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Messages - Petr

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I would like to know the identity of the person sitting in front with the black pointed beard. My Great Grandfather Peter Alexandrovich Basilevsky was an aide de camp to GD Sergei when he was Governor of Moscow and this gentleman resembles him. Thanks.



Is there any identification of GD Serge's Staff members appearing in the photograph?


The Final Chapter / Re: how close was Yurovsky to the Tsar
« on: August 29, 2015, 12:27:11 PM »
And you would have thought the rest of the shooters were firing from the book depository considering how spectacularly botched an execution it was.
They were drunk.

Grand Duchess Elizaveta and Grand DUke Konstantin Konstantinovich, 1911

Dear Ally:

I was browsing through this thread and ran accross this picture you posted of GD Elizaveta Feodorvna with GD Konstantin Konstantinovich from 1911. I was wondering whether you know the identity of the man standing in the background between them. He looks like my Great Grandfather P.A. Basilevsky who was an aide de camp to GD Sergei and later became marshall of the nobility for Moscow. I have a lovely silver box which was a present from GD Elizaveta Feodorvna that was given to him for his service running her Sklad during WWI.

Here is his Wikipedia page:,_%D0%9F%D1%91%D1%82%D1%80_%D0%90%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BA%D1%81%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B4%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87


The Final Chapter / Re: Was it Murder or Assassination
« on: October 09, 2014, 09:02:54 AM »
I would agree with many historians that the Red Terror really began earlier. As indicted in Wikipedia:

"In Soviet historiography, the Red Terror is described as having been officially announced on 2 September 1918 by Yakov Sverdlov and ended about October 1918. However, many historians, beginning with Sergei Melgunov, apply this term to political repression during the whole period of the Russian Civil War, 1918–1922.[1][2] The mass repressions were conducted by the Cheka (the Bolshevik secret police),[3] together with elements of the Bolshevik military intelligence agency (the GRU).[4]"

By the way, the Civil War truly began in November 1917 (o.s.) and the terror certainly didn't end in October 1918. One needs only read Former People  by David Smith to get a good feel for the repression of whole classes of people during the late teens and twenties under circumstances which clearly qualify as a "terrror" and not political assassination.   


Right on! Huzzah Tim.

The book by Anthony Kröner on General Peter N. Wrangel. It is entitled "The White Knight of the Black Sea" and was published by Leuxenhoff Publishing, the Hague, Netherlands, ISBN: 978-90-72922-07-6.

Margarita Nelipa's biography of Alexander III is at the printers and should be available for purchase shortly.

I talk a little about that in my radio interview about the book, which you can listen to right here if you like:

Great interview. Too bad it was on a Sports Station. Should be on CBS' Sunday Morning. Thanks.

Next book I buy after Griff's and Margarita's books.

Interesting controversy brewing. In his press interview a few days ago Putin referred to Nicholas as Bloody Nicholas, a Bolshevik term given him after the Khodynko disaster. This caused a minor furor given that he had been declared a saint by the Church and particularly in view  of his recent general rehabilitation.  Apparently, this is not the only time Putin has used this pejorative appelation.  I guess Putin is not so far removed from his Communist youth. Also a little known tidbit. Putin's mother was Georgian who remarried and abandoned him or so it was reported in the Georgian press.  Interestingly not much has been publicly disclosed about his early background other than his service as a KGB officer.     

Imperial Russian History / Re: The End of Peter the Great's Road?
« on: February 28, 2014, 02:46:36 PM »
I must confess that my sympathies lie with the Russian speakers of eastern Ukraine which, after all, was the motherland of Orthodox Russia going back to Prince Vladimir of Kiev. As was pointed out, the addition of eastern Ukraine to Ukraine by Khrushchev in 1954 was, most likely in his mind, a meaningless gesture to his fellow Ukrainians (perhaps trying to make up for all he had done to them as General Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party).  By the way, it should also be pointed out that his was the most anti-religious and anti-clerical reign since the early days of the Bolshevik Revolution. More churches were closed down while he was General Secretary of the CPSU than under Stalin.  Finally, I'm troubled by the apparent ultra right participation in the Maidan uprising and, in my view, the even more troubling support from the United States, which simply plays into Putin's hands. Just think what our reaction would be if Russia fomented an "Orange Revolution" in Mexico City. Remember the Zimmerman Telegram?     

Personally, I think Russia should "buy" the eastern Ukraine like we bought Alaska. It could pay with 100 years of free oil and gas (details to be worked out). If the Ukrainians would be leery of accepting such a deal (maybe rightfully so), the EU could guarantee it in return for the Ukraine accepting its governance and economic norms (note that most of the gas pipelines that supply Europe pass through the Ukraine so the Ukraine could tax the oil and gas).  Lviv would become the capital (it is defacto already) and Kiev would go to Russia (or could be split like Buda and Pest). The dividing line would be the Dniepr River.

In the interest of full disclosure, my family descends from 8 generations of Russians but we originated in the Melitopol area and my Grandfather ruled the Crimea for a short period in 1920.                 

The Imperial Family / Re: Working in the lazaret
« on: February 25, 2014, 05:03:57 PM »
Griff Henniger is working on an almost finished book on AF's war work.

The Russian Revolution / Re: World War I - Reassessing the Blame
« on: February 25, 2014, 04:54:58 PM »

You must read The War that Ended Peace  by Margaret MacMillan (she had previously written a wonderful book called Paris 1919  about the Versailles Treaty negotiations). In this latest book she writes about the period 1900 up to 1914 and its clear that the assassination in Sarajevo was just the last act in a rather long play.  What struck me was the ample evidence that the people of Western Europe and not just Wilhelm, Franz Joseph and Nicholas, etc., had long been primed for a war. She has a chapter on the rise of general and popular militarism during that period. She points out that despite the anti-war rhetoric of the Second Internationale, the Socialists in France and Germany supported the War (Jaures' assassination didn't help). Its as if after a long period of Victorian stability people wanted change at all costs. As a prelude, people seem to forget during that period you had the Bosnian annexation, two Balkan wars, two "Morrocan Incidents" and the Russo-Japanese War. While some might see WWI as merely an attempt at Imperial expansion, in fact, there was fear in Austria-Hungary that the failure to go to war might doom the duel Kingdom. Also, it wasn't as if people went to war blythly ignoring its consequences. The dismal results were predicted in Russia by P. Durnovo in his famous memo to the Tsar, in Germany Moltke expressed his doubts (and early on so did Bethman) and in Austria-Hungary Tisza, the premier of Hungary, predicted potentially disasterous results. In fact, despite Wilhelm's optimistic hopes, the whole premise of th Schlieffen plan was to knock out France as quickly as possible so that troops could be sent to the Eastern front. I was struck by the seeming inevitability of the War, almost a deus ex machina quality as if people were not really in control of events as the whole ship of state slid under the waves. Ukraine anyone?           

The Russian Revolution / Re: World War I - Reassessing the Blame
« on: January 10, 2014, 12:35:08 PM »
Interesting article in today's Wall Street Journal abut the plethora of books, both fiction and nonfiction, regarding WWI being published in this the 100th Anniversary year of the start of the War. The article points out that for Americans, unlike WWII, WWI bears little significance although arguably in many respects it may have had a more profound impact on world history. The US was only involved from 1917 to 1918 versus the almost four years it was involved in WWII (1941-1945) and suffered fewer casualties (116,516 vs 405,399).  Also no veterans remain to remind us of that tragic conflict.  As I'm continuing to plow through Margaret MacMillan's "The War that Ended Peace " (Note the interesting title -- her omission of "The" before "Peace" -- implying a much more general, far-reaching effect) I keep getting struck by the question is the course of history driven by individuals (Kaiser Wilhelm II and Nicholas II, for example) or are there general inexorable forces at work which mandate a specific outcome. The "what ifs" keep popping up, as events occur, some quite trivial, which seem to turn matters in ever dangerous unrecognized directions.  For example, Emperor Friedrich's and Tsar Alexander III's early deaths. Likewise, I'm struck by the addage "those that don't know their history are doomed to repeat it" which raises questions about events unfolding in the world today.   A parallel is drawn between George Kennan's "long telegram" outlining the policy of containment (generally thought to be successful) and Eyre Crowe's famous memorandum on New Year's day of 1907 to Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary, warning about Germany's aggressive tendencies which needed to be checked (unsuccessful).  Then, in my view, sadly only three decades later we had Chamberlain's "peace in our time" sellout in Munich. It just goes to show that the study of history is essential and to the extent that Universities are cutting back on liberal arts curricula in favor of more technical subjects we may be starting on a slippery slope which could have serious adverse consequences.                 

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