Author Topic: Granduchesses' Roles and Duties in Exile  (Read 13204 times)

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Offline halen

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Granduchesses' Roles and Duties in Exile
« on: April 23, 2008, 06:27:49 AM »
Many threads in the Final Chapter has been dedicated to the death of the Imperial Family, or the motives of their guards,etc. However, I’m not certain if a thread has been devoted to the roles and responsibilities of the girls while in captivity. Lisa stated in the thread “Why Did they Kill the Children” that each girl was uniquely individual and had taken a few steps towards independence before their captivity.   Tatiana founded one of the world’s first refugee committee; Tatiana and Olga were nurses during the war, and Marie and Anastasia founded their own hospital.  Lisa offered further information that the girls were baking bread in Yekaterinburg, and Anastasia became the family bookkeeper in Tobolsk.  Anastasia being the bookkeeper is new information for me, so I can’t wait for Lisa to come back with more details regarding Anastasia!

So, what were the girls other responsibilities while in captivity? What roles did they play in the family circle? How did they fill their days?  Is there information from diaries, letters, secondary sources that the girls were in some small way carving out their own independent lives?

 Thanks,

Louise

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Offline Sarushka

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Re: Granduchesses' Roles and Duties in Exile
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2008, 07:10:09 AM »
I'm curious whether the girls' wartime efforts (founding hospitals and committees) were made on their own initiative, or if their names were simply attached to various hospitals and sanitary trains? For example, many hospitals are erected/dedicated under people's names, but that doesn't necessarily mean they were actually founded by the person whose name they bear.

Also, what happened to Tatiana's refugee committee after the abdication? Did it carry on without her, or just dissolve? I wonder if she had any news about it either way?
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Offline Sarushka

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Re: Granduchesses' Roles and Duties in Exile
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2008, 08:02:20 AM »
Another question: accounts of the family's separation at Tobolsk in April 1918 vary regarding how Maria was chosen to go to Yekaterinburg with her parents. Some accounts say the girls decided amongst themselves. Others portray the empress making the decision. Still another has the family staying up late into the night debating the split. The image of the girls deciding together is very appealing. If that is indeed accurate, I wonder who initially decided that one of the children should accompany N&A? Were the girls told that one of them must go, or did they decide amongst themselves that one of them should accompany their parents?

At any rate, it's clear that each daughter had a role. Alexandra's diary 12/25 April 1918:
"Marie comes with us, Olga will look after Baby, Tatiana the household & Anastasia will cheer all up."

Interesting that Olga is assigned to take care of Aleksei rather than Tatiana, who previously had been the only daughter to relieve Alexandra at Aleksei's bedside during his illness in Tobolsk.
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Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Granduchesses' Roles and Duties in Exile
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2008, 03:14:42 PM »
I'm curious whether the girls' wartime efforts (founding hospitals and committees) were made on their own initiative, or if their names were simply attached to various hospitals and sanitary trains? For example, many hospitals are erected/dedicated under people's names, but that doesn't necessarily mean they were actually founded by the person whose name they bear.

Also, what happened to Tatiana's refugee committee after the abdication? Did it carry on without her, or just dissolve? I wonder if she had any news about it either way?

The Provisional Government continued the work of the Grand Duchess Tatiana's Committee. Since she was deprived of news, I doubt she was consulted on its work after the abdication, but that is just speculation.

The kind of activism that this would require sounds to me similar to Princess Alice's work in Darmstadt. Again, it's a guess but I think it likely that the girls expressed desires to help with the war effort and the Empress probably suggested ways they could get involved.

Offline amartin71718

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Re: Granduchesses' Roles and Duties in Exile
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2008, 10:59:23 AM »
Didn't they do the laundry with the help of a guard in the Ipatiev House?
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Offline Michael HR

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Re: Granduchesses' Roles and Duties in Exile
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2008, 11:09:52 AM »
I'm sure in the new book on Yekaterinburg it does say that they did their own laundry, cooking and helped cleaning. One of the cleaners (who were the last people to see them alive) said that they were down on their knees helping clean the floors. Each took turns to read to their Mother so it seems that the daughters were not afraid of hard work. I know that Maria and Anastasia often went to the hospitals to see the wounded and Tatania went on tours with her work.

It must of been a relief in a strange way as it gave the daughters a role outside the Alexander Palace and helped them on the way to become adults and only cut short by the obscenity of the cellar room.

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Offline Sashka

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Re: Granduchesses' Roles and Duties in Exile
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2008, 11:53:46 PM »
Quote
"Didn't they do the laundry with the help of a guard in the Ipatiev House?"

I cannot remember which book I read this in, but they did do their own laundry (or at least some of it) eventually.  They were used to changing their sheets daily, and the commandant eventually told them they would need to wash the sheets themselves if they wanted them done that often.  Never having had to do the laundry before, they asked him for instructions.  After unsuccessfully looking for written instructions on how to do laundry, someone was hired to teach them.  I recall the book saying this person was given the title "Comrade Laundry Instructor to the House of Special Purpose," or something to that effect.  I think it said this was found in the account books of the house.

I will try to track down the title of the book for you.

Offline amartin71718

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Re: Granduchesses' Roles and Duties in Exile
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2008, 09:51:23 AM »
I read it in FOTR.
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Offline Clemence

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Re: Granduchesses' Roles and Duties in Exile
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2009, 04:20:12 PM »
I was thinking about this lately, how and where in the house were the girls allowed to do this kind of work do you think? Obviously they had to carry water from some outer pomp? Does anyone know perhaps?
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Offline Sarushka

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Re: Granduchesses' Roles and Duties in Exile
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2009, 05:40:42 PM »
I was thinking about this lately, how and where in the house were the girls allowed to do this kind of work do you think? Obviously they had to carry water from some outer pomp? Does anyone know perhaps?

It was probably done in the kitchen. The Ipatiev house had indoor plumbing, and the IF was not permitted outside except during designated exercise periods.
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Offline JStorey

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Re: Granduchesses' Roles and Duties in Exile
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2009, 05:55:52 PM »
When the Grand Duchesses had arrived from Tobolsk - and their nickel-plated beds shortly thereafter - the trouble began.  The girls were accustomed to fresh bed linens every day (doesn't that sound wonderful), and thus after a mere two weeks the house had accumulated a laundry bill of eighty seven rubles.  Commandant Avdeiv found this astonishing.  He asked the Grand Duchesses to do their own laundry; they confessed they knew not the first thing about it.  Comrade Avdeiv had taken on the challenge to teach them properly.

The only problem with this was that he himself did not know the first thing about doing laundry either.  In typical male fashion (I say this as a problem-solving male myself) he apparently went first to the public library, then to the bookstores, and so and so on, he could find nothing remotely helpful.  He had all but given up when serendipity intervened.  While lamenting his troubles to a fellow soldier, he learned that 'Citizen Andreyev' knew quite a bit about laundry!  And so Andreyev came to hold the title of "Comrade Laundry Teacher to the House of Special Purpose"...  They all apparently liked him, from what I recall (I'm writing this from memory)...

The Imperial children were definitely instilled with a work ethic and took pride in rolling up their sleeves.  They had been taught modesty and restraint, however having grown up in such opulent surroundings, they just didn't know what that consisted of to ordinary people.  So for instance, the IF loved to take daily baths, so much so that the water supply to the Ipatiev House was constantly in jeopardy.  You can imagine the incredulity of their captors.  

These kinds of little stories are what allow me to more vividly imagine their captivity and the sorts of issues that arose.

As to the logistics, I'm with Sarushka...

Offline Clemence

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Re: Granduchesses' Roles and Duties in Exile
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2009, 03:09:53 PM »
In what way the trouble with fresh linen every single day started after Tobolsk? I mean, who did their loundry there? And that about the water supplies short in the Ipatiev House, did they have deposits of water or what? Also I still cannot immagine how they managed to use the one bathroom to their own personal use and also to do the loundry ...
'' It used to be all girls without clothes. Now it’s all clothes with no girls. Pity.''

Offline Sarushka

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Re: Granduchesses' Roles and Duties in Exile
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2009, 03:58:43 PM »
Again, laundry would probably have been done in the kitchen, not the lavatory. Water in general was not in short supply, but the Romanovs' daily baths did put a strain on the boiler, often exhausting the supply of *hot* water.
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Offline JStorey

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Re: Granduchesses' Roles and Duties in Exile
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2009, 06:48:34 PM »
In what way the trouble with fresh linen every single day started after Tobolsk? I mean, who did their loundry there? And that about the water supplies short in the Ipatiev House, did they have deposits of water or what? Also I still cannot immagine how they managed to use the one bathroom to their own personal use and also to do the loundry ...

They had a 'reduced' staff of I think 40 in Tobolsk

Offline Ally Kumari

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Re: Granduchesses' Roles and Duties in Exile
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2009, 03:00:22 AM »
Well, there were 12 prisoners for one bathroom, 7 family members. Of course they used a lot of water, being used to have a bath every day. But for example Alexei did not bath every day - Nicholas mentions in his diary (don´t know the precise date) that Alexei "bathed for the first time since he arrived from Tobolsk".