Author Topic: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?  (Read 71168 times)

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Alixz

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #75 on: February 22, 2012, 09:28:53 AM »
Russia had already lowered the world's opinion of it by the "small victorious war" called the Russo/Japanese War. Most of Europe and the US wanted to see the Japanese win that one and they did.

The Russian generals and general public did not see that war as necessary and Nicholas hurt his image by fighting it and losing it.

So by the time that WWI came around, Nicholas and Russia had a very bad world reputation.  I don't think that anyone on either side thought that Russia would fight very well or win much.  They only wanted the "Russian Steamroller" to build up the Eastern Front and keep the war being fought on two sides instead of just the West.

Offline TimM

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #76 on: February 22, 2012, 11:52:47 PM »
Would they rather Germany had won?  Mind you, if that had happened, Hitler would never have come to power and there would be no World War II.
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Robert_Hall

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #77 on: February 23, 2012, 02:55:04 AM »
What makes you sure of this, Tim ? There was a lot more at issue than Russia and Germany.

Offline edubs31

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #78 on: February 23, 2012, 10:06:48 AM »
Well Tim, the benefits of hindsight are afforded to us now.

Hitler's appeal may not have resonated as strongly or immediately with the German citizenry if they had won the Great War, but consider the following...

While alliances might have drawn Germany into World War I they still were looking to vault themselves higher on the world stage as an ever growing imperial power. I imagine a parallel could be drawn with the United States looking for an "excuse" to flex its imperial muscle prior to Spanish American War...although obviously the outcome of WWI was far more bloody and horrific.

It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that Nazi's (or an ideologically similar party) still could have come into power. I believe there is a common misconception that the humiliating Treaty of Versailles was the one and only main factor that created the landscape and paved the way for the Nazi's rise. Even with the Treaty the Nazi Party was at most a minor force in Germany politics nearly a decade after the end of WWI. That changed considerably in the 1930 elections when the party dramatically increased their representation in the Reichstag. Yet even then obstacles remained and 1932 was another bad year, electorally speaking, for Hitler & the Nazi's.

I'll go as far as suggesting that the Treaty lit the spark, but it was economic problems that had every bit as much to do with the Nazi's rather slow rise to power. After all, Italy was on the winning side in WWI yet that didn't stop the rise of fascism and Mussolini from coming into power, yes? Monetary inflation and economic depression spanked the German economy in the years after WWI. With the Treaty well in the rear view mirror by 1932-33 a dramatic series of events then unfolded to essentially hand over power to Hitler. That the Nazi power came into power, more or less illegitimately, some fourteen years after the fact strongly suggest other factors being as important to the eventual rise of Hitler and Nazi Germany as the Treaty of Versailles.

If you really want to hop in your time machine and change history so as to prevent Hitler's rise and WW2, make sure he got into art school rather than altering the outcome of WWI and the subsequent Treaty :-)
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Offline TimM

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #79 on: February 23, 2012, 11:15:42 AM »
Quote
If you really want to hop in your time machine and change history so as to prevent Hitler's rise and WW2, make sure he got into art school rather than altering the outcome of WWI and the subsequent Treaty :-)

Or smothering the b*stard in his crib.


However, the TOV did have a big impact on Germany.  Under the terms of said treaty, Germany was forced to:

-limit the size of its military forces.

-cede part of its land to France and the newly re-created Poland.

-give up all of its overseas colonies.

-pay huge war reparations to the Allies.  When the Great Depression started, this really kicked Germany's a** economic wise.

Hitler used this to help build his platform.  He said that the reason Germany lost the war was because it had been "stabbed in the back" by its own leaders and the Jews (whom Hitler said held all the money and forced the leaders to cave).  The German people were angry, and were looking for someone to blame for the disasters of losing the war and the weak Weimar government.  Hitler gave them the scapegoat they were looking for, the Jews, of course.

Had Germany won WWI, there would have been no TOV, and no harsh conditions of said treaty, and much of what Hitler built his platform of hate on would not exist.
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Alixz

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #80 on: February 23, 2012, 12:34:12 PM »
Quote
I imagine a parallel could be drawn with the United States looking for an "excuse" to flex its imperial muscle prior to Spanish American War...although obviously the outcome of WWI was far more bloody and horrific.

Quite true.

But the American occupation of the Philippines caused a lot of death and destruction to the native population and that was just one illustration of America's Imperial aspirations. Not as bloody or horrific as WWI but deadly none the less.


But I would imagine that Nicholas would have not rated more than a footnote in history, just like his father, had he not been involved in the Great War and then the Russian Revolution and then been murdered in Yekaterinburg. His reign would have been unimportant in the general scheme of things. He had been on the throne nearly 25 years and had not done a single thing to improve the lot of the Russian people or the world (except backing the World Court at the Hague) so unless he had a stellar second 25 years, he would not have been remembered by anyone.


Offline Petr

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #81 on: February 23, 2012, 02:33:26 PM »
I'll go as far as suggesting that the Treaty lit the spark, but it was economic problems that had every bit as much to do with the Nazi's rather slow rise to power.

I'm in the process of finishing Lords of Finance, the Pulitzer Prize winning history by Liaquat Ahamed regarding the role of central bankers in the interwar period and, in particular, the role of the gold standard in exacerbating global economic conditions. The book points out that the obligation to make reparations clearly exceeded Germany's capabilities (despite the Dawes and Young plans which were merely rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic) forcing it into ever increasing rounds of foreign borrowing which culminated in its defaulting on its obligations, resulting in the elimination of credit which in turn further contracted business into a deflationary spiral and resulted in bank failures which quickly went global. In the 1930 election the Nazis won 6.4 million votes and vaulted into second place in the Reichstag with 107 seats. By 1931 things began spinning out of control (and this was before the '33 elections). The Bruning government was being told by France and the US that they had to cut public expenditures and raise taxes which merely made things worse (shades of Greece?). In fact, while the US and the UK were increasing thier budget deficits,  the German deficit was actually reduced from $200 million to $100 million, less than 1% of GDP. "Germany with its GDP of $16 billion, exports of $3 billion, and an overhang of private debt now amounting to $6 billion, simply could not afford to pay $500 million a year to France and Brittain."(Lords of Finance, p.402) With 4.7 million unemployed, close to 25% of the workforce, double that in the U.S. it's no wonder that the fulminations of the right fell on receptive ears. The frightening thing is how close the scenario is to our recent history. Thankfully, our Fed and Government learned that providing liquidity was necessary in such circumstances and we are no longer shackled by golden fetters (a cautionary note to all those who are arguing that we return to the gold standard).

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Offline edubs31

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #82 on: February 23, 2012, 03:00:32 PM »
Tim) you make perfectly valid points. I'm simply suggesting that it's quite possible the rise of the Nazi Party wasn't necessarily dependent upon the effects of the Treaty of Versailles to the extent that most would suggest.

The "Lacarno Treaties" in 1925 helped to minimize the effects of the TOV placed upon Germany, and actually (and while it somewhat contradicts my previous statement) the inflationary economy brought about by reparations being paid to France was substantially eased by 1923, a full ten years before the Nazi's came into power.

Now to lend credence to your argument it seems pretty obvious to me that if Germany had won WWI it's doubtful that the Weimar Republic would have replaced the Imperial Empire. Germany had very limited democratic traditions as well, but revolutionary forces were never the less abundant. The rise in power of the army and bureaucracy in the years preceding the WWI was significant, especially when mixed together with other cultural transformations. Perhaps Germany was unavoidably being pushed toward the Third Reich with or without victory in the Great War...an argument not unlike those who would suggest the revolutionary leftist movements within Russia would ultimately have doomed that Empire regardless of what measures Nicholas II could have taken after Bloody Sunday, etc.

Back on topic now in response to Alixz' comment...for the sake of his family it would have been nice if he were nothing more than a historical footnote. Much as I adore OTMAA, etc, and realize that without those tumultuous events it's far less likely we would know them as we do, I'd still trade it all in a second to offer them the chance to live out their lives in full.

Regarding Nicholas II and his legacy (other than those beautiful children), are world events shaped by good/bad individuals or are good/bad individuals shaped by world events? Just curious as to what percentage, on average, could we assign to the level of success and failure in life being the result of external events as opposed to internal convictions?

While clearly a "weaker" ruler than, say, Peter the Great, were such events as war and revolution simply too much for even a great Tsar to overcome? On the flip side how great a President was Abraham Lincoln really? While certainly more noteworthy than a succession of Chief Executives who came before him could many other men have done as good job in guiding America through the Civil War as Honest Abe? Did his death shortly into his second term save his legacy from a second term that was destined to be mired in legislative failure?

As has been brought up before...many of us assume that history had left Nicholas behind after his abdication but what if the worst fears of the Bolsheviks been realized? Nicholas and his family had been rescued in time and that "live banner" to rally around had succeeded, even if only by symbolic influence, in defeating the Red Army. It's not hard to imagine how interesting a role he might have played on the world stage over the next 25-years...
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Offline TimM

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #83 on: February 23, 2012, 04:23:58 PM »
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Now to lend credence to your argument it seems pretty obvious to me that if Germany had won WWI it's doubtful that the Weimar Republic would have replaced the Imperial Empire. Germany had very limited democratic traditions as well, but revolutionary forces were never the less abundant. The rise in power of the army and bureaucracy in the years preceding the WWI was significant, especially when mixed together with other cultural transformations. Perhaps Germany was unavoidably being pushed toward the Third Reich with or without victory in the Great War...an argument not unlike those who would suggest the revolutionary leftist movements within Russia would ultimately have doomed that Empire regardless of what measures Nicholas II could have taken after Bloody Sunday, etc.


Perhaps, but there wouldn't have been the anger and humiliation of military defeat that Hitler was able to exploit to his own gain.


Quote
As has been brought up before...many of us assume that history had left Nicholas behind after his abdication but what if the worst fears of the Bolsheviks been realized? Nicholas and his family had been rescued in time and that "live banner" to rally around had succeeded, even if only by symbolic influence, in defeating the Red Army. It's not hard to imagine how interesting a role he might have played on the world stage over the next 25-years...

Had that happened, it's possible Nicholas would have finally realized the autocracy was unsolvable and made the changes into a Constitutional Monarch.
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Alixz

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #84 on: February 23, 2012, 05:39:50 PM »
It truly doesn't matter what Nicholas might have decided or discovered because Alexandra was not going to give up the future of Alexei for anything or anyone. It seems to me, anyway, that after Alexei was born she turned her attention from what was good for her husband and family to what was good for her son.

Even what was good for the country and what was going on that was bad were ignored by her as she strove to maintain the autocracy for Alexei to inherit.

That was why she couldn't give up Rasputin and ordered the arrest of Felix and Dmitri even though she had no authority to do so as none could order the arrest of a grand duke except for the Tsar himself. But she was on a "tear" by then and Nicholas could do nothing but go along with her.

And had he managed to stay on the throne and Alexei had died young as the doctor's predicted he would, I think her whole purpose for being, her "raison d'etre" would have been gone.  Who knows how she might have begun to act and if she would have become the silent tsaritsa or a harridan. Either way, Nicholas would have had a lot on his plate trying to support his wife and run the country at the same time.

I would imagine that Alexandra would have begun (after she got some sense back) to push for the change to the Pauline Laws and the elevation of Olga to heir.

I still doubt that Nicholas would have been more than a footnote to history except perhaps as the long suffering partner of Alexandra. And maybe the tsar who changed the rights of succession so that his daughter could inherit.  Kind of like what is now going on in the UK, Where the laws of primogeniture are under discussion.

Robert_Hall

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #85 on: February 23, 2012, 06:21:26 PM »
Alixz, I agree with you for the most part. Except for the  change in the succession.  Alexandra was already very unpopular, despite what  her admires here on the forum may say.  If she was seen to influence that issue, she would have been even more hated. And might have even ended  in an earlier demise. The woman was blind and irrational.  Unfortunately, she influenced her husband through hen pecking the poor, weak man.
That the autocracy was doomed  there is no doubt. But those 2 were frozen in a cocoon. I know they were not the only ones, but they were less than the ideal in leadership. If it were not for their deaths, in such a dramatic manner, and there were worse before them, they would hardly have been noticed in history.  Passing mention, genealogical charts would have been about it.
 As for Nicholas' ability to influence the direction of war, he was inept, to be blunt. He had not much to do with what happened then and after, as I see it. He had nothing to do with the TOV nor the path that Germany took- he was long dead before that.
 We are all talking hypothetical and speculation so nothing  will change the course of history.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 06:43:13 PM by Robert_Hall »

Offline edubs31

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #86 on: February 23, 2012, 06:22:57 PM »
Alixz I honestly can't say I disagree with any of your assessment. Give me some time though and maybe I'll come up with something :-)

As a side topic, and since much of your post focused on her, was their an event or point of time that you think Alix reached an emotional point of no return? Was there still an opportunity for her to adjust to reasoning and responsibility as an Empress or was she too far gone from the moment Alexei was born...maybe I can sum it up by asking the following. Was she A) already on her ultimately destructive course from earlier in her life/marriage? Was she B) on this path once Alexei was born and it became clear that something wasn't right? Or was it C) a specific incident like that at Spala (Rasputin's influence, etc) that pushed her over the edge?

Now once you've decided on which of these best applies...where does the Tsar's virtual submission to the needs and demands of his wife grow from quizzical, to troublesome, to catastrophic?
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Offline TimM

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #87 on: February 23, 2012, 11:52:03 PM »
Scenario:  Nicky and the family are rescued by the Whites.  The Reds are defeated, and Lenin and Co. are executed like the criminals they were.

Okay, what happens next.  I can see two possibilities.

1.  Nicky gets his throne back, BUT he's now a Constitutional monarch, like the British.  The Duma has all the real power, Nicky is a figurehead and performs the same duties that George V does.

2.  The Duma decides not to bring the monarchy back.  Nicky and family retire to the Crimea, where they peacefully fade into obscurity.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 11:53:44 PM by TimM »
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Offline Kalafrana

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #88 on: February 24, 2012, 05:59:03 AM »
I think the critical tipping point was Alexei's birth or a short time later when he was found to be haemophiliac. Alexandra's personality traits were already clear, but they became vastly magnified under pressure. I find it interesting that although Alexandra was only 32 in 1904, there was apparently never any suggestion that she might have another child in the hope of producing a healthy son.

Perhaps also Nicholas's reluctant acceptance of the 1905 reforms also hardened Alexandra's attitudes 'Thus far and no further!'

Ann

Alixz

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #89 on: February 24, 2012, 09:09:53 AM »
I agree that it was the birth of Alexei and then finding out that he was ill and could not be healed by ordinary means.

Before that point, Alexandra had taken the Tsar and her family out of the mainstream of Russian society and made many enemies, but she always had the sincere hope of providing an heir and thus rehabilitating herself in the eyes of the nation.  She would, in my opinion, have believed she would be proven right in all things when she gave Nicholas and Russia an heir.

I do think that she was "on the road" to her final trip over the edge as early as Nicholas's typhoid illness.  Even then, she tried to have the laws changed to favor Olga as heir over Michael or have herself proclaimed regent for the child she was carrying in case it might be a boy.  It, of course, wasn't. It was Maria.

What ever the reason for her irrational change of personality from humble German Princess to haughty Russian Empress (drunk with power and position) it began as far back as Walden when she began to "forgive" Nicholas for things that she had no business even judging.

How many of us "forgive" out mates for things that they did before we knew them?  Who Nicholas loved and "dated" was none of her business. She was his future not his past.

But she always thought that she would be the one to provide the future for Russia and the heir to carry on the autocracy.  The birth of Alexei changed all of that.  The fact the she was the carrier of the disease and that she did not suffer from it was also, in my opinion, another blow she just couldn't recover from.