Author Topic: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2  (Read 174837 times)

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Offline RichC

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Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
« Reply #60 on: April 27, 2005, 10:21:41 PM »
I'm not so sure it was logical for the Bolsheviks to kill Nicholas and his family.  Lenin was still collecting money from Berlin at the time; why would he risk upsetting them by killing the Empress and her children (and Ella)?  Let's face it, they were killed out of pure hatred.  Also, I don't think they were considered much of a threat to the Bolsheviks.  None of the Romanovs played any political role after the abdication.  They stood around like lambs waiting to be slaughtered.  Michael stunned the local soviet at Gatchina by applying to them for a hunting license!  And how much support was there for a Romanov restoration among the public by the Summer of 1918?  Unless I'm mistaken, not much.  Another reason I think they were killed (I'm talking about all the Romanovs, not just Nicholas) was, as Trotsky put it, to symbolize that there was no going back.  And I think that's definitely fanacticism.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by RichC »

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
« Reply #61 on: April 28, 2005, 06:07:31 AM »
If fanaticism means use of violence to secure one's goals, wasn't it also fanaticism to pursue a government policy of violent repression of peaceful protests?  Wasn't government tolerance and outright support of pogroms fanaticism?  Do you think the authorities who participated in pogroms took care to spare the women and children?  Nicholas became a lamb only in captivity.  Let's not parce words about who was a fanatic.  By this definition they all were.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Tsarfan »

Silja

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Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
« Reply #62 on: April 28, 2005, 07:53:40 AM »
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The "necessity" of killing women and children? However much he personally regretted it? That's precisely the mindset that defines an ideological fanatic. (Think Eichmann or any other number of 20th-century scumbags.) Normally, this good, hard-working everyman would be incapable of committing such a horrific crime, but given the right political circumstances, the  historical necessity, the Marxist dialectic, the whatever.... Of course Yurovsky was an ideologue of the Bolshevik type! He was utterly, even disgustingly typical: his asceticism, his cold and calculating (impersonal, professional, Chekist) approach to the murder of women and children, his excuses for their suffering (their "greed" prolonged their "agony," and so on), his self-pity (for indeed, what trials and tribulations a man has to go through to fulfill his professional duty!), his pride in his historical accomplishment (killing unarmed civilians with all the cruel ineptitude of the typical Russian tyrant). I'm sorry, but to feel sympathy for a character like Yurovsky engenders nothing but moral nausea... or should engender nothing but moral nausea.

It's the usual equivocation with crimes against humanity committed by Communists - somehow they're not as bad as other crimes, because they were committed for the sake of an ideal, and after all the guy had a bad childhood, and he was poor, and it was all so unfair.

Rot.

But the Russia of which we speak was never quite of the West, except in the wishful thoughts of its "Westernizers."


With Russia you always come down to the lack of a middle class and the fact that the country was (and is) too vast and under-governed.

N.B. It seems we condemn Nicholas whenever he or his government resorted to violence, as Peter and Stalin certainly did, and condemn him when he did not. Kind of a no win situation for the last tsar, no?    
 


Couldn't agree more!

Offline RichC

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Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
« Reply #63 on: April 28, 2005, 08:02:49 AM »
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If fanaticism means use of violence to secure one's goals, wasn't it also fanaticism to pursue a government policy of violent repression of peaceful protests?  Wasn't government tolerance and outright support of pogroms fanaticism?  Do you think the authorities who participated in pogroms took care to spare the women and children?  Nicholas became a lamb only in captivity.  Let's not parce words about who was a fanatic.  By this definition they all were.


I'm thinking that fanaticism is the use of violence because of hatred.  "Fanatical hatred".  I think a fanatic may do things contrary to his or her own best interests because he/she is acting out of blind rage.

I thought you were saying that the Bolsheviks killed the Tsar and his entire family out of some real threat the imperial family posed to the Bolshevik hold on Russia.  I was disagreeing with that by saying they were killed because of the fanatical hatred the local Bolsheviks had for them.  I realize some (many?) will disagree with this but I don't think the threat was commensurate with gunning them all down.  

Are you now saying they deserved to get shot (all of them?) because they too were fanatics?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by RichC »

Silja

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Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
« Reply #64 on: April 28, 2005, 08:46:22 AM »
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Was it fanaticism to view them all as a threat?  We will probably never agree.  I happen to view fanaticism as an irrational set of views that has no anchor in logic.
Uh, oh . . . is that ice I hear cracking?


Fanaticism need not necessarily mean irrationality - depends of course on how you define "irrationality"  :P

First of all fanaticism is the total obsession with a religious or political idea.
It can be characterized by suppressing all criticism, not tolerating other views and tending to an unscrupulous persecution of those who disagree.

Fanaticism can be most logical. The logic of trying anything to have one's own way.
So in this context the fanatics flying into the WTC on that september morning had some very rational aims, and they quite succeeded.

I think it's not very convincing to defend the Bolshevik cause in terms of their creating hope for a better life  when obviously the Bolsheviks in the first place wouldn't really care about the potential hopes of the people. What they did was fomenting a civil war to gain power. Otherwise they could have supported the establishing of a new system that would have respected a plurality of opinions. By overthrowing the provisional government and then by killing the Romanovs they simply showed that they feared any rivalling ideology and that obviously they could not have convinced the masses by other means but violence.

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
« Reply #65 on: April 28, 2005, 09:01:33 AM »
It all depends on one's definition of a fanatic, RichC.  By my earlier definition, I think neither Yurovsky nor the Romanovs were fanatics.  However, by what I understood to be your definition, I think they all were.

Alexander III was sent a report around 1890 of a particularly vicious pogrom.  He wrote in the margin, "we have to remember that they killed our Saviour."  If this is not blind hatred of innocent people for things with which they had nothing to do, what is?  By your definition ("the use of violence because of hatred"), is it not also fanaticism?

Nicholas carried this anti-Semitic policy into his reign.  Was he, then, not also a fanatic?

In my view, to apply our definitions consistently, we either chart up Yurovsky's killing of Nicholas as one fanatic killing another, or we accept that both took the actions they did as the result of complex events in which each was acting rationally in the context of their own interpretations of those events.

And I still don't buy the blind hatred theory.  If blind hatred, why weren't the Romanovs killed as soon as they fell into the hands of the Ural Soviet?  Why did they wait until the White Army was within 20 miles of Ekaterinburg?  Why did the Ural Soviet quell several near-riots on Vozonevsky Square in which the mob was demanding the blood of the Romanovs?  Why, in full knowledge that several agents were active (albeit incompetently) in Ekaterinburg trying to organize a rescue, did they risk waiting?  Certainly, Yurovsky and the Soviets hated the Romanovs.  But did this, in and of itself, lead them to murder?  I just cannot see it.  They took too many risks in waiting.  These were the actions of rational, calculating men.  I don't support what they did.  But "fanaticism" is too simplistic an answer for me.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Tsarfan »

Offline RichC

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Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
« Reply #66 on: April 28, 2005, 09:10:35 AM »
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Fanaticism need not necessarily mean irrationality - depends of course on how you define "irrationality"  :P

First of all fanaticism is the total obsession with a religious or political idea.
It can be characterized by suppressing all criticism, not tolerating other views and tending to an unscrupulous persecution of those who disagree.

Fanaticism can be most logical. The logic of trying anything to have one's own way.
So in this context the fanatics flying into the WTC on that september morning had some very rational aims, and they quite succeeded.

I think it's not very convincing to defend the Bolshevik cause in terms of their creating hope for a better life  when obviously the Bolsheviks in the first place wouldn't really care about the potential hopes of the people. What they did was fomenting a civil war to gain power. Otherwise they could have supported the establishing of a new system that would have respected a plurality of opinions. By overthrowing the provisional government and then by killing the Romanovs they simply showed that they feared any rivalling ideology and that obviously they could not have convinced the masses by other means but violence.



Well, in my view, fanatics flying planes into the WTC did not accomplish the rational aims you are referring to.  Unless you are suggesting that the aims were to get the United States to invade and occupy two middle-eastern countries.  I don't agree that trying anything to get ones way is logical.

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
« Reply #67 on: April 28, 2005, 09:14:43 AM »
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First of all fanaticism is the total obsession with a religious or political idea.
It can be characterized by suppressing all criticism, not tolerating other views and tending to an unscrupulous persecution of those who disagree.

I think it's not very convincing to defend the Bolshevik cause in terms of their creating hope for a better life  when obviously the Bolsheviks in the first place wouldn't really care about the potential hopes of the people.  


"Tending to an unscrupulous persecution of those who disagree."  I couldn't have put it better myself . . . the perfect definition of what drove the pogroms and the violent repression of those clamoring for more social justice in Russia.  So the Tsarist government was every bit as fanatical as the Bolsheviks.

I don't think "the Bolshevik cause" was a monolithic concept in 1918.  There were assuredly Bolsheviks with a cynical hunger for power.  But I believe there were also Bolsheviks who truly felt their means of prosecuting a revolution was the best hope for quick relief of the misery of the peasant and industrial classes.  Too much of our understanding of Bolshevism today is filtered through the Stalin era and its betrayal of what the revolution initially meant to many.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Tsarfan »

Offline AGRBear

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Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
« Reply #68 on: April 28, 2005, 09:59:45 AM »
Bolshviks were threaten by the rise of the Prov. Govt. who did seem to care about the future of the Russian people.  In my opinion, the early Bolshviks were terrorists  [fanatics] after power with the backing of the Germans, who wanted a distrupted govt. in Russia.  Instead of working with what was good happening by the Prov. Govt. the Bolsheviks  caused the counter-revolution and with their success   all the progress toward  the Russian people's rights  halted and then vanished.

Have you ever taken a glance at all the interesting laws and policies being pushed out of the Prov. Govt. in the short time they were in exsistence?

Are we getting off the subject of Nicholas II?  I think we might be. ::)

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« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by AGRBear »
"What is true by lamplight is not always true by sunlight."

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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
« Reply #69 on: April 28, 2005, 10:20:20 AM »
Yes, we are off topic.  I'll try to get back on the highway from my end . . . but it was a fun detour.

I really enjoy the debate on this board.  (For those of you who care . . . I generally use argument as a means of evolving my own views.  That means I tend to make extreme statements and let others chip or slam away at them to see how much of my original opinion holds up.  Hope no one takes offense at this habit.  This board is the only place I've found with so many people of such differing opinions armed with so much relevant information.)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Tsarfan »

Offline AGRBear

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Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
« Reply #70 on: April 28, 2005, 11:03:25 AM »
It's been just as much fun reading all the responces.

There is such a wealth of information in the heads of almost every poster, too bad we can't get more of the non-poster to join us,  because I'm sure there is a lot more out there for us to discover.  
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« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by AGRBear »
"What is true by lamplight is not always true by sunlight."

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Offline RichC

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Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
« Reply #71 on: April 28, 2005, 11:53:23 AM »
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Nicholas carried this anti-Semitic policy into his reign.  Was he, then, not also a fanatic?


I thought there was evidence that Nicholas had a "change of heart" about the Jews later in his reign.  I thought the FA had made several posts about this.  I do remember reading the memoirs of Alexander Mikailovich where he said what a mistake it was for Nicholas to grant the Jews more civil rights during World War I.

In any case, the things that happened to the Jews during Nicholas' reign were apalling.  I remember, as a child, when Golda Meir's sister (I think it was her sister) came to my school and talked about how the Jews were tortured in Tsarist Russia -- so I'm not ignorant of this.  

One of the most damning pieces of evidence against Nicholas (and his coldheartedness) is the famous document regarding the "overzealous" executioner in the Baltic provinces and Nicholas wrote on the report margin "a fine fellow".  Well, does this document really exist?  The story comes from Witte.  It's quoted in The Fate of the Romanovs, but in reading Witte's memoirs, he says Nicholas destroyed this document.  I said before I was careful about quoting Witte because he loathed Nicholas -- maybe he made this up....

Quote

And I still don't buy the blind hatred theory.  If blind hatred, why weren't the Romanovs killed as soon as they fell into the hands of the Ural Soviet?  Why did they wait until the White Army was within 20 miles of Ekaterinburg?  Why did the Ural Soviet quell several near-riots on Vozonevsky Square in which the mob was demanding the blood of the Romanovs?  Why, in full knowledge that several agents were active (albeit incompetently) in Ekaterinburg trying to organize a rescue, did they risk waiting?  Certainly, Yurovsky and the Soviets hated the Romanovs.  But did this, in and of itself, lead them to murder?  I just cannot see it.  They took too many risks in waiting.  These were the actions of rational, calculating men.  I don't support what they did.  But "fanaticism" is too simplistic an answer for me.


Sometimes the simplest answer is the best.  I don't think the timeline is any indication that the Ural cutthroats weren't fanatics.  Just because they waited awhile doesn't mean they weren't fanatics.  Why were they so bent on getting their hands on them in the first place?  So they could strut around and trumpet the fact that they had them and could do whatever they wished with them.  They were like the cat that plays around with the mouse before snuffing it out.  Once it became inconvient to keep them alive they killed them.  And when they did it they relished doing it.  What about the people who were waiting in the forrest to (presumably) rape and torture them and how mad they were when they realized the family was already dead?

If you were to be marrooned on a deserted island and you had a choice being stuck with Nicholas or Yurovsky, who would you choose?  

Finally, I don't think comparing Nicholas to Yurovsky is necessarily off-topic.  I think it's useful in learning more about him.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by RichC »

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
« Reply #72 on: April 28, 2005, 12:01:07 PM »
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If you were to be marrooned on a deserted island and you had a choice being stuck with Nicholas or Yurovsky, who would you choose?


Not sure.  From what I've read of him, Nicholas would have bored me to death.  At least it would be quicker with Yurovsky.

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Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
« Reply #73 on: April 28, 2005, 12:47:32 PM »
There is a thread about Nicholas II and the Jews:
http://hydrogen.pallasweb.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=nicky;action=display;num=1102887229

There is another thread called WWI & Nicholas II's Leadership/ Truth & Fiction.  Here is a sample from that thread:

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After the humiliation of defeat at the hands of the Japanese, there was a serious effort to modernize and reform the Russian army. Unfortunately, there were two very powerful factions that fought each other tooth and nail over how this was to be accomplished. One was the conservative wing led by such as the GD Nicholas Nicholaevich. The other was the "liberal" wing led by the War Minister Sukhomlinov. The consv wanted to rely on fortifications and big guns in those forts, and on cavalry. The lib wanted to spend the scarce budget on modern artillery and machine guns. Both got a little bit of something. The fight was so fierce that it became a custom when appointing field commanders that the commander of an army, corps, division would be from one side and the chief of staff would be from the other side. Not the best way to insure cooperation and efficiency. The forts and big guns proved to be a mistake when war broke out. Millions of roubles were spent on forts, big guns for them, and the shells for the guns. When the Russian army retreated in 1915 it left many of these forts behind in Poland with their guns intact and the shells still there, unused and unsuable and captured by the Germans. The cavalry, was useful for scounting out the enemy movements and masking the movement of units but useless as a fighting tool.
The machine gun made it obsolete as weapon of attack. Yet the Russian continued right up to the Revolution to maintain a large, useless and wasteless cavalry army.
To keep the fastidious horses feed required hundreds of railway cars to bring feed and other supplies. This contributed to the breakdown of the infrastructure and the wastage of railway cars that could have been used better for better things. Nicholas seems to have had little to do with any of this, having the good sense when he took command to let the professionals run the army while he stayed at Stavka and played bezique and recorded the temperature. His failure was to make sure he had a competent government in St. Petersburg. By 1917 the front had stabalized, the troops were well supplied with rifles, boots, ammunition, and had even had some success against the enmey (the Brusilov offensive in 1916). If Nicholas had insured competent and immaginative minister to run the government in Petrograd then the strikes of 1917 might have been easily dealt with. Instead he had appointed a series of second rate. time serving beaureaucrats, court favorites and in one case a lunatic to his government.
I disagree that Nicholas II had no choice but to take command of the army in order not to embarass the dynasty when it became necessary to get rid of the GD Nicholas N.(and it had been a mistake to appoint him as commander in the first place. He was incompetent and had incompetent generals on his staff. This was another mistake, thinking of the prestiage of the dynasty instead of Russia). There would have been criticism certainly, but there was criticism when he did take command, and not kind criticism either. I think the dynasty could have weathered that minor storm easily. Nicholas should have appointed a competent general to command. There weren't many of those to be sure, but if one didn't work out then he could have been dismissed and another found. Other countries fired losing generals without damaging the dynasty. Russia could have too.
Nicholas taking command, no matter for what reasons (jealousy, vanity, duty, desire to avoid damage to the dynasty, etc) in my opinion, was a failure of his leadership and a mistake. Would things have turned our differently had he stayed in Petrograd? Ah, what if...


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« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by AGRBear »
"What is true by lamplight is not always true by sunlight."

Joubert, Pensees, No. 152

Offline AGRBear

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Re: Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad #2
« Reply #74 on: April 28, 2005, 01:05:48 PM »
Here is a quote from the thread WW I:

Quote
Unfortunately, indifference and incapable are often confused, especially when the result of either is about the same. Nickolas was in large part unaware of the horrible living situation his people were in and had been in for decades. Ignorance can be seen as indifference. To the extent he was aware and willing to do something to get Russia into even the 19th century, he seemed incapable of using his power effectively. The power and wealth of the ruling class had a stangle hold on nearly everything.
It does appear he was a well meaning, nice man who was totally wrong for the job, both from a personality standpoint and from an apparent lack of ability to grasp the "big picture" of what he was dealing with. He was the Jimmy Carter of his era (not to offend any one who likes Jimmy Carter! Apologies in advance!).
Going back to earlier points, the data suggest that the 'gasoline thrown on the fire' was not the Russian, Serbian, Austrian, German issue in the east and Balkans, but rather the French activity and the English declaration of war prematurely. Had the British held their trigger fingers a few weeks or so after Germany crossed the Belgium frontier, much could have been worked out, especially given the dispositions of William and Nickolas.
"What is true by lamplight is not always true by sunlight."

Joubert, Pensees, No. 152