Wednesday 3 August 2011

Romanov Remembrance

Among the more notable items I saw on my tour of the Kremlin on a particularly memorable Christmas Day, several years ago now, was the Faberge Eggs in the Armoury Museum, those splendid jewelled creations made by the firm of Peter Carl Faberge for the last two Tsars to mark the Easter holiday.

There is one in particular that stood out - the Kremlin Egg, a gift from Nicholas to the Empress Alexandra in 1906. For me there was something almost magical in this, a trace from the past, a link with those long dead royal martyrs, the first drops in an ocean of martyrdom.

The Russian royal family has long been a subject of unique and compelling fascination for me, not just Nicholas and Alexandra but also Alexi, the Tsarevich, murdered when he was only fourteen years old, and his four sisters, the grand duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, who referred to themselves collectively as OTMA.

The murder of the royal family in July 1918 in the sinisterly named House of Special Purpose in Yekaterinburg was a hideous crime. Even at the time it was a source of some embarrassment to the Soviet government. It was over a year after the event before it was prepared to admit that Alexandra and the children had been killed alongside Nicholas, and even then the Social Revolutionaries, opponents of the Bolsheviks, were blamed for the atrocity.

The guilt has haunted Russia ever since, evidenced by the fact that no fewer than three official inquiries have been opened into the regicide since the fall of communism, opened and then closed again just as quickly.

Now the Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna Romanov, a descendent of the last Tsar who also claims to be his heir, has won an important victory in a Moscow court, obliging Russia’s Investigative Committee to hand over the eight hundred page dossier it holds on the killings and the aftermath. Her lawyer, who claimed it as a triumph over “legal nihilism in Russia,” says that she plans to publish the documents along with her own assessment of the investigation carried out by the state prosecutors.

Even after the fall of the Soviet Union the official line taken by the judicial system was that massacre had been a ‘crime’ rather than an act of state policy. The reticence here clearly goes beyond the legal system into the heart of Russian history and politics. There has never been a serious attempt to come to terms with the past, no truth and reconciliation committee to draw attention to the criminality of a huge part Russia’s recent history. After all Lenin, or what purports to be Lenin, the criminal in chief, still sleeps in Red Square, an object of idle curiosity.

I honestly don’t think these documents will tell us much that we don’t already know. The communist line that it was chiefly the work of the local Ural Soviet, backed by Yakov Sverdlov, then Party Secretary, was an obvious lie, an attempt at official distance. Perhaps we may learn a little more about the precise role of Lenin and the Bolshevik government. I said in a previous article (The Murder of the Romanovs) that Lenin was at least guilty by association. It will be helpful if the accusation can be made more exact.

The remains of the Tsar and his family were finally interred in the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Saint Petersburg. Now canonised by the Russian Orthodox Church, they stand as testimony to the crimes of communism. Transfigured in death, the triumph of the Romanovs has as been all the greater.


  1. The Romanovs fate was seald by The English king George v in his protest against offering them asylum.

  2. What happened to the Faberge chocolate bunnies? I bet that bastard Lenin scoffed the lot.

  3. I pity all but the Tsar. He shed a fair bit of innocent blood himself and I don't think he pitied the victims of the pogroms he presided over.

  4. Ana, I know that as you are a Royalist, you have a different perspective on life, but do you really think that Europeans still feel the least bit guilty when it comes to Regicide? The Romanovs were hardly the first - the French disposed of the Bourbons long ago, and none of the families that ruled the several Italian kingdoms have survived. I doubt there are any Royals left in Africa or India, and the ChiComms have killed off any claimants to that throne. We Americans are responsible for de-kinging Hawaii, Japan, and several other places (even if we didn't directly execute them). Heck, I understand (if the BBC is to be believed) that several times on your own island, one ruling family has replaced another by violent means. Do you think that in the "game of kings" anyone is called a criminal if they win?

  5. Anthony, I can't argue with that.

  6. Calvin, go and ask him, or ask that wax dummy in Red Square. :-))

  7. Retarius, his conduct with regard to the outcome of the pogroms of 1903-06 was hardly admirable but I don't think there is any evidence that he initiated these events. That's more down to the Okhrana and the local authorities in the places affected. As you will see from the Wikipedia article, central government made efforts to stop the riots.

  8. CB, I believe the former King Farouk of Egypt once said that by the twenty-first century there will be only five royal houses left - spades, diamonds, clubs, hearts and Windsor!

    I certainly think, evidenced by what I have written here, that there are continuing shock waves in Russia over the events of 1918, no matter how minor. Remember, too, that there was an active royalist movement in France right up to the beginning of the Second World War, of which Action Fran├žaise was the most prominent.

    Actually, on a point of information, you did not 'de-king' Japan, which still has an Emperor! There are also still monarchs in Africa.

    Yes, you are right, I'm a royalist. I see monarchy as an essential part of our constitution, a guarantee of our inherited liberties. After all I would far rather have Queen Elizabeth than 'King' Obama. :-)

  9. Ana, my apologies about the Japanese Emperor - I am only on page 165 of 1016 in John Toland's "The Rising Sun - The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire", and as far as I remembered from other sources, one of the aspects of the unconditional surrender of Japan was to remove the office of Emperor. After your correction, I skipped to the rear of Toland's book, and found that Gen. MacArthur had changed this policy. I guess I have some more reading to do :-)

    I agree w/your sentiments about Her Majesty - I have always admired the huge contribution the House of Winsor/Mountbatten has made towards the betterment of the UK. I especially admired the then Princess Elizabeth's military work in WW2 (like my Father's mother, she was a truck mechanic/driver).

  10. thank you very much for information !

  11. CB, you have no need to apologise for a thing. The political changes introduced by General MacArthur were so sweeping that the Emperor, though still there, seemed to fade into the background, not an incarnation of the Sun God, just a rather unimpressive little man.

  12. ETZM, you are most welcome. :-)