Author Topic: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited  (Read 20848 times)

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Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited
« Reply #45 on: May 27, 2009, 03:35:36 PM »
To continue the above, this is what King and Wilson mean by calling the "Lenin did it" conclusion a "simplistic reading of history".  They are quite right.  The need to blame Lenin for the death of the Romanovs (very transparent in some of the earlier accounts) should not cloud an examination of the actual facts, is what they mean to say.  But unfortunately, in drawing their own (purely speculative) conclusions, King and Wilson ultimately err on the side of the opposite extreme of the question: 

While I thank you for the overall balance of your comments, I dispute the use of the term "purely speculative". In the absence of a smoking gun, the theory is no more speculative than anyone else's, and that section of the book was based on tightly-worked timeline of events which assessed what was possible and what was not in terms of telegrams sent or received: it is that timeline rather than speculation which underpinned the thesis, whether one agrees or not.
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Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited
« Reply #46 on: May 27, 2009, 07:03:18 PM »
To continue the above, this is what King and Wilson mean by calling the "Lenin did it" conclusion a "simplistic reading of history".  They are quite right.  The need to blame Lenin for the death of the Romanovs (very transparent in some of the earlier accounts) should not cloud an examination of the actual facts, is what they mean to say.  But unfortunately, in drawing their own (purely speculative) conclusions, King and Wilson ultimately err on the side of the opposite extreme of the question: 

While I thank you for the overall balance of your comments, I dispute the use of the term "purely speculative". In the absence of a smoking gun, the theory is no more speculative than anyone else's, and that section of the book was based on tightly-worked timeline of events which assessed what was possible and what was not in terms of telegrams sent or received: it is that timeline rather than speculation which underpinned the thesis, whether one agrees or not.

Indeed. And, as I recall, you reviewed the timeline carefully for King and Wilson to assess what was and was not possible given the conditions in the Summer of 1918, correct?

Offline JStorey

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Re: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited
« Reply #47 on: May 28, 2009, 01:41:51 AM »
King and Wilson have absolutely no qualms about describing various historian's conclusions as "far from convincing"; I am sure they do not expect an exemption from same.  I intentionally use the word "speculative" in reference to an earlier portion of this thread, which essentially made your very point.

The telegram sent to Moscow:  "Inform Moscow that due to military conditions which cannot be delayed, the trial agreed upon with Philip cannot now wait.  If your opinion differs, inform immediately."

Notice that no reply in this case is confirmation; he's not asking for permission because he's already received it in Moscow.  And of course "trial" is a codeword for execution.  Therefore breaking down Hughes telegraph unreliability into a timeline is an irrelevant exercise. 

Back to the chapter:  "...It has been suggested that "trial" was simply a codeword for the murder of the Romanovs, previously agreed on by Moscow while Goloshchokin was staying with Sverdlov... this interpretation, however, rests on the assumption that Moscow had authorized the slaughter of all of the prisoners, something unsupported by the evidence." (p.291)

Unsupported by the evidence... Really? I would argue precisely the opposite. 

The above "evidence", if you examine their sources (which I have) is almost exclusively provided by Kudrin and Voikov, two members of the Ural Soviet who weren't even in Moscow.  I am sure, like everyone else, they were eager to take credit for Ekaterinburg's role in the murder.  In other words, their "evidence" regarding just what Sverdlov told Goloshchokin in Moscow is selective hearsay, and hence the entire line of reasoning relies on speculation.

As the chapter goes on, King and Wilson are somehow able to explain away a statement from Yurovsky himself confirming the Moscow origins of the order, and to discount a similar statement from Trotsky!  And of course they spend a few pages trying to argue how Lenin really wanted a public trial, how he wasn't really interested, etc.  Sorry, I don't buy it.  But I have absolutely no problem if you do; obviously there is a healthy range of opinion on this particular subject. 

- JT Storey


Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited
« Reply #48 on: May 29, 2009, 07:06:34 AM »
King and Wilson have absolutely no qualms about describing various historian's conclusions as "far from convincing"; I am sure they do not expect an exemption from same.  I intentionally use the word "speculative" in reference to an earlier portion of this thread

No, course not - but the quibbles are mine and mine alone! :-) (Greg King does not and probably for technical reasons *can*not read this foourm, and I am not in touch with Penny). And indeed my points relate to that word "speculative", which may be a matter of semantics but is a little different to being unconvinced by the evidence someone presents. 
I also have no problem if you don't agree with what I say, but to me it is fair and reasonable for a historian to doubt the veracity of witness statements (such as Trotsky's) if they deem these undermined by the chronology of events. One may not find the evidence in FOTR convincing, but it's more solid than mere "speculation", so, anyway, I stand by what I said.

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Offline AGRBear

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Re: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited
« Reply #49 on: May 29, 2009, 11:40:42 AM »
Can we agree on this:  >>It is not speculation that Yurovsky, Goloschehekins, Berzin, Sverdlov and Lenin had personally spoken to each other from June to July of 1918. << ?

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Offline JStorey

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Re: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited
« Reply #50 on: May 29, 2009, 02:29:05 PM »
Janet Ashton - I bristled a bit myself earlier at the use of the same word, therefore I vote we strike "speculation" from the record! 

I think this thread has served its purpose well in outlining the range of viewpoint, establishing the evidence, and then offering interpretation and analysis of that evidence.      There is of course no default answer. 

Having made my own position known I'm going to now take a back seat but I read others' ideas with interest.

Offline Silja

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Re: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited
« Reply #51 on: May 30, 2009, 04:51:17 PM »
I would still like to know how Trotzky's diary entry about Lenin and Sverdlovsk having decided the assassination of the Romanovs is being assessed! So do those who believe that the decision originated in Ekaterinburg assume Trotzky's statement is unreliable? And if so, why?

Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited
« Reply #52 on: May 30, 2009, 07:50:07 PM »
I would still like to know how Trotzky's diary entry about Lenin and Sverdlovsk having decided the assassination of the Romanovs is being assessed! So do those who believe that the decision originated in Ekaterinburg assume Trotzky's statement is unreliable? And if so, why?

I would not say my view is that Trotsky is unreliable, it's just third hand at best when it comes to Lenin. Ever hear about how information gets distorted in retelling? Trotsky wrote in his diary (which he knew would be of some historic interest) that Sverdlov had told him that Lenin and he had decided to not leave any live banners for the Whites to rally around.

We have as yet discovered nothing but this as a paper trail for Lenin's direct involvement. Sverdlov was not in a position to contradict Comrade Trotsky - he was attacked by a worker in March 1919 and died- and we don't know why. By the time the diary was published, Lenin and Sverdlov were both in the ground.

Do Bolsheviks lie? Is the Pope Catholic?

There is a possibility that Trotsky reported what he knew entirely accurately. But, there is and was no way as yet to corroborate the information. In evaluating Bolshevik sources, one finds many lies and many truths. How can we tell which is which? Corroboration.

Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited
« Reply #53 on: May 31, 2009, 04:43:41 AM »
Janet Ashton - I bristled a bit myself earlier at the use of the same word, therefore I vote we strike "speculation" from the record! 





That's cool - thank you for your balance and integrity in this discussion! :-)
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Offline RichC

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Re: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited
« Reply #54 on: May 31, 2009, 02:34:20 PM »
I would still like to know how Trotzky's diary entry about Lenin and Sverdlovsk having decided the assassination of the Romanovs is being assessed! So do those who believe that the decision originated in Ekaterinburg assume Trotzky's statement is unreliable? And if so, why?

Silja, the problem with Trotsky's diary entry was 1) it was made in April, 1935 rather than 1918, so 17 years had passed and he was remembering a conversation with the long dead Sverdlov.

2) Trotsky explains that the reason for the conversation with Sverdlov is he was "catching up" on events in Moscow as he (Trotsky) had been away from Moscow for most of the month of July and had not returned to Moscow until after the fall of Ekaterinburg on July 25th.  The problem is that the Soviet archives show Trotsky as being "present" at a meeting of the Sovnarkom (Council of the People's Commisars) in Moscow on July 18th.  This was the meeting where the Tsar's execution was reported by Sverdlov.  So, the minutes of the meeting do not corroborate Trotsky's claim that he was out of town.  And if he wasn't out of town, ergo, no need for "catching up" with Sverdlov.

All the same, I'm one of those in the camp of believers that the execution order came from Moscow. 

Offline AGRBear

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Re: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited
« Reply #55 on: June 04, 2009, 12:53:29 PM »
Unlike today,  we can pull our of our computer a list of dates for any events which have occurred and are scheduled.  Trotsky didn't.  So he probably was in error, or, was he?  Several questions pop into my head, having attended many meetings of different organizations.  Did the sec./ or whomever it was, who wrote that Trotsky was present at the meeting on July 18th, do so because Trotsky was there or did he do so because there was need of a majority vote and so he was signed in without being present.  Today,  we sign proxy notes an give our vote to a fellow board member.  Then.... Well,  things were not always done in the true sense of  what's honest or dishonest in the Bolshevik Party.

Trotsky had been away.  Are there any other records which might show he hadn't returned to Moscow by the 18th but was on his way home or doing something else somewhere else?  I have only one book on Trostsky and it doesn't give me any information about his timeline.

Or, Trotsky just didn't remember he was present and was recalling a later "catching up" conversation with Sverdlov.

AGRBear
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Offline JStorey

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Re: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited
« Reply #56 on: June 04, 2009, 02:29:22 PM »
For reference:  Trotsky, Diary in Exile, p. 80-81:

"The White press at one time hotly debated the question of who it was that ordered the execution of the Tsar's family.  The liberals, it seemed, inclined to the opinion that the Ural Regional Committee, being cut off from Moscow, had acted independently.  That is not correct.  The resolution was adopted in Moscow.  The affair took place during a very critical period of the Civil War, when I was spending almost all my time at the Front, and my recollections about the case of the Tsar's family are rather fragmentary...  My next visit to Moscow took place after the fall of Ekaterinburg.  Talking to Sverdlov, I asked in passing, "Oh yes, and where is the Tsar?"  "It's all over," he answered, "he has been shot."  "And where is the family?"  "And the family along with them."  "All of them?" I asked, apparently with a touch of surprise.  "All of them," replied Sverdlov, "what about it?"  He was waiting to see my reaction.  I made no reply.  "And who made the decision?" I asked.  "We decided it here.  Ilyich [Lenin] believed that we shouldn't leave the Whites a live banner to rally round, especially under the present difficult circumstances."  I did not ask any further questions, and considered the matter closed."

1920 Yurovsky note:  "On July 16, a cable in previously agreed-upon language arrived from Perm, containing the order to execute the Romanovs."

King and Wilson analysis of both of above is in FOTR pp. 292-295.  I have my own thoughts, naturally, and would be happy to provide them... But for now, back to my self-imposed exile!  (Siberia is lovely in the summertime...)
 
 

Offline AGRBear

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Re: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited
« Reply #57 on: June 05, 2009, 09:53:38 AM »
[...in part..]

1920 Yurovsky note:  "On July 16, a cable in previously agreed-upon language arrived from Perm, containing the order to execute the Romanovs."

 

"...previously agreed-upon language..." means the order  didn't issue the words "kill them, now", however,  the  words meant, if we can believe Yurovsky, "kill them, now". 

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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited
« Reply #58 on: June 17, 2009, 08:30:13 PM »
For reference:  Trotsky, Diary in Exile, p. 80-81:

".... Talking to Sverdlov, I asked in passing, "Oh yes, and where is the Tsar?"  "It's all over," he answered, "he has been shot."  "And where is the family?"  "And the family along with them."  "All of them?" I asked, apparently with a touch of surprise.  "All of them," replied Sverdlov, "what about it?"  He was waiting to see my reaction.  I made no reply.  "And who made the decision?" I asked.  "We decided it here.  Ilyich [Lenin] believed that we shouldn't leave the Whites a live banner to rally round, especially under the present difficult circumstances."  I did not ask any further questions, and considered the matter closed."

It's interesting from a psychological standpoint that Sverdlov "was waiting to see" Trotsky's "reaction" to the news of Moscow's murder of Nicholas II and his immediate family. If nothing else, it shows a certain degree of paranoia, either on Sverdlov's part or Trotsky's or (most likely) on both parts. Again, I don't think we should underestimate the amount of political intrigue and back-stabbing that went on in the upper echelons of Soviet power. It seems to me quite likely that Yurovsky was telling the truth in his 1920 Note when he stated that "on July 16, a cable in previously agreed-upon language arrived from Perm, containing the order to execute the Romanovs."  The fact of the matter is, if he'd been more clever, he would have lied about it and never mentioned any such cable. Maybe that's why he spent the rest of his life in relatively speaking low-ranking jobs and his daughter ended up in the Gulag. We'll never know it for a fact, of course, but I suspect that it was because Yurovsky was a little too proud of his accomplishments and boasted of them one too many times, both in public and private. Perhaps, as far as Stalin was concerned, Yurovsky was a bit of a loose cannon.
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Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Orders from Moscow or Ekaterinburg Revisited
« Reply #59 on: June 18, 2009, 06:56:26 PM »
But please notice that the source of the order to kill the family came from Perm, not from Moscow.

King and Wilson present their case for the Ural Regional Soviet being ultimately responsbile for the decision to kill the family, if not Nicholas.