Author Topic: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?  (Read 14907 times)

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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« Reply #30 on: July 17, 2013, 10:17:22 PM »
The killing of all the IF was no accident, a quirk of convenience.

No, it was no accident.

But much remains unclear about when and how the final decision was made and what phases it passed through before taking its final comprehensive form.  As you point out, the Bolsheviks killed GD Michael a month earlier.  Since the IF was in their custody, what was the reason they delayed an additional month in killing them?

And if the decision had long been in place, what was the reason the Bolsheviks bothered to move the family from Tobolsk to Ekaterinburg?

And if it was a foregone conclusion from the time of the Bolshevik coup that they would kill all of the Romanovs within their reach, why did six months elapse between the killing of the IF and the killing of the four grand dukes in St. Petersburg (over a year after the coup)?

If it was an early foregone conclusion that the IF would be murdered, why did the Bolsheviks let the White Army get within earshot of Ekaterinburg before executing the family?

The only way one can make sense of this timeline is to recognize that the decisions of whether to kill, why to kill, and whom to kill were made almost on the fly, as internal power ebbed and flowed within Bolsheviks ranks and as events evolved.

The very fact that the Bolsheviks waited so long to execute the IF and took the risks of relocating them from Tobolsk and even then delaying the execution until the Whites were almost upon them seems to me to suggest that there was some scenario which the Bolsheviks thought -- at least for a period of time -- might develop that would warrant the IF being kept alive.

One really has to read Orlando Figes' A People's Tragedy to get a sense for how much brutality and murder (much of it far more gruesome than the Romanov murders -- there were cases of people being actually being flayed alive) descended on Russia after 1917, from both the White and Red sides.  In fact, one of the reasons the Whites failed to maintain control of the regions they initially conquered during the civil war was their brutal tactics in dealing with the countryside.

The Romanovs -- who lost their power largely through incompetence and, in the final stages, paralysis -- were but the tiniest drops of blood in an ocean of blood unleashed during the Revolution by all sides.

To get a sense for just how bizarre it got, during the March Revolution a squadron of loyal troops made its way from the suburbs of St. Petersburg to the Winter Palace to come to the defense of Grand Duke Michael . . . and he refused them entry because their boots were dirty and they might break the china in the display cases.

I am sorry the IF was massacred.  But the dynasty had become a limp, fuzzy shadow of what it had once been well before revolution engulfed Russia.

And the Romanovs had quite a track record of murdering each other to gain or hang onto power.  

Remember that Peter I had good reason to fear that his half-sister Sophia might have him killed.  Remember that Peter I was in turn complicit in his son's murder to preserve his legacy.  Remember that both Empresses Elizabeth and Catherine II were willing to murder the imprisoned Tsar Ivan VI to keep their power (and Catherine actually did it).  Remember that Catherine II's husband was murdered to secure her coup (which was as much a coup against her son Paul's rights to succeed his father as it was a coup against Peter III).  Remember that Tsar Paul was murdered to clear the way for his son, with his son's possible complicity.

In killing Romanovs, the Bolsheviks did no more to them than they had been doing to themselves for two centuries.  To me, the true evil of Bolshevism was in destroying a fledgling chance of constitutional government and continuing the absolutist and repressive society of imperial Russia.  (The censorship, the planned economy, the police state, forced labor, imperialist foreign policy -- all these things continued almost seamlessly from the autocratic era into the soviet era.  Even Stalin's Terror had its antecedents in the Oprichniki of Ivan IV and in the Black Hand of the late imperial era.)

Sorry I've veered off the topic of not taking Olga to Ekaterinburg.  But this seems to be of a bit more consequence, historically speaking.




Offline edubs31

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Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« Reply #31 on: July 17, 2013, 11:27:30 PM »
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But much remains unclear about when and how the final decision was made and what phases it passed through before taking its final comprehensive form.  As you point out, the Bolsheviks killed GD Michael a month earlier.  Since the IF was in their custody, what was the reason they delayed an additional month in killing them?

And if the decision had long been in place, what was the reason the Bolsheviks bothered to move the family from Tobolsk to Ekaterinburg?

And if it was a foregone conclusion from the time of the Bolshevik coup that they would kill all of the Romanovs within their reach, why did six months elapse between the killing of the IF and the killing of the four grand dukes in St. Petersburg (over a year after the coup)?

If it was an early foregone conclusion that the IF would be murdered, why did the Bolsheviks let the White Army get within earshot of Ekaterinburg before executing the family?

The very fact that the Bolsheviks waited so long to execute the IF and took the risks of relocating them from Tobolsk and even then delaying the execution until the Whites were almost upon them seems to me to suggest that there was some scenario which the Bolsheviks thought -- at least for a period of time -- might develop that would warrant the IF being kept alive.

Yeah I've never been able to make up my mind on this one either. How poor can we assume the communication between Bolsheviks was from region to region? Was it that hard for command to get messages through, and is it safe to assume that each (the Ural Soviet in this case) was concentrated more on their particular special interests rather than doing what they may or may not have been ordered to do?

Such chaos only makes sense when looking at the broader picture and the Bolshevik rise to power. Much as I despise them and everything they stood for it is a fascinating study of how the Bolsheviks won out. Lenin may have had a master plan but it took some incredible twists of fortune for him obtain the power he craved. I liken it to a great football coach who devises a brilliant game plan, but winds up winning the big game only after completely random and unforeseen events take place (turnovers, special teams breakdowns, hail mary passes, etc). He comes out on top in the end, but change any one of a number of key plays from the game and the outcome could have been much different.

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One really has to read Orlando Figes' A People's Tragedy to get a sense for how much brutality and murder (much of it far more gruesome than the Romanov murders -- there were cases of people being actually being flayed alive) descended on Russia after 1917, from both the White and Red sides.  In fact, one of the reasons the Whites failed to maintain control of the regions they initially conquered during the civil war was their brutal tactics in dealing with the countryside.

Indeed. Many of Figes' graphic depictions are unsettling to the stomach and really aren't worth repeating, but the Whites did some shocking things. Sad it's they who most of feel compelled to root for. Perhaps Karma and God's hand truly guided the outcome. The Whites may have been the lesser of two evils but by no means did they "deserve" victory considering their tactics.

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The Romanovs -- who lost their power largely through incompetence and, in the final stages, paralysis -- were but the tiniest drops of blood in an ocean of blood unleashed during the Revolution by all sides.

But the one's with the greatest symbolism. Proving the Bolsheviks were capable of anything. Turned out to be, at the very least, a disastrous PR move on their behalf. They inspired even more criticism and hatred from those the world over than would likely have received had they allowed the IF to live out their days abroad and in relative obscurity. Again, I see the hand of something greater at work here.

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To get a sense for just how bizarre it got, during the March Revolution a squadron of loyal troops made its way from the suburbs of St. Petersburg to the Winter Palace to come to the defense of Grand Duke Michael . . . and he refused them entry because their boots were dirty and they might break the china in the display cases.

Yep. Like suing the fire company for water damage when your house is burning down :-/

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I am sorry the IF was massacred.  But the dynasty had become a limp, fuzzy shadow of what it had once been well before revolution engulfed Russia.

And the Romanovs had quite a track record of murdering each other to gain or hang onto power. 

Remember that Peter I had good reason to fear that his half-sister Sophia might have him killed.  Remember that Peter I was in turn complicit in his son's murder to preserve his legacy.  Remember that both Empresses Elizabeth and Catherine II were willing to murder the imprisoned Tsar Ivan VI to keep their power (and Catherine actually did it).  Remember that Catherine II's husband was murdered to secure her coup (which was as much a coup against her son Paul's rights to succeed his father as it was a coup against Peter III).  Remember that Tsar Paul was murdered to clear the way for his son, with his son's possible complicity.

OK point taken, but perhaps the example is just a little exaggerated with regards to the last imperial family? Saying the Romanov dynasty of the second decade of the 20th century essentially "had it coming" because of the actions of their ancestors is like saying I had it coming when I got mugged by some African-American kid because my great-great-great grandfather was a slave owner. ::)

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In killing Romanovs, the Bolsheviks did no more to them than they had been doing to themselves for two centuries.  To me, the true evil of Bolshevism was in destroying a fledgling chance of constitutional government and continuing the absolutist and repressive society of imperial Russia.  (The censorship, the planned economy, the police state, forced labor, imperialist foreign policy -- all these things continued almost seamlessly from the autocratic era into the soviet era.  Even Stalin's Terror had its antecedents in the Oprichniki of Ivan IV and in the Black Hand of the late imperial era.)

Minus the first sentence that I question the relevancy of I totally agree with this.

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Sorry I've veered off the topic of not taking Olga to Ekaterinburg.  But this seems to be of a bit more consequence, historically speaking.

I'm just happy to see that one of our conversations only veered off topic as far as the broader study of Russian history and the revolution era that Olga was actually part of, rather than getting into the Catholic Church, gun control or George Zimmerman :-)
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« Reply #32 on: July 18, 2013, 06:34:10 AM »
Saying the Romanov dynasty of the second decade of the 20th century essentially "had it coming" because of the actions of their ancestors is like saying I had it coming when I got mugged by some African-American kid because my great-great-great grandfather was a slave owner.

I'm not suggesting the Romanovs "had it coming" in terms of their murder.  I was pointing out, however, that the actions of the Bolsheviks have to be put in historical context when assessing them.  And Russia, more than any other western nation, had a storied history -- most of which played out during the monarchical era -- of acquiring and maintaining power by murdering those who could threaten one's grip on power.

It continues to this day in the unfortunate "accidents" that seem to keep carrying off Russian journalists.

Remember that Catherine II not only countenanced the murder of her husband and then usurped the crown from her son, the legitimate heir, but she had a poor innocent murdered who had been imprisoned as an infant and was still in captivity upon her accession.  Yet history calls her "the Great".

I am, however, suggesting that the Romanovs "had it coming" in terms of removal from power.  The likes of Nicholas, Michael, and most other Romanovs of their era would have been over their heads running a chain of 7/11's, much less an enormous empire trying to hold the modern world at bay.  The Vladimirivichi might have had the energy and moxie to rule, but their willingness to undermine the credibility of the throne in order to get their hands on it eliminated them as attractive alternatives.

Offline edubs31

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Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« Reply #33 on: July 18, 2013, 10:05:38 AM »
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'm not suggesting the Romanovs "had it coming" in terms of their murder.  I was pointing out, however, that the actions of the Bolsheviks have to be put in historical context when assessing them.  And Russia, more than any other western nation, had a storied history -- most of which played out during the monarchical era -- of acquiring and maintaining power by murdering those who could threaten one's grip on power.

I generally agree. Of course I might also claim that the atrocities of the Bolsheviks happened in the 20th century whereas the examples you give for the often brutal and oppressive rule of the monarchy are pre-19th century. Then again it's not as if the first half of the last century "modernized" to the point where we all became kinder, gentler and more sophisticated...as two bloody world war's and multiple mass genocides proved. Still it's rather appalling given the times that there could still have been such disregard for the value of human life two decades+ into the 20th century, and Russia is far from the lone culprit here.

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Yet history calls her "the Great".

Indeed. Of course one could argue the nickname remains appropriate to this day since we can always define her as having a large and significant impact on history, which is true. We referred to WWI as the "Great War" too don't forget, when certainly there was little "good" about it.

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I am, however, suggesting that the Romanovs "had it coming" in terms of removal from power.  The likes of Nicholas, Michael, and most other Romanovs of their era would have been over their heads running a chain of 7/11's, much less an enormous empire trying to hold the modern world at bay.  The Vladimirivichi might have had the energy and moxie to rule, but their willingness to undermine the credibility of the throne in order to get their hands on it eliminated them as attractive alternatives.

No argument here. The Vlad's were schemers with a skill for survival. I find many of them detestable, but I do agree a Tsar with equal parts the personality of Nicholas II and Kirill & company would have been better suited to rule than Nicky wound up being. Perhaps Joseph DePinto ought to be given a crack at serving as the next Russian President, eh?
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Offline Rodney_G.

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Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« Reply #34 on: July 18, 2013, 05:48:22 PM »
The killing of all the IF was no accident, a quirk of convenience.

No, it was no accident.

But much remains unclear about when and how the final decision was made and what phases it passed through before taking its final comprehensive form.  As you point out, the Bolsheviks killed GD Michael a month earlier.  Since the IF was in their custody, what was the reason they delayed an additional month in killing them?

And if the decision had long been in place, what was the reason the Bolsheviks bothered to move the family from Tobolsk to Ekaterinburg?

And if it was a foregone conclusion from the time of the Bolshevik coup that they would kill all of the Romanovs within their reach, why did six months elapse between the killing of the IF and the killing of the four grand dukes in St. Petersburg (over a year after the coup)?

If it was an early foregone conclusion that the IF would be murdered, why did the Bolsheviks let the White Army get within earshot of Ekaterinburg before executing the family?

The only way one can make sense of this timeline is to recognize that the decisions of whether to kill, why to kill, and whom to kill were made almost on the fly, as internal power ebbed and flowed within Bolsheviks ranks and as events evolved.

The very fact that the Bolsheviks waited so long to execute the IF and took the risks of relocating them from Tobolsk and even then delaying the execution until the Whites were almost upon them seems to me to suggest that there was some scenario which the Bolsheviks thought -- at least for a period of time -- might develop that would warrant the IF being kept alive





Since the Bolsheviks did intend to kill the Romanovs, at least at some point, then, in that real freewheeling time of power struggle, it did become a matter of doing the deed in circumstances most favorable to them (the Bolsheviks, that is). A good case can be made that  Tobolsk was very far from ideal, for the reasons that made it a relatively safe haven in the first place, in  Kerensky's view.

It was still something of a backwater, relatively conservative, and, even after the Bolshevik seizure of power , somewhat sympathetic to the ex-IF in its midst. There was almost no agitation against the IF personally there. Since Ekaterinburg was just the opposite,militantly Red and overtly hostile to te Romanovs,and a power center to boot, the decision to bring the Romanovs to Ekaterinburg makes perfect sense.

But like you, Tsarfan, I have wondered for a long time about the timing of these killings. I don't know why or how  the IF survived two and a half months in the Urals under the local Soviet militants.

Sheer incompetence suggests itself as a possibility. The Ural regional soviet only commandeered  Ipatiev House a few days before the arrival of the Romanovs, and the irresponsible and oft drunk Alexander Avdeyev  was, shall we say, no Yurovsky ,when it came to running a tight, or tighter, ship, er, prison . And we know how competent he proved at his major assignment.

The survival of the four Grand Dukes  in S. Petersburg  til January , 1919  also is  hard to account for,  other than that the commissar responsible for them was somewhat more sympathetic and that Maxim Gorky had spoken on the behalf of at least one of them. Nikolai Michailevich , the historian and perhaps the most left of all the Romanovs.
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« Reply #35 on: July 18, 2013, 10:30:27 PM »
. . . Tobolsk was still something of a backwater, relatively conservative, and, even after the Bolshevik seizure of power, somewhat sympathetic to the ex-IF in its midst.

It's true that Kerensky chose Tobolsk for both its remoteness and relative placidity in the summer of 1917.  However, the town, although conservative, was not well-disposed toward the imperial family.  Here is how Yakovlev described the situation in Tobolsk (from The Fall of the Romanovs, by Mark D. Steinberg and Vladimir M. Khrustalev, Yale University Press, 1995):

"Perhaps they [pro-Romanov demonstrations] would have taken place if not for the notorious Grigory Rasputin, who had already discredited the family back in 1915 with his behavior and cynical bragging about being close to the imperial family.  This impudent rascal behaved himself so shamelessly on his last visit to Tobolsk, so scandalously and brazenly, that he removed the last vestiges of the halo from the tsarís family . . . .  Thanks to Rasputin, the notorious Varnava, whose negative side is well known to Tobolsk townspeople, was made bishop . . . .  Rasputin, more than anyone, utterly ruined the imperial familyís prestige in the eyes of the people of Tobolsk . . . ."

Even Baroness Buxhoeveden found Tobolsk, though not overtly hostile, somewhat less hospitable than she had heard, reporting that, "the sympathetic demonstrations I had heard spoken of in Petrograd were legends".

And one has to remember that, though Ekaterinburg was more hostile to the Romanovs, Ekaterinburg was not the destination Moscow had in mind when it dispatched Yakovlev to move Nicholas, nor did Yakovlev intend to relocate anyone but Nicholas.  The whole family ended up in Ekaterinburg for two reasons:  Nicholas refused to leave Tobolsk alone, and the Ural Soviet interfered with Yakovlev's mission -- whatever it was -- in seizing Nicholas and his entourage.

It seems clear that, at least up until April 1918, the central soviet government had no intention to move the entire imperial family to Ekaterinburg in order to execute them in a more radical environment.

It is not until the Ural Soviet finally seized full control of the situation on the ground that anything like a clear intention to execute the whole family emerged.

 

« Last Edit: July 18, 2013, 10:33:02 PM by Tsarfan »

Offline Andrei Beanov

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Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« Reply #36 on: September 03, 2013, 02:58:06 AM »
I think it is along these lines , just my opinion of course , difficult to prove anything...

Olga is quite negative , melancholy and un-reliable (especially since being a nurse it got worse) , but Tatiana is reliable and will be in charge. Olga tho is quite capable of caring for Alexei.
Olga is closer to Nich than Alix , and Tatiana closer to Alix than Nich.
Alix talks Nich into leaving Tatiana behind because she has more confidence in her and is more 'trusted'.
Nuerotic Alix goes with Nich because she thinks Nich is weak and will do something silly like be talked into or co-ersed into signing the treaty.
Marie goes to keep Alix company and because she is quite 'forward' and proves herself a good messenger / 'go-between' between the family & officials and she's the best mediator between Alix & Nicholas as well........   ;-)
Anastasie doesn't particularly stand out in the discussions so she'll stay behind as well........

Some males esp.Nagorny stay to 'protect' the girls - something he proved himself reliable / good at and eventually lost his life for.

IIRC Edvard Radzinksy book mentions some of these things.

Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« Reply #37 on: November 11, 2013, 10:50:55 PM »
The key to figuring out how everything was decided is that Alexei was unable to travel and would have to stay behind. In his parents' minds, he was still the most precious of all of their children and since Alexandra decided she must accompany her husband and not stay to care for her son, the choices regarding where the girls would end up fell to the four of them.

It was known that Alexei could misbehave and the two family members he would always mind were Olga and the Tsar. Therefore, Olga had to stay behind to care for her brother. Because their son was staying behind, there would need to be a household, and Tatiana was likely managing matters at the Governors House already so it made sense to leave her in place for the remainder of their stay.

This left the Younger Two. I think that Alexandra considered both girls to be "her legs", so clearly, at least one of the younger two had to accompany their often ill mother. Maria was loving and hard working. Anastasia at this time had taken over the bookkeeping of the household and was also "the morale officer". I think it was decided to have Anastasia stay behind because of her rapport with her brother and being able to keep his spirits up. That probably tipped the scale towards Maria going with her parents.

I am reasonably certain that none of the Emperor's children ever wanted to be separated from him, so in a sense, Voikov is correct.

All of this, by the way, is just my analysis. We really don't know what happened in making this decision.

Offline Kassafrass

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Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« Reply #38 on: November 13, 2013, 02:51:11 AM »
I agree for the most part with LisaDavidson's analysis. It seems logical and practical and the most realistic to me.

It has been stated earlier in the thread that Maria was the strongest at the time and not worn down by nursing duties, that she was 'coming into her own'. As for Anastasia being left behind, is it possible that Nicholas and Alexandra thought that she was still too young at 16?
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Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« Reply #39 on: November 22, 2013, 08:18:03 PM »
I noticed something earlier in this discussion, that Michael Alexandrovich turned away troops at the Winter Palace during the February Revolution. His reason that their boots were dirty? Tsarfan, do you have a source for this?

AFAIK, Michael Alexandrovich was beloved by the notoriously difficult to lead "Wild (or Savage)" Division. They were near Gatchina where MA was living during the Kornilov Rebellion in the Summer of 1917. Had they been able to connect, there might have been more chances for a revolution from the right, who knows.

But, turning away troops with dirty boots sounds nothing like the Michael Alexandrovich of history. He was in Petrograd during the March Revolution but was not lounging around the Winter Palace. He was the guest of friends at an apartment in town.

Offline edubs31

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Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« Reply #40 on: November 23, 2013, 02:21:28 AM »
Lisa, I've read the dirty boots story also. I'm pretty certain it was mentioned in Orlando Figes "A People's Tragedy".
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Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Why Wasn't Olga Chosen to go to Ekaterinburg?
« Reply #41 on: November 24, 2013, 02:01:19 AM »
I'll see if I can find it. I know for a fact that he stayed with friends in town at an apartment during the succession crisis, not at the Winter Palace. It was at the apartment that he met with members of what would become the Provisional Government.

There was another false story spread about him from this time by Kerensky, that he did not accept the throne because his safety could not be guaranteed. I doubt any Romanov would have expected his/her safety to be guaranteed! It's the kind of assumption someone would make if he had not lived most of his life under the constant threat of violence as had Michael and his brother and brother's family.