Author Topic: Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary - now in English  (Read 4984 times)

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Offline delincolon

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Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary - now in English
« on: May 23, 2013, 11:14:14 AM »
Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary by Aron Simanovitch is now available for the first time in English, with annotations. Currently, it is offered on Kindle. Paperback copies will be available shortly.
Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/RASPUTIN-The-Memoirs-Secretary-ebook/dp/B00CX3EUWG/

Offline koloagirl

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Re: Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary - now in English
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2013, 06:17:37 PM »

Aloha all!

I "borrowed" this book on my Kindle as part of my Amazon prime membership (aka: free).....it was pretty bad.....after I read about Nicholas keeping his "mistress" Princess Sonya Orbeliani at the palace for so called easy access....that is when I put it down I'm afraid.

Granted I only read the first 3/4 chapters....but that was enough for me to give a solid thumbs down....unless you also can read it for free and want a laugh.

Janet R.
Janet R.

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary - now in English
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2013, 03:29:09 AM »
I was going to ask a question about reliability, but you've already answered it!

Ann

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Re: Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary - now in English
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2013, 08:59:14 AM »
Yes, if you go back through some very old threads, I said the same thing after I found an original edition in French.  I began a translation for the main website books section, and gave up at about the same point as Janet.  It's useless as a historical document because of the sheer number of mistakes and flat out falsehoods contained.


Offline delincolon

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Re: Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary - now in English
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2013, 10:06:32 AM »
The difference in the English translation is that there are extensive footnotes that distinguish gossip from truth, offer historical context, and straighten out stories that the author had convoluted. Every event and person was researched for the annotations, so that every step of the way the reader can find out the real story behind the ones in the memoir. If the footnotes aren't read, the reader loses much of the meaning of the book.  The notes at the start of the book also discuss the extensive gossip and note that even the gossip of the era is valuable to know since people's beliefs (true or not) explain their attitudes and actions. (Such as people believing the Tsarina was a German spy. It wasn't true, but it explained their rancor toward her.)

While I realize most people will be more interested in the royals, I feel the revelation here is Rasputin's aid to the oppressed Jews, although few seem to care about that even though his sympathy for this group is mentioned in nearly every book written about him (including Yussupov's memoir), if only in one sentence (which most gloss over as unimportant or uninteresting). 

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Re: Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary - now in English
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2013, 10:21:37 AM »
Rasputin's sympathy for the Jews is of interest.  It encouraged Nicholas II's opinions on the "Jewish question", which were far more positive toward the Jews than Nicholas gets credit for. 

Offline delincolon

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Re: Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary - now in English
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2013, 10:35:30 AM »
But whatever those 'positive' opinions were, Nicholas didn't abolish any of the hundreds of anti-Semitic laws, and pogroms were still tolerated. Many speak of Nicholas abolishing the Pale of Settlement (when he took command from Nikolai Nikolayevitch) when he actually only wanted to drive Jews from the front during WW I because they were considered spies, and so they were allowed to live beyond the borders of the Pale in impoverished encampments, often not permitted to take anything with them, nor given any notice. The Pale wasn't truly and formally abolished until the 1917 revolution. 

Offline edubs31

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Re: Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary - now in English
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2013, 01:03:03 PM »
But whatever those 'positive' opinions were, Nicholas didn't abolish any of the hundreds of anti-Semitic laws, and pogroms were still tolerated. Many speak of Nicholas abolishing the Pale of Settlement (when he took command from Nikolai Nikolayevitch) when he actually only wanted to drive Jews from the front during WW I because they were considered spies, and so they were allowed to live beyond the borders of the Pale in impoverished encampments, often not permitted to take anything with them, nor given any notice. The Pale wasn't truly and formally abolished until the 1917 revolution.

Correct, but then Rasputin wasn't the Tsar of Russia. Nor was Rasputin raised to believe certain things by those who were grooming him for the throne or leading an empire of millions of subjects often hostile toward their Jewish neighbors. It's easier to gain appreciation for a particular group as you live among them and can empathize with their struggles. Rasputin was used to being oppressed for his beliefs, and so too were the Jews. Nicholas never was, nor did he come in contact with anyone from outside aristocratic circles. Of course it's alright to blame him for this to some extent but it was the world he was raised into.

I think Alexander II's reforms are what make him a good Tsar, not what make Alexander III and Nicholas II bad ones by comparison. It would have been interesting to see what the opinions of his son and grandson would have been on the "Jewish question" had he not be assassinated. Was Alexander III to blame for allowing a resurgence of pogroms against the Jews after the death of his father as retaliation (even though I believe only one of the conspirators was actually Jewish)? Of course. But did his subjects turn their anger over the incident toward the Jews without any guidance necessary? Absolutely!

Nicholas's reluctance to do more for the Jews (or his people in general for that matter) was a mistake, which is to say it was a costly error of judgement. But I do not see it as an act of malice or cowardice given the time, place, people, and circumstances that surrounded him. 
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

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Re: Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary - now in English
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2013, 02:11:12 PM »
Spiridovitch, Nicholas' Chief of Secret Personal Security, who spent much "one on one" time with the Emperor and is a highly reliable source of first hand information writes:
There was an opinion widely repeated in which the Emperor had detested the Jews.  That is incorrect.  As he was a Russian, and a man well versed in political and social history, the Emperor would not love the Jews, however he never once displayed the slightest hatred toward them.  He always showed himself to be as equally fair in regards to them as he was to many other groups.
     Those who created the anti-Jewish policies were acting in accordance with their own personal beliefs, and were hiding behind the Emperor and were trying to make him the scapegoat for them.  All of that was for nothing.
     After the celebrated Beyliss trial, which  ended with a verdict which, while recognizing the ritual character of the murder, nevertheless acquitted Beyliss; the Tsar, informed of the verdict (he was then still at Yalta) said to someone in his entourage who later repeated his words to me:
     "It is certain that this had been a ritual murder.  However I am happy that Beyliss was acquitted, as he is innocent."


"P.A. Stolypin died on September 5th at 5 o'clock in the evening.
   Once the news of his death was known, the popular  centers were beginning to display a blame toward the Jews.  A pogrom was going to erupt.  Although he was orthodox, Bogrov was Jewish in origin, and that was enough to give rise to a hatred toward the Jews.  "The Jews have killed Stolypin. Kill the Jews" was heard throughout the city.  Governor Guirs and Kuliabko did everything possible to prevent a pogrom.  They both held great influence among the right wing organizations, although these same organizations say the Governor General as a partisan of Jews and had little confidence in him.
   The police patrols circulating in the streets hardly frightened the crowds.  They could only calm them and prevent vengence against the Jews for the assassination of the minister by telling them that the Emperor wished that there not be a pogrom, and that he would be greatly upset if one happened.  I witnessed this myself, as I had not left for Tchernigov, and so I was asked by Kurlov to help Kuliabkov to assist in calming the crowds and to persuade them from starting a pogrom.
   Count Kokovtzev told me much later that the Tsar had thanked him most warmly in Kiev for having succeeded, as he had replaced the murdered Stolypin, in preventing a pogrom, and had even embraced him, a sign of personal recognition.").


and finally, Spridovitch quotes from Prince Vladimir Petrovitch Metchersksi, Chamberlain of His Majesty's Court whom Nicholas considered as almost a father:
"You don't know, my friend, how difficult it was to speak to the Emperor…Even thinking about that reception is painful for me...I spoke about the Jewish question. The Emperor listened to me without interrupting me and with great attention.  From time to time, in his kind face, I saw the shadow of displeasure.  I did everything I could to force him to respond to me.  But he kept silent.  Knowing well his intelligence, the fineness of his spirit, I was wounded that he did not want to face the evidence.  When I had finished with the Jewish question, the Emperor thought for several minutes, looked me fixed in the eyes and slowly smiled as if he wanted to soften his response, said to me: 'Excuse me, my old friend, but I am not in agreement with you.  I thank you very much for the advice which you have given me and which has been dictated by your devotion to me, by the love for our Mother Russia, but…you know that it is often that I do not wish to follow your advice.  I must take into consideration many other circumstances which you do not know about, which escape your attention…My responsibility towards Russia is so great that I do not have the right to consider a question of such great importance to the State on just one side alone, although I should find it personally desireable. You do not know all of these circumstances which I do, which I do not have the right to ignore, and which, quite to the contrary, I must take into consideration…"

Nicholas went into a rage when Gen. Dombabdye, Governor General of Yalta, refused to admit the Jewish members of Nicholas' personal orchestra for a command performance.  He also continually publicly mocked Dombabze for his rabid anti-Semitic stance and Nicholas did meet many Jews personally on a one on one basis. Nicholas was far less anti-Semitic in his personal feelings than most believe.  He felt a higher duty to maintain social stability and a "status quo" rather than create sweeping reforms.  I personally feel that if the 1905 events had not occurred that Nicholas would have done far more to extend full rights to the Jews of his Empire.  (and PS I'm Jewish myself.  My grandfather left Poland when Nicholas extended the draft to include Jews to fight in the Japanese war, as he had no desire to be in the army!).
« Last Edit: August 02, 2013, 02:13:12 PM by Forum Admin »

Offline delincolon

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Re: Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary - now in English
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2013, 05:16:16 PM »
Edubs & Forum Admin... we're on the same page. I've read Spiridovitch's memoir, too. A very fair account. Even Simanovitch said that it wasn't the Tsar's fault he was wary of Jews: he was raised that way. You're right - time and place are very important to the context of events.

Offline JamesAPrattIII

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Re: Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary - now in English
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2013, 05:14:26 PM »
Anti-Semitism was widespread in Russia and Eastern Europe at this time. This is one of the reasons why Rasputin was so hated and possibly murdered because he was friendly to Jews. As for all the deportations made by the Russian army during WW I. It resulted in Russia having over 3 million refugees as of 1 January 1916 and over 6 million refugees by 1 January 1917. Caring for all these refugees was beyond the capacity of the Tsarist state and did more to cause the breakdown of the Russian government and the February/March 1917 Revolution than possibly anything else. Alexandra and Rasputin get the blame for this breakdown and fall of the Russian monarchy but, they were not responsible for these deportations. Grand Duke NN and the army's other senior generals were.