Author Topic: Had they all survived, where/how would they live?  (Read 7753 times)

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Offline mcdnab

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Re: Had they all survived, where/how would they live?
« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2008, 02:03:12 PM »

To be fair that isn't quite the case - Britain was rather dragged into a war not of its making and we did it to honour an absolutely aged treaty - The origins of the First World War are slightly more complex and Russia's early mobilization in defence of Serbia was closer to the actual spark of world war - to put it simply - ethnic Serbians stuck under austro hungarian control in Bosnia were desperate to be free in turn this lead "serb nationalists" to assasinate the Archduke Franz Ferdinand - Austria issued an ultimatum to independent Serbia that they would never have been able to accept - Austria was sure that Russia wouldn't mobilize in defence of Serbia if it came to war but to insure themselves Austria asked the Germans for guarantees that they would meet their treaty obligations if Russia did declare war.
Austria declared war on Serbia on July 28th 1914, Russia then announced mobilization (the pan slavic movement and the general popularity of the idea of Russia supporting the orthodox slavs living in the Balkans was deeply embedded and remained strong).  Germany deeply militaristic viewed the long process of Russian Mobilization as a declaration of war on Austria Hungary and promptly declared war on Russia on the 1st August.  France, bound by treaty to Russia, found itself at war against Germany and Austria-Hungary on the 3rd of August.  Germany in accordance with plans laid down years below had already decided in the event of war against France invasion through Belgium (the quickest route to Paris) it was their invasion of neutral Belgium that caused Britain to entire the war.  Under treaty Britain had a very loose but certainly moral reason to defend France - but her declaration of war on Germany on the 4th August was primarily prompted by german troops crossing into Belgium and the Kings appeal to Britain under a 70 odd year old treaty guaranteeing Belgium's independence. German war planning had always assumed that Britain wouldn't go to war for France or for Russia even if they did find themselves in a war on two fronts.


Russian action in 1914 did little to bog down the divisions in the west  because of the variety of war planning conducted by all sides long before the conflict began.  Germany wanted six weeks (the time it would take the Russians to mobilize) to knock the French out of the war and then concentrate their army on supporting Austria in the east.  They very nearly achieved it and perhaps would have done if their top brass had been nearer their front, if communications had been better and they'd been better enabled to supply their troops at speed.  The Allies (britain and France) were better able to supply their front lines.

Russia's war planning was less well conceived - and Grand Duke Nicholas had actually played no part in their creation which might explain why disaster at Tannenburg happened - the second incursion into East Prussia and Galcia was of course more successfull and by the end of 1914 Russia controlled much of Galicia forcing Germany to provide more troops to assist the Austrians.  However Russia with the worlds largest army had a poorly equipped, poorly supplied one which was why she suffered such heavy losses.  The German high commands decision to make its main focus the eastern front was just as much to do with the fact that their troops were bogged down in trenches in France with little chance of movement than the idea that Russia was sending wave after wave of men to the eastern front keeping the pressure on to aid her western allies

Nor in fairness can you blame the war entirely for the disaster that followed - Russia was in a state of semi permanent revolution or revolt since the disaster of the Japanese War and the aborted revolution of 1905.  Strikes were rife in her industries in fact many members of Nicholas' government thought war might reaffirm the social order - it might have done had they had a decent infrastructure to enable them to supply the millions of men they were sending to die.  Had Nicholas made his seperate peace with Germany it would have been as politically disastrous for him as carrying on - particularly after his decision to appoint himself commander in 1915 which made every defeat the personal responsibility of the Dynasty as many of his family had realised when they begged him not to do it.  Its also debatable to use the arguement that had he made peace with Germany german divisions in Russia would have turned the tide on the eastern front - without Nicholas its highly likely that America might have joined the war earlier which would have made a significant difference. 
Nicholas II lost his Empire and tragically his life for a great many reasons - the war might have speeded up the collapse - but his "loyalty" to the allied cause is a very small part of that.
Whilst i am aware that around 20,000 russians (Who later mutinied) fought in France (which given the size of the russian army wasn't that many at all) i don't have full figures so i won't argue that point. 
To offer some one asylum is one thing - the other side have to let them go and despite kerensky's later comments by the end of march 1917 it was clear that it would have been difficult for the provisional government to have achieved that.

markjhnstn

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Re: Had they all survived, where/how would they live?
« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2008, 04:22:20 AM »
I disagree that the Russian attacks in 1914 had little effect. The germans moved a whole army from the west to the east. One cavalry division and three infantry corps. Although they never arrived in time to take part in the defeat of Samsonov, their removal from the west must have helped to slow down some of the momentum of the schlieffen plan and therefore given britain and france a chance to resupply and hold.

The russians had lost nearly 250,000 men by the end of september 1914 after their efforts to help out allies indirectly. I just suggest early disillusion would have started from this point in the rank and file and would have progressed onwards as 1917 approached.

To be honest, I don't really know if a separate peace with germany would have saved Nicholas (probably not) but it is known that he refused to have anything to do with any sort of peace offerings from the Kaiser. He was totally committed to pursue the war to the bitter end with the Allies and this he did....to his own bitter end.

I still think that whilst at Tsarskoe Selo all those months something could have been done to get them out. Kerensky managed to get them to Tobolsk after all.

Oh hindsight is so wonderful!!!

Offline mcdnab

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Re: Had they all survived, where/how would they live?
« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2008, 07:45:52 AM »
You make some interesting points - but and its quite important - Germany made several mistakes - she grossly underestimated the strength of Belgian Resistance which did slow them down considerable as did the French victory at Marne.  The troops Germany moved east didn't even reach east Prussia until after the Russians were defeated at Tannenburg.  The pressure of a two front war was always going to present a huge logistical problem for germany and its fair to argue that early Russian successes, a slightly speedier incursion into East Prussia than Germany had expected presented them with a problem, however Germany's dash for Paris however quick (they nearly made it) was already near failure.  You can argue this both ways to be honest - but i think its a mistake to assume what was true in the second world war (when the Allies were quite happy for the Soviet Union to carry on suffering whilst they continued planning the invasion of France) was entirely true in the first - the allies did send Russia supplies etc through the war in fact it was one reason the French, Americans and Canadians landed in Russia in 1918 to try and prevent them falling into the arms of germany and the

As to Nicholas II - as i said earlier the provisional government was forced to give guarantees that the former Imperial family would remain in Russia as early as late March (as mentioned in the French Ambassador's memoirs) - and certainly there was continual pressure on the Provisional Government from the Soviet throughout this time about the continued freedom of certain members of the Dynasty (including the Dowager Empress and various Grand Duke's). It was difficult for Lvov and then Kerensky to have given any approval to an offer of asylum.  The British offer failed partly because of domestic political reaction in the UK which George V found unpalatable (at a time domestically when George V was more concerned about the safety of his own throne - whilst his diary entries make it clear he was worried about "Nicky's" safety - he was also quite critical of both "Nicky" and "Alicky").  Incidentally the offer was only withdrawn in April after which the Provisional Government had already publically pledged to keep the family in Russia - had they acted on receipt of the formal invitation and given the Tsar safe conduct immediately then he might well have been out of Russia by the end of March which was when George V started getting cold feet.

Your right hindsight is a wonderful thing - but i think you can argue that 1) Nicholas wasn't really betrayed by his allies 2) That Kerensky, a committed republican who used Michael Alexandrovitch's manifesto as a tool to proclaim a Russian Republic didn't do much to ensure the safety of the Imperial Family however much he tried to absolve himself of it (moving them Eastwards might have saved them from any baying Petrograd mob but it meant rescue would be even harder) 3) The First World War speeded up the collapse largely through the ever changing parade of incompetant ministers appointed, Nicholas' consistant refusal to reform (despite his own family begging him to do something), and the ever increasing misery of ordinary Russians.

We'll probably never agree but it is a real interesting debate - personally i think its too easy to ascribe the revolution and the Romanov Tragedy that followed on certain decisions made in London - i mentioned in an earlier post that the relationship between Russia and Britain was mutual distrust and mutual suspicion - if in doubt read some of Nicholas' comments during the boer war - the families might have been close but the countries never were - they were in fact accidental allies. 

Offline Eddie_uk

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Re: Had they all survived, where/how would they live?
« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2008, 01:26:41 PM »
Incidentally the offer was only withdrawn in April after which the Provisional Government had already publically pledged to keep the family in Russia - had they acted on receipt of the formal invitation and given the Tsar safe conduct immediately then he might well have been out of Russia by the end of March which was when George V started getting cold feet.

George's biographer Kenneth Rose wrote that George was opposed to the rescue against the advice of Lloyd George.

However evidence has recently come to light (mentioned in a Channel 4 documentary) that althought the offer of asylum was withdrawn (the goverments fault), George V was still attempting a rescue right up to the bitter end..
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markjhnstn

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Re: Had they all survived, where/how would they live?
« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2008, 06:02:26 AM »
Yes, very interesting debate. I don't doubt all those big empires on a political level were wary of each other and each a bit jealous of each other's imperial pursuits whether allies or not. Britain was wary of tsarist expansion reaching india for example. Tsarist autocracy did not have too many fans in Britain and consitutional monarchy was virtually anathema to the Tsarist regime.In the years after the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, Russia and britain had begun to rebuild their relationship (particularly necessary after the Baltic Fleet's "battle" with a british fishing fleet in the north sea) with visits of the King to Russia and the Tsar to britain All the inter-dynastic marriages failed to prevent the huge multi-empire conflict that people had worried would eventually explode but they united the monarchies on a personal level so that military defeat, revolution etc affected them all one way or another. The Kaiser tried to save the Tsar but he was the enemy and the Bolsheviks had given Germany a third of Russia at Brest-Litovsk so the Tsar refused and his death was then inevitable. George V had the best opportunity early on just after the abdication but he let it slip away. Not deliberate betrayal but just a complete let-down altogether at that point. Later on when the IF situation became obviously even more dangerous, it was just too late for him or anyone to help.

Jebediha

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Re: Had they all survived, where/how would they live?
« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2008, 05:18:16 PM »
i think the UK