Author Topic: The chairs in the murder room  (Read 20561 times)

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Offline James1941

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The chairs in the murder room
« on: October 13, 2006, 04:10:47 PM »
This question is about a rather esoteric matter but it got me interested in asking it. Chairs were brought into the room for Alexandra, Alexis and Nicholas to sit on. I can't recall if the number was two or three. The victims were sitting on these chairs when the execution began. Whatever happened to those chairs?
They are not shown in any of the pictures taken of the room by the White investigators. I can't find any mention of them in any of the accounts or inventories taken of the contents of the house. Surely they would have been damaged by some of the bullets flying around, and certainly bloodied. When the men assigned to clean up the room in the hours following the murder, did they take the chairs out and clean them also? Did they destroy them? Take them for souvenirs? Do any of our very knowledgable readers have any information that would shed light on this most obscure item?

Offline Sarushka

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Re: The chairs in the murder room
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2006, 04:56:36 PM »
This question is about a rather esoteric matter but it got me interested in asking it. Chairs were brought into the room for Alexandra, Alexis and Nicholas to sit on. I can't recall if the number was two or three. The victims were sitting on these chairs when the execution began. Whatever happened to those chairs?
I've wondered about the chairs as well -- particularly about the number that was actually brought. I've read conflicting accounts. Some say two, some three. Come to think of it, I've never actually sat down (har har) and made note of which source gives which number. I guess that's where I'll start...
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Offline clockworkgirl21

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Re: The chairs in the murder room
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2006, 12:35:35 AM »
There are a lot of conflicting stories about that night. I've also wondered about the number of chairs.  ??? And, it's said after Nicholas was shot, Alix and Olga tried to cross themselves, but had no time before being shot. But I've heard this too: Olga wasn't shot until after Aleksey and Tatiana.

I find it hard to believe they'd clean the chairs. Wouldn't it be easier to just bury them or burn them? And why would they bring the chairs in there in the first place? They had to know that would be something else to clean or get rid of. When asked for chairs, they could have said, "Just a quick picture, you won't need to sit"?

David_Pritchard

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Re: The chairs in the murder room
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2006, 02:48:34 AM »
And why would they bring the chairs in there in the first place? They had to know that would be something else to clean or get rid of. When asked for chairs, they could have said, "Just a quick picture, you won't need to sit"?

A good question. If the firing squad leaders simply announced that the chairs would not be needed then the reason for bringing the IF and their retinue down into the cellar would be exposed as false and the IF would become nervous and may try to escape or at least not stay still. Remaining calm and still was important to those intending on surprising them with a gun shot. The chairs also provided the most important targets of the firing squad fixed places or more exactly fixed seating, center front of the impending carnage.

If one were to examine the history of firing squads, especially of those used in the military one would find that it was very common to seat the victim in a chair or to be kneeling. In the US military during the Civil War the soon to be executed were seated on their coffins (a bit of drama). In 1996, the last execution by firing squad in the USA was carried out in Utah on a convicted child rapist and murderer who was seated in a chair.

David

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: The chairs in the murder room
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2006, 03:38:40 AM »
Excellent answer, David. I had not thought of it until you pointed out the other executions "pro forma".
As for another reason- for a group picture like that- SOMEONES would have to be sitting would they not? It is common for any group picture to have those in the front sitting down so you can see those behind. That also would have allayed any suspicions I imagine.
And what difference does it make if there were 2 or 3 chairs? It has no bearing on the outcome does it? I too have seen depictions of both scenarios and thought nothing of it. I doubt it is a forensic detail. As for what happened to them, well, they were effectively rubbish and most likely ended up on the heap to be burned'
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Offline James1941

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Re: The chairs in the murder room
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2006, 11:07:39 AM »
In most accounts it seems the room was empty of any furniture when the family was brought in. Having been told they were being brought there as a safety measure because there was trouble in the town and the upper floor was dangerous (and as a way of not getting the family too agitated about this action), again by most accounts, it was the empress who complained about not having anywhere to sit. As a response to her complaint the chairs were then brought in. I would argue this indicates that the firing squard didn't figure the chairs in their initial planning of the excution. They were incidental.
Probably when the men delegated to mop up the blood and scrub the floors in an attempt to hide the fact that the room had been used as the execution chamber began their work they found the chairs in the way and so set them outside somewhere. What happened to them then is unknown. If they were badly damaged then it is possible they were broken up and used for kindling and firewood. If they weren't damaged they could possibly have been cleaned and then put back with the other furniture. This would mean that thier signifcance was unknown to the White investigators. Many items were taken from the house before the Red advance recaptured Ekaterinburg. Many of these items ended up in private possessions. I would think that the chairs that the family had sat on would have been prime objects of veneration and would have been taken if their purview had been known. That they weren't indicates the chairs were not known, or were destroyed. It is possible the chairs survived along with other contents of the house well into the Soviet era, even a part of the exhibition, or used by the Soviet officials who used the house for its various purposes during the Soviet era. It is possible that the chairs were still extant when the house was destroyed by Yeltsin's order.
Speculation has been advanced that some of the victims were not killed in the initial shooting and were finally dispatched by blugeoning. It was believed rifle butts were used to bash the wounded victims to death. But it now appears that rifles were not used. Then, the heavy leg of a chair handy, could the execution squad have torn off a leg and used it to batter their victims to death? I have absolutely nothing to base this on except my imagination.

Offline Sarushka

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Re: The chairs in the murder room
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2006, 01:35:21 PM »
I've been under the impression that the ruse of telling the family they were having their photograph taken is yet another myth -- perhaps perpetuated by Ermakov, Edvard Radzinsky, and other imaginative storytellers. Am I incorrect?
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Historybuff_262

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Re: The chairs in the murder room
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2006, 04:25:06 PM »
I red in the Last Tsar by Edvard Radjinsky,
that there was a conference of some sort at the Ipatiev House,
I forget the year, but he said the chairs were still around then, because, they sat in them.
 ???

Offline lexi4

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Re: The chairs in the murder room
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2006, 05:40:09 PM »
Historybuff,
Are you Historybuffy from THC?

It is possible that the chairs, assuming they were wooden, were blasted to bits by all of the shooting. I have nothing to base that on, but could see that it is a possiblity.
Now, a question. Were they told to go to the room for a photograph? Or for security?
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Offline clockworkgirl21

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Re: The chairs in the murder room
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2006, 06:01:37 PM »
Quote
Now, a question. Were they told to go to the room for a photograph? Or for security?

The two stories I've heard are that the family was told they were getting their pictures taken to prove that had not escaped, and the other is that they were told there was shooting in the streets and they were being brought down there for safety.

Offline James1941

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Re: The chairs in the murder room
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2006, 06:15:59 PM »
There had been a tense and ugly demonstration in the street outside the house just a day or so before, so I tend to go with the story that they were told this. If the purpose was to get them down the stairs into the basement room without much fuss I don't think the photo story would make much sense. It was after midnight, the family had gone to bed, they were awakened and told to get dressed. How would you react if you were told this was being done so they could photograph you. I imagine there would have been some objections and much fussing about this and even refusal. I don't think Yurovsky was that stupid. I don't know where the photo story got started I remember seeing a movie about the imperial family in the Ipatiev House but I can't remember which one. In it the children are shown getting photographed and each one talks a little about how they feel. Was it Nicholas and Alexandra? I tend to think this is a Hollywood invention.

Offline lexi4

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Re: The chairs in the murder room
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2006, 06:19:58 PM »
There had been a tense and ugly demonstration in the street outside the house just a day or so before, so I tend to go with the story that they were told this. If the purpose was to get them down the stairs into the basement room without much fuss I don't think the photo story would make much sense. It was after midnight, the family had gone to bed, they were awakened and told to get dressed. How would you react if you were told this was being done so they could photograph you. I imagine there would have been some objections and much fussing about this and even refusal. I don't think Yurovsky was that stupid. I don't know where the photo story got started I remember seeing a movie about the imperial family in the Ipatiev House but I can't remember which one. In it the children are shown getting photographed and each one talks a little about how they feel. Was it Nicholas and Alexandra? I tend to think this is a Hollywood invention.
I never did think the photo story made sense. And I don't think the IF would have either. The security story does make more sense. I sure would like to know how the photo story got started.
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Offline Ra-Ra-Rasputin

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Re: The chairs in the murder room
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2006, 07:11:31 PM »
The fact that we don't know how many chairs there were and we don't know what the IF were told as to why they had to go into the basement illutstrates perfectly how conflicting and confused the reports of what happened in Ekaterinburg are.

I've read the photo story, and I've read that they were told they were being kept in the cellar for their own safety until they could be transferred to a safer place.  I've also read there were two or possibly three chairs.  I have never read anything about what happened to the chairs after the execution. 

As the room was empty when the IF arrived, clearly the whole execution in a chair scenario wasn't considered as a strategy beforehand by the executioners.  The chairs were only brought at Alexandra's request. 

I would imagine that the chairs were removed from the room and burned.  The room was throughly cleaned and as much evidence of the execution removed as was possible in a short space of time. I doubt the chairs would have been overlooked. In more than one book I've read that the floor of the cellar was absolutely swimming in blood and gore, so the chairs would no doubt have been heavily stained and soiled with blood.  Bloodstains, once soaked into the grain, would have been virtually impossible to remove from the chairs.  Therefore, they would most likely have been burned, as, if found, they would have been rather incriminating evidence that something nasty had happened in the cellar.

Interesting question.  I never thought about it before, I must say!

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Offline lexi4

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Re: The chairs in the murder room
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2006, 07:23:25 PM »
You are probably right. It is an interesting question. I had never thought of it either. There is so much about that night and that period of history that we will probably never know.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely, in a pretty and well preserved body; but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "Wow ---- What a ride!!!"

David_Pritchard

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Re: The chairs in the murder room
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2006, 07:23:54 AM »
While I have no factual basis to determine what type of chairs were used in the cellar, I have always envisioned them as Thonet No. 14 chairs. This type of light utilitarian chair was very commonly used in servants' quarters (which were near the execution room), kitchens and terraces throughout Europe during the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Here are a few links on this type of chair:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._14_chair

http://www.patricktaylor.com/thonet-bentwood-chair

http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworking/Gallery/GalleryImage.aspx?id=5025

http://www.dwr.com/designers.cfm?designer_id=110

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Thonet


David