Author Topic: Empress Alexandra's War Relief Work July 1914 - February 1917  (Read 90696 times)

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Offline griffh

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Re: Empress Alexandra's War Relief Work July 1914 - February 1917
« Reply #30 on: May 06, 2014, 11:02:25 AM »
I have had sort of a long think about Gleb Botkin's characterization of Anna as an exhibitionist.

As a friend pointed out, Botkin had a long involvement with the whole Anna Anderson debacle and his memoirs, in part, are one of the vehicle's he uses to validate the hoax.  

I hadn't taken that into consideration. His involvement makes him something of an unreliable source.

Besides, I have made my point about Anna's outrageous behavior in the Spring of 1914 using reliable sources such as Spiridovitch and Narishkin.  

One of the things Margarita Nelipa achieved so masterfully in her first book, The Murder of Grigorii Rasputin, was her use of reliable Russian first sources which freed her discourse on Rasputin from, what Gregory Freeze refers to, as "the lurid sensationalism of the 'Rasputinshchina' literature."  

Though Botkin has value in certain areas, there is something about his characterization of Anna that muddies the waters, that smacks of sensationalism and though I included his characterization of Anna in my first article, I will not include it in my book.  

I suppose I should keep all this to myself, but at the same time I have never been a fan of infallibility, in myself or anyone else.

To quote my favorite historian, Jacques Barzan:

"Claiming detachment need not raise the issue of objectivity. It is a waste of breath to point out that every observer is in some way biased. If does not follow that bias cannot be guarded against that all biases distort equally, or that controlled bias remains as bad as propaganda. In dealing with the arts, for example, it is being "objective" to detect one's blind spots--step one in detachment. The second is to refrain from downgrading what one does not respond to. One has the duty to report the informed judgment of others.

Since some events and figures in our lengthy past strike me as different from what they have seemed before, I must occasionally speak in my own name and giver reasons to justify the heresy. I can only hope that this accountability will not attempt some reviewers to label the work "a very personal book." What book worth reading is not? If Henry Adams were the echo of Gibbon, we would not greatly value the pastiche.

On this point of personality, William James concluded after reflection that philosophers do not give us transcripts but visions of the world. Similarly, historians give visions of the past. The good ones are not merely plausible; they rest on a solid basis of facts that nobody disputes. There is nothing personal about facts, but here is about choosing and grouping them. It is by the patterning and the meanings ascribed that the vision is conveyed. And this, if anything, is what each historian adds to the general understanding.  Read more than one historian and chances are good that you will come closer to the full complexity. Whoever wants an absolute copy of what happened must gain access to the mind of God."
   (From Dawn to Decadence, p. x-xi.)

  

  


Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Empress Alexandra's War Relief Work July 1914 - February 1917
« Reply #31 on: May 06, 2014, 11:06:02 AM »
Here goes

Scene:
Outside the Guardroom at Livadia, some 20 men drawn up on parade, the imperial standard floating gently in the breeze.

Guard Commander:
And  Guardsman Titov will take ten to midnight.... Guard, to your duties, fall OUT!

Soldiers fall out, those not immediately on duty straggle into the Guardroom.

Soldier 1:
Hey, Titov, you lucky so-and-so. Whose palm did you grease?

Soldier 2:
What colour knickers will Madame Vyrubova be wearing tonight?

Soldier 3:
Bet you five kopeks it's mauve!


Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Empress Alexandra's War Relief Work July 1914 - February 1917
« Reply #32 on: May 06, 2014, 11:07:27 AM »
Later:
Night has fallen. It is warm and quiet as Guardsman Titov stands at attention at his post. He sees movement at Anna Vyrubova's window and begins to watch. We see the expressions on his face interspersed with the view from the window.

The Orderly Officer and Orderly Sergeant approach, talking quietly to one another, boots crunching on gravel.

Orderly Sergeant:
Titov! What do you think you're doing?

Titov hastily presents arms to the Orderly Officer.
Guardsman Titov, your Nobility! Glad to serve your Nobility!

Orderly Officer:
Didn't you hear us coming, Titov?

Orderly Sergeant:
Titov, are you deaf? Well, you may be deaf, but you aren't blind. Haven't you seen a woman undressing before? On second thoughts, Titov, I don't suppose you 'ave.

Orderly Officer:
Sergeant Gagarin, take his name.

Guardsman Titov:
Guardsman Alexei Petrovich Titov, Sergeant! 2 Platoon, First Company, under the command of Lieutenant Count Ignatiev, Sergeant!

Orderly Officer and Orderly Sergeant walk away.


Orderly Officer:
Sergeant Gagarin, we can't have this. Madame Vyrubova is an intimate friend of the Empress.

Orderly Sergeant:
Your Nobility, if I may suggest.....


Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Empress Alexandra's War Relief Work July 1914 - February 1917
« Reply #33 on: May 06, 2014, 11:08:54 AM »
Next day, a much more senior officer is visiting Spiridovich in his office.

Officer (just managing to keep a straight face):
As your Excellency will appreciate, it is extremely embarrassing for my men to witness a high-born lady undressing, and to be quite unable to look elsewhere. Especially a lady who is so close to Her Imperial Majesty.

Spiridovich:
Sergei Pavlovich, I understand entirely. Your poor fellows must be anguished. I will ensure Her Imperial Majesty is informed. (Smiles discreetly.)

Officer:
My men will be extremely grateful.

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Empress Alexandra's War Relief Work July 1914 - February 1917
« Reply #34 on: May 06, 2014, 11:13:02 AM »
Note that I have done this largely British Army fashion, where experienced Sergeants are expected to give advice to young officers.

Ann

Offline wakas

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Re: Empress Alexandra's War Relief Work July 1914 - February 1917
« Reply #35 on: May 06, 2014, 11:47:16 AM »
I've read your article,Griffh, and found it very interesting and very well written. One of the things I like a lot about it is the way you portrayed Alix. You seem to have a good opinion of her, so it makes your article even more pleasant to read. As she is so often caricatured and badly seen, it's good to read someone who has a nice word to say on her.
When will your other articles be available? I'm looking forward to read them.
I've just learned that you're about to publish a book. Congratulations!  When it'll come out, I'll certainly be one of the first to buy it.
After death, there is not death, but life.

Offline edubs31

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Re: Empress Alexandra's War Relief Work July 1914 - February 1917
« Reply #36 on: May 06, 2014, 02:10:14 PM »
Note that I have done this largely British Army fashion, where experienced Sergeants are expected to give advice to young officers.

Ann

Too funny Ann. Good work!
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Offline griffh

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Re: Empress Alexandra's War Relief Work July 1914 - February 1917
« Reply #37 on: May 09, 2014, 12:01:03 PM »
I've read your article,Griffh, and found it very interesting and very well written. One of the things I like a lot about it is the way you portrayed Alix. You seem to have a good opinion of her, so it makes your article even more pleasant to read. As she is so often caricatured and badly seen, it's good to read someone who has a nice word to say on her.
When will your other articles be available? I'm looking forward to read them.
I've just learned that you're about to publish a book. Congratulations!  When it'll come out, I'll certainly be one of the first to buy it.

Thank you wakas for your kind remarks. I am hoping I will have my book ready for publication within a short time after the last of my articles are published. 

Speaking of which, the editor of RDQ just emailed me that they are ready for the second article:

The Untold Story of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s War Relief Work: July 1914 – February 1917: Part 2. Facing Down Armageddon

The first article sort of "set the stage."  The second article is longer than the first one as there is so much information to share: the timing, scope and extent of Alexandra's work during the opening weeks of war and how the maintenance of morale, as well as the proper care of the wounded and ill was a strong motive force behind her work.   

I have chosen to handle the material chronologically which reveals the Empress's remarkable timing and have added details that give a more complete view of her accomplishments; accomplishments that even when acknowledged by historians, have often been narrowly defined. I have also used a thematic approach for added context.     

Much of my research has never published in the West, so hopefully that will add dimension to the article; as well I cover some of her accomplishments during the Russo-Japanese war to give context to her abilities and broaden our sense of her humanitarian ethos.  I also have made an effort to tie in the activity of her hospital trains to specific battles where they gave relief which again broadens our understanding of the utility of this particular aspect of her work. As well, some of the illustrations have not appeared in print which will help reveal the scale of other war relief work, such as her national network of skladi (supply depots and small manufacturing centers).
   
One of the punishments of the Empress's wartime correspondence is that the first wartime letter does not begin until Sept. 1914, when she was starting her Red Cross Nursing course which consisted of classroom and nursing floor instruction; 60 days (July 19 - Sept 19, 1914) after the war began; additionally no publication of Alexandra's letters contain any reference to the work she had accomplished during the two month period. 

Thanks again wakas for you kind remarks.  The second article will appear in the June 2914 Royalty Digest Quarterly.... 

Offline Joanna

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Re: Empress Alexandra's War Relief Work July 1914 - February 1917
« Reply #38 on: May 09, 2014, 05:30:53 PM »
One of the punishments of the Empress's wartime correspondence is that the first wartime letter does not begin until Sept. 1914, when she was starting her Red Cross Nursing course which consisted of classroom and nursing floor instruction; 60 days (July 19 - Sept 19, 1914) after the war began; additionally no publication of Alexandra's letters contain any reference to the work she had accomplished during the two month period. 

Griff, I remember references to this period in Princess Gedroits' memoir/letters.  Alexandra and daughters attended classes in her Sisters of Mercy building on Leontievskaya Street - amazing when I entered the chapel there as it had survived the war - but also P. Gedroits visited AP for some classes.

Joanna

Offline griffh

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Re: Empress Alexandra's War Relief Work July 1914 - February 1917
« Reply #39 on: May 11, 2014, 11:42:41 AM »

Griff, I remember references to this period in Princess Gedroits' memoir/letters.  Alexandra and daughters attended classes in her Sisters of Mercy building on Leontievskaya Street - amazing when I entered the chapel there as it had survived the war - but also P. Gedroits visited AP for some classes.

Joanna

Joanna thank you so much for your post! Yes, as you say, we can now fill in those missing 60 days with a great deal of information which really begins to reveal Alexandra's character, as well as her exceptional administrative, innovative ideas and management skills. 

It must have been such a moving moment for you Joanna when you entered the Chapel of the Red Cross building on Leontievskaya Street!!! 

Offline Inok Nikolai

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Re: Empress Alexandra's War Relief Work July 1914 - February 1917
« Reply #40 on: May 15, 2014, 10:28:04 AM »
Taking Janet Ashton's suggestion, I have decided to start a thread on the Empress's war relief work.

Having just published the first of my articles in Royalty Digest Quarterly, I thought this thread could also serve as a place where individuals could share their views of the articles.

Having just returned from England I am a still catching up a bit but all the same I wanted to establish the thread.


Dear Griffh,

Perhaps you have already seen this charming postcard, but just in case you haven’t, I wanted to bring it to your attention, since it concerns Empress Alexandra’s war-time relief work.

http://www.filokartist.net/forum/download.php?id=7715

As you can see, Empress Alexandra is depicted dressed in the robes she wore for the famous costume ball in 1903. The inscription in Russian reads: “Russia — to her warriors.”

Behind the Empress are seen Russian men, women and children bringing their offerings for the troops at the front, which they are depositing in the treasure chest inscribed: “Storehouse [sklad] of Tsaritsa Alexandra Feodorvna”.

And Empress Alexandra is seen distributing those offerings with her right hand to the expectant and grateful soldiers.

The above photograph was found here:
http://www.filokartist.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4962

Unfortunately, the quality of that particular printing is rather poor. A much clearer version of that same postcard is found in the Romanov Collection of the Beinecke Library at Yale University.

It’s actually the obverse of the postcard which appears on p. 325 of Lili Dehn’s “The Real Tsaritsa”. Her Majesty wrote the postcard to Lili while the latter was in Japan with her husband in March 1916. During their absence, the Empress was helping to look after their son, Alexander (aka: “Titi”), who was also the Empress’ godson. The Empress happened to write that postcard to Lili in English.

I. N.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2014, 10:32:16 AM by Inok Nikolai »
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Offline Inok Nikolai

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Offline griffh

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Re: Empress Alexandra's War Relief Work July 1914 - February 1917
« Reply #42 on: May 16, 2014, 12:50:59 PM »
PS:

Here's a somewhat better copy:

http://w3.ivanovo.ac.ru/alumni/olegria/nation2/1914Rossija_voinstvu.htm

Inok Nikolai thank you so much for that lovely postcard of the Empress, "Russia--to her warriors."  And thank you so much for finding a clearer copy of the postcard.

It really touched me, knowing what lengths the Russian people went to support Alexandra's numerous skladi with massive contributions of all kinds which I cover in my second article.

I was sent articles written in Russian periodicals in 1916 that were the first statistics published on the Empress's Winter Palace sklad in 1914 which is impressive, and the research certainly adds veracity the postcard you shared Inok. 

Sadly, my copy of Lili Dehn's book is a reprint and does not include the postcard.  I have got to find an original copy of her book.

Well thank you again for sharing that great postcard with me....



 

 

Offline Helen

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Re: Empress Alexandra's War Relief Work July 1914 - February 1917
« Reply #43 on: May 17, 2014, 11:00:20 AM »
PS: Here's a somewhat better copy: http://w3.ivanovo.ac.ru/alumni/olegria/nation2/1914Rossija_voinstvu.htm
Thank you! :)

The Empress seems to have sent this postcard also to Madelaine Zanotti.
The Hesse State Archive in Darmstadt has one of Madelaine's albums including this card, designed by Samokisch & Sudkowskaja: http://digitalisate.hadis.hessen.de/hstad/d%2027%20a/198_141.jpg

She sent Madelaine also the following card, designed by Solomko, held in the same album: http://digitalisate.hadis.hessen.de/hstad/d%2027%20a/198_142.jpg

The Archive dates the first card as from 1904, and the second one as from December 3, 1904.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2014, 11:04:16 AM by Helen »
"The Correspondence of the Empress Alexandra of Russia with Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore, Grand Duke and Duchess of Hesse. 1878-1916"  -  http://www.bod.de/index.php?id=296&objk_
"Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig and Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine in Italy - 1893"

Offline Inok Nikolai

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Re: Empress Alexandra's War Relief Work July 1914 - February 1917
« Reply #44 on: May 17, 2014, 12:32:46 PM »
Thank you very much for this much better copy of the postcard.

1) For the record, the artist had a double, hyphenated, surname: Elena Petrovna Samokish-Sudkovskaya (1863—1924). She died in Paris.

2) Not at all to quibble with the Darmstadt archivists, but I will just mention that the Russian site which I first cited above attributes the "Russia to her warriors" card to Sudkovskaya's 1914-1916 period. However, is it possible that she first painted the card for the Russo-Japanese War, and then it was re-issued for WW I? Do the uniforms tell our military experts anything specific?

I. N.

PS: As for the contents of Empress Alexandra's 1916 card, the message had nothing to do with her wartime work. It was a personal note to Lili Dehn.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2014, 12:34:39 PM by Inok Nikolai »
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