Author Topic: The Enigmatic Tatiana  (Read 56176 times)

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Offline bookworm857158367

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #30 on: October 06, 2004, 02:32:43 PM »

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I think Anya is very reliable, much more than Edvard Radzinsky (who has come up with some pretty wild theories about a lot of things, and much more reliable than the gossipy Tyutcheva  -- who admitted to spreading rumors about Rasputin before she had even met him). Besides, Anya is not the only one who has said that not only was Rasputin rarely at the palace, he was never in the girls' rooms. I believe Nicholas' sister Olga said this as well, stating that her brother would never have allowed it.

And Tatiana's letter doesn't sound any more "desperate" than any other one she wrote when she was asking forgiveness from her parents. I don't see how you can say she is "stumbling" over herself when you didn't witness her writing it. Are you saying this because of her grammar? It's no different than any other letter she wrote at the time.


I respect Radzinksy's work as a journalist. He's more entertainer than professional historian, it's true, but he's used primary sources that others apparently didn't have access to and he said in the book where he got the testimony of the two nurses. I don't necessarily agree with all his conclusions in the Rasputin File, but it's an interesting, lively read with a lot of relevance. The nurses said they went to Nicholas and Alexandra with their stories and were ignored. They objected to Rasputin having contact with the grand duchesses, regardless of whether it was in the nursery or at a private house.

As to Tatiana's letter -- I'm reading the tone of the letter and the time period it occurred. She sounds like a little girl who IS stumbling over her words trying to apologize and ask how her mother is feeling. The tone may be similar to her other letters, but I find that even more sad in a way. Maybe it's just the time period and the way the royal family raised their children.

Offline Janet_W.

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #31 on: October 06, 2004, 02:54:13 PM »
I agree that Olga A. was in a better position to see things as they were, rather than Xenia.

Still, I wonder if Rasputin ever did "forget himself" when in the company of the grand duchesses. We know that many cases of child abuse involve relatives and friends of the family.  I think OTMA were well-supervised, but I also imagine there were occasional opportunities. Rasputin undoubtedly was careful of his own behavior in the presence of the IF, but there may have been "slips" now and then that initially startled OTMA, or at least OT.  

Adolescents are vulnerable in this area; I remember when I was that age there were family friends--men, mainly--eyeing me differently, and it did make me uncomfortable. And, in fact, a few of these men did start becoming a bit more tactile than I appreciated, so I learned to avoid them. (I was too embarrassed to tell my mother.) About this time I also developed an eating disorder.

Years later a close friend of mine had her own story: Her aunt's second husband had sexaully abused her for many years, but she knew that if she ever told her parents they would brand her a liar. My friend didn't have an eating disorder, but she stuttered. And since that time other friends have told me of similar childhood/adolesent experiences. Most of us did not go through the harrowing experience of my friend who stutters, but we all felt uneasy, even threatened.

I'm not a big Radzinksy fan--I think he does tend to go off into theatrics--but based on what I've experienced and what friends of mine have experienced (and supposedly we were all brought up in safe, secure homes) I wouldn't entirely discount that story involving Vishnyakova and Tyutcheva.  The truth may lie somewhere in between, tho' I am inclined to believe that Vishnyakova may well have been raped.

Getting back to the subject of Tatiana, whatever her apology was about, the letter does show--in addition to the strained composition--that she was terribly unhappy about displeasing her parents.  I do agree, from what others have posted, that she was a "pleaser," put a high value on control and order, and that her thinness may well have been an "incidental" example of this mindset.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #32 on: October 06, 2004, 02:59:01 PM »
I think you're all dismissing Tiutcheva's testimony out of hand... when even Grand Duchess Xenia believed her to be a credible witness. (Her private diary is a more reliable source than anything Olga Alexandrovna told Ian Vorres decades later, -- with the inherent object of protecting her family's reputation.)

Tiutcheva came from an extremely eminent family (she was related to the great Russian poet of that name). She had no reason to make up stories that might damage her own reputation with other members of the imperial family. And there is no evidence to suggest that her reputation did suffer, or that anyone (except for N and A) didn't believe her accounts of what was going on at Tsarskoe Selo.

If I were a historian I would never venture to draw such dramatic conclusions from such little concrete evidence. As an individual, however, I have to wonder what on earth N and A were thinking to allow a person such as Rasputin into their children's night nursery (yes, I reiterate: I do believe Tiutcheva, and even Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna admits that Rasputin was present when the children were in their nightclothes and ready to say their prayers!). The entire incident is reflective of their general obliviousness to reality, typical of them throughout their reign and afterwards...

And if it was true that Tatiana was made uncomfortable by Rasputin's attentions (and remember Rasputin's reputation with women! would you let him around your teenage daughter?), think what terrible pressure was put on Tatiana as a twelve- (not yet thirteen-)year-old girl.  She learned in one fell swoop her true value in the family.  Who can blame her if she worked twice as hard as the other daughters to be loved after such an event?

As for the anorexia issue... personally I do not believe Olga was anorexic. Her weight loss after a serious bout with the measles (often fatal in adults) was clearly physiological, and after that, in Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg, probably more the result of stress and general unhappiness than anything else. (Depression also results in weight loss.)  With Tatiana -- as Michelle noted, Tatiana had a very slender build.  She might simply have had very tiny bones. I didn't believe it was possible to be so thin without being anorexic until I went to the Paris Museum of Fashion and saw a Versace gown on display that had been worn by Jerry Hall.  It is impossible, simply impossible, to shrink your ribcage down to such as size as was indicated by that gown, no matter how much weight you lose... Some women, even very tall women, are just blessed with that extremely slender build.  Naomi Campbell also comes to mind...

Hope I have not upset anyone too much with my speculations, but they are just that, speculations. With some evidence to back them up.

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #33 on: October 06, 2004, 03:01:30 PM »
Quote
Still, I wonder if Rasputin ever did "forget himself" when in the company of the grand duchesses. We know that many cases of child abuse involve relatives and friends of the family.  I think OTMA were well-supervised, but I also imagine there were occasional opportunities. Rasputin undoubtedly was careful of his own behavior in the presence of the IF, but there may have been "slips" now and then that initially startled OTMA, or at least OT.  


Janet,
No way, never happened, not even once. Every first hand account concurs that Rasputin never misbehaved nor even mis-spoke in the presence of the IF. THAT was one major reason why N&A had such a hard time believing the  wild stories about him that were brought to their attention. He always behaved perfectly around the girls, and was never alone with them without others being around.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #34 on: October 06, 2004, 03:10:55 PM »
Sorry I've upset people so much! This was not my intention.

AnastasiaFan, Tatiana's grammatical and spelling errors are merely a result of her being bilingual (Russian and English). As I've explained on another thread, bilingual children are typically slow to develop the vocabulary and expertise in using their languages that other children, with only one first language to deal with, pick up quite quickly. When you add in the fact that the grand duchesses were also learning French... well, you can see, it's three times the work!
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Offline Janet_W.

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #35 on: October 06, 2004, 03:26:04 PM »
I was composing another reply when the matter re: Olga A's vs. Xenia's account came up!

So here is what I was working on:

I agree with Jane that it's difficult to make assumptions about OTMA, and that in fact much of their appeal lies in their mystery. Royal children in other nations would marry, have children, age, and die fairly inconspicuous deaths. But OTMA remain frozen in our memories . . . four pretty young women, mercifully ignorant of the fate that awaits them.

It is tempting to assign modern values to events that happened 100 years ago and more. At that time, the concept of an eating disorder was largely unknown . . . yet people did exhibit such behaviors, then and years before. Today eating disorders that encourage obesity are more likely to exist  because of a number of practical factors--i.e., a more populous and affluent middle class, increased leisure time, easier access to food--and are publicized by a media that was not nearly as wide-reaching even a decade ago. But people did try to manage their dietary intake during the time of the Romanovs, and before. As a former English major I am reminded of Lord Byron, who was not the sylph as portrayed by Richard Chamberlain in the film Lady Caroline Lamb, but was constantly dieting--and followed very rigid and unhealthy diets.

Alexandra did monitor the weight of her children, and I'm not sure if this was typical of the times or not. But consider that she and Nicholas often spoke of one of their courtiers as "Fat Orlov," and of course Anya Vrubova was overweight . . . according to Felix, who knew her when they were both adolescents, she had always been rather ungainly, but certainly a loveless marriage and the resulting frustrations did nothing to help Anya's issues of overweight as an adult.


Okay, here's what I'm adding on: I have no problem with the observations of Anya and Sophie and others. But remember the story of the elephant and the seven or eight blind men? Each one could tell you something different about that elephant!

Anya Vrubova writes from a special viewpoint. It is rather sheltered, as she was until that horrible time when she was interrogated. (And I have new respect for her after reading the text of her interrogation on this website.) However, her viewpoint of everything is very sentimental. It is a valid viewpoint, but it is colored by her own approach and sense of tact. Also remember that she was a go-between with Rasputin, tho' I do not assign any sense of evil to this task; we've all "carried secrets" that were fairly harmless, after all.

Radzinsky, as I have said, is not my favorite author. He speculates way too much of the time. However, I am inclined to agree with much of what Elizabeth says.

I doubt Rasputin made any truly improper advances toward the older children. But I wouldn't be surprised if, on occasion, he startled them . . . without meaning to do so. Whatever doubts Tatiana might have had about him--and I'm not sure that she did--seem to have been resolved later, when she would quote at length from his letters.

Olga, I think, may have been a tad more discerning. She seems, at times, to have questioned authority; Tatiana did not.

Away from the palace, I wouldn't be surprised if Rasputin was capable of taking advantage of situations. We've all known, or read of, or possibly been involved with someone who acted one way around people in charge, then another way when he/she figured no one was looking. It's not a big stretch of the imagination--in my opinion, at least!--to think that Rasputin (emboldened, perhaps, by alcohol) may well have taken advantage of that nursery maid, considering it a seduction more than a rape, and something that may have been "good" for her.

Do I think that Rasputin was pure evil? No, I do not. But I do think that, like many people, he occasionally took advantage of his situation and justified his reasons for doing so.

Offline bookworm857158367

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #36 on: October 06, 2004, 03:34:55 PM »
Quote


Yeah that's certainly true, without a doubt.


I don't find the nurse's gossip all that reliable when you look at the fact that so many other people, even the ones who didn't care for Rasputin, knew the rumors were not true. First you have Anya, who said how the nurse was spreading the rumors to begin with. You can claim Anya is not reliable due to the fact she believed in Rasputin's "gift" to heal people, however if she witnessed or believed Rasputin did do something to the girls, she would be showing more loyalty to Rasputin then the children, and I just don't see that happening. Then you have Sofia Buxhoeveden, NOT a Rasputin follower, saying he was hardly ever at the palace to begin with, shooting away the idea that Rasputin could have the ability to be with the girls in their rooms "multiple" times. And of course, then there is Olga, who was very close to her neices as well as their parents, and she knew everything about their lives, including Rasputin. Never did she witness or hear anything Rasputin did that could have been seen in a negative light -- regarding the girls at least. She was like an older sister to them, as well as a best friend, and the idea that they wouldn't have told her about Rasputin hurting them -- if it had happened -- is not likely. She would have probably been the first person they would have gone to. And, as Olga stated, all the children were perfectly at ease with him. Letters from the girls to Rasputin confirm this. And of course, there is Rasputin himself. For all his horrible ways, I seriousy doubt he would have taken such a risk as to hurt them. He would not have jeopardized the faith N&A had in him. All of this against the nurse's gossip seems to point that she simply didn't like Rasputin, and was spreading rumors because she knew she had an audience in Russia's society.


I am not going to read anything into Tatiana's letter when she isn't here to defend herself. I'm going to take it like it is, a letter written by a little girl with grammer and spelling errors, just like many children.


Have you read Radzinsky's book "The Rasputin File?" You might want to pick it up and flip to the relevant testimony. I don't think the testimony the two former nurses gave was "gossip." It has the ring of truth. Further proof of his behavior is available from the police file on him.  Nicholas had access to that file and still let the man have influence over his wife and children. Who knows what Rasputin did or didn't do in the presence of the children? I hope he DIDN'T say anything untoward to the girls, but his influence over them was clearly inappropriate.

I'm talking about the "tone" of Tatiana's letter, not her many spelling and grammatical errors. If I saw a letter like that from a 12-year-old today, I'd probably bring in a counselor.

Offline bookworm857158367

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #37 on: October 06, 2004, 03:41:08 PM »
Quote
I was composing another reply when the matter re: Olga A's vs. Xenia's account came up!

So here is what I was working on:

I agree with Jane that it's difficult to make assumptions about OTMA, and that in fact much of their appeal lies in their mystery. Royal children in other nations would marry, have children, age, and die fairly inconspicuous deaths. But OTMA remain frozen in our memories . . . four pretty young women, mercifully ignorant of the fate that awaits them.

It is tempting to assign modern values to events that happened 100 years ago and more. At that time, the concept of an eating disorder was largely unknown . . . yet people did exhibit such behaviors, then and years before. Today eating disorders that encourage obesity are more likely to exist  because of a number of practical factors--i.e., a more populous and affluent middle class, increased leisure time, easier access to food--and are publicized by a media that was not nearly as wide-reaching even a decade ago. But people did try to manage their dietary intake during the time of the Romanovs, and before. As a former English major I am reminded of Lord Byron, who was not the sylph as portrayed by Richard Chamberlain in the film Lady Caroline Lamb, but was constantly dieting--and followed very rigid and unhealthy diets.

Alexandra did monitor the weight of her children, and I'm not sure if this was typical of the times or not. But consider that she and Nicholas often spoke of one of their courtiers as "Fat Orlov," and of course Anya Vrubova was overweight . . . according to Felix, who knew her when they were both adolescents, she had always been rather ungainly, but certainly a loveless marriage and the resulting frustrations did nothing to help Anya's issues of overweight as an adult.


Okay, here's what I'm adding on: I have no problem with the observations of Anya and Sophie and others. But remember the story of the elephant and the seven or eight blind men? Each one could tell you something different about that elephant!

Anya Vrubova writes from a special viewpoint. It is rather sheltered, as she was until that horrible time when she was interrogated. (And I have new respect for her after reading the text of her interrogation on this website.) However, her viewpoint of everything is very sentimental. It is a valid viewpoint, but it is colored by her own approach and sense of tact. Also remember that she was a go-between with Rasputin, tho' I do not assign any sense of evil to this task; we've all "carried secrets" that were fairly harmless, after all.

Radzinsky, as I have said, is not my favorite author. He speculates way too much of the time. However, I am inclined to agree with much of what Elizabeth says.

I doubt Rasputin made any truly improper advances toward the older children. But I wouldn't be surprised if, on occasion, he startled them . . . without meaning to do so. Whatever doubts Tatiana might have had about him--and I'm not sure that she did--seem to have been resolved later, when she would quote at length from his letters.

Olga, I think, may have been a tad more discerning. She seems, at times, to have questioned authority; Tatiana did not.

Away from the palace, I wouldn't be surprised if Rasputin was capable of taking advantage of situations. We've all known, or read of, or possibly been involved with someone who acted one way around people in charge, then another way when he/she figured no one was looking. It's not a big stretch of the imagination--in my opinion, at least!--to think that Rasputin (emboldened, perhaps, by alcohol) may well have taken advantage of that nursery maid, considering it a seduction more than a rape, and something that may have been "good" for her.

Do I think that Rasputin was pure evil? No, I do not. But I do think that, like many people, he occasionally took advantage of his situation and justified his reasons for doing so.



I think Radzinsky's "Rasputin File" gives some interesting insight into what might have made Rasputin tick. He talks about the religious sect -- the "Khlysts" that he thought might have had some influence on Rasputin. Among other things, they believed that it was necessary to sin in order to repent. The truly religious person would feel terrible about the sin and his religious awakening would be all the more powerful. Rasputin reportedly had sex with followers and then prayed with them. Very sick, but he wouldn't have been the first clergyman to use that tactic.


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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #38 on: October 06, 2004, 03:46:25 PM »
General Spiridovitch did a major investigation into the question of whether Rasputin was a Khlyst, while R was still alive and again after the Revolution. He states that without question, R was NOT a Khylst and was not a follower of their peculiar beliefs. This was a very pressing and important issue at the time.

Offline bookworm857158367

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #39 on: October 06, 2004, 03:55:01 PM »
I thought Radzinsky's argument that Rasputin might have been exposed to Khlyst beliefs on his wanderings was an interesting one. Regardless, Rasputin apparently took advantage of women followers.

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #40 on: October 06, 2004, 06:06:40 PM »
I agree with our FA that despite Radzinsky I don't believe for a second that Rasputin was anything but harmless in the presence of Alix and the children. He behaved the way they thought he was, was suitably servile and told them what they wanted to hear. That way Alix wouldn't believe anything bad told about him since it didn't mesh with what she saw.

As for Tatiana's writing, it may be an example of how stunted the children were socially and educationally (it may be I'm not saying it is). There is the quote that the two oldest girls could still be heard talking like little girls when they were grown women. It also reflect the awe and respect the children had for their parents. Even Olga who argued with Alix was devoted to her. They probably constantly worried that they had upset her especially when she was sick (which was basically all the time). Tatiana who was closest to her mother and also being a born manager she was the type to want to put out any "fires" caused by angry feelings or such right away. Who knows?

Offline bookworm857158367

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #41 on: October 06, 2004, 07:34:28 PM »
Quote

Yup, I've read it, and no, it didn't impress me. I do think she was making things out to be worse than they were, when friends and family never reported anything inappropriate about Rasputin's behavior towards OTMA. And, Rasputin was never alone with the children, never. So that knocks out any chance he would have had to have hurt them. Besides, no letter written by any of OTMA points to this. You can twist a 12-year-olds words around however you like, but the fact is she never said anything that clearly shows Rasputin did anything. And all their letters as teenagers show they thought very highly of them of him, asking him for advice and looking forward to seeing him.

 

Why?


Why a counselor? Reading the letter I hear a kid who seems almost overly afraid of her parents' unhappiness and/or anger. There's a difference between "I'm sorry" and "I'll never do anything to make you unhappy ever again or do anything you don't want me to do ever again." That's an impossible promise. Even in 1910 I would think most parents would have understood that. Hopefully Alexandra reassured Tatiana verbally on that point after getting that letter. The letter writer also seems to be assuming the caregiver role for her sick mother.  Then there's whatever the conflict was with her regular caregiver, the nurse, and with Rasputin. If I were a teacher, for instance, and saw that letter, I'd suggest a school counselor talk to her.

You don't like Radzinsky's book or believe the nurses' testimony. I'm inclined to believe it. Everyone has a different opinion, I guess.

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #42 on: October 06, 2004, 08:15:41 PM »
OK, this is probably reaching the "agree to disagree" point. None of us can know what happened or didn't happen almost 100 years ago. I think the letter is suggestive that Tatiana was disturbed by something involving Rasputin and her governess (probably by the governess talking to her father about Rasputin, maybe because of something Tatiana innocently said to her.) The tone sounds overly anxious to me. I think the nurses were plausible in their testimony that Rasputin sexually assaulted A.V. and Alexandra and Nicholas preferred not to believe it or other negative information they heard about Rasputin's debauchery because they believed he saved Alexei with his prayers. I don't think that the friends and family of the Imperial Family were lying, but they may not have known everything either. We disagree. Probably enough said.

Offline Alexa

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #43 on: October 07, 2004, 08:33:08 AM »
Quote

Why a counselor? Reading the letter I hear a kid who seems almost overly afraid of her parents' unhappiness and/or anger. There's a difference between "I'm sorry" and "I'll never do anything to make you unhappy ever again or do anything you don't want me to do ever again." That's an impossible promise. Even in 1910 I would think most parents would have understood that. Hopefully Alexandra reassured Tatiana verbally on that point after getting that letter. The letter writer also seems to be assuming the caregiver role for her sick mother.  Then there's whatever the conflict was with her regular caregiver, the nurse, and with Rasputin. If I were a teacher, for instance, and saw that letter, I'd suggest a school counselor talk to her.

You don't like Radzinsky's book or believe the nurses' testimony. I'm inclined to believe it. Everyone has a different opinion, I guess.


If the letter were written in 2004, I might agree.  But the letter was written in a day and age when people wrote in a much more "flowery" (for lack of a better word) way than they do today.  Nicky and Alix wrote to each other, and to their children with this style (the "how do I love thee, let me count the ways" style) and the children, imho, picked up that style of writing.  I mean, how many kids today start a letter off to their moms with "My dearest, darling Mamma?"  I may not be  kid anymore, but when I drop my mom a line it starts with "Hey Mom."  All the letters between the family were overly dramtic imo, and this letter reflects that.

Anyway, just in my 2 cents, for what it's worth.

Alexa

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #44 on: October 07, 2004, 09:56:13 AM »
Quote
OK, this is probably reaching the "agree to disagree" point. None of us can know what happened or didn't happen almost 100 years ago. Probably enough said.

Actually, you are incorrect. We CAN know what happened then, because there was at least one person involved at the time who was in a position to KNOW for sure. Col. (later Gen.) Spiridovitch, the chief of personal secret security for the Tsar and Imperial Family. He was vitally interested in Rasputin, his men secretly watched Rasputin the entire time he was anywhere near the IF and Vyroubova, AND he had every single Okhrana surveillance report on R delivered to him personally. Get the facts, go read his books, and you will see that IT DID NOT HAPPEN, and we can pretty much take that to the bank. His personal papers are in the Yale University Library if you don't believe me, go read them for yourself. As for Radzinski, for "some reason" neither volume of Spiridovitch is mentioned in his book,which to me is odd, since this man knew quite a bit of first hand information on the subject.