The Fall of the Romanov Family
On a dark July night, in the year of 1917, the Imperial family of Russia was led into the basement of the Impativ house, to keep the family away from the roaring crowds outside. Since it would not be safe for the family in the upper rooms of the house if there were gunshots in the street, an elaborate, yet slightly true lie told by the guards, later to be known executioners (Massie, 1995). Once the Romanovs, the family physician, valet, maid, and cook were led into the room, the family and help were all lined up against the wall and shot until dead (Massie, 1995). But what caused all of this to happen to a family so undeserving of their fate? The Tsarvich Alexei's hemophilia and the influence of a spiritual healer named Grigori Efimovich Rasputin are the reasons that this fate was bestowed upon the family.
The Romanov death on the 16th of July was simply horrendous. The family was shot in cold blood and the members had to see each other slowly die. The Romanov’s help also died with them, since the help had chosen to stay with the Romanov’s over the family’s months of entrapment in the Impativ House (Massie, 1995). When the Imperial family was taken from their home, the Romanovs were allowed to bring very little help, since most of the help was not loyal enough to go with the family. The family’s maid, physician, valet, and cook were the only people loyal and brave enough to venture outside of the royal home to the Impativ house, for the Romanov’s safety. This was the same reason they were all told that they had to move to the basement of the house, for the family’s safety (Massie, 1995). If only the family knew the real intentions of Yurovsky they would not have been so intent on following Yurovsky and the hoard of guards to the basement.
As Yurovsky gathered the family and help all in the basement, Yurovsky lined the family up quickly and quietly against the wall. The reason that the family was told is that Yurovsky “needed a photograph because people in Moscow were worried that they had escaped” (Massie, 1995). Once Yurovsky was happy with the line-up of the family and their help, Yurovsky called in an eleven man firing squad, not a photographer. Each man of the squad had been ordered a certain Romanov to target and kill, and as each of these men crowded around the door, the firing squad took their places in front of their intended prey. “In view of the fact that your relatives are continuing their attack on Soviet Russia, the Ural Executive Committee has decided to execute you.” These were the final words that the Romanov family heard before Yurovsky signaled the firing squad to open fire on the family (Massie, 1995). Each man of the firing squad raised their guns, aiming for their targets heart, to make the murder quick and with the least amount of blood as possible. Most of the Romanovs died quickly, and once the first round of bullets were fired, the ones that remained alive were Alexis, Tatiana, Marie, Anastasia, and Demidova, who was Alexandra’s maid (Massie, 1995). The firing squad quickly chased down the remaining alive with bayonets. The squad stabbed, kicked, shoved, and beat the rest of the family, throwing away the quick and painless idea the squad had when first entering the room to dispose of the family (Massie, 1995).
Once the Romanovs were killed, the squad went around and pulse checked each of the members of the Romanov family and their help, making sure that each and every one of them were dead. The squad wrapped the family in sheets and loaded the bodies into the back of a huge truck to carry the lifeless bodies out into the forest for burial. A couple of weeks previous to the murder of the Romanov’s, Yurovsky went into the forest to scope out a place to put the bodies. Yurovsky discovered an old, abandoned mine shaft, called the Four Brothers Mine Shaft, to drop the bodies in (Massie, 1995). Yurovsky did not want to be discovered and no one in their right mind would go looking for the bodies in a mine shaft. Once the truck got to the shaft, the squad took the bodies out of the truck, stripped the bodies of their clothes and took the jewels out of the clothes, and then dropped the bodies down the mine shaft (Massie, 1995).
A couple of days after the murder of the Romanov family, people started to wonder where the family was. The citizens did not see the family much, since the family was under house arrest in the Impativ house. Once the family was killed, people began to hear rumors of the Romanov’s demise and decided to go to the woods and snoop around (Massie, 1995). One of the guys that had helped with the murder had leaked some confidential information that would compromise the location of the bodies. Not wanting the bodies to be found, Yurovsky and his crew went back to the mine shaft and brought the bodies back up so the family could be buried in another location, away from the shaft. Late at night, Yurovsky and the firing squad went to the mine to get the bodies (Massie, 1995).
While the squad brought the bodies to the surface, the squad decided exactly what to do with the bodies. The squad needed somewhere to put the bodies, far away from the wandering Russian eye. The squad had decided to bury the bodies so there would be very little chance of the Romanov bodies being found. The squad loaded the bodies back into the truck and started towards the new destination for the bodies (Massie, 1995). Halfway to the destination, the truck got stuck in a muddy rut and would not move in any way, forward or backwards. After hours of fruitless pushing, pulling, and revving the truck, Yurovsky decided to just bury the bodies right there, instead of the predetermined place. Yurovsky doused two of the bodies in sulfuric acid, to disfigure the family, and dug up a grave to toss those two bodies in. For the rest of the bodies, Yurovsky just had his squad dig a very deep hole and just drop the bodies into the hole (Appendix A). Once everything was done and over with, the squad loaded themselves into the truck and drove away, vowing to never speak of the Romanov’s or the location of the bodies ever again (Massie, 1995).
Before the Romanov murder, the Romanov’s led a full and vivacious life. The family ruled Russia with a strong hand, and were beloved by all. So what caused the Romanov’s to go from beloved rulers to six feet under? There are many causes that led to the Romanov’s downfall, one reason even being one of the Romanov children. The youngest Romanov, the heir to the throne, little Alexei, had a fatal genetic flaw (Carson, 2002). When Alexandria was pregnant with the fifth and final Romanov, the Tsarina pleaded for a son. Without a son, the Romanov’s would loose their place at the throne, a convened place for them, since the Romanov’s had been in power for a hundred years or more. Nicholas and Alexandria did many voodoo tricks to try to make the young fetus currently entrapped in Alexandria’s womb be a male (Carson, 2002). The rulers wish was granted when Alexandria produced Alexei, the small baby boy. Alexei had a problem though, one that would prove to be fatal to the survival of the Romanov family (Carson, 2002). Little Alexei was a hemophiliac, which was a very fatal disease that made his blood unable to clot. In short, Alexei would bruise very easily, and chanced bleeding out and dying every time he got even the smallest cut (Trivedi, 2000). Alexandria and Nicholas feared for their only son, not knowing how to take care of a son as sick as Alexei was.
For years, the Romanov family as a whole tried their hardest to protect their young family member from any harm. Alexandria and Nicholas protected Alexei’s secret from the Russian citizens more than anything else. No one but the inner workings of the family knew of Alexei’s fatal flaw. Nicholas feared that if Alexei’s secret got out, then the Russian citizens would not think of Alexei as the strong ruler that Nicholas was and wanted his heir to be as well (Carson, 2002). So, they kept Alexei’s hemophilia a secret and vowed to never let it get out to the public, for fear that the public would not allow Alexei to rule Russia, though the poor boy never got a chance to show himself in the end (Brainard, 1998).
On one particularly bad day for Alexei, he was having one of his nasty bleeding spells. Alexandria and Nicholas had tried everything to stop the bleeding, and doctors tried everything they could, but the poor boy just kept bleeding out. Alexandria feared that her son was going to die. Nicholas and Alexandria called on a spiritual healer named Grigori Efimovich Rasputin to try to stop Alexei’s bleeding (Troy, 2002). Within five minutes of Rasputin being in the room with Alexei, the boy’s bleeding stopped. It was a miracle, and Alexandria thought that Rasputin was an angel sent by god to save her little son. She thought that Rasputin, and only Rasputin and his spiritual ways of healing, could stop the Tsarina’s son from bleeding and save his life (Carson, 2002). Alexandria foolishly thought that Rasputin could heal her son, when medically, during that time, there was no known cure to hemophilia.
Alexandria kept Rasputin around, and made Rasputin an honorary part of the Romanov family. Rasputin was around every time Alexei had a spell, and was always able to stop it. The more Rasputin was around, the more his influence on the Tsarina grew (Atchison, n.d.). Anything Rasputin wanted, Alexandria would bend over backwards to get to him. He started to get around in the higher levels of the royal atmosphere. Soon, no one heard the Romanov’s name without the mention of Rasputin. Rasputin was Alexandria’s right hand man, and Alexandria feared to let him go simply because she felt Rasputin was the only man who was holy enough to save her son (Troy, 2002). Little did she know that Rasputin was not exactly a holy man. He drank, and tried to woo women any time he saw it was convenient. Rasputin was a bit promiscuous when it came to drinking in bars, and Rasputin would not ever pass up a chance to pick up on a woman or two (Carson, 2002).
Alexandria was not aware of the real Rasputin. If Alexandria had known, she would not have thought of Rasputin so high and mighty and put him on such a high pedestal as she did. Alexandria saw Rasputin as a holy man, someone who could do no wrong. In the light he was, in fact, a saint, but in the dark coverings of the night, Rasputin was a very promiscuous man (Carson, 2002). By some turn of fate though, Rasputin did have a way with the young Tsarvich Alexei. Rasputin also was smart enough to simply keep his personal life out of the light so that Alexandria would not ever find out of what Rasputin really was. He made the queen feel like she was doing something for Alexei’s condition (Troy, 2002). Alexandria knew that this condition would kill her son if she was not careful, so having Rasputin around made Alexandria feel better about having a sick son.
As the time ran on and Rasputin began spending more and more time with the Romanov family, Rasputin started to be showered with gifts by Alexandria. These gifts from the Tsarina were the constant talk in the bars at night with Rasputin. Rasputin would show them off, telling people of how well he knew the Romanov’s (Troy, 2002). This soon made it look like Rasputin had something going on with the Tsarina, and that he was not really helping the young Tsarvich. The people of Russia believed that Rasputin was trying to steal Alexandria away from Nicholas, and Nicholas saw the same thing. Though Nicholas would never act on these thoughts, he did feel as if Rasputin was trying to come onto his wife, something that Nicholas would not stand for (Carson, 2002).
The people of Russia saw Rasputin for what he really was, a drinker and a womanizer. They knew Rasputin was no saint, but nothing could convince Alexandria otherwise. Alexandria did not want to believe that Rasputin was anything less than prefect, though Rasputin was far from the standards that Alexandria viewed him as (Atchison, n.d.). Rasputin never let his nasty ways slip to Alexandria, for fear of being removed from her most inner circle of the royal family. Rasputin liked the position he was at in the family, because he was able to easily get things done, since Alexandria would give Rasputin anything he wanted and anything he needed to make sure he stayed satisfied enough to attend to Alexei (Troy, 2002).
The people of Russia were not pleased at how Alexandria adored Rasputin. Rasputin was an evil man, in their eyes at least. The other men involved in the royal family saw Rasputin as a threat to the throne. The noblemen did not enjoy the way Rasputin gazed at Alexandria with a remote longing in his eyes (Brainard, 1998). It is said that Alexandria and Rasputin did have an affair of sorts, and it was believed by the Russian population, but no evidence was brought forth to confirm or deny that the alleged affair was factual. The men of the higher courts, the noblemen, demanded that Rasputin be cut from the royal rankings, but neither Rasputin nor Alexandria would hear of it. The noblemen consulted with each other and eventually plotted Rasputin’s murder. The noblemen were sick of Rasputin’s unnecessary influence on the Russian government (Rosenberg, n.d.).
The plan to kill Rasputin was to lure him in by using the only thing that Rasputin loved, rich women. That would explain why Rasputin went after Alexandria. One of the noblemen, Prince Felix Yusupov, conspired with the rest of the noblemen and devised a simple plan (Rosenberg, n.d.). The noblemen would put cyanide, a deadly poison, into the wine and cakes the men would be serving to Rasputin the night they planned to kill them. When Rasputin arrived, he was brought to the cellar. The noblemen offered Rasputin the wine and the cakes, and he took much of each, without showing any signs of the poison within his system (Rosenberg, n.d.). Rasputin seemed drunk more than anything else. Yusupov went upstairs, to converse with the other men involved in the murder. Yusupov talked it over with the men and decided to just shoot Rasputin, which would defiantly kill him (Rosenberg, n.d.). Yusupov grabbed a pistol off the wall and walked back downstairs and hid the gun behind his back. Yusupov aimed the gun at Rasputin and shot, watching the body hit the floor. The other men ran downstairs to see the dead body (Rosenberg, n.d.). Rasputin twitched and convulsed for a little while, but then fell silent. The men went back upstairs to talk and converse about the murder and what to do with the body (Rosenberg, n.d.).
About an hour later, Yusupov went downstairs to check the body. Yusupov put his hand on the body, and it was still warm. Rasputin was still alive! After Yusupov removed his hand from the body, Rasputin’s left eye fluttered (Rosenberg, n.d.). How Rasputin was still living was beyond all the noblemen’s range of thinking, the men just knew that they had to do something about the body. Rasputin sprung to his feet and charged at Yusupov. Rasputin ran and yelled up the stairs to the other noblemen that Rasputin was still alive (Rosenberg, n.d.). Purishkevich, another nobleman that wanted Rasputin dead, pulled out his revolver and ran down the stairs to finish Rasputin off, only to find Rasputin running across the courtyard, yelling that he was going to tell the Tsarina everything that happened. Purishkevich chased him with a gun, shooting twice, but missing. On the third shot, Purishkevich hit Rasputin in the back and Rasputin stopped (Rosenberg, n.d.). Purishkevich shot him again, this time hitting Rasputin in the head. Rasputin fell to the ground, where Purishkevich kicked him in the head. When Purishkevich brought Rasputin back to the house, Felix saw Rasputin and immediately started beating Rasputin with a brass dumbbell (Rosenberg, n.d.). Once Felix was pulled off, he was completely covered in blood. The noblemen soon discovered, since it was almost dawn that the noblemen needed to get rid of the body (Rosenberg, n.d.). Felix stayed home to clean himself up, and the rest of the noblemen transported the body to be disposed of. They took Rasputin’s body and threw it over the railing of a bridge. Once the body was thrown, the noblemen did not speak of Rasputin, or what happened that fateful night, for fear of being discovered (Rosenberg, n.d.).
When Rasputin was killed, Alexandria was devastated. Not even a couple of months after the murder of Rasputin the Romanov’s were put into exile at the Impativ house. July 16, 1917, the Romanov family was shot and killed (Massie, 1995). Once the Romanov’s were overthrown, Vladimir Lenin took over Russia and turned Russia into a communist nation (Background Note: Russia, 2009).
In conclusion, the Romanov downfall was partially their fault, but at the same time, it was something that the family could not control. Alexei’s sickness and Rasputin’s involvement into the government contributed to the Romanov’s downfall. It was like a trickle effect, of sorts. Since Alexei was sick, the Romanov’s called Rasputin. Since Rasputin was called, he started to show that he was “healing” Alexei. Since Rasputin was thought to be “healing” Alexei, Alexandria kept Rasputin around. The more Rasputin was around, the more he started to work himself into the Russian government. When Rasputin worked himself into the Russian government, he caused uproar in the Russian population. Rasputin caused the uproar that got him killed, which led to the Romanovs being disposed of as well.