Author Topic: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall  (Read 158053 times)

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Offline Belochka

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #420 on: January 28, 2007, 09:22:57 PM »
Possibly their fatalism came into play then ?

Fatalism may be a conscious action by one invdividual, but it would have been a selfish act, contrary to all religious principles if that "fatalism" was knowingly used against them all.

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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #421 on: January 28, 2007, 09:39:48 PM »
That was the point I was trying to make, Belochka,  Alexandra was very selfish. We know Nicholas was a fatalist,  so they had that in common, but to take the rest with them? Ultimate selfishness, imo.
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Offline Belochka

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #422 on: January 28, 2007, 11:27:13 PM »
That was the point I was trying to make, Belochka,  Alexandra was very selfish. We know Nicholas was a fatalist,  so they had that in common, but to take the rest with them? Ultimate selfishness, imo.


Just to take this discussion one step further, what would Nikolai, Alexander or Olga have to gain in their private knowledge about their impending destiny?

I would strongly argue against the suggestion that Alexandra was so selfish (a moot consideration itself) that, had she been aware she would have chosen to silently and deliberately contribute towards the deaths of her own children. With the help of others she did all she could to prolong Alexei's life. Then it would only appear reasonable that she would have done so for ALL her children even if it meant certain death for herself and Nikolai. It is obvious that she had no knowledge of what was to occur.

Nikolai's presumed fatalism does not mean that he was simply going to stand back and let it happen. He was always guided by His free will and if that will failed to achieve its expected outcome, it is illogical to assume that Nikolai failed. No one has the capacity to predict unforseen contigencies that can intervene.

It is extraordinarily repulsive that there are thoughts today that Nikolai and Alexandra deliberately and knowingly prefered the same tragic destiny for their children. In fact such a presumption is guided by the belief that Nikolai and Alexandra knew where their own journey would terminate.

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Offline James1941

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #423 on: January 28, 2007, 11:28:48 PM »
Since we have only the murderers version of what transpired in those final moments we don't really know exactly what happened. It could be that Yurovsky and others who told of what they saw and did were not willing to give the family any dignity at the last. But, for me at least, the telling clue that they were probably taken completely unaware of what was going to happen is this. When the murder squad opened the doors and crowded in they found the family and servants calmly sitting or standing there, looking at them expectantly. I believe that if they had even suspected that there might be physical danger or death, the family and the others would have fallen on their knees in prayer, saying the Lord's Prayer, or reciting the Orthodox prayers for forgiveness, etc. That they were not in this attitude is convincing for me that death stole upon them totally by surprise.
It was only after Yurovsky had pronounced the sentence that they began to cross themselves and probalby say a prayer in those last minutes.

Offline Belochka

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #424 on: January 28, 2007, 11:35:32 PM »
Since we have only the murderers version of what transpired in those final moments we don't really know exactly what happened. It could be that Yurovsky and others who told of what they saw and did were not willing to give the family any dignity at the last. But, for me at least, the telling clue that they were probably taken completely unaware of what was going to happen is this. When the murder squad opened the doors and crowded in they found the family and servants calmly sitting or standing there, looking at them expectantly. I believe that if they had even suspected that there might be physical danger or death, the family and the others would have fallen on their knees in prayer, saying the Lord's Prayer, or reciting the Orthodox prayers for forgiveness, etc. That they were not in this attitude is convincing for me that death stole upon them totally by surprise.
It was only after Yurovsky had pronounced the sentence that they began to cross themselves and probalby say a prayer in those last minutes.

Absolutely correct James!

Indisputably they would have done just that!

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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #425 on: January 28, 2007, 11:54:36 PM »
Repulsive as the thoughts may be, they are there.  As for going to death in holy sanctimony, very few are granted that privilage.  Chants and prayers are a nice touch, but not very often in practice. Especially in front of a firing squad.
 In any case, we are all speculating, as none of us was there and as James has said, the only testimony is from the executioners.
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Offline Belochka

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #426 on: January 29, 2007, 12:04:52 AM »
Repulsive as the thoughts may be, they are there.  As for going to death in holy sanctimony, very few are granted that privilage.  Chants and prayers are a nice touch, but not very often in practice. Especially in front of a firing squad.
 In any case, we are all speculating, as none of us was there and as James has said, the only testimony is from the executioners.

Regretfully the thoughts are indeed there. We may be speculating by what may have really occurred during that final night but perhaps that is one indulgence that we can all share?

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Offline Suzanne

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #427 on: January 31, 2007, 03:08:20 PM »
I think that we are wrong to view OTMA as passive agents during Yakovlev's visit to Tobolsk and the move to Ekaterinburg. Gilliard notes in his memoirs that Tatiana helped calm the anxious Alexandra, encouraging her to make a firm decision on whether to stay in Tobolsk or travel with Yakovlev and Nicholas. Another source I have read - I'm afraid I can't place it now, it may have been Massie, declares that OTMA decided amongst themselves that one of them should travel with their parents and decided that the best option was Maria (Alexandra mentions in her diary that Olga could look after Alexei, Tatiana could manage the household and Anastasia could help keep everyone's spirits up). Gilliard notes that once N,A&M had arrived Ekaterinburg, both himself and Gibbes advised the girls not to join their parents. (In other words, to continue to insist that Alexei was too ill to travel and prolong their time in Tobolsk). Both Gilliard and Gibbes recount that OTA were determined to rejoin their parents, no matter what the situation was. It appears that the four Grand Duchesses believed their parents to be safer in the company of their children/household and were unwilling to see the family seperated regardless of their parents' situation. As for Nicholas and Alexandra, I believe Peter Kurth's work states it best when he declares (and I'm paraphrasing) that N&A's Victorian mindset made it impossible to concieve anyone wanting to harm their children - four young women and an invalid boy.

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #428 on: January 31, 2007, 03:31:15 PM »
You do not think Alexandra was aware of the slaughter of British women & children in India and Afghanistan. It occured in her generation and was widely publicised as rebellion- against British rule.
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Offline Suzanne

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #429 on: January 31, 2007, 04:30:38 PM »
I am sure that she was well aware of the massacres during the Indian Rebellion (Queen Victoria certainly had strong opinions on the manner in which events unfolded there). My speculation is that Alexandra may have not have considered her children's situation comparable to that of the children murdered during the rebellion. She may have assumed that her Russian captors, being European Christians, would behave differently than Nana Sahib's troops in India. Certainly British press reactions to the massacres in India "othered" the Indian rebels, making them out to be barbarians and ignorant of the rules of "civilized" warfare. (In fact it seems that Nana Sahib's troops were unwilling to murder the captive British women and children in the Bibighar and Nana Sahib instead had to pay the town butchers to commit the murders.)

Offline James1941

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #430 on: January 31, 2007, 04:38:45 PM »
This kind of reinforces the feeling, then, that when Alexandra chose to accompany Nicholas she did not do it because she wanted to be with him and share his "danger" but, just as she said, they would make him doing something stupid if she wasn't there to look out for him. She didn't have a high opinion of his ability to think on his own, and had an elevated opinion of her own importance to advising him on how to act. Puts their relationship in a more complex light than the iconographic nature that it is sometimes portrayed in on this forum.

Offline Raegan

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #431 on: January 31, 2007, 05:44:24 PM »
Let's go back to the question posed by this topic.  

Putting myself in Alexandra's shoes, I think her thoughts must have been racing. And since she was an emotional person, her emotions must have been on overdrive as well.

As happens when two people have lived together for a couple of decades, Alexandra was aware of her husband's weaker points . . . as he, by the way, was of hers. Moreover, his health had not been good, and there was no getting away from the fact that his decision of abdication had been made when he was isolated from her, as well as from many other people who might have advised otherwise. Now she and her husband were not only far from their former surroundings, but also far from the places where decisions were being made, in a comparatively and literally backwater area. If Yakolev was indeed who he professed to be and her husband was taken away to Moscow, what more might Nicholas be convinced to do? How would he be treated? And would he always be in Yakolev's care? Adding to her "hysteria"--a word almost synonomous with Alexandra--were her continuous fears for her continually unhealthy son.

We need to look at the situation not from our own point of view, almost 90 years later, but from Alexandra's point of view . . . or, indeed, the viewpoint that quite a few people had at that time. Yes, Nicholas had abdicated. But as the former emperor, related to a number of world leaders still in power, Nicholas was still very much a person of interest and possible value, despite Bolshevik dominance. And by the way, who knew how long the Bolsheviks would be ensconced? It was a volatile situation, and in some ways unprecedented, although certainly Alexandra also was thinking of how Marie Antoinette had been separated from HER husband and children.

As for the matter of Alexandra leaving four of her five children? Well of COURSE it was difficult! We know that she agonized over it. We know that she and her children wept. But we also know that the overall situation in Toblosk had not been onerous, and that the staff left behind were trusted and just as capable of preventing harm to the children as she and her husband had been. (Which admittedly might not have been much, but there again, what were the options?)

What a choice--or rather, a lack thereof--Alexandra had.  She loved her husband. She loved her son. She loved her daughters. Almost always they had been together--"We seven," as they called themselves. Yet at this point, no matter what Alexandra chose to do, she would be separating herself from at least one member of that tight-knit group . . . and perhaps forever. Finally she made the decision that any woman who still adheres to her wedding vows can make . . . she chose to go with her husband. And, being allowed one of her daughters to accompany her--it was obvious Alexei could not travel--she and her daughters agreed Marie was the best choice. It was recognized that her two eldest daughters, who had served in representative capacities on various war committees, would be reasonably able to manage during the separation.

And that was that. With less than a day to decide, it was the best Alexandra could do. What else could any one of us have done better? Perhaps other posters can offer better decisions. Until I experience my own "Sophie's Choice," however, I will empathize with rather than criticize Alexandra's Toblosk decision.

Good post Janet_W. You made a lot of great points. Here is Alexandra's diary from the day she left Tobolsk:


Tobolsk 12/25 April

Thursday

Baby had a better night 36.

9:10-10:00 Anastasia: Isaiah 38-42.

Sat with Baby. played cards and worked.

12:15-1:00 Maria: J. Sirach 18-26.

After luncheon the Com. Yakovlev came as I wanted to arrange the walk to Church for Passion week. Instead of that he announced by the order of his government (Bolsheviks) that he has to take us all away (to where?) Seeing Baby is too ill wished to take Nicholas alone (if not willing then obliged to use force) I had to decide to stay with ill Baby or accompany him. Settled to accompany him as can be of more need & too risky not knowing where & for what. (we imagine Moscow) Horrible suffering. Marie comes with us, Olga will look after Baby, Tatiana the household & Anastasia will cheer all up. Take Valia, Niuta, Yevgeny, Sergeevich offered to go. Chemodurov & Sednyov.

10:30 Took meals with Baby, put few things together, quite small luggage. Took leave of all our people. after evening tea with all. Sat all night with the Children. Baby slept & at 3 went to him til we left. Started at 4:30 in the morning. Horrid to leave precious children. 3 of our rifles went with us.

Offline M_Breheny

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #432 on: January 31, 2007, 06:48:01 PM »
I just want to say that this thread is enormously fascinating.  All posters have made convincing arguments, and I look forward to future contributions on the subject. 

What I am trying to say is: more Alexander Palace threads should be as enlightening and as civilized as this one.  Thanks, folks.

Mary

Offline lexi4

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #433 on: January 31, 2007, 07:04:52 PM »
This kind of reinforces the feeling, then, that when Alexandra chose to accompany Nicholas she did not do it because she wanted to be with him and share his "danger" but, just as she said, they would make him doing something stupid if she wasn't there to look out for him. She didn't have a high opinion of his ability to think on his own, and had an elevated opinion of her own importance to advising him on how to act. Puts their relationship in a more complex light than the iconographic nature that it is sometimes portrayed in on this forum.

I think there is a lot of merit to this point. I think she thought that Nicholas made one stupid decision when he abdicated and wanted to be there to be sure he didn't do something "stupid" again. And yes, their relationship was very complicated and it is important to view it in the context of their time..
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely, in a pretty and well preserved body; but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "Wow ---- What a ride!!!"

Offline Raegan

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Re: Alexandra - the Abdication and the Family's Downfall
« Reply #434 on: January 31, 2007, 07:19:46 PM »
I think you are missing the crux of her dilemma. It had nothing to do with Nicholas' abilities. It had EVERYTHING to do with the threat of harm to the Empress unless Nicholas cooperated that she was considering.  She knew full well that if they were separated the Bolsheviks could and would use all sorts of threats of harm or death as coercion to Nicholas, and without her around there would be no way of knowing whether they were true or not. This could also work both ways, with the threats to Nicholas being presented to Alexandra as well.  THIS is the scenario Alexandra wished to prevent, IMO.

I forgot to post this earlier, but I believe the post above can be backed up by Gilliard's own words. He claimed that Alexandra said the following:
 
I can't let the Tsar go alone. They want to seperate him from his family as they did before. They're going to try and force his hand by making him anxious about his family. The Tsar is necessary to them; they feel that he alone represents Russia. Together we shall be in a better position to resist them, and I ought to be at his side in the time of trial.