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Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Last post by Kalafrana on Today at 02:00:58 PM »
Fair point about gospodin, but it's also used to address God (as westerners say 'Lord'), so 'sir' doesn't really carry the nuance.

Are you going to include a glossary of Russian weights and measures?

Reconstructive surgery didn't really exist in 1919, so I suspect Berzins would end up losing his entire hand; if you give him gangrene, the entire arm.

Palaces in St. Petersburg / Re: Children's Rooms in the Winter Palace
« Last post by Joanna on Today at 10:42:08 AM »
Toys in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg – doll clothes to enchant a child and adult!

Note my comment at the end:  Opinions will vary as documentation is missing.

Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Last post by Nictionary on Today at 01:20:21 AM »
April 15, 1919
   Reinholds Berzins had not been expecting a personally addressed envelope.  For the past four months he had been working as inspector of the Latvian Army.  When he had arrived at his office this morning, he found only one guard on duty outside.  After exchanging salutes, Berzins asked where the other guard was, and was told he had gone to get a bite to eat.  Satisfied, Berzins continued into his office and began reading the report he had received the previous night. 
   He was two-thirds of the way through when a starshina arrived with a bag of mail.  It was Berzin’s orders to record all incoming mail, so the starshina took the bag into the mail room and began making his daily log of what had arrived, from where and from whom.
   About five minutes later Berzins’ phone rang.  He picked up the receiver.  “Yes?” he asked.
   “An envelope marked ‘Urgent and Confidential’ has arrived for you.”  It was the starshina.  “It has the security clearance marks on it.”
   “Very well, I will come collect it,” said Berzins.  He put the report down and walked down the hall to the mail room.  There, lying on the table, he saw a slim envelope with his name written on it in bright green ink.  Since most of the mail was addressed to “Inspector General, Workers and Peasants Red Army of the Latvian SSR,” Berzins became instantly curious.  When he tore open the envelope, he released a tiny spring, which hit a detonator smaller than an aspirin tablet, and set off the two five-dyuim strips of gelignite.   Although they weighed less than a zolotnik, the explosives triggered a powerful blast, sending shrapnel into Berzins’ face, chest and arms and ripping off two fingers on his left hand. 
   Berzins was rushed to the hospital, where he required surgery to stabilize numerous broken bones.  In the months to come he would require numerous further surgeries on his hand.
Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Last post by Nictionary on Yesterday at 03:19:48 AM »
“Yes,” agreed Mikhail. 
   No one spoke after that.  Artyem drove at a moderate speed for the next twenty minutes or so before pulling into what looked like a stonemason’s yard, somewhere on the southern edge of the city.  Mikhail could feel himself getting anxious again as the Fiat pulled to a stop.  He and Natalia had slid fresh clips into their Brownings in the green Mercedes.  Lazar, Nikita and Artyem were armed, too.  Still, they were now all entering the most vulnerable phase of the mission, completely in the hands of others of whom they knew nothing except that they were not their own people.
   The Fiat drove away, leaving them standing on the soft, sandy soil, in front of some low sheds filled with half-finished tombstones. A little distance away, on the open ground, two small Packards were parked, perpendicular to each other. The driver in the second Packard was smoking.  Mikhail could see the glow of his cigarette in the dark.
   Instinctively they fanned out as they approached the two cars. As Mikhail walked slowly, about 5 arshins from Lazar, the idea that flashed through his mind was that the concept of “zero risk” was really a bad joke. Certainly as it applied to them, at this moment.
   On the other hand, they had done the first job.
   The engines of the little Packards came to life.  Nikita and Natalia were already getting into the first one. The driver of the second was stubbing out his cigarette and opening the door for Mikhail and Lazar.  Whatever might yet happen would not be at this spot or at this time.
   Outside the city limits, the two cars turned south in the direction of Voronezh.  Mikhail could see that they weren’t taking the main highway, but a smaller secondary road.  He caught a glimpse of a sign. They were headed toward the small town of Michnevo.

   Minutes later, Adrian Bylinkin, his staff officers, and Miroshnichenko, who had made the dangerous journey behind enemy lines to personally oversee the mission, received word from Yuryev.  The signal released the tension in the air. Officers went from pensive waiting to quick action, gathering papers and packing bags.  Within four hours, all the Intelligence Department officers and combatants, from Miroshnichenko to the most junior member of the O squad, had left Moscow by train and automobile.

   Several hours later, 13 of the 16 team members were sitting around a table in a safe house in Michnevo.  The gramophone was playing Tchaikovsky.  Lazar, Nikita, Mikhail and Natalia were drinking vodka, a little sloshed.  Nikita was drinking happily; Natalia was drunker and more glum.  Mikhail was tense, watching the door, waiting for something.
   Yuryev, Andrei and Samuil walked in, looking very tired.  This was what Mikhail was waiting for.  Andrei sat next to Mikhail.  The others watched.
   “Well, what do you want me to say?” Andrei demanded.  “He’s dead.”  He reached in his pocket, and took out a bullet casing.  He tossed it to Mikhail, who pocketed it.
   “Have some vodka,” said Mikhail.  “We’re celebrating.”
   “Well—that’s one,” said Lazar.  “As a matter of curiosity, would you like to know the cost?  Give or take a few kopecks, he cost us, by my calculations, roughly seven hundred and four thousand rubles.”
   Mikhail raised his bottle.  “To the martyrs,” he said solemnly.  The others raised their bottles, toasted and drank, and a sorrow descended as they remembered.
   “It was so easy,” said Mikhail.
   “Perhaps too easy,” said Samuil.  “And if it’s that easy for us, it’s that easy for them.  All they have to do is find us.”
   Mikhail nodded.  “Have you ever killed a man?” he asked.
   Samuil shook his head.
   The "Grande valse villageoise” from Sleeping Beauty was playing.  Mikhail got to his feet, then pulled Natalia up and they started to dance, Natalia heavy, stumbling a little.  Yuryev joined them, throwing his arms around their shoulders.  Mikhail pulled Andrei in, and soon they were all out on the floor, dancing out of time, awkward, self-conscious, as a strange sort of closeness settled in.

   The investigation into the murder of Medvedev was never closed.  The Cheka almost immediately shot several hostages in retribution, but they made little progress in finding the actual killers.  They picked up clues from the assassination site, including the rented getaway cars, in one of which they found an unfired 7.65mm cartridge, but they all lead to dead ends.

Ann, with regards to forms of address, I read one source that said that in the Russian army before 1917, gospodin could be used to address military superiors.  So couldn’t that be translated as “sir”?
Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Last post by Nictionary on Yesterday at 03:17:35 AM »
Medvedev moved.  He unsnapped the flap on his holster and was fumbling with his own Browning when the first bullets struck him in the chest.  Mikhail and Natalia had fired in unison.  Twice.  Twice, twice, then twice again, their aim following Medvedev’s body as he screamed in pain, then dropped to his knees, then fell flat on his face.  His pistol fell from his hand.  He tried to roll over to reach it but couldn’t.  “Help…help…me…please,” he panted almost inaudibly.  Natalia walked up close, kicked the dying man over onto his back, and fired another shot right into his head.  Mikhail followed suit, even though Medvedev had already stopped moving.  Dazed, they each fired again.
   Mikhail saw Natalia bending down for some unaccountable reason. At first he thought his partner wanted to look at Medvedev’s body, but in fact she was starting to pick up the ejected shells.  Realizing he ought to do the same, Mikhail slammed the light switch on, and quickly began locating, picking up and pocketing the shell casings.   Both of them counted up to … eleven.  They looked for the twelfth casing but eventually gave up.
   Natalia was crouching over the body.  She held her hand over her nose and mouth, smelling something terrible, and gagged.  “Let’s go,” said Mikhail, as he tucked his gun into his belt, starting to move towards the exit at a fast walking pace. Looking back, he could see Natalia straightening up and following him.  Natalia seemed dazed.  She was trying to put her gun away, but in the end she just held it under her jacket.
   They walked out quickly through the main entrance on to the square. Behind them the lights were still burning in the lobby. Less than three minutes must have elapsed since Medvedev had entered the building—maybe less than two.
   They walked towards the green Mercedes, quickening their pace as they went. Fixing his eye on the car, parked only two dozen sazhens away, Mikhail did not even notice whether they had been passing other people on the sidewalk or not.  The closer they got to the car the faster they walked, and for the last few steps Mikhail could feel himself breaking into a run. Without meaning to. He yanked open the rear door, and let Natalia tumble into the back seat ahead of him.  They noticed that the auburn-haired girl had left.
   Nikita turned back.  “What happened?” he asked anxiously just as Mikhail was slamming the door shut.
   “Nothing.  It’s done,” Mikhail replied. “We shot him.  Let’s go.”
   “We killed him,” affirmed Natalia.
   “Twelve shots!” shouted Mikhail.
   “He shat himself!  He’s dead!” cried Natalia.
   Everyone stopped shouting.  They sat in silence as the Mercedes shot forward. It leapt into the flow of traffic around Kaluzhskaya Square, forcing another car to brake and swerve so hard it nearly spun around its axis. It was unbelievably close. Mikhail could already hear the crunch of metal and was surprised when it didn’t come. The next few hundred yards along Ulitsa  Mytnaya were just a blur. 
   Lazar, on the other hand seemed totally calm, waiting for them as they pulled in behind the Fiat, a few hundred sazhens away.  He motion to Artyem to move forward to give Nikita some room, then opened the door of the car for them, but kept his eyes on the traffic coming from Kaluzhskaya Square as Nikita parked the Mercedes.  There was nothing to indicate that they had been pursued.
   “Do you have everything?” Mikhail asked Natalia as they clambered into the Fiat.  She nodded, but looked a bit doubtful.  She had put her Browning away but kept feeling the pockets of her jacket as if she had missed something. 
   “What’s the matter, Natalia?” asked Mikhail.  “Are you sure you didn’t drop something?”
   “Ah, no, I don’t think so,” she said, but there was uncertainty in her voice. 
   “Don’t worry,” said Artyem.  “If you did, Andrei and Samuil will pick it up.”
Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Last post by Nictionary on Yesterday at 03:14:51 AM »
Looking back towards the entry they could see people walking by; silhouettes framed for a split second in the narrow doorway. A woman. An older couple. A dog, pausing, looking back, wagging its tail, trotting away again.
   Then, without any doubt, the man they were waiting to kill.  Dressed in the Chekist’s signature black leather jacket and a peaked cap, with a leather holster on his hip.  Carrying a newspaper.  Just at this moment the dash-dot of a car horn reached their ears—Nikita signaling them from the green Mercedes—but it wasn’t necessary. They knew.
   What would happen if people walked in after they had already begun what, in the team’s vocabulary, was called “the action”?  The best idea Mikhail could come up with was to dismiss such a possibility. Zero risk could only mean near-zero risk, not absolute zero. Even Bylinkin had acknowledged that in such operations it was impossible to plan for all eventualities.
   The target was coming through the door.
   Except—Mikhail could hardly believe his eyes—a man and a woman were following right at his heels.  A couple of innocent bystanders. Natalia saw them too. They were about to walk through the door, just a few paces behind the man with the newspaper. 
   At this point Natalia made a sudden move, possibly because of the couple walking behind the man. Later she wasn’t certain herself why she moved; maybe she considered the mission aborted and she was starting to head out of the building. In any case, she moved—and the couple behind the target might have sensed the movement, caught sight of a dim figure they did not know in the dark lobby. Or they might simply have changed their minds about entering the building. They stopped.
   Then the man seemed to pull at the woman’s hand, and they both walked away.
   Ahead of them, the man with the newspaper noticed nothing. He continued walking into the lobby towards the stairs with firm, customary steps, not worrying about the darkness.  A thin slight man with no though of danger.
   Mikhail and Natalia stepped out of the shadows and moved between Medvedev and the curved staircase.  Natalia reached out and switched on the light.
   Caught in the sudden glow, which wasn’t at all bright, Medvedev looked up but he did not slow down or stop. His expression wasn’t frightened. He wasn’t even startled, only a little puzzled, perhaps.  He looked at Mikhail and Natalia, and they looked at him.  Everyone was blank for a moment before Natalia asked, “Are you Comrade Medvedev?”
   The question was mere operational formality. The minute the lights had come on, both agents recognized the former sailor.
   “Yes?” said Medvedev.  “What do you want?”
   “Do you know why we’re here?” asked Mikhail.
   “No,” said the Chekist, frowning.  “Who sent you?”
   “Justice sent us,” said Mikhail as he and Natalia moved together.  Half a step back with the right foot, knees bending in combat crouch. Right hand held close to the body, sweeping back jacket, fingers curved for the pistol grip. Left palm down, moving in a short semicircle over the right coming up with the modified, silenced 7.65mm Browning.  The slide being pulled back and snapping forward.  Less than one second.  One second for the enemy to fire first.  The Intelligence Department’s one second trade-off for zero risk, for never having a weapon in your hand, for never having a bullet raised from the clip into firing position. Until you intended to use it. Then, no more warning, no more waiting.
   For another second nothing happened.  The first second—making sure, before pulling a gun—was regulation. But after they both had their Brownings in their hands there was one more second that had nothing to do with the drill. An unrehearsed pause.  Later, Mikhail thought that they had each simply been hoping that the other would fire first.
Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Last post by Nictionary on Yesterday at 03:12:06 AM »
Another half hour passed before Mikhail saw Lazar get out of the car in front of the entrance.  Lazar looked at his pocket watch, walked over to the driver’s side, leaned against the door, and chatted casually for a few seconds with the girl behind the wheel. Then he waved farewell to her and started walking across the square towards Zhitnaya Ulitsa, without looking at Mikhail or Natalia.  The girl drove away.  Nikita was still sitting with the other girl in the Mercedes parked a few sazhens away.  Apparently it was time to get in position.  If tonight was like most nights, Medvedev would be walking home from the tram stop within the next few minutes.  Lazar sending his car away was the signal that he had spotted Feliks and Angelika strolling towards the square, arm in arm.  Their job was to precede the target by about a minute as he made his way home. 
   Having spotted them, Lazar took up position next to the second getaway car, a beat-up Fiat parked a few hundred sazhens from the square, with Artyem sitting behind the wheel.  Mikhail and Natalia began crossing the square at a relaxed pace toward the main entrance of the apartment building, keeping an eye on Nikita in the Mercedes.  It would have been injudicious to linger in the hallway longer than needed.  Unless and until the girl sitting beside Nikita got out of the car, Mikhail and Natalia would not enter the apartment lobby.
   If she got out of the car only to walk away, Mikhail and Natalia would not enter at all. This would be the final signal to abort the mission. It could mean that the target was accompanied by someone else, or had changed his direction entirely.  He would be coming from around the corner, invisible to Mikhail and Natalia.  The only thing visible to them was the girl in Nikita’s Mercedes, or at least the back of her auburn head.
   Mikhail felt his stomach muscles tighten.  He snatched a quick look at Natalia, but her face displayed no anxiety.  If anything, she looked slightly bored.
   It was time for the brunette to make a move, one way or the other.
   She did.  She was stepping out of the Mercedes.  And she ran instead of walking, with the awkward, high-heeled run of a young girl, over to Feliks and Angelika.  “Privyet!” she shouted at them as she took hold of Feliks’ other arm with both hands.  Laughing, chatting, clinging together, the trio passed by the school.  Presumably a minute ahead of the target.  Swiftly, decisively, as if he had meant to do nothing else all his life, Mikhail walked through the main entrance of the building and into the hallway.  He did not, by word or gesture, signal Natalia to follow him. He had no doubt that Natalia would be right behind, but she would have entered the hall anyway. 
   Everyone was spread out in their positions, alert and electric with tension.
   Inside the lobby the air was cool and a little damp.  Mikhail and Natalia had looked into it the previous day, just long enough to get an idea of the layout.  The stairs.  A kind of reflecting glass, like a mirror, on one wall—which now gave Mikhail a start even though he ought to have remembered it was there.  For a second he thought there was someone waiting in the lobby. Shit! Jumping at his own shadow. Fortunately Natalia seemed not to notice.
   The two agents switched off the lights, then stepped into the shadows of the darkened anteroom and waited.  The electric lights in Moscow were continually failing, so a darkened lobby probably wouldn’t arouse the residents’ suspicions.
Having Fun! / Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Last post by Nictionary on Yesterday at 03:09:27 AM »
Sorry for the delay.  This scene may contain some profanity.

April 7, 1919

   Bylinkin felt the familiar drumbeat of adrenaline in his neck. “The target has left the canteen.  He’s on his way to the tram,” Artemiy reported.  Bylinkin checked his pocket watch, then lit a cigarette.  It was 2130 hours.  He estimated that in just under an hour the two-week undercover operation would come to a close.  He and the team were on the verge of assassinating Mikhail Medvedev.
   In the months since the massacre in Yekaterinburg, Medvedev had risen within the ranks of the Cheka and was now working in its Information Department.  The team had been working undercover for over two weeks, on foot and in cars, from close and afar, watching his every move.  Now Andrei and Samuil followed him as he walked toward his apartment building in southern Moscow on Kaluzhskaya Square.
   Two weeks of following Medvedev had led to a simple assassination plan.  Medvedev walked around in the open and allowed his habits to fall into a pattern.  Bylinkin and Yuryev drew up a plan based on Medvedev’s predictable schedule: Mikhail and Natalia would wait and then kill him at the entrance to his home. 
   Earlier that evening, at around 2030 hours, a car driven by a young resident of Moscow had picked the latter two up a couple of blocks from their hotel, the Budapesht, just where Petrovka Ulitsa meets Ulitsa Kuznetsky Most.  Driving at a leisurely pace - by Russian standards - the car proceeded down Petrovka Ulitsa and turned right onto Mokhovaya Ulitsa, crossed the Moskva river by way of the Bolshoy Kamenny Most, and again where Ulitsa Serafimovicha turned into Ulitsa Bolshaya Polyanka and picked its way down
Zhitnaya Ulitsa.  Mikhail tapped the driver’s shoulder when they reached the corner of Ulitsa Mytnaya.  The young man pulled over, let Mikhail and Natalia out, then circled the square and sped off in the direction from whence he came.  It was now a few minutes after 2100 hours. 
   Mikhail and Natalia strolled across the square, observing that Lazar was already sitting in the passenger seat of a car parked between the main entrance to the apartment building and the school next door.  Lazar saw them, too, but ignored them.  Instead, he said something to the Galina, who was sitting in the driver’s seat.  Mikhail and Natalia watched as she got out of the car, walked slowly to the corner of Ulitsa Mitnaya, and walked back to the car.  She didn’t know it, but she had just signaled to the team that the target had been at home, but had gone out again.  If he had been home the girl would have remained in the car.  If Lazar had seen something that made him decide to scrub the mission, on seeing Mikhail and Natalia he would have told the girl to drive off.  In that case they would have walked over to the other side of the street, where Nikita was waiting in a rented green Mercedes Knight with Petrograd license plates.  Nikita also had a local woman in his car.  If Lazar had given the “abort” signal, Mikhail and Natalia would have hopped into the Mercedes and driven away.
   But, for now, the mission appeared to be a go.  Mikhail and Natalia continued walking around the square, talking in low voices, keeping Lazar and Nikita in sight.  They knew that by know Yuryev would have checked Mikhail and himself out of the Budapesht —the others had checked out of their hotels earlier—and would also have deposited a fresh set of passports, driver’s licenses and some cash for each of them at several predetermined spots throughout Moscow, in case they got separated and had to make their way out of the city on their own.  By now Yuryev was probably having a quiet drink in one of the many working men’s bars in the neighborhood, sitting by a window, keeping an eye on the streets leading into the square.  The major part of his job would not begin until later.
Thrilled to share the first review for "KILLING RASPUTIN" ...

Mediatized Noble Families / Thurn und Taxis mystery...
« Last post by brnbg aka: liljones1968 on May 22, 2017, 05:09:43 AM »
i was going to put this in the Thurn und Taxis thread, but was advised to start a new topic. 
so i am.

my question is this:  does anyone know what happened to Heinrich von Fels? 

he was the son (born in 1867) of prince Paul von Thurn und Taxis (supposed former lover of Ludwig II, who later gave him the title "von Fels" after Paul had been disowned by his family) and the actress, Elise Kreuzer.  Paul's family had forced him to marry her morganatically in 1868, after which, they disowned him, stripped him of all titles & cast him out -- they did, however, give him a yearly allowance.   in any case, Paul contracted tuberculosis and traveled, with his wife & 12 year old son, to Cannes for his health.  his wife ran off with a man she met at their hotel, leaving behind her sick husband & their son, Heinrich von Fels.    Paul died very soon after her departure.   

i haven't been able to find out anything about what happened to poor Heinrich after his father died.   

he, apparently, was not retrieved by his mother, as i can find no mention of him in anything regarding his mother Elise after her departure from Cannes.   

i figured i'd ask here, and see if anyone has any idea what happened to the poor kid who, abandoned by his mother, was left to watch his father die.   the TuT family don't seem to have taken him in.  i believe his mother's family were all dead already (i could be mistaken about this, however).   

anyway --
thanks for any info.
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