"We lived those days not long ago, and yet it seems a hundred years have passed since then."
- Ivan Burnin, The Scent of Apples (x)
"Sweet Mama and Papa! Today I have guests: Maria and Anastasia. They drank tea and played hide and seek, Indians, and dolls. Anastasia was the patient, Maria the nurse, and I the doctor…"
Letter of little Vera Konstantinovna from Pavlovsk, 10th of November 1912. (via romanovrussiatoday)
Princess Vera died in 2001 (within the lifetime of most of us). When the Family was reburied (except Maria and Alexei) I believe she was the only Romanov (or pretty much anyone) still alive who had actually intimately known Nicholas, Alexandra and OTMAA (who of course she played with).
As things actually stood in 1917-1918, Grand Duchess Olga was relatively irrelevant in political terms. She was murdered along with her parents and siblings not because of what she did of could have done, but because of who she was.
The Diary of Olga Romanov - Helen Azar
30 Day Romanov Challenge 2 ~ Recent Biography You’ve Read
Long over due work (the previously untranslated wartime diaries of Olga) finally gifted by the amazingly talented Russianist writer Helen Azar in The Diary of Olga Romanov: Royal Witness to the Revolution. I have been a Romanov fanatic since age 14, and have always had an “obsessive” special love for Olga. Olga’s voice is not only NOT lost in translation (as is so sadly the case in many Russian to English translations i.e. Tolstoy) but Helen brings the voice of this surprisingly modern, beautiful, witty, compassionate, independent-minded kind young woman who declared her individuality in time when women were expected to be adornments to men, vibrantly alive. Helen’s translation seamlessly tells a story worth telling, pulling together the pieces of Olga’s fascinating life and journey through not only her diaries but also her letters and other first hand accounts… (read full review here)
In August 1914, Russia entered World War I, and with it, the imperial family of Tsar Nicholas II was thrust into a conflict they would not survive. His eldest child, Olga Nikolaevna, great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, had begun a diary in 1905 when she was ten years old and kept writing her thoughts and impressions of day-to-day life as a grand duchess until abruptly ending her entries when her father abdicated his throne in March 1917.
The Diary of Olga Romanov: Royal Witness to the Russian Revolution, translated and introduced by scientist and librarian Helen Azar, and supplemented with additional primary source material, is a remarkable document of a young woman who did not choose to be part of a royal family and never exploited her own position, but lost her life simply because of what her family represented.
collage inspired by historyofromanovs
Nicholas II with his daughters Olga, Tatiana and Maria in 1912.
“He thoroughly enjoyed life when it let him, and he was a happy, romping boy. He was very simple in his tastes and he entertained no false satisfaction because he was the Heir; there was nothing he thought less about.” - Pierre Gilliard
"She was the imp of the whole house, and the glummest faces would always brighten in her presence, for it was impossible to resist her jokes and nonsense. She was aflame with life and animation. Even at sixteen she still behaved like a headstrong young foal that has run away from its master. For all her weaknesses you were bound to love this child, because you could not escape from her irresistible charm, made up of freshness, enjoyment of life, ingenuousness and simplicity." - Pierre Gilliard
"She was a wonderful girl, possessed of a tremendous reserve force, and I never realised her unselfish nature until those dreadful days. She too was exceeding fair, dowered with the classic beauty of the Romanovs: her eyes were dark blue, shaded by long lashes, and she had masses of dark brown hair. She was not so lively as her sisters, but she was much more decided in her outlook. The Grand Duchess Marie knew at once what she wanted, and why she wanted it." - Lili Dehn
Maria Nikolaevna is perhaps my favorite royal person ever (along with Princess Ka’iulani). Both of their personalties were enough to turn republicans into monarchists.
"To keep the children quiet, I made them think of things and then guess them. Olga always thinks of the sun, clouds, sky, rain or something belonging to the heavens, explaining to me that it makes her so happy to think of that." - Empress Alexandra Feodorovna
OLGA NIKOLAYEVNA ALPHABET - C
Olga was known for loving, beautiful, sweet, compassionate heart from a young age:
When she and Tatiana were brought to a toy shop, and they were told that they might choose what they liked for themselves, and also for relations and friends at home. Olga looked at the things, and finally chose the very smallest she could find, and said politely: „Thank you very much.” The shop people showed her more attractive toys; she always replied: „No, thank you; I don’t want to take it.” When those with her wondered, why she would not buy the toys, explaining that the people would be very sad if she would not take more, she said: „But the beautiful toys belong to some other little girls, I am sure; and think how sad they would be if they came home and found we had taken them while they were out.”
She was idealistic about the brutual world around her, once saying Well, I really think people are much better now than they used to be. I’m very glad I live now when people are so kind.” When she was 9 years old and Russian-Japaneese war broke out, Olga once stated: “I hope the Russian soldiers will kill all the Japanese; not leave even one alive.“ Margaret Eagar was astonished by such talking and so she told her there were children and women in Japan, people who could not fight, and asked her if she really thought it would be good of the Russian soldiers to slaughter them all. The Grand Duchess reflected for a moment, and then asked: „Have they an Emperor in Japan?” “Certainly,” was the answer. The girl asked various questions and when she learned the answers, she said slowly: I did not know that the Japs were people like ourselves. I thought they were only like monkeys.“ She never said again anything about being pleased to hear of the deaths of the Japanese.
Olga took control of a portion of her sizable fortune when she was twenty and began to respond independently to requests for charity. One day when she was out for a drive she saw a young child using crutches. She asked about the child and learned that the youngster’s parents were too poor to afford treatment. Olga set aside an allowance to cover the child’s medical bills.A court official, Alexander Mossolov, recalled that Olga’s character was “even, good, with an almost angelic kindness” by the time she was a young woman.
Olga cared for and pitied the soldiers she helped to treat. However, the stress of caring for wounded, dying men eventually also took its toll on the sensitive, moody Olga’s nerves.