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Czar Nicholas II

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Caitlin Rajan

on 24 October 2016

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Transcript of Czar Nicholas II

World War I
Russia was very unprepared for World War I. So when Russia backed up Serbia, the empire made a major mistake. Soon following, Germany declared war on Russia. At the time Russia had almost no military weapons or any type of clothing or food for soldiers to eat. Russia planned on wiping out the Germans in six months. At first, Russia was doing fine in the war, although war never is really "fine". They pushed mainly the Austrians back, capturing Galicia (present day Poland and Ukraine) and some Carpathian Mountain passes. Additionally, they destroyed Przemysl, a Austrian fortress. Quickly however, Russia lost and consumed most of their supplies. Many soldiers went into battle with no gun or shoes. Nicholas had no idea that Russia was doing so poorly because when he went to see the trenches, the officers would tidy up everything and act as if everything was going smoothly. The people of Russia were angry at the czar for being so unprepared and for letting the soldiers continue to fight in such poor conditions. This anger just added to the hatred
The Murder of the Romanovs
The Romanov Dynasty
For nearly three hundred years, the Romanov's had held the Russian throne. They ruled their people in an autocracy, when "one person- in this instance, the tsar- holds all the power." (Fleming 18) The Romanov's belief was that God gave them this power and that the czar should rule all of the people of Russia consequently, all of Russia's power was in the hands of the czar. Additionally, Russia had no congress, no court of appeals for the people, or supreme court. The only limitations to the czar had were that he must follow the teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church and the laws of succession, or the rules that determine the next heir. As czar, Nicholas could fire who he wanted when he wanted for no reason, for example. He could send someone to Siberia just because he was in a bad mood. The czar had total control. No one was superior to him. The czar could censor the press, ban books, limit public speech and refuse the people the right to protest. He could search houses, open mail, and seize property. In fact, the czar could even deny people the right to marry.
Empress Alexandra
Born Princess Alix Victoria Helena Louise Beatrice of Hesse-Darmstadt (a part of Germany), she became Empress Alexandra, the future czarina of Russia. When her mother died, her grandmother, Queen Victoria of England took her in, no matter what Alix's father, Grand Duke Ludwig IV had to say. She raised her as a proper Englishwoman, modest and elegant. However, Alix became obsessed with God and the afterlife. She also became stubborn and controlling. Yet, the young princess was beautiful and Nicholas fell in love with her. The two married on November 26, 1894. Before they married, Princess Alix had to convert to the Russian Orthodox Church. Additionally, she had to change her name to Alexandra Feodorovna. Nicholas heavily depended on Alexandra for help in the government. She, unlike Nicholas, knew how to handle government officials. Nicholas in fact, let Alexandra make many government decisions and even take complete control. Together, they had five children, Olga, Tatiana, Marie, Anastasia, and Alexei. Their last child Alexei would inherit the throne for he was the only male. The only issue was that Alexei had a disease called hemophilia. Hemophilia could not be properly treated at the time and so the whole royal family had to keep the diagnoses a secret.
(Fleming, Candice pg. 22-23, 27-30, 35-36, 39-41, 44, 53, 55-56)
The New Heir
On May 18, 1868 Nikolai Aleksandrovich Romanov was born in Pushkin, Russia. He was the first child of Alexander III and Maria Feodorovna, inheriting the Russian throne. Growing up, Nicholas' father did not find his son worthy of the throne. He thought he was weak and too shy to be the czar of Russia. Therefore, Alexander III did not pay much attention to his son and left Nicholas unprepared in becoming the czar. "Nicholas never learned to deal with ministers or politicians. He never gave a speech, studied diplomacy, or grappled with national policy." (Fleming 21) However, growing up, Nicholas was educated in history and foreign language. He received his education through private tutors, including Konstantin Pobedonostsev, a high-ranking government official.
(Fleming, Candice pg. 3-21) ("Nicholas II"
Bio. A&E Television Networks
)

Czar Nicholas II:The Last Czar of Russia
Life of the People
Czar Nicholas II ruled about 130 million people. He ruled over one sixth of the earth's land which stretched from Poland to Japan. In 1903, four out of every five Russians were peasants. "Most nobility (Nicholas and Alexandra included) envisioned peasants living in simple yet cozy huts, their 'cheeks glowing with good health' and their teeth, 'whiter than the purest ivory'..." (Fleming 5) Yet that was not the case. The peasants slept in one or two room homes called an
izby
. The small huts were dirty, sooty, and had no furniture. Most did not even have a bed. Furthermore, there was little variety in food. Most ate bread and
shchi
, which was a cabbage soup. Peasants rarely had meat and did not own any land. "By 1903, the average peasant allotment had shrunk from eleven acres to six, and one out of every five families farmed less than three." (Fleming 7)
(Fleming, Candice pg. 5-7)
Path to the Throne

In March of 1881, Czar Alexander II, Nicholas' grandfather, was assassinated by a revolutionary bomber in the streets of St. Petersburg. Alexander III, Nicholas' father, was mad at the people for betraying their Holy Emperor and demanded that they needed to"'feel the whip"' (Fleming 18), and for the thirteen years of his reign, the people paid the price. Finally, on November 1, 1894, Alexander III died from kidney disease and Nicholas was now Czar of Russia. But no one knew he would be the last czar Russia would see.
(Fleming, Candice pg. 17-18, 28-29)
Nicholas II, the future czar, stands behind his father Czar Alexander III in this family photo taken in 1888.
Russian peasants outside their izby, in 1910.
The two girls standing are Tatiana and Olga (left to right), the older girl sitting is Marie, the woman in the middle is Alexandra, the man in the middle is Nicholas II, the young girl sitting in the u-shaped chair is Anastasia, and the boy kneeling is Alexei.
Bloody Sunday

On January 5, 1905, Father George Gapon led a peaceful protest of workers in St. Petersburg. The demonstrators wanted Nicholas to improve working conditions and create a form of what U.S. citizens know as Congress. They, marched to the palace, wanting to see their czar. Instead the protesters received fire from Russian troops, killing and injuring more than a thousand people. Nicholas now was known as "Bloody Nicholas". The murderer behind Bloody Sunday.

Results of Bloody Sunday
After the infamous mass murder, there had been 1,600 strikes. By October, millions of workers all over Russia went on strike demanding better pay and a legislature. Nicholas, not knowing the seriousness of the situation believed all was well in his empire. He did not believe that the workers needed better working conditions because the productivity still remained high, (until the strike that is). So, the czar did nothing, and continued as if it had not happened. Finally, Prime Minister Count Sergei Witte took the reins. He demanded that the czar should create a Duma, a Russian legislature. He also said that the people needed their freedom. The Prime Minister told Nicholas, "'{You can} crush the rebellion by sheer force... and that would mean rivers of blood' ... 'or give to the people their civil rights freedom of speech and press, also to have ... a Duma."' (Fleming 65) Soon, the people finally had what they wanted. On October 30, Nicholas reluctantly signed the October Manifesto. This document gave the Russian people their freedoms and most importantly, a Duma.
(Fleming, Candice pg. 64-67)
The Duma(s)
On May 10, 1906, 524 men from all over the Russian Empire, from all walks of life (including noblemen, peasants, and factory workers) came to the Winter Palace, to form the first Duma. Each of these men were called "deputies" and were elected by the people of each province to represent them in the legislature. It was a step forward for the people of Russia to participate in government! Well, not really. The czar had complete control over the Duma. Nicholas had the final say on whatever the Duma decided, he could dismiss the Duma whenever he wanted, the Duma had no power in the military, foreign policy, and the police department. Additionally, Nicholas could still make laws without the Duma's consent when they were not in session. So, with Nicholas using his power, the Duma was dissolved in seventy-two days. On July 21, however, because Nicholas had to keep his promise that he made in the October Manifesto, a second Duma was created. The Second Duma, which met in February 1907, was made up of mostly the same people. Three months later, in June, the Duma was again dissolved. Finally, a Third Duma was created. Only this time, the voting system was changed. This voting system made it easier for landowners and noblemen to become deputies, while peasants and factory workers needed an absurd amount of votes to become a deputy. "Now it took 230 landowners' votes to elect a single deputy, 1,000 votes for a wealthy businessmen to elect a deputy, and 15,000 votes for members of the lower middle class tp elect a deputy. Peasants needed 60,000 votes before they could send a representative from their class to the Duma. And workers? They need a whopping 125,000 votes." This Third Duma was often called "'the Duma of the Lords, Priests and Lackeys"' (Fleming 85). The Third Duma was finally to Nicholas' liking and it stayed in "power" for five years
(Fleming, Candice pg. 81-85)

Czar at War
Russian field hospital 1915.

More than three million soldiers died by 1917.
The picture below shows Czar Nicholas II leading the Imperial Army on a white horse. (Sorry that it's so blurry)
(Fleming, Candice pg. 18-20)
(The State Archive of the Russian Federation, Moscow)
("Russian peasants at a farm house around 1910" Almay.com)
(Library of Congress)
(Fleming, Candice pg. 59-63) ("Nicholas II"
Bio. A&E Television Networks
)
(Fleming, Candice pg. 133-134)
(Library of Congress)
On August 22, 1915, five hundred miles from his family, Nicholas was at Stavka, a military headquarters. There, the czar could be more "in control" of his troops. However, where Nicholas was staying in fact was a mansion hundreds of miles away from any real combat. Furthermore, any important military decisions were decided by the chief of staff, not even the czar himself. Soon, Nicholas started to get homesick. He asked Alexandra if he could bring Alexei down to Stavka. Alexei was delighted. Together, the czar and his heir were having fun, wearing matching uniforms and walking the grounds. Not surprisingly, Nicholas' presence in Stavka made little to no difference in Russia's part of the war. Russia was still being forced back by Germany and the soldiers still had no supplies. Supplies got so low that some soldiers were running into battle with no weapons or clothes. The supplies in Russian towns decreased so much, that there was inflation and some people were breaking into bakeries for food. Yet, the czar still believed that everything would be turned around when God wanted. So, Nicholas remained at Stavka for two years.
(Fleming, Candice pg. 143-145)
Gregory Rasputin
Rasputin was a man that heavily influenced the Russian government by quite frankly weaseling his way through. He was a starets, a holy man. "...he was wandering the countryside, blessing the poor and praying for the sick." (Fleming 85) When he traveled to St. Petersburg, Rasputin was a well known healer and prophet. So, when Alexei was sick from his hemophilia, the family was desperate for someone to help their dying son and only heir. Rasputin gave the royal family many holy icons for them to pray with and miraculously, Alexei was starting to heal. The Romanovs were shocked and relieved. Alexandra however, started to take all of his advice. As I stated earlier, Alexandra was obsessed with God and the afterlife, so Rasputin was a God-like figure to her. She believed every word he said. Consequently, when Nicholas went to Stavka and put Alexandra in charge, Rasputin influenced her every move. Quickly, with Rasputin's influence, Alexandra fired many important government officials. Rasputin felt threatened by the ministers and wanted them gone, he knew that he could get Alexandra to do whatever he wanted. In their places, she put weak ministers and advisers. Rasputin also asked Alexandra favors for his friends and turned into a shady man. But Alexandra overlooked it. All she saw was the man that saved her son's life. "Between September 1915 and March 1917, four different men held the position of prime minister. In that same time, Russia had five ministers of the interior, four ministers of agriculture, and three ministers of war, transport, and foreign affairs." (Fleming 149). The people of Russia's upper and lower classes started to lose faith in their government. They were appalled by what their czar allows to happen in his government. Some people even called it "'the Reign of Rasputin"' (Fleming 150). Finally, people of both the government and the citizens could not stand Rasputin any longer. Prince Yusupov, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, Dr. Stainislaw Lazovert and Sergei Sukhotin, planned Rasputin's murder. First, they poisoned him, then they shot him, and still, not yet dead, they threw Rasputin into the Neva River. And even then, he was still trying to break free, until he finally drowned. The Royal family was in mourning. The rest of Russia was so filled with joy that "'People kissed each other in the streets,''' (Fleming 154).
(Fleming, Candice pg. 85-87, 109, 112, 143, 146-155)
Portrait of Rasputin in 1915
Louise Bryant Papers (MS 1840). Manuscript and Archives, Yale University Library
Abdication Manifesto
On March 15, 1917, czar Nicholas II abdicated the throne. He decided to give the throne to his brother, Grand Duke Michael. Statues of Nicholas came crumbling down. But surprisingly, Michael declined the throne. There was no one in charge. What were the Russians to do? The Provisional Government, a group of people from the past Duma, attempted to work democratically. They took the ex royal family to the Govenor's Mansion and were placed under house arrest. They brought what they could including four servants. When the October Revolution came, it left the Provisional Government with no power, Now, the Petrograd Soviet held control of Russia. They were lead by Vladimir Lenin and promised that under Bolshevik rule, he wold restore equality. He stripped all landowners of their land and mansions were taken and turned into housing for workers. The Decree on the Separation of Church and State allowed Lenin to seize property of the Russian Orthodox Church. Any reminisce of the wealthy was gone. However, there were still people on the side of the czar. They were called the White Movement. They contained landowners, devote Russian Orthodox Church members, supporters of the Provisional Government, and Czech prisoners of war. The Red Army (Petrograd Soviets) and the White Army (the White Movement) went head to head in civil war. Meanwhile, the Romanovs were being transported by the Petrograd Soviets to Ekaterinburg, a town in the Ural Mountains known for disliking the royal family. The place they were staying was called The House of Special Purpose. It was a five room house, more like prison, that had almost no supplies. They lived a more cozy lifestyle and became content with their new living conditions. The family had almost no idea about the horror to come.
(Fleming, Candice pg. 196-228)
With the White Army closing in on Ekaterinburg, the Soviets agreed that they do not want the White Movement to have control of the royal family. They do not want them back in power. Their only hope was to murder the Romanovs. The man responsible for their death? Yakov Yurovsky. On July 17, 1918, he led the family to the cellar where he told them they must hide because the White Army was closing in and that they would be transported elsewhere. In forty-five minutes, which was strangely long, the family came down dressed and ready. When they all were there, Yurovsky read to the family, "'In the light of the fact that your relatives in Europe {are} continuing their agression against Soviet Russia {it} has been decreed that {you are} to be shot."' (Fleming 239) First, Yurovsky shot Nicholas, then Alexandra. The servants died as well. But the children were still screaming! The bullets bounced off their chests. They had sewn jewels into their shirts, acting as a bulletproof vest. Sadly, a bulletproof vest was not enough. Alexei was next, along with his sisters Olga and Tatiana, all taken by bullets to the head. Marie and Anastasia were attacked with bayonets and then shot. One of their servants, Anna Demidova was the last to die. They tossed the bodies into Koptyaki Forest. When they did find the remains of the Romanovs, there were no bodies. Just bone fragments, jewelery and corsets. The fragments that were left appeared to have been either burned or dissolved with sulfuric acid. Three hundred years of the Romanov Dynasty, gone with a pull of a trigger.
(Fleming, Candice pg. 232-243)
Bibliography
Fleming, Candace.
The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia.
New York: Schwartz & Wade, 2014. Print.
"Nicholas II." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2015
* I could not indent the second line of the citations because the computer would not let me. Sorry.
This is the room where the Romnaovs were murdered.
Full transcript