Author Topic: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson  (Read 246017 times)

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Offline Penny_Wilson

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #45 on: April 12, 2004, 11:52:23 PM »
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With regard to Grand Duchess Maria's getting "too friendly" with the guards, how much did the rest of he family turn away from her for this?  ....  Do you think there was a lot of anger towards her from Alexandra and Olga or merely distrust?


Of course at this distance of time, and with no account of the Skorokhodov event in either N or A's diaries (as unlikely as I think it would have been for them to have written for posterity about a daughter's disgrace), it's difficult to assess just how much approbation came down on Maria's head from the rest of her family.  

The testimony that we have comes from Yurovsky and one or two other guards who noticed a difference in behavior towards Maria -- which tells me that the behavior was unusual enough to attract attention in the first place.  In Yurovsky's case, he was there from day one to plan the execution of the family, so there must have been something rather extraordinary in their behavior to make him notice.  Unfortunately, he didn't detail his observations.

As I recall, Alexandra had had occasion to reprimand Maria for her friendly attitude towards the Ipatiev House guards during the first couple of days of their internment there.  And Maria's own letter to her sisters in Tobolsk about the former Imperial beater, Ukraintsev, shows what a lot of information she had got from him in just a few days of chatting!  She was undoubtedly a "people person," and at the point of their entry into the Ipatiev House, there was no indication at all that they were entering their final prison, and so no reason for Maria to change the habits of a lifetime.  

It is important to remember that Nicholas and Alexandra had never encouraged their girls to be stand-offish with their guards and retainers.  They maintained friendly relations with everyone around them, and, living somewhat isolated lives, I have no doubt that other people gave these young women their window on the world.  Nicholas and Alexandra did not even discourage small flirtations and crushes on this or that officer or soldier through the GD's teenage years -- they even made family jokes about them.  

And much more recently to their incarceration in the Ipatiev House, the Imperial couple attempted to use their third daughter's friendly charm to their advantage on the train with Yakovlev, by sending her alone to the guards' carriage to enquire of the men what their destination might be.  So even then, N and A must have had no inkling of danger.  But perhaps on their arrival under what was so obviously now a prison regime, Alexandra thought that such friendly relations were not quite appropriate, and asked Maria to be a litle more circumspect.

After the Skorokhodov huha, it's my belief that Alexandra was upset with Maria in the usual way that a mother gets over a daughter's attraction or friendship with an inappropriate man.  Especially as she'd already been warned off.  I know that look, having had it from my own mother  ::) , and I don't think it was anything more serious than that.

Olga, on the other hand, as everyone always says, was more in tune with the under-currents in that house, and I think she saw the real danger for the family that Maria's escapade stirred up.  They knew that the White forces were approaching the city and that it was only a matter of days before Ekaterinburg fell -- Olga might have realized that their ultimate safety lay in being low-key and not attracting any untoward Soviet attention.  She must have noticed the difference in the revolutionary dedication of their lax and friendly guards and soft-hearted curmudgeonly Avdeyev and that of the committed and driven members of the Ural Regional Soviet.  It just must have been THE most monumental screw-up for the Ural Regional Soviet observers to have been in the house when Maria was caught with Skorokhodov.

So I think Olga was pretty seriously hacked off with Maria -- enough so to keep away from her younger sisters, as several guards observed.

However, time passes, and I think that family anger and disapproval also did, to some extent, because on the day before the murders, the cleaning women moved furniture in the bedroom with the four girls and all seemed relaxed and comfortable with each other.

"Don't do anything by half. If you love someone, love them with all your soul. When you go to work, work your ass off. When you hate someone, hate them until it hurts."  -- A Piece of Good Advice

Sometimes the truth hurts. And sometimes it feels real good. -- Henry Rollins

Offline Penny_Wilson

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #46 on: April 12, 2004, 11:52:40 PM »

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I was surprised to find that she didn't have any jewels on her after the execution.


Well.  A couple of things about this:  Maria MAY have been the un-bejewelled girl because she was still being punished in some way by her parents ("If we can't trust you around the guards, then we can't trust you with the jewels..."), as Yurovsky thought... BUT  Yurovsky also had to account for a missing girl.  If there were four Grand Duchesses buried in the forest, why did Yurovsky only have three bejewelled "corsets"?  He could have used Maria's disgrace in this way to cover up for the missing body.

But of course also, Maria was not in Tobolsk when the other Grand Duchesses began sewing jewelry into their clothes.  It may not have been feasible to create such an armored under-garment for Maria at the same time they made them for themselves and Alexei.

So take your pick of the reasons.  I think that it was the first  -- Yurovsky covering his butt over the missing body.

I'm glad you enjoyed the book!

Penny
"Don't do anything by half. If you love someone, love them with all your soul. When you go to work, work your ass off. When you hate someone, hate them until it hurts."  -- A Piece of Good Advice

Sometimes the truth hurts. And sometimes it feels real good. -- Henry Rollins

Offline Louise

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #47 on: April 17, 2004, 01:45:03 PM »
Penny and Greg, I have just finished reading the horrific murder scene. I can't remember ever reading anything so terrifiing as your vivid description of the slaughter of the Imperial Family and their retainers. I can't remember who posted that they had to put the book down and regroup, but I certainly am in the same space as they were.

As disturbing as I found it, I can't nor will anyone of us every be able to comprehend what the innocents suffered through in their final moments.

If it is possible I wonder if either one of you could share with us your thoughts when writing this chapter. Again, I can't imagine your anquish at having to pen this information.

You two have left an incredible mark on  Romanov history. Thank you. I still have the rest of the book to finish, but I need to regroup and will do that with Suzanne Massie's book on Pavolsk (sp)

Louise
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Offline Greg_King

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #48 on: April 17, 2004, 05:37:20 PM »
We both wrote it, so I can only post my own thoughts.  When we first started, we had to of course determine how to do this-the vital center of the book.  And in the first few drafts it was quite short.  But I remember thinking of something that James Cameron said about making "Titanic"-that he wanted to show on film how horrible it must have been on that ship for everyone at the end, that it didn't just slip into the water with everyone linked arm and arm singing.  And the same was true for the murder.  The Imperial Family weren't just shot and quickly fell dead, and it wasn't all over in 10 seconds, as every film has depicted.  So it became very important to me to try to portray accurately what happened, including the wounds and what happened.  And it wasn't easy to do on any level.  I know some people have said what you do-that they have to put the book down-and that's exactly what I wanted, because this is a brutal, horrendous murder, and people need to think about it.  If you believe that the IF are martyrs, then this is their sacrifice; if they are simple victims, it is still a terrible massacre.  And at no other point in the book did I try so consciously try to evoke sympathy for them.  It was hard all around.

Greg King

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #49 on: April 17, 2004, 08:24:05 PM »
Greg, what a great post !
Having worked in a mortuary for a while, I know that death is a process, not an event... The sadness of the murders  do need to be understood.  I think you & Penny have done a fantastic job in bringing reality to the event.
And the Titanic analogy was quite relevant.  It must have been simply horrible for both situations.
Now, Penny, your logic on Marie not having the  "jeweled" corset" makes perfect sense.  But I wonder why she was chosen to accompany them  to Ekaterinburg in the first place?  I guess [which is anything all of us can do]  is that the older daughters were left to take care of Alexei? Finish up "household" business?

Life may not be the party we expected, but while we are here, might as well dance..

Do you want the truth, or my side of the story ?- Hank Ketchum.

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #50 on: April 17, 2004, 08:34:16 PM »
The were not 'corsets'. That is a mis translation from the original. the jewels were sewn into double camisoles, thin undershirts worn under the corsets. two were sewn together and the loose stones were quilted into them. the whale bone of the corsets would have prevented anyone from feeling the stones in a pat down search

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #51 on: April 17, 2004, 09:31:31 PM »
Hi Robert--

From what I've read, OTMA decided amongst themselves that Marie would accompany their mother. Olga, who was not as upbeat as Marie, would look after Alexei; Tatiana, whose constitution was not as strong as Marie's, would administer the remaining household; and Anastasia was considered still too young (and probably immature) to go along.  During the days when most of the children had been ill with measles and Alexandra was still without Nicholas, Marie had proven herself to be a brave, cheerful and willing assistant to her mother, and undoubtedly her inherently dutiful nature was also taken into consideraton.

Offline Almedingen

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #52 on: April 17, 2004, 11:27:22 PM »
Wouldn't it have been awfully uncomfortable to wear a tight corset with a camisole underneath with stones and jewelery in it?  Did the girls wear these all day and night?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Almedingen »

Offline Almedingen

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #53 on: April 17, 2004, 11:30:46 PM »
I was quite surprised to read that Alexandra was so argumentative while in captivity.  From the letters she wrote, I had always had the impression that she was a weak, sickly person very resigned to her fate.

Was anyone else surprised by this?

Offline JM

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #54 on: April 18, 2004, 09:34:15 AM »
I must admit I wasn't quite surprised. I've always thought she was a proud woman and some people that weren't close to her got the impression that she was 'cold'. However, that is just an 'exterior' view of her. Those who she felt she could trust she was more open to. These are the people to whom she revealed herself.

Personally I believe that her "arguementative" side while in captivity was a result of her fear and the fact that her family and her were basically prisoners. She probhably wanted to come off strong and aloof. OR, perhaps she was just misunderstood.

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #55 on: April 18, 2004, 10:21:26 AM »
Almedingen,
The girls had only loose stones in the camisoles, no jewelry. The stones had been put into fabric packets, which were quilted into the double camisoles. They had taken the stones out of Alexandra's jewelry.
As for Alexandra's "argumentative" nature in captivity, we tend to see her as "weak" or sickly. While she was often ill, do not forget that she was EMPRESS and full aware of everything that went with it. There are many reports of her being quite demanding about running her house and getting her way. She was used to people doing exactly as she said. Captivity must have been hard for her in that respect.  Read the piece on Easter at Livadia...everyone was deeply struck by Alexandra's act of performing contrition, genuinely asking those around her for forgiveness, as it was totally opposite of her usual behavior.

Offline Penny_Wilson

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #56 on: April 18, 2004, 03:52:44 PM »
Quote

If it is possible I wonder if either one of you could share with us your thoughts when writing this chapter. Again, I can't imagine your anquish at having to pen this information.


Louise,

As Greg said in his response, we knew that the murders would be the "vital center" of this book, and we did spend a  lot of time talking about how best to handle it.  

There was no question of soft-pedalling it; whether a reader thinks that the family and their friends were martyred or murdered, it was tremendously important to us to provide as completely researched an account as possible.  I read once -- I think it was in conjunction with my Holocaust Studies class in university -- that it is important to know what happened as thoroughly as possible, because then we can still bear witness for the victims.  I forget who wrote that -- perhaps Simon Wiesenthal? -- but I think it's very true, and this is what motivated me.  I wanted readers to feel that they could visualize that cellar room in their own minds, and follow along with what happened to each person.  And between us, I think we did a pretty good job -- Greg was just masterful in weaving together the various accounts.

It would have been all too easy to become emotionally tied up in writing that chapter, but that wasn't my job.  My job -- and Greg's -- was to make the reader feel the emotions, rather than to feel them ourselves.  So I focused myself strongly on whatever part of the murder we were writing and researching -- and the research never stopped.  Particularly in this part of the book, it was vital that everything be nailed down, checked and double-checked and cross-referenced.

It was only when I read the chapter afterwards -- long afterwards, probably after it had been type-set and I hadn't worked on it for a few months -- that I had an emotional response.  And for me, that response was to the death of Dr Botkin.  I couldn't tell you why, but the idea of that man struggling to raise himself from the floor struck me deep in my heart.  I had to go and take a long, hot shower and cry and pound on the walls.  I was very melodramatic!  ::)

The other thing that effected me emotionally was a single account of Trupp's last moments that we did not include because we could not finally establish the witness' presence in or around the murder room:  This witness claimed that in his last moments, after the shooting began, with every gun pointed straight at the Emperor's chest, Trupp pushed himself off the back wall and charged the assassination squad, cursing and shouting "like a Catholic," the person said.   I can believe it possible that an old military man like Trupp would react like this -- but what that witness must have thought of Catholics!  ;D
"Don't do anything by half. If you love someone, love them with all your soul. When you go to work, work your ass off. When you hate someone, hate them until it hurts."  -- A Piece of Good Advice

Sometimes the truth hurts. And sometimes it feels real good. -- Henry Rollins

Offline Louise

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #57 on: April 18, 2004, 10:19:31 PM »
Greg and Penny, thank you for sharing your insights on the slaughter of the Imperial Family. As difficult as it was to read, I understand why you chose not to candy coated the murder. It added a sense of horror to the finality of their lives.

The evil that men do certainly bares witness to this event.

Louise
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Cathy_Steriling

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #58 on: June 15, 2004, 03:05:59 PM »
Dear Greg & Penny,

I am reading your book. It is very interesting. You have done a marvelous job!  ::)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Cathy_Steriling »

Offline DeAnochka

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Re: The Fate of The Romanovs,Greg King,Penny Wilson
« Reply #59 on: June 16, 2004, 05:38:28 PM »
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You can also ask Penny for their special edition of some material not included in the book.


Penny: How can I get your "specail edition" copy? What kind of un-published information is included?

Thanks!

Deshka