Author Topic: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited  (Read 19497 times)

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Offline RichC

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Re: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited
« Reply #60 on: June 19, 2009, 09:21:21 AM »
For reference:  Trotsky, Diary in Exile, p. 80-81:

".... Talking to Sverdlov, I asked in passing, "Oh yes, and where is the Tsar?"  "It's all over," he answered, "he has been shot."  "And where is the family?"  "And the family along with them."  "All of them?" I asked, apparently with a touch of surprise.  "All of them," replied Sverdlov, "what about it?"  He was waiting to see my reaction.  I made no reply.  "And who made the decision?" I asked.  "We decided it here.  Ilyich [Lenin] believed that we shouldn't leave the Whites a live banner to rally round, especially under the present difficult circumstances."  I did not ask any further questions, and considered the matter closed."

It's interesting from a psychological standpoint that Sverdlov "was waiting to see" Trotsky's "reaction" to the news of Moscow's murder of Nicholas II and his immediate family. If nothing else, it shows a certain degree of paranoia, either on Sverdlov's part or Trotsky's or (most likely) on both parts. Again, I don't think we should underestimate the amount of political intrigue and back-stabbing that went on in the upper echelons of Soviet power. It seems to me quite likely that Yurovsky was telling the truth in his 1920 Note when he stated that "on July 16, a cable in previously agreed-upon language arrived from Perm, containing the order to execute the Romanovs."  The fact of the matter is, if he'd been more clever, he would have lied about it and never mentioned any such cable. Maybe that's why he spent the rest of his life in relatively speaking low-ranking jobs and his daughter ended up in the Gulag. We'll never know it for a fact, of course, but I suspect that it was because Yurovsky was a little too proud of his accomplishments and boasted of them one too many times, both in public and private. Perhaps, as far as Stalin was concerned, Yurovsky was a bit of a loose cannon.

Elisabeth, I've wondered about this too.  What kind of "reaction" could Sverdlov possibly have been waiting for?  I hope he wasn't expecting a protest based on the sanctity of human life.  What was there to argue about?  Trotsky's only option would have been to endorse the decision.  Of course on the other hand, it's clear that by the time Trotsky wrote the above passage, he had been stabbed in the back and betrayed, repeatedly.  So, I suppose one could defend this recollection as having a ring of truth to it, given what went down afterwards.   Or, he added the dramatic flourish to illustrate just what you said, the atmosphere of paranoia that seemed to be a mainstay of Soviet (or Russian?) life until 1991 (or today?).

Also, if we are going to consider the amount of intrigue and back-stabbing that was going on in upper echelons of the Soviet government in 1918, doesn't that argue even more against Ekaterinburg acting alone?  I have studied Russian history for many years and how many instances are there where officials in outlying areas ever took any initiative about anything at all?  Even under the Tsars?

As for Yurovsky, he can hardly be said to have "executed" his task cleanly.  The whole operation was a muddle from start to finish.  Why trust him with anything so important a second time when he did such a messy job the first time?