Author Topic: alexandra and trains  (Read 21082 times)

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Alixz

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Re: alexandra and trains
« Reply #45 on: April 10, 2010, 04:04:27 AM »
Just my two kopecks - Alexandra training as a nurse helped a few.  Other Imperial Ladies setting up hospital trains and the visiting the men quite probably helped many thousands.

I know that Alexandra set up hospital trains, too and so did Marie Pavlovna (the younger) who also worked in the hospitals near the trenches - not in a nearby convenient palace turned into a hospital.

Obviously the Empress had to be careful not to put herself at risk, but to me, her patients were hand picked officers and not the peasants that she so wanted to say loved her.

Much different from Ella, who went out into the mean streets of Moscow and worked among the filth and disease on a daily basis.  I doubt that Alexandra ever saw the horrors that Ella saw and dealt with.  Prostitution and the selling of babies - dead or alive.

There are hospitals and then there are hospitals.  It depends on where they are located and just whom one is treating.

But back to those flowers, Massie says she had whole trains of them sent to St. Petersburg for special occasion before the war.  Did she still do it during the war?  By this time in the decline of the dynasty did it matter?

And as for those Pauline Laws, Nicholas was just not strong enough of self confident enough to do anything about anything let alone the Pauline Laws.  But if I were Empress, and I didn't want my teas to be boring, I would have sent instructions to the kitchen and things would have changed or someone would have been fired.  A grand daughter of Queen Victoria must have had the intestinal fortitude to get peanut butter if she wanted it instead of jam.

Really now  ;-)

Offline ..dlnec1

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Re: alexandra and trains
« Reply #46 on: April 10, 2010, 05:27:52 PM »
Massie is not always accurate, though one of the best still and one of the first books I read. I think those flowers probably came for MF too and the Empresses before. Like many courts things just happened at Tsarkoe Selo and other imperial domains. The Tsar was always giving out awards he knew nothing about. The court had its own ways and just kept on doing what it always did. Also all those in the household and the court needed it to do just that to justify their existence.

Offline Sarushka

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Re: alexandra and trains
« Reply #47 on: April 10, 2010, 06:40:57 PM »
I thought we'd established that the main APTM site had debunked the trainload-of-flowers story as a myth...
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Offline historyfan

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Re: alexandra and trains
« Reply #48 on: April 11, 2010, 08:18:14 PM »
Just my two kopecks - Alexandra training as a nurse helped a few.  Other Imperial Ladies setting up hospital trains and the visiting the men quite probably helped many thousands.

I know that Alexandra set up hospital trains, too and so did Marie Pavlovna (the younger) who also worked in the hospitals near the trenches - not in a nearby convenient palace turned into a hospital.

Obviously the Empress had to be careful not to put herself at risk, but to me, her patients were hand picked officers and not the peasants that she so wanted to say loved her.


Aww, Alixz.  : (  You're not belittling Alexandra's nursing, are you?  She didn't just flit around in crisp whites holding hands of only officers and gentlemen, you know.  She was in the operating theatre.  She handled bloodied surgical instruments and amputated limbs.

She helped anyone who was in her hospitals who needed it.  I read a biography called "Olga's Story" by a Stephanie...Williams, I think?... about her grandmother Olga's life growing up in tsarist Russia in a village in Siberia, her escape to China during the Revolution, the loss of her parents, and on.  The subject of the biography, Olga, was in possession of some kind of medallion, given by the Empress Alexandra, to...this is where memory gets cloudy...it may have been Olga's brother or her husband, while he was recovering in one of her hospitals.  This gentleman certainly was not one of the Tsar's, or Alexandra's "chosen ones".  He was a regular soldier.

By the midpoint of the war Alexandra had 87 hospitals under her patronage in the area of Petrograd.  She traveled quite a bit, to review them, take inventory of their supplies, often unannounced and/or undercover.  She was criticized for THAT too - "How can anyone benefit from a visit by their Tsaritsa if they don't know it was she who was there?"  My paraphrasing.


Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: alexandra and trains
« Reply #49 on: April 11, 2010, 08:42:48 PM »
I  agree with Alixz. Alexandra may have   been patron to dozens of hospitals for all ranks, and gave out those medals by the hundreds, but her usual work in operating theatre was more of a photo op than real contribution. Her visits caused more disruption in an already chaotic  environment. And, she did only assist with  hand-picked officers. She usuall drug    2 daughters and a bevy of ladies along as well, causing more disruption.  Adding  seciurity and photographers secretaries, etc.  her presence was unwelcome but unavoidable. She was simply in the way. despite how much good she thought she was doing. She did more good writing cheques, IMO.
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Offline Kalafrana

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Re: alexandra and trains
« Reply #50 on: April 12, 2010, 03:29:16 AM »
A badly wounded officer is no different from a badly wounded private soldier - he bleeds just the same. However, the issue is how much Alaxandra actually did, and whether it would have been more constructive to get out and be seen around wounded soldiers, rather than confine herself to one small hospital on her own doorstep.

Offline Clemence

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Re: alexandra and trains
« Reply #51 on: April 12, 2010, 11:16:10 AM »
A badly wounded officer is no different from a badly wounded private soldier - he bleeds just the same. However, the issue is how much Alaxandra actually did, and whether it would have been more constructive to get out and be seen around wounded soldiers, rather than confine herself to one small hospital on her own doorstep.

had she managed to stay out of public affairs everyone would appreciated - no matter what she chose to do in or around hospitals and patients.
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Offline ..dlnec1

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Re: alexandra and trains
« Reply #52 on: April 12, 2010, 06:14:43 PM »
By the time anything she did was wrong, it was I am afraid to late.

Offline Michael HR

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Re: alexandra and trains
« Reply #53 on: April 13, 2010, 07:06:17 AM »
If the Empress managed to save just one life with her work them it was worth while. I agree the Empress could never do anything right in the eyes of Russia, poor lady.
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Offline Eddie_uk

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Re: alexandra and trains
« Reply #54 on: April 13, 2010, 11:07:38 AM »
If the Empress managed to save just one life with her work them it was worth while. I agree the Empress could never do anything right in the eyes of Russia, poor lady.

Exactly Michael, some people are never happy are they? Any reason to critique! Considering Alexandra was Empress and found time, however little, for nursing is indeed commendable. I would recommend & refer anyone t Alexandras letters which provides a good insight into her nursing.
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Offline griffh

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Re: alexandra and trains
« Reply #55 on: April 18, 2010, 07:35:06 PM »

I don't make it a practice of contributing to other threads because I have more to do than I can even keep up with on my own thread and besides I think it is indecorous for me as I have that forum.  However, I am making an exception as a friend asked if I might share some of the research on flowers from the Empress' War Correspondence.   

As far as I can tell there is no mention of the Empress ordering flowers from Crimea in the War Correspondence.  It also appears that the flowers that Alix ordered were all from local sources and came either from Petrograd florists or from greenhouses and gardens at Peterhof. 


The Empress tells us:

No. 347/Her No. 321 [Fuhrmann]. No. 89 [Duckworth]. Tsarskoe Selo, June 17, 1915.
Am surrounded by masses of roses (just sent fr. Peterhof & sweetpeas - the smell is a dream, wish I could send them to you. -

No. 492/Her No. 359 [Fuhrmann]. No. 127 [Duckworth]. Tsarskoe Selo, Sept. 19, 1915.
– no flowers to be had in town nor here


The only mention of flowers being received by the Empress' from her "beloved Livadia" occurs in April 1915.  Whilst Nicky was reviewing his Army and Navy in Sevastopol, Alix tells her husband that Mme. Janov had sent her flowers.

As it turns out Nicky had also sent Alix lilacs: 

No. 277/Her No. 303 [Fuhrmann]. No. 71 [Duckworth]. Tsarskoe Selo, April 19th, 1915.
Yesterday Mme Janov sent us flowers from beloved Livadia - glycinias, golden raindrops, lilac iris wh. have opened this morning, lilac & red Italians anemonies wh. I used to paint & now want to again - Judas tree little branches, one pioni & tulips. To see them in ones vases makes me quite melancholy. Does it not seem strange, hatred & bloodshed & all the horrors of war-& simply Paradise, sunshine & flowers and peace--such a mercy but such a contrast.   

...After luncheon I lay knitting for an hour on the balkony, but the sun was gone & it was cold.  Ania sat with me from 1 1/2 - 3 1/4 -- Such tender thanks for the divine lilacs--such perfume!

Thanks over & over again from us all--I gave Ania some too...


Though the Empress was saddened in September by the absence of flowers in Petrograd, by October, Alix had put aside her personal feelings and was deeply offended by those individuals who were receiving masses of flowers by rail and thereby interfering with the transport of vital goods.  Such selfishness and self indulgence deeply offended her sense of moral values and good judgment.

Alix write Nicky:
No. 531/Her No. 369 [Fuhrmann]. No. 137 [Duckworth]. Tsarskoe Selo, Oct. 8, 1915.
Well, about the Tail. I spoke to him concerning flour, sugar, wh.. are scarcely & butter, wh. is lacking now in Petrograd when cars full are sticking in Siberia. He says its Rukhlov this all concerns, he has to see & give the order to let the waggons pass. Instead of all these necessary products, waggons [railway trains] with flowers & fruit pass wh. really is a shame.

[Fuhrmann footnote 165.] 
Here we see an argument between two ministries as to which was responsible for a problem.  Minister of Communications S. V. Rukhlov controlled railroads, which gave him a role in supplying cities.  The ministry of internal affairs included the police--might be used to see that supplies got to their destinations.  It is not clear if A. N. Khvostov, who was formally appointed Minster of the Interior on November 23/December 4, 1915--wanted to invade Rukhov's turf or to avoid helping him.  Alexandra here conveys a thought gotten from Rasputin: Siberia (and other rural areas) had food and fuel in abundance at this time; urban shortages were due to transportation inadequacies, not a lack of goods. 


Below are the only other times the Empress mentions flowers in the her letters to December 1915; other than those flowers that she sent to friends or to funerals are as follows:

No. 420 [Fuhrmann] Unnumbered [Hines/Vulliamy] Mogilev. 31 August 1915.
Your charming flowers, which you gave me in the train, are still standing on my table before me they have only faded a little. That is touching, is it not?  Nicky

No. 430/Her No. 344 [Fuhrmann]. No. 112 [Duckworth]. Tsarskoe Selo, Sept. 4, 1915.
Send you some flowers, cut the stalks a little, then they will last longer.

No. 438/Telegram 55. Stavka> Tsarskoe Selo. 6 Sept 1915. 4.58> 5.55 p.m.
...and the flowers, which have arrived quite fresh.  Nicky

No. 466/Her No. 353. [Fuhrmann]. No. 121 [Duckworth]. Tsarskoe Selo, Sept. 13, 1915.
...and am sending you flowers again – the frezia last very long and every bud will open in your vase. –


Offline griffh

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Re: alexandra and trains
« Reply #56 on: April 18, 2010, 07:37:00 PM »
[letters continued]

No. 478/Her No. 356. [Fuhrmann]. No. 124 [Duckworth].  Tsarskoe Selo, Sept. 16, 1915.
I am so glad the flowers arrive fresh – they cheer up the room and they come out of my vases with all love and tenderness.

No. 571/Her No. 379. [Fuhrmann]. No. 148 [Duckworth]. Tsarskoe Selo, Nov. 3, 1915.  
Here I send you some flowers to accompany you upon your journey - they stood the day in my room and breathed the same air as your old Sunny, fresias last long in a glass.

No. 619/Telegram 57.  Stavka> Tsarskoe Selo.  17 Nov 1915.  2.43> 3.30 p.m.
Your flowers are quite fresh. Niki

No. 650/Her No. 401 [Fuhrmann]. No. 169 [Duckworth]. Tsarskoe Selo, Dec. 2, 1915.
Heart and soul ever with you my beloved Angel, also a few flowers - the others must have faded, as yesterday it was a week that you left us.

No. 666/Her no. 404 [Fuhrmann]. No. 173 [Duckworth]. Tsarskoe Selo,  Dec. 13, 1915.
I kissed one of our little pink flowers & enclose it in this letter.

No. 697/Her No. 413 [Fuhrmann]. No. 181 [Duckworth]. Tsarskoe Selo, Dec. 22, 1915.
-- I enclose a violet, snowdrop & other smelling buds from there. -

No. 702/Her No. 414 [Fuhrmann]. No. 182 [Duckworth]. Tsarskoe Selo,  Dec. 30, 1915.
Goodbye my Angel, Husband of my heart I envy my flowers that will accompany you.


I think it is clear that where ever those stories came from about the Empress are based on slander and certainly do not correspond to the actual facts of the Empress' character as revealed in her letters. 

The fact that the Empress expressed such strong feelings about sending masses of flowers by rail and thereby interfering with the transport of vital goods (the practice of which, we know from her Oct. 1915 letter, deeply offended her sense of ethics and practical wisdom) is sufficient evidence that she did not act in contradiction to her views on the subject. 

The other evidence in favor of the Empress aversion to filling her salons with flowers from Livadia is discernable from the evidence we have: i.e. that the flowers that Mme. Janov sent from Livadia depressed the Empress.  This begs the question, even if the Empress was oblivious of the ethical question about transporting luxuries during a railroad supply crisis, would she have supplied her rooms with masses of flowers from her 'beloved Livadia' that made her miserable?

The other thing that we are able to measure and gage is the actual amount of flowers the Empress sent the Tsar at Stavka.  Clearly the amount did not exceed a vase full that could easily be sent without taking up any room or create any delay of goods. 

Well I hope that this research will help establish an informed view of the Empress' character, for after all, isn't that finally what this discussion is about. 

I will try to update this information when I have completed the 1916 correspondence.  I hope the research will be helpful.  I shall try to update the information as I progress to 1917.


Alixz

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Re: alexandra and trains
« Reply #57 on: April 20, 2010, 09:11:00 AM »
The other evidence in favor of the Empress aversion to filling her salons with flowers from Livadia is discernible from the evidence we have: i.e. that the flowers that Mme. Janov sent from Livadia depressed the Empress.  This begs the question, even if the Empress was oblivious of the ethical question about transporting luxuries during a railroad supply crisis, would she have supplied her rooms with masses of flowers from her 'beloved Livadia' that made her miserable?



I don't think that the flowers made her "miserable".  No more than one of us finding a flower pressed into an old book from a dance that we had forgotten about.  It brings "melancholy" not depression or misery.  A fleeting thought of what had been long ago and is no more.  A sad and poignant thought with a whisper of "this is how I used to feel" mixed in.