Author Topic: What got you interested in the Romanovs?  (Read 124486 times)

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Offline griffh

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Re: What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« Reply #210 on: March 27, 2005, 10:47:29 AM »
My romance with the Romanoffs and Russia started by hearing stories of an Russian Princess in my family who was quite excentric and very risque.  Both my Aunt and my Uncle would speak of her but the suprising thing was that my Aunt and Uncle were from different sides of the family and never met eachother.  My Aunt knew of the Princess because she was the first wife of my Aunt's Grandfather.  My Uncle knew of the Princess because she was his patron when he was an art student in Paris.  He actually lived in her townhouse though he had his own studio.  

The Princess was one of the many American hieress to marry Russian nobility during those fretful years after the revolution.  Because of this wonder forum I now know exactly who the Russian Prince was and when he married the heirest and the other Russian Prince the heirest married.  I have even been able to contact a hotel that has a room named after her and have been able to fill in details of her life for the owner who was most grateful as she knew very little about her.

As tenuous a connection as this was for me in a family setting highly charged with political and social strife, I found a world of beauty and sorrow and power that I could understand and escape to.  We were all readers in our family and would have contests over the summer about how many books we could read.  

My first passion was the Titanic when I was nine and ten.  Then at the age of twelve, while recoving from a severe illness, I was allowed to spend time each day in the living room.  Off the staircase was the entrance to my father's study which was considered off limits for us children as he had firearms inside glass cases.  However as my confinement became more and more taking I snuck into his study and looking up at his book case I saw the most charming blue and gold book.  The book was among my grandfather's books that my father had inherited.  It was the memoirs of the grand daughter of U.S. Grant who had married Prince Cantacuzene in 1898.  My grandfather had been a messanger boy for General Sherman when Lee surrendered to Grant so I suppose he had purchased the book from that perspective rather than any interest in Czarist Russia.      

I when I opened the book I saw a picture of Alix in her Sister of Charity Nurse's outfit and under it was a quote from Princess Cantacuzene about how the Empress looked like a "Madonna of Sorrows."  From that moment on I gobbled up every memoir I could get my hands on.  I started haunting used book stores and my library started to grow.   It is only now that I have had the courage to share my love of Russia with others.  I loved what Greg King said and I am going to try to write soon.


Offline griffh

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Re: What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« Reply #211 on: March 27, 2005, 11:10:52 AM »
I thought I might also add my memoir of meeting the Grand Duke Dimitri's son Paul.  It was originally written as a thank you to Bob M. for his lovely tribute to Paul who passed on recently.  I always wanted to add that Paul had the most wonderful combination of dignity and a natural quality of nobility and at the same time he excuded such an healthy, athletic vigor and boyish joy for life.  He reminded me so much of the wealthy but wholesome and fair minded men in my mother' family.  

Well anyway here is the thing I wrote and I am sure some of you have already read it.  

Dear Rob, I read your touching account of Paul’s passing and just wanted to thank you for the respect and gracious remarks you made.  I only met Paul once.  It must have been sometime after 1973 or around 1974.  I had just received my Master of Fine Arts degree from UCLA and had returned to NYC to continue my career as a sculptor.  The head of the UCLA Sculpture Dept. who was also the head of my Master’s committee, Oliver Andrews, had been commissioned by the Warrington’s, in Cincinnati, to make create a titanium water walls sculpture for their garden.  Mrs. Warrington wanted a section of her garden dedicated to St. Francis.  Oliver wrote me in NYC and asked me if I would make the St. Francis out of copper mesh.  I agreed and flew out to stay with Oliver at his agent’s house, A. B. Closson, on Indian Hill.  

After meeting the Warrington’s and a few other things I started immediately to work on sketches.  Mr. Closson was very nice, but I was certainly not a peer and spent most of my time working out ideas.  Oliver occasionally went out but it was very quiet overall.  That is, until Mr. Closson asked me if I wanted to meet the Grand Duke, which is what Paul was called by his friends in Indian Hill.  Oliver had told Closson that I was something of a Russophile and had been reading Russian memoirs since I was 12 years old, so he thought that I would enjoy meeting the son of the Grand Duke Dimitri.    

So the following Sunday we all walked down the street to Paul’s home, a lovely Tudor style house.  When we all walked in the entrance, Paul came down the stairs and said, “Which one of you is interested in Czarist Russia?”  Well everyone said at the same time, “I am.”  However I did not hear them as I saw, across the living room, a miniature painting of the Grand Duchess Ella sitting on the veranda of IIlynskoe.  I had never seen a painting of Ella, only photographs, and without being able to stop; I walked, as if in a trance, across the living room to the painting and said out loud, “But this is Ella sitting on the porch of Illynskoe.”  

Paul was startled and walked over to me and said, “How on earth did you know that.”  I said that I had been reading Russian Memoirs, including his Aunty’s two books, since I was twelve.  I said that somehow when you read, you see things and feel things and I had a sense of what Illynskoe looked like from his Aunt Marie’s books.  I also told Paul that there was a Russian Princess in our family but that it was very distant and it was all my marriage not by blood.  I told him that my Aunt’s Grandfather’s first wife had married, as her forth husband, a Russian Prince and had lived in the Passy at Rue 20 Venuse, in Paris between the two World Wars as a Russian Princess.  

Paul asked me who she had married and I said, “One of the Golitizins, but that I did not know which one or which branch.”  I said the my Uncle was in Paris at the same time as a young art student at the Sorbonne and that he had become the Princess’ protégé and that he had said that the Prince was a scoundrel from the naughty line of the Golitizins.  That made Paul laugh.  

(By the way my Uncle was mistaken about the line of Galitizine's.  The American heirest married Prince Mstislave whose great uncle, Nikolai was killed on the battlefield of Borodino in the famous victory over Napoleon and his other great uncle, Alexander, and his grandfather, Valerian, who were both exiled to Siberia for being part of the revolutionary group, the Decembrists.  

The line also includes dear old Prince Nikolai Galitizine, the last Romanoff Prime Minister who was executed in 1925 in St. Petersburg.   The Galitizines in exile married a great many English and Americans which creates a great many leads for me to follow up on to try and expand my understanding of the world of exiled nobility in Paris during the time the Princess and my Uncle were there.)
 
Paul immediately started taking me on a tour of the house and showed me the Czarina’s black enamel and silver make-up holder that was placed in her car, a curly coral and golden bell baby rattle that had belonged to Czarevitch, lots of Russian Birch Empire furniture that had belonged to his father and that the Grand Duke had removed from Serge Palace when he was banished to Tehran.  

Then he started to show me his American Grandfather’s roll top desk and he looked at me and said, “I see you are only interested in Russia.”  I apologized but agreed that this was so.  Then he stopped and looked at me for awhile, because I had asked him if he had any photographs of his mother and father that I could look at.   Without answering my question, he walked me over to a set of bound volumes and said, “This is a set of magazines that my father brought out of Russia, it was the “Town and Country” of Czarist Russia.”  You can look through them first.”  As I started to touch one of the books he said something to me in Russian, but I did not understand him.  

Then he stopped me and said, “Don’t you know Russian?”  When I said that I did not, he said, “You can come back and look at these books only when you have learned Russian.”   It was an odd moment, but I had been raised to be polite and I simply felt that his honor was involved.  So I said that I would immediately start learning Russian, which I did try to do as soon as I returned to NYC.  I did not work and I never got to see the magazines.  (I can still hear my teacher, Madame Michalovna saying to me again and again, "Open-a your mouth!  Open-a your mouth!  Finally my voice went away altogether and I ran out of the classroom)    

But anyway we spent an absolutely wonder afternoon.  I briefly met his wife and then returned to the Closson’s house.  For the rest of our stay on Indian Hill we started to be invited everywhere, luncheons, dinners, pool parties, etc.  Every time I came to one of these events the entire room would be hushed.  Finally at the last dinner party, I asked the hostess, “Am I hallucinating or did every one stop talking when I came in the room?”  The society lady said to me, “Yes it is true.  You see the Grand Duke told us you were a member of the Russian Nobility.”   I said, “Oh heavens, that’s not true.”  She smiled and said, “The Grand Duke said you would deny it.”  

I have always carried that time with Paul and my visit to Indian Hill as one of the happiest memories of my life.    

Offline kamlowsky

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Re: What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« Reply #212 on: March 27, 2005, 06:28:56 PM »
Oh griffh, I am so mermerized by your writings. You are indeed such a gifted person and have had the most fascinating life experiences. Please continue to research the morganic Princess and write a book about exiled Royalty. I am so drawn to this Alexander Palace Discussion Board and the wonderful people who post here.

My story is a very simple one. I only have my genetic history and small life experiences to share.  My knowledge is sparse. The only information that I have is that my grandparents came from Russia, the primary reason for being attracted to this site.  I remember my father taking me to the Russian Ballet of Swan Lake as a very small child, maybe 3 or 4 years of age. As I sat on his knee, I was completely overwhelmed by the elegance and beauty of what I was witnessing. He enrolled me in Russian ballet and I was able to perform Swan Lake myself at a much later age.  My family was not geographically close, so I only met my aunts and uncles briefly. They had moved on in American society and continue to live very unique and successful lives.  I am impressed by their intelligence.  My father also took me to see Anastasia and I always had an interest in the old world but being that Russia no longer lived in the grandeur of the past, my interests were elsewhere. My father and uncles were artists and played the violin. I was raise with classical music and spent many hours sitting on the floor by my fathers chair sharing in the beauty that permeated our surroundings.
He was the only one of the siblilings that continued to support my Grandparents who lived in another state. Unfortunately, they died when I was very young.  
I do remember sleeping in my crib, when someone touched my forehead. It frightened me and I pulled the covers over my head and thought, it must have been an angel. Now, I believe it was my Grandmother on her way to heaven but I don't know when she died.  
I was the youngest grandchild and given my Grandmother's name. Once, when I was about seven, a woman came to our house with a gift.  It was my Aunt Marie. She gave me a beautiful gold cross stating that my Grandmother wanted me to have it.  It is one of the few treasures she brought from Russia.
I have spent my life in science as have my sibliing and most of my cousins.  I, therefore, never have had time to acquire knowledge  in history. The closest, I've come to the art world and beauty that my father's world entailed was a picture I painted in kindergarten that was sent to our City's art museum and then onto the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York.  
When I found the Alexander Palace, I was drawn by it's beauty and grace. I also have been able to see the realities of it's violent history. To the people who share their knowledge of elegant world of the past, I thank you.  I would never have the time to familiarize myself without such detailed history of Russia.
I only hope that through my ramblings you can see my small connection and yearnings to learn more about Imperial Russia.

Offline griffh

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Re: What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« Reply #213 on: March 27, 2005, 07:14:44 PM »
Oh Kamlovsky what an equisitely beautiful way you have of sharing your incredible life and your multitude of gifts.  What a natural sense of poetry you have in expressing yourself in prose.  Your past sounds so genuinely Russian to me, so like the magical aura that emanated from the titled intelligencia.  I don't think that there was ever a more natural and demoncratic group than those creative thinkers.  

There is nothing as poignant as the memory of a loved one playing music with all their soul.  One of my first loves was a Debussy Scholar and everytime I hear Eric Sate or Debussy I am swept back to my little apt in the East Village and it is summer time and I am waking up to this glorious music.

I was thinking how the forum gives all of us a chance to express our love and that we are all equally important and all have something unique and wonderful to share that enriches the rest of us.  Your contributions are always so moving and full of beauty and the depth of the human experience.  Have a wonderful Easter.  griff  

 

Offline erzsi

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Re: What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« Reply #214 on: March 28, 2005, 05:29:03 AM »
When i was 12 years old i saw a film of the Romaows "Rasputin"and some Dokus "the gold of the tsars".
And the Disnay Film "anastasia"came in cinema so in newspaper there where some article about her.And so I want to know more about this Family ;D

Offline Tasha_R

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Re: What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« Reply #215 on: March 31, 2005, 01:01:07 PM »
It is so nice to get to know each of you a little more so in reading the replies to this thread.

Like many of you, Robert Massie's "Nicholas and Alexandra" was my first official introduction to the world of the Romanovs.  Such a sensitive rendering of what had only been a historical fact to me before, coupled with the photographs, is what captured my attention.

It is the photographs which have continued to spark my interest over the past two decades.  A few of the people who kept appearing in them seemed so familiar to me.  Indeed, there is a small cameo portrait of Prince Felix Yusupov that constantly nagged at me.  Every time it showed up in one of the books I would think to myself, my goodness, he looks like Opa (my maternal grandfather).  The funny thing was, I never went back to take a closer look, putting the pictures side by side, until just recently.  My astonishment of just how much they resembled one another caused me to rummage through my grandfather's pictures once again, only to find one with him dressed as a lady at a party with something to the effect of "don't I look like a lovely lady" written in German on the back.

Although I had read a number of the stories and devoured most picture books that had anything to do with the Romanov's in the 1980's, I hadn't really noted this until just a few weeks ago when I bought a new book "The Camera and the Tsar".  That's when I started coming back here and found this Forum.

In the 1990's, my interests had taken a slightly different turn - my son had just turned three, and as I browsing in a local antique shop, I came upon some old photographs.  I thought I might find an old Romanov postcard, and so rummaged through the pile.  While there were no Romanov's, there were two pictures of a little boy who looked exactly like my son, Prince Georg von Braunschweig.  The resemblance was so amazing.

So I started doing a genealogy based on my husband's side of the family.  The reason I chose my husband's side is because my son looks so much like him and, well, every member of his family seems to look a lot alike, unlike my own.

While this project proved fascinating, I never was able to uncover any connection.  Then, the book I previously mentioned caught my attention, and imagine my surprise to see a picture of Prince Georg on holiday with the young Czarivitch, Nicholas.  That's when I was brought back to that cameo of Felix and thought to compare it at once against Opa's pictures.

In searching for other pictures of Felix to use as a comparison, I came across the Yale library - thanks to this Forum, by the way.  There is a picture of a young girl and what I take to be her mother and brother by a Christmas tree.  The mother looks familiar, but I can't place her.  The girl herself strongly resembles my mother at that age, with a particular nuance around the mouth.

While it is impossible for Opa and Felix to have been one and the same (although I suppose one could fanticize that, in order to totally escape the awful reality that you have indeed killed someone, no matter how ghastly they might be and how patriotic your intentions, he might have escaped to the one place no one would go looking for him - Germany - and led an underground life), I suppose it must be the resemblances that keep me coming back and attempting to solve my own mystery.

Sincere regards to all,

ajv123ajv

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Re: What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« Reply #216 on: March 31, 2005, 02:33:52 PM »
I first read "Nicholas and Alexandra"by Massie after seeing the film "Nicholas and Alexandra" which was produced in the late 70's and now out on DVD.


Offline Vicki

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Re: What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« Reply #217 on: April 19, 2005, 01:02:49 PM »
When I was about 12 years old, I was looking through my mother's record albums (no CDs then)  :) and found the soundtrack album from the Ingrid Bergman movie Anastasia.  It looked interesting to me, so I asked my mom about it, and she told me the whole story about the Romanovs and about Anna Anderson.  (This was before the DNA tests.)

Later, during my sophomore year in high school, I had a wonderful history teacher who loved Russian history.  She showed us a slide show about the Romanovs.  It was largely because of this teacher's class in European history that I decided to major in history in college.

Offline Romanov_Fan_NAOTMA

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outRe: What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« Reply #218 on: April 22, 2005, 02:55:43 PM »
I first became intrested in the Romanovs when the movie Anastasia came out ;D. But then I was only interested in Anastasia :-/. But last year I became obbsed with the whole family ;D ;D ;D.

Offline Stolypin

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Re: What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« Reply #219 on: April 30, 2005, 10:18:59 AM »
I was reading a book on unsolved mysteries and there was a chapter on Anastasia. One of the tercentenary photographs was included as illustration. I looked at the faces in the picture and wondered what these people had been like in life. The book really gave no information on this point. So I headed off to the library (this was pre-Internet) and found Robert Massie's "Nicholas and Alexandra". I was hooked from that point on as the faces in the picture ceased to be those of anonymous historical figures. These were people I liked and could relate to. The tragic circumstances of their deaths probably does account for
much of the interest on the IF , as so many books on Russian Imperial history focus on them. For me though, it is still about that photograph.

Offline Katharine

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Re: What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« Reply #220 on: April 30, 2005, 11:13:47 PM »
What an interesting topic :)

It was pretty much my parents, specifically my mum, that fuelled by interest for Nicholas and his family. She's been interested since she was a young girl too, even going over to Russia with a friend back in the '70s just to see the palaces; where they lived.

For Christmas '95, when I was 11, nearly 12, my dad got her the beautiful Peter Kurth book Tsar: The lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra and during the holidays I found myself thumbing through it and becoming more and more fascinated. It just took hold of me, got inside me. The beauty and the tragedy of it all.

It was also shortly after that that I became sick for about a year, and as strange as it is, I sort of clung to the Romanovs, and found strength and comfort in them.

In the 9 years since then I've collected 29 books, about 20 films and documentaries, and various other pieces of memorabilia about Nicholas and his family. and My sisters and I are planning to visit St. Petersburg (and maybe Ekaterinburg and Tobolsk) in the middle of 2007.

That, in a nutshell, is my story :)

Offline grandduchess_sofia

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Re: What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« Reply #221 on: May 01, 2005, 06:47:51 AM »
I first heard of the Romanovs when i watched the cartoon Anastasia, i was only nine and i really wasn't paying attention to the history behind it (actually i was really only paying attention to John Cusack's voice!)
Then last year we were doing the Russian Revolution in History and i saw a photograph of the family. I went home and watched the film again and felt really sad that i didn't recognise who was who so i went on the internet and found out all about them and yeah thats what got me hooked.
sops

Offline XJaseyRaeX

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Re: What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« Reply #222 on: May 23, 2005, 04:19:02 PM »
1st off this is my friends account so I'm speaking for myself not this account....

sadly, it was the disney movie. i started reading books about them and then my attention drifted. Then last year my one of my friends was making a family tree and was able to trace her family to Alix of Hesse so the two of us have really gotten into it.


I am.

Offline RealAnastasia

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Re: What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« Reply #223 on: May 27, 2005, 06:50:55 PM »
What got me interested in the Romanovs? When I was a 11 years old girl, I read a new in a newspaper that surprised me deeply: it was related to Anna Anderson death. The new said: "The Woman who claied almost all her life that she was the Grand Duchess Anastasia". The article was very interesting, and I loved very much the photos that showed in the newspaper...There was an Anna Anderson photo when she was old, and then some other photos from Olga and Tatiana and Anastasia playing in Tsarkoe Selo in the garden. I loved them and I get interested in the whole family story. When I saw Anastasia's photo I thought...It's the same old woman whom you may see in the other photo!

  Some months later, I purchased "Nicholas and Alexandra" by Robert K. Massie and I felt in love woth the whole IF. At first, I thought that Anastasia was the better of the daughters, and Alix gave me nuts, but now, Olga is my favorite daughter and I like very much Alexei and Alix. I also liked Ella. The Massie book didn't have many photos of the IF, and I was interested to know the girls face's better. That was accoplished when I got Greg King's work about Alexandra, and after this, I collectioned reviews, magazines, old books etc that have IF pohtos...And when I discovered the internet world I became amazed! What an amount of photos, articles, etc!

  Of course, this site is great, and when I knew it I was in Heaven!

RealAnastasia. ;) :D

Offline zoya_konstantinovna

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Re: What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« Reply #224 on: May 29, 2005, 11:02:17 PM »
um well i read a book called Zoya and i always loved the movie anastasia and its all so sad and interesting so i joined
Zoya