Author Topic: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?  (Read 103396 times)

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Offline GDSophie

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #315 on: July 23, 2020, 06:57:45 AM »
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You mean Duke Peter of Oldenburg.

PETER. I meant Peter.
'Give my love to all who remember me' - Olga Nikolaevna

Offline slhouette

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #316 on: July 24, 2020, 10:54:09 AM »
Haha it's hard to remember everyone's names, especially if there's a billion of the same name like all the Maries, Louises, etc etc

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Yes, Nicholas refused to grant a divorce to her before the War on religious and dynastic grounds; he believed marriage was for life and that royalty should marry within royalty. However he changed his mind after visiting Olga in Kiev - both annulling the marriage and granting her permission. In a letter (I think to Alexandra, who did not think too kindly about all this) he also had no qualms against it and wished his sister a lifetime of happiness. Before the War, sure, he wouldn't have allowed Olga let alone any high ranking Romanov a divorce or marriage a commoner like Kulikovsky but during? After, if the family had lived? We will never know, but I will not say it is out of the realm of possibility.


You're right, I almost forgot about Olga Alexandrovna's case. Though I must say that the situation had to reach a crisis point before he granted her the marriage to Kulikovsky: If I remember correctly, from the N&A correspondence, Olga A. became pretty depressed during her career as a nurse. Am I right??? I don't have the N&A correspondence on hand so I can't go back and check, but I'm 99.9999% sure I remember Alexandra mentioning it. I'll also have to go back and check both of Olga's memoirs to see what she said about the marriage in 1916...I don't think we have much information on the reasoning on waiting all the way til 1916 for her to marry Kulikovsky. You put it best, we will never know. But I'm really thinking that Nicholas finally had enough pity for his little sister to grant her wish - 15 years after her marriage to Peter of Oldenburg. :/

Offline slhouette

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #317 on: July 24, 2020, 11:06:10 AM »
Yooooo I found a really interesting excerpt from a rare memoir. Nina Alekseevna Krivosheina was a worker at the Catherine Palace "warehouse" in 1916, where the GDs would sometimes go to roll bandages and make other materials. She writes the following text in her memoir "Four Thirds of our Life"/"Четыре трети нашей жизни." (The link is here, text from chapter "ДВОРЦЫ - ЕКАТЕРИНСКИЙ И МРАМОРНЫЙ": http://www.lib.ru/%3E%3C/MEMUARY/KRIWOSHEINA/deparis.txt)

[I must say that this is translated through google translate, but it gives you the general meaning...:]

I had to work in "SKLADA" - that was the name of the premises where they voluntarily made bags with bandages or gifts for the army. Such warehouses were usually headed by some higher Organization or Lady, and mainly girls from the high society worked there or were somehow connected by families with these organizers. And, although my parents (and our entire family) were very far from the Court and did not at all strive to communicate with the court world, nevertheless, there were some connections with this world; in general, the gap between the so-called bourgeois circle and the courtier almost did not exist. So the future king of Yugoslavia, Alexander Karageorgievich, when he studied before the war in the Alexander Corps in St. Petersburg, spent Sunday leave in the family of my second cousins, the children of Vissarion Komarov (Komarov,
All this was normal in everyday life, but being at the Court was another matter. Nobody invited us there!


In 1916, all summer until September, we lived in Tsarskoe Selo, in a very large dacha on the road leading to Pavlovsk. The infirmary, which my mother was in charge of, was transported for the summer somewhere not far from Tsarskoye Selo, and my mother had an affair with Velichkovsky about this, as well as with Prince. Putyatin, who was, it seems to me, the palace commandant, and with his wife - we generally knew them, albeit not close: or rather, my sister and I met Putyatin's sons everywhere - Gulya and Alik.

As it turned out, Princess Putyatina was at the head of the "Warehouse" in the Catherine Palace, where they prepared packages and gifts for our "gray heroes". She suggested to my mother that I start working at the Warehouse every day, from 4 to 6 pm. I didn't really smile, but hanging around the garden all day alone was the worst of all - and ... they quickly sewed a white robe out of thin cambric, which I really liked, and on June 15, I went to work at the Warehouse ...


It was necessary to enter from the huge square in front of the Palace; I came right on time and book. Putyatina, who was waiting in the lobby, led me into a spacious room - the door was right from this hallway. There were two long tables, quite far from each other, on the tables were laid out gauze in large cardboard boxes, scissors, threads ... Soon the young ladies who worked here were already all there - there were fifty of us in total. Book. Putyatina pointed to a chair for me and went off to another table; At exactly 4 o'clock we all started work: we cut from gauze and rolled the bandages by hand; This business seemed to me at once completely wild - shouldn't I pinch the lint, as my grandmother did in the Turkish war? After all, even then there were excellent manual machines for cutting bandages, they had to start two or three, no more,
The girls were talking loudly, laughing, they were all in pretty white robes; in general, it was not boring, but I was unpleasantly struck that Russian was almost not heard - they spoke French, English and, which seemed quite surprising ... German! Next to me, to the left and to the right, the chairs remained free, in front of me there was also an empty seat. .. Well, that's right, someone didn't come or got sick.

 rang five strikes, and at that very minute the door from the lobby opened abruptly and one of the liveried giants proclaimed in an impressive and special voice: "The princesses are coming!" Absolute silence reigned, and the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia entered the door from the hallway in single file, one after another. Everyone, of course, got up, and the Grand Duchesses began to walk around the tables, shaking each other by the hand - they made a very small curtsy ... Then Olga went deeper into the room and sat at the head of the second table,


The Grand Duchesses began diligently to work with gauze and bandages, all fifty young ladies fell silent and also devoted themselves to work - silence and complete, unbroken silence reigned; it was, of course, impossible to speak in the presence of the Grand Duchesses; to address them themselves was forbidden by old court etiquette. So they were silent at both tables, everyone was silent, including Princess Putyatina and her son Alik - and in this painful silence a whole hour passed. The clock rang again: six o'clock. The first to get up was Grand Duchess Olga, bowed to those sitting at her table with a nod of her head - everyone got up and made a slight curtsy; Olga came to our table, at the same moment her sisters rose too - everyone sitting at our table simultaneously stood up, made a curtsy, Grand Duchesses Tatyana, Maria and Anastasia bowed slightly to us. The door to the lobby opened as if by itself, and they followed the older sister, slowly, but somehow unnoticed, disappeared through the open door. A minute passed, less, and the Warehouse burst out with talk and laughter: they began to move the chairs, close the cardboard boxes on the table, remove the scissors - in five minutes the Warehouse was empty, the work was over.


For two whole months I went every day after lunch to work in the Warehouse, life did not offer me anything else at that time. In the morning, my sister left for the city to work in the surgical department of the hospital for the seriously wounded under the supervision of the Holy Synod and returned to Tsarskoe Selo at about seven in the evening. After dinner, my mother immediately left by car to her infirmary, somewhere close to Tsarskoe - I was left alone at the dacha; At that time our English governess was living with us, seemingly retired and, of course, a servant.

Offline slhouette

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #318 on: July 24, 2020, 11:11:40 AM »
(Con't)


I visited the Warehouse regularly, gradually got used to it, rolled bandages no worse than other girls, met someone there and chatted pleasantly, but more and more in Russian - it seemed to me that during such a difficult war it was more decent ... Tea ceremony I really liked it: after all, we could not have been treated to this tea - they say, come home and have a drink! It was both tasty and, at the same time, exotic - drinking tea in the Catherine Palace! Like everyone else, at exactly five o'clock I fell silent, got up, did the already familiar "curtsey" and sat down comfortably so that I would hardly move for an hour. It was difficult for me to examine my neighbors, the Grand Duchesses Maria and Anastasia, due to the most primitive politeness - I could not turn my head and look at them ... But as soon as I raised my eyes, my gaze immediately met the Grand Duchess Tatiana, and it was difficult to break away from her, she was so attractive and pretty! A strict principle, instilled in us from childhood by the English miss: "Child, don't stare!" (do not look at anyone at close range!) I used it badly, although, of course, I did not "stare at close range", but dodged, looked as if I was looking for a bandage or scissors. I will not describe her, and any portrait is usually unsatisfactory - after all, there are many photographs of this particular period ... Best of all, I saw her hands on the table, and these hands were beautiful: on her right hand there was a heavy gold bracelet with a large Ural sapphire in the middle and the same ring - in winter I just gave the same bracelet and ring to my sister, she loved them very much and wore them all the time. Such golden things then became very fashionable and were quite decorative; the young lady was not supposed to wear real diamonds, but semi-precious stones were quite possible. In short, if much remained incomprehensible, then this bracelet and ring were familiar and understandable, and I really wanted to tell the Grand Duchess that my sister also had such a bracelet and ring ...

In two months, the silent ritual of rolling the bandages was broken only once: on that day a door suddenly opened in the opposite corner, behind another table, at the head of which was Grand Duchess Olga, and Alik Putyatin wheeled in a large wheelchair - the maid of honor Orbeliani was sitting in it. All four Grand Duchesses jumped from their chairs; we, of course, also got up, and the princesses approached the maid of honor Orbeliani, one after another made her a deep courtesy curtsy and kissed her hand; Olga and Tatiana said a few words in response to some questions asked by the maid of honor; they spoke French and, although it was at a certain distance from me, for the first time I heard their voices. The conversation was very quiet. Two or three minutes, and Alik, having rolled up a wheelchair, took the maid of honor Orbeliani inside the Catherine Palace; there were no living quarters, which means [??? not sure why this cuts off? ]

Well, and there was one more time: Grand Duchess Anastasia (and she looked then still quite a girl: her hair was loose on her back, bangs on her forehead) accidentally touched me with her foot under the table, all flushed from such awkwardness and very sweetly, turning to me, said -French: "Oh! je vous en prie, excusez-moi" - to which I mechanically replied, without adding "Your Highness": "Oh! mais ce n'est vraiment rien".

I knew that the Empress sometimes visited the Warehouse in the Catherine Palace, but two months have already passed since I went there daily. From the fact that I seemed to be used to everything there, the unnatural silence did not seem more understandable, on the contrary, the questions became more and more intrusive: why can't you talk to us? Well, at least about the most ordinary things ... I sometimes wanted to talk about this with one of the young ladies around me - and what do they think, is this normal? But I never dared to do it, and I still regret it. Sometimes it seemed to me that they understood something here, but I didn't ... In a word, some kind of resentment was accumulating, and, as I learned much later, not with me alone.

On that day, which became the last day of my presence in the Warehouse of the Catherine Palace, a friend of my girl Katya (forgot her last name) informed me that tomorrow the Empress would visit the Warehouse, who hadn’t been for a long time ... "Well, how can you do a deep curtsy and kissing the hand near the chair? It's not very clever. " - "No, said Katya, you just need to move a little away from the chair, and great."

I returned home, and on the way my decision was firmly made. In the evening, as soon as my mother returned from her infirmary, I went to her room and said that I would not go to the Warehouse tomorrow, since the Empress would be there, and I would have to kiss her hand, but I’m not going to do that, I just won’t. And after that it will be awkward for me to return to the Warehouse ... Well, that's why I won't go there again. It was so unexpected that my mother was dumbfounded; she tried to persuade me, and, most importantly, she kept asking one question: why? why? I was silent, looked sullenly and finally exclaimed: "She is German! I do not want and will not kiss her hand!"

......

During this troubled time, perhaps at the end of October, not long before the murder of Rasputin, a lady came to visit my mother; she rarely visited us, although she was with us, if not in kinship, then in property. She was from my mother's Yekaterinoslav family of Malam, also from the impoverished, not from the rich, and she was married to some high-ranking, besides a court husband, and they lived very modestly; their mother said about them: "Very decent people and, moreover, decent people." However, according to the court report, the husband of this relative was ahead of many others who were considered more important than him, and she always visited the Court.

During the war, my mother did not have "foster days", as before the second and fourth Wednesday of the month; it means that the lady called on the phone and agreed: they did not come to St. Petersburg, there was Europe!

And I remember her very well, I saw her with us when I was still a girl; she changed little - one of those women who are without age; she usually wore tailleur suits of strict color, in winter with a black muff in her hands and, though modest, was very graceful. She came, and the young maid Marfusha, who in those years opened the doors to visitors, took her directly to her mother in a small living room, served tea there, and the visit lasted a long time. Where have I been? Probably downstairs, in my room - but I saw this lady come, and even greeted her.

When the lady left, my mother went to her room and, calling me, immediately said: "Just think what I have just found out, but this, of course, is a secret, and Maria Nikolaevna (let her name was that) is horrified and upset." But it turned out this: at the end of September 1916, Princess Putyatina ceased to be the head of the warehouse in the Catherine Palace - why? I think, and even almost sure, that her husband was no longer the palace commandant, and they moved from Tsarskoye to Petersburg. It was then that the post of head of the warehouse was offered to Maria Nikolaevna - she immediately agreed and accepted this job with zeal and great joy.

Offline slhouette

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #319 on: July 24, 2020, 11:13:14 AM »
Now she too had to spend two hours or an hour every day in that huge room where the bandages were rolled, and the same painful silence hung over everyone who sat with the Grand Duchesses. But then one day, all of a sudden to herself, Maria Nikolaevna herself spoke to Grand Duchess Olga - she asked her the question that was on everyone's mind: "Your Highness, it’s true, I don’t dare, and I’m not supposed to, but for God's sake , tell me why neither you nor your sisters will ever speak to us ?! After all, we all love you so much, we would be so happy ... Yes, you yourself know and feel - why ?! " - And could not stand it, burst into tears. The Grand Duchess also replied with great excitement that both she and the sisters would very, very much like to talk with everyone, to get to know at least a little, but ... it is impossible, they are not allowed. And she added: "Mom forbade us this ... She is so afraid that someone will tell us something. After all, they say, such terrible gossip and rumors are circulating ... All this can affect Alexei ... But his health ... After all, this is all not true, not true! "

What was further said here? I write only what I firmly remember, and these words are exactly what I remember. Our poor relative was in despair - she, with all her heart devoted to the royal family, literally idolizing the Grand Duchesses! .. My mother consoled and reassured her as best she could, but she herself was shocked by this story and repeated several times: “What a horror! "

As far as I know, the next day the Grand Duchesses did not come to work at the warehouse, and ten days later the warehouse was completely closed and ceased to exist.

Offline slhouette

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #320 on: July 31, 2020, 01:20:02 PM »
Here's the bolded part in original Russian. Google translate has come a long way in accuracy, but it's still not perfect (and I've only just started learning Russian, so I wouldn't trust my own translations), so I'm wondering if I'm understanding right: Olga seems to be saying that Alexandra is making an excuse for her and her sisters to not interact with the public? As in, is she saying that it's "not true" that rumors and gossip will affect Alexei's health? Or that it's not true that there are rumors/gossip swirling around?

"Но вот однажды, внезапно для самой себя, Мария Николаевна сама заговорила с Великой Княжной Ольгой - она задала ей тот вопрос, который был у всех на уме: "Ваше Высочество, верно, я не смею, да и не полагается мне, но ради Бога, ответьте мне, почему ни Вы, ни Ваши сестры никогда не заговорите с нами ?! Ведь мы все вас так любим, так были бы счастливы... Да Вы сами это знаете и чувствуете - почему же?!" - И не выдержав, разрыдалась. Великая Княжна ответила тоже с большим волнением, что и она сама, и сестры очень, очень хотели бы поговорить со всеми, познакомиться хоть немного, но... нельзя, им не позволяют. И добавила: "Это мама нам запретила... Она так боится, что кто-нибудь что-то скажет нам. Ведь говорят, ходят такие ужасные сплетни, слухи... Все это может коснуться Алексея... А ведь его здоровье... Ведь это же все неправда, неправда!"

In the end, the thing I found most interesting was that Alexandra apparently explicitly forbade them from talking to, at least, the Catherine Palace warehouse workers, even though the girls wanted to speak with them. I wonder if there's any other social spheres where they were told not to talk with others, like at balls, receptions, ?

Offline slhouette

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #321 on: July 31, 2020, 01:27:30 PM »
It is interesting to note that the rumor mill against Alexandra did reach her children. From Spiridovich's “The Great War and February Revolution 1914-1917:”

"The rumor of imprisonment [Sending Alexandra in a monastery] became known to the entire retinue. The servants also knew about it. It reached Their Majesties. The children knew. Life surgeon Fedorov personally told me (and others) that when he once came to the palace to the sick heir, he saw Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna crying. When asked what happened, the Grand Duchess said, "that Uncle Nicholas wants to lock 'Mama' in a monastery." Sergei Petrovich had to console the girl that all this, of course, was not true." ("Слух об заточении сделался достоянием всей свиты. Знала о нем и прислуга. Дошло и до Их Величеств. Знали дети. Лейб-хирург Федоров лично рассказывал мне (и другим) что придя однажды во дворец к больному наследнику он увидел плачущую Вел. Кн. Марию Николаевну. На его вопрос что случилось, Великая Княжна сказала, «что дядя Николаша хочет запереть «мама» в монастырь». Сергею Петровичу пришлось утешать девочку, что все это, конечно, неправда.")

From the same source: "Alarming rumors penetrated into the Tsarskoye Selo palace. There the atmosphere was heavy. “Like a dead man in a house,” said one man who often went there. The queen lay almost all the time. E. V. seemed exhausted both physically and morally. The children, hearing a lot of secrets from others, anxiously looked at their parents. An alarm reigned among the closest courtiers, reaching some ladies with a foreboding of disaster." ("Тревожные слухи проникали и в Царскосельский дворец. Там атмосфера была тяжелая. «Точно покойник в доме» — выразился один, часто бывавший там, человек. Царица почти все время лежала. Е. В. казалась измученной и физически, и нравственно. Дети, слыша многое по секрету от окружающих, тревожно посматривали на родителей. Среди ближайших придворных царила тревога, доходившая у некоторых дам до предчувствия катастрофы.")

Offline Inok Nikolai

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #322 on: August 03, 2020, 09:01:49 AM »
RE: The incident in the Catherine Palace supply depot:

One doesn’t quite know what to make of this account taken from N. A. Krivosheina’s memoirs.
The Krivosheins are a classic example of the fate of the “Former People”, as described in Douglas Smith’s book.
They escaped across the frozen Gulf of Finland in the 1920s; lived twenty-seven years in France; survived the Gestapo, but believed the post-WW II propaganda; took out Soviet passports and repatriated — only to be arrested and sent to the Gulag. After another twenty-seven years in the Soviet Union, they were allowed to return to Paris in 1974, where they spent their remaining years.
N. A. began writing her fascinating memoirs only in 1977. They contain an epilogue written by her husband after her death in 1981, and a second epilogue written by their son in 1998, when the memoirs were being prepared for publication in Russia itself.

However, her account of the incident in the Catherine Palace supply depot is related third-hand. It comes from an un-named woman (to whom the author assigns a fictitious name) who told the author’s mother that…

But the book “Most-august Sisters of Mercy” — which has been cited elsewhere on this Forum — contains the memoirs (published in 1925) of S. Y. Ofrosimova, who also worked at the supply depot in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoe Selo. Her account tells quite a different story, and according to her, the Grand Duchesses did indeed interact with their co-workers.
Some excerpts:
************
“…In one of the halls of the Catherine Palace there was established a large supply depot. Every day people worked there packing bandages, preparing wadding, and sewing linen for the soldiers and their families.
The Grand Duchesses came there almost daily. With excitement I awaited the time when the gilded doors of the huge palace hall would open and the Grand Duchesses would appear on the threshold.
…In my imagination I see them once again, sitting opposite me, as in that long-ago time.
Grand Duchess Olga Nicholaevna is sitting obliquely from me. … I become perplexed and flustered when she cordially strikes up a conversation with me.
…Her manner of laughing… her melodious voice…
Grand Duchess Tatiana Nicholaevna… laughs more rarely than her sisters.
Opposite me sits Grand Duchess Anastasia Nicholaevna. … her eyes do not miss a thing of what is happening around her; they notice everything, and her sharp, at times merciless, little tongue, tells of all that she sees. Wherever she appears, irrepressible liveliness breaks out, and merry laughter is heard.
…[During the War] Palace etiquette was gradually simplified, and their [the Imperial family’s] relationships with their subjects became simpler and more intimate.”
(pp. 285-293)
***********

N. A. Krivosheina concludes her narrative concerning the Catherine Palace depot with the dubious remark: “As far as I know [?], the next day the Grand Duchesses stopped coming to the depot to work, and ten days later the depot itself was closed altogether and ceased to exist.”
(No source given, and this was written sixty years after the event.)

It should be noted here that S. Y. Ofrosimova herself does go on to say that the Grand Duchesses did live a rather lonely and sheltered life.

(But from her account above, it does seem that the Grand Duchesses did use those opportunities given them to socialize.)
инок Николай

Offline slhouette

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #323 on: August 15, 2020, 12:06:51 AM »
Aha great point, I jumped the gun and didn't take into account that Krivosheina heard that story, the "mother won't allow us to talk to you" one, second-hand... I actually don't think she's assigning a fictitious name to the unknown woman, Maria Nikolaevna. The original russian behind where google translate got the phrase "let her name was that" from google translate, is "пусть ее так звали." If I'm correct, the literal translation - from particle form of пусть "let" + pronoun + adverb + verb - is "let her this way [be] called." The use of "called" (звали, conjugated form of the verb звать) makes me wonder if this is how she's choosing to refer to Maria Nikolaevna, rather than calling her something like Mrs lastname...I don't know though, my translation might not be right at all haha. Maybe Krivosheina didn't know her last name? Nevertheless, I can't so far find anything online about staff of the Catherine palace warehouse, so I can't find out if a Maria Nikolaevna was actually the replacement of Putyatina as manager. If I could find that detail I would be more convinced of the veracity of the second-hand story that Krivosheina is relating. :/ Maybe I can email someone at the Tsarskoe Selo museum complex?

It's interesting how Krivosheina's memories clash with Ofrosimova's in terms of how social the GDs were at the warehouse. It makes me wonder if someone is telling lies (Krivosheina more so than Ofrosimova)... when I first read the memoir I noticed that she makes a convincing case, in that she recalls details that refelct real life; for example, Sonia Orbeliani coming to pick up the GDs, Olga referencing Alexei's health, etc. But if she wrote her memoir in 1977, that's about a decade behind Massie's smash hit publication of Nicholas and Alexandra (and the movie too); we don't really have any way knowing if she's making stuff up off Massie's book...

I know Tatiana Botkina worked as a nurse at the Catherine palace infirmary; I have her French memoir Au Temps des tsars. I'll check and see if she mentionns anything about the GDs visiting the infirmary/the warehouse specifically.

I know of the Catherine Palace infirmary, patient of the smaller infirmary S. P. Pavlov recalled "Once the Grand Duchess Olga told me that tomorrow they would not be in our infirmary, because they would have to visit the infirmary of the Great Palace (Catherine Palace) and that they would be very bored there. With her soft and shy smile, the Grand Duchess explained the reasons for this boredom: 'Everything there is so strict and official, that we have to watch our every step as We are in the spotlight. We never liked it there, and the sisters there are so self-important. Only in Our infirmary, We feel good and cozy!'"

@ Inok Nikolai specifically, If it's convenient for you, could you post the text from Ofrosimova where she feels that the GDs lead lonely/sheltered lives? I've been meaning to read August sisters of Mercy, but the university library near me that holds it is closed to the public due to coronavirus...

Offline slhouette

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #324 on: August 20, 2020, 03:36:48 PM »
Hmmm I just had a thought...of course we’ll never 100% know, but if we assume Krishoveina is being 100% truthful and stating her memories as she recalls them, then I have to wonder - Maybe the atmosphere of the Catherine palace warehouse started out as being more friendly and sociable; however, as the overall situation deteriorated/the rumors against Alexandra got more intense, maybe when Krishoveina joined the warehouse effort in 1916, the atmosphere had become much more tense/Alexandra told her girls not to talk to the others. Did Ofrosimova work in the warehouse until the very end of its existence, or did she leave at any point before 1916?