Author Topic: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall  (Read 168937 times)

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Offline RichC

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #450 on: February 03, 2007, 01:49:57 PM »
And I think you are trying to read way too much into the arguments being put forward. No one is trying to BASH anyone. I can't see how trying to discuss a person's thinking or actions in a realistic manner is BASHING. As long as one can offer substantive evidence or a the least suppostition based on what is known then it is what is known as engaging in a moot agrument.
And, I would offer that this is just another attempt by Alexandraistas to throw a smoke screen up again, and accuse those that don't swallow all the sentimental guff and gush about Alexandra of trying to blacken her name. It is the old if you can't refute the argument then attack the oppostition with insults.
And so what if anyone is trying to BASH this "woman" "lady" whatever. They have as much right to bash her, as long as they can make substantive arguments, as others do to raise her to godhood and bow down to her iconographic image as this poor, faultless woman beset on all sides by beastly enemies who just don't understand what she really was like, and without, I might add, much proof of that either. The majority of people who knew Alexandra when she was alive didn't like her, and some BASHED her, and today some people don't like her. Live with it.

I believe that there is proof that in the very first days, immediately after Nicholas abdicated, that Alexandra was offered the chance to escape with the children from the Alexander Palace by those genuinely concerned for the family's safety.  She refused. Yes, I know they were ill with measles but that was not a insurmountable obstacle to moving them. But that refutes the assertion that they had no chance to escape. And the dowager empress and Olga, living in Kiev, fled to the Crimea because the situtation in Kiev was dangerous and this was made amply evident to them. As for the grand dukes in St. Petersburg, they were trying to get exit papers. Their mistake was to think they had plenty of time to do it, in today's vernacular, they couldn't think outside the box.

That's my point, exactly, James1941, they weren't thinking outside the box.  None of them were and as far as I can see, none of them were ever encouraged to do so in their lifetimes.  Not just Alexandra, but the entire bunch.

Regarding bashing Alexandra, no James1941, I'm not reading too much into this.  It's pretty clear to me.  And the attitudes that some are displaying here toward Alexandra are just as sexist as those displayed toward her by her contemporaries.  I have no problem with Alexandra being criticized and I am not attempting to throw up a smokescreen to hide her failings.  But in assigning blame here for what happened, which is what we are doing, I think Alexandra gets more than her share while Nicholas (comparatively) gets a pass!  Do you really think that if Alexandra had been nothing more than a meek Empress who left all decisions to her husband and NEVER interfered in politics AT ALL that the revolution would have been averted?

And no, I don't think anybody should be allowed to "bash" Alexandra or any of the other players in this drama.  Criticize, yes.  Bash, no.  To my mind you can criticize someone based on rational arguments, but you "bash" someone because you don't like them.

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #451 on: February 03, 2007, 02:02:09 PM »
Sexist ? Where does that come in? Alexandra was, imo, controling, had poor judgement, negative influence and perhaps unstable emotionally. Traits that men can have quite equally. She certainly was not meek & submissve as the Kaiser's Dona is portrayed is she?

James1941

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #452 on: February 03, 2007, 02:18:38 PM »
You have made the accusation that this whole thread is just an attempt to BASH Alexandra. Since I started the thread I can only take it as directed at me, for one, and then I assume some others.

You also make the statement that some are "implying" Alexandra was responsible for the death of her own children.

Give specific examples or concrete citations of your accusations to that matter so those you accuse can make rebutal or try to prove their statement.

I do not like it when attempts are made to broad brush a whole post with a few perjorative terms that try to paint us all with the same color, and when you can't refute the argument try to obfuscate it with inuendo and name calling.

Cite your case in specifics, not generalities, and if you are correct I will be the first to agree with you.

And this thread is not about Nicholas' guilt or innocence, nor the cause of the Revolution, nor Alexandra's physical attributes, nor the character of her captors,. It is about why she chose to leave everyone behind and go with Nicholas when he was forced to leave with Yakovlev. It is about trying to establish her psycological reasoning and/or thinking at that moment. Not when she first married Nicholas, not when they were in the last few days of their captivity, not when she was a baby, but on April 23, 1918.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2007, 02:28:40 PM by James1941 »

Offline Sarushka

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #453 on: February 03, 2007, 06:32:48 PM »
I believe that there is proof that in the very first days, immediately after Nicholas abdicated, that Alexandra was offered the chance to escape with the children from the Alexander Palace by those genuinely concerned for the family's safety.  She refused. Yes, I know they were ill with measles but that was not a insurmountable obstacle to moving them.
That depends on when the offer was made. At one point during OTMAA's illness, Maria Nikolaevna's condition was quite critical. She contracted double pneumonia on top of measles and had to be given oxygen. She was not expected to live.
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Offline Belochka

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #454 on: February 03, 2007, 08:41:39 PM »
Frankly, this entire thread is just another attempt to once again, bash a WOMAN who had a strong character, this time implying she was somehow responsible for the deaths of her own children. 

Thank you RichC you have expressed yourself perfectly as usual.

Alexandra was a very strong person who decided that it was better to offer her husband emotional support. Whatever they would face - they would do it together. This is not poor judgement in my opinion but a selfless act of love for her husband. Under these extraordinary circumstances Alexandra did think "outside the box" of her comfort zone.

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James1941

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #455 on: February 03, 2007, 11:25:15 PM »
We all acknowledge she had a strong will, and she never let anyone forget it, particularly her husband, although she tried to disquise the fact that she considered herself the stronger personality in cutsie poo terms. Whether it was character or not is very debatable. Her brother seemed to think otherwise as well as her own sister. But, you are all welcome to your conclusions about why she did what she did. I disagree as to her motive in this instant but that is my opinion which I have tried to base on the evidence we have, not sentiment or knowledge after the fact or hindsight. Some will agree and some will disagree.


Offline RichC

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #456 on: February 04, 2007, 02:24:33 PM »

You also make the statement that some are "implying" Alexandra was responsible for the death of her own children.

See below, James1941.

If Alexandra thought she and Nicholas were going to be eliminated, then she chose to take a few others along with her to share that fate.  Her daughter Maria, her maid Demidova, Prince Dolgoruky, Dr. Botkin, valet Chemodurvov and footman Sednev. Not very nice.

It seems that you are speculating here that if Alexandra thought she and Nicholas were going to be eliminated, then she chose to take a few others along with her to share that fate.  Then you list six people whom she chose to die with her and Nicholas and mention that it's not very nice.  There are a couple of additional posts in the same vein.  Speculation that she was so cold-hearted that she (!) put the family in danger, etc.  Shall I list those too?

My main point here is that forum members need to remember that at the beginning of the 20th century, Alexandra was the focus of opposition to the throne, that is, to Nicholas' policies.  People did not directly and openly oppose him, so they used her as a proxy.  And a lot of that focus has carried over to today through the memoirs and remembrances written over the years.  These sources need to viewed with a critical eye.  Some of the people who survived the revolution and wrote about it definitely had axes to grind. 

Pankratov, for example, "...detected in her (Alexandra) something completely alien to Russian women."  Gee, that sounds objective doesn't it?  Sounds to me like he just didn't like her, perhaps because she wouldn't give him the time of day.  But just because she was aloof, or even snotty, doesn't mean she caused the revolution (Nicholas took care of that) or endangered the lives of her children or the remaining servants.  By-the-way, I always thought the servants chose to stay of their own free will.

« Last Edit: February 04, 2007, 02:34:27 PM by RichC »

Elisabeth

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #457 on: February 04, 2007, 02:36:16 PM »
It's interesting how Alexandra is called vain, clueless, or "What was she thinking?" for not trying to escape, or allowing herself to be saved by the Germans, but in the case of her sister, Elizabeth, she is made a martyr and a hero.

Yes, well, Elisabeth didn't have four daughters and a son who were completely dependent upon her and her husband's decisions in terms of their very survival. Elisabeth also never aspired to be a political player as Alexandra did - to put it mildly, there was something of a disparity in the two sisters' ambitions, don't you think? And while I for one am no great admirer of Elisabeth (IMHO it was decidedly unsaintly of her to congratulate Grand Duke Dmitry upon the murder of Rasputin), I nevertheless am of the opinion that she was a free agent - she had only one dependent, a fellow sister of her order, an adult who seems to have been completely willing to share her martyrdom. So I can't fault her for refusing German aid on principle. Whereas Nicholas and Alexandra had no business refusing anyone's aid in saving their children, as far as I'm concerned.

I thought Alexandra did sanction a rescue attempt by Rasputin's son-in-law.  How is that refusing aid?  And didn't Rasputin get all his power because he could save Alexei from suffering?  She was trying to save her child in that case, wasn't she?  She sanctioned an attempt headed by someone she trusted.  What is there to second-guess here?

The problem with Alexandra, RichC, was that she herself continually assumed responsibility for the entire family (sometimes indeed the entire nation) by "wearing the trousers all unseen" in Nicholas's place. So, since she put herself in the position of ultimate responsibility - I do believe we should hold her to that after the abdication at the very least, since Nicholas was no longer tsar but merely a state prisoner, while she continued to act as head of the family (according to all their associates and guards throughout this period until the end). As for the pathetic "conspiracy" to save the imperial family planned by Rasputin's son-in-law - it was just that, pathetic, since as I recall the man pocketed and made off with all the money. But that's Alexandra to the hilt, that stellar judge of character - her motto should have been, trust one charlatan, trust them all.

And no, I don't think I'm being sexist. Excuse me for saying so, but women have agency, too. They have the power to make decisions for right or wrong, and they should be held responsible for those decisions in either case. Or are you going to say now that we can't criticize Hillary Clinton because to do so would be sexist? And holding her to a different standard than her husband? (Or better yet, blaming her for her husband's sins?) I happen to like HC, BTW.

As for your other points, as much as I dislike Grand Duke Kirill and his immediate family, they certainly had the right idea, escaping Russia through Finland. And the rest of the family's total cluelessness doesn't forgive Nicholas and Alexandra's cluelessness - first of all, they couldn't have been totally clueless if Alexandra was being suckered by a Rasputin in-law into a putative escape attempt (that would never in a million years have come off anyway), secondly, as the former tsar and tsaritsa with the former tsarevich in their care, they knew darn well that they were in much greater danger than the rest of the Romanov clan.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2007, 02:38:34 PM by Elisabeth »

James1941

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #458 on: February 04, 2007, 03:05:22 PM »
The quote you attributed to me was my feeble attempt at sarcasm. There were posts that argued that the reason Alexandra chose to go with Nicholas because she and he were afraid they were going to be killed and she wanted to share his ultimate fate, the loving wife always at his side.
My response was an attempt to snicker at that idea. If she thought she and Nicholas were going to be killed then why did she take so many others with her? I was trying to poke some fun at that argument, because, if one looks at the evidence no one thought they were going into immediate danger, just the opposite. This is why her decision to abandon her children and go with Nicholas is so hard to understand. I have never maintained that she was cold hearted and put her children in danger.

Again, I believe she and he believed that he was being taken back to Moscow for a polticial purpose, and she feared that he was so weak that he would be forced to do something that would humilate him again, so she decided to go along to provide him with backbone and "console" him. That is the word she used in her diary about the abdication. Oh the humiliation for him and I wasn't there to console him was what she wrote. She was afraid something like that was going to happen again.

Lets set this argument on its head and go at it from a different angle. Suppose Yakovlev told them he was taking the children away but Nicholas had to stay in Tobolsk where he would be tried by a court. What would Alexandera's decision have been? Go with her helpless chidlren who were going off into an unknown danger, or, the loving wife who wanted to share whatever Nicholas' fate would be and so stay with him to be at side for whatever might come?

Offline Sarushka

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #459 on: February 04, 2007, 05:00:13 PM »
[...] if one looks at the evidence no one thought they were going into immediate danger, just the opposite. This is why her decision to abandon her children and go with Nicholas is so hard to understand. I have never maintained that she was cold hearted and put her children in danger.

I think 'abandon' is a tad dramatic. The children were in no known danger. They would presumably follow their parents when Aleksei recovered. The entire family had been decently treated during their stay in Tobolsk, and there was a significant number of trusted staff to look after the children. Considering all that, in addition to how she felt about Nicholas, why is it so hard to understand Alix's decision to leave OTAA behind temporarily? 

None of her family seemed to be in immediate peril. Her husband, however, was headed for potential humiliation, and Alix thought she could spare him. So she went.


Lets set this argument on its head and go at it from a different angle. Suppose Yakovlev told them he was taking the children away but Nicholas had to stay in Tobolsk where he would be tried by a court. What would Alexandera's decision have been? Go with her helpless chidlren who were going off into an unknown danger, or, the loving wife who wanted to share whatever Nicholas' fate would be and so stay with him to be at side for whatever might come?
IMO, she would have done the same -- stood by Nicholas.

And why must we always presume that the children would be in danger? Separation and uncertainty are not fun, but they're not life-threatening, after all. Politically OTMA were of no use, except perhaps as a bargaining chip against Nicholas. Aleksei's use as former tsesarevich is debatable, I'll admit, but seeing as Nicholas was of little use himself by that time, it's really a moot point. What could the Bolsheviks possibly have aimed to gain from Nicholas by threatening his children's safety?

I think we presume too much, based on our knowledge of the imperial family's impending fate. With hindsight, we can see the danger coming. Almost without exception, they did not.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2007, 05:01:58 PM by Sarushka »
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James1941

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #460 on: February 04, 2007, 07:44:00 PM »
I have been hinting at this from the first. She let her political instincts override her maternal instincts in this case. She just helped bring down an empire in her efforts to protect her son from his disease, and now just a week after he has suffered from it again she leaves him in the care of his sisters and servants. Perhaps in this case he was not as sick as imagined. She has also kept her daughters in a padded cotton cocoon to protect them from the evils of the outside world. Now she leaves three of them to fend for themselves with only servants to help them, for who knew how long. Maybe she had confidence in their ability to take care of themselves. It is obvious however that she had doubts about Nicholas' ability to take care of himself.

I am very much willing to agree that if she had the slightest concern about their welfare or safety she would have made a different choice. But is this case she wasn't concerned about their safety because she had no reason to be concerned, and she didn't go with Nicholas because of some nebulous concern about his safety which she had no reason to be concerned about. She went for political reasons. Why is it so hard for
this to be accepted. It doesn't condemn her or make her a monster or "bash' her. It just recognizes she was as much a political person as she was the good mother and good wife. I see no discredit to that. It means she was human, which makes her a far more interesting person than the goody two-shoes diety some have tried to turn her into.

Offline Sarushka

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #461 on: February 04, 2007, 10:21:27 PM »
She just helped bring down an empire in her efforts to protect her son from his disease, and now just a week after he has suffered from it again she leaves him in the care of his sisters and servants. Perhaps in this case he was not as sick as imagined. She has also kept her daughters in a padded cotton cocoon to protect them from the evils of the outside world. Now she leaves three of them to fend for themselves with only servants to help them, for who knew how long. Maybe she had confidence in their ability to take care of themselves.

But Aleksei wasn't suffering a crisis by that point -- he was stable and recuperating. I believe the real danger was that movement would jostle something loose, so to speak, and severely set back his condition, as it had in Spala. Judging by Alix's accounts of the rough trip via tarantass, she made the right decision where her son was concerned. If a carriage ride in Spala had nearly killed the tsesarevich, her certainly wouldn't have fared well during the trip to Yekaterinburg.

And what exactly did the children have to fend for themselves against? They'd been treated decently by their captors for over eight months by then. With their servants still around them, they really didn't have to take care of themselves at all, except perhaps emotionally. They were not in the outside world in Tobolsk any more than they had been in the AP. As another member said on a different thread, they'd simply traded their gilded cage for an iron one.


ps: I'm not meaning to argue with you, James. I'm quibbling over small points, but the more I look at this whole scenario, the more reasonable Alix's choice becomes in my view.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2007, 10:23:20 PM by Sarushka »
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Offline RichC

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #462 on: February 04, 2007, 11:03:07 PM »
The problem with Alexandra, RichC, was that she herself continually assumed responsibility for the entire family (sometimes indeed the entire nation) by "wearing the trousers all unseen" in Nicholas's place. So, since she put herself in the position of ultimate responsibility - I do believe we should hold her to that after the abdication at the very least, since Nicholas was no longer tsar but merely a state prisoner, while she continued to act as head of the family (according to all their associates and guards throughout this period until the end).

Sorry Elisabeth, but I have to disagree completely here.  The responsibility for the family's safety lay with the Provisional Governement (and later, the Bolsheviks), not Alexandra.  She may have "worn the trousers all unseen" in Nicholas's place, but so what?  She still had no authority, or say, in what ultimately happened to her or her family.  Or are you saying that decisions she made after the abdication led to the deaths of her, Nicholas, the children and servants?

Actually, that's exactly what you are saying, isn't it?  If not, what is there to forgive? 

As for the pathetic "conspiracy" to save the imperial family planned by Rasputin's son-in-law - it was just that, pathetic, since as I recall the man pocketed and made off with all the money. But that's Alexandra to the hilt, that stellar judge of character - her motto should have been, trust one charlatan, trust them all.

I thought Soloviev did try to rescue them but was duped?  Would you still call him a charlatan, or just foolish?

And no, I don't think I'm being sexist. Excuse me for saying so, but women have agency, too. They have the power to make decisions for right or wrong, and they should be held responsible for those decisions in either case. Or are you going to say now that we can't criticize Hillary Clinton because to do so would be sexist? And holding her to a different standard than her husband? (Or better yet, blaming her for her husband's sins?) I happen to like HC, BTW.

Hillary lacks the charisma to become President, in my opinion.  She looks like a marble statue next to Obama.  But I think she's a great senator.

And in my previous post, you would see that I said criticism is one thing, bashing is another.  So, I'm not sure where the comment about Hillary is coming from.  I never said that criticism was off limits.

As for your other points, as much as I dislike Grand Duke Kirill and his immediate family, they certainly had the right idea, escaping Russia through Finland. And the rest of the family's total cluelessness doesn't forgive Nicholas and Alexandra's cluelessness - first of all, they couldn't have been totally clueless if Alexandra was being suckered by a Rasputin in-law into a putative escape attempt (that would never in a million years have come off anyway), secondly, as the former tsar and tsaritsa with the former tsarevich in their care, they knew darn well that they were in much greater danger than the rest of the Romanov clan.

Well, then, what should Nicholas and Alexandra have done differently, after the abdication, to save themselves?  Which sins are you finding so hard to forgive? 

I find it hard to forgive Nicholas and Alexandra (but primarily Nicholas because he was in charge) for blindingly adhering to the precepts of an ancient, outdated system of government.  But after they were removed from power and became prisoners, what else could they have done?  One person who could have helped them was George V, but we know he blocked any chance of their going to the UK.  That's one person I find it hard to forgive.

Offline Eddie_uk

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #463 on: February 05, 2007, 06:41:18 AM »
Not to get into it here, but I think it more fair to blame George V's goverment. He really is unfairly blamed in my opinion. Even the Duke of Windsor said his father was never credited for doing all he could. I don't think George V really knew how much danger they were in until it was to late. :(
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Offline RichC

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #464 on: February 05, 2007, 07:35:18 AM »
Not to get into it here, but I think it more fair to blame George V's goverment. He really is unfairly blamed in my opinion. Even the Duke of Windsor said his father was never credited for doing all he could. I don't think George V really knew how much danger they were in until it was to late. :(

Perhaps I'm wrong about that, Eddieboy.  I had always thought that the withdrawal of the offer of asylum was instigated by the King and his secretary, Lord Stamforham.