Scattered stuff from a native New Yorker, disorganized former English Major, film buff, haiku enthusiast, semi-professional photographer and totally amateur fencer.

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July 17th, 1918: The Execution of the Romanovs


"The decision was not only expedient but necessary. The severity of the summary justice showed the world that we would continue to fight on mercilessly, stopping at nothing. The execution of the Tsar’s family was needed not only in order to frighten, horrify, and dishearten the enemy, but also in order to shake up our own ranks to show that there was no going back." - Leon Trotsky (1879 - 1940)

"With the saints give rest, O Christ, to the soul of your servant where there is neither pain, nor sorrow, nor suffering but life everlasting."
- A Russian Orthodox prayer for the dead, contained within the last Church service the Romanovs ever attended on Sunday July 14th 1918. The officiating priest, Father Storozhev, reported that the Tsar’s daughters had tears in their eyes as they said the prayer.

Those slaughtered on that terrible night were Nicholas II, the former Emperor of All the Russias, his German-born but British-educated Empress Alexandra, their four daughters, 23 year-old Grand Duchess Olga, 21 year-old Grand Duchess Tatiana, 19 year-old Grand Duchess Maria, 17 year-old Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the Emperor’s 13 year-old son, Alexei, who had things gone differently, might one day have reigned as Tsar Alexei II. Also killed on that night was the Imperial Family’s faithful physician, Dr. Botkin, the Tsar’s valet, Alexei Trupp, their cook, Ivan Kharitanov, and Anna Demidova, the Grand Duchesses’ maid. 

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I love to use that quote to those who think Trotsky was the “good” Communist as opposed to Stalin. Those who think “summary justice” included shooting a hemophiliac 13 years old three times in the skull while he is already crawling on the floor in a pool of his own blood or bayoneting his teenage sisters over and over again have something seriously wrong with them. 

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Favorite OTMA anecdotes {2/10}
Aʟᴇxᴀɴᴅʀᴀ was now anxious about Marie Nicolaievna only. The latter had been taken ill much later than her sisters, and her condition was aggravated by a severe attack of pneumonia and of a virulent kind. Her constitution was excellent, but she had all she could do to survive. She was a victim of her own devotion. This girl of seventeen had spent herself without reflection during the revolution. She had been her mother’s greatest comfort and stand-by. During the night of March 13th she had been rash enough to go out with her mother to speak to the soldiers, thus exposing herself to the cold, even though she realised that her illness was beginning. 

- Tʜɪʀᴛᴇᴇɴ ʏᴇᴀʀs ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ Rᴜssɪᴀɴ ᴄᴏᴜʀᴛ, Pɪᴇʀʀᴇ Gɪʟʟɪᴀʀᴅ

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Russla’s Lost Princesses Part 2 (on the BBC) - Quick Review

The BBC 2-part documentary has become somewhat of a cause célèbre on Tumblr with everyone knowing about it now but I thought I should do a follow-up on Part 2.

More here:


Again - Some nice (and CLEAR) footage and photos. Yeah, this time that really is it. Although one nursing photo that was supposed to be Olga was clearly Tatiana and some seconds of footage of “Nicholas II” smoking was clearly not NII but seemingly from a silent Bolshevik propaganda film.


Well, it’s pretty much what I thought. Let’s not call this “Russia’s Lost Princesses”, let’s just call it yet another Nicholas and Alexandra documentary (and when it comes to those I’ve seen better on National Geographic or the History Channel). They had two hours and unless you knew who OTMA were coming in I bet you couldn’t tell ANYTHING specific about Maria, Anastasia or Tatiana based on this documentary.

Olga does get a little more mention thanks to her non-engagement to Carol of Romania, her “romance” with Dmitri Shakh-Bagov and her feelings of melancholy about their upcoming doom.

Oh and there Maria and the cake thing. Which apparently was important enough to mention although this was pretty much the first mention of Maria - a girl who, despite already coming down with measles, walked with her mother to every soldier who guarded the Alexander Palace and asked them for their loyalty - in the cold, at night, literally at the risk of her own life (since she almost died). This incident is told in every book about N&A, but was not important enough as a example of Maria’s character to talk about here. The cake thing, yeah….

Tatiana also had “romances” with soldiers as a nurse, particularly of course Dmitri Malama - a man who gave her Ortino (who died with her in Ekaterinburg), who Alix said would have made a great “son in-law” had he been a prince and who died fighting for the White Army in 1919. But then he doesn’t fit the “swarthy, mustachioed” type that the girls were supposedly into so he’s never mentioned.

Nor is Tatiana’s refugee committee which she oversaw personally and was so successful that the Provisional Govt. continued it post-abdication. Maria and Anastasia’s hospital visits (and the fact they had their own hospital they sponsored) also never mentioned. 

Instead its more of a pile-on for Nicky and Alix, with Nicholas perceived as weak who followed whatever Alix (and Rasputin said). Several historians in recent times have disputed this idea and pointed out how often Nicholas IGNORED Alix’s political advice. But that doesn’t fit the template they wanted to tell so - no go.

It was pretty clear that most of the commentators, outside of Prince Michael of Kent, pretty much loathed Nicholas and Alexandra and just let loose (in a doc that was SUPPOSED to be about the daughters). The whole idea that Alix and O&T’s nursing was a “bad” PR move and taking pictures of themselves in nursing uniforms backfired because prostitutes had gotten hold of a shipment of nursing uniforms. WTF! Seriously. WTF! There’s a thread on the Alexander Palace Forum right now about how prior to abdication, Alix was universally praised and held in high regard not just by the Allies in the war but by the other side for her nursing and wartime relief efforts. And O&T are front and center in postcards from the era out to kazoo and in newspapers reports of the time - ALL IN THEIR NURSING OUTFITS. 

Also the whole thing with the “rumors” about Alix and Rasputin and the girls and Rasputin and how “everybody” believed them including foreign dignitaries. Which, excuse me, is crap. Any foreign ambassador or European world leader (many of whom were related to Alix) knew of her personal near-Puritan character. No they didn’t BELIEVE. The British certainly didn’t. Nor did the Austrians or Germans. The Spanish Govt. and the Vatican (both of which offered the IF asylum but too late) obviously didn’t. Just like in Ep. 1 they talk about the “gossip” of the time concerning Rasputin as if it were fact. In the first episode they said there was “no evidence” concerning Rasputin with O&T but here with Alix we didn’t even get that disclaimer.

The true point of the documentary was shown in the final moments. Showing that iconic 1904 photo of OTMA, reeling off the ages of the girls at their deaths and then saying that ones who were responsible for their death was NOT Yakov Yurovsky (the mastermind of the execution does not even get NAME CHECKED once!) but the girl’s own parents! Nicholas and Alexandra were responsible for the horrible gruesome terrifying manner in which these girls died -which they never go into detail about beyond shooting and bayoneting, nothing about the diamonds or how the girls (at least Maria, Tatiana and Anastasia) survived the first volleys of gunfire and saw their parents murdered. Yes, N&A totally should have predicted that the Revolutionaries would have killed their children along with them. I mean didn’t the English kill Charles I’s kids? Wait, no they didn’t. How about the French Revolutionaries? Surely the Jacobins killed Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’s kids….oh, wait, they DIDN’T either (though the Dauphin died from mistreatment). 

It just saddens me that they had two hours to give time to the distinct personalities of each of these supposed “Lost Princesses” and spend most of the time talking about their parents. Has anyone who has ever read anything (even if its just Massie’s Nicholas and Alexandra) about the family knows the girls were individuals in their own right. As letters and photos and diaries are becoming more and more accessible from GARF and other sources we actually have more information on how true that was. But from this documentary you would never know it.

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Lit Meme → [8/10] Books: The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller

A flurry of panic erupts around me, but nothing penetrates. Only a haze of sounds brushes against me. Yelps from Mama, my sisters. Papa turning back to Yurovsky, his mouth moving. What? I can’t understand you. Read it again please. Yurovsky’s voice once more, like a needle on a gramophone. Papa, still asking, What? What? 
Another flash - Yurovsky and his squad answering with open fire. 
I cross myself and close my eyes. 
Where we go next, we go together.

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