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Topics - DNAgenie

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The Hohenzollern / The Kaiser's family claims provoke a backlash
« on: August 24, 2019, 06:27:24 PM »
PRINCE GEORG FRIEDRICH of Prussia is getting a lesson on how not to get the public on his side. The great-great-grandson of the last Kaiser has been in talks for years with the federal government, as well as the state governments of Berlin and Brandenburg, about the return of possessions expropriated by the Russians at the end of the second world war. A letter from his lawyer to the authorities has now been leaked to the press, provoking a vehement backlash against Wilhelm II’s Hohenzollern dynasty and its alleged support for the Nazis.

The document reveals that the prince wants compensation of at least €1.2m ($1.3m), the right to live rent-free at Cecilienhof (the palace where American, British and Russian leaders held the 1945 Potsdam conference that settled the post-war order), as well as paintings, sculptures, books, letters, photographs and medals from various Hohenzollern houses. The requested inventory includes Cranach paintings and the armchair in which Frederick the Great died.

The prince was perhaps naive in thinking the letter would remain confidential in Brandenburg, a state ruled by a coalition of Social Democrats and Die Linke, an ex-communist party, which is preparing for hotly contested state elections. The public reacted with Jacobin fury. “The aristocracy is not noble, but evil,” fumed Tomas Fitzel of Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, a local radio station. The aristocracy robbed and extorted for centuries, tweeted Kathrin Vogler, an MP for Die Linke, adding that aristocrats are lucky Germany is not France.

Like all families whose property was confiscated by the Russians and eastern Germany’s communist regime, the Hohenzollerns cannot claim their houses back. Yet according to legislation passed in 1994, they are entitled to restitution of mobile property, as well as the payment of compensation. The only exceptions are families that actively supported the Nazi regime. This is the sticking-point.

If the case goes to the courts it will not be pretty. Prince Wilhelm, the son of the last Kaiser, has been called a mouthpiece for Nazi propaganda. His brother August Wilhelm was a fervent Nazi. All parties are still hoping for a settlement out of court. It is very much in the prince’s interest to make it happen.■

The Imperial Family / The Romanovs as artists
« on: July 21, 2018, 10:13:29 AM »
Here is an interesting article about the modern Romanov family as artists, painters, cartoonists, etc. It does not refer to the photography of Nicholas II and his family but that could be covered by this topic as well.

The Final Chapter / William Lincoln archive
« on: May 10, 2018, 06:13:30 PM »
Yesterday I watched an episode of the 2017 BBC program, Antiques Roadshow, in which the final item featured a Romanov family photograph album which had apparently been given to an Englishman, William Lincoln, in Ekaterinburg, by one of the maids to the Romanov family.  She had said to him: "I want you to keep this for me. If I am found with it, I will be shot."

There was also an extensive series of letters written by William Lincoln from Ekaterinburg to his family in England in 1918, during and after the imprisonment of the Romanovs. The AR expert accepted the authenticity of the archive and estimated its value at auction at perhaps 65,000 pounds. He expected a publisher to pay that sort of money for the archive, which had been held in private hands for nearly a hundred years.

Books about the Romanovs and Imperial Russia / The Romanovs. 1613-1918
« on: December 01, 2017, 03:55:00 PM »
I have just been given a paperback copy of The Romanovs. 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag-Montefiore (2017). I am still only part way through but it is the most illuminating book I have read about the family, and must qualify for its own entry on the list of books about The Romanovs and Imperial Russia.

Some quotes from the Introduction:
 It was hard to be a tsar. Russia is not an easy country to rule. Twenty sovereigns of the Romanov dynasty reigned for 304 years, from 1613 until tsardom's destruction by the revolution in 1917. Romantic chroniclers of the tragedy of the last tsar like to suggest that the family was cursed, but the Romanovs were actually the most spectacularly successful empire-builders since the Mongols...
This is a history of the monarchs, their families and retinues, but it is also a portrait of absolutism in Russia. - and whatever else one believes about Russia, its culture, its soul, its essence have always been exceptional, a singular nature which one family aspired to personify. The Romanovs have become the very definition not only of dynasty and magnificence but also of despotism, a parable of the folly and arrogance of absolute power...
If the challenge of ruling Russia has always been daunting, the role of autocrat could only be truly exercised by a genius - and there are very few of those in most families. The price of failure was death. It was a dangerous job. Six of the last twelve tsars were murdered. In the final catastrophe in 1918, eighteen Romanovs were killed. Rarely was a chalice so rich and so poisoned. It is ironic that now, two centuries after the Romanovs finally agreed a law of succession, Russian presidents still effectively nominate their successors just as Peter the Great did...
The essence of stardom was the projection of majesty and strength, but this had to be combined with what Otto von Bismarck, rival and ally of the Romanovs, called 'the art of the possible, the attainable, the art of the next best'. For the Romanovs, the craft of survival was based on the balancing of clans, interests and personalities of both a miniscule court and a gigantic empire. Emperors needed to keep the support of their army, nobility and their administration. If they lost all three they were likely to be deposed - and in an autocracy that usually meant death...
The success of autocracy depends mainly on the quality of the individual. The Romanovs did produce two political geniuses - the Greats Peter and Catherine - and several of talent and magnetism. After Emperor Paul's brutal murder in 1801, all the monarchs were  dutiful and hard-working, and most were charismatic, intelligent and competent, yet the position was so daunting for the normal mortal, that no one sought the throne any more: it was a burden that had ceased to be enjoyable...
It is unlikely that even Peter or Catherine could have solved the predicaments of revolution and world war faced by Nicholas II in the early twentieth century, but it was unfortunate that the Romanov who faced the darkest crises was the least capable and most narrow-minded, as well as the unluckiest. Nicholas was both a poor judge of men and unwilling to delegate. While he could not fill the role of autocrat himself, he used his power to make sure that no one else did either....

Rules for This Forum / Stopped receiving notifications
« on: April 04, 2016, 06:13:45 PM »
I am no longer receiving notifications of posts to topics I have contributed to. Tried to turn on all of them through the emails and notifications screen but it keeps telling me I am not getting notifications.  What should I do?

I have been following Griffh''s thread on Alexandra's contribution to Russia's war effort, where a recent post pointed out that there are many different opinions about Alexandra - some people admire her, others loathe her, and a lot of us are somewhere in the middle.

That started me thinking about other historical figures who raise a similar range of emotions in students of history, and for some reason I found myself thinking of Mary, Queen of Scots. When I started to think logically about the two women and began to make comparisons, several facts immediately hit me in the face.

First of all, Mary Queen of Scots was Alexandra's 8X great grandmother.  The line goes via Mary, James 1 and VI, Princess Elizabeth, Sophia of the Rhine, Sophia Charlotte of Brunswick, Frederick William I of Prussia, Augustus William of Prussia, Frederick William II of Prussia, Prince Frederick William Karl of Prussia, Princess Elizabeth of Prussia, Grand Duke Louis IV of Hess-Darmstadt, Princess Alix.

Secondly, both women were executed, after long imprisonment.

Thirdly, both suffered from an undiagnosed but intermittently debilitating disease (probably porphyria) which became much worse under severe stress but was also subject to sudden unexplained remission from time to time. Each woman was thought to be hysterical and a hypochondriac, but there is evidence that their symptoms were caused a by a severe physical illness that they struggled against for most of their lives.

Fourth, although they were extremely intelligent and accomplished women, both lacked certain social skills, finding it very easy to make tactless remarks (or no remarks at all), and making many dangerous enemies as a result. This can not be taken too far, as they had different personalities and their approach to people seems to have been different. While Alexandra was extremely shy, and had trouble making small talk to strangers, Mary seems to have been the opposite, with very definite opinions which she was prepared to put forward regardless of the situation.  However the result was the same, in that each woman ended up with a small coterie of close friends, and hordes of enemies.

The sad thing is that, in different circumstances, they could each have had a long, happy and fulfilled life. But that was not to be the case, for Queen Mary, or for Tsarina Alexandra.

I have just come across a most interesting book, entitled "The Many Deaths of Tsar Nicholas II", by Wendy Slater, which explains why so many Russians refuse to believe that the Ekaterinburg skeletons were those of Tsar Nicholas and his family.  It gives a detailed exposition of the course of events after the skeletons were first discovered, examined and analysed.  Given the extraordinary degree of confusion, argument and controversy that followed, it is not hard to see why many Russians still think the whole thing was a fake.

The author concludes that the skeletons are indeed those of the Tsar, Tsarina and their children, but she also points out that there is some evidence to the contrary. So I think it would be wise to take this evidence into account before ridiculing the appearance of new claimants to the Romanov family. Those claims are not as stupid as we in the West have assumed.

As far as I can see the book does a good job in weighing the evidence (much of it being new to me). I have it on order but my assessment is not yet complete, being done through a google scan via the googlebooks facility so it is still a bit scrappy.

The book (and reviews) is available at  via

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