Author Topic: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?  (Read 297017 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Louis_Charles

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1498
    • View Profile
Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #750 on: March 18, 2007, 10:41:47 PM »
I agree with RichC, Daniel, thanks for the informative posts. I was struck doing my research on the office of Private Secretary by how well served both the individual monarchs and the monarchy as in institution were by the men who have held the position in the UK. For example, Ponsonby's son smuggled the correspondence of the Empress Frederick right out under Wilhelm II's nose after her death; Alec Hardinge attempted to convince Edward VIII to give up Wallis Simspon (don't jump me, I like Wallis, but if you look at it from the monarchy's point of view . . .), etc. It is a pity that there was no one in the Russian aristocracy that Nicholas felt he could trust in a similar position. Was it because of Nicholas' personality, or was the Russian upper class so corrupt as a whole between 1894-1917?
"Simon --- Classy AND Compassionate!"
   
"The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, so take snacks and a magazine."

Offline Belochka

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 4447
  • City of Peter stand in all your splendor - Pushkin
    • View Profile
Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #751 on: March 18, 2007, 10:42:40 PM »
Well, at least one of those close to the situation whose observations were published was Alexandra, and her correspondence to Nicky at Stavka is peppered with "Our Friend says this" and "Our Friend says that". Now, it may be that Nicholas could shrug off Rasputin's direct influence upon governmental and military matters --- certainly Rasputin didn't want the Tsar to take Russia into the First World War --- but the man did have to deal with an hysterical wife, and she influenced him. So in the Six Degrees of Separation, Rasputin is pretty much up there.

Alexandra certainly used "our friend" when refering to Rasputin. He was a person whom they both trusted. It was perfectly natural to write in this manner without specifically refering to him by name. She employed that writing technique with others whom she knew.

Rasputin used the same definition when he corresponded with Nikolai (he was the only individual who was permitted such a priviledge).

Here is one such example that he transmitted by means of a telegram from Pokrovskoye, in July, 1914 [My translation]

Dear friend,
Once again I say a thunder cloud is above Russia, pity, much grief, darkness and no gleam of hope; tears now a sea and there are no measures, and blood? What to say? There are no words … horror. I know, all want war from you and truly, not knowing, for the sake of destruction. God’s punishment is heavy … You are tsar, father of the people, do not allow the senseless to celebrate and destroy oneself and the people. Think, that everything is different … everything drowns in great blood, destruction without end sadness.
Grigorii


Rasputin was a pacifist and wrote about the unnecessary spillage of Russian blood. It was at that level in which he appealed his concerns to Nikolai - but he failed to influence Nikolai's military position at any stage of the war. That also included Rasputin's belief that a Separate Peace Treaty with the Germans was preferable over the war's continuation and its resultant fatalities.

Concerning Rasputin, it was never his political considerations - he had none. It was was his series of pleas to his sovereign ruler; that the preservation of Russian life should be the primary consideration to stop the war.

It has been documented by observers (General Spiridovich among the few) that Nikolai reminded Rasputin to leave matters of State to himself alone.

Margraita
 :)


Faces of Russia is now on Facebook!


http://www.searchfoundationinc.org/

Offline Louis_Charles

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1498
    • View Profile
Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #752 on: March 18, 2007, 10:50:28 PM »
Rasputin recommended people to Alexandra who in turn recommended them to Nicholas. Now, he may not have been overtly political in his reasons for doing so --- perhaps he wanted to sleep with a recemmendee's wife --- but he did do it. So he was politically influential.

I know that Alexandra and Nicholas called him "Our Friend" --- it's in all of their diaries and letters that have been published. I also agree that he was a pacifist (cf. my post 1112). Pacifism is a political position --- especially in times of war --- and to express pacifist sentiments to the man who was shortly to plunge Russia into the disaster of World War I was a political act. His motivations for writing the telegram are irrelevant, the telegram is a political document.

« Last Edit: March 18, 2007, 10:52:02 PM by Louis_Charles »
"Simon --- Classy AND Compassionate!"
   
"The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, so take snacks and a magazine."

Offline Belochka

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 4447
  • City of Peter stand in all your splendor - Pushkin
    • View Profile
Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #753 on: March 18, 2007, 11:13:50 PM »
... It is a pity that there was no one in the Russian aristocracy that Nicholas felt he could trust in a similar position. Was it because of Nicholas' personality, or was the Russian upper class so corrupt as a whole between 1894-1917?

From my understanding Nikolai accepted his Coronation Oath in its full literal sense. He was the only person who could formulate key decisions of State on behalf of the Russian nation, guided by his God to whom he believed he was totally accountable. No one else in the realm could carry such a burden. Old fashioned attitude it may be but that is how it was.

The corruption of many of his advisers and including a faction of the self-serving elite can be held to account for their evasiveness and political machinations. These segments of the population are certainly identifiable factors which complicated the ability for Nikolai to rule more adequately.

In the absence of adequate transmission of key information one can reasonably recognize that such a deficit would cause a few problems. In their way these individuals also betrayed their sovereign and in so doing innoculated themselves with their collective betrayals.

Margarita
:)


Faces of Russia is now on Facebook!


http://www.searchfoundationinc.org/

Offline Louis_Charles

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1498
    • View Profile
Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #754 on: March 18, 2007, 11:26:49 PM »
But it wasn't like that --- autocracy ---- after 1905 and the creation of the Duma, and other Tsars had been able to repose trust in others. I think you were closer to the correct answer when you identified this behavior as a personality trait.

What a lonely position to be in, if you are correct Margarita (Nicky's, not yours!). Inept ruler of an Empire in which he could not trust the very people he needed to trust --- nobles, military leaders, etc. So many of them seemed to make an easy transition to serving the Bolshevik state/army, which means that they had eroded out years before. I suppose that is why the Red Army was so much more fearsome than the Tsarist --- people in it feared Stalin. Poor Nicholas, with the disposition of an accountant, forced by birth to assume a role for which he was so manifestly unsuited. And there is Stalin, eager to play the Tsar. I suppose for military men who served both, it felt more like serving what they had expected Nicholas to be.
"Simon --- Classy AND Compassionate!"
   
"The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, so take snacks and a magazine."

Offline Belochka

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 4447
  • City of Peter stand in all your splendor - Pushkin
    • View Profile
Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #755 on: March 18, 2007, 11:39:28 PM »
Rasputin recommended people to Alexandra who in turn recommended them to Nicholas. Now, he may not have been overtly political in his reasons for doing so --- perhaps he wanted to sleep with a recemmendee's wife --- but he did do it. So he was politically influential.

I know that Alexandra and Nicholas called him "Our Friend" --- it's in all of their diaries and letters that have been published. I also agree that he was a pacifist (cf. my post 1112). Pacifism is a political position --- especially in times of war --- and to express pacifist sentiments to the man who was shortly to plunge Russia into the disaster of World War I was a political act. His motivations for writing the telegram are irrelevant, the telegram is a political document.

Some may view Rasputin's pleas to Nikolai as political instruments and others, such as myself, only see the innocence of a uncomplicated man who knew he had a unique opportunity to inform his Emperor of the futility of war.  Such a stance in this case emergers as one who had accepted without reservation the commandment: "Thou shall not kill."

Margarita
:)


Faces of Russia is now on Facebook!


http://www.searchfoundationinc.org/

Offline Louis_Charles

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1498
    • View Profile
Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #756 on: March 18, 2007, 11:45:28 PM »
Rasputin recommended people to Alexandra who in turn recommended them to Nicholas. Now, he may not have been overtly political in his reasons for doing so --- perhaps he wanted to sleep with a recemmendee's wife --- but he did do it. So he was politically influential.

I know that Alexandra and Nicholas called him "Our Friend" --- it's in all of their diaries and letters that have been published. I also agree that he was a pacifist (cf. my post 1112). Pacifism is a political position --- especially in times of war --- and to express pacifist sentiments to the man who was shortly to plunge Russia into the disaster of World War I was a political act. His motivations for writing the telegram are irrelevant, the telegram is a political document.

Some may view Rasputin's pleas to Nikolai as political instruments and others, such as myself, only see the innocence of a uncomplicated man who knew he had a unique opportunity to inform his Emperor of the futility of war.  Such a stance in this case emergers as one who had accepted without reservation the commandment: "Thou shall not kill."

Margarita
:)

I think this is an argument about semantics. I have no reason to doubt that Rasputin was genuinely a pacifist, and pacifism, however well-intentioned or based upon religious principles, is neverthess a political position in a society which contains varying interpretations of ethical/religious dictums. Even more so; for Rasputin to offer the Tsar this advice was a betrayal of his monarch, if one follows your reasoning about the nature of the monarchy.
"Simon --- Classy AND Compassionate!"
   
"The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, so take snacks and a magazine."

Offline Belochka

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 4447
  • City of Peter stand in all your splendor - Pushkin
    • View Profile
Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #757 on: March 19, 2007, 12:08:54 AM »
But it wasn't like that --- autocracy ---- after 1905 and the creation of the Duma, and other Tsars had been able to repose trust in others. I think you were closer to the correct answer when you identified this behavior as a personality trait.

What a lonely position to be in, if you are correct Margarita (Nicky's, not yours!). Inept ruler of an Empire in which he could not trust the very people he needed to trust --- nobles, military leaders, etc. So many of them seemed to make an easy transition to serving the Bolshevik state/army, which means that they had eroded out years before. I suppose that is why the Red Army was so much more fearsome than the Tsarist --- people in it feared Stalin. Poor Nicholas, with the disposition of an accountant, forced by birth to assume a role for which he was so manifestly unsuited. And there is Stalin, eager to play the Tsar. I suppose for military men who served both, it felt more like serving what they had expected Nicholas to be.

Nicky was the lonliest man in Russia. I believe that one of his mother's own letters to Nikolai had commented that he as Emperor has no friends. In other words trust no one. To accept such a position it would have to be interconnected with Nikolai's personal development to rule as a politician. It was a progressive transformation which in time would have emerged to be seen as part of his personality. However, I believe, it easy enough to separate out that deliberate act and accept it more as one of political necessity.

The advice he received was in retrospect was rather prudent as history has revealed. The day he acquiesced and trusted the words of others was the day he abdicated.

Was it not Truman who stated that if you want a friend then get a dog?

Margarita
:)


Faces of Russia is now on Facebook!


http://www.searchfoundationinc.org/

Offline Louis_Charles

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1498
    • View Profile
Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #758 on: March 19, 2007, 12:16:09 AM »
It was indeed Truman who said that, a man almost notorious for the depths of his friendships with people like Acheson
 and Tom Prendergast. I think he said it as a witticism, but you are saying that Nicholas was incapable as a Tsar of having friends. Hmm. Several of his predecessors managed it, so I suppose that Marie Feodorovna's estimation of her son's defective personality has to be accepted. Perhaps he was unable to understand the meaning of the Coronation Oath.

And of course you are correct: the day that Nicholas failed to accept the advice of his sister and others to meet with a delegation from the Bloody Sunday march was the day he did indeed abdicate his throne. Which brings us full circle, I suppose, though I doubt that Bear will approve --- Nicholas seems to have betrayed himself.
"Simon --- Classy AND Compassionate!"
   
"The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, so take snacks and a magazine."

Offline Belochka

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 4447
  • City of Peter stand in all your splendor - Pushkin
    • View Profile
Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #759 on: March 19, 2007, 12:27:45 AM »
... Several of his predecessors managed it, so I suppose that Marie Feodorovna's estimation of her son's defective personality has to be accepted. Perhaps he was unable to understand the meaning of the Coronation Oath.

The way he understood the Oath proved to be to his political detriment.

... Which brings us full circle, I suppose, though I doubt that Bear will approve --- Nicholas seems to have betrayed himself.

The jury on my side of the equator is out on that point.

Margarita
;)


Faces of Russia is now on Facebook!


http://www.searchfoundationinc.org/

Offline Belochka

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 4447
  • City of Peter stand in all your splendor - Pushkin
    • View Profile
Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #760 on: March 19, 2007, 01:53:13 AM »
It was indeed Truman who said that, a man almost notorious for the depths of his friendships with people like Acheson
 and Tom Prendergast. I think he said it as a witticism, but you are saying that Nicholas was incapable as a Tsar of having friends. Hmm.

I did not say that Nikolai was incapable of making friends.

Nikolai had friendships but he was never "familiar" with anyone outside the Family. There was always a polite distance that he prefered to maintain.

Margarita
:)


Faces of Russia is now on Facebook!


http://www.searchfoundationinc.org/

Offline Tsarfan

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1848
  • Miss the kings, but not the kingdoms
    • View Profile
Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #761 on: March 19, 2007, 06:07:38 AM »
Nicholas' attributed belief that being invested with the responsibility for making decisions necessarily meant that he should not seek the counsel of others in reaching those decisions reflected, at best, a complete ignorance of how monarchs in Russia and elsewhere had usually approached their jobs.

One example that was staring Nicholas in the face was Germany.  For most of the latter half of the 19th century, Germany had coalesced into a nation, developed one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe, dealt successfully with the social stresses that economic growth unleashed, and built a complex treaty structure that gave Germany some relief from the threat implied by her geographic position in the middle of Europe.  And these accomplishments had largely been delivered not by the Emperor Wilhelm I, but by his great Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.  Then, during his own reign, Nicholas observed Germany lose her compass in international affairs and stumble from one public relations disaster to the next under the pompous, strutting, and ridiculous Wilhelm II, who had resolved never again to have the likes of a Bismarck near his august throne.  How could anyone who had at least one eye open to the world around him watch the spectacle of Wilhelm II and still adhere to the view that kings acting alone were best suited to call all the shots for their nations?

In fact, the 19th century was marked by as many great chancellors and diplomats as by great monarchs:  Talleyrand, Metternich, Bismarck, Disraeli, et al.

The example of Louis XIV's absolute monarchy was mentioned earlier by Elisabeth.  Well, some of the greatest accomplishments of Louis' reign were built on the work of his Finance Minister and close advisor Colbert.  The political counsel Catherine the Great received from Potemkin proved invaluable to her.  Jeez . . . she even managed to sleep with a political counsellor on occasion without falling dangerously under his influence and without risking any loss of her own authority. 

Only a weak, insecure man fears the presence of strong intellects and strong personalities as much as did Nicholas II.  I think it was Nicholas' innate fear of the ability of others to dominate him through intellectual prowess -- and not his belief that God ordained that he act alone -- that drove him into his pitiful and pitiable isolation.

Offline ChristineM

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 2882
    • View Profile
Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #762 on: March 19, 2007, 06:55:08 AM »
We appear now to have gone round in a complete circle regarding Nicholas' inability to either delegate or trust, and I too appreciate Daniel's posts.   I must re-read Lieven - sitting at my shoulder as I write.

I would like to rachet things up a couple of knots.

Just about everyone who conducted any discourse with Nicholas II was left with the impression that he paid them his undivided attention and concurrence only to discover that he delivered exactly the same reaction and response with whoever he next engaged in conversation.   I cannot remember exactly - and there was more than one - who commented, or recorded, that 'Nicholas II agreed with whosoever he last spoke'.   Any psychologist would say that this is a classic sign of complete insecurity - not lack of trust - insecurity.   

Nobody - PERHAPS with the exception of his wife - ever really knew this man.   He  built so many emotional and pyschological defences around himself.

And that brings me to the second point.   In terms of ultimate betrayal, I have to point my finger at his parents.   At both his parents, but, in particular, at his mother.

It seems simplistic and rather pathetic, but Nicholas' lack of height undoubtedly weighed heavily against him.   Having a huge, strong father - the very physical epitome of a Russian tsar - this diminutive man was a big let down.   The psychological let down was never concealed.   This is obvious in numerous asides made by Alexander III in reference to his son and heir.   Even as a young man, he was regarded, and treated as a child.   His father thought him incapable of having and holding a thought, never mind an opinion.   Only with the greatest reluctance did he agree to give Nicholas the responsibility of 'chairing' the committee for the construction of the TransSiberian railway.   Now, perhaps his parents had good reason for this unanimous opinion but, my goodness what kind of legacy, what kind of way is this to bring up any child, never mind a son fated to become emperor of a huge, diverse nation.   (Today social services would be called upon to assist a child like this).   The irony is, that Minnie's petite frame was one of her greatest attractions for Sasha.    Unfortunately for Nicholas, in this physical characteristic, he was genetically influenced by his mother.

When Nicholas became a man, he should have been able to 'put away childish things' but serious psychological damage had been done.

Mothers (and I am one myself, but hopefully not one of this sort) can be very dangerous creatures - particularly in terms of attitude towards their sons.  (I was listening only this morning on radio to the dreadful, selfish damage inflicted on the artist LS Lowry by his ghastly mother - he had to paint in secret because he was not allowed to be better at her in anything).   Maria Feodorovna's overbearing, uninformed influence - and she was a silly, frivolous, gossipy, cunning sort of woman - did not stop when SHE should have grown up, particularly when widowed.   No, this was, if anything exacerbated, because the son whom they had effectively neglected to the point of (figurative) castration in terms of rearing him to fit the role, now felt overwhelmingly sorry for her.   By jove, did she exploit this and continued to inflict damage not only her son, but her son's choice of wife.

This brings me back to the topic of the thread and, stripping away all references to 'self-imposed isolation, 'stamp licking', sticking photos in albums, gymnastics, shovelling snow, digging furrows and long lonely walks, it is my contention that the ultimate betrayer of Nicholas the Second was his own mother.

tsaria

       
« Last Edit: March 19, 2007, 07:09:00 AM by tsaria »

Offline Louis_Charles

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1498
    • View Profile
Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #763 on: March 19, 2007, 07:22:06 AM »
It was indeed Truman who said that, a man almost notorious for the depths of his friendships with people like Acheson
 and Tom Prendergast. I think he said it as a witticism, but you are saying that Nicholas was incapable as a Tsar of having friends. Hmm.

I did not say that Nikolai was incapable of making friends.

Nikolai had friendships but he was never "familiar" with anyone outside the Family. There was always a polite distance that he prefered to maintain.

Margarita
:)

My post says that Nicholas "as Tsar" was incapable of real friendship, which seems to be what you are saying.

Tsaria, the observations about MF are very interesting. The idea that one's mother doesn't like one's wife cannot have helped his abilities to be open with her, especially if MF lacked empathy with the couple for what Rasputin genuinely did do for them --- provide some relief for Alexei. It seems to me that the imperial couple spent so much time in "siege mode" that he was unable to connect with people on certain basic levels. This might also explain his inability to completely "understand" his subjects.

Thanks for such a provocative and insightful post, lots to think about.

Simon

"Simon --- Classy AND Compassionate!"
   
"The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, so take snacks and a magazine."

Offline Tsarfan

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1848
  • Miss the kings, but not the kingdoms
    • View Profile
Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #764 on: March 19, 2007, 07:58:54 AM »
We have, indeed, come full circle as tsaria says, and a fairly clear consensus -- at least among those able to look at this objectively -- seems to have emerged.  Daniel gave a great synopsis of the artifacts of the syndrome itself, and tsaria has identified a highly likely chief cause.

I have ordered the Encausse book that was mentioned earlier, and it will be interesting to overlay her views of Nicholas' reign onto this discussion.  In reading the reviews of Encausse, however, some rather contentious points seem to have been raised by her -- such as the assertion that Nicholas was winning the race with the revolutionaries up until about 1913.  It will be interesting to see how Encausse treats 1905.  And, at least from what I can gather from the reviews, the big question is left begging:  why  was Russia in such a heated race with revolutionaries who, given a few missteps by the regime, had the capability to overwhelm the nation?

The real problem -- for Nicholas and for Russia -- is that Nicholas was trying to wage his battles either alone or with a group of people from which were excluded any smarter than Nicholas himself.