Author Topic: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated  (Read 302956 times)

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Naslednik

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #825 on: August 24, 2011, 05:26:13 PM »
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Tsarism is a form of government that functions  via  direct action.
But is it so obvious that 'reform' was the direct action of choice? We do have the advantage of looking backwards on events. Put yourself on that throne, see your grandfather's actions + death, your father's tenacious grip, know Russia's vastness and backwardness, and maybe reform isn't so clearly the way to go.

That Alexandra insisted upon an image of Alexei as autocrat is understandable, even with his hemophilia.  First you would have to make the hard (nearly impossible) transition to a constitutional state without losing the monarchy.  And then add in the War.  No, I can empathize with her situation.

My only criticism is that she allowed herself to slip too far into a mystical view of how life works.  But if I lived her life, I might have made the same choices.

I do think that Westerners make the continual mistake of seeing 'democratic reform' as the way to have avoided revolution in 1917.  But how many centuries did England have from Magna Carta to the Glorious Revolution, or the US from Magna Carta to 1776?

Offline blessOTMA

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #826 on: August 24, 2011, 09:05:20 PM »
Oh dear. You seem to think I used the word " reform". No, I said Tsarism is a form of government that functions  via  direct action  " Form "  does  not mean  reform.  I could have said Tsarism is a type of goverment....same meaning. My point was imo Tsarism  was a system based on the Tsar  taking action...and yet the last Tsar  used it as a means not to act, but keep everything static as much as he possibly could " for Papa " and or " for Baby". I wasn't saying : change the system ...I was saying, at least use it as it was might to be used. It was not meant to stuck in amber in honor of the past or in hope of a future.

 I feel Nicholas's abdication of the throne  dates from the day  he went off to HQ  to play dominoes and left Alix visibly in charge in the capital while  she seemed to be  completely under Rasputin's thumb. While this may not have be the case, it appeared to be so and it was no wonder it all collapsed after the Imperial Family made it  known they did not support the Tsar when they killed Rasputin in such a public manner...yet did nothing further. They waited in their palaces for someone else to do something more. They did not have to wait long. It was a collapse of a family that had run out of rulers.   

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Alixz

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #827 on: August 25, 2011, 08:34:40 AM »
Both Nicholas and Alexandra were so different and yet so much alike it their views of the future of the autocracy.

He wanted a no fuss just left things go future.  Alexandra wanted a hands on and let's rule future.  Both wanted to preserve the autocracy for "baby".

But I do believe that the West - especially the US - is too quick to believe that democracy is the only way to go.  There just might have been other ways of preserving Russia's monarchy without revolution.

And Russia did just "run out of rulers" except maybe Kyrill.  He might have been strong enough to keep the monarchy going but maybe not as an autocracy.

I have read and reread both sides of the argument that Alexandra was or was not part of the fall of the autocracy and I find it hard not to blame her for getting involved in things that she knew little about and should not have been making decisions about.

It is an interesting thought that Nicholas's abdication began when he moved to Stavka and left Alexandra to rule in his stead.  Either he had a lot more faith in her abilities than we have (seeing things from almost 100 years in the future) or he just didn't care anymore and getting out of the Alexander Palace and away from all of the cares of State (and Rasputin) that he could do nothing about was his last act as Emperor.

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #828 on: August 25, 2011, 09:00:33 AM »
'It is an interesting thought that Nicholas's abdication began when he moved to Stavka and left Alexandra to rule in his stead.  Either he had a lot more faith in her abilities than we have (seeing things from almost 100 years in the future) or he just didn't care anymore and getting out of the Alexander Palace and away from all of the cares of State (and Rasputin) that he could do nothing about was his last act as Emperor.'

We could add that Nicholas identified with his troops and wanted to be among them and 'doing his bit'.

Ann

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #829 on: August 25, 2011, 04:51:52 PM »
...We could add that Nicholas identified with his troops and wanted to be among them and 'doing his bit'.
Ann
You mean rather than doing  his duty? lol...his bit , his lot , was to rule Russia....or at least appear to being doing so by staying in the capital and visiting  HQ...not be at HQ and visit his capital.  As it was, Nicholas  was neither at the capital or the front  but somewhere in between doing not a great deal from what one can tell. It was almost a vacation for him . Indeed his family would join him there  for rest and relaxation like in the Standart days.

Anti German feelings were running high. They were running so high, even  Nicholas's own daughters, Olga and Tatiana,  expressed hated for them in front of their mother and then apologized. So  leaving at this time of war his already long  unpopular German born Empress and therefore  Rasputin,  visually in charge of ruling Russia was a folly  that does not need 100 years to see imo.

I think Nicholas did identified with his troops and wanted to be among them, our motives are often a mixed up affair. He deeply loved the Army, probably more than anything else besides his family.  But imo he also went off to HQ be with his officers as he would do in other times of stress, as an escape . What happened is not surprising . It was not the sole cause for the Revolution of course or even a major one. But I would count it among the last straws.  I certainly do not look down on him . I have little doubt I  could have done more or as well...but that does not stop one from seeing  what should not have been done if one wanted the State to continue. Leaving the capital ,and therefore  Russia , in Alix's hands at that time was like placing a gas can next to an open flame. No one should be surprised at the eventual result.    

"Give my love to all who remember me."

  Olga Nikolaevna

Offline Petr

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #830 on: August 25, 2011, 06:02:07 PM »
...We could add that Nicholas identified with his troops and wanted to be among them and 'doing his bit'.
Ann
You mean rather than doing  his duty? lol...his bit , his lot , was to rule Russia....or at least appear to being doing so by staying in the capital and visiting  HQ...not be at HQ and visit his capital.  As it was, Nicholas  was neither at the capital or the front  but somewhere in between doing not a great deal from what one can tell. It was almost a vacation for him.

Having recently read excerpts from his diary I'm not sure this is quite accurate or fair. It's clear that he was not lounging around in his railroad car since he was constantly besieged by visitors and various officers on Army business. As Commander in Chief he was required to sign off on any major Army efforts and all senior officer promotions so that had to have required long hours of paper work (which is reflected in his diary entries).  I think the real problem was that he took personal ownership of the efforts of the Army which, until 1917, was suffering constant and horrific reverses. This leveled all the blame on him personally and denied him any "plausible deniability"  (remember Reagan and the Iran Contra Affair in contrast to Carter and bungled Iranian rescue). I've seen some recent writings which heavily criticize GD Nicholas, who, afterall was at the helm when the disaster of Tannenberg occured, so NII probably thought he had to step in.  I also think you cannot discount his sense of honor and duty (perhaps qualities of character we don't appreciate as much in these days of self-centered moral relativism and "situational ethics").

Petr       
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Naslednik

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #831 on: August 25, 2011, 07:24:21 PM »
Yes, I also see things the way Petr does, and blessOTMA I apologize if you think I was criticizing you.

Nicholas was torn between the commitment he made to war and his domestic duties.  I don't think Stavka was an obvious escape for the simple reason that he knew some estimate of the death toll, even if the numbers were low.  He was an honorable man, we know, and may have felt that his decision to send a young man into possible death in the trenches meant that he had to be near these decisions.

Alexandra was wrong to counsel him to take over the Command.  We all probably agree on that!

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #832 on: August 26, 2011, 03:15:41 AM »
We could also mention that in continental Europe at that time it was the rule rather than the exception for monarchs and their close relations to be in nominal command of armies. Indeed, the German command system, where the chief of staff has equal authority with the commander, is specifically designed for that. On a smaller scale, Karl Eduard of Coburg left his duchy in the hands of his wife in August 1914, and there is a nice story in 'The Kaiser I Knew', by Arthur N. Davis, the Kaiser's American dentist. After a large crowd had gathered in Brunswick to protest against the Duke's absence from the front, the Kaiser forbade the Duke to be seen in Berlin, hence the Duke making a clandestine visit to the dentist very early one morning!

Nicholas was doubtless torn in two directions.

Ann

Offline Petr

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #833 on: August 26, 2011, 09:27:56 AM »
He was an honorable man, we know, and may have felt that his decision to send a young man into possible death in the trenches meant that he had to be near these decisions.

Alexandra was wrong to counsel him to take over the Command.  We all probably agree on that!
There are many accounts by officers meeting NII for the first time who were surprised at his intimate knowledge of their regiments and their accomplishments and problems, my Grandfather (who served a tour as a personal adjutant) among them. Such knowledge does not come by osmosis but requires effort and interest.  Naslednik is correct on all counts in my view.

Petr
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Alixz

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #834 on: August 26, 2011, 09:38:00 AM »
In Belgium, it was the Constitutional responsibility of the king to take command of the army during conflict.  Leopold I (Victoria and Albert's uncle) did so.

During the Great War, King Albert I of Belgium not only took over command of the army but held onto about 40 square miles of Belgian land and refused to leave.  His wife, Queen Elisabeth who was a Whittlebach (German) stayed in those 40 square miles with him.

During World War II, King Leopold III also took over command of the army, but had to surrender to Hitler's Armies.  Leopold III was held as a prisoner of war in Belgium and then in Germany and finally Austria until the end of the war.

King Albert I is held up as that most perfect of constitutional monarchs and managed to keep his throne while others fell during the Great War.  He did not, however, leave his wife in charge of the country.  She went to war with him.

I believe that Nicholas was conflicted.  He felt that his duty was to be with the army and that any successes or failures should be his.  I think he did find getting away from the female dominated home at Tsarskoe Selo was like a vacation (as much as he loved them - sometimes one just needs to get away).  But Alexandra thought that Nicholas Nikolaevich was usurping her husband's powers and position and wanted "more glory" for Nicholas and his reign.

How to do both - rule the country and command the army?  And Stavka was not actually that close to any of the fronts.  Nicholas could have commanded the army from St. Petersburg and also been in the capital to know that "fat old Rodzianko" was not kidding when he sent the telegram saying that things were very bad.

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #835 on: August 26, 2011, 09:56:13 AM »
Alixz

I largely agree with your points. No criticism of Albert of Belgium intended, but his rule over 40 square miles of Belgium was somewhat academic, not least because most of it was being fought over (interesting that his Wittelsbach Queen remained a popular figure among the Belgians and her loyalties were not seriously questioned).

I have read somewhere (and, as usual, I'm trying to remember where) that communications between the capital and the Stavka were neither good nor reliable. No telephone connections, and a somewhat inadequate telex-type system. I think it would have been difficult in practice both to command the army and run the country (bear in mind that the Kaiser also spent most of the war at German HQ, because that was what their command system required).

Ann

Offline blessOTMA

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #836 on: August 26, 2011, 03:55:20 PM »
There are many accounts by officers meeting NII for the first time who were surprised at his intimate knowledge of their regiments and their accomplishments and problems, my Grandfather (who served a tour as a personal adjutant) among them. Such knowledge does not come by osmosis but requires effort and interest.  ...
Petr
Petr , point taken. I went too far in that direction. Certainly his time at HQ was not spent all on dominoes and long hikes . I think at heart, Nicholas wanted to be concerned with just the Army. I'm not surprised he knew a great deal about the regiments  he met with, he was meticulous in such matters and enjoyed learning about them . But as Tsar, the Army was not Nicholas's  only responsibility and it was something of a self indulgence imo to have emerged himself so thoroughly with the concern he loved best. His capital needed him too....perhaps even more.

"Give my love to all who remember me."

  Olga Nikolaevna

historyfan

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #837 on: August 26, 2011, 06:33:05 PM »
There are many accounts by officers meeting NII for the first time who were surprised at his intimate knowledge of their regiments and their accomplishments and problems, my Grandfather (who served a tour as a personal adjutant) among them. Such knowledge does not come by osmosis but requires effort and interest.  ...
Petr
Petr , point taken. I went too far in that direction. Certainly his time at HQ was not spent all on dominoes and long hikes . I think at heart, Nicholas wanted to be concerned with just the Army. I'm not surprised he knew a great deal about the regiments  he met with, he was meticulous in such matters and enjoyed learning about them . But as Tsar, the Army was not Nicholas's  only responsibility and it was something of a self indulgence imo to have emerged himself so thoroughly with the concern he loved best. His capital needed him too....perhaps even more.

I'd almost venture to guess that it had something to do with two other factors:  1.  He was persuaded against being "with the army" during the war with Japan in 1904-05.  2.  We are talking about WWI - a conflict the world had never seen the likes of.  Perhaps those two factors also influenced his decision to a great degree.

Olga Bernice

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #838 on: August 27, 2011, 09:28:35 PM »
Okay. I haven't discovered this topic until today, so I'm going to add my 2 cents:

1) IMO, the first post was entirely . . . ugh. Alexandra made mistakes. Nobody can deny that. But we all do! In the end, I don't think anybody can really critcise her: she was, after all, MURDERED for her mistakes. How much more can you give the poor woman? I think that she just didn't understand the Russian court the way everybody else did. In Massie's book Nicholas and Alexandra, (paraphrasing) it talks about how for the first few months, Alexandra would go to balls and things (without the worry of children at home) and she just wasn't a good socialiser. If I had to dress up in a corset and a dress that went down to my feet then go down to talk to all kinds of srange people about the latest gossip (ugh - I am SO not a gossiper) then I would not like it either!

2) For all her faults, Alexandra had many things going for her. During the war, she was a devoted nurse. As some sources say, she hardly ever missed a day at the lazaret (thanks, Sarushka, from reading TLC four times, that word and it's definition is firmly lodged in my mind) although she would do her best to find excuses to miss balls. I, for one, admire her for that - I'd rather do something productive than sit around and gossip. I am not trying to make her a perfect person by any means - as I said before, she had MANY flaws. Stubborn, always believed herself in the right, many things like that. But as a poster pointed out early in the discussion, her virtues highly overruled flaws, IMO.

3) I think that she found herself in a situation which she wasn't prepared for. She went on a family reunion when she was 12, met a handsome 16-year-old, and had a case of puppy love. Then, 10 years later, voila! Thay meet again at the wedding, relinquish their love, and get married. The poor woman had to learn a whole new religion and a whole new language. Perhaps she wasn't a good Empress. But it clearly shows that she was ALWAYS devoted to Nicholas. You've got to give her some credit. And Nicholas stayed faithful to Alexandra, and that hadn't happened with a Czar in, what? A *long* time. And she clearly cares about her children. Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexei were clearly loved very much by their parents, and were a very close family. If they hadn't been the Imperial Family (yes, FA, feel free to crack a joke about that =D yes I read the first 7 pages of this thread) then they would have most likely been a very good family - their nieghbors would have probably looked at them with respect. But as it was, they were the IF, and that's what brought them down - their incapability to rule a country starved with revolution. Really, anybody would have been incapable to rule such a country.

All in all, I think that in her moral standards, Alexandra was a very respectful woman - stayed religious until the end, stayed a tight-knit family until the end . . . of course she had flaws. Of course she did. But there were so many virtues that were unseeable to the people of that time . . . IMO, it is impossible to look at her with cold eyes and see nothing but a flawed, evil woman. She had so many good things about her . . .

And so ends my first post on the "Alexandra" discussion board.

Sincerely,
Olga Bernice

Selencia

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #839 on: August 28, 2011, 12:42:37 AM »
I don't buy into the "Alexandra made a mistake"....and how can any of us criticize her. Alexandra made a lot of mistakes a truckload of them. She believed she knew better than the people who lived in Russia for years including her husband. There was a line of people who tried to assist her and warn her against the things she did but she didn't want to listen and always felt she knew best. I don't entirely blame her for what happened in Russia, she is equally to blame as her husband who allowed himself to be swayed and isolated by his wife. As a whole it seems like both Nicholas and Alexandra wanted to pick and choose what parts of their royal duties they wanted to participate in which lead to misunderstandings and people turning against them.
She did have some good qualities, but like her husband, they were better suited for a constitutional monarchy rather than an autocracy.