Imagine! When one thinks of the family going into exile, one does not think of them taking small village with them!
This list of retainers who were allowed to go with the family makes me wonder just what Kerensky was planning for the future.
We know that only four retainers were left when the family was executed, but Kerensky was long out of power by then.
I do see Annie's point about the logistics and the cost of maintaining and feeding such a group. It is no wonder that as the government changed hands, the group was made smaller and smaller.
I think I can see griffh's point of view as well, but never having had a servant of my own, I can't quite see how keeping up appearances would have helped a family to endure the "Great Depression". But then there is a loyalty in this that we no longer see in our modern world.
(This is not meant as a direct reply to Alixz's post above, just some observations on the points raised in several similar posts.)
Yes it does seem like a great many servitors for “prisoners” to be taking into “exile”.
While not meaning to dismiss such an evaluation out of hand, nor to appear to “justify” the situation, I would like to share some thoughts which have occurred to me over the years on this particular point and other, related ones.
The attitude of the Imperial family itself, of the Provisional Government, and of the guard detail to these questions evolved over a period of time while the political situation gradually deteriorated.1) Political prisoners?
After the Emperor’s abdication, only Their Majesties were formally arrested. It was understood that the Imperial children were sharing their parents’ imprisonment voluntarily. Nor were Their Majesties ever formally charged with any crimes. All accusations of alleged treason were categorically dropped after a thorough investigation by the Provisional Government’s Extraordinary Commission. Kerensky and the Provisional Government emphasized that the Imperial family’s confinement was a form of “protective custody” and not legal arrest for criminal actions.2) Exile?
Technically, since the Imperial family was only being held in “protective custody”, the move to Tobolsk could be seen as a "temporary transfer of residence", rather than true political exile of convicted and condemned criminals. Seen in that light, it does not seem quite so strange that the Imperial family took so many possessions with them, or that they were accompanied by so large a staff. And if one takes into consideration the size of the Alexander Palace and its regular staff, and all the Imperial family’s other residences, forty attendants might not seem so extravagant.
Count Benckendorff (see his memoirs, pp. 107-108, on the main Alexander Palace web-site) writes that Kerensky stated in front of witnesses that in November 1917, after the Constituent Assembly had met, the Imperial family would be free to return to Tsarskoe Selo or to go wherever they wished. Based on those assurances, Benckendorff had the Imperial family’s private apartments in the Alexander Palace sealed. So, the Imperial family at least hoped to be returning to Tsarskoe Selo, even if they considered it only a possibility. When they departed for Tobolsk in August of 1917, the situation was not nearly as grim as it later became.
The Bolsheviks, for their part, did
see it as exile and portrayed it as such in their newspapers. But, as S. Melgunov makes clear in his Sudba Imperatora Nikolaia Posle Otrecheniia
[The Fate of Emperor Nicholas II After His Abdication, pp. 201ff] — and despite what Kerensky may have written in later years — the Provisional Government transferred the Imperial family to Tobolsk more out of fear of a right-wing attempt at rescue or restoration, than for fear of revolutionary “excesses”.3) Excess of servants?
When General Kornilov placed the Empress under arrest, the members of the suite and the servants were given the choice of either leaving the palace or else of remaining and sharing the Family’s imprisonment. The majority chose to leave, but a faithful few remained. Thus, it was out of loyalty and devotion that those people freely chose to accompany the Imperial family to Tobolsk. Obviously, however, they were not all allowed to actually live with the Imperial family in Tobolsk or wait upon them.
Other, more practical, considerations probably also played a role in their decision to accompany the Imperial family, such as job security, guaranteed room, board, and wages, etc. Perhaps they counted on returning to Tsarskoe Selo with the Imperial family and resuming their regular duties. In revolutionary Petrograd they would have been treated as pariahs. When they departed from Tsarskoe Selo in August of 1917, they could not have known that merely being associated with the Imperial family would later endanger their very lives or prove to be their doom.
And as the Empress herself pointed out to M. F. Zanotti and others, they were still better off in Tobolsk where food was plentiful and certainly much cheaper than in Petrograd.4) Why so much jewelry and precious stones?
The Imperial family probably took so much jewelry with them for several reasons: to prevent the things from being pillaged during their absence, and to have something to live off of in the event of being compelled to flee abroad. At the outbreak of WW I, the Imperial family had transferred all its funds then found abroad back to Russia in order to support the war effort.
The Provisional Government (and subsequently, the Bolsheviks) first froze all the Imperial family’s assets within the country, and then later confiscated and nationalized them.
As the Empress notes in her letters from captivity, the Imperial family eventually had to pay their attendants, and even their jailers
, out of their own funds in order to pacify them, when the government neglected to send their wages on time.