husband of Alix and the father of a hemophiliac heir?

He acts as if he was suffering from severe depression.  He has almost removed himself from the real world and what was going on around him and in the rest of his country.

Was this a symptom of an undiagnosed illness?  Was this a complete mental breakdown?

I know that Nicholas was a fatalist - but he took all of the upheaval and then the demand for his abdication with so much calm detachment that he might have been an observer, not the main participant.

Anybody?

Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on May 01, 2008, 04:11:47 PM
He acts as if he was suffering from severe depression.  He has almost removed himself from the real world and what was going on around him and in the rest of his country. Was this a symptom of an undiagnosed illness?  Was this a complete mental breakdown?
I know that Nicholas was a fatalist - but he took all of the upheaval and then the demand for his abdication with so much calm detachment that he might have been an observer, not the main participant.

I can't say whether or not he was physically ill. I do believe he was mentally and emotionally fatigued. His reign was filled with one disaster after another. Perhaps he simply couldn't take anymore and just decided, as he had so often before in life, that he would just allow God to do as He willed with him and with Russia.

In Nicholas' early letters, during his romance with Alexandra, he repeatedly implies that God's will (not man's) decides virtually everything. If one firmly believes that one has no real control over their own fate, how can such a person be expected to take decisive action when it is needed? One of Nicholas' greatest failings was his refusal to recognize that he had the power to change the outcome of events, that things were not always preordained or fated, but are caused by the actions or inaction of men.

He was removed from reality as the result of the systematic way in which he and Alexandra had isolated themselves bit-by-bit from anyone who disagreed with them (and especially from those who disagreed with Alexandra).

As for his possibly being depressed, several people later stated that during their exile, after his abdication, Nicholas seemed as though a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders and was happier. This to me indicates that he may have been depressed before the abdication. Even being removed from the full reality of the situation in Russia, I think that Nicholas, on some level, did know the war was not going well. Even he can’t have been so deluded as to believe otherwise by early 1917. He was not a wise ruler, but he did love his country deeply and I imagine the situation must have depressed him.

Another sign that he was under emotional strain was that Nicholas suffered chest pains. I realize the reasons for this could range widely, but it’s interesting to note when considering his stress level.

Nicholas to Alexandra – 1915 – Mogilev
I am beginning to feel my old heart. The first time it was in August of last year, after the Samsonov Catastrophe, and again now - it feels so heavy on the left side when I breathe.

Nicholas to Alexandra – 26 February 1917 – Mogilev
…This morning during service I felt an excruciating pain in the middle of my chest, which lasted for a quarter of an hour. I could hardly stand and my forehead was covered with beads of sweat…

Also a mention of feeling stressed in this letter.

Nicholas to Alexandra – 24 February 1917 – Mogilev
…My brain feels rested here – no ministers and no fidgety questions to think over – I think it does me good, but only the brain…

One must consider the situation he was faced with to understand his reaction to it. He found himself between a rock and a hard place and IMHO he felt overwhelmed. I don't think he knew what to do. He had no real military experience and he was never even properly trained to rule as Tsar. Olga Alexandrovna admitted in her memoirs that her father (whom she worshipped) had failed them all by never preparing Nicholas for his role. To make matters worse Nicholas had no natural interest in or inclination for politics and was a very naive man. Just imagine being a very fatalistic person, believing you had no control over your own fate, you’re married to an invalid who both disliked and was despised by your family, you’re at odds with your ministers, your relatives have just committed a heinous murder, and to top it all off you are mired in an endless and disastrous war. How could he not have been overwhelmed and depressed by the situation he was facing in 1917?

I don’t think he handled it well, and have been very critical of him elsewhere on the board because of this. Yet I do realize why he couldn’t solve Russia’s problems. He simply did not possess the ability to do so. That would have taken a masterful military and political mind. Or at the very least someone with the foresight to find such people (good politicians and generals) to work for them. I think of someone like FDR. An intelligent man, but not brilliant, yet he had the intelligence to create the “brain trust” a group of advisers more knowledgeable than himself. Obviously, conditions in 1930s America and those of 1910s Russia are incomparable socially, etc., but my point is that it would have taken someone with political savvy, deep intellectual curiosity, and the courage to be innovative and undertake monumental reforms to save Russia in 1917, and Nicholas did not possess those qualities.

I think he wasn’t overly distraught about the abdication because it actually came as something of a personal relief. He seemed to be more afraid of Alexandra’s response than anything else. I’m sure he also felt he had failed to uphold his father’s legacy. However, he never had wanted to become Tsar in the first place and took no real pleasure in most of his responsibilities. Though he did try to fulfill them (albeit unsuccessfully). For that reason I can understand why he didn’t seem terribly upset. In his opinion everything was God’s will and he felt Russia’s fate was in the hands of God. If he couldn’t change his future, if God alone (from his perspective) was responsible for all that happened, what would have been the point of becoming upset by things? Emotional shock may also have played a part in his detachment.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on May 01, 2008, 04:15:57 PM
On February 26, 1917, Rodzianko sent a telegram to the Tsar:  "Situation grave.  Anarchy in capital. Government paralysed.  Transport... has reached complete breakdown. Public discontent growing. Disorderly shooting occurring on the streets.  Military units are firing on each other. Vital to call on a figure trusted by the country to form a new government. No time to lose. Any delay is as good as death.  I pray God that in this hour the blame will not fall on Him who wears the crown."

Nicholas's reaction?  He reportedly told Count Fredericks, "That fatty Rodzianko has again written all sorts of nonsense to me and I am not even going to reply."

On that day as usual he [Nicholas] attended Liturgy, later walked for quite some time along the highway leading to Bobruisk received a senator, and in the evening played dominoes with his retainers.

This doesn't strike me as unusual for Nicholas. He always behaved that way, even during past tragedies and crisis he tended to go about his usual routine as though nothing was wrong. Routine seemed to bring him comfort and make him feel secure. Perhaps going about with things as usual, following his normal routine when everything was falling apart, was his way of trying to hold on to his senses. Do you know what I mean?

As for his refusing to listen to Rodzyanko, all throughout his life Nicholas had made it a habit almost to avoid unpleasant realities (both personal and political ones). He also chose not to listen to those he didn't like or respect. He rarely took into account the fact that these people, though loathsome to him, might have a valid point to make. As you have said, he was removed from reality and had been for decades.

But, my question is this - What happened to Nicholas II during the last months of 1916 and the beginning of 1917?  It seems as if he has lost all reason and all caring about anything. Was he taking drugs or being drugged? 

I have read that he was prescribed cocaine for migraine headaches. Cocaine was commonly used at the time to aide many ailments. Here is one letter in which he mentions cocaine to Alix. I can’t find the others, unfortunately.

Nicholas to Alexandra – 13 November 1915 – Mogilev
…I woke up with a shocking cold in the left nostril, so that I am thinking of spraying it with cocaine. Apart from that, I feel strong-heaps of energy…

I would like to know just how high the dosage of cocaine was and how often he actually used it. Cocaine can have very detrimental effects.

Maurice Paleologue claimed Nicholas was on something else, too, but it is difficult to gage the accuracy of his information. According to him Dr. Badmaev prescribed some other medicine for Nicholas.

Paleologue’s Diary – 6 November 1916
During recent months the Emperor suffered from nervous maladies which betray themselves in unhealthy excitement, anxiety, loss of appetite, depression and insomnia. The Empress would not rest until he had consulted that quack Badmayev…the charlatan soon discovered in his pharmacopoeia the remedy appropriate to the case of his august patient: it is an elixir compounded of Tibetan herbs… Every time the Emperor has used this drug, his baneful symptoms have vanished…the elixir must be a mixture of henbane and hashish, and the Emperor should be careful not to take too much.”

Felix Yusupov also mentioned Badmayev in a letter to GD Nikolai Mikhailovich (14 February 1917)
…I am convinced that the Emperor’s passive reaction to everything that happens, is the result of Badmaev’s medicines. There are such herbs that act gradually and reduce a man to complete cretinism…

Then again, Nicholas was usually passive. Who knows if Badmaev’s herbs, if ever taken, caused this behavior.

More about Badmaev from Torment and Shadows, by Karl Ernest Meyer (pp.271)
An equally interesting figure, Zhamsaran Pyotr Aleksandrovich Badmaev (1851-191). A fashionable practioner of Tibetan medicine and an adviser on Mongolian affairs to the Russian Foreign Ministry, he was also the most influential Buriat in St. Petersburg. When Badmaev converted to Orthodox Christianity, none other than Alexander III acted as his godfather at the ceremony. Yet it was his Tibetan medicine that won him access at court. In his laboratory he prepared an entire pharmacopoeia of alchemic remedies, infusions of Asoka flowers, Nienchen balsam, black lotus essence, nikrik powder, and the "Tibetan elixir of life," which he prescribed for Petersburg's upper classes...

Badmaev was a friend of Rasputin and is also mentioned (along with his herbal concoctions) in Richard Pipe’s book The Russian Revolution.

Both Nicholas and Alexandra also used opium occasionally for minor ailments, too.

I don’t believe for a minute that Nicholas II was an addict. However, I do wonder if his occasional use of these drugs did in some way hinder his ability to make decisions. I can’t imagine it would have made him more clear-headed. It is really hard to know what effect, if any, the drugs had given That we don't know what the dosage was (at least I don't). Perhaps someone else on the board knows more about this.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: anna11 on May 01, 2008, 06:17:03 PM
About the drugs, I know that both Nicholas and Alexandra used opium and it wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that he or both of them were addicted. It is an extremely addictive drug, and those symptoms sound like someone going through heroin withdrawal. The people that take opium, aka heroin only sometimes are far and few between. If you take it on a regular basis, you're an addict basically.

Remember that 'addict' does not necessarily mean the same thing you think of when you think addict. If you have the money and the means to support a drug addiction, then it can sometime not really have any affect on a person's day to day life, apart from what you described as eventually going into depression like you described.

It also wouldn't surprise me to learn that Nicky smoked marijuana regularly. That can affect a person's ability to deal with things in a normal way and have a very 'chilled' reaction to everything.

God, it must have been a nightmare during the revolution when they didn't have it anymore.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on May 01, 2008, 07:13:28 PM
I don't know how often Nicholas used opium, but he certainly wasn't using it every day. What I meant by "addict" was someone whose life is completely taken over and planned around their addiction, i.e., they can't live or function at all without their drug of choice. Nicholas, whatever his problems were, doesn't strike me as an addict by that definition. He wasn't described as going through withdrawal of any kind during exile and he certainly would have if he'd been an opium junkie. I think the cocaine use was actually more frequent with him than opium ever was. Whether or not he was an addict (by your definition, mine, or anyone else’s) one has to question how sound his judgment was after using the drugs. That is why I would like to know what the dosage was. I don't know how often Alexandra was given opium. I do know Alexandra mentioned using opium/morphine at least once in a letter because she had some sort of stomach upset.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Alixz on May 01, 2008, 11:02:15 PM
Thank you both so much for your postings.  I am looking forward to investigating this subject more closely.

I think that going to Stavka gave Nicholas momentary relief from his problems at home and (even though he loved her dearly) Alexandra's constant recriminations under the guise of love.

Unfortunately, he was at Stavka to command, not to take walks and play dominoes no matter how much better it made him feel.

It seems that his statement of abdication was actually ready the day before Guchkov and Shulgin came to Pskov.  Up until 3 pm on March 2 (15) Nicholas still held hope that he would not have to abdicate and so he gave orders not to send the telegrams giving his consent to the abdication already prepared for transmission to Rodzianko and Alexeyev.

But Nicholas was quite apathetic as he listened to Guchkov.

There was no stigmatism attached to the use of opium and cocaine during Nicholas's time and so he would have used it as he saw fit.

Nicholas took over command of the army following the failures of the Russian forces on the Western Front on 23rd August 1915.  So Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaevich had command for about a year and Nicholas had command for about a year and a half.

While Nicholas never was a decisive leader, it just seems that he became less effective toward the end of 1916 and after Rasputin's death and into the early part of 1917.

Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Mari on May 02, 2008, 12:45:57 AM
Very interesting Subject!      It would add a whole element to the study of History if  We knew what Medicines various Rulers took? Or Generals? What Wars were won or lost on it.  What Decisions were flawed or never made....
..
Cocaine was widely used medicinally but also in  other ways....How about Coca cola  when it came out...it contained Cocaine and so was addictive and sold as a pick me up! How about Paregoric? or laudanum? which  contains 10 milligrams of morphine per milliliter, 25 times more than paregoric.  Both widely used for ills.  I do know that the famous Confederate General John Bell Hood had this said about his "medicine"

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in his booklet for the National Park Service, The Road Past Kennesaw: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 (1972), Richard M. McMurry mentions that Hood "may have been taking a derivative of laudanum to ease his pain" from wounds (p. 42; italics added). The former newspaper columnist Webb Garrison, in his Atlanta and the War (1995), also entertains the possibility that Hood's judgment may have suffered "perhaps from use of laudanum to dull his constant pain" (p. 138)
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  Historians point out Bell's bad decisions...no decisions..and even the fact he slept while the Union army slipped away in the Battle of Franklin. Perhaps you can see a correlation in this to Nicholas and his decisions.

A little bit of information:

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Paregoric, or camphorated tincture of opium, is a medication known for its antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic properties. It was a household remedy in the 18th and 19th centuries, when it was widely used to calm fretful children. In the 20th century its use declined as governments regulated it. (In the United States, paregoric can still be found in the pharmacopeia, but it is a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act.)
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  Widely used even for Babies....because it was not classified as harmful...

More ways cocaine entered Society just as an example prior to 1939:

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In 1885 the U.S. manufacturer Parke-Davis sold cocaine in various forms, including cigarettes, powder, and even a cocaine mixture that could be injected directly into the user’s veins with the included needle. The company promised that its cocaine products would “supply the place of food, make the coward brave, the silent eloquent and ... render the sufferer insensitive to pain
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Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Alixz on May 02, 2008, 03:38:20 PM
Mari - My mother used Paregoric on my sister and me when we were children.  I didn't even remember the name until you said it.

It was for teething pain.  No wonder it worked so well and calmed us down and let us sleep.  And let her sleep, too!

You are probably right about the battles won or lost and judgements that were made or not made clearly because of the use of drugs by those in charge.

I am still researching, but I see such a decline in Nicholas during that time from November 1916 to February 1917 in his judgement and his reactions (which were never brilliant to begin with).  To ignore the warnings from St. Petersburg and to issue orders and then go play dominoes without seeing if the execution of those orders was even possible seems to be strange even for Nicholas.

After the murder of Rasputin, Nicholas really stops listening or acting.  I wonder if he just knew how much suffering he would endure because of Alexandra's reactions and just didn't want to deal with it anymore.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Alixz on April 25, 2009, 07:45:00 PM
I know that it has been a long time since this thread was posted on, but after having read it to edit for FA, I had another thought about Nicholas being blase about the abdication.

I don't think it ever occurred to him that Michael wouldn't just take up the reigns of government.  Nicholas probably thought that Michael would follow the abdication document with his own acceptance of the throne and then begin the business of ruling and straightening things out with the Provisional Government.

Nicholas was probably very comfortable in believing that Michael would be in charge and that is why he didn't ask for an concessions for his family's safety.  He didn't think they were in danger.

With Michael on the throne, Nicholas would just retire, so to speak, and live in Livadia or wherever else he wanted to go.  Why would Michael stop him?

So Nicholas may have "led them to the basement", but Michael didn't prevent it either.  I know that Michael wanted a constituent vote as to whether or not he should take up the rule of government, but Nicholas could have had no way to know that this would happen.

We know it now and that is why we wonder why Nicholas didn't ask for concessions for the safe conduct of his family.
Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: RomanovMartyrs on February 19, 2010, 05:28:39 AM
^ I agree.


And maybe this has already been said, but I firmly believe that the Tsar had no notion in the farthest reaches of his mind that his family would be killed, especially when he was in the process of abdicating. He wasn't made aware of the extremity of the situation in the city until later; to him nothing had become full-scale violence yet.

And the background. Let's look at that. He was raised in a world of splendor. At that time, children were seen as angelic creatures to dress up in lace and frills and tell fairy tales to. (I took a course on Russian Children's culture; it is fact that once the Revolution happened, fairy tales were not accepted into the child's upbringing anymore. The ideal of the angelic child was replaced by the ideal of a rebellious, argumentative child.) Young ladies were seen as innocent and fair and sent to balls and other events to insure their marriage to a respected nobleman (or in the case of Grand Duchesses, other royalty abroad). This was Nicholas's world. I'm not saying murder never happened; he saw that with his own eyes as Alexander II lay dying, having fallen prey to a terrorist act. But even if he had the slightest notion he would meet the fate of his Grandfather he most likely would never have conceived that one would stoop to the level of murdering his young daughters and 13 year old son.

So no, he didn't lead them to the basement himself, in my mind. Yes, he abdicated. But there was so much unrest in Russia at that time I believe they would have met their fate one way or the other regardless of what document Nicholas did or didn't sign. Nicholas II did not lead them to the basement. Yurovsky did.

Title: Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
Post by: Alixz on February 19, 2010, 09:04:59 AM
Of course Yurovsky actually and physically led the family to the basement, but this thread is more about the actions or inaction of Nicholas II in the years before the murder.

The long road on which the Imperial Family travelled to Yekaterinburg began on the day that Nicholas married Alix of Hesse.  That was the first decision, made without any fore knowledge of the pain and suffering that it would cause, that Nicholas made with a mindless determination to get what he wanted regardless of what others thought.

Nicholas knew when his father Alexander III died at age 49 that he, Nicholas, was not prepared to rule and yet he made another decision to rule with out the help of those who could have helped him.  Instead he again turned to Alix and her support forgetting that she had no knowledge of how to run the Duchy of Hesse Darmstadt let alone the Russian Empire.

Decision by decision and turn by turn Nicholas did indeed begin to lead them to the basement himself.  Not by choice, but by indecision and stubbornness and a pride of place while underneath it all he knew that he was wrong for the job, but just couldn't let go out of respect for his ancestors and the fear of the wrath of Alexandra and her determination to hold the dynasty for "baby".

He must have been terribly conflicted.