17/7/1918 The Tsar and his family killed #1918Live

Since the end of April the former Tsar has been imprisoned by the Bolsheviks in Ekaterinburg. At first he and his wife were held there alone, in the ominously named House of Special Designation, but they were subsequently joined by their five children.

The Bolsheviks have had difficulty deciding what to do with the Tsar. Trotsky favoured a show trial, relishing the prospect of leading the prosecution. But other Bolshevik leaders were less enthusiastic; the Tsar remained imprisoned while his captors dithered.

Then events force a decision. The Czechoslovak Legion is expanding its area of control and now has Ekaterinburg surrounded. With the town likely to fall, the Bolsheviks fear that the Tsar will become a focal point of counter-revolutionary resistance. To prevent this, orders are sent from Moscow (possibly by Lenin himself) to kill the Ekaterinburg prisoners.

In the early hours of the morning, the Tsar, the former Tsarina, their four daughters, their haemophiliac son Alexei, and their last four retainers are herded into the basement of their prison, ostensibly because they are about to be transported to a more secure location. But then armed men burst into the cellar and Yurovsky, the chief jailer, reads out the execution order. The Tsar is confused and asks him to repeat it, which he does. Then the execution squad opens fire.
It somehow takes the squad more than 20 minutes to kill all their victims, with some having to be finished off by bayonet, but at the end of that time the former royals and their retainers are all dead. The only surviver is Joy, Alexei’s pet spaniel.

The bodies are then taken away to be buried in secret.

image sources:

The House of Special Designation (Wikipedia: Execution of the Romanov family)

The killing of the Romanovs (La República: El centenario de la revolución rusa pasa inadvertido en Rusia)

23/5/1918 The former Tsar and Tsarina are joined in Ekaterinburg by their children #1918Live

The former Tsar and Tsarina are being held in Ekaterinburg in the House of Special Designation. The regime here is far stricter than the prisoners have been used to. The house is sealed off from the outside world, surrounded by a high wall and the windows painted over to prevent any attempt at signalling to royalist sympathisers. The guards are surly and ill-mannered, accompanying the inmates to the lavatory and covering the house’s walls with obscene slogans. For most of the day the prisoners are confined to their room. To pass the time, the Tsar starts reading Tolstoy’s War & Peace, which he had not previously found time for.

Today at least there is some good news for the former royal couple, as their son Alexei and four daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia are brought to Ekaterinburg and incarcerated with their parents. Now at least the family is together again.

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The Royal Family in happier times (Wikipedia)

6/2/1916 Boris Stürmer’s embarrassing problem

Boris Stürmer is the new prime minister of Russia. He has an embarrassing problem: his name. Russia is in the midst of a war with Germany. The war is not going well and mamny blame this on traitors at the centre of the Russian government who are betraying the country. Stürmer’s Germanic surname means that he is the subject of much speculation as to where his real loyalties lie.

To try and deflect the attentions of rumour-mongers and affirm his Russian patriotism, Stürmer has applied to change his surname to Panin. However, as the Panins are an old Russian aristocratic family, the Tsar feels that he must consult with all of them before allowing Stürmer to take their name. The Tsar is away at army headquarters so it will be some time before he can consult with all the Panins.

In the meantime Stürmer is advised by Tsarina Alexandra to keep his original surname. She and Grigori Rasputin, her spiritual adviser, think that there is no benefit to Stürmer’s changing his name. Alexandra is herself of German birth, a member of the royal house of Hesse. On marriage to the Tsar she took the Russian surname Feodorovna, so it is odd that she would advise Stürmer to keep his German name. But the Tsarina has never been well liked by the Russian people and perhaps she thinks that Stürmer would be wasting his time trying to court their popularity.

Stürmer’s German surname contributes to rumours about his true loyalties, but these are as nothing to the rumours surrounding the Tsarina. As the daughter of a German royal house, many believe that she remains loyal to the country of her birth. And there is much lurid speculation as to the nature of her relationship with Rasputin. It is Rasputin’s apparent ability to treat the haemophilia of her son, Tsarevich Alexei, that has brought him into the Tsarina’s circle. However, the holy man has an earthy and sensual side, leading to speculation that the Tsarina is another of his lovers.

image sources:

Boris Stürmer (Wikipedia)

The Tsarina and Rasputin (Alpha History)