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Messages - Naslednik

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Nicholas II / Re: Chemical Weapons, The Hague and Nicholas II
« on: September 20, 2013, 10:15:32 PM »
Yes, you both make good points.  It wasn't much later that the grim horrors of WWI took place, but I still admire opening up the concept of nations meeting all at the same time, rather than following only the traditional path of embassies/ambassadors, etc.  And you are right, if I understood correctly, about the successors to the Revolution in Russia partnering with oppressive regimes.

I have read that the mustard gas was horrific when one's exposure was severe enough; pain from burned skin, throat, and sometimes a very slow death. But you are right that modern technology has intensified the lethal effects of chemical weapons.

Yes, you are also right that there is no direct connection between Nicholas and the League of Nations or the UN.  But I believe that the creation of the Hague was an important statement on the value of speaking out conflicts and creating codes of warfare between nations, some of which we finally began to respect (like the treatment of prisoners.)

The Hague also has a personal connection for me and for Russia.  When we adopted our 2 Russian boys, we had to comply with laws created in a Hague convention; those laws were designed to protect the kids. On our end, we had to submit regular reports regarding the boys' progress, attachment and general welfare. And this is what diplomacy does well, connecting citizens of different countries into a system to promote peace and fair behavior.

Nicholas II / Chemical Weapons, The Hague and Nicholas II
« on: September 14, 2013, 08:30:54 AM »
The current problem with chemical weapons in Syria has me thinking about early legislation against the use of these gases.  Nicholas II called on European leaders to convene and discuss military issues, with an emphasis on the huge resources spent on the military that can impoverish a nation.  They convened for the 1st time in 1899 in The Hague.  At this first convention the nations agreed on a number of restrictions in war, banning the use of exploding bullets and yes, chemical weapons.  More specifically, they banned the use of "asphyxiating gases' delivered in projectiles.  I think that it is important for the modern world to understand that leaders have been trying to forbid the use of these gases; if we consider the long timeline, we have a responsibility to continue the work of the past, using diplomacy as was done at the Hague. I also think that we need to give credit to Nicholas II for initiating these conventions, which took some courage; he risked the disdain of other royals, but created a lasting legacy that led to the League of Nations and later, the United Nations.

Nicholas II / Re: A Yardstick for Nicholas II
« on: December 11, 2012, 10:55:59 PM »
Very interesting discussion you all had a while ago!  If anyone is still reading, I would only add that we have to make a different yardstick for different time periods -- to calibrate the difficulty of a Tsar or Tsaritsa's job against the hurdles of his/her reign.  If I were to do this, I would make Nicholas II's yardstick 'handicapped' so to speak by the biggest challenge Russia had faced for centuries, in my opinion: the Industrial Revolution.  He was Tsar at the apex of this (in Imperial Russia) which meant that some problems his father and grandfather faced were much more deeply entrenched, more serious and widespread during his reign. For instance, Nicholas faced huge increases in city populations; St. Petersburg's population nearly tripled from Alexander II's reign to Nicholas II's reign! Think how disruptive this must have been; people moved from farm to factories and faced the grimness of city life, the physical risks of factory work, the facile spread of disease in fast-developing cities, and the relative ease of the spread of Socialist thought in concentrated, poor and discontented city populations. 

My yardstick for Nicholas II is very simple: I'm the yardstick. I could not have done any better.

So his real accomplishment is this: how did he retain his good-natured spirit, his kindness and loving temperament, and not become cynical and hardened?  By that yardstick he is a truly exceptional man.

Can anyone tell me some specifics about the attempted assassinations upon Alexander II?  Here's why I ask: there is a famous symphonic piece/piano piece called "Pictures at an Exhibition" by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky based upon the paintings of Viktor Hartmann.  The final movement of this piece is overwhelmingly strong and beautiful and it depicts a huge "Gate" design to the city of Kiev that was proposed to celebrate Alexander II's escape from assassination in Kiev in 1866.  If you listen to the piece you can envision how grand the building would have been, and google Hartmann's painting and you'll see it would have been fantastic, with the central portion resembling a medieval Russian warrior's helmet.  Anyway, I digress.  Hartmann's drawing of this Gate was entered into a competition, but no building was ever built even though I think the Russian government had sponsored a competition.  When you read program notes they sometimes scoff at the idea that Hartmann's Gate was not constructed and that Alexander II never carried through on his intention to build a monument celebrating his escape.  But I suspect there is more to the story.  I am wondering if in between 1866 and 1879 there were other, smaller assassination attempts that made the Tsar reconsider the idea that he had really escaped death, and that he was still at great risk. If you get a chance to listen to it, do; since we all know what happened to Alexander II in the end, it makes the majestic sweep of the music deeply moving.  Thanks for any information you have. (Naslednik)

How interesting.  I always thought that Chopin was unhappy with the amount of power that Russia had over Poland. (Isn't that what he expresses in the Revolutionary Etude?) So I wonder what his friendship was like with this Russian noblewoman.  Does anyone know?

Nicholas II / Re: Nicholas and his father
« on: June 02, 2012, 10:31:29 PM »
I ask this question innocently: where is the proof that Alexander III was disappointed in Nicholas?  This is the generally accepted view, and yet it seems as if I've seen little proof.

I don't accept Witte's testimony because when you look at the entirety of his Memoirs you see what baggage Witte had in his relationship with Nicholas (well, his wife, actually).  So his perspective seems questionable.  Witte does talk about how extremely animated and wild Nicky and Gyorgy were as boys (he watched them at a train station) which speaks well of the boys' lack of fear for their father's potential reprisals.

Minnie's first fiancee, Nixa, described her eyes as "kind, intelligent, animated."

And here Dr. Malcolm Grow, the American surgeon who joined the Russian Army in WWI, described Nicholas' eyes:

"He had large dark eyes---the kindest eyes I have ever seen" (I always like the fact that he wrote this before Nicholas was killed, so you know Grow's memory wasn't tainted by historical events)

Perhaps mother and son did have similar eyes.

Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Assassination attempt in 1916
« on: November 06, 2011, 01:13:03 AM »
Michael was only a heartbeat and a hemorrhage away from the throne in 1912 when he lied to his brother.  He wasn't a coward, but I seriously question his self-discipline and his fidelity to Nicholas (and MF).

James, interesting quotes from the rest of Churchill's books.  The one about "all sorts of Russians made the revolution" touches upon 1 reason I defend Nicholas: if people stay addicted to the idea that Nicholas' incompetence, weakness, stupidity, etc. caused the Revolution, then we will never see all the forces that brought it about, in balance.  Balance is the key word.  For to replace a 'tyrant' with a democratic leader and expect democracy is foolish.  Democracy is a structure built over time.  And being a citizen of a democracy is a learned responsibility.  I fear that Russia will be doomed to repeat the failed experiment over and over until some of these elements are accepted. (Although I admit that progress is so difficult in the current oligarchy).

I have often wondered if there is any record of Alexandra expressing regret over changing her faith.  Of course, she loved her husband and children, but with Alexander III's early demise, her own troubles conceiving a son, and Alexei's suffering, I wonder if she felt that God was punishing her for her switch of faith.  Her letters to Nicholas in October 1893 so clearly lay out her perceived path of suffering if she did renounce Lutheranism.  She even told him it would be difficult for them to be happy together if God didn't bless their (Orthodox) marriage. 

Oh, I'm not arguing that the war was wise.  But Japan had a war in China 1894-5 with lots of casualities, and this was destabilizing.  Then there was the surprise attack on Port Arthur....The US did consider Pearl Harbor provokative.  Anyway, way off topic, sorry!

My, Selencia, that was an easy little wrap-up!  I disagree with your general perspective which looks too much from a modern standpoint.  His decisions were grounded in his deep faith, which many of us can barely fathom.  But Nicholas was not the only man in Russia who believed in a connection between Tsar and God.

The Renaissance? Read his diary -- he loved music in particular, also literature, history, languages, technology -- he was an enlightened man.  Yet you would say that if a man doubts the capacity for Russia to withstand rapid change he therefore didn't recognize the Renaissance?  Even knowing that that man, as a boy, had seen his liberal grandfather hunted down?

Yes, Japan was a mistake (but well provoked). Yes, the structure of the imperial gov't needed reform.

No, I agree more with the man who did the catastrophe of Gallipoli than I do with you.  Churchill knew how hard it was to be a leader, how easy to make mistakes, how hard to see clearly in a chaotic world.

And who has proven to be the leader Russia wants -- even through change after change?

Forum Announcements / Re: Where do you come from?
« on: September 22, 2011, 05:47:29 PM »
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Forum Announcements / Siege/Blockade of Leningrad 70 years ago
« on: September 22, 2011, 05:45:59 PM »
Hi, I'm not sure where to post this subject-wise.  But has anyone been thinking about or reading about the Siege of Leningrad, that began 70 years ago this month?  We hear so little about it from the media, I think.  I believe that this was Hitler's revenge for WW1, directed specifically at St. Petersburg as the seat of Imperial Russia.  I'm reading "Pavlosk" (Suzanne Massie) and the intent to destroy the palaces is, well, shocking. 

I have a 2 friends who survived the Blokade.  One friend's grandfather performed the premiere of Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony during the siege. People died during rehearsals owing to the effort of playing!  I have got to get him to tell me the whole story of getting this piece performed -- it was a defiant gesture on the part of the Leningraders.

Anybody else thinking about this?

Nicholas II / Re: Photos of Nicky in profile?
« on: August 25, 2011, 07:29:30 PM »
Does anyone think that he looks like Tsar Paul in profile?  Massie says Nicholas avoided the profile because he felt he looked like Paul.  I don't see the resemblance (eyes very different).

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