Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty => Nicholas II => Topic started by: Tsarfan on April 20, 2005, 04:07:08 PM

Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 20, 2005, 04:07:08 PM
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Well, maybe in an ideal corporate world this is all true. But if it were true all the time, just to give one example, you wouldn't have executive officers from Enron standing trial for major fiscal malfeasance - i.e., robbing a company blind, while the CEO looked on - or perhaps away - cluelessly.

I have spent 25 years in varied business environments and, while I grant that few companies operate in an ideal state, most companies are reasonably well run.  And the process of getting all relevant information in front of the decision-maker is overwhelmingly the rule rather than the exception.  It's just kinda Business School 101 stuff.

I don't feel the Enron analogy holds up.  First, the indictments state the opposite of your proposition.  Lay is accused of knowing exactly what was going on.  Second, I know nothing about the Enron situation that would indicate they made decisions without all the relevant facts laid out up front.  The problem there was that the facts did not produce the financial results they wanted, so they rigged shell transactions to sever the trackability of expenses back to revenue.

Even if you're right about Enron, using it to excuse Nicholas' lack of management skill actually makes my point.  Incompetence at that colossal a scale destroys the whole enterprise.  Lay destroyed his company.  Nicholas destroyed his.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on April 20, 2005, 04:11:49 PM
How can you compare the ruling of so vast & varied an empire as Russia to the running of a business?
Not only does it dehumanise the population but it fails to take into account the fact that in a business, for the most part, the aims of the employeees etc. are more or less the same.
In a vast empire like Russia there were cdemands from aristocrats, royalties, peasants, town dwellers, entrepreneurs, the Church.
People were pulling in so many directions. The best analogy I can see would be that Nicholas was at the reins of a wide & unruly group of horses which he was incapable of pulling together. I doubt that at that time anyone could.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 20, 2005, 04:21:00 PM
Yes, there were lots of forces pulling in many directions.  But the Lieven quote describes something quite simple -- commiting to a government program without checking with the finance minister about funding.  The forces of global order are not at play in such a straightforward scenario.  If the Russian administrative system could not handle something so elemental, no wonder it collapsed.

The push and pull of forces on the U.S. government are vastly more complex than those on Nicholas.  Would we tolerate a system that commits to huge programs without first assuring the means to pay?

Oops . . . there went my argument.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 20, 2005, 06:19:50 PM
Aha!   I thought of a comeback to myself.

In the U.S., we go ahead with the program even without the means to pay.  No indecision here, thank you.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on April 20, 2005, 09:46:21 PM
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Witte's memoirs are not the sole source of information about Nicholas and it must be remembered that Witte & the Tsar had often not seen eye-to-eye so there is every chance of a certain bias there.


Yes, but in regards to the particular points on which I have used him as a reference, what primary sources are you referring to that dispute or challenge his recollections?


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The ultimate decision to abdicate on behalf of Alexei was perhaps a major mistake - but it was also the first time that Nicholas had broken his 'faith' in what he saw as his & his son's role. This mistake was the result of a father's concern for his son. It WAS a mistake but an understandable one.


I'm afraid I see it in exactly opposite terms.  The mistake wasn't abdicating on behalf of Alexei, it was carrying on all those years as if Alexei would be able to one day become Tsar.  All that covering up and pretending that everything was fine -- it did enormous damage -- this is the very thesis of Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra.  He says so in the forward.  

Abdicating for Alexei made sense because (1) he was only 12 years old (2) he had hemophilia and couldn't carry out the duties of a Tsar.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: pinklady on April 21, 2005, 04:46:41 AM
In Nicholas & Alexandra, there is a quote by Sir Bernard Pares, " After all, the nursery was the centre of all Russia's troubles."
I beleive that comment to be true, as the state of Russia combined with Alexei's illness was the combination that unglued Russia, add the war and it was eventual doom.

How different could everything have been if Alexei didnt suffer from haemophilia?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: pinklady on April 21, 2005, 07:38:42 AM
I think Nicholas always thought he was doing the best he could for Russia and his people but in the end all he was, was an incompetant Tsar who wanted to play soldiers with the boys in the war and live the good life while millions lived in misery, with death, hunger and backward living standards compared to the rest of Europe. All most Russians had was"faith in God" and in the end that wasnt enough.

I think Nicholas abdicated because he was unwell and stressed. More than one source has mentioned the ex tsar had a sort of emotional break down at home after the abdication, and that the time under house arrest was the first time he had been really happy, just to rest and spend time with the family.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Lass on April 21, 2005, 08:01:01 AM
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All most Russians had was"faith in God" and in the end that wasnt enough.

Bear in mind, Russian peasants looked upon the Tsar himself as God.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Olga on April 21, 2005, 08:50:16 AM
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Bear in mind, Russian peasants looked upon the Tsar himself as God.


No, he was God's representative on Earth, not God himself.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Lass on April 21, 2005, 09:47:14 AM
Probably you're right, though I think I have read otherwise... They did worship him though, didn't they?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Olga on April 21, 2005, 10:05:12 AM
Oh, God yes. Pun intended.  ;)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on April 21, 2005, 10:15:28 AM
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Probably you're right, though I think I have read otherwise... They did worship him though, didn't they?


Well they sure had a funny way of showing their fealty in the 1905 and 1917 revolutions.  The moment they sensed the opportunity, they grabbed the land and forgot all about God's representative on Earth.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Lass on April 21, 2005, 10:45:28 AM
Hmmm. ::) 'Tis strange how quickly they seemed to change. I have watched film of peasants treating Nicholas II and his family as deities, and yet they did indeed rebel with a zeal. :-/
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on April 21, 2005, 11:30:39 AM
I think it is important to disinguish between the 'intellectual' revolutionaries who were concentrated in the cities (if not in exile or having escaped abroad) & the great mass of the peasant population. The latter did view the Tsar as little less than a god.
The intellectuals had the loudest voices and access to printing etc. which made them more likely to be heard.
(It was ever thus.  :( )
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on April 21, 2005, 11:48:23 AM
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the great mass of the peasant population. The latter did view the Tsar as little less than a god.
/quote]
Sorry -  but I think that although many peasants may have been in awe of the Tsar, just as many were indifferent to him. Figes is very insiteful on this point.

rskkiya
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on April 21, 2005, 12:31:39 PM
What position [under God, next to God....] did the Russian National Church  leaders place Nicholas II?

AGRBear



Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 21, 2005, 12:46:21 PM
I've never delved into this, but there seems to be a large element between the intellectuals and the peasants that played a key role in the revolution -- the industrial workers.  And I'm not sure they were entirely the creatures of the urban intelligentsia.

In fact, much of the intelligentsia's roots went back to movements that were more focused on the countryside.  One of the philosophical divides between the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks was that the Mensheviks thought the peasants were the key to revolution.  Although the Bolsheviks ultimately prevailed (based largely on their superior organizational skills in the one city that mattered most in crippling the government -- St. Petersburg), they were, in fact, in a numerical minority in socialist circles right up until October of 1917.

The industrial workers certainly played a role in St. Petersburg, both in 1905 and 1917.  Ekaterinburg was remote from St. Petersburg, but it had been industrialized quite early, and its population was intensely hostile to the Romanovs from the early days of the 1917 revolution.  But far from being at the beck and call of the intellectuals, the Ural Soviet's fear was that the intellectuals in the central soviet in Moscow would be too Machiavellian or too cynical to exact the harsh retribution on the Romanovs that they deserved.

As bad as serfdom and the subsequent lot of the peasants had been, there was nevertheless an element of paternalism in the system that gave them some sense of a place in the order of things.  Industrial working conditions severed that connection without replacing it with new sense of a place in the system.

One of the great missed opportunities before the revolution was the side-lining of Witte and his industrial reforms.  Had Russia adopted Bismarck's approach of having the government step into the breach with social welfare and workers compensation programs, the intellectuals would have had a much harder row to hoe.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: pinklady on April 22, 2005, 04:25:02 AM
If I had been a Russian industrial worker, I would have revolted. Most of them lived under apalling living and working standards, that the western world in 2005 could not begin to imagine.

Nowhere in Europe was the lives of the rich and  poor as different as in Russia. So between the industrial workers, the nobility and the peasants was a vast difference in how the other thought about their lives.
Taken from Robert K Massie again, (sorry, I like his book)
"Between the nobility and the peasant lay a vast gulf of ignorance.
Between the nobility and the intellectuals there was a massive contempt and flourishing hatred. Each considered that if Russia survived, the other must be eliminated."
So in Russia, only a handful of the lucky lived fantastic lives, and millions and millions lived in absolute poverty and misery. I dont think they were happy. Does anyone seriously think they would have been happy as an industrial worker, working a 12 hour shift every day, or as a Russian peasant, toiling the land all day long?
And yes, the peasants thought that the Tsar was God's representative on Earth, that He was near to God. The peasants held the tsar in awe, as "He was near to God!" I am pretty sure that they also thought the Tsar knew everything! I will have to find the source.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 22, 2005, 06:47:48 AM
I'm sorry if I implied otherwise, but I certainly do not think the peasants had easy lives.  However, they had lived for centuries in rural conditions that did allow them some semblance of emotional comfort.  They had some rest during the long winter months and were enmeshed in families and church and social communities that allowed them a sense of interpersonal contact.

Industrial conditions deprived them even of this -- year-round toil, dirty and dangerous working conditions, city crowding and crime . . . and proximity to the prosperous classes of the cities to heighten their own sense of deprivation and social injustice.

I agree that at the turn of the 20th century the disparity between wealth and poverty was larger in Russia than anywhere else.  However, there was a stage of industrialization in England in which industrial working conditions were no better.  Read Dickens, for instance, whose descriptions were accepted as accurate by contemporary observers.  And the arrogance of wealth was no less in England.  An author once described a party at an aristocratic country house in which the host gazed across a teeming mining town in a valley to another country house on a distant hill.  Turning to his guests to boast of the size of his estate, he said "you see . . . between them and us there is no-one."

The difference was that England developed the resolve to deal with the situation.  Russia did not.

Grinding poverty endured in isolation has always been far less dangerous to governments than poverty experienced within line-of-sight of prosperity.  One of the reasons the Bolsheviks succeeded where the Mensheviks did not was the difficulty of getting the peasants to agree that their plight was either desperate or addressable.  I'm not aware of any peasant revolts in history that succeeded in unseating central governments.  Urban revolts have unseated several, even while the countrysides remained largely loyal.

Granted, urban revolts also succeed because all the players on both sides are more easily assembled and led because of their concentration in one or a few places.  But I still think that urban conditions produce a much deeper sense of desperation than rural conditions do among the disenfranchised.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on April 22, 2005, 10:40:18 AM
It was easier to rule over a small isolated [Big Ditch] community of Great Britan as compared with ruling over All the Russias, which was how many times larger in times of Nicholas II?

When digging into the industrial question, I remember being surprised at the amount of education some of the peasants, who were going into towns and cities to work in factories, etc..  When I find the numbers, I'll bring them back to this post.


AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on April 22, 2005, 10:53:45 AM
That phenomena was mentioned in "A Peoples Tragedy" - Orlando Figes work. Sorry- but its not to hand at the moment, I think agrebear will find it.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Olga on April 22, 2005, 10:55:08 AM
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It was easier to rule over a small isolated [Big Ditch] community of Great Britan as compared with ruling over All the Russias, which was how many times larger in times of Nicholas II?


The size of the USSR/CIS.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 22, 2005, 12:26:29 PM
Certainly Russia was vastly larger than Britian.  But the British industrial class was larger and its issues every bit as complex at those in Russia.  I doubt it would have been any harder in Russia to limit work hours, legislate against child labor, and provide workers compensation for death and injury than it was in Britain.

One advantage of autocracy is the ability to drive certain outcomes against entrenched resistance.  For instance, Alexander II freed the serfs with the stroke of a pen.  The issue of slavery in the U.S. had to play out through years of congressional maneuvering, which ultimately led to a civil war.  When Lincoln did finally put his pen to paper on the Emancipation Proclamation, it remained unenforceable until the north prevailed militarily over the south.  (You can certainly argue that Alexander only started a process which was sloppily started and never effectively concluded . . . but we're still trying to clean up our house in the U.S. on this score 140 years later.)

I don't think the difference in Russia was the size of the land mass.  The difference was the resolve of the government to take on the interests of the capitalists.  If anything, the political sophistication of the capitalists in Great Britain in protecting their interests was more advanced than that of their Russian counterparts.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on April 22, 2005, 01:23:41 PM
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It was easier to rule over a small isolated [Big Ditch] community of Great Britan as compared with ruling over All the Russias, which was how many times larger in times of Nicholas II?

AGRBear


Oh, I agree.  I remember hearing in a lecture that in the 1950's Soviet authorities stumbled across a village somewhere is Siberia, whose inhabitants were blissfully unaware of World War I, the Revolution, Lenin, Stalin, World War II !!!    The village elders thought the emissaries were Tsarist officials!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 22, 2005, 02:44:32 PM
Interesting how Nicholas, with a centuries-old administrative system, could not improve factory conditions with even the simplest legislative measures, but Stalin -- with a bureaucracy less than twenty years old -- completely changed the character of Russian society by collectivizing agriculture, relocating entire industries, co-opting university curricula, etc.

I'm certainly not saying Stalin's changes were for the better (or even that they accomplished their nefarious goals in all cases), but the claim that Nicholas really had no means to effect change in Russia because of its vastness seems a stretch to me.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: pinklady on April 23, 2005, 03:12:57 AM
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I'm certainly not saying Stalin's changes were for the better (or even that they accomplished their nefarious goals in all cases), but the claim that Nicholas really had no means to effect change in Russia because of its vastness seems a stretch to me.


I agree Tsarfan, and I think it was almost done deliberatly to keep power and wealth in the hands of so few, and to keep those few happy.
And also in part because he had dreams of handing his sick son the empire "intact".
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Olga on April 23, 2005, 05:40:15 AM
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And also in part because he had dreams of handing his sick son the empire "intact".


That's the part that really makes me angry. It's so disgustingly selfish.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on April 23, 2005, 05:58:31 PM
Olya
It does sound to my 21st century ears a bit like mother proudly telling daughter that she will receive a complete best dinner set or a complete tea service of 19th century blue willow china teacups.
But that sadly may well have been the way that Nicholas thought about this - as just something he possessed - to dispose of as he wished.

rskkiya
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Silja on April 25, 2005, 01:49:54 PM
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Interesting how Nicholas, with a centuries-old administrative system, could not improve factory conditions with even the simplest legislative measures,


However, I think that far from being the solution, the centuries-old-administrative system was actually part of the problem as regards reforming the country. In the same way as it is in today's Russia!

Dominic Lieven has partly treated the subject in his Nicholas II, but it's been quite some time since I read the book, so I don't remember any details.

Anyway, I think it's a misconception that  by the nineteenth century the tsar, even though he was an autocrat, found it so easy to implement real reform even if he wanted to. This doesn't mean Nicholas II couldn't have shown more commitment!!!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 25, 2005, 03:02:03 PM

However, I don't think it's an accurate analogy to the remediation of horrific industrial working conditions.  If Nicholas could not distinguish between the concerns of a few fashion snobs and those of millions of industrial workers enmeshed in lives of despair, then he well deserved the revolution he got.

Yes, the age and decrepitude of the administrative system was a contributing factor to the paralysis of government.  But even under Nicholas, there were those who were willing and able to drive change -- Witte and Stolypin, for instance.  The problem is not only that Nicholas would not drive change himself.  He was averse to any real change in the status quo.  It was a failure of understanding and a failure of imagination.  And a lot more than the sock suppliers paid the price.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on April 25, 2005, 06:21:04 PM

Everything the  Tsar did touched people [good, bad and the ugly] in some way.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on April 25, 2005, 08:41:32 PM

What about the royal underwear?  Was that only worn once?  My Great Aunt Kitty, who was born in the 1890's was a laundress at Buckingham Palace during the reign of King George V.  She used to launder the royal undies.  I'm not making this up.  When Queen Elizabeth visited New Haven, Connecticut in 1976 (I think) my auntie was chosen to present the Queen with flowers based on her earlier connection to the Queen's grandfather.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Donielle on April 25, 2005, 10:46:45 PM
A sincere thank you Bear,I've read and enjoyed your posts for some time now.I've never stated how much your knowledge and reason has enlightened me.As on this subject before us now, once again you present a side based on true fact and  circumstance.Nicholas was a man  in essence,that loved to walk in the forest,garden,collect wild mushrooms,accompanied by his beloved children and pet dogs.The simple Nicholas is the one I choose to remember.I will never hold him solely responsible for the revolution.He was swept away by forces beyond his control.This could happen in any country today,if law enforcement and military turn against government in revolution.As for negative attributes,nothing evokes a more negative reaction than what happened to this family at Impatiev house.IMO.-D
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on April 25, 2005, 11:02:49 PM
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I certainly agree that Nicholas' changing his socks would have spawned most of the silliness you describe, AGRBear.  And I am sympathetic to his sticking with the old socks as a result.  

However, I don't think it's an accurate analogy to the remediation of horrific industrial working conditions.  If Nicholas could not distinguish between the concerns of a few fashion snobs and those of millions of industrial workers enmeshed in lives of despair, then he well deserved the revolution he got.

Yes, the age and decrepitude of the administrative system was a contributing factor to the paralysis of government.  But even under Nicholas, there were those who were willing and able to drive change -- Witte and Stolypin, for instance.  The problem is not only that Nicholas would not drive change himself.  He was averse to any real change in the status quo.  It was a failure of understanding and a failure of imagination.  And a lot more than the sock suppliers paid the price.


This comment more than any flowerly apologies about how much Nicholas loved his family/walks in the forest/taking photos/gathering mushrooms is the key.  

Nicholas was able to "offer only failure in a world that demanded success"...(to quote from The Producers) and that is the unsentimental truth.

rskkiya
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: pinklady on April 26, 2005, 12:27:16 AM
Well, the socks issue just reinforces everything we have been saying, that if it took that much effort to change socks then imagine changing a law? What would be the point? May as well keep letting most of the population live in misery and depression like he did. It clearly demonstrates that Russia and Nicholas were backward compared to the demands of the 20th century, I mean poor old Nicky was living in the wrong century, really wasnt he?
That antiquatd backward old system had no business or future in the modern world.
The socks demonstrate that.
No whitewashing can ever remove the facts.
And also he may have loved his family but so did and do a lot of ordinary men who were not the Tsar, and as a Tsar he failed.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 26, 2005, 08:56:59 AM
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Nicholas was a man  in essence,that loved to walk in the forest,garden,collect wild mushrooms,accompanied by his beloved children and pet dogs.  As for negative attributes,nothing evokes a more negative reaction than what happened to this family at Impatiev house.IMO.-D


True, what happened in the Ipatiev house was sad.  But so was the gunning down of several hundred innocent protesters in front of the Winter Palace in 1905 while Nicholas was at Tsarkoye Selo picking mushrooms.

Can one even imagine the police or military forces of England, Germany, or Austria thinking it acceptable to fire on a crowd when there was no conceivable threat to the monarch's person?  People generally have a sense of what their bosses expect of them.  In fact, there are numerous reports of Nicholas' extending accolades to commanders who exacted harsh retribution on strikers and protesters throughout the empire, as well as reports of his chastising commanders who managed to break up such events without resorting to violence.

Nicholas' attitude seems to have been that his subjects' primary duty was to leave him in peace to attend church, to review military parades,  to scribble vacuous or bigoted comments into the margins of reports, to enjoy his car collection, to report meals and the weather in his diary, and to allow him quiet walks outside his palaces with his children.  Those noxious souls who dared to protest inhumane conditions were to be whipped back into silence by whatever means required.

I am sorry for the deaths of innumerable people in Russia throughout the period,  Nicholas' and his family's included.  But Nicholas loaded the guns that took him and his family out in that cellar.

I'm no revolutionary.  In fact, I style myself "Tsarfan" because I have an irrational love for the institution of monarchy and wish it had continued in Russia to this day.  But that could only have happened with monarchs who had a least a modicum of understanding of what was happening around them.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Donielle on April 26, 2005, 09:11:10 AM
"this comment more than any flowery apologies"I offered no flowery apologies concerning Nicholas,I just brought up some POSITIVE qualities that needed to be mentioned. As for him being a"' failure in a world that demanded success".Do you ,Rsskiya ,see your self as a failure or a success?Or a mixture of both? We are human beings capable of  success and failure,harsh judgement or forgiveness.This family was assassinated without trial.This in itself conveys the state of anarchy present.How ironic that despite his murder,the present government still has not alieviated the suffering of the low income population of Russia to date.To place the burden of failure on the shoulders of one man is ludicrous.-D
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Donielle on April 26, 2005, 09:29:01 AM
Tsarfan,I agree with you on the murder of innocent workers and religious clergy that simply wanted audience with the Tsar.No one is saying that Tsar N was a successful ruler.The country was in shambles.However many major decisions in regard to  military strategy and government were made by  the tsar after being counseled by his Uncles,whom he regarded as being informed and capable.The point is that he was not solely responsible for the revolution.Tsarfan,I see the validity of your points made.The bloodshed was inexcusable.The conditions of the average family appalling.However even today,The upper class are far removed from the day to day struggles of the poor and downtrodden.They have never experienced their plight.Just as we have never been privy to the plight of The Tsar and his family.-D
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on April 26, 2005, 10:23:31 AM
Quote
I offered no flowery apologies concerning Nicholas,I just brought up some POSITIVE qualities that needed to be mentioned. As for him being a"' failure in a world that demanded success". ...We are human beings capable of  success and failure,harsh judgement or forgiveness.This family was assassinated without trial.This in itself conveys the state of anarchy present.How ironic that despite his murder,the present government still has not alieviated the suffering of the low income population of Russia to date.To place the burden of failure on the shoulders of one man is ludicrous.-D


I agree with you entirely, Donielle, in all you have written here. Nicholas was not cruel or evil or totally responsible for the evils that befell his country - the evil of poverty cannot ever be seen as the sole responsibility of one person. If that were the case, whose fault is it now that millions of people in the world are starving to this day.


Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Donielle on April 26, 2005, 11:03:46 AM
Thank you  Blue,My point exactly.-D
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on April 26, 2005, 11:31:21 AM
Quote

True, what happened in the Ipatiev house was sad.  But so was the gunning down of several hundred innocent protesters in front of the Winter Palace in 1905 while Nicholas was at Tsarkoye Selo picking mushrooms.

Can one even imagine the police or military forces of England, Germany, or Austria thinking it acceptable to fire on a crowd when there was no conceivable threat to the monarch's person?


Unfortunately, there are countless examples where military forces fired on unarmed civilians in other countries, so Tsarist Russia was no different in that department.  Amritsar comes to mind immediately.  400 dead, 1200 wounded.





Quote
I am sorry for the deaths of innumerable people in Russia throughout the period,  Nicholas' and his family's included.  But Nicholas loaded the guns that took him and his family out in that cellar.

I'm no revolutionary.  In fact, I style myself "Tsarfan" because I have an irrational love for the institution of monarchy and wish it had continued in Russia to this day.  But that could only have happened with monarchs who had a least a modicum of understanding of what was happening around them.


Well put, Tsarfan.  Here's what Izvolsky says about Nicholas' leadership:

In order to give an idea of the Emperor's credulity and his tendency to listen to the wildest propositions, I will mention these two cases:  while I was Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Council of Ministers took up a project - with no intention of endorsing it, of course - that had been presented to the Emperor by a foreign contractor, and which contemplated the joining of Siberia to North America by a bridge to be built across the Behring Straits.  The plan provided for a concession to the contractor of vast stretches of territory on both sides of a railroad that was to terminate at the bridge.  Another time it was an American who succeeded in persuading the Emperor that he had discovered a way to defend the frontiers of a country, even as vast as Russia, by the use of electric currents of such force that no enemy could possibly cross the line.  This discovery was to do away with the maintenance of an army.  He demanded, naturally, certain pecuniary considerations in advance before revealing his secret, and it was only with a good deal of trouble that the Emperor was dissuaded from going further.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on April 26, 2005, 12:33:30 PM
Quote
"this comment more than any flowery apologies"I offered no flowery apologies concerning Nicholas,I just brought up some POSITIVE qualities that needed to be mentioned. As for him being a"' failure in a world that demanded success".Do you ,Rsskiya ,see your self as a failure or a success?Or a mixture of both? We are human beings capable of  success and failure,harsh judgement or forgiveness.This family was assassinated without trial.This in itself conveys the state of anarchy present.How ironic that despite his murder,the present government still has not alieviated the suffering of the low income population of Russia to date.To place the burden of failure on the shoulders of one man is ludicrous.-D


    No Donielle - you made no flowery excuses -- but many other posters have attempted to excuse him on the basis that he was a "nice guy" As an autocrat - that is not enough.
    Nicholas was an Autocrat  - I am not (lucky me)   - and whether we are all failures, all successes, or mixes of both, this discussion is about the "Negative aspects of Nicholas II as a Tsar". He was an incompetant Tsar but a nice fellow I suppose....

rskkiya

Any list of negative aspects of rskkiya as a human being would be legion! ;D
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 26, 2005, 12:53:16 PM
Quote
Unfortunately, there are countless examples where military forces fired on unarmed civilians in other countries, so Tsarist Russia was no different in that department.  Amritsar comes to mind immediately.  400 dead, 1200 wounded.
[/i]


Right you are, RichC, and I should have been clearer in making my point.  Certainly, the colonial powers have had a lot to answer for in their conduct with respect to their non-native populations.  However, I still find it inconceivable that one of the major western powers would have fired on a peaceful crowd in the center of its capital city.

In fact, your point brings out a comparison that hadn't occurred to me.  In the West, people tended to draw a line between their countrymen on one side and foreigners or colonial subjects on the other.  Behavior that was taboo against one's own countrymen was acceptable when applied to those on the other side of the line.  But in Russia, the line was drawn between social classes within the empire's native population(s).  In essence, it's as if the peasant and working classes were viewed as not part of the body politic.

I was about to say this was an indicator of how politically primitive Russia was compared to the western powers.  But then a couple of U.S. examples sprang to mind.  The first was the Pullman riots in the late 19th century, were private police were deployed for the vicious suppression of a labor strike.  The second was the U.S. civil rights movement.  I grew up in the deep south and experienced attitudes and police actions that have disturbing parallels to Russia in 1905.  There was one heartening difference, though, in both cases -- the central government in the U.S. tried to redress the grievances of the oppressed with the enactment of new labor laws in the first instance and civil rights legislation in the second.

And that was the difference that matters.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on April 26, 2005, 05:33:13 PM
Quote

In fact, your point brings out a comparison that hadn't occurred to me.  In the West, people tended to draw a line between their countrymen on one side and foreigners or colonial subjects on the other.  Behavior that was taboo against one's own countrymen was acceptable when applied to those on the other side of the line.  


Well, I still think that what the Tsarist Government did on Bloody Sunday (gunning down recalcitrant workers, students, etc.) was nothing new, either then or today, western nation or non-western nation. Look at the Ludlow Massacre in Colorado in 1914 -- National Guardsman gunned down 66 striking coal miners and their families.  Nobody was ever prosecuted.  True, the killings didn't take place on the steps of the US Capitol, but nevertheless, the government was treating these workers as enemies, right?   They weren't foreigners or colonial subjects.

Quote

However, I still find it inconceivable that one of the major western powers would have fired on a peaceful crowd in the center of its capital city.


Look at the Paris Commune.  The French Army slaughtered between 17,000 and 30,000 people in one week.  They weren't foreigners or colonial subjects; they were fellow Frenchmen and women and children -- they were the citizens of Paris who had had it with a bad government that foolishly got them mixed up in a war with Germany.  And this happened a mere 34 years before Bloody Sunday.

Here's another example; On October 2, 1968 Mexican troops mowed down 300 to 500 unarmed students in Mexico City's Plaza de las Tres Culturas.

And, of course there's Tiananmen Square which isn't in a western country, however.    

What happened on Bloody Sunday was a sick, vile act against innocent people.  But I think Bloody Sunday could happen in any country.  

I do agree with you completely, Tsarfan, that it was massacres like Bloody Sunday which led to the massacre in the Ipatiev House.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on April 26, 2005, 05:55:02 PM
When people talk about Bloody Sunday, I often wonder about the person who was in charge of the Tsar's troops that day.  Just as I wonder what orders he had given.  Had he told the troops to remain claim and just be there as a barrier or did he just flat out say,  "Hey guys, these marchers are proving to be pest so let's make sure they never think about marching again."

I, also, wonder if Nicholas II had ever given the person in charge of the troops a personal command that day ....  No, I guess he couldn't have on that day because he wasn't there.

Funny thing is, Gapon, the man who lead the marchers knew Nicholas II wasn't in the palace that day.  

And, how many of you knew that on the 19th Jan during the ceremony of the Blessing of the Waters that someone had loaded a cannon with real shot and had aimed it at the Neva where Nicholas II would be standing and when the cannons were fired as part of the ceremony the shot just missed Nicholas II?

The 19th was just three days before the 22nd of Jan. 1905.

I suspect this caused a stir among the officers around the palace.

The marchers marched.

No one knows who fired the first shot. There are so many version of this scene.  Some say the troopers came charging.   Some say a volly of shots were aimed directly at the crowd.  The Bolsheviks wrote many stories but not the troopers who were involved.  The first shot could have come from a trooper's gun, it could have been some revolutionary's gun in the crowd.... No one knows how many died that afternoon.  The Tsar's army count was different than the Bolshvik historians.  There were all kinds of other events happening...  People were  looting the shops then they went  into the well-to-do homes to steal and destroy.... All kinds of blood was being spilled in those homes and side streets....  The local gangs took advantage of what was happening and went after guns and booze...  

Nicholas II should have realized this was a warning of what was to come, but he did not and so this Bloody Day  started the downfall of the monarchy of Russia.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Vera_Figner on April 26, 2005, 06:05:01 PM
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And, how many of you knew that on the 19th Jan during the ceremony of the Blessing of the Waters that someone had loaded a cannon with real shot and had aimed it at the Neva where Nicholas II would be standing and when the cannons were fired as part of the ceremony the shot just missed Nicholas II?

AGRBear


Damn! Too bad he missed! Would have saved the wife and kids at least!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 26, 2005, 06:35:14 PM
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Well, I still think that what the Tsarist Government did on Bloody Sunday (gunning down recalcitrant workers, students, etc.) was nothing new, either then or today, western nation or non-western nation. Look at the Ludlow Massacre in Colorado in 1914 -- National Guardsman gunned down 66 striking coal miners and their families.

Look at the Paris Commune.  The French Army slaughtered between 17,000 and 30,000 people in one week.  

Here's another example; On October 2, 1968 Mexican troops mowed down 300 to 500 unarmed students in Mexico City's Plaza de las Tres Culturas.

And, of course there's Tiananmen Square which isn't in a western country, however.


All these things occurred and certainly will occur again.  However, that was not my original point.  I was not talking about governments suppressing open insurrection (the Paris Commune), or second-world dictatorships (China), or unstable Latin American governments (Mexico City), or reactionary local U.S. authorities (Colorado . . . or pretty much anyplace in the deep south and parts of the midwest).  I said I did not think it would have happened in London, Berlin, or Vienna.

My point was that Russia pretended to great power status on the modern European stage yet operated outside the pale of political responses acceptable to that community.  Look at the horror that Bloody Sunday engendered across Europe and the U.S.  I've sat at microfiche machines and read the actual press coverage in New York, Washington, Berlin, and London in the week following the massacre.  The revulsion was universal and sincere.  The West broke faith with Nicholas that day, and the consequences extended all the way to England's refusal twelve years later to grant Nicholas and his family asylum.

The very fact that Russia's reaction to protests bears comparison to communist China, Mexico, and one of the U.S.' most reactionary states says it all.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on April 26, 2005, 09:21:20 PM
If you are saying that Russia's government under Nicholas II was less sophisticated in how it controlled it's population than the governments in London, Berlin or Vienna, I would agree wholeheartedly with that.  But I don't really see any moral difference (perhaps I'm just being dense here) between killing unarmed civilians in St. Petersburg, Amritsar, Paris, Beijing, Colorado, or anywhere else.  You mentioned earlier that the troops know what their bosses want; well, the bosses in the Colorado killings were the Rockefeller family -- you can't get more establishment than that.  

I realize you didn't intend this, Tsarfan, but the things you said about Bloody Sunday got me thinking and reminded me of more contemporary news reports regarding how the current Russian government handled the hostage crises in the Caucasus (the school where all the children died) and in Moscow (the theatre).  There were a lot of news reports about how they bungled the rescue efforts, how western teams would have been more successful, and how there was perhaps more emphasis on catching the terrorists rather than saving innocent hostages.  But then one thinks of Waco where 77 died.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: pinklady on April 27, 2005, 01:37:12 AM
Donielle and Bluetoria,
Of course I agree with both of you that Nicholas 11 was not entirely to blame himself for the state of Russia and the Revolution, one person could never be solely responsible for such a mess.
On another note, as incompetant as he was as an Autocrat, it was simply disgusting and appalling what happened to him and all those he loved in that basement, without a trial, and even with a trial, the children were innocent, and should never have been comdemned to  death.
Nicholas 11 and his family were just one of many appalling cases of  murder in the 20th century, a century disgusting when we think we are so "modern".

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 27, 2005, 06:33:45 AM
Quote
But I don't really see any moral difference (perhaps I'm just being dense here) between killing unarmed civilians in St. Petersburg, Amritsar, Paris, Beijing, Colorado, or anywhere else.  You mentioned earlier that the troops know what their bosses want; well, the bosses in the Colorado killings were the Rockefeller family -- you can't get more establishment than that.  

I realize you didn't intend this, Tsarfan, but the things you said about Bloody Sunday got me thinking and reminded me of more contemporary news reports regarding how the current Russian government handled the hostage crises in the Caucasus (the school where all the children died) and in Moscow (the theatre).


You're anything but dense, RichC.  In respect to who kills unarmed innocents, I agree there is no moral difference.  It's no better or worse for Beijing to do it than St. Petersburg.  But in respect to why they are killed, I think the question gets grayer.  For instance, in the Caucasus crisis, the hostage-takers were threatening to kill all the hostages, and there had been some prior incidents to indicate the threat was serious.  I think the government, though perhaps ineptly, was attempting to head off what they reasonably feared could turn into total carnage.  Whether it's immoral to sacrifice some innocent lives in such an attempt is a question I've never been able to decide for myself.  

I'll certainly make no excuses for the Rockefellers, or for Pullman, or for their ilk.  But, while they may represent the evil side of capitalism, they still are not executing central government policy.

I promise to drop this thread of discussion after I try to clarify my line of reasoning one last time:  Nicholas sent the signals of what he expected of his military and police forces.  He had consistently sent signals in the past that he wanted a violent response to signs of civil unrest and that he felt a peaceful defusing of a situation was an opportunity missed for showing the government's resolve in the face of protest of any form.  His commanders acted on those signals.  It was government policy.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: pinklady on April 27, 2005, 06:46:01 AM
Quote

I promise to drop this thread of discussion after I try to clarify my line of reasoning one last time:  Nicholas sent the signals of what he expected of his military and police forces.  He had consistently sent signals in the past that he wanted a violent response to signs of civil unrest and that he felt a peaceful defusing of a situation was an opportunity missed for showing the government's resolve in the face of protest of any form.  His commanders acted on those signals.  It was government policy.


Yes, I do agree with you Tsarfan. And I think I said why I thought that before, the main reason being he wanted to hand what his father had handed him, he wanted to leave to his son, the "empire intact". And in this he had the support of the Empress, who kept urging him to be strong on many issues, but also one of her reasons was "Baby's" inheritance. I think that is it in a nutshell, they didnt want reform, they wanted Alexei to inherit what Nicholas had inherited in 1894, but they didnt want to adapt and change to the times and it cost them and Russia dearly.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 27, 2005, 10:33:17 AM
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they wanted Alexei to inherit what Nicholas had inherited in 1894


I think this was true . . . and very convenient for them.  They got to hold onto all their prerogatives, and do it in the name of a child's rights.

In an earlier post, RichC pointed out that Nicholas and Alexandra -- for all their touted devotion to tradition and heritage -- floated an idea before Alexei's birth to change the Fundamental Law in order for Olga to inherit.  I wonder what they would have attempted had they had no children?  Might Nicholas have looked back to Peter the Great and tried to ordain that his wife could succeed him?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on April 27, 2005, 02:06:59 PM
Quote

Well, I still think that what the Tsarist Government did on Bloody Sunday (gunning down recalcitrant workers, students, etc.) was nothing new, either then or today, western nation or non-western nation. Look at the Ludlow Massacre in Colorado in 1914 -- National Guardsman gunned down 66 striking coal miners and their families.  Nobody was ever prosecuted.  True, the killings didn't take place on the steps of the US Capitol, but nevertheless, the government was treating these workers as enemies, right?   They weren't foreigners or colonial subjects.


Look at the Paris Commune.  The French Army slaughtered between 17,000 and 30,000 people in one week.  They weren't foreigners or colonial subjects; they were fellow Frenchmen and women and children -- they were the citizens of Paris who had had it with a bad government that foolishly got them mixed up in a war with Germany.  And this happened a mere 34 years before Bloody Sunday.

Here's another example; On October 2, 1968 Mexican troops mowed down 300 to 500 unarmed students in Mexico City's Plaza de las Tres Culturas.

And, of course there's Tiananmen Square which isn't in a western country, however.    

What happened on Bloody Sunday was a sick, vile act against innocent people.  But I think Bloody Sunday could happen in any country.  

I do agree with you completely, Tsarfan, that it was massacres like Bloody Sunday which led to the massacre in the Ipatiev House.


I think cold-blooded ideological fanaticism, as personified by types like Lenin and Yurovsky, led to the murders in the Ipatiev House, not massacres like Bloody Sunday - which, BTW, was caused by the usual Russian governmental incompetence (as was Beslan, where the police didn't even succeed in securing the perimeter, but let in a lot of locals with their own guns!), not actual governmental policy, and proved to be a godsend to Western reporters and Russian radicals everywhere: very good propaganda value, heavy on the symbolism, designed to endure.

Please, I am not diminishing the tragedy of individual loss of life; indeed, I would be the first to say that Bloody Sunday was a horrific event -  but RichC is absolutely right to point out that it was hardly unique and that in this historical period the Western world indulged in equally egregious and flagrantly illegal, violent excesses in their own countries, against their own people, time and time again. Nor was Russia the only place where ordinary workers lived in abysmal conditions at the turn of the twentieth century - or am I the only American here who was forced to read The Octopus, How the Other Half Lives, and The Good Old Days: They Were Terrible in high school?

Tsarfan, I think you're being a little naive to assert that the American government was not violently anti-labor at the turn of the century and even beyond - unions and workers' rights in this country were won at a hard cost in blood, sweat, and tears. Remember Joe Hill? Hanged for all his toil and trouble? There's even a ballad about him!

Also, in response to an earlier comment of yours - historically peasant rebellions have been very successful in one place at least - China, where over the course of centuries they were responsible for the establishment of several new dynasties. Imperial Russia certainly rivalled China in the frequency and violence of its peasant rebellions, if not in their overall success rate. The tsarist government and the upperclasses were rightly terrified of a recurrence, which they got in 1905 and 1917.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 27, 2005, 03:33:41 PM
Quote
I think cold-blooded ideological fanaticism, as personified by types like Lenin and Yurovsky, led to the murders in the Ipatiev House, not massacres like Bloody Sunday.

Tsarfan, I think you're being a little naive to assert that the American government was not violently anti-labor at the turn of the century and even beyond.

Also, in response to an earlier comment of yours - historically peasant rebellions have been very successful in one place at least - China.


The immediate cause of the Ipatiev house murders was certainly a decision of the Ural Soviet carried out by Yurovsky.  Lenin's direct complicity is less certain.  (See The Fate of the Romanovs by King and Wilson.)  However, causality has many tentacles, and there is a legitimate question whether Lenin (and the Ural Soviet) could have arisen without a chain of events that included Bloody Sunday.  I'm still not willing to absolve Nicholas of responsibility for that chain of events.

(Yurovsky was a more complex character than the label of "cold-blooded fanatic" conveys.  He was a bright man born into impoverished circumstances in a Siberian backwater.  His conversion to "fanaticism" was a slow process that arose from the unrelenting difficulties of finding a path to prosperity for himself and his family in a society that did not appreciate such ambition in the low-born.  In his later writings, he commented that he carried out Nicholas' execution as a duty to a revolution that he felt could not be stabilized with the threat of a restoration hanging over it.  He also commented that, as he got to know the imperial family in captivity, he came to regret what he felt to be the necessity of killing them.  I admit this is a pretty good definition of cold-blooded pragmatism.  I'm not so sure it qualifies as fanaticism.)

At the turn of the 20th century the American government had already begun a realignment of its sympathies away from big industry and toward labor unionism.  The Sherman Anti-Trust Act was passed in 1890 to break up the monopolies.  The federal courts were beginning to carve out exceptions to the long-standing Philadelphia Cordwainer's case that embedded the common law hostility to trade unions.  This all culminated with the Wagner Act (aka The National Labor Relations Act) in 1935 that so thoroughly swung the pendulum in favor of labor that the Taft-Hartley Act was needed in 1947 to return to center.  (I have a J.D. with a specialization in labor law and spent the first seven years of my career in labor relations.)  Granted the process took decades, as is typical in a pluralistic society.  But America was moving down that road at a time when Witte was having the rug pulled out from under him on industrial reforms in Russia.

I appreciate your pointing out China's peasant rebellions.  I know embarrassingly little about that country.  However, I still feel that urban revolutions have generally posed more risk to central governments than rural ones, at least in the West.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on April 27, 2005, 04:57:29 PM
Quote

The immediate cause of the Ipatiev house murders was certainly a decision of the Ural Soviet carried out by Yurovsky.  Lenin's direct complicity is less certain.  (See The Fate of the Romanovs by King and Wilson.)  However, causality has many tentacles, and there is a legitimate question whether Lenin (and the Ural Soviet) could have arisen without a chain of events that included Bloody Sunday.  I'm still not willing to absolve Nicholas of responsibility for that chain of events.


In their interpretation of the events leading to the murder of the imperial family, King and Wilson closely follow Mark Steinberg, an American professor of Russian history whose methodology is Marxist and whose specialty is the Russian working class. (I think they even thank him in their acknowledgements for his input.) In his book, The Fall of the Romanovs, Steinberg goes out of his way to excuse Lenin and company for any role in the murder of the imperial family. This is not an opinion widely shared by Russian historians. It is still a matter of intense debate, as well it should be.

For any careful scrutiny of the timeline of events from the Grand Duke Michael's murder in June 1918 to the murders in Ekaterinburg and Alapaievsk in July demonstrates that the Kremlin had every inkling of what was coming (if they didn't, simply put, they were fools) and every opportunity to give its (undoubtedly tacit) approval to the Ural Soviet for the IF's murder well in advance of July 16-17, 1918.

Quote
(Yurovsky was a more complex character than the label of "cold-blooded fanatic" conveys.  He was a bright man born into impoverished circumstances in a Siberian backwater.  His conversion to "fanaticism" was a slow process that arose from the unrelenting difficulties of finding a path to prosperity for himself and his family in a society that did not appreciate such ambition in the low-born.  In his later writings, he commented that he carried out Nicholas' execution as a duty to a revolution that he felt could not be stabilized with the threat of a restoration hanging over it.  He also commented that, as he got to know the imperial family in captivity, he came to regret what he felt to be the necessity of killing them.  I admit this is a pretty good definition of cold-blooded pragmatism.  I'm not so sure it qualifies as fanaticism.)


The "necessity" of killing women and children? However much he personally regretted it? That's precisely the mindset that defines an ideological fanatic. (Think Eichmann or any other number of 20th-century scumbags.) Normally, this good, hard-working everyman would be incapable of committing such a horrific crime, but given the right political circumstances, the  historical necessity, the Marxist dialectic, the whatever.... Of course Yurovsky was an ideologue of the Bolshevik type! He was utterly, even disgustingly typical: his asceticism, his cold and calculating (impersonal, professional, Chekist) approach to the murder of women and children, his excuses for their suffering (their "greed" prolonged their "agony," and so on), his self-pity (for indeed, what trials and tribulations a man has to go through to fulfill his professional duty!), his pride in his historical accomplishment (killing unarmed civilians with all the cruel ineptitude of the typical Russian tyrant). I'm sorry, but to feel sympathy for a character like Yurovsky engenders nothing but moral nausea... or should engender nothing but moral nausea.

It's the usual equivocation with crimes against humanity committed by Communists - somehow they're not as bad as other crimes, because they were committed for the sake of an ideal, and after all the guy had a bad childhood, and he was poor, and it was all so unfair.

Rot.

(If only we were so lenient with Nicholas, who killed how many thousands to the Bolsheviks' millions?)

Quote
At the turn of the 20th century the American government had already begun a realignment of its sympathies away from big industry and toward labor unionism.  The Sherman Anti-Trust Act was passed in 1890 to break up the monopolies.  The federal courts were beginning to carve out exceptions to the long-standing Philadelphia Cordwainer's case that embedded the common law hostility to trade unions.  This all culminated with the Wagner Act (aka The National Labor Relations Act) in 1935 that so thoroughly swung the pendulum in favor of labor that the Taft-Hartley Act was needed in 1947 to return to center.  (I have a J.D. with a specialization in labor law and spent the first seven years of my career in labor relations.)  Granted the process took decades, as is typical in a pluralistic society.  But America was moving down that road at a time when Witte was having the rug pulled out from under him on industrial reforms in Russia.


Here I defer to your greater knowledge and expertise. With only one proviso: you must admit that proletarian life was no picnic in turn-of-the-twentieth-century America (seriously, am I the only one here who had to read How the Other Half Lives in high school??).

Quote
I appreciate your pointing out China's peasant rebellions.  I know embarrassingly little about that country.  However, I still feel that urban revolutions have generally posed more risk to central governments than rural ones, at least in the West.  


But the Russia of which we speak was never quite of the West, except in the wishful thoughts of its "Westernizers." And this was due in no small part not only to Russia's geographical distance from Europe and its lack of strong institutional checks to autocratic power, but also and perhaps just as importantly to its outrageously enormous peasant population and its eensy-weensy weak and humble middle class (indeed, all these issues were not unrelated). With Russia you always come down to the lack of a middle class and the fact that the country was (and is) too vast and under-governed. The governmental infrastructure at the local level has always been (and is to this day) inadequate. Thus the foundering of Stolypin's reforms and other tsarist attempts to modernize the country. Of course Nicholas could have encouraged the zemstvos (and their "senseless dreams") but other, stronger leaders have had to resort to terror to impose their will.

N.B. It seems we condemn Nicholas whenever he or his government resorted to violence, as Peter and Stalin certainly did, and condemn him when he did not. Kind of a no win situation for the last tsar, no?    
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on April 27, 2005, 05:00:10 PM
Here are two different looks of life in Imperial Russia.

Serge Schmemann was viewing the Slavic peasant who were still struggling under the yoke of their inheritance, the lack of knowledge on how to pull themselves out of proverty:

Quote
I found an interesting passage on this topic, in the book "Echoes of a Native Land" by Serge Schmemann. The author, an american, went back to Russia to the village his ancestors used to own (they were the Osorgins) and did extensive first hand research there. He writes:
"On the eve of the revolution, despite whatever changes were underway in the countryside, the village was a dark and backward place.  Most peasants were illiterate, only half had iron plows, reaping was still done with sickles, threshing with flails.  The "three field" cycle of cultivation, which Europe had abandonded after the Middle Ages and General Kar tried to eradicate on his estate was still the norm.  The average yield of grain from peasant lands was only slightly higher than that of a fourteenth century English estate.
. . .
Yet I wonder if (the Osorgins) really knew the squalor and poverty in which their people lived.  Irina Yakovlevna Denisova described to me how she and the other village girls marvelled at the lovely smocks of the (Osorgin) "young ladies" as they rode past to go to church and her awe at the toys she found inside the Osorgin house after they were evicted.  She also remembered life as the youngest of ten children in a fetid log house with an earthen floor, filled with black smoke because her father could not afford to fix the chimney or to burn fuel other than straw.  In winter, calves and goats moved in and shared the stale air.  Many of the children died young."
pp. 209.


Here is a slice of German-Russian life which gives a  different  view of life in Russia about this same time:

Quote
Black Sea area of Russia:  1841 the State Councilor von Hahn set up the  regulations which stated that every head of the household was required to send his children, apprentices and servants from age 7  to school everyday from Oct 1 to the end of March, plus catechism class every Sunday.  If the child was absent there had to be a good reason, if not, fines were set.  If the head of the household couldn't pay the fine, he was subjected to half a day of communal labor for each day the child missed school.  A child could quit school at the age of 13.

School was six hours a day. Reading, writing and arithmatic plus language, German, Russian and Latin

Teachers were supose to graduate from the Central School and wages were between 450 to 600 rubles.  In some villages a teacher was given money for each student, hay from the communal alotment and 160 acres of "crown land" to use....  

When looking at photographs of schools just before 1917 there are on the walls various study posters of  maps, animals of far away places, etc...

These kind of school scenes could be found in the middle states of the  USA from the late 1800s  into the 1920, only the language was English.

AGRBear


The production of grains in the Black Sea area was booming.  They were shipping out tons of grain just out of Odessa every day during harvest.  There had been 9 million sheep in 1916 by 1921 there were less than 90,000 and only 30% of the land was being tilled as there was ....


AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on April 27, 2005, 05:50:35 PM
I can't find the article on production of farm land in South Russia from about the 1890s to 1916/17.

Here are a couple of numbers.

GR farmers in the govt. of Cherson sowed over 800,000 dessiatins [=2,160,000 acres) in rye and winter "red" wheat per annumn and harvested on average about 13 million bushes of rye and 6,850,000 bushes of winter "red" what.  Although the yield wasn't the same in the rest of Europe, this was a huge increase in productivity in South Russia.

To pull a plow horses were needed.  One plow needed four to six horses for the black earth steppes.  Only half of the 5 million peasants in the southern part of Russia by the Black Sea owned one horse or one ox wheras the rising middle class in the GR community, which number about 1,700,000, owned at least one horse or ox and the rising  middle class  owned 12 to 20 or more horses....

Just a few figures, I  found.  Will keep looking for that article which I put in a really safe place.

I am sure that other communities were starting to gain their own kind of prosperity.  See Figes A PEOPLE'S TRAGEDY.

The cottage industry was more prosperous than the factories.....

I'm not saying Russia was in great shape, it was some 100 years behind the times and just entering the industrial age when compared to Europe.  What I am saying, there was progress occuring.  True, perhaps too slowly but it was happening under Nicholas II.

By 1917 Nicholas II didn't have a large enough middle class base but it was getting larger by the hour and the day.

It was WW I which halted everything from moving forward.  And, it was the mismanagment of the men in service under the old generals who were sending calvary toward Krupp cannons....

Poor, middle class and officers, who were usually from upper middle class to aristocracts,  became cannon fodder.

All Russians became victims, even Nicholas II.


AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: etonexile on April 27, 2005, 06:15:32 PM
Russia had the 5th fastest growing economy in Europe in 1914...If only the AD Franz-Ferdinand's car hadn't reversed into the wrong road in Sarajevo....if...if.... :-/
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 27, 2005, 06:19:39 PM
Quote
 The "necessity" of killing women and children? However much he personally regretted it? That's precisely the mindset that defines an ideological fanatic.
 


I know I'm on thin ice here, because killing Nicholas' family is hard to justify by even the greatest stretch of Realpolitik.  But I'm going out on that ice . . . .

First, I've never understood why killing defenseless women and children is viewed as more horrific than killing equally defenseless adult males.

Second, as I've said in several earlier posts, I feel context matters in assessing historical events.  Lenin's hold on power was incredibly tenuous in the summer of 1918.  There was a large range of opposing forces -- from leftist Social Revolutionaries to right-wing monarchists -- who were spottily edging into uneasy relationships focused on ousting the Bolsheviks.  In those circumstances, which would induce paranoia in most reasonable people, it was not hard to imagine that a freed Romanov could become a catalyst around which the opposition, even momentarily, coalesced.  Women and children had sat on the Romanov throne before.  In extreme circumstances it was possible to imagine the counter-revolutionary forces turning to whatever Romanov they could get their hands on.  (I know there were Romanovs out of reach of the Bolsheviks, but there was heightened risk with the family members most directly connected to Nicholas.)

Was it fanaticism to view them all as a threat?  We will probably never agree.  I happen to view fanaticism as an irrational set of views that has no anchor in logic.  As despicable and cold-blooded and chilling as Yurovsky's logic might have been, it was logic nonetheless.  In 1918 Bolshevism still held out hope for many Russians of a better life.  The desire to protect it, even at horrible moral costs, was not quite the dastardly desire it was to become under Stalin.

Uh, oh . . . is that ice I hear cracking?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on April 27, 2005, 06:39:48 PM
If the Bolsheviks had not killed Nicholas II and his family, one [male or female] of them would have been used by the opposition against the Bolshviks.  It's always good to have someone to rally around.  And, since many wanted to make a govt. similar to that of England,  one of the Romanovs would have been used.  So, the Bolshviks went after as many Romanovs as the could and killed those they could.  The only reason the Romanovs in the Crimea, where many had collected, were not killed was because they were saved by the Germans and then taken on board the British boats and they sailed off  to live another day.

But, it appears there wasn't a strong enough Romanov to rally around  after 1918, accept maybe one but he wasn't in line, and, then there was the war weary world.....

So, whomever it was who gave the order to execute Nicholas II and the others,  the person was right in regards to keeping the Romanovs from ruling, again, because the Romanovs never regained the throne.

Sad fate for the Romanovs but true.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on April 27, 2005, 10:21:41 PM
I'm not so sure it was logical for the Bolsheviks to kill Nicholas and his family.  Lenin was still collecting money from Berlin at the time; why would he risk upsetting them by killing the Empress and her children (and Ella)?  Let's face it, they were killed out of pure hatred.  Also, I don't think they were considered much of a threat to the Bolsheviks.  None of the Romanovs played any political role after the abdication.  They stood around like lambs waiting to be slaughtered.  Michael stunned the local soviet at Gatchina by applying to them for a hunting license!  And how much support was there for a Romanov restoration among the public by the Summer of 1918?  Unless I'm mistaken, not much.  Another reason I think they were killed (I'm talking about all the Romanovs, not just Nicholas) was, as Trotsky put it, to symbolize that there was no going back.  And I think that's definitely fanacticism.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 28, 2005, 06:07:31 AM
If fanaticism means use of violence to secure one's goals, wasn't it also fanaticism to pursue a government policy of violent repression of peaceful protests?  Wasn't government tolerance and outright support of pogroms fanaticism?  Do you think the authorities who participated in pogroms took care to spare the women and children?  Nicholas became a lamb only in captivity.  Let's not parce words about who was a fanatic.  By this definition they all were.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Silja on April 28, 2005, 07:53:40 AM
Quote

The "necessity" of killing women and children? However much he personally regretted it? That's precisely the mindset that defines an ideological fanatic. (Think Eichmann or any other number of 20th-century scumbags.) Normally, this good, hard-working everyman would be incapable of committing such a horrific crime, but given the right political circumstances, the  historical necessity, the Marxist dialectic, the whatever.... Of course Yurovsky was an ideologue of the Bolshevik type! He was utterly, even disgustingly typical: his asceticism, his cold and calculating (impersonal, professional, Chekist) approach to the murder of women and children, his excuses for their suffering (their "greed" prolonged their "agony," and so on), his self-pity (for indeed, what trials and tribulations a man has to go through to fulfill his professional duty!), his pride in his historical accomplishment (killing unarmed civilians with all the cruel ineptitude of the typical Russian tyrant). I'm sorry, but to feel sympathy for a character like Yurovsky engenders nothing but moral nausea... or should engender nothing but moral nausea.

It's the usual equivocation with crimes against humanity committed by Communists - somehow they're not as bad as other crimes, because they were committed for the sake of an ideal, and after all the guy had a bad childhood, and he was poor, and it was all so unfair.

Rot.

But the Russia of which we speak was never quite of the West, except in the wishful thoughts of its "Westernizers."


With Russia you always come down to the lack of a middle class and the fact that the country was (and is) too vast and under-governed.

N.B. It seems we condemn Nicholas whenever he or his government resorted to violence, as Peter and Stalin certainly did, and condemn him when he did not. Kind of a no win situation for the last tsar, no?    
 


Couldn't agree more!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on April 28, 2005, 08:02:49 AM
Quote
If fanaticism means use of violence to secure one's goals, wasn't it also fanaticism to pursue a government policy of violent repression of peaceful protests?  Wasn't government tolerance and outright support of pogroms fanaticism?  Do you think the authorities who participated in pogroms took care to spare the women and children?  Nicholas became a lamb only in captivity.  Let's not parce words about who was a fanatic.  By this definition they all were.


I'm thinking that fanaticism is the use of violence because of hatred.  "Fanatical hatred".  I think a fanatic may do things contrary to his or her own best interests because he/she is acting out of blind rage.

I thought you were saying that the Bolsheviks killed the Tsar and his entire family out of some real threat the imperial family posed to the Bolshevik hold on Russia.  I was disagreeing with that by saying they were killed because of the fanatical hatred the local Bolsheviks had for them.  I realize some (many?) will disagree with this but I don't think the threat was commensurate with gunning them all down.  

Are you now saying they deserved to get shot (all of them?) because they too were fanatics?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Silja on April 28, 2005, 08:46:22 AM
Quote

Was it fanaticism to view them all as a threat?  We will probably never agree.  I happen to view fanaticism as an irrational set of views that has no anchor in logic.
Uh, oh . . . is that ice I hear cracking?


Fanaticism need not necessarily mean irrationality - depends of course on how you define "irrationality"  :P

First of all fanaticism is the total obsession with a religious or political idea.
It can be characterized by suppressing all criticism, not tolerating other views and tending to an unscrupulous persecution of those who disagree.

Fanaticism can be most logical. The logic of trying anything to have one's own way.
So in this context the fanatics flying into the WTC on that september morning had some very rational aims, and they quite succeeded.

I think it's not very convincing to defend the Bolshevik cause in terms of their creating hope for a better life  when obviously the Bolsheviks in the first place wouldn't really care about the potential hopes of the people. What they did was fomenting a civil war to gain power. Otherwise they could have supported the establishing of a new system that would have respected a plurality of opinions. By overthrowing the provisional government and then by killing the Romanovs they simply showed that they feared any rivalling ideology and that obviously they could not have convinced the masses by other means but violence.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 28, 2005, 09:01:33 AM
It all depends on one's definition of a fanatic, RichC.  By my earlier definition, I think neither Yurovsky nor the Romanovs were fanatics.  However, by what I understood to be your definition, I think they all were.

Alexander III was sent a report around 1890 of a particularly vicious pogrom.  He wrote in the margin, "we have to remember that they killed our Saviour."  If this is not blind hatred of innocent people for things with which they had nothing to do, what is?  By your definition ("the use of violence because of hatred"), is it not also fanaticism?

Nicholas carried this anti-Semitic policy into his reign.  Was he, then, not also a fanatic?

In my view, to apply our definitions consistently, we either chart up Yurovsky's killing of Nicholas as one fanatic killing another, or we accept that both took the actions they did as the result of complex events in which each was acting rationally in the context of their own interpretations of those events.

And I still don't buy the blind hatred theory.  If blind hatred, why weren't the Romanovs killed as soon as they fell into the hands of the Ural Soviet?  Why did they wait until the White Army was within 20 miles of Ekaterinburg?  Why did the Ural Soviet quell several near-riots on Vozonevsky Square in which the mob was demanding the blood of the Romanovs?  Why, in full knowledge that several agents were active (albeit incompetently) in Ekaterinburg trying to organize a rescue, did they risk waiting?  Certainly, Yurovsky and the Soviets hated the Romanovs.  But did this, in and of itself, lead them to murder?  I just cannot see it.  They took too many risks in waiting.  These were the actions of rational, calculating men.  I don't support what they did.  But "fanaticism" is too simplistic an answer for me.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on April 28, 2005, 09:10:35 AM
Quote

Fanaticism need not necessarily mean irrationality - depends of course on how you define "irrationality"  :P

First of all fanaticism is the total obsession with a religious or political idea.
It can be characterized by suppressing all criticism, not tolerating other views and tending to an unscrupulous persecution of those who disagree.

Fanaticism can be most logical. The logic of trying anything to have one's own way.
So in this context the fanatics flying into the WTC on that september morning had some very rational aims, and they quite succeeded.

I think it's not very convincing to defend the Bolshevik cause in terms of their creating hope for a better life  when obviously the Bolsheviks in the first place wouldn't really care about the potential hopes of the people. What they did was fomenting a civil war to gain power. Otherwise they could have supported the establishing of a new system that would have respected a plurality of opinions. By overthrowing the provisional government and then by killing the Romanovs they simply showed that they feared any rivalling ideology and that obviously they could not have convinced the masses by other means but violence.



Well, in my view, fanatics flying planes into the WTC did not accomplish the rational aims you are referring to.  Unless you are suggesting that the aims were to get the United States to invade and occupy two middle-eastern countries.  I don't agree that trying anything to get ones way is logical.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 28, 2005, 09:14:43 AM
Quote
First of all fanaticism is the total obsession with a religious or political idea.
It can be characterized by suppressing all criticism, not tolerating other views and tending to an unscrupulous persecution of those who disagree.

I think it's not very convincing to defend the Bolshevik cause in terms of their creating hope for a better life  when obviously the Bolsheviks in the first place wouldn't really care about the potential hopes of the people.  


"Tending to an unscrupulous persecution of those who disagree."  I couldn't have put it better myself . . . the perfect definition of what drove the pogroms and the violent repression of those clamoring for more social justice in Russia.  So the Tsarist government was every bit as fanatical as the Bolsheviks.

I don't think "the Bolshevik cause" was a monolithic concept in 1918.  There were assuredly Bolsheviks with a cynical hunger for power.  But I believe there were also Bolsheviks who truly felt their means of prosecuting a revolution was the best hope for quick relief of the misery of the peasant and industrial classes.  Too much of our understanding of Bolshevism today is filtered through the Stalin era and its betrayal of what the revolution initially meant to many.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on April 28, 2005, 09:59:45 AM
Bolshviks were threaten by the rise of the Prov. Govt. who did seem to care about the future of the Russian people.  In my opinion, the early Bolshviks were terrorists  [fanatics] after power with the backing of the Germans, who wanted a distrupted govt. in Russia.  Instead of working with what was good happening by the Prov. Govt. the Bolsheviks  caused the counter-revolution and with their success   all the progress toward  the Russian people's rights  halted and then vanished.

Have you ever taken a glance at all the interesting laws and policies being pushed out of the Prov. Govt. in the short time they were in exsistence?

Are we getting off the subject of Nicholas II?  I think we might be. ::)

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 28, 2005, 10:20:20 AM
Yes, we are off topic.  I'll try to get back on the highway from my end . . . but it was a fun detour.

I really enjoy the debate on this board.  (For those of you who care . . . I generally use argument as a means of evolving my own views.  That means I tend to make extreme statements and let others chip or slam away at them to see how much of my original opinion holds up.  Hope no one takes offense at this habit.  This board is the only place I've found with so many people of such differing opinions armed with so much relevant information.)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on April 28, 2005, 11:03:25 AM
It's been just as much fun reading all the responces.

There is such a wealth of information in the heads of almost every poster, too bad we can't get more of the non-poster to join us,  because I'm sure there is a lot more out there for us to discover.  
AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on April 28, 2005, 11:53:23 AM
Quote

Nicholas carried this anti-Semitic policy into his reign.  Was he, then, not also a fanatic?


I thought there was evidence that Nicholas had a "change of heart" about the Jews later in his reign.  I thought the FA had made several posts about this.  I do remember reading the memoirs of Alexander Mikailovich where he said what a mistake it was for Nicholas to grant the Jews more civil rights during World War I.

In any case, the things that happened to the Jews during Nicholas' reign were apalling.  I remember, as a child, when Golda Meir's sister (I think it was her sister) came to my school and talked about how the Jews were tortured in Tsarist Russia -- so I'm not ignorant of this.  

One of the most damning pieces of evidence against Nicholas (and his coldheartedness) is the famous document regarding the "overzealous" executioner in the Baltic provinces and Nicholas wrote on the report margin "a fine fellow".  Well, does this document really exist?  The story comes from Witte.  It's quoted in The Fate of the Romanovs, but in reading Witte's memoirs, he says Nicholas destroyed this document.  I said before I was careful about quoting Witte because he loathed Nicholas -- maybe he made this up....

Quote

And I still don't buy the blind hatred theory.  If blind hatred, why weren't the Romanovs killed as soon as they fell into the hands of the Ural Soviet?  Why did they wait until the White Army was within 20 miles of Ekaterinburg?  Why did the Ural Soviet quell several near-riots on Vozonevsky Square in which the mob was demanding the blood of the Romanovs?  Why, in full knowledge that several agents were active (albeit incompetently) in Ekaterinburg trying to organize a rescue, did they risk waiting?  Certainly, Yurovsky and the Soviets hated the Romanovs.  But did this, in and of itself, lead them to murder?  I just cannot see it.  They took too many risks in waiting.  These were the actions of rational, calculating men.  I don't support what they did.  But "fanaticism" is too simplistic an answer for me.


Sometimes the simplest answer is the best.  I don't think the timeline is any indication that the Ural cutthroats weren't fanatics.  Just because they waited awhile doesn't mean they weren't fanatics.  Why were they so bent on getting their hands on them in the first place?  So they could strut around and trumpet the fact that they had them and could do whatever they wished with them.  They were like the cat that plays around with the mouse before snuffing it out.  Once it became inconvient to keep them alive they killed them.  And when they did it they relished doing it.  What about the people who were waiting in the forrest to (presumably) rape and torture them and how mad they were when they realized the family was already dead?

If you were to be marrooned on a deserted island and you had a choice being stuck with Nicholas or Yurovsky, who would you choose?  

Finally, I don't think comparing Nicholas to Yurovsky is necessarily off-topic.  I think it's useful in learning more about him.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 28, 2005, 12:01:07 PM
Quote
If you were to be marrooned on a deserted island and you had a choice being stuck with Nicholas or Yurovsky, who would you choose?


Not sure.  From what I've read of him, Nicholas would have bored me to death.  At least it would be quicker with Yurovsky.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on April 28, 2005, 12:47:32 PM
There is a thread about Nicholas II and the Jews:
http://hydrogen.pallasweb.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=nicky;action=display;num=1102887229

There is another thread called WWI & Nicholas II's Leadership/ Truth & Fiction.  Here is a sample from that thread:

Quote
After the humiliation of defeat at the hands of the Japanese, there was a serious effort to modernize and reform the Russian army. Unfortunately, there were two very powerful factions that fought each other tooth and nail over how this was to be accomplished. One was the conservative wing led by such as the GD Nicholas Nicholaevich. The other was the "liberal" wing led by the War Minister Sukhomlinov. The consv wanted to rely on fortifications and big guns in those forts, and on cavalry. The lib wanted to spend the scarce budget on modern artillery and machine guns. Both got a little bit of something. The fight was so fierce that it became a custom when appointing field commanders that the commander of an army, corps, division would be from one side and the chief of staff would be from the other side. Not the best way to insure cooperation and efficiency. The forts and big guns proved to be a mistake when war broke out. Millions of roubles were spent on forts, big guns for them, and the shells for the guns. When the Russian army retreated in 1915 it left many of these forts behind in Poland with their guns intact and the shells still there, unused and unsuable and captured by the Germans. The cavalry, was useful for scounting out the enemy movements and masking the movement of units but useless as a fighting tool.
The machine gun made it obsolete as weapon of attack. Yet the Russian continued right up to the Revolution to maintain a large, useless and wasteless cavalry army.
To keep the fastidious horses feed required hundreds of railway cars to bring feed and other supplies. This contributed to the breakdown of the infrastructure and the wastage of railway cars that could have been used better for better things. Nicholas seems to have had little to do with any of this, having the good sense when he took command to let the professionals run the army while he stayed at Stavka and played bezique and recorded the temperature. His failure was to make sure he had a competent government in St. Petersburg. By 1917 the front had stabalized, the troops were well supplied with rifles, boots, ammunition, and had even had some success against the enmey (the Brusilov offensive in 1916). If Nicholas had insured competent and immaginative minister to run the government in Petrograd then the strikes of 1917 might have been easily dealt with. Instead he had appointed a series of second rate. time serving beaureaucrats, court favorites and in one case a lunatic to his government.
I disagree that Nicholas II had no choice but to take command of the army in order not to embarass the dynasty when it became necessary to get rid of the GD Nicholas N.(and it had been a mistake to appoint him as commander in the first place. He was incompetent and had incompetent generals on his staff. This was another mistake, thinking of the prestiage of the dynasty instead of Russia). There would have been criticism certainly, but there was criticism when he did take command, and not kind criticism either. I think the dynasty could have weathered that minor storm easily. Nicholas should have appointed a competent general to command. There weren't many of those to be sure, but if one didn't work out then he could have been dismissed and another found. Other countries fired losing generals without damaging the dynasty. Russia could have too.
Nicholas taking command, no matter for what reasons (jealousy, vanity, duty, desire to avoid damage to the dynasty, etc) in my opinion, was a failure of his leadership and a mistake. Would things have turned our differently had he stayed in Petrograd? Ah, what if...


AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on April 28, 2005, 01:05:48 PM
Here is a quote from the thread WW I:

Quote
Unfortunately, indifference and incapable are often confused, especially when the result of either is about the same. Nickolas was in large part unaware of the horrible living situation his people were in and had been in for decades. Ignorance can be seen as indifference. To the extent he was aware and willing to do something to get Russia into even the 19th century, he seemed incapable of using his power effectively. The power and wealth of the ruling class had a stangle hold on nearly everything.
It does appear he was a well meaning, nice man who was totally wrong for the job, both from a personality standpoint and from an apparent lack of ability to grasp the "big picture" of what he was dealing with. He was the Jimmy Carter of his era (not to offend any one who likes Jimmy Carter! Apologies in advance!).
Going back to earlier points, the data suggest that the 'gasoline thrown on the fire' was not the Russian, Serbian, Austrian, German issue in the east and Balkans, but rather the French activity and the English declaration of war prematurely. Had the British held their trigger fingers a few weeks or so after Germany crossed the Belgium frontier, much could have been worked out, especially given the dispositions of William and Nickolas.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on April 28, 2005, 01:55:13 PM
Quote

I know I'm on thin ice here, because killing Nicholas' family is hard to justify by even the greatest stretch of Realpolitik.  But I'm going out on that ice . . . .

First, I've never understood why killing defenseless women and children is viewed as more horrific than killing equally defenseless adult males.


Actually I don't think killing women is worse than killing men, but I draw the line at children, as I'm sure you do, too. (IMO, you are deliberately being outrageous here, for the sake of argument only - which I can appreciate!) The murder of children is the most horrific and ultimately inexcusable crime. Still, we are talking about the early twentieth century, when notions of chivalry towards women were still pervasive (the most famous example being the Titanic: "Women and children first!") and the murder of defenseless women would have been viewed, even by the most hardened revolutionary, as especially taboo. You must have a strong core of ideological beliefs to overcome such a taboo, not necessarily if you are committing the crime on paper, at long distance, but definitely if you are leading an execution squad in person, as Yurovsky did.

I think Dr. Robert Maples put it best when he told Robert K. Massie that no one could have survived the massacre at Ekaterinburg, because in order to kill their unarmed victims the Bolsheviks had to dehumanize them and regard them as nothing but symbols of oppression and tyranny. Even you at your most argumentative, Tsarfan, must agree that Dr. Botkin and the servants, not to mention the children of the IF, were complete innocents, and there was no ostensible reason for killing them - not even for reasons of realpolitik, since the servants obviously could not be regarded as political threats and as RichC says, the IF itself was so hated by every class of society by this point that a restoration of the monarchy was only the remotest and most vague of possibilities. (What's most pathetic about the last days of the IF is the absence of any real plot to save them, despite the advancing White and Czech armies - unless you believe in the highly suspicious "Officer's Plot"). And of course women couldn't inherit the throne anyway....  

Quote
Was it fanaticism to view them all as a threat?  We will probably never agree.  I happen to view fanaticism as an irrational set of views that has no anchor in logic.  As despicable and cold-blooded and chilling as Yurovsky's logic might have been, it was logic nonetheless.  In 1918 Bolshevism still held out hope for many Russians of a better life.  The desire to protect it, even at horrible moral costs, was not quite the dastardly desire it was to become under Stalin.


Fanaticism follows its own logic and should never be discounted or intellectually underestimated simply because to the non-fanatic it appears "irrational," -  as people everywhere learned to their great cost over and over again during the course of the 20th century.

As for the Bolsheviks, they were pretty despicable even as early as the summer of 1918. As I recall it was prior to July 1918 that they lowered the age by which you could suffer capital punishment to that of twelve years (which is another reason I find the timing of the murders at Ekaterinburg suspicious - Alexei was not yet fourteen). If Lenin & Co. had not already set up concentration camps for their political and "class" enemies they would do so before the end of the year, and they had already started shooting members of the hated bourgeoisie and aristocracy out of hand.

But to understand the nature of the Bolsheviks you have to understand first and foremost the nature of Lenin, which was amorally cold, ruthless, relentless, and committed to the use of terror as a means to an end. He was a true ideological fanatic - unswerving in his beliefs, which does not mean he could not be pragmatic (as demonstrated by NEP) and give the country a breather for the sake of holding onto power (well, perhaps that just makes him a cynic, I don't know). By way of contrast, Nicholas II was not by any stretch of the imagination a fanatic as his frequent changes of heart demonstrate. Nicholas did not know his own mind. Lenin did.

Indeed, he rarely if ever changed his mind or showed himself to be swayed by other's opinions or advice. Remember, it's only thanks to Lenin that there was an October Revolution (coup d'etat) - his fellow Bolsheviks thought it would be premature, unwise, and advised against it. Lenin, typically, stuck to his guns and went ahead. Triumph of the will.

To return to RichC's scenario, if I had to be stuck on a desert island, I would choose Nicholas as my companion over Lenin or Yurovsky any day - Nicholas, as a well-brought-up gentleman, would offer me the food and water first, and know how to carry on polite if trivial conversation. Whereas Lenin would be like Sartre and talk you to death with his holier than thou opinions.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 29, 2005, 11:51:03 AM
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The murder of children is the most horrific and ultimately inexcusable crime.


I agree that killing children is horrible.  But I don't think it necessarily signals fanaticism.  Richard III probably had two young princes killed in England to ensure his hold on the throne.  He was egregiously ambitious.  But was he a fanatic?  Some Ottoman rulers had their siblings murdered upon their ascension to ensure their holds on power.  Were they fanatics?  Louis XVII was probably allowed to die of neglect, if not outright murdered, by his captors during the French Revolution.  Were they fanatics?  (Louis XVII's sister lived to old age.  Unlike Russia, France had never had a woman on the throne and probably felt such a possibility to be inconceivable.)

I really don't know what to make of Yurovsky's motives.  He did personally ensure the removal of Ivan Sednev, Alexei's playmate, before the executions.  So even he drew some lines around his murderous intentions.  He also excused those guards -- without repercussions -- who were unwilling to take part in the executions.  Fanatics don't generally appreciate the sensibilities of those who do not share their ardor.

I cannot figure out why he would do the above things and still include Botkin and the other non-royals in the execution.  I can only deduce from the circumstances that he was making some distinction based on risk of regenerating the Romanov dynasty (which was conceivable even with women, if they were all that was available) and those who displayed loyalty to the old regime.

One trait of fanaticism is the intolerance of others who might disagree with you.  Yurovsky's handling of the recalcitrant guards did not show that trait.

I have never argued that he was a moral man or that he should have done what he did.  I simply have asserted that I can find logic for it without having to resort to fanaticism as the cause.

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If Lenin & Co. had not already set up concentration camps for their political and "class" enemies they would do so before the end of the year, and they had already started shooting members of the hated bourgeoisie and aristocracy out of hand.

But to understand the nature of the Bolsheviks you have to understand first and foremost the nature of Lenin, which was amorally cold, ruthless, relentless, and committed to the use of terror as a means to an end. He was a true ideological fanatic.


Little Lenin did was without precedent in the tsarist regime.  The Cheka evolved from the Okrahna, both in purpose (the maintenance of the regime) and methodology (action without due process).  Siberian exile was a centuries-old tradition.  The concentration camps were a more organized form of this tradition, which sought the removal of undesireables without resort to the extreme measure of executing them.  Tsarist pogroms involved the "shooting of the hated [Jews] out of hand."  Simply substitute "Jews" for "bourgeoise and aristocracy", and your comment could apply just as well to tsarists as to Bolsheviks.

If these things signify fanaticism for Lenin, I think they must do the same for the tsarist regime.

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To return to RichC's scenario, if I had to be stuck on a desert island, I would choose Nicholas as my companion over Lenin or Yurovsky any day - Nicholas, as a well-brought-up gentleman, would offer me the food and water first, and know how to carry on polite if trivial conversation. Whereas Lenin would be like Sartre and talk you to death with his holier than thou opinions.


I agree with you about the choice of Nicholas over Lenin.  However, the choice RichC posed was Nicholas or Yurovsky.  I was kidding, anyway.  C'mon . . . cut me some slack here.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on April 29, 2005, 01:34:37 PM
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I really don't know what to make of Yurovsky's motives.  He did personally ensure the removal of Ivan Sednev, Alexei's playmate, before the executions.  So even he drew some lines around his murderous intentions.  He also excused those guards -- without repercussions -- who were unwilling to take part in the executions.  Fanatics don't generally appreciate the sensibilities of those who do not share their ardor..


I thought some of these guards were eventually shot many years later because of their refusal to participate.

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I cannot figure out why he would do the above things and still include Botkin and the other non-royals in the execution.
 

My theory is that he and the other Ural Bolsheviks hated them and wanted to kill them.  The also shot all the other loyal servants in the Urals they could get their hands on except for Buxhovedin, who betrayed the Imperial family.  


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I can only deduce from the circumstances that he was making some distinction based on risk of regenerating the Romanov dynasty (which was conceivable even with women, if they were all that was available) and those who displayed loyalty to the old regime.


Wasn't there a grand duchess living in a hotel in Ekaterinburg who survived because she was the daughter of the King of Serbia?  



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Little Lenin did was without precedent in the tsarist regime.  The Cheka evolved from the Okrahna, both in purpose (the maintenance of the regime) and methodology (action without due process).  Siberian exile was a centuries-old tradition.  The concentration camps were a more organized form of this tradition, which sought the removal of undesireables without resort to the extreme measure of executing them.  


You're so far out on that limb, Tsarfan, you could give Shirley MacLaine a run for her money!   ;D  I don't think one can compare Siberian exile in Tsarist times with the gulag and keep a straight face.

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Tsarist pogroms involved the "shooting of the hated [Jews] out of hand."  Simply substitute "Jews" for "bourgeoise and aristocracy", and your comment could apply just as well to tsarists as to Bolsheviks.

If these things signify fanaticism for Lenin, I think they must do the same for the tsarist regime.


But what about the attempts to alleviate the plight of the Jews by Nicholas?  Also, isn't it true that anti-semitism was alive & well in Russia long after the Revolution.  Weren't most of the Jews in the Bolshevik government eventually shot under Stalin?  Can you really say that the Tsarist government was spearheading anti-semitism in Russia the same way the Nazis did in Germany?

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I agree with you about the choice of Nicholas over Lenin.  However, the choice RichC posed was Nicholas or Yurovsky.  I was kidding, anyway.  C'mon . . . cut me some slack here.


cut, cut, cut :)

Here's another way of thinking about it?  Which government would you rather live under?  The Tsarist government under Nicholas II or the Bolshevik government under Lenin?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on April 29, 2005, 01:44:01 PM
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I agree that killing children is horrible.  But I don't think it necessarily signals fanaticism.  Richard III probably had two young princes killed in England to ensure his hold on the throne.  He was egregiously ambitious.  But was he a fanatic?  Some Ottoman rulers had their siblings murdered upon their ascension to ensure their holds on power.  Were they fanatics?  Louis XVII was probably allowed to die of neglect, if not outright murdered, by his captors during the French Revolution.  Were they fanatics?  (Louis XVII's sister lived to old age.)


I would make a distinction between rulers who kill because of ambition or realpolitik (e.g., getting rid of a rival claimant to the throne) and ideological fanatics who kill political rivals because they believe that these rivals constitute not only a political threat but also and perhaps just as importantly a cancerous growth in the body politic that must be excised. This is where ideology steps in. In other words, even if there was no actual political threat from the rival party or class of people, this group would still be subjected to persecution and potentially even elimination by the state.

So while I would agree with you completely that some tsarist officials and even tsars themselves were fanatically anti-Semitic and that theirs constituted an ideology of anti-Semitism, it was nevertheless an unofficial ideology, not one openly sanctioned by the tsarist state itself. Yes, some tsars themselves personally tolerated and even encouraged anti-Semitism, but anti-Semitism was not in and of itself a consistent, underpinning foundation of autocratic rule.

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I really don't know what to make of Yurovsky's motives.  He did personally ensure the removal of Ivan Sednev, Alexei's playmate, before the executions.  So even he drew some lines around his murderous intentions.  He also excused those guards -- without repercussions -- who were unwilling to take part in the executions.  Fanatics don't generally appreciate the sensibilities of those who do not share their ardor.

One trait of fanaticism is the intolerance of others who might disagree with you.  Yurovsky's handling of the recalcitrant guards did not show that trait.


I think that here we need to make a distinction between fanaticism and outright nihilism. Nihilism desires destruction for its own sake and does not make finer distinctions. If Yurovsky had been a nihilist, he would not have spared Leonka Sednev. Fanaticism, on the other hand, can be quite judicious in its application. For example, even the Nazis – who I think we can all agree were by any definition fanatical – did not insist that their men participate in mass executions of Jews, Communists and other "undesirables." Just as the Einsatzgruppen killing squads only accepted volunteers, so any of these men could ask to be transferred if at any time they found they no longer had the stomach to do the work. Another example: the Nazis wished to exterminate every Jew in Europe, but they made one exception, because they were forced to do so by public opinion: German Jews married to Christians. If you were a German Jew married to a Christian, you were exempt from deportation and certain death, unless your spouse either died or divorced you. I’m sure this special status of certain "full-blooded" Jews stuck in the craws of fanatics like Hitler and Himmler, but they were willing to grant these particular Jews a reprieve (however temporary it might have proved to be if the Nazis had won the war), in the interests of a larger goal.

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I have never argued that he was a moral man or that he should have done what he did.  I simply have asserted that I can find logic for it without having to resort to fanaticism as the cause.


No, I don’t accuse you of letting Yurovsky off the hook, I just think we have different definitions of the term "fanaticism."

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Little Lenin did was without precedent in the tsarist regime.  The Cheka evolved from the Okrahna, both in purpose (the maintenance of the regime) and methodology (action without due process).  Siberian exile was a centuries-old tradition.


Here I agree with you to a large extent. But what Lenin did was far more wide-sweeping and systematic than anything the tsars had ever envisioned (except possibly Ivan the Terrible). Essentially the Bolsheviks built a state on terror.  

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The concentration camps were a more organized form of this tradition, which sought the removal of undesireables without resort to the extreme measure of executing them.  Tsarist pogroms involved the "shooting of the hated [Jews] out of hand."  Simply substitute "Jews" for "bourgeoise and aristocracy", and your comment could apply just as well to tsarists as to Bolsheviks.

If these things signify fanaticism for Lenin, I think they must do the same for the tsarist regime.


Here I just plain disagree, again, because anti-Semitic pogroms never assumed a consistent, systematic character in imperial Russia (the tsar never decreed that such and such a number of Jewish hostages be shot on such and such a day, as Lenin did time and again with members of the bourgeoisie, aristocracy and criminal classes). Moreover, there were always officials within the tsarist government who opposed these destructive outbreaks of violence and worked (sometimes successfully) to stop them or to mitigate their ill effects. And of course, there were no concentration camps set up for Jews in imperial Russia or for anyone else for that matter.

Indeed, concentration camps were an entirely new development in Russia under the Soviets and the idea that people in these camps were not subjected to arbitrary capital punishment is entirely dismissed by any reading of camp memoirs going as far back as the late 1910s and 1920s. (Odd coincidence, but I have just been rereading Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago II in which he sets out the history of these early camps, like Solov'ki. If you haven't read it already, Anne Applebaum's Gulag is also worthy of study.)

What the Bolsheviks instituted was a terror encompassing entire social classes and political groups of people, not a single people belonging to a particular religion (and remember too, that Russian anti-Semitism was not racist - if a Jew converted to Orthodoxy, he automatically became exempt from anti-Semitic regulations. Contrast this to the ongoing Soviet persecution of children of "enemies of the people"!). The tsarist government, however bad it was on many an occasion, never instituted a program of systematic terror aimed at a broad swathe of Russian society, from the highest to the lowest.

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I agree with you about the choice of Nicholas over Lenin.  However, the choice RichC posed was Nicholas or Yurovsky.  I was kidding, anyway.  C'mon . . . cut me some slack here.


Hey, I was just kidding, too! :) I'll cut you as much slack as you want!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 29, 2005, 02:33:24 PM
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I thought some of these guards were eventually shot many years later because of their refusal to participate.


I don't know.  You may be right.  But by whose order?  And why many years later instead of on the heels of their refusal?

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My theory is that he and the other Ural Bolsheviks hated them and wanted to kill them.  The also shot all the other loyal servants in the Urals they could get their hands on except for Buxhovedin, who betrayed the Imperial family.


I'm sure Yurovsky hated the Romanovs and their hangers-on.  My quandry has been whether that hatred derived from fanaticism or from a sober assessment of the misery the government had failed to alleviate among the industrial classes.

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Wasn't there a grand duchess living in a hotel in Ekaterinburg who survived because she was the daughter of the King of Serbia?


I have read that.  If it was true, that would indicate to me that Yurovsky's wrath did not extend to all Romanovs but only to those (including women) around whom monarchists might rally for a restoration, i.e., the lineal descendants of the last tsar.  (I realize this doesn't explain the murder of the attendants.  But it does counter the claim that he had a fanatical hatred of all Romanovs.  It gets me back to my original view that Yurovsky's motives -- whatever they were -- were more complex than unbridled fanaticism.)

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You're so far out on that limb, Tsarfan, you could give Shirley MacLaine a run for her money!   ;D  I don't think one can compare Siberian exile in Tsarist times with the gulag and keep a straight face.


I'll admit to a bit of hyperbole here . . . but only a bit.  Many things were done more extremely in Soviet times (especially in the Stalin era).  I'm sure the Cheka was more brutal than the Okrahna . . . maybe by as wide a margin as the gulag was worse than mere Siberian exile.  But my point was that there were antecedents in tsarist times to the evils of Bolshevism.  (And exile to Serbia was no light punishment.  People were deprived of their property and sent into undeveloped regions where attempts to make a living did not necessarily yield success.  Not a gulag, but still a heavy price to pay for having an opinion different from the government's.)

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Also, isn't it true that anti-semitism was alive & well in Russia long after the Revolution.  Weren't most of the Jews in the Bolshevik government eventually shot under Stalin?  Can you really say that the Tsarist government was spearheading anti-semitism in Russia the same way the Nazis did in Germany?


I never, never said that anti-Semitism ended with tsarism or even that imperial Russia was more anti-semitic than other countries then or later.  I merely pointed to the tsarist pogroms to counter the argument that Lenin's government was showing fanaticism in their unbridled hatred and shooting out of hand of the bourgeoise and aristocrats.  Since Jews were also killed during tsarist pogroms based on unbridled hatred for their perceived crimes against society or established religion or whatever, I was pointing out that calling Lenin's government fanatical for what it did to the privileged classes also required calling Nicholas' government fanatical for what it did to the Jews.  (And there is plenty of evidence of government involvement in pogroms and even of Nicholas' awareness of some of it.)

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But what about the attempts to alleviate the plight of the Jews by Nicholas?


I don't really know what to make of this.  There is some evidence that Nicholas' view of the Jews was changing late in his reign.  However, there were also signals to the contrary.  For instance, the man who became known as Max Factor was initially the make-up artist to the imperial family for their official photo shoots.  He was a Jew and, upon being denied permission by Nicholas to marry, he emigrated to the U.S. and got started here by developing cosmetics that photographed properly for black-and-white cinema.

There were other personal incidents, such as Nicholas' refusing to allow a widow to return to her home in Yalta because it already had "too many Yids" and his refusal to allow an orchestra to play there because there were too many Jewish musicians in it.  Then there was the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", which was among the family's reading material in Ekaterinburg.

No matter what Nicholas came to feel, I'm aware of no case where he ever inquired into or punished official involvement in pogroms in which countless people were killed or burned out of their homes and businesses.

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Here's another way of thinking about it?  Which government would you rather live under?  The Tsarist government under Nicholas II or the Bolshevik government under Lenin?


That would depend.  If born to the nobility or capitalist classes, I would definitely have preferred to live under Nicholas.  If born into an industrial slum, I might have preferred Lenin.  If born Jewish, I'd have considered becoming an assasin of either.  Of course, once Stalin took over, suicide would have begun to look like an attractive option, no matter who or what I was.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on April 29, 2005, 04:39:53 PM
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Many things were done more extremely in Soviet times....


In my view this makes all the difference.  Isn't going to extremes something that fanatics do?  

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I never, never said that anti-Semitism ended with tsarism or even that imperial Russia was more anti-semitic than other countries then or later.  I merely pointed to the tsarist pogroms to counter the argument that Lenin's government was showing fanaticism in their unbridled hatred and shooting out of hand of the bourgeoise and aristocrats.  Since Jews were also killed during tsarist pogroms based on unbridled hatred for their perceived crimes against society or established religion or whatever, I was pointing out that calling Lenin's government fanatical for what it did to the privileged classes also required calling Nicholas' government fanatical for what it did to the Jews.  (And there is plenty of evidence of government involvement in pogroms and even of Nicholas' awareness of some of it.)


I realize you never said anti-semitism ended with Tsarism.  I'm sorry; I didn't mean to imply you said that.  But in the context of comparing the tsarist government with the Bolshevik government which followed, it seems to me that the tsarist government always comes out looking, how should I put it, less evil and less extreme...  (see above)

What if you compare the tsarist government's treatment of the Jews with the American government's treatment of native Americans.  Didn't the American government have a policy, at least for a while, of exterminating the native American population?

Despite all the terrible things that happened, I think the worst thing one can say about Nicholas was that he was inept and he was an anti-semite.  I don't think he was fanatical about the Jews.

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I don't really know what to make of this.  There is some evidence that Nicholas' view of the Jews was changing late in his reign.  However, there were also signals to the contrary.  For instance, the man who became known as Max Factor was initially the make-up artist to the imperial family for their official photo shoots.  He was a Jew and, upon being denied permission by Nicholas to marry, he emigrated to the U.S. and got started here by developing cosmetics that photographed properly for black-and-white cinema.


Well, I googled Max Factor and it says he emmigrated from Poland in 1902; this would have been relatively early in Nicholas' reign.

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There were other personal incidents, such as Nicholas' refusing to allow a widow to return to her home in Yalta because it already had "too many Yids" and his refusal to allow an orchestra to play there because there were too many Jewish musicians in it.  Then there was the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", which was among their reading material in Ekaterinburg.


It's clear that Nicholas repudiated this book once he learned it had been written by the secret police.  This all took place long before 1917.  Perhaps the anti-semitism reasserted itself when he was in captivity.  

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That would depend.  If born to the nobility or capitalist classes, I would definitely have preferred to live under Nicholas.  If born into an industrial slum, I might have preferred Lenin.  If born Jewish, I'd have considered becoming an assasin of either.  Of course, once Stalin took over, suicide would have begun to look like an attractive option.


Chances are you would have been born a peasant, since they were the largest population group.  And a lot of peasants died under Stalin.  As far as suicide goes, you would have had a lot of company there too as Stalin's own wife killed herself.  If born Jewish, I would have emmigrated, like Max Factor did.  What point would there have been in assassinating Nicholas -- doing so would not have ended Russian attitudes toward Jews.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on April 29, 2005, 05:42:13 PM
Tsarfan, to be honest I'm having difficulty following your argument. You seem to be splitting hairs and I'm not sure why. What is the real difference if any between killing someone because they might possibly potentially in a blue moon be a claimant to the throne (even though they're a mere servant) and killing someone because they're related to the despised Romanov family, which just happens to have occupied that throne for the last 300 years?

And yes, anti-Semitism was and is a truly vile thing, but it was not a plank in the centuries-old tsarist platform. We are talking about a pre-modern ideology here, with feudal obligations between the Tsar-Batiushka and his "children," his subjects. Russians decided the tsar was God's representative on earth and Moscow was the Third Rome long before they ever decided they had a Jewish "problem."  

So I guess I'm failing to see any connection whatsoever between the personal anti-Semitism of the last tsars and the Gulag of the Bolsheviks. Maybe because there is no connection. Unless you take into account those unfortunate members of the Jewish bourgeoisie who weren't able to emigrate in time and ended up in the Bolshevik concentration camps of the far North. Because as a matter of fact the Bolsheviks did not distinguish between the Gentile and Jewish middle classes, persecuting both on an equal basis. Progress? I don't think so.

By the way, Webster's Ninth does not mention "hatred" as a defining characteristic of "fanaticism," only "excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion." I would say that defines a character like Yurovsky and his attitude to the revolution rather well.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 29, 2005, 08:25:32 PM
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Tsarfan, to be honest I'm having difficulty following your argument. You seem to be splitting hairs and I'm not sure why.


I guess I am splitting hairs, and I'm starting to get confused by my own arguments.

However, this all comes down to a fundamental view I have that fanaticism is seldom an adequate explanation of history.  Any definition of "fanatic" that one advances to embrace Lenin also embraces others who are not generally called fanatics.  Take Peter the Great, for instance -- his personal torture of the Streltsy, his brutality that resulted in his son's death, his obsession with turning Russia westward no matter what the costs to her people and her national soul, the thousands of lives he cashed in to build St. Petersburg quickly.  Don't all these things carry the hallmarks of fanaticism?  Yet I've never heard his reign chalked up to fanaticism.

In the final analysis, the label "fanatic" seems to be applied not to actions but to our views of the results.  Most people like Peter's results, so he is called "the Great."  Most people abhor Lenin's results, so he is called a fanatic.  

I just think Lenin was too complex a historical figure to be encompassed by that moniker.  And I find too many cross-currents in the behavior of even someone such as Yurovsky to apply the term to him, too.

It's too long an argument over one word.  I'm done.  Honest.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 29, 2005, 08:43:44 PM
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Well, I googled Max Factor and it says he emmigrated from Poland in 1902; this would have been relatively early in Nicholas' reign.


Max Factor was born in Poland and trained as a wig-maker.  He moved to St. Petersburg where he became wig-maker and make-up artist to the Imperial Ballet.  In that capacity, he was enlisted to assist the imperial family when they were being officially photographed.  (The biography of him on the U.K. Proctor & Gamble website gives his emigration date as 1904 . . . ten years into the reign.)

I heard the rest of the story about him (including Nicholas' refusal of permission for him to marry) on a Biography Channel broadcast about a year ago.  It said that the only women at the turn of the 20th century who consistently used make-up were actresses and prostitutes.  "Decent" women had little experience with it, and even fewer women understood the way black-and-white film distorted color.  (For example, red lipstick photographed as muddy brown.)  That's why the imperial family needed his assistance.

Getting off topic, but maybe interesting nonetheless.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on April 29, 2005, 11:45:02 PM
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However, this all comes down to a fundamental view I have that fanaticism is seldom an adequate explanation of history.  Any definition of "fanatic" that one advances to embrace Lenin also embraces others who are not generally called fanatics.  Take Peter the Great, for instance -- his personal torture of the Streltsy, his brutality that resulted in his son's death, his obsession with turning Russia westward no matter what the costs to her people and her national soul, the thousands of lives he cashed in to build St. Petersburg quickly.  Don't all these things carry the hallmarks of fanaticism?  Yet I've never heard his reign chalked up to fanaticism.


Perhaps nobody ever looked at it that way.  But I would agree wholeheartedly that Peter was fanatical in his campaign to turn Russia westward.  

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In the final analysis, the label "fanatic" seems to be applied not to actions but to our views of the results.  Most people like Peter's results, so he is called "the Great."  Most people abhor Lenin's results, so he is called a fanatic.  

I just think Lenin was too complex a historical figure to be encompassed by that moniker.  And I find too many cross-currents in the behavior of even someone such as Yurovsky to apply the term to him, too.


I grant that calling Yurovsky a fanatic is a stretch, but I wanted to explore that possibility and see where it went.  I very much enjoyed the discussion.  But I have no doubt that Lenin was a fanatic in the same way that Peter the Great was.  The difference was that Peter cared about Russia while Lenin did not.  Lenin only cared about power.  Perhaps that's why Peter's results are admired while Lenin's are abhorred.  

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It's too long an argument over one word.  I'm done.  Honest.


Well, I hope you aren't leaving the board!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on April 30, 2005, 06:30:33 AM
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Well, I hope you aren't leaving the board!


No way.  Just gonna live by my promise to quit haranguing everyone with my view of fanaticism.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on April 30, 2005, 12:44:39 PM
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However, this all comes down to a fundamental view I have that fanaticism is seldom an adequate explanation of history.  Any definition of "fanatic" that one advances to embrace Lenin also embraces others who are not generally called fanatics.  Take Peter the Great, for instance -- his personal torture of the Streltsy, his brutality that resulted in his son's death, his obsession with turning Russia westward no matter what the costs to her people and her national soul, the thousands of lives he cashed in to build St. Petersburg quickly.  Don't all these things carry the hallmarks of fanaticism?  Yet I've never heard his reign chalked up to fanaticism.

In the final analysis, the label "fanatic" seems to be applied not to actions but to our views of the results.  Most people like Peter's results, so he is called "the Great."  Most people abhor Lenin's results, so he is called a fanatic.  

I just think Lenin was too complex a historical figure to be encompassed by that moniker.  And I find too many cross-currents in the behavior of even someone such as Yurovsky to apply the term to him, too.


You may be right, Tsarfan, that the term "fanatic" is reductionist and that who is labelled a fanatic and who is not depends on who wins the final battle, as it were. Most of us think of someone like Hitler as a fanatic. On the other hand there are historians out there who argue he was not, that his racism was based not on passion but on cynical political calculation.

Myself, I think it was both, and that the two don't necessarily exclude one another. As I was trying to say in an earlier post, the application of fanaticism can be judicious. The "fanatics" in charge of 20th-century killing squads were fully aware of the cultural taboos against murder and kept them in mind when recruiting and training their killers. Remember Himmler's famous speech to the SS in which he extolled them for "standing fast" (despite occasional "cases of human weakness") in the performance of "this most difficult of tasks," without suffering any "harm in our inner being, our soul, our character." George Orwell called this "doublethink," I believe.  

As for Peter, historically Russian intellectuals have held very divided opinions of him. The Westernizers of course saw him as a great man and visionary leader. But their opponents the Slavophiles viewed Peter as a catastrophe for Russia, a merciless tyrant who attempted to destroy the soul of the country. (And didn't many of Peter's contemporaries themselves view him as Anti-Christ?) In our own time, Solzhenitsyn has labelled Peter Russia's "first Bolshevik," so I think it's safe to assume that he, too, probably regards Peter as a "fanatic."

But we're really way off topic now!      
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Helen_Azar on April 30, 2005, 03:07:22 PM
Quote
 Any definition of "fanatic" that one advances to embrace Lenin also embraces others who are not generally called fanatics.  Take Peter the Great, for instance -- his personal torture of the Streltsy, his brutality that resulted in his son's death, his obsession with turning Russia westward no matter what the costs to her people and her national soul, the thousands of lives he cashed in to build St. Petersburg quickly.  Don't all these things carry the hallmarks of fanaticism?  Yet I've never heard his reign chalked up to fanaticism.

In the final analysis, the label "fanatic" seems to be applied not to actions but to our views of the results.  Most people like Peter's results, so he is called "the Great."  Most people abhor Lenin's results, so he is called a fanatic.  
 


Tsarfan, I agree with your assessment of fanaticism. I think that these definitions are 'flexible' and it just depends on whom one is talking to. During the Soviet era, no one thought (at least not out loud ;)) that Lenin was a fanatic but that he was a great leader of the proletariat. The same with Stalin during his lifetime, believe it or not many many Russians had a lot of respect for him especially after WWII (and some still do!). Only after his death when things came out was he exposed as a "fanatic". Peter the Great, during his own lifetime was thought of as "the anti-Christ" by many Russian people. So there you have it... I think almost anyone who made any kind of a mark in history unless maybe if they were born into it, had to be, at least on some level, what is usually described as "fanatical".
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on April 30, 2005, 03:52:49 PM
Quote
During the Soviet era, no one thought (at least not out loud ;)) that Lenin was a fanatic but that he was a great leader of the proletariat.


This simply isn't true. Starting to have second thoughts here... Actually the criticism of the radical intelligentsia by members of the Russian intelligentsia itself began well before the Soviet era and would have continued well into it, however secretly (see that famous collection of essays by Russian intellectuals, Vekhi, or translated, Landmarks, 1909). Plenty of people thought Lenin and his ilk were outright criminals. Most of them, hopefully, managed to emigrate. But the engineer and writer Evgenii Zamiatin, who got out only as late as 1920, left a masterful depiction of the Soviet dystopia in his novel We (which directly influenced both Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World). There were plenty of critics of the Soviet regime, well into the Stalin era and beyond. Most of them emigrated, ended up in concentration camps or were killed outright, that's all.  

Quote
The same with Stalin during his lifetime, believe it or not many many Russians had a lot of respect for him especially after WWII (and some still do!). Only after his death when things came out was he exposed as a "fanatic". Peter the Great, during his own lifetime was thought of as "the anti-Christ" by many Russian people. So there you have it... I think almost anyone who made any kind of a mark in history unless maybe if they were born into it, had to be, at least on some level, what is usually described as "fanatical".


Actually I think we reserve the term "fanatical" for those who inflict mass killing fields on humanity in the name of an ideology - e.g., the Inquisition, the Holocaust, the Stalinist collectivization, the Stalinist Great Terror. There's a reason we have the term "fanatical" in our English vocabulary, and it doesn't have anything to do with moral relativism or the fact that most of humanity seems to be made up of sheep (sorry to be so cynical). Stalin was definitely criticized by many during his own lifetime, not only in the West - Alexandra Tolstoy leaps to mind (she emigrated very late - but of course no one in the West believed her tales of horror) as does the courageous Russian poet Osip Mandelshtam, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, who died of starvation and exposure in a Soviet concentration camp - for having written a poem about Stalin that depicted him as a monster.

For anyone who has any doubts about the extent of dissension even during the Stalinist period, I advise you to read Nadezhda Mandelshtam's memoirs Hope Against Hope and Hope Abandoned. They constitute a real in-depth portrait of this era.
 
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Helen_Azar on April 30, 2005, 04:03:24 PM
Quote

Plenty of people thought Lenin and his ilk were outright criminals.   


(P.S. I probably shouldn't have said "no one thought" in my previous post when I was talking about Lenin and Stalin, bad choice of words, I should have said "the official version"  ;))

Yes, definitely there were, but there were plenty who didn't think so (not necessarily from the intelligentsia circles, but they had their opinions neverthess. When Lenin died, and the decision was made to mummify him so that the masses could see him, people flocked from all over the country, and for years the pilgrimages continued to view his corpse. This was until something like late 1980's! People would wait for hours in line to get into the mausoleum to get a glimpse. This has to tell us something, I don't think it was just morbid curiousity although that could have played some part in it at least for some....
The same idea with Stalin. My mother grew up in the Soviet Union and was a child when Stalin died. She remembers that many people were literally in mourning, not the official governmental kind of mourning, but sincere mourning. She cried too, although she was only a small child so I wouldn't go by that. Many people from the WWII generation continued to feel this way, no matter what they learned about Stalin because they felt that it was Stalin who won the war. I know this because I have talked to people who felt and continue to feel this way, even the ones who emigrated! So my point is, yes, there were people who knew all along what these guys were about, but there were others who bought into the "great leader" image hook line and sinker... As I said earlier, it depends on whom you are talking to.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on April 30, 2005, 04:32:34 PM
Sorry to wax so indignant, Helen. I understand your point.

I guess my point would be: we can judge regimes by their outcomes. The Soviet regime literally collapsed in 1991, as a result of its own inertia and, dare I say it, loss of fanaticism. Simply put, the powers that be no longer had the will to inflict mass killing on its own people - similarly to the tsarist regime in March 1917 - because the ideology itself was dead and had been dead for some 20 years at least (contrast this to the Chinese and Tianamen Square! or perhaps you could say the will to power in the Chinese Communist Party has persisted long after the death of its ideology). During the Lenin and Stalin periods, there was this will to exterminate the "insects" and "parasites" (I am quoting Lenin) who were supposedly nibbling away at the heart of the great revolution. That is why I call Lenin and his ilk fanatics, whatever their innate or acquired gifts at realpolitik (because both Lenin and Stalin showed great flexibility where the other European powers were concerned - it was only with their own people that they were utterly intolerant).

Well, what can I say, I'm not a postmodernist by any stretch of the imagination, and I still believe, as Shelley put it, that poets are the "unacknowledged legislators of the world." (So here let me put in another plug for Mandelshtam. Everyone should read this great Judeo-Christian poet who eventually turned against the Russian revolution. He's all but unknown in the West, and it's so unfair - he's easily the equal of Pound and Eliot!)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on May 08, 2005, 06:19:45 AM
This is going back a bit to the mention of Nicholas's anti-semitism but I thought it was relevant to this thread anyway. There is a letter from Alix in 1916 in which she sends Nicky a petition for one of 'Aunt Olga's wounded men.' He is a Jew, she says who left to live in America because "here it is always difficult for  Jew who is always hampered by legislative restrictions."
He returned to fight in the war & lost an arm. Alix writes:

"One sees the bitterness, & I fully grasp it - such a man ought to be treated the same as any other soldier who received such a wound....one would like him to be justly treated."

Since she was able to write like this to Nicholas, I think there is an implication that he personally was not so anti-semitic but rather that the regime was. Alix, certainly cannot have been, nor 'Aunt Olga' who had first presented the petition. Doesn't this suggest that individual members of the IF were caught up in this injustice, rather than being responsible for it?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 08, 2005, 08:11:33 AM
I find it hard to grasp the distinction between a tsar's views and the policies of his regime.  Who had created those "legislative restrictions" that Alexandra is bemoaning?

I don't know that such a letter necessarily signifies that Nicholas was not anti-semitic.  I grew up in close quarters with southern racists during the U.S. civil rights movement, and many white racists had their "special" cases of pity for one individual or one circumstance while maintaining their general stance that blacks as a group were dangerous, unsanitary, of subpar intelligence, and easily led by "agitators."

Alexandra's letter could be read to mean she feels simply that an exception should be made for Jews who fight and are injured in military service.  It's very much like the southern women I grew up around.  They all felt their own maids were deserving of better treament than other blacks and should be granted limited exceptions to laws that otherwise these women supported whole-heartedly.  The mindest was, "they are to be tolerated when serving me and my interests.  They are to be hindered in all other things."

Racism is a very complex and internally-inconsistent phenomenon.  The fact is that Jews were burned out and killed numerous times during Nicholas' reign, with the tolerance and sometimes outright participation of his regional officials.  I have never encountered a single mention that he ever investigated one of these incidents, much less did anything to curb them.

This letter was written in 1916.  But in 1918, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was found on the Grand Duchesses' nightstand, although Nicholas knew it to be a forgery of his own Okrahna.

The man went to his own death with the blood on his hands of many innocents whose only crime was to have been born into a different faith.

I understand many of the arguments on this board that Nicholas was overwhelmed by events beyond his control and even that he may have stood at the end of the line of a string of historical trends that were inexorably coming to a head during his reign.  But I can never absolve an individual of the choices of conscience he makes.  To say "I was raised that way" is a recipe for any number of evils to continue unchallenged.

Sorry to wax so indignant on this point . . . just one of my hot buttons.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on May 08, 2005, 08:38:31 AM
Mmm...I know you're right. But could we agree that it is very unlikely that Alexandra shared these anti-semitic views? After all, she had been largely raised in England where her grandmother had worshipped Disraeli & where the Jewish people were widely accepted?

I agree there is no excuse in saying, "I was raised that way" & that it could be used to justify anything, but I wonder if Nicholas had many opportunities to view the situation from a different angle. How many Jewish people had he ever come into contact with, for example?

Here, in Britain, I know many older people who have very racist views & are quite unaware of the fact that they are being racist. It comes over most clearly when they make a comment like, "Oh he's a [wherever he's from] but he's very nice." (As though the colour/race of the person should make any difference.) I think this partly due to their upbringing & experience.

I know people too who make similar remarks about people of other religions. I am a Catholic & have worked in places where people have said to me, "Oh, I always thought Catholics were a bit weird before..."

I'm not excusing such attitudes, rather I'm trying to understand where they come from. I wonder if part of Nicholas' problem was simply his lack of contact with the Jewish people - which may or may not have been his own fault.  

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 08, 2005, 09:13:44 AM
You're probably right that Alexandra wasn't anti-semitic, or at least not to the extent of most Russians.  In using the example of southern women and their maids, I meant to point out one of the mindsets of racism but not to  represent it as Alexandra's own view.  Sorry for the muddy writing.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on May 08, 2005, 11:00:26 AM
I wrote a long paper about Disraeli many years ago and I'm sure he wasn't Jewish -- he was Christian (probably Anglican) but he did come from a Jewish background.  Disraeli probably would never have gotten very far in his political career if he hadn't converted (it may have been his parents' generation who converted -- I can't remember).

I think Tsarfan made a really good point when he said that, "racism is a very complex and internally-inconsistent phenomenon."  It's not unusual for a bigot to be heard saying nice things about individual members of a group he or she normally denigrates as a whole.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on May 08, 2005, 11:39:55 AM
Oh yes, I know Disraeli converted (& was reputed to have done so in order to further his career) but the question still remains about whether it was question of religion or race. Also, Edward VII had many Jewish friends.

Yes, I agree with your last point but I don't think this applied to Alexandra..
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Ilana on May 08, 2005, 11:59:07 AM
Right on Tsarfan!

I'm sorry, but coming from Alice and having an Aunt like Vicky, Alix should have known better.

Oh, well, we can argue that all day long....
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on May 08, 2005, 12:51:33 PM
There are differing degrees of any prejudice. Many Germans who were anti-Semitic nevertheless drew the line at Hitler's order to kill the Jews (Claus von Stauffenberg's brother was one). Similarly, Bluetoria raises a valid point when she states that many people who are raised in an anti-Semitic environment merely parrot anti-Semitic views without really "living" them. Not to mention the fact that anti-Semitism was so pervasive in the West during the late 19th, early 20th centuries that Edward VII of England drew strong criticism while still Prince of Wales for his friendship with many Jews.

Anyway, there is an entire thread, "The Romanovs and Anti-Semitism," devoted to this issue, which has been discussed imo to such an extent that it rather throws into the shade the Russian imperial government's (or for that matter the Soviet) treatment of other ethnic and religious minorities in the empire. We never hear about them. And I think that's a little strange.

But I also think we should move away from the largely discredited idea that Alexandra exerted influence over public policy. It has been demonstrated that she did not exert any such influence, no matter how strenuous her efforts. The very fact that she could stand up so staunchly for one Jew, but her daughters still read "The Protocols of Zion," speaks to that fact. I think Alexandra was more subservient to her husband's views than vice versa.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Silja on May 08, 2005, 03:35:30 PM
Quote


  But I can never absolve an individual of the choices of conscience he makes.  To say "I was raised that way" is a recipe for any number of evils to continue unchallenged.

.


True. However, it is always rather easy to judge somebody from a perspective such as ours, a perspective which has been formed by an upbringing in a pluralistic society. I actually assume Nicholas had a fairly clear conscience as to the "systematic" discrimination against Jews, not because he was against Jews as individuals but against Judaism as a threat to the national idea of Russian - and this meant Orthodox - national identity. And this is where the upbringing comes in. If from childhood you are filled up with a certain ideology - in this case about a certain idea of nationhood and national identity -  and in addition have never been taught to think in a more relativistic way and to question general "truths" you are often bound to fall prey to that respective ideology.

Speaking about conscience one must always bear in mind that a conscience, too, must be formed and always is.

Obviously, one must severely criticize Nicholas for not having seen to it that those responsible for and involved in the pogroms were prosecuted for it. Nothing can excuse that. But it was his education that made him adhere to and believe in the idea that "the Jews" as a group represented something contradicting and threatening Russian national identity. It formed part of his general idealistic view of the Russian people.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on May 09, 2005, 08:17:31 AM
I don't really appreciate it when people say things like "it's always rather easy to judge...".  One is attacking the arguer rather than the argument.  This is basically just a put-down.


It doesn't matter what environment one is raised in, people ought to know better.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on May 09, 2005, 09:20:51 AM
Quote
I don't really appreciate it when people say things like "it's always rather easy to judge...".  One is attacking the arguer rather than the argument.  This is basically just a put-down.


It doesn't matter what environment one is raised in, people ought to know better.  


In an ideal world, people would know better, but any cursory reading of history shows that most people do not - they adopt the views of their immediate milieu without questioning them. Of course in every era there have been exceptional people who could see past the prejudices of their time and place - otherwise we would not have seen any progress over the centuries in civil rights for women and minorities, for example. But Silja is right, most people just go with what they are taught and what others around them think.

Furthermore, even very exceptional people like Abraham Lincoln did not start out thinking that slavery was an evil. His views about race underwent dramatic change during his lifetime and were still evolving when he was assassinated in 1865. So I don't think Silja intended any "put-down" with her comments. She was just stating a basic truth about human nature, not about a specific individual. It is easy for us to sit in judgment, when most of us have no idea how we would turn out if placed from birth in an overwhelmingly racist or anti-Semitic environment.

P.S. This thread is too long! It takes five minutes for me to load it in order to respond. Maybe it's time we started a new thread, "Negative Attributes II"?  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on May 23, 2005, 06:32:44 PM
What were Nicholas II's positive attributes?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Forum Admin on May 24, 2005, 09:14:59 AM
Rich, What an EXCELLENT question to counter the other thread! I'll start.

Nicholas II truly felt responsible for the welfare of the Russian people.  Every decision he made, right or wrong, he made believing in his heart was best for Russia.

Nicholas was devoted to his family and showed the greatest personal courage and strength possible during the period of captivity even up to the instant of his death.

Nicholas was an interested engaging person. Reading everything he could find and eager to talk to people he met and learn from them.

He wanted to act as a peacemaker and avoid conflict whenever possible.

Carry on!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: hikaru on May 24, 2005, 09:48:47 AM
He was in good sportive form.
He liked sport and recommended sport to others.

He liked ballet and french comedies.
The budget of Imperial Theaters was very good, so they could use good artists.

He was very polite and charming.

He was  very good to Lenin - He sent him to Switzerland but not to the North Pole.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on May 24, 2005, 10:54:20 AM
He limited the sale of vodka to stop alcoholism in the army.

He was popular with his fellow officers & he showed devotion to duty as when he took command during the war.

He, unlike many of his contemporaries, was a faithful husband.

He was well-read and had a good appreciation of literature.

He was an excellent linguist - speaking English with virtually no trace of an accent.

He was generous (his tips to the servants - and the dentist - during his visit to England were very lavish).

He abdicated in order to protect his people from civil war.

He was kind-hearted.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on May 24, 2005, 11:01:05 AM
In May 1899, at the suggestion of Nicholas II, the first Hague Peace Conference was held, attended by representatives from twenty European states as well as the United States, Japan, China, Mexico, Persia and Siam. Under discussion were Russian proposals for disarmament and the compulsory arbitration of disputes. Although these proposals ultimately failed, the Conference did establish certain rules of warfare and a permanent court of arbitration, the International Court of Justice at the Hague. More importantly, as historian Nicholas Riasonovsky points out, the Conference set a precedent for future international conferences on disarmament and peace.

Although critics claimed that Russia only proposed the peace conference because it could not keep up with the arms race, particularly against Austria, there is no question but that Nicholas was deeply influenced in his decision by a personal audience he had with Ivan Bliokh, the author of an immense six-volume work exposing the horrors of modern warfare.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 24, 2005, 01:15:13 PM
This is a useful thread.  It's so easy to trash Nicholas, because so much went so wrong during his reign.  As necessary as it is to understand that aspect of his reign, it can lead us to too simplistic a view of the man.

This thread might help restore the balance, and maybe when it, too, runs out of steam we can get to a more integrated view of what he was . . . good and bad.

However, I think the other thread was itself part of establishing the balance.  We're all on this site because Romanov history fascinates us.  But the net weight of the inputs is on the positive side of the scale when it comes to Nicholas and Alexandra, running from romantic longing for a lost era to outright worship of the sainted martyrs and all the physical artifacts of their lives.  The fact is that the Romanov dynasty, which is my all-time favorite nest of monarchs, came to an end under Nicholas and Alexandra, at least in part because of behaviors and decisions they made that many at the time, including other Romanovs, recognized as collosally wrong-headed.

I think the most sympathetic way to look at Nicholas is as a man trying to negotiate a maze.  To us, floating one hundred years above the events, we can see the twists and turns of the maze, its exits and its deadends.  For Nicholas, standing inside it, the correct path was much more obscure.  He tried conscientiously to steer by those signals he had been raised to receive most clearly:  Church teachings, fidelty to family, duty to the institution of autocracy.  Unfortunately, those signals were wrong for the times, and they failed to steer him to the exits.

He could have been a smarter man able to tune into other signals.  But he could not have been a more conscientious one.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on May 24, 2005, 06:02:59 PM
Nicholas was totally faithful to his allies during WWI.
He did not desert his weaker ally, Serbia, despite pressure from the Kaiser to do so.

 
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Sunny on May 25, 2005, 08:02:47 AM
I've come a bit late to this wonderful thread, but would like to re-post something that can be found in the "The Human Side Of The Tsar", a 1906 article by Amalia Kussner Coudert.

"I wish it were in my power to tell exactly what I felt and thought at this first sudden and totally unexpected sight of the Emperor. There was something in his appearance that caused a quiet tightening in my throat and a queer thumping at my heart. As I have said, he looked young, gentle, and slight. He stood quietly and naturally, looking straight at me with steady, clear, kind eyes. There was a sort of winning buoyancy, too, in the quiet dignity of his bearing. Above all, he looked kind, there was kindness in his eyes, in his face, in his voice; kindness in every easy, gentle movement of his slight, youthful figure."

http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/century1.html

The following poem is from an old French postcard.  Maybe Lisa or Bluetoria, would be kind enough to translate :) :)  :)

a S.M. Nicolas II

Promoteur De La Conference De La Haye

O Tsar dont le desir est un desir de Paix
Faites fleurir l'espoir que la Haye a vu naitre!
Dans l'eclat du triomphe ou vous allez paraitre
Dites les mots qu'il faut pour delivrer du faix
La Nation qui meurt en invoquant les autres!
Au-dessus des combats levez le drapeau blanc
Et les peuples sortis du cauchemar sanglant
En vous tendant les mains embrasseront les votres!

Many thanks,

Sunny
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 25, 2005, 08:40:39 AM
Quote
"I wish it were in my power to tell exactly what I felt and thought at this first sudden and totally unexpected sight of the Emperor. There was something in his appearance that caused a quiet tightening in my throat and a queer thumping at my heart. As I have said, he looked young, gentle, and slight. He stood quietly and naturally, looking straight at me with steady, clear, kind eyes. There was a sort of winning buoyancy, too, in the quiet dignity of his bearing. Above all, he looked kind, there was kindness in his eyes, in his face, in his voice; kindness in every easy, gentle movement of his slight, youthful figure."


I understand the author's reaction to seeing Nicholas.  It's the effect that proximity to power usually has on people.  I once saw President Bush, Sr. at close quarters when he visited a defense plant in which I worked.  Although not a fan of the man, I had some of the same physical reactions to being that close to one of the most powerful men on the planet.  (This reaction is well-understood by politicians.  It's one of the reasons they spend so much time during campaigns in shopping malls, at barbeques, etc.  Proximity to celebrity tends to cloud judgments that are made more clearly from a distance.)

I think, however, that such reactions speak more to the state of mind of the observer than to the attributes of the observed.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on May 25, 2005, 09:01:54 AM
What you say is so true, Tsarfan. It reminds me of a story a real estate agent told me about seeing President Clinton in person. He gave a speech at some conference she attended. Now she herself was a Republican and couldn't abide the man. But she said she was so overwhelmed by his presence that she found herself clapping along with everyone else and wanting his autograph afterwards!  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on May 25, 2005, 10:10:25 AM
Quote
The following poem is from an old French postcard.  Maybe Lisa or Bluetoria, would be kind enough to translate :) :)  :)

a S.M. Nicolas II

Promoteur De La Conference De La Haye

O Tsar dont le desir est un desir de Paix
Faites fleurir l'espoir que la Haye a vu naitre!
Dans l'eclat du triomphe ou vous allez paraitre
Dites les mots qu'il faut pour delivrer du faix
La Nation qui meurt en invoquant les autres!
Au-dessus des combats levez le drapeau blanc
Et les peuples sortis du cauchemar sanglant
En vous tendant les mains embrasseront les votres!

Many thanks,

Sunny


Oooh! It's a bit hard for me & I haven't got a French dictionary!  :-/  Lisa would probably do it better!!

To His Majesty Nicholas II
Promotor of the Hague Conference

O Tsar whose desire is a desire for peace,
Make flourish the hope that the Hague has seen born!
In the burst of triumph where you will appear,
Speak the necessary words to deliver from (falsehood??)
The Nation which murders (??) in rousing others!
Above the conflicts raise the white flag
And the peoples departed from the bloody nightmare
In offering you their hands, embrace your own.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on May 25, 2005, 11:22:07 AM
Quote
I've come a bit late to this wonderful thread, but would like to re-post something that can be found in the "The Human Side Of The Tsar", a 1906 article by Amalia Kussner Coudert.

"I wish it were in my power to tell exactly what I felt and thought at this first sudden and totally unexpected sight of the Emperor. There was something in his appearance that caused a quiet tightening in my throat and a queer thumping at my heart. As I have said, he looked young, gentle, and slight. He stood quietly and naturally, looking straight at me with steady, clear, kind eyes. There was a sort of winning buoyancy, too, in the quiet dignity of his bearing. Above all, he looked kind, there was kindness in his eyes, in his face, in his voice; kindness in every easy, gentle movement of his slight, youthful figure."
 
http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/century1.html



I once saw a television interview with a man who had met Tsar Nicholas.  He said Nicholas had the bluest eyes he had ever seen.  


Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on May 25, 2005, 12:21:54 PM
Here was a man who was considered the wealthiest man in the world who, it appears, withdrew most of his monies from foreign banks, returned his wealth back to Russia and demanded that all of his family do the same.  Why?  To show they believed in Russia and it's future.

In 1913 Nicholas II's personal wealth was said to have been $20 to 30 billion. [p. 28  THE HUNT FOR THE CZAR by Guy Richards.  I'll have to fetch my book by William Clarke THE LOST FORTUNE OF THE TSARS for a number which may be a little more accurate.]

I'll have to look for the source, but I think the demands were just before or just after WW I started.

He used his own wealth to help his country in the state of war.  According to the recent historians, it  is claimed there was little or nothing left of his wealth by the time he abdicated accept  jewels and properties which Lenin seized as quickly as he could.

Nicholas II wasn't always the "villian" in the history of Russia, and, I find this thread on "Positive Attributes" as a necessary thread to show a balance of the Tsar  for the young impressionable posters.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on May 25, 2005, 12:48:57 PM
Quote
Here was a man who was considered the wealthiest man in the world who, it appears, withdrew most of his monies from foreign banks, returned his wealth back to Russia and demanded that all of his family do the same.  Why?  To show they believed in Russia and it's future.

In 1913 Nicholas II's personal wealth was said to have been $20 to 30 billion. [p. 28  THE HUNT FOR THE CZAR by Guy Richards.  I'll have to fetch my book by William Clarke THE LOST FORTUNE OF THE TSARS for a number which may be a little more accurate.]


AGRBear


   Well while he did withdraw his monies abroad before the war, I don't think that he could have forced anyone else in his family to do the same...also I feel that your estimates of his personal fortune are quite off Agrebear...
    Is wealth all  that important in proving a man  good? Even if he did not possess great funds, his desire to help his own nation was at least patriotic. {I won't discuss whether "pure patriotism' is a virtue. :-X}
    I will agree that Nicholas was most likely personally kind and that he loved his family. I still consider him to be tragically anti-semetic and very intolerant - he allowed his religious faith to blind and limit him. Nevertheless I do think that this topic is very valid!


NANF
(not a Nicky fan)
rskkiya
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Sunny on May 25, 2005, 01:28:12 PM
Quote

I understand the author's reaction to seeing Nicholas.  It's the effect that proximity to power usually has on people.  I once saw President Bush, Sr. at close quarters when he visited a defense plant in which I worked.  Although not a fan of the man, I had some of the same physical reactions to being that close to one of the most powerful men on the planet.  (This reaction is well-understood by politicians.  It's one of the reasons they spend so much time during campaigns in shopping malls, at barbeques, etc.  Proximity to celebrity tends to cloud judgments that are made more clearly from a distance.)

I think, however, that such reactions speak more to the state of mind of the observer than to the attributes of the observed.



Having dated a few men who played from positions of power on the worlds stage, I understand the kind of charisma that goes with that territory. This, however:

"I wish it were in my power to tell exactly what I felt and thought at this first sudden and totally unexpected sight of the Emperor. There was something in his appearance that caused a quiet tightening in my throat and a queer thumping at my heart. As I have said, he looked young, gentle, and slight. He stood quietly and naturally, looking straight at me with steady, clear, kind eyes. There was a sort of winning buoyancy, too, in the quiet dignity of his bearing. Above all, he looked kind, there was kindness in his eyes, in his face, in his voice; kindness in every easy, gentle movement of his slight, youthful figure."  

speaks of something quite different. The 'dignity' of most politicians is rarely 'quiet', and much of what passes for 'kindness' is a pose, designed to obtain support. In a meeting free of agenda, the writers response was much the same as others who have commented on time spent with Nicholas.

Sunny

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Sunny on May 25, 2005, 01:43:07 PM
Dear Bluetoria,

Thank you so much for translating the poem :).
Your kindness is appreciated.

Sunny
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on May 25, 2005, 01:46:39 PM
 :) Thank you for posting it, Sunny! I hope Lisa or Agneschen will correct the mistakes!!  :)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 25, 2005, 02:14:32 PM
Quote
I feel that your estimates of his personal fortune are quite off Agrebear...


I read somewhere that Nicholas' annual household expenditures before the revolution were around 25 million rubles a year, while his income was about half that.  The difference was financed with bonds, sold mostly on international money markets.  (Keep in mind that his "household" included 17,000 servants, the upkeep of the imperial palaces, the entire staff of the Imperial Ballet and the Maryinsky Theater, etc.)

In fact, this same account reported that the Yussupov family fortune was larger than the Tsar's and was worth somewhere between $200-300 million (in 1900 dollars).

As vast as these sums sound, one has to remember that Henry Ford became the world's first billionaire in the 1910's and that some of the U.S. railroad magnates were worth $100-200 million around the turn of the century.

Much of the Tsar's income derived from crown lands inside Russia.  I cannot imagine that he had $20-30 billion sitting in banks outside of Russia.  If he did, he would not have had the budgetary shortfall in his expenditures.  In fact, I don't think anything approaching these sums could have been withdrawn without collapsing the international banking system in 1914.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: ChristineM on May 25, 2005, 02:29:04 PM
Thank you RichC for starting this thread.  

Why is it often the negatives which have impact when it is every bit as easy and a lot more pleasant to concentrate of the positive?

I had the privilege of knowing a man who met Nicholas II.    This old man never forgot the day in 1915, when, as a thirteen  year old boy he met his Emperor.   He had a clear recollection of the blueness and kindness which shone from the Tsar's eyes.   This meeting took place on the day the remains of Constantine Constantinovich were removed from his home at Pavlovsk to be taken for internment in the Peter and Paul Cathedral.  

Over eighty years later and well into his nineties, Renee Beerman told me never again did he see such blue eyes.
I remember staring into his own very blue eyes and being in awe - looking into the eyes of someone who had looked into the eyes of Nicholas II.

tsaria
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on May 25, 2005, 02:34:20 PM
While he probably wasn't the richest man in the world at the time, couldn't it be said that he was the single most powerful man in the world?  In other words, he had more power concentrated in his own hands than anyone else, including the Kaiser.  Also, I think that some of the things in Sunny's post are echoed in accounts left by the guards during his captivity such as quiet dignity, kindness, etc.

Tsarfan, I thought that John D. Rockefeller was the world's first bona fide billionaire?

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on May 25, 2005, 02:43:04 PM
Quote
Thank you RichC for starting this thread.  

Why is it often the negatives which have impact when it is every bit as easy and a lot more pleasant to concentrate of the positive?

I had the privilege of knowing a man who met Nicholas II.    This old man never forgot the day in 1915, when, as a thirteen  year old boy he met his Emperor.   He had a clear recollection of the blueness and kindness which shone from the Tsar's eyes.   This meeting took place on the day the remains of Constantine Constantinovich were removed from his home at Pavlovsk to be taken for internment in the Peter and Paul Cathedral.  

Over eighty years later and well into his nineties, Renee Beerman told me never again did he see such blue eyes.
I remember staring into his own very blue eyes and being in awe - looking into the eyes of someone who had looked into the eyes of Nicholas II.

tsaria


What an amazing story, Tsaria.  Thank you!  Talk about six degrees of separation!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 25, 2005, 02:52:08 PM
I listened to a scratchy old recording of Nicholas addressing a military parade that is on another thread on this board.  And I have to admit that it gave me a little tingle to be hearing the man's voice.  He is, after all, a significant historical figure.

However, I'd get an outright charge out of that kind of faint contact with Queen Elizabeth I, or Frederick the Great, or Catherine II, or Peter I.  Now those were magnificent players on the world stage -- people who advanced the fortunes of their nations instead of destroyed them.

I cannot quite understand why Nicholas' eye color is a positive attribute.  Does this mean brown eyes are a negative attribute?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 25, 2005, 03:03:42 PM
Quote
Tsarfan, I thought that John D. Rockefeller was the world's first bona fide billionaire?


Could be.  Reliable accounting from that era (or this era, for that matter, if one thinks of Enron) is hard to come by.  A lot of Rockefeller's assets were held through other legal entities as opposed to Ford's.  However, they both certainly had personal wealth that outstripped some of Russia's royalty and nobility.

The big difference is that the tsars were not bound to strict dividing lines between personal and national resources.  Peter I built much of St. Petersburg using the army as labor.  Catherine II financed much of her art collection by manipulating foreign exchange rates through her control of mast and pitch sales to western Europe.  The extended Romanov clan had the use of palaces that had long since been amortized into the Russian national debt.

I guess the real point is that, by whatever means, the tsar could live at a level of luxury that will probably never again be seen on this earth.

That's why I miss the old boy.  He really wasn't much of a tsar.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: ChristineM on May 25, 2005, 03:15:04 PM
What a pity you missed out the word 'kindness' tsarfan.  

There's no problem with brown eyes, or green either.

tsaria

PS:  Could we please return to the topic 'Positive Attributes'.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 25, 2005, 03:38:38 PM
Quote
PS:  Could we please return to the topic 'Positive Attributes'.


Fair point.  But it might help to determine what we mean by "attributes" -- physical traits or character traits?  Kind eyes don't necessarily equate to a kind person.  I've read some glowing accounts of how charming Hitler and his twinkly eyes appeared when he took children from the crowd and held them in parades and rallies.  To me, physical attributes can be a hugely misleading indicator of what lies beneath.

And, please, everyone . . . I am not comparing Nicholas to Hitler!  I am just expressing a preference for talking about Nicholas' positive character traits as demonstrated by his actions instead of by his physical appearance.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: ChristineM on May 25, 2005, 03:54:51 PM
Now we have read Tsarfan's definition of 'attribute' - the following is the Oxford Dictionary's definition:

ATTRIBUTE - a quality or characteristic inherent in or ascribed to someone or something.

Shouldn't you be posting on the 'Negative Attributes' thread tsarfan?  

tsaria
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on May 25, 2005, 04:04:49 PM
Quote

I cannot quite understand why Nicholas' eye color is a positive attribute.  Does this mean brown eyes are a negative attribute?


Of course not.  It's just that it's somewhat unusual. You can have expressive eyes no matter what color they are.  

I hope we do not need to put limits on what is meant by "attributes".  Another way of looking at it is to post what you like about Nicholas.  If some people like the way he looked or his eye color, or his luxurious lifestyle, that's ok.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on May 25, 2005, 04:19:43 PM
Quote
Now we have read Tsarfan's definition of 'attribute' - the following is the Oxford Dictionary's definition:

ATTRIBUTE - a quality or characteristic inherent in or ascribed to someone or something.

Shouldn't you be posting on the 'Negative Attributes' thread tsarfan?  

tsaria


SIGH!
  The whole point was (I should guess) that we ought  to balance our views of Nicholas' utter incompetency as a tsar, with his person thoughtfulness or kindness, thus we might try to get a better perspective on him relevant to this ongoing discussion.
  Is that clear now dear?

EVIL 8)
rskkiya


Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 25, 2005, 04:33:51 PM
Quote
Shouldn't you be posting on the 'Negative Attributes' thread tsarfan?  


Why?  There were plenty of people who came onto the "negative attributes" thread to defend Nicholas against the vicious calumnies laid to his account there.  They made the discussion interesting -- and they moderated my sometimes excessive negativity.  They weren't asked to leave.

That said, I will compliment the man a bit.  I think he made a heroic effort to keep two strong, domineering women (his mother and his wife) first at peace and then, failing that, at bay.

I also think Nicholas tried to set a tone of moral conduct for other Romanovs that they would have done better to heed.  At considerable cost to family bonds that he held dear, he banished his brother Michael for consorting with a married woman, and he took similar firm (although ultimately ineffective) steps with others in the family who transgressed.

Whew . . . that's about all the good I can manage for now.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: ChristineM on May 25, 2005, 04:49:22 PM
Leave?   Who said anything about leaving?   As a Tsarfan I can see how your contribution is essential on all Nicholas II threads.

Poor Rsskiya - how irritating having to spelling out things for dunderheads.  

IncompetEncy - isn't that what you mean?

tsaria
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on May 25, 2005, 05:59:57 PM
Tsaria, what a beautiful story! Thank you for posting it.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on May 26, 2005, 08:37:20 AM
     Other than his religion, his love of sport and his passion for his family - did Nicholas possess any other positive qualities?
     Eye colour, hair style, and fashion sense are not virtues that I care about in this case - but it would seem that for some people - they do seem to mean a lot! {Note the odd number of *I Heart Nicky* threads here.}

    Was he patient or simply passive?
    Faithful or inactive? Constant or indifferant ?

rskkiya
PS: I am sorry about my dreadful spelling.... :-[
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on May 26, 2005, 10:32:39 AM
Further back on this thread many positive qualities have been listed:

Intelligence (shown in his ability to master several languages fluently & his literary understanding)

Patience.

Loyalty to his father, his country, his religion & his family.

Fidelity to his wife & his allies in war.

An ability to recognise his own shortcomings.

Kindness which, as Sunny's post shows, was almost tangible to those who met him. (And humility)

An ability to put people at ease.

Several others have already been mentioned too.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on May 26, 2005, 10:47:00 AM
Bluetoria
     Do you really think that they were "Holy Imperial Martyrs?" Honestly? Is that also a virtue?
    As to Nicholas' kindness or patience, I cannot make any comment as I never met him hence we are all rather forced to accept other peoples evidence about this ...
    He may have spoken several languages well (bravo) but he was not a critical thinker-and it seems that he took things at face value - without examining them - which is a deadly fault in any autocratic leader.

rskkiya
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on May 26, 2005, 10:57:35 AM
Rskkiya, since I am not Orthodox I don't think I'm really in a position to express my views on whether or not they were 'Holy Imperial Martyrs.'
My (R.C) understanding of a martyr is someone whose bears witness to their faith 'even unto death.' By that interpretation, yes I do believe that Nicholas was a Holy Imperial Martyr because he continued to show trust in God despite the loss of everything he had ever held sacred. As for whether or not that is a virtue, that is for God to decide (& if you don't believe in God, then it's of no consequence, I guess).

Although we never met him, we do have the testimony of many who did who witnessed his kindness first hand; some things have to be taken on trust or we could never know anything about any historical character, wouldn't you say?

Maybe he wasn't a 'critical thinker' - but no one is so intellectually gifted that they are able to master everything & I was describing his positive attributes - his ability to master languages, his understanding of literature etc. etc.  :)

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Robert_Hall on May 26, 2005, 11:02:01 AM
Their qualifications are "Passion Bearers". i.e. they bore their suffering and death in "A Christlike manner".
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: ChristineM on May 26, 2005, 11:20:08 AM
Thanks Robert.   Even most atheists recognise that as an exemplary attribute.

tsaria
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 26, 2005, 11:34:34 AM
Quote
Their qualifications are "Passion Bearers". i.e. they bore their suffering and death in "A Christlike manner".


I really don't mean to be offensive here, but I have no idea what is meant by saying they bore their suffering and death in a Christlike manner.

According to Greg King's and Penny Wilson's book The Fate of the Romanovs, there are at least some indications that Marie was being ostracized by the family near the end for some sort of misdeed with a guard.  Alexandra was reported by all during her imprisonment as being haugthy and insistent on keeping at least some lines drawn between royalty and retainers in captivity.  The girls were reading The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a piece of forged anti-Semitic drivel that Nicholas felt was "very timely" for them to be reading.

As for their deaths, they walked unsuspecting into a basement where they were caught off-guard by the outbreak of gunfire, during which they screamed and struggled with no time to collect their thoughts or make their peace with their Maker.

Would someone please, please tell me why this comparison to Christ's behavior and death is not an outright insult to Christ?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on May 26, 2005, 11:39:10 AM
Quote

Would someone please, please tell me why this comparison to Christ's behavior and death is not an outright insult to Christ?


Like Christ they did not lose faith in God. In spite of their sufferings, captivity etc. their faith remained unshaken. Their screams etc. do not make them less Christ like...I pretty much imagine Christ screamed when they put nails through His hands.  :(
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Robert_Hall on May 26, 2005, 11:41:31 AM
It is a Church definition to distinquish  their deaths from a "dying for the Faith" martyrdom. That is, they bore their suffering with patience and prayer. They died [presumably] forgiving their tormentors/murderers.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on May 26, 2005, 12:14:29 PM
Robert is right, this category of sainthood is as far as I know unknown in the Catholic Church and is very Russian Orthodox in spirit. It goes all the way back to the eleventh century, to Saints Boris and Gleb, royal princes who were murdered by their brother and died forgiving him, as Christ died on the cross forgiving his enemies. A later saint also in this category is the tsarevich Dmitry of Uglich, who was murdered on the orders of Boris Godunov. So as you can see, it is an ancient tradition in the Russian Orthodox Church to canonize murdered royalty, especially children (both Gleb and Dmitry were children).

There is also concrete evidence that Nicholas did die forgiving his murderers, in the form of a letter Olga Nikolaevna wrote to a friend whilst in captivity, stating her father's wishes that no matter what ultimately happened to the imperial family, it should be forgiven.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 26, 2005, 12:56:59 PM
I'm sorry to get so exercised about this, but I think there could be real consequences one day to this growing trend to elevate the last Romanovs to some exalted state of being.

Modern Russians are contending with a long history of having little control of their own lives and affairs, of government corruption, of officials of only spotty competence, of repression of minorities, of the very few living well at the expense of the vast majority.

Their only hope of one day freeing themselves of this heritage is to continue their difficult struggle toward democracy (albeit probably in a unique form that suits them).  The Orthodox Church's growing campaign to sanctify the Romanov dynasty is all about replacing the reality of what Romanov rule (particularly in its latter days) was really like with some fantasy of the Romanovs as suffering martyrs for the Russian people.

It's bunk.  But it if works, it will signify the Russian people's having given up on themselves and their inherent right to determine the courses of their own lives.  They are too fascinating and too significant a people to have this be their fate.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 26, 2005, 01:13:10 PM
Quote
So as you can see, it is an ancient tradition in the Russian Orthodox Church to canonize murdered royalty, especially children (both Gleb and Dmitry were children).


So why wasn't Alexander II canonized?  He freed the serfs and actually thought about granting some constitutional rights.

Or why wasn't Paul canonized?  At least some historians think he was brought down by a cabal of nobility that (probably wrongly) feared a tendency toward populism.

If I recall, Boris and Gleb died as a result of their attempts to keep all political power from being gathered into a single pair of particularly ambitious and murderous hands . . . a fairly noble reason for giving up one's life.

Let's get real here.  This whole canonization thing is all about politics.  The Orthodox Church is trying to gain ascendency in Russian affairs, and tsar worship will be a very useful tool if they can forge and manage it properly.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on May 26, 2005, 01:30:16 PM
Tsarfan, are you deliberately trying to misunderstand me? No, that's not possible, you're too generous a soul. Of course this is all about politics and always has been. Do you think Boris and Gleb were canonized for non-political reasons? Along with Olga, that fearsome Kievan princess who in a very unChristian-like manner annihilated the Pechenegs? Or Dmitry of Uglich, for that matter, a mere child, who probably barely knew his catechism?

[N.B. - I should note here that  some historians think the very early canonizations of royal "martyrs" had much to do with ancient Slavic ancestor worship. An intriguing topic on its own, but one which I know nothing about. Still, this interpretation also obviously includes enormous, implicit political ramifications.]

But the vision of royal children being murdered is a compelling one in Russian history. The child holds a special place in Russian hagiography. Even the Russian historian Karamzin envisioned the young Michael Romanov as a Christ-like lamb being offered up for sacrifice. I don't think we should underestimate the sentimental appeal of five canonized children, OTMAA, although, I repeat, you are perfectly correct to point out the political implications of canonizing the last imperial family. The Russian Orthodox Church can hardly claim to be above political considerations after centuries of close collaboration with the ruling government.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 26, 2005, 02:14:32 PM
Now, Elisabeth . . . you know I find you far too knowledgeable and intriguing an adversary to be playing foul with you.  (And, as usual, your posts on this "saint thing" have given me a whole new dose of fascinating new information on the topic.  Your posts are more fun than reading a book, you know.)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on May 26, 2005, 03:29:31 PM
Tsarfan makes a very valid point.
   Its FAR too easy to bathe Nicholas and his family in a holy glow rather than to actually examine their real virtues and vices...
   The "Great in the Small" a reprinting of the "Protocals of Zion" is a sad commentary on Nicholas and his families anti semitism (this is discussed on another thread) but it is something to consider when we look for Nicholas' positive attributes.
   This is one of the reasons why I find it difficult to see Nicholas as a 'kind thoughtful or sweet' person -- (no doubt this is a 21st century bias) without questioning why was he reading such a book?

rskkiya
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on May 26, 2005, 03:53:43 PM
Quote

I really don't mean to be offensive here, but I have no idea what is meant by saying they bore their suffering and death in a Christlike manner.

According to Greg King's and Penny Wilson's book The Fate of the Romanovs, there are at least some indications that Marie was being ostracized by the family near the end for some sort of misdeed with a guard.  Alexandra was reported by all during her imprisonment as being haugthy and insistent on keeping at least some lines drawn between royalty and retainers in captivity.  The girls were reading The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a piece of forged anti-Semitic drivel that Nicholas felt was "very timely" for them to be reading.

As for their deaths, they walked unsuspecting into a basement where they were caught off-guard by the outbreak of gunfire, during which they screamed and struggled with no time to collect their thoughts or make their peace with their Maker.


Isn't there direct evidence that they stressed that no blood be shed on their behalf in any planned rescue attempt?

Also, it stands to reason that they must have been terrified as they were being led to the basement.  There is plenty of circumstantial evidence that Nicholas, at least, knew what was coming.  

Aren't there some accounts that indicate Nicholas attempted to shield his family from the bullets?

Despite the spin put on their last months in The Fate of the Romanovs, I still think their behavior was exemplary (the Romanov's and the doctor/servants).  The evidence that Marie did something bad is awfully flimsy.  What's amazing is that there wasn't more tension among a group of prisoners, locked up for months with almost no contact with the outside world.  I would have gone crazy...  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on May 26, 2005, 04:27:00 PM
Quote
Isn't there direct evidence that they stressed that no blood be shed on their behalf in any planned rescue attempt?


Good point, RichC. Nicholas and Alexandra specifically forbade a rescue attempt if any blood would be shed. Their last letter to the "Russian Officer" (the Cheka in disguise) reads: "[the Bolsheviks] guard our imprisonment and our lives conscientiously and are kind to us. We do not want them to suffer because of us, nor you for us; in the name of God, avoid bloodshed above all."

Quote
Aren't there some accounts that indicate Nicholas attempted to shield his family from the bullets?


He was shielding Alexei with his body even before the shooting started, according to at least one of the guards.

Quote
Despite the spin put on their last months in The Fate of the Romanovs, I still think their behavior was exemplary (the Romanov's and the doctor/servants).  The evidence that Marie did something bad is awfully flimsy.  What's amazing is that there wasn't more tension among a group of prisoners, locked up for months with almost no contact with the outside world.  I would have gone crazy...  


I agree. When you read accounts of other people held hostage or locked up for months on end it's amazing (and yet not amazing, if you think about it) how tempers flare and the slightest things become sources of tremendous irritation and hostility. The imperial family and their entourage - twelve people in all - were literally living on top of each other in the rooms allotted to them on the upper floor of the Ipatiev House. Whatever happened with Maria (and even if it happened, it seems to have been fairly innocent), and however a few other family members might have reacted to it, the prisoners as a whole behaved remarkably well not only towards each other but also (and this is what is most striking) towards their captors.

I think one of Nicholas' most exemplary characteristics was his forbearance. I suspect that he was a model of patience and courage to his family during their last months, whatever his own inner turmoil.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 26, 2005, 04:45:18 PM
I'm not saying that the Romanovs handled themselves badly in captivity.  But I feel that sainthood requires something more.

Let's look at some other examples of deposed royals during imprisonment.  The captivity of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette progressed over a period of many months from genteel and reasonably comfortable circumstances to final imprisonment in fetid prison cells with an actual death date hanging over them.  Marie Antoinette had to hear her son testify to incest with her during a public trial.  Their final days were spent in far more dire conditions than the Ipatiev house, and they were separated from each other and from their children.  Yet they both went to their deaths with grace, composure, and forgiveness.

Princess Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower of London in peril of her life at the hands of Mary Tudor.  Though a very young woman cut off from her friends and supporters, she emerged from this terrifying captivity determined to allow her subjects the freedom of religious conscience she had been denied.

Anne Boleyn, knowing she was being set aside by her husband and to be executed on trumped up charges, refused to throw others under the wagon in an attempt to save herself and went to her beheading calm and composed, with a prayer of forgiveness on her lips.

Mary, Queen of Scots, endured the longest captivity of them all, cycling through exhausting ups and downs of hope and despair.  She kept her composure and went sanguinely to her death.

Even the spotty information we have on the behavior of the other Romanovs imprisoned and executed by the Bolsheviks shows no signs that they endured their captivities and fates in any less noble a fashion than the Ipatiev prisoners.

Nicholas and Alexandra were not unique in their fates, nor were they unique in how they bore up in adversity.  In fact, they endured as most people do in such circumstances.

So, how many sainthoods are we going to pass out?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Robert_Hall on May 26, 2005, 04:57:39 PM
Both Russian Orthodox Churches declared  saints at different times- the ROCOR some YEARS before the ROC IN Russia. The former canonized hundreds along with the Imperial family. That was also a decidedly anti-Soviet statement. In the case of the ROC in Russia, it was seen by some as an act of reconciliation towards the ROCOR. So far, it has not worked, but it is done anyway.
The Catholic church is far more liberal, I feel, in the doling out of sainthoods- witness the bonanza of saints from the JPII papacy. But in all cases, it is a matter of religious politics in my opinion. BTW, there ARE movements for the beatification of Louis XVI & MA, but they did not die because of their faith- a requirement in the Roman Catholic "martyr" category. On the other hand, one does not need canonization to be a saint- anyone who dies in a state of grace, is in heaven, is a saint.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: ChristineM on May 26, 2005, 05:09:59 PM
Robert - that is powerful - the communion of saints.  

This belief requires a leap of faith.   Sadly, some people have not been blessed with the ability to jump never mind leap - for the time being.....

tsaria
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on May 26, 2005, 05:18:35 PM
Tsaria
    Very well put and quite insiteful, and its also true that some people will happily follow any shiny object -- especially if they think it's a 'martyrs crown'.

r
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on May 26, 2005, 05:58:11 PM
Quote
I'm not saying that the Romanovs handled themselves badly in captivity.  But I feel that sainthood requires something more.

Let's look at some other examples of deposed royals during imprisonment.  The captivity of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette progressed over a period of many months from genteel and reasonably comfortable circumstances to final imprisonment in fetid prison cells with an actual death date hanging over them.  Marie Antoinette had to hear her son testify to incest with her during a public trial.  Their final days were spent in far more dire conditions than the Ipatiev house, and they were separated from each other and from their children.  Yet they both went to their deaths with grace, composure, and forgiveness.

Princess Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower of London in peril of her life at the hands of Mary Tudor.  Though a very young woman cut off from her friends and supporters, she emerged from this terrifying captivity determined to allow her subjects the freedom of religious conscience she had been denied.

Anne Boleyn, knowing she was being set aside by her husband and to be executed on trumped up charges, refused to throw others under the wagon in an attempt to save herself and went to her beheading calm and composed, with a prayer of forgiveness on her lips.

Mary, Queen of Scots, endured the longest captivity of them all, cycling through exhausting ups and downs of hope and despair.  She kept her composure and went sanguinely to her death.

Even the spotty information we have on the behavior of the other Romanovs imprisoned and executed by the Bolsheviks shows no signs that they endured their captivities and fates in any less noble a fashion than the Ipatiev prisoners.

Nicholas and Alexandra were not unique in their fates, nor were they unique in how they bore up in adversity.  In fact, they endured as most people do in such circumstances.

So, how many sainthoods are we going to pass out?



For the purposes of this thread, I don't think it matters whether they were made saints or not.  The fact that Nicholas was made a saint (or passion bearer) or whatever, by someone else, many years after his death, doesn't fall into the category of a negative or positive attribute, in my view.


Just because the other royal persons mentioned above weren't made saints doesn't take away from what the Romanov's endured.  I think it's wrong to say Nicholas wasn't worthy of respect or admiration for the way he behaved during captivity because other people suffered more.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on May 26, 2005, 07:33:14 PM
    Being declared A SAINT?
   Thats not a virtue or a positive attribute, its a decision made after ones death by Church Members...If Nicholas wanted to cultivate "sainthood' (as others cultivate good posture, manners or skill at sport) then it would appear that he would be already unqualified for the position...
   "I want to be a Saint" --- doesn't that imply Pride and Vanity -which, I was under the impression were not saintly virtues at all!

    We are wandering off on a "saintly path" and forgetting the original point of this thread, which I thought was  -- Nicholas' good qualities.  Such real virtues might be ...

He loved his family.
He was polite.
He spoke several languages.
He was unpreposessing.

No halos {at least not for the moment!}


Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 26, 2005, 08:34:22 PM
Quote
Just because the other royal persons mentioned above weren't made saints doesn't take away from what the Romanov's endured.  I think it's wrong to say Nicholas wasn't worthy of respect or admiration for the way he behaved during captivity because other people suffered more.


Sorry, RichC.  I didn't mean to imply that Nicholas was not to be admired for his handling of his captivity.  Most reports of his captors indicate that his demeanor in captivity was so compliant and respectful of their concerns that their anti-Romanov indoctrination ebbed away under the influence of his gentle nature.  That was no mean feat.

I am just troubled by the notion that his grace in captivity somehow absolves him for the failures of his reign.  I know of no saints whose failures up to the time of their apotheosis brought so much suffering to so many.  I think sainthood should be more about how one lives than how one dies.

And I'm not sure this is so far off topic.  The question of how the Church today characterizes him relates to what his actual attributes were.

I'd be a lot less frantic about the topic of imperial sainthood were today's Russia solidly and irreversably grounded in democracy.  But it's not.  Russia is still searching for answers, and a misreading of what Romanov rule really was like could tempt Russia onto a very problematic path.

One thing I do know . . . .  We can debate these days all we want about whether Nicholas and Alexandra should be saints.  But ANYONE who actually lived through their rule would be incredulous at the debate.  Even today, most Romanovs privately scoff at the notion.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on May 27, 2005, 12:39:49 PM
Quote

Sorry, RichC.  I didn't mean to imply that Nicholas was not to be admired for his handling of his captivity.  Most reports of his captors indicate that his demeanor in captivity was so compliant and respectful of their concerns that their anti-Romanov indoctrination ebbed away under the influence of his gentle nature.  That was no mean feat.


Thanks, Tsarfan.  I agree wholeheartedly because I think one needs to give credit where it's due.

Quote
I am just troubled by the notion that his grace in captivity somehow absolves him for the failures of his reign.  I know of no saints whose failures up to the time of their apotheosis brought so much suffering to so many.  I think sainthood should be more about how one lives than how one dies.


Well some people do, apparently, think it absolves him.  But I'm not necessarily one of them, although I don't think I feel as strongly about it as you do.  

I don't think the comment about Nicholas being the saint (or semi-saint?) who caused the most suffering is really fair, however.  I'm sure there are plenty of saints (catholic ones included) who could out do Nicholas any day in the amount of suffering they brought about.

Quote
And I'm not sure this is so far off topic.  The question of how the Church today characterizes him relates to what his actual attributes were.


But that's what the church says!  It seems to me that you are somehow holding it against him, how the church is using him today, eighty-seven years after he died.

Quote
I'd be a lot less frantic about the topic of imperial sainthood were today's Russia solidly and irreversably grounded in democracy.  But it's not.  Russia is still searching for answers, and a misreading of what Romanov rule really was like could tempt Russia onto a very problematic path.


I think a misreading of what Soviet rule was like is far more dangerous.

Quote
One thing I do know . . . .  We can debate these days all we want about whether Nicholas and Alexandra should be saints.  But ANYONE who actually lived through their rule would be incredulous at the debate.  Even today, most Romanovs privately scoff at the notion.


Well, Tsarfan, I think some of your ire is misdirected.  Perhaps it would be useful to start a thread about the negative and positive attributes of the Orthodox Church.  

Ok, maybe that's just WAY too hot a topic.  How about an epistemological examination of the legacy of Nicholas II?  (Yikes, I hope I'm using these terms correctly!!)




Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on May 27, 2005, 12:55:44 PM
Quote
...[in part]....

One thing I do know . . . .  We can debate these days all we want about whether Nicholas and Alexandra should be saints.  But ANYONE who actually lived through their rule would be incredulous at the debate.  Even today, most Romanovs privately scoff at the notion.


I'd be interested in reading the source in which you have  a Romanov,who was living at that time, who "privately scoff" .

Of course, the Romanov's living today would have their own views about monarchs, dictators and other heads of govt. in the political skeme of things.  Can you tell me of one or two living Romanovs and give me the source.

I agree with Rich C that the religious activity of semi-sainthood which surrounded Nicholas II after his execution is not on topic.  I assume he never declared himself a saint nor did he expect to be regarded as one.  If I'm wrong,  please give me a source and what Nicholas II wrote/voiced.

Thanks.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Forum Admin on May 27, 2005, 01:20:08 PM
I cannot give you the sources AGR, due to privacy concerns. I can confirm, however, that Bob and I have heard living Romanov descendants (and I believe Lisa D as well has heard) confirmation of this point.  They pretty much all are incredulous at the sainthood and veneration of the IF.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Forum Admin on May 27, 2005, 01:59:12 PM
Neither really.
No one is left alive in the immediate family who knew them personally. It is really more the fact that they are treated as "real, living, breathing" past relatives by the family who  simply don't understand "what all the fuss is about" with respect to making "great-great Uncle Nicky and GGAunt Alix saints, etc..."
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on May 27, 2005, 02:01:47 PM
Oooops.  I removed my post which asked about the reason behind the family's attitude toward Nicholas II's semi-saintly position given to him by the Russian church.

I assume this discomfort of the living about having semi-saintly figures in their family is a very human reaction but in time I'm sure Nicholas II's devout attitudes at the end of his life will shine quite brightly in the church in the future.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 27, 2005, 02:56:40 PM
Quote
I think a misreading of what Soviet rule was like is far more dangerous.


I agree.  What worries me is that Russia could evolve toward the view that monarchy and communism are the only two choices.

Imagine this scenario:  A few decades from now, people start looking at Lenin through the lens of democracy gone wrong.  They start to focus on his appealing personal traits (yes, there were some) -- the fact that he lived in a simple apartment in the Kremlin, that he once meekly asked for persmission to return a library book late, that he was not a philanderer, that he was a bright and hard-working man, that he sanctioned killing of those who put his government at risk only out of political necessity and not personal pleasure, that he adopted Marxism in a wrong-headed but well-meaning attempt to rein in the excesses of early industrial capitalism.

These things are all true, but the fact remains that he founded a horrific regime that should never again control the fate of a people.

No one should opt for a political system based on the perceived traits of its leaders.  And I worry that the debate could one day be framed exactly that way in Russia.

I know I'm obsessing on this point.  I'll try to take a powder.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: ChristineM on May 27, 2005, 03:13:39 PM
I can scarcely believe my eyes - 'simple apartment in the Kremlin'...    Even while Nicholas, Alexandra, their children and servants were imprisoned facing a ghastly death, Lenin was cruising the Baltic on board the Imperial yacht, 'Standart'.
'...not a philanderer'...  On board with him was Innesa Armand.   I suppose they left Nadezhda Krupskaya behind to keep the home fires burning.  

And all for the purposes of furthering the revolution, I suppose.  

tsaria
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 27, 2005, 03:24:45 PM
Quote
I can scarcely believe my eyes - 'simple apartment in the Kremlin'...    Even while Nicholas, Alexandra, their children and servants were imprisoned facing a ghastly death, Lenin was cruising the Baltic on board the Imperial yacht, 'Standart'.
'...not a philanderer'...  On board with him was Innesa Armand.   I suppose they left Nadezhda Krupskaya behind to keep the home fires burning.  

And all for the purposes of furthering the revolution, I suppose.  



I didn't know about Innesa, so I'll retract the philanderer comment with an apology for my ignorance.  But Lenin did live in a simple apartment.

My post, however, was a bit tongue-in-cheek.  I am no Lenin fan.  My point was that any historical figure is almost always a complex mix of good and bad traits -- some of which are remembered clearly and some of which get distorted with time.  It's fun to debate them, but the game goes awry when we start to carry them over into a longing for the return of political institutions that were demonstrably bad.

I just worry that this sanctification thing is part of a longing for a return to monarchy in Russia which I think would be a very bad thing for her people.

(I obviously haven't taken that powder yet.)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: ChristineM on May 27, 2005, 03:42:15 PM
Tsarfan

There is not a snowball's chance in the hot, hot place of a monarchy returning to Russia.   Certainly not a monarchy of the Romanov model.  

Stalin was a monarch in all but name.  His 29 year rule far outlasted many a Romanov ruler.    

It could be argued the current President is setting himself up as a sort of monarch.  

We won't have too long to wait long to find out.

tsaria

PS:  Lenin and philandering - I omitted to mention Lenin's
      syphilitic state.   Not something which accords with a
      sexually patent lifestyle.

Perhaps we should now return to topic and explore opinion of Nicholas' Positive Attributes.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Arleen on May 27, 2005, 03:52:54 PM
I was wondering when you would call for getting back to the basics Tsaria!  Just kidding you.....this is all very interesting to me and I have enjoyed it so much...thanks to you'all.
I too think President Putin may be heading in the wrong direction, dictatorship comes to mind, and it worries me for the Rus people.
..Arleen
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on May 27, 2005, 04:46:51 PM
I do not think the idea of monarchy returning as a form of governement is all that far-fetched, actually.  Unlikely perhaps, but not out-of-the-question.  It could happen.  It happened in Spain in the 1970's.  There are some powerful people that advocate such things.  There was something in the news the other day about the Bagration family coming back to power in Georgia.  

There was a political assassination on the campus of the University of Chicago in 1991, where a Romanian born professor was shot to death the day before he was due to return to Romania, where he planned to speak out against a far-right political party which, I believe, advocated the restoration of the monarchy.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: etonexile on May 27, 2005, 05:12:32 PM
Monarchy...constitutional monarchy...is such a jolly idea...think of the money to be made in postal cards alone...and stamps....
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 27, 2005, 05:16:19 PM
Now there's an idea for a positive attribute (and I'm running a deficit here in my contribution to the list) . . . Nicholas was very photogenic.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 27, 2005, 05:28:27 PM
Another positive attribute . . . Nicholas was what we today would call an "early adopter" of new technology:

-  took his own photogaphs and learned to develop them in his private darkroom
-  had a Pathe film projector installed in the Alexander Palace
-  used all latest means of telecommunication
-  loved cars . . . and the faster the better (if I can't bond with him over that, I'm a truly hopeless case).
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: etonexile on May 27, 2005, 06:32:35 PM
He'd be going after the Trans-Continental Balloon Race Title if alive today.... ;)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Robert_Hall on May 27, 2005, 09:34:51 PM
I think he had something to do with the trans-Siberian rail ?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: lexi4 on May 27, 2005, 10:00:22 PM
He truly loved Russia and honestly believed every decision he made was what was best for Russia. He followed his heart. He was kind and generous. As others have said, he was a devouted family man.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on May 28, 2005, 07:22:18 AM
He also maintained his dignity in captivity. He did not grovel or try to appease his captors but showed real strength of character. He also remained a true patriot - his reaction to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk:
"And they call me a traitor!"
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on May 28, 2005, 12:08:48 PM
So, was the trans-Siberian Railway started under Nicholas II?  No.  The construction started under his father. Did Nicholas II lose interest in this consturction?  No.  It was continued and built.

So, what did happen under Nicholas II?  Nothing?  That's the what some poster think.  So, let's take a look.

Nicholas II came into power in 1894 and ruled until 1917.

From 1904-1905  Russian - Japanese War. Lost. This is what usually leaps out but what else occured between 1894 to 1905?  Few people even look at those early years.  So, let's take a look at those years and the following years up to WW I.

1.  Trans-Siberan Railroad constructed  to 1903.
2. 1898 - leased  Port Arthur
3. 1900-1903  occupation of Manchuria after Boxer Insurrection
4. After 1900 the interest in Korea continued
5. Relaxation of represssion gave opportunities for various organizations to express themselves
6. Nov 1904- Zemstvo Congress created
7. 3 March 1904- Nicolas "convoked" a "consultatiev  assembly"
8.  March 1905 - Edit of religious toleration announced which gave  permission  to use the Polish language in Polish schools
9. March 1904 - Relief for Jews
10. 8  May 1905 -Allowed the Union of Unions
11. 10 Aug 1905 - Nicholas II created a manifesto creating the "Imperial Duma"
12.  30 Oct  1905 the October Maniefesto granted Russians a consitution and Witte was appointed prime minister
13.  6 May 1906 the Fundamental laws were issued which kept Nicholas II as autocract and fundamental laws could be made only with his consent...
14. 10 May 1906  First Duma
15. June 1906 -Peter Stolypin became prime minister
16.  Nov 1906 Agrarian Reform Act,  which ended the communal (mir) system of landholding and enabled each peasants to withdraw from the commune at will, receiving his own share of land in private ownership.
17. March to June 1907 - Second Duma who tried to hang on to the efforts of the consitutional system which was being hindered by the radicals....
18.  16 June 1907 - New Electoral Law which increased the representation of the propertied classes which, now, included more than just nobility...
19.  1907-1912  Third Duma created reform activities such as social insurance, zemstvo reform, educational needs increase, reorganization of police, land banks, encourgement of emigration to Siberia, economic expanison, continued industrialization...
20.  31 Aug 1907  was the conclusion of the Anglo-Russian entente which was a very important milestone in foreign policies with Britian and France against the Central Powers
21. 1912-1916 Fourth Duma who's time was taken up with the crisis of foreign policies
22. 1912-1913 Balkan Wars
23.  1 Aug 1914 Germany Declared War on Russia

While all this was going on the Russian culture had found new freedoms under Nicholas II and was reaching new heights.

I went to Figes'  A PEOPLE'S TRAGEDY.  Figes describes Nicholas p. 21:

"What Nicholas lacked in leadership he made up for by hard work.  He was an industrious and conscientious monarch, especially during the first half of his reign, diligently sitting at his desk until he had finished his daily administrative duties."

In his constant daily routine Nicholas II  p. 22 "....created the illusion of a smoothly functioning goverment..."

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on May 28, 2005, 01:12:30 PM
Quote

I agree.  What worries me is that Russia could evolve toward the view that monarchy and communism are the only two choices.

Imagine this scenario:  A few decades from now, people start looking at Lenin through the lens of democracy gone wrong.  They start to focus on his appealing personal traits (yes, there were some) -- the fact that he lived in a simple apartment in the Kremlin, that he once meekly asked for persmission to return a library book late, that he was not a philanderer, that he was a bright and hard-working man, that he sanctioned killing of those who put his government at risk only out of political necessity and not personal pleasure, that he adopted Marxism in a wrong-headed but well-meaning attempt to rein in the excesses of early industrial capitalism.

These things are all true, but the fact remains that he founded a horrific regime that should never again control the fate of a people.

No one should opt for a political system based on the perceived traits of its leaders.  And I worry that the debate could one day be framed exactly that way in Russia.

I know I'm obsessing on this point.  I'll try to take a powder.


Part of the problem with Russia today is that there is no secure national myth. Every country needs a national myth of some kind to bind together its people(s) in order to look forward to the future with some sense of pride, accomplishment, and efficacy. The difficulty in Putin's Russia is that the recent past is so full of failures and crimes against humanity. Russians understandably do not want to feel ashamed of their past. So they seek refuge in idealized, nostalgic visions of imperial Nicolaevan Russia, or - more commonly - the Stalinist period, when Russia was a world power, strong and respected. Of the two national myths, the imperial Nicolaevan one strikes me as the least dangerous, in so far as it at least acknowledges the fact that Russians were not only victims of the Bolshevik terror, but also perpetrators of it. Nostalgia for the Stalin era, on the other hand, erases the terror or seeks to justify it by the old formula that the ends justify the means.

I think Radzinsky's book, The Last Tsar, was a significant development in that it attempted to create a national myth that could serve a new democratic Russia. It was noteworthy that at the reburial of the imperial family at the Fortress of Ss. Peter and Paul, Yeltsin reportedly stated that "we are all guilty of this crime," i.e., the murder of the IF, or words to that effect. Thus the imperial family came to serve as the symbol of all families who suffered under the Communist regime at the hands of their own neighbors. I don't think this is a dangerous myth. It sends Russia down the path of confession of past sins, which can lead in the end only to redemption. Even if this process remains only on the level of the symbolic it is still meaningful. Remember, there never have been - and probably never can be - trials of the génocidaires in Russia like those that went on in Nuremberg after the defeat of Nazi Germany. Some sort of symbolic healing must take place in Russia in order for it to come to terms with its tragic and bloody past.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 28, 2005, 05:48:24 PM
Quote
Even if this process remains only on the level of the symbolic it is still meaningful.


Your analysis of the question is very intriguing, Elisabeth, and reflects an understanding of today's Russia to which I cannot even aspire.

If this remains an exercise in symbolism, I can handle it.  I just hope that's as far as it goes.  The fact that Russia has to go through such mental gymnastics to invent a vision of its past that is palatable -- or, even worse, that Stalin is an expedient for the purpose -- speaks volumes about what tsarism really bequeathed to that nation.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on May 29, 2005, 11:55:43 PM
Quote

Your analysis of the question is very intriguing, Elisabeth, and reflects an understanding of today's Russia to which I cannot even aspire.

If this remains an exercise in symbolism, I can handle it.  I just hope that's as far as it goes.  The fact that Russia has to go through such mental gymnastics to invent a vision of its past that is palatable -- or, even worse, that Stalin is an expedient for the purpose -- speaks volumes about what tsarism really bequeathed to that nation.



I suspect that what Elisabeth was talking about runs much deeper than the legacy of Tsarism.  I think Russia's history is puntuated by one HUGE national catastrophe after another divided by periods of recovery and attempts at catching up with the West.  Her post reminded me of a book I read in college called Medieval Russia's Epics, Chronicles, and Tales.  Luckily, I still have that book.

The medieval tale of Boris and Gleb is important because it shows their voluntary acceptance of death after the example of Christ, and established one of the leading characteristics of Russian Christianity -- "humility and the acceptance of fate in imitation of the deeds of Christ."

The similarities to the story of Nicholas and Alexandra and their "martyrdom", with the ancient story of Boris and Gleb are startling.  

About the national myth, one has to remember that comparing Russia with the nations of the West is like comparing apples and oranges.  When Western Europe was already passing into the Middles Ages, Russia was just beginning to emerge from pre-history.  The very earliest Russian state dates back to the fifth century and Russia was not Christianized until the tenth century.  

After this, Russia played catch-up.  

"By the 11th and 12th centuries, Russia was an integral part of Europe, and Kievan princes maintained close dynastic ties with the ruling houses of Western countries.  Their children married the sovereigns or princesses of England, Germany, France, Sweden, Hungary and Byzantium.  A daughter of Prince Yaroslav, Anna, married King Philip of France and was the only literate member of the French royal family, for whom she signed state documents herself."

"Prince Vladimir Monomakh (who ruled Kiev from 1112 to 1125), the grandson of Yaroslav, married Princess Gita, the daughter of the last Anglo-Saxon King, Harold, whose family had been obliged to abandon England after the Norman Conquest and to live as emigres in Kiev..."  

[So, a thousand years before the Romanov's had to flee Russia and settle in England, the English royal family fled England and settled in Kiev!!!!]

The Mongol invasion of Russia in 1237 wiped all of this out.  TWO-THIRDS of Russia's population died and the invasion set back Russia's development another two centuries.  At the same time, the Poles invaded from the west.  Only the area around Novgorod survived intact.  

The next huge catastrophe for Russia was the Oprichnina and the Time of Troubles which followed it about thirty years later.  

After that, what followed was the nightmare of the 20th century for Russia.  One hopes that Russia is now in a period of recovery.  If recovery includes mythologizing the story of the martyrdom of the imperial family, I'm not sure that's such a high price to pay.  Of course this process began long before anybody ever heard of Putin or Yeltsin.  There's a famous painting by a Russian artist (I think it was done in the '80's) which depicts Nicholas II holding the body of his dead son, Alexis, along with many other important events in Russia in the 20th century.  Over all of this, Christ is depicted looking down on Russia from above.  

It's as if, in its history, Russia takes two steps forward and one step back...
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 30, 2005, 09:27:55 AM
Russia has a fascinating history, but I'm not so sure its start was any more unsettled than that of more westerly countries.

Take Britain, for instance, which today we tend to think of as one of the most fortunate models of rational political evolution.  The Celtic and Saxon cultures were highly evolved, with strong traditions of literature and plastic arts, stable civil law systems, and growing success with central government.  This was all cut short by the invasion of the Normans in 1066.

Unlike the Mongol invasions of the Rus, which imposed two centuries of tribute but left indigenous social and political systems intact, the Norman invasions penetrated deeply into Saxon culture, replacing its legal and landholding systems, supplanting its nobility and social system, eventually even changing the course of its language.

And post-Norman England went through repeated civil wars; lived centuries under an intermittent siege mentality with Scotland, France, and Spain coming perilously near successful invasions; saw royal houses come and go;  lived through a prolonged series of post-Reformation religious struggles that tore at the fabric of society right down to the lowest levels.

I think the salient differences between a country like Great Britain and Russia have more to do with their modern histories than their earlier histories.  Britain has a "national myth" embodying a healthy view of itself because its people acquired a voice in their fates in the early modern era.  Modern Brits tend to think of their history as something in which their forebears participated, not as something that was done to them.  And that sense derives not from their early history, but from the turn toward participatory government they began to take in the 17th century -- at a time when Peter the Great was forcing his country to turn westward against its nature, was dictating the dress and hairstyles of his people, and was subordinating the Orthodox Church irrevocably to secular authority in order to consolidate autocracy across every element of individual life in Russia.

From another perspective, I think Germany is even more lacking in a "national myth" than is Russia.  One of the reasons Naziism was able to create collective fantasies of an "Aryan race", a "third empire", or a "German destiny" was the complete absence of any cohesive national identity in German society.  Modern Germans have responded by deciding to join the community of democratic nations and forge their identity going forward, not by canonizing the Kaiser and pining for the return of the Hohenzollerns.

Treated as children for too many centuries, Russians are still leafing through the fairy tale book for the tale that will bring them their deliverance from adult responsibility.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on May 30, 2005, 10:06:53 AM
Quote
There's a famous painting by a Russian artist (I think it was done in the '80's) which depicts Nicholas II holding the body of his dead son, Alexis, along with many other important events in Russia in the 20th century.  Over all of this, Christ is depicted looking down on Russia from above.


RichC, I know a painting that sounds very similar to the one you mention, I actually have a poster of it. It’s called "One Hundred Centuries" ("Sto Vekov") by Ilia Glazunov and caused something of a stir in Russia back in the early 1990s. Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, in trademark sailor suit, holding a candle, has pride of place front and center. Side by side with him are the first two kenotic saints, Princes Boris and Gleb. Around and behind them are arranged, a la the Sgt. Pepper album cover, famous faces from one thousand years of Russian history.

What’s interesting is that Russian saints and writers predominate in the first few rows. Saints come first, figures such as Sergei of Radonezh, Patriarch Hermogen, Seraphim of Sarov and John of Kronstadt. But Dostoevsky is immediately behind Alexei and Tolstoy is also in the second row, standing off to one side, brandishing an arm, with a placard around his neck with the word "Apostate" crossed out on it. Behind them come Derzhavin, Pushkin, Lermontov, and Gogol. Russian rulers themselves, even Peter and Catherine the Great, only start showing up in the fourth and fifth rows, along with Stolypin. I’ve looked and looked for Nicholas II somewhere in the immense crowd of historical figures, and I know he must be there, but I honestly can’t find him!

To the left and right of the painting are depicted the two great catastrophes of Russian history: on the left, the Mongol invasion, and on the right, the Bolsheviks (Stalin and Trotsky share a troika as they would never have done in real life!). Presiding over the entire painting is the figure of Christ, crucified.

I wouldn’t call it a great or even a nearly great painting, but someone could write an entire dissertation on the national mythology depicted in it, if they haven’t done so already.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Forum Admin on May 30, 2005, 10:09:33 AM
Whoa!  :o

Could we stray back onto the topic of the Postive attributes of Nicholas II?

While this discussion is fascinating, and rightly deserves its own thread should someone care to start it over in the Russian History section, it really is too far off topic here.
Thanks
rob
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on May 30, 2005, 10:19:06 AM
Quote
Russia has a fascinating history, but I'm not so sure its start was any more unsettled than that of more westerly countries.

Take Britain, for instance, which today we tend to think of as one of the most fortunate models of rational political evolution.  The Celtic and Saxon cultures were highly evolved, with strong traditions of literature and plastic arts, stable civil law systems, and growing success with central government.  This was all cut short by the invasion of the Normans in 1066.

Unlike the Mongol invasions of the Rus, which imposed two centuries of tribute but left indigenous social and political systems intact, the Norman invasions penetrated deeply into Saxon culture, replacing its legal and landholding systems, supplanting its nobility and social system, eventually even changing the course of its language.


I agree with RichC that comparing Russian history to that of Western Europe is not particularly helpful. The Mongol invasion cut Russia off from Western Europe for almost two centuries, at a crucial period in Western history - thus Russia missed out on both the High Middle Ages and the early Renaissance. Then, having thrown off the Mongol yoke, Russia was unlucky enough to get a tsar like Ivan the Terrible, who wreaked immense destruction not only on the Russian people and the national psyche but also on fledgling governmental institutions.  Nor was the Mongol invasion itself bloodless. Entire towns were massacred and regions laid waste. I think you are underestimating the devastation left in the wake of these two major catastrophes in Russian history, Tsarfan.

Quote
From another perspective, I think Germany is even more lacking in a "national myth" than is Russia.  One of the reasons Naziism was able to create collective fantasies of an "Aryan race", a "third empire", or a "German destiny" was the complete absence of any cohesive national identity in German society.  Modern Germans have responded by deciding to join the community of democratic nations and forge their identity going forward, not by canonizing the Kaiser and pining for the return of the Hohenzollerns.


But Germany was first bombed into total submission and then had to undergo the Nuremberg trials, which made national guilt and redemption something of a national myth. They also had the Marshall Plan and other forms of aid from the former Allies. Again, I don't find these useful comparisons. It is comparing apples and oranges, as RichC said.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on May 30, 2005, 10:21:51 AM
Quote
Whoa!  :o

Could we stray back onto the topic of the Postive attributes of Nicholas II?

While this discussion is fascinating, and rightly deserves its own thread should someone care to start it over in the Russian History section, it really is too far off topic here.
Thanks
rob


Sorry! I made that last post before seeing yours. Back on topic...
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Mike on May 30, 2005, 10:37:05 AM
Before everybody is back on topic, one last question: what's that story of Lenin's Baltic cruising aboard the Standart with Armand? I've never heard of such escapade.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: hikaru on May 30, 2005, 10:51:20 AM
Me too, I never heard about it.
Why Standart? Why not Polar Star which was in use even during blockade?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on May 30, 2005, 10:55:11 AM
Please consider a topic under Russian Revolution There are many threads about Lenin there, and his *amourous adventures* might make for a fun discussion.

rs

PS: As we seem prone to wandering off topic on this, maybe we should consider the notion that other than being polite and loving his family - Nicholas possessed limited virtues...

rs
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on May 30, 2005, 11:08:14 AM
I think  "positive attributes" about Nicholas II should continue.

Earlier,  I've given a list of historical events which occured during Nicholas II's reign, but, no one has made any comments.  It was under Nicholas II that a consitutional govt. was set up and a long list of new freedoms were given to the masses such as being able to own land.

Before we tear him apart for returning to absolute power.  Let's talk about what he was trying to achieve at this point in time.  Then will place the blame on the people who spoiled this attempt.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: BobAtchison on May 30, 2005, 11:10:39 AM
Rskkiya:

This is a thread on his POSITIVE VIRTUES.  Please resist the temptation to try and convert into into a negative one!

BTW Americans always have held a more positive opinion of Nicholas II (and Alexandra), even during his reign, expecially those who knew them.

Bob
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on May 30, 2005, 11:23:03 AM
BOB!
    I am not trying to turn this into Nicholas' Negative Attributes. We already have another thread for that. ;D
    I am still looking for more of his positive values and in fact in this thread I have mentioned some of them!    However I am not certain that being *declaired a saint* is of much worth in this case...

He was polite, he loved his wife and family and he spoke several languages....

Anything else?

rskkiya
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on May 30, 2005, 11:32:42 AM
Quote
Whoa!  :o

Could we stray back onto the topic of the Postive attributes of Nicholas II?

While this discussion is fascinating, and rightly deserves its own thread should someone care to start it over in the Russian History section, it really is too far off topic here.
Thanks
rob



I still think that Nicholas' behavior during his captivity is a big plus on his balance sheet and I thought a discussion of why he acted the way he did, making no attempts to escape, or putting strict conditions on any escape attempt should be discussed in the context of Russian history as a whole.  To a Russian, it was the Christian thing to do.  But to a westerner, it makes no sense.  I realize I got a bit carried away but so many of the comparisons of Nicholas or Russia to western European counterparts aren't really valid (at least as presented) in my humble view.  Where are the comparisons to China, or Turkey or India and their rulers?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on May 30, 2005, 11:43:23 AM
Quote


Treated as children for too many centuries, Russians are still leafing through the fairy tale book for the tale that will bring them their deliverance from adult responsibility.


Oh, but we westerners are so much smarter, aren't we.  No fairy tales here!


Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on May 30, 2005, 12:00:03 PM
Quote
I agree with RichC that comparing Russian history to that of Western Europe is not particularly helpful.


I'm actually of a mixed mind here.  (Remember, folks, I sometimes take extreme positions to elicit pushback that brings out more information and perspective . . . .)  I see your point, but I don't think countries like Russia evolve as cut off from other currents as we think.  I mean, there were actual discussions about a marriage between Elizabeth of England and the Russian royal house.

Forum Admin is right, though, about this being off topic.  I've opened a topic called Russia's History vs. the West . . . Comparable? under the Russian Imperial History thread, if anyone would like to take this up there.

Thanks.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: BobAtchison on May 30, 2005, 04:40:21 PM
Let us not forget the Hague and the World Court - a great initiative on Nicholas's part. People were shocked to see that come out of Russia.

Also, the Stolypin Land Reform - too bad that didn't have more time.

The Tsar was an advocate of new technologies (like aviation, motor vehicles, radio) and promoted them in Russia.  He was an optimist when it came to Russia's future.

Nicholas was faithful to his friends, loyal to his wife, and was a populist.  He honored his father and mother.

He was patriotic, faithful to his oaths and promises, self-sacrificing, disciplined, religious, artistic, loved music and animals, was patient and honest.

He understood the failings of human nature and the struggle we all have in trying to do what is right.

That's a start.

Bob
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Belochka on May 31, 2005, 02:02:27 AM
Quote
He was patriotic, faithful to his oaths and promises,

Bob


Always loyal to his people he believed in the welfare of the Russian nation. He sought to see Russia prosper as a strong competitive industrial nation.

At all times, his primary concern was to see that the WWI would conclude in Russia's favor. He was indeed a true patriot. Despite the knowledge that his generals failed to reciprocate their enduring faith and duty to their Emperor before his abdication, Nikolai firmly believed in the common good of his people.

Nikolai remained loyal to his people. Never did he utter a word of despair about his own detention, first in the Alexandrovsky Palace nor on his final journey to the cellar.

Despite the deprivations, verbal taunts and humiliation, with all the consequent events that followed, Nikolai carried himself with immense grace and humility.

One must be able to sense how humble and selfless a man he really was during his greatest trial of all.


Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: pinklady on May 31, 2005, 03:15:00 AM
Quote

Nikolai remained loyal to his people. Never did he utter a word of despair about his own detention, first in the Alexandrovsky Palace nor on his final journey to the cellar.

Despite the deprivations, verbal taunts and humiliation, with all the consequent events that followed, Nikolai carried himself with immense grace and humility.

One must be able to sense how humble and selfless a man he really was during his greatest trial of all.



In his humiliating imprisonment he was very humble and never complained, in fact he wanted news of Russia and was always concerned for Russia and Russians welfare.

Nicholas had many worthy attributes. As a father and husband he was  a role model for others, I think, and Alix was a very lucky woman.

I have also read many times that his eyes were the most beautiful blue and is interesting to note as some people believe the eyes are the window to the soul.


Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: BobAtchison on May 31, 2005, 09:54:30 AM
Bishop Vassili told me many times that Nicholas was a "Passion Bearer" someone who, like Christ, summitted meekly and suffered death.  Vladyka said this was the greatest blessing and spiritual accomplishment any Christian could attain.  He also said it was a great mystery that few could undestand or accept.  That was true for me.  I still don't understand it completely.

Bob
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on May 31, 2005, 03:59:02 PM
Quote

I have also read many times that his eyes were the most beautiful blue and is interesting to note as some people believe the eyes are the window to the soul.




Pinklady
   Eye colour is nice, but its no virtue!

Bob
   I am happy that you have found comfort in the idea that Nicholas was a *passion bearer* but, as you have stated, this virtue is very difficult to understand so please in the name of all non believers could we discuss any of his virtues that all people could recognize - such as honesty, kindness, charity or even good posture!?
I would be sad to think that there were few other virtues to N. other than his obscure sanctity!

rskkiya
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on May 31, 2005, 06:06:05 PM
Bob, I and others have mentioned positive attributes but rskkiya and others are avoiding these issues which have nothing to do with the religious angle.

>>Nov 1906 Agrarian Reform Act,  which ended the communal (mir) system of landholding and enabled each peasants to withdraw from the commune at will, receiving his own share of land in private ownership. <<

This affected every peasant....  Well, I think every peasant.  Jews could have been an accpetion.  So,  someone in the know about the Jewish history in Russia will have to tell us if they were part of this Reform Act.  With or without the Jewish community, this still affected he masses in a positive direction rather than a negitive direction.

AGRBear

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on May 31, 2005, 06:25:49 PM
Agrbear !
Why are you trying to imagine that I am ignoring these points? So far we all seem to agree that N. was kind, patient, loved his family, and was fluent in various languages... THESE POINTS KEEP BEING BROUGHT UP AGAIN AND AGAIN and I am not disputing them, but I am concerned when we start wandering down the  *holy road*  that obfuscates all statements other than "HE WAS A SAINT/PASSION BEARER" .

As I am not a believer (and I may guess that I am not the only one here) could we stay with virtues other than the "HOLY"?


rskkiya
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 01, 2005, 09:14:01 AM
Wasn't this a very positive part of Nicholas II's reign?

>>Nov 1906 Agrarian Reform Act,  which ended the communal (mir) system of landholding and enabled each peasants to withdraw from the commune at will, receiving his own share of land in private ownership. <<

Nothing religious about this question.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on June 01, 2005, 11:15:15 AM
Quote
Wasn't this a very positive part of Nicholas II's reign?

>>Nov 1906 Agrarian Reform Act,  which ended the communal (mir) system of landholding and enabled each peasants to withdraw from the commune at will, receiving his own share of land in private ownership. <<

Nothing religious about this question.

AGRBear


I always thought this was Stolypin's work.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 01, 2005, 11:53:18 AM
If Nicholas II didn't want this Reform then it would never have happened.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on June 01, 2005, 01:10:22 PM
Ok, let's give Nicholas credit for approving Stolypin's land reform policies.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 01, 2005, 04:00:30 PM
     Unfortunately this *reform* was very unsuccessful in much of Russia - anywhere that the soil was not rich - the collective farming established under the mir was in fact the best way to even out the distribution of 'good' or 'bad' plots from season to season and to limit most of the poor harvests ...
   While some farmers did benefit, most of the peasants in the 'heartland' of Russia did not receive any help from this work of Stolypin/Nicholas' "largesse"...

Sorry!
rskkiya

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 01, 2005, 04:01:58 PM
Take a look at the land reform created by Stolypin under Nicholas II:

http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~pvteach/imprus/papers/09b.html

>>Witte's policy of agrarian reform in 1905 had failed and Stolypin's new administration in 1906 moved towards a policy of peasant land reform. There was a rapid change in the Russian Countryside between 1906 and 1917 which went from communal to personal tenure and from interstripped fields to consolidated farms. He reorganised landholdings allowing peasant communes the right to dissolve themselves. His main goal in the agrarian reforms was to make the peasant a hereditary owner of a consolidated parcel of land instead of a temporary holder ( as was the case for the bulk of peasants who lived in repartitional communes. This reform also aimed at making the peasant a law-abiding citizen . If the peasant became owner of his own property it was expected he would respect noble estates and in this way, law and order would be established in the countryside. Stolypin intended to gradually transform the peasants into landowners without hurting the interests of large noble landowners.<<

Since some of my ancestors and realtives were peasants who greatly benifited from the land reform,  I can't agree with rskkiya conclusion.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 01, 2005, 04:03:58 PM
I am familiar with that post ...It would probably be better to point out Nicholas' own 'good points' rather than let him be blamed or praised for other people's work.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 01, 2005, 04:07:28 PM
See article:

http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/HistoryWorld/RussiaFormerSovietUnion/~~/c2Y9YWxsJnNzPWF1dGhvci5hc2Mmc2Q9YXNjJnBmPTkwJnZpZXc9dXNhJnByPTEwJmJvb2tDb3ZlcnM9eWVzJmNpPTAxOTgyMDY1Njk=

>>Since the collapse of the USSR there has been a growing interest in the Stolypin Land Reform as a possible model for post-Communist agrarian development. Using recent theoretical and empirical advances in Anglo-American research, Dr Pallot examines how peasants throughout Russia received, interpreted, and acted upon the government's attempts to persuade them to quit the commune and set up independent farms.<<
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 01, 2005, 04:10:38 PM
Quote
I am familiar with that post ...It would probably be better to point out Nicholas' own 'good points' rather than let him be blamed or praised for other people's work.


I thought one of your agruments about Nicholas II was the fact that he was far too stupid to find good men to accomplish good things.  So, here is an example of Nicholas II finding the right person and then having success.

Nicholas II couldn't be everywhere and do everything so let's show he did get the right people for some of  the jobs he wanted accomplished.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 01, 2005, 04:17:29 PM
I think some of us can prove he was a "critical thinker", if we are allowed to  shed the communist blanket which they  flung over the top of his policies with the hopes of hiding Nicholas II's posititive actions made for his people.   ;D

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on June 01, 2005, 04:29:52 PM
I took a look and it's all about Stolypin!  I think it is wrong to award credit to Nicholas for policies that were undertaken at the PM's initiative.  That's like giving the Kaiser credit for Bismarck's accomplishments.  Nicholas approved of Stolypin's land reform program -- great.  But these policies did not emanate from Nicholas II.  

I think it would be better to give Nichoas credit for hiring Stolypin in the first place.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 01, 2005, 05:09:51 PM
Isn't that what a good leader does.  He finds the right people for the right job?

I don't understand the debate of who get's the credit?  If things had gone wrong as they had under whats-his-name, Witte, [I think it was],  Nicholas II was given the blame.  Why can't he get the credit for getting the right person?

AGRBear

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 01, 2005, 05:28:56 PM
Nicholas appointed Stolypin to replace Goremykin as Prime Minister.

Under Nicholas II Stolypin did the following:

(1) Russia in 1906 was plagued by revolutionaries who were  leftist organizations who were waging campaigns against the autocracy by assassinating policemen and officers police,  officials and bureaucrats. To respond to these attacks Stolypin introduced a system of military tribunals that held quick trials of any accused rebels. If the accused was sentenced to death, as often happened, the sentence would be carried out within a day. Thousands of Russian radicals were killed under Stolypin's system. The gallows hence acquired the nickname Stolypin's necktie.

(2)  Duma
On July 22 (July 9, Old Style) 1906, after the discontent of some of its more radical members to co-operate with the government and calls for land reform,  Stolypin hoped to quell dissental by removing some of the causes of grievance amongst the peasantry. Thus, he introduced important land reforms.

Stolypin also tried to improve the lives of the urban workers and worked to increase the power of local governments.

Stolypin changed the nature of the Duma to attempt to make it more willing to pass legislation proposed by the government. After dissolving the Second Duma in June 1907, he changed the weight of votes more in favour of the nobility and wealthy, reducing the value of lower class votes. This effected the elections to the Third Duma, which returned much more conservative members, more willing to co-operate with the government.

(3) Murder: On September 14 (September 1 Old Style) 1911, Stolypin was assassinated by a leftist radical, Dmitri Bogrov, while attending a performance at the Kiev Opera House.  Stolypin died four days later.

[The source of this article is Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petr_Stolypin ]

Although I can't agree with the reduction of the numbers of those who  were  representating of the lower class, I'd have to read more about what was happening to have caused this step backward.

Some claim that Stolypin's political life was drawing to and end under Nicholas II but will never know because it was the radicals who murdered him.

Why did Lenin want Stolypin dead?  Some historians believe the radicals  and Lenin were  worried that  Stolypin success  in helping Russia toward a better life would avoid a violent revolution which the readicals wanted and needed.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 01, 2005, 06:52:50 PM
Quote
What were Nicholas II's positive attributes?


back on topic....
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 02, 2005, 10:26:33 AM
10 Aug 1905 - Nicholas II created a manifesto creating the "Imperial Duma"

AGRBear

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on June 02, 2005, 10:41:44 AM
Yes . . . in the midst of a revolution brought on by his inept policies, with an uncle standing beside him threatening to blow out his own brains if Nicholas didn't sign.

Nicholas had some positive traits, but submitting resentfully to a Duma under extreme duress is not one of them.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 02, 2005, 04:01:54 PM
18/30 Oct 1905
The scene between Nicholas II and Grand Duke Nikolai occured over   Witte's October Manifesto granting of civil liberties, consitutional order; cabinet government; and a Legislative Duma elected on a democratic franchise.  And, yes GD Nikolai did threaten to shoot himself if Nicholas II didn't sign the October Manifesto.  Knowing GD Nikolai's useage of dramatics,  Nicholas II then turned to him and ask if he would accept the crown and thereafter rule Russia.... GD Nickolai was taken back and fell silent.... Scene was over.  We don't know if this scene of GD Nikolai had any real influence on Nicholas II.  All we really known is Nicholas II  signed the October Manifesto.  And, GD Nikolai told his version over and over but he always left out Nicholas II's offer of the crown.

"...From all over Russia they cried for it, they begged for it, and around me many -- very many--- held the same views... There was no other way out than to cross onesself and give what everyone was asking...."

Nicholas II
19 Oct 1905
Letter to Dowager Marie


Since Nicholas II wasn't a Ivan "the Terrible" or a Lenin or a Stalin, Nicholas II would have continued to bend to the pressures of his people and probably would have ended his reign as a constitutional monarch.

If he had not, then his heir [assuming Alexei would not have survived past his early 20s] GD Michael, or his heir GD Krill would have taken up this role.

Of course, the traitorus Uncles, Generals and others didn't have the patience to wait.  Nicholas II abdicated. And, the Bolsheviks under Lenin had their own ideas as to who should rule Russia and had their counter-revolution....

AGRBear

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Forum Admin on June 02, 2005, 05:07:44 PM
rskiyya,
This thread IS about Positive attributes. There is a separate thread for his negative traits. IF you wish to dispute someone else's posts, fine, BUT please limit yourself to the discussion of his positive traits here, and his negative ones in the other thread.

Thanks
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Forum Admin on June 02, 2005, 05:12:14 PM
Quote
   How about Nicholas'  personal interests -- we know about photography, but did the Tsar have any other "modern" (early 20th century) interests... did he collect phonographs? Was he interested in Jazz? Ragtime?

rskkiya


Nicholas II eagerly grabbed on to the modern technology of the automobile.  He had a movie cinema installed in the AP and showed the latest films on the Standart and in Livadia.  Nicholas had the very first radio telephone in the world.  Nicholas had Tesla install the first electrical generator in Russia, and Edison install the first telephones in Russia.  Under his patronage, Russian aircraft were as advanced as any other being built by the time WWI broke out.

He took a keen interest in the most up to date Agricultural and manufacturing techiniques of the day.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on June 02, 2005, 05:14:51 PM
Quote
Since Nicholas II wasn't a Ivan "the Terrible" or a Lenin or a Stalin, Nicholas II would have continued to bend to the pressures of his people and probably would have ended his reign as a constitutional monarch.

Of course, the traitorus Uncles, Generals and others didn't have the patience to wait.  Nicholas II abdicated.


The abdication came twelve years after the October Manifesto.  During that time Nicholas had the election laws rewritten twice to constrict the voting franchise in order to put the Duma into more conservative hands.  With but a few exceptions, he also installed progressively more reactionary ministers.

How can you possibly conclude from this that Nicholas had any intention to move further toward constitutional government if only the mean uncles would have left him to his own devices?

I know it's hard to come up with positive attributes of Nicholas once you get past his private family life and his hobbies, but must we really go to this level of distortion of the facts to pull a rabbit out of the hat?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: 30_Dollar_Princess on June 02, 2005, 05:37:25 PM
Quote
Lets admit that N might have been a sweet guy and fun at parties, but he was not a political success!


:D :D and that about nails it!

It's also one of the reasons I like the Nick-ster. He WAS a sweet guy, and not a political creature, just like the vast majority of us.

Nicky was a decent man; loved his family; tried to keep the women in his life off of each others throats, and deal with the stress of a sick chilld...but that is the beauty of him...and why he resonates with so many of us.
He was an average man...in a jaw droppingly UN-average situation.

I doubt very many of us could have fielded all of the political games, back-biting, and temptations to be arrogant and abusive that Nicholas faced every single day of his life.
Heck, I see people on this site who can't respond to posts with civility and a lack of arrogance and there is NOTHING at stake here, not really.

Nicholas must have had a core of extreme decency to maintain his kindness and self-control DESPITE the psychological effects (and they must have been legion) of being told that you are somehow holy and above other mortals, and can heal with a touch. A lesser man would have turned into a monster of hubris!


That said, poor Nicky was totally in the wrong job at the wrong time.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 02, 2005, 05:50:21 PM
Quote
Round and round the mulberry bush !

Hmmm...
    NOW  Nicholas is kind and good and wants to bend --BUT the evil uncles won't let him? Who was the Tsar? The "uncles" or the weak-willed Nicholas?
     There is a very fine point between "kindness' and "maliability" agrbear -- think about it...

rs

We were having better luck discussing his stamp collection and his love of flowers...
Lets admit that N might have been a sweet guy and fun at parties, but he was not a political success!


Your haste to be witty has caused you to misinterupt my post.  I did not say Nicholas bend under pressure willingly.  Nicholas II never wanted the role of a consitutional monarch.  But once the war was over and there was real pressure, again, I think he would have given into the role of consitutional monarch by the end of his reign....

His uncles...  Well, what can I say about them?   During all of Nicholas II's reign the strong minded uncles tried to rule as if they were Tsars of  Russia from their various positions and they forgot the importance of "real co-ordonation" between a Grand Duke and their Tsar.

A ruthless  Tsar Nicholas II could  have loped off at least one uncles head because that would have been the only way that  the others would give him their full attention but Nicholas II wasn't and didn't.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 02, 2005, 06:14:37 PM
Hey,  I'm just trying to find some positive attributes about Nicholas II and because of all of his "bad press" it's not a very easy task.

So, where are we?

I think we're still I at the point of trying to get pass this kind of thinking:   What went wrong in Russia was all of Nicholas II's fault and what went right was just because  of sheer dumb luck on Nicholas II's part.

AGRBear

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on June 02, 2005, 06:34:32 PM
Quote

Nicholas must have had a core of extreme decency to maintain his kindness and self-control DESPITE the psychological effects (and they must have been legion) of being told that you are somehow holy and above other mortals, and can heal with a touch. A lesser man would have turned into a monster of hubris!



I agree.

There was something on the radio about this the other day.  Psychologists have actually come up with a label for this condition and are calling it Acquired Situational Narcissism.  When one is constantly surrounded by sycophantic people (a'la Michael Jackson) you are bound to get completely screwed up unless you are well grounded in the first place.  

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on June 02, 2005, 06:59:46 PM
Quote
I think we're still I at the point of trying to get pass this kind of thinking:   What went wrong in Russia was all of Nicholas II's fault and what went right was just because  of sheer dumb luck on Nicholas II's part.


Fair enough.

Restating my earlier point more politely, though, I really cannot detect any tendency on Nicholas' part to move toward more constitutional government.  From his "senseless dreams" speech to his suspensions of the Duma, he manifested every sign of determination to bequeth the autocracy intact, insofar as he could find the means to do so.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Fawzia on June 02, 2005, 08:02:09 PM
I don't think he would have moved to a more constitutional government either.   He believed that he was doing his duty by God.   I don't think they would've gone on to be like England, and I don't think that they really could of.   Well, they could of, but would it have worked out as well?   Totally different circumstances going on in each country.   If they had followed the exact same plan, it still would've worked out differently.    Totally different situations.

Sure I think Nicholas was a nice guy.   An ordinary guy thrown into extraordinary circumstances because of an accident of birth.   He ended up being Tsar at probably the worst time to have to be one, and he was not up to the job.    He couldn't be.   He was not the type, so to speak.   He himself said he didn't know the business of ruling, and that he was not up for the job.   But sure, he was a nice guy.   Just not Tsar-material.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 03, 2005, 04:55:38 PM
    The problem being that while some posters here are willing to agree that he loved his family Yes, he was polite Yes and he was fluent in several languages Yes... others still want to present him as a "great tsar! " :-X :-X :-X
     He was most likely a good man, but its very difficult to prove that last point. :-/

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Fawzia on June 03, 2005, 06:44:37 PM
Yeah, nice guy, but I wouldn't have wanted him to be the guy in charge of my country.    :-/
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Georgiy on June 08, 2005, 03:49:18 PM
A niggly point, but St Ioann of Kronstadt wasn't glorified during the reign of Nicholas II, but only in the last few decades (I can't remember when though). It is interesting to read in places that the Synod of the time were against the glorification of St Serafim of Sarov, and yet he is now (and since his glorification) one of the most popular saints both in Russia and in the Russian diaspora.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 08, 2005, 06:14:03 PM
Quote
   N II seems to have been aware (and I can grant that to some degree it may have been an intuitive awareness, but awareness none-the-less) that the autocracy was a system which adequately reflected the rule of the "High God" in the cosmos and had been obviously warranted by Tradition in a form which to a great extent reflected the nature of the Russian nation itself.  In his age, this form was under great negative pressure from within and without Russia, however the Tsar was never in himself entirely divided in his own personal assessment of the government of Russia until the very end.  
     N II very likely knew what had been foreseen by visionaries in Russia for hundreds of years, after all Russia had been teetering on the edge of chaos for some time, but he also believed in final justice however that finality might be defined.  
    The essential remainder of the rule of N II rests in the concept of the Hermetic monarchy whereby the base elements of the lower world could be transformed through the sacred art into Gold.
    This was a transformation that had been guarded by the sacred institutions of the Russian people.  He likely knew how much the Church would suffer if the Imperial regime should fail, and therefore one of the more important aspects of his rule went toward the self-rule of the Church, and also expressed in his own personal push for many new canonizations: St. Seraphim, St. John of Kronstadt, etc.  


   Well... This comes back to the argument that he was a SAINT so just stop asking all these difficult questions about what exactly were his positive virtues  ...
   Sorry - but I see this attempt to coopt metaphysical 'stuff' as some sort of otherworldly justification for Nicholas' complete lack of political sense and overt fatalism to be truly  tragic. He might actually have been a thoughtful, kind man - but any likelyhood of that being examined  rather gets lost when we all start "praying!"

Do go ahead and 'light your candles...'

rskkiya

PS: From what little I have read, Hermeticism was NOT a concept in harmony with the Orthodox Church.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on June 08, 2005, 07:10:57 PM
Quote

    
Do go ahead and 'light your candles...'



Well, rskkiya, you know what they say, "It's better to light a candle than to sit & curse in the dark!"   ;) "And if we all should light just one little candle, what a bright world it would be!"   :D
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on June 08, 2005, 08:19:04 PM
Quote
*Blows out Bluetoria's candle*   I have to agree with Rskkyia.    :D


But all the darkness in the world cannot put out the light of a single candle!  ;)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 09, 2005, 08:35:21 AM
Bluetoria :-/
   My remarks about  "lighting candles" was meant as a rather simple minded preferance to romantic adoration  rather than a more thoughtful examination of the facts.
   I am still convinced that HERMETICISM is not a valid perspective to take in this conversation, because it blurrs the evidence - AND - because to the best of my understanding Alchemy and Hermetic philosophy were not accepted as part of Orthodox Church teachings.

rskkiya
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on June 09, 2005, 09:13:06 AM
Quote
Bluetoria :-/
    My remarks about  "lighting candles" was meant as a rather simple minded preferance to romantic adoration  rather than a more thoughtful examination of the facts.
    rskkiya


I know, rskkiya, what you meant but it was phrased in such a way that it appeared to be mockery, hence my reply. The fact that you & many other people may not view Nicholas' ' 'sainthood' as a positive attribute, does not necessarily negate its value. I, for example may not view ruthlessness as a positive attribute in a person, while others may think it is a vital characteristic of a strong ruler.
This, of course, begs the question, "What is meant by a positive attribute?" Is it subjective? Perhaps so. In which case, those who believe that Nicholas' sanctity is a positive attribute hold views which are as valid as those who do not believe it to be so.

p.s. if by 'simple-minded adoration' you were implying that simple-minded = rather naive & foolish, I would disagree. In my experience adoration is anything but simple minded & requires a great deal of thought & study.
If, however, you mean simple-minded as in uncluttered by unnecessary materialistic or ego-centric inhibitions, then I agree.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on June 09, 2005, 09:40:22 AM
I agree with you there, Fawzia. The fact that they died in such circumstances certainly adds to the romanticism of the 'Atlantean' world which they inhabited & which vanished forever (along with all the halcyon days of European monarchies) in the mess of WWI. I think had they gone into exile they might largely have been forgotten.
But the fact is they did die in such circumstances & the death of any young(ish) person adds to their 'myth' - like Princess Diana, like Marlyn Monroe, Eva Peron etc. etc.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on June 09, 2005, 11:22:08 AM
Quote
I agree with you there, Fawzia. The fact that they died in such circumstances certainly adds to the romanticism of the 'Atlantean' world which they inhabited & which vanished forever (along with all the halcyon days of European monarchies) in the mess of WWI. I think had they gone into exile they might largely have been forgotten.
But the fact is they did die in such circumstances & the death of any young(ish) person adds to their 'myth' - like Princess Diana, like Marlyn Monroe, Eva Peron etc. etc.


I agree, but I wonder if there would be such a cult around the figure of Nicholas II if he had died alone. What if Alexandra and the children had been spared? Surely it's the image of an entire family, husband, wife and five children, being murdered in cold blood that sends such a shiver down our spines. And the fact that Nicholas knew before he died that his family would be killed with him seems the worst, most cruel sentence you could pass on anyone, but especially on such a devoted family man. I am generally a critic of Nicholas as a tsar, but even I don't think he deserved such a terrible fate.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Robert_Hall on June 09, 2005, 11:46:45 AM
MY thought would be that he would be a footnote. Much like Maxillian of Mexico. A worthy bio, but not much of a martyr.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on June 09, 2005, 11:59:12 AM
Yes, Robert, exactly. At the very best he would have been like Charles I - a martyr to some people, but not to most.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on June 09, 2005, 12:09:17 PM
I am struck by the strength of the debate about the divine status of Nicholas and his family and the lack of a comparable debate, then or now, regarding Louis XVI and his family, whose final months of captivity and deaths were in many regards worse than the Romanovs'.

I think it is, in part, a reflection of the differing times and a modern world devoid of so many of the old certainties.

A theologist, commenting on the recent upsurge of "new age" beliefs, wrote that when people abandon their belief in a traditional God, they don't replace it with a belief in nothing.  They replace it with a belief in anything.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on June 09, 2005, 12:18:56 PM
I don't think that's quite fair, Tsarfan. I can think of several reasons right off the top of my head for why the murder of the Russian IF has struck the public imagination more than the fate of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette's family. First of all, the daughter of Louis and MA survived to tell her story - Marie Therese. Whereas in the case of the Romanovs all five of their children (and their servants) were brutally murdered. Second, the murder of the Romanovs occurred at the beginning of the twentieth century, an era much more immediate to us. Third, the French Terror was much shorter in duration than its Russian equivalent, which went on for several generations and left a much deeper wound on the national psyche.

But more to the point, I think that there is a cult surrounding the memory of Marie Antoinette, it is just that the Catholic Church is far more strict in its rules for canonizing saints, and there is no special category for those believers who die violently, but nevertheless forgive their murderers - as there is in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Speaking of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, it's curious that in a forum devoted to royalty, there is as yet no special group of threads for the French royal families, either the Valois or the Bourbons or the Bonapartes.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on June 09, 2005, 12:57:22 PM
Quote
I can think of several reasons right off the top of my head for why the murder of the Russian IF has struck the public imagination more than the fate of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette's family. First of all, the daughter of Louis and MA survived to tell her story - Marie Therese. Whereas in the case of the Romanovs all five of their children (and their servants) were brutally murdered. Second, the murder of the Romanovs occurred at the beginning of the twentieth century, an era much more immediate to us. Third, the French Terror was much shorter in duration than its Russian equivalent, which went on for several generations and left a much deeper wound on the national psyche.


I said the Bourbons' fate was worse "in many regards", not in all.

The ways in which it was worse:

-  Louis and Marie Antoinette were hauled to their deaths in tumbrils and publically beheaded in front of leering crowds
-  they knew the day and hour ahead of time and had abandoned all hope of rescue
-  they were imprisoned in isolation from each other near the end, not knowing the fate of their children
-  Marie Antoinette lived some time in the knowledge that her husband had already been executed and that she was likely to follow
-  Marie Antoinette saw several of her loyal retainers torn to shreds by a mob outside her cell window
-  Louis and Marie Antoinette were subjected to humiliating public trials, with Marie Antoinette forced to watch her brainwashed son testify to incest with her
-  while the daughter survived, the son apparently died in prison, probably of neglect and/or torture

Yet Louis and Marie Antoinette both went to their deaths with calm dignity and their faith in their God intact.

I agree that the proximity to us in time of the Romanovs' deaths makes it more immediate to many.

I do not agree that Louis and Marie A. are less remembered today because of the brevity of the Terror.  It was a hugely dislocating event, and one that particularly attacked the institution of religion and all its associations in the popular mind -- got rid of the sabbath and went to a ten-day week, renamed the months, outlawed the priesthood, etc.  The Terror also was played out in the open, with gruesome mass executions attended by the population in crowded plazas, which seared its way into the popular imagination up to the present day.  I have seen more books on shelves, more courses in college curricula, more programs on the History Channel about the French Revolution, the Terror, the guillotine, and Louis and Marie Antoinette than I have ever found on the Russian Revolution and the end of the Romanovs.

Quote
But more to the point, I think that there is a cult surrounding the memory of Marie Antoinette, it is just that the Catholic Church is far more strict in its rules for canonizing saints, and there is no special category for those believers who die violently, but nevertheless forgive their murderers - as there is in the Russian Orthodox Church.


Good point.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on June 09, 2005, 01:23:16 PM
Quote

I said the Bourbons' fate was worse "in many regards", not in all.

The ways in which it was worse:

-  Louis and Marie Antoinette were hauled to their deaths in tumbrils and publically beheaded in front of leering crowds
-  they knew the day and hour ahead of time and had abandoned all hope of rescue
-  they were imprisoned in isolation from each other near the end, not knowing the fate of their children
-  Marie Antoinette lived some time in the knowledge that her husband had already been executed and that she was likely to follow
-  Marie Antoinette saw several of her loyal retainers torn to shreds by a mob outside her cell window
-  Louis and Marie Antoinette were subjected to humiliating public trials, with Marie Antoinette forced to watch her brainwashed son testify to incest with her
-  while the daughter survived, the son apparently died in prison, probably of neglect and/or torture

Yet Louis and Marie Antoinette both went to their deaths with calm dignity and their faith in their God intact.

I agree that the proximity to us in time of the Romanovs' deaths makes it more immediate to many.

I do not agree that Louis and Marie A. are less remembered today because of the brevity of the Terror.  It was a hugely dislocating event, and one that particularly attacked the institution of religion and all its associations in the popular mind -- got rid of the sabbath and went to a ten-day week, renamed the months, outlawed the priesthood, etc.  The Terror also was played out in the open, with gruesome mass executions attended by the population in crowded plazas, which seared its way into the popular imagination up to the present day.  I have seen more books on shelves, more courses in college curricula, more programs on the History Channel about the French Revolution, the Terror, the guillotine, and Louis and Marie Antoinette than I have ever found on the Russian Revolution and the end of the Romanovs.


Good point.


So now we are reduced to comparing who suffered more; Nicholas, Alexandra and their children, or Louis, Marie Antoinette and their children.  What's the point?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on June 09, 2005, 01:36:17 PM
It was part of a discussion about why Nicholas and Alexandra are candidates for sainthood arising from their murders.  I think it's legitimate to test the proposition by drawing a comparison to other possibly similar cases that yielded a different outcome.

What's the problem with that?

Are we allowed only to rehash Nichlolas and Alexandra's suffering endlessly on this board without making reference to anyone else's for calibration?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on June 09, 2005, 01:37:50 PM
I agreewith you, Tsarfan. It seemed a reasonable discussion. If one asks 'What's the point?' one might as well ask, "What is the point of anything?"
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on June 09, 2005, 02:23:04 PM
Quote
It was part of a discussion about why Nicholas and Alexandra are candidates for sainthood arising from their murders.  I think it's legitimate to test the proposition by drawing a comparison to other possibly similar cases that yielded a different outcome.

What's the problem with that?

Are we allowed only to rehash Nichlolas and Alexandra's suffering endlessly on this board without making reference to anyone else's for calibration?


Sigh.  We've already been over this.  Apples & Oranges...remember?

We already know why they were made saints.  Making a point-by-point list is not going to help us understand it any better.  I doubt that the folks who made NAOTMA saints were concerned with what happend with Louis and MA.

It's clear that N and A's sainthood really bothers you, Tsarfan.  You need to make your peace with it.  It's time to move on.

But if you are unable to let go and you really want to make a case against their sainthood, perhaps you can find someone else to compare them to -- someone Orthodox perhaps, whose candidacy relies on the same set of rules?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on June 09, 2005, 02:45:43 PM
Quote
It's clear that N and A's sainthood really bothers you, Tsarfan.  You need to make your peace with it.  It's time to move on.


Yes, it does bother me.  And their sainthood clearly pleases others who bring it up time and time again.  So what?  That's what keeps these threads going.

I have seen very few discussions on this board where anyone made a point once and never came back to it when the topic re-emerged for discussion.  (Even Nicholas' biggest fans would have trouble generating a 7-page thread on his "Positive Attributes" without revisiting the same issues over and over from slightly different angles with different discussion partners.)

But I will never again mention my views on their sainthood as long as anyone else who has already spoken on the topic plays by the same rules.  Fair enough for you?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on June 09, 2005, 03:08:46 PM
Quote

Yes, it does bother me.  And their sainthood clearly pleases others who bring it up time and time again.  So what?  That's what keeps these threads going.

I have seen very few discussions on this board where anyone made a point once and never came back to it when the topic re-emerged for discussion.  (Even Nicholas' biggest fans would have trouble generating a 7-page thread on his "Positive Attributes" without revisiting the same issues over and over from slightly different angles with different discussion partners.)

But I will never again mention my views on their sainthood as long as anyone else who has already spoken on the topic plays by the same rules.  Fair enough for you?


Well, I was joking when I said you need to make peace with the Romanov's sainthood, but only partially.  I did make a suggestion on where you could take the discussion, didn't I?  

Here's another question; would you feel better, somehow if the Pope woke up tomorrow and made Louis and Marie Antoinette, and their son saints?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: 30_Dollar_Princess on June 09, 2005, 03:22:47 PM
Is there not a seperate thread on here that discusses the pros and cons of the IF's canonization?
I'm sure it would be pretty active if all of the debate here is any indication.
Since it is all virtual there could be no bodily injury.

People seem to feel  terribly strongly about the topic and I'd be interested in hearing a  reasoned discussion as to just WHY this bothers people who aren't even particularly religious...OR members of the Orthodox Church!

Just so no one hunts anyone else down and keys their car or chucks eggs through their windows in a fit of pique.

Revolutions have begun for less. ;)

P.S. I personally find the comparisons between the murder of  the IF  and Louis & Marie Antoinette very interesting and apt.

P.S.S. Humans ARE creatures of feeling and emotion (thank GOD, or whatEVER you believe in for that!) so it is hardly to be surprised that we are prone to react emotionally to the fates of the IF.  It is a human story with human appeal. We are not discussing the point by point breakdown of an office chair here.

Looking at this event from a wholistic perspective rather than reducing it to an arms length  recitation of emperical data lends the story an immediacy that  I hardly think it would have were it simply an excercise in  seeing who can collect the most historical marginalia and prove themselves SUPER RESEARCHER...LORD OF THE STACKS!

Anyhow, I'll shut up now and go back to coloring my pictures.

--Tinny
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on June 09, 2005, 03:42:07 PM
Quote

P.S. I personally find the comparisons between the murder of  the IF  and Louis & Marie Antoinette very interesting and apt.



Me too, but not for purposes of debating why the IF were made saints.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Georgiy on June 09, 2005, 04:24:13 PM
Probably more appropriate on the other thread about the IF's sainthood, but Tsarfan, the IF have not replaced God, nor are revered as divine at all. They are Saints not Gods. They are no more God than the Theotokos Mary, Serafim of Sarov or Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra in Lycia are. We can venerate them and ask for their intercessions for us to God, but we can not and do not worship them Worship belongs to God alone.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 09, 2005, 04:54:28 PM

The ninth thing on my "positive" list was:
9. March 1904 - Relief for Jews

What kind of relief was this?  

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 09, 2005, 09:00:33 PM
Quote

I know, rskkiya, what you meant but it was phrased in such a way that it appeared to be mockery, hence my reply. The fact that you & many other people may not view Nicholas' ' 'sainthood' as a positive attribute, does not necessarily negate its value. I, for example may not view ruthlessness as a positive attribute in a person, while others may think it is a vital characteristic of a strong ruler.
This, of course, begs the question, "What is meant by a positive attribute?" Is it subjective? Perhaps so. In which case, those who believe that Nicholas' sanctity is a positive attribute hold views which are as valid as those who do not believe it to be so.

p.s. if by 'simple-minded adoration' you were implying that simple-minded = rather naive & foolish, I would disagree. In my experience adoration is anything but simple minded & requires a great deal of thought & study.
If, however, you mean simple-minded as in uncluttered by unnecessary materialistic or ego-centric inhibitions, then I agree.


OK
SIGH
I was hoping that we might please move away from the saint issue if we were to have a real discussion of any positive atributes that Nicholas might actually have posssessed - rather than those which the Orthodox Church have 'given' him.

{As I was under the impression that you were a Catholic  - I am not sure just how important his holiness was to you.  Are you going to convert?}

rskkiya
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 09, 2005, 09:05:28 PM
Quote
The ninth thing on my "positive" list was:
9. March 1904 - Relief for Jews

What kind of relief was this?  

AGRBear


I should like to know what that is too...
BOB,
You remarked on a conspiratorial connection between Rasputin's death, Nicholas & Alix and some notion of liberating the Russian Jews, on the  'Alexandra' thread - I must ask AGAIN - PLEASE site a source!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on June 10, 2005, 10:49:38 AM
Quote

I was hoping that we might please move away from the saint issue if we were to have a real discussion of any positive atributes that Nicholas might actually have posssessed - rather than those which the Orthodox Church have 'given' him.


I take your point, rskkiya & I agree, but I suppose one has to take into account that the Orthodox Church must have looked at his positive attributes before declaring him a saint, which is a reason to include this in the discussion.

Quote
{As I was under the impression that you were a Catholic  - I am not sure just how important his holiness was to you.  Are you going to convert?}



My religion is not really relevant when I consider the 'example' of other people (I greatly admire & respect the example & spirituality of, for example Gandhi). I do not consider myself to be in any position to judge the holiness of other people but I do think that there are people who consider Nicholas' 'holiness' to be an important issue & I respect their views.
Would my religion alter your perception of my answer? If I were to say I am an atheist, would you be more willing to accept my views?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 10, 2005, 04:00:52 PM
Quote


Would my religion alter your perception of my answer? If I were to say I am an atheist, would you be more willing to accept my views?



   no.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on June 10, 2005, 05:46:54 PM
Good.  :)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 10, 2005, 08:53:56 PM
Bluetoria
   I really don't care if you are a Catholic, Buddhist or a Satanist - I find that I cannot agree with you about this - you seem a wee bit too eager to idolize and romanticise Nicholas.
   Of course that's the sentiment expressed by most of the posters here  - so I'm the odd duck. It's just too bad that we have to keep on discussing his holiness rather than his real personality and nature.

Happy to remain a real live toad in the imaginary garden.

rskkiya
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on June 11, 2005, 04:46:00 AM
Quote
Bluetoria
    I really don't care if you are a Catholic, Buddhist or a Satanist - I find that I cannot agree with you about this - you seem a wee bit too eager to idolize and romanticise Nicholas.
    Of course that's the sentiment expressed by most of the posters here  - so I'm the odd duck. It's just too bad that we have to keep on discussing his holiness rather than his real personality and nature.

Happy to remain a real live toad in the imaginary garden.

rskkiya


Rskkiya can you find anything in any of my posts which suggests that I idolize or romanticise Nicholas?
You see, I do not. In a thread about his positive attributes I have listed some of the attributes I can think of, that is all.
I consider him to be a 'good' man with many human failings. I neither idolize nor denegrate him. I see him very much as a human with human fraility, in a position which he neither wanted & to which he was ill-suited but in which he struggled to do his best. I wrote of his devotion to duty, his patriotism, his fidelity to hiswife, his love of his children, his attempts to avoid civil war etc. nowhere did I even mention 'holiness' until it was raised by another poster.
I do not understand why the mention of his sainthood so upsets you, nor why you assume that anyone who hold a different view to yours must live in some sort of cloud-cuckoo land or an 'imaginary garden' of Eden.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Sunny on June 11, 2005, 07:37:39 AM
Is it so curious that on a site named The Alexander Palace Time Machine, created by a man who has worked for years to bring about the restoration of the AP, and whose personal story, 'The Boy who Dreamed of a Palace' can be found here, to find more members than not, expressing positive interest in Nicholas?

Rskkiya, many of your earlier posts spoke of the struggle you were going through in making a decision to convert to Orthodoxy, or not. While the end result of that struggle is clear, it's a bit difficult to believe that you came away from it without some understanding of the IF as Passion Bearers.

The self-confirmatory ideation of adding "odd duck", "no fan of OTMA", and "evil" etc. to many of your posts speaks more of a desire for attention, than anything else. If what is being posted here isn't to your liking, there are several other threads, including 'Negative Attributes' that might be more satisfying.

Sunny
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 11, 2005, 09:00:14 AM
Bluetoria and Sunny

  Well its true - I DID consider converting to Orthodoxy- but I now realize that it was the romantic pull of the NAOTMAA - NOT a real desire to be a christian that was the instigation for this quest. So it failed. I found the Orthodox faith to not be what I had imagined (and Christianity had no appeal for me at all) and I once commented I love ritual, if only I could be Orthodox but not a christian it would work out splendidly...{Sorry as I now quite certain that I have now offended all believers here}

   I suppose that I visit this site because - even as I don't have any love for NAOTMAA - I am interested in the Russian history and the Revolution, and I do rather get tired of needing to justify my presence at a public site like this.

   I do find it ODD when people post "Holy Martyrs" comments when they are not believers (Bluetoria you are certainly not the only one to have done this before ... do you remember how I inquired about it?) I must wonder about  this behaviour if so many people make these remarks when  they are not Orthodox or do not intend to convert ... seems a bit questionable to me... After all if I were a believer (and I am not)  so many people making 'fast and loose'  use of such 'cute characters' as these saints would get very bothersome.  

   As I have stated before I think that an actual discussion of any good habits that Nicholas had would be a splendid topic, but I would AGAIN wish to move away from the HOLINESS issue...PLEASE!

Maybe this is a dead horse after all.

I am happy to remain a real live toad in the imaginary garden
rs

PS: to clarify to Sunny - I am not actually a duck or a toad -(but I may be evil)-  these are meant to be witty comments, so I am sorry that you find them pathetic!  ::) :D
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on June 11, 2005, 09:11:42 AM
Quote
Bluetoria and Sunny

    if only I could be Orthodox but not a christian it would work out splendidly...{Sorry as I now quite certain that I have now offended all believers here}

 


Why should anyone be offended by what you do or don't believe?

Quote

 I am interested in the Russian history and the Revolution, and I do rather get tired of needing to justify my presence at a public site like this.
 


You are not asked to justify your presence; you seem to simply like telling everyone how evil you are??

Quote
   I do find it ODD when people post "Holy Martyrs" comments when they are not beleivers (Bluetoria you are certainly not the only one to have done this before ... do you remember how I inquired about it?) I must wonder about  this behaviour if so many people make these remarks when  they are not Orthodox or do not intend to convert ... seems a bit questionable to me... After all if I were a beleiver (and I am not)  so many people making 'fast and loose'  use of such 'cute characters' as these saints would get very iritating.  


Icertainly do not make 'fast & loose' of my beliefs; nor do I for one second consider the IF as 'cute' characters. Inspirational, yes, cute, no. Not being Orthodox does not prevent me recognizing the martyrs or saints of other faiths. I do not question your atheism/agnosticism/paganism or whatever you believe; I do not think it is my business. Please do not criticise my beliefs.

Yes...let's return to Nicholas' positive attributes, which is what most of us were doing all along.


Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 11, 2005, 09:18:24 AM
Quote

Icertainly do not make 'fast & loose' of my beliefs; nor do I for one second consider the IF as 'cute' characters. Inspirational, yes, cute, no. Not being Orthodox does not prevent me recognizing the martyrs or saints of other faiths. I do not question your atheism/agnosticism/paganism or whatever you believe; I do not think it is my business. Please do not criticise my beliefs.

Yes...let's return to Nicholas' positive attributes, which is what most of us were doing all along.



I don't question your interest in NAOTMAA and we did discuss the 'martyr' term before ... there are many posters here who do seem to make fast and loose with magical words such as "Holy Royal Martyr" but you are not one

Is there anything else to be stated about his habits?

He loved his family, his faith, and he thought himself a patriot for Russia, he was kind and polite, and spoke several languages...

new things?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 11, 2005, 10:35:23 AM
It is quite sad that too many historians hold rsykkiya's view about Nicholas II.  Have you ever wondered why?  It appear, to me, that too many have believed the communist propoganda which dominated the last Tsar's history for far too long.  Of course, I understand why.  The communists have had a need to always cast Nicholas II in the worst light.  I really think it's time to shed the communists views and discover the truth about Nicholas II.

True,  Nicholas II wasn't his father Alexander III nor was he like Ivan "the Terrible".  He was a man of his times who was ruling the largest country in the world.  Yes, he made mistakes but he was human and he didn't have all the modern means of communication.  And, he had the secret police who often mininformed the Tsar.  There were his religious teachers who whispered in his ear that "Jews were Christ killers" and that he, as Tsar, was chosen by God to sit on his right side and to rule.....

All his life he was told over and over that everything he did was directed through him by God....  

Today, we have labeled Nicholas II a fatalist.

I'd like to know if a man, who believes he is ruling with God's blessing, has any need to be judged by us,  mere morals, for he, even up to his end of life, believed whatever happen was his fate, his family's fate and his country's fate.  

Was Nicholas II right?  Or was he wrong?  

Actually, it really doesn't matter if we  think he was right or wrong, what we apparently, have desided to discuss is: Would you consider his unswaying trust in his God as  a positive attribute?

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on June 11, 2005, 11:27:07 AM
What a very insightful post, AGRBear!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 11, 2005, 12:05:08 PM
Quote
It is quite sad that too many historians hold rsykkiya's view about Nicholas



Today, we have labeled Nicholas II a fatalist.


Was Nicholas II right?  Or was he wrong?  

Actually, it really doesn't matter if we  think he was right or wrong, what we apparently, have desided to discuss is: Would you consider his unswaying trust in his God as  a positive attribute?

AGRBear


Good point!
   I think that IF he allowed his faith to keep him from thinking "outside the box" (one of your favourite terms - agr!) and considering the best and most effective way to help Russia and to adapt to a changing world -  then YES it was not positive... But did it?

I don't think that it was productive - but I should like to be proved wrong about this....

Did it help Russia?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: strom on June 11, 2005, 12:34:06 PM
Quote
Strom, what a fascinating post, which shows Nicholas in a completely different light to me as a man whose intelligence was far superior to that with which he is often credited. Thank you for posting this.

I do not fully understand, however, what you mean by this:

I understand what you wrote after this, but please could you explain this a little more clearly. Thank you.  :)


    In reviewing the recent posts, I see that a part of question and contention is the Hermetic philosophy.  My simple statement “the essential remainder of the reign of N II rests in the concept of the Hermetic monarchy whereby the base elements of the lower world could be transformed through the sacred art into Gold,” as posted on June 8, could be the theme of a book.  In my statement I presumed that the highest state investitures could be related, if only principially, to the classic image of the Hermetic “transformative art.” It is no accident that HRM is not only applied to Hermes but also the Supreme King!  As “temporal power” applies to the vocation of N II, it is in this that one must find “positive traits.”  
    We are concerned with the proper rule of the world as it devolves into the hands of the delegated Viceroy of Heaven. The wider order of society can be described as one of spiritual authority and temporal power or perennial authority and annual or cyclic power.  This latter function is essentially an administrative responsibility toward the terrestrial maintenance of the sacerdotal regime.  It has been invested with great dignity for thousands of years among diverse human populations because it was understood that the circumstances of manifestation itself reflected inversely the higher world in and of which the representatives of the spiritual authority either virtually or really were subsumed.  The monarch would be responsible for stewarding those deemed worthy to fully partake of the spiritual tradition.  As such he would facilitate a return to the Earthly Paradise, conceived as the perfect coordination within a four-square scheme.  It was a “centering” typically expressed in the application of the traditional arts under the service of the spiritual authorities.  All the arts were intermediary and physically manifest, though the dignity accruing to any one was proportionate to influence.  That invested with the highest dignity was the monarchical function.  In time, the monarch manifested the highest wisdom as the supreme temporal icon; the interface, if only for a moment, with the eternal.  Where the state collapses and the monarch falls, the function does not end but is transposed for a time into desuetude.  Thus, Russia and much of the world awaits a restoration of good order.
    As for the question of such knowledge in Russia, I do not know of specific transmissions but the Byzantium connection is surely a most likely source given that the Greeks transmitted much of the Hermetic science to the West in the later medieval world.  (For which see the early pages of T. Burckhart’s Alchemy.)  Given that the Alchemical traditions are virtually universal (there are Indian, Islamic, Egyptian Chinese “Hermetic” traditions), it is plain unreasonable to presume that such was not also true in Russia.  I suspect that all such wisdom had been thoroughly “layered” and refined in the Christian context of orthodoxy at a fairly early period in Christian Russian history.  While a few individuals of brilliance have handled the Hermetic corpus, the best source for the metaphysical and Hermetic base of the political dimension is Rene Guenon and Ananda Coomaraswamy, both of whom wrote books with the same title --Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power.  

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 11, 2005, 12:37:52 PM
Quote

    
    " We" are concerned with the proper rule of the world as it devolves into the hands of the delegated Viceroy of Heaven. The wider order of society can be described as one of spiritual authority and temporal power or perennial authority and annual or cyclic power.  This latter function is essentially an administrative responsibility toward the terrestrial maintenance of the sacerdotal regime.  It has been invested with great dignity for thousands of years among diverse human populations because it was understood that the circumstances of manifestation itself reflected inversely the higher world in and of which the representatives of the spiritual authority either virtually or really were subsumed.  The monarch would be responsible for stewarding those deemed worthy to fully partake of the spiritual tradition.  As such he would facilitate a return to the Earthly Paradise, conceived as the perfect coordination within a four-square scheme.  It was a “centering” typically expressed in the application of the traditional arts under the service of the spiritual authorities.  All the arts were intermediary and physically manifest, though the dignity accruing to any one was proportionate to influence.  That invested with the highest dignity was the monarchical function.  In time, the monarch manifested the highest wisdom as the supreme temporal icon; the interface, if only for a moment, with the eternal.  Where the state collapses and the monarch falls, the function does not end but is transposed for a time into desuetude.  Thus, Russia and much of the world awaits a restoration of good order.
    


"WE"?

   Are you a part of an organization, or do you use the Royal "we" as some sort of affectation?


Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 12, 2005, 11:38:05 AM
Quote

Good point!
    I think that IF he allowed his faith to keep him from thinking "outside the box" (one of your favourite terms - agr!) and considering the best and most effective way to help Russia and to adapt to a changing world -  then YES it was not positive... But did it?

I don't think that it was productive - but I should like to be proved wrong about this....

Did it help Russia?


Is it possible for  a monarch to think "outside the box" if he is to remain loyal to his church and his God?

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 12, 2005, 03:04:18 PM
Great insite...
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: hikaru on June 13, 2005, 02:56:04 AM
I think that his positive thing was his Diary.
He accurately wrote the diary every day. So now,
it became the valuable information source.
Almost all ifm about Nicholas daily life came from it.

Specialist's or any people 's comments of diary are various . but this is other point.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: ChristineM on June 13, 2005, 11:57:07 AM
An excellent point Hikaru.

Are those snide remarks in some of the posts really necessary?   Surely it is possible to exchange opinions without unpleasantness irrespective if these diverge.

Civility what's so wrong with that?

tsaria  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 13, 2005, 03:08:20 PM
Quote
An excellent point Hikaru.

Are those snide remarks in some of the posts really necessary?   Surely it is possible to exchange opinions without unpleasantness irrespective if these diverge.

Civility what's so wrong with that?

tsaria  


Sorry?
   I was under the impression that the last 6 or 7 posts were quite civil...Did I miss something?

rskkiya
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 13, 2005, 08:24:34 PM
And, I am under the imresssion that Tsar Nicholas II remained loyal to his family, his church, his God and his Russia.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 13, 2005, 09:39:25 PM
     Well, any positive point can become a negative one if taken to an extream - Nicholas' faith was sincere but it appears to have made him made him rigid, somewhat anti-semetic and inflexible. His belief in his Autocratic rights made him unwilling to adapt to the changing needs of his people. A mother may love her child but the time comes when she should stop "putting them in nappies" and allows them to grow up...{Sorry - it's a poor comparision}

   I do think that by comparing both Positive and Negative attributes, we have a better understanding of the situation rather than by separating them so strictly...

   Agrbear - your desire to think outside of rigid norms is strangely not something that Nicholas might have encouraged - it's interesting, considering the fact that you prefer a 'creative' perspective on historical theory perspective.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on June 14, 2005, 06:16:17 AM
Even though Nicholas' decision to take personal command of the army in WWI was perhaps, quite disastrous, it is undoubtedly a positive attribute that he was willing to commit himself to his people. Gormykin wrote:

"He has told me more than once that he will never forgive himself for not leading the army at the front during the Japanese war. According to his own words, the duty of the Tsar, his function, dictates that the monarch be with his troops in times of danger, sharing both their joy & their sorrow....His Majesty considers it the sacred duty of a Russian Tsar to be among the troops, to fight against the conqueror or perish...I repeat, intrigues or personal influence played no role in his decision. It was prompted by the Tsar's consciousness of his duty to the motherland & to the exhausted army....The assumption of command by the Emperor is a very risky step which can have grave consequences but he, understanding the risk perfectly, nevertheless [cannot] give up his perception of the Tsar's duty."

Whether or not it was a wise decision, this surely shows Nicholas' positive attributes of courage, altruism and concern for his people.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on June 14, 2005, 06:36:49 AM
It also shows how archaic Nicholas' view of monarchy was.  Someone will have to help me on details, but my rusty memory tells me that the last western monarch who went into battle was Henry II, 700 years earlier.

The fact that he could pine for a return to the norms of medieval warfare says it all.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on June 14, 2005, 07:09:31 AM
Quote
It also shows how archaic Nicholas' view of monarchy was.  Someone will have to help me on details, but my rusty memory tells me that the last western monarch who went into battle was Henry II, 700 years earlier.

The fact that he could pine for a return to the norms of medieval warfare says it all.


Oh no, there were many many others after Henry II: Richard I, Richard III, Edward I, Charles I, to name but a few...
I don't think Nicholas's view was so much that he should be the 'warrior king', rather that he should show solidarity with his troops & people.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 14, 2005, 10:12:15 AM
I believe Nicholas II had, also, discovered that his generals were the ones who were outdated.  They were sending calvary against the new German machine gun which was raking them down by the thousands.

Remember, Nicholas II was into new kinds of machines, etc. and understood these new fangled weapons.

He  soon discoved that when he did make a decision it was not being carried out....

Also, if I recall, Nicholas II, as a young man, studied military tactics and did quite well.

I believe Nicholas I was a Tsar warrior.  He had gone into the front headqurters with his brother Alex. I.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on June 14, 2005, 10:12:47 AM
Quote
"His Majesty considers it the sacred duty of a Russian Tsar to be among the troops, to fight against the conqueror or perish.


Sorta sounds like a warrior king to me.

Thanks, though, for reminding me of later king/soldiers.  I was afraid my memory was rusty.  So Nicholas was only a couple of centuries out of date in his aspirations.  Much better.   ::)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Forum Admin on June 14, 2005, 10:15:12 AM
Quote
They were sending calvary against the new German machine gun
AGRBear

I knew the Russians were deeply religious, but I think they sent something more concrete than Calvary. I think they sent Cavalry instead.
;D
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on June 14, 2005, 10:17:00 AM
Quote
I believe Nicholas I was a Tsar warrior.  He had gone into the front headqurters with his brother Alex. I.


But wasn't Stavka miles away from the front?  I cannot imagine he was anywhere near danger, since he had Alexei with him at headquarters some of the time.

And many people reported that he spent his time mostly reading reports, writing, having staff meetings, and taking tea.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 14, 2005, 10:21:28 AM
Remember,  this was at a time things were not looking very good for Russia.  German troops were scaring the bejebbies out of the enemy with their "Big Bertha", a huge cannon that seem to shake the world with each blast, they had airplanes that were raking roads, front lines, etc., they had so many bullets that the Germans were even selling a few to their enemies....  

Nicholas II discovered his uncle, Nicholas "the Tall" was making some bad decisions and the Germans were pushing him back....

It's been awhile since I've read some of this military stuff but it doesn't show Nicholas II in a terrible light as many of you suggest.

His hopes were to show his troops that he wasn't afriad of being right up front with them, unlike the generals who were way behind the lines ....  When it got to hot, they just moved farther behind the lines.....

It was worst in the Russo-Japanese War.  Many of the real old generals had died or left their commands.....

Nicholas II was the first to demand that the medical tents be sent up along the front.....  He had set up trains to take the wounded back to hospitals.... But guess who stoped them with their strikes?  The Bolshesviks.

Remember,  Nicholas II had two different wars going on at the same time.  The war with German and the war with the revolutionaries.....

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 14, 2005, 10:25:19 AM
Quote
I knew the Russians were deeply religious, but I think they sent something more concrete than Calvary. I think they sent Cavalry instead.
 ;D


;D

Yep!

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on June 14, 2005, 10:35:05 AM
Quote
Nicholas II was the first to demand that the medical tents be sent up along the front.....  He had set up trains to take the wounded back to hospitals.... But guess who stoped them with their strikes?  The Bolshesviks.


Why did Nicholas personally have to be at the front to order medical tents?  And why did it take him two years to get around to it?  The war -- and the casualties -- started in 1914.

I was not aware the Bolsheviks were single-handedly responsible for the strikes prior to the revolution.  I thought the food and fuel shortages in the cities had something to do with it.  Any source for that assertion?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 14, 2005, 10:51:25 AM
I'll have to check, but I think the doctors were sent up front in 1914 after Nicholas II had visited the front.

He often visited the front lines, this doesn't mean he stayed on the front.   I should have made this point clearer.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: etonexile on June 14, 2005, 12:23:34 PM
WWI was a turning point and a learning curve for all of "Old Europe"...who had basically not had a major war since 1870...the Franco-Prussian War...nearly 45 years before....Lenin was smart enough to realize that the weak Czarist government could not survive this major calamity....Austria-Hungary and Germany lost their thrones as well....but without the murder of their dynasties....
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 14, 2005, 04:17:32 PM
I remember reading somewhere,  and I'll have to think more about where,  that during or just after a visit Nicholas II made to the front lines, that he asked why there weren't any medical aides to help the wounded and why there wasn't any nurses or doctors anywhere near to  treat the wounded...  I'm not sure the dates but it was early in the war when Nicholas II ordered medical aides, nurses and docotrs to work in tents near the front lines....  Before this, the wounded had to wait for  treatment and were placed on carts then trains and only  after they reached places where there were hospitals with doctors and nurses did they receive any kind of treatment....

If you want to read an intersting book about those times there is one by Florence Farmborough  WITH THE ARMIES OF THE TSAR, A NURSE AT THE RUSSIAN FRONT  1914-1918.  She studied in Moscow and talked her way into joining nurses and doctors near the front lines.  This part of her diary starts 30 Jan 1915.  She, also, took many photographs.

Anyway, back to Nicholas II who had the understanding that wounded men should not wait for treatment and did organize medical help for his troops near the front.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Arleen on June 14, 2005, 04:23:15 PM
Bravo Bear, What an interesting subject.  How I would love to be able to read that book.  I wonder if Nicholas knew more than most Tsar's would about nursing wounded men from Alexandra and all of her training.  
..Arleen
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on June 14, 2005, 04:25:07 PM
Quote
Even though Nicholas' decision to take personal command of the army in WWI was perhaps, quite disastrous, it is undoubtedly a positive attribute that he was willing to commit himself to his people. Gormykin wrote:


Whether or not it was a wise decision, this surely shows Nicholas' positive attributes of courage, altruism and concern for his people.  


Well, I suppose this will cause another uproar but the Encyclopedia Britannica Online says that the situation with the Army actually improved under Nicholas' command.

Alright, start gathering your rocks!


Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on June 14, 2005, 04:39:20 PM
I'm glad to hear that, Rich! I was thinking more of the disaster of leaving the internal affairs of the country in the hands of others & being so preoccupied with the war that it was difficult for him to realize exactly what was going on at home.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 14, 2005, 05:17:02 PM
Just think how different things would have been if the Bolsheviks and all the other revolutionaries would have backed Nicholas II, if not Nicholas II then atleast the troops, things would have been much different.  It was the revolutionaries who caused the havoc  because of their own greed for power.  No one can prove to me that the revolutiony Lenin or Trotsky or Stalin were thinking about the poor guys who were turning into cannon fodder while the revolutionaries held back the boots, the supplies, the food and blocked the tracks so the wounded could get back to the cities....

Who was to blame for this.  Not Nicholas II.  Not Alexandra.

If we're going to place blame,  let's find all the right people and that's the revolutionaries.

Quote

Well, I suppose this will cause another uproar but the Encyclopedia Britannica Online says that the situation with the Army actually improved under Nicholas' command.

Alright, start gathering your rocks!




I am throwing any rocks because that is what I've read in other articles and books.

This is what I'm trying to get others to understand.  Thanks RichC.  But,  all the communist goo-ba-la-gunt has sealed off for years and years the portal to the truth about some of the history of Russia, especially that which shows Nicholas II in any kind of good light.

In one of the books there is a explaination why Nicholas II took the Commander-In-Chief away from GD Nicholai "the Tall".  With it were maps and what was happening.... Germans were breaking down the Russian lines..... Nicholas II took conrol and the lines, although they made quite a bend didn't break...  And this is when there were no more bullets, no boots and the men were going hungry.... and the train loads of the wounded were halted on the tracks due to strikes.....

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on June 14, 2005, 05:32:15 PM
The revolutionaries were to blame for Russia's defeat?  Maybe in 1918.  But in 1916 the Russian army (under Nicholas' command since September 1915) suffered a million casualties.

Let's see what the French ambassador to Russia thought the reason to be:

"For lack of munitions and rifles, the offensive cannot be renewed for another two or three months!  The Germans can certainly send 400 trains a day to the Russian border.  The Russians only 90 to the German border.  The Russian army is a paralyzed giant.  It can still hit enemies it can reach but never follow up."

Let's see what two Russian generals thought the reason to be:

"For over twelve days, the Germans swept our lines, and we could not reply, as there was nothing left as exhausted regiments had only bayonets to fight with.  When our batteries, silent for three days, finally received fifteen rounds [of ammunition] there was joy and relief."

"We are not producing more than 24,000 shells a day.  But our shortage of rifles alarms me far more.  Just think!  In several infantry regiments at least one third of the men had no rifle.  These poor devils had to wait patiently under a shower of shrapnel, until their comrades fell before their eyes and they could pick up the arms."

And what another commentator thought:

"This inability to supply the army stemmed from Russia's small industrial base.  The problems were made worse by the gross inefficiency and corruption among the Tsar's officials which led to chaos and chronic waste of materials.  The transport system was a shambles and unable to supply the cities with food or the military with supplies."

These were problems that needed to be fixed from St. Petersburg, not from the front.  But where was the Tsar?  Stavka.  And to whom were the ministers in St. Petersburg giving their reports?  Alexandra.

Those damned Bolsheviks really got around.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 14, 2005, 05:51:30 PM
It wasn't just the Bolsheviks,  it was the revolutionaries, the blackmarketeers, the lone thieves.....  Just peer into Russia right now and see what the blackmarketeers [mafia] is doing to Russia in peace time to get an idea.

And, it's not true that Nicholas II wasn't ready for war.  Over in the Imperial History section is a thread just about this subject.

A PEOPLE TRAGEDY, THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION 1891 - 1924 by Orlando Figes p. 253:

"It is not true, as historians later claimed, that the Russian army was unprepared for war.  In manpower and material it was at last the equal of the German army, and thanks to the recent improvement of Russia's western railways, took only three days more than its enemy to complete its mobilization."

What the Commander-in-Chief and his generals did with this equal power was either to be their credit or their diaster.

The first to falter was on the North-Western Front.....

Was it Nicholas II's fault that Gen. von Rennekampf and Gen. Samsonov lacked the boldness and in their delay failed to dispersse vital troops and artillery? .... p. 255

A Tsar can do but two things when not in command, "hunt" and receive telegrams....

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on June 14, 2005, 05:54:31 PM
Or clean up the corruption in his government and supply lines.  It's not as much fun as hunting and reading, but it might be more worthwhile.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 14, 2005, 05:58:20 PM
   If Nicholas was surrounded by incompetent generals that -because of status quo and court loyalty-  he refused to replace, then YES it is rather his fault! Sorry!
    Alix was no help in this case ... she seemed to spend too much time "bad mouthing' Brusilov -who as brilliant - and Alexiev who was at least competant!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 14, 2005, 05:59:49 PM
Easy to say but it seemd impossible to accomplish in Russia then just as it seems it is today.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 14, 2005, 06:03:40 PM
Gen. Brusilov was brilliant.

Alexandra had no talent for military tactics just as she didn't have any concept as to the right tactics to use to gain support from  her husband's family, especially her mother-in-law.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 14, 2005, 06:04:28 PM
Quote
Easy to say but it seemd impossible to accomplish in Russia then just as it seems it is today.

AGRBear


Agr...Are you aware that you sound as FATALISTIC as Nicholas!

If he was really a competant Tsar with a strong will something might have been done -- sadly a strong will was not one of his positive attributes.  

PS We are in complete agreement on Brusilov!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on June 14, 2005, 06:05:37 PM
Quote
Easy to say but it seemd impossible to accomplish in Russia then just as it seems it is today.


You're right . . . it is much easier to say than to do.  But, as you point out, the fact remains that Russia has a heritage of government corruption and incompetence that reaches back, not to the revolutionary movement, but to the tsarist epoch.

I'll admit Nicholas had an awful lot on his plate to clean up by the time the plate got passed to him, but he was an intransigent advocate of the absolutist rule that had made such corruption so quick to sprout and so hard to cut down.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 14, 2005, 06:41:04 PM
rskkiya,  I used the word "seems" impossible.  

With the right leader,  perhaps, Russia could pull itself out of the clutches of the Russian mafia and other organizations who continue to strangle Russia.

Unlike Nicholas II,  I wasn't raised to believe in "fatalism", so,  if I sound fatalistic,  quick tell me and I'll correct this impression you or anyone else may have gained from something I've said.

Your thoughts that Nicholas II wasn't strong just isn't the case.  What I think has occured,  you don't  agree with his attitude toward fatalism be it in regards to self, family, peasants, policies and everything else.  

There is a telegram he sent to one of his uncles when he first became Tsar.  He tells his uncle that  he's failed and apologizes then turns around and tells his uncle that this time his uncle will and must obey him because this time the order isn't from a nephew but from "the Tsar".

Doesn't sound like a weak Tsar even in his early days of rule.

I'll have to track that down, too.  

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 14, 2005, 06:47:39 PM
Fact of the matter is this. After Russia  lost the naval battle to Japan. It became very clear that Russian armed forces were very poorly equipped with then modern weapons of war..  after this period Russia started to revamp her armament during the war for example


                                                      airships         Aircraft    
                                Germany                    246           11
                         Austria Hungary                  35             1
                                 Britain                         110            6
                                 France                        160             4
                                 Russia                        300            11
                                 Belgium                         25           0




Another example is that russan infantry  were still using rifles  used during  and just after the Crimer war. From all accounts at that time it’s why more than 45% of Russian rifles either missed fired or didn’t fire at all. As well she lacked the new machine gun technology that the west had. The same can be said about Russian tank development

Major miscalculations were made by Russian field commanders at the time. they infect did not fight a modern war Lack of supplies of food and medicine also  were major contributors to the lack of the armies effectiveness in the field.

The tally of Russian forces in 1914


Reserves
5,971,000
August 1914-1917 Mobilised
Forces
 12,000,000
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 14, 2005, 06:54:40 PM


....[in part]...
After the humiliation of defeat at the hands of the Japanese, there was a serious effort to modernize and reform the Russian army. Unfortunately, there were two very powerful factions that fought each other tooth and nail over how this was to be accomplished. One was the conservative wing led by such as the GD Nicholas Nikolaevich. The other was the "liberal" wing led by the War Minister Sukhomlinov. The consv wanted to rely on fortifications and big guns in those forts, and on cavalry. The lib wanted to spend the scarce budget on modern artillery and machine guns. Both got a little bit of something. The fight was so fierce that it became a custom when appointing field commanders that the commander of an army, corps, division would be from one side and the chief of staff would be from the other side. Not the best way to insure cooperation and efficiency. The forts and big guns proved to be a mistake when war broke out. Millions of roubles were spent on forts, big guns for them, and the shells for the guns. When the Russian army retreated in 1915 it left many of these forts behind in Poland with their guns intact and the shells still there, unused and unusable and captured by the Germans. The cavalry, was useful for scouting out the enemy movements and masking the movement of units but useless as a fighting tool. The machine gun made it obsolete as weapon of attack. Yet the Russian continued right up to the Revolution to maintain a large, useless and wasteful cavalry army. To keep the fastidious horses feed required hundreds of railway cars to bring feed and other supplies. This contributed to the breakdown of the infrastructure and the wastage of railway cars that could have been used better for better things. Nicholas seems to have had little to do with any of this....
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 14, 2005, 07:04:12 PM
Here is a post about Nicholas II and the Jewish situation talked about earlier:
Quote
At the end not everything Nicholas was doing was negative from a liberal standpoint.  In September 1916 the Goverment met with members of the Progressive Front and told them the Imperial Government was about to support the full implementation of civil rights for the Jews - including a complete lifting of restrictions regarding place of residence, occupation, limits on Jewish enrollment in universities, etc.  This had been promised in 1905 but never delivered.  This move was recognised as a positive step by the Progressive Front and they were fully in support.  Legislation was drafted and was planned to be submitted at the opening of the Imperial Duma in February 1917.

The reality of this happening became common knowledge in the Romanov family and within the military.  They were both absolutely determined to stop it anyway they could.  The family supposed that this move was the work of Rasputin and Alexandra.  The believed 'weak' Nicholas - as a true Russian and Romanov would not have supported Jewish rights unless his wife and Rasputin were influencing them.

This was one of several reasons (but hugely more important that people can believe or understand today) for the murder of Rasputin and the overthrow of Nicholas II.  The family and army planned a coup-d-etat from fall 1916 onwards.  They planned to launch it prior to the opening of the Duma - the riots and the coup happened at the same time...

Nicholas's Goverment was also pushed towards full-civil rights for the Jews for internal and international reasons.  For example the Government wanted the full support of the USA for credits and war supplies - this would have been made much easier if the oppression of the Jews in Russia stopped.

Bob
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 14, 2005, 07:57:58 PM
AGR
   I have asked Bob A. about 5 or 6 times to site his source for that comment -he has yet to respond, so I cannot comment on its veracity...Personally I have my doubts about this evidence, but I still hope Bob will be so kind as to contact me.
   I understand that you are not fatalistic I was just trying to be witty. ;)

But where you see Nicholas' strength -I see much more an issue of "rigidity".

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 14, 2005, 08:10:07 PM
It's also all about "temperment"...
  Peter The Great was a larger than life, forceful leader who would have been dreadful as a pre school teacher or marriage councelor!
  Nicholas, who might have made a good priest or religious philosopher or even a decent 'english aristocrat cultivating odd strains of turnip' - was too gentle and meek to be what Russia needed at that  time - another Peter!  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: pinklady on June 15, 2005, 08:26:11 AM
Quote
It's also all about "temperment"...
     Nicholas, who might have made a good priest or religious philosopher or even a decent 'english aristocrat cultivating odd strains of turnip' - was too gentle and meek to be what Russia needed at that  time - another Peter!  

Too true, and I am still laughing, that is funny if you forget the mess Russia was in. I always thought that Nicholas had the wrong temperament to be an Autocrat.
Poor Nicholas was not suited to his job or his place in history, he was all wrong in the 20th century.
As this is supposed to be positive attributes he possessed, I think a postive in Nicholas mind was that he thought he was doing a good job and he genuinely thought he was doing the best for Russia by taking the lead in the war.
Another postive thing I think Nicholas tried to do was to teach Alexei things his father didnt bother to do with him.  Alexander left Nicholas in the dark and that is why Nicholas felt so unprepared and scared when  he became Tsar.
Nicholas had a child sized chair and table put in his study so Alexei could listen in with the ministers and other visitors. Nicholas complained that when he became Tsar he didnt even know how to talk to the ministers, by doing what he did for Alexei he didnt want his son to suffer like he had.
Also I think it was brave of Nicholas to take Alexei to the front with him considering the child's illness, but then again he wanted to prepare Alexei in a way he had never been prepared himself.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on June 15, 2005, 08:48:47 AM
Quote
Nicholas had a child sized chair and table put in his study so Alexei could listen in with the ministers and other visitors. Nicholas complained that when he became Tsar he didnt even know how to talk to the ministers, by doing what he did for Alexei he didnt want his son to suffer like he had.
Also I think it was brave of Nicholas to take Alexei to the front with him considering the child's illness, but then again he wanted to prepare Alexei in a way he had never been prepared himself.


I think this is true, but it has always perplexed me.  Could Nicholas really have believed, especially after Spala, that Alexei would ever rule?  Or was Nicholas going through these motions for other reasons:  to keep his son's spirits up?  to keep his son as near to him as he could?  to prevent his wife from having to confront the inevitable consequences of Alexei's condition?

If the first motive, then Nicholas was irresponsibly delusional in his handling of the succession question.  If any of the latter motives, then he was being a kind father.  If a mix of all of the above (which I think most likely), we're right back to the question of trying to resolve at what point positive attributes become negative when manifested by a tsar.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on June 15, 2005, 11:55:46 AM
Quote

I think this is true, but it has always perplexed me.  Could Nicholas really have believed, especially after Spala, that Alexei would ever rule?  Or was Nicholas going through these motions for other reasons:  to keep his son's spirits up?  to keep his son as near to him as he could?  to prevent his wife from having to confront the inevitable consequences of Alexei's condition?

If the first motive, then Nicholas was irresponsibly delusional in his handling of the succession question.  If any of the latter motives, then he was being a kind father.  If a mix of all of the above (which I think most likely), we're right back to the question of trying to resolve at what point positive attributes become negative when manifested by a tsar.


I think it was a mix of all of the above. Nicholas must have known in his heart of hearts that Alexei would never rule - otherwise he would never have eliminated him so quickly from the succession when he abdicated in March 1917. But what father would be willing to admit to himself, at least consciously, the likelihood of the premature death of his own child? However inevitable it may have been? Unless absolutely forced to do so - as Nicholas was when he formally abdicated and was left to name a successor.

As for the second issue, I think autocratic governments virtually demand strong, unscrupulous rulers. If you look at the two Russian autocrats who have been designated by history as "Great," Peter and Catherine, they both seem to have been rather unpleasant characters, at least once they hit their stride: highly intelligent, yes, critical thinkers, yes, but also egotistical and exceptionally ruthless (yes, I know you will defend Catherine, but look at the murder of Peter III, her merciless partition of Poland, not to mention her practice of egregious favoritism: bestowing thousands of serfs on her designated lover of the moment). Good people do not necessarily good rulers make. It is only in representative governments, it seems, that you get successful heads of state who have a gentler side and higher standards of morality, for example, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, both scrupulous almost to a fault.  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: pinklady on June 16, 2005, 03:56:13 AM
Quote

I think this is true, but it has always perplexed me.  Could Nicholas really have believed, especially after Spala, that Alexei would ever rule?  Or was Nicholas going through these motions for other reasons:  to keep his son's spirits up?  to keep his son as near to him as he could?  to prevent his wife from having to confront the inevitable consequences of Alexei's condition?

If the first motive, then Nicholas was irresponsibly delusional in his handling of the succession question.  If any of the latter motives, then he was being a kind father.  If a mix of all of the above (which I think most likely), we're right back to the question of trying to resolve at what point positive attributes become negative when manifested by a tsar.


I think all of the above as well is true of what Nicolas would have thought.
Remember, Nicholas saw it as his God given right to rule, so maybe it excused him from much effort when it mattered.
As for Alexei, well what parent wants to think of the death of a child before themselves, its unthinkable.
I think Nicholas just carried on and everything would be "God's will" or something along those lines.
I read somewhere that Alexei said when little he wanted to be a Tsar on a horse, he said later that he realised he would never be that sort of Tsar.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Finelly on June 16, 2005, 11:03:28 PM
I read somewhere that Nicholas and Alexandra both used cocaine, which at that time was acceptable if prescribed by a physician.  However, I'm wondering now if I read it in the book "The File on the Tzar", which turned out to be full of inaccuracies......
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Georgiy on June 16, 2005, 11:04:57 PM
I'm sure I read it in their own letters to each other.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: hikaru on June 17, 2005, 12:09:44 AM
Even now, cocain is included in some pharmacy-made mixtures. It could be made only upon the doctor's request with stamp.
I think that in those time was the same.
The inclusions of cocain is very small in this case.
When I was ill , I drank it too (for 6 months).
But I think that because of very small  measures of cocain, and because of inclusion of other ingredients, the effect was not the same as of pure cocain .
I felt nothing .
( I did not tase pure one, I could only imagine of the effect)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 18, 2005, 05:07:48 PM
Nicholas II allowed censorship to be more and more relaxed.  Below is a photo of a newspaper stand in St. Petersburg in 1910 which reveals the "boom in newspapers and pamphlets as literacy expanded"  Orlando Figes's A PEOPLE'S TRAGEDY, THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION 1891- 1924.

(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/AGRBear/Newspapers.jpg)

Despite what many tell you, the school systems in Russia were greatly improving under Nicholas II.  Also, there was a rule sent down into the schools that the first language to be spoken was Russian and then other languages could be taught as a minor language....  The tolerance of the minor language depended upon those in charge.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 18, 2005, 06:36:49 PM
Agrbear
You are correct that the schools were getting better, but it seemed a wee bit too little too late (good schools cannot stop a  full blown revolution)! I don't see that Nicholas was completely responsible for the "great" educational system, after all he opposed the right of Finns, Lithuanians, Poles and Ukrainians (sp) to use their  own languages in  their own schools - that's not very positive - or even logical - to me.

PS I think that the posted image is not from Figes... I have 3 copies of the text of PT and it's not in mine - could the US version have had more pictures?

rskkiya
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Abby on June 18, 2005, 07:22:02 PM
Yes, I recall reading about the cocaine use as well. It was probably not a significant enough amount to cause long-term affects or addiction. Remember the makers of Coca-Cola originally used cocaine in the drink as well?  ::)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: lexi4 on June 19, 2005, 12:25:49 AM
Quote
Yes, I recall reading about the cocaine use as well. It was probably not a significant enough amount to cause long-term affects or addiction. Remember the makers of Coca-Cola originally used cocaine in the drink as well?  ::)

That right! I had forgotten that. That is how it got its name.
Where was it written about Nicholas & Alix using it?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Finelly on June 19, 2005, 12:27:26 AM
I believe that I read it in the book of their letters - was it "Fatal Passion"?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: lexi4 on June 19, 2005, 12:42:15 AM
I am not familar with that book. I'll look for it. Thank you.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Finelly on June 19, 2005, 12:52:15 AM
No, no, no.  <slapping self>

The book is:
A Lifelong Passion : Nicholas and Alexandra: Their Own Story
by SERGEI MIRONENKO, ANDREI MAYLUNAS

It's basically their correspondence over the years, punctuated by assorted letters and diary entries of other family members.  Very good.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on June 19, 2005, 01:53:17 PM
Rskkiya, the picture AGR Bear posted is indeed to be found in the American hardcover edition of People's Tragedy. In fact, there are eight separate sections of black & white photographs, many of them quite rare. Sounds like you Brits were cheated.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on June 19, 2005, 03:09:41 PM
Agr...Mea culpae!
I was able to locate the image after all!
so sorry
rskkiya
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on June 20, 2005, 10:47:40 AM
Remember, Rskkiya, you're the one who insisted I buy this book  ;D.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: etonexile on June 20, 2005, 12:12:51 PM
Quote
Agrbear
You are correct that the schools were getting better, but it seemed a wee bit too little too late

(good schools cannot stop a  full blown revolution)

! I don't see that Nicholas was completely responsible for the "great" educational system, after all he opposed the right of Finns, Lithuanians, Poles and Ukrainians (sp) to use their  own languages in  their own schools - that's not very positive - or even logical - to me.

PS I think that the posted image is not from Figes... I have 3 copies of the text of PT and it's not in mine - could the US version have had more pictures?

rskkiya


Yes...good schools and a rising level of economic wealth(the 5th fastest growing economy in Europe at the beginning of WWI) for pre-1914 Russia could not survive the horror of a major world war...Lenin understood the situation as he considered a teaching job before the war began. When the war began...he knew Russia could not withstand this strain...and he was correct....
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on July 02, 2005, 09:54:31 PM
He did photograph well.
Very photogenic.


rs
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: BobAtchison on July 04, 2005, 09:35:37 AM
It's interesting that the Russian Government is talking about reestablishing the Government monopoly on vodka production and sales to control drunkenness there.  The sale of vodka was a huge revenue source for the goverment in pre-revolutionary times.  Nicholas II ended vodka sales during the war, which meant the rich could still get vodka but the poor had a much harder time getting it.  This did not increase the popularity of the Tsar's government.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: ChristineM on July 05, 2005, 12:10:39 PM
The tradition of state monopoly of vodka production goes back a long way.   I remember the late Renee Beerman whose father was the last Lutheran Pastor in Tsarskoe Selo, before the revolution (NAAOTA knows the family), telling me of an annual tradition in Tsarskoe Selo.  

Every year Nicholas II went to the 'Kissing Bridge' on the day of the renewal of the license to sell vodka.   Close to the Kissing Bridge was an hostelry.   Its owner walked half way across the bridge.   A member of his staff accompanied him, carrying a  tray bearing a decanter of vodka and two shot glasses.   The tsar walked to the middle of the bridge.   Here the two men exchanged kisses.   Then they each downed a glasses of vodka, exchanged kisses again.  The Tsar returned to the Alexander Palace and the Innkeeper was licensed to sell the Tsar's vodka for another year.

I have not been able to establish the location of the 'Kissing Bridge'.   Renee Beerman told me it was where Tsarskoe Selo adjoined the town of Sophia.

Perhaps someone knows where to find the bridge.   The Inn has long since disappeared.

tsaria    
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: hikaru on July 05, 2005, 12:13:25 PM
I know the place of Kissing Bridge in St. Petersburg
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: ChristineM on July 05, 2005, 03:42:02 PM
Yes, I know the Kissing Bridge in St Petersburg too, Hikaru.   It was designed by William Hastie.   Renee Beerman, who was born in Tsarskoe Selo in 1903 and lived there until 1918, was very explicit that it was where the town of Tsarskoe Selo joined the town of Sophia.  

Although he was very old and his eyesight was dim - his brain remained clear and bright.

tsaria
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: ChristineM on July 05, 2005, 03:44:55 PM
Another story Rene Beerman told me - I apologise it has nothing to do with Nicholas and Alchohol - was about his nanny.   Every day she walked with him to the prison in Sophia.   They went there to buy bread.   When I asked why they bought bread at the prison instead of at a baker's, wondering if it was because his father wanted to help the prisoners, he informed me they, and many others, bought their bread from the prison because it was the best bread you could buy.

tsaria
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on July 05, 2005, 06:18:19 PM
Quote
... [in part]...

Agrbear
You are correct that the schools were getting better, but it seemed a wee bit too little too late (good schools cannot stop a  full blown revolution)! I don't see that Nicholas was completely responsible for the "great" educational system, after all he opposed the right of Finns, Lithuanians, Poles and Ukrainians (sp) to use their  own languages in  their own schools - that's not very positive - or even logical - to me.

...rskkiya


As you know, some states, here in the USA, like California and Texas, have a huge flow of Latinos [people from Mexico] coming into these states [legally and illegally] at this time.  After the Vietnam war we had a huge flow of their population flow into the USA.  There was a huge migration of Irish....  To make a long story short, each group of emigrants who migr. into the USA had their own language.  To become a US citizin, one needs to know English and a test is given.  Why?  In order for a large country like the USA to communicate with all of it's people, a common language is needed.  Our forefather's chose English.  In Russia, Nicholas II chose Russian as their common language.  To me, this is very important to have a common language.  Nicholas II didn't outlaw other languages.  In fact, a "foreign" language could be taught in school which could have been Latin, German, or Armenian, Polish, Turkish.....  

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: pinklady on July 06, 2005, 05:08:37 AM
In response to Bear's post, (and this is before Nicholas time) I thought years ago I read about Marie Curie's childhood in Poland and she was forbidden to learn Polish, it was forbidden at school and at home, so all the mothers and grandmothers taught the children the language in secrecy at home so that the language would survive. Can anybody add to that???
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: NAAOTMA on July 06, 2005, 06:12:57 PM
Hearing stories about Rev. Beerman is just the best!Wouldn't it be wonderful to find the location of the Kissing Bridge? Thanks again for sharing!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: rskkiya on July 10, 2005, 10:15:55 AM
Quote

As you know, some states, here in the USA, like California and Texas, have a huge flow of Latinos [people from Mexico] coming into these states [legally and illegally] at this time.  After the Vietnam war we had a huge flow of their population flow into the USA.  There was a huge migration of Irish....  To make a long story short, each group of emigrants who migr. into the USA had their own language.  To become a US citizin, one needs to know English and a test is given.  Why?  In order for a large country like the USA to communicate with all of it's people, a common language is needed.  Our forefather's chose English.  In Russia, Nicholas II chose Russian as their common language.  To me, this is very important to have a common language.  Nicholas II didn't outlaw other languages.  In fact, a "foreign" language could be taught in school which could have been Latin, German, or Armenian, Polish, Turkish.....  

AGRBear


If I move to Spain I will learn Spanish, if I move to France I will brush up my French ...  Latvia/Poland/Lithiania/Finland were all governed by Russia (and many Poles, Lavians, Lithuanians and Finns were not too happy about it ... They didn't emigrate or wander into Russia...Russia wandered over them!

Admittedly if I were a 'baltic german' living in Russia and yet proud of my heritage, then yes I would speak both, just  as my Muslim friends back home speak English and Arabic ...
Sorry Agr but your aguement seems facile.

BTW Nicholas II didn't make the decision  that all students would speak Russian that was his father's work. There were petitions to change this educational situation under Nicholas, but he ignored them.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: pinklady on July 11, 2005, 07:25:06 AM
Great point, in that all those countries did not choose to be "Russian" and speak the Russian language. A comparison with America is not relevant as people chose to go to America to live and English is the language, its like our migrants to Australia now, they have to learn English when they move here, as that is the language of the country they have chosen.
The Tsarist Regime suppressed the rights/cultures/languages of the people of the countries they invaded.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on July 11, 2005, 07:41:02 AM
Quote
The Tsarist Regime suppressed the rights/cultures/languages of the people of the countries they invaded.


But perhaps so too did the British Empire & the Spanish Empire & the Portuguese Empire & before that  the Greeks & the Romans....::).
This was not Nicholas' fault nor was his country unique in it.

Positive attributes.... :)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: pinklady on July 11, 2005, 07:47:33 AM
Of course, you are right, countries around the world have done the same thing for centuries ;)
Thinking positive now.......
He liked to stick to the old ways and never rock the boat with new ideas ;D
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: pinklady on July 11, 2005, 08:00:35 AM
It has been mentioned already that Nicholas was an excellent husband and father.
However, I dont recall if anybody has mentioned what a lovely, caring, devoted, gentle and affectionate son he was. His letters to his mother were so loving and always concerned for her wellbeing, a pleasure to read. He was a man who cared deeply for all his family. That is to be admired, especially as we look at him with our modern eyes.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: bluetoria on July 11, 2005, 08:01:51 AM
...and brother too!  :D
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on July 11, 2005, 07:18:50 PM
The Russian language requirment was demanded first under Alex. III and was continued into Nicholas II's reign.  

In 1892 all school were placed under the control of the Russian school inspectors and it was they who hired and fired the teachers.

In the years which followed:
"It must, however, be admitted that the colonists were indebted to the Russian officals for their well-intentioned efforts to raise the standard of education in the village schools." p. 215  of Joseph Height's PARADISE ON THE STEPPE. Height was an historian on German-Russian living in colonies in Russia from the late 1700s to WW II.

In the GR [German-Russian] colonies, the teaching of the German language was limited to twelve hours a week in schools.

All teachers were required to take an exaime proving they could speak Russian before they were given a "teaching license".

By 1896 the improved schools were producing more and better secondary educated which in turn produced more and better  "teachers, businessmen, administrative personnel, as well as theologians, pilologists and architects" p. 266.

Showing the changes in attitude of the Russian about education can be found on p. 44 of VILLAGE LIFE IN LATE TSARIST RUSSIA by Olga Semyonova Tian-Shanskaia:
>>Ivan is sent off to school when he is ten.  "He'll be better paid if he can read and write." say the peasants.  Howadays, in view of the wages paid in Moscow, more and more peasants are endeavoring to have their sons learn reading and writing.  They say such things as: "In Moscow it is more important than here to know reading and writing, and you are judged by your knowledge of it," and "it is harder to cheat a literate person."<<

AGRBear

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Finelly on July 11, 2005, 08:53:46 PM
"In the GR [German-Russian] colonies, the teaching of the German language was limited to twelve hours a week in schools."

That's about 2 hours a day.  More than enough, given that people probably spoke German at home.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: pinklady on July 13, 2005, 11:16:30 PM
Nicholas danced beautifully, (some described it as VERY graceful) and played tennis and rode horses very well.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: ChristineM on July 15, 2005, 08:36:22 AM
The language discussion is an interesting one.  

From her first uttered word until the day she went to school aged five, in company with everyone else in the Western Isles,  my mother's language was Gaelic.  

In school Gaelic was proscribed.   They had to speak English.   Even during their breaks while playing in the school playground, children were punished - smacked with a belt - if they were heard speaking Gaelic.   As a result they grew ashamed of their language and of their culture.

The London government was uncomfortable with the fact that  there were areas of the country where a language was in common use which they could not understand.

Now times have turned full cycle.   There are only around 60,000 native Gaelic speakers left in Scotland.   Gaelic is being imposed upon everyone.   Television programmes, road signs, in the Highlands and Islands, bilingual education.   But it is already too late.   My mother doesn't even understand the Gaelic they are speaking.   It is not the Gaelic language, it is how the authorities THINK the Gaelic language should be spoken.

The place to experience Gaelic language and culture is Nova Scotia.   How's that for an irony.   Scottish step-dancing had died out in Scotland.   Now it is being reintroduced - from Nova Scotia.

Millions of pounds are poured into saving pandas and tigers, thank goodness.   But I think it is a tragedy an entire culture - language and culture are inextricably entwined - has been allowed to die.   Actually it is worse than that.   It was quite deliberabely and calculatedly killed off.

It grieves me, when in Russia, to see posters, huge advertising hoardings and shop signs in English, or in Latin script.   I suppose this is 'cool', like being able to sing along with pop songs.  I, for one, was happier when there was NO advertising.

Nicholas, of course, had equal facility in Russian, English and French along with a working knowledge of other languages.   An enlightened man for his age.

tsaria  
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: hikaru on July 15, 2005, 04:15:49 PM
I have to add that now the shop's sign in English is prohibited ( maybe only in Moscow) but it is allowed to
use the names of the shop in Russian ( it is for 5 or 6 years already).
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Alixz on November 07, 2005, 08:50:39 AM
The last posting on this site was a long time ago, but I just finished reading it all.

I found it fascinating!

Does anyone remember Massie stating that while Nicholas's diary was very similar to George V's in style and content that Nicholas's was used as a detraction and George's was said to be a fine example of thoughtful writing by "that good king".

I believe that perspective is the problem.  As other posters have said, we need to get past the post revolution portrait of Nicholas and try to see the man in his own time.

Peter the "Great" had his own son killed.  Catherine the "Great" plotted to kill her husband.

Nicholas the "Bloody"  never did anything like that to his family.  That is my contribution to the positive atributes list.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Margarita Markovna on November 07, 2005, 08:02:31 PM
Quote
It has been mentioned already that Nicholas was an excellent husband and father.
However, I dont recall if anybody has mentioned what a lovely, caring, devoted, gentle and affectionate son he was. His letters to his mother were so loving and always concerned for her wellbeing, a pleasure to read. He was a man who cared deeply for all his family. That is to be admired, especially as we look at him with our modern eyes.


This is a good point. From personal experience AND hearing others talk, sometimes having a good relationship with your parents and can be difficult.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Alixz on November 22, 2005, 10:20:08 PM
Can"t we see how interesting it is that we exalt two rulers who were violent and involved with the deaths of members of their own families, but shame the one who was the most loving to his.

I wouldn't want either Peter of Catherine at my dinner table.  I might not make it through the night if I upset one of them.

This thread is about positive attributes.  I think that the most positive is a respect for family and the protection of our loved ones.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: koloagirl on December 04, 2005, 09:26:03 PM
 :)

Aloha all!

My feeling about Nicholas II is that he was a very much
a gentleman (and gentle man) who loved his family
foremost (perhaps after his God) and THEN his country.

I cannot help but be moved by someone who exhibits
the tenderness and love to a wife who - to put it somewhat mildly, had issues of her own - but they
ALWAYS loved each other, thru thick and thin.

As a father, I think he was certainly one of the very most
attentive fathers (especially Imperial ones) of his time...
his girlies and Alexei loved him dearly and even his captors to the end found him a ordinary, good-natured
fellow who they probably would have liked to sit and chat with if he weren't the "hated Tsar".  

My political feelings on his reign are mixed, but I am in
no doubt that he was a GOOD man and this picture
below shows me the type of love that he and Sunny had over all their years together.

(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v202/Koloagirl/oaf6794es.jpg)

We could all only hope for such enduring love.
Janet R.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Alixz on December 10, 2005, 05:31:17 PM
I had never seen that picture before.  It is wonderful to see Alix smiling with her arm around Nicky.

Even though she did have "issues"  she did have a very loving husband.

Positive attribute?  I think so.

Bad Tsar - good man.  That sounds like the general consensus.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: elfwine on December 10, 2005, 08:57:35 PM
Quote
I had never seen that picture before.  It is wonderful to see Alix smiling with her arm around Nicky.

Even though she did have "issues"  she did have a very loving husband.

Positive attribute?  I think so.

Bad Tsar - good man.  That sounds like the general consensus.


     So the problem lies in the fact that often people will seize upon 'positive personal attributes' in an attempt to lessen Nicholas' massive failures as an Autocrat.
     He spoke several languages very well/he was devout/ he had wonderful manners/he loved his family - but he still was unable to realize that an Autocratic system based on a rigid devotion to the paradigms of the Orthodox Church and the strict restrictions of free speach/assembly/ or any political involvement by the people in their own government was a recipe for chaos.

Then again, Hitler was also a vegetarian and was generally believed to love childen and animals... not that THAT changes anything! :-X
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Alixz on December 11, 2005, 07:55:11 AM
I believe I said "Bad Tsar - Good Man".  We are all the sum of our parts.  Nicholas was no more and no less than we are.

Everyone has positive attributes and that is all that this thread was looking for.

I try to never mention Hitler, because I was told once that no matter the subject of a thread, eventually it will turn to Hitler and the Nazis.  It seems that the person who postulated that was right.

I know there are many posters who romanticize Nicholas and tend to make excuses for his short comings.  Perhaps it is the "nurturing" response that makes us want to see him as helpless in his surroundings and a victim of his place in history.

This thread is for "positive attributes".  I am not sure that this thread was meant to compare the positive to the negative or to excuse the negative.  I agree that "beautiful eyes" or a "sparkle" or "sadness" in the eyes aren't really positive attributes, but love of family and country (even blind love) certainly are.  

And as I have said before, Peter had his own son tortured and killed.  Catherine parrticipated in  the plot to kill her own husband.  Yet history calls them "Great".

However they ruled and no matter what else they did, they still had blood on their hands.

I have issues with that.  I would call them "Good Tsar - Bad Human"
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on December 15, 2005, 12:29:38 AM
I've always admired Nicholas' behavior during his captivity which, in the words of one scholar, "he bore with bravery and fortitude."  That took guts and I admire that.

I wish there could be an authoritative reading list posted on this site for those who wish to learn more about Russian history.  Perhaps then we wouldn't have so many posts condemning Nicholas for sticking so tenaciously to the autocratic system and fighting the Duma.  Certainly reforms were needed, but not necessarily the one's that are frequently mentioned on this forum.  

Instituting a democratic government would not have solved everything overnight.  Alexandra wrote that the Russian people were not ready for democracy, and she was right.  Indeed, most of Nicholas' best ministers, such was Sergius Witte, were staunch supporters of the imperial system.  The same is true of Stolypin, Pobedenotsev, etc.  These people were Russia's greatest minds.  They knew what they were talking about.  

Throughout Nicholas' reign, few people thought the system of government was the problem.  Rather they thought the Tsar himself, and later the Tsarina, were the problem.  So, in my opinion, statements deploring Nicholas' failure to "institute democratic reforms" betray a certain ignorance of what was happening in Russia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Alixz on December 15, 2005, 07:42:03 AM
RichC I think you are correct.  There are lists of books about Nicholas and Alexandra and many of their relatives, but books about Russian History, not just the monarchy might indeed help some.

The books we read tend to concentrate on the Aristocracy and their excesses and short comings.  I have a book called "Before the Revolution" which a friend of mine gave me thinking that it was about N&A.  It turned out to be about the serfs and the common people and their hardships.

Of course Russian history has to include the Tsars, but the mind set of the Russian people and the truth about the things that effected them would help us to better understand the times.

I have read that the people in the Provences had no problem with the Tsar himself.  They seldom blamed him directly for their problems.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on December 15, 2005, 08:52:21 AM
Thanks AlixZ.  It just seems to me that although Nicholas may not have possessed the solutions to Russia's problems, it doesn't appear that anyone else did either.  I see posts on here sometimes that make it seem as if the solutions to Russia's problems were as plain as the nose on your face, and how could Nicholas have been so blind not to have seen that.  I think that view is very simplistic.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Forum Admin on December 15, 2005, 09:12:10 AM
RichC has hit the nail on the head about this and many other disucssions here. It is VERY simple to "monday morning quarterback" (non-US users feel free to PM me for an explanation!) history. However, what is critical to genuinely understand history is  a CONTEXTUAL view of the events, ideas, thoughts, etc of Nicholas and others.  Sure, we can say "Nicholas should have done x y or z, but, could he have given other wider historical concerns...?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tania+ on December 15, 2005, 11:11:55 AM
Hi Rich,

Your insight is great in regards to his IH Nicholas. I always look forward to your postings. Your care to offer that which is not much regarded, shines again in terms of where to focus in terms of positive attributes. Thank you for your fairness, and in thinking, where some think not, and just express to express...

Best Regards,

Tatiana


Quote
I've always admired Nicholas' behavior during his captivity which, in the words of one scholar, "he bore with bravery and fortitude."  That took guts and I admire that.

I wish there could be an authoritative reading list posted on this site for those who wish to learn more about Russian history.  Perhaps then we wouldn't have so many posts condemning Nicholas for sticking so tenaciously to the autocratic system and fighting the Duma.  Certainly reforms were needed, but not necessarily the one's that are frequently mentioned on this forum.  

Instituting a democratic government would not have solved everything overnight.  Alexandra wrote that the Russian people were not ready for democracy, and she was right.  Indeed, most of Nicholas' best ministers, such was Sergius Witte, were staunch supporters of the imperial system.  The same is true of Stolypin, Pobedenotsev, etc.  These people were Russia's greatest minds.  They knew what they were talking about.  

Throughout Nicholas' reign, few people thought the system of government was the problem.  Rather they thought the Tsar himself, and later the Tsarina, were the problem.  So, in my opinion, statements deploring Nicholas' failure to "institute democratic reforms" betray a certain ignorance of what was happening in Russia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Alixz on December 15, 2005, 01:22:24 PM
I have been for so long saying that everything needs to be taken in context.  I guess I just put it incorrectly.  I have always said that we are the sum of all of our expierences and all of that which impacts us and those around us.

Thank you FA.  Good show RichC.

It is so easy to simplistic in our views, but life is not simplistic and the life of an autocrat was the least simplistic of all.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: imperial angel on February 22, 2006, 08:58:09 AM
Nicholas is often called a fatalist; certainly it seems that he showed every earmark of this attitude, beyond what is written about him. Is this true? And if so, why might he have had this view? I am myself rather this way, and I just wondered more about Nicholas II and fatalism.  Also, I have to write a philosophy paper and was going to do it on Nicholas II and fatalism as a philosophy.I coudn't find this topic when I searched for it. Thanks in advance for your replies. :)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Georgiy on February 22, 2006, 02:46:46 PM
I don't think of it so much as 'fatalism' per se, but as an acceptance that ultimately all is as God wills. It is quite normal Orthodox thought.  It may be hard to do a decent paper on it, not having in depth knowledge of Orthodox philosophy, - it may pay to look at some books on (Russian/Byzantine) Orthodox theology or even the philocalia.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: imperial angel on February 23, 2006, 10:02:41 AM
Thanks for your help! :)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Georgiy on February 24, 2006, 09:03:33 PM
I wanted to add a bit more about this so-called 'fatalism'. We often hear that the Tsar would say such things as 'it's God's will', etc., which to a non-religious person may sound like fatalism and lack of will on one's own behalf, but it is not that at all. For example one might have prayed and asked and begged God for something, but God's answer may have been 'No.' One might have prayed and prayed for a son, and one gets a son with an incurable disease. Accepting that what has happened is God's will, to my mind is not fatalism but realism - what has happened has happened and we can't change it, so better to accept what God has willed than to get uptight and upset and angry about things.

I suspect this is closer to the Tsar's outlook than what may be implied by the term fatalism.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Belochka on February 25, 2006, 07:51:21 PM
How Nikolai presented himself and acted in his daily life, and the outstanding way he demonstrated a balanced calm attitude whilst he remained a political prisoner, clearly highlighted his immense strength of character, which was guided by his profound spiritual connection with God whom he adored.  

Few western historians could understand this intense personal aspect on the Emperor. In fact that spriritual trait was used against him in negative terms, either because of the author's ignorance of Russian Orthodox custom and/or because there was a political agenda to paint Nikolai's personality in less than favorable terms .
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: imperial angel on February 27, 2006, 10:34:00 AM
You are quite right about fatalism and realism, that's a very relevant point to make. Also, I very much enjoyed the last post, that is very true. Thanks to everybody who responded. You have great insights!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: lovy on March 01, 2006, 04:25:56 AM
Did Nicky drink much? Didn't he once drink so much that all these other officers had to carry him back to the palace or something like that?
I read something like that in Greg King's 'The Last Empress'. And then he later met "Little K.".
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: imperial angel on March 01, 2006, 11:12:45 AM
He was a moderate drinker in later life. Not more than what any reasonable person would consider normal. As for his youth, he may have drank more then, but he was never anything but normal in this too. That was common in regiments back then. Many young people today drink in this way, although they might not in later life. He was never alcoholic, or really more than normal. This wasn't an issue in his life.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: ordino on March 26, 2006, 04:39:53 PM
Nicholas II was a patriot , he abdicated for his country and for his people. He loved his country and he did what he thougt was the best for Russia. It was not his fault to be educated like an autocrat. H
Ordino
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tania+ on March 26, 2006, 06:06:40 PM
Ordino,

Bravo ! Well stated. There by the way is nothing wrong with your english. Thanks for you input.

Tatiana+


Quote
Nicholas II was a patriot , he abdicated for his country and for his people. He loved his country and he did what he thougt was the best for Russia. It was not his fault to be educated like an autocrat. H
Ordino
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on March 27, 2006, 12:18:56 PM
Quote
Hi Rich,

Your insight is great in regards to his IH Nicholas. I always look forward to your postings. Your care to offer that which is not much regarded, shines again in terms of where to focus in terms of positive attributes. Thank you for your fairness, and in thinking, where some think not, and just express to express...

Best Regards,

Tatiana


Quote from: RichC  link=1116891164/250#252 date=1134628178
I've always admired Nicholas' behavior during his captivity which, in the words of one scholar, "he bore with bravery and fortitude."  That took guts and I admire that.

I wish there could be an authoritative reading list posted on this site for those who wish to learn more about Russian history.  Perhaps then we wouldn't have so many posts condemning Nicholas for sticking so tenaciously to the autocratic system and fighting the Duma.  Certainly reforms were needed, but not necessarily the one's that are frequently mentioned on this forum.  

Instituting a democratic government would not have solved everything overnight.  Alexandra wrote that the Russian people were not ready for democracy, and she was right.  Indeed, most of Nicholas' best ministers, such was Sergius Witte, were staunch supporters of the imperial system.  The same is true of Stolypin, Pobedenotsev, etc.  These people were Russia's greatest minds.  They knew what they were talking about.  

Throughout Nicholas' reign, few people thought the system of government was the problem.  Rather they thought the Tsar himself, and later the Tsarina, were the problem.  So, in my opinion, statements deploring Nicholas' failure to "institute democratic reforms" betray a certain ignorance of what was happening in Russia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Rich, I cannot find your original quote, so perhaps I'm missing some context here.  But wasn't the Revolution of 1905, which manifested a serious desire for "democratic reforms", also part of what was happening in Russia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries?  As far as I'm aware, the point of that Revolution was to reform the system, not to swap the tsar for another autocrat.  And didn't Witte, in particular, see a need to accommodate that desire for reforms to some degree?

I agree that Witte and Stolypin and others staunchly supported the imperial system.  But then again, Karl Rove is a very bright man who staunchly supports the use of wedge issues to drive U.S. democracy toward embattled ideological camps instead of toward the art of compromise, which had once been the key strength of the U.S. system.  Bright men are not always right, and they do not always act in the best interests of their countries.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tania+ on March 28, 2006, 03:42:47 PM
Oh boy, very glad for small silver lingings, especially in that Karl Rove is off topic !   ;D

Hugs FA !


Tatiana+
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Caleb on March 28, 2006, 04:35:13 PM
I think that Nicholas's most positive attributes are: his Christian faith, his kind nature & his devotion to his wife & family
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tsarfan on March 28, 2006, 05:43:07 PM
Quote
Oh boy, very glad for small silver lingings, especially in that Karl Rove is off topic !   ;D

Fair enough . . . the Karl Rove remark was somewhat spurious.  I just think part of the fun of history is to look at how certain traits carry across historical figures throughout the ages and pop up in different contexts.

But the essence of my post was that Rich's post, if I understood it correctly, seemed to suggest that talk about democratic reforms is a late 20th- / early 21st-century notion that is improperly applied in hindsight to Nicholas' reign.  My point was that in Russia and during Nicholas' reign enough of his contemporary Russians were talking about democratic reforms to mount a serious revolution that almost toppled the throne.  So I do not see the anachronism in examining Nicholas' actions in the context of demands for democratic reforms.

Since I find Rich extremely well-informed and insightful on Russian history, I was inquiring to see if I understood him correctly.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on March 28, 2006, 11:39:37 PM
Tsarfan, I recently took a new job, so I've been pretty busy.  But a few quick comments:

The 1905 revolution had very little to do with a suppressed population attempting to throw off the tyranny of the Tsarist yoke.  It did not "manifest a desire for democratic reforms."  Certainly, elements of the intelligentsia fought for "civil rights" -- but the real cause of the revolt in 1905 was basic dissatisfaction with the crappy job the government was doing running the country.  The peasants, for example were hardly interested in "civil rights".  There was a sense that the government had lost control (which it had, blundering into the war with Japan, for instance), so anarchy broke out.  

Nicholas II was an extremely intelligent but deeply flawed man.  But I believe he recognized that giving his "subjects" civil rights was a recipe for disaster.  According to General John Hanbury-Williams, Nicholas said:

"...His Majesty talked about empires and republics.  His own ideas as a young man were that he had a great responsibility and he felt that the people over whom he ruled were so numerous and so varying in blood and temperament, different altogether from our Wester Europeans, that an Emperor was a vital necessity to them.  His first visit to the Caucasus had made a vital impression on him and confirmed him in his views."

"The United States of America, he said, was an entirely different matter, and the two cases could not be compared.  In this country [Russia], many as were the problems and the difficulties, their sense of imagination, their intense religious feeling and their habits and customs generally made a crown necessary, and he believed this must be so for a very long time, that a certain amount of decentralizing of authority was, of course, necessary but that the great and decisive power must rest with the Crown.  The powers of the Duma must go slowly, because of the difficulties of pushing on education at any reasonably fast rate among all these masses of his subjects."

--quoted in Nicholas and Alexandra

There is no culture of democracy in Russia and there never has been.  (And for all of you who can't stand Alexandra, she at least recognized that -- and she was right).  

I'm going to jump ahead now and quote an interview with Anna Politkovskaya that I found online:

More dangerously she is convinced that Mr Putin has only contempt for ordinary Russians and democracy. "During the presidential pre-election campaign (this year) he behaved exactly like Stalin. He destroyed the democratic opposition, pulled the wool over people's eyes, refused to even debate and constantly lied about Chechnya and about social reforms. They say we have a happy country but we do not. It is a poor country. Putin doesn't respect people and repression will follow just as it did with Stalin."
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on March 29, 2006, 10:29:42 AM
I have to disagree with you, RichC. Just because Russia had no native democratic tradition does not mean that by the early twentieth century it was not developing such a tradition among the educated segment of the population. The growing middle class was overwhelmingly in favor of democratic reforms. This was the very class of people that might (I stress might!) have saved Nicholas’ dynasty if he hadn’t been so shortsighted, ignoring and slighting them from the very beginning of his reign.

Nor was the Revolution of 1905 characterized solely by outbreaks of peasant anarchy in the countryside. On the contrary, the general strike which paralyzed the major cities of Russia from October 20-30, 1905, has been described as the largest general strike in history and it was carried out in a highly organized and efficient way by Russians from almost every urban socioeconomic group (including peasants, since Russian peasants provided the backbone of industrial labor and were a migratory workforce). By this time in Russian history there was already a sizeable revolutionary movement not only among Russian workers but also among students; even the professional classes and the bourgeoisie had largely come to sympathize with its aims in the face of continuing repression from the tsarist government. What the urban classes wanted first and foremost was not an end to the war with Japan but an end to autocracy itself. Indeed, this massive strike was only called off when on October 30 Nicholas issued the October Manifesto, granting all Russians civil rights and announcing the formation of an elected legislative body, the Duma. Liberals and moderates were satisfied; thus the opposition was divided and only in Moscow did the Soviet’s appeal for revolution find any response. Yes, disturbances continued in the countryside as the peasantry took advantage of the general confusion to burn down manor houses and seize land for themselves. But the revolution was successfully put down the following year because the army and the urban elites stayed loyal to the (now constitutional) tsarist government.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on March 29, 2006, 12:47:44 PM
I think I said that there were elements that fought for civil rights, just like there are today.  Also, I did not say that the Revolution was characterized solely by peasant anarchy.  

Other than that, I guess we will just have disagree.  Had the revolution succeeded in toppling the Romanov dynasty in 1905, I do not believe it would have resulted in a democratic Russia.  Russia would have wound up with another dictator, just like it always has.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on March 29, 2006, 02:51:18 PM
I’m sorry if I misunderstood part of what you said, RichC, but I actually misstated myself when I wrote that the Revolution of 1905 was not solely characterized by outbreaks of peasant anarchy in the countryside. I should have said that it was not chiefly characterized by such outbreaks.

Needless to say I do think the democratic movement played a far larger and more important role in the Revolution of 1905 than you give it credit for. But this is not the same thing as saying that, if the Romanov dynasty had been toppled in 1905, another dictatorship could not have taken its place. I wouldn’t go so far. I do think, however, that Russia’s chances for democracy might have been a bit better in 1905 than they were over a decade later, in 1917. Russia was not fighting a world war in 1905: the country’s army and infrastructure were both still intact. The educated segments of Russian society were not as yet completely alienated from the old regime; in particular, the intelligentsia was not yet infected with that apocalyptic mood that made them believe everything of the old world had to be swept away in order for a new society to be born. The Bolshevik party was still a tiny minority socialist party among other, much bigger, better organized and more democratically minded socialist parties. I guess all I am trying to say is that the Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin was not necessarily inevitable, and anyway, practically any dictatorship would have been preferable to theirs.

Nor do I think Putin was inevitable. Three-quarters of a century of Communist rule strangled Russia's infant democratic tradition in its cradle; Russians had to start over from scratch in the early 1990s. I don't think this means, however, that Russians aren't capable of achieving real democracy at some future date. Other nations without democratic traditions have shown themselves capable of such a feat.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on April 01, 2006, 11:08:32 AM
Quote
He was fairly typical of the residents in the pessimism of his views; basically what he said was that Russians have no social consciousness, and consequently they have no comprehension of democratic values.

And this is exactly what Nicholas II thought.

I took this quote from the Russian Nation thread, Elisabeth.

1905 happened not because the people wanted to free themselves from Tsarist oppression, but because the Tsarist government was incompetent.  Once it was seen that the Tsar was willing to share power, as you said, enough of the pressure was off for the Crown to reestablish control.

And things went ok for about 10 years; Nicholas had some excellent ministers during that time, but the same thing happened again in March 1917.  Again, it wasn't about freedom, it was about replacing incompetent leadership and putting people in charge who knew what they were doing.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Tania+ on April 01, 2006, 01:56:56 PM
Last night I came to this thread, and re read it eight times. It just really struck me between what you had to say Rich C and what you stated Elizabeth. First Rich your statement, and I will quote the part that really hit me :Quote March 28, 2006 :
"The United States of America, (Tsar Nicholas) he said, was an entirely different matter, and the two cases could not be compared.  In this country [Russia], many as were the problems and the difficulties, their sense of imagination, their intense religious feeling and their habits and customs generally made a crown necessary, and he believed this must be so for a very long time, that a certain amount of decentralizing of authority was, of course, necessary but that the great and decisive power must rest with the Crown.  The powers of the Duma must go slowly, because of the difficulties of pushing on education at any reasonably fast rate among all these masses of his subjects."  End Quote

then your quote of December 15, 2005 : Quote :"I've always admired Nicholas' behavior during his captivity which, in the words of one scholar,"he bore with bravery and fortitude."  That took guts and I admire that.

I wish there could be an authoritative reading list posted on this site for those who wish to learn more about Russian history.  Perhaps then we wouldn't have so many posts condemning Nicholas for sticking so tenaciously to the autocratic system and fighting the Duma.  Certainly reforms were needed, but not necessarily the one's that are frequently mentioned on this forum.  

Instituting a democratic government would not have solved everything overnight.  Alexandra wrote that the Russian people were not ready for democracy, and she was right.  Indeed, most of Nicholas' best ministers, such was Sergius Witte, were staunch supporters of the imperial system.  The same is true of Stolypin, Pobedenotsev, etc.  These people were Russia's greatest minds.  They knew what they were talking about.  

Throughout Nicholas' reign, few people thought the system of government was the problem.  Rather they thought the Tsar himself, and later the Tsarina, were the problem.  So, in my opinion, statements deploring Nicholas' failure to "institute democratic reforms" betray a certain ignorance of what was happening in Russia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  End Quote

But Elizabeth's statement registered with me as well : Quote March 29, 2006 :I’m sorry if I misunderstood part of what you said, RichC, but I actually misstated myself when I wrote that the Revolution of 1905 was not solely characterized by outbreaks of peasant anarchy in the countryside. I should have said that it was not chiefly characterized by such outbreaks.  
 
Needless to say I do think the democratic movement played a far larger and more important role in the Revolution of 1905 than you give it credit for. But this is not the same thing as saying that, if the Romanov dynasty had been toppled in 1905, another dictatorship could not have taken its place. I wouldn’t go so far. I do think, however, that Russia’s chances for democracy might have been a bit better in 1905 than they were over a decade later, in 1917. Russia was not fighting a world war in 1905: the country’s army and infrastructure were both still intact. The educated segments of Russian society were not as yet completely alienated from the old regime; in particular, the intelligentsia was not yet infected with that apocalyptic mood that made them believe everything of the old world had to be swept away in order for a new society to be born. The Bolshevik party was still a tiny minority socialist party among other, much bigger, better organized and more democratically minded socialist parties. I guess all I am trying to say is that the Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin was not necessarily inevitable, and anyway, practically any dictatorship would have been preferable to theirs.
 
Nor do I think Putin was inevitable. Three-quarters of a century of Communist rule strangled Russia's infant democratic tradition in its cradle; Russians had to start over from scratch in the early 1990s. I don't think this means, however, that Russians aren't capable of achieving real democracy at some future date. Other nations without democratic traditions have shown themselves capable of such a feat.

But I went back to that quote of yours Rich C, quoted in Nicholas & Alexandra Quote :
--quoted in Nicholas and Alexandra:"There is no culture of democracy in Russia and there never has been.  (And for all of you who can't stand Alexandra, she at least recognized that -- and she was right)."

The above more or less describes Russia politically, and until Russians realize how much they must become involved, and get genuinely involved, then they will remain at just scratching ground surface.
In closing, i agree most heartily with Elizabeth's statement of Quote : March 29, 2006 :

.."Nor do I think Putin was inevitable. Three-quarters of a century of Communist rule strangled Russia's infant democratic tradition in its cradle; Russians had to start over from scratch in the early 1990s. I don't think this means, however, that Russians aren't capable of achieving real democracy at some future date. Other nations without democratic traditions have shown themselves capable of such a feat". End Quote






Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on April 01, 2006, 01:59:50 PM
I think at this point we're only arguing different degrees of emphasis, RichC. I'm in complete agreement that much of the impetus for the Revolution of 1905 was that the tsarist government had shown itself to be incompetent in fighting the war with Japan. We see this pattern over and over again in Russian history - the demands of war, and the government's failure to live up to them, prompt a massive overhaul of the system through major reforms. Thus Peter the Great's need for a modern army and his subsequent, radical Europeanizing reforms; the disaster of the Crimean War, followed by Alexander II's equally radical reforms; the Russo-Japanese War, another disaster, followed by the Revolution of 1905 and the October Manifesto, granting limited constitutional government; the biggest disaster of all, World War I, resulting in the Revolutions of 1917 and the downfall of the tsarist regime; many decades later, the war with Afghanistan, a Soviet disaster this time, indeed the first warning that the Soviet regime could not last.

Nevertheless I still think that there was a groundswell of support for democratic reforms amongst the most educated, affluent, and therefore potentially most politically influential classes, not only in 1905 but again in 1917. Part of the problem of course is that democratization is closely linked to modernization. One of the reasons the Soviet Union continually lagged behind the West in technological innovation was that it was not an open society and the free exchange of information with foreigners was well nigh impossible. Now needless to say Russia has the opposite problem in so far as most of its scientists have fled to the West (the Russian "brain drain") and young Russians are not replacing them since they'd prefer to study business rather than science.

But to go back to the original question, I think Nicholas might have helped the longevity of his regime if he had cooperated with the democratizing forces in his society, instead of alienating them completely. For example, if he had worked more closely with the Duma and zemstvos during WWI, some of the opprobrium attaching to Russian defeats might have gone to these entities as well as to (or even instead of) the tsar. Rather than being a focus of discontent the tsar might have come to be seen as a conciliator of the different factions of society. Still, a lot of this comes down to whether or not you believe the Russian Revolution of 1917 was inevitable. I've started a thread about this in the Russian Revolution section and I'd be really happy if you'd share your views on the issue there, RichC. One aspect of this question intrigues me in particular: to what extent are Russians' pessimism and fatalism about their political system self-fulfilling prophecies? Self-defeating and self-perpetuating? Or are such views merely an accurate reading of Russian reality?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RichC on April 01, 2006, 02:21:40 PM
Quote
But I went back to that quote of yours Rich C, quoted in Nicholas & Alexandra Quote :
--quoted in Nicholas and Alexandra:"There is no culture of democracy in Russia and there never has been.  (And for all of you who can't stand Alexandra, she at least recognized that -- and she was right)."

Tania, this is NOT a quote from Nicholas and Alexandra.  This is something *I* said.


Here is the quote from Nicholas and Alexandra:

Quote
First Rich your statement, and I will quote the part that really hit me :Quote March 28, 2006 :
"The United States of America, (Tsar Nicholas) he said, was an entirely different matter, and the two cases could not be compared.  In this country [Russia], many as were the problems and the difficulties, their sense of imagination, their intense religious feeling and their habits and customs generally made a crown necessary, and he believed this must be so for a very long time, that a certain amount of decentralizing of authority was, of course, necessary but that the great and decisive power must rest with the Crown.  The powers of the Duma must go slowly, because of the difficulties of pushing on education at any reasonably fast rate among all these masses of his subjects."  End Quote


Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: imperial angel on April 19, 2006, 11:21:59 AM
I must say that I agree with those who say that Russia needed reforms, but that it was hard to say what exactly, and that it was a complex problem, and didn't just stem from Nicholas II's reign. Things were not as simple as we might assume, who weren't there, and weren't dealing with everything they were, from their mind set. It is very easy to pass judgement, when you have no role to play, and nothing to do execpt that. Democracy may not have been the thing that was needed, but it takes alot of wisdom, and perspective outside stereotypical assumptions to say that, in my opinion.  Thanks to those who said that-it opens my eyes.

As for positive attributes Nicholas had, a few are that he was more willing to admit the need for change than Alexandra, and that he wasn't ready to be Tsar, a leader, at first. He was more willling to try to see other views, and relate to people. He could compromise, sometimes, if need be. He was a great family man, amd father, and lived a very moral personal life. He was intelligent, and I believe liked to study history somewhat. He liked the outdoors, andn a healthy life style. He wasn't as stubborn as he sometimes has been called, and he was a good man.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: griffh130 on May 20, 2006, 07:32:23 PM
I really love this thread but I must admit that I have not read all 19 pages as I was just so excited to add some comments about Nicholas and his positive contributions to Russia and Russia’s marvelous advances under his reign.  I think because of all the negative press that Nicholas received after the 1905 revolution, that his 25 year reign of Russia the prosperity and national identity that he achieved for Russia has been overlooked.  During Nicholas’ reign Russia opened its doors to German, French, and American industry and as a result the country experienced such a rapid rise in the general well being of its subjects that Lenin gave up all hope that a revolution could occur in his lifetime.  That is an historic fact and yet no one ever credit’s Nicholas’ reign with that achievement.  

Regardless of Nicholas’s uncertainty about his own opinions and convictions, he promoted the well being of his country in the twentieth century.  To gain a proper perspective on the cultural heights that Nicholas’ reign achieved just look at a historic chronology of the world premiers of musical genius that occurred in St. Petersburg during his reign.  They read like NYC in the 1980’s.   And regardless of Nicholas' lukewarm support of the far reaching reforms of Witte and Stolypin, Nicholas’ reign gave Russia the stimulus and momentum to attain a wonderful future.  

Some historians say that if the revolution of 1917 had not interrupted Stolypin’s educational reform, which were in full force, those reforms would have educated every peasant by 1923.   If one doubts this statement then it might help to remember what it took for Stalin to exterminate the middle class farmers that Stolypin’s successful agrarian reforms created, with the generous contribution of Nicholas own holdings in Siberia.  By the 1930’s Stalin finally had to exterminate those farmers Stolypins reforms had created.  

It is also noteworthy that Nicholas’ love of Russia led him to start the first explorations into the linguistic origins of his country language and that Nicholas himself was an expert in the dialects of his country.  It has also to be remembered that his love of Russia’s  cultural heritage led to the first scientific records of  all the dialects that are included in the many cultures of Russia.  

The other thing that is remarkable about Nicholas is how modern and how current his taste remained during his reign.  From the very beginning of his reign Nicholas and Alexandra cut a very modern image of themselves.  So much so that Alexandra was criticized for the ultra modern cut of her clothes when she was photographed with a man’s tie and hat while on their tour of the European courts and added to this was the simplicity with which she dressed when she met the tragic Empress Elizabeth of Austria who had heard of the legendary beauty of Alexandra and wanted to see her in person.  Elizabeth appreciated Alexandra’s tribute to her by dressing in black and wearing no jewels when she dined with Elizabeth who had worn perpetual morning of her son Rudolf who had committed suicide at his hunting lodge at Meyerling in 1889.  

Nicholas and Alexandra remained a very modern couple and incurred a great deal of criticism for the ultra modern art nouveau style re-decoration of their apartments in the Winter Palace and later in Alexander Palace when they were first married.  The Imperial couple’s love of the modern never abated as is clear from the new Palace at Lividia which was built in 1911, boasted of every ultra modern convenience including a garage which was considered the most modern and up to date in the entire world and that is saying a great deal given the accomplishments of American millionaires.  

The other thing that has struck me is that Nicholas never exhibited the heartless and religiously bigoted opinions of many of his uncles and family members.  A case in point is Nicholas’ Uncle (and brother in law) Serge who exhibited such an excessively religious zealousness that he expelling all the Jews from Moscow within 24 hours of his appointment as Governor General.    

In contrast to this bigoted religious zealousness, one of Nicholas’ most charitable acts occurred over a decade later, in 1911, when Nicholas insisted that there would be no pogroms against the Jews in Kiev after Stolypin had been assassinated.  To understand the depth of Nicholas’ compassion, one has only to look at the anti-Semitic activities of the ultra rightwing monarchists, who even used the cinema to promote their hatred of the Jews.  One begins to realize how uninfluenced Nicholas and Alexandra were by such pseudo-patriotic fervor and they never exhibited the same kind of blind antipathy towards minorities that some members of the Romanoff family or the extreme right wing of the Russian aristocracy embraced.  

I have also wondered if the price Nicholas paid for his patronage of Rasputin came less from Rasputin’s moral lapses and more from the fact that Rasputin destroyed the right wing’s "Old Boy” political monopoly during the WWI and the war profiteering that was rabid.  Rasputin’s liberal dealing with the powerful Jewish financers destroyed the right wing exclusion of the Jewish financers and large profits that were ear-marked for the conservative right wing ended up in the hands of the Jewish bankers.  Some historians define a revolution as the transference of large amounts of money from one political group to another.  

I will continue...
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: griffh130 on May 20, 2006, 07:34:04 PM
As a result of the transfer of economic prosperity from the right wing to the Jewish financiers, I can’t wonder if the “German spy mania” that discredited the
Empress Alexandra did not originate, in part, by the disenfranchised right-wing.  Perhaps the assassination of Rasputin had more with his liberal influence on the economics and war profiteering than his supposed malign moral influence on the Imperial couple.  

As further proof, there is the compassionate correspondence between Alexandra and Nicholas during the war where she encourages Nicholas to reform the severe restrictions on Jews because of the case of an American Jew that had come to fight in the war for Russia and had been severely injured and was suffering as a result from the anti-Semitic laws that forbade Jews to live in St. Petersburg or learn a useful trade.      

While it is true that, after the birth of the Czarevitch, Nicholas tended to guard his power and prerogatives, his continued reign did this more for the general prosperity of Russia than has ever been accomplished by any succeeding ruler, including Lenin, that hideous parody of the Emperor Peter I, Stalin and the rest of those tired men angry men that tore Nicholas’ accomplishments down in order to justify their own inability to bring an equal amount of prosperity to Russia.  

And just in case, to those who might think that I sound like some crazed monarchist, I have to ask, has anyone of the Soviet or Russian Ruler been able to boast that there were more cars in Moscow in 1905 than there were in NYC as Alexander Werth states in his book?  

Just look at poor Russia.  It is a skeleton of its former glory.  There is no possible comparison between what it is today and what it was during the reign of Nicholas II.  Does anyone believe that the Russian Revolution accomplished the same amount of prosperity that Russia enjoyed during the reign of Nicholas II?  Does anyone deny that the gradual reform that Stolypin instigated would not have accomplished enormous good for Russia if it had been allowed to reach maturity?  

Just look at Spain.  Who put a monarch back on the throne of Spain?  Franco.  It is a monarch that is bringing that country to its ultimate constitutional freedom.  I am not a monarchist but I feel that the second Russian revolution destroyed the national identity of Russia and set it back a hundred years.  And I think that it was the threat of the destruction of Russia’s union that Nicholas forfeited his throne to avoid.   To my way of reasoning, Nicholas, for all his inner uncertainty, was by far the man who could have brought Russia into the twentieth century in an enlightened and progressive way.  He probably might have outlived the life of the son he so loved.  Certainly if he had remained on his throne there would have been no hideous Soviet menace that overshadowed the twentieth century and eventually caused it to be named “The Century of Blood.”      
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RogerV on September 04, 2006, 02:21:15 AM
I hope this subject hasn't been posted already, but I didn't find it in the search I made, so here goes:

Does anyone else feel "torn" as I do when considering Nicholas (and all the Romanovs for that matter)?  On the one hand, I am absolutely fascinated by the world and lives of the IF; I would love to spend a vacation just visiting their palaces and other homes.  I have read their biographies, and know all about Nicholas the loving family man, and Alexandra the devoted wife and mother.  I've also read the books written by aristocrats who managed to escape with their lives.

On the other hand, I consider Nicholas II to be one of the most inept and incompetent leaders of the 20th Century who was largely responsible for bringing his fate upon himself and his family.  His blunders began at his coronation and continued in an almost unbroken string until he was forced to abdicate.  Even then he failed in not having some kind of plan in place to assure the safety of his family (and yes I know there is a lot of discussion as to why he wouldn't have left Russia, etc.).

So the quandry is how do I reconcile these seemingly opposite attitudes?  Part of it I guess is that I love history.  I suspect that also a small part of me wishes that I could have lived in the kind of luxury the Romanovs enjoyed.  Maybe it's also the kind of compulsion one has to viewing a massive train wreck.  Possibly it's the inclination to say "if only....." things might have turned out differently.

Does anyone else have similar feelings?  I'd very much like to know.

--Roger
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: isabel on September 04, 2006, 06:29:46 AM
I don´t feel like this.

Perhaps because i don´t considere that Nicholas had all the responsability of the facts. It´s true that he was not a good leader, sure, he was not a man with the qualitys that a governor should have, but the situation in Europe during his rule was terribly complicate, and i am not sure that if an other Tzar would be in his situation the revolution won´t go on.

His own grand father was assesinated in St.Petersburg, and his father suffered the attack of the revolutionarys too. Alexander II is considered a good Tzar,Alexander III had an strong carachtere,....and they could not scape of the agitated situation of their country.

The crown Nicholas inherited was not an easy job, he was too young when suddenly he became Tzar of Russia, he had any experience, to many advisers, and an enormous and agited country to care in the difficult Europe of that time.

I don´t considere his coronation a blunder of Nicholas, he was informed about the accident late, and he wanted to suspend all the coronation festivities, but they recommend him not to do it. Sure he had to do it, but he trusted in the experience of his ministers. He was wrong, and this situation was sadly going to be repeated during his reign.

About have a plan to rescue his family my opinion is that he was not concious of the gravity of their situation, and of course of the tragedy they were going to live. Kings Queens, and governors of the rest of Europe were their relatives, and i think that he was sure until the end that they were going to be rescued.

I am not an expert but i belive that if other person would be the Tzar in that moment, he won´t be able to stop the revolution.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RogerV on September 04, 2006, 01:16:23 PM
What happened to the Romanovs sparked a chain of events that had repercussions throughout most of the 20th Century, and controversy around them trickles into the 21st Century.

--RogerV

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Forum Admin on September 04, 2006, 02:42:21 PM
I don't see it as a quandry, personally.  Nicholas II was, despite Bolshevik propoganda, a human being. One with assets and flaws, talents and ineptitudes.  A loving family man, dedicated to his postion and country and his people. Also, not nearly well trained enough for his job, overshadowed by his father and far too "perfect a gentleman" in the late Victorian sense to be a decisive and shrewd autocrat in turbulent times.

I myself have had several people take me to task for being Jewish and yet finding more positive traits about Nicholas II than negative ones.   One can not let one's religious faith color any truth, be it science or history.  It just is what it is. period.

That is what is so interesting to me about this period in history in general. The fabulous wealth, pomp and power, the desparate poor, burgeoning middle classes, and the genuine saintliness of some and the horrible beyond belief evil of others, and all too human characters caught up in it all, powerless to prevent the sweep of events which ultimately changed everything in their society from top to bottom.

Just my view

Rob
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Belochka on September 04, 2006, 07:31:58 PM
There is no quandry for me. My paternal grandparents were part of that noble society.

For me personally it is a journey of understanding how they all lived and what circumstances surrounded Nikolai's tragic destiny and that of Imperial Russia.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: imperial angel on September 05, 2006, 10:04:01 AM
That is an interersting question. Nicholas was a great family man, amd a great man in his private life, we all know that. That can't be debated at all. It is on the more political side that questions arise. We here I suppose, reverence him for his private life, and for his family and all that. And indeed, we should. He wasn't a great leader, he didn't have the abilities, nor more importantly, the training. But although he made great errors sometimes, that led to his and the dynasty's fall, he never intended to do that. He was never intentionally trying to be a bad ruler, nor an inept one. He thought that what he was doing was the best he could do. I realize he wasn't a great leader, but I don't really hold him to blame for it.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Bev on September 05, 2006, 12:57:16 PM
I admire Washington, although I abhor his slave owning, and I admire Jefferson's complicated character and his ability to articulate a vision, but he still acted in ways quite a bit of times that I thought were cruel and meanspirited.  I believe we can admire beauty and still be sensible to how it was made and at what cost to other human beings. 
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: grandduchessella on September 05, 2006, 04:02:30 PM
I admire Washington, although I abhor his slave owning, and I admire Jefferson's complicated character and his ability to articulate a vision, but he still acted in ways quite a bit of times that I thought were cruel and meanspirited.  I believe we can admire beauty and still be sensible to how it was made and at what cost to other human beings. 

I pretty much agree with this view. There are statements I read, like NII's attitude towards liberty (which he expressed in a letter to his mother and in statements about the need for a Duma in Russia) that are at odds with modern beliefs. Also the question of anti-Semtism which, like Washington & Jefferson owning slaves, is hard to not view through modern eyes. This also holds to the notion of such a complete autocracy with so much power and wealth concentrated in the hands of so few and with much of the wealth and jewels that are so lovely to look at being purchased at such a cost to the many. This doesn't hold for just the Romanovs, but the excesses there (such as Princess Yussupov's bowl of precious stones that people could just run their fingers through) seem larger than most. Still, the whole Gilded Age that I enjoy reading about so much had a real dark side for those not so fortunate.

And on the flip side, there was the gentle family man who so enjoyed time with his children. Except for some who dealt with him on a political basis, who sometimes wrote unkindly about his intelligence and demeanor, opinions as to his character were often warm ones. He was a faithful husband, a religious man who tried to lead a good personal life, an attentive father and son.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: imperial angel on September 05, 2006, 04:21:41 PM
I think sometimes we do see those issues through overly personal or modern minds. We might have a hard time seeing these issues through the minds they saw it through; and not through our modern eyes. But we should always try to keep perspective in mind. In a different age, things are regarded differently, and each of us is a victim of our era, in view and mindset. All you said about Nicholas personally is true.There are always sensitive issues in history as in life, especially in politics. Sometimes its important to understand why historical figures did things in the context of their age, and not ours.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Mazukov on September 07, 2006, 07:24:46 AM
Ruling Russia was by no means a simple task. It was complex.Just looking at the situation of the times. On one side you had ultra rich, and ultra poor. During the turn of the century, Russia was moving fast into the industrial age, but her people working under harsh conditions for low wages, of course there screaming out for better wages, and better working conditions, the powers to be screaming no we should keep the status quo, along he was trying to push Russia into the 20th century and still rule as though it was the 18th and 19 th century. He was doing the right things in regard to pushing his country forwarded into the industrial age that other western countries had been already enjoying the fruits of the industrial age of the time.

The problem was that in Russia he had a work force that was not highly educated nor well trained, I’m not saying that everyone was like that but the major masses who needed do the word at hand had not been. So he did try to push it his country. His other problem and this is the one I think is the major one, he lacked the forced of will power to push it the right way. For example if he had dealt with his own family more firmly he may have been able to pull it off. Looking back at it now it’s easy for us to say hey he should have told his family I’m the tsar this is how we will do it if you don’t like it leave. But when dealing with them he tended to cave in which weakened his hand a great deal and caused a lot of turmoil. 
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: imperial angel on September 10, 2006, 06:02:14 PM
Russia was a difficult country to rule, and the Imperial Family was one that was hard to be head of, although Russia was the harder. Nicholas did try, but things just didn't go right, and it was very complicated. It can't be narrowed down to him personally for sure, the cause of the revolution.World War I didn't help matters, and in fact if it hadn't started one wonders what would have been Russia's fate.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Nadezhda Edvardovna on September 15, 2006, 10:53:42 AM
I think the reason I'm so interested in the IF and their time, culture is exactly because of the quandry.  The contradictions lead to conflict.  According to Elizabeth George (my favorite novelist), it is conflict which drives plot forward.  In the case of Nicholas and Alexandra, their story is endlessly full of contradictions, conflict.  An added level of interest is that their story is true, and we can actually see, touch the places and things with which they were connected.  Had they "lived happily ever after" we would find them very boring. 

They also offer what Anne Shirley called "scope for imagination."  We can exit our daily lives and live vicariously in theirs by looking at photographs, visiting palaces, reading books, or visiting this site and forum.  I idle hours away imagining that I am a member of their court, what would I choose to wear? what would my day be like? Would I choose cream, cognac, or jam in my tea? and so on.  It enlivens this schoolteacher's otherwise mundane existence.

Pax, N.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: imperial angel on September 18, 2006, 08:34:00 AM
I think tragedy is part of the interest in the Romanov's story, for sure. But there are many other elements that keep us interested in the Romanovs, and get us interested in them in the first place, actually. The tragedy is there, and it is true that it always sparks human interest, but there is much more to interest us in the Romanovs rather than the quandry of their existence. I think there are many quandries in all our lives,not just one that could you cite as in the case of this specific thread with the Romanovs. Of course, all history actually is a sort of a escape, and yet it helps us remember what is important in real life as well-sort of a quandry. ;)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Alixz on November 20, 2006, 06:34:53 PM
I was about to mention the Gilded Age as Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)  christened it. Then I read that Bev mentioned it.  The Gilded Age was in every country.  Here in American there were fabulously rich and crushingly poor.  Anyone who lives anywhere near Newport RI should go to see the "mansions".  These were built as "summer cottages" and were lived in only about 8 week of the year.  These homes have in excess of 100 rooms!  Not a palace of 1000 rooms, but an extravagance none the less.  And the money to build all of this splendor was made on the backs of the working poor.

No country was exempt from the Gilded Age  (remember Titanic?).

I think it is the tragedy of the IFs death that causes of the quandary.  If Nicholas II had died of old age and in bed, I doubt that any of us would be as intrigued as we are by his faults and his graces.

Edited for spelling.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: imperial angel on November 29, 2006, 11:52:24 AM
What does the gilded age have to with the Romanovs? I know it was the 1890s, but I was wondering. The gilded age always makes me think of the Vanderbilts and their lifestyle.. But, in Russia it was always the gilded age, as it were for the Romanovs, was it not? But, the last Romanovs, despite the lifestyle they lived or could have lived, had rather simple tastes. That's a sort of quandary, in my mind?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: James1941 on November 29, 2006, 01:19:07 PM
What has not been mentioned here is that hundreds of thousands of Russians were immigrating each year, mainly to the United States. If Russia had offered them any hope it is doubtful that this would have been the case. While those who made it to America might not have found its streets paved with gold and a chicken in every pot they did find opportunity and their children certainly prospered. Most of the great Hollywood moguls of the era where the sons of Russian immigrants. I think the fact that people were trying to get out of Russia and into the U.S. speaks volumes about conditions in Russia at that time.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: londo954 on November 29, 2006, 01:34:53 PM
James that's an interesting point however i believe statistically a lot of the Russian immigrants were Jewish. America attracted people from all over the world, most every country in western Europe it is too simplify things too much to say that if things were better in their country they never would of came. America at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the twentieth offered the promise of more . The Myth of the American Dream still held but even that balloon was coming apart at the seems. America like England Ireland and even Russia had a rigid class structure however here the barriers were monetary and the rich took steps to make sure that the poor staid where they were. Only government intervention helped even things out a little ( ie The Sherman Anti Trust acts, Income tax, and later Social security) .
Food for thought ... America offered the myth of the American Dream that quickly fizzled for most of the immigrants. The attraction for the Russian immigrants was FREEDOM.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Janet_W. on November 29, 2006, 02:33:51 PM
Thank you for quoting Anne Shirley, Nadezhda Edvardovna! She's a favorite of mine, too.

Like others who've contributed to this thread, I've also taken flak for being interested in Nicholas, Alexandra, and their children . . . though at times I've become disenchanted as well. But I always return to what drew me to them in the first place: two hardworking, conscientious Victorians, very much in love with each other--not just in the early throes of their physical passion, but throughout their lives--who are the parents of five attractive and distinctively different children, one of whom is disabled for life due to a condition that his loving mother, so desparate to provide her husband and Russia with an heir, has passed on to him.

That they were of the most elevated of European classes--royalty--does not necessarily make them "well bred" or better than others, but it certainly has caused them to be exceptionally well-documented. And since I am interested in people and the way they live their lives, I enjoy reading about royalty, as well as presidents, authors, actors and the like, because their lives tended to be well-documented.

But certainly the omniprescent air of tragedy is part of the equation as well. I have read voraciously about other lives with tragic endings--i.e., the Brontes, Mary Stuart, Anne Frank, Margaret Mitchell, Judy Garland--and tragic events such as Massada, the Titanic, the Alamo, the Donner Party, etc., but to read about people who had so much and then lost so much, but all the same retained their core values has particular appeal to me. The "glamour" of being a Romanov doesn't particularly appeal to me, though I'm certainly in line with them being happiest while living informally. Except for Alexandra, who did what she could within the constraints of her own physical and psychological issues, they performed as requested--especially Nicholas and his two eldest daughters--and enjoyed the perks of an exaulted lifestyle. But the children, being children--and also having been raised in a simple, common sense fashion by their parents--could be just as happy mingling with the average Russian and even "roughing it." Perhaps this is one of the reasons they managed to adapt to their varying levels of imprisonment.

Religion--or lack of religion--does not make a particular difference to me; what matters is the grace and humanity of the people involved.

Also, look around and you'll see that "The Gilded Age" is not really over . . . the nation/state/province/county/community in which you live in very likely features tremendous extremes of poverty and wealth. So in a very real sense we are still confronted with issues that were part of those times . . . the haves vs. the have-nots.

Those of us who wish to make something of our lives and make good decisions are also drawn to the Romanovs: We want to know why it all went wrong, and what we can tweak in our own lives to avoid the same or similar mistakes.

And then there's the matter of fate vs. self-determination. While I respect Shirley MacLaine as both an actress and an author, I don't concur with her belief that we choose the parents and the situations into which we are born. Instead I believe that we are largely the product of both our genetics and environment, of which--in my opinion--we have no choice. All that is left, then, is human will. And the story of Nicholas is very much one of how ancestry and environment--both of which were problematic even before his conception--shape our lives. That Nicholas chose to implement the only true variable--his will--in a way which he felt best but which ultimately brought about his downfall is, as with the flawed heroes of Roman and Greek literature--yet another part of the fascination.

A quandry? Not when we understand that the human condition is much the same today as it was then!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: imperial angel on December 14, 2006, 11:15:57 AM
I did much enjoy Janet _W's post as well. There is not much I could say better than that. I think the Romanovs did not choose their tragedy, events just happened to them, and it was largely beyond any control of theirs. At any rate, some of their choices did make things happen faster.I think the KR quote in Alixz's profile says it very well, that they did not think the Revolution could happen, and that they were careless. I know he didn't write those words in that context, but I believe they can be applied to that family and dynasty, that he himself was a member of.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Alixz on December 14, 2006, 01:23:59 PM
Imperial Angel,

You are right.  I believe that KR meant care free, but I put in the quote because it struck me, if taken the way you and I both see it, as a commentary on the Romanov condition.

When we are young, we are indeed careless and also care free.  Nicholas, however was not care free, not far a moment of his reign.  But he certainly could be viewed as careless.  The whole of the Romanov clan at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth century could certainly be seen as "careless".
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: imperial angel on December 14, 2006, 03:22:46 PM
Well, I'm glad we both saw the same thing in the KR quote. Where did you get it from? I think KR had a knack for writing about one thing, but it could easily mean another. That's true of many poems and plays though, isn't it? Perhaps KR caught the mood of the moment there, although he might not have realized it. He was a wise man, and maybe could see the nature of the dynasty and Russia, even if he wasn't writing it about that.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Alixz on December 14, 2006, 04:46:53 PM
AI - I got it from the King/Wilson book  Gilded Prism  chapter 16 page 147.  It is a poem called Roses written in May 1885.  Way before any of the upheavals of the late 19 and early 20 century.

"In the days of the hopeful young,
"In the days of cloudless azure,
"To us, the storms were unknown,
"We were careless.
"The flowers smelled sweet to us,
"The Moon shone only to us,
"Only for me, with you at night
"Nightingales sang their grief
"In the carefree years.
"We knew the prose of the day:
"As it abounded in goodness,
"Like the fresh roses!
"Now, that time has long passed,
"Replaced with misfortune and grief,
"We encountered great grief;
"But to lose heart, my friend, is sinful:
"Behold, God's peace is excellent;
"The firmament is deep and pure,
"Our garden is green and fragrant,
"And on warm days, it is quiet and clear."
"It seeped through the door,
"The colors of dew, shining in our tears,
"Now, they are again good,
"As fresh as the roses!
"For all that we suffered,
"Grace renders to us a hundredfold.
"Days will dissolve into memory,
"And after the gloomy winter,
"Again, come the blooming valleys.
"Joyous Spring flies away:
"The gentle moon spills its light,
"And we will rest from our labor.
"We will return to our dream of happiness,
"As things once had been,
"And the roses will again be fresh!"

Of course they credit the author KR.  (Any typos are mine)

It is amazing that he wrote this in 1885 over 20 years before the Revolution.  So he could have had no such idea of the things that were to come.  However, the whole of the poem is a fitting epitaph for the Romanov Dynasty.

I don't like a lot of his work.  Some of what he is best known for left me, uh, less than rapturous.  But this one struck a chord.

King/Wilson don't say why he wrote the poem or if was written for someone.  At lot of his poems were written for members of the Imperial Family.  Ella, Serge, and Peter Oldenburg to name just a few.

I have been doing some Googling, but have not yet found anything in English that gives me a clue.  The Russian sites are, well, Russian to me.

Glad you like it!

ALIXZ


Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: imperial angel on December 15, 2006, 08:45:54 AM
He was a very talented poet. I love that poem of his, so much. I think it does sound applicable to the Romanovs, but you are right, he could not have known. He died in 1915, three years before the Revolution ever took place. I don't know where he saw the country and the dynasty heading at the time that he died. He was perceptive, if perhaps not knowing the extent of his perception. I don't think he ever thought of the Romanov dynasty in terms of any quandry.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Ra-Ra-Rasputin on December 18, 2006, 05:29:42 AM
Well, I can't say I see the 'talent' in KR's poetry myself. It's more self indulgent mish mash of cliches to me, if I'm being perfectly honest.  I wouldn't try and read into it any reflection on the situation of the Romanovs whatsoever, unless we're implying that KR was a mystic.  It's the most conventional piece of poetry I've read in a long time, actually, and the tone of lament is one you will find in many a melodramatic 19th c poem. 'Replaced with great misfortune and grief, we encountered great grief' in particular, is an absolutely dreadful line.  How much of the awfulness of this poem is down to difficulties in translation, however, I don't know.  Did KR write in Russian or English? Who translated this poem? Perhaps there were more subtle uses of language in the Russian that could not be directly translated into English.  Everyone knows that poetry is the most difficult medium to translate, after all.

On the subject of liking the Romanovs being a quandry, I agree.  I strongly dislike the Romanovs, both for their stupidity and the ridiculously outmoded and selfishly opulent way in which they lived, seeing as I'm a bit of a closet Commie and believe in equality and sharing the wealth and all those sorts of socialist idealogies.  I find it difficult to understand why people find the Romanovs such empathetic characters when really they brought all of their misfortune upon themselves.  I cannot find stupidity and pride reasons to empathise with this family.  The only people I feel sorry for are their poor children, who had to get dragged down with their parents to a death they most certainly did nothing to deserve.  Not that Nicholas and Alexandra deserved to die in the way they did either, but they certainly had more control over the situation they ended up in than their children.

However, at the same time, something about them fascinates me.  My main academic interests are in Victorian social history and literature, and so I find the way they lived and seeing the photographs of them going about their daily lives absolutely mesmerising, despite the fact that I find the way they lived in such opulence absolutely deplorable considering how many of their subjects were starving to death and illiterate, etc.  I think that they are so interesting because of the unique, detailed record we have of them.  How many other Royal Families do we see in such photographic detail? What other royal families have been written about and taken apart so often as the Romanovs? Their tragic demise has led to an inordinate amount of interest in their so well documented personal lives, and I think that is why I find them so interesting.  I see them more as part of a wonderful time capsule of a period of time that now makes no sense to me on so many levels, and that is why I find it so fascinating.  To think that less than 100 years ago, people lived like that and believed in such things as a God given right to rule absolutely is amazing.  Finding out why and what motivated these people interests me more than the indivduals of Nicholas and Alexandra themselves, I think.  Nicholas and Alexandra are perfect examples of a certain type of 19th century mindset; people refusing to move forward with the times and desperately clinging onto ideals that were already decades behind what the majority of people wanted.  They were stuck in an idealised past that never really existed, and what made them stuck there and what motivated them to stay stuck there is what I find endlessly interesting, and why I don't mind reading about people I have no respect for and have nothing in common with.  I'd love to do a psychoanalytical reading of the Romanovs.  Perhaps one day I will.  Watch this space.     

Rachel
xx
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: imperial angel on December 18, 2006, 03:33:44 PM
Well, I guess it's in how you look at it. I try not to train a very academic eye to them, I think they were real people, and the values of their world however much we might criticize them, can never be judged by the values of ours. That's taking two different eras, and two different mindsets, and it just doesn't work that way, unfortunatly. I think people from any era of history always have some qualities in common, even from seemingly different worlds. We just have to try to understand each other, I believe. As well, nobody ever really brings their tragedy down on themselves, because there are always things that could have gone differently, that don't have anything to do with them, that lie more in circumstances.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: s66405h on December 18, 2006, 08:39:25 PM
My fascination with the Romanovs is kind of like reading a historical novel (that really isn't fiction.)  My life is so absolutely middle class I can only visit the people and places we discuss in my imagination.  I am saving travel and “palace hopping” for my retirement. 
The problem with Nicholas II is that he apparently really believed that he was anointed by God and that He would protect him.  I believe in an all powerful God but I don't believe in an all powerful autocrat.
My quandary is that it is almost becoming an obsession!  I can't wait to get home and see what everyone is talking about. 

Sara
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Ra-Ra-Rasputin on December 19, 2006, 04:06:03 AM
Well, I guess it's in how you look at it. I try not to train a very academic eye to them, I think they were real people, and the values of their world however much we might criticize them, can never be judged by the values of ours. That's taking two different eras, and two different mindsets, and it just doesn't work that way, unfortunatly. I think people from any era of history always have some qualities in common, even from seemingly different worlds. We just have to try to understand each other, I believe. As well, nobody ever really brings their tragedy down on themselves, because there are always things that could have gone differently, that don't have anything to do with them, that lie more in circumstances.

Oh, I agree.  We can't possibly judge Nicholas and Alexandra by some of the values we have today, such as the way we parent today and the way we view democracy, women's rights, etc, because those things were done very differently only one hundred years ago. 

However, the common perception that people living in the nineteenth century were wholly different to us and the way we live today is fundamentally flawed and there are plenty of new historical assessments of the era that expose this 'myth' that has developed around the Victorians and their way of life throughout the twentieth century.  They were not the sexually repressed prudes they have been made out to be by disapproving modernists (1920's) who wanted to portray the Victorians as oh-so-different from themselves.  There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the vast majority of Victorians (I'm using this as a blanket term for people living in the 19th c, not just literally Victorians, as in people living in the British Empire) were really not that dissimilar from us and were very forward thinking and progressive in their mindsets.  While you do have a minority of mainly upper class people who didn't want women to have the vote, didn't want lower class people to have the vote and didn't talk about sex, etc, you also have upper class men involved in homosexuality (a lot of them, trust me) and social investigations designed to help the poor, trade unions, new philosophical thoughts such as utilitarianism, the discovery of Darwin's theories and the breakdown of religion, etc.  The 19th century was, like our own 20th and 21st centuries, a time of progress and change and the people living during that time were also progressing and changing and were really not that dissimilar from us.

I think it is important to sometimes take a step back and stop viewing Nicholas and Alexandra from such a personal point of view, because looking at them in that way leaves them in some sort of rose tinted fantasty world of crinolines and covered up piano legs, and we find ourselves excusing their behaviour by saying 'but people did things differently in those days.'  Yes, people did do things differently in those days, but that doesn't excuse the ignorance and pride of Nicholas and Alexandra's behaviour, their complete unsuitability to jointly rule an Empire, all of the mistakes they made and the opulent way in which they lived.  Let's not romanticise here; Nicholas and Alexandra were surrounded by a world of modern, progressing ideas.  They were at the forefront of an era of change.  They chose to shut the door on it and retreat into their own little world of chintz and afternoon tea, and it is because of that that they ended up in a cellar in Ekaterinburg, in my opinion.

You can make excuses all you like, but at some point, the responsibility for their actions has got to be placed on Nicholas and Alexandra's shoulders and not on vague notions of 'circumstances'.  Circumstances come about for reasons.  And reasons come about because of actions.  And who is performing those actions? Nicholas and Alexandra.

Rachel
xx
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Helen on December 19, 2006, 11:30:05 AM
You can make excuses all you like, but at some point, the responsibility for their actions has got to be placed on Nicholas and Alexandra's shoulders and not on vague notions of 'circumstances'.
Circumstances come about for reasons.  And reasons come about because of actions.  And who is performing those actions? Nicholas and Alexandra.
Like all human beings, Nicholas and Alexandra did not live on a desert island nor were they all-powerful. 'These circumstances' were not the result of Nicholas' and Alexandra's actions alone. They were also the result of the actions of milions and millions of other people who were living in these days, and let's not forget the actions of all those millions and millions of people who had lived before them.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Ra-Ra-Rasputin on December 19, 2006, 12:46:26 PM
I agree, Helen.  Hence why I used the term 'their actions'.  I'm not suggesting that they be held responsible for the actions of everyone else over the past century, but for their own, yes, they must be held responsible.

Nicholas and Alexandra were killed alongside their family partly because of circumstances outside of their control but also because of circumstances that had come about because of their actions.  I am not saying Nicholas and Alexandra were wholly responsible for the Russian Revolution; that would be absurd and imply that I had no knowledge whatsoever of Russian history.  What I am saying, however, is that Nicholas and Alexandra have to be held responsible for the actions they performed that led to their unpopularity, to the instability of the Russian throne, to the enforced abdication of Nicholas, and almost certainly to their murder.

If the Revolution had happened during Nicholas' father's reign, I don't believe that the IF would have been murdered.  I think that the reason the IF were murdered was because they had become such hate figures in the public eye.  Why? Because of Nicholas' behaviour and because of Alexandra's behaviour.  They brought it upon themselves.  They didn't mean to, they didn't deserve it to, but they did.  And pretending that they were innocents swept up in a tide of mean revolutionaries doesn't get us anywhere.  Nicholas and Alexandra were inept rulers.  They were both lacking in intelligence and foresight.  They both preferred to believe in outmoded traditional ideas that kept Russia in a state of backwardness more suitable to the 16th than the 19th century.  They ignored the wishes of their people in favour of what they wanted.  In short, they were pretty useless rulers, and so they were removed forceably, which sadly but inevitably led to their deaths at the hands of very angry people who blamed them for their own misfortunes.  Which, I believe, they had some reason to. 

We can read the works of sentimental historians like Robert Massie and feel sorry for Nicholas and Alexandra and see them as people just like us who made mistakes as much as we like, but we can't get away from the fact that the pair caused a hell of a lot of suffering for a hell of a lot of people and they've got to take some of the blame for that.  I'm sure they were very nice people and loved each other and their children, etc, but the decisions they made affected lives, and some of them were not very nice decisions, such as ordering pogroms and forcing non Russian people to become Russian against their will.  And really, in Russia, they were all powerful.  Nicholas may have introduced a parliament (and that under duress), but he didn't have to listen to it, remember.

Vanity working on a weak head causes all kinds of mischief.  Vanity working on two weak heads who were married to each other leads to disaster.  No matter how 'nice' those weak heads may have been.

I know I'm in the minority on this board, because most people prefer to pop their rose tinted glasses on and gush about how wonderful N and A were and how pretty their clothes were.  But I'm a cynic and I don't wear glasses, so...I don't subscribe to that sentimental portrait. I probably take quite a harsh standpoint on this, and some people would argue that I attribute too much personal blame on the revolution and their fate to Nicholas and Alexandra, but history is all about interpretation, and that is how I interpret it.

Rachel
xx

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Helen on December 19, 2006, 03:16:38 PM
Rachel, I agree with you that Nicholas and Alexandra were responsible for their own actions, like any human being is, and that there is no need to look at them through rose-coloured glasses, but I also think your standpoint is harsher than they deserved.
Quote
I think that the reason the IF were murdered was because they had become such hate figures in the public eye.  Why? Because of Nicholas' behaviour and because of Alexandra's behaviour.  They brought it upon themselves. ... And really, in Russia, they were all powerful.
Hatred may have been the reason why the IF was murdered, but it's not true that Nicholas and Alexandra were hated purely because of their own behaviour. Part of the hatred was stirred up by others through lies and unfair criticism, and in many cases this was done deliberately to undermine Nicholas' and Alexandra's position. Take for instance a small matter that took place shortly after Nicholas and Alexandra had married.  In the spring of 1895, there was a lot of commotion about dresses. Alexandra was criticised for buying new ones instead of wearing the dresses she had received as a wedding gift. She was called ungrateful and a bigspender. Did she really bring it upon herself that she was criticised? ??? After all, she was merely buying 'maternity clothes'! Wouldn't it be fairer to hold gossiping courtiers responsible for putting her in an unfavourable light in this specific case? There are dozens of other examples of more or less malicious actions of other people that helped create a negative image of Nicholas and Alexandra. Nicholas and Alexandra were NOT all-powerful and could only do so much to prevent gossip, scheming and nasty lies. They were responsible for their own actions, but they were certainly not the only ones responsible for the hatred the public felt for them. Relatives, court officials, members of  noble families, factory workers, farmers, communists etc. etc. who started rumours or lies, who spread rumours or lies - either orally or in letters or newspapers, legal or illegal - or who schemed against the tsar with a view to personal gain or out of pure boredom helped to blacken N.&A.'s names and were also responsible for the hatred felt for Nicholas and Alexandra.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Eddie_uk on December 19, 2006, 04:05:51 PM
Also, in times of trouble people resent/hate those better off than themselves- sad but true. Like in the french revolution. They turned on those better off than themselves. Very unjust and wicked. Just shows you what happens when the mob takes over!!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Alixz on December 19, 2006, 04:44:18 PM
I wondered about what could have been "lost in the translation".  I am sure that is is very hard to translate Russian poetry into English.

I thought that might be the reason that people sing raptures over his poetry and I find it dull.

But, even though this one was written some 20 years before the end of the dynasty, and I am sure that he wasn't seeing into the future or in anyway pre-cognizant, it just stuck me as I said before as a fitting epitaph for the entire clan.

As I said before, too, I think that he meant "care free" not careless.  Not careless in the way we, who speak English, use it.

A quandry?  Yes.  There is little to be admired in the the Romanov family toward the end of the 19th centruy.  But then, there is a fascination in examining their "lost world".

Edited:  Oops!  I missed a few pages while catching up on my reading.  Ra Ra makes a lot of sense and so does Helen.  I know that the rumors were spread and that neither Nicholas or Alexandra thought they had to "do" anything about them.  They were "above" that kind of thing, but rumors were spread and Marie P the elder was responsible for a great deal of misinformation and malicious gossip. 

Nicholas and Alexandra were weak headed.  They couldn't even control their own family and how it perceived them.

But in a way, those who view them with "rose colored glasses" are seeing their life as an historical romance novel.  A way to "escape" into a world that none of us will ever live in or even see.  (Who would want to see the ugly underbelly of that world?)

Two places that the public should never see.  The basements of hospitals or the kitchens of great restaurants.  Both are as ugly as the the underworld of Nicholas and Alexandra.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: imperial angel on December 20, 2006, 12:48:15 PM
It seems the quandry is to be critical of them or not. ;) Of course, some of their fate can be laid at their door, but I think it is more that '' character is destiny'' as Nietszche wrote. You can't help your character, even though it makes your destiny. And the results of this behaviour might not be good, but it is behavior that is outside your control, in your personality. Nicholas and Alexandra have been cited for many mistakes, and they were human, they made mistakes. But, they were also human in the sense they went through what all of us do, and more at a very high level, and they had more to deal with than most of us, indeed as mentioned gossip and rumour. This was on a very bad scale, and was worse than just the gossip some of us might know has been said about us ( like in a certain town I used to live in  ;)), and they became victims of this. They controlled many destinies, ruling Russia as they did, as autocrats, but in some ways they could not control their own destinies. They were in the midst of so many forces that overwhelmed them, that took them onto the tide of history, wherever that led. In my opinion, that's another quandry, right there.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Mazukov on December 20, 2006, 03:49:10 PM
It is something to be said about the Russian people as well. For all it’s worth Russians tends to be more in need of a strong single head leadership than a weak one. Where as we in the west can get by on a weak leader Russia on the other hand can not.

I’m not trying to diss our Russians at all but the fact is Russia is a harsh land the people are tougher in sprit than most others. It has a lot to do with the harshness of the land and climate and the nature of the Russian soul. Even now in the 21st century we see that Russia can not progress without some sort of harsh handed government tactics a pone her people.

The last tsar being weak minded and weak in government affairs, adding to the mix the millions lost in the war, the cure rumors that exploded about the capital about the IF made the situation all the more ripe for revolution. When that revolution did come it was curl, full of anger and hatred which was mostly fueled by rumors and rhetoric like a wild fire that hatred spread throe out the land. And the only way to contain it was by a government body that was as equal in curtly and hatred.   
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Alixz on December 20, 2006, 05:27:26 PM
One reason that any government, especially the US Government, can withstand a weak ruler is that we have three branches of government with "checks and balances".

In an autocracy, even one with a Duma as Nicholas had there were no others to check or to balance the weakness of the head.

We can diss our president, but we know that ultimately that congress declares war and only congress has that power under the constitution.  We can vote our president out of office or even vote out our senators and representatives.  We can have "impeachment" hearings as we did with Clinton.  We can take a sitting president to trial and convict him if necessary. We can even force a resignation as happened to Nixon.

In theory and so far in practice, no one branch of our government can "run amok".

The bottom line is we can change the make up of our government without revolution. 

Russia of the early 20th century could not.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Belochka on December 23, 2006, 06:38:31 PM
One reason that any government, especially the US Government, can withstand a weak ruler is that we have three branches of government with "checks and balances".

In an autocracy, even one with a Duma as Nicholas had there were no others to check or to balance the weakness of the head.

We can diss our president, but we know that ultimately that congress declares war and only congress has that power under the constitution.  We can vote our president out of office or even vote out our senators and representatives.  We can have "impeachment" hearings as we did with Clinton.  We can take a sitting president to trial and convict him if necessary. We can even force a resignation as happened to Nixon.

In theory and so far in practice, no one branch of our government can "run amok".

The bottom line is we can change the make up of our government without revolution. 

Russia of the early 20th century could not.



In fact the Duma "ran amok" to use your expression, before it went into recess in December 1916. With the asssistance of the military a number of government representatives that included Guchkov, Shulgin and Rodzianko helped to overthrow the Emperor.

In the absence of support from the military Stavka any remnants of those so called "checks" became so overbalanced they forced Nikolai to abdicate.

The bottom line was that the provisional government was a change in government achieved by a few. It was certainly not a revolution.

Margarita  :-\
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Belochka on December 23, 2006, 06:55:23 PM
The bottom line is we can change the make up of our government without revolution. 

Russia of the early 20th century could not.



But let us not forget the later part of the 20th century either.

Gorbachev resigned in December 1991 and paved the way for the collapse of the soviet regime.

Margarita
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Alixz on December 23, 2006, 07:11:58 PM
Belochka

Actually, I was thinking that Nicholas was the one who "ran amok" and that here in the US that can't happen.  Nicholas was out of control and so far in over his head that the change of government was forced upon him by those you have mentioned.  However, this was not a change brought about by democratic means.  Perhaps that is why the Provisional Government didn't last very long.

I tend to discount the short and temporary sitting of the Provisional Government.  The final change came in the form of the Bolshevik Revolution.  The Provisional Government was not truly a change in policy toward the war or toward conditions at home. (Maybe they just didn't have enough time.)

As an autocrat, Nicholas had no checks or balances.  That is how Alexandra could rule in his stead.  I know that it is rumored that US First Ladies have "ruled" while their husbands were sick or disabled, but the Vice President is there for that reason.  And after the Vice President then the Speaker of the House of Representatives. (Although I believe that some form of offical paperwork has to be signed for the transfer of power and that is why the rumors of the First Ladies governing came into being.  In the two cases I can think of no paperwork was done and so in theory the President was still in charge and since in both cases, the men wer unable to do the job, their wives (so it is rumored) stepped in.)

Nicholas had no democratically approved successor, just an governmentally uneducated woman and a sick boy.

A government with a weak head breeds and ferments revolutionary ideas.  History shows us that ultimately the population will take things into their own hands and over throw the weak ruler.  By force if necessary. By voluntary abdication if not.

But in the US it is the Congress and the Supreme Court who would take charge of the removal of the "weak head".  No revolution would be necessary nor should it be.  When Nixon resigned, the government did not fall.  When Nicholas abdicated his government ceased to exist.

And as you mentioned Gorbachov, again, the resignation of the head led to the fall of the regime.  In the US that hasn't happened (so far).
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Elisabeth on February 13, 2007, 03:10:35 PM
"In my end is my beginning," was Mary, Queen of Scots's motto long before she was beheaded. She was certainly correct in at least two senses: her son, James VI of Scotland, went on to become James I of England, and Mary herself, after her tragic death, entered history as a mythological queen on par with Cleopatra - a seductive femme fatale, according to some writers, and a much-wronged and misunderstood Romantic heroine, according to others - but at any rate, on some level, an immortal archetype, who would be fast approaching goddess status in a more credulous age. Certainly, Mary Stuart's overall mystique and her ageless appeal to the ordinary man - or even, for that matter, his not-so-ordinary and over-educated counterpart - has never been in question.

But how do you define and explain Nicholas II's so-called mystique, as it has developed in the last century or so? Is it solely the product of his and his family's violent deaths at the hands of the Bolsheviks in July 1918? Or are other elements at work? To the extent that this so-called mystique might even be said to exist, what possible purpose could it serve in this, the twenty-first, post-Soviet century?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Sarushka on February 13, 2007, 05:00:58 PM
Short answer: I think it has to do with the contrasts in his life.

He was a lovely family man, and a crummy tsar.
He grew up in opulence to be murdered in a cellar.
He ruled one sixth of the globe, and died a prisoner.
And on and on....

People are fascinated by dramatic changes and unexpected contradictions, and the life of Nicholas II is full of them.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Katherine The O.K. on February 13, 2007, 05:22:46 PM
I agree with Sarushka, for the most part.

I think he'll remain an interesting and important figure in history because he and his family truly symbolized the 'age of innocence' and that age died with them, much like the Tutor Age did with Elizabeth I and the Ancien Regime with Marie Antoinette. He's also memorable for his iconic children: The four little girls always dressed in white pinafores with picture hats and the little hemophiliac son in a sailor suit. You rarely see images of OTMAA taken after 1910 in popular media, and the images of these five adorable little kids are usually followed by, "They would later be shot to death in a cellar" (or some variation thereof). People don't realize that the imperial children were all teenagers or adults by the time of their deaths, and by the time they do, they've already fallen in love with their personalities. The same goes for Nicholas. He was probably bald, had poor teeth, and was very aged by the time of his death. But people always seem to envision the youthful Nicholas in place of the old one when the murders are mentioned. The idea of a young, beautiful family being murdered in such a brutal way is inescapably fascinating. You feel as if you just have to know, how did they go from this to dying in some cellar?

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Janet_W. on February 13, 2007, 07:29:52 PM
I come from a different set of experiences and perspectives re: this question.

What I saw, repeatedly, in books and in magazines, were those famous posed photos taken during the tercentenary. All but the two youngest children, therefore, would in today's venacular be called teenagers--and that was my age at the time. The father and mother were attractive but obviously older and despite their formal apparel, as nonglamorous as my own parents; as for Anastasia and Alexei, they were about the same age as the children I was at the time babysitting. I therefore was fascinated by the attractive family which, at least in terms of age, reminded me of the family of which I was a part and the families with whom I interacted. Added to this interest was my already in-place fascination for the turn-of-the-century, as well as for royalty, who are generally well-documented and therefore good "case studies" for anyone interested in family dynamics. But the clincher, of course, was that this family had been executed, together, and the togetherness of these sepia-tinted photos emphasized that fate.

Then I read Robert Massie's book. And others. And so forth and etcetera.

For anyone who has pondered the concept of self-determination versus the concept of inescapable fate, the story of Nicholas and Alexandra is a tremendous "for example."  The story also is also just a century old and therefore more immediate than, say, that of Mary Stuart. The children in particular seem very accessible, and through innumerable photos and quite a few filmstrips, we see them behaving much as we did when their age.

I also think the "if" factor and issues regarding critical thinking and good decision making is part of the so-called mystique. Shakespeare tackled these matters in his plays. Centuries later, a famous American poem explored the issue of coming upon a fork in the road, and that the road finally chosen made "all the difference." And we have other examples in popular culture--the film Sliders is but one--which tackle that same concept. In reviewing the lives of Nicholas and Alexandra, we repeatedly come up against life situations and circumstances and the decisions they made--separately and jointly--which kept them headed straight towards their violent demise. But we also know they were conscientious Victorians, almost always convinced they were on the right path, which begs the question: Are today's politicians--not to mention each one of us--making the correct decisions . . . or are we also only sealing our doom?

The story of the last Romanovs is distant enough to possess a certain cachet of romance, yet contemporary enough to scare the bejabbers out of those who compare past events with current events. And obviously it has attracted thousands of posters to this website. Some idolize the last Romanovs, some regard them as dolts and even villains. With that in mind, "mystique" might not be the right term for some of us. But none of us would be here if we didn't have an ongoing interest.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: lexi4 on February 13, 2007, 09:30:17 PM
Elisabeth,
Very intereseint topic. I am going to have to put some thought into your questions before I respond.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: imperial angel on February 14, 2007, 10:38:44 AM
It seems that it is the ordinary and the glamorous qualities that account for the mystique of Nicholas II. He was in many ways an ordinary man, yet he ruled an empire. He was of high position, but was down to earth and you can relate. His family was in many ways glamorous, and the symbol of a lost age, yet in other ways they seem just like any family that struggled with real life things. They struggled with Alexei's illness, and that of Alexandra as well, she was under much stress and Olga and Alexandra didn't get along at times, Alexandra tended to dominate Nicholas, and Marie might have felt left out, as the middle child. Those are things any family can relate to, and yet, on the more positive side, Nicholas's marriage was a love story fit for modern times, and he dearly loved his children. Yet, in the end tragedy overtook all of it in a way not so ordinary, which along with the fact they were royalty, interests us. Nicholas II's life was a story familiar to us all, but made far away and glamorous by the tragedy, being royalty, that fabulous world they lived in.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: hikaru on February 23, 2007, 05:46:17 AM
We have to remember that the end19-beginning of 20 is a mysique lovers time.
Everybody liked Mystique things, Eastern parfumes, table-mooving, extrasenses,
magiciens, Blavatskaya books, Old Egypt things - before the revolution mystique
mood covered everybody (excepts Lenin and bolysheviks).
I think that the mysitque things are in the air in anytime and anywhere.
But the point is  in accents or in the grade of attention to such things.
For example: the Lives  of the Pavel the First, Alexandr II etc. were very mistical too. The duration of the ruling of the Pavel as the Tsar is just 4 years 4months and 4 days . 4- is the figure of death in Japan.
The Mystique is in the life of everybody of us or our families.
Just the death of Nicholas was so extraordinary and tragic, so after his death , a lot of people began to
try to explaine such tragedy by using of such matters as mystique.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: lori_c on February 23, 2007, 09:45:26 AM
I also think it's the old adage that one always "remembers the last party."  NII was the last Tsar, the last to be associated w/the dynasty.  In addition to all that's mentioned above, IMO part of his mystique is that his story has been associated w/the collective conciousness and it's impression of many facets of what was happening in the world when his reign came to an end and how this reverberates even now into the 21st century. 
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Janet_W. on February 23, 2007, 01:32:22 PM
I agree, Lori C.  "The last" immediately hints of mystery and possible tragedy, i.e., "The Last Hurrah," "The Last Emperor" (in this case referring to China's imperial family), etc.  Then add an attractive wife--a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, no less--five attractive children, plus a mysterious "mad monk," all played out against (take your pick) the "belle epoque" /"fin de siecle" / "silver age," and ta-da, instant mystique!

But regarding Nicholas himself, there's another issue: For all of his good qualities, Nicholas is definitely a highly flawed protagonist. (Please note I didn't use the term "hero" but "protagonist.") As I alluded earlier, had Shakespeare lived in the early 20th century he might well have framed a play around Nicholas II, much as he did around Hamlet, MacBeth, Othello, Richard III, et al. . . . make of THAT what you will!
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Alixz on February 23, 2007, 11:34:44 PM
Dying young is something that we all have unresolved feelings about.

We idolize those who have died young from Marilyn Monroe and JFK to James Dean and Buddy Holly, to the Imperial Family of Russia.

There is a feeling of "life unfinished" and the curiousness of "what could have been".

If we do believe in fate, then we must see that their lives ended when and how they were supposed to.  But most of us believe in "free will" and we believe that we have some control over our lives and so we continue to mourn that which never was but perhaps that with just a slight change in decision or direction could have been.

And above all, because Nicholas and his family are close in time to us and their lives both private and public are available for us to view all be it in black and white, we feel closer to them than to Mary Stuart or Marie Antoinette whom we can only see through the eyes of a portrait painter.

From the hundreds of photos that are available to us of the Imperial Family, we get the feeling that "this was a real family with real problems and they weren't all so different from us."  It is almost if we can reach back through time while looking at those photographs and just for a moment feel what they felt.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: lori_c on February 26, 2007, 10:41:55 AM
I agree, Lori C.  "The last" immediately hints of mystery and possible tragedy, i.e., "The Last Hurrah," "The Last Emperor" (in this case referring to China's imperial family), etc.  Then add an attractive wife--a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, no less--five attractive children, plus a mysterious "mad monk," all played out against (take your pick) the "belle epoque" /"fin de siecle" / "silver age," and ta-da, instant mystique!

But regarding Nicholas himself, there's another issue: For all of his good qualities, Nicholas is definitely a highly flawed protagonist. (Please note I didn't use the term "hero" but "protagonist.") As I alluded earlier, had Shakespeare lived in the early 20th century he might well have framed a play around Nicholas II, much as he did around Hamlet, MacBeth, Othello, Richard III, et al. . . . make of THAT what you will!
Thank you Janet.  It was the Last Hurrah I was trying to think of as in comparison to the Last Emperor. (I couldn't think of the phase!)   I don't feel Nicholas was a hero but it doesn't diminish his appeal or lack thereof that has ceased to become a topic of "mystique". That for ME is in and of itself an mystique.   An interesting point you made, he really would have been an excellent subject for a Shakepearean play or a Greek Tragedy. ;)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: dmitri on July 04, 2007, 01:51:32 PM
I guess not being a good listener and being inherently weak. His mind was inflexible to the idea of change. He also was foolhardy in putting himself in a position beyond his competency - Commander-in-Chief during ww1 and his greatest folly was leaving his capital in the hands of his wife with no loyal troops to defend his throne.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: strom on February 12, 2008, 12:08:06 PM
I heartily agree with Griffith's last post.  However, things did not work out for Russia's material benefit throughout most of the 20th cen.  It might be better in the 21st.  Peace is required. 

As for the liberalization of Jewish policy in Russia, I think the old regime was moving in that direction and conservative forces in Russia were moving against it.  It was another of those questions that could not be fully addressed during the war.  Anya said something to the effect that the preceived liberaism of the Imperial couple as regards the Jewish question actually precipitating the abdication of the Emperor --I suppose she could be right.  It has been said that the sovereigns of Russia anticipated enlightened public policy over the history of modern Russia.  It is another good reason to revere the old regime.     
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Mexjames on February 12, 2008, 01:14:57 PM
I think that the Bolsheviks capitalized largely on the infrastructure that Russia had from the last stage of the Empire.  Clearly workers and peasants had difficult times, but that was not only in the Empire, and climate didn't help at all. 

The very fact that the Trans-Siberian railway was there made a big difference.  Surely it didn't help Russia against Japan in the war, but it was never intended to support a war, it was intended to promote trade.  Had it not been for the Trans-Siberian, the Soviet Union might not have accomplished anything at all. 

Also, during the Empire we saw a number of Russian scientists discover new things that set the necessary frameworks that others followed.  The Periodic Table, Tsiolkovsky's own pioneering work in astronautics, there was none other than Igor Sikorsky building huge planes in Russia before anyone else.  We can only imagine the faces of the German soldiers when they saw the huge Ilya Muromets planes approaching to drop bombs.  Pavlov's experiments paved the way in understanding how mental conditioning works.

The Tsar was interested in all this and it's my understanding he was keen on adopting new technologies wherever possible.

In the arts, just see how many composers lived in Russia during the Empire, whose contributions to world culture endure even to this very day.  Tchaikovsky's works still fill whole theaters, be it with the "Sleeping Beauty" or "Eugene Onegin" or the "Pique Dame".  Chekhov's plays still have a large number of followers al over the world. 

Serov's famous painting of the Emperor and others are nothing but modern.

These scientific and cultural achievements came on their own, and contrary to the Soviet Union, the Empire had no written policies as to what should be or shouldn't be coming from the artists and scientists.  Sure enough, the Soviet Union provided us with great scientists, whose work went for the benefit of the State, and most Russian artists left the country much to their chagrin but for the benefit of mankind. 

I think that his positive attributes were his undoing.  Maybe his personality didn't "go" with being an autocrat.  Most people didn't understand how the Empress' mind worked.

Maybe the Tsar was full of good intentions and like so many others before and after him, he couldn't see them materialized.  And sometimes people don't appreciate a good person as a ruler.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: 10fadeevan on June 25, 2008, 07:24:28 PM
What are some of Nicholas' successes as tsar or good things about his reign?
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Mexjames on July 02, 2008, 10:51:33 AM
There are several things that come to mind.  Notably, the work of the great Igor Sikorsky in aviation.  During WWI he designed and built what was then the largest airplane in the world, the Ilya Murometz bomber.  This is reported some place else in alexanderpalace.org.  Mr. Sikorsky was decorated by the Emperor, and he even climbed into the bomber using a ladder, although to the best of my knowledge he never flew.  The Ilya Murometz was very advanced for its time.  After the revoultion Mr. Sikorsky went to the U.S., where he continued his research, as a result of which he built the first practical helicopter.  His company survives to this day.

Another scientist that comes to mind is Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, recognized as the father of astronautics.  He conceived rockets and I think space travel as early as 1903.  A moon crater is named after him (I think it's in the dark side of the moon).

Ivan Pavlov was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in medicine in 1904. 

Established since the reign of Tsar Peter the Great in the 18th century, this institution gained respect and notoriety during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Composer Sergei Rachmaninoff lived in Russia and left after the revolution as well; this caused him enormous problems and his creativity was hampered, he needed psichologic treatment for this.  Dancers like Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina, Mathilde Kschessinska, etc., were trained in Saint Petersburg.  The celebrated Fyodor Chaliapin, an opera singer, toured the world in the days of the Empire, as did Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, with among others, the famous Nijinksy.  Choreographer Fokine was also a product of the Empire,

We have none other that the famous P. Fabergé, jeweler.

Anton Chekhov died in 1904, L. Tolstoy in 1910, Skriabin, the composer, died ca. 1915, and Stravinsky made it through the revolution and chose to stay there.  Sergei and Alexander Tanneyev were well known in Russia but not outside.  The latter was the father of Anna Vyrubova.

I chose to limit myself to those who lived during Nicholas II's reign, but who can forget the great Tchaikovksy or the celebrated Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin, who was also a noted chemist?  Who can forget Dostoievsky?

For all its problems, the Empire also provided the conditions under which all of the above thrived and made important contributions to humanity.  If the Soviet Union became a world power, it's because of the work of those cited above, among many others.

Russia was an industrial power in her own right too.  I don't have my sources handy but it was an industrial power, and in its heyday, it was also a net grain exporter from Ukraine, via Odessa (Odesa in Ukrainian), to other countries all over the world.  The Trans-Siberian railroad was a huge achievement, even for today's standards.  Also, Russia had the capability of building her own ships, both for civil and military use, since the time of Tsar Peter I.

This list is too shorts for all the achievements that Russia had during the Empire.  I hope someone else will expand it. 

I just want t end my comment by stressing again that had it not been for the progress made during the reign of Nicholas II, the Soviet Union would have never been as powerful as it was.


Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: tyumen on July 02, 2008, 06:30:45 PM
Here are a few more : The Russian Singer Sewing Machine Company   International Harvester Corp.   Westinghouse Brake Co.  J.M. Coates Co.   & National City Bank.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Forum Admin on July 02, 2008, 07:13:20 PM
The great Russian Bronzecaster/Artist Evgeny Lancere. He had a very talented pupil in Paris in the late 19th early 20th century, an American of some aptitude who returned to the US and made a small name for himself, Frederick Remington.

The Imperial Porcelain Factory was turning out pieces equal to anything else in Europe.  The Imperial Lapidary Factory in the Urals produced pieces far surpassing anything made in Europe at the time, works in semi precious and precious stone we can not even begin to match today in quality or skill of craftsmanship.

Benois, Kustodiev, Samokisch, Aisavosky, Repin, Bakst, both Vasnetsov brothers, Marc Chagall, and the entire Mir Iskustva movement in art.  Plus many others.

Serge Prokhudin-Gorskii, who made full color photographs some thirty years before Kodak was able to do so, when nobody else in the world could.

Nikolai Tesla, who did more to advance the electrification of modern society than Edison could have dreamed of.

Prince Lev Galitzine, who was Europe's foremost expert on Wine and oenology.  Prince Galitzine not only  accumulated the largest and most important collection of wine in the world, but also taught Europe about advanced wine growing and making techniques, and taught wine appreciation to all of Europe, some 100 years before the rest of the world caught on.

More to come, this is just off the top of my head.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Forum Admin on July 02, 2008, 07:15:16 PM
Here are a few more : The Russian Singer Sewing Machine Company   International Harvester Corp.   Westinghouse Brake Co.  J.M. Coates Co.   & National City Bank.

 You forgot some obvious ones: coca cola, Kodak, Ford Motors, National Geographic Magazine and Hoover Vacuum cleaners.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: tyumen on July 02, 2008, 10:48:23 PM
FA, was not my intention to name just the American companies :) I was looking at an article today  by David W. Mcfadden "Alternate Paths Soviets and America 1917-1920" about the struggle of the U.S. companies to prevent being nationalized by the Bolsheviks.That is why I just mentioned the Americans. ;) also, I think that Nicholas II reign deserves some credit to modernize Russia. It just my opinion that all progress was nota result of the revolution and founding of the Soviet State.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: tyumen on July 08, 2008, 04:52:32 PM
The Putilov works employed 12,000 in manufacture of industrial machinery and railway locomotives. In the Northern Caucasus, Baku Oil was a major entity.
Imperial Russia was a founding member of the Olympic Games movement and took 3 medals at the 1908 London Olympics  8)
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Mexjames on July 10, 2008, 09:59:19 PM
"Nicholas and Alexandra" has some space devoted to progress during the Empire.  Unfortunately we know more about the bad things that happened, but the fact that as we see here, Russia had a number of first-rate scientists, artists and businessmen, says a lot about the country.

Economically speaking, since the time of Tsar Peter and with more certainty, since the reign of Empress Catherine the Great, the Russian government went to great lengths to make sure the rouble was a stable currency.  All those treasures that were built over the centuries of Romanov rule provided the country with a solid basis for foreign trade.  Also, Ukraine was a prime exporter of cereals, second to none, probably even before the US started with that.  Grain was shipped from Odessa and other Black Sea ports to the rest of the world.

The rogue Soviet regime owed a lot to the Empire.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Naslednik on July 31, 2008, 06:20:48 PM
A few more come to mind:

Music: Stravinsky -- who 'reformed' 20th century classical music (even the movie music you hear today).  Sometimes I think that the revolution in music happening in St. Petersburg was cut off at the ankles by the political revolution, with Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Stravinsky all dispersed.  I wonder if we would have been so alienated from 'modern music' if the energy going on in Russia had not been interrupted.

Policy:  creation of The Hague, distribution of land to kulaks under Stolypin, residency for several years of British Parliamentarians to help the early Duma, very good harvests prior to WWI, some advancement in education (needed lots more, I know) and enormous growth of the Russian middle class.  Also, in spite of what we often read, the Russian Army was considered a well-trained force, and officers well educated.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: RomanovMartyrs on September 04, 2009, 04:34:22 AM
Abdicating for Alexei made sense because (1) he was only 12 years old (2) he had hemophilia and couldn't carry out the duties of a Tsar.  

Can someone please explain this to me, I am very confused. I understand that Alexey had hemophilia, but I do not understand what duties he can't carry out? I really don't know the specific duties of the Tsar, so probably this is why I can't understand.

Thanks in advance!
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Alixz on September 04, 2009, 08:58:54 AM
Personally - I have always thought that Alexei could have taken over as tsar.  He was smarter than his father and with his Uncle Michael as Regent I think he would have done fine.

It would have been hard for Alexandra to let him go, but I think in the long run things would have been better if Nicholas had not had such tunnel vision.

Things would have had to change and the autocracy would not have been preserved, but perhaps some lives could have been saved.  Even Olga Nicholaevna could have been a help to Alexei and Michael as she could stand in as "first lady" so to speak.

Michael's wife Natalia, would have still had to take a back seat as a morganatic wife, but she was pretty resilient and would have survived with her dignity intact.

I know that Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna would have still wanted to see her son on the throne, but Empress Marie would have been around to help out and give good advice.
Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: victoriakin on January 08, 2010, 10:01:05 AM

Quote
The ultimate decision to abdicate on behalf of Alexei was perhaps a major mistake - but it was also the first time that Nicholas had broken his 'faith' in what he saw as his & his son's role. This mistake was the result of a father's concern for his son. It WAS a mistake but an understandable one.

I take with a grain of salt the reasons being offered for why Alexei was not proposed for the reign. I don't believe that a mistake of this type stated was made, and I don't believe that Nicholas had a choice. In every of numerous photos taken of Alexei he was strong and well, with illnesses taking place without affect to his studies or his duties with his father. I've known children in our own generations who've had suffered far worse and achieved far greater because they were not royal or embattled by rebels. Of course along with the history, there's never been a cessation of the politics.
Quote

I'm afraid I see it in exactly opposite terms.  The mistake wasn't abdicating on behalf of Alexei, it was carrying on all those years as if Alexei would be able to one day become Tsar.  All that covering up and pretending that everything was fine -- it did enormous damage -- this is the very thesis of Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra.  He says so in the forward. 

Abdicating for Alexei made sense because (1) he was only 12 years old (2) he had hemophilia and couldn't carry out the duties of a Tsar. 

Measures could be taken to ward off dangers of excessive bleeding, once this vulnerability was known, and in all the years up to 1918 there were no outward signs and only speculation on the part of others as to the importance of this situation. As to covering up and pretending that everything was fine, Nicholas did not do so. In speeches numerous, he admonished the rebels who were gaining strength, and in 1905, in the very city where he found his ultimate demise, he overtook a revolution attempt by distributing a book he had written.

Unfortunately my attempt to find links to refer you to which I had found when first studying the subject has failed. The internet search engines do not support this subject matter well. The articles I found indicated Nicholas had an acute perception of the turmoil around him, addressed it as he was able to, and was overpowered by those throngs who intended to overpower him.

Title: Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: victoriakin on January 08, 2010, 10:13:46 AM
Hmmm. ::) 'Tis strange how quickly they seemed to change. I have watched film of peasants treating Nicholas II and his family as deities, and yet they did indeed rebel with a zeal. :-/

One must remember that the revolution forced an atheism across the land, an isolation from other corners of the world, and an intimidating stronghold making anyone shake with fear, at the same time that they took the names of Alexei himself and instilled a Prime Minister of the Polit Bureau called such. They did all forms of assassination including character assassination at every possible opportunity they could, and in the words of one Russian shopkeeper I spoke with, never taught of the Tsars anything but that they were bad.

It wasn't the people who revolted, but those who decided that they wanted to control the land instead. That's how any widespread dissidents operate. Based on my readings it has seemed to me as though the Duma, which Nicholas did establish much to the historical chagrin of those claiming he wanted to be an "autocrat", became infiltrated with those rebels, hence his attempts to control and battle with those powers. Theirs was not a system based like the Constitutional where there were accountabilities, but there was a system of ministries which grew themselves above the monarchs, due to their own greeds for control.

I would not see anyone in the Romanov family as weak in body or spirit, or management capability; but they were dealt a weildy blow.

Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Kalafrana on January 08, 2010, 10:14:22 AM
'I take with a grain of salt the reasons being offered for why Alexei was not proposed for the reign. I don't believe that a mistake of this type stated was made, and I don't believe that Nicholas had a choice. In every of numerous photos taken of Alexei he was strong and well, with illnesses taking place without affect to his studies or his duties with his father. I've known children in our own generations who've had suffered far worse and achieved far greater because they were not royal or embattled by rebels. Of course along with the history, there's never been a cessation of the politics.'

Interesting point. Obviously, the family didn't normally take photographs of Alexei while he was ill. However, as he got older his haemophilia attacks became less frequent, though the consequences of boyhood attacks would have caught up with him had he lived into middle age (and three of his haemophiliac cousins died as the result of car accidents in their 20s - the two Spanish Infantes and Rupert of Teck). The most obvious thing he couldn't do was ride, which was something very much  expected of rulers then, particularly in order to review troops. However, I have read somewhere that Alexander III hated horses and only rode when there was absolutely no alternative, so that might not have been too much of a problem.

Maybe Nicholas's over-protective tendencies came into play here.

Ann
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: victoriakin on January 18, 2010, 09:37:16 AM
'I take with a grain of salt the reasons being offered for why Alexei was not proposed for the reign. I don't believe that a mistake of this type stated was made, and I don't believe that Nicholas had a choice. In every of numerous photos taken of Alexei he was strong and well, with illnesses taking place without affect to his studies or his duties with his father. I've known children in our own generations who've had suffered far worse and achieved far greater because they were not royal or embattled by rebels. Of course along with the history, there's never been a cessation of the politics.'

Interesting point. Obviously, the family didn't normally take photographs of Alexei while he was ill. However, as he got older his haemophilia attacks became less frequent, though the consequences of boyhood attacks would have caught up with him had he lived into middle age (and three of his haemophiliac cousins died as the result of car accidents in their 20s - the two Spanish Infantes and Rupert of Teck). The most obvious thing he couldn't do was ride, which was something very much  expected of rulers then, particularly in order to review troops. However, I have read somewhere that Alexander III hated horses and only rode when there was absolutely no alternative, so that might not have been too much of a problem.

Maybe Nicholas's over-protective tendencies came into play here.

Ann

Ann, if Nicholas had been "over-protective", he would not have had his son Alexei be second-in-command with him during the struggles of WW1, would not had taken him to the barracks and the lines to inspect the troops, onto ships and navy vessels, and would have kept the boy away from all such responsibilities and on-the-job-training. I don't see that Nicholas was over-protective, or even unreasonably shielding of the significance of his son to the succession. Accounts I've read ten years ago spelled out quite clearly that Alexei was a commanding force in the military and was well-received, well-respected, well-trained, and unprotected any more than his father protected himself.

Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Kalafrana on January 18, 2010, 09:49:52 AM
I don't think Nicholas was necessarily over-protective all the time. However, there was a definite tendency to baby Alexei - exemplified by the entire family continuing to refer to him as Baby when he was a teenager (even if, as someone has pointed out elsewhere, they didn't necessarily call him Baby to his face).

Ann
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: victoriakin on January 18, 2010, 09:55:31 AM
I don't think Nicholas was necessarily over-protective all the time. However, there was a definite tendency to baby Alexei - exemplified by the entire family continuing to refer to him as Baby when he was a teenager (even if, as someone has pointed out elsewhere, they didn't necessarily call him Baby to his face).

Ann

I'm not sure at this particular point in time that the interpretation of the term "baby" was correct. Everyone knew that it was Anastasia who was the baby of the family, but one also has to be very careful to ascribe familial affectionate nicknames as separate from treatment. Alexandra called her husband Nicky, and in the family, Anastasia was termed Stana. Nowadays, nobody says that "baby" in love songs means you are diapering your lover, yes?

Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Kalafrana on January 18, 2010, 10:14:31 AM
Victoriakin

I have yet to work out why anybody would want to call their lover baby, or be called baby by them.

There was, I think.  a definite infantilising tendency in the imperial family. Various contemporaries remarked on how young the girls were for their ages, and in the previous generation both Marie Feodorovna and her sister Queen Alexandra have been described as treating their adult offspring as if still children. Certainly to my eyes some letters between Alexandra and the future George V verge on the sick-making (though maybe I'm just used to something different - my parents were definitely not that way).

Ann

Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: victoriakin on January 20, 2010, 12:41:30 AM
Victoriakin

I have yet to work out why anybody would want to call their lover baby, or be called baby by them.

There was, I think.  a definite infantilising tendency in the imperial family. Various contemporaries remarked on how young the girls were for their ages, and in the previous generation both Marie Feodorovna and her sister Queen Alexandra have been described as treating their adult offspring as if still children. Certainly to my eyes some letters between Alexandra and the future George V verge on the sick-making (though maybe I'm just used to something different - my parents were definitely not that way).

Ann



Families are different, to be sure. But in my lifespan, I have never heard of the word "baby" being excluded as a term of endearment between friends, lovers, and the what not. If you listen to the lyrics of popular music, you find that it is prevalent. If you see popular movies you see grown women call their grown men "baby", and the reason why they do that is because it is a term of endearment like "darling". I don't think that infanticizing, or infant contexts enter any of these contexts. In fact, calling a baby a baby, is merely a descriptive noun of the level of maturity. Every other usage of the word "baby" is as a term of endearment. In some business environments, in smoke-filled rooms of grown men, you'd be amazed, but the word "baby" is thrown around very loosely. I can't say that the word isn't overused, but it does not mean that the person is "babying" that other. It is familiarizing, it is just a way of expressing a close affinity or affection.

Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Kalafrana on January 20, 2010, 06:10:18 AM
'Families are different, to be sure. But in my lifespan, I have never heard of the word "baby" being excluded as a term of endearment between friends, lovers, and the what not.'

We're going to have to disagree on this one. I keep thinking of the various junior schools I went to, where to call someone 'a baby' was a deadly insult!

Ann
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: PAVLOV on January 20, 2010, 07:23:10 AM
I call my dog "baby", which is a term of endearment. I could never imagine calling a grown up "baby" !

I have just paged through " A Lifelong Passion", and cringed with embarrassment at the things they wrote each other. Very purile and infantile.
" Lovy", "Wify", "baby", "huzy", "boysy" " sweetykins'  etc etc.

I suppose that is the way things were at the time. I would be so turned off.

It sounds as if she could possible have breast fed him as well, given half the chance !

Poor man, he tried, but it was all just too much for him. There were too many irons in the fire to control. He started reasonably well, but got progressively worse. I think he just lost it in the end, and was just going through the motions, so to speak, and waiting for any opportunity to escape.

And he did, taking everyone with him.



   
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Jessamy on January 21, 2010, 10:12:38 AM
It sounds as if she could possible have breast fed him as well, given half the chance !

LOL!!   I think it had a lot to do with the way he was raised by his mom. She tried to keep him a child as long as possible, as her sister did with her children as well.  Not such a good method for raising an autocrat!  I believe he would have been much happier had he been born the son of a farmer.
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Kalafrana on January 21, 2010, 10:15:48 AM
'LOL!!   I think it had a lot to do with the way he was raised by his mom. She tried to keep him a child as long as possible, as her sister did with her children as well.  Not such a good method for raising an autocrat!  I believe he would have been much happier had he been born the son of a farmer.'

Oh yes! But few future monarchs have been keen to succeed - the only one I can think of was the Kaiser! No doubt the Prince of Wales will do his duty when the time comes, but I think he too would rather be left to his organic farming.

Ann
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Constantinople on April 09, 2010, 09:17:53 AM
given the polemic opposites in his parents, it is a wonder that he didnt become pschzophrenic.  Given the approach to parenting and autocracy of his father, it is no wonder that he was drawn to his mother.  The image however of her breastfeeding him as an adult is too strange to contemplate.
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Alixz on April 09, 2010, 10:29:23 AM
I call my dog "baby", which is a term of endearment. I could never imagine calling a grown up "baby" !

I have just paged through " A Lifelong Passion", and cringed with embarrassment at the things they wrote each other. Very puerile and infantile.
" Lovy", "Wify", "baby", "huzy", "boysy" " sweetykins'  etc etc.

I suppose that is the way things were at the time. I would be so turned off.

It sounds as if she could possible have breast fed him as well, given half the chance !

Poor man, he tried, but it was all just too much for him. There were too many irons in the fire to control. He started reasonably well, but got progressively worse. I think he just lost it in the end, and was just going through the motions, so to speak, and waiting for any opportunity to escape.

And he did, taking everyone with him. 

I, too, have always thought that Alexandra and Nicholas had an infantile way of addressing each other.  However, (and I am always chastised for this by other posters) I have always felt that Alexandra felt the need to mother and instruct Nicholas rather than be his partner.  Many women, even to this day, try to "mother" their husbands, but Alexandra was the "mother of all mothers".

It has been said that men marry women who remind them of their mothers.  In Nicholas's case, I believe it to be true.  Even though Marie was a socialite and Alexandra wasn't, Marie was a cosseting type of mother just as her sister Alexandra was and just like her daughter in law Alexandra was. 

All tried to keep their children young and at their sides for too long.  But it must have been a Victorian thing because Victoria did the same thing with Princess Beatrice.
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: TroubleTwin2 on June 15, 2010, 03:12:06 PM
So its been a while and is some what moved a way from this, but I would just like to make a comment about calling Alexei "baby" and the context it was used and what not. I read somewhere ( I can't quite remember were, but it was related somehow to the family) that in Russia family's would sometimes call the youngest member of their family baby because they were the baby's of the family (age wise that is). Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Naslednik on June 15, 2010, 05:15:55 PM
I believe that Nicholas' sister Olga was also called Baby from time to time, and that this practice extended beyond the IF and Russia. We have to put ourselves into Victorian times to look at things with balance, and gushing names like Sweetie, Darling, Dear one, etc, were part of the culture.  My Edwardian grandmother always called her children and grandchildren her 'dears.'  I call my kids "honey bunnies."  Frankly, I think current western culture has gone way too far in the undemonstrative direction.  Don't you think we all could loosen up a bit and belt out some "darlings"!?  I mean, our loved ones are our darlings...
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on October 29, 2010, 12:28:26 PM
Here is a good side of Nicholas II which we rarely read:

GENERAL WRANGEL by Alexis Wrangel p. 48:

>>Some days after my arrival,  I entered the service of the Cazr as his aide-de-camp. I had had many opportunities of meeting the Czar and chatting with him.  He produced an impression of extraordinary simplicity and unusual kindliness on everyone who met him -- the results of the outstanding traits of his character, his perfect education and his complete self-mastery.  He had an alert mind, was skill in the art of innuendo, and possessed an amazing memory. He remembered not only events but names and dates.  One day he spoke to me of the battles in which my regiment had taken part, although it was a long time ago, and we had done nothing noteworthy, he even mentioned the villages in which the regiments of our division had been quartered.<<

AGRBear
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Kalafrana on October 31, 2010, 06:31:55 AM
'I believe that Nicholas' sister Olga was also called Baby from time to time, and that this practice extended beyond the IF and Russia. We have to put ourselves into Victorian times to look at things with balance, and gushing names like Sweetie, Darling, Dear one, etc, were part of the culture.'

This is true, but I still find it sick-making! Perhaps I am a bit of an extreme case, as I decided when I was eight or nine that I was too old to be kissed, and by then I had already managed to persuade my mother to drop the first of my infant nicknames (the second, which was much less embarrassing, lasted until I was in my twenties).

'Frankly, I think current western culture has gone way too far in the undemonstrative direction.'

I would disagree, since I constantly see modern parents calling their offspring darling etc, and pawing over them as if they were lapdogs! And as for calling the child Baby, I feel like saying, 'Doesn't the child have a name?'


Ann
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Eddie_uk on October 31, 2010, 01:00:36 PM
I call my dog "baby", which is a term of endearment. I could never imagine calling a grown up "baby" !

I have just paged through " A Lifelong Passion", and cringed with embarrassment at the things they wrote each other. Very purile and infantile.
" Lovy", "Wify", "baby", "huzy", "boysy" " sweetykins'  etc etc.

I couldn't disagree more, I call my partner baby all the time, it's soooo sweet!  I find such terms endearing!
Title: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Lucien on November 02, 2010, 12:28:07 AM
I call my dog "baby", which is a term of endearment. I could never imagine calling a grown up "baby" !

I have just paged through " A Lifelong Passion", and cringed with embarrassment at the things they wrote each other. Very purile and infantile.
" Lovy", "Wify", "baby", "huzy", "boysy" " sweetykins'  etc etc.

I couldn't disagree more, I call my partner baby all the time, it's soooo sweet!  I find such terms endearing!

The above apparently don't have a clue on love and it's tracks Eddy.....infantilising....really....get l**d... ::) ;D

Anyway,yesterday,november 1st 1894,our baby,our beloved dearest Nicky became the new Tsar of Russia after Alexander III dies.
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Petr on March 06, 2014, 06:00:06 PM
Interesting controversy brewing. In his press interview a few days ago Putin referred to Nicholas as Bloody Nicholas, a Bolshevik term given him after the Khodynko disaster. This caused a minor furor given that he had been declared a saint by the Church and particularly in view  of his recent general rehabilitation.  Apparently, this is not the only time Putin has used this pejorative appelation.  I guess Putin is not so far removed from his Communist youth. Also a little known tidbit. Putin's mother was Georgian who remarried and abandoned him or so it was reported in the Georgian press.  Interestingly not much has been publicly disclosed about his early background other than his service as a KGB officer.     
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Превед on March 06, 2014, 08:37:48 PM
Putin's mother was Georgian who remarried and abandoned him or so it was reported in the Georgian press.  Interestingly not much has been publicly disclosed about his early background other than his service as a KGB officer.

I don't think this can be true. His English, Russian and German Wikipedia articles note that his mother was a factory worker (just like his father) called Мария Ивановна Шеломова (1911—1998). While his father fought in WW2, his mother survived the Siege of Leningrad, in which his older brother died. His paternal grandfather was a cook to both Lenin and Stalin. His ancesors (Путины, Шеломовы, Чурсановы, Буяновы, Фомины etc.) were serfs in the Tverskaya Guberniya. His earliest recorded ancestor, a certain Яков Никитин* was in 1627/28 a serf in a hamlet called Borodino belonging to Иван Никитич* Романов, uncle of the first Romanov Tsar Михаил Фёдорович.

*Note the lack of -vich patronymic in the serf's patronymic name, at the time a privilege ("писаться с вичем") reserved for nobles like the Romanovs.
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: AGRBear on April 17, 2014, 01:10:02 PM
I believe that Nicholas' sister Olga was also called Baby from time to time, and that this practice extended beyond the IF and Russia. We have to put ourselves into Victorian times to look at things with balance, and gushing names like Sweetie, Darling, Dear one, etc, were part of the culture.  My Edwardian grandmother always called her children and grandchildren her 'dears.'  I call my kids "honey bunnies."  Frankly, I think current western culture has gone way too far in the undemonstrative direction.  Don't you think we all could loosen up a bit and belt out some "darlings"!?  I mean, our loved ones are our darlings...

I don't think there is anything wrong with terms of endearment within ones family or letting it spill out a little with friends.  If this kind of "honey bunny" words are offensive to your own ears,  then don't use them.  However,  there is no need to belittle or deny others in the words they choose.  Just be happy that they are lovingly addressing each other rather than carrying a big stick and knocking people around because they believe the "rod" is still better to used than words.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Maria Sisi on November 09, 2014, 04:27:20 PM
Reading the antidotes of people who knew Nicholas one thing I noticed popping up every time was that when something bad was happening Nicholas seem to show no reaction/emotion at all, giving off the view that he just didn't care.

Apparently during when Bloody Sunday happened he was having wrestling contest or something with Sandro and the gravity of the situation didn't seem to register. Some even said throughout the whole 1905-06 revolution Nicholas showed little feeling at all.

Sandro and a few others mention when family members went to the Emperor telling him of Russia's extreme situation he stood in the back puffing a cigar while Alexandra was front and center as if she was the ruler. Nicholas wouldn't say anything except inject his opinion every now and then.

When Rasputin was murdered everyone at headquarters was celebrating it was noted they were shocked Nicholas showed no reaction or emotion at all as if the act didn't bother him at all. It wasn't until he returned to Tsarskoe Selo and saw his wife's hysterical reaction that he acted all outraged.

Apparently no reaction when he abdicated according to those around him. It was only in his diary that he even showed a hint of feeling with his "All around me betrayal, cowards and deceit" (not exact quote, just paraphrasing)

Sandro said when he and Maria Feodorovna went straight to him after the abdication he showed no emotions. After leaving Nicholas alone with his mother when he returned he saw the Dowager Empress sobbing while Nicholas just stood there puffing a cigar, something Sandro mentions Nicholas doing A LOT.

It was also noted while in captivity by the captors that Nicholas showed nothing. They have a lot to say about the behavior of Alexandra and everyone else but with Nicholas they seem to have very little to say at all.

His lack of open reactions and emotions seem to have given others around him a negative opinion of him since its constantly mentioned in situations where negative things happen.

 

Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Kalafrana on November 10, 2014, 03:40:46 AM
You make a very interesting point.

Of course, some at that time might have said that Nicholas showed admirable sang-froid in the face of crisis.

Ann
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: edubs31 on November 10, 2014, 11:48:32 AM
Ties in pretty well with his fatalist sensibilities. Something bad happens? Assume it's all part of God's plan. Once you subscribe to that explanation it's easy to feel at ease when even tragic events occur. Of course he never seemed overly excited when good things happened either.

Quote
Of course, some at that time might have said that Nicholas showed admirable sang-froid in the face of crisis.

Yes indeed. And has his reign been more successful I think one would compliment his temperament and suggest that it was this personality trait, above all else, that helped him focus and make important decisions.

It's an interesting study really. As an autocrat neither he nor Alexandra felt burdened with having to play the normal political games most politicians are forced to. Because of this I think we see a measure of authenticity in their personality and actions that is sorely lacking from politicians/leaders of Democracies and even constitutional monarchies. Nicholas & Alexandra never believed they had to sell anyone on their personality or political agenda. They never had to appeal to the masses or win elections to stay in power...or at least so they thought.

In this regard they were probably the two worst politicians of their era.
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Kalafrana on November 11, 2014, 03:30:23 AM
Nicholas and Alexandra can be contrasted with George V and Queen Mary, who really established the 'public service monarchy' in Britain. I don't think they set out in a cynical fashion to make themselves popular, but they very much recognised that they had a responsibility to the people.

Ann
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: edubs31 on November 11, 2014, 12:45:54 PM
Nicholas and Alexandra can be contrasted with George V and Queen Mary, who really established the 'public service monarchy' in Britain. I don't think they set out in a cynical fashion to make themselves popular, but they very much recognised that they had a responsibility to the people.

Ann

True. But do you think they may also have been conscious of Victoria's falling out of favor and the threat to her reign during her years of mourning and public seclusion after Albert's death? Seemed like a very real concern especially given the threat of revolution and the rise of Democracies during their era.
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Kalafrana on November 12, 2014, 12:20:28 PM
Certainly a factor, but by no means the sole reason.

Regards

Ann
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Jeremiah on October 05, 2017, 06:28:48 AM
I did not want to start a new topic on my question, and thought it could fit in here.

I've just listened to a lecture by Mark Steinberg from his series "History of Russia: From Peter the Great to Gorbachev" (which BTW I find really good). So, lecture no.19 is titled "Nicholas II, The Last Tsar" -very interesting approach. Anyway, at one point Steinberg quotes Nicholas' following words:

"I never prepare what I'm going to say in audience, but praying to Lord God I then speak what comes into my mind."

He doesn't give the source of it, instead he just says that it's from an interview. Has anyone come accross this statement by Nicholas? Do we know the source? Did Steinberg include it in his book "The Fall of the Romanovs"? I've just ordered it and have not yet been able to see if it's in there.

Thanks.
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: PAGE on August 06, 2018, 06:44:09 AM
I do not respond to Steinberg's message in particular.

My opinion on Nicolas II.

A very great man, an idealistic leader who unfortunately was surrounded by little minds, entangled in the narrowness of the pragmatism and ambitions of his collaborators.

What reassures me is that the critics of Nicolas II who spoke on this topic do not know anything about which they approach.

Nicholas II was surrounded by incompetents (officers generally very bad strategists, pathetic ministers, an extended family full of conspiracy theories, an aristocracy that lived on rumors and gossip).

Russia has never been stronger, rich and I will say "human" than under the reign of Nicholas II.

Honestly, I'm sick and tired of hearing that Nicolas II was weak, anti-Semitic, despotic, cruel, stupid ... without any proof, just because you have to dwell on a whole historiography that takes Witte or Maria Pavlovna elder as the best sources on Nicolas II.
Title: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
Post by: Helen on August 06, 2018, 01:13:54 PM
Anyway, at one point Steinberg quotes Nicholas' following words:
"I never prepare what I'm going to say in audience, but praying to Lord God I then speak what comes into my mind."
He doesn't give the source of it, instead he just says that it's from an interview. Has anyone come across this statement by Nicholas? Do we know the source?
One source is "Tsar Nicholas II"  by Major-General A. Elchaninov, page 12,
published by Gilbert's Royal Books in 2005, originally published in 1913:
" 'I never prepare what I say. But I pray to God and then speak what comes into my  mind,' the Tsar has often said. "