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Messages - Tsarfan

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The Final Chapter / Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« on: July 15, 2013, 09:28:12 PM »
blessOTMA mentioned that, according to Nicholas' diary entries, Marie was sent to the guards at least twice on the trip to obtain information.  Could there perhaps be a reference elsewhere in the diary?

But this raises another question for me.  If Nicholas did, in fact, use Marie in this way, would he have recorded it in his diary?  Surely he must have known that it could be confiscated and read by his jailers at any time, and using his daughter to manipulate the guards for information is something I should think he would not want revealed.

The Final Chapter / Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« on: July 15, 2013, 05:12:05 PM »
I tried right after you posted it, Sarushka, but it didn't really make much sense.  (For instance, the Google translation was, "Mary often visited arrows - their office was at the end of the car, then placed the four, the other in a nearby car".  Another translation program produced, "Maria often came to arrows - their branch was in the end of the car, here was located four, остальние in the adjacent car.)

Could you perhaps help us?

I take it you are suggesting that Marie visited with the guards of her own accord, not at the prompting of her parents?  That may well be, as I had never heard the claim of sending her to coax information about destination from the guards until brought up on this thread yesterday.

But I still do not understand a decision to take a teenage girl away from a known into an unknown situation while in captivity, especially when being conducted by a man whom they had just met for a purpose which was not clear.

The Final Chapter / Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« on: July 15, 2013, 02:31:31 PM »
. . . N&A were no strangers to what they deemed acceptable risks with their children. They allowed their inexperienced eldest daughters to see first hand the terrible consequences of war during their nursing duties. They allowed Alexei to travel with Nicholas to headquarters in spite of his life threatening disease.

There was an immense difference on the one hand between allowing these kinds of activities when the tsar was in power, when no one would dare lift a finger against one of his children, when everyone around them was intent on serving and protecting them and on the other hand taking an 18-year-old girl into unknown conditions in a new stage of captivity or using a teenage daughter to cajole information out of guards.  Those guards could just as easily have turned on the girl as been charmed by her, and it was a big risk to take for no purpose other than to find out their destination a bit earlier.  They were going where they were going, whether they knew the destination or not.

And puzzle me this.  If, as some suspect, Yakovlev was trying to save the tsar from extremists, was it possible that his ability to do so was compromised when the train was stopped by the Ural soviet because, instead of just the lone tsar, Yakovlev had a frail woman, a teenage girl, and five retainers on his hands?

The Final Chapter / Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« on: July 15, 2013, 10:32:59 AM »
She had more on the ground savvy in her little finger than her parents combined imo  It's what they were reduced to. None of it was by choice .  

I'm sorry, but parents -- even in captivity -- have a choice of whether they try to protect their children or whether they use their children for the parents' benefit.

The notion that an 18-year-old girl had more "on the ground savvy" than the tsar of Russia might well be accurate.  But, again, it speaks volumes as to why Nicholas and Alexandra found themselves in such a pinch in the first place.

One simply cannot imagine Peter I at Pruth, Catherine II facing exile or imprisonment by Peter III, or Nicholas I staring down the armed troops on Senate Square even considering sending their children into the breach to charm their tormentors.

No one really knows to this day what Yakovlev was up to in moving Nicholas.  Nicholas and Alexandra themselves seem to have thought that Nicholas was being taken to Moscow either to force him into signing some peace treaty or to stand public trial.

Why, then, would their own comfort have superseded a desire not to have their child exposed to either scenario?

The Final Chapter / Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« on: July 15, 2013, 06:12:15 AM »
Marie . . . was there to care for and look after both her parents . . . her parents sent her back to the guard car at least 2 times on a charm offensive  to find out where they were going . . . .

An 18-year-old girl was there to look after both her parents (despite there being a doctor, a Prince, a maid, and two footmen traveling with the parents)?  They sent an 18-year-old girl to deal with guards they could not deal with themselves?

Extraordinary.  And easy to see why there was a revolution.

The Final Chapter / Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« on: July 14, 2013, 10:51:09 AM »
. . . maybe the worry was not that Maria's interactions would become too intimate, but that in her naivete she might make friendly advances toward men who were not so well-disposed toward their prisoners.

That's my guess, too.  I have never thought suggestions that Marie might have gotten close to overtly sexual flirtation with a guard or guards to be credible.  But there easily might have been concerns with her unguarded, outgoing nature.

Unless there were some specific worry about Marie, it just doesn't make sense to me that Nicholas and Alexandra would leave their youngest daughter behind -- a daughter who had a reputation for pranks and sharp humor.  In fact, if they were going to leave any children behind at all as they were going from a known to an unknown situation, I would think they would want to leave all the children behind -- both because there was more certainty about where they already were, and because the children as a group would be better able to cope with separation from their parents and anything else that might happen.

The fact that Yakovlev made it clear that the original plan was to separate Nicholas from the rest of his family could not have augured well.  Why, then, would a responsible parent want to take a daughter into such an unknown situation unless there was an overriding worry about leaving that daughter behind?

The Final Chapter / Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« on: July 14, 2013, 07:04:27 AM »
Volkov says that Maria insisted she not be separated from her father.  The entire account is here:

I noticed one thing about this account that doesn't ring quite right.  Volkov says that Yakovlev insisted on seeing Nicholas alone and that only after a lengthy argument was Alexandra allowed to participate in the meeting.  They then begin to discuss the plan to relocate Nicholas, and Alexandra insists that she must accompany Nicholas . . . and suddenly Marie pipes in?

Why and how was Marie in attendance at a private interview which even Alexandra had to fight to attend?

It seems rather obvious that Yakovlev wanted to deliver the news to Nicholas about his relocation in a setting as isolated from emotional crosscurrents as he could manage.  Nor do I think it likely that the parents -- who must have viewed the notice that the commandant wanted to see Nicholas in private as somewhat ominous, given Alexandra's insistence that she be present -- would have allowed their teenage daughter to be present at a meeting with their jailor on a subject not yet clear to them.

I think there might be another possibility.  Although the incidents have almost certainly been overblown, there is some evidence that Nicholas and Alexandra worried about Marie's tendency to become too familiar with the guards.  Is it possible that Nicholas and Alexandra wanted to keep Marie under their supervision and therefore insisted that she accompany them and that Volkov, in deference to the family's dignity, chose to characterize it as Marie's insistence when it was, in fact, the parents' insistence?

News Links / Re: Growth of tourism in St Petersburg halted
« on: July 03, 2013, 10:27:40 PM »
The 400+ years of relations between Russia and Persia (now Iran) have been up and down, to the point that there is no consistent historical pattern.

However, currently several things are drawing them toward each other, although often tentatively:

- both are suspicious of Turkey's plans and aspirations
- as Iran comes to ever greater loggerheads with the west, it is seeking friends in the region
- western arms embargoes on Iran have caused Iran to turn toward Russia and China for arms
- Russia, while worried about arming Iran and incurring U.S. wrath for doing so, is also reluctant to drive Iran further into the arms of China by saying no
- Russia, which has had trouble finding foreign markets for its manufactured products since the Iron Curtain fell, is now Iran's seventh largest trading partner
- both Russia and Iran want to counterbalance U.S. influence in Central Asia
- Russia does not buy Iranian oil, which is currently sold almost exclusively to China, Japan, India, and South Korea
- both Russia and Iran are net hydrocarbon exporters (with Iran biased toward oil and Russia biased toward gas) and need to coordinate their plays in international energy markets

On the religious front, Russia has actually had a history of relatively peaceful coexistence with Islam.  In 1905 there were 5 million Jews in Russia and 13 million Muslims.  Although Muslims were not exactly welcomed into the circles of power, they suffered nothing like the officially-sanctioned discrimination against Jews or popular hatred as expressed in pogroms.  In fact, southern Muslim tribes provided some of the tsar's most loyal troops up until the end of the empire.

Of course, the spread of radical Islam is a wild card globally, altering the current of history everywhere it emerges as a political force.  

News Links / Re: Growth of tourism in St Petersburg halted
« on: July 03, 2013, 06:32:20 AM »
I think we in the west -- and particularly in the U.S. -- persist in our misunderstanding of Russia.  We tend to think of Russia as a land of people who largely share our expectations of government, who crave the same personal freedoms and civil liberties we have, and whose desires have been endlessly thwarted by whatever government is forced on them.

In the reign of Nicholas I, General A. E. Tsimmerman, a frequent commentator on Russian society, noted:

"Generally we in Russia are normally much closer to Constantinople and Tehran than to Paris or London.  The very understanding of the Russian people about good and evil, about right, about law, and justice, comes closest to that of the eastern peoples.  In government, the people respect and particularly want to see strentgh.  Our common people love to see in their ruler a powerful and stern sovereign."

This observation came over a century after Peter I made Russia a European power and forcibly turned her face westward.  It came after a century dotted with rulers who either were born and raised in the west or who spent much of their adult lives in the west and who brought western views to some aspects of government:  Anna, Peter III, Catherine II.  It came a century after the last Russian-born consort shared an imperial throne, to be replaced by a line of invariably western consorts.  It came after Alexander I enmeshed Russia in European affairs and built his diplomacy, both pro and con, and some aspects of his domestic policy around the Napoleonic system that emerged for a time in Europe and seized the imagination of the noble classes across Europe.

Russian history is a continuum, with even the soviet era but a continuation of tsarism in terms of foreign policy, security policy, ethnic policy, and even economic policy.  (The 5-year plans of soviet Russia had their origins in Peter I's industrialization and militarization policies.  The KGB traced its origins back to the Oprichniki of Ivan IV, up through the Third Section of Nicholas I and the Ohkrana of the last Russian tsar.)

And the fact that in 2013 the Russian legislature could vote such a anti-gay measure with unanimity (something virtually unheard of in a real democracy on virtually any question) indicates how very thin the veneer of democracy is in Russia today.

We think of Russia's dealings in the Middle East -- and with Iran in particular -- as some kind of perversion, some horrible misunderstanding of how democratic governments should behave.  In fact, as General Tsimmerman pointed out a full two centuries ago, the true perversion from the Russian perspective is trying to mimic western ways.

It's fine -- no, necessary -- to try to be on good terms with Russia.  But we should never forget the nature of the bear with which we're dancing.

News Links / Re: Growth of tourism in St Petersburg halted
« on: July 02, 2013, 09:35:54 AM »
. . . a lot of people i speak to about Russia have maintained the negative stereotypical view of russia . . . .

Well, why wouldn't they?

Having Fun! / Amusing Quotes
« on: March 12, 2013, 10:16:38 AM »
I occasionally run across quotes while looking up various things, so i thought we could collect quotes here that readers find amusing.  Here are a few to start:

"Neither a fortress nor a maidenhead holds out long once it begins to parley." (Benjamin Franklin)

"The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right." (Mark Twain)

"Once you can accept the universe as being something expanding into an infinite nothing which is something, wearing stripes with plaid is easy."  (Albert Einstein)

The Final Chapter / Re: When Did the Servants Stop Getting Paid?
« on: March 08, 2013, 09:10:35 AM »
That's what I thought.  However, Sarushka quoted a passage from Gilliard in which he referred to "600 roubles per month drawn from the interest of their personal estate".

Was Gilliard misinformed?

The Final Chapter / Re: When Did the Servants Stop Getting Paid?
« on: March 07, 2013, 09:28:47 PM »
. . . why would they not have been paying the servants all along . . . ?

There was long precedent for European governments allowing "elite" prisoners to have servants in captivity.  It was done in the Tower of London, the Bastille, and elsewhere.  However, the servants were almost invariably paid out of the prisoner's assets, not the state's.  It seems odd to expect more of the Bolsheviks on this score than the Tudors, Stuarts, Bourbons, and even the Romanovs did for their state prisoners.

The more interesting question to me is what were the personal assets the Romanovs still owned to generate interest income?  

Did the new Soviet state provide unemployment insurance, and if it did, would the servants have qualified?

In spring of 1918 the new Soviet state was barely established and doing very little beyond trying to hang onto power by its fingernails.  The economy was in such a state of disarray that unemployment rates were soaring in a nation that had very little in the way of state financial resources.  I seriously doubt if unemployment insurance was on anyone's screen at that point.

In any case, unemployment insurance is generally funded by a tax on employers, not by the state.  This was the model adopted in Germany where Bismarck was the first to experiment with such programs, and it was the model that most governments that eventually followed his lead -- including the U.S. -- adopted.  In 1918 the question of who exactly was the employer in a soviet system was years away from being settled, with there still being significant voices within Bolshevism that favored heavily-regulated private ownership over state ownership of means of production.

I like the book cover.

Why not?  It's the only page of the whole book without typos.

Or more like confusing Rihanna with Britney Spears.

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