European Royalty: Russia--The Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich and Revolution


Figure 1.--Here Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarevich Alexei cut wood in captivity at Tobolsk during the winter of 1917. Both father and son are wearing Russian winter military uniforms with long coats, knee-length boots, and fur hats (probably made of lambs' wool).


Abdication (March 1917)

The War continued to go very badly for the Russians. The Tsar's popularity fell drastically in Petrograd as conditions deteriorated. The Tsarina was essentially running the government into the ground. And from the sideline, Alexei watched as his future fell apart. With reports of riots in Petrogard, the Tsar attempted to return, but was stopped and forced to abdicate his throne (March 2, 1917). He abdicated in favor of his brother Michael. This mean that Alexei was no longer in line to inherit the throne. No fool, Michael renounced his claim the next day.

Provisional Government

After Nicholas abdicated, the Duma formed a Provisional Government.

Arrest

After the abdication, the royal family first remained in Czarskoe Selo then, by decision of the interim government, were transported to Tobolsk in Siberia. arrest.

Emigration Opportunity

The new Provisional Government was willing to allow the royal family to leave Russia. Foreign Minister Miliukov asked British Prime Minister Lloyd George to reant the family asylum. The British, however, refused. King George V feared that the offering asylum to the Tsar who was seen by many as aespot would weaken his position. The British Government cabeled the Provisional Government, "[King George V] must beg you to represent to the Prime Minister that from all he hears and reads in the press, the residence in this country of the ex-Emperor and Empress would be strongly resented by the people, and would certainly compromise the position of the King and Queen." The Provisional Government also contacted the French Government, but they also refused.

Tobolsk

Primeminister Alexander Kerensky moved the royal family to an run-down mansion in Tobolsk on Liberty Street. The Government restored it and created a comfortable residence. Nicholas and Alexandra haa bedroom. The grand duchesses shared another bedroom and Alexei had a room. the Provisional Government apprpriated a pension of 200,000 rubles a year. Soldiers guarded them more for protection than inprisonment. Nuns and farmers nearby hekped to provision them. Alexandra taught Alexei his catechism. The Royal Family was held at Tobolsk. Alexei wrote in his diary about how bored he. He begged God to have mercy upon him. He was permitted by his captives play outdoors from time to time. He had two playmates. One was Kolya, the son of one of his doctors. There was also a kitchen boy named Leonid Sednev. He seems to have taken greater risks in captivity. Once he recklessly rode a sled down the stairs of the prison house, injuring himself severely in the groin. The bleeding was extensive.

Bolshevicks (November 1917)

The Bolsevicks seized power overthrowing the Provisional Government (November 15, 1917). The Bolsheviks made changes in the treatment of the royal family. They announced that the family would be put on put on soldiers' rations (600 rubles per person per month) (March 1, 1918> They no longer received "luxuries" such as butter and coffee. Their meals were soup, fish or meat. The Bolshevicks moved the royal family to Yekaterinburg (April 1918). Alexi was so ill that he could not be moved. So they moved his parents and older sister Maria to Yekaterinburg (April 1918). The three other sisters remained with Alexei until he was strong enough to make the trip. As a result of his injuries he was confined to a wheelchair.


Figure 2.--The Tzarevich and his sisters at Ekaterinburg in 1918.

Ekaterinburg (April 1918)

The Bolsheviks gave secret police officer Vassili Vassilievich Yakolev the task of moving the royal family (April 22, 1918). The initial plan was to bring them back to Moscow. The Bolshevicks were concerned, however, that one of the monarchist groups would free the family. Yakolev and the Romanovs arrived at Ekaterinburg in Siberia (April 30, 1918). They were lodged in the Ipatiev House. The family was only allowed the use of the main floor, The six servants they were allowed shared their accommodations. There was a first no running water or ventilation. The windows were whitewashed and barred to prevent any communication with the outside woirld. The bathrooms were filty and even has pornographic drawings of the Tsarina and Rasputin. The family was only permitted an hour outside each day for a walk in the garden.

Execution (July 1918)

After about 2 1/2 months in Ekaterinburg, the royal family's stay, came to a bloody end. Alexei was almost 14 years old when an execution squad carried out their orders in the cellar room of the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg. Yakov Yurovsky commanded the squad of the Bolshevik secret police. It was early on the morning of July 17, 1918. Alexandra was sitting up in bed reading silently while Nicholas slept next to her. Alexei was sleeping on a cot nearby. Then, all of a sudden, there was a loud knock at the door. This woke up Nicholas and Alexei. The guard told them to get dressed. So the three of them got dressed, this took about half an hour. Then when they went out into the hall, they met up with the rest of their group. The guards then lead the group slowly through the house. Nicholas lead the way with Alexei. As they walked toward the basement, not a single person in that group revealed that they were aware of what was happening. Along the way, Yurovsky told them that because of the approaching White forces, they are to be moved. Thus, they are being taken to the basement to wait for a car to arrive.

When they arrived at the basement, they noticed that there were no chairs. Alexandra asked about this, then two chairs were brought in. Alexandra sat in one; Alexei sat in the other. The guards left the room and closed the door behind them. During this time, it is not historically noted what occurred during the guards absence. However, they probably talked about where they were being taken. Some of them probably thought Moscow; some probably thought Livadia. During this time, I'm sure Alexei did not contribute much to the conversation. He probably just sat there thinking about the life he lead. Thinking of everything that has happened; wondering what will happen next. Unfortunately he would not have to wonder for much longer.

After around 20 minutes since their arrival at the basement, a group of guards returned to the room. Some had their hands in their pockets; some had their hands behind their backs. The group was surprised at the large group of guards. Yurovsky then approached them. He pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket. From it, he read, "In light of the approaching white forces, and for crimes against Russia, The Ural Soviet has decided to put you to death." Everyone was in shock. Alexei looked up at his fathers face one last time. He was his father say, "What?" He stared at his father, who was once the absolute ruler of Russia, as Yurovsky replied with, "Your lives are finished." Then as his eyes made contact with his father's, he heard a loud blast. His father's eyes went blank, as the back of his head was ripped off by the bullets exit. Alexei, and the rest of them screamed. As he screamed for his mother, she met with the same fate as her husband. All around him, Alexei's world was dying. Everyone that he loved was being killed in the span of seconds. He turned to his mother in time to see her fall out of her chair. In fear, he did the same. As fell to the ground, he saw Olga's brutal death.

The bullets stopped. Nicholas II, Tsarena Alexandra Feodorovna Romanov, Grand Duchess Olga Nicholaevna Romanov, Doctor Eugene Botkin, Alexei Yegorovich Trupp and Ivan Alexandrovich Kharatinov were dead. Alexei Nicholaevich, was probably hit, but not in a vital location. His three remaining sisters were screaming in fear, as was the maid, Anna Demidova. As Yurovsky walked up to Alexei, he saw four of the guards go get bayonets from outside the room. As they returned, he knew what was to happen to his sisters. He knew they were to be stabbed with the bayonets. Then he looked up at Yurovsky who was hovering over him. He was probably thinking, "Why have they done this?". Within the past minute, half of his family had been taken from him in the most violent manner possible. He was probably thinking, "Where did everything go wrong?" Then I'm sure before the end came, he realized one glorious thing, "There will be no more pain." Then he (knowing there is nothing he can do.) turned his head to the right. He saw someone who wasn't one of the executioners come in, and look on horrified. Then, he saw a bright flash, probably heard a loud blast. And it was finally over.

Remains

The bodies were hidden. Some of the remains have only recently been found and identified. They were given a Christian burial in 199?. Press reports in 2007 reported that Russian authorities had found the possible remains of Aleksei and one of his older sisters in a secret grave near Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains--close to the site of the house in which the entire royal family was shot to death on Lenin's orders.

Sources

New York Times (August 25, 2007).






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Created: June 6, 1998
Last updated: 11:03 PM 8/30/2007