Author Topic: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings  (Read 34646 times)

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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2005, 02:32:26 PM »
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There is a rather disturbing quotation in Martha Mouchanow's autobiography which says that Alix would tremble whenever Ella, "swept down upon her with a complaint or in an excitement of some kind or another."
In one of his early letters to Alix, Nicky refers to Ella 'the governess.'
Later on, it seems that Alix sometimes took a high-handed approach to Ella, reminding her that she was not her 'little sister' but her Empress.
I find the relationship between them fascinating.
I firmly believe that from the time Alix arrived in Russia, Ella's sole intention was to ease her into her new role, but did Alix come to resent this (long before the Monsieur Philippe & Rasputin episodes)?
I - having grown up in the shadow of a far more confident & outgoing elder sister!! - have some sympathy with Alix but at the same time I feel that she eventually treated Ella very harshly - even mocking her religious foundation & suggesting that she was setting herself up as a saint.
Do you think Alix WAS a little afraid of Ella? Or was her 'trembling' just her own nervous nature?
Any other thoughts on their relationship?



As I've only learned in this forum, Mouchanow's biography of Alexandra is a fake and not to be taken seriously - not to be taken at all, I guess. So her very negative portrait of Ella (e.g., forcing Alix to swallow the relics of a saint!!) is inaccurate, at least as far as her claims go. (Marie Pavlovna also gave a negative portrait of Ella, of course, but in different respects.)

I am an eldest sister myself, and know there can be very much rivalry and resentment between siblings of the same sex, especially if they have very different personalities and temperaments (as my younger sister and I do). Quite often the younger sister feels cast into the shadow of her elder sibling, and feels she can never hope to measure up to her. I imagine this could have been the case with Ella and Alix in terms of religion, if nothing else, because I think the problems in their relationship really only date from the rise of Rasputin (although with Monsieur Philippe, there were already warning signs). Ella's disapproval of Rasputin must have hit Alix very hard. I imagine she saw Ella's attitude as something of a betrayal, and hurtful in the extreme. So it's really a testimony to the strength of their relationship that they managed for so long to maintain sisterly affection, at least judging from their letters to each other. Didn't this bond only break down when Rasputin was murdered?

Related to this question, another one: did Ella sign the letter the rest of the imperial family wrote to Nicholas asking for clemency for Grand Duke Dmitry after the murder of Rasputin? I can't remember...
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Offline Angie_H

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2005, 03:03:21 PM »
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As I've only learned in this forum, Mouchanow's biography of Alexandra is a fake and not to be taken seriously - not to be taken at all, I guess. So her very negative portrait of Ella (e.g., forcing Alix to swallow the relics of a saint!!) is inaccurate, at least as far as her claims go. (Marie Pavlovna also gave a negative portrait of Ella, of course, but in different respects.)

Elisabeth where did you read that? What thread/board? I recently got the book from the library and I was very surprised on how the "author" slams Ella!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Angie_H »

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2005, 05:17:53 PM »
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Elisabeth where did you read that? What thread/board? I recently got the book from the library and I was very surprised on how the "author" slams Ella!


Hi, Angie. As I recall, Janet_W, a very reliable source (the best!:)), informed me of this fact, but I can't remember on which thread (probably a Books thread?). It's been discussed elsewhere as well. Periodically someone brings up Mouchanow as a source, only to be told that her book is an infamous fake. Apparently Mouchanow had no access to Alexandra whatsoever, much less to the imperial family, and her stories about Ella are based either on gossip or fantasy. If gossip, then it would be somewhat interesting, I think, in so far as it might overlap with Maria Pavlovna's testimony against Ella - except that I can't see any overlap.. so utterly worthless, in my opinion.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Elisabeth »
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bluetoria

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2005, 05:20:57 PM »
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As I've only learned in this forum, Mouchanow's biography of Alexandra is a fake and not to be taken seriously - not to be taken at all, I guess. So her very negative portrait of Ella (e.g., forcing Alix to swallow the relics of a saint!!) is inaccurate, at least as far as her claims go. (Marie Pavlovna also gave a negative portrait of Ella, of course, but in different respects.)

Related to this question, another one: did Ella sign the letter the rest of the imperial family wrote to Nicholas asking for clemency for Grand Duke Dmitry after the murder of Rasputin? I can't remember...


Thank you for that, Elizabeth. I was unaware that this book was a fake - I have only read extracts from it, not the whole & it did all sound very dubious.
No, Ella didn't sign the letter - I'm quite sure of that. But by then, Alix had already decided that Ella was 'involved' in the plot because of her telegrams to Dmitri & Felix. The whole matter is very vague, isn't it? I'm sure Ella wouldn't have condoned murder, but her response is a little surprising...but then, perhaps rushed as she was on her way back from pilgrimage & hadn't heard the whole story.
I believe, but I may be mistaken, that the bond was already drawn to breaking point quite a long time before Rasputin's murder. Alix's comments about Ella's Order were, I think, a symbol of a deeper resentment...perhaps the jealousy Ashanti described.  :-/  

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2005, 05:24:34 PM »
Bluetoria, what comments did Alexandra make about Ella's order? I'm very curious!
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bluetoria

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2005, 05:36:46 PM »
She accused Ella of 'setting herself up' as a saint. The main thing was about Ella's wish to re-establish deaconesses. Ella said there had been precidents in the Orthodox Church, to which Alix replied that these had been established by saints, and so did Ella think SHE was a saint?
To Ella's Countess Ol... (I forget the name & don't have my references to hand)...Alix said Ella was 'puffed up' by the view other people had of of her (i.e. her holiness) to which Ella replied,
"I, who am so unworthy..." (And Ella's letter - which I'll find & copy more fully, shows that her humility was directly from her heart!)

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #21 on: February 23, 2005, 05:43:00 PM »
That's so interesting, I didn't know any of this! Bluetoria, do you also think that Alix's differences with Ella centered mainly around religion? Perhaps the two sisters felt a form of competitiveness in this area if no other?
... I love my poor earth
because I have seen no other

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bluetoria

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #22 on: February 23, 2005, 05:50:03 PM »
I don't know. I don't think Ella felt any need to compete; I think she did what she did because she believed it in her heart of hearts, following her YEARS of meditation & prayer.
Alix, I THINK, simply couldn't understand - perhaps she had too many other matters to preoccupy her (her sick son, being Tsarina etc.) - and sometimes she must have wondered why Ella managed to 'do everything right' when she just couldn't. Her reaction to Ella I think was extremely harsh (it reminds me of Mozart & Salieri...someone juist naturally achieving, & someone who, for all their efforts didn't.)

Offline ashanti01

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #23 on: February 23, 2005, 06:24:30 PM »
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Thanks, Ashanti, for responding.  Your point about Ella being accepted & Alix is is very interesting. I'm not so sure about the jealousy because of her relationship with Nicholas - if anything, surely, she should have been grateful for that :-/ But, yes, perhaps did not like being helped; as you say, maybe she took it as an attack...


The reason I think she may have seen Ella's offer to help as an attack is because I have done that several times. When I'm being offered help to do things better or learn how to do something, I indirectly took it on as a attack on me saying how I was not good enough to do something. Alix from what I read was very defensive and seemed to have turned down several offers from other woman in thier circle to ease her transition from financee to Empress.

That is what I think, but I could be wrong. Alexandra is such a enginma to me. Just when I think I have her figured out, I find that I'm more off than ever.

bluetoria

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #24 on: February 23, 2005, 06:31:04 PM »
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The reason I think she may have seen Ella's offer to help as an attack is because I have done that several times. When I'm being offered help to do things better or learn how to do something, I indirectly took it on as a attack on me saying how I was not good enough to do something. Alix from what I read was very defensive and seemed to have turned down several offers from other woman in thier circle to ease her transition from financee to Empress.

That is what I think, but I could be wrong. Alexandra is such a enginma to me. Just when I think I have her figured out, I find that I'm more off than ever.


I empathise! They ARE enigmas, all of them! And that is why they are so fascinating. (Apart from the inspiration of their courage, spirituality  etc.) It seems to me that in understanding them, we learn to understand all our lives & those of the people around us...well, that's how it seems to me :)



Offline Sarai

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #25 on: February 24, 2005, 01:51:44 PM »
This is an interesting thread about the sisters' relationship. As there were 8 years between them, I think that growing up Alix may very well have seen in her sister an authority figure or even a mother figure. Ella herself mentions this in a letter in "A Lifelong Passion," where she acknowledges hearing rumors that she was jealous of Alix being Empress, since she was just her little sister, and Ella basically writes that those allegations are ridiculous and that she was never jealous of her sister. She also writes that, on the contrary, because of their difference in ages, she always considered Alix almost like her child as well as her sister.

Once Alix was Empress, it seems that Ella definitely respected her position and was eager to be in her good graces. Ella was actually said to have been quite ambitious, probably due in part to the influence of her husband Serge. The couple were enthusiastic about having Alix marry Nicky, and they greatly encouraged their relationship. No doubt the thought of having her sister as Empress, and all the attending benefits, would have appealed greatly to Ella. Nicky confided a great deal in his "aunt Ella" during his courtship, and she was ultimately the one who convinced Alix to marry him by calming her fears of converting. I have also read that there was a time when Ella and Serge felt their influence on the young couple was waning, and it was at this time that they played into Nicholas's anti-Semitism by recommending to him an anti-Semitic book that Nicholas liked very much and commended them for, which I believe was called "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Some claim they did this deliberately to play into the Tsar's fears and natural aversion to the Jews, and thus gain favour with and influence him again.

Overall, I think Alix and Ella had a generally close relationship throughout their lives, and this turned sour at the end, when Ella was vocally opposed to Alexandra's dealings with Rasputin. The last time they saw each other they left on a sour note. However, I remember that Ella sent her sister treats such as chocolate and coffee when she was imprisoned in Tobolsk, and Alix gladly accepted the gift, so perhaps they didn't hold a grudge against each other for too long.

bluetoria

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #26 on: February 24, 2005, 01:51:48 PM »
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That's so interesting, I didn't know any of this! Bluetoria, do you also think that Alix's differences with Ella centered mainly around religion? Perhaps the two sisters felt a form of competitiveness in this area if no other?


I've found one of the letters which I mentioned. It is from April 1909 & Ella is responding to all Nicky's arguments (or rather Alix's arguments about her Order.)
Firstly Alix (with supreme irony considering how easily she was influenced by Rasputin & Philippe) accuses Ella of being too easily swayed by her priest (Mitrophan) & of being 'carried away' by a spur of the moment whim. Ella replies that she has been considering this for years -even since childhood - & that she only discussed her decision with Mitrophan after discussion with many other priests.
Alix then as good as accuses her of being too wilful! (Could Ella win??) To which Ella replies she has placed herself under the guidance of elders.
Then Ella writes:
"I fear you think I am proud & self-satisfied, that I interiorly puff myself up with satisfaction at creating something grand. Oh, I wish you knew me better - I know Alix imagines I allow people to call me a Saint - she said so to my Countess O. I - good gracious - what am I, no better, & probably worse than others. If people have said foolish & exaggerated things is it my fault, but they don't say it to my face, they know I hate flattery as a dangerous poison. I can't help it if people love me, but then I love them and they must feel it."
Poor Ella...she ends with endless humble apologies:
"I will be so grateful for your advice & remarks.  Forgive me, both of you. I know and feel alas that I worry you & perhaps you don't quite understand me, pleaseforgive and be patients with me, forgive my mistakes, forgive my living differently than you would have wished, forgive me that I can't often come and see you because of my duties here. Simply with your good hearts forgive, and with your large Christian souls pray for me and my work."
There are several other similar letters.  

Offline Angie_H

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #27 on: February 26, 2005, 08:13:46 PM »
I really don't see Ella being jealous of Alix being an Empress. If Ella had wanted to be an Empress she could have married Wilhelm of Prussia. But I don't think Ella was the type to marry to get to a "higher" position(Serge was way down the line for the throne)

Offline leanora

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #28 on: February 27, 2005, 02:58:26 PM »
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I really don't see Ella being jealous of Alix being an Empress. If Ella had wanted to be an Empress she could have married Wilhelm of Prussia. But I don't think Ella was the type to marry to get to a "higher" position(Serge was way down the line for the throne)


Hmmmmmm, Do you really think Ella marry Serge by love? Serge was said at this time to be rude and haugthy... I am not sure a woman ( who doesn't know him a lot) will marry such a man by love....What thing push her to take this decision? nobody knows

bluetoria

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #29 on: February 27, 2005, 05:30:00 PM »
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Hmmmmmm, Do you really think Ella marry Serge by love? Serge was said at this time to be rude and haugthy... I am not sure a woman ( who doesn't know him a lot) will marry such a man by love....What thing push her to take this decision? nobody knows


She DID write to QV, "Do you not think I might do him some good..."
I think she loved him, too, but was also wound up in the general Darmstadt excitement of Victoria's impending wedding & was perhaps 'swept away'. She was VERY young....