Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty => The Final Chapter => Topic started by: James1941 on October 13, 2006, 04:10:47 PM

Title: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: James1941 on October 13, 2006, 04:10:47 PM
This question is about a rather esoteric matter but it got me interested in asking it. Chairs were brought into the room for Alexandra, Alexis and Nicholas to sit on. I can't recall if the number was two or three. The victims were sitting on these chairs when the execution began. Whatever happened to those chairs?
They are not shown in any of the pictures taken of the room by the White investigators. I can't find any mention of them in any of the accounts or inventories taken of the contents of the house. Surely they would have been damaged by some of the bullets flying around, and certainly bloodied. When the men assigned to clean up the room in the hours following the murder, did they take the chairs out and clean them also? Did they destroy them? Take them for souvenirs? Do any of our very knowledgable readers have any information that would shed light on this most obscure item?
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Sarushka on October 13, 2006, 04:56:36 PM
This question is about a rather esoteric matter but it got me interested in asking it. Chairs were brought into the room for Alexandra, Alexis and Nicholas to sit on. I can't recall if the number was two or three. The victims were sitting on these chairs when the execution began. Whatever happened to those chairs?
I've wondered about the chairs as well -- particularly about the number that was actually brought. I've read conflicting accounts. Some say two, some three. Come to think of it, I've never actually sat down (har har) and made note of which source gives which number. I guess that's where I'll start...
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: clockworkgirl21 on October 14, 2006, 12:35:35 AM
There are a lot of conflicting stories about that night. I've also wondered about the number of chairs.  ??? And, it's said after Nicholas was shot, Alix and Olga tried to cross themselves, but had no time before being shot. But I've heard this too: Olga wasn't shot until after Aleksey and Tatiana.

I find it hard to believe they'd clean the chairs. Wouldn't it be easier to just bury them or burn them? And why would they bring the chairs in there in the first place? They had to know that would be something else to clean or get rid of. When asked for chairs, they could have said, "Just a quick picture, you won't need to sit"?
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: David_Pritchard on October 14, 2006, 02:48:34 AM
And why would they bring the chairs in there in the first place? They had to know that would be something else to clean or get rid of. When asked for chairs, they could have said, "Just a quick picture, you won't need to sit"?

A good question. If the firing squad leaders simply announced that the chairs would not be needed then the reason for bringing the IF and their retinue down into the cellar would be exposed as false and the IF would become nervous and may try to escape or at least not stay still. Remaining calm and still was important to those intending on surprising them with a gun shot. The chairs also provided the most important targets of the firing squad fixed places or more exactly fixed seating, center front of the impending carnage.

If one were to examine the history of firing squads, especially of those used in the military one would find that it was very common to seat the victim in a chair or to be kneeling. In the US military during the Civil War the soon to be executed were seated on their coffins (a bit of drama). In 1996, the last execution by firing squad in the USA was carried out in Utah on a convicted child rapist and murderer who was seated in a chair.

David
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 14, 2006, 03:38:40 AM
Excellent answer, David. I had not thought of it until you pointed out the other executions "pro forma".
As for another reason- for a group picture like that- SOMEONES would have to be sitting would they not? It is common for any group picture to have those in the front sitting down so you can see those behind. That also would have allayed any suspicions I imagine.
And what difference does it make if there were 2 or 3 chairs? It has no bearing on the outcome does it? I too have seen depictions of both scenarios and thought nothing of it. I doubt it is a forensic detail. As for what happened to them, well, they were effectively rubbish and most likely ended up on the heap to be burned'
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: James1941 on October 14, 2006, 11:07:39 AM
In most accounts it seems the room was empty of any furniture when the family was brought in. Having been told they were being brought there as a safety measure because there was trouble in the town and the upper floor was dangerous (and as a way of not getting the family too agitated about this action), again by most accounts, it was the empress who complained about not having anywhere to sit. As a response to her complaint the chairs were then brought in. I would argue this indicates that the firing squard didn't figure the chairs in their initial planning of the excution. They were incidental.
Probably when the men delegated to mop up the blood and scrub the floors in an attempt to hide the fact that the room had been used as the execution chamber began their work they found the chairs in the way and so set them outside somewhere. What happened to them then is unknown. If they were badly damaged then it is possible they were broken up and used for kindling and firewood. If they weren't damaged they could possibly have been cleaned and then put back with the other furniture. This would mean that thier signifcance was unknown to the White investigators. Many items were taken from the house before the Red advance recaptured Ekaterinburg. Many of these items ended up in private possessions. I would think that the chairs that the family had sat on would have been prime objects of veneration and would have been taken if their purview had been known. That they weren't indicates the chairs were not known, or were destroyed. It is possible the chairs survived along with other contents of the house well into the Soviet era, even a part of the exhibition, or used by the Soviet officials who used the house for its various purposes during the Soviet era. It is possible that the chairs were still extant when the house was destroyed by Yeltsin's order.
Speculation has been advanced that some of the victims were not killed in the initial shooting and were finally dispatched by blugeoning. It was believed rifle butts were used to bash the wounded victims to death. But it now appears that rifles were not used. Then, the heavy leg of a chair handy, could the execution squad have torn off a leg and used it to batter their victims to death? I have absolutely nothing to base this on except my imagination.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Sarushka on October 14, 2006, 01:35:21 PM
I've been under the impression that the ruse of telling the family they were having their photograph taken is yet another myth -- perhaps perpetuated by Ermakov, Edvard Radzinsky, and other imaginative storytellers. Am I incorrect?
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Historybuff_262 on October 14, 2006, 04:25:06 PM
I red in the Last Tsar by Edvard Radjinsky,
that there was a conference of some sort at the Ipatiev House,
I forget the year, but he said the chairs were still around then, because, they sat in them.
 ???
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: lexi4 on October 14, 2006, 05:40:09 PM
Historybuff,
Are you Historybuffy from THC?

It is possible that the chairs, assuming they were wooden, were blasted to bits by all of the shooting. I have nothing to base that on, but could see that it is a possiblity.
Now, a question. Were they told to go to the room for a photograph? Or for security?
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: clockworkgirl21 on October 14, 2006, 06:01:37 PM
Quote
Now, a question. Were they told to go to the room for a photograph? Or for security?

The two stories I've heard are that the family was told they were getting their pictures taken to prove that had not escaped, and the other is that they were told there was shooting in the streets and they were being brought down there for safety.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: James1941 on October 14, 2006, 06:15:59 PM
There had been a tense and ugly demonstration in the street outside the house just a day or so before, so I tend to go with the story that they were told this. If the purpose was to get them down the stairs into the basement room without much fuss I don't think the photo story would make much sense. It was after midnight, the family had gone to bed, they were awakened and told to get dressed. How would you react if you were told this was being done so they could photograph you. I imagine there would have been some objections and much fussing about this and even refusal. I don't think Yurovsky was that stupid. I don't know where the photo story got started I remember seeing a movie about the imperial family in the Ipatiev House but I can't remember which one. In it the children are shown getting photographed and each one talks a little about how they feel. Was it Nicholas and Alexandra? I tend to think this is a Hollywood invention.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: lexi4 on October 14, 2006, 06:19:58 PM
There had been a tense and ugly demonstration in the street outside the house just a day or so before, so I tend to go with the story that they were told this. If the purpose was to get them down the stairs into the basement room without much fuss I don't think the photo story would make much sense. It was after midnight, the family had gone to bed, they were awakened and told to get dressed. How would you react if you were told this was being done so they could photograph you. I imagine there would have been some objections and much fussing about this and even refusal. I don't think Yurovsky was that stupid. I don't know where the photo story got started I remember seeing a movie about the imperial family in the Ipatiev House but I can't remember which one. In it the children are shown getting photographed and each one talks a little about how they feel. Was it Nicholas and Alexandra? I tend to think this is a Hollywood invention.
I never did think the photo story made sense. And I don't think the IF would have either. The security story does make more sense. I sure would like to know how the photo story got started.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Ra-Ra-Rasputin on October 14, 2006, 07:11:31 PM
The fact that we don't know how many chairs there were and we don't know what the IF were told as to why they had to go into the basement illutstrates perfectly how conflicting and confused the reports of what happened in Ekaterinburg are.

I've read the photo story, and I've read that they were told they were being kept in the cellar for their own safety until they could be transferred to a safer place.  I've also read there were two or possibly three chairs.  I have never read anything about what happened to the chairs after the execution. 

As the room was empty when the IF arrived, clearly the whole execution in a chair scenario wasn't considered as a strategy beforehand by the executioners.  The chairs were only brought at Alexandra's request. 

I would imagine that the chairs were removed from the room and burned.  The room was throughly cleaned and as much evidence of the execution removed as was possible in a short space of time. I doubt the chairs would have been overlooked. In more than one book I've read that the floor of the cellar was absolutely swimming in blood and gore, so the chairs would no doubt have been heavily stained and soiled with blood.  Bloodstains, once soaked into the grain, would have been virtually impossible to remove from the chairs.  Therefore, they would most likely have been burned, as, if found, they would have been rather incriminating evidence that something nasty had happened in the cellar.

Interesting question.  I never thought about it before, I must say!

Rachel
xx

Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: lexi4 on October 14, 2006, 07:23:25 PM
You are probably right. It is an interesting question. I had never thought of it either. There is so much about that night and that period of history that we will probably never know.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: David_Pritchard on October 15, 2006, 07:23:54 AM
While I have no factual basis to determine what type of chairs were used in the cellar, I have always envisioned them as Thonet No. 14 chairs. This type of light utilitarian chair was very commonly used in servants' quarters (which were near the execution room), kitchens and terraces throughout Europe during the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Here are a few links on this type of chair:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._14_chair (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._14_chair)

http://www.patricktaylor.com/thonet-bentwood-chair (http://www.patricktaylor.com/thonet-bentwood-chair)

http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworking/Gallery/GalleryImage.aspx?id=5025 (http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworking/Gallery/GalleryImage.aspx?id=5025)

http://www.dwr.com/designers.cfm?designer_id=110 (http://www.dwr.com/designers.cfm?designer_id=110)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Thonet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Thonet)


David

Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Tsarfan on October 15, 2006, 07:56:15 AM

If the purpose was to get them down the stairs into the basement room without much fuss I don't think the photo story would make much sense. It was after midnight, the family had gone to bed, they were awakened and told to get dressed. How would you react if you were told this was being done so they could photograph you.


I do not find the photograph story inherently untenable, if you consider it from another angle.

Nicholas might well have known that Yurovsky had been a professional photographer before the revolution.  (Family members seem to have had some personal conversations with Yurovsky and members of the guard, and all the family were avid amateur photographers.)  Also, the imperial family was quite used to the notion of having significant events recorded photograhically, and they had been photographed in Tobolsk on several occasions.

Given the intended means of execution, it would have been useful to have the family and retainers clustered together at the time the firing squad entered the room, rather than scattered about the room as would have been likely if they were just waiting for transport to arrive.

So, might they have been told they were being moved to another location for safety as the reason for keeping them calm while being taken to the basement -- and then told they were going to be photographed before departure for the purpose of getting them to cluster together for the massacre?

Given Yurovsky's earlier profession and their own comfort with being photographed, I cannot think of a better pretext for setting up the scene for the murders.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Elisabeth on October 15, 2006, 09:18:03 AM
The photo story makes sense to me. Of course the family was brought downstairs with the ruse that there was unrest in the city and they had to be moved to another location. But once there it makes perfect sense to me that Yurovsky, an amateur photographer, would tell the family and servants their picture needed to be taken. This story originated with Radzinsky, by the way. It's on page 386 of The Last Tsar:

"A man called me after the publication of my first article [about the murder of the Romanovs]. He started right in:
'I will tell you what the second generation of Soviet agents was told in agent school....this is 1927-1929.... at agent classes we were told the following...: they had to arrange the family as conveniently as possible for the execution. The room was narrow, and they were worried the family would crowd together. Then Yurovsky had an idea. He told them they had to go down to the cellar because there was danger of firing on the house. While they were at it, they had to be photographed because people in Moscow were worried and various rumors were going around - to the effect that they had fled....So they went downstairs and stood - for a photograph along the wall. And when they had lined up....'"
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Bev on October 15, 2006, 10:46:57 AM
Either ruse would have worked, but the most likely in my opinion is that neither Alexei or his mother could stand for very long (or at all) so she might well have asked for chairs, otherwise the Tsar would have been holding the son for quite some time - perhaps Yurovsky thought that might have made it more difficult to shoot him, either way it's the kind of minute detail that the killers might have overlooked. 

The chairs are in the corners of someone's bedroom with clothes thrown upon them, the owner completely unaware of their history.  (Just kidding.)
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: James1941 on October 15, 2006, 01:54:30 PM
   Your joke that the chairs might be in someone's bedroom may be right on the money and exactly what happened to these two chairs (Yurovsky says two, one for Alexandra and one for Alexis, with Nicholas standing in front of his son).
It was entirely possible that after the execution the chairs were taken from the room and mixed in with the other furniture of the house. No one knew the significance of them. They might well have survived in the house for a long time, being used in the various offices that the Bolsheviks put the house to afterwards. We know Gibbes took a chandelier and some other household items, and probably other White officials and friends took souveniers. It is possible someone took the chairs without knowing how historical they were and put them in their house. Anything is posible. What value they would have today if they could be traced.
    And I still don't buy the story of photos. Yurovsky surely would have mentioned it in his many depositions if it had any truth, and so would the others whose "eyewitness" accounts leave some question. As for Radzinsky's account that the story came from a former secret policeman, well. It was 2:00 in the morning. There was only a small dim bulb in the room. There were plenty of better places in the house for a group photo than that basement room. I think it would have caused more trouble than help if the purpose was to keep the family  calm and suspecting nothing.The family had been told that there was trouble in the town and that they were going to be moved to a safer location. They dressed leisurely, came down the stairs and went into the room without any concern. Yurovsky says they had no clue what was going to happen. There was no need for so silly a pretence as a group photo at that time of the morning. I however admit I have no firm evidence one way or the other. Yurovsky says Alexandra passed by him into the room with a look that said she expected a bow to her. Olga led the girls and was disdainful but the other three "smiled naturally at us in their usual cheeful manner."  It was Alexandra who asked, "Why is there no chair here? Is it forbidden to sit down?"
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 15, 2006, 02:18:37 PM
Although I initially thought the idea logical, James has now raised my doubts I guess.  re:photographs. It really does not matter in the end, though, does it.
However, NOW I am intrigued about the blasted chairs! Yes, I would also guess Thonet, but is this because they are what have been depicted in the films ? Having had them both at home [hate them!] and at the shop, I am rather familiar with them.  I doubt they would have survived the mayhem & mess.  IF they did, though, having traces of the blood on them would make them holy relics would it not?
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: lexi4 on October 15, 2006, 02:26:10 PM
Who would have thought this much discussion could come about over chairs? I am intrigued as well. I don't buy the photo story either. Of course, I have no proof, but it does defy logic. I don't think anyone in the IF ever thought they would be executed. I think they thought they would be rescued.
It seems difficult to believe that the chairs would not have been blasted to pieces or that anyone would want to use them as they surely had blood all over them.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Elisabeth on October 15, 2006, 02:31:06 PM
Remember the Bosheviks had to fashion makeshift stretchers to carry the bodies out. They used blankets and pieces of an old sleigh, as I recall. They might also have used the legs of the chairs left in the murder room. Anything is possible, but I think this scenario is more likely than that which envisions the Ural Bolsheviks beating the few remaining survivors with chair-legs. I think if the latter had happened, it would have been recounted by the executioners in their memoirs.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Bev on October 15, 2006, 03:20:04 PM
I can't remember - was the house turned over to the owner after the bolsheviki and whites finished their chapter in the drama?  Did the owner abandon or sell it and move away, I remember something like that, but I'm not sure.  Locally, I would imagine that the house had a tremendous amount of superstition attached to it, after the tragedy.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Tsarfan on October 15, 2006, 04:05:41 PM
Where did the original story of the photography originate, anyway?

And, mind you . . . I was not suggesting Yurovsky actually took photographs.  I was just musing about whether the family might have been asked to assemble for a photograph as a means of getting them into a group without arousing their suspicions.

Unless the original source regarding a photograph has some reason to be accorded credbility, though, I admit it's rather specious musing.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: James1941 on October 15, 2006, 05:24:25 PM
For Bev, who asked about the Ipatiev House. I posted a reply. Stupidly I was on the post for "Did Nicholas Have to Abdicate." and it is there. I don't know how to transfer it. I have asked for the Moderator's help and maybe he will. My apologies for being such a bumble bum.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Sarushka on October 15, 2006, 06:11:48 PM
Here it is, James:

In answer to Bev's question about the disposition of the house, I am going to take information from King and Wilson's book TFOTR. I know  a good many posters on this forum shun this book, but I have no reason to doubt their information concerning the fate of the house itself.
When the Whites captured Ekaterinburg the house was immediately occupied, and the investigation began.
Part of the house was used as a residence for General Rudolf Gaida, the Czech Legion general. He slept in the corner bedroom that Nicholas, Alexandra and Alexis had slept in. The Whites made a very through search of the house during the winter of 1918 and summer of 1919. They were very through in making an inventory of the items in the house. Some fifty crates full of these items were packed and shipped east. Supposedly they were eventually turned over to GD Xenia A in England.
In 1920 the Bolsheviks created a Museum of the People's Vengence in the house. The musuem caretaker and his family lived in the house and 'he eats on the same wooden table as the Imperial Family once did."
The museum was on the upper floor, while the ground floor was occupied by the Sverdlovsk Boshevik Club.
The murder room was kept locked, and used to store file cabinets and such.
During World War II the house was a depository for Romanov treasures shipped from Leningrad to avoid German capture.
At the end of the war, the museum was dismantled. The house became the offices for the Ural State University. Since Sverdlovsk was off limits to foreign travelers without special permits, few outsiders visited the house. Those few who did and who requested it were often allowed to visit the house and the murder room. In a report in 1975 to the Politburo KGB chairman Adropov noted that the house ..."still stands in the center of the town. It now accomodates a study center of the Regional Central Adminstration...."
In 1977 the house was demolished over a period of three days. The carved chimney piece from the dining room wass salvaged, along with a few other relics. It is now in the local museum.
It seems that Nicholas Ipatiev and his wife immigrated with the White captured of the town and finally settled in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where he died in 1938. I don't know if he ever visited the house after the Bolsheviks had evacuated it in July, 1918.


Oops. I meant to post this on the post for The Chairs in the Murder Room. I don't know how to transfer it. Moderator, HELP!!!!!

Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: James1941 on October 15, 2006, 06:18:10 PM
Thank you. I am your obedient servant.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: lexi4 on October 15, 2006, 07:04:07 PM
Does anyone know if there was a list/inventory of items that were in the house prior and after the execution? It would be interesting to see such a list if it exists.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: clockworkgirl21 on October 15, 2006, 10:32:39 PM
Quote
Does anyone know if there was a list/inventory of items that were in the house prior and after the execution? It would be interesting to see such a list if it exists

Such a list does exist! I saw it at this very web site, actually. *goes to find it*

EDIT: Here (http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/yelist.html) you go.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Bev on October 16, 2006, 01:31:55 PM
Thank you for the information, James.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: lexi4 on October 16, 2006, 07:37:58 PM
Quote
Does anyone know if there was a list/inventory of items that were in the house prior and after the execution? It would be interesting to see such a list if it exists

Such a list does exist! I saw it at this very web site, actually. *goes to find it*

EDIT: Here (http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/yelist.html) you go.

Thank you clockworkgirl. :)
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: lexi4 on October 16, 2006, 07:47:05 PM
Quote
Does anyone know if there was a list/inventory of items that were in the house prior and after the execution? It would be interesting to see such a list if it exists

Such a list does exist! I saw it at this very web site, actually. *goes to find it*

EDIT: Here (http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/yelist.html) you go.

Wow. That was all very interesting reading. None of the lists seem to mention the furniture that was in the house. But I am probably the only one who didn't know that.  :)
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 17, 2006, 02:14:45 AM
The furniture did not really belong to the IF, so was not inventoried as part of their possessions. It belonged to the house/Ipatiev.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: AGRBear on October 18, 2006, 10:07:32 AM
Since the Impatiev House was rather new,  I would imagine the owner had a complete list of all the items in his home.

Wealthy people, like Impatiev, had someone in charge of all items which was often checked to make sure the servants didn't steal anything.  This includes everything from forks to pillow cases and of course all the furniture....

This list might well have been copied and presented to the local officials who readied the house for the IF.

AGRBear
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: lori_c on October 18, 2006, 10:20:44 AM
Here it is, James:

In answer to Bev's question about the disposition of the house, I am going to take information from King and Wilson's book TFOTR. I know  a good many posters on this forum shun this book, but I have no reason to doubt their information concerning the fate of the house itself.
When the Whites captured Ekaterinburg the house was immediately occupied, and the investigation began.
Part of the house was used as a residence for General Rudolf Gaida, the Czech Legion general. He slept in the corner bedroom that Nicholas, Alexandra and Alexis had slept in. The Whites made a very through search of the house during the winter of 1918 and summer of 1919. They were very through in making an inventory of the items in the house. Some fifty crates full of these items were packed and shipped east. Supposedly they were eventually turned over to GD Xenia A in England.
In 1920 the Bolsheviks created a Museum of the People's Vengence in the house. The musuem caretaker and his family lived in the house and 'he eats on the same wooden table as the Imperial Family once did."
The museum was on the upper floor, while the ground floor was occupied by the Sverdlovsk Boshevik Club.
The murder room was kept locked, and used to store file cabinets and such.
During World War II the house was a depository for Romanov treasures shipped from Leningrad to avoid German capture.
At the end of the war, the museum was dismantled. The house became the offices for the Ural State University. Since Sverdlovsk was off limits to foreign travelers without special permits, few outsiders visited the house. Those few who did and who requested it were often allowed to visit the house and the murder room. In a report in 1975 to the Politburo KGB chairman Adropov noted that the house ..."still stands in the center of the town. It now accomodates a study center of the Regional Central Adminstration...."
In 1977 the house was demolished over a period of three days. The carved chimney piece from the dining room wass salvaged, along with a few other relics. It is now in the local museum.
It seems that Nicholas Ipatiev and his wife immigrated with the White captured of the town and finally settled in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where he died in 1938. I don't know if he ever visited the house after the Bolsheviks had evacuated it in July, 1918.


Oops. I meant to post this on the post for The Chairs in the Murder Room. I don't know how to transfer it. Moderator, HELP!!!!!


I also found information in Greg King and Penny Wilson's Fate of The Romanov's that Sokolov's investigators found rubble in the middle of the floor of the family rooms and in the wood stoves where furniture and personal artifacts had been attemptedly burned.  This included furniture wood - could these have been from chairs.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: James1941 on October 18, 2006, 12:06:06 PM
Most interesting. That, indeed, might explain it.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: ChristineM on November 17, 2006, 12:53:32 PM
The sideboard from the dining room, as well as other items, were bought by Mstislav Rostropovich and his wife and are now in their palace/museum on the Neva embankment in St Petersburg.

In the film - 'Last Days of the Romanovs' by Gleb Panfilov, the murder scene was shot (pardon the pun) on film stages in Prague.   Panfilov insisted his designers adhere as closely as possible to the minutest, known, detail.   He, and his designers, accessed archive - both written and photograph - and built the scenes from this.   This is a Russian film, unfortunately not released in the West due to lack of funding for an English language dub.   I have it on VHS.   Unfortunately all three VHS machines are broken, but the answer to the question of the chairs may well lie in that scene.   Not having watched this film for a few years, I am trying hard to recall whether it was two or three chairs, but I am almost certain they were Thonet chairs.

tsaria
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Helen_Azar on November 17, 2006, 02:07:07 PM
In the film - 'Last Days of the Romanovs' by Gleb Panfilov

Tsaria,  any idea if it is still possible to buy a copy of this film somewhere?
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: ChristineM on November 17, 2006, 03:30:21 PM
Helen - the actual title is:  ROMANOVI - Ventsenosnaya semya.   I'm sorry, I made a mistake with with the title.

I don't know how to access a copy.   Alexander Galibin, who played Nicholas II, is a dear friend of ours.   He is bound to be able to tell me if it is still possible to get a copy.   The film was released in 2000.   I was fortunate enough to be in Tsarskoe Selo when they were filming the sequences shot there.   To see Sasha arrive by car at the door of the Alexander Palace, almost convinced you it was Nicholas II himself.

It was the little details which I found illuminating.   For example, I was surprised to discover the camp beds the Imperial children used had cotton ticking sides (this you can see in photographs) - the true colours were a pale terracota and cream stripe - not what I would have expected.

The murder scene was filmed first.   As I wrote earlier, it was shot on a film stage in Prague.   I interviewed Lynda Bellingham, an English actress who played Alexandra.   She told me how they had tried to prepare mentally for this terrible day and that on the Sunday evening - the day before filming - she took her 'girls' out for supper.   She warned them, 'what we are going to do tomorrow is so awful, it will live with you for the rest of your lives'.   Being so much older she thought she should somehow try to prepare the younger actresses.    She recalled how, when filming began, no amount of rehearsals could really have prepared her for the horror of it all - and she knew she was acting, she knew what was going to happen and still she said it was the most horrific experience of her life.   What only lasted seconds, felt like hours.   Sasha, Lynda and the other actors involved in that scene are the only people who have ever come close to experiencing that last moments of Nicholas, Alexandra, their family and faithful servants.

tsaria

 

 
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: dunya on March 15, 2007, 06:40:55 PM
As I know it, they have been told that for security reason they have to leave - be transported. When Yukovsky led them downstairs they diddnt wanna go in the cellar, and he said they want a photo of you to as a proff thet you're alive. Yukovsky was a photographerso we understand how he came up with it. Correct me if Im wrong. If he was to tell them something else, do you think they would have entered the cellar that easily? I belive that even Nikolai didnt suspect of anything.

As for the chairs , they brought in 2 for tsar and tsarina, but Alexey sat in one as he being ill I recall. They did not want them to suspect anything thats why they brought in the chairs and wanted it to go smoothly I guess. Chairs must have been destroyed in the shootings. I dont think they kept them as souvenirs as theyre being wood and all, they must have taken something else instead.Dont you remember that photo, says I am standing on Tsar's grave, if they took such piture they must have taken souvenirs, theyre human after all and believing they're doing something sacred.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: etonexile on April 03, 2007, 07:10:06 PM
Yes...I'd also love to see the "Romanovi" film...It sounds very moving just from the brief description...I've always wanted the BBC or such to do a 12 part mini-series on the IF,taking the the time to tell their story in detail.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Sarushka on April 03, 2007, 08:19:07 PM
As I know it, they have been told that for security reason they have to leave - be transported. When Yukovsky led them downstairs they diddnt wanna go in the cellar, and he said they want a photo of you to as a proff thet you're alive. Yukovsky was a photographerso we understand how he came up with it. Correct me if Im wrong. If he was to tell them something else, do you think they would have entered the cellar that easily? I belive that even Nikolai didnt suspect of anything.

I don't believe there were *any* objections from the IF when they were asked to go into the cellar. A number of witnesses have written that the Romanovs didn't suspect a thing.

The notion that they were fooled into believing they were to be photographed is also a myth that seems to have originated with the author Edvard Radzinsky. Here's a little more info on the possible origin of that myth:

Beyond these issues, I'm not really willing to go. Speranski spends too much of his narrative spinning off on various philosophical and literary tangents. When he does occasionally get down to brass tacks, he all too frequently makes mistakes. The most obvious example: his account of the murder itself is so riddled with errors that one has to wonder where he was getting his information (I'm tempted to say: Ermakov!). He does recount Anastasia asking, once the family and servants had all lined up in the cellar room, if they were going to have their photograph taken? This might (or might not?) have been the original source of the story Radzinsky tells in his biography of Nicholas II, that throughout the early period of the Soviet regime, the Soviet secret police were taught to use this same technique - telling their victims that they needed to take a photograph of them - as a ruse for taking them by surprise and shooting them. But on the whole I think Speranski's description of the murders has to be discounted.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: lori_c on April 04, 2007, 08:50:42 AM
I agree the first time i read about the photograph theory it was in Radzinsky's book.  But didn't he quote guards who witnessed the IF coming into the cellar, that the Empress asked "may we not sit?" and they commented to themselves and Yurovsky - they wish to die in a chair, let them.

I am open to any and all corrections on this.  :)

Thanks!
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Sarushka on April 04, 2007, 02:43:45 PM
I do recall reading that the empress asked for chairs. Sources seem to vary on whether 2 or 3 were brought.

I'm disinclined to believe Yurovsky made that statement about dying in chairs, but it's really just a gut reaction; I don't have any sources at hand to check. At any rate, I don't believe it's something he would have said in front of the IF -- plenty of sources do state that the family was completely unsuspecting until confronted with the firing squad itself.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: ChristineM on April 04, 2007, 04:12:27 PM
The 'photograph' was probably purely conjecture on the part of Radzinsky.   From the description of the positions taken up by the family and servants in the murder room, given by Yurovsky and Ermakov combined with Yurovsky having been a photographer, Radzinsky, the script writer, probably added these two facts together and came up with the 'group photograph' scenario.

tsaria     
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Elisabeth on April 04, 2007, 04:22:03 PM
I do recall reading that the empress asked for chairs. Sources seem to vary on whether 2 or 3 were brought.

I'm disinclined to believe Yurovsky made that statement about dying in chairs, but it's really just a gut reaction; I don't have any sources at hand to check. At any rate, I don't believe it's something he would have said in front of the IF -- plenty of sources do state that the family was completely unsuspecting until confronted with the firing squad itself.

Evidently it was not Yurovsky, but Yurovsky's assistant Nikulin, who uttered these words, and moreover, not within the earshot of his victims, but only as an aside to one of the guards stationed outside the murder room, Andrei Strekotin. See Radzinsky, The Last Tsar, p. 384. The entire quote from the guard Andrei Sterkotin is:

"They were all led into the room.... Next to my post. Soon Akulov [Nikulin] came out and walking past me said, 'The heir needs a chair... Evidently he wants to die in a chair... Oh well, let's bring them'" (Radzinsky, p. 384.) Personally, to me, this exchange sounds perfectly believable. In other words, Nikulin told the truth about what was about to transpire to a guard standing by (who, at any rate, probably already suspected what was about to happen to the Romanovs). But this occurred in the hallway - the imperial family and their servants could never have caught wind of Nikulin's cold-blooded remark.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Elisabeth on April 04, 2007, 04:31:22 PM
The 'photograph' was probably purely conjecture on the part of Radzinsky.   From the description of the positions taken up by the family and servants in the murder room, given by Yurovsky and Ermakov combined with Yurovsky having been a photographer, Radzinsky, the script writer, probably added these two facts together and came up with the 'group photograph' scenario.

tsaria     

I'm not totally inclined to agree with this proposition, as tempting as it is. The fact of the matter is, and remains, that Eduard Radzinsky, whether one likes it or not (and most of us do not) had myriad KGB contacts throughout the last decade of the Soviet Union and beyond, and it's quite possible that his description in The Last Tsar of Yurovsky pretending to be a photographer in order to facilitate mass murder is accurate. Think about it, is it so very unlikely that the Soviet secret police throughout the 1920s included training sessions for its members that were based on the execution of the imperial family? Even Valentin Speranski apparently got wind of this story when he interviewed former Ipatiev House guards and executioners in 1924. He heard a story that Anastasia asked of her executioners in the cellar, "Are you going to take our photograph?" Who's to say that this and the other story aren't echoes of the truth? We really don't know at this point. And as I understand it, even now some of the files relating to the murder of the IF remain closed to public scrutiny.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Olishka~ Pincess on April 04, 2007, 05:17:36 PM
In stories it says that two chairs and others suggest the it was three chairs.I realy wanted to know how many chairs were in there? I think it's two one for Alix and the other for Alix and that's when Alix said " may we not sit" something close to that I am not exactly sure. :)
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: tom_romanov on July 21, 2008, 01:45:04 PM
i always imagined bentwood style chairs too!
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: Romafan96 on August 21, 2012, 03:28:02 AM
The photograph story does not seem to make much sense. If all they needed was a photograph, why would they wake them up at midnight when they could just take it the next day? Also, the fact that a lorry was present further supports the story that Yurovsky told them they were going to be moved. The lorry provided the Romanovs assurance and the gunmen a buffer to muffle the shots that would kill them. The IF also took personal belongings down to the cellar with them, which they probably would not have done if they thought they weren't going to be moved. But whatever they were told, it was a lie. We can be absolutely certain that Yurovsky never told them to come down to the cellar to be shot; however, he excuse he did give them, remains unknown pretty much.

As for the chairs, I certainly read in a book that they were put back where they were taken from. Then a year later some people sat down on the chairs which 'Empress Alexandra and her son died in'.
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: blessOTMA on August 21, 2012, 02:10:12 PM
The IF also took personal belongings down to the cellar with them, which they probably would not have done if they thought they weren't going to be moved.
As far as I can tell, they took thier hidden jewels ( pillows) and Jemmy. So the must haves at all times  regardless were taken by them.  I believe they felt as long as they were together, the danger to the Tsar was at least  put off . That is, the Tsar would not be shot if he was still with the family. That's why separation had an even more awful quality for them, it heightened the danger to Nicholas's  life.  When he abruptly  left Tobolsk, the children would have to feel they could easily never see him again. Marie was very much needed by her parents on the trip , but her presence  was also a note of hope . Her parent's  " bodyguard"  in the hope only the Tsar was in mortal danger and if she was there, perhaps he would be safer. There's a saying : better a false hope, than no hope" we will weave hope out of the slenderest of reeds

Because  I think  it would be difficult for them to believe  that  the whole family was in as much in danger as the Tsar. However ,Olga told Isa on the Rus  in May 1918 they were lucky to still be alive and able to see thier parents again come what may...one can have an idea, , even a clear vision , but  still think : " but not now". The moment when our ideas about something cease to matter, because the moment is here... is always a shock
Title: Re: The chairs in the murder room
Post by: TimM on August 21, 2012, 04:56:22 PM
Quote
The photograph story does not seem to make much sense. If all they needed was a photograph, why would they wake them up at midnight when they could just take it the next day? Also, the fact that a lorry was present further supports the story that Yurovsky told them they were going to be moved. The lorry provided the Romanovs assurance and the gunmen a buffer to muffle the shots that would kill them. The IF also took personal belongings down to the cellar with them, which they probably would not have done if they thought they weren't going to be moved. But whatever they were told, it was a lie. We can be absolutely certain that Yurovsky never told them to come down to the cellar to be shot; however, he excuse he did give them, remains unknown pretty much.


Yurovsky told them that, with the Whites closing in on Ekaterinburg, fighting could break out at any moment, so the IF were to be moved to another location for their own protection.   It was all a lie, of course.