Author Topic: The Crisis at Spala  (Read 28814 times)

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RissiaSunbeam1918

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The Crisis at Spala
« on: March 25, 2005, 11:45:26 AM »

I had to do a write-up about the crisis at Spala, but apperantly the site I got MY information from was all wrong, and I have to re write it. Can any of you tell me how it really happened? I know when and where, but besides that, I do not know how much of the information I got was accurate.  :-/
Thanks, Dana

Abby

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Re: The Crisis at Spala
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2005, 12:01:57 PM »
Hey RussiaSunbeam, check out this link from Livadia.org. It has all the info about the events at Spala!

http://www.livadia.org/otmaa/spala.htm

:)

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Re: The Crisis at Spala
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2005, 12:13:25 PM »
Spiridovitch's first hand account (Les Derniers Annees, Vol 2 Ch 12)
However, at Byelovyezhe, Derevenko was not able to prevent harm to the Tsarevtich.  One day, while he was taking his bath, the boy began to engage in all kinds of mischief.  It was a large porcelain bathtub, sunk into the floor and which one got into by several steps on each side and the bathtub had a fairly sharp edge all along its top.  The Tsarevtich had climbed onto the edge of the bathtub wanting to show Derevenko how the sailors on the Standardt would jump off the side of the yacht into the sea to go swimming.  He jumped and fell onto the side of the bathtub.  It hurt him, but without doubt the pain was not very great because he did not say anything afterward.  However, only a few minutes later, he lost conscience and they carried his nearly inanimate body to his bed.
     This accident in a healthy boy would not have had any unfortunate results, but it was for him, who suffered from hemophilia, the start of many severe complications that could never be totally healed.  He was bleeding severely internally.
     As always, the illness was assiduously hidden to the entourage.  They did not feel it necessary to call in a specialist doctor.  They put him totally under the care of the family doctor, Botkin.  It was the Empress herself who directed his treatment.  They cancelled the concerts which the Cavalry Regimental band, whose squadron formed the military guard of the Palace, would give during lunch and dinner.  The Tsarevtich was very upset at that, begged them to resume the concerts, but his request was in vain.
     When he became better, a Cossack from the escort was ordered to carry him around in his arms.  The child suffered greatly and everyone felt his illness.
     So it was under these conditions which we left Byelovyezhe for Spala on September 16th.  In leaving, the Emperor told Golenko that he would return to hunt the next year and, probably accompanied by Emperor Wilhelm.
...(they go to Spala)
While life, from the outside, seemed to follow a normal course, a drama was unfolding, which was carefully hidden from all but those closest, in the interior apartments of the Palace: the illness of the Tsarevtich.
     He had already begun to recover bit by bit from his fall at Byelovyezhe.  He was only treated by Botkin alone, again only nominally so, as in reality they let the illness take its natural course and placed the rest in God's hands.  They would not let the child walk, Derevenko carried him in his arms.
     When the weather was good, they would promenade around Spala in a little carriage drawn by a horse.  He was usually accompanied by the old Prince Tumanov, whom he greatly loved.
     The Tsarevtich's health appeared to have improved to the point that they called his teachers, Petrov and Gilliard, to Spala.
     However a new misfortune soon arrived.  Immediately after some bumps that he took while on a promenade in a caleche with the Empress, his health worsened.  The internal bleeding was even worse, and the swelling in his groin increased in size so much so that the child was confined to his bed.  He suffered incredibly. His cries and moans echoed often throughout the Palace, and his fever steadily grew.  Botkin never left him for a moment, but did not know what he could do to bring him relief. His pain grew so bad that the sick child would not permit the swelling to be touched.  He slept on his side, leg folded, pale, thin and never stopped moaning.
     They called the surgeon Serge Petrovitch Fyedorov from Petersburg, and the old Rauchfuss.  They arrived on October 4th, the night before Alexis Nicholaiovitch's Name's day. The illness got worse.  October 6th, his temperature rose to over 39 degrees (102 F.) and would not go down.  After a consultation, the doctors declared that that the situation was desperate.  Fyedorov said that he had decided not to open the swelling, given that they would be operating on the inheritor of the throne, and the operation would bring on fatal bleeding.  Only a miracle could save the child's life, he said.  And when they asked him what that miracle might be, he responded by shrugging his shoulders and said that the swelling might spontaneously be reabsorbed, but that the chance of that actually happening was only less than one in a hundred.
     After this diagnosis, the Minister of the Court was permitted to publish bulletins on the health of the Tsarevitch.  The first bulletin was dated October 8th.  They began to hold services in Spala to pray for a cure for the Tsarevitch.  In the Palace they would hear of no other help from the doctors, and only believed in God.  They gave the last rites to the child.  The catastrophe was expected from one day to the next.  The suffering child was plainly aware that his death was near.
     "Mama, don't forget to put a little monument on my tomb when I'm dead" he whispered one day into his mother's ear, who crazy with suffering, would not leave his side for an instant. (Sabline told me this later, who had been told it from the Empress herself.)
     It seemed that all was over.  The crisis approached.  And it was at this critical moment that Their Majesties received a telegram from Rasputin which read:?      "The illness will not be dangerous. Do not let the doctors make him tired."
     In a second telegram, the "staryets" said that he had prayed, that God had heard his prayers and had granted them.
     And then an incredible thing happened: the Tsarevitch began to get better and to go into recovery.
     His mother, in all her happiness, saw only one thing: his health had come back from her "friend", and it had been his prayers that had saved the life of her child.
     From that moment on, the Empress's faith in Rasputin was unshakeable and there was no force in the world that would ever alienate the "staryets" from the friendship of the Imperial Family.
     The improvement coming about in the Tsarevtich's health brought some life back into the hunting, which had begun to languish. They invited, from Varsovie, two or three times, members of the local Polish aristocracy, who would come each time along with the Governor General, and the Governor who had also both been invited.
...
During the month of November, the Tsarevtich's health was improving satisfactorily, so they began to talk about returning to Tsarskoie Selo.  Soon afterward, it was decided finally to depart.
     They traveled with extraordinary precautions.  Before the train left the station in Olen, Gen. Dyedyuine conveyed an order from the Empress to Gen. Hesketh, the director of the Vistula Railroad, they everything must be done such that the trip would be without any bumps as the slightest one might be dangerous to the sick Tsarevtich.
...
During the entire trip, the sick child was under the constant care of Dr. Dyeryevenko, assisted by Prof. Fyoderov, who they had come directly to Spala from Petersburg.  Dyeryevenko (whose name is spelled closely to that of the Tsarevtich's attendant) was a capable and clever man.  He immediately pleased the Empress by his simplicity as very few people did.  He performed his dues conscientiously and he only regretted that they had waited to long to have thought to place the Tsarevtich under the constant surveillance of a specialist physician.  This is the fact they wanted to hide, however, from those who were more or less current about what was happening in the Court.
     After the return to Tsarskoie Selo, they called Prof. Wreden to the Tsarevtich.  As one of his closest friends told me, the Professor was scared and discouraged by the state of health in which he found the sick little child, which was the fault of lack of necessary care for him.
     There was a large swelling in the groin, his leg was in an unnatural position, the pain was so strong that even the lightest touch made during an examination of him caused the child to scream terribly.
     His treatment was confined to Prof. Wreden.  He had the impression that that they had feared before then to resort to an orthopaedic treatment, as they were waiting for a cure by other means whose nature escaped him.  The doctors, before Wreden, who had cared for the Tsarevitch had not dared to tell the Emperor the truth.
     The Professor began to come every day and he decided that it was not possible to correct the problem with his leg without such a necessary treatment, so he set out to win the confidence and affection of the child. A very happy man, a remarkable story-teller, the Professor succeeded by playing checkers with him and talking about this or that with him.  The child ended up by really having an affection for him, and after about fifteen days his confidence in him was so great that he allowed him, without difficulty or resistance, to correct his leg problem.
     Wreden found it necessary to put the leg into a corrective device.  Wearing the device was unpleasant for the Tsarevitch and the Empress protested against them using it.  However Wreden was firm and unmovable, and said that they could not expose the child to the risk of remaining lame, and he said that above all, as the child was going to become the Emperor of Russia, and as his doctor he was completely accountable for the responsibility he had assumed in that regard, he absolutely insisted on the use of the device he had prescribed.
     Wreden without a doubt spoke with a brutal frankness that displeased her.
     One day when he was presented at the Palace, he was received by the Emperor, who thanked him for the services he had rendered, named him as an honorary Court Physician, and then dispensed with any further visits by him.  From then on, until right up to the war, Wreden was never called a single time to the Tsarevitch.
     However the device prescribed by Wreden was itself applied, and it was part of the treatment plan, and it was Dr. Dyeryevenko who was charged to make sure of and oversee its use.

Baby_Tsarevich

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Re: The Crisis at Spala
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2005, 08:21:01 PM »
Wow thats what happened? I always thought that Alexei hurt himself by jumping from a boat or something and hurting his groin.

Thanx so much FA!

O and is it ok if me and Dana copy and paste what youu write on our site? ???

RissiaSunbeam1918

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Re: The Crisis at Spala
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2005, 10:10:45 PM »
We could totally give you credit... :)

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Re: The Crisis at Spala
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2005, 09:50:12 AM »
Permission granted. The full title of the book is "Les Dernières Années de la Cour de Tzarskoïé Sélo" by General Alexander Spiridovitch, Payot, Paris, 1929. English Translation copyright Robert Moshein, 2004.

FA

Elisabeth

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Re: The Crisis at Spala
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2005, 10:00:00 AM »
Many thanks to the FA for posting this. It gives an interesting perspective on the type of medical care that was provided for Alexei. Spiridovitch several times seems to be implying that this care might have been inadequate, partly for reasons of secrecy, but mainly because the Empress no longer placed her faith in doctors but in a higher power:

Quote
As always, the illness was assiduously hidden to the entourage.  They did not feel it necessary to call in a specialist doctor.  They put him totally under the care of the family doctor, Botkin.  It was the Empress herself who directed his treatment. (...) 
      He had already begun to recover bit by bit from his fall at Byelovyezhe.  He was only treated by Botkin alone, again only nominally so, as in reality they let the illness take its natural course and placed the rest in God's hands. (...)
      However a new misfortune soon arrived.  Immediately after some bumps that he took while on a promenade in a caleche with the Empress, his health worsened....  He suffered incredibly.... Botkin never left him for a moment, but did not know what he could do to bring him relief (...)
      They called the surgeon Serge Petrovitch Fyedorov from Petersburg, and the old Rauchfuss.  They arrived on October 4th, the night before Alexis Nicholaiovitch's Name's day. The illness got worse (...) After a consultation, the doctors declared that that the situation was desperate.  Fyedorov said that he had decided not to open the swelling... Only a miracle could save the child's life, he said. (...)
      After this diagnosis, the Minister of the Court was permitted to publish bulletins on the health of the Tsarevitch (...)  In the Palace they would hear of no other help from the doctors, and only believed in God. They gave the last rites to the child.  The catastrophe was expected from one day to the next.  The suffering child was plainly aware that his death was near. (...)
      It seemed that all was over.  The crisis approached.  And it was at this critical moment that Their Majesties received a telegram from Rasputin which read:      "The illness will not be dangerous. Do not let the doctors make him tired."


What's interesting here is that according to Spiridovitch, even before Rasputin's famous telegram, N and A "would hear of no other help from doctors" and even Botkin's care of Alexei had only been "nominal." The traditional story (as related by Massie, for example) is that it was Rasputin's telegram that resulted in N and A calling off the doctors, and that he had given them sound medical advice, since being poked and prodded by several physicians might have only worsened Alexei's condition. But according to Spiridovitch, N and A had taken this step even before receiving Rasputin's "miracle" telegram.

Later, when Alexei was recovering, the family returned to Tsarskoe Selo by train, and specialists were finally called in:

Quote
...
During the entire trip, the sick child was under the constant care of Dr. Dyeryevenko, assisted by Prof. Fyoderov, who they had come directly to Spala from Petersburg.  Dyeryevenko (...)  immediately pleased the Empress by his simplicity as very few people did.  He performed his dues conscientiously and he only regretted that they had waited to long to have thought to place the Tsarevtich under the constant surveillance of a specialist physician.  This is the fact they wanted to hide, however, from those who were more or less current about what was happening in the Court.
      After the return to Tsarskoie Selo, they called Prof. Wreden to the Tsarevtich (...)   the Professor was scared and discouraged by the state of health in which he found the sick little child, which was the fault of lack of necessary care for him. (...)
      His treatment was confined to Prof. Wreden.  He had the impression that that they had feared before then to resort to an orthopaedic treatment, as they were waiting for a cure by other means whose nature escaped him.  The doctors, before Wreden, who had cared for the Tsarevitch had not dared to tell the Emperor the truth. (...)
     Wreden found it necessary to put the leg into a corrective device.  Wearing the device was unpleasant for the Tsarevitch and the Empress protested against them using it.  However Wreden was firm and unmovable, and said that they could not expose the child to the risk of remaining lame (...)
      Wreden without a doubt spoke with a brutal frankness that displeased her.
      One day when he was presented at the Palace, he was received by the Emperor, who thanked him for the services he had rendered, named him as an honorary Court Physician, and then dispensed with any further visits by him.   From then on, until right up to the war, Wreden was never called a single time to the Tsarevitch.
      However the device prescribed by Wreden was itself applied, and it was part of the treatment plan....


Isn't this fascinating? I had not realized before the true extent of Alexandra's mistrust of doctors, and in particular specialists. Of course it's understandable, given the poor state of medical knowledge of hemophilia at this period in history. But I wonder if Alexei would have been better off if they had kept Dr. Wreden as a physician?

RissiaSunbeam1918

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Re: The Crisis at Spala
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2005, 10:02:33 AM »
Oh, thankyou! That is so great! And wow Elizabeth, that was really...wow!  :o

RissiaSunbeam1918

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Re: The Crisis at Spala
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2005, 10:45:18 AM »
Abby-
That was a great website! I understood it, and it was really cool! I can't wait to explore the whole thing!

Pravoslavnaya

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Re: The Crisis at Spala
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2005, 11:49:29 AM »
Please note that the website at www.livadia.org, while a nice resource in general on the Imperial Family, is using material on the Tsarevich Alexei that was first written as a lead-in theories aboout the boy's illness first put forward in support of the claims of the impostor Heino Tammet.

Dear Forum Administrator and Elizabeth -- thank you for the extract from Spiridovich's memoirs and the commentary thereon.  It looks like the poor little fellow had hemophilia just like other members of the royal families of Europe did.

Didn't the Empress Alexandra have special shoes made for her beloved son, and incidentally endow a hospital for crippled children that did such things?

Baby_Tsarevich

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Re: The Crisis at Spala
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2005, 12:43:41 PM »
Thanx so much FA! ;D

RissiaSunbeam1918

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Re: The Crisis at Spala
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2005, 01:32:40 PM »
Thanks Pravoslavnaya! :)

lexi4

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Re: The Crisis at Spala
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2005, 10:44:41 PM »
FA Thank you so much for you post.  :)

Offline Sarushka

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Re: The Crisis at Spala
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2005, 09:13:16 PM »
Here's an excerpt from a letter Dr. Botkin wrote to his children on October 9, 1912, from Spala. I believe this was the day before Aleksei received last rites...
****************************

...Today especially often I am recalling you and it was clearly presented to me that you must have seen my name in the papers regarding the bulletins about the state of health of our beloved Aleksei Nikolaevich... I do not have the strength to convey to you what I am experiencing... I am in no condition to do anything but move about [hoover over?] him... I am in no condition to think about anything except him and his parents... Pray, my children...pray daily and ardently for our precious heir...

******************************

I have two more letters from Botkin, which I will post after I have translated them. I also have the two bulletins regarding the heir's health, but they also must be translated from the Russian, so please be patient!
THE LOST CROWN: A Novel of Romanov Russia -- now in paperback!
"A dramatic, powerful narrative and a masterful grasp of life in this vanished world." ~Greg King

Offline Sarushka

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Re: The Crisis at Spala
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2007, 08:21:32 PM »
Well, clearly I never got around to translating those bulletins.... I'm posting them here in case anyone's still interested and/or can help with the translating:


THE LOST CROWN: A Novel of Romanov Russia -- now in paperback!
"A dramatic, powerful narrative and a masterful grasp of life in this vanished world." ~Greg King