Author Topic: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"  (Read 66339 times)

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Offline Mazukov

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Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
« Reply #150 on: October 09, 2007, 02:06:34 AM »
We had talked about this last night my wife and I, and she thinks that he was scared to death when they blocked his train. And thus, caved in right away when there was not many of his people around to protect him.

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Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
« Reply #151 on: May 01, 2008, 08:20:21 AM »
I have been reading a lot of letters and orders that Nicholas sent to Petrograd to Rodzianko during the beginning of the upheaval and those that he sent to Alexandra.

I also have some diary entries and some information that comes from Count Fredericks.

On February 26, 1917, Rodzianko sent a telegram to the Tsar:  "Situation grave.  Anarchy in capital. Government paralysed.  Transport... has reached complete breakdown. Public discontent growing. Disorderly shooting occurring on the streets.  Military units are firing on each other. Vital to call on a figure trusted by the country to form a new government. No time to lose. Any delay is as good as death.  I pray God that in this hour the blame will not fall on Him who wears the crown."

Nicholas's reaction?  He reportedly told Count Fredericks, "That fatty Rodzianko has again written all sorts of nonsense to me and I am not even going to reply."

On that day as usual he [Nicholas] attended Liturgy, later walked for quite some time along the highway leading to  Bobruisk received a senator, and in the evening played dominoes with his retainers.

The Sunset of the Romanov Dynasty by Mikhail Iroshnikov - Liudmila Protsai and Yuri Shelayev

Now, there are errors in this book.  I have found a number of wrong dates and wrong identification of people in pictures, however this is just the first of the information that I plan to post.

But, my question is this - What happened to Nicholas II during the last months of 1916 and the beginning of 1917?  It seems as if he has lost all reason and all caring about anything.

Was he taking drugs or being drugged?  Had his mind finally snapped from all of the pressures he had lived under for the past 22 plus years as tsar and the husband of Alix and the father of a hemophiliac heir?

He acts as if he was suffering from severe depression.  He has almost removed himself from the real world and what was going on around him and in the rest of his country.

Was this a symptom of an undiagnosed illness?  Was this a complete mental breakdown?

I know that Nicholas was a fatalist - but he took all of the upheaval and then the demand for his abdication with so much calm detachment that he might have been an observer, not the main participant.

Anybody?


Offline Nadya_Arapov

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Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
« Reply #152 on: May 01, 2008, 04:11:47 PM »
He acts as if he was suffering from severe depression.  He has almost removed himself from the real world and what was going on around him and in the rest of his country. Was this a symptom of an undiagnosed illness?  Was this a complete mental breakdown?
I know that Nicholas was a fatalist - but he took all of the upheaval and then the demand for his abdication with so much calm detachment that he might have been an observer, not the main participant.

I can't say whether or not he was physically ill. I do believe he was mentally and emotionally fatigued. His reign was filled with one disaster after another. Perhaps he simply couldn't take anymore and just decided, as he had so often before in life, that he would just allow God to do as He willed with him and with Russia.

In Nicholas' early letters, during his romance with Alexandra, he repeatedly implies that God's will (not man's) decides virtually everything. If one firmly believes that one has no real control over their own fate, how can such a person be expected to take decisive action when it is needed? One of Nicholas' greatest failings was his refusal to recognize that he had the power to change the outcome of events, that things were not always preordained or fated, but are caused by the actions or inaction of men.

He was removed from reality as the result of the systematic way in which he and Alexandra had isolated themselves bit-by-bit from anyone who disagreed with them (and especially from those who disagreed with Alexandra).

As for his possibly being depressed, several people later stated that during their exile, after his abdication, Nicholas seemed as though a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders and was happier. This to me indicates that he may have been depressed before the abdication. Even being removed from the full reality of the situation in Russia, I think that Nicholas, on some level, did know the war was not going well. Even he can’t have been so deluded as to believe otherwise by early 1917. He was not a wise ruler, but he did love his country deeply and I imagine the situation must have depressed him.

Another sign that he was under emotional strain was that Nicholas suffered chest pains. I realize the reasons for this could range widely, but it’s interesting to note when considering his stress level.

Nicholas to Alexandra – 1915 – Mogilev
I am beginning to feel my old heart. The first time it was in August of last year, after the Samsonov Catastrophe, and again now - it feels so heavy on the left side when I breathe.

Nicholas to Alexandra – 26 February 1917 – Mogilev
…This morning during service I felt an excruciating pain in the middle of my chest, which lasted for a quarter of an hour. I could hardly stand and my forehead was covered with beads of sweat…

Also a mention of feeling stressed in this letter.

Nicholas to Alexandra – 24 February 1917 – Mogilev
…My brain feels rested here – no ministers and no fidgety questions to think over – I think it does me good, but only the brain…

One must consider the situation he was faced with to understand his reaction to it. He found himself between a rock and a hard place and IMHO he felt overwhelmed. I don't think he knew what to do. He had no real military experience and he was never even properly trained to rule as Tsar. Olga Alexandrovna admitted in her memoirs that her father (whom she worshipped) had failed them all by never preparing Nicholas for his role. To make matters worse Nicholas had no natural interest in or inclination for politics and was a very naive man. Just imagine being a very fatalistic person, believing you had no control over your own fate, you’re married to an invalid who both disliked and was despised by your family, you’re at odds with your ministers, your relatives have just committed a heinous murder, and to top it all off you are mired in an endless and disastrous war. How could he not have been overwhelmed and depressed by the situation he was facing in 1917?

I don’t think he handled it well, and have been very critical of him elsewhere on the board because of this. Yet I do realize why he couldn’t solve Russia’s problems. He simply did not possess the ability to do so. That would have taken a masterful military and political mind. Or at the very least someone with the foresight to find such people (good politicians and generals) to work for them. I think of someone like FDR. An intelligent man, but not brilliant, yet he had the intelligence to create the “brain trust” a group of advisers more knowledgeable than himself. Obviously, conditions in 1930s America and those of 1910s Russia are incomparable socially, etc., but my point is that it would have taken someone with political savvy, deep intellectual curiosity, and the courage to be innovative and undertake monumental reforms to save Russia in 1917, and Nicholas did not possess those qualities.

I think he wasn’t overly distraught about the abdication because it actually came as something of a personal relief. He seemed to be more afraid of Alexandra’s response than anything else. I’m sure he also felt he had failed to uphold his father’s legacy. However, he never had wanted to become Tsar in the first place and took no real pleasure in most of his responsibilities. Though he did try to fulfill them (albeit unsuccessfully). For that reason I can understand why he didn’t seem terribly upset. In his opinion everything was God’s will and he felt Russia’s fate was in the hands of God. If he couldn’t change his future, if God alone (from his perspective) was responsible for all that happened, what would have been the point of becoming upset by things? Emotional shock may also have played a part in his detachment.

Offline Nadya_Arapov

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Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
« Reply #153 on: May 01, 2008, 04:15:57 PM »
On February 26, 1917, Rodzianko sent a telegram to the Tsar:  "Situation grave.  Anarchy in capital. Government paralysed.  Transport... has reached complete breakdown. Public discontent growing. Disorderly shooting occurring on the streets.  Military units are firing on each other. Vital to call on a figure trusted by the country to form a new government. No time to lose. Any delay is as good as death.  I pray God that in this hour the blame will not fall on Him who wears the crown."

Nicholas's reaction?  He reportedly told Count Fredericks, "That fatty Rodzianko has again written all sorts of nonsense to me and I am not even going to reply."

On that day as usual he [Nicholas] attended Liturgy, later walked for quite some time along the highway leading to Bobruisk received a senator, and in the evening played dominoes with his retainers.

This doesn't strike me as unusual for Nicholas. He always behaved that way, even during past tragedies and crisis he tended to go about his usual routine as though nothing was wrong. Routine seemed to bring him comfort and make him feel secure. Perhaps going about with things as usual, following his normal routine when everything was falling apart, was his way of trying to hold on to his senses. Do you know what I mean?

As for his refusing to listen to Rodzyanko, all throughout his life Nicholas had made it a habit almost to avoid unpleasant realities (both personal and political ones). He also chose not to listen to those he didn't like or respect. He rarely took into account the fact that these people, though loathsome to him, might have a valid point to make. As you have said, he was removed from reality and had been for decades.

But, my question is this - What happened to Nicholas II during the last months of 1916 and the beginning of 1917?  It seems as if he has lost all reason and all caring about anything. Was he taking drugs or being drugged? 

I have read that he was prescribed cocaine for migraine headaches. Cocaine was commonly used at the time to aide many ailments. Here is one letter in which he mentions cocaine to Alix. I can’t find the others, unfortunately.

Nicholas to Alexandra – 13 November 1915 – Mogilev
…I woke up with a shocking cold in the left nostril, so that I am thinking of spraying it with cocaine. Apart from that, I feel strong-heaps of energy…

I would like to know just how high the dosage of cocaine was and how often he actually used it. Cocaine can have very detrimental effects.

Maurice Paleologue claimed Nicholas was on something else, too, but it is difficult to gage the accuracy of his information. According to him Dr. Badmaev prescribed some other medicine for Nicholas.

Paleologue’s Diary – 6 November 1916
During recent months the Emperor suffered from nervous maladies which betray themselves in unhealthy excitement, anxiety, loss of appetite, depression and insomnia. The Empress would not rest until he had consulted that quack Badmayev…the charlatan soon discovered in his pharmacopoeia the remedy appropriate to the case of his august patient: it is an elixir compounded of Tibetan herbs… Every time the Emperor has used this drug, his baneful symptoms have vanished…the elixir must be a mixture of henbane and hashish, and the Emperor should be careful not to take too much.”

Felix Yusupov also mentioned Badmayev in a letter to GD Nikolai Mikhailovich (14 February 1917)
…I am convinced that the Emperor’s passive reaction to everything that happens, is the result of Badmaev’s medicines. There are such herbs that act gradually and reduce a man to complete cretinism…

Then again, Nicholas was usually passive. Who knows if Badmaev’s herbs, if ever taken, caused this behavior.

More about Badmaev from Torment and Shadows, by Karl Ernest Meyer (pp.271)
An equally interesting figure, Zhamsaran Pyotr Aleksandrovich Badmaev (1851-191). A fashionable practioner of Tibetan medicine and an adviser on Mongolian affairs to the Russian Foreign Ministry, he was also the most influential Buriat in St. Petersburg. When Badmaev converted to Orthodox Christianity, none other than Alexander III acted as his godfather at the ceremony. Yet it was his Tibetan medicine that won him access at court. In his laboratory he prepared an entire pharmacopoeia of alchemic remedies, infusions of Asoka flowers, Nienchen balsam, black lotus essence, nikrik powder, and the "Tibetan elixir of life," which he prescribed for Petersburg's upper classes...

Badmaev was a friend of Rasputin and is also mentioned (along with his herbal concoctions) in Richard Pipe’s book The Russian Revolution.

Both Nicholas and Alexandra also used opium occasionally for minor ailments, too.

I don’t believe for a minute that Nicholas II was an addict. However, I do wonder if his occasional use of these drugs did in some way hinder his ability to make decisions. I can’t imagine it would have made him more clear-headed. It is really hard to know what effect, if any, the drugs had given That we don't know what the dosage was (at least I don't). Perhaps someone else on the board knows more about this.

Offline anna11

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Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
« Reply #154 on: May 01, 2008, 06:17:03 PM »
About the drugs, I know that both Nicholas and Alexandra used opium and it wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that he or both of them were addicted. It is an extremely addictive drug, and those symptoms sound like someone going through heroin withdrawal. The people that take opium, aka heroin only sometimes are far and few between. If you take it on a regular basis, you're an addict basically.

Remember that 'addict' does not necessarily mean the same thing you think of when you think addict. If you have the money and the means to support a drug addiction, then it can sometime not really have any affect on a person's day to day life, apart from what you described as eventually going into depression like you described.

It also wouldn't surprise me to learn that Nicky smoked marijuana regularly. That can affect a person's ability to deal with things in a normal way and have a very 'chilled' reaction to everything.

God, it must have been a nightmare during the revolution when they didn't have it anymore.


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Offline Nadya_Arapov

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Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
« Reply #155 on: May 01, 2008, 07:13:28 PM »
I don't know how often Nicholas used opium, but he certainly wasn't using it every day. What I meant by "addict" was someone whose life is completely taken over and planned around their addiction, i.e., they can't live or function at all without their drug of choice. Nicholas, whatever his problems were, doesn't strike me as an addict by that definition. He wasn't described as going through withdrawal of any kind during exile and he certainly would have if he'd been an opium junkie. I think the cocaine use was actually more frequent with him than opium ever was. Whether or not he was an addict (by your definition, mine, or anyone else’s) one has to question how sound his judgment was after using the drugs. That is why I would like to know what the dosage was. I don't know how often Alexandra was given opium. I do know Alexandra mentioned using opium/morphine at least once in a letter because she had some sort of stomach upset.

Alixz

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Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
« Reply #156 on: May 01, 2008, 11:02:15 PM »
Thank you both so much for your postings.  I am looking forward to investigating this subject more closely.

I think that going to Stavka gave Nicholas momentary relief from his problems at home and (even though he loved her dearly) Alexandra's constant recriminations under the guise of love.

Unfortunately, he was at Stavka to command, not to take walks and play dominoes no matter how much better it made him feel.

It seems that his statement of abdication was actually ready the day before Guchkov and Shulgin came to Pskov.  Up until 3 pm on March 2 (15) Nicholas still held hope that he would not have to abdicate and so he gave orders not to send the telegrams giving his consent to the abdication already prepared for transmission to Rodzianko and Alexeyev.

But Nicholas was quite apathetic as he listened to Guchkov.

There was no stigmatism attached to the use of opium and cocaine during Nicholas's time and so he would have used it as he saw fit.

Nicholas took over command of the army following the failures of the Russian forces on the Western Front on 23rd August 1915.  So Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaevich had command for about a year and Nicholas had command for about a year and a half.

While Nicholas never was a decisive leader, it just seems that he became less effective toward the end of 1916 and after Rasputin's death and into the early part of 1917.


Offline Mari

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Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
« Reply #157 on: May 02, 2008, 12:45:57 AM »
Very interesting Subject!      It would add a whole element to the study of History if  We knew what Medicines various Rulers took? Or Generals? What Wars were won or lost on it.  What Decisions were flawed or never made....
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Cocaine was widely used medicinally but also in  other ways....How about Coca cola  when it came out...it contained Cocaine and so was addictive and sold as a pick me up! How about Paregoric? or laudanum? which  contains 10 milligrams of morphine per milliliter, 25 times more than paregoric.  Both widely used for ills.  I do know that the famous Confederate General John Bell Hood had this said about his "medicine"

Quote
in his booklet for the National Park Service, The Road Past Kennesaw: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 (1972), Richard M. McMurry mentions that Hood "may have been taking a derivative of laudanum to ease his pain" from wounds (p. 42; italics added). The former newspaper columnist Webb Garrison, in his Atlanta and the War (1995), also entertains the possibility that Hood's judgment may have suffered "perhaps from use of laudanum to dull his constant pain" (p. 138)
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  Historians point out Bell's bad decisions...no decisions..and even the fact he slept while the Union army slipped away in the Battle of Franklin. Perhaps you can see a correlation in this to Nicholas and his decisions.

A little bit of information:

Quote
Paregoric, or camphorated tincture of opium, is a medication known for its antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic properties. It was a household remedy in the 18th and 19th centuries, when it was widely used to calm fretful children. In the 20th century its use declined as governments regulated it. (In the United States, paregoric can still be found in the pharmacopeia, but it is a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act.)
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  Widely used even for Babies....because it was not classified as harmful...

More ways cocaine entered Society just as an example prior to 1939:

Quote
In 1885 the U.S. manufacturer Parke-Davis sold cocaine in various forms, including cigarettes, powder, and even a cocaine mixture that could be injected directly into the user’s veins with the included needle. The company promised that its cocaine products would “supply the place of food, make the coward brave, the silent eloquent and ... render the sufferer insensitive to pain
Quote

Alixz

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Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
« Reply #158 on: May 02, 2008, 03:38:20 PM »
Mari - My mother used Paregoric on my sister and me when we were children.  I didn't even remember the name until you said it.

It was for teething pain.  No wonder it worked so well and calmed us down and let us sleep.  And let her sleep, too!

You are probably right about the battles won or lost and judgements that were made or not made clearly because of the use of drugs by those in charge.

I am still researching, but I see such a decline in Nicholas during that time from November 1916 to February 1917 in his judgement and his reactions (which were never brilliant to begin with).  To ignore the warnings from St. Petersburg and to issue orders and then go play dominoes without seeing if the execution of those orders was even possible seems to be strange even for Nicholas.

After the murder of Rasputin, Nicholas really stops listening or acting.  I wonder if he just knew how much suffering he would endure because of Alexandra's reactions and just didn't want to deal with it anymore.

Alixz

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Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
« Reply #159 on: April 25, 2009, 07:45:00 PM »
I know that it has been a long time since this thread was posted on, but after having read it to edit for FA, I had another thought about Nicholas being blase about the abdication.

I don't think it ever occurred to him that Michael wouldn't just take up the reigns of government.  Nicholas probably thought that Michael would follow the abdication document with his own acceptance of the throne and then begin the business of ruling and straightening things out with the Provisional Government.

Nicholas was probably very comfortable in believing that Michael would be in charge and that is why he didn't ask for an concessions for his family's safety.  He didn't think they were in danger.

With Michael on the throne, Nicholas would just retire, so to speak, and live in Livadia or wherever else he wanted to go.  Why would Michael stop him?

So Nicholas may have "led them to the basement", but Michael didn't prevent it either.  I know that Michael wanted a constituent vote as to whether or not he should take up the rule of government, but Nicholas could have had no way to know that this would happen.

We know it now and that is why we wonder why Nicholas didn't ask for concessions for the safe conduct of his family.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2010, 08:53:46 AM by Alixz »

RomanovMartyrs

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Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
« Reply #160 on: February 19, 2010, 05:28:39 AM »
^ I agree.


And maybe this has already been said, but I firmly believe that the Tsar had no notion in the farthest reaches of his mind that his family would be killed, especially when he was in the process of abdicating. He wasn't made aware of the extremity of the situation in the city until later; to him nothing had become full-scale violence yet.

And the background. Let's look at that. He was raised in a world of splendor. At that time, children were seen as angelic creatures to dress up in lace and frills and tell fairy tales to. (I took a course on Russian Children's culture; it is fact that once the Revolution happened, fairy tales were not accepted into the child's upbringing anymore. The ideal of the angelic child was replaced by the ideal of a rebellious, argumentative child.) Young ladies were seen as innocent and fair and sent to balls and other events to insure their marriage to a respected nobleman (or in the case of Grand Duchesses, other royalty abroad). This was Nicholas's world. I'm not saying murder never happened; he saw that with his own eyes as Alexander II lay dying, having fallen prey to a terrorist act. But even if he had the slightest notion he would meet the fate of his Grandfather he most likely would never have conceived that one would stoop to the level of murdering his young daughters and 13 year old son.

So no, he didn't lead them to the basement himself, in my mind. Yes, he abdicated. But there was so much unrest in Russia at that time I believe they would have met their fate one way or the other regardless of what document Nicholas did or didn't sign. Nicholas II did not lead them to the basement. Yurovsky did.

« Last Edit: February 19, 2010, 08:55:09 AM by Alixz »

Alixz

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Re: "Sam ikh privel v podval..." "he led them to the basement himself"
« Reply #161 on: February 19, 2010, 09:04:59 AM »
Of course Yurovsky actually and physically led the family to the basement, but this thread is more about the actions or inaction of Nicholas II in the years before the murder.

The long road on which the Imperial Family travelled to Yekaterinburg began on the day that Nicholas married Alix of Hesse.  That was the first decision, made without any fore knowledge of the pain and suffering that it would cause, that Nicholas made with a mindless determination to get what he wanted regardless of what others thought.

Nicholas knew when his father Alexander III died at age 49 that he, Nicholas, was not prepared to rule and yet he made another decision to rule with out the help of those who could have helped him.  Instead he again turned to Alix and her support forgetting that she had no knowledge of how to run the Duchy of Hesse Darmstadt let alone the Russian Empire.

Decision by decision and turn by turn Nicholas did indeed begin to lead them to the basement himself.  Not by choice, but by indecision and stubbornness and a pride of place while underneath it all he knew that he was wrong for the job, but just couldn't let go out of respect for his ancestors and the fear of the wrath of Alexandra and her determination to hold the dynasty for "baby".

He must have been terribly conflicted.