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Messages - griffh

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Rskkiya I agree with Belochka that you have come up with a great point.  She certainly is slow in understanding how her actions compromised the Imperial family, who she called "my best friends on earth."  I looked up young Prince Yousopoff's impression of her at the weekly Saturday evenning dance parties that Anna parents held, (her father, Taneiev, was at the time Secretary of State).  Felix describes the parties as very large and very enjoyable and he says that it was always problematic trying to find a dancing partner for Anna as she was stout and without charm.  He says that she lacked intelligence but was crafty and sly and that no one in their circle would have imagined at that time that she would become the intimate friend of the Czarina.    He also says that Anna was, "not worthy of the friendship shown her by the Czarina.  No doubt her attachment to the Czarina was sincere, but it was far from being disinterested.  It was that of a servile and intriguing woman whom she did her utmost to isolate from those who would have been her friends by making her distrust them."

We know from this discussion the distain the French Ambassador had for her and he records on March 22, 1917 (the day Anna was removed to the Fortress of Peter and Paul) that Alexandra's response to Anna's departure "had not affected her, at any rate in the way that might have been expected.  After all her passionate and jealous attachment to her, she hs suddenly made her responsible for all the evils which have overtaken the Russian imperial family."  

Even though Alexandra will soften her attitude toward Anna in Tobolsk, she does continue to warn Anna not to compromise the family by talking with people who may not be trustworthy, or something to that extent.  

What I get from all of this is that both Felix and Alexandra, who had such opposing points of view, both agree on one thing; that Anna's slowness or lack of intelligence hurt the imperial family and betrayed their friendship.  

I am sort of a chronological nut case as I order things first according to dates and then I try to reason from the unfolding and intersection of events.  I don't think very easily in terms of themes so that is why my answers are sort of labored.  It is just the way I think.  I so love having the opportunity to speak with others about a life-time fascination of mine, Russian history.  I would love to get ahold of the court calander from 1894 to 1917 and get a sense of the daily activity of the family and their interaction with others.  Well anyway this is such an honor being able to share ideas with others who are equally devoted to Russian history....griff      

Rasputin / Re: Rasputin: Fact vs. Fiction
« on: November 05, 2004, 03:30:48 PM »
I sort of jumped over to this discussion from the Anna V. silly or shrewd discussion in which I was quoting Anna's interview in 1917 with the American newspaper reporter Rita Childe Dorr.  In response to Rita's question about Rasputin being "as bad as they say he was?"..."He couldn't have been," she (Anna) answered.  "But he may have been more or less licentious.  Unfortunately you find men, even in the holy orders, who are weak in certain ways..."  As I said in the other discussion, I find it so interesting that Anna could admitt to Rasputin's licentious weakness without discrediting him as a spiritual healer.  

Also, I think that it was in Maria Rasputin's book that she says her father started drinking after the wounds from his assassination attempt in 1914 never truely healed and were a constant source of increasing pain.  I know that Maria has little creditbiliy among most historians, but as those wounds were almost fatal, the theory may hold some truth to it.  

I think the idea that he may have been a vouyer is probably really close to the truth.  Some of the things that Radzinsky describes seem to really support this idea and also begin to make sense of a man who possibly had a great spiritual gift but who had no Mentor to guide him.  

The other thing that I find so interesting to think about are the people who were most outraged by Rasputin.  The self-indulgence and scandals of the Russian Court could easily have vied with Rasputin's behaviour.  Even in Nicholas's immediate family, Xenia and Sandro were  both have affairs...Xenia with the husband of a friend of theirs and Sandro with friend's wife.  Olga was having an affair with her husband's Aide de Camp, and Michael was having an affair with several women ending with Countess Brassova.  Then there was the Grand Duke Paul and Pistollkers, KR hitting the baths quite often, and good lord, the Grand Duke Alexis, the Grand Duke Serge A. and M., the Grand Duke Boris, and on and on and on.  And that is not even getting into the fast and furious Russian Court.    

I think, in part, that the people who were pointing the finger at Rasputin were looking in a mirror and seeing themselves and that their great loathing of Rasputin was, to some extent, really self loathing.  


I was under the same impression until I started reading Sergei Mironenko's, "Life Long Passion."  

Apparently, the little Tsarevich, born July 30, 1904, had his first attack on September 8, 1904 which lasted until September 11 (I never realized that it meant the Alexandra really only had one short month and a few days of uninhibited joy with her new little boy).  

On September 10, 1904, the day before the attack ended, Nikolasha came to for lunch with the family at Peterhof, (another thing I never realized, I always thought the little boy's first attack was at Alexander Palace).  After lunch Nikolasha and Nicky went on a walk together in a wind storm that was strong enough to whip up the ocean.  As the attack had not abated until the following day, Nicholas must have still been gravely concerned and it is very possible that they talked about Alexis on that walk.  The weather was almost symbolic of the agony and despair that must have filled Peterhof.

The Grand Duchess Marie writes that even the Grand Duke Serge's home in Moscow was filled with melancholy.  She says that, "My uncle and aunt undoubtedly knew already that the child was born suffering and that from his birth he carried in him the seeds of an incurable illness, haemophilia..."  On September 15 Nicholas had to leave Alexandra for a week or so and she sent a photo he had not seen before of "Baby Sweet" and one of his little gloves and a shoe.  

The day after he leaves, on September 16, 1904, Alexandra writes that she has asked to drive with the Empress Dowager but is worried how she will manage to nurse her little boy and fit the carriage ride in.  

I am sure the Empress Dowager must have known as this was still the era in which Nicky and his mother were still closely connected and a time during which she was still guiding him on some policy decisions as the diary entries show.  

I think that the secret was kept from the court but perhaps not from the immediate family.  I don't really know, it is just a conjecture.  I am sure that Alexandra's sister knew almost immediately, and actually we know that is true with Ella as her niece has already documented this.  

Another thing that makes me sure that most of the Romanovs must have known is perhaps implied by Xenia's diary entry on February 13, 1904, six months before Alexis is born, about seeing Nicky and Alix at church in St. Petersberg after hearing about the death of Alix's haemophilic nephew.  Xenia says, "Alix was in tears, having just received the news of the death of her little nephew, Irene's youngest son.  He had the terrible illness of the English family (haemophilia).  Not long ago, the poor little thing fell and bumped his head, from that time on he was ill the whole time, and fromthe beginning there was no hope of him recovering. It's [simply awful, and the poor parents."

This occured when Alexandra was three months pregnant with Alexis, so the "English disease" was already something the whole Romanov family were aware of.  I am sure that this event created a great deal of morbid fear that made its rounds in the family even before Alexis's birth.        

Oh I just wanted to add a note of apology for my spelling and for my typing goofs.....



I know that Rita Child Dorr's view of Anna is so different from most of the things we read about her but the thing that is so interesting is that Rita is interviewing Anna from an American point of view and is trying to figure out if she is calculating ane deceitful or if she is someone who is a victim of character assassination.  

But to answer your question, Rita Child Dorr wrote a book and her interview with Anna covers three chapters.  The name of the book "Inside The Russian Revolution."  By the way, I was mistaken about the date of her interview with Anna.  It was 1917 and not 1918.  

Rita also went to Moscow and interview the Grand Duchess Elizabeth at her Mary and Martha Convent, just months before Elizabeth was arrested.  However, even then Rita explains that Ella is "almost the last remaining member of the royal family left in complete freedom in the empire.  

I thought that it was very interesting that Anna could accept that fact that Rasputin was licentious without finding that reason enough to have dropped him.  Her remarks are supportive of Alexandra's awareness of Rasputin's licentious behavior without allowing it to sway her devotion to his healing ability.  

Anna also mentions something that I never heard anyone speak of before and that was the aggressive onslot of medical advise that was coming from the Romanoff family prior to the appearance of Rasputin, advise that was causing untold dispair and confusion for Alexandra.   Anna states, "The child had a rare disease, one which the doctors have never been able to cure...In addition to this the boy developed tuberculosis of the hip.  It seemed impossible that he could live to grow up.  He was a dear child, always, beautiful, clever, and lovable.  Even had less hung on his life than succession to the throne it would have been hard to give him up.  Each one of his successive illness racked the Empress with such terror and anguish that her mind almost gave away.  For a long time she was so melancholy that she had to live in seclusion under the care of nurses.  It was not so much assassins that she feared.  It was that the child should die of the maladies that afflicted him.  And, in addition to all this daily and hourly anxiety and pain she suffered, the poor Empress was torn this way and that by the grand dukes and all the members of the court circle.  Each one had a remedy or a treatment they wanted applied to the child.  There were always new doctors, new treatments, new operations in the air.  The Empress was criticized bitterly because she wouldn't try them all.  The Empress Dowager---well---."  

That is such an interesting insight, isn't it?  It doesn't tell us too much more about Anna, however.      

I think that sometimes we suffer more from a lack of understanding the atmosphere of palace life than we do when we try to understand the people who lived in that atmosphere.  Certainly Anna Vyrubova is a clear example of trying to unlock a complex and often contradictory woman who appears to continue to elude our search for her character.  Rheta Childe Dorr interviewed Anna just after she was released from the Fortress of Peter and Paul and this American newspaper woman has a different perspective on Anna.    

Rita interviewed Anna in 1918, shortly after her release from the prison hospital and while she was still living, under constant surviellance, in her sister's home.  Her sister's husband, it will be remembered was Princess Paley's son by her first marriage and therefore the step-son of the Grand Duke Paul.

Rita Childe Dorr says, of Anna:

"How I met this woman, how she came to talk confidentially with me, where I saw her and when, are not to be written just now.  They could not be published without injuring a number of people, perhaps, including Madame Virubova herself.  I saw and talked with her soon after her release from the prison hospital.  She was still drawn and haggard from the hardships and the terror of her experiences in Peter and Paul, and she was in the depth of despondency over the plight of her friend the Czarina.  She is a very pretty woman, this alleged Borgia-Jezebel.  She has an abundance of brown hair and her eyes are large and deeply blue.  Her features are regular, and her mouth curves like a child's....Madame Virubova is a patrician by birth, and before she was born, and long before Rasputin appeared in Tsarskoye Selo, her family was attached to the court.  The father and grandfather of Virubova were court officials, confidential secretaries to the emperors of their times.  Both her parents are living and I have met them both.  They are highly educated and unmistakably well bred.  They are not rich people, but they live in a very beautiful apartment in an exclusive quarter of Petrograd...

"Was Rasputin as bad as they say he was?"  I asked.

"He couldn't have been," she answered.  "But he may have been more or less licentious.  Unfortunately you find men, even in holy orders, who are weak in certain ways.  I can only answer positively for myself and the Empress.  The charge that either of us ever had any personal relation with Rasputin wa a foul slander.  "Oh," she cried, with a sudden flame dyeing her white cheeks, "how easy, very easy, it is to say that kind of thing about a woman..."

"Was he a German agent?  Was he part of the political intrigue that threatened a separate peace for Russia?"

Anna Virubova was silent for a long minute.  She seemed to be pondering.  the she spoke, and her eyes were as candid as a child's.  "Truely, I do not know.  Certainly I did not believe it in Rasputin's lifetime, but now--I do not know.  This much I do know, that it was difficult, very difficult, at the Russian court, to avoid being drawn inot political intrigues.  You know, of course, what a court is like."

"No," I said, "I don't know anything about a court.  Tell me what it is like."

"There is only one word in English to describe it," replied Mme. Virubova.  "That word is 'rotten.'  A court is made up of numberless little cliques, each one with its endless gossip, its whisperings, its secrets and its plots, big and small.  There is nothing too big or too small for these cliques to concern themselves with.  They plot international policital changes, and the plot private murders.  They plot to ruin the mind and the morals of an Emperor, and the plot to break up the friendship between two women.  They plot to raise this one to power and they plot to bring about the fall of another.  They plot in peace and they plot in war.  The person who lives at court and is not drawn into some of these plots is an exception to the rule...."

I think it is interesting to hear Anna's reasoning as she searches for answers to Rita's questions.  I think that two women talking together opens up more possiblities for understanding who Anna's was.  

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