Monday, July 10, 2017

The Remains of the Romanovs

The Russian Imperial family with army officers outside the Catherine Palace. Credit Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images
Anastasia Edel
RED CENTURY
JULY 10, 2017

On July 17, 1918, as the White Army advanced toward Red-held territory around Yekaterinburg in Siberia, 12 armed Bolsheviks ushered a group of 11 exiles into a basement of a merchant’s mansion once known as Ipatiev House, now the House of Special Purpose. The youngest in the party, a sickly 13-year-old named Aleksei, had to be carried by his father, who was known to his family as Nicky, and to me, subsequently, and millions of Soviet people as the “bloody tyrant” Nicholas II.

The deposed czar was accompanied by his young daughters, Anastasia, Maria, Tatyana and Olga; his wife, Alexandra; and their attendants. The man in charge of the soldiers, Yakov Yurovsky, read quickly off a sheet of paper: “The revolution is dying and you must die with it.” Then the night erupted in gunshots.

This was neither the end, nor the beginning, of the desperate plight of the Romanovs, the dynasty that had ruled Russia for over 300 years. A few weeks earlier, the czar’s brother, Michael, in whose favor Nicholas had abdicated in March 1917, was shot in another Siberian wood. The day after, Nicky’s sister-in-law, Elizabeth, an abbess; his cousin Sergei; and his nephews Ivan, Constantine, Vladimir and Igor were beaten and thrown down a half-flooded mine shaft in Alapayevsk, near Yekaterinburg. From the bottom of the shaft, some 60 feet down, those who survived the fall unnerved their Bolshevik guards by singing Orthodox prayers, until the soldiers tossed grenades after them. But autopsies later revealed that some of the Romanovs had taken days to die.

(More here.)

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