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Title: Anastasia: The autobiography of H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nicholaevna of Russia
Author: Smetisko, Eugenia
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Anastasia: The autobiography of H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nicholaevna of Russia" ***


                                                                   $5.95

 This is the only authentic autobiography of the Grand Duchess
 Anastasia Nicholaevna, fourth daughter of the late Emperor Nicholas II
 and the late Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia.

 The Grand Duchess Anastasia furnishes authentic information and many
 previously unpublished details concerning the life of the Imperial
 Family and suite from the days of her childhood to the date of the
 murder of her parents and other members of her Family in Ekaterinburg
 on the night of July 16-17, 1918.

 Her story is divided into six major parts: the youthful years, the
 period of the First World War, arrest and exile, life in Tobolsk, life
 in Ekaterinburg, and the period after the tragedy which includes her
 rescue and escape to Bukovina.

 The life of a Grand Duchess of Russia was no downy bed of roses.
 Discipline was imposed by the Tsar and Tsarina, particularly the
 latter. Study was an essential duty which took many hours. During the
 war years there were responsibilities connected with the operation of
 hospitals for the wounded. Always over the Family hung the fear of the
 possible demise of the heir to the throne, the young Tsesarevich and
 Grand Duke Alexei Nicholaevich, who had inherited haemophilia through
 his Mother.

 The Grand Duchess Anastasia rejects vigorously various accusations
 directed against each of her parents. She explains in her preface the
 reasons for her long submergence and for her present re-emergence
 forty-five years after her reported death.

 Her style is brisk and invigorating. Her sense of humor repeatedly
 delights with accounts of lighter events and anecdotes.

 This is an invaluable historical record.

                    ROBERT SPELLER & SONS, Publishers
                           33 West 42nd Street
                          New York, N.Y. 10036



[Illustration:

  _Photograph by Stephen Gaillard_      _Portrait by Richard Banks_

H.I.H. THE GRAND DUCHESS ANASTASIA NICHOLAEVNA OF RUSSIA]



ANASTASIA

The Autobiography of H.I.H. The Grand Duchess

Anastasia Nicholaevna of Russia

Volume I

[Illustration]

  ROBERT SPELLER & SONS, PUBLISHERS
  New York



  © 1963 by Robert Speller & Sons, Publishers, Inc.
  33 West 42nd Street
  New York, New York 10036
  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 63-22672


  First edition
  All rights reserved


Printed in the United States of America



WITH LOVE AND ESTEEM

I dedicate this book


_To My Family:_

_To My Father, His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor Nicholas II,_

_To My Mother, Her Imperial Majesty, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna,_

_To My Brother, His Imperial Highness, the Tsesarevich Alexei
 Nicholaevich,_

_To My Sisters, Their Imperial Highnesses, the Grand Duchesses Olga,
Tatiana, and Marie;_

_To those dear and understanding friends who perished with My Family in
Ekaterinburg;_

_Dr. Eugene Botkin, Mlle. Anna Demidova, Ivan Kharitonov, and Trup;_

_To those faithful friends and companions who, because of their loyalty
to us, perished before or after the tragedy which befell My Family:_

_Countess Anastasia Hendrikova, Mlle. Ekaterina Schneider, Prince
Vasily Dolgorukov, Count Ilia Tatishchev, Nagorny, Chemodurov, and
Ivan Sidniev;_

_To My Brother’s youthful companion and helper, whose fate I never
learned:_

_Leonid Sidniev;_

_To My Uncle, His Imperial Highness, the Grand Duke Michael
Alexandrovich, and his secretary and friend, Nicholas Johnson, both of
whom disappeared, apparently murdered by the Bolsheviks;_

_To My Aunt, Her Imperial Highness, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth
Feodorovna, and her faithful nun, Varvara, who were brutally murdered
by the Bolsheviks;_

_To other members of the Imperial Family who were murdered by the
Bolsheviks;_

_To all members of the Imperial Family who died during the First World
War and the Civil War in Russia;_

_To all members of the Imperial Family, living and dead, who survived
the Bolshevik revolution;_

_To those dear and helpful friends:_

 _Count Apraxin and Captain Nilov;_

_To the two officers who came to pay their respects and salute My
Father for the last time at the station at Tsarskoe Selo just before
our departure for Siberia:_

_Kushelev and Artasalev (?);_

_To friends who voluntarily accompanied My Family into exile;_

_To my rescuer, Alexander;_

_To Nikolai; to the Serbian, the Croatian, and the former Austrian
soldier; and to all others who befriended and aided me during the long
journey from the vicinity of Ekaterinburg to a refuge in Bukovina;_

_To those millions of heroes of the Russian Empire, sung and unsung,
who gave their lives in defense of their country against the Central
Powers and against the Bolsheviks;_

_To all members of the Imperial Armed Forces who served their Emperor
and their country faithfully and loyally at all times;_

_To the millions who died in Russia from execution, starvation and
other causes deriving from Bolshevik cruelty, tyranny and misrule;_

_To the members of the Imperial Armed Forces who are now living outside
their homeland and especially those among them who are maimed and
destitute;_

_To all who have helped me in any way since I left Russia;_

_To all these--departed and living, known and unknown, relatives and
friends--I am eternally grateful._


_Anastasia_



Acknowledgements


The present book could never have been completed without the
encouragement, inspiration and help of friends who were interested in
having the story of my family, as known to me, the youngest of the four
daughters of the late Emperor Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra,
and my own story made known to the world.

My indebtedness to these friends is deep and lasting. First of all
must be mentioned the late Mrs. Helen Kohlsaat Wells, a close friend
and confidante for many, many years. She worked with me closely during
the years 1930 to 1934 during which we completed the first complete
draft of the manuscript. Many years later we worked intermittently on
revising the manuscript until Mrs. Wells’ untimely death. Also in a
separate category is the late Mr. John Adams Chapman, whose friendship
and counsel were so valuable at all times. Deserving of special
gratitude are Mrs. Marjorie Wilder Emery, Miss Edith Kohlsaat, Mr.
and Mrs. Norman Hanson, Mrs. John Adams Chapman, Mr. and Mrs. Louis
Ellsworth Laflin, Jr., and Mr. and Mrs. Francis Beidler II.



Table of Contents


  List of Illustrations                                  xi
  Author’s Preface                                     xiii


  PART ONE         THE YOUTHFUL YEARS                     1

  Chapter I        Earliest Memories                      3
  Chapter II       School Days                           15
  Chapter III      Cruises                               25
  Chapter IV       The Crimea                            40
  Chapter V        Spala: 1912                           53
  Chapter VI       Jubilee: 1913                         66


  PART TWO         THE FIRST WORLD WAR                   73

  Chapter VII      Eve of the War: 1914                  75
  Chapter VIII     No Choice But War                     83
  Chapter IX       Family Heartaches                     95
  Chapter X        Mogilev                              113
  Chapter XI       Our Last Autumn in Tsarskoe Selo     126
  Chapter XII      Revolution                           140
  Chapter XIII     Abdication                           152


  PART THREE       ARREST AND EXILE                     171

  Chapter XIV      Arrest                               173
  Chapter XV       Subjugation                          182
  Chapter XVI      Departure                            193
  Chapter XVII     Journey                              203


  PART FOUR        TOBOLSK                              209

  Chapter XVIII    Orientation                          211
  Chapter XIX      Winter                               226
  Chapter XX       Danger                               236
  Chapter XXI      Separation                           248


  PART FIVE        EKATERINBURG                         263

  Chapter XXII     Reunion                              265
  Chapter XXIII    Deprivation and Courage              278
  Chapter XXIV     The Nights Are Long                  286
  Chapter XXV      Accusation                           291
  Chapter XXVI     Fear and Dread                       297
  Chapter XXVII    Our Final Decision                   303
  Chapter XXVIII   Dawn Turns to Dusk                   314


  PART SIX         AFTER THE TRAGEDY                    321

  Chapter XXIX     Dugout                               323
  Chapter XXX      Recovery                             338
  Chapter XXXI     Westward Trek                        348
  Chapter XXXII    Alexander                            358
  Chapter XXXIII   Escape                               373
  Chapter XXXIV    Refuge                               378

  Index                                                 383



List of Illustrations


FRONTISPIECE

The Grand Duchess Anastasia (portrait)


FIRST GROUP

 The Grand Duchess Anastasia

 Announcement of Birth of the Grand Duchess Anastasia

 The Empress Alexandra

 The Grand Duchess Anastasia, the Tsesarevich Alexei and the Emperor
 Nicholas II

 The Tsesarevich Alexei, the Empress Alexandra and the Emperor Nicholas
 II

 The Russian Imperial Family on visit to the British Royal Family

 The Grand Duke Alexander and the Grand Duchess Xenia and Their Children

 Alexander Palace, Tsarskoe Selo

 The New Palace, Livadia

 Nicholas II

 The Empress Alexandra

 The Tsesarevich Alexei

 Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra

 The Grand Duchess Anastasia

 The Grand Duchesses Marie, Tatiana, Anastasia and Olga

 The Empress Alexandra with Her Daughters

 Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra and Their Children

 The Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana

 The Grand Duchesses Marie and Anastasia

 The Grand Duchesses Anastasia, Olga, Tatiana and Marie

 Nicholas II

 The Grand Duchess Anastasia, the Empress Alexandra and President
 Raymond Poincaré


SECOND GROUP

 The Dowager Empress Marie

 The Emperor Nicholas II

 The Empress Alexandra

 The Tsesarevich Alexei

 The Grand Duke Michael

 The Grand Duchess Elizabeth

 The Grand Duchesses Anastasia, Marie and Tatiana

 Nicholas II and His Children

 The Tsesarevich Alexei and the Grand Duchesses Olga, Anastasia and
 Tatiana

 The Grand Duchesses Marie, Olga, Anastasia and Tatiana

 Views of Tobolsk

 Ipatiev House, Ekaterinburg

 The Death Chamber, Ipatiev House, Ekaterinburg

 The Handkerchief

 The Piece of Glass

 Map of Ekaterinburg and Vicinity

 The Grand Duchesses Marie and Anastasia

 The Grand Duchess Anastasia

 Nicholas II with His Children and His Nephew, Prince Vasili

 The Grand Duchess Anastasia

 The Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia and Marie

 The Grand Duchess Anastasia

 The Grand Duchess Anastasia and Marjorie Hanson

 The Grand Duchess Anastasia


THIRD GROUP

 Cameos of the Grand Duchess Anastasia Through the Years



Author’s Preface


A few weeks after my arrival in Bukovina--after I had had time to
recover from the emotional and nervous shock and body wounds which I
had suffered at the time of the tragedy on the night of July 16-17,
1918--I decided to write about my home life with my beloved family,
about our arrest, about our exile in Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg, about
the assassination of the family in Ekaterinburg, and about my rescue
and subsequent escape across the frontier.

I made many, many notes, totaling over three hundred pages. I spent
hours and hours in the writing, days and nights of introspective
experiences, of grief and horror. I wrote in a peasant cottage in a
lonely village dotted with thatched-roof houses. I wrote at night in
the candlelight, agonizing over my story. At times the only relief I
had from my misery was the howling or barking of a dog. I remembered my
beloved Father’s words, “Dearest children, are you awake?” Tear after
tear dropped as I labored.

I remembered also my Father’s desire that a history of Russia should
be written by a member of our family. My Father had had in mind that
such a history might be written by my two oldest sisters and, to that
end, he gave them much valuable information. As it has turned out, it
is the youngest sister, the one least prepared to do so, upon whom
devolves the task of writing such a book, if it is to be written. That
is something for the future.

In 1918, after my escape, I thought that the book I had decided to
write about my family and myself might include historical data and
interpretation which would be of interest to the world and would be
of benefit to the Russian people and to their, and my, native land. I
particularly wanted to let the world know the facts about the arrest,
exile and murder of my parents, sisters and brother, and about the
nature of the Bolshevik regime in my country. It was the notes for this
book that I produced so painfully and painstakingly.

These early notes unfortunately vanished in 1919 when I was on my way
by train from Rumania to Serbia--second homeland to us Russians--while
in the vicinity of Turnu-Severin. I had accepted from another
traveller--I thought he was an Italian--his kind offer of a slice of
bread and a piece of ham. Three or four hours later I became ill and
had to leave the compartment. When I returned some time later, the
heartless traveller, who had no pity for a young woman travelling
alone, had disappeared along with my suitcase and a blanket. The
suitcase contained not only my precious notes, so laboriously produced,
but also some personal belongings, some letters, and a list of about
one hundred names of the men who had done most of the harm to Russia,
and to my family. These names I had written down from memory, based
upon information furnished by my rescuer, Alexander. Most of these
names were already familiar to me.

In Yugoslavia, I resumed work on my book. I continued the task later
in Rumania and, once more, in Yugoslavia. I again wrote many pages of
notes, using a pencil stub and scraps of paper. Such of these notes as
remained legible were used subsequently in the preparation of the first
draft of the present book.

Later, in the early thirties, some years after my arrival in the United
States, I began to revise my materials which were in a disorganized but
generally readable condition, assisted by my good friends, the late
Mrs. Helen Kohlsaat Wells, and her sister, Miss Edith Kohlsaat. During
this phase of the undertaking I was determined to complete the book as
soon as possible and to make provision for its publication only after
my own demise.

For about twenty years, I was unable to work on the manuscript, due
to the necessity of making my own living. During this period I gave
no attention whatever to the manuscript which I had confided for
safekeeping to my lawyer, a friend who was aware of my real identity
and who wished to help me ultimately to find a publisher.

Five or six years ago I decided to resume work on the book. A complete
revision and reorganization of my materials were again required. Once
more I had the benefit of Helen Wells’ assistance and counsel.

I had also the great and valued encouragement of my good friends the
late John Adams Chapman and Mrs. Marjorie Wilder Emery.

Early in 1963 I mentioned to a friend in New York, who was unaware of
my identity, that I had in my possession a manuscript on the Russian
Revolution. He suggested I get in touch with a close friend, Dr. Jon
P. Speller of Robert Speller & Sons, Publishers, Inc. This I did.
The first member of the firm with whom I talked was Mr. Robert E. B.
Speller, Jr., who surprised me with the depth of his knowledge of
my family. I informed him that the Grand Duchess Anastasia had left
the manuscript with me, a close friend, shortly before her death in
1919. I hoped--naively--to achieve early publication of the manuscript
while keeping secret my true identity. Dr. Jon Speller then joined
the conversation. He asked if I would be willing to take a polygraph
examination to back up my statements. Upon my consenting to do so, they
agreed to read the manuscript.

They, and their father, Mr. Robert E. B. Speller, Sr., President of the
firm, after reading the manuscript became convinced for various reasons
that the manuscript could have been written only by a member of the
Imperial family. They questioned me at length and finally I confided
to Dr. Jon Speller and then to Mr. Robert Speller, Jr. that their
suspicions were correct, that I was Anastasia, but that, if possible, I
would like to retain my anonymity.

Therefore the polygraph examination, given by the noted polygraph
expert Mr. Cleve Backster, was begun by testing me on my statements
that I was a friend of Anastasia. Mr. Backster quickly recognized
that I was withholding pertinent information, even to the extent that
I could be Anastasia; I finally admitted my real identity to him. In
a series lasting more than thirty hours in all, Mr. Backster became
convinced that I am really Anastasia. I signed a contract with Robert
Speller & Sons and began editing my book with Mr. Earl L. Packer,
senior editor of the firm, and Mr. Robert Speller, Jr.

My reasons for bringing the book before the world at the present time
will, I hope, be readily understood. They are not complicated. First,
I wished to come to the defense of my deceased parents, against whom
many unfounded accusations and slanders were made. Second, I felt that
various distortions of history which have been given wide circulation
needed to be corrected. Third, I wished to expose the falsity of the
claims of other persons to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia. Fourth,
I desired to establish a foundation which would set up a museum,
with a small chapel therein, to honor my family who loved Russia so
faithfully; and also to assure, in so far as I might be able to do so,
funds for its maintenance, hoping proceeds from the sale of the book
might in large measure provide such funds. Fifth, I wished to establish
a fund for the provision of financial assistance to destitute former
Russian soldiers and officers; again I hoped that the proceeds of the
sale of the book might help in this undertaking. Sixth, I planned
that, in the event the proceeds of the sale of my book should provide
sufficient funds to enable me to do so, I would assist financially a
very small number of charitable and philanthropic organizations which,
for the most part, I have already definitively selected.

Sometime earlier I had come to doubt that, if publication of the
book were postponed until after my death, as I had earlier resolved,
my projects would ever materialize. Also, I thought unlikely the
possibility that anyone but myself could or would make knowledgeable
and effective defense against whatever unfavorable criticism might be
made of the book and myself upon its publication.

I have had the opportunity for a relatively quiet life in the United
States, where I have had comparative freedom from all the attentions
that might have surrounded an earlier reappearance in the world in
my true identity. But my purposes, as enumerated above, could not
be accomplished by remaining longer submerged. So I have resolved
to balance the opportunities for good against the possible personal
inconveniences, hoping still to be able, after publication of my book,
to continue to live undisturbed a simple, private life devoted in large
part to further writing.

  A.N.R. 1963



ANASTASIA



PART I The Youthful Years



I EARLIEST MEMORIES


It was June 5th, 1901, by the Russian calendar, June 18th by the new.
Suspense and excitement abounded at Peterhof. The accouchement of the
Tsarina was momentarily expected. The fourth child, surely this time it
would be a boy. Russia bowed to the little Grand Duchess Olga, then to
the baby Tatiana. But Marie, a third daughter in succession, had been
entirely too many. However, all would be righted if this fourth child
were the long-awaited Tsarevich.

At last, the guns: the baby had arrived; a three hundred gun salute
would announce an Imperial Grand Duke and heir to the Russian throne.
One hundred and one guns would announce a Grand Duchess. The guns
saluted a second time. The people paused to count--three, four, five,
on and on, came the rhythmical booms. The populace stood breathless.
Twenty-three, on and on, one hundred, one hundred and one, the guns
stopped. No, it could not be. It was not possible. Alas, yes. The
fourth child of the Tsar and Tsarina of Russia was another daughter.
Caught in an anticlimax, the man in the street went his way, but
diplomatic Russia said “Bah” and resented the Tsarina who could not
fulfill her function. The Tsar and the Tsarina accepted the inevitable
and said, “It is God’s will.”

All the while I, the unconscious cause of this frustration, had lain
peacefully in the same little crib which had cradled the three sisters
before me. It was not long however before the unwelcomed wee one won
the hearts of its parents and I was christened Anastasia, but to the
world outside I was number four, almost forgotten beyond the family
circle.

As a child, my tomboy spirit predominated and I was permitted to
indulge this urge until I became something of a novelty in a court
reeking with formality. Nothing pleased me more than an audience,
especially when they nodded and whispered “cute.”

My next older sister Marie and I were inseparable. At an early age my
greatest delight was to arouse her curiosity. Often when we were at the
height of some make-believe, I would suddenly dart away. Marie was as
slow to action as I was quick, so I would slip out of sight into one of
my hiding places. Then began the hunt I revelled in. The searchers went
around, as I listened from my vantage point, purring with satisfaction
when I heard the call, “Anastasia, where are you? Be a good girl and
give us a hint.” These games began good-naturedly, but often when
the hunt dragged on, I lost patience and felt compelled to reveal my
whereabouts.

Secret hiding places became an obsession with me, especially tiny ones
so snug I had to squeeze into them. There I often stayed gloating
over the bewilderment and eventual rage of searchers. Once when I was
quite young I slipped out of the nursery onto the balcony. It was late
in the afternoon and the long shadows fascinated me, so that I must
have remained there quietly for a long time. Suddenly I heard excited
voices and I decided to keep perfectly quiet. At dusk, in the uncertain
light, I flattened myself against the shadowed wall. The sentries were
spreading over the park; the worry was growing. I was thrilled when
I knew they were searching for me, but I was a little frightened of
the gathering darkness. I ran quickly down the stairs and to the main
floor. Mother was talking to one of the officers when her eyes suddenly
fell on me.

“Anastasia,” she cried, “where have you been?”

“Right on the balcony and no one could find me,” I answered with all
the glee in my voice I could muster.

Almost before I could finish, Father was beside me. He took me by the
hand. One look at his face warned me that something was very wrong.
Without a word he signaled to the distressed nurse. Her face was
flushed. She marched me to my room and I never ventured one look of
triumph as she undressed me. She did not say a word until I was in bed.
Then she said, “You were a very naughty girl to worry your Mother so.
She was very hurt.”

Mother always came to kiss me goodnight. I didn’t stir in my bed lest
I should miss her footsteps. Finally I heard her approaching with my
sisters; their voices sounded happy. She stopped at the door for only a
moment, and Marie entered the room alone. When the nurse turned out the
lights, I realized that Mother was not going to kiss me that night.

The next morning a penitent little girl asked herself: “Will Mother
come to me now?” And: “Will she be cross with me?” I was full of
contrition, but how could I express it if Mother were not in a
receptive mood? My eyes fastened on the door, hoping to see Mother’s
face. Suddenly she appeared. I ran to her and wrapped myself around her
neck. I promised never to worry her again.

Mother’s daily round took her to the nursery the first thing every
morning before breakfast to say a prayer with us children and to
read one chapter to us from the Bible. She was usually attired in
a beautiful dressing gown of white--occasionally in other soft
colors--her hair braided and tied with silk ribbon to match the
trimming of her gown, a habit acquired from her grandmother, Queen
Victoria of England. These were precious moments to us children. She
was a fairytale empress--stately and beautiful.

On July 30th, 1904, Russian calendar, August 12th by the new, my little
brother was born on a Friday noon. Three hundred guns announced the
birth of the heir from the Fortress of Sts. Peter and Paul, in St.
Petersburg.

On the same day, it was learned that the Russian fleet at Port Arthur
had been sunk on August 10th by the Japanese navy. My Mother often
said it was a day of sunshine and a day of darkness at the same time.
It would have been customary to hold a large banquet to celebrate the
birth of an heir to the throne but my Father would not hear of it.
Instead, prayers were offered in the churches for the lost ones at sea
and for the baby Tsarevich. All day long the bells rang out from all
the churches of Russia. Thirteen years later Mother spoke of this day
as being as gloomy as the day we arrived in Ekaterinburg. It was on
Alexei’s thirteenth birthday, and about the same hour in 1917, that the
family was informed they must leave their beloved home in Tsarskoe Selo.

I do not remember Alexei’s christening since I was so small, but I
have been told about it and have often seen his christening mantle
and the cross which he wore on a chain around his neck. These were
displayed in a glass case along with the christening dresses of us
sisters. Olga’s was an exact copy of that of Marie Antoinette’s older
daughter. It had been made in Lyons. Olga and Tatiana held a corner
of the long mantle which was attached to the cushion because of its
weight. Alexei’s godmothers were his grandmother, the Dowager Empress
Marie Feodorovna; his sister, Olga Nicholaevna; his aunts, Mother’s
sisters, the Princesses Irene of Prussia and Victoria of Battenberg
(subsequently Marchioness of Milford Haven). The godfathers were his
grand uncles, the Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich and King Edward
VII of Great Britain; his cousin, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany; his
great-grandfather, King Christian IX of Denmark; his uncle, the Grand
Duke Ernest Louis of Hesse, the Empress’ only brother; and his Aunt
Irene’s husband, Prince Henry of Prussia. To commemorate his birth the
cornerstone for the Feodorovsky Sobor (Church) was laid in Tsarskoe
Selo.

Now that this handsome brother had arrived, the handicap of my life,
that of being a girl, seemed somewhat lifted. Alexei was a beautiful
little boy with a very light complexion and curly auburn hair which
my Mother brushed lovingly into a curl in the middle, big blue eyes,
long eyelashes and a most alluring smile. He was the most fascinating
thing in my existence, so whenever an opportunity presented itself, I
ran into his nursery bringing various toys to him. Mother had many pet
names for him, among them: “My precious Agoo” and “Kroshka” which means
crumb. Olga and Tatiana were permitted to hold the baby; Marie and I
could only hold his feet.

One of my most vivid childhood experiences, when I was nearly four
years old, happened on a Sunday when we sisters as usual were dressed
in white, ready to go to church. We heard excited voices and saw Mother
running upstairs. This frightened us and we all ran after her to the
nursery. There I saw a spot of blood on little Alexei’s shirt. While
nurse was bathing him he sneezed, thereby causing a discharge of blood
from his navel. Though I was very young, I could easily tell from the
faces about me that something was wrong. At the time just what it was
I could not understand. A few years later, when I was about seven, we
three younger children were playing in the garden when our brother fell
over his cart. Soon a large blue swelling developed around his ankle.
When Mother came she fainted at the sight, knowing it was the dreaded
haemophilia that might kill her son. As a result, the lives of Father
and Mother were noticeably saddened. Father searched in every country
for a specialist, but without success.

We were continually reminded that we must be careful of Alexei. He was
so easily hurt. The toys I was in the habit of bringing to him were
removed before they reached his hands. Once he fell on his head and his
face swelled so terribly that his eyes were almost closed and his whole
face became a purplish yellow, a dreadful sight. At one moment he would
be perfectly well; an hour later, he would lie in bed seriously ill.
We were instructed not to speak to anybody about it, but we innocently
gave away the secret of his illness to some members of our staff who
had led us into believing that they already knew all about it.

Mother was constantly at his side, never trusting any one else to care
for him. Each time, when he recovered, Mother was entirely exhausted,
so much so that she was unable to leave her room for days at a time.

When Alexei was well and his normal chubby self, it was hard to
remember that we had to be careful when we played with him. I often
felt belligerent when he teased me saying, “Go away, you’re playing
just like a little girl; you don’t know this game.” I maintained my
composure pretty well and occasionally retaliated by refusing to play
with him, but he bitterly complained of such treatment. Suddenly he
would be well again at which time it was difficult to restrain him from
getting too bold or playing games that might end in disaster.

Alexei had several guards, Cossacks who were trustworthy and on duty
day and night. Every morning they searched the palace grounds before
any member of the family could walk about in them. Alexei also had two
special attendants. One was Derevenko, nicknamed Dina, a huge strong
sailor, a member of the crew of Father’s yacht, the “Standard.” He was
no relation of Dr. Derevenko, Alexei’s physician. Dina applied hot
compresses and light massages to Alexei, when they were needed. Dina
also gave foam treatments, and always carried him around when he was
not able to walk. Unfortunately Dina turned against his master during
the revolution and was later arrested by the Soviets when they found
some of Alexei’s belongings in his luggage.

The other attendant was Nagorny. He was the last to give Alexei his
usual care. Nagorny took charge of him during the revolution, and was
killed in Ekaterinburg because he defended the little boy’s property.
These two, Dina and Nagorny, were constantly at Alexei’s side to see
that he did not harm himself. They helped my brother to grow to normal
boyhood by using the exercises prescribed by Dr. Derevenko and the
suggestions of M. Pierre Gilliard, our French tutor. They helped to
carry on in such a way that the little fellow never suspected that he
was being shielded. For he was not told of the serious nature of his
illness but was to realize it for himself when he grew older.

At his birth Alexei received many titles: “Hetman of all the Cossacks,”
“Knight of St. Andrew,” “Knight of the Seraphim of Sweden,” “Head of
the Battalion of the Horse Infantry,” “Head of the Siberian Infantry,”
“Head of the Cadet Corps” and others. Alexei loved everything military.
I think he had a uniform for almost every military order in Russia. He
was so proud to wear each one, and carried himself with true military
bearing. From childhood he had worn a white sailor suit with ribbons
around his collar. When we cruised in the Baltic, he wore a white
sailor cap with the name “Standard” in white on a blue band. When
cruising on the Black Sea he had a black band with yellow lettering.

One day in a snow storm I pulled Alexei on his sled. Then he insisted
that it was his turn to pull me. Soon his hands became swollen but
fortunately this did not result in one of his serious attacks. He was
not permitted to take part freely in sports, though he was allowed to
ride a tricycle and later a bicycle, when he was carefully followed
by Dina. Finally he was allowed to drive a small motor car with his
cousins or a friend.

Alexei had playmates other than myself. I remember a youngster who
was driven up the driveway accompanied by a guard and well supplied
with many toys. He had among other things a box of powdered chalk.
Considering the boy an intruder and unable to hide my jealousy, while
he was escorted by the runner, I snatched the box from his hand and
scattered the contents all over the floor. It all happened so quickly
that no one was able to stop me. Soon I was escorted to Mother. By the
time I reached her I was all smiles--a bit strained to be sure. She
sat silently and held my little hands, studying them and wondering how
they could do such a thing. I peeked at her face, putting on my most
winsome smile. Mother assured me that “Smiles will not help.” Just
then Father came in and sent me to my room for the rest of the day.
Later he came to see me and said, “You must not fight with your younger
friends. Always be a little lady.” “I don’t want to be a lady,” I said
defiantly. Father answered, “Then you cannot live in this place.”
“Where will I live then?” “In one of the guard houses,” said Father. My
dear Father often apologized for Alexei and myself.

Gentle as Father was, I took those remarks seriously, because I knew he
always meant what he said. So I applied myself to the idea of “being
a lady.” It soon paid off. Some time later when I was roaming through
the park I chanced upon two workmen who were fighting in the ravine. It
looked serious and desperate. With all the ladyship I could muster I
ordered them to stop. To my astonishment they did. The contrast between
little me and those two, so huge and menacing, convinced me that there
must be something in this ladylike business after all.

By nature I enjoyed the rough and tumble, while being a lady meant
being dignified, sewing, practicing on the piano, in general following
in the footsteps of Olga and Tatiana. I would much rather have played
the kind of games that Alexei enjoyed. Marie did not like these games
at all. She preferred dolls, which I thought were not half as much fun
as shooting off pop guns. I often held the gun while Alexei slid down
the toboggan slide held on the lap of his attendant Derevenko or his
assistant Nagorny.

The park surrounding our home at Tsarskoe Selo lent itself to my eager
desire for exploring the world around me, although even this could not
satisfy my curiosity about that part of the world which lay beyond the
fence. One afternoon I found an owl opposite the balcony in the garden.
I had seen something flying which fell to the ground. When I ran to
it I found an owl which did not move. I wanted to pick it up, but was
told it was bad luck to do so. In spite of this advice, I picked up
the bird and stroked and fed it. In a short time it became a real pet
so it could even recognize my step. It always stayed nearby, hopping
about in a small area, though it didn’t seem to be hurt. Whenever it
heard me, it would fly up and sit on the rail of the balcony. While the
owl was perched there, it seemed to stare at me and I could not resist
walking around, fascinated by its twisting neck and staring eyes which
apparently followed my movements.

Most of the time I was content to wander through our fairyland park
with my sisters and brother. Its beauty was overwhelming with fine
vistas embracing gardens, ravines, lakes and even islands. We often
sailed our toy boats on the lake or rowed Alexei in a boat Sometimes
we sat on shore watching the varied reflections on the surface of the
lake. These might be reflections of the Feodorovsky Sobor with its
golden cupola, or again a glimpse of the luxuriant tree tops, or the
rapidly changing cloud formations. On the lake the swans glided back
and forth in graceful splendor, but, when they came near our shores,
with one stroke they erased all the pictures before our eyes.

These swans were my special pets. I usually carried bread to throw to
them. One day in a mischievous mood, I made them think I had come to
feed them. When they swam toward me expectantly, I ran away. I was
suddenly thrown to the ground, and the largest of the swans with his
wings spread wide stood over me. He began to beat me with his wings. My
screams brought help from one of the guards, who drove off the swan.
When I stopped sobbing I had not lost my love for the swans, but I had
learned I could not tease them.

Father found time to visit us at play every day, often only for a few
minutes, but he made us happy with these visits. Sometimes he watched
us as we went down the slide which had been installed in a large room
on the ground floor. He whistled as each child took her turn and the
rest of us jumped up and down expressing delight.

Several times, as a great treat, we children were permitted to take
our bath in Father’s big, sunken tile tub, large enough for one to
swim several strokes. After the bath we romped over the huge couch in
Father’s dressing room, watching the flames dance in the fireplace.

Mother called Father’s study “the forbidden land.” We children were not
allowed to enter it, which made me rather curious about it. I often
ran down the hall, hoping that I would find a way to get into the
study, but there was always someone who would send me back. If I could
have found out what Father did there, I would have been satisfied.
One day I managed to slip through the narrow passage of his dressing
room and opened the door leading into his study. I was breathless with
excitement, but kept quiet. I was about to open the door for a tiny
peek, to see if Father were there, when I heard footsteps. I decided to
retreat quietly as if I had gotten there by mistake. But as I backed
out I had moved too quickly and gone too far. I rolled down several
steps right into the middle of Father’s sunken tub. Fortunately I was
not hurt, but my feelings were. I extricated myself and retreated down
the hall in the midst of laughter. I never did know my discoverer.

My curiosity was still not satisfied, and I was determined to keep
trying. I used all sorts of excuses for going to his study with
pressing messages or gifts. But Mother spoke with finality: “Father
cannot be disturbed in his work.” In spite of Mother’s words, the
opportunity finally presented itself. One day I stood quivering on
the threshold. There was Father at his desk looking quite serious.
I leaned forward on my toes to take in all that I could see, so far
forward that I lost my balance and fell on my face into the room. I was
terribly frightened, but Father rushed to me and with a smile picked me
up saying: “What are you doing here, baby?” Then he sat me down at his
desk and held me on his knees. I was speechless to think I was in the
forbidden place. I glanced at piles of papers, then at Father’s face.
With a hug and a kiss he deposited me in the hallway. “Now run along,
my little Curiosity.” I skipped away elated and I could hardly wait to
tell Marie I had actually been in “the forbidden land.”

I was often instrumental in getting my sister and my brother in
trouble. When we drove to Pavlovsk, a short distance from Tsarskoe
Selo, I watched for the moment when the nurse was occupied with my
cousin’s attendant. I snapped my fingers--a signal to dash to the
brook for the mud fight. Within seconds our faces and white clothes
were beyond recognition. These mud fights made the nurse furious. Once
when she rebuked me, she said it was a pity I had not been born a boy.
This worried me so, I went to Mother with the question, “Do you love
me, Mother?” “You know I do, little Shvibzchik,” was her reply, using
her pet name for me. “But if I were a boy, would you love me more?”
I questioned her tearfully. Mother understood; she shook her head a
decided “No” and I was satisfied.

Sometimes after tea, I slipped into the servants’ quarters to partake
of tea again, because I thought they had more interesting things to
eat. I was quite wrapped up in my small world without realizing that
there was any other. And yet being born into a royal family I still
kept wondering whether I should have been someone else. I wondered if
my grandmother, the Dowager Empress Marie, ever forgave me for not
being a boy. That might explain her critical attitude toward me. I
thought I sensed an unsympathetic bearing in her and I often retaliated
by being irritable which in turn justified her criticism of me. On
second thought this same Grandmother understood me perhaps better than
anyone else. When all despaired of me, she would say, “Don’t worry,
she’ll tame down after a while.” This may have been a comforting
thought to my family, but not to me. I did not want to be like my
Granny, not at all. She was small, dark-eyed, deep-voiced, always
beautifully groomed. I wanted to be like Tatiana, tall, beautiful and
graceful. Often after I was tucked in bed, I whispered a prayer that
God might transform me overnight into a girl like Tatiana. Grandmother
was Alexei’s favorite. He loved her more than we sisters did. She was
Father’s mother and there was a strong bond between them.

I remember the satisfaction I felt when some Danish relatives were
visiting us and my Grandmother said to one, “Anastasia is certainly
small,” and the relative replied, “You are not very tall yourself.”
This kind person must have sensed that I was touchy about my height and
she attempted to defend me before Grandmother.

When Father’s work was done for the day, he would enter Mother’s
apartment and whistle melodiously. This was the signal for a family
get-together or for an exercise outdoors. Sometimes Father took me
on a walk alone. He listened seriously to my talk and pretended to
be concerned about my petty problems. I swelled with pride that he
considered my little world was as important as his. He was a lover of
nature, and this knowledge made our walks even more interesting.

Father had the reputation of being graceful and a good tennis player.
He played with the best professionals in the Crimea and won most of the
time. Olga and Tatiana often played with him and I looked forward to
the day when I would be able to match him in a real game. But that day
never came. Before the war I was too young, and during the war there
was no opportunity. I did return the balls occasionally when Father was
practicing.



II SCHOOL DAYS


With excitement I looked forward to my first day of school. I was
anxious to make a good impression on my teachers. Dressed in a blue or
white pinafore and with ribbon bows on my hair, holding my Mother’s
hand, I felt quite grown up as I joined Marie in the school room on the
second floor of the palace. I was proud to hear Mother say that I was
good, quiet, and thoughtful as I sat at a fair-sized table opposite my
tutor, answering the questions. But to Mother’s disappointment my good
behavior did not last long. As the days passed, confinement began to
irk me and I longed for the outdoors. School became a difficult chore
for me, and no doubt I was difficult for my teachers. My mind turned
to the other side of the classroom door. Only the threat of punishment
could bring me to a school desk at all, and once there, instead of
concentrating on my lessons, I planned my activities for the hours
after school.

My mind dreamed about Vanka, the donkey, when she came as a present
to Alexei. She was very bright and extremely stubborn. She was named
for a character in a humorous Russian song of the time. Vanka was
cunning. When Alexei hurt himself, she laid her head on his shoulder
as if she were crying. She could shake hands, wobble as if dancing,
and rolled her eyes flirtatiously. She understood every word we said,
often shook her ears in joy. But when things were not in her favor,
she stared straight at us. Her ears stood up into a half-cone. She had
been a circus donkey, but she would only perform when she felt like it.
Derevenko, the sailor, could make her walk while I rode her, but she
wanted a lump of sugar in payment for every step she took.

“Anastasia, put your mind on your work,” jarred my consciousness away
from Vanka and back into the classroom. I did like arithmetic and
drawing. I would often doodle until my pencil was taken away and the
lessons resumed. In the spring it was more difficult to concentrate.
The warm, sweet air and the chirping birds would not let me sit still.

Often after school, Mother would take me to my favorite farm where
I felt complete freedom. Here were many soft creatures to cuddle:
tiny pink piglets, toylike lambs, calves and colts, the cutest I ever
saw. There were human babies, too, belonging to the farm workers, but
Olga had a way of monopolizing them. Every place we went the children
followed us and were anxious to show anything new that happened. They
all spoke at once, excitedly. We pretended to be surprised, which
encouraged them to tell each story over again.

One day one of the workers gave me a tiny chick, born late in the
season. We put it in a basket with some straw in it. I covered it with
my handkerchief and went ahead of Mother to hide it in the carriage,
and waited there impatiently. I was afraid that the little thing would
die before we reached home. Soon after Mother heard the chick cry, she
said, “You have taken a baby from its mother. You must keep it well and
happy.” This chick taught me my first lesson in responsibility. You
never saw so much affection lavished on such a small thing. I fed it
most tenderly and presented it with my precious pillow which until then
had belonged to my doll. In spite of my devoted care the chick’s cries
grew fainter and fainter and one morning I found it lying on its back.
It was a shock.

I decided to give my chick a funeral. I dressed it regally with veil
and gown and, as a great concession, I allowed Marie and Alexei to
help lay the little form on a mattress of rose petals in a pretty box.
A bouquet of white flowers was placed on its breast. Then we invited
everyone to the funeral. Besides, I wanted no one to miss seeing how
beautifully I had prepared my pet. Alexei was the priest, Marie and I
chanted mournfully. Derevenko, the sailor, prepared the grave. The box
was opened for all to see. At last the box was closed and placed on top
of a stretcher, which was hoisted up on the pallbearers’ shoulders. I,
the chief mourner, led the procession with a black band on my arm. We
buried the box amidst quantities of flowers, then marked the grave with
the prettiest stones.

For a week I mourned at the grave every day, wondering how the chick
looked after its journey to heaven. Finally, I dug up the box. I opened
the cover expecting that the little angel had flown away, but instead
I ran to Mother to tell her the worms were eating my pet. Mother
explained that the box contained the shell of the chick, the soul was
already flown away, now nature was destroying only the shell.

I was quite socially inclined, and made calls on anyone staying in the
palace. I chatted with all on various subjects. “If Olga and Tatiana
ever marry, will they leave us? Olga squeezed an orange peel yesterday
and it squirted right into my eye. Do you know that Mashka (Marie) put
on her underwear wrong side out and refused to change it, it is very
bad luck. Did you hear that “baby” (Alexei) painted a droopy mustache
on his face with a crayon? Olga says, he looks like the Cossack
in Riepin’s painting. Do you know that painting? Why do you think
Marie did not take her cold bath this morning? Olga says that mother
kangaroos hide their babies in a sack on their bodies and the babies
poke their heads out to see where they are going. Why doesn’t papa get
cribs for the kangarooshkas?” These ideas or others like them were
expressed to all in five to ten minutes of social visits. Sometimes I
asked them to tell me stories like the Golden Apple and the Princess.
I clapped my hands and thanked them for the most delicious story. If
anyone was not well, I was ready to play nurse. My one cure for the
indisposed was always a wet towel on the forehead.

Some of my most pleasant early memories about Mother were the times
when she told us stories. There was one favorite she was asked to
repeat over and over. One day she changed the words slightly and I
burst into tears, saying: “But, Mommy, I like the old story better.”

When I was older, Mother read to me an American book called _Ramona_.
As much as I could understand, it was a fascinating story about an
Indian girl. It made a big impression on me, and left me with the most
tender feeling of affection for the Indian girl. Several years later,
when I heard that an American gentleman was coming to see Mother, I
begged to be allowed to meet him. I remember that I wore my best new
dress, of white silk, a recent gift from Queen Alexandra of England.
This frock had smocking at the waist. I was told it came from Liberty’s
of London. I kept this dress until the war, at which time I gave it to
an orphanage.

At the time of this American’s visit, the nurse was supposed to bring
me downstairs when Mother rang the bell. But, when I heard the signal,
I ran ahead, and flew down the spiral stairway as fast as my feet
could carry me, and burst breathlessly into the room. A tall handsome
gentleman arose and politely kissed my hand as we were introduced.
Distressed, and almost in tears, I looked sideways up to him as I cried
out in surprise: “Mother, this gentleman is not an American because he
does not have his feather hat or his blanket.” The poor man, whoever he
was, tried his best to explain, but to me, he still was not an American.

Mashka (Marie) had the most wonderful disposition, but I often got her
into trouble. We used to practice on the piano in a room above Mother’s
boudoir where she could hear us. When the instructor, Mr. Konrad,
happened to step out for a minute, we began to roughhouse. Soon the
telephone rang and we knew it was Mother to remind us to attend to our
practice and not to fool around.

Mother realized that we missed having friends of our age, and she made
up for it by forming a closer knit family of our own. Occasionally we
saw the Tolstoy girls or the children of General Hesse, once Father’s
aide-de-camp. We took some lessons, danced and played with them: two
boys and a girl about the age of my sister Olga. But no intimacy
whatever was allowed. We also enjoyed our cousins, Aunt Xenia’s
children, when they were at home.

When Alexei was about seven years old, he had a nurse named Maria
Vishniakova. She disturbed Olga and made her cry. Vishniakova told
Mother that the muzhik Rasputin had been upstairs in our apartments
and conducted himself improperly. According to the tradition of the
Russian court, no men were allowed in the girls’ rooms except the two
Negro doormen, Apty and Jim. Father became so upset by the report that
he personally questioned Vishniakova. She was evasive, and gave one
date, then another. When Father told her that Rasputin according to the
report was nowhere near St. Petersburg during those dates, she admitted
her whole story was a fabrication and that it was a malicious relative
of the Imperial family who had had her say what she did. She then burst
out crying and of course she was discharged. It was then that the
attack on Rasputin began.

Another incident which caused a great deal of confusion some years
before the war involved our governess, Mlle. Tutcheva, a native of
Moscow. She spoke various languages, but no English. Aunt Ella (the
Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna), Mother’s sister, had recommended
her for this important position. Tutcheva was a cultured woman and came
from a fine family, but at the same time was unpleasantly outspoken
and domineering. She hated the English so that she would not allow the
English language to be spoken in her presence, and often criticized
the English, especially when we went through our albums of our trips.
She even complained to us about our own Mother, that she was English
and not a Russian, and constantly exchanged sharp words with Mlle.
Butsova, Mother’s favorite lady-in-waiting, addressing her in an
abusive manner, but Mlle. Butsova spared no words for her either. All
this made us children excited and nervous. Mlle. Tutcheva was also in
continual conflict with others in the palace. To our dismay she also
spoke unkindly of Princess Maria Bariatinsky. Later she told Aunt Ella
that Rasputin visited our apartments although at no time had any of us
sisters seen the man in the upper quarters.

Aunt Ella made a special trip to Tsarskoe Selo from Moscow to inform
Mother of this gossip. This incident also came to Father’s notice and
he came to our rooms to ask about it. We all said we had not seen the
peasant in our apartments at any time. Then the police records showed
that he was away on those days. Tutcheva finally admitted that the
story was untrue and that she had never in her life seen Rasputin. She
was dismissed.

Father loved everything about Russia: her people, her customs, her
music and her national food, particularly he was fond of the dark
bread. It was baked only in the military kitchens and was most
delicious. He also enjoyed a glass of slivovitsa, a plum cordial.
During the war he preferred non-alcoholic drinks and omitted strong
drinks when prohibition was established, making no exception for
himself. However, some wine and other drinks were served to high
foreign military officers in Mogilev. Father disliked and often
neglected taking medicine even though it was necessary for his weak
stomach. He believed, as did his Romanov ancestors, that nature is the
best medicine.

Father had the best possible education and training. One of his
favorite teachers was the famous Konstantin Pobedonostsev. This man was
an outstanding theologian and lawyer. He taught Father both law and
religion, so that his faith remained strong to the very end. Another
favorite was General Danilov who taught military tactics. He was
carefully selected for this most important assignment. Father had a
Swiss tutor who taught him the French language and literature, and an
English tutor, named Charles Heath, who acquainted him with the English
language and literature.

Father had the most extraordinary memory. He was able to recite many
Russian, French and English poems, including passages from Shakespeare.
He was a fast reader and writer, his sentences being short and concise
and always written in ink. He enjoyed the classics. His reading also
included the works of Gogol; Gorbunov’s stories of Russia; and Feodor
Dostoevsky, many of whose autographed novels were on the shelves of our
library; likewise the works of Longfellow, Dickens, Wordsworth and many
others. He was familiar with international law and often remarked that
many diplomats complicated matters to such an extent that it took a
great deal of time to unravel a simple problem.

On the “Standard,” the Imperial yacht, he had in his cabin the complete
works of Shakespeare and other English contemporary authors, and books
carefully selected by our tutors for us to read during our cruise.

The strict training demanded of my Father, the future Tsar, was due
to the discipline of his austere father, Alexander III. Had Father
not felt restrained by his oath of office, I feel sure he would have
lifted some of the restrictions he had inherited from his predecessor.
His love for his people and his gentle nature were often shown when
he lessened the punishment of soldiers by their officers. He believed
in a close family relationship and on one occasion, after receiving a
request, he granted permission to a Jewish woman to see her sick son in
their prison hospital as often as she pleased.

Father was very loyal to his friends, many of whom he had known from
his childhood. He disliked the waste of time on petty talk.

Many requests were withheld from him, and occasionally actions were
taken without his knowledge or approval.

In spite of previous attempts on his life, he had resumed the ancient
custom of the “Blessing of the Waters” on the river Neva in St.
Petersburg. When a little girl, I was told that at one of these
ceremonies an explosion occurred on the river, injuring several persons
including my Father’s physician. Part of the canopy and the windows
of the Winter Palace were shattered. Father, therefore, ordered the
discontinuance of this tradition. When an epidemic broke out soon
after, the peasants attributed it to the decree. So the order was
rescinded and the Epiphany ceremony was resumed. Once I was present
at this picturesque ceremony which was one of the great national and
religious traditions of Russia.

At this ceremony the dignitaries of the Church and State gathered at
the Winter Palace. The procession formed there and proceeded to the
river, followed by the church dignitaries. Father took his position
in front of a crimson and gold canopy. A hole had already been cut
in the ice. At the end of the ceremony the priest handed Father the
cross which he dipped in the water and then raised high and made the
sign of the cross in the air. This was repeated three times. It was
so cold that the drops of water froze as they fell on the ice. After
the ceremony the procession returned to the Palace, where luncheon was
served to hundreds of guests, who formed a brilliant array in their
court regalia.

I remember how beautiful the ladies looked at the luncheon in the
Palace following the ceremony. They wore long court dresses of various
pastel colors and jeweled filets (_kokoshniki_) from which soft veils
hung down. There were glittering diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires
and alexandrites, the latter a rare stone found in the Urals in 1833
and named after the future Alexander II, my great-grandfather.

Many officers wore the dress uniform of their regiment: the Horse
Guards were in white and gold; the Cossacks in deep blue or crimson;
and the Hussars in white and gold with scarlet dolmans over their
shoulders. The “Blessing of the Waters” ceremony was conducted the last
time in January 1916. It did not stir the same feelings as before. This
time there were many dignitaries present and the foreign High Command,
including our friend, Sir John Hanbury-Williams, and, of course, Sir
George Buchanan, the British Ambassador.

Grandeur surrounded us in the Winter Palace where I spent the first
years of my life. But during the Russo-Japanese war in 1905 we moved to
Tsarskoe Selo, when my childhood recollections began to take root.

The Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo was our permanent home. Many
members of the Imperial family had their residences in this suburb and
nearby; it was only fourteen miles south of St. Petersburg. Our Palace
stood in the middle of a vast park of about six hundred acres, in which
were located stables, barracks, greenhouses and several churches,
including the Feodorovsky Sobor (Church) and Our Lady of Znamenie which
was my Mother’s favorite. There were islands nearby. On the “Children’s
Island”, Alexei had a small house; the four rooms were left as they had
been at the time of Alexander II. In a book case were some books by the
poet Zhukovsky and there were also books by Byron, Schiller and other
poets which he had translated into Russian. Zhukovsky who was the tutor
to Alexander II spent a great deal of time with him before he came to
the throne.

There were some tiny ports for landing, bridges, dog kennels and an
elephant house, a concert hall and a Chinese village, a theatre and
so on. In the palace grounds was also a white tower, a photographic
building and an arsenal. The barracks for the regiments were located in
the vicinity.

Before the war the cabinet ministers came to Tsarskoe Selo with their
reports in the morning and were ushered into Father’s study by an
aide-de-camp. Occasionally however, Father met various officials in St.
Petersburg. In order to save time and money the private audiences once
a week were held in the Winter Palace in the General Chamber. Because
of several hundred audiences that were held during the day, Father
could give only a few minutes to each of these audiences and they were
held standing. The reports of the high officials were received from
10:00-10:30 after his walk.

Several hundred attendants took care of the grounds and buildings;
many of them lived outside. The personnel included the Grand Marshals
of the Court, Masters of the Hunt, Masters of Ceremonies, Equerries,
Chamberlains, coachmen, valets, butlers, chauffeurs, gardeners, cooks,
maids, etc.

In Tsarskoe Selo the Palace of Catherine the Great was surrounded by
a tall fence featuring a finely wrought iron gate. This building was
like a museum, with its matchless rooms of amber and malachite and its
mosaic and gold decorations. Two rooms I especially recall: one an
anteroom in which Catherine kept her famous collections of snuffboxes,
and the other a drawing room with a ceiling of ivory silk satin, in the
center of which a tremendous double eagle was embroidered. In a third
room, the walls were of satin, with exquisitely embroidered golden
wheat and pastel blue cornflowers. There was another room with a double
eagle inlaid in its mosaic wooden floor.

The private chapel had a large balcony for the choir. This awesome
Palace was in great contrast to Alexander Palace, which we thought had
a homelike atmosphere.

While I was a little girl, during our absence the public had permission
to go through the Palace, but it was reported that the men conducting
the tours allowed their relatives to enter our private chambers. Mother
resented this abuse and the tours were forbidden. Later even the park
could not be visited and everyone had to have a special permit from the
Household Minister to enter even the Tsarskoe Selo grounds; this rule
applied also to those employed in our service.



III CRUISES


During the summer we vacationed on the yacht, but, since Tsarskoe Selo
was inland, we went beforehand to Peterhof on the Gulf of Finland.
There was a splendid feeling of anticipation of a trip ahead. The great
palace of Peterhof was too formal with its many groups of fountains
and Peter the Great grandeur. We preferred to stay in the little
Alexandria Cottage, while we waited for Father to get away. It was
exciting for us children. I remember how often I packed and unpacked
my little suitcase, with scraps of papers, which I called my secret
records. Among my prized possessions was an old bedroom slipper on
which our dogs loved to chew. These things in the little suitcase were
my precious childish treasures.

Alexandria Cottage stood to the east of Peterhof Palace; it consisted
of two simple buildings joined to each other by an enclosed passageway.
We had a glassed-in winter garden where palms and other tropical
plants abounded and flowers flourished. Also, there were garden chairs
and a doll house for us children to play in during the rainy days.
Occasionally we had our luncheon here.

This estate had originally been purchased by my
great-great-grandfather, Nicholas I, and he was the first to occupy it.
There was a saying that Peterhof started with Nicholas and would end
with Nicholas. The park was beautifully landscaped, with winding paths,
ravines, and magnificent white birches against the green spruce trees.
Its natural rustic beauty had been preserved since the time of Nicholas
I.

The entrance to the grounds of Peterhof presented a breathtaking view.
Tall, graceful trees on both sides arched the roadway, while between
them were fountains, bronze statues representing various historical
events and enormous urns filled with flowers. A short distance away
was a pavilion, a tall tower which we often climbed to get a view of
the activities on the Island of Kronstadt. We walked to worship at
the nearby Alexander Nevsky Church, named after a national hero who
defeated the enemies of Russia in the thirteenth century. From Peterhof
we took a tender to Kronstadt, the naval base on the island bearing
the same name. There we boarded the yacht, the “Standard”, which was
too large to come in to the wharf of Peterhof. We youngsters were each
assigned a sailor to watch over us. My poor sailor had his hands full
since disappearing was almost an obsession with me. Once he caught me
just in time as I climbed the ship’s rail and nearly fell overboard.

Our cabins were large and airy; they were upholstered in light chintzes
and each had a washstand, cold and hot water, dresser and desk. Olga
and Tatiana occupied one cabin; Marie and I, another. Dinners were held
in the big dining salon on the upper deck. There was a chapel where
services were held regularly by the ship’s chaplain. Mother as at home
stood behind the screen. The “Standard” was painted black with gold
decorations at the bow and the stern. It was a two-decker and had two
smoke stacks.

I was often frightened on the “Standard” when at sunset a gun salute
was fired from the deck. It hurt my ears. When it was time for the
firing of guns I would run through the corridor down to the other side
of the boat and hold my hands over my ears. The hoisting of the flag
took place at 9:00 A.M. and the lowering at sunset.

Charles Dehn, captain of the “Standard,” was a person whose
companionship Father enjoyed, and my brother was Captain Dehn’s shadow.
Alexei never questioned anything “Pekin Dehn” said. Dehn’s wife, Lili,
was a dear friend of my Mother’s, as well as of us children. Mother
was the godmother of their infant son, Titi, who occasionally came to
visit us. When he was about seven years old, he could already speak
several languages. We loved to see this handsome boy. At tea time he
sat next to Mother. When she poured tea, he asked, “Sugar, Madame, and
how many?”

Another officer of the yacht, Drenteln, was one of Father’s
aides-de-camp and a devoted friend; he accompanied us on our trips.
He knew Father from his young years and went with him to the
Preobrazhensky regiment. Father found him interesting and they often
talked all evening and well into the morning.

Father enjoyed all kinds of sports: tennis, boxing, swimming, diving;
and he could stay under water some minutes. He was an expert rider and
an excellent dancer, but was not especially fond of hunting. He was
devoted to the Navy and when we were on our cruises he spent a great
deal of time studying navigation. He was particularly proud of the
“Standard” which was built at the Bay of Odense in Denmark at the time
of his marriage. During one of our cruises we visited the yard where
the boat was built. Each cruise brought fond memories to my parents of
their honeymoon. Mother once said that the happiest years in her life
were on board the “Standard”.

For us a cruise meant spending a part of each day on shore, tramping
in the Finnish forests. On the yacht our attendants turned a rope for
us girls to jump. Then there was the tug of war with an admiral or a
captain and other officers joining in. Sometimes we roller-skated on
the deck. Everyone participated in the fun, except Mother and Alexei.
They could not enjoy activities, but they joined in the laughter.

Occasionally we received word that the Dowager Empress Marie, my
Father’s mother, was cruising on the “Polar Star” in the neighborhood
and would pay us a visit. On board was Admiral Prince Viazemsky.
Immediately the holiday atmosphere changed to serious work. We children
had to stay on board, practicing our music, because Grandmother always
liked to see our musical progress and a concert was invariably planned.
Grandmother was a gifted musician herself and was brought up in a
musical atmosphere with her whole family constituting an orchestra. I
was told that on one occasion the public was invited to a concert in
which her whole family took part, including her father (Apapa), who
later became King Christian IX of Denmark, and her mother (Amama),
subsequently Queen Louise.

When Grandmother Minnie arrived everyone became tense. I especially
felt rebellious at the endless warnings to be on my good behavior. We
three younger children had our own early supper, because we could not
sit quietly through the dinner in her honor. Try as I might, I was
bound to do the wrong thing and disappoint everyone when Grandmother
was around. Fortunately her visits were not long and the minute she
left we resumed our former manners.

When our yacht anchored in a sheltered cove, we went mushroom hunting.
Mother and Alexei seldom joined us in this. But when Alexei came,
together we darted this way and that way, dodging the tall trees, and
trying to catch the scent of mushrooms. The ground was all springy with
pine needles and moss so that we fairly hopped along. It was fun to
hear the twigs crunch beneath our feet.

Father was a fast walker; to keep up with him, I had to run. On one of
these walks we came to a little stream, partly covered with twigs and
moss. Father jumped over it and stretched out his hand to me. “Jump,”
he said. The ground was slippery and uneven and I failed to get a firm
enough grip on Father’s hand so I fell into the middle of the brook,
with its bed of yellow mud and clay. My face, hair and dress were
plastered with mud and so were my canvas shoes. The long, wet walk sent
me to bed for a while.

Before the war we used to take a trip every other year to Fredensborg
Palace near Copenhagen. It was great fun for us children to visit the
white villa at Hvidore, which stood majestically amidst the flowering
trees and bushes, with its terraces offering a magnificent view of the
sea, each level rising smaller and smaller to the top.

From the terraces the sight of sailboats and yachts in the bay gave
us a feeling of tranquility and relaxation. Beyond the marshes were
the Danish farms with their charming thatched-roof houses, tall poplar
trees, golden wheat fields and millions of scarlet poppies which added
grandeur to this natural landscape. It was this that impressed my
young mind during our first visit. This villa belonged to my little
Grandmother and her sisters, Queen Alexandra of England and Thyra,
Duchess of Cumberland. It was at this quiet place at Fredensborg where
the happy family reunion took place during the summer months.

We were especially excited on one occasion when Queen Alexandra and
Uncle Bertie (King Edward VII of England) joined us at Reval on their
yacht, the “Victoria and Albert”. I recollect that King Edward came
dressed in Scottish kilts. Grandmother Marie and Aunt Olga arrived on
their yacht, the “Polar Star”. Later we were joined by Uncle George,
who subsequently became King George V of England, with his wife May
(Queen Mary) and their children, including the eldest son David, later
Edward, Prince of Wales. In addition, there were many other boys and
girls belonging to other relatives. We had a great family reunion and
a full schedule of activities. Fishing, bathing, rowing, wading in the
shallow waters in the bay and various games were the order of the day.
We youngsters enjoyed the high swings which were put up especially
for us. Alexei, though only four or five years of age, had been well
versed in geography and could name all the various ports in the Baltic.
The Russian Ambassador to London, Count Alexander Benckendorff,
regarded Alexei as being an unusually bright child. Soon we were off
again in the fiords for a glimpse of Norway. When we were in sight of
Christiania (Oslo), so many yachts and other vessels surrounded the
“Standard” that we were forced to turn back. Apparently the news of our
visit had preceded us.

On our return we brought with us a number of Royal Copenhagen pieces
which were adorned with capricious scenes of winter or summer meadows,
all interpreted so realistically, and also numerous figurines of
animals and fowl, all executed in those soft blue and white colors,
some with a touch of brown. Only the hands of Danish artisans could
create those heavenly colors.

Once I remember Kaiser Wilhelm II was cruising on his yacht in our
vicinity and our ship fired a salute to him. The salute was returned
and when the Kaiser came on board our ship, he greeted Father with a
kiss and exclaimed, “My most valued friend.” The German band played
the Russian national anthem; then the Russian band played the German
anthem. During the ensuing visits, the Kaiser took quite a liking to
me, calling me “The Little Joker”. I also remember how he danced in a
way that Mother thought was undignified and unbecoming to an Emperor.
He was one cousin who drove us to despair.

Grandmother Marie joined us in Reval. She brought with her her
sister-in-law, Queen Olga of Greece. Queen Olga was the consort of
King George I, Grandmother’s brother who was later assassinated. This
deed made a fearful impression on us. I remember when Granny cried,
“Why do they want to kill an innocent man?” I remember King George as
being quite bald, so much so that the Kaiser remarked one time that
King George had his own exclusive moon. Extreme baldness seemed to
be a feature of the Danish royal family. Kaiser Wilhelm referred to
the Danish branch as the “deaf, bald-headed Danes”. King Gustavus V
and Queen Victoria of Sweden also paid us a visit. They came on their
yacht. We later returned their visit by going to Stockholm.

Quite often our trips were marred by unpleasant incidents, such as
the time when, while cruising in Finnish waters, an English freighter
persisted in coming too close to our yacht. When our repeated warnings
were ignored, we were forced to fire a shot which unfortunately
wounded a member of the English freighter’s crew. On this trip we were
invited to visit Prince Henry of Prussia (Mother’s brother-in-law) at
a beautiful villa on the shore overlooking the sea at Jagernsfeld,
so that the Kaiser could show us his fleet at Kiel. Unfortunately
the weather prevented us from doing this and after a brief stop we
proceeded to England.

A twenty-one gun salute greeted the “Standard” as we entered the
English harbor of Cowes on the Isle of Wight. This was returned by
the Russian warships and we passed through a cortege of yachts lined
up on each side as we sailed down the middle. Soon the “Victoria and
Albert” and the “Standard” were alongside each other. Cheers filled
the air and salutes were exchanged. Not until the next morning did the
real entertainment begin, when King Edward VII appeared on the bridge
dressed in the uniform of a Russian admiral. Father stood next to
him in the uniform of a British admiral. The Russian and the British
flags were flying, as bands played both national anthems. Amidst the
greetings and cheers we proceeded aboard the “Victoria and Albert” to
the royal pier. We exchanged pleasant visits and many pictures were
taken for our albums.

At luncheon on the yacht, we sat at a long table. King Edward sat in
the middle, Mother, dressed in white, looking beautiful and radiant
sitting beside him. Queen Alexandra was opposite the King with Father
next to her. Alexei kept trying to get King Edward’s attention;
until finally the King said: “All right, Alexei, what do you want?”
Alexei replied gloomily, “It’s too late now, Uncle Bertie; you ate a
caterpillar with your salad.” We were served from gold plates and the
table decorations were in pink roses.

The other guests at dinner were the Crown Prince of Sweden, the Prince
of Wales (later George V), Princess Beatrice, and Princess Irene, wife
of Prince Henry of Prussia. Mother gave a dinner on the “Standard” for
the ladies in honor of Queen Alexandra. At the many dinners on our
yacht, I remember there were many elegant and beautiful ladies, several
hundred of them: friends, relatives, English, Swedish, German and
Russian. On one occasion King Edward gave a talk thanking us for the
visit and turning to my Mother called her his “dear niece”.

There were several excursions, and in the afternoon tea was served on
the lawn of the Royal Yacht Club. Several hundred guests were present,
mostly relatives and friends. Mother knew them all.

Alexei was accompanied by a playmate. One day we were all whisked to
Osborne House, where Princess Henry, Mother’s sister, and Princess
Beatrice played with us on the lawn. This included Marie, Alexei, his
companion and myself. Alexei was all slicked up from head to toe in a
white sailor suit. Both boys behaved disgracefully. In the afternoon
before tea, this brother of mine crawled over a new car belonging
to one of our relatives and by teatime his white sailor suit was
completely wrinkled and disreputable. He refused to leave the car and
added, “You girls can go to the tea; I am happy at what I am doing.”
All of us were disgusted with our brother. Finally his sailor servant,
Derevenko, took him off the car. At tea we frowned at him and motioned
with our hands to keep at a distance from us, pretending that he did
not belong to our family. Tearfully he added to our embarrassment by
saying aloud; “What is the matter with you girls? I do not like your
attitude. If I were not ashamed, I would cry.”

At another time Olga and Tatiana had quite an experience. Dressed in
their gray suits they walked about the town of Cowes, unattended.
They paused in their sightseeing before a window display and entered
the shop to purchase postcards and photographs for our albums. As
they came out of the shop a carriage bearing Count Benckendorff and a
friend stopped on the other side of the street. The girls ran across to
surprise them, and surprised they were--to find my sisters unescorted.
My sisters became frightened when a large crowd, having heard about
our visit, recognized my sisters and gathered around them. Finally the
girls made their escape through a store as a constable blocked the door
against the pressing crowd. Two carriages were summoned, one for the
constable, the other for the girls. At the suggestion of the constable,
they finally avoided the crowd by taking refuge in a church. This was
their first experience of an unescorted adventure, and their last.
When they returned to us, we youngsters kept asking them about it a
dozen times, especially when we saw the pictures of the incident in our
albums. What a great and priceless triumph it was: that young girls of
our position were allowed to show themselves unescorted in public.

Prince David, who was to become King Edward VIII, came by torpedo boat
to Osborne House from Dartmouth where he was attending the Royal Naval
College. And before we left, he took Father through his college. Father
was so impressed with Dartmouth, he talked of sending Alexei there.
This was the end of our visit. King Edward, Queen Alexandra, Prince
George, then Prince of Wales, and Princess Mary with all their children
came to bid us good-bye as we sailed away from Cowes after a most
memorable visit.

As usual our party included Princess Obolensky, Mlle. Butsova, a
lady-in-waiting, of whom Mother was very fond, as were we all; also
Mlle. Tutcheva, our governess, with whom I was continually at swords’
points, because she could not hide her jealousy of Mlle. Butsova, and
also because of her derogatory remarks about our English relatives.
Present too, were Count Fredericks, Father’s chamberlain, Ambassador
Izvolsky, Prince Beloselsky-Belozersky, Dr. Botkin, Dr. Derevenko,
Captain Drenteln and many other Russians from our escort ships.

The “Standard” then sailed to Cherbourg, where President Fallières was
to meet us in his yacht, the “Marseilles”. During this cruise, as on
others, we ran into a great deal of fog and storm and our speed was
greatly reduced. We arrived late in Cherbourg. Father reviewed the
French fleet with the French President, and we children were allowed
to take pictures of submarines which were important exhibits in our
albums. These albums and Olga’s description in her diary were a source
of great pleasure to us later during the war when we could relive each
moment of this pleasurable trip. During our arrest in 1917, these
pictures were confiscated.

President Fallières gave a dinner on the deck of a battleship, in honor
of my family. It was a beautiful affair. The table was in the shape
of a horseshoe. In the center of the table, roses were arranged to
form the Russian coat of arms. During the dinner bands played popular
compositions of French and Russian composers. Afterwards there were
floats on the water, lighting up scenes from the opera _Lohengrin_ and
others. Someone must have informed them that Mother loved this opera by
Richard Wagner. Launches were made to look like dolphins, sea serpents,
Lohengrin’s swan, a huge egg (on top of which was a rooster pulling
a gondola with a man inside playing a mandolin), a huge grasshopper
and many other fantastic shapes. A float carrying a band of musicians
drawn by many make-believe swans ended the procession. There were also
beautiful fireworks lasting late into the night. Later a complete movie
of the entire display was sent to us; when Alexei was ill, he amused
himself by operating the projector with interest.

The next day we all went to the yacht’s chapel for a divine service,
and to give thanks for the wonderful trip and our new friends. Later
the President brought us gifts. To Alexei he presented miniature
rifles, guns and drums, as well as a military tent completely equipped
with a miniature cot, table and folding chairs. Alexei was overwhelmed.
Afterwards he derived many happy hours in the park playing with his
field equipment. It was this little gun that the Bolsheviks seized
while he was playing with it in the garden during our arrest in
Tsarskoe Selo. Olga received a writing desk set of dark blue enamel,
beautifully initialed. Tatiana received a travel clock which she took
with her later to Tobolsk. Marie received a dollhouse, two stories
high, completely furnished, including a bath tub and electric lighting.
I received a beautiful doll with a complete trousseau, even a veil
for a bride. A twenty-one-gun salute was fired at our departure from
Cherbourg, as at Cowes.

This cruise made me appreciate Olga and Tatiana; they impressed me
highly with their graceful manners. I did so wish I could be like them
when I grew up. They were so tall and each looked to be every inch a
Princess, while it did not seem that I had grown at all during these
years. Even Alexei was an inch or more taller than I. Marie too was
tall. People said I would be short like my Grandmother. I was tall
enough when I sat down, but my limbs were not long enough to suit
me. Our Captain had a suggestion, that I hop on one foot, then on
the other, three times a day, saying that would produce the desired
results. I followed his instructions, even doubled and tripled his
recipe, but without success. On a cruise, when I confided to him that
his suggestions bore no fruit, he nearly died laughing. I never forgave
the Captain for making me feel so ridiculous.

In spite of these several cruises during that summer of 1909, Mother’s
health did not improve sufficiently to satisfy the doctors. She
suffered from neuralgia. Karlsruhe was recommended, so the family went
to Mannheim, to Uncle Ernest’s castle at Friedberg. Princess Louis of
Battenberg and her two sons were there too. Then we went to Wolfsgarten
near Darmstadt. Darmstadt was Mother’s old home, where as a young lady
she lived with her brother Ernest when he became the reigning Grand
Duke on the death of his father. Mother was fond of him because he
replaced her late parents, and so we were irresistibly drawn to him.
Uncle Ernest was handsome, kind, musical and artistic. Mother had
the same talents as her brother. His second wife Eleonor (Onor) was
a delightful person. She had known Mother since childhood, and their
friendship grew stronger each year. This trip therefore was meaningful
to our family.

I recall little of our stay. There was a constant flow of Mother’s
relatives and hordes of royal children. We four sisters had only one
bedroom to ourselves and Father had one small room where he could
receive people. I remember Mother’s sister Irene (Amity) and her
husband Prince Henry, the Kaiser’s brother. She completely won us over
with her tender affection, and referred to us as “the dear children.”
She was closer to Mother than were any of Mother’s other sisters.
It seemed that we were always being summoned to meet a new cousin,
aunt, uncle or a friend. One of the relatives had a homely nose, but
fortunately I do not remember who she was.

Father went to Potsdam as guest of the Kaiser and Kaiserin. It gave
me a queer feeling when I first realized the Kaiser’s deformity. I
remember seeing him ride his horse in his Hussar uniform. He stuck his
reins into his belt; with fingers resting partly on his hip he cleverly
manipulated the reins. He seemed to lean his weight heavily to one
side. Aunt Irene explained to us about his left arm. She said: “When
Prince Wilhelm was born, the doctors and his father rejoiced because
the child was a boy. But the little infant had not yet shown signs of
life. They did everything to get him to breathe. They slapped him,
tossed him into the air, swung him by his feet,--there was a full hour
of working over him. At last he gave a feeble cry. His mother, ill
at the time, did not know of the overly rough treatment of her baby.
Later when she found out, she was in despair, she blamed the doctors
and the nurses for the injury her child had received. For his left arm,
which had been pulled out of the socket, became paralyzed and later
shrivelled.”

Many of our relatives were in deep mourning for King Edward VII of
England (Uncle Bertie), who had passed away in the spring of 1910.
Kaiser Wilhelm had been hunting with Father in the Oranienburg forest
near Berlin, and upon their return, in the presence of the widow, Queen
Alexandra, and of the new King George V and Queen Mary, he looked
at all the ladies in black dresses and white collars and remarked:
“Everyone is dressed in black because the old rooster has died.” He
knew Queen Alexandra was partly deaf and could not hear his remark;
but there were many others who did, including the beautiful Princess
Alice and her husband, Prince Andrew of Greece, who had come with
Cousin George from England. We all bore disapproving expressions at his
remark, and one relative whispered, “Wilhelm must be mad.”

All of the family knew that the Kaiser was tactless. During the time
when he was only heir apparent, he never hesitated to express his
impatience at having to wait so long to inherit the throne. Long
before his grandfather and father died, he wrote the Proclamation, so
as to be ready when the occasion should present itself. Aunt Irene
and Mother cried when they heard that the young Emperor, Wilhelm II,
the day he ascended the throne, ordered everyone in the palace placed
under surveillance, including his own mother, the Empress Victoria;
this in spite of his having sworn to his father that he would always
uphold the honor of the royal house. He despised his courtiers, calling
them parasites--the same men who during the war wrested his power and
then held him practically under arrest. He hated the sight of his
Mother’s friends and ladies-in-waiting and without hesitation he once
said that the only joy in his life was being at the Yacht Club. Now he
was obviously pleased that Uncle Bertie was no longer in his way. His
dislike had begun when Uncle Bertie had called him “the boss of Cowes”
and, whenever possible, had avoided holding the regatta when Wilhelm
was present. One would not have believed that he had the use of only
one arm and with it skillfully steered the sailboat.

Kaiserin Augusta Victoria always looked beautiful with a clear,
almost transparent complexion, and was most friendly but quiet. I
was intrigued by the black ribbon which she wore around her throat.
She and the Kaiser showed us pictures of the palace at Potsdam. It
was beautiful except for one room which I thought was in bad taste.
This room had ornate pillars encrusted with all kinds of precious and
semiprecious stones and odd-shaped shells. I understand that Father
had contributed a large uncut diamond to this conglomeration, which
also included geological specimens, together with petrified snakes
wrapped around the pillars, turtles and crocodiles in creeping or
crawling positions.

One day Father went with the Kaiser to the mausoleum and placed a
wreath on the tomb of the Emperor Frederick III, the Kaiser’s father.
Photographs were taken on this occasion; later, in the bitterness of
war, while looking at these pictures, Mother said; “Papa would rather
lay a wreath on Wilhelm’s tomb.” We children cut the pictures of the
Kaiser out of all our photographs. Alexei tore up his pictures of
Germany completely, remarking that he (the Kaiser) did not deserve to
be called a godfather, and indignantly tramped the old photographs with
his feet. I did the same. After our arrest and imprisonment in Tsarskoe
Selo, I purposely broke several gifts from the Kaiser pretending that
it was an accident in every case.

Before we departed for home, Father gave the Kaiserin a pendant of
pearls and sapphires, which we had previously proudly displayed to our
friends for their approval. We liked the Empress and often felt sorry
for her because she had to put up with such an intemperate husband.
The Kaiserin gave each of us girls a sewing basket complete with all
necessary equipment. We used these until 1914, when we gave them away
not wanting to see them again. Some of the Kaiser’s sons, resplendent
in immaculate uniforms and eagle-crested helmets, escorted us to the
station, frequently clicked their heels as they saluted us, making
our departure a gala affair. The Kaiserin was forbidden to accompany
us to the station. At the time Mother considered this an insult, but
a letter from Aunt Eleonor revealed that the Kaiser in a fit of anger
had slapped her face that morning before our departure, and each of his
five fingers had left an impression on her face.

As we boarded the train, Father was dressed in his civilian overcoat
and Alexei wore his customary dark-blue sailor suit, while we sisters
wore our traveling suits as it was already cold. On the train, Alexei
said: “I was scared of those cousins.” Upon the occasion of that visit
to Germany, Father, out of courtesy, appointed the Kaiserin Augusta
Victoria honorary colonel-in-chief of the Grodno Hussars. This aroused
terrible consternation, especially on the part of Grandmother who was
so furious that she cried and carried on bitterly, saying that she
hoped she would never see the Kaiserin wearing that uniform. I am sure
she never did. En route home Father received word from Aunt Ella that
two Russian millionaires whom he knew had committed suicide. This made
a sad impression on us children. Later, after we arrived home, Mother
received a Christmas gift from the Kaiser, two enormous red enamelled
vases. I presume they were made by the royal manufacturers. These vases
were placed in a room in our home, one on each side of a console table.

Each member of our family settled into his usual routine of activities.
The problem of finding playmates for my brother loomed large again.
Derevenko, the sailor, had two sons, both younger than Alexei; they
became my brother’s playmates, for which my Mother was bitterly
criticized.



IV THE CRIMEA


Lessons were always an ordeal for me, especially when it was time for
a visit to the Crimea, for our hearts had always been set on the sea.
Lessons, however, were never neglected, for Mother was always strict
about their regularity. Livadia was the favorite estate of my Father,
as it had been that of his father and grandfather before him. It is
located at Yalta on the Crimean peninsula, and its sunshine and warmth
were a welcome change after the gloomy, cold days spent in our more
northerly home at Tsarskoe Selo.

At this time Dr. Botkin, Mother’s physician, who was ill, requested
permission to have his children come aboard our yacht. Mother replied
that they could come as often as they wished during their father’s
convalescence. I heard that the sick should not be forsaken. I, as a
good Samaritan, did my part by visiting the doctor every day, sitting
at the edge of his couch with my folded hands, like those of an old
lady, wishing to entertain him. We were all very fond of him. He had
a wonderful gift of story telling, and after taking in every word
I flew like a bullet to tell Marie and Alexei every detail of our
conversation, often embellishing it to add more zest to the story.
At home I used to wait for him in the room next to Mother’s bedroom.
I knew he had to pass this room after he finished her examination.
I stopped him and opened my heart to him with my childish problems.
He asked me all kinds of questions, and in turn I received from him
first hand information about his family. I always carried scraps of
paper in my hand. Asking him for his pencil, I scribbled down some
kind of curly-cues for my record.

We were so excited when we heard that his two children, Tatiana and
Gleb, were coming to visit their father. Dr. Botkin had told us so
much about his children that we felt we knew them. At first Gleb was
shy and Tatiana excited, but soon we all got acquainted and had a
hilarious time. My older sisters left the newcomers to us younger ones.
I remember hiding from Tatiana behind a drapery. Dr. Botkin was resting
on a couch and kept saying: “I see you, Anastasia,” since my shoes were
clearly visible protruding underneath the drapery. I did not answer
him. Finally Tatiana pushed aside the curtain expecting to find me
there, but all she found were my shoes. I had left them there and moved
to another hiding place.

Dr. Botkin was so understanding in the way he got into the spirit of
our games. In my eagerness for his children to have a good time, I
asked him confidentially what I could do to make his family happy. He
replied, “Just being with you is the greatest pleasure you can give.”
His children called him “Papula,” and I too appropriated that as my
pet name for him. In Ekaterinburg, when times were sad, I often said:
“Cheer up, Papula; all will be right.” In Tsarskoe Selo, we girls had
little opportunity to play with anyone from outside except occasionally
with our cousins.

One of the unforgettable sights at Livadia was the Hill of the Cross
(Krestovaya Gora) which greeted our eyes each time we reached the Bay
of Yalta, and we gazed upon it in thanksgiving for our safe arrival.
It was this towering mountain with a monumental cross at its peak that
fascinated me. I refused to believe that the world was round but I
imagined that the peak was one of the props which supported the sky
like an umbrella. To explore the mountain, I devised a plan. I ran to
Marie about it, since she always was interested in my adventures. As
a result, one sunny afternoon, when I was overcome by curiosity and
our nurse was absorbed with the others, Marie and I slipped through
the bushes and were actually on our way. We dashed from bush to bush
until we thought we were safe from possible pursuers. Unfortunately the
mountain which we had set out to climb proved to be farther than we
had anticipated. On and on we went. Finally we could move only slowly.
The mountain was still far away. Bewildered and discouraged we turned
homeward. We were worn out. Suddenly we noticed guards coming toward
us. We rushed toward them, weariness forgotten. “Here they are,” a
voice sang out, and we two explorers were hurried back to the palace.

I recall an incident involving Alexei. He suddenly seemed to have
disappeared. At the first report everyone thought in terms of drowning,
kidnapping, or some other tragedy. Every guard and the household help
ran in different directions. Father, by instinct, went straight toward
the sea, and there he found Alexei happily playing on the beach with a
pile of shells he had gathered.

At Livadia we had beautiful orchards, bearing every kind of fruit.
We loved to spend our leisure time in these orchards. The gardeners
displayed apples, peaches, apricots and cherries, all according to the
season. We were especially proud of our vineyards nearby at Massandra.
We had every kind of grape--white, purple, red--each one a perfect
specimen and unusually large. Whenever we visited the wine cellar we
found large bunches of grapes artistically arranged on platters in
the reception room. They looked so tempting with sprays of leaves
accentuating the soft colors of the fruit. After tea, cakes and grapes
were passed.

After our tour of the vineyards we usually took the lift down and
walked through seven huge store rooms. These contained many shelves
of bottled wines lying on their sides, dated, labelled and crested
with the Russian double eagle. These bottles were in deep red, white
or blue marked with their age, which went back several generations.
Father commented on the age and quality of the wines stored there on
platforms, in large barrels, holding several hundred gallons of wine
to age. It was here that the coronation wine was made and bottled; a
lot of it still remained in these rooms at the time of the revolution.
There were varieties of wines here which were used in the palace at
Tsarskoe Selo. Father drank only occasionally. He disliked champagne,
but enjoyed a glass of sherry. Mother and we children used some only
for medicinal purposes.

Many of our activities were centered around the waters of the Black
Sea. We often went bathing but none of us children could be called
good swimmers. As a matter of fact we were afraid of the deep water,
especially since that frightful incident when I was swept under by a
huge wave and was saved by Father from drowning. After this a platform
or breakwater was built for our protection.

Nineteen eleven was a turbulent year for us. On our way to the Crimea
we stopped for several days in Kiev. Father and my older sisters
accompanied by the ladies of honor and by Crown Prince Boris, the heir
to the Bulgarian throne, went to the opera. After the first act, when
the curtain fell and the orchestra played, voices were heard from the
audience and confusion began. Prime Minister Stolypin who sat in a
white coat in the front row had been shot. The bullet pierced the cross
and his chest. The foul deed was done by a man who used a pass given
him by a friend of the Okhrana who had been made to believe that he was
anxious to be present at the performance. The family returned earlier
than expected. Father was as white as a ghost and both sisters shook
when they reached the train where Mother was in a state of collapse.
She had already heard about the murder. It was said that the Minister,
Count Witte, who wanted to regain his former position, which he had
lost to Stolypin, exchanged sharp words with Stolypin shortly before
the killing took place. Father ordered no reprisal, stating that court
action should settle the matter. For this he was deeply criticized.

Madame Narishkina told us then the experience the Stolypin family had
had during the Japanese war. Their home in St. Petersburg was bombed
and about two dozen people were injured; one remained a cripple. She
said that arms, fingers and limbs were scattered all over the garden.

Amongst Mother’s closest friends was Mme. Anna Vyrubova (née Taneeva)
who sometimes quarrelled with members of the staff. Anna Vyrubova even
declared war on Mlle. Butsova. Mother said: “Never again will I have
her in Livadia,” but she broke her promise again and again. Anna’s
mother before her marriage was a Tolstoy and her husband was related to
General Voyeykov, the commandant of the palaces in Tsarskoe Selo. He,
too, was disliked by many.

Mother invited Anna to come to the Crimea despite the feeling against
her. She had been our friend for a long while and we accepted her as
though she were a member of the family. Her house in Tsarskoe Selo
was conveniently located a short distance from the palace gate and we
children loved to go to Anna where we did not spare her cookie jar
which was always full and accessible. There was no formality at her
house and we were free from surveillance. Anna knew how to make us feel
at ease with her friendliness and understanding, and our ties with her
grew stronger. Sometimes even Father joined Mother at Anna’s, and that
was a unique experience for my parents. It was at her house that Mother
and sometimes Father saw the Starets (Rasputin). Hence all the messages
from the Starets to Mother came through Anna.

We had heard of the malicious stories about Anna’s relationship with
Rasputin. However, a thorough investigation disclosed that these
terrible rumors were totally unfounded and that Rasputin had never
visited her house when she was alone. Mother had a special interest in
her because she had encouraged Anna to marry an officer who had been
shell-shocked during the Russo-Japanese war. The marriage eventually
ended in divorce. After the death of Rasputin, Anna moved to our house
because Mother feared she, too, might be killed. Her father, Alexander
Sergeevich Taneev, held a position at court and Father esteemed him
highly. He was also a fine musician and from him Anna had inherited
much talent. A love for music bound Mother and Anna into this close
friendship. These musical hours served to release Mother’s suppressed
ambitions. In her younger days she had taken voice lessons, learning
many arias from operas. Had she been born into another family, she
could have made music her profession.

Miss Baumgarten or Miss Clements usually accompanied Mother during
her vocal practice. Mother played many complicated compositions
on the piano; the harder they were the better she liked them. She
possessed great patience and would never stop until her undertaking was
accomplished. When she played she always laid her rings on a tray. She
had an idea that the rings interfered with the clearness and softness
of the melody.

Anna was a constant visitor in our house and occasionally Father
dropped in to listen and enjoy the simple pleasures Mother and Anna had
together. Whenever possible, in the evening, we children were allowed
to slip into the room to hear them play and sing classical numbers. At
these Mother was radiantly beautiful and she carried the melody with
much expression and feeling; we were often deeply touched. There was
an expression of sadness in those melodies and the plaintive ones were
those she sang the best. Father enjoyed Mother’s informal concerts
but never encouraged the presence of strangers during these intimate
musical evenings. He also was musical and while young often played the
piano with Madame Narishkina.

Mother often played and sang with Countess Emma Fredericks, the
daughter of our chamberlain. She, too, had a beautiful voice;
unfortunately she was a cripple. I often wondered what became of her
when misfortune swept the country. Another musically gifted friend
was the lady-in-waiting, Baroness Iza Buxhoeveden. All these people
contributed considerably to Mother’s happiness. Alexei’s illness in
1912 aggravated Mother’s heart condition and forced her to withdraw
considerably from her hitherto enjoyed pleasures. When the war came,
she stopped singing altogether, though she did take part in chants
during church services, especially when we were under arrest.

Father encouraged all sorts of artistic endeavors. He wished to give
an opportunity to all the poor to hear the best of concerts and see
the plays and cinemas. The year of my birth he sponsored Narodny Dom,
a cultural center in St. Petersburg, not far from the Cathedral of
Sts. Peter and Paul. This included large concert halls, a theatre and
a cinema. The same artists who performed at the Imperial Theater were
heard and seen in this cultural center, at the cost of only a few
kopecks.

Never did Livadia seem more magical than at the time we arrived to
find a beautiful new palace replacing the old wooden structure which
had stood for generations. The new palace construction began in
1910 and was finished in 1911. It had forty or fifty rooms. It rose
naturally from its surroundings as if it had grown out of the fertile
soil itself. The old palace had been torn down because it developed
some kind of malodorous mushroom which was hazardous to our health;
so now only a memory existed in our minds. This was in contrast to
the new building, so full of light and air, which was constructed of
steel and of native, white Crimean Inkerman stone. It was quite as
dazzling, in the sunshine, as the sea itself, and, indeed, cheerfully
different from anything we had ever lived in. It did not seem like a
palace, least of all ours. Mother was charmed, especially with the
harmonizing colors; her pleasure made a home of it immediately. She
was everywhere, supervising the putting up of different pictures or
icons, or the placing of vases (designed by her) of exquisite blossoms
on various tables. Father had made plans with the gardeners to make
sure there would be plenty of Mother’s choice, favorite flowers. Her
greatest favorite was lobelia. She loved its purplish-blue hue so much
she requested that the same shade of velvet be set into the stair rail,
next to the Byzantine-style chapel leading upstairs to the second floor
apartments.

This time the old porcelain stoves were omitted and the palace was
heated by hot water. All the rooms had direct bells connected with
the room of the officers on duty who could enter the rooms if needed.
Father later had telephone booths installed throughout the park, so he
could be found wherever he might be. Also we had some trained dogs to
watch the palace grounds. The colonnades and balconies were in white
marble, and some of the lower rooms were in lemonwood, mahogany and
redwood. Mother with the help of her architect, Krasnov, selected all
the needed articles. She herself had painted a picture of wisteria
vines which hung in one of her rooms in the Alexander Palace in
Tsarskoe Selo (proof of her artistic talents). In our chapel there
she had a glass screen of that same color, behind which she prayed
undisturbed.

Father, too, was delighted with the new palace but his delight
centered more on the outdoors, with its rare specimens of trees,
shrubs and plants. The climate of the Crimea lent itself to all sorts
of agricultural experiments, and he gave a great deal of time to
naturalizing importations from the famous Nikitsky Botanical Garden
near by. Whenever Father had a free moment to himself he enjoyed
working in the gardens under the bright sun. In the spring there were
varieties of hyacinths in bloom, white, purple and pink. Many flowering
trees and shrubs embellished the beauty and elegance. Mother loved the
combination of wisteria and smoke tree. A year before the war a storm
destroyed many of these rare trees, which were soon replaced by new
importations.

In front of the palace, facing the sea, was a lovely, life-sized,
reclining female figure in pure white marble. Alexei and I discovered a
hole on the side of the figure. It was large enough to squeeze a kopeck
into, which we promptly did. On the following morning we rushed out to
see if it was still there.

I have many vivid memories of the place and the happy times which
we all enjoyed while there. To me the Crimean peninsula was a
concentration of nature’s best: snow-capped mountains with little
Tartar villages nestling on their slopes, high plains under
cultivation, and valleys full of wild flowers and berries. The estate
itself was especially beautiful, with its wide lanes, lovely gardens,
and many orchards bearing every kind of fruit. But, perhaps, most
beautiful of all, and certainly the accent for all the other natural
beauties surrounding Livadia, was the sea itself. Even today, as I
think of my childhood visits to the Crimea, happy memories come to my
mind. I can see pictures of vividly colored flowers, soft green-blue
waters and deeper skies, all fused together in the melting sunshine of
the Russian Riviera. Life here was most pleasant, with less formality
and with more leisure time for Mother and Father to spend with us
children. Our visits usually came in the spring and fall, and the
protracted winter which intervened became for all of us one long period
of anticipation. Our last stay of any length was just before World War
I, when I was almost thirteen.

We went to the Crimea by special train. We invariably went first to
Sevastopol, where Father inspected the naval installations. These
included the admiralty, naval barracks, hospital, and other buildings.
Father frequently lunched with the officers at the Officers Club. When
he was ready to proceed, we boarded a yacht or tender at the Tsarskaya
Pristan (dock) and landed at Yalta where we were greeted by the people
who lined the road as our carriages passed through. The natives
considered this day a holiday.

Granny Marie had not visited the Crimea since the death of her husband,
Alexander III, in 1894 and even the new palace which stood majestically
among the trees could not induce her to pay us a visit. During the
revolution, however, she was forced to flee to the Crimea.

Before the war, while we were in the Crimea, Father got up one morning
before dawn, and dressed himself in a soldier’s uniform. Eluding the
guards, he walked toward the rising sun. He passed through villages
and saw people working in gardens and fields. All seemed happy and
contented as they passed by him. We, afterwards, wondered if he had
his great-granduncle, Alexander I, in mind. For it was believed that
Alexander left one early morning, disguised as a beggar, walking for
weeks through the villages until he reached a Siberian monastery.
History tells us that Alexander I was ailing and died in Taganrog.
But many believe that the day he was supposed to have died, he was
seen escaping into the darkness of the palace grounds. His wife had a
simple funeral for him, which was witnessed by only a few. The body was
then brought to St. Petersburg where it was laid in a mausoleum in the
Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul--where all the Russian emperors were
entombed. But it is said that the entombed body was not the Emperor’s
but that of a soldier who had died in Taganrog at the same time that
Alexander I had escaped. Alexander I allegedly died while hiding in an
ancient monastery in Tomsk as a monk; the birthmarks on the body were
the same as those of the Emperor. Later the Cathedral in St. Petersburg
was flooded and, when the coffin that allegedly held the body of
the Emperor was opened, it was found to be empty. The investigation
disclosed that the coffin had been pried open in the past and the body
removed.

Father, however, after walking all day and talking to the peasants,
returned late in the afternoon. He found the police and his staff
officers terribly worried over his disappearance. Father was happy. He
said it had been one of his most pleasant walks for he had seen how
his people lived. General Dumbadze, who was responsible for Father’s
safety, was very much upset over this incident.

Another time, when Father tried unsuccessfully to leave the palace in
Tsarskoe Selo, dressed as a soldier, one of the guards saluted him as
he passed. Father asked him: “Do you know me?” The guard answered: “I
do, Your Majesty, by your kind eyes.”

In the Crimea there were other activities to look forward to: such
as the bazaar that was organized under the patronage of Mother and
Princess Bariatinsky. This bazaar was held annually and the funds
raised went to the support of the Children’s Tuberculosis Sanatorium.
This institution was located on the Imperial estate of Massandra.
It was housed in a beautiful building overlooking the sea and was
surrounded by spacious grounds with avenues bordered by roses and
rare species of carefully labelled shrubs and trees. This adjoined
the Imperial vineyards. Here several hundred children were cared
for and educated, and when they were cured of tuberculosis, many
entered schools of higher learning. These children came from all
over the Empire, from rich and poor alike. The large sums needed to
support the hospital were raised through donations, concerts, plays,
bazaars, selling flowers and photographs. Mother and her friends,
with the assistance of my sisters, made many articles to be sold at
this bazaar. We three younger ones felt the responsibility, too, and
enthusiastically found buyers for flowers and for tickets to the
concerts. The public was always generous.

Alexei was most eager to help in this project as he, himself, suffered
so much and understood the misery of others. From time to time he gave
his whole monthly allowance to this cause. Once, on our private train
on the way to the Crimea, Aunt Ella joined us at the station in Moscow.
She, too, brought with her gifts for the bazaar. We took turns selling
Easter eggs on the train and, by the time we reached the Crimea, the
donations had grown enormously large. One of our entourage carried the
basket while Alexei sold many of these treasures with his heartbreaking
sales talk to our friends who were on the train. He kept a careful
account of all the gifts he collected which were valued at several
hundred thousand rubles; a check for 50,000 rubles came from Prince
Dolgorukov. Alexei never forgot this generosity and looked forward to
another year in order to do the same thing. When he was subsequently
praised for this, he answered cheerfully: “I never had more fun in my
life!”

Our cousins, the Princesses Nina and Xenia Georgievna, helped us in
this charity project when they were at their estate in Kharaks. Our
other relatives from Ai-Todor, adjoining Livadia, always lent their aid
as did those of the Youssoupoff family. Countess Vorontsova-Dashkova,
that beautiful woman, was a great supporter of this charity.

In 1914 the “Standard” was brought to the Crimean waters from the
Baltic, through the North Sea. Box after box was carried down from the
“Standard.” They contained items to be sold at charity bazaars which
were held in the gymnasium under the auspices of the Governor of Yalta.
Most of the buyers wished to purchase something handmade by my Mother
or that had been touched by her. Madame Zizi (Elizabeth) Narishkina
assisted Mother and handed to the guests whatever Mother selected.
It might be a child’s bonnet, a cushion, or a scarf. Mother thanked
them and offered her hand which they always insisted upon kissing.
Olga and Marie, Tatiana and I sold at different stalls. Hundreds of
beautiful handmade boxes of all kinds of shapes and sizes, in lapis
lazuli, malachite, leather, or in the famous transparent enamel, or the
lacquer boxes of papier maché were sold in great quantities. In the
evening, after supper, a concert was given by Madame Plevitskaya, the
nightingale of Russia. Her graceful bows were like a weeping willow and
her long fingertips touched the floor before us. She was noted for her
rendition of national songs.

Plays were given in our honor which were often attended by our friends
and cousins. On one of these occasions Alexei was unruly. During the
intermission he acted like a wild colt. His friend encouraged him in
this exhibition. He jumped on top of a chair and then up on a table,
pretending that he was delivering a speech. He changed his voice, using
a peculiar accent in pronouncing certain letters. Marie and I were so
ashamed of him and could not believe it was our brother. Mother said
she would never again allow him to appear in public without the two
older sisters.

Everyone worked hard and made large donations besides. During the war
a part of this sanatorium was turned into a hospital for the wounded
officers who recovered quickly to return to combat.

Father’s purpose in taking the long walks mentioned above was to make
sure that the exercises required of his troops during maneuvers were
not too strenuous for them. He frequently exceeded by several miles
per day the distance the troops were required to march. On such walks
Father carried only water and bread.



V SPALA: 1912


The summer of 1912 found us once more in Peterhof.

Before long we departed on another cruise for official reasons.
Kaiser Wilhelm came to Russia for a few days for nautical ceremonies
and to inspect the Viborg infantry of which he was the honorary
colonel-in-chief; he cruised with us in Finnish waters. He was so
noisily jovial that Mother called him “the comedian.” At this time in
our presence, one of his officers said something about “my men.” The
Kaiser turned sharply and curling his mustache nervously said, “Once
again, they are _my_ men.” He was happy one minute and moody the next,
so that my sisters remarked, “There is something wrong with him.” But,
of course, at my age, I saw only the humorous side of his nature and
enjoyed his amusing anecdotes and clever caricatures, drawn by himself,
mostly characterizing his own relatives. He was jealous of Mother,
because he could not understand how she could become all Russian, as
his English mother had never become all German. He liked our yacht,
the “Standard,” and said, “Nicky, I would like to have the ‘Standard’
myself, but with a German crew.” Father’s face flushed. He knew what
he meant. The remark was intended to indicate German superiority in
navigation. After a pause, Father answered: “We are very fond of the
‘Standard’; it is quite comfortable and the family enjoys it a great
deal.”

The Kaiser often asked Father for donations for his charities and
Father could not refuse him. This made my Mother angry. It was during
this cruise that the Kaiser’s action and behavior aroused disgust in
Mother more than before. Often she said: “I remember when he was a
young man he used to provoke Granny with his sharp words. But Granny
did not spare him, either.”

At the time of his departure, the Kaiser surprised everyone by kissing
Father’s hand in the presence of our Foreign Minister, Izvolsky, who
remarked, “A kiss on the hand and a stab in the back.” This diplomat
foresaw, obviously, the great events of the coming World War I. We were
glad when the Kaiser sailed away on the “Hohenzollern.” Grandmother
also did not feel kindly toward the Kaiser since the German absorption
of Schleswig-Holstein and the expulsion of the native Danes from
their homeland. The wound was so fresh that she strongly resented the
Kaiser’s visits to Denmark. Kaiser Wilhelm hated every living Slav
and I have often wondered how he felt in his heart when he accepted
expensive gifts from us and ate food with Father, who was not only a
Slav but defended all the Slavs.

The same year we went to the monastery of Borodino to celebrate the
Napoleonic defeat on the Berezina River in the war of 1812. The people
wept from joy to see the Imperial family and they gave Alexei relics of
the war of 1812.

Occasionally in the fall hunting lured Father to Poland to his estates
at Belovezh in the government of Grodno. On our way there we landed
in Reval where Alexei laid a stone at the harbor to Peter the Great.
Father reviewed the Sixth Army Corps here, while Mother and we children
visited the Nicholas Institute for Girls. In Belovezh we stayed in our
new large red brick shooting lodge, with several watch towers and a
fine balcony, from where we viewed the game brought in after the day’s
hunt. One side of this residence held rare stuffed animals found here
years ago and the other side was used by us as our living quarters.
The house was located in the midst of a forest of pine and white birch
trees surrounded by picturesque hills and ravines. Most of the best
hunting took place in the vicinity of Belovezh and Spala.

Our lodge at Spala was a two-story, gloomy, wooden villa near a river
and a park; one side was closely surrounded by tall trees through
which little sunshine penetrated, making it necessary to keep the
lights burning in the corridors and halls. The whole house here, too,
was decorated in English chintzes.

We sisters went horseback riding over the broad, sandy roads and alleys
which wound through the woods of white birch and fragrant pines. In the
midst of fir trees the ground was covered with yellow milk mushrooms,
as bright and smooth as silk which the natives ate raw. We also found
time to play in the park or fish in the brook and occasionally Father
and his guests had a game of tennis.

These forests had been stocked with game for generations of royal
hunters. There were many wild animals roaming at large, including deer,
wild boar, lynx, and wild fowl. But the most rare and sought was the
auroch, an unusual variety of bison found only here and in the Caucasus
mountains. At dusk the party returned, the prey was spread on the lawn
and everyone was supposed to rush out to examine it and express great
admiration. Mother often made some excuse to stay indoors, or appeared,
out of courtesy, briefly on the balcony; she did not care to see these
lovely creatures killed. The sight of dead deer with their large
pathetic eyes, still open, reminded her too much of a human suffering.

Here, too, were many mounted heads, killed in previous years, which
adorned the various walls in the house. I was glad when Mother had some
of them removed from the dining room. Several large landscape paintings
in heavy frames and some paintings of horses brightened these rooms.
But the other pictures of hunting dogs with a fowl in their mouths or
a large boar lying on the green grass with a spot of blood on its body
was not very cheerful.

In spite of the wonderful care which always surrounded Alexei, he
bumped his knee during our trip on the yacht, bursting a blood vessel,
which affected his groin and developed into a black and blue lump. It
was so painful he could not bear to have the doctor examine it. His
condition had bettered and the swelling below his abdomen was somewhat
reduced, but when he was taken for a ride in a carriage, suddenly
he became very ill and the swelling increased again, as did his
temperature, and he became delirious.

Mother’s sister, Princess Irene, wife of Prince Henry of Prussia, and
their son, Prince Sigismund, were visiting us at the time. She was
very sympathetic regarding Alexei’s misfortune because one of her
sons had died of haemophilia. She was one of the very few who knew
about Alexei’s condition from the earliest symptoms. Those outside the
family did not know of the serious nature of Alexei’s illness. Now
Aunt Irene joined Mother in taking care of Alexei, especially since
our trip to Spala had been planned several months ahead and previously
arranged engagements could not be cancelled without arousing suspicion
concerning the state of Alexei’s health.

We had many house guests who had come from several foreign countries
and from many parts of Russia. Friends from nearby Warsaw sometimes
joined us for dinners and entertainments which had been arranged for
the pleasure of our guests. There was dancing and other professional
amusements. But it was difficult for Mother to appear to be enjoying
these festive occasions when at the same time fate might claim the
life of her son. She ran up the stairs whenever possible, in order to
be with Alexei for a few minutes. Meanwhile Father carried on as host,
with Princess Irene taking Mother’s place as hostess during Mother’s
absence.

We sisters gave a French play before our guests. I was delighted that
our Swiss tutor, M. Pierre Gilliard, gave me a part that contributed
largely to the success of our little performance. But, while performing
before our audience, I mixed up my lines and could not hear the
prompter; so I resorted to improvising. At this moment, while the
guests were hilarious over my ad libbing, an elastic of my most
delicate undergarment broke and the embarrassing white ruffled cambric
fell to the floor. The audience became well-nigh hysterical and laughed
far more than if I had remembered my lines.

The secrecy surrounding Alexei’s illness had always tormented me. I
knew bleeding was involved, like the bleeding of a wound that could not
be stopped. Marie and I were almost as ignorant as the general public
as to the real nature of his illness. I remember tiptoeing into my
brother’s room and there I saw Mother lying on a couch. In one corner
was a basin filled with pieces of cotton which she had been applying
to the blue swelling. As Alexei’s condition became worse, the rest of
the family joined Mother at the side of his bed. I would have preferred
to be outside where I could not see my brother’s suffering or hear
his moans, yet something held me inside. There they were, Father,
Olga, Tatiana, and Marie, all huddled together, a thin layer of hope
spread over their despair. They were all in an attitude of prayer, and
totally unaware of the struggle that was taking place in me. Suddenly,
shame-faced, I slipped in beside them and found myself in the front
ranks of the sorrowing family.

We all watched Mother, her hand enclosing Alexei’s as though she were
trying to transmit her own strength into his frail body. He was not
lying in a pool of blood as I had always expected but looked quite
normal, except that he was very pale and moaned pitifully. His eyes
seemed to be sunk into his head and he wore a peculiar expression on
his face. Mother knelt beside him, encouraging her little son with
a smile which seemed to say, “You will be well soon.” So long as
Mother did not give up, Alexei knew his condition was not hopeless. We
knew her heart was breaking, but before Alexei she was a picture of
confidence and hope. Mother knew that if she left Alexei to the nurses,
the boy would stop fighting, for it was her heroic presence which
strengthened him.

Dr. Botkin, Mother’s private physician, relieved her on many nights as
did my Aunt Irene. Dr. Fedorov, Dr. Dreifuss and Dr. Ostrogorsky were
all summoned to repeat all the treatments which had helped in previous
attacks. Dr. Fedorov, a renowned specialist in haemophilia, was in
charge of Alexei. He had brought my brother through several other
attacks, after which Dr. Derevenko, who was Dr. Fedorov’s assistant,
became Alexei’s personal physician. The doctors’ efforts did not seem
to bring about any change. Mother, however, remained confident even
when the doctors were shaking their heads in despair. Mother understood
every agony of the boy and seemed to be able to relieve his suffering.
Alexei extended his feverish hands to her in appreciation. They
understood each other perfectly.

Hopelessness was crushing Father. It was such double torture with the
fear of losing Mother as well as Alexei in the event anything happened
to Alexei. We had practically given up hope, but not Mother. She would
not give up. We braced ourselves to meet the inevitable. Mother’s face
was white but calm before Alexei’s searching eyes. As a last resort she
directed that a telegram be sent to Rasputin at his home in Siberia,
imploring him to pray for Alexei’s recovery. In the morning Mother
sent for Father Vassiliev to administer the holy sacrament to our
brother. Alexei and Mother looked straight into each other’s eyes, the
one sending out waves of assurance, the other hopefully receptive. The
light in her eyes never failed him.

In the meantime a bulletin had been issued about the boy’s serious
condition. Father felt that the people had the right to know about
their Tsarevich, although it was torture to reveal the secret kept so
long. At this time Father also ordered the sending of wires to our
foreign diplomatic representatives with a view to locating specialists
who might be able to help Alexei, but no medic for this malady was
found.

The doctors worked feverishly, their foreheads moist with their
exertions. Silence was broken as Alexei moaned and Mother whispered,
“Has no word come from the Starets?” Alexei clung to life even when all
of us except Mother thought each breath might be his last. Under the
tension we even wished that it would be, to spare him further agony!

Suddenly one of the officers approached with a quick step and handed
a telegram to Father. He read it aloud to all of us in a clear voice.
“The little one will not die, do not let him be bothered too much.”
(This was the sense of the telegram, the words are my own.) When we all
heard these words, the air became charged with renewed hope. Alexei
must have felt it too for he relaxed into a deep sleep. It continued
for so long that Mother kept listening to his heart to make sure that
he was still with us. When he awoke, the bleeding had stopped. Whether
it was the medicine, the holy sacrament, or our prayers, as well as
those of Rasputin, which caused the sudden turn for the better, we
could not tell, but we knew that death had been averted. We had seen a
miracle before our very eyes.

From that moment on, the boy’s ravaged body began to mend. We could
only think of Rasputin as a holy man and the instrument in the healing
of my brother. I recall seeing him later--only three or four times--but
he made a deep impression on me. He was so different from other human
beings. His piercing eyes seemed to look right through me even into the
depths of my innermost self. He frightened me. When I first saw him he
said, “Is this the little one?” and I was afraid that he would touch
me, but he didn’t. He wore a long cassock with a cross hanging down on
his chest. He looked like a monk. I was told he walked long distances
barefoot, not having the necessary money to travel by train. But when I
saw him he wore boots. By nature he was a son of the soil, like a wild
plant nourished by accident.

Grigory Rasputin was not a monk at all except in a very loose sense. He
was not even a member of any holy order. He was a Starets, a pilgrim
and lay preacher among peasants. Could he be a biblical character
come to life? I wondered. On his many journeys he had learned many
of nature’s remedies. He had faith in them in the face of modern
scientific medicine. He believed nature had made provision for man’s
health as she had made provision for his food and drink. He knew an
herb or berry for various maladies. His remedies were simple; it did
not seem possible they could be effective. I heard he used to put dried
berries in his tea. For bronchitis, he used high bush cranberries or
red raspberry juice. We did not follow any of his remedies for my
brother. We believed that ultimately God was the only Healer.

Father Vassiliev, our chaplain, held services twice a day in the
camp chapel, which had been especially built in a large tent in the
garden, until our departure from Spala in the late fall. Many different
gifts were sent to Alexei during his illness, including some enamel
and silver icons of St. Alexius and a Virgin and Christ in gold and
decorated with precious stones. These and others came with the blessing
of the churches in their incessant prayer for his health.

After this dreadful experience in Poland, Alexei was like something
that had been lost but was now found. We could not do enough for him,
but in spite of the attention we gave him, he was not spoiled. He was
only an average boy and there was no reason for him to be different
because he had been born to a royal family. There was a magnetism about
the little fellow which no one could resist, yet Mother and Father
tried to be firm with him. We all knew Alexei was the most important
thing in Mother’s life; in fact, he was in all of ours. His condition
meant misery or happiness to the whole family. Our first question every
morning was, “How is Alexei?” We really did not need to ask because
when Mother was happy, obviously he was all right.

Later we heard all kinds of atrocious stories spread about the illness
of this innocent little boy. How could any human being think of
anything so cruel and untrue is beyond my imagination.

Alexei was very sensitive and sometimes when Mother rebuked him he
would run to Olga for sympathy. He adored Olga and said he was going to
marry her. He was even jealous of her in a way, because he did not want
her to pay attention to strangers when he was present. He had a talent
for making us forget to scold him when he had done something wrong by
distracting our attention. We all knew his strategy but it was hard to
punish him when we saw him perched on a chair like a little sparrow,
wondering what he would say to get our minds off the coming reprimand.

Late in the fall a few weeks before Christmas when the snow had buried
the ground, Alexei was well enough to be moved to Tsarskoe Selo and
there he made further recovery from his recent attack. This illness
damaged the nerve and caused his left leg to become shorter. It
required painful treatments and a special pad was placed in his shoe to
build up the heel, so that he limped only slightly.

Mother had put so much of herself into the agonizing condition that it
was hard for her to be herself again. For weeks she lay prostrate from
her nursing and emotional strain but blissfully conscious of victory.
She was disappointed not to be able to go to church to give fitting
thanks for Alexei’s recovery, but the priest came to the house and
conducted a special service in the palace chapel. When she felt well
enough to be up and around again, Dr. Botkin found her heart again in a
weakened condition and confined her to her room.

During these periods of rest, following the exhausting care of Alexei,
Mother devoted herself to intensive religious study. The sparing of
Alexei was God’s answer to her prayers; her gratitude was so consuming
she lived in a realm of religious dedication. She had a rare collection
of Bibles, which were brought to her from St. Petersburg and Moscow;
these she studied, making comparisons of the various editions. She
would then discuss what she had learned with Father who was no less
interested but who did not have the time he would have liked to devote
to the subject.

In our library we had some rare scrolls and texts. They had come from
Egypt, Persia, Palestine, Sinai, and elsewhere. One of these was the
famous Codex Sinaiticus, dating from the fourth century A.D., which was
first discovered by the German scholar Tischendorff in a monastery on
the Sinai peninsula. Great-grandfather, Alexander II, had acquired the
manuscript; later, in 1862, he had it published. There were also very
early Russian texts. All these were under lock and key but we could
see them in the glass case. Father knew the history of each of these
texts and versions. The children’s library was separate. On its shelves
were Russian fables and stories, and there were translations from the
Danish. We had some originals signed by Hans Christian Andersen.

Mother was reared and educated in England and Germany and distinguished
herself in her studies. She, herself, was a philosopher and often
discussed philosophy with her friends. She saw things the others could
not see and sometimes connected religion with the writings of the great
philosophers.

However, she was not a fanatic as many described her, but she could
see and understand things the others did not. She was well informed on
various subjects. She understood and reasoned the value and depth of
her religion. Her and Father’s knowledge of history surpassed that of
many historians and their vocabulary was powerfully rich.

When Mother was strong enough, we children joined her at luncheon or
tea. In the winter she selected a sunny room where a folding table
was used for the occasion. One of Mother’s rooms was decorated in her
favorite color, mauve, and was cosy with matching brocades, curtains
and upholstery. One wall was covered with a collection of icons which
were gifts from different people. These were continually lighted by
two lamps, one blue and one pink. Some of these icons were the most
beautiful that Byzantine art could produce, others were very simple,
but all were symbols to Mother and a means of remembering the donors.
Mother loved every one of them, and was most appreciative when people
presented her one of these religious treasures. Some of them she
carried with her from Tsarskoe Selo to Alexandria and Livadia palaces
and later to Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg. She wanted to have the most
meaningful in her room. Others hung in one of the small rooms of the
chapel together with some of her Bibles and a panagia. She also had
some icons of great historic importance.

Icons of these types were made only by the Greeks, Russians, Serbians,
Bulgarians, and Rumanians. No statues were permitted in our churches,
since we discarded the pagan idols at the time of the adoption of the
Greek orthodox religion. A lot of the best treasures in the country
were looted during the revolution. Other gifts were hung in the long
hall which ran the whole length of the palace including all kinds of
plates and other objects of historical value which we had received
during many trips in Russia and abroad.

We were shocked to see how frail Mother looked when she finally emerged
from her convalescence. It was an effort for her to walk the length of
the hall and she was wheeled to the lift which took her to Alexei’s
room. She permitted him to come down to the music room and lie on the
sofa, or to amuse himself in the library with his electric trains. He
built villages, fountains, churches out of blocks. We girls read to
him or engaged him in games to keep him occupied. I can still see my
brother in the blue nightshirt which he wore after his bath when he
came down every evening before retiring. Mother took his emaciated
hand and they went upstairs to hear his prayers. She had a tendency
to overdo, hoping no one would suspect how much these illnesses of
Alexei took out of her. It is true that bulletins had been issued
telling of the serious condition of the Tsarevich but the nature of the
illness had never been revealed to the people--that would be admitting
hopelessness. When Alexei and Mother were well enough to travel we went
down to the Crimea where the change and rest were always refreshing to
both.

These attacks of Alexei were hard on us. For one thing our education
was disrupted. It was difficult for us to concentrate on anything
other than our brother’s health. The shared sorrow welded us into a
closer family and the realization of this brought a change in my life.
Thoughts of self seemed empty; childish pleasures began to lose their
charm. My life was now so bound up with the family that I could no
longer be lighthearted and free as before.

Reluctantly I realized I was taming down, through sorrow, not
discipline. My childhood pastime of painting took a more serious turn.
I even attempted to write imaginary stories about animals. Mother was
so pleased with my efforts she sent one of these stories to Aunt Irene
saying, “See what our little Nastia has done.” I now took a greater
interest in music and hoped that by working hard I might sing as well
as Mother or play like Olga. I loved Olga for her true kinship and
often kissed her hand for her understanding of us younger sisters.

A week or two was a long time for me to stick to anything. Again and
again I would revert to my childhood spirit but each time with less
of my former zest. My reputation of being a problem child persisted.
People often asked, “Where does the little one, small in size, store so
much, much energy? She has an endless supply of jokes and pranks.” Some
enjoyed my humor as I could tell from the expression on their faces,
and some did not.

Marie and I had all kinds of “properties” with which to carry out our
practical jokes. We had a set of stuffed animals which we called our
“Circus Kingdom.” We had a mechanical mouse, a yellow iridescent snake
with a moving head and a red, sharp tongue, a snapping turtle which
might tangle in a victim’s dress. Frightened, our victim would jump up
on a sofa or chair while Marie and I pretended to be equally scared and
put on an act with wide-open mouths.

Often, new attendants were warned to watch out for me and my pranks,
but in the end they suffered. In all these activities I was the leader
and most of the time in disgrace. Once Alexei sprinkled water over
me saying, “You must have been born in a dry summer, your jokes have
outgrown you.”

Perhaps my most effective toy for playing pranks was a large doll with
brown phosphorescent eyes that shone in the dark. This mechanical
doll, when wound, would open and close its eyes, making life-like,
blinking motions. On one occasion, I wound my doll while Marie was
watching at the bedroom door and, when we heard our victim coming, I
left the doll on the floor facing the door. We then jumped into our
beds and pretended we were asleep. The attendant, who had come to see
if we were all right, saw this awful thing on the floor in the dark
with its blinking eyes. Terrified she ran screaming into the hall and
awakened everyone on the whole floor. After this a sign was put up on
our playroom door which read, “Enter only by permission of Olga and
Tatiana.” This was designed to prevent Marie, Alexei, and myself from
entering the room at will.

In the face of recent family heartaches I was less and less proud of my
reputation as a prankster.



VI JUBILEE: 1913


The spring of 1913 marked the three hundredth anniversary of the
Romanov dynasty. Celebrations began with a great jubilee in St.
Petersburg. We arrived from Tsarskoe Selo a few days ahead of the
festivities and took up our residence in the Winter Palace. On the
first day we drove in open carriages through streets lined with troops
to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan where a picturesque ceremony was
held. It was a gray, cold and rainy day, in contrast to the brilliance
that awaited us inside the Cathedral.

According to custom the Tsar entered first, followed by the Heir to the
Crown. When Alexei appeared, it was not a strapping, healthy Tsarevich
to whom all the Grand Dukes and dignitaries bowed, but a frail little
boy of nine, carried in the arms of a Cossack. This was a sad moment
for us. We had hoped Alexei would at least be well enough to walk but
he had not recovered sufficiently from his recent illness. We stood
under a canopy in the middle of the great church. Alexei sat in a
chair. Mother worried about Alexei. She asked us to watch him also.
Dr. Derevenko stood nearby. We sisters were dressed in white, as was
Mother. She wore the blue ribbon of St. Andrew, the order studded
with diamonds and rubies. We had the red ribbon of the order of St.
Catherine with its dazzling star. Grandmother Marie stood with us,
trim and regal as always, blazing with diamonds, rubies and emeralds.
The elite of St. Petersburg were assembled here, a magnificent sight,
with the high clergy in golden robes and elaborate mitres, and the high
military dignitaries in uniforms embroidered in gold.

During the service a dove flew into the Cathedral and circled above
our canopy. Afterwards friends told us they were afraid it would fly
into the lighted candles and start a fire, but fortunately it flew out
of the church through a door. Since the dove is an important symbol
of peace in our religion, a representation of the Holy Ghost, we all
wondered if this event had a special significance. (It is worthwhile
mentioning that also during the coronation, Father said, “A pigeon flew
during the ceremonies.” Later, in Ekaterinburg on the day of tragedy,
while we were having our last walk in the yard, a pigeon flew over
us three times and then dashed repeatedly against the window.) After
the ceremony, in the afternoon, we were attired in national costumes,
as were our guests. Mother was especially beautiful, in her high
_kokoshnik_, with her white robe exquisitely embroidered in silver
and long veil. In the evening she wore a tiara of Catherine II and a
necklace of diamonds. It was valued at several million rubles. It was
so heavy that she used it in all only a few times. Olga and Tatiana
were attired in soft pink tulle gowns, Marie and I in white silk and
lace.

Some evenings later a ball was held in the Winter Palace. It was the
first official appearance for us two younger sisters, the first time we
participated in such a grand affair. I remember how excitedly we looked
forward to that occasion. Mother was indisposed that evening and, after
a short while, suggested that we leave early and go to our rooms.
Grandmother, however, took our side and asked Mother to let us stay
longer, and promised that she would personally look after us. Mother
burst into tears and said: “These women of St. Petersburg might talk
about the girls, and Anastasia’s jokes might be misinterpreted.”

I was very unhappy that evening for fear that every move I might make
or every word I might speak would be used against me. All the innocent
joy was taken from me that gala night for fear of those women’s sharp
tongues.

From St. Petersburg we proceeded by train to Moscow where the Jubilee
continued. On this occasion Mother wore the crown jewels. She never
cared for them after the unfortunate incident which occurred during
her early married life. At that time Granny felt that she still was
entitled to wear the crown jewels instead of the young Empress. In
the underground vaults in the Winter Palace there was a section where
Mother kept some of her personal jewels. Any time she wished to have
them, she notified the court chamberlain, Count Benckendorff, who sent
several responsible persons with papers to fetch the desired pieces
which were then brought under guard to Mother.

After the anniversary festivities we never spent another night
at the Winter Palace, our childhood home. But during the war my
sisters often stopped in the rooms for a glass of tea, after various
charitable meetings. It is sad to think what became of the treasures
stored in those vaults and elsewhere for generations, belonging not
only to the Imperial family but to the Russian people as well. These
treasures, worth billions of rubles, were held until the leaders of
the revolution, Lenin, Trotsky (Bronstein), Apfelbaum, Rosenfeld and
others got their clutches upon them. It was rumored that much of it
was divided among their relatives who came to our country for that
purpose and to kill and loot. These people and their successors have
been exporting our Russian national treasures, so long guarded by the
Imperial family, and selling them to foreign countries.

From Moscow we went to Vladimir, then to Nizhni Novgorod and to
Yaroslavl. The latter--an old historic city with a view of the wide
river--was a charming sight. I cannot even begin to describe the
enthusiastic reception. Throngs of children, cadets, the nobility and
the townspeople lined the streets right down to the dock. What a rich
sight from the river--this beautiful city on a little hill! The bells
were still ringing until we could no longer hear them. We passed an
expanse of meadows, shimmering fields, and the breeze was sweeping like
a soft veil over that heavenly country.

In every city there were similar festivities, and dinners with
many guests who had been especially selected to honor my Father and
my Mother. Father’s guests at dinner were mostly men, and Mother
entertained ladies in separate drawing rooms. The famous Plevitskaya
sang again and bowed gracefully before the appreciative audience. There
were many outstanding entertainments at which we made many new friends.

We were so tired at the end of our trip that Tatiana, in this mood,
said: “People and more people--I am tired of them!” Mother, overhearing
her say this, reprimanded her.

On our way to Kostroma we sailed on the Volga. People lined the shores,
some even wading into the water up to their waists. When our boat
developed some trouble and while the repairs were being made, the
people thronged the shores and sang “God Save the Tsar.” The Imperial
party was delayed in reaching Kostroma. It was in this terraced city
overlooking the Volga River that the Romanov dynasty had its official
beginning, and now a special ceremony was to be held to celebrate the
three hundredth anniversary of the Romanov reign.

At last we reached the city and proceeded to the monument of Susanin.
This was a column on which rested a bronze bust of the first Romanov
Tsar, Michael Feodorovich. This column was supported by the peasant,
Susanin. The latter was the Russian patriot who deliberately misled the
Polish army which had invaded Russia and asked Susanin to lead the way
to the whereabouts of the newly elected Tsar, who was in hiding. As a
result of Susanin’s false directions, the Polish army was destroyed and
was driven out. The plot of the famous opera, “A Life for the Tsar” by
Glinka, was drawn from this heroic incident. This opera was one of my
Father’s favorites. From the time of Feodor Romanov, a number of the
brides of the Grand Dukes upon marriage adopted Saint Feodor and took
the name of Feodorovna as a patronymic.

From the monument, the procession continued to the Ipatiev Monastery,
where the first Romanov was sheltered in 1613. In the monastery
courtyard was the beautiful Cathedral of the Holy Trinity and within
it stood the iconostasis and the throne of Tsar Michael Feodorovich.
This monastery had been built by a Tartar prince who was the founder of
the Godunov family and who was the first to be baptized there.

While in the Cathedral we visited the dark rooms in which Michael once
had lived. We sat on the chairs with the beautifully embroidered double
eagles on their backs, and drank tea from the original containers at
the same table once used by Tsar Alexei. In one of the rooms was a
portrait of Michael and Alexei Romanov. Both looked a little like my
Father. The legend tells us that Alexei was born on St. Job’s day, and
so was my Father. And their experiences were sad, but those of Alexei
were not as tragic as those of my Father.

Also, we went to the cemetery and laid an exquisite wreath made of
silver in the form of the cap of Monomakh and decorated with jewels on
the grave of Michael.

Parenthetically speaking, it was a strange coincidence that, in
Ekaterinburg in 1918, in the Ipatiev House, the last Emperor of Russia,
Nicholas II came to his tragic end. The Romanov dynasty was born in the
Ipatiev Monastery in Kostroma in 1613 and died in the Ipatiev House
in Ekaterinburg, three hundred and five years later. History tells
us that, at the election of Michael Feodorovich Romanov, a crippled
beggar woman who claimed to be a wandering saint had predicted that
the Romanov dynasty was born with Michael and would die with another
Michael. And so it happened. When Father abdicated, his brother Michael
succeeded him to the throne but soon abdicated.

Another strange incident was that a three hundred year old tree of
immense diameter, said to have been planted by Michael, had been cut
down just before we arrived in Kostroma. We saw it mounted on huge
wooden blocks to be preserved as an object of historical interest.

One of the members of our party on this trip was Prince Dolgorukov, a
direct descendant of the family that built the city of Kostroma and
also the first church in the Kremlin in Moscow. Prince Dolgorukov,
faithful friend of our family, followed us to Tobolsk and later to
Ekaterinburg where he, too, came to a tragic end.

The year 1913 also marked two hundred years since the seat of
government moved from Moscow to St. Petersburg in 1713.

During this entire trip we received many gifts and pictures, and our
albums were filled with photographs of historic events. On our way
home we stopped at the Nicholas Palace in Moscow. At the functions
there, Mother wore the old Slavonic robe and the crown jewels. These
jewels she never wore again after the Jubilee celebrations ended.
This was a year of many anniversaries and festivities. Several
regiments celebrated their hundredth anniversary. The Naval Cathedral
at Kronstadt was reconsecrated in celebration of its hundredth
anniversary. We attended all these functions.

Soon we were back in Tsarskoe Selo resuming our daily routine. During
this busy year Baroness Iza Buxhoeveden became lady in waiting,
replacing the young Princess Elizabeth (Lili) Obolensky whose health
had become impaired. Lili had taken several trips with us, including
the one to England. We had known Baroness Buxhoeveden previously.
She had already assumed some responsibilities in the palace. All the
ladies in waiting were required to be single and to come from titled
families. Mother did not believe in all the old court etiquette with
its traditions and restrictions. To her it did not matter whether these
young ladies were princesses or baronesses. She selected them on the
basis of the best possible ability, education and culture. Baroness
Buxhoeveden came from a Baltic family which had produced several
ambassadors. Her father had been an ambassador to Denmark.

The position of lady in waiting was an honorary one to which many young
ladies looked forward. To distinguish their rank from the other staff,
they received badges studded with diamonds, with Mother’s initial and
a crown on its top. Some were in silver and some in gold according to
their length of service. The ladies in waiting were not permitted to
discuss political affairs at any time and all the happenings were to be
kept in strict secrecy. They were not allowed to enjoy the company of
the officers and aides in the palace.

Their duty was to accept telephone calls for Mother and for us girls,
make notations of the calls, note incoming and outgoing telegrams,
filing them by date, and make a memorandum of all telegrams and
letters. They also were to chaperon us on drives or at any other
function. Maids, a footman and a carriage were provided for their
comfort. Extra ladies were called to the palace for the day if needed.
Later during our arrest in Tsarskoe Selo, our letters and telegrams did
not escape from being read. Iza shared our deprivations and followed
us later to Tobolsk, Siberia, but was not permitted entry into the
governor’s house.



PART II The First World War



VII EVE OF THE WAR: 1914


Early in the spring of 1914 we went to Livadia. Full days of school
work were continued here. M. Pierre Gilliard and our Russian tutor,
M. Peter Vasilievich Petrov, accompanied us as usual. Sometimes our
tutors were invited to lunch with us and afterwards joined us in our
hikes when the sun was bright and warm, or in some other recreational
pastime. Our hikes took us through the park or along the shore to Yalta
or to the Church of Alexander Nevsky on the opposite hill. Dinner was
the focal point of the day with friends and relatives as guests. We
children, especially, enjoyed Prince Igor Constantinovich and the Grand
Duke Dimitri Pavlovich. Aunt Ella, Mother’s older sister, the widow of
the Grand Duke Serge, brother of Alexander III, was another cherished
guest. She and Mother had similar religious views, having inherited
this mysticism from their mother, Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of
Hesse, daughter of Queen Victoria of England.

Grandmother Alice, I was told, was a student of religious history and
movements, having been inspired by her tutor, a theologian who was a
close friend of the Hesse family. He also had a direct influence on
Mother. This theologian imbedded into her thoughts the terrible fear
of sin. For years we children watched her struggle, trying to leave
this deeply-buried mysticism and return to reality. However, due to
the thoughtless criticism by my other grandmother, Father’s mother,
Marie Feodorovna, and also the unsympathetic attitude of the Russian
court, she sought comfort in this mysticism and her whole soul once
more overflowed with it. Then with the misfortune of her son’s illness,
she reverted to it all the more. At the same time she pretended not to
notice the criticism and tried to hide her pride; but her sensitive
heart suffered and the words which she should have spoken hardened in
her soul. Courtiers took her for a heartless, cold and eccentric woman.
She, having been raised by her austere grandmother, tried to carry
on in an efficient English manner. Even though her humble faith grew
stronger, her English upbringing never left her and she never became
a true Russian in manners, but in her heart and soul she was a better
Russian than most native-born Russians.

We boarded our yacht, the “Standard”, which had been brought to the
Crimean waters from the Baltic Sea via the North Sea. We went on
several short cruises on the Black Sea. Once we crossed to Constantsa
on the Rumanian coast to return a visit of King Carol and Queen
Elizabeth (Carmen Sylva) of Rumania. They had come to see us with their
grandnephew, the future King Carol II. It was an overnight trip to
Constantsa. Carmen Sylva at her late age was still beautiful, as also
was Princess Marie (Missy), wife of Prince Ferdinand; later they became
sovereigns of Rumania. During this visit Princess Marie and my sister
Olga developed a close friendship. The strained relationship between
Mother and Missy’s sister Victoria, who was divorced from Mother’s
brother Ernest, was improved; all was forgotten now. We had luncheon in
a pavilion which seemed to rise right out of the sea. From this vantage
point we could see many yachts and smaller boats cruising back and
forth for a closer look at the “Standard”.

In the afternoon, tea was served on board the “Standard” for the
members of the two families. After tea a great many dignitaries joined
us on board ship.

[Illustration:

  1906]

[Illustration:

  1913--JUBILEE YEAR]

THE GRAND DUCHESS ANASTASIA

[Illustration: COMMUNICATION. DATED JUNE 14TH, 1901 (OLD STYLE),
FROM THE EMPEROR NICHOLAS II TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
ANNOUNCING THE BIRTH ON JUNE 5TH (OLD STYLE) OF THE GRAND DUCHESS
ANASTASIA] [Illustration: CONTINUATION OF COMMUNICATION ANNOUNCING THE
BIRTH OF ANASTASIA, SIGNED BY NICHOLAS II AND COUNTERSIGNED BY COUNT
LAMSDORF, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS]

[Illustration:

 _Courtesy The P.B. Corporation_

_ca._ 1896]

[Illustration:

  _Courtesy The P.B. Corporation_

PETERHOF--1901]

[Illustration: THE GRAND DUCHESS ANASTASIA, THE TSESAREVICH ALEXEI
NICHOLAEVICH, AND THE EMPEROR NICHOLAS II ON A TENDER APPROACHING THE
“STANDARD”--_ca._ 1908 ]

[Illustration:

  _Courtesy The P. B. Corporation_

THE TSESAREVICH ALEXEI, THE EMPRESS ALEXANDRA, AND THE EMPEROR NICHOLAS
II--_ca._ 1908]

[Illustration: THE RUSSIAN IMPERIAL FAMILY ON VISIT TO BRITISH ROYAL
FAMILY--ENGLAND--1909

SEATED ON THE GROUND (l. to r.): THE TSESAREVICH ALEXEI AND THE GRAND
DUCHESS ANASTASIA. SEATED ON CHAIRS (l. to r.): MARY, PRINCESS OF
WALES (LATER QUEEN MARY); NICHOLAS II; KING EDWARD VII; THE EMPRESS
ALEXANDRA; GEORGE, PRINCE OF WALES (LATER KING GEORGE V); AND THE
GRAND DUCHESS MARIE NICHOLAEVNA. STANDING (l. to r.): PRINCE EDWARD
DAVID (LATER PRINCE OF WALES AND KING EDWARD VIII, NOW THE DUKE OF
WINDSOR); QUEEN ALEXANDRA; PRINCESS MARY, NOW THE PRINCESS ROYAL,
DOWAGER COUNTESS OF HAREWOOD; PRINCESS VICTORIA; THE GRAND DUCHESS OLGA
NICHOLAEVNA; AND THE GRAND DUCHESS TATIANA NICHOLAEVNA.]

[Illustration: THE GRAND DUKE ALEXANDER MIKHAILOVICH AND THE GRAND
DUCHESS XENIA ALEXANDROVNA AND THEIR CHILDREN (l. to r.): THE PRINCE
NIKITA, THE PRINCESS IRINA, AND THE PRINCES ANDREI, DIMITRI, VASILI,
FEODOR, AND ROSTISLAV--_ca._ 1909]

[Illustration: Царское Село.

ZARSKOJE SELO.

 _Courtesy E. L. Packer_

ALEXANDER PALACE, TSARSKOE SELO--_ca._ 1912]

[Illustration: Ливадія. Дворецъ. Крымъ.

 _Courtesy E. L. Packer_

THE NEW PALACE, LIVADIA--_ca._ 1912]

[Illustration:

 _Courtesy E. L. Packer_

NICHOLAS II--_ca._ 1914]

[Illustration:

  _Courtesy E. L. Packer_

THE EMPRESS ALEXANDRA--_ca._ 1910]

[Illustration: THE TSESAREVICH ALEXEI--_ca._ 1913]

[Illustration:

  _Courtesy The P. B. Corporation_

THE TSESAREVICH ALEXEI TESTING FOOD OF RUSSIAN TROOPS--1911]

[Illustration:

  _Courtesy E. L. Packer_

NICHOLAS II AND THE EMPRESS ALEXANDRA--_ca._ 1914]

[Illustration: THE GRAND DUCHESS ANASTASIA--TSARSKOE SELO--1914]

[Illustration: THE GRAND DUCHESSES MARIE, TATIANA, ANASTASIA AND
OLGA--_ca._ 1913]

[Illustration: THE EMPRESS ALEXANDRA WITH HER DAUGHTERS, THE GRAND
DUCHESSES OLGA, TATIANA, ANASTASIA AND MARIE--_ca._ 1913]

[Illustration: NICHOLAS II AND THE EMPRESS ALEXANDRA AND THEIR
CHILDREN, THE GRAND DUCHESSES MARIE, TATIANA, OLGA AND ANASTASIA AND
THE TSESAREVICH ALEXEI--_ca._ 1913]

[Illustration: NICHOLAS II AND THE EMPRESS ALEXANDRA AND THEIR
CHILDREN (l. to r.) THE GRAND DUCHESSES OLGA, MARIE AND ANASTASIA, THE
TSESAREVICH ALEXEI AND THE GRAND DUCHESS TATIANA--_ca._ 1913]

[Illustration:

 _Courtesy The P.B. Corporation_

THE GRAND DUCHESSES OLGA AND TATIANA--_ca._ 1914]

[Illustration:

  _Courtesy The P.B. Corporation_

THE GRAND DUCHESSES MARIE AND ANASTASIA--_ca._ 1914]

[Illustration: THE GRAND DUCHESSES ANASTASIA, OLGA, TATIANA AND MARIE
ON BOARD THE “STANDARD”--1914] [Illustration:

  _Photograph by the late Colonel N. Koishevski_

NICHOLAS II]

[Illustration:

  _Photograph by the late Colonel N. Koishevski_

(l. to r.) THE GRAND DUCHESS ANASTASIA, THE EMPRESS ALEXANDRA AND
PRESIDENT POINCARÉ

STATE VISIT OF FRENCH PRESIDENT RAYMOND POINCARÉ TO RUSSIA--1914]

That night a grand banquet was held in the beautifully decorated
pavilion overlooking the sea. The lights reflected on the water as
various craft sailed by, and the sound of music spread over the sea
like a cloud. It was a gala occasion with many garlands and flags
flying. I could not help watching Olga intently for I had overheard
someone say that this trip was planned with a view to her possible
marriage into the Rumanian royal family. At the dinner table Olga and
Prince Carol sat side by side, apparently having a good time. The
table was decorated with tricolors: red, white and blue, and small
gifts were exchanged. Olga received a Rumanian national costume which
was beautifully embroidered; the skirt was in a dark color woven in a
pattern of gold and silver thread, and the blouse daintily embroidered
in white. Princess Marie did not hesitate to admit that she herself
was a beauty, especially her blue eyes. She was the eldest daughter
of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, and the Grand Duchess Marie
Alexandrovna of Russia. She was named Marie Alexandra Victoria, after
both her grandmothers, the Russian Empress Marie Alexandrovna and Queen
Victoria of England. As already mentioned, her younger sister Victoria
Melita (Ducky) was the divorced wife of Mother’s brother Ernest of
Hesse; she was now married to the Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich.
Another sister, Alexandra (Sandra), married Prince Ernest of
Hohenlohe-Langenburg. A third sister was Beatrice (Baby B.), wife of
the Infante Alfonso of Spain, first cousin of Alfonso XIII.

I was filled with a compelling interest I had never before experienced.
But when we sailed away that night, I learned it had been decided Olga
was too young to marry. Later she told us that she would rather stay
single than marry outside of Russia. We sisters were so happy we could
not help teasing her about losing a husband. It was a good thing that
Alexei did not know about Olga; he would have been sick with worry that
she might leave Russia. Later I wished Olga had married at that time,
she might be alive today.

During the war Prince Carol came to Russia several times and stayed
with us for a few days. Once he was accompanied by Prime Minister
Bratianu. However, even this time, Olga was not given an opportunity of
being left with him alone for one single minute, entirely apart from
others. There were always ladies in waiting and we the younger ones
excitedly were in and out of the room. She had no chance to hold his
hand and less of being kissed.

Nor was any one else given an opportunity to be with Olga unchaperoned.
It was in Tobolsk that Mother first realized her mistake in not giving
more independence to her older daughters.

Olga was named after my Aunt Olga. She was tall, slender, blonde with
a lovely fresh complexion. Her eyes were a lustrous blue, her nose was
slightly turned up. She often jokingly referred to it as “the little
stub”. When she smiled she displayed beautiful white teeth. As I look
back, I am more and more appreciative of her fine character. She was an
omnivorous reader and wrote some stories which she sent to Aunt Missy,
Queen Marie of Rumania, who in turn sent Olga stories she had written.
Olga’s poetry was destroyed by herself at the time of the revolution.
She had a deep religious faith and often sat beside a patient at
the hospital praying that God might spare the life of the young
soldiers. Her touch on the piano was excellent and was able to master
the most difficult compositions of Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Mozart, and
Beethoven. Mother and Olga often played duets on the piano. Her talent
for composing and writing was inherited from her Danish and Romanov
sides which boasted a long line of artists, poets, sculptors and
musicians. She was a mezzo soprano; she memorized musical compositions
very easily. Mr. Konrad was her musical instructor, as well as ours.
Father’s favorite was Tchaikovsky’s “Chanson Sans Paroles”. When she
played it for him, his face lighted up with pleasure. She loved Father
tenderly. Often, when Father was troubled, he talked over his problems
with Olga and permitted no other member of the family to be present.
She loved children and sponsored several who were confined to the
hospital. She even provided for their education by setting aside money
from her allowance.

Going back to our Rumanian cruise, we arrived in Odessa at night, where
the Imperial train was ready to take us to Kishinev for the unveiling
of the monument to Alexander I. I remember the trip especially because
Alexei misbehaved. No doubt this was due to fatigue brought on by the
heat on the train. In Kishinev we were the guests of the Governor,
an old friend, who wore the longest beard I have ever seen, reaching
almost to his waist.

At the tea which followed, champagne was served. At an opportune
moment, Alexei took a glass of champagne and drank it down before
anyone could stop him. Soon this champagne took effect and he became
very gay so that all the ladies, old and young surrounded him. I never
realized he possessed such a sense of humor. Youngster that he was,
he did not realize what the champagne had done to him. Of course the
family was terrified at this display. In the evening back on the train
when the effect had worn off, Father gave him a scolding and he was put
to bed.

We children now realized that Alexei’s illness and the Jubilee had
brought our studies to a virtual halt. Alexei and I used to have
our French lessons together, but now he was far ahead of me. French
was much easier for him than for me. I was really bored with all my
studies. When I entered the classroom, my face grew long, but when
school hours were over, I shot out of the detested place like a bullet.
As a result my tutors were not fond of me and I felt their disapproval.

We had been home a short while when the world was shocked at the news
of the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria and
his wife on the streets of Sarajevo, on June 28th, 1914. After that
date Father spent very little time with us. He was constantly busy
with his ministers, diplomats and the Grand Dukes. The President of
France, M. Poincaré, spent four or five days with us at Alexandria
Cottage in Peterhof. He was as complaisant as President Fallières whom
he had recently replaced. Father felt drawn to him from the start,
admiring his diplomacy and friendly manner. Several dinners were given
in his honor with the Imperial family attending. Everyone looked grave
and alarmed, and I gathered matters must be serious. Why should the
assassination of an Austrian be so threatening to Russia? I was told
that Russia had an agreement which might implicate us all unless the
affair could be settled amicably. The hour the President departed, the
Austrian ultimatum was served at once on Russia and on Serbia.

Out of this puzzling dilemma which hung over Russia, two things
were clear to me: the quiet paleness of Father and Mother’s tearful
entreaties imploring that Russia be kept out of war. Mother kept
repeating, “The country is not recovered from one war before it is in
another.” She was thinking of the Japanese war, whose horrors were
still fresh in her mind. Mother’s agonized face vividly foreshadowed
the tragedy ahead.

Every summer there was a review of regimental maneuvers at Krasnoe
Selo (near Tsarskoe Selo). This time they were held in honor of King
Frederick Augustus III of Saxony. We sisters enjoyed horses and each
had a favorite horse of her own. Tatiana especially knew a great deal
about them, since she had been taught riding by a competent riding
master, but so did we all. The two older sisters were unusually
graceful on horseback, more so than Marie and I.

Cossack horses were especially fascinating to me, since they seemed
to understand one’s very thoughts. Tatiana described to me how the
Cossack and his horse grow up together. Training begins when the young
Cossack is given a horse, a progeny of a Cossack horse, trained to
the requirements of the Cossack regiment. From then on boy and horse
are one, inseparable, each learning to understand the other: the boy
is the head and the horse is the body. When the responses are mutual,
they are ready to enter actively the Cossack regiment. I often wished I
were a boy so that I might be a Cossack with a noble horse and wear a
stunning uniform.

We drove speedily past the cheering crowds. To see these maneuvers was
most interesting and exciting as we watched from the Imperial pavilion.
In one performance a large unit trotted in perfect formation, then
suddenly all the riders jumped off their horses in unison, then jumped
back on their saddles without a single horse breaking its gait or
changing its speed. In another exercise each horseman threw his black
cape around his own shoulders and over his horse, so skilfully that the
cape covered both horse and rider. There were many stunts and jumps
over wide trenches filled with water; no one fell into them. During
the luncheon, which was served under tents following the exercise, a
message came stating that Austria-Hungary had declared war on Serbia
(August 1st, 1914). At once we left for home.

I remember previous years when I was taken to see the review of the
troops annually in May. All the society of St. Petersburg felt it was a
privilege to pay hundreds of rubles for a box seat at these maneuvers.
The proceeds from the sale of tickets went to charities. I still carry
in my mind that upon our approach a signal was given and cheers spread
along the quays.

Our carriages were drawn each by two pairs of pure white horses. Father
always rode to the left side of Mother’s and Grandmother’s equipage,
accompanied by the staff. We sisters followed swiftly in our carriage
between the lines of troops until we reached the Imperial box under a
green tent. Father reviewed his troops. First to march were the men
of his own Preobrazhensky regiment, then the Hussars, the Pavlovsky
regiment, the Lancers, the cuirassiers and the others.

Father did not think that the Emperor Francis Joseph would wage war on
Serbia on account of the killing of the Archduke and his wife. Father
thought so because of the remark the old Emperor had made, in the
presence of Father and persons about him, that the Archduke was good
for nothing, that not a bone in his body was worth saving, and that he
was not fit to carry the Crown.

During the latter part of the war several captured, high-ranking
Austrian officers told the Court Chamberlain, General Tatishchev,
that the old Emperor was directly responsible for the Sarajevo
incident and that the Archduke was purposely sent there, where he was
hated and murdered by oppressed Bosnians of the Dual Monarchy. The
officers thought it was a deliberate excuse to provoke war and the
aim was to destroy the little Kingdom of Serbia and take it under
control as had happened earlier with Bosnia and Herzegovina. They
knew that this little country would not be able to resist the two
powers, Austria-Hungary and Germany. But those millions of suppressed
plucky Serbs had already endured deprivation of freedom and arrests
and confiscation of their property under the Dual Monarchy. They
were determined to defend what was left of their country from being
dismembered again, and all were willing to die for the right to live in
their own land.

Father sent a telegram to Kaiser Wilhelm asking that the
Austro-Hungarian-Serbian dispute be tried by the International
Arbitration Court at The Hague. He also sent word to King Carol of
Rumania to wire the Kaiser that Russia did not want war. But all was
in vain. They took the killing of this good-for-nothing Archduke as a
deliberate excuse, even though the murder was committed by their own
citizens who resented the Dual Monarchy. It was common knowledge that
Russian mobilization which was under way was directed against Austria,
not Germany.



VIII NO CHOICE BUT WAR


Events moved rapidly. Austria and Germany declared war on Serbia. More
than ever Father was shut away from us, doing all in his power to keep
Russia out of the conflict. But Russia was an ally of Serbia. There was
no choice. German and Austrian troops were already mobilized and were
conducting maneuvers near our border, and soon we, too, were in war.
Mother wept copiously. “Why,” she asked, “should millions of Russians
lose their lives because one man is killed? Wilhelm has brought this
on. I never trusted him. I never forgave him the humiliation and
indignities toward our Granny (Queen Victoria).” My thoughts flew back
to the visit in Germany when the Kaiser was my friend. Only two years
ago we had exchanged jokes. Now he was Russia’s enemy, Mother’s enemy,
and mine. Wilhelm, Mother’s own cousin.

Before we knew it the Austrian troops were threatening the old Russian
fortification of Bendery. I was filled with forebodings. Being a
believer in dreams, I tried to interpret a dream I had had the night
before this news arrived. I dreamed that the forest on the Russian
western border was ablaze. I could hear the crackling of the timber and
could see fierce fire raging high into the sky.

A few years later, during my escape, I crossed these same forests and
remembered my dream. Then the trees were not on fire but lay with
their huge roots pulled out of the ground--witnesses of the terrific
suffering and tragedy that had occurred there.

At Tsarskoe Selo that evening, after the news of the German advance, we
prayed to the Almighty, hoping that disaster could still be averted and
peace could be maintained. We realized how much Father was suffering
when he appeared late for dinner. His face was pale, his bearing
indicated anguish. He said, “Russia has no choice but war, when the
armies of Germany and Austria are already on Russian soil.” Mother
burst into tears, and so did we all. Supper was not finished that
night. We left the table. That same evening, Foreign Minister Sazonov
and the British Ambassador, Sir George Buchanan, spent half of the
night conferring with Father. The next day Father was at his desk at
five in the morning, working until breakfast. Alexei, who was ill, did
not know about the war until the next morning.

In the afternoon we all went to St. Petersburg, except Alexei. As we
were entering the Winter Palace, people gathered in the square and
surrounded us as they cheered. After an old Russian tradition they
kissed Father’s shoulders and Mother’s skirt. This display of loyalty
brought tears to Mother’s eyes. Father went directly to a meeting at
the huge Nicholas Concert Hall with the ministers and generals. Then
the Te Deum was sung. When Father appeared on the balcony of the Winter
Palace to read the Manifesto declaring war, all of us children and
other relatives stood behind him. At once the voices died down and all
was quiet as though the whole world had suddenly fallen asleep. The
thousands of people who had assembled in the square knelt down, their
garments making a rustling sound, and in unison sang “God Save the
Tsar.” At this time Father took an oath that he would never make peace
so long as one enemy remained on Russian soil. Then he promised his
people that he would defend all the Slavs, even if he would have to
shed his own blood. It was a painful moment to announce to the people
that war was an actuality.

We returned to Alexandria and several days later we all left for
Moscow. We were greeted with the same enthusiasm there. The church
bells rang continually as we passed from the station to the Kremlin.
People were everywhere, on roof tops, balconies and trees. The Russian
national anthem was heard repeatedly along the way. Alexei was ill, and
had to be carried to the Cathedral of the Assumption to hear the Te
Deum. The patriotic demonstrations lasted three days. “Ura” (hurrah)
resounded everywhere. From Moscow we went near by to Sergievo to pray
at the celebrated Troitsko-Sergievskaya Lavra. Practically every living
person in the area lined the streets to the monastery, the richest and
most important monastery in Russia. It covered a large territory and
was surrounded by a lofty, thick wall with many towers. It contained
some dozen of churches and many historical treasures, some dating from
ancient days. Many pages of Russian history had been devoted to this
monastery, about the heroic defense by the monks in 1608 against the
Poles. Here were the tombs of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family. Here
Father received an icon to carry with him through the battles. This
icon was sent to the field chapel at General Headquarters and remained
there to the last.

With war an actuality, all Russia seemed to unite in a determination
to win a quick victory. Whenever Father travelled, the people greeted
him enthusiastically; sometimes the whole family went with him and
heard him deliver his war messages. During these trips the air was full
of unity and the family never felt closer to the people. Many letters
were received from students who begged to be allowed to go to war. “A
beautiful patriotism,” Father said. “But how little they understand
what war is.”

During the first days of the war, all factions drew together in a great
patriotic surge. We saw some of our own relatives return to Russia to
take part in the war. We sisters hardly knew some of these relations.
All helped in the war effort; even our frail Grandmother did her bit in
hospital work. Later she spent a great deal of time in Kiev, with her
younger daughter Olga, our aunt, who worked in her own hospital there
as a Sister of Mercy. Being so near the front, she received the most
critical cases.

Life in the palace quickened. For days on end Mother could not think
of anything but the hospitals. Were they adequate for the most certain
strain ahead? She was not ignorant of the heavy task. In her younger
days, before her marriage, she had taken up medicine for a while,
knowing that the dreaded haemophilia might be in her genes. She wanted
to be prepared to take personal care of any children she might have in
the event they should inherit it. Later on, through the long illness of
Alexei and during the war, her previous knowledge of this affliction
helped enormously in her work. Mother also had a medical library on the
second floor in Tsarskoe Selo, where in addition to texts, all kinds
of anatomical diagrams and other materials could be found. Even before
the war she was an excellent organizer of hospitals and charitable
institutions, being particularly interested in orphanages. In addition
to her medical training, Mother had studied philosophy in one of the
German universities. In fact I recall the very drawer in the desk in
a room on the balcony where she kept her documents and other papers
of this nature. Most of all, I was always sure, Mother was determined
to meet with courage any problems she had to face. So now, a nurses’
course was arranged for Mother, Olga and Tatiana, so that they might
serve the wounded more effectively.

Alexei no longer played at soldiering. He was now in serious military
training. In Father’s study there was always a chair for Alexei,
where he sat on certain days listening to various reports brought
by the Ministers. He was not allowed to make any comments at these
conferences, although, after the Ministers left, he could ask questions
about anything that puzzled him.

“If Alexei could take part in things, why not I?” Mother said,
“During a war there are first duties. Yours is to continue your
education in order to be useful later on.” How disappointing. Yet
the war-electrified patriotism compelled me to dig in at my school
work and to pursue my formal education. Stirring sounds of bands and
marching feet often disturbed my good intentions. I learned the meaning
of discipline and self-sacrifice from the men under arms.

My newly awakened conscientiousness would not let me waste a minute.
Besides working on my lessons, I joined a group of young women in
hemming children’s dresses for various charities. Later under Marie’s
supervision we worked in the palace workroom on garments and often we
called officers of Father’s own regiment on duty in the palace to turn
the wheels of the sewing machines and sort the garments.

We had learned sewing at an early age because Mother had always
stressed its importance in any woman’s life. She, herself, was expert
at sewing and during the early years of her marriage made some of the
layettes for us infants. Many of her embroideries sold at benefits
and some handmade blouses in silk or linen, beautifully tucked and
embroidered, went as gifts to our relatives in England and in Germany.

Grandmother, too, was clever at hand work. She could repair her own
exquisite handkerchiefs so perfectly one would never know they had
been mended. Grandmother could knit well, too; during the war she made
fine woolen gloves for the soldiers and sent some to Father. Marie and
I concentrated on socks, gloves, and caps, and received our war news
while we were knitting in the evening. War and our mutual problems
became the greatest teachers of responsibility. When I became the
honorary chief of a regiment, the 148th Caspian Infantry, the monthly
reports I received of my regiment brought to me news of the losses in
dead and wounded. These reports were frightening and I ran to Olga to
find what could be done to ease the situation. She said; “Hundreds of
wounded are coming every day and it is horrible the way they suffer.” I
heard that the German losses were even greater.

Once again I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. Soon after this,
Mother allowed Marie and me to visit our own hospital more often. As
we entered the building they were carrying a wounded man with bloody
bandages. He was taken directly to the operating room; a moment later
they carried him right out again. The doctors had found he was already
dead when he was brought to the operating room. I had a dizzy spell.
I was ill. No, I never could be a doctor. The sight of that poor boy
could never be erased from my mind. For weeks I could smell blood.
Red became a haunting color with its reminder of the horror of that
picture. Even red medicine made me ill all over again.

Day after day Olga and Tatiana worked beside Mother at the hospital.
They got up at seven, attended lectures, and then again resumed their
hospital work. In the evening, they read while knitting. I could not
understand how they endured it all. It was comforting, however, to
learn that Olga, like me, could not bear to see suffering. Tatiana was
like Mother in her ability to see beyond the suffering to the relief
she was able to give. Doctors were scarce, and Mother assisted in many
operations. Each day before going to the hospital she stopped at the
Znamensky Sobor, the little church she had restored, to pray that her
hands might be blessed with the power to do things right. She felt so
obligated to each wounded soldier, she wanted to nurse him with her own
hands to relieve his suffering. At the sight of each new patient she
prayed anew for the war to end. She spent all day at the hospital and
came home exhausted and would lie on her sofa for a short rest.

With tragedy on all sides Father ordered strict economy. Every possible
kopeck must be saved to benefit the soldiers. Mother reduced our staff
of servants. Our meals became simpler. Father insisted that the Court,
without exception, must observe all the restrictions. These economies
were not too difficult for us children, since we had not been brought
up to expect extravagant luxuries. Mother had always preached to us
against wastefulness, and against idleness. These ideals were now
more necessary. We accepted whatever we received with appreciation.
We had very few dresses. I wore the ones handed down from my sisters.
Being much smaller than they, the fit was not perfect and required
alterations. A few tucks here and there made me happy in them. When we
did get a new dress we were so careful with it that we could hardly
bear to sit down. Each of us had definite duties to perform.

Olga and Tatiana continued their studies and carried on with their
hospital work and also made out schedules for us younger sisters for
the next day. In addition they checked supplies for the hospitals,
attended meetings for charitable organizations, and supervised the
raising of money through concerts and plays. Many of the leading
artists donated their services and large sums were raised for the
expanding hospitals and other charities. Our friend Madame Plevitskaya
proved most helpful by generously donating her time and her talent to
the war effort. Mother eagerly awaited reports showing the financial
account of these benefits.

Marie and I selected gramophone records to be sent to the convalescent
wards, also books which the soldiers might like to read. We ordered
fruit, candies, cakes, games, stationery, soap and pencils. Box after
box was taken to the hospitals. Sometimes we played dominoes with the
men, or watched those who could play croquet, or wrote letters to their
families.

Our playrooms were now deserted. Alexei’s electric automobile had been
stored under the slide. His special duties kept him occupied, as did
his class work. When he did go for a ride, with a friend or with one of
his cousins, he made it appear as if they were engaged in an important
war project.

With the beginning of war most gaiety ceased. Benefits became the
social functions; anyone not helping was out of fashion. Everyone
worked together to make each benefit a successful affair. To raise
money, photographs of the Imperial family were sold. There were name
days set aside when one member of the family was played up throughout
Russia; the newspapers helped in the competition. It was exciting to
see whose photographs sold best. Tatiana proved a great favorite with
the people.

Many relatives and friends turned their homes into hospitals, often
paying the expenses themselves. In addition, they devoted all their
time to the wounded. Some had as many as seventy patients in their
residences. Olga designed an attractive calendar, each page gave the
historical event of that day. It became a favorite and was ordered by
the thousand. Aunt Olga, Father’s sister, made drawings and paintings
which brought large sums to charities. Moreover there were outright
gifts in large amounts. A banker named Yaroshinsky donated over a
quarter of a million rubles. Yaroshinsky was assistant manager of
Mother’s own hospital train. He reappears later in my memories of
Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg.

In 1915, before Father took over the Supreme Command of the Russian
Armies in the Field, there were occasional officers’ balls. Father and
Mother attended these affairs but stayed only long enough to show their
interest in them, always having in mind that it might be their last
gaiety. Marie and I were too young to attend any of these functions at
this time, but Olga and Tatiana went. When they were dressed to leave
they came to show themselves to Marie and me that we might have a
little touch of festivity. Their joy in being gowned in evening clothes
instead of the customary nurse’s uniform made them radiantly happy.

Their eyes sparkled and their cheeks were flushed, making them look
more beautiful, so that I was sure each might meet her Prince. Mother
always wanted her daughters to be poised and act natural in the company
of men. It was all so romantic, I could hardly wait until I, too, could
go to such affairs. My sisters looked every bit the princesses they
were, soft and graceful in manner, stately and tall, and we younger
sisters had to be told about these parties over and over again in every
detail.

Aunt Olga, Father’s sister, from the kindness of her heart realized,
while the young men were at the front, the young ladies at home were
more than ever appreciative of a little gaiety. She, too, planned
several parties at her home in Petrograd (the new name for St.
Petersburg). These usually came on Sunday when we met a great many
young people. At other times, we were asked to see stage plays at
Countess Sheremetieva’s. The Countess was a close friend of our Aunt
Olga. We had a wonderful time at these parties.

Aunt Olga was very close to us girls, more like a sister than an aunt,
only thirteen years older than my sister Olga. She understood the art
of living; she was full of life and gaiety; her visits brought joy to
our lives. When she left, it seemed all the fun went with her. She
loved sports; besides tennis she liked skating and skiing; she played
a good game of billiards, often with her mother; also croquet and
many other games. She was an excellent painter. Her religious art was
appreciated by many churches. She was a woman of deep faith and loved
her religion. Mother and Aunt Olga often talked about religion. The
latter had a good voice and played several instruments. An excellent
linguist she spoke at that time Russian, English, French and had some
command of both Danish and German.

Her love for peasants was great. She disliked formality, and was happy
to by-pass the rules of etiquette, which were forced upon the royal
families. She considered them old-fashioned. She loved to dress like
a peasant. Because of her liberal views she became a target of cheap
gossip. Her husband, Prince Peter of Oldenburg, was chronically ill.
Uncle Peter was tremendously rich, but all his wealth could not give
her the child she so longed for. For this marriage my Grandmother was
responsible. Finally and after fifteen years of marriage the Grand
Duchess obtained an annulment, against my Father’s wishes, and married
Colonel Nicholai Koulikovsky, a tall handsome officer, who was her
former husband’s aide-de-camp and the head of her hospital in Kiev.
For this she was criticized by gossiping women, but Aunt Olga felt it
was her own affair and not that of the women who did nothing good in
their lifetime but interfered with the lives of others. Prince Peter
indeed was nice but companionship alone was not enough to make their
marriage completely successful. This condition caused a strained family
relationship, and she was eventually to be exiled. But while we were
in Tobolsk even Father wrote to her.

While Grandmother was in Petrograd, even for a short visit, she
utilized her time folding bandages with her companions. Olga and
Tatiana after their meetings in the Winter Palace often drove to
the Anichkov Palace to take tea with Granny. They brought us news
of her. When she was not well, Mother sent us children to see her.
We took along some delicacies as a present. For some reason I felt
uncomfortable and self-conscious in Grandmother’s presence. I could not
help but admire her; she carried herself in such a stately manner in
her pretty clothes, mostly black.

During the early part of the war, Mother took us to Moscow to see
our Aunt Ella (Elizabeth), whose husband, the Grand Duke Serge, was
murdered by a bomb. I did not remember Aunt Ella in any other way than
in a nun’s costume with its finely draped habit covering her hair
entirely. Her features were beautiful and symmetrical. Many highly
titled men would have given anything if she would but consider a second
marriage; some even made suggestions to Mother who, knowing her sister,
realized it was useless.

I learned a great deal of history from her. She told us that when she
first came to Russia as the bride of Serge Alexandrovich, she studied
the Greek Orthodox religion with the court priest for several years
before she felt sufficiently versed in it to join the Church. The night
before Uncle Serge’s name day, she said to him, “I have a gift for your
name day.” “A piece of jewelry?” “No, my dear, something more precious
to you.” At breakfast next morning she said, “My gift to you today is
my embracing the Greek Orthodox religion.” Uncle Serge replied: “This
is the happiest day of my life since our marriage.”

In 1914 when Aunt Ella was with us in the Crimea, she told us sisters
that during the Japanese war Uncle Serge offered to take command of the
army, confident that he would win and prevent a civil war. But Count
Witte, the Prime Minister, opposed it. A controversy ensued and the two
men became enemies. After the signing of the peace treaty, which was
encouraged by the President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt,
Uncle Serge and Count Witte fought over it.

Soon after this someone threw a bomb at Uncle Serge as he was leaving
the Kremlin in a sleigh. Aunt Ella heard the explosion and she knew
it was intended for her husband. This occurred just outside the gate.
She and her lady in waiting ran out to find only the remnants of his
body which the two gathered with their bare hands for burial. They also
gathered the pieces of his torn uniform which Aunt Ella enclosed in a
holder in the shape of a cross and later kept in her convent cell. It
was after his death that Aunt Ella went into the convent of Martha and
Mary. From then on she wore a habit of her order in soft pale gray,
which was artistically draped around her head. She thought Count Witte
was behind the man who killed her husband. Yet she forgave them. She
even sent food, cigarettes, and clothing to the prisoners who had
murdered her husband and frequently went to visit them in prison in
spite of Father’s objections.

Many sufferings and much unrest took place while Count Witte was
Prime Minister (1905-6). Madame Narishkina often spoke to us children
about the opening of the Duma in 1906. She said that at the time
Mother, Grandmother and many others cried when during a reception
people marched to the Tauride Palace singing the revolutionary song.
She said, “Witte gave all the power to the Duma, and because of the
character of this power the Duma was dissolved in 1906.” But it left
the most damaging results, and these effects germinated and were ripe
at the opening of the Fourth Duma in 1912. Witte was still living at
that time. Even during the war the Duma so jeopardized the life of the
nation that finally it collapsed.

The news from the front was for a time encouraging; there was talk of a
short war. People seemed to work harder than ever. At this time Father
was often summoned to the telephone which he did not want to have on
his desk in his study. Even while Father was on his daily short walks,
frequently an officer on a velocipede was dispatched to fetch him on an
urgent matter.



IX FAMILY HEARTACHES


The news from the front was bad. There were serious reverses. Father
was staggered. The people and the army were dissatisfied with Grand
Duke Nicholai Nicholaevich, who was in command of the Russian armies at
the front. A change had become imperative.

My father now decided to take over the Supreme Command of the Russian
Armies in the Field. He realized that a tragic hour was at hand. The
Army already had begun to show disunity, under the Grand Duke Nicholai
Nicholaevich who continually complained about Father, not only to
Grandmother and our Aunts but also to the officers of the high command.
Father thought that this older giant who was at least 6′ 4′′, would be
better off in the warmer climate of the Persian front as he suffered
from rheumatism. But the Grand Duke claimed that Father was jealous of
his position.

Father’s decision meant going to General Headquarters and entrusting
the government to others in his absence, hoping for the wholehearted
support of the Duma. It also meant separation from the family. Mother
believed completely that this was the correct decision, but never from
that moment on was she free from constant worry.

Before his departure Mother drove with Father to the Cathedral of Sts.
Peter and Paul, then to Our Lady of Kazan to pray for guidance in his
undertaking and to dedicate all, even life itself, to the task. Then
they crossed the Troitsky bridge over the Neva, which was built as a
memorial to the silver wedding anniversary of Alexander III and Marie
Feodorovna.

At this time Mother believed she saw the sign of a cross in the sky.
This saddened her, for she became worried that Father by taking command
would encounter personal danger. She dreaded lest he become the victim
of some fanatic assassin, as was his grandfather, Alexander II.

We realized this risk when we went to the Alexander Station to see
Father entrain for Mogilev. The waiting room was filled with guards
and secret police. No one was admitted except by special permit. Even
ministers and relatives could not enter except by invitation. When the
big, blue, Imperial train, with its double eagle crest, pulled out of
the station, we saw Father standing at the wide window of his sitting
room.

It was a comfort to know that each hundred feet of track was guarded by
a soldier against accidents or bombs. No one knew in which car Father
rode. All the church bells rang until the train was no longer in sight.
The Nicholas railway on which they travelled provided a direct line to
General Headquarters. Several days before the trip, roads were searched
and guards were posted. As a further precaution, railroad tracks
crossing the Nicholas line were removed until Father’s train passed.
Once he said, “I have known from my early years that I will fall a
victim for my country.” Nevertheless, Father disliked all the fuss.

With Father speeding away from us, we knew he would carry on
efficiently and with determination. Of course he would miss his family,
but we were going to send him letters daily and an occasional package
containing needed articles. We often sent him fruit and books and
occasionally flowers received from Livadia. I can still hear Mother
say, as she examined the flowers while placing them in the box,
“When one sees these heavenly blossoms, how can one be reconciled to
this terrible war?” Whatever went into each package was lovingly and
tenderly packed; and Father knew it. Mother often packed everything
with her own hands and made a list of what she included. A jaeger
(messenger), an aide-de-camp, or a relative waited until it was ready.
Mother sometimes handed the package to him personally and he departed
to the undisclosed destination where Father was. There was always a
letter in the package, describing our activities, sometimes only a
note from Mother, containing a language just the two of them could
understand, words that made her love sing in Father’s heart.

In going to General Headquarters, Father discarded all conventionality.
He went behind the lines to fight with his men in arms. He took it as a
matter of faith that it was his duty to sacrifice everything in order
to save Russia. He promised to do so the day he took the Crown. He
said, “I shall not allow my people to be insulted and to be trampled
upon by the enemy.”

His cheerful disposition gave great inspiration and happiness to the
Army whom he loved more than his family; here he found happiness among
his men in arms.

We heard of victories. Surely the war would soon end especially since
reports from the front showed that prisoners were captured by tens of
thousands at a time. “A supreme success,” Father wrote home. No wonder
a few months later the Kaiser wanted to sign a peace.

Spring, 1916. Father sent word it would be impossible for him to
be with us at Easter. This was his first absence from home at this
important holiday, which in the Greek Orthodox religion is celebrated
more fervently than Christmas. Instead he sent Mother a gift from
G.H.Q., a most beautiful Easter egg, which he himself had designed.
It was indeed a rare gift, made by Fabergé himself because his many
workers were at the front and some of them had been killed. M. Fabergé
delivered it in person, and, in our presence, Mother opened the
beautifully wrapped package and exclaimed, “It is exquisite. How can
human hands make such a beautiful work of art?” Then, when she opened
the egg itself, five dainty miniatures of us children unfolded in a
row. Father had remembered Mother’s expressed wish to own a miniature
of us children. M. Fabergé beamed with pleasure, as did Mother and we
children. That Easter the service was held by Father Vassiliev at the
Feodorovsky Sobor and we all took Communion.

Easter afternoon was the customary time to distribute gifts to the
hospital patients. These consisted of china eggs and real eggs and some
sweets. We “tied” hundreds of the special china eggs. They had been
decorated with the gold-crested double eagle with Mother’s initials
on one side and the Red Cross emblem on the other. Usually they had
the hole lengthwise from one end to the other so that a ribbon could
be pulled through to be suspended below an icon under which there was
a burning lamp (lampadka). Also, special Easter eggs were made by
Fabergé, and Father distributed them to the Allied Mission as well as
to deserving men. Mother, too, sent some of these to Petrograd to the
English Hospital for Lady Sybil Grey so that she might give them to her
patients. Mother also sent a beautifully hand-painted one to Lady Sybil
herself in appreciation for her excellent work at the hospital, also to
Lady Buchanan. Our household maids received gold enamel bijou trinkets;
many girls wore a necklace of them for six weeks preceding Ascension
Day.

This particular Easter afternoon, a little family argument ensued
between Mother and Olga, who wanted to wear a pretty dress for this
occasion. Mother insisted that Olga and Tatiana wear their nurse’s
uniforms as usual. There were pleadings, opinions, and disagreements,
but Mother stood her ground. We all went to the hospital to which we
were assigned and we sisters agreed among ourselves that Mother was
wrong and unfair to deny a change for the two young girls, who would
have found pleasure in appearing before the patients in a different
dress. In the evening, Alexei came running into our bedroom. He was
excited and upset. He informed us that “Olga was crying.” He ran to
his tutor’s room and returned. We rushed into her bedroom and tried to
comfort her, assuring her that we felt Mother had been unjust. Olga
soon forgot the whole thing and Mother never knew of our indignation.

Mother worried about Father’s loneliness, in the midst of
responsibilities and without the comforts of home and family. However,
Mother was quite surprised when Father wrote that he had no time to
be lonely, and that, on his next trip home, he would take Alexei with
him to G.H.Q. M. Gilliard, his Swiss tutor, and others would accompany
Alexei, so that his studies need not be neglected. Dina Derevenko and
Nagorny would watch over him. Dr. Fedorov was already at G.H.Q. as
Father’s physician and also as lecturer to the Headquarters hospital
staff.

The more Mother thought on this subject the more reasonable it seemed
to her. Alexei would learn military science first hand. He would get
acquainted with officers and men, and learn about war in general and
foreign representatives in particular. Above all, he would be the best
possible company for his Father. So Alexei left home--in tears. It was
the first time he had been separated from Mother. While Alexei was
away, Mother would slip into his room every day and pray on her knees
beside his empty bed. His absence was a heartrending experience for
her. We tried hard to comfort and console her by showing how much we,
too, missed the little fellow.

So Alexei joined his Papa, but now Mother’s worries began to increase.
She telephoned almost every day, asking about Father’s and Alexei’s
health. She wondered whether Alexei was getting the proper food, having
enough sleep. Was he careful, or was Father too busy to pay attention
to Alexei? In spite of these worries she was proud to hear that they
were together, sharing the same room.

While Mother worried, Alexei was proud of his association with Father.
We discovered it when we arrived in Mogilev. With great pride Alexei
showed us his bed beside Father’s, then added, “We say our prayers
together, too. But sometimes, when I am tired and forget, Papa says
them for both of us.” He could not wait to show us photographs of
himself standing beside Father reviewing troops and partaking of
the soldiers’ rations. Father was proud to show Russia what a real
Tsarevich she had in Alexei and the tender relationship between Father
and son and the country. This made Mother proud enough to endure the
heartache of the little boy’s absence from home. Alexei remained at
General Headquarters.

Mother talked constantly about her “boys” at the hospitals. They were
all her boys. On her trips to nursing centers to visit the wounded,
Olga and Tatiana accompanied her when she made her rounds. When the
sickrooms were on the second floor, she had to be carried upstairs
in a wheel chair. She was their symbol of courage, representing home
and loved ones, and they died in peace. When the day was done she was
exhausted, but it seemed to mean so much to the men that the Empress
herself cared so deeply for their welfare. She could never face death
philosophically. She considered each death as that of her own son, each
death a fresh cause to despair at the futility of war and the greed of
Wilhelm.

She was a very good Christian and followed the religious teaching, but
towards the Kaiser she disregarded all the teachings of Christianity
and her hatred for him was beyond description.

Mother, seeing all the young on the verge of death, suffered
vicariously with them, and spent many sleepless nights pacing the
floor. Often in the darkness of the night, she ordered her chauffeur to
drive her to the cemetery. From grave to grave this tall shadow went
and said a prayer in this quiet place for the young men. She knew them
all and grieved over the loss of the lives they gave to their country.
She often sent us sisters to plant flowers on the graves of these men;
they were all her children.

I cannot describe more deeply nor find words that could give a better
understanding and do justice to this much misunderstood woman. She
insisted upon being present at the most gruesome operations. Carefully
she handed the instruments to the surgeon, while one of my sisters
stood by with the freshly threaded needles ready for use. Mother,
looking upon these heartrending scenes, tried to give her very inner
self to these sons and husbands and brothers of Russia. So did the
nurses who worked heroically in our hospitals or public institutions,
practically all of them volunteers. Mother never postponed taking care
of important matters. She checked the reports on supplies for the
hospitals to see if they were sufficient.

Mother had at first considered the question of the duration of Alexei’s
stay at G.H.Q. Now she planned a hospital inspection tour in the area,
so that she would be able to bring him home. But Father and General
Hanbury-Williams asked Mother to let the little boy stay at G.H.Q. We
left for home without Alexei.

When Father was absent for any reason, General Alexeiev was in complete
command. All military matters were discussed between them; they worked
together congenially. A number of times Father took Alexei with him to
inspect the troops of Generals Ivanov and Brussilov and to decorate all
those involved in heroic action with crosses. The soldiers were quite
impressed with Alexei. In the uniform of a private, he stood proudly
beside Father during military reviews. By the erectness of his posture
and the tenseness of his expression, it was obvious he felt deeply
responsible. They returned to G.H.Q. from the front, which was within
the range of German guns. Fortunately the Kaiser did not know this.
Father insisted that his food come from the field kitchen--the same
that the soldiers had.

My sisters continued working; when they were tired they rested on
little stools at a bedside reading, praying for the sick, or writing
letters if the patients were unable to do so. Olga was deliberate in
her decisions and very exact in all her work. She was responsible and
successful in raising a great deal of money by her carefully planned
programs of entertainment, which were always carried out successfully.
Tatiana who was physically stronger was prone to take the lead in their
hospital work. We heard from doctors that she was unusually gifted
in this type of work, took everything calmly and systematically and
with a clear head. Mother always counted on her to carry out the most
pressing work with accuracy, and she never failed.

Mother also used to sit with the sick men for hours and when the
officers were returning to the front, Mother was introduced to
each as he passed her and gave him a prayer book. Standing next to
Mother, Madame Narishkina gave each one a package containing a set of
underwear, made out of silk in the “Marie-Anastasia Workshop.” It was
to protect them from body lice, mainly at the front.

Alexei, when home, visited the wounded often at our hospital. He
enjoyed listening to the men of war speak of their experiences at the
front, never tired of hearing stories. Often he told them jokes to make
them laugh. He felt indignant when the time came to leave, when the
merriment might only have begun.

As to our trips no one knew the date of our departure or return. Count
Fredericks, Minister of the Court, made all the arrangements. In
the fall we left for an inspection of different military hospitals,
stopping on our way in Mogilev. We made our headquarters on the train
which stood on the track in a deep forest, some distance from the
station. A few days later, Father and Alexei returned home with us.
The many dangerous trips to the front, the sight of the wounded in the
hospitals, and the feeling of responsibility made a deep impression on
Alexei, causing him to be nervous.

While at home, Father had a long talk with Olga, and asked her to see
that Mother kept all those hated people out of our house. But Mother,
thinking they were helping her, continued to have them. Olga disliked
Rasputin, never wanting his name brought up in her presence. When our
company mentioned his name she changed the conversation. Once I heard
her say to Mother, “Why do you listen to some of these women? Their
minds and upbringing are so different from yours. Why do they come to
you with all kinds of gossip? In their position, they should not be
permitted to interfere with things that do not concern them.”

Mother answered, “But, my dear, every ruler must have contact with the
people outside. That is the only way to get at the truth. Granny (Queen
Victoria) had confidential informers, and consequently knew everything
that was going on.”

Olga replied, “That is all right, Mother, but these people were not
constantly in Granny’s company. Especially we like to have a visit with
Father when he is home for a short period. You must keep your public
and private lives separate.”

These unworthy, capricious people irritated Olga when they became
involved in matters about which they knew nothing. Their careless words
later ignited a devastating flame. Marie often was reprimanded because
of friction with one of them who was a constant friend of Mother’s.

Soon Father and Alexei left for an inspection at the front; they went
as far as Chernovitsy, Bukovina, where I spent some time after my
escape. Could Father ever have dreamed that a child of his would ask
shelter near this battered city? He was also in Warsaw, and described
the battle in that area to us. He brought back many pictures, showing,
as I recall, on one side of a road thousands of crosses on the graves
of Russian soldiers and on the other side the enemy’s graves. We prayed
God that our men would be able to defend our country.

My parents visited the Red Cross units and ambulance trains for
the evacuation of the wounded village people and went to the field
hospitals to say a few encouraging words to the wounded. Mother and
we sisters carried envelopes containing writing paper, handkerchiefs,
sweets, fruit and other articles for distribution. Father depended
on us sisters for these supplies. Ambulance trains were named after
us children and the train was met by that person whose name it bore.
Often these trains arrived simply packed with the wounded who in some
cases were even lying on the floors which were covered with straw and
blankets. Frequently infections set in, when flesh was torn and bones
were shattered. German bullets usually made a jagged hole, tearing the
flesh. Russian bullets made a clean cut. Infections were especially
prevalent during springtime when the snow had melted and the trenches
were filled with polluted water which made it impossible for the men
to lie down. It was difficult to move the wounded along roads cut up
by the heavy artillery. Instead muddy fields had to be used for their
transportation to the nearest hospital or the train; often the mobile
hospital got stuck in the field and the rescue work had to be done in
the dark. It was heartbreaking.

Every possible space was used. Even the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe
Selo had to be utilized. Mother also had built many new hospitals with
Father’s and her own money; she appointed Madame Zizi Narishkina as the
head of the hospitals. Mother also established refugee homes for the
unfortunates whose farms were plundered and laid waste by artillery.
For the evacuated village people, shelters and orphanages, hospitals
and convalescent homes were constructed. She had built about ninety
military hospitals from Petrograd down into the Ukraine.

Many men released from the hospital were unable to return to the front.
Some of them were sent to farms and trades. Others learned to paint
and their pictures were bought and sold at different bazaars; some
were taught to weave rugs; others did wood carving; still others took
up sculpture, photography, printing or bookkeeping. All this was made
possible through the organized efforts of my family.

Grandmother and other members of the Imperial family did the same. She
even built camps in Germany to house Russian prisoners of war there.
But a Red Cross doctor and a nurse returned from Germany with a report
of the terrible conditions, the mistreatment of prisoners, and the lack
of heat and sanitation. They said that many wounded were infected with
sores and no nurses were permitted to help them. Officers were insulted
and beaten, because they refused to give the Germans information as to
the situation at the front. One of the Kaiser’s sons was present and
saw all these conditions and indignities. Over the Russian prisoners
the Germans put Russian Jews, who had run away to avoid serving in the
army. The mistreatment of the prisoners was unbelievable.

Through the Red Cross, Mother sent supplies to these camps in Germany
including Bibles, books, bandages and other necessities. She also
helped to organize camps near the railroad stations in Siberia for
German and Austrian prisoners of war; many such prisoners were sent
to work on farms. These camps were well regulated as she was eager
to demonstrate that Russia could lead in the humane treatment of
prisoners. For this she was deeply criticized on the ground that she
was saving the lives of our enemy. Maybe later the same men were the
killers of her own family.

Often my sisters came with a story of some unusual occurrences. One
young patient coming out of anesthesia sang and moved his arms as if
conducting an orchestra. When he was told later what he had done and
that Mother was present, he apologized, fearing he might have used some
vulgar words. Another said that he had received a letter from his girl
friend. He kept on repeating all the sweet words only a bride-to-be can
write to her fiancé.

We looked forward to the evening when we could snuggle around Mother
in her room. Usually there was a letter from Father. These arrived by
special messenger and were delivered to Mother by Mother’s ladies in
waiting or maids. Mother read parts to us and afterwards seemed more
contented. She preferred to open her own personal mail. Mother eyed
her other letters with suspicion, turning them over. When she read
a line or two, her face grew dark, her eyes flashed anger; she tore
them to bits and threw them in the wastebasket. With all the misery in
the world, many found time to criticize her and were too cowardly to
sign their name. God forgive them for the unpleasant hours they caused
Mother, not to mention the injury to our war effort. She said the
Germans used the same method of propaganda as did the Japanese in 1905.

Father never allowed us girls to discuss these unpleasant matters. Once
when Father was absent, I mimicked one of the suspected trouble-makers.
I was promptly reprimanded, then everyone burst out in laughter. My
technique worked. The next morning Mother’s eyes were red and swollen.
She said she had read late and her eyes hurt. It was obvious to us
that she had cried herself to sleep. We four sisters got off a letter
to Father begging him to come home for a day or two. Father and Alexei
arrived. Now Mother was a new person. She gave all her heart and soul
to Father, and Alexei’s entertaining chatter lifted her spirits. Her
eyes were no longer red and swollen; instead they glistened. Evenings
found the whole family gathered together in Mother’s boudoir. If one
had looked in, he would have been impressed by the harmony in that room.

Mother expressed her wish to have a little house, away from everybody,
where she could have peace and quiet. We wished so, too. Mother’s and
Father’s love for each other would have made a home out of any humble
dwelling.

All too soon Father had to leave. Alexei was so diverting, we wished
we could keep him home, but the little fellow was too proud of his
association with Father even to listen to such a suggestion. Good-byes
were hard on Mother, and we often wondered whether we had been wise in
asking Father to come from G.H.Q. After he left, Mother prayed daily
for his safe return; she was proud of his service to the country.

Almost on the very day of Father’s departure, the anonymous letters
began to come in greater numbers. Mother almost dreaded reading the
numerous letters because of their venomous content. One of the letters
was signed by Princess Vasilchikova. She accused Mother of many things
and claimed to be speaking for the women of Petrograd. She suggested
that Mother leave Russia and go back to Germany where she had come
from. How little she knew that Mother came from the little province of
Hesse and had no connection with Prussia. I wondered what this woman
thought the Empress’ children would do? Obviously this and other
letters were inspired by those who wanted to overthrow the Imperial
family and its government in order to gain control of the country, as
they eventually did.

Mother even was accused of sitting behind a curtain at the top of the
stairway of her maple sitting room which let into Father’s study,
listening to all the reports given Father on the progress on the war.
These reports she was supposed to transmit to Kaiser Wilhelm. This
ridiculous gossip was not only believed by many in Russia but was even
circulated in foreign countries. The story was so impossible it hardly
needs refuting. To reach the spot, Mother would have had to climb some
dozen steps to the top of the balcony room, which she could not have
done because of her heart condition. Besides, Mother never was left
alone. She always had a personal attendant with her on duty, day and
night. In a room next to Mother’s bedchamber, a bell was connected
with the maid’s room in which there was a narrow bed and a comfortable
armchair; also a small table on which were magazines and books for the
maid’s relaxation. The other personnel were dismissed at 11:00 P.M.
Most of her help had been with Mother since her marriage; we parted
with some, when we left for Tobolsk. Her loyalty to her adopted country
was unquestionable and her personal dislike for the Kaiser and his
government was almost an obsession with her.

Another rumor, freely circulated, was to the effect that Mother had
been visited secretly by the German General Ludendorff. This and many
other similar rumors were part of the propaganda to destroy Russia by
attacking the heart of the Russian government. Mother was depressed and
exhausted as these accusations multiplied. Some of the writers demanded
the discharge of all officials with foreign names. This would have
meant dismissing people like faithful Trina Schneider whose loyalty
was beyond suspicion. In the end she, too, was killed outside of Perm.
She had taught both Mother and Aunt Ella the Russian language. Now she
served as a reader and a governess to Marie and myself. Some of the
people had German names but were Scandinavian; others were descendants
of people brought to Russia during the reign of Catherine the Great.

With Father at G.H.Q., there was much he could not follow first hand.
Mother felt she must report to him everything that came to her notice.
All the praise, criticism, advice, countless suggestions of many
individuals were brought to her that she might pass them on to Father.
Sometimes these were important messages, sometimes they were petty and
trivial in comparison with the momentous questions that confronted
the nation. Mother was eager for advice but unfortunately most of the
suggestions came from those she had the least reason to trust, persons
who were suspected of being the real instigators of the propaganda
against her. More and more she felt that most of those who volunteered
to advise her were serving their own self-interest.

Reports often brought depressing information: that Father’s orders, his
telegrams, were purposely sabotaged, and often were replaced by others.
Inefficiency and betrayals were noticeable. Father was frequently
imposed upon as a result of his kindness and generosity. Mother
said, “He must make his will felt, inspire wholesome fear through
firmness and discipline. To inspire love is not enough.” With her own
background Mother often wished that Russia had some of the efficiency
of the Germans. She thought Russia needed more ingenuity and greater
economic independence. She felt the need of more railroads for the
transportation of troops and supplies, though one Siberian line had
just been completed during the war (in 1915).

Petrograd was full of crosscurrents. One said this, another said that.
Mother did not know whom she should believe. In spite of slanders that
were heaped on her, she still wanted to find out the truth to pass
on to Father. The people were tired, tired of everything, especially
of war. Whatever the reason, they were in a careless mood in their
attitude toward their country. No one had brought proof to back
up their accusations of Anna and Rasputin. These two, in Mother’s
opinion, were continually persecuted. Had not Anna given every kopeck
of her compensation for injury in a terrible train wreck to establish
a hospital for convalescent soldiers so that they might receive
training in some trade? The hospital was so successful that before the
Revolution hundreds of invalids had been trained and she had purchased
the land on which to build an additional building. What greater proof
of her loyalty was needed? Could anyone know better than Mother the
power of Rasputin’s prayers? Had she not witnessed his miracle on
Alexei? Now all she wanted for Father was divine guidance to see things
straight and to bring Russia safely through this ordeal. Had not
Rasputin used his foreknowledge which made him see what others could
not? He had foretold several events which later came true. Once he
predicted that our death would follow his death and that in the event
of a member of the family surviving, he or she would meet with disaster
in 1960.

Another accusation was that Mother was hiding Uncle Ernest in the
palace. Uncle Ernie had been in Russia with his family in 1912.
It was at the new palace in the Crimea. That was the last time he
visited Russia. During the war, the Kaiser made it so disagreeable
for Uncle Ernest that, in 1918, he abdicated. He and his father had
worked so hard to make their country economically sound. We had a few
letters from Aunt Victoria, Mother’s sister in England. Prince Louis
of Battenberg, her husband, was the First Sea Lord of the British
Admiralty. Pressure was brought against him also during the war
hysteria so that he was forced to resign his commission, in spite of
his loyalty to his adopted country, Great Britain.

When the war broke out, the Grand Duke Constantine Constantinovich
and his wife were in Germany. They were subjected to considerable
mistreatment so that, a year after, he died. Father was furious when
he received the report of the abuses from the Grand Duke himself.
Grandmother also was passing through Germany at the outbreak of the
war, and she, too, was subjected to the same indignities. The death of
the Grand Duke Constantine was a great loss, not only to the family,
but to all Russia. The Grand Duke was a most brilliant scholar, poet
and patron of music and drama. He wrote plays, essays, poems, using
a pseudonym. He translated _Hamlet_ into Russian. He wrote a play
entitled _King of Judea_. It was a magnificent production, in which he
took part. Even when his health was failing, he continued to promote
the arts. The last production in which I saw him on the stage was
_Hamlet_. He played the leading role of the Danish Prince himself. Some
of his children had parts in it. During the last performance my family
was present. Alexei sat with Mother in the front row and excitedly
called out, “Mother, Mother, do you know that is Uncle Constantine! And
that _there_ is an officer of the Guards?” Uncle Constantine sponsored
a number of young people in music and drama. He had a theatre of his
own and designed his own stage settings.

He was deeply religious and brought up his family in the best Christian
tradition. Despite his good life he suffered great misfortune. Shortly
before he died, his son-in-law was killed in the war. Earlier, one of
his sons, Prince Oleg, had been a battle casualty. While the Germans
were retreating Oleg followed them on his horse when a wounded German
officer played dead and shot him; he soon died in the hospital. The
names of his children were all taken from early history. During the
revolution, three more sons were brutally murdered, together with Aunt
Ella, near Alapaevsk.

I remember Aunt Mavra, Constantine’s wife, and one of her daughters
having tea with us for the last time, shortly before the revolution.
Always deeply religious, they crossed themselves for safe driving
before they entered their car. Whoever could have known that we would
never see one another again? Still Aunt Mavra lived through all the
tragedy that befell her innocent family.

Mother seldom came to the dinner table these days. She was served
in one of her rooms and we joined her after the meal. At that time
Father’s letters were read and reread. Usually there was a clever one
from Alexei, too. His note was always so cheering to Mother that we
hoped she could retain the mood till bedtime. To break the monotony, I
planned on entertaining them, even though it made me feel sad rather
than lighthearted, but, once I started, everybody began to laugh and we
were soon all in the midst of great merriment.

Watching Mother carefully, when she looked troubled, I sprang a new
joke or some lighthearted remark to cheer her up again. In this
self-appointed task I had a helper. I found a book of funny stories,
which I kept in one of the drawers in the round table in the music
room, and in privacy I delved through it. It contained many jokes which
I did not understand, but, believing they must be funny, I put my own
interpretation upon these and tried them out on the family in the
evening.

On Father’s last trip to the capital, his appearance before the Duma
was a great success. In his speech he urged unity and warned that only
unity would bring victory--the victory he reminded them was so near.
Hearing his inspiring message, everyone was optimistic. There was
country-wide rejoicing, especially when shortly afterward the news came
that Erzerum, which had been stubbornly held by the Turks for so long,
had fallen.

Father said that he was willing to grant liberal concessions but he
feared that this was not the time for great, radical changes. They
would have too damaging an effect during wartime.

Sir John Hanbury-Williams was in Petrograd for several days and saw
Olga and Tatiana at this presentation of Father’s at the Tauride
Palace (Duma). He afterwards said to Olga: “Knowing your Imperial
Father the way I do, I am most sorry for His Majesty; so is all the
High Command, for there is not one single word of truth in all the
propaganda circulating. He assuredly does not deserve such malicious
criticism.” Hanbury-Williams thought that Father’s address was most
enthusiastically accepted and would bring good results. However, it
created apprehension among the enemy who seemed to be losing hope of
winning the war. Nevertheless, it provoked more damaging propaganda.
Father repeated that he would not yield to Germany. More than ever,
Wilhelm made Father his target. He aimed at him with traitors who
spread their lies insidiously underground like the roots of a tree.
There were attacks on Father from all directions--a whispering
campaign spread to injure his reputation before his people. Of course
Mother already had come in for her share of this terrible barrage of
falsehood; in her case the slander centered around Anna and Rasputin.
But that only made Mother stubborn, and she closed her ears and no
longer would believe anyone around her. She had felt for a long time
that she was doomed to death from the day she set her foot on Russian
soil.



X MOGILEV


The year 1916, the date May 6th. It was Father’s forty-eighth birthday.
The day before, we went to G.H.Q. at Mogilev to be with him. As usual
we stayed on our train. On this occasion the Russian and all the Allied
High Command, as well as some of our relatives, came to extend to
Father their congratulations.

Mother, shy and reserved by nature, came with us even though she
dreaded meeting the members of the Allied Military Missions, some of
whom she had not yet met. We knew many of the officers quite well.
I particularly remember our friend General Keller, Generals Ivanov,
Lechitsky, Dieterichs, Yanin, Resin, Kornilov, Brussilov, Father’s
Chief of Staff, General Alexeiev, General Dubensky, the military
historian attached to G.H.Q., and Captain Nilov. I recall, too, the
traitor, General Ruzsky, who left such a bad impression in the Baltic.

In the morning we went to the garrison church services nearby, under
the thick pine trees. There were many high ranking men and titled
guests in attendance.

Mother had ordered flowers from the Crimea to be used as decorations
for the occasion. We sisters made two flower arrangements for Father’s
study and his bedroom. One of these was placed on the table in his
bedroom in front of an icon of Saint Nicholas. On the piano in the big
hall were large branches of white orchids artistically arranged.

Dinner was served to about fifty guests. All the members of foreign
missions and the Russian generals and their wives who happened to be
there attended, as well as a number of the Grand Dukes who came to
Mogilev especially for this occasion.

We assembled in the large hall and stood in line with Father to receive
the congratulations of the guests. We girls wore white dresses and
white hats trimmed with ostrich feathers. Uncle Serge Mikhailovich, who
was in command of the Russian artillery, was present. Others were the
Grand Duke Cyril and his brother the Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich;
they could not disguise their bitter hatred for the family, especially
for Mother, when their turn came to take our hands.

At the dinner Mother sat next to Father and at her side was
our handsome, lively brother Alexei. Opposite them was Olga,
Hanbury-Williams and the others. In the evening we took in a movie.
Prince Igor Constantinovich was there and accompanied us next morning
on a walk in the forest, where spring flowers were abundant.

From Mogilev we went to Sevastopol, Crimea, making several stops on the
way to inspect military hospitals. At the Tsarskaya Pristan (dock) in
Sevastopol we were greeted with cheers by sailors from Navy vessels.
Everywhere we went, we were met with a great deal of friendliness by
the people who came forth with flowers, fruits, and gifts of money for
the hospitals. We also made a surprise visit to the Romanov Institute
of Physical Therapy. In Evpatoria we met Admiral Kolchak, who later
played an important role in fighting the Communists in 1918 in order
to capture Ekaterinburg and rescue us. Unfortunately he was betrayed
by the Czech troops. We had tea with Anna, who had been sent there by
Mother on a special mission some weeks earlier. Father and Alexei went
back to Mogilev and we left for Tsarskoe Selo. Anna accompanied us for
several stations, and then returned to the Crimea.

About this time the people began to show unrest as a result of a rumor,
which an investigation showed had been spread by German agents, to the
effect that Mother and Aunt Ella were hiding Uncle Ernest. It upset my
Mother so much that she had a heart attack.

When demonstrations began to take place in Moscow, because of this
false propaganda, Mother was told that Kerensky, who up to now was
biding his time, urged Guchkov to start a revolution, while the
situation was still hot. Mother said he should be hanged for it. While
Kerensky was plotting against my family, Father was at the front
making every effort to bring Kaiser Wilhelm to his knees, despite
the offers for the separate treaty which were made by the Kaiser who
stressed that an alliance with Germany would be more beneficial to
Russia than one with England. But all the proposals were ignored.
Father knew the German position in the war was the lack of physical
strength, particularly after Father’s Chamberlain, General Tatishchev
had interviewed German officer prisoners and was told by them that the
Kaiser had lost all his power which now rested in the hands of the High
Command.

Mother went to Mogilev again and this time she took Anna with her. It
caused a great deal of trouble and more hatred sprang from it. Even our
own cousin, the Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich, spread the most unjust
lies: that some drink was given to Father by Anna and that he was under
hypnosis. How shameful that this young man in return for love gave
disloyalty to the man who had given him kindness and affection as if he
were his own father. Another ridiculous rumor was that gold had been
shipped over the border to Germany in the coffins in which supposedly
were bodies of German soldiers killed in the war.

Mother became resentful toward these rumors and stubborn in her
reaction to them. Now she and Father would defend any innocent friend
who was brought under false suspicion or accusation. How could anyone
believe such falsehoods, especially against my Father, which were found
in the end not to be true. Madame Narishkina once said to us that
Mother’s friends brought her nothing but misfortune. It is true, but
for this misfortune many others also were responsible. Anybody could
have believed anything under the prevailing chaotic conditions of rumor
and deceit For example, some years before the war, while the family was
in the Crimea, every day a bouquet of fresh flowers was sent to Father
for his desk in his study, and the card in them bore the signature
“Ania.” This naturally aroused great consternation. Upon investigation,
it was found that Ania Vyrubova at that very time had been with her
family in the small village of Terijoki on the Gulf of Finland and
so could not possibly have sent the flowers. Later Princess Sonia
Orbeliani, once Mother’s lady in waiting, a bitter enemy of Anna’s, in
a fit of anger revenged herself on Anna by saying that Anna had hired a
gardener to send the flowers.

Another rumor related that Rasputin came to the palace by way of the
back porch and visited the children’s quarters. In the first place,
there was no back porch. On one occasion, he did come upstairs to
see Alexei in his sickbed, using the private spiral stairway from
Mother’s apartments, but subsequently, whenever Rasputin came, Alexei
was carried downstairs. Moreover, Rasputin was accompanied by Father
Vassiliev and almost always the Emperor was present. Father had traced
this rumor to its source, and everyone connected with the story
admitted that they had not seen Rasputin enter the palace, but that
they were told to say so by a certain person. In fact, I never saw the
peasant in any of our private quarters. These were always guarded at
the foot of each stairway. We were so surrounded with people that he
could not have avoided being detected by many.

This false rumor grew stronger and more outrageous stories were added
to it. Those spreading these cruel gossips which injured Mother’s
reputation were those who never had an opportunity even to see any
member of the Imperial family, people whose feet never had trodden the
grounds of Tsarskoe Selo. For every person living in this village was
known to the police and any stranger coming into the area was always
picked up and investigated. Anyone entering there had to carry his
credentials. Those who spread such propaganda lived to regret it, but
their remorse came much too late. Tragic as it was, these paid agents
schemed to take Father away from the front because they knew his
presence was all-important.

Alexander Park was enclosed by an iron fence, which was topped with
three rows of barbed wire. Inside and outside were sentries at regular
intervals. Every day these grounds were searched to be sure that no one
was hiding there. Not a single person could enter the palace without a
great deal of red tape. There were four entrances to the palace. The
peasant was not allowed to use the main gate. In retrospect, this was
probably a mistake as it gave an air of mystery to his rare visits.
Accompanied by Father Vassiliev, he entered through the side or garden
gate (across from the Znamensky Cathedral) which was accessible to only
a few. The procedure here was simpler but any such entry was recorded,
as was the case at the main gate. These authentic official entries were
available since the time of Peter the Great, but many were destroyed by
the invading Communists.

The visitor had to present proper credentials as to whom he was to see
and for what purpose. His name was written several times; also the
time of his arrival to the very minute. Halfway up the driveway to the
palace the door of the car or the carriage was opened and the vehicle
checked; also again a note was made of the identity of the visitor. In
the meantime, the sentry at the gate had already telephoned the palace
guard, announcing the arrival of the person. At the palace entrance,
the guard on duty opened a square, barred window, and the visitor was
ushered into a room where he presented his card to the officer on duty.
The latter checked and compared the name and description of the visitor
with names and photographs in a book, copies of which were found on
tables in various parts of the palace. Then the visitor was directed to
the reception room, where Mother received him. This was the procedure
for all.

At each end of the corridor, and at the foot of every stairway, there
was always an officer on duty who kept a record to the minute of
everyone going up and down the stairs, no matter how many times a day.

Upon departure of a visitor, the same accuracy as to time was
maintained, and a record of his stay was handed to the palace police.
There were also a number of runners and about thirty-five guards
on duty in the corridors and stairways alone; not all were armed.
That same strict rule applied to all the palace staff, including the
well-known Mistress of the Robes, Madame Narishkina, and the ladies in
waiting. In fact when any one of us, even Father, arrived, the carriage
was always inspected. We were never left unattended and we did not know
what privacy was, being always surrounded by our teachers, ladies in
waiting, governesses, nurses and chambermaids who frequently entered
our rooms.

Secret police continually checked every activity of everyone. It would
have been impossible to enter or leave in secrecy. No doubt there was
a file on Rasputin with a complete record of his visits to the minute,
showing how long he had been there and whom he had seen; and the names
of the officers on duty had to appear in the record, especially after
it was rumored that Rasputin was a spy. The secret police were watching
him; according to some it was only for his own protection. But, at
the same time, his activities were being carefully scrutinized. One
slip on his part would have sent him to his death. The palace chief
of police kept a copy of such records; another copy was delivered to
the chief of police in Petrograd. In fact, during our arrest, these
records were checked on Rasputin and on every member of our family to
the very morning of our departure from the palace. The Ministers were
responsible for many troubles, because they gathered around Rasputin
and that gave him more confidence.

As for Mother’s supposed pro-German leanings, how often I wished Kaiser
Wilhelm could have been in our household to hear the uncomplimentary
remarks attached to his name. Alexei and I used to stuff pillows and
take shots with toy guns at Uncle Wilhelm. The name Wilhelm aroused
such invectives we were ordered not to use the word.

Olga Constantinovna, wife of King George I of Greece, sister of the
Grand Duke Constantine Constantinovich, spoke to Mother about the
peasant. She had become very upset about the gossip and because of it
and the hot summer of 1916, she had suffered a heart attack. Later
Father’s friend, Prince Volkonsky, came to see Father to warn him about
the peasant. At that time, Aunt Ella became so upset by these rumors
that she sent Count Sheremetiev, a friend and distant relative of ours,
to deliver the message that Rasputin had been using our family name for
his personal advantage while under the influence of liquor in Moscow.
Mother and Father even now refused to believe the tale. It left Father
very distressed. He could not understand how this highly educated man
could have allowed anyone to recount such tales to him. This good
family raised a great deal of money for hospitals; in their huge villa
in Petrograd they sponsored a hospital for officers and paid for the
upkeep from their own pockets. Besides, two of their sons were at the
front.

Shortly afterwards, Aunt Ella herself appeared at Tsarskoe Selo. First,
she talked to Mother alone about the peasant, but Mother said, “Sister,
you do not believe all that do you?” Ella said, “I do not, but the
people do.” Mother asked, “And who are those people? Please do not
speak, as the others do. There is not one word of truth in what your
friends are telling you.”

Mother was especially furious and could never forgive her sister when
she said that God might punish Mother by taking her son away from her.
That was a most painful remark for my Mother. The following morning,
Aunt Ella pleaded on her knees before my parents. Even then they
refused to believe the story. Instead Father turned to his aide-de-camp
saying, “Have a train ready for the Grand Duchess’ departure.” Father
at once left for G.H.Q. very upset. When Aunt Ella entered the room
where we had bid good-bye to Father, her eyes were wet with tears and
she was wiping them with her handkerchief. This was a sorrowful parting
for both sisters as well as for the whole family. We kissed her for
the last time, never to see her again. When she was leaving the rooms
she lifted a hand, saying, “Remember the fate of the other Empresses.”
Mother and both older sisters accompanied Aunt Ella to the station. We
were told that Aunt Ella knew then that Rasputin would be killed.

Mother often asked why people had not opened their eyes to see
something else besides an inclination for harm, which springs from
stupidity and ignorance. Why were they not able to judge us, and see
the good we had done? Even now she did not see that one could be
capable of falsehood. Mother had such a love for Russia that often
she said, “I would rather die than see Germany win the war!” She was
English in every way. She had spent most of her time with Granny (Queen
Victoria), and from her earliest childhood had taken a dislike for her
cousin Wilhelm, largely because of his lack of consideration toward
their Granny.

During this time, Mother’s mail was more voluminous than ever. One
of the letters she received called her attention to the illustrated
magazine _Niva_, in which was an article with a photograph of a dog
undergoing vivisection. Among the magazines usually to be found
on the table in the room next to Mother’s room, I could not find
this issue. Because we were not allowed to remove books or magazine
from the shelves, Mother immediately requested Mr. Shcheglov, our
librarian, to bring this magazine to her. She asked me to find the
page showing this needless cruelty. I opened the periodical; it fell
open at that page. Strapped to a table, the unfortunate animal was
being operated on without anaesthesia. This horrifying picture made
an enormous impression on us. Mother without wasting time took steps
to prevent such laboratory work being done without the animals being
anaesthetized.

At once she became unpopular with many technicians and medical men.
We all were always sympathetic towards animals, especially Alexei who
frequently took home many homeless animals; he fed them and never
feared being harmed by them. This good child repeatedly said, “Some
time I shall have a large place for all the animals who have no home. I
will feed them and care for them myself.” Many unfortunate animals were
made homeless by war. He brought dozens of cats and dogs and sent them
to our farms. Proudly he once said, “I am positive there is not a mouse
left here.” The farmer agreed with him there was none.

There were always appeals to Mother for help. If a son was missing, she
was asked to help trace him. Any injustice which came to her attention
she tried to resolve by appealing to the proper authorities. When the
burdens became too heavy, Mother rushed to the Church. To her, religion
was more than worship, it was life. She loved the rituals, candles,
chanting and prayers. Through the unburdening of her heart, through
supplication for guidance, she was strengthened and helped to think
more clearly, to understand more deeply and accept God’s will with
greater humility. But dishonesty, insincerity, friction and perfidious
gossip were continually clouding her sense of God’s will. At such a
time disunity was high treason to Church and State. She wanted a new
regime so that Alexei would not have to struggle with the old autocracy
handed down by his Grandfather.

Father had taken an oath in his war manifesto that he would never make
peace so long as one enemy soldier remained on Russian soil. The enemy
knew that only a revolution could defeat the Russian armies, so they
spread a network of lies to poison the Russian mind. Their central
theme held that Mother was redoubling her pro-German activities. In the
Duma attacks were made on Father in an effort to discredit him. Many
friends no longer participated at the meetings of the Duma; they could
not stand to hear the slander of their Emperor.

These words are painful for me to put in writing, and I shall not
further denounce these slanderers, as it would be against my Christian
belief.

Word was brought from General Headquarters that Alexei had caught cold
on the train during a trip to the front. He had sneezed and burst a
blood vessel in his nose. When Dr. Fedorov was unable to stop the
bleeding, also fearing that his cold might get worse, he suggested
that Father return Alexei to Tsarskoe Selo. He had almost died on his
way home because of the jolting and jarring and it had been necessary
to stop the train several times at night in order to change Alexei’s
dressings. He collapsed into unconsciousness several times and seemed
to be on the verge of death. All night Nagorny had to support his head.

Meanwhile in Tsarskoe Selo, we were receiving wires posting us on his
condition. Some arrived late in the evening so that Mother sat up
all night, fearing that the end had come. At six in the morning Anna
called Rasputin and requested him to pray for Alexei. Rasputin replied
that Alexei would be better, not to worry, and that the bleeding would
stop. Strange as it may seem, the bleeding did stop shortly thereafter.
Later we were told that Anna informed the peasant that Alexei was
better. Mother went to the station to meet the train and when Alexei
was carried down the platform, he smiled at her. She was thankfully
relieved. His bleeding stopped. Mother kissed him and he drew her hand
to his lips. Father left again for G.H.Q. and Alexei remained at home
recovering from his illness.

In spite of my brother’s poor health, our parents insisted that, as
soon as his condition improved and the weather permitted, he must
return to Mogilev. It was felt necessary that he prepare himself for
his future responsibilities, even though his health had been impaired.
Father said that Alexei was not to be shielded behind the scenes as
he himself had been during the reign of Alexander III. As soon as the
war should be over, Alexei, accompanied by his tutors, was to go to
England to receive special training. My little brother became nervous
under the strain, and we all felt sorry for him. Once, at two o’clock
in the morning, Alexei awakened Olga in her room and said, “I cannot
sleep; I am worried.”

The fact that I had been asked to share the responsibility with Olga
and Tatiana deeply stirred me. They suggested that Mother should not be
left alone in her bedroom at night while Father was away even though a
maid was in the room next to Mother’s. We sisters decided to take turns
spending the nights with Mother, as well as time after school hours.
Alexei was hurt, because he was not asked to share this loving trust.
He protested: “Am I not a member of the family? I am tired of taking
humiliations from you. You seem to enjoy giving me orders.” I explained
that he could do his share by sleeping in Father’s bedroom when he
returned to G.H.Q. This satisfied him.

I shadowed Mother, amused her, and did everything in my power to make
her happy. I did many things by which I hoped to spare her needless
steps. I accepted my responsibility seriously and was a little hurt at
Mother’s amused surprise at my obvious attentiveness. It pleased me to
have Mother call me her little helper, because I saved her many steps.
Often Alexei called Mother on the telephone and, while she was talking
to him, I would run up and warn him not to call Mother again. I felt
responsible for her and at the same time I was filled with a sense of
importance while on duty at her side. For some time we thought Mother’s
health was deteriorating under the strain of worry and sorrow. Now her
heart became worse and she no longer was able to give actual care to
the wounded at the hospital.

While Father was home, he had several stories about Rasputin
investigated. One report declared that Rasputin had boasted in a
restaurant, in public, that the embroidered upper blouse which he wore
that evening had been presented to him by the Empress. Father sent for
this man, whom he had disliked for so long. He questioned him about
his claim. The peasant appeared to be surprised and frightened, but had
finally admitted that he had made the remark. “How dare you?” Father
looked straight into his eyes. Then, Father pointed to the door and
Rasputin was shown out by an aide-de-camp. Olga remarked later to us
sisters that the only regret she had was that the peasant had not been
thrown out long before this.

Father never liked nor believed in the Starets and neither did we
girls. Even Alexei was doubtful about the peasant’s honesty. In our
presence, Rasputin was always respectful and unobtrusive. Mother,
however, was convinced that Alexei’s life during his most severe
attacks was saved by Rasputin’s prayers. Mother was impressed by the
man’s simple common sense. He had such a saintly approach that Mother
believed that he was a man sent by God. Most of the messages from
Rasputin had come to Mother through Anna. It was at Anna’s house that
Mother saw this wandering monk and their conversation was always about
religion. There was little doubt that he was a healer of a sort which
some Christian Churches have always known and recognized. However, many
discounted Rasputin’s healing claims by explaining that he always came
into the picture when Alexei was already on the way to recovery. When
Alexei was previously ill, because some one inserted into his lower
body some kind of serum which caused him untold suffering and many
sleepless nights, Rasputin was blamed for it. It was Rasputin who made
all the nurses and maids go to confess at the church as a result of
which it was found that someone close to the family was responsible for
this illness.

The attacks Alexei suffered had become fewer and less serious. My
parents were hopeful Alexei would eventually outgrow his trouble.
Alexei was often puzzled about Rasputin, whom he considered to be a
healer. One day he asked, “Tell me, Mommy, why is it that God listens
to the peasant’s prayers, but not to mine.” Mother honestly believed
that Rasputin was sent to save her son. Under similar circumstances
any mother would have felt the same.

On another occasion we had Father Vassiliev as our guest. Alexei was
just getting over a bad cold. He asked why people said that the peasant
was a saint. Papa replied that he would rather have Father Vassiliev
explain this to Alexei. The clergyman answered that anyone who does
good and lives according to the Holy Scriptures could be a saint. “Then
what shall I do that God will listen to my prayers?” asked Alexei.

Father Vassiliev of the Feodorovsky Sobor taught Alexei religion.
Alexei was deeply attached to his instructor, who was very religious,
had a kind heart, loved people, made friends easily and was loyal and
defended them when they were in trouble. Alexei was bright, lively, had
a quick mind, delicate features, a white, clear complexion and coppery,
auburn hair. In secret among the family he was called “Ruchka” (the
hand). This he knew, although we did not at first know it.



XI OUR LAST AUTUMN IN TSARSKOE SELO


The fall of 1916 was a beautiful one, with the brilliant flames of
orange oak and russet beech trees, elms and avenues of lime trees all
fused harmoniously as in a painting. It was our last autumn in Tsarskoe
Selo. Again, Alexei joined his Father at G.H.Q. and both went to review
the troops at the front. As usual, Father inspected the field kitchens
and tasted the food to be sure that it was kept up to the prescribed
standards. Then they visited the hospitals in Kiev, at the same time
spending several days with Granny who had been living there in the
palace near the beautiful Dnieper river for the duration of the war, in
order to be near her daughter Olga.

Upon their return to G.H.Q., Alexei sent a note home to say that
Father was distressed after having had a talk with Granny; she had
changed. Alexei, although a child, was conscious of the fact that this
disquieting conversation stemmed from Ruchka’s illness and the peasant.
Granny did not know that Alexei knew that in secret he was called
“Ruchka”. There were other relatives present at this discussion, one of
them being Uncle Sandro (Alexander Mikhailovich). He was the head of
military aviation and was stationed in Kiev.

During this conversation, Aunt Olga defended Alicky (Mother) whereas
Granny blamed everything on her. Grandmother openly predicted then that
all would end in disaster. Alexei promised Mother that he would never
cause Father trouble, and would be careful of his own health. He told
us later that he had cried on the train while Father was in his study,
and that he no longer loved his Granny as he used to. At this time
Aunt Olga was happily remarried. Her husband was the handsome officer
of the Guard whom she had known for a long time, Colonel Nicholai
Koulikovsky.

Soon Mother and we sisters went on another tour to the hospitals and
were greeted enthusiastically everywhere. We received big donations
for the hospitals. During this tour we stopped for a several days’
visit with Father. This was to be our last trip to G.H.Q. We knew right
away that something connected with Rasputin was troubling Father, as a
result of his last visit to Kiev.

Now Father asked Granny to leave for the Crimea in order to end the
gossip, which without Granny’s encouragement would never have taken
place. Later even Olga wrote her asking for God’s sake to leave for the
Crimea. But all was in vain.

At this time Uncle Sandro, the husband of Aunt Xenia, proposed to
Father that he should promulgate the constitution on his name day,
December 6th, but Father said it was impossible because at the
coronation he had sworn on the Bible to uphold the autocracy.

Now we already knew of the plan to assassinate Mother, Father and many
of his aides, especially Prince Dolgorukov, Captain Nilov, A.D.C.
Mordvinov, Count Fredericks and others. It was organized in Kiev by
Guchkov. Granny and the Grand Duke Nicholai Nicholaevich in Caucasia
supported the idea, but Granny confessed to Father, during her last
conversation with him, that she did not know that the Guchkov plan
was to assassinate Father and the others. She believed that they were
working towards Father’s abdicating the throne to the Grand Duke
Nicholai Nicholaevich.

The former Governor of Mogilev, Mr. Pelts, who let my Father use his
residence, and others also warned Father of the plot and told him that
many officers were approached by Guchkov to carry out the mass murder
but they all refused. The secret police were to close in on Guchkov
but Father wanted to have more proof. On this visit Granny wanted
us children to come to Kiev, but we feared that the murder might be
committed while we were away. After the abdication and before Father
left Mogilev, Granny came on her train to Mogilev. Even then she blamed
the abdication on Mother. Then Father asked her whether she knew of
the plan to assassinate him and Alicky, his wife. She cried that she
had not known of the plan to murder but had encouraged the abdication.
With these words they parted forever. No matter what, Father was
condemned from the day of Lenin’s brother’s execution during the reign
of Alexander III, and also from the day of the execution of Trotsky’s
brother who was connected with one of the most dangerous revolutionary
organizations during the Japanese war.

Father occupied a section of one floor in the Governor’s home in
Mogilev. Built on a wooded hill, it enjoyed a magnificent view of
the broad Dnieper River. Father had two large rooms, one being the
bedroom he shared with Alexei. In it, two iron beds stood side by side,
separated by a little table on which was a Bible and an icon. There
were also a mahogany dressing table, a wash stand, a settee, and a
bookcase. The windows of this room faced the river on one side, the
garden and the parade grounds on the other. The adjoining room was
Father’s office with windows facing the parade grounds. It held a large
Victorian desk fully equipped, some photographs of the family, several
barometers and a floor lamp; also Alexei’s desk used for his school
work, a settee, and a bookcase. Next to the office was a large anteroom
with two big portraits of Father and Mother, plus a couch, a piano, and
numerous chairs. Next was a large, gloomy dining room. The entire suite
had parquet floors and fine carpets.

Some of the upper and lower floors were occupied by Father’s staff:
General Voyeykov, Count Benckendorff, Prince Vasily Dolgorukov, A.D.C.
Nilov, Dr. Fedorov and Dr. Derevenko, now in charge of Alexei; Prince
Igor Constantinovich often came here. With Father was also General
Dubensky, a friend of the Grand Duke Dimitri, Count Sheremetiev,
A.D.C. Drenteln, and others. Father was accompanied by his rather
numerous military escorts and by his tall bodyguard Dendeniev, a
Cossack officer, who almost always was at his side. This officer could
fire at the smallest flying object in the air without ever missing one
shot. Also present was Father’s personal guard, Polupanov.

In Mogilev, we took some short trips, sometimes driving to the
beautiful Archayerevsky woods; or we walked in the deep snow, while
Alexei played in the park with young cadets.

At some distance from the Governor’s home under the pine trees was the
Army field chapel. The General Staff office was within a short distance
of the house. Due to the shortage of houses, all government buildings
and some private residences were converted into living quarters for the
military staff and hospitals. In the winter Father had his luncheons
in the dining room at the Governor’s house. The General Staff officers
and officers on duty from the front were usually asked to join him
at the noon meal. At these meals no military business was discussed.
Discussions of such matters took place every morning in the Supreme
Command office near by. Father disliked sitting at the table longer
than necessary and, as soon as the meal was over, he rose from the
table and his guests followed. During the summer, the luncheons were
held in a large tent on a hill in the pine woods.

In the evening, when we were there, Father tried to be with us on our
train. He poured the tea himself with only the family present. Father’s
train stood on a sidetrack in the woods, his study was at the end and
two strong Cossacks stood always on guard.

On one visit, we saw General Hanbury-Williams. He spoke to us about
his children, especially his two sons who were actively engaged in the
war. The General and Alexei became great friends. He and General Rickel
both spoke to Mother about the boy, saying that his presence made them
forget about the war and that Mother should leave him in Mogilev. My
brother remained at G.H.Q. General Hanbury-Williams was often invited
to dinner with Father and Alexei.

We left Mogilev. When we arrived at Tsarskoe Selo, we found one of
Mother’s ladies in waiting, Princess Sonia Orbeliani, critically ill.
This young friend of ours had suffered some years earlier a back injury
caused by a fall from her horse. Now the spine began to trouble her
seriously. In the end she was totally paralyzed. We had a special nurse
for her, and she continued to stay in our house. Her room adjoined our
rooms, and Mother went to see her every night to make sure that she was
comfortable. Having her in our home caused a great deal of jealousy
among the other ladies in waiting and our staff. Sonia, herself, was
jealous of Anna Vyrubova, who in turn quarrelled with her. Poor Sonia
was still young when she left the world. Several times during her
illness, before the war, we took her to the Crimea and we sisters
pushed her about in her wheel chair. Fortunately for her she passed
away quietly before the fear of devastation settled over our family.
Father returned home with Alexei just in time to attend Sonia’s funeral.

Father was home for a few days only. He wanted to have a quiet evening
with just the family. Anna invited herself the very first evening. This
upset Mother so much that she said exasperatedly, “I hope Anna can live
one day without seeing me!”

We sisters and brother left Mother’s room early, hoping that Anna
would do the same, but Mother told us the next morning that Anna had
continued to stay until very late. Father told Olga that after the
Christmas holidays, he would keep Alexei at G.H.Q. most of the time in
order to avoid having Rasputin called in the event Alexei should become
ill.

While home Father told us of a report that in one of the military
hospitals a wounded soldier who had been decorated for his bravery
with the St. George Cross--one of the highest decorations in the
Russian army--had asked for and received photographs autographed by
each member of the Imperial family. After he was discharged from the
hospital, in his bedside table drawer was found a German code. It was
intended to use the pictures signed by us in propaganda leaflets which
were to be dropped in the Russian trenches. This soldier was identified
and he confessed. There were important names involved in the plot. He
was executed, and his Latvian mother was placed under surveillance.

Meantime Father investigated everything in the palace. To his great
dismay and disappointment, he found disloyalty. German machine guns
were found hidden near Peterhof, and in the outskirts of our farms
at Dudendorff near the Swiss chalet. No one knew how these were
smuggled in. Our own family was now being exposed to danger. The
propaganda having failed at the front, it started to penetrate into
homes, schools, hospitals and elsewhere. One day a folder was found
on our library table. The headline said, “Germans are killing the
Russian peasants, confiscating their cattle and taking everything for
themselves.” The article went on to say that Mother was a spy and was
collaborating with German agents. How this folder came to be placed on
the table remained a mystery. Mother’s real sorrow was that now Russia
had begun to believe these unfounded lies. At this time, King George
of England wanted Mother to come to Sandringham for a rest, but she
refused to hear of it. “I shall rest when the war is over,” she said.

Father also discovered that many peacetime guards had been removed from
duty at the palace and sent to the front without his knowledge, leaving
the palace guard insufficiently manned. Father ordered additional
guards to be sent from the mixed regiments but his orders were
disobeyed. Instead, revolutionists were assigned to guard the palace.

The last time we saw Granny was in Kiev some weeks before Christmas of
1916.

Our last trip to inspect hospitals was shortly before Christmas.
Accompanying us was Anna Vyrubova. More and more we discovered
how much, under a superficial politeness, Anna was hated. She was
aware that her friendship with Mother caused Mother a great deal
of suffering. It was at this time that we went to the old city of
Novgorod. At the station we were met by the Governor with bread and
salt and his family presented us with flowers; greetings came from
a squadron of Mother’s own Uhlan Guards. Both sides of the streets
were lined with military men, school children, and civilians. With
cheers and “ura” they threw their caps into the air, waved their
handkerchiefs, and pelted our limousines with flowers. At last we
reached the cathedral where special carpets were stretched and the
church was packed with well-wishers. Princes Igor Constantinovich and
Andrei Alexandrovich came from nearby. At luncheon Igor remarked, “The
people most assuredly displayed great joy and devotion to you.”

In the afternoon we went to the hospital and Mother was touched by
the kind reception. It gave her courage and strength. To everybody’s
surprise she was able to walk to the second floor to see the sick
men. Here, too, we were given money to aid the wounded. At twilight,
with music, our automobiles were escorted to the station. We reached
home late that night. This trip gave Mother a lift and confidence and
for days she carried a smile of contentment, thanks to the people of
Novgorod.

The Christmas of 1916 stands out brilliantly in contrast to the
Christmas that followed. None of the secret joy was missing. Before
the war, when still quite young, we children used to be sent on a long
drive as the Christmas Eve dusk gathered. Oh, the thrill of watching
the daylight merge into night’s cocoon, knowing the excitement that
would come with darkness! At last the drive was over and we stood on
the very threshold of the mysterious room where Christmas Eve was to
be celebrated. From somewhere nearby Christmas carols were wafted
up to us. As the door opened, there stood the glittering tree, each
year more beautiful than any before. The room was filled with people:
family, friends, and the palace staff. From the highest to the most
humble servant, everyone gathered around the tree. Each was remembered
with a gift, no one was forgotten. For weeks my sisters, with the help
of ladies of the court, had wrapped the presents, each looking like a
gleaming jewel. The day before Christmas, most Russians take no food,
only water, until the first star appears in the heavens. This year, in
the early morning, we went to a service at the Feodorovsky Sobor, and
at dawn the Christmas trees were lighted for us, the officers and the
guard. We sisters had helped to decorate the trees.

The fast was followed by the Christmas Eve dinner of twelve courses,
representing the Twelve Apostles. No meat was served, but there were
many kinds of fish, each course having a symbolic meaning. There were
hors d’oeuvre, soup, mushrooms, fruit and nuts, etc.

We decided to keep our own tree, set up on the second floor, until late
after the New Year. The flames of war and intrigue hissed and sizzled
but could not outshine the glow of Christmas. First of all there were
plans for the hospitals and orphanages, great effort being put into the
personal cheer of each invalid and needy person. There were sparkling
trees decorated by Mother’s own hands, with white and silver ornaments.
With the hospitals full of wounded men and the tense condition at the
front, every one made a special effort to effect a semblance of gaiety.
On Christmas day, in the early afternoon, the tree was lighted for
the Guard, the regimental orchestra played, and the Cossacks danced
and sang. Everyone stood around the tree and Olga, acting for Mother,
presented the gifts. Our gifts were usually simple and useful.

Although that Christmas had the familiar setting, it did not have the
customary joyous spirit. First of all, Father’s duties claimed his
time with heavy responsibilities. I remember that the day before his
departure for Mogilev, he was discouraged and upset. He had a long talk
with Olga in his study before he left. Asking her to persuade Mother in
some way that she should not write him daily long letters, he relied
on the help of our oldest sister. For these letters, telling Father
what should be done, were resented by him. He was especially annoyed
when Anna sent along her own naive suggestions; these he called stupid.
“Everyone is issuing orders and I have to listen to them,” he said. He
also asked Mother not to talk with her friends regarding matters they
knew nothing about. That, he pointed out, was the Ministers’ business
and no one else’s. Father himself had asked Mother not to do this.
He was tired and worried about the things she mentioned, long before
she was aware of the fact that Father’s replies to her were short and
concise. Mother felt surprise that he made no comment on what she had
written. Then she decided to go and see Father in Mogilev.

Mother was a great thinker and a reader of scientific books, natural
science, religion and astronomy. She could solve the hardest
mathematical problems. She spent many hours in her small library next
to her sitting room, reading her rare books on Indian philosophy,
given her by the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nicholaevna, the divorced
wife of the Duke of Leuchtenberg and later the wife of the Grand Duke
Nicholai Nicholaevich, who himself was also a scholar of Persian and
Indian history. Mother never wasted one minute. Everyday she spent many
hours with her secretary on reports. Her mail was enormous. She wrote
beautifully and her letters were sad and touching. She cared little
for wealth. She left behind in Tsarskoe Selo and Petrograd, Livadia,
and Alexandria items of immense value--her platinum, rock crystal desk
set, and a gold one; her dressing table accessories; her collection of
crosses and boxes; the dozen genuine blue sapphire, gold-rimmed glasses
(the work of Bolin) given her one at a time over a period of years by
Father; valuable laces; and over 300 Easter eggs. She took with her
only a few keepsakes; many of the most valuable items were left in
Tsarskoe Selo in the care of Count Benckendorff.

At the end of the holiday week there came a great change. On December
30th, 1916, Olga came to us excitedly and whispered: “Rasputin is
missing!” His daughter had just telephoned Anna that he had not been
home all night. This had alarmed Anna who had seen Rasputin just the
previous evening, in Petrograd--for a few minutes only, in order to
avoid further talk. Anna remembered that Rasputin had told her then
that Prince Felix Youssoupoff was to call for him late in the evening
to take him to his home to meet his wife, Irina. Mother was sure that
our pretty cousin, Princess Irina, was in the Crimea and ill at that
time. Irina was the daughter of Father’s sister, Xenia, and the Grand
Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, the grandson of the Emperor Nicholas I,
and Father’s favorite cousin and his brother-in-law.

Olga and Tatiana left to attend to their work in the hospital as
usual, while Marie and I reluctantly went to the schoolroom. After
classes we joined the family and found, to our horror, that suspicion
of Rasputin’s disappearance pointed not only to Prince Youssoupoff but
to our own cousin, the Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich. After a thorough
investigation by the police, it was established that Rasputin had been
murdered, his body wrapped in a military blanket and thrown into the
Neva river in Petrograd.

The frozen corpse was found two days later, under the ice. It was
assumed that the body had been carried in a Red Cross car, then thrown
into the river from the bridge. Inasmuch as a Red Cross conveyance
had been involved, it came as a sickening shock to learn that the
murder was linked to these two young men with the knowledge of the
Commander of the Red Cross, Purishkevich, who was a member of the Duma.
Several previous unsuccessful attempts on Rasputin’s life had been
made. Once he was stabbed by a young woman in Siberia and another time
deliberately run over by a carriage. Each time he had escaped serious
injury.

It was especially shocking to find Dimitri Pavlovich involved for,
ever since he had been a young man, he had had a room in our home in
Tsarskoe Selo and in the Crimea. His sister, Marie, had also spent many
happy days with us. Aunt Ella had brought him up as her own son after
his widowed father married a second time and left Russia for a while.
Dimitri was considered a member of our family and we all were extremely
fond of him. It was almost impossible for us to believe that he could
be implicated in the murder of this much despised man. Later we heard
that his role in the affair was very minor.

Suddenly the news came that General Hanbury-Williams’ son had gone
down with Lord Kitchener on the torpedoed “Hampshire” in the North
Sea. It was such a blow to our family that we all cried on hearing the
tragic news. Mother sent some orchids to the General with our profound
sympathy. Later, Alexei told us that, when the General appeared that
evening for dinner, and when they greeted each other, the General threw
his arms around Alexei in tears. Alexei said: “My heart went out to
him.” After dinner, they kissed each other, the General calling Alexei
the most loving child as he departed for his quarters. The next day
General Hanbury-Williams once more joined Father and Alexei at dinner.

In the meantime, Father had received a telegram announcing that
Rasputin had been killed. Father and Alexei left for Tsarskoe Selo,
and Alexei never saw the General again. Painfully Alexei described to
us the last evening he had with the General. Alexei, sympathetic and
sensitive, suffered with him and felt he, himself, should return to
G.H.Q. as the unfortunate General needed someone to comfort him. The
General later sustained another sad blow, upon learning that his second
son had been wounded. We all felt his tragedies as though they were our
personal loss.

Father posed for a moment only for a family picture beside the tree.
Then he read the report of the Rasputin murder. His reaction was: “To
think that a member of the Imperial family could commit such a crime as
to kill the Starets. I am ashamed to face the peasants who are fighting
valiantly for Russia, and many of whom have died. And yet these boys
find time for murder, as though there is not enough crime in the world.”

Those who committed the murder should have been at the front. How
unjust to kill a man without a trial and without an opportunity to
defend himself. It may be these young men imagined themselves to be
patriots in killing one who had repeatedly prophesied future reverses
for the Empire. If this despised man was undermining the foundation
of Russia by promoting a dishonorable peace with the enemy, then he
deserved even a greater punishment. But there was no proof. Father did
not come home because Rasputin was killed but because our two relatives
were involved in the crime, and the punishment had to come from him
only.

Because of Rasputin’s death, a great rejoicing had swept over
Petrograd. There were telegrams of congratulation for the illustrious
deed, toasts with the touching of glasses filled with champagne. No one
could foresee that these toasts, with glasses “bottoms up”, were for
their own funeral.

Father struggled with the problem of how to punish the young men. He
ordered Felix to be exiled to one of his estates in the province of
Kursk. It was during my escape in 1918, when I set foot there, that the
whole picture seemed to come into focus before me: Mother, Dimitri,
Felix. It must have been a great shock to the quiet, beautiful, young
wife, Irina, who was deeply in love with her husband, Felix. Most of
the people thought of this Oxford graduate as a fascinating handsome
man, having a great deal of humor, one who could never do such a
terrible thing. But he believed that this was the solution to save
Russia. Dimitri was sent to the General Staff on the Persian border,
where the Grand Duke Nicholai Nicholaevich was. Luckily Dimitri escaped
the fate of his father, his half-brother, his cousins, and other
relatives who were killed in 1918-1919. Immediately, his relatives
tried to intercede, as had been done at the time of the coronation
disaster, which it was claimed, was the result of the negligence of the
Grand Duke Serge Alexandrovich.

It was a blow to Father himself, since we all were so fond of Dimitri.
Besides he was Father’s ward and like a brother to us. On account
of Dimitri’s poor health, after having spent several months at the
front early in the war, he was sent back to Petrograd and, since then,
he had spent his time there without occupation and so had become
involved in this crime. His own father, the Grand Duke Paul, expressed
dissatisfaction. Even though the punishment was light, still the
relatives resented it and expressed coolness towards us. The Grand Duke
Alexander Mikhailovich, Father’s brother-in-law, came to see Father but
to no avail. Father said forcefully: “No matter whether it was a Grand
Duke or a peasant, the law is the same for all.”

Almost the whole Romanov family, led by the Grand Duke Cyril, his
mother, Marie Pavlovna, and his brothers, Andrew and Boris, signed a
petition in which they asked for the release of the two young heroes.
My father was so angered by this, he said: “They would never have dared
ask such a favor from my austere father, Alexander III” and “No one has
the right to commit a murder, especially in time of war and within my
realm.”

The Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna (née Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin)
being successful in turning almost all the relatives, as well as many
influential friends, against my family hoped by this division of the
family to bring the crown to her son. She invited to her parties some
mutual friends and continued her slander against my family. Among these
courted guests was Rodzianko, President of the Duma. Some of these
could no longer tolerate her scheming and, to her amazement, they asked
to be excused and left in the midst of the conversation. The most
damaging effect, due to this division of the Imperial family, was the
plot organized by the Grand Duke Cyril to kill Mother and Father. The
planning had taken place at the Imperial Yacht Club in Petrograd, of
which my Father and all the relatives were members. Many friends also
belonged to it.

They were given a warning to discontinue making trouble while other men
were dying in the trenches. Father gave orders to separate them, and
they were to go to their various estates. This blow was more than they
could bear. No matter what the cost, they were determined to uproot
this man who was a thorn in their side.

After the sad parting of the two sisters in Tsarskoe Selo, Aunt Ella’s
bitterness toward my Mother increased. I was told that she knew then
that there was to be an attempt on the life of Rasputin, yet she did
not discourage Dimitri from taking part in it; instead, she spent
her time in a convent where she met one of her friends, and prayed
on her knees in this convent while the murder in Petrograd was being
committed. I wonder now whether she was praying for her own soul. To my
sorrow her life also ended very painfully in 1918.



XII REVOLUTION


Mother once thought that, if Alexei could not be spared, Dimitri might
marry one of her daughters in order to carry on the Romanov line. Now
she had to take Rasputin’s death philosophically. At the same time,
she grieved over the mistake of the young men, especially the one
whom she had loved as her own son. Unfortunately, the Emperor Paul
(1796-1801) had decreed that no female be allowed to succeed to the
Russian throne. I think that, in case of political turmoil, the decree
could have been set aside. Olga would have made a wonderful Empress.
She was intelligent, well-read, had a kind disposition, was popular
among her friends, and understood human nature. She was a true Russian
in heart and soul. She could not have been easily deceived. I am sure
that she would have ruled wisely in the interest of her people. Father
had inherited from his father, Alexander III, the autocratic form of
government which contributed in part to the downfall of Russia.

Father stayed on but we hardly saw him, except at mealtime. He left
the table hurriedly and buried himself in state papers and military
problems. It was a great comfort, nevertheless, to have him with us.

The Germans reasoned that Rasputin’s death would remove one of the most
fruitful subjects of their propaganda. Consequently they hastened to
push forward another subject. German agents dropped leaflets into the
Russian trenches stating that the Tsar was about to sign a separate
peace treaty with Germany. It was also said that Mother, while she
visited Father in Mogilev, had entertained Generals Ludendorff and
Hindenburg at night and received letters from her brother, Uncle
Ernest. Another rumor had it that the Russian officers of the General
Staff and the Grand Dukes were gambling and wasting their time in
cabarets while Russian soldiers were dying in the trenches.

The patriotic army was not taken in by this propaganda, because
they had seen Father’s devotion to the cause of Russia. But General
Ludendorff and the Kaiser intensified this propaganda because they
knew it was impossible to defeat the brave Russian army without the
connivance of a revolution behind the lines. The idea was to divide,
conquer, poison the mind of the Russian people and weaken loyalty to
the Emperor. Mutiny was feared at the front since Father was away in
Tsarskoe Selo, not because our troops were inadequately fed, clothed
and supplied with arms. On the contrary the troops, Father said, were
never so strong and well-fed, and our military strength was now greater
than at the beginning of the war. But the supplies were deliberately
delayed by the merchants who received bribes from German agents
while Father was away. So the goods were withheld from the markets
by the merchants. Ten million rubles were spent to overthrow Russia
by revolution. It was this money that originally had been intended
to be used to improve the conditions of the Russian prisoners of war
in Germany. Father’s presence was needed at General Headquarters. In
spite of Alexei’s symptoms of measles and the fever that raged in him,
Father left for G.H.Q., promising to return soon. For Mother, always
apprehensive of Alexei, had begged Father to stay home a few days until
the boy’s condition could be better determined. But Father’s plans had
been made some months ahead for a surprise attack on the enemy and
could not be changed.

Father had hardly departed before riots and strikes became a common
occurrence in Petrograd. Shortages were reported; there was plenty of
bread, even though it was not available in the stores. However, many
merchants--some were foreigners and some were not--hid the products
or raised the prices so high that the poor could not purchase any
meat, butter, or other essential commodities. Train loads of grain
stood on the tracks until the grain became mouldy and unfit for human
consumption.

One morning Mother entered her room to find Father’s picture lying
on the floor. The glass covering this picture, taken recently at
the trenches, was broken at the position of Father’s neck in the
photograph. Immediately Mother’s superstitious nature reappeared. There
was, she felt, something wrong with Father. This breakage could have
been the work of a hostile servant but, more likely, the wind had done
it. To Mother it was a bad omen. Again her anxious mind went back to
the large cross she saw in the sky as they crossed the Troitsky bridge
a few years before. Did these signs indicate that Father was to bear a
heavy cross in the future?

Then she had a dream which increased her anxiety. In it she saw the
Grand Duke Serge, who had been blamed for the coronation disaster and
had been dead for years, come to visit us; suddenly he began to dance
and wave a chiffon veil. Father sat and watched him. All at once the
Grand Duke came to the end of his little dance, and the veil he was
waving caught on the stone on top of the crown on Father’s head. A
quick move of the Grand Duke and the crown was off Father’s head and
dashed to the floor. Seven of the large stones seemed to disappear,
only one being left. Soon that, too, began to evaporate slowly until
it became a tiny pebble and finally vanished. The dream haunted her.
Did it mean that the crown would be lost? The little stone that
vanished--did that indicate that Alexei might be taken away from us?

Another bad omen! The chain which held the cross and the ruby ring
(actually it was a red diamond) which Father had given to Mother and
which she lately had been wearing around her neck, had broken. These
she had always considered her good luck charms. She often placed her
ruby ring on the chain with the cross and now, when the chain broke,
the ring rolled one way and the cross another. Did this have a meaning
in relation to Father’s safety or did it indicate a rift between
Father and the Church? Later this same ring was taken from Mother by
Voykov several weeks before the tragic night at Ekaterinburg; he wore
this red diamond on his little finger. Mother and I, myself, were great
believers in dreams; I still believe in mysticism.

Mother had not heard of Father’s safe arrival at G.H.Q. Finally
we received the news that he had reached his destination. Serious
disorders in the streets of Petrograd began two days later and lasted
for about ten days. While the air was thick with suspicion, strikes,
riots, and accusations, we children were seized with measles. Alexei
had been ill before Father left; next Olga was stricken; then Tatiana;
and, at last, I caught the disease. Marie helped Mother to care for
us, but not for long because she, too, fell ill. Then both she and I
contracted pneumonia and had to be placed in oxygen tents.

Early in March, we heard through General von Grooten, assistant to
General Voyeykov, Commandant of the Palaces, and at that time with
Father at G.H.Q., of the conversation he had had with the military
commandant in Petrograd, General Belyayev. He had, himself, been able,
through General Voyeykov, to speak to Father and tell him of the true
state of affairs. Rodzianko had wired His Majesty that everything was
quiet. The General had acted on his own initiative because he could see
the critical conditions in Petrograd and in Tsarskoe Selo. Father was
relieved to hear that we were alive. Through General Belyayev, Father
sent word that we should do nothing until he returned home. But we must
be ready to go away at a moment’s notice. He had also been informed
that we all were ill, but he hoped that, when he arrived home, we would
be well enough to leave. He did not know that Marie and I and several
others at the palace had pneumonia.

At this time Rodzianko called the palace to say that Father was well
but we were in great danger and should go at once to Gatchina Palace,
about thirty miles southwest of Petrograd. Uncle Michael also had his
residence there, and many other relatives of the Imperial family
maintained villas in the park. Had we gone there, we would have had
more freedom. Two parallel wings, connected by a third, were almost
completely enclosed. Each wing had more than several hundred rooms, and
the grounds held a fair-sized lake in the middle. The estate included
thousands of acres of gardens, forest and ravines. We might more easily
have escaped from there abroad.

There were rumors that Uncle Ernest was hiding in a tunnel. People
probably confused a tunnel at Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo with a
natural passage at Gatchina. This natural passage could be entered from
the stairway of the palace into a dark narrow hall, the exit of which
led to the bank of Silver Lake adjoining the Baltic Sea. This spooky
tunnel was cold, damp, and had a mournful echo. All these gruesome
things came to my mind. I could see the statue of Paul I in front of
the palace. His clothes, which were brought into his room after his
assassination, remained there undisturbed as on the day he left the
palace. There was a belief that Paul’s ghost walked at night about the
vast rooms, corridors, and terraces. Others even claimed that they had
heard him calling in the tunnel, and some servants were afraid to leave
their rooms when the clock struck twelve midnight. This palace was my
Grandfather’s favorite residence.

In Tsarskoe Selo there was a tunnel or passage through one of the park
entrances. This entrance, with a stone structure over the gate, was
carefully watched, and was used by the workers--delivery men, repair
men, cooks, maids, gardeners and others. No one could enter this
passage without showing his or her pass and the picture on the pass had
to correspond with the one in the book which was at the disposal of the
guard. When these workers reached the inner end of the tunnel, they
were in the English basement of the palace where there were a number of
rooms set aside for their use. These included a lounge, dining rooms,
etc. In another section of the basement were rooms for the officers,
including a dining room which was below Mother’s bedroom. Five or six
hundred workers used this tunnel daily. It was one of the busiest
and most widely used entrances. Practically all these people using
this gate had been known to the guards, inasmuch as they had used this
entrance for many years.

We heard that the soldiers were breaking into stores, getting drunk,
and even becoming intoxicated on wood alcohol. As a result, some were
poisoned and died. These deaths were blamed on the palace guard.

Mother was on duty with us children all night for several nights.
Although she made frequent changes, she appeared constantly in her
nurse’s uniforms. She rested on the sofa in order to be near us.
The trials my Mother endured during these turbulent days are beyond
description. One of the first things Mother did as a prisoner was to go
through her personal letters. She burned some of the intimate ones she
had received from Father during their courtship. Other letters which
she destroyed were those from her Granny, Queen Victoria. When Mother
was a young bride, expecting her first child, her Granny gave her
useful advice. All letters written by the Imperial family were almost
always numbered and dated so that it was easy to know whether any were
missing. When the palace was searched by the commissars appointed
by the Provisional Government, they noticed the paper ashes in the
fireplace. They accused Mother of having burned important evidence. She
could not change their suspicion that she had burned more than personal
letters of sentiment. When she was through burning them, she said; “All
is dead--but not my memories. No one can take them from me.” Then she
buried her face in her hands, resting her arms on the mantel of the
fireplace where she had burned her Granny’s own handwritten, cherished
letters. She wept bitterly over the flame that carried Queen Victoria’s
precious words into smoke.

The authorities now read all the remaining letters of my Father and my
Mother. When they were unable to find anything detrimental with which
they could accuse them, they fabricated all kinds of lies in order to
deceive the general public. They even forged Mother’s handwriting
and signature and published all sorts of atrocious lies against my
parents. Several of those “letters” we saw later in Ekaterinburg;
the handwriting was very much like Mother’s. Mother was accused of
pro-German sympathies and actually of being a spy. What would it have
mattered to the traitors if Mother had been a spy? But she was not.
It was purposely done with a view to putting the blame on someone who
would have produced the most damaging results to the country. It was
all a part of the traitors’ pattern of intrigue to wreck the country
and to weaken the Russian government, if necessary by revolution.

All these accusations were a betrayal and deceit. They sprang from
the rumor that Mother, with the help of her brother, was seeking a
separate peace with Germany. Mother was falsely accused, had absolutely
nothing to do with it. It was caused by the actions of Princess Maria
Vasilchikova, of whom I have written before, who also knew Uncle
Ernest. She came from a Russian family who were also friends of Aunt
Ella. She had known Mother for some ten years. She was a friend of
the Imperial families of Austria and Germany, and, just before the
outbreak of war in 1914, she was in Austria. Sometime in 1916, she had
been persuaded by the Austrian and German Governments to write letters
to Mother in which she stressed that both Governments had always been
friendly with Russia, that they wished to renew this friendship, but
that they did not put much faith in the alliance with England. Three or
four such letters came to my family. These letters were known to all
the High Command, the secret police and to the Minister of War. Father
did not answer them. Both Governments, he said, should have known
better. Instead, they waged war rather than take Serbia to the tribunal
at the Hague.

Father was angered when he heard that Maria had been to see the Russian
prisoners of war in Germany, expecting that they would put pressure
on Father to agree to a truce. He had received information that these
prisoners were well cared for, but the subsequent report from the
Red Cross proved that was not true. In one of her letters Maria
stated that, if the treaty were not considered, all Russia would be
endangered. Evidently Maria well knew the aim of the enemy: fostering
revolution. She also went to see Uncle Ernest, and subsequently a
letter came from her and Uncle Ernest, addressed to Mother, sent by way
of Sweden.

Mother was very angry and terribly upset about Maria and Uncle Ernest,
particularly that he would even think that Father might conclude such
a treaty. She said that she never wanted to see her brother again. She
answered this letter herself and emphasized that no separate peace
treaty would be signed with Germany. Because Mother sent this letter
without Father’s consent, he was greatly upset.

Then a letter from Wilhelm II came to Count Benckendorff asking him to
encourage Father to sign a separate treaty. Father said, let him write
such letters to all my Allies, but a separate German treaty with Russia
only, will never take place.

Still later a letter came from Petrograd from that same Maria,
enclosing a note from Uncle Ernest. She begged for an audience with my
Mother, who refused to grant her request but, instead, referred Maria’s
letter to the proper authorities. Her appearance in Petrograd stirred
up considerable trouble because it made people believe that she had
been to see Mother. Then she wrote to Aunt Ella and, when Aunt Ella did
not answer, she went to see Minister Sazonov. He, too, angrily said:
“There will be no separate peace with Germany.” All the letters were
turned over to the secret police who were especially furious at her
saying that her estate in Austria would be confiscated. At this, Mother
remarked: “Why should Russia be held responsible because Maria’s estate
will be confiscated?” Father ordered that Maria be sent to her sister’s
estate. Father was very angry, saying “Wilhelm must be mad.” How could
anyone forget the actions of the German and Austrian Emperors which
brought on the war and resulted in the loss of thousands of Russian
lives, widespread suffering and enormous destruction of property,
especially in the Ukraine.

How absurd for anyone to think that Mother would spy for Germany. For
she had waited so long for a son to fulfill the need of the country
when Father’s time was to come. How could she betray anyone she loved
dearly, her husband, her son, or her adopted Mother Country! Anyone
believing such illogical and unintelligent propaganda was not a healthy
thinker.

One day the commissars, in searching the palace again, discovered a
secret panel cupboard. No one knew how they discovered the secret door
as it was so well concealed in the wall. This secret closet contained
a number of Mother’s treasures of various kinds. There was a keepsake
of no value, an accordion-pleated fan which had upon it pictures of
Mother and Father when they were young. It had been presented to them
on one of their visits to France. From one angle, when you looked at
it, there appeared a picture of Mother; from another angle, it showed a
picture of Father. At this time, some others of Mother’s keepsakes were
removed. One, especially beautiful, was a fan with a tortoise shell
handle, jewelled with emeralds; the pleated lace was studded with tiny,
double eagle, gold sequins. There were many other items of great value.

As we lay in our darkened rooms trying to recuperate, we kept asking
why Father did not come. Five invalids at once! When Madame Lili Dehn,
the wife of Charles Dehn, the captain on our yacht and a friend since
our childhood, received the news of our illness, she left her little
boy with a nurse and rushed to help us, but the day of her arrival she
became a prisoner in the palace with the others. She brought us the
news that shops had been plundered, and that serious clashes had arisen
between rebels and police. Dr. Derevenko brought news that the Liteiny
Arsenal in Petrograd was in the hands of the rebels, that explosions in
factories were taking place and that soldiers had been deserting their
posts in panic.

Princess Obolensky, Olga Butsova and Princess Dundakova, once ladies
in waiting, and the brother of Captain Charles Dehn likewise offered
their assistance, but were denied entry to the palace. Mother had
so wished that they could be with us, because they had always been
faithful to us. Countess Anastasia (Nastinka) Hendrikova, a lady in
waiting, heard of our illness and she left the Caucasus and came to
Tsarskoe Selo to offer her assistance.

To Mother’s distress she found that many of her servants had contracted
the flu as the epidemic swept the palace and some had run away in fear,
including Derevenko, the sailor, Alexei’s servant. He told the other
employees that he might prefer to serve the new regime; he was finally
arrested by order of the Provisional Government, which had found stolen
property on him.

We could hear the clashing of the mutineers, the screams and the shouts
and some shooting near the palace gate. Mother was shocked to find
there were so few soldiers on duty. She hurried to the phone to speak
with the officer at the main gate, but there was no answer. She phoned
the other entrance and the officer on duty informed her that many
guards had deserted their posts, only a few being left to guard the
palace.

A cannon was brought into the courtyard in readiness, but Mother begged
the guards not to fire even one single bullet into the crowds. No
matter what the consequences, she wished no blood shed on account of
her family.

Mother heard noises in the officers’ room below her bedroom. She
went down personally with Marie. She requested one of the officers
to accompany her to the section where the guards came in to warm
themselves. Mother ordered that hot tea should be served to them as
often as they came in, because the temperature had dropped to 18° below
zero.

Dr. Botkin was announced and when he entered our rooms he looked pale
and distressed. He told Mother of a rumor that Father had been shot.
But Mother refused to believe this. With the world collapsing around
her, she crept back to her children. This good man, who was Mother’s
personal physician, offered to care for the five invalids. Because of
the emergency he even helped to change our garments, although there
was a rule that no man could render such assistance.

Some time after the New Year, the Grand Duke Paul, in spite of his
failing health, took command of the regiments in Tsarskoe Selo. This
was most encouraging to us. All became quiet for a short period. The
Grand Duke came to the palace and talked with Mother at some length.
Marie heard raised voices in the next room. The conversation was mostly
about Anna Vyrubova. The public objected to her staying in the palace.
At this time her parents, the Taneevs, came from Terijoki on the
Gulf of Finland to be with their daughter during her illness, as she
demanded so much attention. Everyone thought that Anna with her measles
required more care than all five of us put together. So her parents
continued to stay with us until Anna had recovered. This increased the
public’s resentment.

We had known for a long time that an attempt had been made on Anna’s
life, in her own home, so, in order to prevent another crime, she had
been asked to stay with us. Mother became resentful toward the Grand
Duke Paul, who warned her that the palace would be stormed and that
Anna would be carried away dead. Mother indignantly said that it was no
one’s business whom she had in her home and that she had the right to
keep anybody she wished in the palace. Mother and the Grand Duke parted
in hot anger. It went on and on, so that this talk left Mother in an
agitated mood.

Anna was told by the others of the unpleasantness Mother had on her
account with the Grand Duke Paul. Mother had suffered many such
experiences before, just because of her strong will; she always
defended this friend from jealous creatures. Several servants, because
they so despised Anna, later reported to the Provisional Government
everything that took place in the palace; they even told about the
letters that Anna suggested be burned. They were dismissed and, before
their departure, they asked to speak with Count Benckendorff. But this
was denied them. However, no one could convince Mother that Anna’s
presence in our home caused a great deal of trouble and, at the same
time, endangered our lives. Even after she had recovered from her
illness, Anna continued to stay with us.

When we were little girls, Mother resented Anna’s intrusions, but when
Anna confided in Mother that her parents were harsh to her, Mother
felt sorry and took the girl under her wing. Mother told Madame Zizi
Narishkina that she remembered how unpleasant her own life had been
when her own brother, Ernest, was first married. At the time, she could
not even speak to her brother and, in order to avoid conflict, with
her new sister-in-law, she spent her days in her rooms. Subsequently,
Granny took her to England.

Anna continued to come to the house on the pretense that her husband
was away. At the same time she was telling her husband that she was
being called for duty at the palace. When Mother found out that Anna
misrepresented the facts, she became so upset that it caused her first
heart attack. At the same time, Mother’s personal physician resigned
his post because he felt that the heart attacks would continue as long
as Anna was present. Mother never told us children about this, but we
learned about it from Madame Narishkina. However, to my Mother, no one
could say one word against Anna and many felt that she had some undue
influence over the Empress.

We sisters became aware of the general feeling of the greater danger
we were facing. So we displayed coolness toward Anna. That again
displeased Mother, and she insisted that we be friendlier to Anna. She
reprimanded us in spite of our weakened condition. She became angry
with Olga and Marie, and said, “I will not allow anyone to criticize
my friend.” Olga however said; “Anna, with her petty talks has made
herself indispensable to you.” This, though true, so agitated Mother
that we were sorry Olga ever brought the matter up. Even Dr. Botkin
felt that, for the sake of the children, Anna should be sent back to
Terijoki in Finland.

Now all who entered the palace were searched, the women by a woman, and
the men by a guard.



XIII ABDICATION


At Mogilev, Captain Nilov, Major General Prince Vasily Dolgorukov and
others with whom Father discussed the matter agreed that he should
leave immediately for the capital. He was then ready to grant the
Constitution. Mother also wired him to this effect. Soon afterwards a
telegram was received informing Father that the revolution in Petrograd
had been crushed. The news displeased General Ruzsky, who at that time
was the Commanding General of the Northern Front. He and others were
afraid that people would accuse the Duma and himself of treason, so
they made one last attempt to damage the standing of my Father. At the
same time they knew that our troops were strong, were well provided
for, and eager for the spring offensive, for the last surprise attack,
which was to bring a complete victory to our armies within three months.

Ruzsky disliked General Alexeiev and his son, and openly displayed
hatred for them both. He did everything to separate Father and General
Alexeiev, whom Father had known for some time and found most capable.
General Ruzsky also had an animosity toward Count Fredericks because he
knew that the old Count was suspicious of him. General Ruzsky wanted
Father to relieve the Baltic Baron from his post as Court Minister,
saying that the people resented anyone with a German name in a high
position. When Father took the Supreme Command of the Armies in the
Field, the Count had warned him that Ruzsky was a dangerous man and
would inevitably weaken Father’s position among the people. Granny
too tried to discourage Father and felt that Alicky (Mother) was
responsible for this appointment. But Father was determined to correct
the inefficiency and raise the morale of his army.

It had been reported the Grand Duke Nicholai Nicholaevich was inclined
to favor one officer over another with resulting injustices. General
Krymov told Prince Dolgorukov at the time Father took the Supreme
Command that there was great rejoicing among the officers and soldiers.
They knew that from now on there would be no favoritism shown in the
army. The effect of this new spirit was shown in the victories that
followed when thousands of German and Austrian soldiers were captured,
together with vast quantities of ammunition. Every night thousands of
the enemy soldiers escaped across the border and sought sanctuary in
Russia. The German High Command indeed had a good reason for ordering
Princess Vasilchikova to write numerous letters suggesting a separate
peace treaty.

Going back to General Ruzsky, the officers became suspicious of the
old General. Knowing that Father disliked gossip and accusations,
they were so secretly enraged with Ruzsky that they were ready to
kill him. Later, Prince Dolgorukov told us that Captain Nilov, at the
time of Father’s abdication, became so furious at Ruzsky’s attitude
that he angrily struck the table with his fist and declared; “His
Majesty must not abdicate! He has the Army and the peasants with him.
Ruzsky will destroy the Empire and the Emperor, but I will have the
pleasure of killing him with my own hand.” However, the rapid progress
of the revolution deprived him of this privilege, and the General’s
life was spared by a narrow margin. Whoever would suspect that this
near-sighted man with thick glasses, this short, insignificant, old
man with a wrinkled face whose gray hair stood up like the bristle of
a stiff brush was capable of spying? Even his epaulets, his sloping
shoulders, were not commensurate with the military bearing one expected
of a general. He was well aware of the rapidly changing conditions in
Petrograd. This was the man of whom Father said; “I can never forgive
Ruzsky because, as a Russian general, he committed the most terrible
crime against his country.” During one of our visits to Mogilev,
General Ruzsky was there. He acted strangely toward Mother, trying
to avoid her eyes. His nervousness indicated that his conscience was
bothering him.

About this time Father received a telegram from the Caucasus from the
Grand Duke Nicholai Nicholaevich suggesting that Father abdicate. This
was a disheartening blow to Father. He knew however it was a deliberate
gesture of revenge, because Father had found it necessary to relieve
the Grand Duke from his supreme command in the field. At the same time,
Father had relieved Prince Orlov (Fat Orlov), who had held the position
of Director of Chancery, and had sent him to the Caucasus with the
Grand Duke. While Nicholai Nicholaevich was in Tiflis, he made a great
impression on the people with his enormous height and his thunderous
voice. His great physical strength and enthusiastic manner, as well as
his skilled horsemanship, added to his personal popularity.

Meanwhile General Ewers and General Ivanov were ready to send troops
to Petrograd to crush the riots. But Ruzsky wired Rodzianko, asking
him to take no action. (Rodzianko was related to Prince Youssoupoff by
marriage.) Still another blow Father received was that the Litovsky and
Volinsky regiments, constituted of recruits, had capitulated to the
revolutionists. On top of this, Father was misinformed that Mother had
been killed and that the children who had been ill were in grave danger!

About this time, Father still at G.H.Q., felt that there was still
time to avert the revolution if he could get support from the people
of Petrograd who would recognize that the coming spring offensive
would defeat Germany. He discussed this with his Chief of Staff,
General Alexeiev, who had confidence in the strength and loyalty of
the Army. They decided that Father should leave for the capital where
he was to grant the Constitution. But Ruzsky, Shulgin, and Guchkov
prevented Father’s reaching the city on time. Purposely, by direction
of the Duma, the train was shunted back and forth until the revolution
had taken a stronger root and the abdication, which Father had so
stubbornly resisted all night long, was finally forced upon him.

Before Father left G.H.Q., he wired to General Khabalov in Petrograd
that riots during the war were not tolerable, and must be crushed
at once. But the General wired back that it was all too late; that
his barracks were already deserted, and that the two companies of
Life Guards, commanded by my paternal cousin, the Grand Duke Cyril
Vladimirovich, had marched through the city, led by the Grand Duke
himself with a red band on his arm and a rosette on his chest. This act
alone gave untold encouragement to the revolutionists. Cyril thought
that this was the opportune moment for him, with the help of various
members of the Imperial family, to seize the Crown.

At this time the Grand Duke Michael (Uncle Misha) who was being held
at the Tauride Palace (the Duma), knew what Cyril was trying to do
and refused to see him. Uncle Misha had been called from Gatchina to
discuss the possibility of becoming Regent. The problem was complicated
by the poor physical condition of the Tsarevich who, Uncle Michael
felt, could not assume the heavy burden of rule in view of the
condition the country was in and in view of his lack of experience.

Meanwhile Cyril Vladimirovich was seeking to establish good relations
with the newly-formed government. But, even now, Rodzianko had begun
to doubt the Vladimir family. All this was told to Mother by the Grand
Duke Paul Alexandrovich himself.

Cyril proceeded to the Duma and handed over the troops under his
command to the new regime. This was a deliberate revenge against my
Mother. Previous to this, Cyril and his German mother, Marie Pavlovna,
the elder (née Duchess of Mecklenburg), the widow of the Grand Duke
Vladimir, Father’s deceased uncle, had often spoken admiringly of
Bismarck, who had once been German Ambassador to Russia. They had also
praised Kaiser Wilhelm, in spite of the fact that the countries were at
war. The Grand Duchess had made no secret of her sympathies. She and
her son had given huge parties to which they had asked many influential
friends. We heard that among them were General Ruzsky, Princess
Radziwill and Sir George Buchanan, the British Ambassador. We heard
also that they also entertained many revolutionists and German agents
who no doubt gained much valuable information as they mingled with
other guests. Father received this report after our arrest in Tsarskoe
Selo. The invitations to these parties were most extravagant. The
double eagle and the crown were embossed in different shades of green,
yellow, and blue with real gold sheets or red and blue enamel, pressed
into the finest grade of paper.

This attractive plotter, Marie Pavlovna (the elder) was a charming
personality and an excellent conversationalist. She did everything in
her power to tarnish the names of my Father and Mother. Her son Cyril
had married the Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha,
granddaughter of Queen Victoria and divorced wife of Mother’s only
brother, the Grand Duke Ernest of Hesse, who was a grandson of Queen
Victoria.

Mother had had a sad experience when Victoria became Ernest’s wife,
because of Victoria’s jealous disposition. At the time Mother had
had no choice but to live in the same home with the unhappy couple.
Fortunately, the benevolent Granny, Queen Victoria, soon took Mother
to England. Then, when there was no sister-in-law to pick at, Victoria
made Uncle Ernest’s life miserable, and their marriage ended in divorce
several years later. Subsequently, Victoria married Cyril, and they
were banished from Russia, but had returned just before the outbreak
of World War I. Cyril expressed malicious joy when four daughters
in succession were born to the Imperial couple; and later, when it
became known that the new heir to the throne, Alexei, was afflicted
with haemophilia--which might kill him early in life--Cyril had felt
that the throne was already within his grasp. This was especially true
when Uncle Michael was banished from Russia, after having married a
divorcée. Now Cyril’s hopes for the Crown were redoubled and his mother
held, practically, a court of her own. But these relatives of ours
lived long enough to see the catastrophe in which they plunged their
country.

When the secret of Alexei’s haemophilia had been learned by Cyril’s
mother, she suddenly, after more than thirty years of indecision,
decided to adopt the Russian orthodox religion in order to strengthen
her son’s potentials for eligibility for the throne. Such maneuvering
was entirely in vain, inasmuch as the church would never have accepted,
let alone crowned, as Tsar a man whose wife’s first husband was still
alive. This same factor of marriage to a divorced woman also affected
the eligibility of Uncle Michael to succession.

Now at last Mother agreed to the suggestion of men who had stood by her
during the trying times: General von Grooten, Prince Putiatin, and her
secretary, Count Apraxin, who came by foot from Petrograd in the winter
cold solely to tell Mother that Father was to arrive the next morning;
also Count Adam Zamoyski, A.D.C., and General Dobrovolsky. Their
suggestion was that she visit the troops assembled in the courtyard.
Mother and Marie, accompanied by Count Benckendorff and Count Apraxin,
greeted and thanked them for their kind services. At this time Mother
could see no noticeable difference in the men’s behavior. Count Apraxin
was a devoted friend of my parents and loyal to the end. He was deeply
religious, encouraged culture and the arts, and had a knowledge of
conditions in the country.

Before the abdication, an ukase was signed by Father dismissing the
old Cabinet and appointing Prince George Lvov as Prime Minister. By it
the Grand Duke Nicholai Nicholaevich was to resume his former position
as Commander-in-Chief of the Army. In spite of Prince Lvov’s protest,
all the old Ministers were arrested by the Provisional Cabinet, then
still under his direction. The pressure came from Kerensky, Shulgin and
Guchkov, the latter a bitter enemy of Mother’s. He was, it was said,
influenced by traitors from abroad.

There now was an epidemic of measles, flu and pneumonia in the
palace. Twice a day additional doctors were permitted to attend all
who were ill, officers of the guard standing behind them during all
examinations. It was embarrassing to the patients to have these strange
men in their bedrooms. Count Benckendorff spoke to the commissar,
asking that the guards remain in the hall. No extra nurses were
permitted to help care for the sick.

We heard that Countess Fredericks had contracted pneumonia and been
taken to the English Hospital, then under supervision of Lady Georgina
Buchanan. But the Ambassador, Sir George Buchanan, ordered that she be
removed at once. He expressed himself as being averse to helping any
one of the old regime, because he believed in the new social order.
In the midst of bitter cold, they carried her out on the street, but
a good Samaritan gave her refuge. Her crippled daughter, Emma, our
friend, was taken before the Duma, where her jewels were confiscated.
The rebels wanted to arrest the old Count but not finding him at home
they set his house on fire, destroying not only his residence but his
valuable family art collection as well. Strange to say, we knew that
Sir George liked us personally and also enjoyed his life and women
in Russia. He had known Mother and Uncle Ernest for a long time. He
had been in our house many times enjoying meals with us, and often
came to see the newsreels of the war which were shown in our palace.
This middle aged Ambassador was admired by many women and through
them he gained popularity in Petrograd. It was said that he accepted
hospitality from the highest to the lowest women of all kinds of
character and position. At the end he became hated by the jealous
husbands who were at the war. Later he regretted his mistakes and
praised Father’s loyalty to his Allies.

Father was disturbed when he heard that Sir George said he would not
care if Germany would invade his own country, England. Especially
when Sir George helped to spread untrue stories about Mother, which
disturbed Princess Victoria of Battenberg, Mother’s older sister, who
wrote Mother an upsetting letter. Father requested the Grand Marshal of
the Court, Count Benckendorff to write King George to recall Sir George
from his post. At the same time Father ordered Peter Bark to withdraw
all his personal money from the banks in England; the rapid progress of
the revolution made the withdrawal impossible.

In contrast, Sir George’s wife, Lady Georgina, was most energetic in
the war work, and Father presented her with the Order of St. Catherine.
She supervised a sewing group at the Embassy, also the Anglo-Russian
hospital on the Nevsky Prospect, and was the head of the British
convalescent home.

The Provisional Government sent General von Grooten, Commandant of
Tsarskoe Selo, to prison. It also placed under arrest Colonel Girardi,
Chief of Police, General Resin, once the Commandant of the Combined
Regiments, and Prince Putiatin. Mother sent A.D.C. Captain Linevich,
one of Father’s closest friends, to negotiate with Rodzianko but we
never saw him again. He too was arrested. About this time we were
told to have our bags ready to leave Russia at a moment’s notice. Our
suitcases and our trunks were brought from the storerooms and were
placed upstairs in two rooms. Mother, when free from nursing duties,
selected the most important articles to be packed. But everything that
went into these trunks later was checked by the new masters.

We heard that two revolutionary divisions were marching toward Tsarskoe
Selo with tanks and armored cars, to storm the palace, but the harsh
wintry weather prevented them from reaching the village. One night,
soon afterwards, all the lights went out for about twenty minutes. The
courtyard, the park, the gates, everything was dark. Then our water
supply was cut off, but fortunately it was soon restored. Also the lift
at the end of the hall was put out of commission and Mother had to be
carried to the second floor. All these events kept us in a continual
state of apprehension, and we became frightened, thinking that the
rebels were trying to get into the grounds.

Later we were told that on this dark night, the rebels had attempted
to remove Rasputin’s body from the grave, by order of the Provisional
Government. Not knowing the exact location, they dug up the body of our
old butler, who had died about the same time as Rasputin, and burned
his remains in the Pergolovo forest. It was this faithful butler who
carried my great-grandfather, Alexander II, into the Winter Palace
the day he was killed. Since then he had continued as a family butler
until, years before, illness overtook him, after which time he was
cared for by the family.

The rumor which said that Mother had ordered Rasputin’s body to be
buried in the park in Tsarskoe Selo was not true. She had nothing to do
with his burial, although she had sent a message suggesting that his
body should be shipped to his family in Siberia. It was Anna Vyrubova’s
desire to have this man buried on the property she owned on the other
side of the Alexander Park gate and the Alexandrovka village, near the
woods on the high road to Viborg. Anna believed that he had saved her
life and she paid the expenses of the funeral, which was officiated
over by Father Vassiliev. The gossip continued that we had signed an
icon especially to be placed in Rasputin’s coffin. It was true that
shortly before his death we had signed an icon which was for the coffin
of one of our tutor’s sons who had been killed. But as Father had
already sent one for the tutor’s son’s coffin, the other icon that had
been signed was placed in the butler’s coffin.

The first unfounded rumors about Rasputin started a long way back.
There was a foreign representative who antagonized the Christians in
Persia. My Father--defender of Christianity--was informed about this
man’s malicious actions and used his influence to have this instigator
removed from his diplomatic post in Persia. Since then this man was
looking for an opportunity to strike back at the Imperial Family.
With the help of a collaborator he wrote a book most insinuating in
its nature and based on malicious lies. The collaborator demanded
$60,000 from my Mother to prevent the publication of this slanderous
book, but Mother ignored this threat, and refused to be blackmailed,
for there was absolutely no truth in their accusation. During the
war the contents of this book was circulated throughout Russia, thus
poisoning the minds of the people against my Mother. With their first
venture a success, they now started a vicious campaign against Father
by picturing him as weak, irresponsible and incapable of holding the
Crown, and by so doing they rendered the Bolsheviks a most useful
service. Yet none of these instigators knew Father personally for they
had never had an opportunity to set foot inside the village of Tsarskoe
Selo.

One afternoon at home the mutineers insisted on seeing Mother and
Alexei, because of a rumor that Alexei had died or escaped. Mother,
accompanied by Count Benckendorff and Marie, went out on the balcony.
In a voice, clear but weak, she said; “I hear you want to see me and my
son, but why? My son is critically ill, and he must not expose himself
to cold. To see him is impossible at this time. For myself I am only a
mother who is nursing her sick children.” They left without a single
word. That same unlucky evening, March 13th, Marie became ill and was
taken into the sick room with a high temperature. With the help of
Baroness Buxhoeveden, Madame Dehn, Dr. Botkin, and several nurses and
maids, Mother managed to take care of all the invalids.

In the midst of this confusion, word reached Mother of Father’s
abdication. Then later in the same afternoon the Grand Duke Paul
returned, with a bulletin announcing Father’s abdication. He expressed
sympathy for our plight and suggested that we leave Russia as soon as
possible. Mother burst into tears saying, “Russia is lost; Russia was
betrayed.” Mother could not bear to convey this news to Alexei, and
asked M. Gilliard to do so. Alexei’s reaction was to say; “How can that
be? Father promised Alexander III that Russia would always remain an
autocracy, and Father had to swear to uphold this type of rule.” It
did not occur to him that Father no longer was the Emperor and that
he himself no longer was the Tsarevich. He was thinking only of the
life of Russia. With all his troubles, he never thought selfishly of
himself. To us sisters, Mother with quivering lips gave details of the
recent happenings. Soon afterwards, boxes containing Father’s various
documents, including the abdication papers and the speech he had
delivered to his beloved army, arrived at the palace.

We knew that Mother had been tortured with the thought that Father had
been shot; now we learned that Father too had been tormented with the
rumor that she had been murdered. But soon we heard that Father was
on his way to Petrograd; that when he was about to leave, Shulgin and
Guchkov arrived in Mogilev. Father was surprised when he saw how Ruzsky
received these men with the warmest greetings. Father knew then that
they were bosom friends and that Ruzsky was a spy.

Six men were responsible for the delay which prevented Father’s train
from reaching the capital. The train was delayed by the railway
officials on orders from the Duma, in order to give the revolution a
chance to become solidified. Kerensky worked from Petrograd; Guchkov,
Kalenin, Gribushchin and Shulgin were on the train with Father; and
at the other end was General Ruzsky, Commander of the Northern Front,
located in Pskov. When Mother heard this, she said; “I urged Father
to close the Duma long ago. Before Papa left for G.H.Q., he was
discouraged with the Duma and left a signed order with the Premier,
Prince Golitsyn, to dissolve it at once, but the Premier failed to
carry out his orders.”

Immediately after Father’s abdication, two of his close friends came
to see him. One was General Count Keller and the other was General
Khan of Nakhichevan. Both were Generals of the Guard and had known
Father for many years. They asked Father’s permission to send their
troops to Petrograd to suppress the revolution. Father was in favor of
this, but since he was no longer in power, he suggested that they make
this proposal to the Provisional Government. No doubt General Ruzsky
received the offer of these two generals, but purposely tabled their
suggestion.

From Pskov Father’s train went back to Mogilev to enable him to take
leave of his beloved Army. Here once more General Count Keller came to
see Father. He kissed his hand, saying; “Your Majesty, I would rather
be dead, before I would serve any other government.” Later, I heard, he
shot himself or was shot.

In Mogilev, General Alexeiev, Father’s trusted friend, now made known
that Father was a prisoner. Present were a number of generals and the
committee of the newly formed government, and several grand dukes,
including Boris Vladimirovich, Cyril’s brother, who wanted to see
Father, but General Voyeykov said that the Emperor could not see him.

Soon after Father’s farewell speech to the Army, the General Staff took
the loyalty pledge to the Provisional Government, which then ordered
that Father’s initials be removed from their epaulets, but these men
refused to remove them, saying that they would kill the traitors before
they would do such a thing. And Father said, “Now, it is too late.”

Prince Dolgorukov later related to us that Father’s tears were
streaming down his face and that he turned away from the window of his
study which was facing the parade ground. He could not see this painful
performance inflicted upon his beloved Army. Before he left G.H.Q., he
received the news that Granny was on her way to Mogilev. He dreaded a
meeting with her, as she usually distressed him so much that he found
her harder to handle than all of his ministers put together. He saw
her on the train; she blessed him and they parted forever.

Later after several days aboard the train, Father finally reached
Tsarskoe Selo, on March 9/22, 1917, at 11:30 A.M. Here at the pavilion
(station) many of Father’s lifelong friends his trusted officers
and his favorite aides-de-camp, who had come on the train with him,
departed in an effort to save their own lives. It was said, though no
one ever will know whether this really was true, that on the train
that same morning before they reached Tsarskoe Selo they were told
that if they stayed with Father they would be shot. “They deserted me
in my saddest hour,” said Father. Among those of whom he spoke were
Cyril Narishkin, chief of his mobile secretariat, the son of our dear
Zizi Narishkina, the Mistress of the Robes; and also Count Grabbe,
an A.D.C., whom we had known since our childhood. I remember when he
accompanied us sisters on long walks on the shore in the Crimea and the
time when I, in mischievous play, poured sand down his neck. Others
who deserted Father were a Duke of Leuchtenberg and our friend A.D.C.
Mordvinov whose daughter I knew and liked, and Sablin, whom we children
loved like one of our own, once a lieutenant on the “Standard.” All
of them had been close associates and friends. Captain Drenteln,
a most beloved friend and a member of a battalion of Father’s own
Preobrazhensky regiment, also disappeared.

Father came directly upstairs to Mother. He found Marie and myself
desperately ill; I was only partly conscious. At first I thought that
I dreamed of his being home. A few days later I realized how bad he
looked. He was thin and his eyes were sad. His left shoulder shook
nervously, much more than before. Only later Prince Dolgorukov told us
of the unpleasant experience Father had upon his arrival at Tsarskoe
Selo. Father had left the pavilion (station) and had received a shock
upon seeing that his chauffeur was already dressed in civilian clothes.
An even greater shock awaited him: although all the guards on duty,
both at the outside gate and at the Palace entry, had been informed
of the exact hour for the arrival of the Emperor, they showed their
newly-acquired importance by asking the chauffeur over the phone for
the identity of the occupants of the car. Both times the chauffeur
replied, “It’s His Majesty.” With deliberateness, they replied, “Let
Nicholai Alexandrovich pass through.” Father was very angry at this
curt treatment and was surprised to see the antechamber packed with
people, only a few of whom he knew. He passed by without saying a word.
When Mother heard of his arrival, she ran breathlessly down the stairs
and the full length of the long corridor and fell sobbing into his
arms. Both of them came directly upstairs.

We were told that the same afternoon several men from the Provisional
Government appeared to question Father at length.

At this time these terrible men ordered the staff wearing Father’s
badges on their shoulders to have them removed, without Father’s
consent, and to have Father and the family placed under arrest. Now
Mordvinov wanted to come to the palace, but the Government forbade it.

Father brought home copies of his abdication and his farewell speech
to the Army. We were able to learn more about the abdication which
had taken place at 3:00 P.M. on March 2/15, 1917, in the study of his
private train at the railroad station in Pskov. Later after talking
with Dr. Fedorov, Alexei’s physician, Father abdicated also on behalf
of the Tsarevich in favor of his brother Michael, although Father
knew that the Holy Synod of the Russian Church would not recognize
Michael as Heir to the Throne. But he did so, in order to avoid a
bloody revolution. We were also told by those who had been with Father
on the train, that General Ruzsky threatened Father, saying “If the
Emperor will not sign it now, I would hate to say what may happen to
his family.” With swimming eyes we read the touching words in which he
asked his people to uphold the Provisional Government and to try to be
loyal to it. Following is my Father’s farewell address.


 LEAVE OF THE ARMY

 I address you for the last time, soldiers so dear to my heart. Since I
 have renounced in my name, and that of my son, the Throne of Russia,
 the powers I exercised have been transmitted to the Provisional
 Government which has been formed on the initiative of the Imperial
 Duma.

 May God help it lead Russia on the path of glory and prosperity.

 May God bless you also, glorious soldiers, to defend our native land
 against a cruel enemy. For two and a half years you have in every hour
 undergone the fatigues and strain of a wearing campaign, much blood
 has been spilt, great efforts have been crowned with success, and
 already the hour is at hand when Russia with her splendid allies will
 finally crush by one joint and daring effort the last resistance of
 the enemy.

 A war such as this, unknown in history, must be continued to the final
 and definite victory. Whoever dreams of peace or desires it--at this
 moment--is a traitor to his country and yields it to the enemy.

 Carry out your duty, protect our beloved and glorious country, submit
 yourselves to the Provisional Government, render obedience to your
 chiefs, and remember that any slackness in your service means a gain
 to your enemies.

 With the firm conviction that the boundless love that you have for our
 great country will ever remain in your hearts,

 I pray that God may bless you, and that St. George the Great Martyr
 may lead you to victory.

  (Signed) Nicholas
  (Countersigned) Alexeiev, C.G.S.


Father’s speech was a heavy blow to his men; they were stunned from
the shock. One of his personal guards had a heart attack while Father
was speaking. Father urged the troops to continue the war, at any
price, until victory was complete. The hour was at hand, he said, when
Russia would finally crush the last resistance of the enemy. But this
resistance did not materialize, nor, in fact, did the Emperor’s own
planned powerful attack. Some people of the upper classes in Petrograd
failed to support him in regard to this final blow against the enemy,
designed to win the war within three months, as Father had promised in
his last speech before the Duma in Petrograd a short while before. It
was not Father’s war, but the war of the nation. When Uncle Michael
came to urge Father to return immediately to G.H.Q., he found Father on
the verge of departure, despite the serious condition of Alexei.

The current malicious gossip was more important to the political
leaders than was the destiny of their country. These same leaders
afterwards criticized Father, saying that because he loved his family
so much, fear of having his family killed caused him to abdicate.
The killing of his family would not have solved the problem, which
would have been solved easily by the leaders themselves had they not
supported the traitors and not spread unfounded lies, especially about
my Father, whose men were shedding their blood at the front. If I may
ask, in what had we children sinned before our people that we should
have to give up our lives--we children who, from the oldest to the
youngest, denied ourselves all amusement and devoted our energy to the
war effort? Should we children have had to pay the penalty of death?
Why did not those busy conspirators take their weapons and go to fight
the common enemy?

They could not say anything against my older sisters, upon whom they
had never had an opportunity to lay their eyes. What they said about
me, because of my innocent jokes and pranks, I have never given a rap
about.

When Dr. Botkin read Father’s last addresses, his eyes moistened and
he added, “Only His Imperial Majesty could speak such deep words.”
Father repeated the words of Tsar Nicholas I: “Gde raz podniat Russkii
flag, on uzhe spuskatsia ne dolzhen.” (Where once the Russian flag is
raised, it shall never be lowered.)

Little by little we received more details. At first Father abdicated
in favor of Alexei, with Uncle Michael as Regent. But after consulting
Dr. Fedorov about his son’s delicate health, Father abdicated also for
Alexei in favor of his brother Michael, who was called in from Gatchina
to Petrograd, to accept first the Regency, and then the Throne. To
Father’s intense disappointment Uncle Misha, after accepting, soon
abdicated because of pressure by the Provisional Government, in whose
hands the nation’s fate then rested. This new government placed under
arrest many ministers and high officials, because they refused to sign
the loyalty pledge to the Provisional Government. What was happening in
Petrograd at this time Father did not know until he reached home.

General Ruzsky and others, in order to hide their crime, spread the
most heartless rumor that Father had been drinking wine before his
abdication. However, Father was not alone during this painful ordeal.
With him on the train was his friend, the Minister of the Household
of the Court, Prince Vasily Dolgorukov; Flag Captain Nilov, A.D.C.;
General Voyeykov, Chief of Administration of the Palaces in Tsarskoe
Selo; Count Vladimir Fredericks, Father’s Chamberlain; and the latter’s
assistant, General Mossolov. Others present on the train were A.D.C.
Count Grabbe, Commandant of an Escort; A.D.C. Captain Drenteln; A.D.C.
Cyril Narishkin, head of the Chancery; Colonel Mordvinov and General
Dubensky. The Provisional Government was represented by Kerensky’s
friend, Vershchinin, and others.

Prince Dolgorukov spoke to us of this merciless rumor, saying that
Father at the time drank only tea and paced back and forth in his
study. Father’s valet and his butler, after reading this lie, saw
Count Benckendorff and in tears said that those who spread such a lie
had committed a great sin toward their Emperor. It was also said that
during the last night on the train Father sat up all night in his
study. At midnight one of the engineer officers, who previously had
conducted many trips during Father’s travels, asked to see Father and
was received. He sank to his knees, kissed Father’s hand and tearfully
said, “Your Majesty, I will never serve these bandits. It is the end
of my life.” After the train reached the pavilion in Tsarskoe Selo and
just as Father was getting into his automobile and as the standing
officers were saluting Father for the last time, a shot was heard and
the engineer officer fell dead.



PART III Arrest And Exile



XIV ARREST


It was decided to separate Mother from the rest of the family. But
Father objected, saying that it would be cruel to take Mother from
her sick children. At last it was conceded that Father should stay
downstairs in his apartment and Mother on the second floor with us.

Now that we all were under arrest, Mother was allowed to remain with
the sick children upstairs and Father was permitted to join his family
at mealtime. But all the conversation at the table had to be carried on
only in the Russian language. I was told that our private wing of the
palace was strongly guarded by a new kind of guard. They were noisy and
overbearing. Mother warned everybody to be courteous to the sentry.

Had we children not been ill, Father would have insisted that we go to
England; at least the children if Mother had refused to leave. From
what he said later, we were convinced that he himself would not have
left Russia.

At once Kerensky appointed his communist friend Korovichenko, whom he
called his governor, as a commissar over us. This man proved to be
rude, dishonest, insulting, ignorant, and he quarrelled with everyone
in our household, disturbing and annoying us every hour of the day. The
guards were selected for the same qualities as those of their masters.
We were grateful when General Kornilov sent Colonel Kobylinsky and
Commissar Makarov to replace the cruel Korovichenko.

From my sick bed all this was hard to imagine. I could not believe
it, until I was able to sit up by the window. I noticed that the
appearance and the action of the soldiers and officers were not the
same. Gradually our health improved. Tatiana had temporarily lost her
hearing and we had to write communications for her. Alexei’s condition
was still not up to par.

To kill our dull moments we played light games, worked on word games
and other puzzles and listened to French history read to us by Mlle.
Schneider.

We were told that Kerensky was coming to see us. The name Kerensky
brought terror to our hearts. Was he not the instigator behind the
treatment that Father was receiving? We waited, dreading his visit.
When the time of his arrival drew near, we were filled with antagonism
and fear. We were told that it was this enraged man, Kerensky, and his
communist friend, Korovichenko, who had assembled our employees in the
large hall. Kerensky told them that they were no longer working for
us, and that they were from now on to take orders only from those who
paid their wages. He meant of course the Provisional Government, who
appropriated the money belonging to the people of Russia and us. But
they themselves were paid to live in an abundance such as one could
only read about in fiction.

Some of the servants were bribed to spy on us and Anna. A few servants
hated Anna to such an extent that they notified Kerensky of Anna’s
improved condition. Kerensky angrily ordered Anna to dress at once,
and she was then taken to prison. Alexei never before heard such rough
voices and he burst out crying. “Will he kill us?” he asked his tutor.
Those two men not only disturbed the family but upset everybody. I saw
these men passing by on their way to the classroom where they were to
see my parents. Father brought Kerensky into a room and introduced my
two older sisters, by merely saying, “My daughters, Olga and Tatiana.”
Marie and I were still in bed, recovering from our illness.

When I first saw Kerensky, a man of medium height, he appeared to be
nervously twisting his finger. His face was pale and ugly, with small
greenish eyes imbedded in a peculiarly shaped head, which was flat on
top. His brown hair stood up similar to General Ruzsky’s. Whenever
I see a man like this, it always has an unpleasant connotation for
me. Outside in the hall and behind him, there was a committee of
workers, allegedly soldiers and sailors but really nothing but released
convicts, untidy, rough-looking individuals, who were armed with
daggers and hand grenades. We were frightened. At first, I thought I
was seeing this nightmare with my feverish eyes.

With the help of foreign spies, and convicts released by Kerensky and
the new leaders, these traitors were anxious to break the morale of the
armies. They told the soldiers that the land was to be divided among
them, but first they should return home in order to receive their share
of land. They said that it was a case of first come, first served, and
inasmuch as capital punishment had been abolished, wholesale desertions
from the armed forces resulted.

In the meantime the munitions and other factories fell into the hands
of the new government and many were set on fire. So the soldiers,
lacking supplies, had no choice but to desert their posts. All this
helped the enemy who was ready to collapse. Thanks to Kerensky for the
ruination of the army.

When the arrest of my family, especially of Father, became known to the
public, it caused a harmful effect on the morale of the Army, and in
general the situation became dangerous. Many soldiers left their posts
in panic; even in Tsarskoe Selo, Father’s own military escort, not from
choice but from fear, displayed red ribbons. The rebels were freeing
criminals who were breaking into wine cellars and becoming intoxicated.

The snow was very heavy that winter, and the new leaders cared little
about having it cleared away. There was only a narrow space available
where Father and the others could walk about. This proved actually to
be a godsend to Father, because exercise was vital to his health and
was the only activity permitted him at this time. Each day from the
window I watched Father shovel snow. No doubt that for Father it was
much more than exercise. His physical exertions enabled him to maintain
his mental faculties in every respect.

In the beginning he had an unpleasant experience, during his outdoor
exercise, when he was allowed to walk in only a small area close to the
palace. One day on his return from his walk, he extended his hand to
one of the soldiers, but the man refused to take it. This was hard on
Father and made him realize the extent and intensity of the propaganda
against him. Father’s philosophical attitude toward these incidents
made him a greater hero in our eyes.

To us children, Kerensky was at first a beast, a dragon waiting to
devour us. His repeated visits kept us filled with terror. He thought
at first that he could come to the palace at any time and wander about
in our own home, without permission from the proper authority and
without Father’s consent. Kerensky, always accompanied by the Marshal
of the Court, followed by a messenger, was received in Father’s study.

Father was always courteous, wishing to make everything easy for the
new government. But this man Kerensky at first did not seem to know the
meaning of courtesy. After a while he saw Father’s ready cooperation
and became quite human. We children began to feel more relaxed in his
presence. After several conversations with Kerensky, our parents felt
more confidence in him. However, Mother could not forget the recent
injustice she had suffered, and she hoped her innocence was now proven.
But Kerensky had made no attempt to inform the public of the true
situation at the palace. He was responsible for Anna’s arrest, and
Mother could not forgive him, especially since she believed that Anna
was still ill when she was sent to prison. Madame Lili Dehn also had
to leave the palace at the same time. Moreover Madame Zizi Narishkina
became ill with pneumonia and left the palace because Mother felt she
would receive better care at a hospital.

This wise little lady was a favorite of my Father whom she had known
since his childhood. She was like a mother to our Mother. Her kindness
and simplicity was written all over her face. She insisted that she be
addressed as Madame instead of Princess, yet she was a true-blooded
Princess. Among us she called my Father Nicky. In spite of her old
age, she too had been a victim of unfair criticism. It caused so much
resentment that the newspapers had been forced to retract their false
stories.

Even my Aunt Olga, who loved peasants, had been condemned because she
enjoyed visiting and accepting their hospitality.

Our prison hours were well regulated. We were permitted two walks
during the day, between 11-12 and 2-5. With nervous excitement we
waited the designated hour, eager not to miss one second of the
out-of-doors. As the clock struck eleven, we and the staff gathered
in the semicircular room where we were to meet the guards who were to
accompany us on our walks. We had to wait sometimes as much as one
half hour. This meant our walk was sometimes curtailed that much. We
felt cheated, and the thought that Father could do nothing about it
made us feel worse. We discovered that the more we fretted, the longer
the delay; so we learned to wait submissively. The key to the circular
room was held by the commissar on duty, and the other doors, including
the balcony facing the Znamensky Cathedral and the gate, were sealed.
We had to wait until the commandant appeared with the key to open the
door. Since Korovichenko was as a rule basking himself in the sun, he
made it a habit of being late. Even the sentries hated the sight of
this man. When we did go out finally, we walked briskly to cover lost
ground. Sometimes we crossed the bridge over the ravine, since the area
was less exposed to the public view. But because of demonstrations our
afternoon walks soon were scheduled later and we were outdoors until
8:00 P.M. Our friends helped us with our garden work. M. Gilliard
proved well-nigh indispensable.

At first we had no news from our relatives. But we were pleasantly
surprised when several letters came to Father and to Tatiana from Aunt
Xenia at Ai-Todor in the Crimea. The letters giving us news of the
family were the only joy we had had since our arrest. Our mail was
censored and parts of the letters we received were inked out.

Probably Aunt Xenia found our letters dry and uninteresting. But we
wrote them reluctantly, as in a daze--we so strongly felt the blow of
the happenings in our country and to its people. The shock was so great
that no outsider ever will know the feeling unless he lives through
a similar experience, that is, if he loved his country. We were glad
Granny was there too. It was her first stay in the Crimea since the
death of her husband, Alexander III. We had been wanting to write to
them but we feared repercussions.

For months we waited for a reply to our letters which we were obliged
to leave unsealed for censorship. We hoped that our coming departure
would take us to the Crimea to be together with the rest of the
family. Father hungrily read the newspapers, even though the ones he
received had been thoroughly censored, parts of them inked out. All
too often the papers were withheld altogether. Father read every word
carefully to find some clue to the real truth. One of our best sources
of information came from the various members of our household. Before
long they too no longer were free to leave the palace. All around our
home there was a strong guard posted, especially in the small garden in
front of Mother’s windows and the garden gate across from the Znamensky
Cathedral, which was the closest to Mother’s balcony. She was very much
disturbed, having these men watch her windows; she never could look
out. During this time we saw some one drive in and out of the courtyard
in Father’s favorite automobile, a Packard sledge (sleigh). Kerensky of
course often used our private cars, chauffeurs, and even our valuable
horses.

After midnight another unpleasant incident occurred. Several uncouth
revolutionists, headed by a Pole named Mstislavsky, came from
Petrograd. They proceeded to show their thievish authority by ordering
the telephone and telegraph lines from the outside disconnected. After
a great deal of bickering and fighting with the guards, who would not
let them enter the grounds, Mstislavsky broke down the gate with his
heavy artillery trucks. It caused such a noise that a large number of
persons collected on the avenue and loud voices were heard from the
angry crowd. This noise awakened the household. The bandits forced
themselves towards and into the palace, in spite of everything. They
were armed and threatened the officers on duty, “Shoot us, or we will
shoot you.” Count Benckendorff and Prince Dolgorukov came down and told
Mstislavsky and his companions that it was impossible for them to talk
to the Emperor. The intruders were asked to produce the required permit
from General Kornilov, commanding the troops in the area at this time.
The officers on duty then said, “You arrest us, or we will arrest you.”
Notwithstanding, the bandits went upstairs to the gallery room. There
they encountered Father who was walking toward them. Without a word the
bandits ran away in terror.

Kerensky was held responsible for this incident, having revealed to
Mstislavsky the anticipated departure of the Imperial family for
England via Murmansk.

Subsequently we heard that Mstislavsky ordered many innocent families
shot, people who were in his way; also he and his friends seized from
them anything to their liking.

We shortly learned that all escape routes were already blocked.

Korovichenko’s transfer lifted our hopes. His place was filled by
Colonel Eugene Kobylinsky, an officer of the Imperial Guard. We were
thankful to General Kornilov for sending this wonderful man, who served
my family faithfully in spite of many dangers to his own life. He was
sincerely anxious to alleviate our condition and was determined to save
us. But with many hundreds of men in our guard he was helpless, as any
action of his would have drawn suspicion upon him. He went with us to
Tobolsk and stayed there until four days before our departure, when
he became dangerously ill. Consequently, we did not see this kind man
again before we left for Ekaterinburg. Another well-disposed man was
Commissar Makarov, a very intelligent and cultured person with a great
deal of tact and knowledge of several languages.

He had a prison record for having killed a policeman. For this, this
fine looking man paid fifteen years of his young life before he was
released. He accepted his punishment as having been deserved. His
imprisonment had not embittered him, and his gentle, kind manners had
not changed.

Many of the guards we had known from our childhood. Whenever possible
Colonel Kobylinsky tried to have these men accompany us during our
walks, as these guards could not tolerate an abusive attitude of
others toward us. Nevertheless, he did not dare to defend us. By this
time the Provisional Government had become convinced that Father had
no intention of making trouble for them. Father eagerly followed the
course of the war and grieved at the way it was going. If only he could
have now had a part in it, even as a private!

There were secret messages suggesting our escape to Germany. Father
answered, “No, we shall not escape like convicts.” One day Father was
walking, Alexei was sitting on the bench, with his dog Joy at his feet,
and we sisters were a short distance from Father, when a large enclosed
car rapidly drove in and two young men in it wanted Father and Alexei
to get into the car and escape with them. Father was very upset by it.
He said, “Go at once.” Soon after more new guards appeared.

During this time we became tired of eating cabbages and carrots. We
longed for something different. Those days no green vegetables came out
of the greenhouses. Father saw the rich fields for labor lying open to
us, and he was willing to work. So, in the spring, Father suggested a
vegetable garden be planted in an open space where some trees had been
cut down. We were all eager for outdoor exercise. Count Fredericks
talked it over with Colonel Kobylinsky who gave permission to go ahead.
We were now full of enthusiasm, with plenty of ideas of fresh food as
our objective.

Father began to work, and even Mother, for the first time, cheerfully
was willing to leave the house in the afternoon. She was wheeled in
her chair into the garden. She sat under a tree near the brook, while
the guards paced back and forth on the bridge. Mother seldom walked
those days. We planted the seeds and watered the vegetable beds from a
barrel. As I worked, I thought of the words in the beautiful Russian
song which said:

    “The Christ had a garden, where many roses bloomed,
    He watered them thrice a day to make a wreath for himself.”

Because of the demonstrations, we worked late in the day, often till
8:00 P.M. In the evening Father read to us while we were sewing or
knitting. When the first green shoots appeared, we were thrilled with
the thought of salads within a month. The seedlings grew into bushy
plants. The blossoms became tiny beans. In another week or so we would
have our first harvest from sixty luxuriant beds in all. Spring, which
always seems to hold a special appeal for all Russians, was beautiful
but sad for us.



XV SUBJUGATION


When the first days of July with their white nights were approaching,
a time when night is much like day in those northern regions, when
twilight spreads a kind of magic transparency in the distant sky and
woods, we saw creeping figures with shining bayonets emerge from the
bushes. They were watching the windows of the prisoners. I wish I did
not love that great country with so much promise, whose soul lies in
debris now and of which I cannot speak without the feeling of a heavy
weight on my chest.

Before the leaves came out, we withdrew to an area where we thought we
could not be seen so easily. That led us to the greenhouses. We found
them dreadfully neglected. No one had taken care of the plants. The
gardeners had been discharged or put to work in some other capacity.
Now many rare and valuable bushes surrounding the colonnades were cut
down against everybody’s objection. The orders, we were told, came from
Kerensky. Tears were in Father’s eyes to see such destruction.

We realized that the iron fence which protected us from the outside was
now our prison wall. The driveway was a source of fear. Even the bushes
and the trees of our beloved park secreted spies who watched every move
we made. Even though we were accustomed to isolation from the world
by a cordon of police and military protection, being surrounded by
unfriendly guards was indeed depressing.

During the turbulent days, even the swans cried mournfully every
morning because they knew we were in the palace, and they felt that
something was wrong that we did not speak to them and feed them. Even
these majestic birds must have known....

Our food now was ice-cold, more so than ever before. Our kitchens were
in a separate building and the food was wheeled through the long tunnel
in large carriers which had to be opened for inspection. Therefore the
food cooled off before it reached our apartments.

Sometimes we played on the “Children’s Island.” On several occasions
Alexei went out in a rowboat with his toy sailboats, but was not
allowed to enter his little four-room playhouse where he used to play
with his cousins and young cadets. It was locked up and his rowboat
taken away, making him very unhappy.

We enjoyed our cycling, Father and Alexei on bicycles and we four girls
on velocipedes. In the afternoon even Mother went into the woods and
sat in the shade with her tapestry work, copying the original pattern
of her Hepplewhite chair, while Father, his officer friends and others
were cutting down the dead trees. We sisters helped to carry the
smaller pieces and built tall stacks for the wood to dry during the
summer months.

We heard that our friend Captain Nilov, whom we called “the little
admiral”, once a commandant on the “Standard” and later at G.H.Q. with
Father, had been arrested on order of Kerensky and shot without trial.
This because he said while at G.H.Q. that he would kill General Ruzsky.
Fortunately for Ruzsky, Captain Nilov was denied this pleasure. General
Ruzsky also had a cordial dislike for Captain Nilov because the latter
knew that Ruzsky was a traitor.

We already by this time had begun to enjoy our fresh vegetables. We
lingered and feasted our eyes on the beauty of nature which until now
had been taken for granted. Alexei, not yet thirteen, in the early
summer delighted in shedding his boots and wading into the sparkling
water up to his knees. It did not take much to satisfy him during these
trying times. He wished nothing more from those heartless men than to
be free to enjoy God’s given creation. How fortunate we human beings
are, to see and feel all the loveliness and enjoy it to the utmost! How
cruel too when men deny this privilege to their fellowmen!

Later, when we were in Tobolsk, Alexei recalled the Children’s Island
and wistfully expressed the hope that he might be able to return to it
and wade in the water again. He spoke of his playrooms, his small cars,
and then all of a sudden he seemed to realize that these reminiscences
of former places, dear to his heart, caused only pain, and he never
spoke of them again.

Many days we saw curious strangers and friends being driven from the
fence. The people, knowing the time of our walks, gathered along the
fence; some even climbed on top of carriages to get a better view of
us. Especially on Sundays, there were a great many watching us through
the railing.

Often we saw familiar, friendly faces in the crowd, but we were afraid
to recognize them. Once I thought I saw near the fence some of the
Tolstoys--Marie and Elizabeth, also Pasha and her brother. Mother in
her youth had met from time to time some of the Tolstoy relatives who
lived abroad. Another time we saw friends from Petrograd and some
nurses from the Tsarskoe Selo hospitals.

Near Easter my parents were informed that about eighty servants and
workers employed in the palace were to be discharged. My family was
perturbed, because some servants had families who depended on their
earnings, and many of them had been with my family from the time of
Father’s marriage. Before these people, so close to us, left, both
parents thanked them for their past services and each one of them
was presented with a gold or silver medal. Orders came that Count
Benckendorff and all ladies in waiting, as well as Prince Dolgorukov,
should leave us. However, they were permitted to stay without
compensation.

During Lent we were allowed to have services in our private chapel,
but Father Vassiliev had to eliminate Father’s name from the ritual.
With trembling voice he stopped in confusion when he came to the
part in which he was supposed to say, “Long Life for the Imperial
Family.” I am sure that in his mind he added the omission to his own
satisfaction. When Father Vassiliev became ill, after much negotiating
Count Fredericks, the Court Minister, received permission to have
Father Belyayev, a deacon and four singers come to the palace during
the Easter holidays.

Palm Sunday services had been held in the palace chapel on the ground
floor at the fourth entrance of the building. During the services we
were carefully watched. The guards were secreted behind the draperies
and the altar. Father Belyayev seeing all this could not control his
emotions; his tears fell freely down his vestment.

During the Holy Week two services a day were the only refreshing
moments in our new lives. Mother stood behind a large screen made
in her favorite purplish-blue crystal glass, which Father had given
her previously. Behind the screen was a small, cushioned, kneeling
stand, on top of which rested a Psalter. On the wall to the right,
were several religious paintings, inherited from her Mother Alice and
several gifts from her Granny, Queen Victoria. The Psalter was searched
when it was brought in and again when taken away. In the small room on
Mother’s right adjoining the chapel some Bibles were kept. Mother was
very much annoyed when a guard stood behind her throughout the service.
“Even in this holy place,” she said, “one is deprived of a moment of
meditation.”

On the day of the Lord’s Crucifixion the revolutionists decided to bury
their own dead. With the red flags flying and a band blaring forth
with the _Marseillaise_ and Chopin’s _Funeral March_, the procession
advanced through the avenues of lime trees and stopped opposite the
circular balcony from which we could see them marching. Among the dead
they paraded were bodies taken from the cemetery, including those who
died in the cellar, which they had set on fire during a drinking
spree. But their evil scheme came to an end on this day, when angry,
black clouds darkened the sky, when a terrific hail and wind storm
furiously broke whole branches from the trees and pelted the metal roof
of the palace with large hailstones. Candles were lit. When daylight
returned, the courtyard was flooded, and there were large cakes of ice
in the water. All was quiet now.

The same screeching cry and the detested _Funeral March_ that should be
reserved only for the dead was now heard every day. It became annoying
even to the sentries. Often they whistled sarcastically as soon as the
demonstrators appeared. I even heard this abhorrent _March_ in my sleep.

Saturday night the staff, the servants and others, several hundred in
all, were present at the midnight service in our chapel, which lasted
till an early morning hour. The procession, headed by the priest who
carried an icon, went through the rooms with the lighted candles and
the message: “Khristos Voskrese (Christ is Risen)”, bringing the hope
that our dark lives might be brightened.

We thought it was a sad Easter, but a worse one was to follow. On this
Easter morning the staff, the chief of the guards, the commandant,
officers, ladies in waiting and a few others assembled in Father’s
library to break the blessed bread. In the afternoon those on duty
assembled in Mother’s room for congratulations.

This year our relatives, and high ranking military men, Ministers, and
the representatives of foreign countries no longer were permitted to
come to congratulate us on this Holy Day. Queen Olga of Greece, the
sister of the Grand Duke Constantine Constantinovich, miraculously
entered the grounds but her entry into the palace was prevented. Her
kind message and the Easter egg were delivered to us by an officer. A
great many others came but were turned back at the gate.

There were several birthdays during our five months of imprisonment at
Tsarskoe Selo. First came my Father’s. On his birthday, services were
held in the chapel. The words “Long Life for the Tsar” were still
missing; a sad day. Then Mother’s, then came Tatiana’s, and on June
5th, Russian calendar, I became sixteen years old--the year I should
have been officially presented to the Russian court. But there was no
debut for me and I did not care. The family did their best to make
an occasion of it. A service was held in the chapel and I received
congratulations from all around me. A year earlier a design made by
Fabergé for my lavalier had been approved by my family, to be made of
diamonds and pearls. I was to receive it on this day. Instead, these
sixteen diamonds and sixteen pearls, one for each birthday and one for
each name day, were sewn into my clothes when we left for Siberia.
Not long after my own birthday came Marie’s, and then just before our
departure from Tsarskoe Selo came Alexei’s.

More about our imprisonment. First, there was some improvement in
Mother’s health. However, during the hot spell in July her heart
condition became worse. She was forced to lead a quiet life. There
were no more separations, no more hospital work and no attacks of
haemophilia for Alexei. We all fell into a routine. Lessons had been
entirely neglected since our illness. Some of our instructors came from
outside. They taught in the gymnasium and in other schools. Now it was
no longer permissible for them to resume their former duties. Monsieur
Gilliard spent most of his time with Alexei, and in general was most
helpful in reorganizing the household with which the others were
inexpert to cope.

We had books galore to choose from, and several pianos for our use. We
resumed piano lessons--now with Anastasia Hendrikova; previously they
were given by Mr. Konrad. Father began to teach us history, geography
and natural science; Mother, religion; Baroness Buxhoeveden, English;
Dr. Botkin, Russian; M. Gilliard, French; Mlle. Schneider, mathematics.
There was only one thing lacking--inspiration.

From the very first Kerensky barged into Father’s rooms without
warning, much to the disgust of the Court Marshal who followed him
angrily. Kerensky asked Father whether he would go to Germany if
the Kaiser would extend an invitation. Father disappointed him by
answering, “I shall never set foot on German soil. I have already
previously rejected the invitation.” A car supposed to carry us over
the border crashed into the fence as it tried to drive through the
gate. Even if an opportunity had presented itself, dozens of strong
chains that bound us to our Mother country would not let us leave
Russia. There was an offer that we leave Russia by way of Murmansk, but
Kerensky betrayed it to the revolutionists, even though we would not
have accepted the offer.

Suddenly Kerensky wanted General Kornilov’s resignation but the General
refused to comply with his order. Kerensky then told Father that
Kornilov was a traitor. What was Kerensky? I wonder now if the General
was not in Kerensky’s way! Kerensky also was against Captain Count
Kotsebue, the Commandant of the Palace who formerly was an Uhlan Guard
officer. Kerensky forced him to give up his post in favor of Kerensky’s
communist friend, Colonel Korovichenko.

Once after a walk when Father was about to enter the palace, one of
the new guards stepped in front of him and barred his entrance. Alexei
from the open door saw what happened and burst out crying. Another
time Father was walking with Prince Dolgorukov in the park when one of
the new officers followed close behind and stepped on his heel. Father
turned suddenly and hit the officer with his walking cane so hard that
the officer bent double. After that none of them tried this incivility
again.

Years later I spoke by chance to a former Russian officer who said the
Emperor should have “prayed less but worked more.” But this officer’s
wife at that time remarked to her husband, “What kind of officer were
you? When you became ill with appendicitis you carried on like an
infant! Is that bravery?” My Father not only prayed and worked but
possessed the bravery of a hero. Every day he spent ten to fourteen
hours at his desk. There was no other man that worked and fought harder
and with more determination than did Father. Such words were spoken
only by German traitors and weaklings who did everything to buy the
privilege to stay far behind the front lines. Some said that Father
was mild. Perhaps he was; he might have been appreciated in another
country. However, many said that Father should have ordered guns, but
the Emperor would not take the lives of men. He was very kind because
he did not believe in the ruthlessness of Ivan the Terrible, or Lenin,
Trotsky, Apfelbaum, Rosenfeld, Himmer, and others.

The very things we loved most, were now turning against us. Each
morning when I awakened I hoped for an improvement. But one glance
around convinced me the times were not right. One day a bullet hit a
window in Father’s study and left an ugly round scar, showing the great
thickness of the glass. Our walks continued, but every time we went out
we discovered many familiar faces had disappeared, and were replaced
by new ones. In the park the sentries followed us closely and engaged
us in conversation. Most often we did not care to hear what they said.
Then came an order limiting our walk to the first bridge of the brook.
Now we were confined to a more restricted area. We tried to ignore the
impertinence of guards who lolled in our chairs on the lawn in front
of the small balcony which led into the entry room. This balcony was a
few steps up and had an entrance on each side, but the arbitrary guards
prevented us from entering except through one side only. Mother watched
us from the window, and when we returned to her, one glance indicated
that she had been weeping. We knew it was the sight of our being so
restricted that made her cry. Whether long or short, these walks
remained the most coveted events of our day. Mother too was wheeled out
in her chair, and sat with her embroidery in the shade. Usually she was
surrounded by the young guards who asked her all kinds of questions,
mostly religious ones. Those big children understood her and she won
them with her kindness.

At first our captivity at Tsarskoe Selo was not so difficult, even
though there was a complete lack of privacy and our freedom to come
and go was restricted. In fact it was not much different from our
usual routine as we had been accustomed to watchful eyes and many
limitations. We would have been fairly comfortable if we had had enough
heat and the right food for the convalescents.

The familiar rooms, furnished with what we always considered to be
our own possessions, were at once comforting and disturbing. But soon
we found out that these things and many personal household treasures
no longer belonged to us. Many of these were confiscated immediately,
including all Mother’s silver sets. Some of these were heirlooms from
her Granny, Queen Victoria, and some were Father’s wedding gifts.
Other confiscations included trays, platters, urns and numerous gold
plates, gold tea glass holders and spoons, over five hundred table
place settings, Mother’s imperial jade figurines and crosses by Bolin,
the most famous jeweller in Petrograd; also many priceless gold icons
decorated with precious stones and other treasures.

They even took Alexei’s jade and rock crystal collection of animals,
gold swords, miniatures of the family, and his icons, many of which
were presented to him during his illness in Spala in 1912 and were
especially esteemed by him, because the people had prayed before
them to spare his life. Some of these were in gold, studded in
precious stones. On his birth in 1904 the Shah of Persia ordered a
religio-historical rug to be made and had presented it to Alexei on
his twelfth birthday. Approximately 12 feet by 16 feet, it took twelve
years to make. As I remember it, it had Christ’s face in the middle,
surrounded by about a hundred world leaders from the time of Moses up
to 1900. There was an excellent likeness of George Washington.

Olga and Tatiana had saved some money with which they were able
to redeem some of our tea sets, place settings and a few gold tea
glass holders. Our home had the finest Persian rugs and Hepplewhite
furniture. The gallery contained fine paintings and rock crystal
chandeliers.

Father read in the paper that capital punishment had been abolished.
He knew this would mean disaster for Russia. He wrote a long letter
to the Provisional Government and expressed his views, pointing out
the detrimental effect it would have on the Army and the country
as a whole. Moreover, it would cause a great deal of danger to the
public--and so indeed it happened. He preferred death before such
conditions should develop. He gave no thought to his own fate and that
of his family. As a consequence of the abolition of the death penalty,
Kerensky was blamed openly for the murder of hundreds of young cadets
and the torture of their superior officers. It was said that he was
hand in glove with the perpetrators of these crimes. Many of these
officers were well known to us. We heard that many of them were bound,
then covered with straw saturated with kerosene, which was then set on
fire before the eyes of their stricken families.

Kerensky was a good speaker and his words flowed smoothly. He seemed
to impress people as being honest in his undertakings. This belief in
him eventually vanished. He spoke of freedom and many exciting ideals
poured from his lips. He promised that when these ideals were put into
effect they would bring a prosperous republic and a good fruit. But
his theory brought nothing but tragedy. Yet the seeds of the fruit
continued to grow, and do so even now.

During this time, Kerensky’s absurd promises were constantly broken.
Many came to regard him as a sheer opportunist. First, he told us that
we had an invitation to go to England. Later he contradicted himself
by saying that the invitation had been cancelled. We were puzzled and
still we had to trust him. In the beginning Father believed that he was
the right man for the office. Soon people began to doubt Kerensky’s
sincerity, but we could do nothing to repudiate him. All kinds of
fantastic stories were germinating during Kerensky’s short-lived
administration which emerged rapidly but was soon carried away into a
river reddened with blood. Even his own friends whom he himself had
liberated betrayed him.

With the air of a conqueror he went to General Headquarters, and the
people sarcastically said, “A Napoleon is now on the march. With a
snap of his fingers, he will sweep on to Berlin and secure the keys to
the city.” The new hero marched with thieves and murderers of Russia,
and with these men he thought that he could win the war, and thus gain
popularity. They carried the red flag and sang, “My poidyom vperyod i
vyigrayem voinu s krasnym flagom--(We are marching forward and will win
the war with the red flag).”

Many officers whom Kerensky had kept arrested, and who were anxious
to fight the enemy, were left by this man to rot and die in unkempt
prisons. He wanted to be the sole power and to keep all in his hands.
As a result Prince Lvov, Rodzianko (once his friend) and Generals
Alexeiev and Kornilov, as well as many others, resigned their positions.

Kerensky moved into a section of the Catherine Palace, which once was
occupied by Father’s A.D.C., and indulged in luxuries to gratify his
palate. It was said that all kinds of vegetables and rare flowers were
especially raised for his pleasure, that he spared nothing to satisfy
his thirst for luxuries, and that he left terror and rivers of blood
for the Russian people to remember him by.

My little brother seemed to have faith in Kerensky and on one occasion
he asked him whether Father could legally abdicate for him too.
Kerensky replied, “Yes and no, but in your case I think, yes.” How
surprised Father was at this. Alexei must have been puzzled by the
abdication and evidently, on thinking it over, he wanted an explanation
by someone else.



XVI DEPARTURE


The illness we sisters had just gone through resulted in a partial loss
of our hair. When Marie became half-bald our doctor suggested that we
have our heads shaved, which was done shortly before our departure for
Tobolsk. We four looked so much alike afterwards that we could not tell
who was who. Outdoors we wore turbans, especially when we were working
in the vegetable garden which was beautiful and ready for our use.

On the evening of Monday, July 31st, 1917, old style, Kerensky
permitted Uncle Michael to come to the palace. Father was grateful for
this kind gesture on the part of Kerensky. At that time Uncle Michael
had already been placed under arrest. The visit had a painful effect.
No one of the family was allowed to see Uncle except Father. Kerensky
and Colonel Kobylinsky had to be present during the visit which took
place in Father’s study. The meeting was distressing to Father and I
am sure it was also to Uncle Michael. It was almost useless, because
privacy was denied to the brothers. Neither thought this was to be the
last time that they would see each other. Under the conditions the two
brothers were deprived of an opportunity to confide in each other.
However, I remember Father saying that he would not have abdicated
under any circumstances had he known that Uncle Michael would also
abdicate. It was said that the latter did so under pressure while being
held as a prisoner by the Provisional Government, for which Kerensky
was responsible. At this meeting Father asked about his mother and
was told by Uncle that it was impossible for him to see her. Father
said: “Why not send Mr. Johnson (Uncle’s secretary) or contact General
Ivanov.” Father asked Uncle to have Kerensky arrange for us to go to
the Crimea. Granny was in the Crimea--for the first time since the
death of her husband, Alexander III. Also our Aunt Xenia with her
family and Aunt Olga with her new-born first child were there.

As Alexei’s thirteenth birthday had approached, we had trembled for
fear that something might happen on that day. We somehow expected our
departure, but not on such short notice. So many momentous incidents
had been connected with the number thirteen that we sisters were
superstitious about that number. The three hundredth anniversary of
the Romanov dynasty was celebrated in 1913. On March 13th, 1917, Marie
became deadly ill with measles and pneumonia. On Sunday, July 30th
(August 12th), 1917 Alexei became thirteen years old. Misfortune struck
us again. After the Te Deum in our chapel and congratulations for
Alexei’s birthday, Count Benckendorff brought the news that we were to
leave the next day. We still hoped it would be the Crimea. Because of
Alexei’s birthday it was postponed to the following day. We all went
about as if nothing had happened, but in our hearts there was grief and
fear. Alexei played on the little island and we went out and looked
over the garden. We knew then that it was our last time in this beloved
place. If we must go, let’s go quickly.

We did not know our destination. Kerensky made a secret of it. He
assured Father it would be a safer place, and that we should take with
us plenty of warm clothing. Both parents were stoical. Evidently we
were not going to the Crimea. For weeks our trunks had been ready,
but now we each had been told to decide what additional, but only
needed, articles we wished to take with us. Mother said to leave
everything undisturbed. I laid aside many things which finally had to
be abandoned. I felt like a traitor. At last, I finished sorting.

I was determined to help pack my own suitcase for the first time. It
was no longer possible to take anything out of our vaults, treasures
given Mother by Father and her family. A number of her precious icons
were wrapped carefully. She took only those given by proven, loyal
friends. We children also selected some from the corners of our
bedrooms to take with us on this trip.

In spite of our intentions to travel lightly, trunk after trunk was
filled and sent downstairs. If we should ever reach England we wanted
so much to have some of our things with us.

It was decided that any member of our household who so wished could go
with us, but anyone who did not intend to follow us should leave the
palace immediately. A number of employees, not wanting to be separated
from their families, had already left. Father preferred to take along
only those without family responsibilities. However, many servants
left their families behind and followed us into exile. No doubt, it
took courage to follow us, especially when our destination was not
known, yet we hated to leave so many behind whose loyalty we never
questioned. At the same time it was decided that the garden vegetables
would be used by those employees who stayed with us to the last. Count
Benckendorff was to remain in the palace and care for Father’s private
business affairs.

Before we left Father reminded Count Benckendorff that he, through
Count Rostovtsev, Mother’s secretary who was in charge of our private
fortunes, and through Mr. Peter Bark, whose responsibilities related to
family private interests abroad including insurance and investments,
should pay, respectively, all our bills at home and abroad. One of
Count Benckendorff’s stepsons, Prince Valia Dolgorukov, was to go with
us. We heard later that Kerensky went back to the palace, after taking
us to the station, and ordered Count Benckendorff to leave our home at
once.

Father was given the choice of taking one of the generals with him. He
selected General Tatishchev. This friend, who was independently rich,
had all the necessary qualities and was liked by everybody. The several
hundred men who carried our baggage downstairs were rewarded. One of
them, a soldier, lifted his three-ruble note to his lips and kissed
it. By the way his shoulders shook, we knew that he was crying. A few
of our trunks were left upstairs and some were brought to Tobolsk much
later. We were allowed to take with us several dogs. I took my “Jemmy”
who had been given to me by Anna. Being small she did not require much
food.

We were now leaving our bedrooms, music room, class room, and
playrooms, where we had placed our dolls with their arms stretched out
as if they were asking us not to leave them behind. Alexei tearfully
placed his Teddy bear against the door to guard his possessions. As we
wandered through the rooms in lingering farewell, each tried not to see
the other. Those who were to stay behind cried and kissed us children
every time they saw us. These good-byes to our childhood home were
dreadful. This ancestral home we were leaving was part of us. We gave
it a reverential farewell. Marie and I went to our knees in the corner
of our bedroom, set up with icons. Our eyes were fixed on the empty
places from which some icons had been removed to go with us on this
trip.

We were nervous, full of anguish, and, in spite of our efforts to
be brave, we cried and we were reduced to sobs. Our good friend Dr.
Botkin, who had been absent because of illness in his family, had just
returned. He gave us sisters drops of valerian to quiet our nerves.
What went on in Father’s and Mother’s hearts only they knew. It was a
queer, heartrending feeling when we left our rooms not knowing of the
future ahead.

We five children went down the private spiral stairway. As we did so,
the memory of my young years came back to me. I remembered when I
happily used to run up and down the steps trying to make two at a time.
Now I could not see them; a handkerchief was pressed to my swollen
eyes. The stairs led us to Mother’s apartment. She had just finished a
thanksgiving prayer when we appeared. We did not dare to look at her.

No doubt that to Father that home was full of Tsar-spirits, looking
down on him from portraits condemning this final surrender of
autocracy. A life-sized portrait of Mother when she was young, happy,
and beautiful hung in Father’s study--his favorite portrait. It was
by Kaulbach, painted in 1903. He stopped and examined it as if he had
never seen it before.

No doubt in Mother’s mind were the words Aunt Ella said to her once:
“Remember what happened to other Empresses!” Mother may also have
thought of the painting of Marie Antoinette and her children by
Mme. Vigée-Lebrun, which was given to Mother by the President of
France. Was she thinking now of a common misfortune? Or, possibly,
she thought of the words of the Emperor Joseph II, brother of Marie,
when he prophesied to his pretty sister the coming disaster: “In very
truth, I tremble for your happiness; the revolution will be a cruel
one and perhaps of your own making.” But it was not the case with my
Mother: revolution was of the traitors’ making. I often ask myself,
why was Mother so drawn to this unfortunate woman, who in character
and education was so different from my Mother? At home in the glass
wardrobe, were Olga’s and Tatiana’s christening gowns. They were copies
of the dresses of Marie Antoinette’s children. In another case were
a few copies of the Queen’s own dresses, made for Mother in Lyons
during one of her early visits to France. We were all puzzled by the
fascination Marie had for Mother, who was a student of history and had
an aversion for its tragic pages.

Our departure was scheduled for midnight, August 13th, new style.
Before the fateful hour arrived we were served tea. Midnight came
but no summons. Nevertheless, shortly after one in the morning, we
assembled in the semicircular hall. Our personal luggage was standing
at one side. Soon Count Benckendorff came with a message that General
Tatishchev had informed him that he was not allowed to come to the
palace but would be at the station to meet us.

Books and magazines were brought to us. We could not read anything. My
thoughts went back to the pages Mlle. Schneider had read to us while
we were recovering from our illness, and to the painting on the wall
of Marie Antoinette in a large hat, sitting with her children and a
white, long-haired dog at her feet. This large, gold-framed painting,
approximately six feet high, dominated the room. Below it there was a
simple, inlaid console table and on the floor, on either side, stood
two tall red French enamel vases. Somehow I had the idea that they had
been a gift to the family from Cousin Wilhelm. From the time of the
outbreak of the war, I had a strong impulse to break them.

Father, who long before had read all the best known books on the
French Revolution, asked for those volumes again when the reign of
terror swept our country. My older sisters read them, too. Marie and
I, because of our weakened eyes, went through only certain parts. No
doubt these traitors and the revolutionists had read them also, and
followed the same pattern. Kerensky likewise was probably not ignorant
of these events. There are so many similarities between the French and
the Russian Revolutions.

Now the French Revolution stood full of meaning before me. During the
coronation festivities in France, when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
were being crowned, a number of shocking disasters occurred. These were
similar to the tragedy that occurred at the coronation of my parents.
In the former, when France’s economy declined and conditions were bad,
only 35 per cent of the land was held by the French peasants; the rest
was in the hands of the Church, the nobility and the crown. But Russia
economically was strong in spite of the war and the devastation of the
western areas.

When a daughter was born to the royal couple, Marie Antoinette had
eighty attendants at her service. History records that she was a gay
woman with demands for unlimited luxury and extravagance. It was also
said that during the critical economic conditions in her country,
she had purchased an enormously expensive jewel for herself. They
discovered much too late that this was not true.

The Russian people would not have believed that Father and Mother had
been extravagant. As Father commented, when the revolution broke out 75
to 80 per cent of Russian soil was in peasant hands. When one of the
children in our family was born, we had only a few attendants. Besides,
Mother never cared for gaiety or luxury. During the war we repaired
our own clothes and made our own beds. As Louis XVI was betrayed by
Mirabeau, so Father was betrayed by the Allies, with the help of the
Duma and men like Kerensky, Ruzsky, Lenin, and Trotsky, and other
foreign instigators. Many foreign elements gave aid and encouraged
the revolution in my country. As horrors occurred in France, so did
they in Russia. Marat asked for a quarter of a million lives, but
Trotsky, Lenin, Apfelbaum and others of the clique demanded more than
fifteen millions. Allegedly they all were guilty of something. Most of
the educated classes, millions of peasants, and forty thousand Greek
Orthodox clergymen were killed.

Many of the revolutionists were shipped to Russia for the purpose
of inciting the plundering, robbing and strangling of Russia. They
were supported by the prisoners of war, mostly Austro-Hungarians and
Germans. They were helped by a powerful branch of the Christian church,
who were apparently desirous of detaching our people from the Greek
Orthodox Church. Fortunately the Russian people were and still are
very devoted to and proud of their own religion which they consider
to be the true exponent of the Christian faith as delegated to us by
the Apostles and particularly by the Apostle Paul. (Read M. Pierre
Gilliard’s book, _Thirteen Years at the Russian Court_.)

Distressed and restless we sat in this room, wondering if the same
misfortune that befell the court of Louis XVI was awaiting us. In one
instance to stimulate the revolution, the weapon was the jewel; in the
other, Rasputin. We wondered whether the other courts of Europe and
particularly our own royal relatives were making any efforts to save
Russia and ourselves.

At four in the morning we had tea again. As daybreak was pouring
through the windows and the lights were turned off, breakfast was
ordered for 5:30. By mistake or by force of habit, the table for us
five children and the governess was set upstairs. This caused a furious
consternation and confusion around the watchful men. We were not
allowed to go upstairs and we did not care to return there again.

Finally an excited officer came running and announced to Count
Benckendorff that he had talked with Kerensky who was on his way to us.
The room became full of people who waited interminably to say good-bye
to us and to the staff who were to go with us. The sentries filled the
doorways, forming a long line on both sides to the waiting motors. We
strained our swollen eyes in the dawning light to see all we could as
the cars sped down the courtyard and through the garden’s side entrance.

Near the fence there were some people who had been waiting all night
to have a glimpse of their Emperor for the last time. They ran toward
this gate but were repulsed by the sentry. We saw the church with its
blue dome, the double eagle and the golden cross, the little lake, the
palace, the park, all for the last time. The iron gates, our prison
gates, swung open and closed after us. Our hearts closed with them.
There were no bells ringing as we left our home, no cheering of the
regiments of Cossacks who used to pass in brilliant parade before the
palace. No convoy followed the Emperor on horses, dressed in tall caps
and red and blue coats; and no yellow flag fluttered on the car. No
flag caught the morning breeze on the roof top; it had been removed
long ago, even though Father and we were still there. The cars moved
like a funeral procession.

Escorted by a detachment of cavalry, we arrived at the Alexander
station. The air was fresh. The golden sun flooded the sky. One hoped
that he could hear the words: “I shall light your way wherever you go.”
What a change in the appearance of this charming and beautiful village
had taken place! The immaculate asphalt roads of Tsarskoe Selo I used
to drive over only five months ago were no longer the same. I could see
the wound the new leaders had inflicted upon this peaceful village. It
was indeed a depressing and fearful sight.

In order to board the train, our automobiles stopped a short distance
from our own white station, which was not far from the public one.
Approaching it we saw in the distance a heap of luggage still being
loaded into the train. With the troops guarding the vicinity, we walked
along and crossed the track. As we were to board the train, Mother gave
her hand to Kerensky who kissed it and wished her a pleasant trip.
There was no stool to step on and Mother had trouble negotiating the
high step. When she reached her compartment, she collapsed and fell
before anyone could catch her, spraining her ankle and a finger, and
struggling to catch her breath. Dr. Botkin gave her a sedative. Partly
because of the heat, it was several days before she recovered from the
strain.

It was sad to leave our friends, especially those officers who stood
at the station humbly with their caps in their hand, and their heads
bowed for the last time--their final reverence to Russia. The family
stood near the windows in two different cars and blessed those good
men, when suddenly several of them entered the car, and wanted to fall
on their knees before Father, but he would not let them do so. Instead,
he embraced them, their faces resting on his shoulder. This great man
thanked his loyal officers (especially two men, Kushelev, and another
whose name I do not remember but which was something like Artasalev)
for their services with the words, “Be loyal and help your country;
they need you now more than ever.”

With these words, they withdrew, and Father touched his own insignia
of command, promoting them to a higher rank for the last time. This
touching scene made him withdraw from the window so that they might not
see the tears in his eyes. Suddenly on order of Commissar Kozmin, all
the shades of the car were drawn.

Already within the confines of these quarters, Father’s spiritual
agony was supreme. He knew that he had abdicated not for selfish
reasons, but to avoid the bloodshed which he foresaw, but which the
others did not. Now, this suffering family carried with them into
uncertainty the centuries-old secrets of the dynasty.

With a quick jerk and screech the wagons-lits began to move. The
vibration sent shivers to our souls. It was 6:30 A.M. We hoped the
train would be heading for the west or south. However, it was not long
before we realized much to our disappointment that we were heading
eastward.

Father once promised us that as soon as the war was over, he would
take us to visit the Siberian cities. It was now evident that Father’s
promise to us of a Siberian trip was being fulfilled without advance
knowledge or planning. Later when Kerensky was being accused by the
people for sending us to Siberia, he did not have the courage to admit
it, but instead cowardly tried to lay the blame on my Mother by saying
that it was her wish to have the family go to Siberia. The truth is
however that when it became evident that we were being sent to Siberia,
Mother remarked, “Of all places, how could he think of Siberia?”

Just before our departure from Tsarskoe Selo, Father made each of us
sign our names on slips of papers, put them in separate envelopes and
leave them in our rooms.



XVII JOURNEY


It was broad daylight outside but inside, with shades drawn and lights
glaring, it might as well have been night. We were all terribly tired
and we sat quietly for some time before having our breakfast. No one
knew what the other was thinking. Our hearts were heavy and there were
tears. Mother gathered us with her eyes. “We are together,” she said.
“You are my wealth and I am rewarded by the Lord for giving me such a
good family.”

Our train consisted of four or five cars. One car was occupied by us.
In the next car were Prince Vasily Dolgorukov, General Tatishchev,
Mlle. Schneider, Countess Hendrikova, Dr. Botkin, M. Gilliard,
and Colonel Kobylinsky. In addition there were Commissar Makarov,
Vershchinin, and another person whose name escapes me.

The other cars were occupied by our household staff and the guard.
We were grateful to them all for staying with us, grateful too that
Kerensky had allowed Colonel Kobylinsky and Commissar Makarov to
accompany us.

Coffee was served to us; it helped lift our spirits. We hardly moved
except to go to the dining car for our meals. Mother and Alexei were
served theirs in their own compartments. It was very hot, dry, and
dusty, especially before we reached Asiatic Russia. The train made
a number of stops to take water, usually a short distance from the
stations. All the time we were closely watched and guarded by the
sharpshooters commanded by Colonel Kobylinsky. It was a grim ride, but
Kerensky had made Father believe we were headed for a much safer place.

On the third day we passed the city of Perm and followed a river. The
view was picturesque, a typically Russian scene. We felt the change
of air as we crossed from European to Asiatic Russia, through the
Ural Mountains. The train reduced its speed. Luckily for Mother, the
air became cooler, otherwise she might have had heart failure. We
passed through Ekaterinburg with its two stations one on each side of
the city. No one would have believed then that eleven months later,
this Siberian city would become the scene of one of the world’s most
atrocious crimes about which many volumes would be written.

Several times along the way and between stations the train would stop,
once for one full hour, which gave us an opportunity to take a walk
along the tracks under the watchful eyes of our guard. This gave us
sisters a chance to pick violas along the track.

Father had been in Siberia in 1890-1891. Consequently, he knew Siberia
well, not only the cities, but the locations of different industries
and the mining regions, which he had visited during his travels. He
pointed to us locations of the most important industries, such as the
iron works, paper mills, and gold and copper mines. He was sent to
Siberia by his father, Alexander III, with the engineers at the head of
the committee for the construction of the railroads connecting European
Russia with the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

When he ascended the throne he continued the work entrusted to him by
his father, to complete this construction. The Amur line was finished
in March 1915 exactly two years before the revolution. He told us that
the first stone for the Ussuri line was laid in Vladivostok in 1891,
upon his return from the Far East. Several uncles also had been in the
Far North of Siberia. The University of Tomsk was inaugurated during
the reign of my Grandfather, Alexander III. Father gave to the museum
of Ekaterinburg part of its famous Numismatic Department, with its rare
coin collection. He also gave large contributions to the Ural mining
school in Ekaterinburg. The Ural Society for Natural Sciences was under
the patronage of my Uncle, the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich. The
Imperial stone cutting works and the gold melting department which were
also in Ekaterinburg belonged to the Imperial family.

[Illustration: Marie Feodorovna 1914

THE DOWAGER EMPRESS MARIE FEODOROVNA--1914]

[Illustration: THE EMPEROR NICHOLAS II]

[Illustration: Aleksandra.

THE EMPRESS ALEXANDRA FEODOROVNA]

[Illustration: THE TSESAREVICH ALEXEI--MOGILEV--1916]

[Illustration: THE GRAND DUKE MICHAEL ALEXANDROVICH]

[Illustration: THE GRAND DUCHESS ELIZABETH FEODOROVNA]

[Illustration: THE GRAND DUCHESSES ANASTASIA, MARIE AND
TATIANA--TSARSKOE SELO--1917]

[Illustration: NICHOLAS II AND HIS CHILDREN (l. to r.): THE GRAND
DUCHESSES ANASTASIA, OLGA, TATIANA AND MARIE AND THE TSESAREVICH
ALEXEI, WITH A CONVOY OF CAUCASIAN OFFICERS--_ca._ 1916]

[Illustration: THE TSESAREVICH ALEXEI AND HIS SISTERS, THE GRAND
DUCHESSES OLGA, ANASTASIA AND TATIANA--TSARSKOE SELO--1917]

[Illustration: THE GRAND DUCHESSES MARIE, OLGA, ANASTASIA AND
TATIANA--TSARSKOE SELO--1917]

[Illustration:

  _Courtesy The P. B. Corporation_

VIEW OF CITY OF TOBOLSK FROM A HILL]

[Illustration:

  _Courtesy The P. B. Corporation_

VIEW OF CITY OF TOBOLSK]

[Illustration: IPATIEV HOUSE, EKATERINBURG--1918]

[Illustration: THE DEATH CHAMBER, IPATIEV HOUSE--EKATERINBURG--1918]

[Illustration: THE HANDKERCHIEF TAKEN BY THE GRAND DUCHESS ANASTASIA
FROM EKATERINBURG TO BUKOVINA]

[Illustration: THE PIECE OF GLASS FOUND IMBEDDED IN THE FLESH OF THE
GRAND DUCHESS ANASTASIA SUBSEQUENT TO THE TRAGEDY]

[Illustration: MAP OF EKATERINBURG AND VICINITY--_ca._ 1918]

[Illustration: THE GRAND DUCHESSES MARIE AND ANASTASIA--SPALA--1912]

[Illustration: THE GRAND DUCHESS ANASTASIA--WISCONSIN--WINTER 1934-35]

[Illustration:

 _Courtesy The Chicago Tribune_

NICHOLAS II, THE GRAND DUCHESSES TATIANA, OLGA, MARIE AND ANASTASIA AND
THE TSESAREVICH ALEXEI; IN THE FOREGROUND, THE PRINCE VASILI--_ca._
WINTER 1913-14]

[Illustration: THE GRAND DUCHESS ANASTASIA--ILLINOIS--_ca._ 1960]

[Illustration: THE GRAND DUCHESSES OLGA, TATIANA, ANASTASIA AND
MARIE--TSARSKOE SELO--1917]

[Illustration:

  _Photograph by Robert E. B. Speller, Jr._

THE GRAND DUCHESS ANASTASIA--RHODE ISLAND--1963]

[Illustration: THE GRAND DUCHESS ANASTASIA--RUMANIA--_ca._ 1929]

[Illustration: THE GRAND DUCHESS ANASTASIA--WISCONSIN--_ca._ 1934]

[Illustration: THE GRAND DUCHESS ANASTASIA WITH MARJORIE HANSON,
GRANDDAUGHTER OF MRS. WILLIAM H. EMERY--WISCONSIN--_ca._ 1944]

[Illustration: _Photograph by Robert E. B. Speller, Jr._

THE GRAND DUCHESS ANASTASIA--ILLINOIS--1963]

The Alexander house for the poor and other civic institutions
were built in their entirety from funds of Alexander III. Some of
our friends had some industries in these regions, namely Count
Vorontsov-Dashkov, Countess Stenbock-Fermor, General Tatishchev, Prince
Dolgorukov, Count Ignatiev, Prince Demidov, Baroness Meller-Zakomelsky,
Count Muraviev-Amursky, Count Stroganov, and others. All these names
were familiar to us. General Count Tatishchev, who was with us on the
train, gave us many historical facts about Ekaterinburg. His ancestors
had built this city in honor of the Empress Catherine the Great.

Ekaterinburg is the junction of various railroads, connecting the
Siberian main line via Perm with Tiumen and Cheliabinsk and other
side lines. On Father’s wedding date November 14th, 1894, old style,
a library and free reading room was given by him; and every year
thereafter, whole sets of books were sent to Cheliabinsk on this
day. He described to us the tea packaging business at Kiakhta in the
Transbaikal, from where many of our grey horses came.

On the way to Tiumen we saw feeding stations, medical shelters and
railroad car churches and portable schools. They were built for the
convenience of the settlers. Practically in every city was a school or
a hospital built from the funds of my Grandfather.

We kept climbing higher and in the morning we stopped near the town of
Bazhenovo. Some peasants who saw us wanted to come close to us, but
were sent back by the guards. They told the men that the distilleries,
which had been closed during the war, were reopened and the people were
becoming intoxicated on the spirits and wines produced there. They
also said that the emerald mines already had been closed and that the
workers were spending their time in the wine cellars getting drunk.

On the fourth midnight our train arrived in Tiumen where we were to
take a boat to Tobolsk. While our trunks and other heavy boxes were
being loaded on the boat, we walked for several hours through the
dimly-lighted street near the dock in the cool Siberian air and crossed
the three railroad tracks to the boat. In the distance and around the
bend of the river we could see the flickering lights of the city of
Tiumen.

We boarded the small, two-decker steamer “Rossia.” Father and his
friends stayed on the deck until morning. We sisters got up early to
get a view of the city in the distance, but the boat was already on
its way, escorted by two smaller vessels, “Kormilets” and “Sibiriak.”
We passed many small rivers, and swamps and lakes, parts of which were
covered with reeds and millions of red flowers. Mother called them
saltwort. We saw some red foxes and white partridges, and on a swamp
there was a singing swan. We saw many beautiful birds, some familiar to
us and some not.

Father said Godunov, Volynsky and Prince Bariatinsky contributed a
great deal to the progress of Tiumen. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich founded
Tiumen in 1664 and visited this frozen land himself. Alexander II
constructed hospitals and later Father sponsored shelters, feeding
places and medical centers for the exiles on their way to the
settlements.

Speaking of exiles in Siberia, the first exiles to Tobolsk Government
began at the time of the murder of Tsarevich Dimitri in 1591. Two
Romanov brothers, Ivan and Vasili Nikitich Yuriev-Zakharin, and
Prince Beloselsky were banished in 1601 by Tsar Boris Godunov. Later
even Sheremetiev and Prince Dolgorukov were exiled to Tiumen and
Tobolsk. The descendants of those old families were close friends.
Another coincidence: the first Romanov was to visit Siberia and the
last Romanov was to die in Siberia. The people believed that Ivan the
Terrible was responsible for the establishment of the prisons here.
However, vicious propaganda tried to make the people believe that it
was Father who had established these prison camps. This was nothing
more than an unadulterated Bolshevik lie.

In the late afternoon we came to the juncture of the Tobol and the
Tura Rivers. We passed the village of Pokrovskoe where on a high
bank overlooking the Tobol stood Rasputin’s house. Soon the Irtysh
River met the Tobol, and we continued on the Irtysh, which by now had
become wider. On the second day, late in the afternoon we arrived
in front of Tobolsk. This city seemed to be built on two levels of
a hill, one above the other. Near the upper level of the town was
a stone wall. We were told that this wall was a fortress and was
built in the 16th century in order to protect the new colonies from
invasion by plundering Kirghiz, Kazak and Kalmuk tribes. There were
lots of people at the wharf; apparently they had heard of our coming.
Dr. Botkin, Colonel Kobylinsky and Commissar Makarov went to see the
Governor’s house, where we were to stay, and they found that the house
was being redecorated and was not yet ready for occupancy, so we
continued to live on the boat for a number of days. They also found
that the furniture was inadequate and the beds were not suitable for
our parents. They took it upon themselves to find beds. Later Makarov
purchased even a piano, using a part of his own money for this purpose.

During the day the steamer made little trips on the river. Several
times we went ashore for a walk and once to the monastery of Abalak,
around the bend where the Irtysh and the Tobol Rivers met.

A carriage from the monastery was provided for Mother’s use, but the
rest of us preferred to walk the narrow road up the hill, under a
strong guard. The monastery stood amidst lovely grounds on a hill
not far from the landing place. There were people on one side at the
monastery church, who began to cry when they saw us. We prayed before
the miraculous Image of the Holy Virgin with her hands raised from her
elbows and the Christ Child resting in the folds of her robe. Her
headgear was studded with pearls.

This Image of the Holy Virgin later was brought to Tobolsk. Peace
and contentment we found in our undisturbed prayers, in this Holy
sanctuary. Our hearts were strengthened, and it gave us a new hope
and courage. The iconostas, with many Byzantine icons, was much more
beautiful than the one in Tsarskoe Selo. We had often heard of this
monastery and now we had the opportunity to see it. We were grateful to
Colonel Kobylinsky and Commissar Makarov for allowing us this kind of
privilege. We never forgot this gracious gesture.

At night the boat anchored in the middle of the river in front of
Tobolsk.

At last the house was ready. Mother, Alexei and Marie were driven to
the house, while Father and the rest of us walked along the Tulyatskaya
street to the house. I think that was the street leading from the
dock. Later, Marie told us that, when Mother passed near the Lutheran
church, her eyes filled with tears. She said: “It reminds me of the
day after your Grandfather’s death. I was baptised in the old chapel
in Oreanda in the Crimea.” It was the day she was converted to the
Russian Orthodox Church and given the name of Alexandra Feodorovna with
the title of Grand Duchess of Russia and the style of Her Imperial
Highness.



PART IV Tobolsk



XVIII ORIENTATION


I had pictured the house in the midst of woods, but when I saw it
surrounded by a high wooden fence still being erected, it gave me a
feeling of loneliness and fear. When we crossed the noisy, wornout
wooden sidewalk and the gate closed behind us, we were prisoners.
Paradoxically the name of the street was Svoboda (Freedom).

With us came the following: Our faithful friend General Ilia
Tatishchev, General Valia Dolgorukov, Dr. Eugene Botkin, M. Pierre
Gilliard, Countess Anastasia Hendrikova and Mlle. Ekaterina Schneider;
also Miss Alexandra Tegleva, a nurse and her assistant, Elizabeth
Ersberg, and the chambermaids, Miss Tutelberg and Anna Demidova;
Father’s servant, Terenty Chemodurov; Mother’s servant, Alexei Volkov;
and Ivan Sidniev, the servant of us four sisters. Also there were
our brother’s personal attendants, Trup, Ivanov and Markov, and his
male nurse, Klementy Nagorny; a writer, a hairdresser; several cooks
including Kharitonov and his helper, Leonid Sidniev; and other help.
About forty people came with us. Later came Mr. Sidney Gibbs, our
English tutor, and Dr. Derevenko, who were permitted to join us and
resume their duties. Still later Baroness Buxhoeveden, a lady in
waiting, followed, joining us on the boat on the day we were leaving
for Ekaterinburg. This does not include the military personnel, which
numbered about 300-400.

The house itself was quite nice. Our quarters on the second floor were
smaller and more crowded than those we were accustomed to. We occupied
three bedrooms: one for my parents, one for Alexei, and the other for
us four girls. On this floor there was a big hall with a piano and
a comfortable divan, tables and other pieces of furniture. Next to
Alexei’s room was a room for his male nurse. Father’s study was in a
corner room at the head of the stairway. We also had a balcony which we
found extremely pleasant when the sun was out. From it Mother watched
us when we went for a walk in the small yard. Often we went out on the
balcony to see the sunset and the view of the cathedral and the low
mountains in the background. It was beautiful; the sun seemed so much
brighter than in Petrograd or Tsarskoe Selo.

The arrangements of the first floor were the same as on the second.
The rooms opened on both sides of a long corridor which ran from the
front to the back of the house. The closest room to the vestibule
was occupied by an orderly officer on duty. M. Gilliard’s room and
the dining room were on this floor, as were the remaining quarters
used by our household. But later the larger rooms had to be divided
by partitions to make two rooms out of one, in order to accommodate
everyone possible. Almost all the rooms had parquet floors, and on the
second floor we had some of our fine Persian scatter rugs and others,
all sent to us from Tsarskoe Selo by Makarov. Most of the remainder
of the staff was housed across the street in the large residence
which belonged to a rich merchant named Kornilov. Extra maids had
accommodations in town.

Our walks were not exciting, because of the limited space, which
consisted of a small garden, where there were some Siberian irises, and
a part of the street and a part of a square joined to the garden by a
high wooden fence. This space was always guarded by a dozen or more
soldiers on the outside and by that many more inside. In the back of
the house there were the temporary barracks built to accommodate the
guards. From here they could observe all our activities. We played ball
or tug of war among ourselves; and occasionally other games with the
guards. Father was always present at these games.

We began to feel almost natural in our prison house. The small quarters
took the form of a home and we settled down into a peaceful routine.
From the absence of shooting and rioting, it was evident the revolution
had not reached this part of the country. In fact, everything was so
quiet it was hard to believe it could be Russia.

One of Father’s complaints was the lack of news. We were completely
isolated. We did receive a locally published newspaper containing
mostly hearsay. No first hand information freshened its pages, nor did
it contain any foreign news.

Now and then Commissar Makarov and the guards inadvertently dropped
some news. Our friends from across the street were at liberty to enter
the governor’s house and resume their duties. They even were permitted
to see the town, but we could not go out. Thanks to Colonel Kobylinsky,
our first two months at Tobolsk were quite pleasant. The house came
near to being the kind of home that Mother had always longed for--one
in which we could be close to each other. No external duties claimed
any of us, not even Father--a situation that made him restless.

There were many guards everywhere, but they, like Colonel Kobylinsky,
had come with us from Tsarskoe Selo and knew us as submissive
prisoners. They became our friends and we chatted with them freely. The
colonel was very kind; Father nicknamed him “our friend.” There was no
friction because we complied with every demand. They trusted us but
still they watched us as they were ordered to do.

Our food was simple but nourishing. Our own chef, Kharitonov, and his
helper cooked to our satisfaction. In living this simple life, Mother
became much stronger. She ceased to fret over the wounded soldiers,
whom she could no longer help, and she found compensation in her
writing, painting and religion and in our close family life. At least,
we were all under the same roof. She had her one wish: the right for us
to belong to each other. Our being together went a long way to soften
our captivity.

At first it was very difficult for Mother to adjust herself to the new
experience of housekeeping, managing personally and coming in direct
contact with the attendants. The sudden change from many servants to a
few was very confusing to her. She had not kept house for some years;
even while living with her Granny she had devoted her time to her
studies. Since these servants had to assume duties which were strange
to them, we sisters helped Anna and Tootles in their daily work.
Operations were not always smooth but the servants were willing and
adaptable and above all loyal. After a while Colonel Kobylinsky gave
permission for several maids from Tsarskoe Selo, who were willing to
come, to join us. But the sudden changes in Tobolsk kept them waiting
there for weeks and in the end they never were able to enter the house.

At this time we had a few letters from different friends but nothing
from our relatives in the Crimea. The latter were constantly in our
minds and we wished so much to be near them in that beautiful country,
among all those flowers and near the blue-green sea. Then, as if by
mental telepathy, Colonel Kobylinsky arrived, his pale face beaming
with excitement, and handed a letter to Father from Aunt Xenia in the
Crimea. It calmed us, but at the same time left in our hearts a painful
and lonely feeling which stayed with us incessantly. Later a number of
letters came from that distant land. One such letter took six months
to arrive. Father wrote short letters as there was always the fear of
bringing trouble to the recipients.

When shortly our English tutor, Sidney Gibbs, arrived in Tobolsk, he
brought us first hand information on the happenings in the Crimea and
the conditions in Tsarskoe Selo and Petrograd.

The older men who came with us from Tsarskoe Selo, especially of the
First and the Fourth regiments became our friends. They were kind to us
and could not understand why we were held prisoners. These men loved
Alexei, and to them he still was their Tsarevich. Those good fellows
brought him gifts, which they proudly presented to him with loving
smiles and touching words. I will never forget the time when one of
these men spent many evenings carving a puzzle out of white soft wood.
It was chain-like and every turn made gave it a new design. Another man
made for him a set of wooden Kalmuk toys, from the great-grandfather
to the tiniest baby boy. They fitted into each other so skilfully that
when all together they formed only one big great-grandfather. Alexei
was touched by these gifts. We knew all these men and the families of
some of them. Knowing their financial condition, we felt sorry for them.

The soldiers of the Second regiment, who at first were unpleasant, had
by now become actually insolent. They formed a Soldiers Committee under
the direction of a man called Arnold Goldstein who came to Tobolsk
about a month after our arrival and at once started to poison those
men. All other individuals who came to Tobolsk were at once arrested
but this man was allowed to stay and make trouble. The committee
asserted its authority over the officers whom Kerensky had sent when
we first arrived in Tobolsk. The friendly spirit that prevailed in our
prison was reported. Stern orders bounced back. Our kindly guards had
to step aside, and radical ones took their places. Colonel Kobylinsky
tried to resist but, alas, it was a losing fight.

Shortly after we reached Tobolsk, the young townspeople had a dance
on the street, called “Krugom.” The girls were dressed in handsome
embroidered red babushkas and the boys in high boots and pleated
trousers. The dance starts when one of the girls calls her boy friend
by his name, saying please come. He takes off his fur cap and the
couple dance in the middle of the circle while the balalaika and
accordion play and the participants sing a song--the words of which
usually center on water, birds, the moon, etc., all taken from nature.
The boy then kisses this girl, the girl of his heart, and asks her to
dance with him. The girl then calls another man who in turn invites his
own girl. The first couple drops out and the procedure is repeated.

Father liked the Siberian climate and the fabulous splendors of the
sunrise and sunset over the mountains and the soft clouds hiding
the distant hills. We too found it agreeable and peaceful after the
turbulent months we had just gone through. But these tranquil few
weeks came to an end all too soon. We shortly learned that one of our
former ladies in waiting, Mlle. Rita Khitrovo was in Tobolsk. Her
unannounced arrival caused us a great deal of apprehension. We felt
that our Russian teacher, Mlle. Bittner, in whom Colonel Kobylinsky was
interested, might find an opportunity to exaggerate the reasons for
Mlle. Khitrovo’s presence in Tobolsk and thereby create an incident
which would have serious repercussions. Once Mlle. Khitrovo was seen
talking to a member of our staff across the street, and making a cross
with her hand toward the balcony on which we were standing. Immediately
after that she was arrested and sent away. The letters she had brought
with her were seized and were not delivered to their owners until after
they had been censored. Following this incident Kerensky ordered that
all persons coming to Tobolsk must be registered.

As a result of this incident Commissar Makarov who knew of Khitrovo’s
coming was relieved of his post and replaced by Commissar Pankratov and
his deputy, Nikolsky. Pankratov, despite his prison record, was kind
to us. His knowledge of languages and his taste for art and literature
betrayed his cultural background. This middle-aged man often used to
tell us sisters about his experiences in prison. Yet never once did
he complain. Instead he admitted his guilt. He was a man of fifty
with dark hair. He made a notation on every letter received and often
delivered our mail, most of which was addressed to him, saying that he
was glad that our friends had not forgotten us. Once he told Marie that
no harm would come to us while he was there.

Nikolsky was a Pole of disreputable background. He was rude and fanatic
and had an uncontrollable temper and hatred. He immediately ordered
everyone to have his picture taken and to carry a card showing the
name, age and day of birth, because he had had to have his picture
taken and carry a card while serving a prison term for killing two men.

Our schedule for the week was made up by Olga and M. Gilliard. Our
friends were the only gleam of light in our daily life. To change the
atmosphere it was decided to stage some plays in which the staff and
we children could take part. A stage was put up in the big hall on
the second floor, which also served us as a school room and later as
a chapel. All our friends from across the street were asked to these
performances to share in this diversion. Olga was in charge of the
music, if such was needed. Alexei was not very keen about taking part
in the plays and often begged for someone else to take his role. There
was always an officer present at these performances. But soon rapidly
changing conditions no longer permitted us these recreations.

Our day began at eight in the morning with breakfast served to us and
our friends in the dining room downstairs. It consisted of tea or weak
coffee. Olga had hers with Father in his study, and Alexei his with
Mother. At 9:00 A.M. we younger sisters took our lessons in the big
hall, but during the cold spell, before the house warmed up we started
the first lesson in bed with Mother. We wore in the house our woolen
leggings or boots and were bundled in warm cardigans. Our instructors
were M. Gilliard, Mlle. Hendrikova, Mlle. Bittner, once a teacher at
the gymnasium in Tsarskoe Selo. Father continued with the history and
geography lessons. The classes lasted from 9:00-11:00 A.M. Alexei had
his lessons in M. Gilliard’s or his own room. Afterwards we went out
into the yard for a half hour’s exercise before our luncheon at 1:00
P.M.

Father and Olga ate luncheon with us in the dining room. Mother and
Alexei had theirs upstairs. Our luncheon consisted of soup, meat or
fish and sweets. From two to four we went out again and helped saw wood
behind the greenhouse. Mother seldom went out with us in the morning.
Alexei joined us in the afternoon after his rest and, when the weather
permitted, Mother sat in a chair in the sun, sewing, knitting, writing
or painting. When indisposed she stayed upstairs. Sometimes she played
the piano and sang, mostly religious pieces. From 3:45 to 4:00 there
was a short break for tea, for the family only, during which Mother
poured the tea herself. The lessons started again at 4:00 and lasted
until 6:00 or 7:00 P.M. Dinner was served at eight; the menu was the
same as that served at luncheon except that we had no dessert. Mother
always was present at these meals. After dinner, coffee was served
upstairs. While Father poured, all stood up except Mother. We could not
help noticing that usually there were thirteen persons at the dinner
table, seven from the family, and six from the staff. Occasionally Dr.
Derevenko and his son were asked to dinner, also Colonel Kobylinsky and
Mlle. Bittner.

During the first few weeks the food was satisfactory; this did not last
long because many products became scarce and prices went sky high.

It was decided to raise our own food. Within a month we had many
chickens, turkeys, and ducks that enjoyed swimming in their little pond
which we had made by diverting a small portion of a brook which ran
through the garden. The horse stable was used for pigs and even the
greenhouse was converted into a chicken coop.

Soon the people learned of the hour of our walks. They tried to get a
better view of us through the cracks between the boards, and many of
them kneeled down in prayer for us. Even Kalmuks who are Mohammedans
raised their hands and prayed to Allah for us, without being afraid to
do so. To many millions, the Emperor and Empress were still the Father
and Mother of Russia.

In October before navigation on the river stopped for the winter, and
after his enforced return to Tsarskoe Selo, our friend Makarov sent
us from there some warm clothes and rugs, curtains, linens and other
needed items as well as some provisions.

During Kobylinsky’s administration we were permitted to go to church
on Sundays and holidays. The church services were held at 8:00 A.M.
when it was still dark. We assembled in the yard and proceeded to
the church flanked on each side by sentries. The church was a short
distance from the house and in getting there we had to cross the
street, pass through a small park and onto another street. Father went
into the church first, followed by Mother, Alexei and then us sisters.
Some of the guards entered the church and stood behind us while the
others remained outside, waiting near the steps. On our return, after
the service and as a mark of honor, the church bells kept ringing until
we entered the house. This procedure however was changed by Nikolsky
who, in a childish show of authority, ordered that the ringing of the
bells be stopped before we reached the gate. Church services for us
were strictly private and the public was not permitted to participate
in the services while we were there. Instead they waited outside, and
as we left the church they kneeled and kissed the ground after we
passed as a sign of their love for the family.

When Dr. Derevenko came to Tobolsk with his son Kolia, it was a joy for
Alexei. The two boys played together, read and wrote little stories.
Alexei was happy to have a friend to play and eat with. But this did
not last very long. One day Nagorny carried a letter from Alexei to his
friend Kolia. It was nothing more than childish play. Nikolsky searched
Nagorny and found the letter. He immediately went to Pankratov with
it, saying, “You see how easily they can smuggle letters out and who
knows what else?” Kolia was forbidden to come into the house, and only
occasionally were they permitted to play outdoors under the watchful
eyes of the guards, provided they kept at a distance from each other.

For weeks Mother had been suffering from neuralgia. Now her teeth
caused her a great deal of pain. Everyday she waited patiently for her
dentist, who was to come all the way from the Crimea. I never knew of
anyone who suffered so much and still had so much patience and never
complained. On the arrival of Dr. Kostritsky, he repaired Mother’s
false tooth and one of my front teeth which had been damaged. He
brought us news from Granny and both our aunts who were in the Crimea.
From a previous letter we had learned that Grandmother was ill and was
complaining about the shortage of food and the fact that her belongings
had been taken away from her, news which distressed us considerably,
especially my Father. We had also received a charming letter concerning
Aunt Olga telling us about her baby son being driven in a carriage
drawn by a small donkey. I remembered when I was a little girl I rode
in a small wicker chair strapped on the side of a pony. The news
brought by Dr. Kostritsky was cheerful on the whole.

Finally Dr. Botkin’s children, Tatiana and Gleb, arrived in Tobolsk.
We hoped that they would join us in our class work, but even that was
denied us and we could only see them from the second floor window.

The situation was gradually getting worse. Nikolsky was stirring up
more hatred among the soldiers and poisoning their minds with false
doctrines.

Dr. Botkin spent several hours with Father, telling him of the
conditions in Tsarskoe Selo and Petrograd. We now had a fairly
good idea of the existing situation in our country. We heard that
Pravosudovich, head engineer of the Imperial personal train, had been
shot; also that Kerensky, his relatives and his friends were splurging
at the Catherine Palace, indulging in all kinds of luxuries, of which
we had deprived ourselves at all times, especially during the war.
Kerensky and his friends were driving in our cars and carriages, and
even some servants lay at his feet. Within a short time this man who
not long ago had appeared on our threshold in Tsarskoe Selo, with men
whose past was steeped in crime, was now enjoying all the luxuries of
which he deprived the original owners.

We had several letters from Anna Vyrubova and even some packages. We
gathered from her letters that Anna was having a terrible time, though
her language was cryptic. She was forced to assume her maiden name
in order to avoid persecution. All our mail that came through the
regular channels was censored and the contents were known to Colonel
Kobylinsky. Father tried to discourage the sending or receiving of mail
secretly. He even asked his own relatives to address their letters to
Commissar Pankratov, in order to avoid any misunderstanding. Father
wrote only a few letters, primarily to his mother and to his sister
Xenia.

We had news from the English sisters of mercy in Petrograd, and
from the hospitals in Tsarskoe Selo; also we heard from Countess
Orlova-Davidova; from Shura Petrovsky, whose husband was one of
Father’s aides-de-camp, and from Liuba Khitrovo, sister of Rita
Khitrovo who had been arrested in Tobolsk. The news we received
indicated untold tragedies. Many officers were shot after they
recovered from the wounds. The Provisional Government cared little for
these helpless men.

We heard that the people wanted their Emperor back and that the Army
was hostile to the new Government, refusing to take orders from the
former convicts, spies and invaders, and that it wanted to get rid
of Communist agitators around the country. Again Kerensky refused to
sanction this proposal, because he wanted to retain all power in his
hands, even though it would mean the destruction of Russia. Father knew
then that the country was lost. We heard all kinds of stories. One
concerned a boat caught sailing in the dark on the Volga River without
the permission of the authorities. On the shore, it was discovered that
this boat carried six bullions of gold, each worth a fortune. When
asked where they were taking this loot, the persons aboard replied that
they were taking it to the village of one of the leaders.

Kerensky made many blunders. He prevented the Army from crushing
the revolution at a time when it was ready and willing to do so.
The soldiers of our regiments, who came with us from Tsarskoe Selo,
complained to General Tatishchev that they had not received the
allowances that Kerensky had promised they would receive while they
remained with us. As a result they were discontented. Many of these
men had to meet their family needs. Some of them were able to obtain
extra jobs, but those who were not able to do so became angry, which
strengthened their sympathy for Bolshevism.

A few weeks before Christmas came the shocking news that Kerensky’s
Provisional Government had fallen and that the Bolsheviks had taken
control of the country. He was now receiving a dose of his own
medicine. The persecutors were more lenient and less cruel toward him
than he was toward his Emperor and his family. General Tatishchev
told us that when Kerensky was betrayed by his colleagues--the
Bolsheviks--he jumped from the second floor of the Winter Palace in
order to save his life and in his haste to do so left the belt of his
tunic behind. It was said that Prince Volkonsky was an eye witness
to this heroic performance. A brave man, indeed. An Emperor without
portfolio, a minister, a lawyer, an orator, and Napoleon, all in one.

There was talk that if the Ukraine were to go to Germany, Father would
be placed on the throne by German help. Father said, “Never will I or
my son accept the throne with the help of the enemy.”

We learned that the Winter Palace had been plundered and that many
of its treasures were in the hands of foreign bandits from both
hemispheres who came to our country to rob, take and plunder. They
pulled down our tricolor flags--white, blue, and red. White stands
for snow, blue for the heavenly sky and red for the blood spilled in
defense of our country. They hoisted their own flag over the Winter
Palace. They removed the double eagles from the buildings and were
burning them on the streets before the eyes of respectable citizens.
They emptied the historical treasures preserved for generations by our
forefathers, the pride and wealth of Russia when she was in her glory.
These treasures were sold abroad. The wine cellars of the Palace were
broken open and the mob drank so much wine that some of them literally
died from it; the rest of the old wines were poured from the bridge
into the Neva River.

The secret police still was working at the time of our arrest. Before
our exile the names appearing below were given to my Father which
he remembered and made us remember. When some of these men found it
necessary to escape from Russia for their lives, they were given
sanctuary by other countries, instead of being tried for their crimes
against the Russian people. These men dared to look into the eyes of
Russians knowing what they had done to them, and how easy the Russian
people had forgiven them all the wounds they had inflicted upon them.

Communism was founded and organized by these men whose real and assumed
names follow.

  _Original names_                            _Changed to_

  Bronstein                                      _Trotsky_
  Tsederblum changed to Ulianov then to            _Lenin_
  Apfelbaum                                     _Zinoviev_
  Rosenfeld                                      _Kamenev_
  Goldenberg                                   _Mikhovsky_
  Krachmann                                     _Zagorsky_
  Hollender                                  _Mieshkovsky_
  Tsederblum II                                   _Martov_
  Himmer                                        _Sukhanov_
  Goldmann                                        _Goriev_

We were told that Tsederbaum (Tsederblum?), Lenin’s father, was
arrested for murdering a policeman; his sons were very young. One
son was brought up in Simbirsk by a well-to-do half-Kalmuk and
half-Christian family by the name of Ulianov. The other sons were with
Lenin’s uncle, Tsederbaum. While in college both boys met secretly
with other boys and inspired them with revolutionary ideas, such as
the derailing of the train in which the Emperor and his family were
riding; as a result many people were killed. One brother was hanged;
the second, Lenin (Ulianov), ran away; and the third was in hiding in
Russia until the revolution when he reappeared. There were two brothers
who are mentioned above in my list which was given Father while in
Tsarskoe Selo. Later in Tobolsk and more so in Ekaterinburg, additional
names were given to us to remember, the names of men with whom we
actually had contact. Unfortunately I can only remember now the names
of about twenty-five out of a total of approximately one hundred.

One morning Colonel Kobylinsky arrived in Father’s study. With tears
in his eyes he informed Father that a peace treaty was to be signed,
but that prior to the signing the old Russian Army would have to be
demobilized. Father said that this terrible move by the Bolsheviks was
dangerous not only for Russia but also for the world; that this move
on the part of the traitors should now make the Russian people realize
that they were being deceived. I cannot describe the feeling it left on
us. Father was a prisoner, trapped like a lion in a cage, thousands of
miles away.

But going back to Kerensky, it is significant that when he was in
danger, he did everything to save his own life. But he never stopped
to think that he was the one who had sent the Imperial family to the
distant, frozen North. Did he give a thought to the fact that the
unfortunate victims were trapped by the traitors and by the bribed
convicts, and not by their own people? Now we could see why he had
ordered the arrest of everyone who came to our aid and who was willing
to risk his life, as well as ours, to save us. Kerensky had given
his word of honor to Father that he would protect us. He knew what
these men were like and what they were doing. I often ask myself the
question: did he do it intentionally? Will one ever know?

If Kerensky was sincerely interested in protecting us, he could have
ordered the train in which we were traveling, under the Japanese Red
Cross flag, to proceed to Vladivostok from where we could have gone to
Japan whose Emperor was quite friendly with Father and would have given
us the protection of his country. During the war we had a visit by two
young Japanese Princes who brought beautiful gifts for Mother and us
from the Empress of Japan. They also visited Father in Mogilev.

Now the Russian people were helpless, numb as from paralysis. With
stunned eyes they watched the nightmarish happenings in their country,
the wiping out of their possessions, and the tragic end of their
families.



XIX WINTER


The days passed rapidly as winter approached, the cold was relentless.
We were glad of the warning to bring warm clothes. December was very
cold and it continued through the months of January and February. The
house was unbearably cold and our bedroom was like an ice house; even
a glass of water had frozen solid overnight. Our rooms were large and
each had only one tile stove, providing scant heat against the raw
winds that forced themselves right through cracks in the windows. Even
Mother, who always preferred cool rooms, complained of the cold. The
only time the house ever felt warm to us was on coming in from the icy
outdoors.

Mother’s arthritis began to give her serious trouble, her joints and
fingers became swollen. She suffered a great deal of pain and was
not able to write or paint as much as before. Tatiana had a gift for
nursing. She knew how to care and comfort the sick. She massaged
Mother’s frostbitten hands in a bowl of warm water. Mother’s eyesight
troubled her, too; her glasses no longer helped, since she needed new
ones. The cork on the bridge of her frame had broken off and she felt
this increased her sinus condition which bothered her to the very end.
After a long debate a doctor came and she at last had her new glasses.
Now she spent a great deal of time in theological studies and writing
in the old Slavonic language.

Father’s joints were swollen also, but my saintly Father never
complained lest he might worry us.

We all were supposed to keep our diaries. Alexei made only occasional
entries. Whenever he was encouraged to think of something, he wrote
“The same old thing.” I too lost interest, for fear that writing
what took place in our daily lives might cause us trouble. Olga and
Tatiana wrote a great deal, but right after our parents left, General
Tatishchev suggested that they burn all unnecessary papers. Olga’s
poems and Mother’s poems and paintings all went up in smoke.

Our dogs always went with us on our walks. They were our constant
diversion; they saved these outings from complete boredom. We envied
their retrieving sticks we threw and jumping happily, since we
ourselves felt cramped. Every morning my own dog Jemmy announced her
arrival by scratching frantically at the bedroom door. Her happy mood
made us forget our troubles. I carried her up and down the stairway,
because her legs were too short to climb the stairs. Her long silky
ears got into everything. Her long tongue was always out. The poor
animal did not know that a few months later her happiness would end in
Ekaterinburg.

For months before Christmas we worked on gifts for everyone who came
with us from Tsarskoe Selo. We had some yarn on hand and some was sent
to us by our friends. Mother made waistcoats, mufflers, mittens, socks
and wristbands. We tore apart old blouses and fashioned them into
handkerchiefs and then embroidered initials on them. Pieces of silk
were made into fancy bookmarks--some of which we painted and some we
embroidered. We wanted to surprise our friends with these gifts, in
appreciation of their loyalty to us.

Mother, however, seemed to have a premonition of trouble. First, she
was worried about Anna, who, she thought, might be in trouble for
sending letters and packages to us. Mother warned Anna to be careful
about sending people with messages. She feared they might betray us.
And so it happened. The least suspected person was Soloviev, husband
of Matriona, Rasputin’s older daughter. Soloviev came to Tobolsk
several times with letters and packages. Even Olga and Marie called the
situation to Mother’s attention, and suggested that Anna should let
the officers handle matters and not the Yaroshinsky-Soloviev clique;
but Mother said that Anna would die before she would betray us.

In the evening we gathered in Father’s study which was smaller than our
other rooms. Father read to us and we sewed until our fingers became
so stiff we could hardly hold the needles. But there was a richness
in that room that made us reluctant to complain. Sometimes we played
dominoes, bingo, or durachka, a card game (resembling five hundred)
which Father disliked. Tatiana played bridge best of all, while
Mother’s favorite was bezique. Ten o’clock was bed time for us younger
girls, but Alexei used to retire at eight. Later on when life became
monotonous, Mother asked our friends to join us in the evening. Some
played games and others read.

Father also brought with him his diaries and his letters. These had
been confiscated in Tsarskoe Selo but were returned to him when nothing
incriminating was found in them. We sat around Father in the middle of
the room, away from the draft of the windows, listening to his reading
aloud. I am sure his heart felt sad as did our own. We learned many
interesting events that took place before and during Father’s reign.
Father wanted Olga or Tatiana to write a history of present events as
soon as we were free, and for that reason he wanted us to remember
every event that took place before and after our arrest and during our
life in Tobolsk.

Our letters to friends were harmless; some went through Colonel
Kobylinsky’s hands and were read by him, but some were not. Later, when
we were in Ekaterinburg, we were shown photostatic copies of these
letters carried back and forth by Soloviev. Then we realized he was a
spy. Once in Ekaterinburg, Mother in her dark hour said, “I warned Anna
again and again to be careful of what she was doing, and now she has
made another mistake.” After this Mother never again mentioned Anna’s
name. I hope she did not leave this world with this bitterness in her
heart toward her friend, who unfortunately brought one serious trouble
after another not only to Mother but to the whole family. Olga and
Marie always opposed Anna but Mother resented anyone saying anything
against her friend.

It had been promised that when Baroness Buxhoeveden arrived, she
would be staying with us. We fixed her room ourselves and the final
touches were approved by Mother. It was Christmas week when she reached
Tobolsk. The day she was supposed to come to the house, Colonel
Kobylinsky notified Father that he wished to speak to him. He informed
Father that the Soldiers’ Committee decided against her joining us. Not
having money Iza and her English assistant organized English classes in
town and found many people enthusiastic to study this language. She met
us only on the boat when we left for Ekaterinburg.

On two occasions, the icon of the Image of the Holy Virgin was brought
from the Abalak Monastery to the Church of the Annunciation for
services which the family attended.

The first time was November 14th, old style, the anniversary of my
parents’ wedding. We had prayed before this icon in the Monastery and
were deeply moved to be able to do so again. The church bells rang as
we left the church and continued until we reentered the house.

The second time was on Father’s name day--December 6th, old style.
No one was allowed to enter this holy place while we were there. At
the end of the service, as though nothing had changed, prayers were
offered, ending with a Mnogoletie (“Long Life for the Imperial Family”)
as had always been done before the revolution. We were surprised at the
priest’s courage. Father’s face turned white and we all glanced at each
other. Olga’s pale face turned faintly red, and she wiped her eyes.
We wondered if there was going to be trouble ahead. There was. They
promptly demanded the death penalty for Father Vassiliev, but he was
saved, though not for long. He was sent away by Bishop Hermogen and was
replaced by another one. The nuns too were taken away.

We were now forbidden to attend church services, but after hours
of pleading with the Soldiers’ Committee by Colonel Kobylinsky, we
received permission to attend church services but only on the twelve
principal holidays. From now on the restrictions became more severe.

Finally Christmas eve arrived. Mother presented everyone with one of
the gifts we had been working on for months. The villagers too were
thoughtful. They sent us two Christmas trees, one of which we sent to
our friends across the street, with whom we shared some delicacies that
were sent us by the Ivanovsky nunnery and by the head people of the
local museum. In the evening, vespers were held in the big hall and we
were grateful that there was no interference. We looked forward to the
Christmas morning services at the church.

Somehow I felt a sadness as we walked along the path packed with
snow. It was cold and dreary and at eight in the morning still dark.
The sky overhead was heavy. It gave me simultaneously a feeling of
loneliness and apprehension. It was so quiet that only the crackling of
the frozen snow under our feet broke the stillness. We did not speak
to each other; each one was occupied with his own thoughts. It is
quietness like this that awakens one’s heart to fond memories of the
past. We crossed the small garden and with my mind’s eye I could see
the museum, the little park, and in it the proud obelisk dedicated to
Yermak, the conqueror of Siberia. A short walk, but my thoughts covered
thousands of miles behind the frozen plains of Siberia. I could see
our Grandmother, our aunts and their children, and our friends, and
I wondered if they had forgotten us. Above all I thought of our old
homes, where I had spent sixteen happy years of my life. All seemed so
cold and so far away.

My thoughts came back to Tobolsk. Only recently we had discussed with
our friends here the historical background of this town. It frightened
me. I thought of the chapel adjoining the Metropolitan’s residence
where the Bell of Uglich was formerly hung. This bell summoned the
people of Uglich when Prince Dimitri, son of Ivan the Terrible, was
murdered in 1591. By an order presumably given by Boris Godunov, this
bell was transferred to Tobolsk, where it was damaged by fire and
recast. We too were transferred to Tobolsk, by Kerensky.

Father realized what the prison life had done to his family. We
once overheard Father saying to Prince Dolgorukov, in the presence
of Colonel Kobylinsky, that his heart was aching for his little
family whose life which had just begun was about to come to an end.
He continued, “During my whole life I tried to serve my country
faithfully, and if I have done wrong I am willing to suffer for it. I
am not sorry for myself or my wife, but for the children. It is a crime
to punish these innocent youngsters. They are so pure and so good. They
are the children of Russia.”

On New Year’s morning we went to church. It was one of the twelve
holidays on which we were permitted to attend services. The new priest
officiated but he appeared nervous. Then we heard that our former
priest, Father Vassiliev, who had officiated at the previous service,
had been taken away from the Abalak monastery. He was then tied, beaten
and thrown still alive into the Tobol River in front of the monastery.
It was very cold that morning. The temperature often went down to
25°-35° below zero. The church was unheated but dimly lighted, and we
could offer only one candle apiece. Although we were provided with
rugs, even then our feet were numb from the cold, but our hearts found
comfort, warmth and hope ahead. Due to the extreme cold, my sisters and
brother became ill again with the German measles. This time, however,
they were not so seriously ill as the previous year.

Through General Tatishchev Father was informed that we could not go
to church on Epiphany day, commemorating the baptism of our Lord,
which falls some twelve days after Christmas. It was decided to build
a movable altar in a corner of the big hall on the second floor,
where we took our lessons and gave our plays. Mother busied herself
by supervising the placing of the icons in their proper places. The
priest and the four nuns came to the house for the Divine Liturgy and
the Blessing of Water. Father and we children sang with the choir
which consisted of some members of our staff, including Nagorny,
Alexei’s servant, who had a very fine voice. At the end of the service,
according to custom, the priest dipped the cross into the water and
with it sprinkled the water in the air in the shape of a cross. We all
kissed the cross but when Alexei’s turn came to kiss it, the priest
bent over and kissed his forehead. It touched Alexei deeply. This
kindness meant so much to the little, frail boy. To the last he never
forgot this courtesy, nor did we. We “broke bread” with our friends in
the dining room downstairs.

It was on this day that Prince Dolgorukov and General Tatishchev
pleaded with Father to have his epaulettes removed. For the sake of his
family, finally Father gave in. Right then and there something died
within him. He did keep his St. George’s Cross and the French Croix de
Guerre. He was very proud of them. Father told his valet, Chemodurov,
that General Tatishchev should remove the epaulettes before brutal
hands touched them. With a painful expression the general removed them.
I remember when the St. George decorations were given to Father and
Alexei. General Ivanov sent Father’s friend Prince (Toly) Bariatinsky
to present these decorations while Father was home for a few days.

Practically buried by snow, we were permitted to make a mountain.
Hundreds of shovelsful of snow were carried up and covered with water,
which froze immediately. The process was repeated until a good sled
course was built. We helped our friends, Prince Dolgorukov and M.
Gilliard, as well as the soldiers, until we were exhausted.

January 12th/25th was Tatiana’s twenty-first name day. After the
Te Deum, which was held in the house, we all extended to her our
congratulations. Even the soldiers of the Fourth regiment presented her
with various blooming plants and flowers. Except for Mother, we had no
gifts for her.

We heard that Felix Youssoupoff was killed. Mother said, “God forgive
his mistakes.” Later the rumor was denied.

We had a swing in the back yard, but Nikolsky’s men at night wrote
vulgar words on the wooden seat board. We were forbidden to go near
it until Dr. Botkin, Colonel Kobylinsky or Pankratov had examined it.
Our outdoor exercises were limited to the small space allotted to us.
Each day they found something new to accuse us of. One afternoon Alexei
was on the front steps before the house, which were protected by a
wall about 2-3 feet high on either side. He heard some children on the
street and climbed on top of this wall which was about 35-40 feet from
the fence. Nikolsky saw Alexei from the window, and like a bullet ran
out of the house and loudly reprimanded the little boy, who had done no
harm. From then on we feared him.

From the window, hungrily, I watched the children romp and play all
wrapped up like little bear cubs in bright red felt boots. They rode
around in bright colored orange or red sleds, or were drawn by plucky
little horses which reminded me of the Crimea. These ponies looked so
warm in their winter “coats” and so alive as they tramped over the
packed snow with their bells ringing and jauntily pulled their sleighs
behind them. I pressed my face against the window. The jingling bells
outside and the icy cold of the window cutting into my cheek inside
were cruel substitutes for my great desire to go sleigh riding myself.

Nikolsky taught the soldiers all kinds of communistic doctrines which
he called Yurovsky’s teaching. At that time we did not know who this
evil Yurovsky was. The hatred Nikolsky taught to the men, he was to
experience himself. Soon afterwards the soldiers drove Nikolsky out.
Unfortunately, old Pankratov had to go too. His going was a loss to us
because he always defended us. From what we heard in advance about the
new commissar who was coming from Ekaterinburg, we were apprehensive.

There were many repercussions in store for us. All the old soldiers
of the Fourth and First regiments, who had come with us from Tsarskoe
Selo, were ordered to leave. Before they did so, however, they came
quietly one by one to Father’s study to say good-bye. Almost all of
them cried as Father embraced them and thanked them for their loyalty
to us. One of them brought a small body icon for Father to remember him
by, and another one brought with him a small notebook which he asked
us to autograph. Two men from the Fourth regiment refused to leave
the place, saying that they would stay to guard their Emperor. At the
point of a gun they were taken away and later we heard that they were
shot, near the river. When the last several hundred men were leaving,
they assembled on the street behind the fence in front of the house. We
all, even Mother, went part way to the snow mountain to see our friends
depart. We were never to see them again. The whole family and all
around us were crushed by their going and, as they went, our hopes left
with them.

We derived a lot of pleasure out of tobogganing on the snow mound we
had worked so hard to build. But our pleasure lasted only one month.
To the guards the snow mound was a sore spot and we tried to pacify
them by not going to its top, so as not to attract the attention of
passers-by who often gathered on the other side of the street to watch
us. Notwithstanding, the Soldiers’ Committee decided to have the mound
demolished. We soon heard heavy chopping and pounding in the garden,
and we knew then that the snow mound was being destroyed. They cut deep
notches across the mound so it could not be used for tobogganing and
in order to prevent us from looking across the street. We showed no
resentment at what they did, although in our hearts we felt differently.

Now we had even less space for exercise than we had had before and
we tried to amuse ourselves as we elbowed each other in the yard. We
looked at each other understandingly even though no words were uttered.

More bad news reached us, that agents of the underground, friends
and relatives of the men listed previously, continued to pour into
Russia from foreign countries by the thousand, followed later by
Generals Pilsudski and Ludendorff and Count von Mirbach, the German
Ambassador. We were told that all the buildings in Moscow including
all of the Imperial quarters in the Kremlin were taken over by these
intruders. These men ordered that the Russian Army be disbanded and
that all German and Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war be released from
the camps. These camps were scattered on the important railroad lines
and mining regions throughout the territories of Omsk, Tomsk, Tiumen,
Ekaterinburg, Cheliabinsk and other cities.

Up to now Father had refused to allow himself to be depressed. But this
time he no longer was able to hide his feelings. He suffered painfully,
because he believed his Allies, in whom he had had faith, had failed
to help him in these difficult times. They could have prevented these
men from coming to Russia. Instead, passports and other documents were
issued to them. Father said again that fifty years from now there would
be no democracy left, that when Russia falls the whole world will fall
with it. A year later, when I recalled these words, in 1919, I wrote in
my notebook, “Only the future will tell.”

Father was so distressed that he often sat up at night with only a
little flickering lamp in the corner of his study. Mother knew that
Father could not sleep. We heard the cracking of the floors which were
more pronounced at night. She had left her bedroom and gone to him. We
heard her say: “Nicky, are you not tired? Can you not sleep? I came to
keep you company, dear.” Said Father: “No, Alicky, I am not tired. I
thank you for thinking of me.” Such words of devotion and understanding
always rang in our ears.

The only joy we had at this time was whenever we heard from our family
or our friends. We longed so much to see our aunts, especially Aunt
Olga’s baby. Aunt Xenia’s letters described to us the little man so
charmingly that we felt as if we knew him.



XX DANGER


After Nikolsky and Pankratov left, Colonel Kobylinsky brought back
the key to the balcony which Nikolsky had taken away. Now Mother was
again able to sit on the balcony in the sun. For several months we
lived quietly and peacefully. But when the new guards came, our lives
saddened.

One day Olga was found crying. She had been unhappy. She said that
she had been observing the developments and believed that we were
doomed. Father sent for Colonel Kobylinsky who admitted that danger was
creeping upon us. Prince Dolgorukov and General Tatishchev believed
she was right and thought we should escape before the new commissar
from Ekaterinburg arrived. But our parents refused to leave Russia, and
would not think of separation. We humbly bowed our heads and accepted
the inevitable.

All of a sudden a change came into our lives. The Bolsheviks turned
their binoculars on us. One day Colonel Kobylinsky informed Father
that the Imperial family must go on rations, because keeping us was
too heavy a burden on the Communist regime. Each one of us was to
receive 600 rubles per month, the same as the soldiers. Father knew
nothing about the cost of the operation of our establishment. He asked
M. Gilliard, who was the most practical of all, to set up a budget and
Prince Dolgorukov and General Tatishchev to help him. When they came
with figures, it was concluded that ten servants had to be discharged.
My parents became terribly distressed and made all kinds of excuses:
this one had a sick mother, another had an invalid son, a third was
the sole supporter of his motherless children. What would happen to
all these families who came here from Tsarskoe Selo? It went on and
on. At last Gillek (M. Gilliard) and General Tatishchev made their own
decision, and ten servants came to thank us for treating them so kindly
in the past. It was sad losing them, though we could not foresee how
fortunate they were.

The new commissar from Ekaterinburg arrived and we heard that he had
brought with him about one hundred men, all fanatical Marxists. He was
a red-faced brute by the name of Zaslovsky, with a bad reputation.

No sooner had the new young men arrived than trouble developed between
them and the old soldiers who had refused them entry to our residence.
They became angry and threatened to storm the house. Colonel Kobylinsky
and Zaslovsky were bargaining all night downstairs. We dressed and sat
up expecting trouble. Long after midnight we heard familiar voices in
the corridor. Colonel Kobylinsky sent for more guards to insure our
safety. We heard some foreign voices coming from outside the gate, then
a loud voice saying, “I am following the orders of Colonel Kobylinsky.
I cannot let you in. Then speak to him.” As a result of this incident
Colonel Kobylinsky wanted to resign but Father persuaded him to stay
with us. We felt that his presence was helpful to us, even though we
knew that he had no power over the new soldiers.

Father believed that at least ten of the new men were disguised former
officers. However, if they were former officers they were helpless,
because Zaslovsky ordered more men from Tomsk. These men boasted that
they had killed the director of the Cadet School and destroyed the
headquarters of the Fourth Siberian Army Corps stationed in Tomsk. They
said that they had burned the house on Father’s estate in the town of
Bernaul on the river Ob and had killed the superintendent in charge.
Father had inherited several big estates with large milk and cheese
plants in Siberia. Tons of these products were distributed every year
to different charitable institutions. Father had visited his estates
during the construction of the Trans-Siberian railroad. Zaslovsky
bragged that they had already destroyed the gold smelting works and
had taken away all the available gold. They also tried to plunder the
monastery at Tomsk but were driven away by the monks. This is the
monastery that was referred to previously.

Zaslovsky brought us much misery and inexpressible horror right from
the start. He ordered us to keep from five to six feet away from the
fence, and to go out only under guard and only for thirty minutes
twice a day. Our outdoor exercise consisted mainly of cutting wood. We
performed this humble work in the back of the building cheerfully and
without complaining, and by so doing we helped members of our household
whose duty it was to supply the house with wood. Zaslovsky had our
house searched and several items belonging to Father were taken away.

Each day brought some new deprivations or restrictions and some fresh
heckling by the guards who took pleasure in humiliating us. In return
we acquiesced in their demands, disarmingly, at least outwardly.
Following Father’s example we accepted everything. Among the soldiers
only a few good men were left. In the past, each relay of guards had
started out to be severe, then gradually softened. But not these men.
They were a dangerous lot. In order to avoid trouble Father and his
friends--all of them understood carpentry--had earlier built a ladder
which led outside to the top of the roof of an unused greenhouse,
which had already been converted into a chicken coop. They also built
a platform where we could sit in the sun without being seen from the
street.

More restrictions were put on us. The last two days before Lent are by
custom days of merriment during which the people enjoy themselves at
concerts, balls and in many other ways. Zaslovsky, fearing riots by
the people, forbade us to leave the house during those two days. The
schools were closed and there was a constant flow of students from the
gymnasium. They were gay; we heard the bells ringing; the children
were expecting to see the monkey and to hear the organ grinder, who had
stopped before the house for Alexei to witness the spectacle and to
hear the children sing and play. But Zaslovsky had locked the balcony
door and had taken the key back to the office. We heard loud voices
outdoors; the guards were driving the students and the youngsters away
with the butts of their rifles. The youngsters ran and the students
cried: “Go back from where you came, you unwelcome guests.” Zaslovsky
said he would shoot anyone who came near the fence. In spite of the
warning, the passers-by continued to walk past the house, even more
than before. When the people saw us in the window, they always removed
their caps and bowed low.

Sorrow and dread were our constant companions. We woke up with sadness,
and went to bed in sadness. Father tried to read to us, but the silent
interchange of fear muddled the thread of the story he read. He tried
to make his voice firm and hopeful but it did not have the ring of
former days.

Up to now we were able to send and receive some letters from our
relatives in Ai-Todor in the Crimea. Now we heard that the mail service
was being discontinued. However, we continued to receive some letters.
Since Zaslovsky’s arrival we had stopped writing letters as we knew
that they would not be mailed. The last letter we received from the
Crimea told us that the family there had been separated. Aunt Xenia
with her family and Grandmother had been moved to the chateau of
Dyulber, belonging to the Grand Duke Peter Nicholaevich. Though they
were not far from the Youssoupoffs at Koreiz, still they could not see
each other.

A few weeks before our departure for Ekaterinburg we received a letter
from the family through a peasant woman from the Crimea. She had
carried this letter surreptitiously thousands of miles. Through her,
in return, we sent a letter to the family in the Crimea, together with
a photograph of the family--one of the few we had taken in Tobolsk.
It was our last link with Granny and our aunts. The very last letter
we received came from Irene Tatishcheva. A few of our letters were
returned to us undelivered.

We huddled closer together, not so much for warmth, as to feel the
strength of each other’s presence. In the evening we dreaded to think
of what the morning would bring. Morning returned with the same
overhanging fear. Mother’s first words were: “Thank God for the night
just past and for the breaking of the new day. Also for giving me such
a good family. The Almighty is watching over us.” Then Father read from
the Bible some reassuring message.

Our brief walks around the yard brought us no inspiration. They were
cut shorter. Mother assured us that God was with us even in our trials.
No harm could come to those who had faith in Him. He is putting us
to the test. What good is our religion if we are not victorious over
suffering? So we continued to endure, brightening the darkness in our
hearts with the trust that in time God would lead the way to our safety.

Not being able to attend church was our hardest punishment. Mother
especially missed this spiritual support. It had helped us. We had
found there the answer to our prayers, and temporary relief. Tatiana
made her decision to sacrifice her life in search of theological
subjects. She became stronger and firmer in her belief and spent part
of the day in reading the Testaments. Mother was a tower of strength to
us. She was full of resourcefulness and hope, continually replenished
by faith. We felt sure our fate was in the hands of God. This trust
in Him made Father calm and resigned. He was one of those who had the
truth within him. He carried his grief silently and maintained his high
spirits for the sake of his family. We shuddered at the thought of
being separated and clung closer together.

Suffering had made Mother meek and more tender and her soul had grown
stronger. Under Mother’s influence Olga composed a prayer which
follows:

    Give patience, Lord, to us Thy children,
    In these dark, stormy days to bear
    The persecution of our people,
    The tortures falling to our share.
      Give strength, just God, to us who need it,
      The persecutors to forgive,
      Our heavy, painful cross to carry
      And Thy great meekness to achieve.
    When we are plundered and insulted,
    In days of mutinous unrest,
    We turn for help to Thee, Christ-Saviour,
    That we may stand the bitter test.
      Lord of the World, God of Creation,
      Give us Thy Blessing through our prayer,
      Give peace of heart to us, O Master,
      This hour of utmost dread to bear.
    And on the threshold of the grave,
    Breathe power divine into our clay
    That we, Thy children, may find strength
    In meekness for our foes to pray.

Zaslovsky hated everybody. He even kicked our friendly dog Lisa,
because the dog wanted to make friends with him. He also beat the dog
in the yard and stepped on our cat without any reason. He said that
before he left he would do away with all our pets. We suffered and our
animals clung to us. When they heard his loud voice downstairs, they
all ran and hid under Mother’s chaise longue. Eventually the soldiers
drove Zaslovsky away and he went back to Ekaterinburg.

In the meantime our finances were getting low and Anna Vyrubova made
an arrangement with a banker named Yaroshinsky to send us some money
through Soloviev, the husband of Matriona, Rasputin’s older daughter.
Marie and I knew Yaroshinsky from Tsarskoe Selo. He had financed
Marie’s and my hospital and we had seen him occasionally. He spoke
poor Russian with a Polish accent. He told us once that he had an
uncle who was a cardinal in Italy. Soloviev was entrusted with several
thousands of rubles and some letters to be delivered to us. We did not
know Soloviev but knew that Anna trusted him and that he had delivered
some letters to Tobolsk previously. We received only thirty thousand
rubles out of the three hundred thousand that were sent to us by
Anna. Later in Ekaterinburg we were shown copies of all letters and
records of the money, which Soloviev took as a payment for spying on
us. Because he was the husband of Matriona, Anna had confidence in him
in financial and other matters. Dr. Botkin told Father that Yurovsky
said that Soloviev and Yaroshinsky were friends of General Pilsudski,
Lenin and Trotsky and of Voykov (who later, it seems, signed the death
verdict of the Imperial family).

We still had about 35-40 employees whose wages we were unable to meet.
Food became a problem. We had no sugar, coffee or butter. When the good
people of Tobolsk learned of the conditions in the Governor’s house
they sent us whatever they had. Some of the merchants and the heads of
the city had met Father in 1891 when, on his way home from Japan, he
had made an extensive tour throughout Siberia. At that time the museum
of Tobolsk was established and Father deposited a great deal of money
in the Imperial banks for the upkeep of this museum. Magazines and
articles were sent to us and we read them with interest. Incidentally
it was twenty-seven years later, in July also, when the murder took
place in Ekaterinburg, July 16th-17th, 1918.

One morning we awoke to an acute misery; Alexei was ill. The dreaded
disease had returned. And now our previous deprivations seemed
insignificant. The youngster’s resistance had been lessened. He was
thin and unable to take the food offered him. As always Mother nursed
him. Her care for him was the same but her affection for him had
changed. My heart tells me not to say that, but conscience tells me
otherwise. Alexei sensed it. I remember how much Mother loved her
precious “Agoo” and wanted to have him close to her on the chaise
longue. I can still see this little boy under a blue silk and lace
cover lying on her chaise, or later, his hand in her hand, going into
his bedroom to say a prayer. M. Gilliard and all the others knew of the
change on Mother’s part, and they gave Alexei more love now to make up
for the loss of a part of his Mother’s affection. We sisters became
much closer to him, and our hearts formed as one and this one we gave
to our unfortunate brother and to our Father who suffered so much.

Following the incident when Nagorny was caught carrying a letter from
Alexei to Dr. Derevenko’s son, the Doctor was not permitted to come
to the house. But now his services were needed and he, at last, was
allowed to see his patient.

When the conditions became dangerously bad, following Nikolsky’s
departure, Father wrote an important document about the war, which was
placed in a safe place until a change in the Government should occur.
At that time it was to be released to the proper authorities. It was
left in care of four men and it was endorsed and countersigned by at
least four persons.

A treaty between Bolshevik Russia and Germany was now in the process
of being signed. We were told that one of its provisions was that the
Imperial family was to be brought to Moscow unharmed. Evidently the
Germans suspected that our captors were dangerous and would not spare
our lives. Father feared if the family went to Moscow, he might be
forced to sign the treaty in order to save his family’s life. He said:
“Now the people know who are the real traitors to Russia. All these
years they have been accusing Mother for being a spy and wanting to
sign a separate treaty with Germany.”

Father blamed the downfall of the Russian Army--our national pride--on
Kerensky, Guchkov, Ruzsky and Shulgin. He said that now Germany would
get all kinds of concessions, which would reduce Russia to poverty,
but that Germany would not enjoy these concessions. The treaty was
prepared in advance by Tsederbaum, Bronstein, Apfelbaum, Rosenfeld and
others--better known to the world today as Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev,
Kamenev. Not many Russians among them, but traitors. I well remember
that as we sat one evening, Father said to Prince Dolgorukov, “Valia,
you remember the time when I refused even to consider a separate treaty
with Germany. I would not accept any appeasement after the loss of
thousands of lives and all the property damage. I was determined to
bring Germany to her knees. Even if I had signed a separate treaty,
Germany would have paid for all the damage done, and now she is going
to get from the traitors anything she wants.” Father went on, “Germany
will not enjoy the things she has done to us, and our Allies will not
either. They are digging their own graves and soon they will be buried
in them. If Russia falls, the whole world will topple with her, and
within fifty years from now there will be no democracy left, believe
me, Valia.” I remember the last words as though they were spoken only
yesterday.

By betraying his country he would have bought freedom for himself and
his family. Every soldier knew that Russia was betrayed and that the
propaganda about my family was totally untrue. But they were helpless.
Father never lived for himself but for his people; they sinned against
him and still he loved them. Mother said the time would come when
they would stand before Him to answer for murdering our country. The
Bolsheviks had every reason to remove Father and all male Romanovs,
because by so doing they would eliminate all interference with their
plans, and no emperor would ever be in power again.

Lenin had a personal hatred for the Imperial family. He waited for an
opportunity to get his revenge. When Father was a young man, he and
his parents were on their way to the Caucasus when the train in which
they were riding was derailed and eighty people lost their lives and
many more were injured. The roof of the Imperial car was on the verge
of collapse when my Grandfather, Alexander III, held the roof on his
shoulders, preventing further disaster. Six years afterwards he died
as a result of the injuries he suffered on that day. The conspirators
who caused this derailment were Lenin and his brother. Lenin’s brother
was caught and was executed. Lenin himself escaped abroad. The Russian
people did not know that Lenin was one of the Ulianov-Tsederbaum
brothers. Later it was established that Lenin himself was the
mastermind in causing this accident. Little did the people suspect that
he was later also an agent of the German government. Trotsky’s brother
was also a revolutionary; he was hanged in 1905. Lenin and Trotsky came
to Russia shortly after Father’s abdication. Once my Granny told me
if Grandfather had not held up the roof of the railway car they would
all have been crushed. Aunt Olga suffered an injury to her back, and
Granny to an arm. From the life-size painting which hung in Father’s
billiard room, I judge my Grandfather to have been enormous, with broad
shoulders and colorful, healthy cheeks, a handsome specimen. I would
not be surprised if his voice was a deep baritone, like the voice of
a lion roaring throughout the vast rooms of the Gatchina Palace. That
kind of impression my giant Grandfather made on me.

Father was emphatic about two things: He would accept nothing from
Germany and would not permit the family to become separated. After
seeing what these people had done to Father, we sisters, though we
longed for freedom and an opportunity to enjoy our life, young as we
were, were ready to sacrifice everything and even die to save our
country.

A new detachment of guards arrived from Moscow under the supervision of
a man named Yakovlev. He had been in Tobolsk for several days and no
one knew the reason for his being in town. Before the thirteenth day of
each month approached we feared some kind of trouble, and the 13th of
April was no exception. On this day Yakovlev put under arrest General
Tatishchev, Prince Dolgorukov, Countess Hendrikova, Mlle. Schneider and
Mr. Gibbs. They were ordered to move into our house.

After all the rooms had been searched, Yakovlev, wanting to be sure
that Alexei was ill, brought in a doctor from the outside, who soon
verified the boy’s illness.

I remember a conversation one evening with Count Tatishchev. Prior to
the war he represented Father at the German Court and spoke German
fluently. During the war he questioned German prisoners who told him
that their officers were dissatisfied and that even Von Moltke, the
German Commander in the field, was disgusted the way things were going
by 1917, and was in favor of putting the Kaiser under arrest; that
virtually the Kaiser was a prisoner at his own headquarters and no
longer had the power to do anything about the situation. Besides, it
was further said, Germany was at the point of collapse.

Ludendorff was then master of the Army and the Empire. It was the
Russian revolution which was so skillfully promoted by the traitors who
had settled for a while in Switzerland that saved Germany. Had it been
delayed even by as short a period as three months, victory would have
been ours.

Another evening the subject of discussion was the treaty which was
about to be signed. As usual we were gathered in the big hall. With us
were Prince Dolgorukov, General Tatishchev, M. Gilliard and Mr. Gibbs;
also the two ladies in waiting, Mlle. Hendrikova and Mlle. Schneider,
both of whom were later killed outside of Perm. Father turned to
General Tatishchev and said: “General, do you remember the letter that
Wilhelm wrote to me in which he said that he wanted to sign a separate
treaty with Russia, after which the whole affair would be forgotten
and the two countries would be friends again?” Across the face of that
letter Father had written: “Our friendship is dead.” There was a second
letter, this one to Count Benckendorff, in which the Kaiser asked the
Count to speak to Father about a treaty with Germany.

We all knew about these letters as we were at General Headquarters at
the time. Father showed these letters to Sir John Hanbury-Williams and
the other members of the Foreign High Command. His own reaction (which
may have been sent to Berlin by Count Benckendorff) to these letters
was, “If the Kaiser wants peace, let him make his proposals to all my
Allies; a separate treaty with Russia alone is out of the question. No
treaty without indemnities to my country and my Allies.”

Prince Dolgorukov said to Olga, “Knowing how honest His Majesty is, he
would and could not break the promise he made when he put his hand on
the Bible, assumed the purple and was crowned, and received the Orb and
the Sceptre. At the same time he kneeled in prayer to guide him in his
service as Tsar and Judge of the Russian Empire and to keep his heart
in the will of God asking for His guidance to help him in his task to
rule wisely and be a true father to his people, in order that on the
Day of Judgment he may answer without shame.” During the proclamation
of war Father again swore with his hand on the Bible never to make a
peace with the enemy as long as one enemy soldier was on his soil.

Father would never have betrayed his Allies. However, the Allies did
not recognize his loyalty to them and his unwillingness to sign a
separate treaty with the Central Powers. Because of his loyalty and
their failure to recognize it, he underwent great spiritual suffering,
particularly because he knew that it would mean the end of Russia at a
time when he so needed the support of the Allies which they failed to
give. Even the Bolshevik leaders feared that the stubborn Emperor might
be a threat to them, and decided that the only thing left to do was to
kill him. Father might still be alive today, if he had been willing to
betray his Allies. It was known that Wilhelm had more confidence in
Father for keeping his word in honorable dealings than in his other
cousins.



XXI SEPARATION


At this time the new commissar informed Father that he would have to
leave Tobolsk within twenty-four hours; and that, because he could
not take along the entire family on account of Alexei’s inability to
travel, he could take with him any other member of the family who
wished to accompany him. That meant separation, the thing we dreaded
most. Mother was caught between two tortures, at Yakovlev’s mercy. If
she accompanied her husband, she must leave behind her sick boy, who
needed her above everything else. But should Father face whatever was
ahead alone? Suppose he was to be tried and questioned, would he not
need her support? Might they not try to force him to sign the shameful
Brest-Litovsk treaty, by threatening to kill his family? Yet Alexei
might die without Mother. And what about Father? Did this mean death
for him? We knew that all this was surging through Mother’s tormented
mind, just as it was through ours.

General Tatishchev wanted to go with Father and said: “Your Majesty,
you will not sign anything. They will have to kill us both.”

Olga was like a mother to Alexei. With Gillek, our loyal friend at his
side, and Dr. Derevenko across the street, Alexei would be well cared
for. At last Tatiana spoke up. She suggested that Mother and Marie go
with Father. We knew that was the right suggestion. We knew also how
Mother and Alexei would grieve for each other. In the midst of this
discussion Father, as was always his habit, went outside in the yard
to be alone and not show his agony to others. He had always found the
answer to his problems when alone, but this time he had none.

Father was supposed to leave at night, but it was decided to wait till
morning when it would be safer to travel on the river. If only they
could wait a few days, perhaps Alexei would be able to go with them. It
was decided that General Tatishchev should stay in Tobolsk while Dr.
Botkin, Prince Dolgorukov, Chemodurov (father’s old attendant) Sidniev
(our footman) and Anna Demidova, Mother’s maid, would go with them.
Colonel Kobylinsky selected eight soldiers of our guard, under the
supervision of eight officers, who would accompany them on this trip.

All day we moved about in a daze, as if we were under hypnotism. Mother
ordered her most needed articles to be packed. Tatiana with trembling
hands placed them in the suitcase. She swallowed fast to turn back the
tears but in spite of stoical efforts more than one tear dropped on the
articles and sank deep out of sight. Alexei cried incessantly. With him
was Gillek (Gilliard), his faithful tutor. Alexei called for Mother
for hours but she could not go to him. She could not hide her tears.
At last she found strength to see him. When Gillek left the room,
Mother threw herself on her knees in front of his bed and her face next
to his, though she could not control her emotions. Her arms around
Alexei’s thin body, she wept bitterly over the sick boy, “We will be
back in a few days. We will soon be together.” A few drops of valerian
were given him. While she sat in a chair, holding his hand, Alexei fell
asleep. Then Mother bent over him and kissed her sick boy. He woke
up and started to cry again. We could all see that she had prepared
herself for this ordeal.

Mother understood the seriousness of this trip, that it might mean the
death of all three of them. They all accepted it stoically in the hope
that it might save their country even though it could lead to the loss
of their lives.

The presence of new guards produced another problem, but Colonel
Kobylinsky promised that he would see to it that all who remained
behind would be cared for by him personally and that he would have the
few remaining old soldiers on guard in the house and watching over us.
Countess Hendrikova and Mlle. Schneider were to move in with us.

When all the business was finished, late at night we all assembled in
the large hall. All the employees, with tear-stained eyes, came to say
good-bye to those who were leaving. Mother embraced all the women and
Father all the men. After tea our friends from downstairs departed. The
family did not go to bed; our friends also stayed up all night. At 3:30
A.M. tea was again served to the travellers. All changed into clothes
for the trip and took with them a few valuables which could be sold, if
necessary. But upon their arrival in Ekaterinburg, Mother’s and Marie’s
handbags were searched and the contents confiscated.

Mother drew us daughters into our room. We gathered around her. Then
and there I suddenly realized what Tobolsk had done to her. Mother’s
hair was partly grey and her eyes were sunken deep in her head. Her
beautiful skin was lined and transparent, and her neck thin and drawn.
Her clothes hung on her wasted frame--she cared little how much she
had aged. She was speaking slowly as if the choke in her throat would
not let the words come through. “My only desire,” she said, “is that
should we ever be scattered outside of Russia, I hope none of you
will ever choose Germany, and that you will never do anything to
disgrace yourselves. There will be some people who will try to put you
in a compromising position--to take advantage of your youth. Always
keep respectable. Never marry for wealth or power, only for love and
devotion. The greatest happiness I can ask for you, if ever you will
marry, is that you will love your husbands as I do mine, your dear
Father, and we are thankful, for He has rewarded us by giving us such
an understanding family.”

We fell on our knees while she prayed for our safekeeping. Then she
drew each one of us to her and kissed us feverishly. She embraced us
together, then tore herself from our clinging arms and started toward
the door. Suddenly she was back again to hug us once more. Again and
again she tried to leave. Each time she came back.

Until the last moment we could not believe that God would let this
separation take place. Not only that we feared what would happen to
them when they reached their destination, but there was the dangerous
river to cross for which one closed carriage and several _tarantasy_
(Siberian primitive open carriages) were provided, now that the ice
was thawing. The night was dark and cold. It was safer to start early
in the morning, because the river freezes overnight, and they had to
travel in the middle of the river where the ice was thicker and safer.

Without a word, Marie clutched my hand; my arms flew around her. With
burning cheeks our lips met. Then and there I felt that a great part of
my life was gone. Marie was my other half.

Father was the most possessed of us all. He was so brave, parting from
him was the hardest, for we might never see him again. Mother was gone.
We stood there motionless, not yet believing, staring at the door she
had just passed through. She was heading for Alexei’s room. We knew
that she wanted to be with him alone. We could see into the room. She
found him crying with his head buried under the covers. He always
thought it was bad taste to cry before others.

Through the mist in our eyes we saw Father standing. He was white, but
with a faint smile on his face, he said: “Come now, children. We will
only be away for a short time. Hurry Alexei’s recovery so that he will
be well enough to travel.”

Somehow we passed the intervening hours with the servants, those
faithful few who had given us their all in their desire to lessen our
suffering, friends whose loyalty had lightened our burdens. Now these
friends were pouring out their love and devotion we so needed, all the
time assuring us of their watchfulness over Alexei and ourselves.
Nothing would happen to him or to us sisters. We never could have
gotten through that night without our friends.

Each moment we thought to be the last, yet each moment was filled with
the hope that the trip would be called off. The minutes passed into
hours. Midnight, morning, each second was filled with listening dread.
Then came the guards, and Colonel Kobylinsky and Yakovlev. Mother went
again into Alexei’s room as he was still crying. Almost gayly she
assured him she would be back soon. Father made a cross over us, gave
his blessing and kissed our wet cheeks. “All ready,” a voice came.
“Certainly,” Father answered. We followed our parents out of the house
and stood on the steps to see them seated in the waiting _tarantasy_.
In one a mattress had been rolled to make a seat; it was covered with
a blanket. This vehicle, drawn by three horses, Mother and Marie
occupied. The other one had a bundle of straw to serve as a seat, which
also was covered with a blanket. Father and Yakovlev got into this
one. There were also _tarantasy_ to carry the others, all the luggage
and three folding beds. The guards stepped aside; the gate opened and
closed. They were gone. Prince Dolgorukov, Dr. Botkin, Chemodurov and
Anna Demidova were with them. The officers and soldiers were following
on horseback.

The gate closed at 4:00 A.M., April 26th, 1918, new style, leaving us
standing there in tragic silence, confused, frightened, bewildered as
to our future. We ran to our room, threw ourselves on the beds and
sobbed until we could cry no more. Our dear friend Gillek was with
Alexei. We could not get to him. He understood. Thank God, for our
loyal friends who defended us. How much they suffered on account of us!
And how many good people lost their lives to save us. God give them
everlasting peace.

Alexei was calling. The room was full of his calls, pitiful calls
for Mother and Father. Tatiana bent over him tenderly with both arms
wrapped around his frail body. From utter exhaustion his cries grew
fainter. She pressed him close. At last he quieted down and fell asleep
in his new mother’s arms.

After the parents left, we sisters assumed additional duties. I,
being of a restless nature, was given the task of entering all bills
and receipts in a big book at the end of each day. The first time I
opened the book I found inside many bills and copies of receipts and
promissory notes that were given to merchants by Prince Dolgorukov
and General Tatishchev. On inquiry we found out that when the expense
money which had been promised to Father by Kerensky and which was to
be drawn from our own funds, had failed to come, our household bills
had been cared for, unbeknown to Father, by Prince Dolgorukov and
General Tatishchev. When their own personal funds were exhausted,
these good friends of ours gave the merchants their own personal notes
guaranteeing payment of these debts. This fact was kept secret from
Father.

The same railroad for which Father and his forefathers laid the first
stone in construction was now to carry him to his death. All was left
for the new masters who claimed credit for everything and who even
changed the names of our once proud cities, universities, hospitals,
palaces, museums, industrial and other enterprises, regarding which
they had nothing in common except the desire to blow them up at the
first opportunity. They renamed them after the worst thieves and
murderers in all history. Petrograd, built by Peter the Great, they
changed to Leningrad after that murderer, Lenin, whose body upon his
death became black and so badly decomposed that the poor chemist was
shot because he was not able to complete the process of embalming.

The leaders went into the prisons where among thousands of innocent
officers, clergymen and others, they found a man resembling Lenin.
At four o’clock in the morning they shot the innocent victim and his
body was embalmed. Later that same morning Lenin’s body was disposed
of. Today millions of tourists see this mausoleum on Red Square close
to the wall of the Kremlin. Within a short distance of the red brick
wall lie the Holy Sanctuaries. Here are the remains of the murdered man
under glass. If you should see this man, do not condemn him, for he is
an innocent victim, but pray for him that his suffering was not long.
I have heard this from a friend who met a sister of the nurse who was
present at this event.

The curtain had fallen on the travellers--Father, Mother and Marie.
They had left. The new day could not draw the curtain aside to permit
one look into their uncertain future. Only our anxiety could keep them
from continuing the trip and force them to return. Perhaps the river
would prove impassable and they would have to wait for the thaw, when
we could all go together. If Alexei’s illness had not delayed our
trip, perhaps we would all have been taken to Moscow. Probably Mother
would have given her consent that the children go abroad, and she and
Father would have stayed in Russia. This matter was laid before her,
but she would not listen. She emphasized that the trial was only the
preparation of the spirit; she was willing to die for her country. She
prepared us to believe her belief. Olga, Marie, Alexei and I were not
willing, Tatiana accepted the inevitable.

We received no news to break our apprehension; no sunshine dispelled
our dread. Dread loomed everywhere, but we knew we must not give in but
hope this trip would bring betterment to our lives. There was Alexei to
cheer and there were new guards to win over.

At night we heard heavy footsteps and the clicking of arms. Every
sound suggested fear. We heard that Count Benckendorff was negotiating
with Mirbach for our rescue. Olga kept warning us to be particularly
careful. “Now that we are alone, we must be cautious with those cruel
men,” she said. When Dr. Botkin left us, we lost one of our staunchest
protectors. Now our good friend and tutor, M. Gilliard, played the role
of a brother to us. Other friends who had moved into our house were
now fellow prisoners. They were helpless but at least we had them as
consultants. Colonel Kobylinsky, that blessed little man, was still
with us. It gave us comfort. Others too were protecting us, including
General Tatishchev, Mlle. Bittner, Shura Tegleva, and Alexei’s faithful
Ukrainian servant, Nagorny.

The guards continued to flow into Alexei’s room to check on his health.
They still did not believe he was ill. We sisters were anxious for
Alexei to be well, so that when the river thawed we should be able to
follow our parents. Meantime one of the men who drove the family half
way to Tiumen brought a letter from Marie describing the incredible
condition of the river. It was a miracle that Mother had survived
that trip. We were sick at heart that they were suffering there,
while here we suffered just as much. The new guards were rough and
frightening. We submitted to their tyranny, making no challenge to
their disagreeableness. But we were eager for any news which might come
to us through Colonel Kobylinsky. Now the poor man had grown nervous
and troubled, his hands shook and a strain was noticeable on his face.

The following day Colonel Kobylinsky brought word that the family was
safely on the train. The destination was not mentioned. Then came a
short note from Mother addressed to us all. It said the journey had
been very difficult but they were on the train. We tried hard to read
between the lines but found nothing more there.

Day after day followed monotonously; anxiety made us too tired to
think; and we lost interest in our studies. In spite of M. Gilliard’s
and Mlle. Bittner’s gentle approach, we could not concentrate on our
lessons.

We grieved for those we loved most. Every turn we made, the emptiness
reminded us of the former times and we were unable to escape from that
feeling. Our hearts beat painfully without refreshing news.

The Holy Week was unbearably sad. Almost four days passed without news.
At last on Good Friday, Colonel Kobylinsky received a telegram. It
read, “We are safe.”

The only comfort we had was when we noticed an improvement in Alexei’s
health. We tried to amuse him, but he too had no thought beyond what
was happening to Mother and Father. Now I realized why Mother had taken
Marie with her. In case of separation from her husband, she would not
be left alone. Marie had the patience of a saint, her presence would be
comforting to both.

Olga was frail in nature. Mother had wished to spare her this trip if
possible. Tatiana would take the responsibility for Alexei’s care.
To alleviate the boredom, I had been given the responsibility of
keeping the family accounts and soon assumed the role of family banker
and bookkeeper. A special permit was required each day for our food
purchases. Every evening, I entered in the ledger all our expenditures;
General Tatishchev made me believe I was indispensable in that capacity.

Nagorny was a godsend to Alexei. He slept in Alexei’s room and kept the
boy busy, amusing him with tales of his province in the Ukraine; of the
great poet Taras Shevchenko, and he recited some pastoral and other
poems, including “Naimichka” (The Maid), a beautiful poem. This great
poet asked to be buried in the expanse of the golden wheat fields on
the broad Dneiper River. Here Alexei used to wade and play in the sand
at General Headquarters in Mogilev.

Our days were long, but the nights were even longer. On Easter Eve we
were permitted to attend the midnight service in the big drawing room.
It was a sad performance. We heard that the guards had completely
disrobed the priest and searched him thoroughly. They searched the
nuns, too, who came to sing in the service. They insulted them. During
the service the guards were disturbing and hurled improper remarks. Had
we known what would happen, we would not have requested the service at
all.

Outside there was the constant sound of footsteps on the wooden
sidewalk. Now that the snow had begun to melt, the garden was full of
slush. Soon we were not allowed to go out at all. We waited anxiously
for Alexei to get well and for the ice to melt on the river. Then we
received a letter, ominously brief. It said the family had halted at
Ekaterinburg. They were safe, but there was no detailed explanation.
All three of them were accommodated in one room. Marie slept on the
floor. We were grateful that Father, in particular, had not been taken
to Moscow where he would have met a disastrous end, because he would
never have agreed to sign a treaty harmful to his country.

We knew of Ekaterinburg from Father and General Tatishchev. We had
passed around the city on the train en route to Tiumen the summer
before.

Coincidentally the founder of Ekaterinburg was an ancestor of General
Tatishchev who had dedicated the name Ekaterinburg to the Empress
Catherine the Great. General Tatishchev was destined to be shot in his
ancestor’s city of Ekaterinburg years afterwards. My Father had many
friends and relatives interested in different business enterprises. The
Imperial family owned the stone cutting works and had other commercial
operations. Close friends of ours had extensive businesses in this
region. Knowing this vicinity General Tatishchev spent several evenings
telling us about the city, where two months later my family, and he as
well, were destined to be murdered.

Alexei was nearly well but the river was still not open for navigation.
Any day, however, the conditions would be right for our departure. The
Commandant ordered Dr. Derevenko to let him know the minute the boy
would be able to travel. Once more our house was searched. They took
many of Father’s belongings.

The men who guarded us at this time were the most vicious we had had.
They hurled obscene words at us, then laughed at our flushed faces.
Rodionov, the new commissar, was a wild bloodthirsty Latvian, always
insulting. He took several pieces of our valuable possessions as
souvenirs. Now almost all our guards were completely new and strange
to us. The only friendly ones who remained were those who, thanks to
Colonel Kobylinsky, were posted at each door. They were old guards and
saw to it that only his own men could enter our rooms.

We received orders not to lock our doors at night: our last bulwark
of privacy was removed. On the pretense of finding out whether we
were asleep, at any time of night, a guard without knocking or asking
for permission was free to enter our bedrooms and other rooms. Now
that Marie was gone, we three sisters remained in the same corner
bedroom. Being frightened, we took turns guarding our room at night.
While the other two slept, one of us sat up in bed on watch, wrapped
in a blanket. When the floors creaked, we knew that the guard was
approaching, and the one on watch would lie down pretending to be
asleep.

We became insensitive to the new guards and were no longer annoyed by
their overbearing conduct. Our worst anxiety was to get some news from
Colonel Kobylinsky, but he did not appear; not in the morning, not in
the afternoon, not the next day. What did all this mean? He had never
stayed away so long. Finally the news came; our beloved Colonel had
become ill and had been sent away just a few days before our nearing
departure and was not permitted to say good-bye. We hoped our parents
were not informed about this. It would add greatly to their troubled
minds.

The guards were now everywhere, even at the door of our bathroom. We
never went alone to bathe, always Shura or Mlle. Schneider was with
us. One morning Tatiana crossed the hall on her way to the dressing
room. A guard followed her closely, though she was not at first aware
of it. When she heard footsteps behind her, she turned back suddenly
and bumped into Rodionov, thus crashing into the wall. He had something
hard on his person which hit her breast, so that she was pained and
frightened. She screamed. When we arrived she was trembling and ghastly
pale. She did not get over the shock for some time. After this incident
none of us dared go into the bathroom alone. Always Volkov, Mother’s
old groom of the chamber, or Nagorny paced back and forth in the hall.

From then on we assumed a mock respectfulness, hoping to shame these
men and to arouse their conscience. We believed the only way we could
hold them at bay was by appealing to their sense of honor. But the way
they leered and chuckled gave us a feeling of hopelessness. Without my
Father, Dr. Botkin, or Colonel Kobylinsky they might dare anything.

May 6th, old style, was my Father’s birthday, his second during our
captivity. It was distressing to think this was the first time in our
lives we could not congratulate him. Marie told us later that Mother
and Father wished to have a service in Ekaterinburg on that day, but no
priest was permitted to come to the house.

More than ever we were anxious to be on our way. The desire to be with
our parents was above all else. Yet we wanted to do nothing which might
harm our brother. The lack of letters and news from our family spelled
tragic overtones. One or two letters did arrive from Dr. Botkin to
his son Gleb and daughter Tatiana, and they managed to relay news to
us. But these messages told little beyond the word “well.” That word
told us they were alive but were so restricted they were unable to
communicate with us.

At last the river opened and the boats could navigate. Alexei, though
far from well was able to sit up in a wheel chair. We hoped the trip
might help him to get his strength more quickly, especially the thought
that he was on the way to his Mother might prove a tonic. With this
idea in mind we persuaded Dr. Derevenko to tell the Commandant that
Alexei was able to travel. At once he was glad to comply with our
wishes, since our condition was so wretched.

For some time in anticipation of this signal our suitcases had been
packed. We had very few clothes with us. But Anna Demidova on behalf
of Mother wrote to us from Ekaterinburg, that the medicine (meaning
the jewels) should be packed carefully. General Tatishchev took the
inventory; there were not many pieces, but they were invaluable. The
General estimated the value of the stones and other items at between
three and four million rubles. He and Gillek (M. Gilliard) and Shura
Tegleva took great care in placing them in our clothes, suitcases,
and pillows. We were to carry these things with us. Some of the
large stones had been removed from their settings in Tsarskoe Selo.
Mother also had taken from her big trunk in Tsarskoe Selo a few small
valuable laces, which she always supervised when the inventory of these
priceless pieces was taken, usually twice a year.

It had now been three weeks since our parents had left and we had lived
through all kinds of hardships. The night before we were notified that
our departure was scheduled in the morning at 11:00 A.M. The guards
were standing at each street corner, as they hurriedly whisked us
through the streets to the dock.

On May 20th, 1918, we boarded the “Rossia,” the same boat that brought
us to Tobolsk almost ten months before. No other boats followed
us. We reached the steamer before noon, but not until late in the
afternoon did we start to move. No one was allowed on the dock but in
the afternoon people crowded on the river bank to see us depart. Some
pressed handkerchiefs to their faces, some wiped their eyes with their
long sleeves, some made crosses in the air or on their breasts. When
the crowds grew larger we were told to get back into our cabins, which
were damp and cold.

About an hour or so later, before our departure, we were allowed to
come out on the upper deck. We recognized some familiar faces on the
shore, but were puzzled not to see the Botkin children among the
people. We could not later explain the reason to their father. Upon our
arrival in Ekaterinburg, fearing for their safety, Dr. Botkin addressed
a letter to Voykov in regard to their coming, but the sinner’s eyes
were closed. Later Nagorny told us that one man had called out:
“Lunatics, what are you doing to this innocent family? God will punish
you for your brutality.” Rodionov, having heard this remark, said to
us, “Your friends called us lunatics.” They were lucky that the boat
was sailing, otherwise not one of them would be alive now.



PART V Ekaterinburg



XXII REUNION


With us on the “Rossia” were General Tatishchev, Mlle. Hendrikova, Iza
Buxhoeveden, M. Gilliard, Sidney Gibbs and Mlle. Schneider, who had
once taught Russian to Mother and Aunt Ella; also Alexei Dmitriev, the
hairdresser; Alexandra Tegleva, governess; Elizabeth Ersberg and Miss
Tutelberg (“Tootles”) and Alexei (Diatka) Volkov, Mother’s groom of the
chamber; valet Trup; Leonid Sidniev, Klementy Nagorny, Ivan Kharitonov,
and others.

We were concerned about Alexei, so we went to his cabin and to our
dismay we found that he and Nagorny had been locked up in the cabin for
the night. Dr. Derevenko, too, was not permitted to see my brother. The
Doctor and Nagorny protested such cruelty toward the sick boy. Rodionov
shouted back, saying, “You will see who is running this boat.” Then
after a series of curses in Russian and expressions in some foreign
language, he continued: “I have orders to shoot anyone who resists.”
No more could be said or done, and we were thankful that Nagorny was
with him. We were not allowed to close our cabin doors. The trip to
Ekaterinburg would not be long! We did so hope nothing would happen to
Alexei now at the last minute. The spring air on the river Tobol--the
little that sifted through our windows--was refreshingly sweet, though
the cabins were raw and chilly. The next day they permitted us to sit
on deck. We could see the shores were a fused iridescence of the early
tree leaves; the stream was swollen and formed numerous little lakes.
From our midstream view the world seemed tenderly beautiful. Could our
world be tender? Was this a new beginning, or an end?

The guards armed with bayonets were everywhere, dampening any desire on
our part to indulge in any kind of conversation. Whoever spoke to us
had to raise his voice well above normal, speak in Russian only, and
sit at some distance from us. We were happy when Alexei was allowed to
be carried out on the deck in his wheel chair. He remained quietly in
the sunshine; his eyes followed M. Gilliard whenever he left him for a
moment. Alexei was very attached to this faithful friend and protector.
He was afraid to talk for fear he might be locked up in his cabin
again. He sat worried and forlorn, occupied with troubled thoughts. The
little fellow realized the seriousness of his trip, he was obviously in
deep agony. Our hearts beat painfully for him. We tried to play some
games but none could concentrate. We spoke little for fear they might
misinterpret our most innocent conversation.

On the second morning, May 22nd, we arrived in Tiumen. Here were more
guards armed to the teeth, even with a machine gun. They were afraid of
possible riots when we would disembark. There were crowds of people to
see the arrival of the first boat of the season, or perhaps they were
aware of our being on board. We waited on the boat several hours before
we disembarked, then we walked from the landing, crossing the same
tracks to the waiting train as we had done, in reverse, the previous
year. A group of ladies threw flowers at our feet, but we did not dare
to look in their direction. We saw they were wiping their tears with
handkerchiefs. Many crossed themselves and others made a cross in our
direction. Still others stood motionless except for their quivering
lips. An elderly gentleman knelt down. Immediately a guard pushed him
over, swearing at him in a mixed tongue. I felt ashamed to see such
brutal disrespect for venerable years. This Russian gentleman was one
of the old generation. I could tell by his posture and by the cut of
his clothes. He had a familiar look; it seemed I had seen him before
somewhere. Tatiana asked Commissar Rodionov if it would be possible
to have Baroness Buxhoeveden and others with us. He grinned, saying
“Panie, nyet” (lady, no).

We were exhausted and hungry. We had had nothing to eat since noon
the day before, and still there was a long trip ahead of us to
Ekaterinburg. Finally our brave Nagorny managed to get us a bottle of
milk. I presume someone gave it to him and he rushed to give it to us.
We sisters each had half a glass and the rest we saved for our brother.
Then we were transferred to the train. One car was assigned to us girls
and our brother. One side of the aisle was occupied by us sisters and
Hendrikova, Buxhoeveden, Schneider, and Ersberg. On the other side
were General Tatishchev, Alexei and Nagorny. We were not allowed to
speak with those on the other side. Now Alexei was separated from his
devoted teacher and protector, M. Gilliard. The rest of the suite, we
understood, was in the car behind.

We did not dare to undress that night since the guards were pacing back
and forth in the aisle and at each end of the car. They stood or sat
continually guarding us as if we were criminals. The shades were pulled
down all night, but several dim lights were kept on. We knew we were
approaching Ekaterinburg when the guards spoke of Bazhenovo, a town
near Ekaterinburg. At midnight the train stopped and we spent the rest
of the night there on the train. We remembered Bazhenovo where, on our
way to Tobolsk, we had stopped along the track. Father had told us that
near here were the famous emerald mines.

About nine o’clock in the morning several men entered our car and said,
“Please carry your own personal luggage.” The guards made no move to
help us. Nagorny, heavily guarded, was told to pick up Alexei. Without
a word he carried him off the train. It was raining and dark clouds
were hanging over the area making a most depressing day. Some people
stood near the road under the trees which had begun to show their green
leaves.

Evidently the news of our arrival had leaked out. The guards loudly
ordered the people to turn their backs toward us. We carried our heavy
suitcases and other belongings. Olga had been ill during the night and
was still so dizzy she could hardly walk. She was unable to carry much.
We feared she had had a heart attack that night but Dr. Derevenko, who
was probably in the next car, had not been allowed to see her. Four
or five carriages met us near the railroad tracks, I presumed in the
outskirts of the city. I remembered passing Ekaterinburg the previous
summer on the way to Tiumen. The railroad ran partly around the town;
there were two stations. I think our train was stopped near the station
where a demonstration on the part of the populace would be less likely.

Nagorny placed Alexei in the first carriage, then he ran toward us to
give us a hand. He tried to reach for the heavy suitcase which Tatiana
had carried with great effort in one hand, the dog and the blanket in
the other, but he was brutally pushed aside. We struggled with our
burdens in the muddy ground mixed with cinders; no one was permitted to
come to our assistance. Our carriages with suitcases and a commissar in
each followed the carriage bearing Alexei and Nagorny. While the rain
continued, they raised the hood of the carriage in which I rode. In the
carriage with me was a man whom I later recognized as Zaslovsky.

Sitting on the edge of the seat I could see that we had entered a broad
avenue; shortly on the left I saw a church. Proceeding into another
broad avenue, there was a chimney visible behind a wooden fence at the
end of which the carriage stopped. I saw a short distance away another
church. It was the view of this church that remained in my memory that
day as I entered the Ipatiev House.

Trembling with fear we were eager to reach the premises. At the arch
of some sort of a porte-cochere we stepped out from the carriage. It
was 9:40 A.M. or perhaps a little later when we entered the Ipatiev
gate. At the entrance stood Goloshchekin, the Commissar. Olga entered
first and we followed her. As we entered the house, we were met by
a rough-looking man who stood in the vestibule. From here we were
escorted through a wide stairway and entered an anteroom and then
passed into another room which was the Commissar’s office. We each had
to present, separately, our identity cards, each with its serial number
and photograph of the bearer, taken in Tobolsk some time earlier. They
showed the place and date of birth, surname, patronymic and family
name, as well as our address at Tobolsk.

We found Father standing near the hallway at the foot of the stairway.
He threw his arms around us. Then Alexei was placed in Father’s arms.
Mother and Marie met us at the threshold. We sobbed in each other’s
arms, but when Alexei was brought to Mother, she put her head on his
chest and wept bitterly. “My baby, my precious one!” It was nice to
hear again these words which had been missing in Tobolsk. Joy and
sorrow mingled in that tragic reunion.

Mother looked pale, haggard, and prematurely aged. Even Marie had lost
her glow. Father’s once clear blue eyes were circled with dark shadows
and his hair was sprinkled with gray. His hands were thin and I noticed
dark spots on them. “It is his liver,” Dr. Botkin said. Marie gave her
bed to Alexei. In Father’s and Mother’s room were the three folding
beds which had been brought from Tobolsk. We four sisters moved into
one room.

Late in the afternoon, our cook Kharitonov, his helper Leonid Sidniev
and the valet Trup were brought to us. They told us they had been
questioned for hours. Their interrogators stripped them of their extra
clothing and took some of their belongings. The interrogators had not
forgotten the unpleasant incident which took place on the boat, where
Nagorny exchanged angry words over Alexei’s being locked up overnight
in his cabin. They told us that General Tatishchev, Countess Hendrikova
and Mlle. Schneider had been arrested and taken away to prison. But
they were unable to find out what had become of Dr. Derevenko, M.
Gilliard, Buxhoeveden, Tegleva, Ersberg, Father’s valet Kirpichnikov
and the others. Our money, including our household money, carried by
General Tatishchev, had been taken away from him. Now we had nothing
left. Father wrote to Voykov asking of what these people were guilty to
be sent to prison.

In spite of these unpleasant incidents we were glad and pleasantly
surprised to have these few friends with us again. Mother was thankful
to have these men, since Father’s old valet Chemodurov had been taken
ill as a result of the trip from Tobolsk and sent to a hospital. On the
day after our arrival it was our turn to be searched. Our suitcases
were opened and ransacked. Fortunately we had brought with us little
clothing. My shoes were almost worn out. While on the boat, Iza
Buxhoeveden promised to let me have a pair of her own shoes. She wore
size 4½, the same as I. But she was forbidden to give me hers.

The trunks which were shipped from Tobolsk reached the house but they
were taken directly to the attic. We heard banging above the dining
room and the sitting room. Evidently they had taken the keys to our
trunks from General Tatishchev when they arrested him and were removing
our belongings.

Several times they asked Olga to play the piano, which was in Commissar
Yurovsky’s room. There we recognized our table linens, on one occasion
a large one with the double eagle and the crown woven in it, and also
one embroidered in the center with the double eagle and the crown.
Commissar Yurovsky also helped himself to Father’s clothes which were
much too tight and too short for him.

With all our troubles Olga became ill again with a nervous stomach
disorder and suffered excruciating pain. Mother and Father and Marie
had a small wardrobe when they first came to Ekaterinburg, but most of
their clothes were in their trunks. One misfortune followed another
in rapid succession. To add to our distress, Alexei knocked his knee
against the bed while trying to get up. At first he fainted and after
some minutes the pain became unbearable. An internal hemorrhage caused
him untold suffering, with no immediate relief or medical help.
Finally, after several letters to Yurovsky and pleading by Dr. Botkin,
Dr. Derevenko was allowed to administer medical treatment. Mother
spoke to the doctor while he attended Alexei, but he gave no reply.
The guards were at the door watching him. He looked pale and his hands
shook. When he did not respond to Mother’s question, she realized that
he was under strict orders not to speak to us. Mother was so upset by
these events that she burst into tears. The doctor’s face turned red
and he looked at her pleadingly. He gave her some lotion, salve, clean
gauze and epinephrine as Tatiana took charge of Alexei. Dr. Derevenko
saluted and left like a shadow or a dream that comes and goes. Tatiana
was to apply the compresses of epinephrine to my brother’s knee. When
the cotton was used up, she washed the gauze and saved it, and when
that too was gone, she used Father’s old shirts or our old blouses. For
weeks Alexei suffered. He lost a great deal of weight and became weak.
Not only was his knee stiff, but this time both feet were partially
paralyzed and one leg somehow became shorter again. Nevertheless, Dr.
Derevenko was forbidden to take care of his young patient. We were
not able to use the foam apparatus. The instruments were in a trunk
in the hallway but were useless because most of the time there was no
electricity and very little hot water. This was the only trunk that
was turned over to us--because nothing was in it that those cruel men
wanted.

It became apparent that the new life we dreamed of and the new hope
that ran through us were being mocked at every turn. Restrictions and
distrust teamed together to destroy our morale. We four sisters shared
one bedroom. The first days we slept on the bare floor covered with
blankets and a conglomeration of coats and cushions, as the house had
been stripped of rugs and carpets. The floor was cold and damp. Olga
and Tatiana became so thin their bones ached from sleeping on the hard
floor. I was well padded then and felt less discomfort than the others.
After a while we received heavy mattresses made of sacking stuffed with
straw. These had to be turned over every day creating much dust and
making my Mother’s sinus worse.

We sisters were frightened and agreed among ourselves that one of us
should keep watch at night as we had done during the last days at
Tobolsk, lying down during the day on our parents’ beds to make up for
lost sleep.

Marie described to us their treacherous trip from Tobolsk to Tiumen. As
they were crossing the Irtysh River in _tarantasy_, the ice, which was
many feet thick, began to break up with a thunderous noise, so much so
that even the sharpshooters and officers who were escorting the family
under Rodionov’s surveillance were frightened.

The horses struggled in the thick slush which came up to their
stomachs. Unable to raise their feet they merely pushed the slush ahead
of them. Large pieces of ice wedged between the wheels, causing the
spokes to break. In front of Rasputin’s house, a crack like thunder
was heard underneath and a huge block of ice heaved close to them. One
of the horses fell and could not get up and it took the efforts of all
the guards to lift him to his feet with the aid of a wooden plank.
What Rasputin had predicted ran through Marie’s mind: that our family
would visit his village and that our death would follow his death. When
Mother saw that Marie was frightened, she tried to brace her up.

Horses had to be changed a number of times before Tiumen was reached.
Father, Dr. Botkin, and Prince Dolgorukov got out and walked in the
marsh to lighten the burden of the horses which were wet, steaming
and foaming at the mouth. In the evening the party was put up at a
peasant’s cottage where some tea and food was served. Mother’s clothes
were wet; she was so cold that her teeth were chattering and her lips
were blue.

After resuming their trip, Father recognized one of his generals going
in the opposite direction, dressed in peasant garb. Their eyes met.
Neither one spoke. During this trip Dr. Botkin became ill, but in spite
of that they had to continue their trip during the night, because the
river did not thaw as rapidly at night. Finally they arrived at a point
near Tiumen early in the morning.

Here part of the ice had already melted near the banks of the river,
and it became necessary for them to put up a temporary bridge in order
to cross the opening between the ice and the shore. Although it was
early in the morning--just after daybreak--all kinds of guards were
there to meet them, only a few of whom spoke Russian. The rest seemed
to be foreigners. Under a heavy escort of soldiers armed with guns
and hand grenades suspended from their belts, they were taken to the
railroad station. Here they boarded a train. The entire party was
seated in one car with Father, Mother and Marie on one side and the
others on the other side. These included Prince Dolgorukov, Dr. Botkin,
Chemodurov, Father’s old valet, Anna Demidova and Sidniev--once a
footman to us girls. The family was not allowed to speak to any one of
them.

For four whole days the train was shuttled back and forth by Yakovlev,
who had charge of the family and was sympathetic to Father. He feared
that when they reached Moscow, if Father should refuse to comply with
their demands, the entire family would be killed. Father was puzzled
at Yakovlev’s changes as to going or not going to Moscow. But soon the
family recognized that Yakovlev was against those traitors in Moscow,
but he was helpless, knowing that Father would not leave Russia,
especially not leave his family to the mercy of these cruel men. The
Germans were in control in Moscow and Father was convinced that all
orders concerning our family came from Count Mirbach. Yakovlev’s
purpose, therefore, was to forestall this. The train itself was even
set on fire in order to give the prisoners a chance to escape. Father
would not take advantage of this, as the rest of the family would have
been held in Tobolsk as hostages. Soon thereafter Yakovlev received
orders to proceed to Ekaterinburg. They spent Palm Sunday on the train.

As they were approaching Ekaterinburg a Commissar came asking for
their papers. Father had only an identification card he always carried
in his billfold of light leather embossed with a crown in gold. It
bore his name, the date and the place of his birth, his religion and
marital status. It also indicated the issuing office: the Imperial
desk. In addition he had the identification card that had been issued
to him at Tobolsk, which contained his picture and the words: Nicholas
Alexandrovich Romanov, ex-Emperor, Citizen, Tsarskoe Selo.

In Ekaterinburg a photograph of the whole party of five was taken by
Commissars Sverdlov and Goloshchekin, both Jews. Near the station at
Ekaterinburg the people on the street went down on their knees and
kissed the ground on which my family passed. They were guarded by the
same men who came with them on the train, plus some additional guards
who now surrounded them. Upon entering the house each gave his name and
was admitted, but when Prince Dolgorukov gave his name the Commissar
said: “You are under arrest.” This beloved friend of many years with
whom Father had played during his childhood, was now separated from
them. Prince Dolgorukov pulled out of his pocket one of his general’s
epaulettes which had been removed from his uniform in Tobolsk. He
handed it to Father and said: “It came from my Emperor and I give it
back to my Emperor.” There was no chance to shake hands. He saluted
Father and said, “God be with You, Your Majesties.” He was taken
away.... Father was so shaken by this incident, he wrote a note to
Goloshchekin, who was in charge of all prisoners, but it was fruitless.

At two o’clock in the morning a great mob of people gathered outside
the house. Several shots were fired. From the screams they knew some
were killed. The guards then entered and made a thorough search of the
house. They took Father’s money and Mother’s jewelry and stripped all
the others, including the maid, of their valuables. Anna Demidova had
all her savings with her and also jewelry given to her by the family
over the years. A foreigner who spoke to Mother in German and to Father
in French, although he understood Russian, was insulting. It was said
that he was Yurovsky’s, Trotsky’s and Mirbach’s friend, and that he was
sent to the Ipatiev House from Moscow as a connoisseur of antiquities
for a Swiss firm. His name started with “K”. Father resented this
treatment and said that up to now he had been accustomed to deal with
honest men, and that he did not need to be reminded by a foreigner that
he was a prisoner not of his own people, but of traitors, convicts and
foreign agents. It is unbelievable that such men could come into our
country and wrest all power from the people.

The guards were Russians whose orders came from foreigners in Moscow.
Even though most of the guards were ex-convicts, they could see the
injustice that was being done. And sooner or later they began to be
more lenient. But immediately the change in their attitude was noticed,
they were replaced by new recruits.

Such was Marie’s account of their trip and stay in Ekaterinburg.

The arrival of Kharitonov, our chief cook; Trup, the valet; and Leonid
Sidniev, the 14-year-old kitchen helper, cheered somewhat the gloomy
atmosphere. When Dr. Botkin met us, he threw his arms around us and
kissed each one of us, as if we were his own children. Tears filled
his eyes. In less than a month he had greatly changed, as had all the
others.

Father’s knuckles were swollen with arthritis. His kidney condition
caused excruciating back pains. Mother’s hands too were swollen more
than before and the lump on the index finger of her right hand was
quite noticeable. She no longer could hold a needle in her fingers. All
this was due to the very difficult trip from Tobolsk and the mental
agony which persisted.

Dr. Botkin’s sad eyes forced a smile, beneath the swollen bags under
them. His pastime was limited to reading. The dear man was anxious
for news of his children, but we had none to offer, except a few
indefinite rumors we had heard on the boat. In spite of the surrounding
terrors, Dr. Botkin continued to reflect his intelligence, kindness
and tenderness. Why should dear “Papula” be punished? I remember his
children called him that. Commissar Yurovsky was especially abusive
to him, Dr. Botkin wished his children to be brought to Ekaterinburg.
He begged Commissars Avdiev and Yurovsky to have this done but the
request was denied. Fortunately, by not coming to Ekaterinburg, they
escaped the tragedy that befell their father. This seemed so unnatural
since Yurovsky was the father of three children, and the son of a
Jewish rabbi. One would think that he would be kind to other children.

Up to now our parents had had their food prepared outside. But when
Kharitonov arrived, he resumed his duties as our cook. In the beginning
we were allowed fifteen minutes each day to walk in the small, muddy
garden; soon the grass began to show signs of life and the fragrant
lilacs began to bloom. We were permitted to take some violets and
lilacs to Mother, but they had to be examined at the office before they
were taken into our apartments. A few trees showed considerable abuse,
as the horses had chewed off much of the bark on the white birch and
poplar trees. We picked the blossoms of the linden tree, dried them
and used them to make tea. There was always something fragrant in the
garden; when the acacia was in bloom the fragrance seeped through the
windows. Sometimes Mother went out with us in the yard, when Alexei
was feeling better. After Nagorny was taken away and when Father was
ill, Dr. Botkin or Marie carried Alexei down into the garden. One day
when Dr. Botkin carried him, Alexei threw his arms around his neck and
kissed this good friend on both cheeks in gratitude. During our walking
exercises we were subjected to the watchful eyes of the guards. They
all carried hand grenades in their belts. Some of these were good men,
but none stayed more than a few days. Once we heard them say, “Where
there are devils, there is Hell, and that is what we have now.”

Our window panes had been painted white outside, except for a tiny
space at the top through which we could glimpse the blue sky. After a
while Father wrote Yurovsky asking him to remove enough paint so that
we could see the thermometer which was on the left side of the window
frame outside. We saw nothing but walls, prison walls.

Alexei asked Father to request that M. Gilliard be returned to us.
This too was denied. Alexei also asked Father how long we would have to
stay in this place. Father could not help but tell the truth, “It might
be long.” Alexei never brought up that question again.

Sometimes at night shots would be heard; an agonized cry, then quiet.
They searched our house again. We sisters were still without beds. They
told us to set our clocks ahead by two hours. We had our breakfast at
12:30 noon. Kharitonov had to work not only for us and our staff but
also for these terrible men. The odors of fish and other good-smelling
things would drift to our rooms, but they were not for us. These
foods were for the Commandant and the guards. We were given a thin
fish soup or half-cooked veal cutlet at noon and a cold one at night.
Father could not eat these things, so he went frequently without food.
Mother’s meals consisted usually of spaghetti and tea, which little
Leonid prepared for her over a small kerosene burner, because she
refused to sit at the same table with those vulgar men. The guards ate
at the same table with the family. For us, it was a question of eating
the revolting stuff or starving while the guards lived off the fat of
the land at our expense.



XXIII DEPRIVATION AND COURAGE


Every week Father was questioned in the Commissar’s room, while the
guards stood by at the doorway of our rooms. One day Father returned
very upset after being questioned for two hours. They showed him a war
document, the “Orange Book” as it was called, from which a number of
documents were missing and accused Father of destroying these documents
and substituting a letter from the Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria,
in which he wrote to Father that he did not wish to acquire any
territory, but to die in peace in his old age. They ignored the fact
that these documents had been held at the Ministry of War after they
had been read by Father and the General Staff. Their suspicions were
based on the assumption that it was impossible for the Emperor Francis
Joseph to have written such a letter.

We had no privacy, not even the privacy of a prison. All the doors of
our rooms had been removed before we arrived at the Ipatiev House. At
any time of the day or night the guards or the Commandant would stalk
into our rooms, without knocking. This occurred about every three
hours for their check-up. The stench of liquor that flooded the rooms
warned us of their approach. They sat on Alexei’s bed. They drank from
our tumblers. They stuffed into their pockets anything that caught
their eye. They came in twos or threes. By this time we had kept only
our most treasured keepsakes, so whatever they helped themselves to
was a real loss to us. But even precious things were worth losing if
they would but leave us alone without this constant intrusion. They
kept coming in more often, flaunting their authority in our faces,
joking at our expense, and toying with the veneer of our composure.
By comparison, the first guards at Tobolsk were gentlemen. We could
not believe these creatures were soldiers. They seemed too uncouth to
have been in any service of the Army. At night their hideous brawlings
reached us from their quarters below to fill us with disgust and
terror. Dr. Botkin tried to intercede. He went to the Commandant and
urged him to see that his men were less rowdy, but they continued to
act as before. Father seldom spoke to the Commissars. Anything he
needed he wrote down and handed it to his valet Trup to deliver to
Yurovsky.

In cases of illness, Dr. Botkin took care of us on his own accord. We
sisters at home were trained not to be familiar with anyone around us,
and always to be reserved. Mother also spoke seldom to her help, except
when giving orders; and yet she was very kind to those who were in
trouble or in need. Mother was the first one to help them financially.
And now when Anna Demidova lost all her belongings Mother promised to
replace their losses to all who were in our service.

Once when Kharitonov was ill, we sisters undertook the task of
preparing the food. One day a burlap sack of potatoes was brought to
the kitchen. “Peel them,” said one of the guards. Potatoes! Something
so real, so much a part of the earth, to hold in our hands. We fondled
each one, breathing in its earthy smell; no perfume like it. We made a
game out of paring and when we finished, there was only a small pile of
peelings. It was a refreshing task. We assumed some of these would be
for our meals, but no potatoes were served to us. We helped on another
occasion in the kitchen, baking bread. Kharitonov was appreciative of
our help, since he had lately been in poor health, and the task of
cooking for so many, commissars and others as well as for us, was too
much for him.

Twice a week two maids came in to care for our rooms. They cleaned,
washed the floors and changed our bedding. We helped them all we could
and were glad to see the new faces about. We could not converse with
them, because the guards stood at the doorway wherever they worked. We
saw their frightened faces. We understood and they applied themselves
to the execution of their strict orders. Upon entering our rooms and
again on leaving they were searched. But somehow these women managed to
tell us that some of our friends had been imprisoned and some shot.

Now we utilized a code using verses of the Bible. While the women
worked, Mother or one of us sisters was told to read certain verses
from St. John. We hoped the maids understood that she was to
communicate with someone on the outside. The next time she came to
clean she merely raised one or two of her fingers. We thought that
someone had been interviewed and had suggested that we read Chapter 1
or Chapter 2. Another time we understood we were expected to read other
chapters of the Bible. In that way we thought we were in touch with
someone on the outside. We did this when conditions became dangerous.
It was the only hope we believed might save us at the crucial moment.
But if any of these messages reached anyone outside we did not know it.

We knew that food was being delivered to the house from the neighboring
monastery every other day, for our family use. However, very seldom
did any of this food reach us. The Commissars took most of it for
themselves. During our meals Avdiev sat at our table and so did the
guards. At such times the food was much better. Our few remaining
servants felt uncomfortable sitting at the same table with us, and they
asked Dr. Botkin to speak to Father about it Father made it easier for
them by saying: “We are all in the same boat, and if we are to sink
we might as well sink together.” They were exceedingly sympathetic
and showed us more kindness. We could read the grief in their faces,
but they were as brave as the rest of us. Trup and Kharitonov were
approached by Voykov to cook for them at the club outside, a home of
the Commissars. In spite of Kharitonov’s wife and a daughter being
in Ekaterinburg, both refused, and preferred to work for their old
employers without compensation. In response to Mother’s anguished
prayers, Alexei began to feel better now. One day, Yurovsky came in
and said abruptly, “Alexei is better now. He does not need Nagorny any
longer.” Poor Nagorny was taken away. This faithful Ukrainian had done
no more than serve his young master faithfully. Also our young footman
Sidniev was taken away.

What was left of our silver disappeared gradually, except for a few
forks and spoons which we kept in our rooms. Most of our silver had
been seized from us in Tsarskoe Selo during the Kerensky regime. Part
of it was repurchased by my two older sisters from their savings and
part was purchased by Count Benckendorff who gave it back to us.

At meal time these wretched guards monopolized the conversation with
all kinds of jokes. Their table manners were atrocious and their
appetites voracious. One of the guards leaned against Dr. Botkin to
light his cigarette from the candle which stood in the center of the
table. His sleeve got into the food, and I without a thought gave him
my napkin. The man actually looked ashamed. But as time wore on, we
thought we could notice an improvement in the attitude of the guards.
Some became tolerant and a few were even friendly. During one of our
walks in the garden one of these men spoke so that Father could hear
him say, “How cruel and senseless to hold and abuse an innocent man.”
This guard suddenly disappeared, as did others. Every day there were
new arrivals to replace those who were being sent away, for showing
sympathy for us, which no doubt worried Yurovsky.

At night we tried to create a homelike atmosphere by lighting candles
on the table. These nourished our souls, even if the food did not
nourish our bodies. But we were told to burn one candle at a time, or
one kerosene lamp. So for a long time we did burn only one candle.
Often we were compelled to sit in the dark or go to bed early.
Electricity was off most of the time. There were promises that it would
be fixed tomorrow, but tomorrow never came and we never saw electric
lights again.

Among our household dishes, Kharitonov had a box of gold candles. When
the men searched the kitchen they became suspicious and melted some of
the candles but found nothing.

Yurovsky had an office in the house. This consisted of an impressive
desk and community bed covered with a military blanket, on which he and
others took turns resting their troubled heads. The room, dirty and
filled with cigarette butts, became a human pigsty. A samovar graced
a table, many glasses of tea were consumed. A German newspaper rested
majestically by the samovar. There was also a pointed knife with a
black horn handle, a special culinary tool with which Yurovsky had
proudly speared his cutlet at the supper table and expertly carried it
straight into his mouth, profusely decorated with a curly, bushy black
beard and mustache. In the corners of his protruding mouth there was an
accumulation of saliva which never experienced a lonely hour. A dish
with a mound of fresh butter was replaced as soon as it was finished.
We long ago had forgotten the taste of butter. Since his last cold, the
doctor had prescribed this diet for Yurovsky’s weak chest. This brute
even looked for sympathy.

The table was covered with an elegant damask table cloth with a woven
double eagle and a crown in the center. We also recognized Prince
Dolgorukov’s handkerchiefs, presumably taken away from him during his
arrest. His coat of arms displayed a hand holding an arrow. Dolgorukov
means “long arm.”

Frequently the guards asked Olga to play the balalaika or the piano,
for their amusement. Sometimes she played her own compositions. Father
could but consent so long as the pieces were not construed to have a
double meaning. Whatever the guards ordered we complied with, thankful
for an occasional moment when they occupied themselves with something
constructive. But when they insisted that Olga sing “We Abandon the
Old Regime,” she stood up and in a firm tone said, “I will not do it,
even if you kill me.” Surprised they were at her courage. Once when she
played _Andante Contabule_ by Tchaikovsky, they screamed “No” at the
top of their voices. “It is sad, play something else, please.” Then
she played a war song, “He Died in the War Hospital.” “No, no, please
stop it; it is sad too, play something else.” Cheerfulness they were
seeking at the hands of those who long ago had forgotten the meaning
of a happy mood. Father always stood at the doorway when anyone of us
played or sang for them. But Mother was never left alone. This habit we
had formed at Tsarskoe Selo. No matter what we did one of us remained
with her.

It had become a regular thing to search our quarters, not so much for
valuables, since by now they had already taken an inventory of them, as
for possible means of escape. Each day there was a fresh excuse. They
constantly suspected us of having something incriminating. They heard
that we had guns hidden, they would say. No matter what the answer was,
a whole troop of them would stalk in. Each day’s experience sharpened
our detective powers. We could see without looking. Every time they
stole we sensed it. We saw them take our silver spoons, pencils, soap
and other articles. They removed everything they saw and slipped them
up their sleeves. They took apart a picture with a heavy enamel frame
with the excuse that the frame might have something hidden in it.
Underneath they found a photograph of Mother’s beloved brother Ernest.
With all the persecution she had feared to display her brother’s
photograph. So she covered it with one of our pictures. They said
nothing. Even we had not known that her brother’s picture was hidden
underneath. They also took a gold chain with an icon which hung over
Alexei’s bed. We never made any effort to stop them, nor did we give
any sign that we saw. We ignored their thievery and curiosity since
Father said: “We must not let them know how much they annoy us; soon
they will grow tired and leave us alone.”

After much argument and after waiting for over two weeks, Dr. Botkin
was able to persuade Yurovsky to have a window opened in one of the
rooms for ventilation. They unlatched two other windows, then accused
us of unlatching them. We sisters moved our mattresses for the night
closer to that window for a breath of air. Father’s and Mother’s beds
were also moved closer to our room, where there was only one window
open, and where near by was the guard booth. We felt sorry for Dr.
Botkin, Sidniev, Trup and Nagorny. They had no privacy. They shared the
same room with doors removed and at one end was the staircase which
was used by the guards to go downstairs. The room had two opposite
doors, one leading through a hall into one side and the other into
the apartment on the other side; Nagorny and Sidniev had been taken
away in the beginning of June before the heat became unbearable. Poor
Kharitonov and little Leonid had slept in the hot kitchen.

Our days were irregular although we arose regularly at eight in the
morning. Before breakfast we held a service and sang a prayer in our
room. Father, Mother, Dr. Botkin and all the rest joined us for a half
hour of prayer and meditation. These were the most pleasant moments of
the day, because our friends were with us at this hour.

Mother worried more about Alexei, since he had grown steadily worse
with the small amount of nourishment he had. Now all the supply of
tissue-building ingredients was gone from his diet. The Commandant
would not heed Dr. Botkin’s plea for the food necessary to his
well-being--gelatine, vegetables and fruit. The saintly “Papula” (Dr.
Botkin) begged Yurovsky to be generous to the sick boy, but to no
avail. Father also wrote to Yurovsky, but this too was ignored by him.
All this tension reacted on Mother’s heart. She had grown much weaker
and her lips, when blue, warned us of a heart attack.

Father looked desperate, because he could do nothing to spare his
children. We knew he himself could stand anything for Russia,
anything but the persecution of his family. Only occasionally did his
hopelessness come to the surface, though he tried to disguise it from
us. With us sisters low spirits rotated from one to another. Each lived
for the other. Father knew everything that went on in our hearts and
often told us what we were thinking.



XXIV THE NIGHTS ARE LONG


It was a sad moment when we heard that Nagorny and Sidniev had been
taken away. Without any notice they were ordered to get ready in a
few moments time. Dr. Botkin told us that both men wanted to see us
before they left. Nagorny said, “I am employed by my Emperor and I am
going to see him.” But he was rudely pushed toward the stairway. Poor
Leonid lost his only relative, his uncle Sidniev, who had devoted his
life to this little orphaned boy. Now Leonid, the scullery boy, took
the responsibility of taking care of our dogs. It was a great treat
not only to Alexei but to the family to see someone who had been with
us in Tobolsk. Leonid’s smiling face brought some diversion to Alexei,
but Leonid too was a prisoner in the house, like the rest of us. The
two boys played navy games with toy boats and so were able momentarily
to forget the existing conditions surrounding us. Since Leonid was an
orphan, Alexei’s ambition was to give him the best possible education
and care for him as long as he would be in need.

Now that Nagorny was gone, Father himself carried Alexei down into the
courtyard for his daily airing of thirty minutes. Father’s tenderness
choked us afresh each time. All the time it was evident to us that
Father was buckling under the weight of his own injured back. We
had little heart to go out at all into a cheerful courtyard full of
heartless men. The thirty minutes airing was hardly worth the strain
on Father, but the fresh air was medicine to Alexei, until God would
answer our prayers.

We did not take the wheel chair down into the garden. Mother wanted
Alexei to walk a little each day. We took turns holding him under the
arms; his legs were so weak they would have collapsed under him without
support. Dr. Botkin thought that braces on both legs would help. The
rubber had gone to pieces on the braces he had been using. Olga and
Tatiana took stays, hooks, and other parts of our corsets and made two
braces that hooked in front. Not having any rubber, they padded these
with cotton placed between two pieces of cloth. These proved to be
effective and Alexei was able to go outdoors wearing these braces under
his trousers.

Once when we walked around the courtyard some birds made a commotion.
In my mind I wondered if they came from the Crimea. One little fellow
warbled on so eternally that we were lifted as by a religious service.
From then on we listened hungrily, each songster seeming a harbinger of
that world so shut away from us.

Now our walks were cut down to fifteen minutes. The time was so short
that it seemed we were back in the house at the moment of leaving! Olga
used to say, “Back into the vault.”

Mother seldom went out with us but, on our return, she eagerly drank
in the sweet air that still clung to our clothes. There were a few
ways left for us to amuse ourselves but these had grown monotonous.
Our books, which had been taken away from us on our arrival, were now
restored and we read them but our thoughts were far away.

Father read the Bible aloud, often starting on the page at which he
opened the book. We girls had our tapestries, but the lack of yarn and
the bad light caused us to give up working on them. Mother no longer
sewed, her eyes being bad from the inadequate light of our lone candle.
It was too much of a strain.

Alexei no longer had his toy soldiers, the guards having seized
them some time earlier. Now he passed many hours cutting out paper
soldiers with his little friend Leonid--lining them up in formation on
the squares of a chessboard. We sisters helped to design different
uniforms and color them. Anything to help the boys forget the dreary
hours. The guards leaned over the boys’ shoulders commenting on the
play.

Father wrote Yurovsky requesting a priest to come and hold a service.
After a long debate with Dr. Botkin, one of the Commissars came at
last to inform us that, on the next day, a priest would come to hold
a service in the house, the first one in Ekaterinburg. Mother was
ecstatic. We selected our choice icons and, with the help of our
friends, we put up in the sitting room a small altar, a table covered
with a hand-embroidered cloth. With the coming of the priest and the
service a little light crept into the Ipatiev House.

Just before the service began, Alexei’s bed was brought into the room.
He had been suffering from the cold as well as from swollen hands and
legs partially paralyzed from his knees down. Yurovsky leered at us
from one corner of the room but we ignored him. The priest’s voice
trembled. He was upset for fear of making a mistake, probably knowing
the fate of Father Vassiliev in Tobolsk.

It was an inspirational day; the simple ritual, the chanting, the
Communion and its consummation, our lips kissed the cross, and our
souls feasted on the Blessed Bread. Exaltation swept through us and
we soared to an enveloping oneness with God. Father read the Holy
Scripture and we all sang. What a day it was!

After the service Mother said: “The priest and the deacon seemed so
sad. Priests are in great danger these days. I pray they get into no
trouble for coming to the house.”

Did the guards feel as we felt that day? They did not interfere with
our taking Holy Communion. God’s hand was upon us and we felt safer.
The world of prison and persecution was not real. We had glimpsed the
real world, that world where our souls were filled and a new life
flowed into our withering flesh. Mother kept repeating: “The Communion
has been such a healer.”

Perhaps it was the influence of this Communion service which gave us
an inspiration. We girls put our heads together and wrote a prayer of
seven verses, one for each member of the family. We memorized each
verse completely so that we could destroy the written copy in order to
keep the prayer to ourselves. We agreed that if we were ever separated,
we could communicate with each other by using one or more of the verses
as a sort of unwritten code. We were delighted with the idea and worked
on its composition, each member contributing. Olga put the prayer
together in its final form. Then we memorized it verse by verse. When
everyone had mastered the prayer we tore into the tiniest bits the
paper on which the prayer was written and disposed of them, a little at
a time, every day. Six verses of the prayer follow:

    Our Father of all men, Giver of our lives,
    In our saddest, stormy hour of this day,
    We stand at the Gate of our Lord,
    Give Thy courage and nourishment to our innocent bodies.
    Watch over us in the hour of our fate, bathed by our tears.
    Almighty Father, though men may stain their hands in martyr blood,
    Fill our hearts with forgiveness,
    Grant Thy salvation to us--defenseless--
    As we pray for the sickness of the souls who have gone astray.

    O, Father in Heaven, light up the land of Russia.
    Enlighten her way from darkness to understanding,
    Stretch Thy Blessed hand over those in need of Thy help.
    Lighten their sorrows and heal their wounds.

    Almighty Father, breathe into us Thy power, Thy strength;
    And when the storm breaks, grant us patience.
    With prayers on our lips, numb the pain in our bodies;
    With compassion, close our eyes with Thy blessed hand forever.

    When we are no more, open Thy doors to the hungry spirits of our souls.
    Guide them in a prayer to be worthy of Thy Kingdom,
    And grant that we may receive Thy mercy on the day of judgment.

    Blessed Father, Thou hast bestowed life upon us with the great power of
                                                              Thy hand.
    Grant that, when Thou takest our lives’ spirits to be born free again,
    We may rest in peace in Thy heaven, O blessèd Father of all men.



XXV ACCUSATION


Yurovsky was now getting worse than ever, especially when his men were
nearby. He chose to ignore the insolence of his men when they caught
us washing our glasses after they finished drinking out of them. Dr.
Botkin again tried to intercede but, while Yurovsky pretended to be
shocked, his attitude did not change.

The maid came and whispered that Nagorny had been shot a few days after
he was taken away. She thought Sidniev too had been shot.

The Commandants continually fabricated that Father was in touch with
the outside world, and that Father had written a letter to some person
telling him how to get into the house. Father had no knowledge whatever
of the layout of the house. From the day we entered the premises all
of us, including Father, were confined to our quarters. We used the
same stairway every time we went out or returned. We could not even see
the street because the window panes were painted to make them opaque.
We heard only the voice of the guard on duty in front of our window,
who often sang obnoxious songs. There were two tall wooden fences
surrounding the house, but we did not know their distance from each
other.

Another day, Yurovsky and Goloshchekin told Dr. Botkin that both Father
and Mother knew of an escape plot. Dr. Botkin answered firmly it was
not true. It had been suggested to us in Tobolsk, but Father refused
even to think of such a thing. Then Yurovsky said that we had been
communicating with our friends. For some time our parents were puzzled
but, after learning that every move they made and every letter they
wrote were known to the authorities in Moscow, they realized that they
were being betrayed. There was nothing incriminating in their letters
that were sent from Tobolsk through Markov and Soloviev. They were
not censored by Colonel Kobylinsky. However, Mother complained in
those letters about the leaders selling out Russia to the enemy. She
also expressed her harsh feelings toward the traitors and the crooked
foreign policy that centered in Moscow and said that Father would stand
firm no matter what the consequences might be.

One morning Yurovsky and Voykov appeared with some papers. After making
themselves comfortable in our sitting room, they called Father’s
attention to photostatic copies of the letters that Mother had written
to Anna Vyrubova and other friends in Tsarskoe Selo and Petrograd.
There were some letters written to us from Mlle. Fredericks and Mme.
Sukhomlinova, the wife of a former Minister of War. These were carried
to and from Tobolsk by Soloviev, husband of Matriona, Rasputin’s oldest
daughter, who was selected for this mission by Anna Vyrubova.

There were also letters purportedly in Mother’s handwriting but which
she did not write. Voykov said: “You thought Anna, Yaroshinsky, Markov
and Soloviev were your friends. We have photostatic records of all the
letters and activities in Tobolsk.” Father glanced at the photostatic
copies, recognized Mother’s and Anna’s handwriting. His face turned
white and the “Otsu mark” on his forehead became red.

To explain this “Otsu mark”: Before his marriage, Father had made a
tour around the world and, on the last lap of his journey, while in
Japan, the Emperor invited him to visit a temple where no Christian
had ever set foot before. Father rode in a ricksha, followed by Prince
George of Greece and many other rickshas. The road was lined on both
sides by the police. At the end of the line the last policeman struck
Father with his sabre on the head close to the hair line. Father
was saved by his hat, and the second blow cut his arm with which he
covered his face. At this moment Father jumped down and ran into a
store blinded with blood, still followed by the madman. Then Father ran
out of the store pursued by the would-be killer. At this moment Prince
George overtook the latter and knocked him down with his cane. The
police became confused and clashed sabres among themselves. Fortunately
the examination by his private physician showed that the wound was not
serious, but it left Father suffering from frequent headaches and with
a permanent scar. The family called it the “Otsu scar” or “Otsu mark”.

We two younger sisters also knew Yaroshinsky. He was a rich banker and
during the war, he financed Marie’s and my hospital in Tsarskoe Selo.
Once he told Marie and me, while at the hospital office, that he had
come to Russia with his poverty stricken Polish parents to work in the
mines. Marie remarked later, “But where did he get all the money?”
However, the conversation had come to an end.

Mother warned Anna to be careful about whom she was sending to Tobolsk.
Moreover, she warned her to destroy all our letters and not to involve
people not known to us. Anna failed to heed those warnings and in the
end Mother died with a feeling of bitterness toward her well-meaning
but careless friend. We knew Anna did not do it intentionally but from
stupidity.

Yurovsky was right. We had been betrayed. Poor Father had had no part
in it. It was clear to us then that the leaders in Moscow knew of
Father’s firmness, but Yakovlev, who was in charge of Father on the
train, felt that if Father came to Moscow, he might be persuaded to
compromise with the leaders--Mirbach, Ludendorff, Lenin, Kamenev and
Trotsky. My Father never would have done anything to harm his people.
Father made Yakovlev understand that he could expect no appeasement
from him; that he would rather have his right hand cut off than sign
anything that would harm Russia. He also told Yakovlev that he was
prepared to sacrifice his life for his country. Yakovlev, Father said,
had telephoned Moscow of Father’s stubbornness. They knew that Father
was dangerous to them and that his people wanted to have their Emperor
back on the throne. They decided that Father’s presence would ruin
their negotiations and that the best thing to do would be to keep him
in Ekaterinburg. Yakovlev however had disobeyed the orders from Moscow
and kept the train that carried Father shuttling back and forth for
four days till they were finally detained in Ekaterinburg. Yakovlev
had given Father to understand that he himself was against the foreign
invaders and the traitors.

The Emperor and his family were clearly not their own masters--they
belonged to Russia. He was the father of all Russia and the children
were the children of Russia. He tried to impress his family to be
simple and not to show importance and conceit, but to be humble and
kind toward the people and serve them in good faith.

It was decay and disunity that poisoned and divided the people from
the Emperor and split the Imperial family into factions. It was not a
cyclone that ripped apart and ravaged the Empire, but a disaster and
robbery planned from abroad years before by insidious men, and when the
first opportunity presented itself, they struck a deadly blow to this
great Slavic Empire. How many other great ancient empires suffered the
same fate--Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Rome, and others. It was an epoch
of short-sightedness on the part of the people who were not able to
see with their own eyes what the Emperor and Empress saw, and failed
to recognize the accomplishments they had achieved for Russia. But
they looked blindly in trust to the very ones who were murdering their
country before their very eyes.

It was hard for the Emperor and his family to die, but it was even
harder for him to die with the knowledge that his death was also
the death of Russia. He could have saved himself and his family by
signing the disastrous treaty of Brest-Litovsk, but not he; he could
not do this to his country, the land he loved beyond all measure. He
would not do it, even in the moment of the greatest personal danger.
He never broke his fidelity to the oath that he took on the day of
his coronation, and he carried this heavy load on his shoulders,
courageously and uncomplainingly, for more than twenty-two years.
Many people do not see or do not want to see the full extent of
those demoniacal days; neither do they see the grandeur of the deeds
performed by this great man, the Emperor Nicholas II.

Many thought that the Emperor was not powerful enough to bear the
Russian crown. The world did not realize the strength it took to carry
this burden of representing innumerable races. That alone would have
broken the stamina of any ordinary man. The Emperor was made a constant
victim, but the strength, loyalty, and superhuman power which made up
this man, in contrast, were lacking in his contemporaries.

Those who really knew Father would readily admit that his predominant
characteristics were fearlessness, kindness, honesty, loyalty and
firmness. When he knew he was right, he stood by his convictions. He
was often called the “Stubborn Tsar.” He disliked gossip and idleness
and refused to listen to those who warned him against his enemies and
spies.

An officer who later helped me escape from Russia told me the names of
several officers who were involved in actions against Father. There
were some good names; one was the son of a high Finnish statesman
appointed to his position by Father. The son was an officer and was a
coward; he feared being wounded. He received money from the Germans to
help in the attack against my Father.

I knew Father for seventeen years of my life, especially closely
during our imprisonment, when we were together almost every minute of
the day. His refusal to save himself and his family at the expense
of Russia should be proof enough of his strength and character. When
Moscow pressured him, Father with deep emotion said, “My family and
I will never agree to what they ask me to do, no matter what happens.
Anything they have to say, they should say to me and leave my family
out of it. They have taken everything away from them, their youth and
freedom, but none of them will yield to German spies and convicts who
do not represent Russia, and will never forsake the Russian people.”
Father suspected the final outcome. He knew Moscow’s intentions
of discrediting him before his people, but he stood firm in his
refusal. Even in the hour of danger, he respected his high morals and
obligations. Most of the conversation was conducted through Dr. Botkin.
Father seldom came in contact with these men. It may have been during
these conversations that Dr. Botkin said to Father, “When I needed your
help you were very kind to me, and I have made my mind up never to
leave you as long as I am needed.”

Now all the hope of freedom vanished, and I often in despair pressed my
body against the damp wall that held us prisoners, wondering if ever we
would see the sunshine break through this wall again.



XXVI FEAR AND DREAD


After the incident with Yurovsky over the intercepted letters, almost
overnight Mother’s hair turned white. She became weak and could hardly
walk without leaning on someone’s arm. Even when prayer bolstered her
spirit, her hands shook and her voice faded into a whisper. For one
month she suffered untold agony, refusing to believe that we had been
betrayed. Yet she said, “It is God’s Will.” In these words we could
sense her craving for the Holy Communion which brought her the calmness
of God’s spirit. Father would look at her and turn his face aside so
that his falling tears would not be seen. It was his quiet way of
bearing himself that carried along the rest of us. He dropped his head,
but not for long. Once more he would hold himself erect, determined to
look beyond these cruel conditions to the time when Russia would once
more believe in him and repent. For each other’s sake we tried again
and went through each day with renewed faith in God and hope for the
morrow.

Here we never went out to Church. The priest came to us only twice.
Whatever services we had, we held them ourselves. Mother read aloud
from the Bible; the rest of us chanted the prayers. We had our own
service every day. The comfort of the homemade service lifted us all
and gave us satisfaction. Morning, noon and evening we refreshed our
faith in God. Religion was our nourishment, especially to Mother.
There is no book as precious as the Bible and nothing will ever be
able to take its place. It is the Word of God and will never die. Even
the hovering guards listened in quiet, their heads bowed. We were
astonished.

At last the hard shell of the guards began to crack and out of the
cracks oozed a crude shame. In their rough way they tried to atone for
their treatment of us. They extended pity when all we wanted was to be
left alone. They even gave us some of that by lessening their intrusion
into our privacy. Mother called it victory--an answer to our prayers.
But when it was discovered that they were becoming lenient, they were,
much to our sorrow, promptly removed. The last part of June or the
beginning of July they were replaced by the toughest, lowest crew
imaginable. These men were beasts. We tried submissiveness, courtesy,
but to no avail. When they saw the comfort we derived from our daily
services they took away our Bible. But they could not take away our
faith. Mother said, “This is another test. Is there not enough of
Christ in us to do without the Bible?” But Mother was more shaken than
I had ever seen her as she said this. Father looked at the guards and
accepted the humiliation.

The men were so unshakeable and cruel. Now we no longer saw or heard
them. Their inhuman treatment had built a wall around us, a wall of
fear, hard and dark on the outside, soft and mystical inside. We
became a world apart, detached from mundane things. Our bodies touched
the ground, but our souls were far above in God’s world. Each day of
persecution lifted us higher. We were helping Christ to carry His
burden. We were marked to suffer, for Russia.

In our last days our privacy was so uncertain we never wholly
undressed. The men were there with a repulsive curiosity. Instinctively
we drew our skirts aside as one draws away from vermin. The new guards
were not Russian at all. We heard every kind of language: Polish,
Latvian, Hungarian, German and Yiddish. In the dining room, carelessly
thrown on the table, we saw German newspapers which we did not touch.
The guards were ready for any trouble, their expressions were filled
with accusations.

Yurovsky took a fiendish delight in drawing the family into
conversation. The evil in his soul came through, to scar his face. We
wanted to hold ourselves aloof but we did not wish to anger him. His
mouth was always full of saliva and every time he spoke we feared it
would fly out at us. Yurovsky, Sverdlov, Goloshchekin and Medvediev
with four Letts and Hungarians searched the entire house. They pulled
out all our suitcases, books and pictures and examined every nook and
corner, and by the time they were through searching, the house was in
complete disorder.

Father read a great deal in order to get his mind off the humiliating
surroundings. He wondered if we could memorize such and such a passage,
hoping thereby to relieve our nervous tension. He still believed that
the fate of our family and Russia was in God’s hands. His belief was a
great comfort to us, and helped to carry us through the dark nights. At
length our Bible was returned to us.

Yurovsky came into our quarters one day with a cigarette in his mouth.
As he stood in front of us, he pulled out a match from his pocket,
struck it on the sole of his shoe and lighted the cigarette. It was
not hard to recognize it as one of Father’s gold-tipped, Russian
double-eagle cigarettes. These cigarettes were made especially for
Father by Benson and Hedges with his name on them, but Father had not
used many of these during the war. Yurovsky wanted Father to see him
smoke this long, slender aristocrat of cigarettes, hoping to hurt
his feelings. When he finished smoking he left the gold-tipped butt
on the ashtray for us to see. We girls also noticed he wore some of
Father’s clothes, probably taken from the trunks in the attic. His
appearance was always untidy, no matter what he wore, and his shirt was
always open at the neck. From his bushy, black eyebrows he looked out
sideways, never straight into one’s eyes.

To our horror we were not allowed to lock our bathroom door, so we went
in pairs to wash, one of us always stood near the door for fear that
someone might walk in. Near the bathroom there was a stairway leading
downstairs, at the head of which there stood a guard, all eyes. One day
while Marie and I were crossing the hall, I noticed something shining
on the floor and picked it up. It was a key with the inscription, “Made
in U.S.A.” We wondered if there were an American in the house, perhaps
for the purpose of saving us. Mother thought she had heard some one
talking in English, but she was not sure.

Yurovsky was an assumed name. He and many others had changed their
names so as to attribute their crimes to the Russian people. There
is no doubt that many Russians were involved in crime but when the
character of the revolution was revealed and much Russian blood
had been spilled, then it was too late for those who supported the
revolutionists to repent. The revolution was a foreign importation of
Lenin and Trotsky--it destroyed the soul of Russia. They attacked the
churches and smeared the altars with human blood, those altars that
had stood there since Byzantine times. This beautiful religion, “The
Eastern Church”, our forefathers had adopted while persecution of the
Christians was still practiced.

Many of those of varying backgrounds who took a leading part in the
revolutionary movement in Russia were poisoned by German propaganda.
Germany, I have heard, spent many tens of millions of dollars of
Russian money to promote the Revolution; this money was made available
to them for the care of the Russian prisoners of war. Instead they
used the money to overthrow Imperial Russia, while our warriors were
starving in dirty barracks.

Father was accused of being instrumental in the Jewish pogrom in
the Ukraine. The fact is Father did not know about it at all until
one of the Grand Dukes, while on his way to the Crimea, heard of it
and telephoned Father. Immediately the Preobrazhensky regiment was
dispatched by special train, and other military forces and police
were sent from Bendery to quell these riots. Jews were not the
only casualties of these disturbances. Other nationalities such as
Bulgarians were taken for Jews, and some were killed. The pogrom
was touched off by the following incident. A small boy was seized
allegedly by Jews. A Jewish sect at that time, in its ritual, believed
in sacrificing a Christian and taking his blood. For this purpose they
took the boy who was without stain. The veins on the boy’s body were
cut in many places from which blood was taken. From this torture he
died. When the boy was not found someone reported hearing a scream. A
storekeeper placed the boy into a nail barrel and carted it away to a
field. There he was found dead with bloody nails imbedded in his body.
The barrel was traced to the storekeeper. The discovery of the crime
marked the start of the pogrom. This incident was told to us children
by our friend Dr. Vatrik, the famous surgeon who came occasionally to
the palace to care for Alexei during his illness. According to another
account the boy was not seized by Jews, but by one of his relatives.

[Illustration: _ca._ 1911]

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The Imperial family never hated the Jews. Jews were received in all
military hospitals with the same care as any other men during the war.
Many Jews fought heroically for Russia and died on the battlefield. But
many did everything possible to escape being taken into the army, by
crossing the border to the Austrian and German side, where they were
placed over Russian prisoners of war and caused them untold suffering.
Father did more for the Jews than any Emperor before him. My parents
always advocated the principle of freedom of religion.

Count Benckendorff and several others connected closely with my family
from the time of Grandfather’s reign were Roman Catholics.

A new commissar arrived from Moscow, and Father was questioned several
times in the next few days. The Commissar hinted at the possibility of
freedom to leave the country, if Father would consider signing certain
documents. Father vehemently rejected having anything to do with
Moscow. He made it clear that he had nothing more to say.

Father once asked us, after he returned from one of these talks, if
we children would accept freedom in Germany or stay and suffer. We
all agreed to stay in our country. He seemed pleased at this mutual
feeling. Soon afterwards new guards arrived and our situation became
worse, almost unbearable. These heartless men made us understand that
their duty was to cause us every kind of humiliation and deprivation.

One afternoon Voykov came and demanded to see our jewels. They searched
the house many times. Finally he picked Mother’s engagement ring--a
large ruby of a beautiful color, actually a red diamond, probably the
only one of its kind in the world. When Father was about eighteen
years old, various jewelers in St. Petersburg began to search for rare
stones. Bolin, the well-known jeweler, found this diamond and Father
purchased it from him to be made into an engagement ring for his future
bride. Voykov took this ring as a souvenir, he said, and wore it on
his little finger. Father could do nothing but forget the loss. Voykov
was still wearing the ring when we saw him again a few days before the
tragedy.

On another day, this man again came into our living room without
warning and began a long discourse about Ulianov (Lenin) and Pilsudski.
He claimed that these two would soon be regarded as the world’s
greatest men. Father made no reply but picked up a book and began to
read. When Voykov continued his assertions, Father agreed with him
saying that no doubt what he said was true.



XXVII OUR FINAL DECISION


On Saturday, July 13th, 1918 (new style), we made our final decision,
after Father was questioned for the last time. Now Yurovsky and Voykov
pretended to have a special interest in Alexei. We feared they might
take him to Moscow, so that Father would be forced to yield to their
demands. Father said they would have to kill him first before they
could touch any of his children. They knew that Father meant every
word of it. Those heartless men got into Alexei’s room, sat on his
bed and watched him cut out his soldiers. They kept up a rapid-fire
conversation, even though Alexei was annoyed. We wondered if they were
trying to gain my brother’s confidence in order to poison him. So we
warned Alexei not to eat anything they might give him.

Yurovsky, unlike other Commissars, constantly followed us. We were
conscious of his presence and could not ignore him. He was surrounded
with guards mostly of foreign origin whose breath reeked with alcohol,
though he himself did not appear to take any. He told Dr. Botkin he had
had pneumonia a year before and since then his doctor forbade the use
of alcohol. We felt that the new guards were dangerous men.

One of them, a German or Austrian, whose name was Mebus or Nebus, said
he was sent by Trotsky to search the house. He must see everything of
value. He rifled through every drawer, suitcase, bed and mattress and
cushion. Among the medicine bottles they found one bottle with Persian
grey powder. They took the bottle, saying that it was dynamite. Dr.
Botkin was present when they sent this dangerous explosive to be
analyzed outside, in spite of his explanation that it was a powder
prescribed for Mother to be used in a vaporizer for her sinus trouble.
Shortly thereafter it was returned, having been found by the chemists
to be a harmless powder.

After his initial haul, Mebus returned, saying he had been searching
in the bathroom, and announced that he had found some bullets wrapped
in a woman’s garment, also some guns hidden under something, God knows
where. We saw that the garment in question was a blouse belonging to
one of us sisters, probably taken from the trunks in the attic, but
we had not seen these trunks nor the garment since we left Tobolsk.
The keys of these trunks and our money had been entrusted to General
Tatishchev, but upon our arrival in Ekaterinburg we were separated from
him. The Commissars probably confiscated the General’s belongings and
thus found the keys, which they must have recognized as ours by special
markings upon them.

We did not know where the entrance to this attic was. As to the blouse,
it was originally sent to us in Tobolsk by Anna Vyrubova. Nebus or
Mebus came in with the blouse, accompanied by a Commissar named
Horwath, a Hungarian, and by four or five others who spoke German. When
we heard them saying “Kishason” (lady), we knew they were Hungarians.
One of these men wore an open shirt, and from his neck hung a black
cord, a cross and a small square bag of soiled white cloth with
something in it.

Thousands of these prisoners of war had willingly joined the Cheka,
some for political reasons, others for religious reasons--or lack of
them--and still others for loot. Horwath’s companions also included two
Jews named Beloborodov and Goloshchekin (they had adopted these names).
They fixed their eyes on our icons with a remark to which we did not
reply.

That same afternoon Yurovsky, Beloborodov, Goloshchekin and Horwath
walked through our rooms, demanding that we place all our jewels on
the table. At this time we wore only our gold baptismal crosses
and silver rings with an inscription “Save and Protect us”. We were
afraid not to expose everything, especially with eyes fastened on us
girls so suspiciously. They made no effort to examine our travelling
clothes and for that we were thankful. They took everything they saw.
Yurovsky with the help of others made a list of every item, then gave
Father a copy--a scrap of paper--as a receipt, signed by all four
thieves. He asked Father to value each item. Father said, “They have
great sentimental value to us, since many of them are gifts from my
wife’s family and her grandmother--Queen Victoria--and from myself.”
Yurovsky asked: “But how much would such a piece cost if purchased
today?” Father answered, “I am not a jeweler by trade, I cannot put
a value on them.” Their grasping hands trembled when they took our
treasures and placed them between layers in a cushioned bag. Later by
searching the dining room and among the household things they found
some gold-coated candles. They became suspicious and melted some but,
to their disappointment, found nothing in them. The clinking of glasses
in the office that evening kept us awake until long past midnight. No
doubt the jewels were disposed of before our eyes were closed. These
stolen and now blood-stained treasures were sold in foreign lands and
are no doubt now adorning various ladies in many countries.

Early in the evening of this Saturday, Yurovsky stood excitedly at the
door of our parents’ bedroom and said, “Nicholai Alexandrovich, your
request is granted. The priest will be here tomorrow to conduct Sunday
services.” The same evening we gathered some icons and, with the help
of Father’s valet, a table was prepared in the middle of the rear wall
and covered with a long white towel. We got everything ready for the
next morning and prayed that there would be no unpleasantness between
these godless men and the priest.

Sunday morning, July 14th, arrived and as we assembled in our room,
Yurovsky came in and asked if we were ready. “Right, we are,” said
Father. One of us sisters wheeled Alexei’s chair into the room. He
gazed happily around with a greeting to the little group of a few
friends who waited for us to enter the big room. However, a mistake
had been made in this service. In his note to Yurovsky, Father
had requested a service called “Obiednya” at which Communion is
administered. We were all surprised to find that “Obiednitsa” was being
conducted at which no Communion is administered. It is a service that
is held for the dead.

Father asked Dr. Botkin to check with Yurovsky, because he had
requested a Communion. Yurovsky motioned to the priest, saying, “A
Communion is requested.” Evidently Yurovsky knew that the service
for the dead was meant for our own funeral service. No doubt Father
must have known that the tragedy was near because he requested the
Communion. While the priest made his preparations and covered the wine
chalice with a fine embroidered cloth, Yurovsky made an attempt to take
the chalice from him to see what was in it. Father Storozhev jerked
the chalice away and in a trembling voice shouted, “I will not let
you touch this Holy Sacrament with your hands.” The priest stood some
distance from us, since we were not permitted to have confession in the
usual way. He raised the cross and said, “God shall forgive your sins.”
We went to our knees in tears as Yurovsky stood aside watching us. We
sisters were weeping throughout the entire service, and, as our hearts
were only human, we could not chant during this service. We arose;
the priest held the cloth over the chalice and administered the Holy
Communion to us, while the deacon sang the creed.

Father Storozhev had brought the usual _prosphora_--the small biscuit
which is given to each communicant--but Yurovsky insisted on breaking
each of these into pieces to make sure there was nothing hidden
in them. Dr. Botkin and others who until now had maintained their
composure broke down. A napkin was brought and the _prosphora_ was
broken into pieces by the priest, and the service was concluded. In
this dimly-lighted room a rite so divine and profound in our moment of
solitude gave us a secret hope in our hearts. After the service Father
kissed on both cheeks, according to Russian custom, the few remaining
friends--Dr. Botkin, Trup, Kharitonov and the little Leonid. Mother and
we sisters kissed Anna Demidova, our faithful maid.

Mother gave her hand to Dr. Botkin; he bowed and kissed her fingertips.
All noticed that on his face was a strange expression. He was nervous
after hearing the prophetic words being sung “Peace to the Soul.” He
kissed us children on both cheeks, while tears fell from his eyes and
remained between his glasses and the bags beneath his eyes.

Dear Papula, how he suffered beyond measure for his loyalty to us. His
face always brightened whenever he saw me. I always engaged him in a
conversation. Somehow he felt closer to Alexei and to me than to our
sisters. At the end this good man became bold, in spite of his frailty.
He was somewhat older than my Father. At that time Father was fifty
years old and Mother forty-six. There was a unity and peace among us.
Father said, without bitterness, “A great crime is being committed,
but I feel we have been true to ourselves and to Russia. The Russian
people have been betrayed.” Olga, who could say things so beautifully,
added from her tender heart, “The Russian people have been hypnotized
and one must not judge them by the present. They are good people.”
Dr. Botkin added, “Be true, do not fear, in a minute all will pass.”
We were startled at his words, and we wondered afterwards whether he
realized the full meaning of what he was saying. He must have known of
our destiny.

In spite of the hostile actions of Yurovsky and his accomplices
throughout Father Storozhev’s service, we felt we had been enfolded by
God and filled with power to ignore the brutality of the guards. When
they came into the sitting room while Father was reading aloud, one of
us stood up, so that they might see as little as possible.

On Monday, July 15th two maids came to clean the rooms as usual.
Obviously they were frightened and seemed anxious to deliver some
message to us, but the guards’ presence everywhere prevented any
communication. On the same day, Yurovsky brought his associates to the
house. These included Voykov, Goloshchekin and Jacob Sverdlov who were
comrades of Lenin, Trotsky, and other international conspirators. We
saw these four and others in the house all day long; they followed us
even into the garden, when we went out for a fifteen minute walk in the
afternoon. Once Sverdlov said to Father that when the festivities of
the Three Hundred Year rule of the Romanov Dynasty were celebrated in
1913, he was ready to blow up the whole Imperial family with a bomb.
Father replied, “What kept you from doing it? I probably would not be
here today nor would my family be.”

On Tuesday July the 16th, the young kitchen boy, Leonid, who used to
come to play with Alexei for an hour every day, had no sooner arrived
than a guard announced that Leonid’s uncle, Ivan Sidniev (our former
footman) had come to see the boy. The little fellow jumped to his feet
and happily said, “Oh, please forgive me, I shall be back.” We knew
right then, it was some sort of trick. When he did not return and
Father inquired why, he was told, “Tomorrow he will come.”

On the 16th also, Alexei got up, though his cold was worse, due to the
hot water treatments for his swollen hands and feet which were still
partially paralyzed. In the afternoon, we took him into the small
garden where he was able to walk a little, but had to be carried down
the steps. We all went out except Marie, who remained with Mother who
had not been out for several days.

While we were in the garden a pigeon flew toward the porch, frantically
flapping its wings. Then it flew to the other side of the house, where
we were not allowed to walk. Upon our return Mother to our surprise
told us that a bird flapped its wings on her bedroom window and she
could see only a fluttering shadow of a bird’s wings in the window
glass which was painted white. Then she said, “At the coronation we
were presented with two birds; and, as you remember, during the Three
Hundredth Anniversary a pigeon flew inside the Cathedral when the
service was held; and today a bird came into the picture again.”

Some time before the tragedy Dr. Botkin was sent by Yurovsky to ask
Mother if she wished her sister Ella to come to see her and that, if
so, Yurovsky would arrange her transportation. Mother at once wrote to
her sister to say that we were looking forward to her arrival.

Very late that afternoon, Father and the rest of us were asked by
_Goloshchekin and Yurovsky to write letters to our friends and
relatives here and abroad to the effect that we were in the far North,
in Sweden, and that we were quite happy in our new surroundings_. Olga
angrily replied, “If we get there, we will write to our friends from
there and not from here.” Dr. Botkin had written such a letter or
letters under pressure since he feared for the lives of his children.
He said he had written one to Madame Elizabeth Narishkina and one or
more to his children hoping they were still in Tobolsk.

Evidently those men wanted the world to believe that we escaped at
night and were hiding somewhere in the wilderness and that our friends
after receiving such letters would be satisfied that we were safe.
In this way they wanted to hide their crime from the people. While
Father was reading, suddenly he turned to us and said, “It is exactly
twenty-seven years this month (July 1918) since I returned from Japan
and that is the icon which was presented to me in the Government of Ufa
upon my arrival there.” It was from the Government of Ufa that Father’s
train was returned a few weeks earlier to Ekaterinburg. Someone
commented that it seemed weird that Father suddenly at this time should
remember that unpleasant event which took place in Japan, where he
almost lost his life.

In the evening Yurovsky walked into our sitting room startling us.
Jemmy, my little dog, charged at him, snarling. She had never acted
like that before. I called her back, but it was too late. Yurovsky
grabbed her by the neck and carried her away, saying, “Who brought this
dog up here?”

Yurovsky reappeared as if nothing had happened and began talking,
though no one heard what he said. Our only thought was, “What became of
Jemmy?” No apologetic attitude crept into his affability. He continued
to talk and to toy with my frightened stupefaction. Then he walked to
Alexei and sat on his bed as if they were on the most intimate terms.
He pulled out a revolver and handed it to brother saying, “Do you want
to see an American automatic?” “No,” replied Alexei. No doubt all the
warning given against the man leaped into the boy’s mind. He did not
want to take it but Yurovsky thrust the weapon into his hand. “Is
it loaded?” asked Alexei. Father stood up next to Alexei and said,
“Please leave my son alone, he is not well.” Ignoring Father’s request
Yurovsky answered, “It is not loaded now, but it will be.” Alexei
became frightened as he held the pistol and Yurovsky regarded him with
amusement.

At last Yurovsky went out. Mother with trembling hands picked up a book
as we gathered around while Father read aloud. He let the book open
itself and read: “Let us take courage and be strong, look straight with
our spiritual eyes up to Christ.” Then again he read: “Do not fear
those who kill the body, but those who wish to kill the soul.” It may
not be exact but as I remember it went like that. His voice was hardly
stronger than a whisper. We could hardly hear him over the drunken
shouts that shrieked through the house from the guards’ quarters.
Mother bent her head close to the window and listened in bewildered
absorption. Her cheeks turned somewhat red, she looked around and
smiled. Finally she said, “I hear the beautiful _Ave Maria_ so clearly,
just as if it were being played in this very room.” We strained our
ears again but could not hear what Mother claimed she was hearing.

I tried desperately to lose myself in the quotation which Father had
just read, but Jemmy kept coming to my mind. I was afraid they had
killed her. Father said, “Most of the Russian people usually are kind
to animals.” Those were comforting words, but was Yurovsky a Russian?
I was depressed with the thoughts about Jemmy, added to the off-key
singing of the guards downstairs. Mother also noticed that they seemed
unusually noisy this night, and they were drinking entirely too much.
Father laid the book down and said: “The best thing we can do is to go
to bed and forget about it.”

That evening as Father crossed the hall he saw several extra guards
examining some rifles in the middle of the hall near the doors between
the office and the stairway. When they saw Father, they lowered the
butts of their rifles to the floor. Father knew every make of gun. He
said, “These are the high-powered, German army rifles holding usually
five cartridges; they can be fired singly or in rapid succession.”
Olga replied, “I remember at the hospital, soldiers used to come with
their bones shattered and their flesh mutilated. We always knew the
type of gun which inflicted such wounds. Russian guns caused clean
wounds.” Then Father added, “If Wilhelm had enough poison, he would
have poisoned all the bullets.” This was the last time he mentioned the
Kaiser’s name. It was four or five hours before the tragedy.

Father knew the Kaiser was obsessed with the thought of victory at
any cost, victory even if it meant the sacrifice of the Kaiser’s own
godson, my brother, whom he had vowed to protect according to our
religion; also the sacrifice of his own cousins, my parents, and their
daughters, too, for whom on his last visit in 1912 he had professed so
much love. All this must have been on his conscience. Yet Holland gave
refuge to this man who enslaved Russia and his own country as well.

These German guns which Father saw were frightening but we could not
believe and it did not even come to our minds that Wilhelm, bad as he
was, would permit the assassination of our family. We knew that Germany
had demanded that our family should be delivered to Moscow unharmed;
apparently the German High Command had learned of the character of our
jailers.

Later I heard that the assassination was not known to Wilhelm until
afterwards and that the German High Command was responsible, as well
as some of our Allies, for all the catastrophe in my land. They had
sent, or permitted, these men to come to Russia in order to bring about
a revolution. They knew that if the old government should recover
power it would not be pleasant for those responsible for the terrible
killings and robberies they had caused in my country.

After my escape I was told that, when the Kaiser heard of the killing
of our family and of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth and some of the other
Romanovs, the Kaiser was beyond himself. He cried bitterly for hours,
saying: “I have lost my best friend. Nicky was my best friend. I loved
them all. My hands are clean. Why have the other cousins permitted such
crimes to take place? My conscience is clean. I did not know what they
were doing. I had nothing to do with it. It was Mirbach and Ludendorff,
supported by those Nicky believed were his friends.”

In the last hours at Ekaterinburg Father spoke and his words are still
fresh in my mind. He said: “It is the end of Russia, but of the Allies,
too. They have dug their own graves and soon they too will lie in them,
and Germany will pay retribution for her deeds of treachery. No one can
escape consequences, no matter what they do to avoid them; sooner or
later they will have to pay. The taste of blood is an epidemic and it
will soon flow all over the world.”

Wilhelm could not bring disgrace on Father before the people of Russia,
but he did bring disgrace on himself before the world.

The orders to kill the entire Romanov family came direct to Voykov,
Beloborodov, Goloshchekin from the top Bolshevik leaders: Trotsky,
Lenin, Sverdlov, Apfelbaum and the other men I have mentioned
previously. They exchanged telegrams daily. On the 16th of July
Yurovsky had a long talk with the men in Moscow. In the afternoon when
Yurovsky came into our sitting room, Mother got up and went into her
bedroom. He boasted that he, Sverdlov, Beloborodov and other comrades
in Ekaterinburg were connected by telephone the entire morning talking
with the comrades in Moscow. Dr. Botkin told us later that Yurovsky
had talked with Trotsky, Lenin and others and that Goloshchekin or
Sverdlov, or both, had just returned from Moscow, and that there had
been a great deal of activity and excitement at the office.

In fact the Kremlin leaders were responsible for sending the
Austro-Hungarians and Letts to guard the house inside for the last two
weeks. Father remarked, “They use the same tactics as the Chinese did
in the Boxer rebellion. But the danger here has come to the native
people in their own land but not to foreigners.”

These two weeks our lives had hung by a thread and on the 16th of July
between 9:00 A.M. and 12:30 P.M. our destiny was sealed.

During my escape my rescuer told me that all the guards outside the
house--they were Russians--were given vodka to drink--as much as
they could consume. None of them knew what was to take place inside
that night. He also told me that one of his friends was told by one
of the outside guards that the crime never would have taken place if
the guards inside had been Russians and if the guards outside had not
all been given free drinks late that evening. These outside guards,
Russians, would have turned their guns on the foreigners because their
humiliation was at its summit.



XXVIII DAWN TURNS TO DUSK


On Tuesday, July 16th, in the early evening, we heard directly below
our rooms what we thought was the moving of large and heavy objects.
The noise disturbed the whole household. We went to bed at 10:30 but
could not sleep. Drunken voices from outside penetrated into all our
rooms. Yurovsky’s room was on our floor somewhat removed from our
quarters. From his room came the sounds of lewd talking. Soon we heard
heavy footsteps approaching in our direction. The light went on and
then a _deep_ voice was heard. It was Yurovsky’s.

He entered the room and then went on into Father’s room. Soon Father
appeared in the doorway and in a faltering voice told us to hurry and
get ready as we had to leave within the next forty minutes. While we
were washing and dressing, we prayed and quietly cried. We were almost
ready when another guard came in, telling us not to pack any of our
belongings as there was no time. We took only a few essential things.
Tatiana ran into our parents’ bedroom and helped Alexei to put on his
braces over his limbs while Olga packed Alexei’s medicine. He was still
ill and quite helpless and began to weep as did we sisters.

We girls dressed in white blouses and lightweight gray skirts and
jackets and carried top coats, which bore some of our treasures sewn
inside. Father and Alexei were dressed in military coats; Mother in a
black suit. When we were ready, Dr. Botkin came in with a small bag and
a coat on his arm.

The last few minutes before we left, we went to our knees and
fervently prayed before an ancient icon of Christ and shared the holy
_prosphora_ given us by the priest on the previous Sunday. This icon
for centuries had been handed down from one Russian sovereign’s family
to another. All our treasures had been catalogued for many years; there
was a description of each piece with its origin and history. We carried
this icon to Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg. We knew that it was the oldest
and the most venerated of all the icons and more valuable than those
that were embellished with gold and silver and studded with precious
stones.

This framed cloth icon was said to have been made from the towel that
was used by Jesus to wipe the perspiration and blood from His face
before His crucifixion and it pictured clearly, though faintly, the
imprint of His face. Subsequent tests disclosed that the cloth of the
icon was made of the same material that was used in Jerusalem at the
time of Christ, and that the spots and outline of the face were of
human blood and perspiration. It was further shown that no human hand
could have made this icon and for that reason it was called in Russian
“Nerukotvorenny Spas” which means: No-hand-created Saviour. We left our
rooms with a prayer on our lips.

My heart was pounding and a cold chill ran over my body as I was again
struck with the violent force of the premonition which had haunted
me all day long, ever since I awoke with a horrible dream early that
morning. I had dreamed that I stood in the doorway of a very small
wooden house somewhat like a fishing shack. It stood on a wooden
platform. Presently I sensed that the little shack was floating on
waters which were gradually rising from below the surface. As I looked
through the mist I could see nothing around but water: no forest or
mountain which could produce any safety. Not a murmur or a sound or a
ripple could be heard. The depressing, lonely quietness engulfed me. I
knew I was sinking slowly.

I was haunted by this nightmare when a man came into the dining
room where the family had assembled, together with Dr. Botkin, Ivan
Kharitonov and Anna Demidova. The man asked, “Are you ready?” Father
answered, “Right, we are.” “Follow me, please,” the man said. Before
we left the dining room Anna, who had with her two pillows, a blanket
and a tiny bag, handed one of the pillows to Tatiana. Concealed in the
pillows were some of our jewels.

With his lantern shedding a feeble light the man now led us along the
hall and down the stairway into the courtyard. Father’s strong and
protective arms were carrying Alexei who was crying from fear.

Suddenly I remembered our dogs. “Jemmy,” I said tearfully. “My dog,
please let me have her.”

“You will get your dogs downstairs,” shouted one of the men.

With our help, Mother followed behind Father. The man moved his lantern
from side to side to give a better light to the stairway. Mother almost
fell as we reached the ground floor and passed into the yard. We saw
shadows moving around in the court. The air was cool and the night was
bright.

We re-entered the same building, passed through a hallway, and entered
the second room on the right. It was approximately the same arrangement
as upstairs. This was probably where we had heard the noises earlier
in the evening from my sisters’ and my room. It had sounded as if
furniture and other heavy objects were being moved. This room was about
the size of our sleeping room and had not one single piece of furniture
in it.

Dr. Botkin and Anna were told to put their small bags on the far side
of the room, and we, too, had to put our jackets and top coats in the
same place. The house was on an elevation so that these rooms were
actually on the ground floor, I think one step up or down. Yurovsky
went ahead of Father. In the hall he said something to Father, pointing
to the first door we had just passed. Father held Alexei until three
chairs were brought. Then he placed Alexei on one of the chairs and
left the room. Mother sat on the left side of Alexei. About eight men
were there when we came in. Probably some who followed us had been the
shadows in the courtyard. They were dressed partly in civilian and
partly in foreign military uniforms. All had revolvers stuck in their
holsters and hand grenades attached to their belts.

Trup had been compelled to follow us. He had been ill for some days and
had not been on hand to care for Father’s personal things. The guards
had either failed to arouse him earlier or his fate had been decided
at the last minute, for he appeared in his night garment and carried
his clothes on his arm. We had not been allowed to see him frequently
during his illness. He was not more than thirty-four or thirty-five. He
looked much thinner and was almost blue in the face.

Tatiana rearranged the pillow which she had taken from Anna to make
Alexei more comfortable, while we waited for Father to come back. In
four or five minutes the group of men separated into two groups. Father
walked between them. His face was ashen and the “Otsu mark” on his
forehead was red like fire. His left shoulder and the left side of his
face just below his eye were twitching. He pulled a handkerchief from
his pocket, wiped his face and took the chair next to Alexei on the
latter’s right side. What this man Yurovsky had said to Father in that
room no one will ever know. Father preceded Yurovsky who was followed
by others and who remained standing in the middle of the group.

I was on my Mother’s left side and Dr. Botkin was behind her on her
right. My sisters were a few steps behind us. The men stood about eight
feet away facing us. I am sure the others thought as I did that we were
trapped, and there was nothing to do or say.

When Father entered the room, Mother started to raise herself. Suddenly
she trembled and fell back into the chair as her head slumped to her
right shoulder toward Alexei. Then I screamed and grabbed Dr. Botkin’s
arm. While I was screaming, Yurovsky said something, exactly what, I
did not hear. Simultaneously, I heard screams....

After this I was somewhat conscious. Still I felt no pain and did not
see anyone fall but my lips were frozen cold and I felt very clammy
and there was a violent ringing in my ears. I wanted to get up but I
felt as if I were paralyzed, and lost consciousness entirely.

How long I lay in blackness, which held me floating between life and
death, I cannot tell. Was it hours or days? I do not know. All too soon
I awoke from oblivion to realization and horror. I had no sensation of
coming back to life. All at once I knew I was alive and in pain. My
mind was clear, I was cold and conscious of some terrible catastrophe.
At first I shrieked frightfully; then I was afraid to breathe and to
open my eyes. I knew I had just come to from unconsciousness. I began
to feel the increasing pain and shiver from the wet cold, and became
convinced that I was not dreaming. But a fear came over me. First I
thought that I fell on the floor and got hurt, and that they, thinking
I was dead, had buried me alive without a coffin, and that my grave was
not yet sealed. I tried to control my shrieks realizing too well what
had happened, though all was perfectly quiet now. Still I did not wish
to open my eyes for fear of what I would see. I was cold and in great
pain. My neck seemed swollen. I felt a tightness around my nose and
swelling below my left eye.

The others: Were they beside me? Were they alive but afraid to move? I
began to wonder. In the darkness I could feel no body warmth; I could
hear no sound of breathing. Suddenly, it came to me. I remembered the
anguished screams. I lay in a hush, a silence that was all the more
pronounced by contrast with the noise and frantic screams before. It
was the silence of death and the tomb. I opened my right eye, just
a little. Quickly I closed it. My left eye was so swollen, it could
not open. The air was heavy and there was a smell of damp earth. I
listened. Surely someone must be near me. I moved my hands cautiously.
I could feel on my right a crumbly earthen wall. Was I in a tomb?
Buried alive? My eye flew open. I could see a tiny opening a little
distance above.

I made a move, only to feel excruciating pain. I felt nauseated.
My head pounded with pain. When the convulsion passed away, I lay
exhausted, wet, clammy, awaiting the death I could not escape. Now I
did not want to escape. I wanted to die. How long could I last in this
tomb? Dear God, let it be quick! Why did they not bury us together?
We always wanted to be together, in life and in death. My convulsive
noises had brought nothing but silence. I was frightened and so ill.
I began to weep chokingly. My cries resounded through the hollowness,
increasing my feeling of loneliness. If only someone would hear and
end my agony. My ears rang, my head reeled with dizziness. My nausea
returned. Once more I was in the grip of a convulsion.



PART VI After The Tragedy



XXIX DUGOUT


Suddenly I felt a hand on my forehead. I stiffened with terror, unable
to cry or even feel nausea. Was it the hand of death? Now I was cold
all over, except my head--the hand warmed my forehead. The hand lifted.
I waited for the weapon to plunge. I could not look. I kept my eye
closed. I waited. The suspense would hold no longer.

I opened my eye a little. I could see a candle light. My eye opened
wider. I saw a woman coming toward me. I screamed and shut my eye.
Again I felt the warm hand on my forehead. I was hardly breathing. I
waited another eternity. The hand went away. As I lay there in fear, I
wondered if it was a real woman or a vision. She was no one I had seen
before. She came closer again and lifted a container of water to my
lips, but I could not lift my head to drink it.

“Where does it hurt you?” she said in Russian, but with a foreign
accent. I wanted to answer, but no words came. I pointed to my stomach
and gagged a little. It was too much effort. I began to feel ill,
writhing in nausea. I felt a thin slice of preserved lemon thrust
through my lips. My lips smarted. I clutched them with my hand. There
was something wrong with my lips, my left arm, my head, my ankle and
nose. She had bandaged my abdomen. I was too miserable to care. The
lemon preserve soothed the nausea. I sucked it eagerly but hardly
tasted it, it was so washed with tears. I lay there stupefied as my eye
fastened on the lighted candle. It was so frightening, so bewildering:
the tomb, the candle, the woman. The flame flickered and almost went
out as she moved.

Again startled, my eye moved around to find that once more the woman
was creeping down the wall; a few steps and she was at my side. She
lifted the candle nearer, placed it on the little table beside my bed,
set down a basin of water, threw back my covers, and began to undo the
bandage about my stomach. Without a glance at my face she washed my
wound and deftly rebandaged it. Still without looking at my face, she
unbandaged my leg, bathed and bandaged it again. She dressed my head
wounds, washed my face and hands, picked up her basin and disappeared
up the wall and through the ceiling.

Fascinated and yet horrified, I stared at the spot where she
disappeared. Suddenly two feet appeared again, a skirt, a woman coming
down. She was at my side and placed another thin slice of this rare
lemon preserve to my lips. She looked at me for a minute. Then she
climbed up the wall and was gone.

I did not know where I was, but now I could see a trap door and a
ladder of not too many rungs leading up to it. I have a clear picture
of the woman’s face as she nursed me. She had nice features, black
eyes; the hair, perhaps dark brown once was now partly gray and pulled
back tight into a knot at the back of her head. She seemed no older
than my Mother. Her hands were long and slender; she was tall and thin.
She did not look like a peasant, but her general appearance told me she
was no stranger to hardship. She was confident and efficient but did
not seem to be a professional nurse.

For a moment I forgot my aches and pains. I wanted to know who this
person was. How did an utter stranger happen to be with me? How did
I get here? How long ago had things happened? Perhaps several days,
since I felt crusted dry blood on the left side of my eyebrow, nose
and cheek. My hair was matted and stiff with blood, crumbs of dried
blood covered my pillow. My left leg was so sore I could hardly move
it. My finger nails were packed with stained matter. But where was my
family? I was afraid to think. My head hammered, my jaws ached, my ears
rang. Every little emotion--every motion--was an agonizing experience.
I must have cried myself to sleep, for I awoke sobbing. Perhaps it was
a nightmare. It could not be that I, the little one, always protected
and spared could be alone. Now the woman was moving about near me.
Were _they_, too, being cared for by strangers? I sobbed until sleep
overtook me. There was no way of measuring time. I wept until I slept
to wake up sobbing until I wept myself to sleep again.

After the sobbing a violent nausea seized me and the woman rushed up
the ladder to bring me a drink of water. She sponged my lips and fed
me with a spoon. All too soon I discovered why my lip was sore. My two
upper front teeth were broken and driven almost through the upper lip.
One of these front teeth had been filled in Tobolsk by Dr. Kostritsky
who took care of Mother’s false tooth and Father’s teeth. Several of
my teeth, in the lower left jaw, were also loose; they merely were in
place. There was a small hole in my right cheek and a piece of flesh
was missing.

Sleep was the only respite. Wakefulness brought nothing but horror and
haunting thoughts. I welcomed sharp pain as it distracted my thinking.
How long this orgy of weeping and sleeping kept up I have no idea.
Occasional moments of composure wedged themselves in as I realized I
felt better. Immediately desperation drove me into fresh weeping. I
wanted to die. I was afraid to think.

All the time the woman worked tirelessly to make me comfortable. I
could not help but feel sorry to see her climb up and down the ladder
to bring me something when her efforts seemed to do me so little good.
She was thorough but gentle. She changed my dressings often. While
she busied herself with me, I kept my eyes closed--the sight of her
accentuated my loneliness. She seemed cruelly impersonal as she worked
over me. She wanted to do a good and thorough job. If she would only
speak to me, give me some sign of sympathy, that I might know she felt
friendly! She always avoided meeting my eyes, eyes that now squinted
through smarting slits, so sore were they from constant crying.

Her care was faithful but she seemed oblivious to the hungry soul
inside me. She washed my scalp wound but made no attempt to comb my
matted hair. Each passing day there were fewer and fewer bits of dried
blood on the pillow. Finally she cut my hair on the two spots of my
scalp in order to keep the wound clean. The deep round hole in front of
my ankle and the wounds in my back were still painful.

The torments of my mind partially overcome, I wanted to ask questions,
yet I did not. As long as I did not know definitely, I could hope. At
such moments I was almost glad of the woman’s lack of sympathy. Her
most expressive kindness was when she placed her hand on my head when
I felt nauseated, but that hand was too much of a reality and always
a fresh spur to loneliness. The nausea attacks became routine under
the incessant crying. The woman did everything in her power to relieve
them, everything except to extend a sympathetic word.

Uncertainty was tearing my heart. One minute I longed desperately for
the woman to talk. The next minute I watched her with horror for fear
she would. Perhaps she was waiting for me to grow strong enough to
hear the truth--the last thing I wanted to hear. If I could only be
told that the others were being cared for, I would not murmur at this
temporary separation, and the pain would not be so great.

The moment came when my torture boiled to the surface. The woman
was dressing my wounds when the desire to know the answers became
overwhelming.

“Where am I?” I whispered.

She hesitated, then in a low voice I could hardly catch, she said, “In
a little room underneath a house.” Then she added, after a pause, “It
is very dangerous; never talk aloud lest someone might hear.”

“The others?” I gasped. It was out--the question. If I could only
retrieve it. Suspense. I thought she never would answer. She turned her
face away and said, “All gone. Please ask me no more, that is all I
know.” She rushed to the ladder and went away.

All gone. I had known it all the time but would not admit it.
Yet everything had happened so quickly, I could not be sure. The
excitement, the running up and down the stairs, the confusion, the room
filled with rough-looking men. The woman with dishevelled hair; who was
she? Was all this a vision or a reality? To this day I’ll never know.
Yurovsky, the most vicious man in the world swaggered after Father,
whispering things I could not hear. Father’s shocked face, Mother’s
trembling, her slumping back in her chair: all this horror together
kept reappearing in my consciousness. The words, “All gone,” whirled
around my head flying out at me from all directions at once. Those soft
blue clouds which I imagined carried them rapidly through the clear
skies. I still could not believe it. Perhaps only Father and Mother are
gone, and brother and sisters are somewhere in a prison.

Another period of oblivion ended. Consciousness returned to find the
woman bending over me. The sight of her brought back a realization of
the horrible truth; the family was no more, only I was left. No, it
could not be. Now I wanted her to tell me more, but she shook her head.
I understood.

Frantic with the hopelessness of it all, I shivered down into my
covers. My foot struck something solid but warm. It was a bed warmer, a
hot stone wrapped in a cloth. Using my uninjured foot I manoeuvred it
so that I got my hands on it. To me it was more than stone, more than
warmth. I now felt the woman was sympathetic and underneath her still
exterior I discovered a new companionship.

In spite of longing to die, I awoke from each sleep more alive. Each
awakening brought a little less suffering and pain. I could now turn
my head with less pain and without dizziness. The nausea attacks were
almost gone--I was getting better. Sleep was the great healer: the
vitality of youth swayed the balance.

With real resentment I allowed the woman to tend to my wounds. Since
they were not serious enough to let me die, I had no desire to examine
them to ascertain their nature. So far I had received very little
nourishment from taking food, partly because I was afraid the nausea
might return.

She brought me some delicious soup with a strong flavor and containing
some barley. It was nourishing; I could almost feel an increased
strength as I took it. Yet I did not want to get well. The woman gave
me good care, but it seemed to be mistaken kindness. Now that I knew
the worst, she seemed more distant than ever. It was as if she feared
for her own life. She did what was necessary and departed quickly. But
why was she nursing me? I could not understand it. I only knew I was
alone and could not die. Hauntingly the prayer we sisters had written
together kept coming to my mind. I tried to say it but the words had
lost their meaning.

Over and over haunting thoughts catapulted into my mind. How did I
escape the death intended for the whole family? Why did they want to do
away with us? We could have gone abroad, never to return, if we could
only have kept together. I remembered Mother’s frequent words, that the
throne had brought nothing but unhappiness to our family. We all loved
our Motherland and would have been content to live as ordinary citizens
in some obscure part of it.

Had Father suspected this ending? When he carried his head erect, was
he looking forward with hope or was he facing death squarely to show
how bravely a Tsar could die? At the price of disloyalty to Russia,
he could have saved his life. Not he, not Mother, nor any of us could
be tempted to save ourselves at Russia’s expense. Except when his
epaulettes were removed, I had never seen Father bitter, but only
infinitely sad that he could not spare his people the tragedy of a
revolution. The ruthless propaganda would not let the nation know him
for what he was--one who wanted to do right and do it well. Father was
the victim of the Kaiser’s intrigue. Mother was misunderstood. She had
done only what she thought was best for Russia. Now I could see it all.
From the very first, there had been no chance....

We had been moved to Tobolsk, further inland, making our escape less
possible. Siberia was far from Finland, the mecca of fugitives.
Father had believed Kerensky who assured him we would be safer in the
hinterland--far safer as targets!

I hoped and prayed that Mother’s heart had failed her before the
assassins’ bullets reached her. I hoped that she had cheated Yurovsky
and his fellow-murderers. This would have given me great satisfaction.
He at no time fooled Mother. She knew, suspected, and understood it
all. She and Olga had uncanny discernment.

We believed God would always take care of us. The little intuitive
prayers that arose within us, when suddenly confronted with a fresh
persecution; the strength that we received in adjusting ourselves to
new humiliating requirements; the exaltation we felt in the sense of
God’s guidance. All these underlined the idea, “Though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art
with me.” Perhaps if we had not trusted so exaltingly, we might have
done more to help ourselves.

These were my thoughts of despair when suddenly I heard voices in my
cell, faint voices, but I could understand this much: the man said,
“Organized parties are searching everywhere, in the woods, in the
houses. They have found nothing. No one suspects us, but you can see we
are in danger.” He said much more than that, but this is all I could
understand.

“Which one of your sisters was very tall?” the woman asked.

“Tatiana,” I replied excitedly.

Turning to the man she said, “It is too bad. Just think, she too, could
be alive if ...”, her voice faded away, as if she was trying to keep me
from hearing.

“If what?” I burst out with a cry and tried to get out of bed only to
fall back in pain. When I gained my composure, I looked for the man,
but he was gone. The woman was still there.

“Tell me, ‘if what?’” I pleaded, as I stretched out my hand to her.

“Please do not ask any questions. I cannot answer,” she said, as she
rushed to climb the ladder.

Was there no end to my tortures? I was so near to a little truth, then
to lose it forever. Tatiana. What could have happened that she did not
come through ... as I had. Together we might have found something to
live for. That man ... who could he be? He had the same kind of accent
as the woman. From what I had heard him say, it did not seem as if
he had been one of the actual rescuers. He spoke as if he had heard
through someone else; as if he were connected with the rescuers in some
manner. He, too, was frightened, all because of me. Had they saved me
for a humane reason or had they stolen my body to rob it and finding me
alive thought it safer to nurse me back to health than to dispose of me?

For the first time I began to observe my surroundings. The place was
tiny with a ceiling so low a good-sized person standing could easily
touch the ceiling with his head. The width and length seemed about nine
by ten feet. All four walls were of dirt with little roots protruding.
The floor was also plain earth, covered by a braided oval straw mat
extending from my bed almost to the ladder. Now I could see plainly
about what I had first taken to be my unsealed grave. Close to the
ceiling was a small window, a dirt-stained pane of glass about five by
eight inches which let almost no light through. I was lying on an army
cot. On the opposite wall was a wooden ladder leading to the trap door.
To the right of the ladder was a wooden bench covered with blankets,
which looked as if it had been used as a bed. Beside me was a small
marble-topped table with a drawer. A small candle on the table lighted
the room. A chair was the only other object in my dugout.

The question came to my mind, what had become of my clothes--my white
blouse, gray plaid skirt? Now I was clad in a white cotton nightdress,
much too large for my frail body. It probably belonged to this woman.
And where were my shoes? Had the man discovered the precious stones
in the heels? Had they found the other stones which were sewn in my
clothes, especially inside the buttons? We sisters had some money in
the belts of our skirts. What had become of all that?

They could have everything if only they would tell me about Tatiana.
The man knew why she had not come through, and so did the woman, yet
they would not talk to me. The man thought I could be moved, but he
soon discovered I could not stand on my feet. The woman’s hand was on
my covers; then I felt sudden warmth in my shivering body. The stone
was back, good and hot, nicely wrapped. I curled around it.

Gradually my body marched on toward recovery; my head had ceased to
throb. I could turn it easily. Immediately the woman sensed this
progress and removed the bandages. My wounds were less painful. Again
with her uncanny insight into my condition, she placed the pillow
behind me and sat me up in bed.

One day when I was sitting up in bed, I noticed on the table next to
me a brown lump. It looked like a section of a dried apple. I picked
it up; it gave me a feeling of horror, and I quickly dropped it on
the army blanket covering my bed. As I looked at it closely, I saw
a familiar design. I unfolded a small portion of it, and recognized
the edge as the handkerchief that was given me by Grandmother, who
also gave one to each of my sisters. I could not imagine where this
handkerchief had come from. I remembered that when our rooms had last
been searched, I had picked it up from the floor and had placed it on
a small table in Mother’s room. I do not remember taking it when we
rushed to get dressed that final night, nor did I intend to use this
fine lace handmade keepsake. I must have picked it up absent-mindedly.
According to the woman, when I was brought into the dugout that
fateful morning, the handkerchief was clutched tightly in my hand.
I had brought it with me when we left Tsarskoe Selo to Tobolsk and
then to Ekaterinburg. I intend to place it in the museum which I plan
to establish. Mother had beautiful laces and had brought a few small
pieces with her to Tobolsk. Fearing they might be mishandled, these
valuable laces were to be divided among us children.

The woman cared for me quite frequently, although I had no clock
to mark the passing hours, nor was there any sunshine by which to
conjecture the time of day. During my convalescence she let me wear a
white cotton jacket which had starched pleating around the neck and
down the front. This bed jacket was far too large for me, but it was
her best. The sheets on my bed were of a coarse cotton; so was the
pillow case. The latter was edged with a peasant lace and was buttoned
together. Over the sheet, she had placed a warm army blanket.

The room was dark, day hardly distinguishable from night. The little
window high up near the ceiling was covered on the outside with hay, as
I later discovered. A little light did penetrate into this dugout, but
at night she hung a dark cloth over this pane. My eyes were sore from
the lighted candle and I put it out except when she cared for me. I had
no book or magazine or newspaper. No calendar to mark the time of year
or the day of the month. I had no idea whether it was summer or fall.
My room was always cool and damp and the days long.

As I lay in this dark mustiness, I had time to think about everything
that took place during my seventeen years with my dear family. There
were so many sudden changes in the political hysteria, that I wondered
if in my thoughts I was confused! It was unbelievable that actually
such developments really had taken place. One day I asked the woman,
whether all the turmoil was a reality or just a nightmare!

“No!” she replied, “it is true.”

Propped up in bed, from this vantage point, I was able to see and hear
the man, should he ever come back. I would judge whether he was friend
or foe. Whatever the man might be, I was sure the woman had nothing
to do with my rescue beyond the determination to make me well. But I
remember the words, “You see how careful we must be.” That sounded as
if they were working together. Perhaps others were involved, others
saved? When the man should come back I was determined to find out all
the events from him, from my last recollection to the present time. The
questions they had asked me gave me hope that Tatiana had been saved.

Absorbed in these thoughts, I was unaware that someone had come down
the ladder until I suddenly realized the man stood beside me. Behind
him was the woman holding a lighted candle. Waves of fresh, sweet air
wafted out from his clothes.

“Good evening,” he said, “it is cool outside.” “How do you feel?” he
asked.

My lips said, “Better, thank you,” but all the time I was thinking, he
sounds friendly. I will ask him.

Before I could open my mouth to form the words, his manner became
serious, almost severe. “Never speak out loud,” he warned. “Only in a
whisper. It is very dangerous.”

He wheeled around and was gone up the ladder without another word. The
woman followed.

I looked hard at that man and felt satisfied he was not one of the
Ekaterinburg guards, nor was he anyone I had ever seen before. In his
shabby English clothes I could not be sure what he was. He carried
himself erect like a soldier, his hair was well-groomed and he had an
easy manner. He looked at me squarely without self-consciousness and
delivered his orders without hesitation.

The woman usually carried my food on a rough, wooden tray. Gradually,
she brought me more solid food. Occasionally I had some potato; fresh
fish was on my regular diet. When eating solid food I had to be very
careful as I was afraid that I might swallow some of the teeth that
were broken at the roots.

I found one disfigurement after another. I could chew only on the
right side of my mouth. Feeling around my head, I realized I was
covered with welts, one more painful than the other. I also discovered
two long grooves, one on the right side of my head, back of the ear,
about an inch long, which still remained very painful. I wondered if
this pain was the result of the accident or was inherited from my
Mother who had a sensitive spot on her head. Her hairdresser had to be
very careful when arranging her hair. Mine might have been caused by
the bullet that had grazed my head. The pain indicated that my nose,
too, was broken.

A deformed, partly toothless girl at seventeen, alone in a world that
did not care. My only consolation was that in spite of everything the
Lord continued to be beside me.

Beneath the bandage of my stomach, no part was shot away. I could
not find a bullet hole; instead, my skin was covered with traceries
as though cut by myriads of flying glass. The woman seemed pleased
that I was well enough to take an interest in my wounds. She actually
volunteered the information that she had pulled out small pieces of
blue glass from my flesh. She spread honey over my abdomen and finally
the honey drew the glass slivers out.

She asked, “Do you remember carrying any glass container with you?”

Mother often carried a small blue bottle of smelling salts. It was
possible she had this in her hand at the time.

The woman showed me the wounds on my left leg, an oval gash, very deep;
and a small one in the back; a round, corresponding hole in the front.
She said nothing more as though to give no loophole, but worked rapidly
and then hurried up the ladder.

The man became a more frequent visitor in my dugout. He was always
friendly, more so than the woman. He always had something pleasant
to say about the weather, perhaps a cheerful “Good evening.” After a
while he brought along another man who seemed to be of an entirely
different type--dressed in peasant clothes, and obviously a peasant.
Both were impatient for me to get well. They were inquiring about
my progress, asking the woman how soon I might be up and around.
From their nervousness I could see they were in constant terror of
discovery. During one of the visits, I saw a newspaper folded in the
pocket of the first man. When he turned around I recognized only the
Latin characters. I could not tell what the language was.

Whenever the men came I was frightened and excited, hoping that one
of them would drop a hint that another member of my family was saved.
It was hard for me to believe that all were gone. With these thoughts
and uncertainties surrounding me, I was terrified. I knew nothing of
an outside world--my home in Tsarskoe Selo was the only world I knew.
Perhaps all this was a retribution, because I had often envied girls
who were free to go where they wished. As a young girl I had never
taken anything seriously. I had always been shielded, often looked on
with amusement, until the war broke out when suddenly I discovered how
serious life was to be. Now no one was left to stand between me and
reality. These dirt walls were reality. Yet even here someone protected
me. Beyond these walls there seemed to be some sinister power, yet I
could not comprehend it all. Days and days passed, perhaps weeks and
months.

Sitting up in bed was a short preliminary, a to-be milestone. Standing
on my feet, first touching the ground, I felt the braided straw rug on
the earthen ground as my head reeled in dizziness. I could not get back
to my bed fast enough. That proved one thing; I was not as well as my
nurse had thought.

Next morning she put me on my feet once more. My legs were stronger
and there was no return of my dizzy spell. I stood a very short time,
then thankfully I found myself in bed. This was repeated. I protested
against these exercises, because my thoughts and my whole being were
disturbed by them.

All too soon she had me walking the length of the rug several times. I
wept defiantly as she led me along. I staggered frightfully, but in the
end I forced myself to walk as long as I could endure it. Finally I
had it mastered and the woman was satisfied.

Then came the time when the woman began to bring things from above.
She brought clothes to dress me in. First she drew on long, heavy
underwear. Then she put on me a pair of old black cotton stockings, a
slip, and an old gingham dress, so faded the original blue-gray color
was almost undiscernible. Finally she fastened on peasant shoes two or
three sizes too large. My original shoe size was about four-and-a-half
at the time. She stood me up, tied a babushka on my head, threw a coat
around my shoulders and walked me toward the ladder. “We are going
upstairs,” she said. “The outdoors.”

My heart started to beat. Perhaps they were going to kill me. The
thought of possible death did not generate fear now.

If I were going to my death, my mind was ready, but my body lagged. My
hands held tight to the rung of the ladder when I realized the left
side of my lower back was injured. I could not raise my feet without
help. The woman lifted them one at a time--to the first rung, then to
the second. She unclutched my hands and placed them on the next higher
step. She swung herself behind me, her hands on the rung beside mine,
her body framed me like a strong armchair. She began to climb, lifting
me ahead of her, up and up, and through the trap door.

I climbed out on my hands and knees as she instructed me to do. She
guided me along a dark hall about two yards wide through a door to the
opposite side and into a room. Sitting at a table in front of me were
the two men who had previously visited my dugout. A candle on the table
was the only light in the room. The windows were tightly covered with
heavy cloth. These things my eyes took in as the woman led me to a
chair facing the men. My mind was calm but my body shook uncontrollably.

The man, my first visitor, was the spokesman. “Don’t be afraid,” he
began. “You know we are trying to help you.”

His voice was reassuring and my body calmed a little.

“We are in great danger,” he continued. “Spies have been everywhere,
searching for missing bodies. If anyone comes near you, and tries to
speak to you, pretend to be deaf and dumb. Make signs with your hands
but never speak to anyone, not even to us, unless we first speak to
you. We cannot be careful enough.” In a softer tone he added, “I grieve
to inform you--the others are no more. I can tell you nothing more.”

He paused deferentially. I understood. That subject was closed between
us.

In a moment he went on, “It is becoming too dangerous to remain
here. We must go away, but first you must accustom yourself to the
outdoors. Ahead of us is a long, strenuous journey. We dare not risk
the daylight, so the trip must be made after dark. Tonight will be a
starter. Tomorrow we will see you again.”



XXX RECOVERY


I was dismissed. It was over. I was not to be killed. My body throbbed
with gladness.

The woman was standing beside me. She led me to the door and out into
the open night. The air was sweet and fresh, so noticeable after being
accustomed for so long to musty air. I breathed deeply to refresh my
whole being. It was so long since the last time I had seen the night
all lighted up with golden stars so near and yet so far. This was the
most beautiful night and the saddest one I could remember. The horizon
seemed to be far away, sad and quiet as if the world were in a deep
slumber. But probably this very minute some one was facing a death
sentence.

A heavy stone lay on my soul. I could find no consolation. Never will
I see them again. My sisters fresh as rosebuds, in the very morning of
their lives, and now withered away before they even blossomed, their
youthful faces now covered with the cold earth, vanished completely and
forever before my very eyes. My heart was aflame with a grief that was
tearing my soul.

Were these the same stars which looked down on us at Tsarskoe Selo? At
Livadia? The same as on our cruises, when Father’s stories about the
heavens seemed so real? Father could see them no more; nor Mother, nor
sisters, nor my brother Alexei. Knowing that their eyes were closed
forever, filled me with a loneliness I could not bear.

How could the stars go on shining as if nothing had happened? How could
the air be so sweet and fresh when such foulness had taken place? If
my family could not breathe this fresh air, how could I? And how could
I gaze on this heavenly grandeur?

All about me reminded me of my family. I had no more tears but I cried
inwardly. I lost my balance. I collapsed on the ground. The man and the
woman were watching me. They rushed to help me to my feet, and back
into the house and down the ladder.

Again I sank into the damp earthiness of my tiny room, thankful for
its darkness. Here I felt closer to my family. Outside the stars could
sparkle, the air could be fresh, but inside the contrast could not
flaunt itself before me. I need not look at a world untouched by our
tragedy.

In the middle of the night I awoke to find myself walking about my
dugout. I was completely confused, with no idea of where I was. My bare
feet sank into the soft dirt. At last my foot touched the straw rug
which led me to my bed, and in bed was still the welcoming warmth of
the stone wrapped in a cloth.

Walking around with bare feet had given me a slight cold. The woman was
upset; she attributed the setback to the night air, to my first trip
outdoors. The men called early in the morning. They were annoyed that I
had a cold but agreed with the woman it was best to defer another trip
upstairs until I felt better. I heard them say, “Speed up her recovery.”

I lay still another night wrapped in my thoughts. Though the men had
said that my family was no more, still I would not believe it How could
they be so sure? I would never cease to hope, since I had learned how
difficult it was to die. To me their nobility, their trust in God,
their character were more impressive than the grandeur of the night.
God would not fail them.

But we were separated. That was certainty. Somewhere I would be
deposited to face an indifferent world, a world that would not bend its
knee to me. I must suppress my identity and make a new life, all alone.
God knows how I missed them all. I lay there, one minute hoping, then
despairing. I felt close to them in a world which was not theirs nor
mine. The woman continued her care of me; I was suspended between two
worlds belonging neither to this one nor the one to come. The idea
crossed my mind several times that suicide was an easy escape from my
misery, but my strong faith based on years of prayer would not permit
this lack of will power.

Soon my cold faded away and once more the woman had me climbing the
ladder. This time she stood on a chair, put both hands under my arms
and lifted me up the few rungs through the trap door. In a few moments
I was again in the presence of the same two men.

As before, the only light came from the candle on the table. The
windows had the same heavy coverings. I almost said, “Good evening,”
but remembered not to, just in time. With no preliminaries the
spokesman started immediately.

“We are very much interested in straightening out a few things,” he
said. “We want to ask you some questions.”

I was all fear. At Tobolsk, at Ekaterinburg, questions meant traps.
Surging through me, I remembered my Mother’s advice: “Answer
courteously but give no information.”

“Were they unkind to you in Tobolsk?”

I wanted to tell the truth. In spite of my impaired speech, they wanted
me to answer their questions.

“Very unkind, the last days,” I answered.

“What sort of things did they do to you?”

I hesitated. There had been so much torture and suffering, it was
difficult to begin with any specific detail. In contrast to the final
outcome, the treatment we endured at Tobolsk suddenly seemed trivial. I
could not mention anything specific, not yet. The tragedy towered over
all events, making all others seem unimportant.

“Everything to contribute to our unhappiness and humiliation,” I said.

“Who were with you in Tobolsk?” he began.

Something I could answer easily. I told him, “Our friends, and
household help.” Their faithfulness excited my memories.

“Did they all go with you to Ekaterinburg?”

While in thought, I raised my eyes and saw a door on my right side
which apparently led into another room. Through a crack I saw a bright
light and a shadow flitting across the crack in a sort of rhythmical
motion, as if someone were swinging back and forth. My thoughts were
distracted for a moment. My training came to my aid. I could see
without betraying what I saw. I hid my surprise at discovering that
there were other people in the house besides the two men and the woman.
I dismissed my curiosity since I was beginning to have confidence in
these men. Their questions must be answered.

I began, “Some went first with Father, Mother, and Marie, Dr. Botkin,
Prince Dolgorukov, a maid and Father’s valet. When our parents left
Tobolsk the others stayed to take care of us children who were left
behind to go later when Alexei should be better.”

What kind of quarters did we have in Ekaterinburg? Did we have enough
to eat? Did we ever go outdoors? Did we see our friends? How did we
pass the time? These questions were meant to pave the way for more
questions that were to come later and to encourage me to answer them.
In a way I was glad to confide my sorrow.

When they were through, one of the men signalled the woman, who led me
outdoors. My second walk in the air. I had decided to take the outing
without once lifting my eyes to the sky. I took short breaths and
leaned heavily on the woman’s arm. We walked around the house. Guarding
us, I sensed rather than saw, was one of the two men, walking a few
feet behind us. At last we were back at the entrance. The house was
dark as we entered the first room and passed through the open trap door
and down the ladder. The trap door was lowered and I noticed a cloth
was nailed on the inside. No sounds must penetrate through that floor.
The exertion and gratification at my own courage put me into a sound
sleep that night.

I awoke stronger and aware of a new milestone in my march to recovery.
Each day the terrifying world I knew nothing of drew closer. I
had almost ceased to struggle to keep from entering this world of
reality. I was being carried like a leaf floating on the surface of a
fast-flowing stream. I could not stop or sink. The prospect of living
my life in good health would have been frightening enough, but now I
must face ill health and loneliness as well. If only crying could oust
these seething tortures.

The woman was busy folding a blanket. When she finished she piled it
on her arm, tossed the pillow on top and lowered her chin on it for a
firm grip on her burden. Now she was climbing the ladder, load and all.
There was something final in the way she climbed. It suddenly dawned on
me that she had spent the many nights close by my side. Satisfied that
I was out of danger, she was henceforth going to sleep upstairs. I had
not been conscious of her presence; misery had made me deaf and blind.
Now that her watchful custody was removed, I became frightened and
longed for the nearness I had not been aware of.

Without a clock, I had no idea at what time our day started. When the
woman appeared, it was morning. The smoky window became a panel of gray
after she removed its covering. I always listened for a “Good morning.”
But that was all. She never did tell me what I should call her. If
I needed her attention, I whispered, “Lady, please.” I did overhear
the man call her Iliana or Irina. When she combed my hair, she did it
gently. All her services were performed tenderly. I thought I detected
a resemblance between her and the man who was the first spokesman. I
wished I knew something about these men and the woman.

After an early supper she helped me to get dressed again in the same
grotesque clothes and took me to the room above. The same men awaited
me; the same rhythmical shadow flitted through the crack. Previously
the questions had been of a general nature. Now they began to ask me
more personal ones. They asked about Madame Vyrubova. Did she influence
the Tsarina? Was she intimate with Rasputin? Did she live in the
palace? I did not want to answer any of these questions, yet I did not
dare to refuse.

All the time the shadow continued to pass over the lighted crack of
the door. Who could it be? Was there someone writing down my answers?
I was terrified. Suddenly I became so exhausted that I thought I would
fall from the chair. My interrogator saw the situation and excused
me. The woman accompanied me outdoors, and we walked around the house
several times. Then I returned to my little hole. Once more I sank into
my congenial darkness. The woman climbed the ladder, her touch was as
soft as a feather. The trap door opened, then lowered back into place,
quietly but firmly.

One day she brought me a piece of meat and vegetables. I refused to eat
meat. The woman had no longer to bandage my wounds; they had healed
sufficiently. Now I felt an itching sensation on my head and the woman
was pleased with my progress. “Your hair will cover it nicely,” she
said. There in the darkness my hair was growing fast. I was able to
braid it.

Ahead of me lay the nightly inquisition. Yet each trip into the
outdoors made me more independent physically. Once more and many times
later I sat in the question room trying to control myself in the face
of the curiosity of these two men and the woman. Now my Mother was the
subject of their questioning.

“Did your uncle come from Germany to see the Tsarina?” The shadow in
the next room seemed poised for my answer. Suddenly I was glad of
the recording. Here was the opportunity to show Mother as the eager
helpmate that she really was, trying to report to Father the facts
as she saw them in his absence. “Did the Tsarina listen to Rasputin,
because she believed in his honesty, foreseeing, and experience?”

I answered, “Whatever Mother did, she did it only for the good of
Russia. When Father did not agree with Mother, she accepted his
decision as final, knowing she could have no further influence.” I
expressed these thoughts as carefully as I could, hoping whoever it was
would take them down accurately.

Every evening for some two weeks I was questioned. Each period of
questioning lasted about an hour. When each bout was ended I was
burning as with a fever. The questions were personal and plentiful. The
subjects were continually changed, covering the entire Imperial family
and the palace staff, as well as the household employees. Many of these
questions seemed so impertinent to me that one night I burst out, “Why
are you asking me all this?” They replied, “We only want to know.”

Gradually I began to take in my outdoor surroundings. Not far away I
saw a haystack. Beyond it, a dark vastness, perhaps a forest or low
hills. During my walks around the house, I noticed that it was square
and squat like most peasant houses. I gathered it was made of wood.
The roof was shingled. I tried to find my tiny window and finally
located it behind the camouflage of hay. I could hardly see it. Now I
understood why my room was so dark.

The house stood some distance from the road and a long dirt driveway
extended from the road to the rear of the house. To one side was a
large shed, perhaps a barn, which apparently did not house any animals
since I heard no sounds from it Occasionally I did hear lowing herds
in the distance. Perhaps one of these cows was responsible for the
milk I received each day. There were no signs of horses or chickens.
But several times I heard a faint train-whistle in the distance. I
never saw any arrivals or departures. Did these men come from the
neighboring houses and walk across the fields? What went on in this
house was a complete mystery to me. Did these two men and the woman
live in this house? There was another young woman. Was she behind the
ill-fitting door? I had only seen the hall and the question room, but
I felt sure there was another room in the house. The furnishings I saw
were meagre. Perhaps this was an abandoned farmhouse or discarded
servants’ quarters attached to someone’s estate. The outside, too, had
a deserted appearance. I noticed some hay scattered near the house. My
observations were all based on what little I could see in the darkness.
I felt sure these people were in someone’s service, or they were using
the place as a temporary hideout.

The men became quite friendly. The woman continued her silent care
of me. The men talked freely, even joked about my recovery. Without
warning, the question I had always suppressed, suddenly broke out. “Why
did you rescue me?” I inquired.

The faces of both men turned red. The man I first met was shocked. The
second man’s eyes blazed with fury. “What is it that you want to know?”
he said.

My feelings were deeply hurt at this coarse reply. My fears returned in
full force. The worst must lie ahead.

It was obvious that I must soon go away, otherwise these people would
pay the penalty. Now I wanted to stay in my dugout forever. It was
mine and I was part of it. I would inscribe my name here, but where
exactly? I had nothing with which to write, no crayon, pen or pencil.
There was a hairpin on the table. Quickly I was out of bed and standing
on the rug. I pulled out the small drawer and set it upside down on my
bed and began scratching my name with the hairpin. I bore down with
all my strength on the bottom of the drawer and formed the letters and
numbers: “A.N.R. 1918.” It could not have been a legible signature but,
such as it was, there it would stay, a witness to my habitation, these
hairpin hieroglyphics.

A few days after this incident the woman seemed to take unusual pains
with my grooming. She braided my hair smoothly. She gave me a fresh
pillow which had a lace edging, sat me up and dressed me in one of her
jackets. She arranged my covers neatly. By the time she had finished
the men were already descending the ladder.

The first man took a small kodak from his pocket and after lighting
several candles snapped my picture. A few days later they returned
with several prints. I had one of these until it disappeared with my
manuscript. The clearest object in the picture was the lace on the
pillow case. How different I looked! My nose was still swollen, my jaw
caved in, my eyes had many light dots.

“Isn’t it a splendid likeness?” the spokesman was saying.

As they turned to climb the ladder, they reminded me of the danger of
their position. “Things are terrible,” they said in unison. “People are
lined up and shot at the slightest excuse.”

I gathered that they were more and more frightened at having me around.
The questioning continued, followed by a walk each time. How could they
think of so many things to ask?

My family would have been surprised at my diplomatic skill. The mystery
continued. I learned no more about the house. After each outing I
was returned to my dugout. Then I began to feel an undercurrent of
excitement which told me that the time of my departure was near.

One day when I was again in the question room, one of the men said,
“We can not stay here any longer. We are taking you to another little
place. It is very risky. Never forget to be deaf and dumb. Speak only
with your hands. We start early in the morning. You will take a short
walk now, then sleep until we awaken you.”

Our outing was brief. Once more I was hustled down the ladder. The
woman helped me into bed and went away. Some time after midnight, the
woman returned. This hour reminded me of the night at Ekaterinburg. I
began to cry. Her worn, white face told me only too well that she had
worked many hours preparing for our departure. She brought me a cup of
milk. Her hand was shaking. I felt a warm feeling of appreciation. I
too was trembling. I spilled the milk. She dried the splash on my dress
and turned away but our souls were knit together.

She rushed me to dress in the same clothes I had worn before, except
that the old dress now had a wide hem. It almost reached to my ankles.
My black stockings were well hidden by my high laced shoes and the
long dress. She tied a babushka around my head.

Silently she handed me a label which had apparently been removed from
someone’s coat or dress. Stamped on brown taffeta in gold were a
double-headed eagle and the words, “Mikhailov Moskva.” Mikhailov was
the name of a well-known Moscow firm. I could not recall having ever
seen such a label and could only guess at her motive in giving it to
me. Possibly she thought I would recognize it and surmise something as
to what had happened to its owner. I still have it.

I asked once more what had become of my old clothes that I had had
on that fatal night. Puzzlingly she replied, “They were so badly
bloodsoaked that I had them burned.” I wished to ask her again what
became of the items I had had hidden in my clothes. I was afraid. I was
at their mercy. I had no choice. There were some fifty large diamonds
and pearls and about twenty-five rubies, emeralds and sapphires.

I took a final glance at the room and thought of the uncertain future
ahead. Now that I was leaving this tiny spot, I knew that I owed it a
great deal. The only thing I had to give it I had already given--my
initials.

In front of the ladder I knelt down to pray for a moment for my dear
ones. I dreaded to leave the dugout for fear that I might never again
visit this part of the world where the remains of my beloved ones no
doubt were buried--somewhere nearby.

My mind went back to a question I was once asked: Why did I always
stand at some distance from my sisters? I now realized that I must have
unconsciously had the premonition that we would some day be separated.

I blew out the candle and groped my way through the room to climb the
ladder, and out through the trap door. A clam was being tom from its
shell.

In the hall I was greeted with a rush of fresh air. Our departure was
to be immediate, with no light of any kind. In a few seconds the woman
led me outdoors.



XXXI WESTWARD TREK


I was conscious of figures mysteriously scurrying back and forth to the
house. My eyes began to focus better and I could see standing a man who
led me to the back of a hay wagon, as if to introduce me to the scheme
devised for my escape. He took my hand that I might feel him unlatch
a little door, then he pushed my arm through the opening, indicating
to me the empty space inside. He guided my hand to the bottom, to the
bedding of hay and the blanket, then the arched roof to feel the hoops
laid closely above. He directed my fingers to the cloth between the
hoops, trying to let me know a covering had been thrown over to keep
the hay from falling through. He made me touch the sides of the wagon
and the arched top covered with hay. My hiding place was to be this
coop, camouflaged as a load of hay. The ingenious plan revealed once
more the risk these people were taking. I stood hesitating between fear
and appreciation, when suddenly I found myself being lifted feet first
through the tiny door. He handed me a bottle of water and without a
word hooked the little door. Locked up in my little cage, I listened.
Footsteps. It seemed there were many. I was anxious to catch every
sound. I could hear nothing. The wagon bent forward as under a heavy
weight. A stronger lurch and we were in motion.

Now I felt like a little calf being taken to the market. Yet I had
reason to trust these people. Their careful preparation, their discreet
silence could be only for my safety. I could not understand them, but
I could not mistake their kindness. Perhaps someone would meet me at
our destination. The serious, elaborate precautions indicated we were
in great danger. This first part of the journey was no doubt the most
critical. Through the rear of the wagon I could see a light. It was the
sun coming up.

I presume we traveled for hours, the horse moving at a steady and brisk
pace. I could tell when we were going up or down. The road was rough
and I was badly shaken. These country roads were in poor shape and full
of ruts. The dust sifted through the partitioned door and filled my
eyes and nostrils. I felt I was suffocating. I could hardly breathe.
My dry throat stiffened. I reached for the bottle, found and removed
the cork, swallowed some water to wash the dust down, and sponged my
face. My cramped coop was long enough to permit me to lie full length,
and high enough so I could easily turn over. I could even draw up my
knees, though I could not sit up. I rolled on my stomach and pressed my
face against the little door to catch any current of air. I hoped they
would soon stop, but dared not call out for fear that my voice would
betray us. The driver seemed to know the road well, as the cart did not
hesitate in making any of the turns. It had no springs and it jolted
brutally and ceaselessly. My head was splitting. Would my wounds break
open? My face was stiff and plastered with a mixture of dust and sweat.
I was miserable. We travelled for a long time. Then light began to
penetrate through the door and the wagon took a sudden turn. A plunge
down and up again, then slowly along a level road with many bends. It
stopped. I listened. Had we been halted for searching? Did someone jump
down from the driver’s seat? Some one was coming around the wagon. It
was one of the men, pushing the hay from the little door.

Suddenly the door flew open. In came a rush of fresh air. Feeling
unsteady I tottered into the arms of the woman. I was glad she had come
with us. She smiled, reflecting my pleasure at seeing her. She held me
for a moment before I could walk around to loosen my tensed body.

It was most exciting to find myself free in the woods in the daylight.
I learned there was no trouble here. We had stopped for a rest and to
care for the horse. My eyes squinted and watered painfully, and I could
distinguish very little. I bathed my eyes and the woman tied a cloth
over them and left me sitting on a log. I lifted the cloth a tiny bit
to accustom my eyes to the light. First I saw some green, then the
forest, then a winding stream and myriads of bushes screening us from
the road--a perfectly secluded spot. Later in the evening we resumed
our journey, stopping several times for a rest. At daybreak the light
started again to seep into my coop. The way the horse turned indicated
we were not here by accident, but had actually stopped according to
plan.

It was a beautiful morning; the dew still on the grass made the air
superb. I could see some deep orange-colored flowers and some wild
asters. I plucked some of those dry seeds from the plants and tossed
them into the air, hoping they would fly through the woods in the
direction where my family was resting. I knew so little of the cruel
facts surrounding my dear ones. If I could only kneel beside their
graves for a silent prayer. But even this was denied me. Water rushed
down a little stream and humming insects flitted about No prison walls
here.

Presently the woman spread the army blanket on the ground, motioning me
to sit on it, and opened a lunch basket. She had some hard boiled eggs,
one for each of us, fried fish, bread. It was a sumptuous feast, and a
glorious feeling there under the shaggy trees, the profusion of pines
and birches, under the deep blue sky--a typical Siberian scene. The
horse stood still munching. The leaves hung motionless, the birds were
quiet; all nature seemed to breath in suspended and sympathetic silence
as we ate our lunch hungrily.

The great sacrifice these people were making impressed me once more
and I felt appreciative. In no time all three were asleep. In order to
make it easy for everybody I had an urge to run away, but because of
the effort these people were making, my conscience would not permit
it. Also probably at the “little place” they knew of, someone might be
waiting for me.

The little brook rumbled on in the quiet of the countryside. It alone
defied silence. The trees stood in a colored hush of yellow, red and
green. The white birch and the trembling aspen beat their wings. All
this indicated it was early fall and nature was ready for its long
sleep. After taking these details of the setting, I realized I, too,
was exhausted.

The men were harnessing the horse and the woman was packing when I
awoke. She was waiting to fold my blanket. I was chagrined to have been
such a poor sentinel, but no harm had resulted. Now the men were ready.
The woman started for the wagon, so I followed, though I could have
enjoyed nature in that spot indefinitely. In a few minutes I was back
in my coop; the men and the woman were in their places. The wagon bent
forward several times and we were on our way again.

We moved steadily and confidently. The way must have been perfectly
familiar to our driver. I did not hear any other passing wagons, nor
was I conscious of passing through any village. I kept thinking about
the beautiful spot in which we had lunched. That day God and nature
were fused together. There in that beautiful resting place the family
had been with me in spirit guiding me in the very air I breathed,
caressing and encouraging me. I imagined I could hear Father’s quieting
words. Even now I thought those words might be directing us. The driver
seemed so sure of the way I became less alone, less suffocated, less
desperate. I could lie quietly. Transcended, I simmered in wishful
dreams. This was the second night on the road. The wagon rumbled.
Another abrupt turn awakened me. I listened. The horse halted. One of
the men was opening the door of the coop. He pulled me out and set me
on my feet. We were in the midst of a thicket. The third stop on our
journey. It was twilight, the sky still holding its sunset colors. The
colors faded into the gathering darkness.

The men worked hurriedly, nervously and anxiously to get through
feeding and watering the horse. It was a short stretching period, only
long enough to eat from our basket and let the horse finish his feed.
Not one word broke the evening silence, not one moment was wasted. Once
more I lay in the coop and the horse started out again.

Even in the dark I could feel a certainty of direction. The horse’s
feet met the ground as if the way was not strange to him. We went on
about the same pace as during daylight. Each moment I was prepared for
any difficulty which might arise. So far there had been no trouble.
Would we travel all night? I could not sleep in the chilling darkness
and I did not suppose any of the others did. Suddenly a lurch to the
left, a short run and a halt. No sounds, only poignant stillness. One
of the men helped me out of the cage. I found myself standing beside a
house. The woman opened the door and walked in. They all seemed to know
this house. Though it was dark, they made their way around, and lighted
a candle. The woman led me to a bed. After she finished with me, she
went out of the room.

It seemed but a moment before the woman was awakening me from my sleep.
I was getting used to the inevitable. It was still dark when she came
in with a candle in her hand. She guided me to a table where milk and
bread was laid out for me. Then she led me outdoors to the wagon which
stood ready. I could see clearly by the light of the stars.

To my surprise, we did not stop at the rear of the wagon. We passed to
the front where one of the men already sat in the driver’s seat. The
second man turned as if to help me up. I looked at the woman, seeking
an explanation. She put her lips to my forehead, pressed my hand, then
gently pushed me toward the man who helped me to the seat beside the
driver. The other man climbed after me. The wagon started, it had two
horses this time. We had left the woman behind! I suddenly realized the
woman had said good-bye. I was never to see her again. We turned out of
the yard, onto the country road. A man on each side of me and the woman
gone. I had misgivings. The men sat rigid, gazing at the pre-dawn
blackness. They were on the alert. To them, leaving the woman behind
was a planned milestone in their hazardous task. Her part was finished,
now it was up to them to carry on.

The woman was protection to me, the last remnant of a feminine world.
We were still in danger, judging by their alertness. I wondered why
I had not returned to the coop. These men were stoical and brave to
attempt this journey at all. Their continual watchfulness inspired
confidence. One of these men had annoyed me with his questions several
days ago. Now he sat beside me.

Each moment took me farther away from the woman. I had taken her
protection for granted. My feeling for her had been a mixture of
wonder and resentment. I always hoped that some day she would talk to
me and tell me what I wanted to know. Now that day was gone forever.
But she had done her part faithfully and I must be grateful. That last
night at the dugout, when we looked eye to eye, she understood what
I wanted most. I would have liked to put it in words. That night I
had felt close to her. Now she was far from me, free to return to her
accustomed way of life. What was her life? On our way, had we dropped
her at her home? This dugout, where I had been so long, was it far from
Ekaterinburg?

The men spoke of Uktus and Mramorskaya. Was one of these the location
of my dugout? It was an irritating mystery. No part of the mystery was
solved and now the woman was gone without telling me a thing.

The men kept peering through the darkness, taking advantage of its
unlimited screen to make all possible progress. My inner darkness
exceeded the darkness of the night. At length the outer darkness lifted
to herald the coming dawn. Soon the majestic sun appeared unchallenged.
I was cold and numb until a quick turn of the wagon made me forget my
numbness.

The horses halted and the men stood up to stretch. They jumped down and
helped me to alight. Then handing me the basket and the army blanket,
they began to unharness the horses. This was the beginning of our
fourth day on the road. I attended to the food while the men cared for
the horses. The basket contained a fresh supply of food--black bread,
eggs and a bottle of water. The woman must have baked the bread for
us, while we were asleep. I found a sunny spot on which to spread the
blanket while we ate.

When we finished they jumped to their feet, folded the blanket and we
were off again. I climbed to the driver’s seat, where we sat three
abreast. We were a family of peasants driving between work fields. My
faded clothes fitted perfectly into the scheme. That day the horses
seemed to know the route as well as the driver. They knew all the
byways. They must have driven these roads frequently. From a hill I
could see a village in the distance. I did not ask their names and the
men did not volunteer the information. We did see some people walking
on these roads. We also passed a few wagons.

When I noticed that the men were less tense, I assumed we were beyond
the danger zone. We were all in a more relaxed mood. We stopped in
another spot and laid out the food, but there was very little left.
They were so tired, they hardly could eat The meager meal was soon
finished and they harnessed the horses. One of them took the blanket
and climbed on top of the hay and spread it out. The other man helped
me up; here I was to spend my night. How imperturbable these men were,
so reassuring when I was most afraid. Their thoughtfulness touched me.
Now that the men could not see me, I could shed the tears I had turned
back yesterday. I fell asleep until the wagon halted again. I sat up
in fright. It was a dark night. The stars were quivering. I heard the
straps fall. The whiffle-tree hit the ground. The horses were stepping
out of their traces. We were to spend the night here. The men stretched
outside beside the wagon.

We had been sleeping for a while when I thought I heard a scream of
some kind. I heard it again. Now it was a shriek, the horses neighed
with a shrill sound and jerked the wagon to which they were tied. The
men sprang to their feet and began to pull some hay off the wagon.
They threw it to the ground and lighted a match to make a fire. Soon
the horses quieted down. I overheard the men saying there were two
wolves.

After this scare it was easy to keep awake. I felt sorry for the men
who were up and down several times during the night. At last dawn
appeared and I heard them stirring in preparation for a new departure.
I combed my hair, using my fingers for a comb and my palm for a brush,
trying to make myself as presentable as possible. I knew I did not look
well groomed but I did not much care. One of the men helped me down
from the wagon, the other brought some water and poured it into my
hands. I washed my face without soap. We had spent the night not far
from a farmhouse known to my companions.

We emerged from the forests into open fields, then another forest.
Judging by the sun I figured we were moving in a southwesterly
direction. These inscrutable men stopped at another byway for rest and
food. We ate bread and washed it down with water. Not a word was spoken
during lunch. Soon we rattled again along the roads and country lanes
without any special incident. We met a number of frail men and women,
and barefoot children wearing tattered clothes. We got out of one rut
only to get into another. The jerks and vibrations were making me ill.

Now the farms were great distances apart. A shortage of seeds in their
shacks indicated a harsh struggle to raise food and keep the family
warm. The condition of the country was such that it permitted only a
bare existence. What went on in the big cities could hardly interest
these peasants. Perhaps these people had not even heard of the massacre
of the thousands of people, of their Emperor and his family. Surely the
chances of meeting with anyone acquainted with the Imperial family must
be remote. Who could associate this pathetic, toothless, faded creature
between these two men with anything royal? I heard later that all the
grain was taken away from the peasants and many died during the winter
of 1917-18. Now the men talked freely about their journey. They even
joked about their fright. But they exchanged only a few words with me.
They did not address me nor use my real name or title.

Late in the evening the wagon halted again. It seemed like an eternity
since the woman had left us. The horses were unharnessed and tied to a
tree. We rested until dawn broke. Now we had no food.

They seemed eager to reach the destination. All of a sudden, in the
mid-afternoon, the horses made a sharp turn and we entered an open
stretch with fields and a few trees on a nearby hill. Below, in the
distance, we could see a village. The horses were unharnessed, hitched
to long ropes so they could graze at will. The men stretched out by the
wagon and soon were sound asleep. I had no idea where we were.

In the early evening, the men awakened. They jumped up and shook
themselves, saying, “Let us get going.” We were leaving the horses and
wagon behind and taking off on foot. They looked back several times to
make sure the horses were safe. I had become fond of those horses and
hated the thought of leaving them. Soon we were three abreast. We began
descending the hill, then went up and down several times until we could
see the village more clearly. One of the men gave the other directions
and then returned to his horses. The second man and I started down the
small hill to the village. As I looked back I saw in the dusk only the
figure of our departed companion going up the hill. Now my hostility
toward him was lost in the widening distance between us.

How long could I walk in my huge and uncomfortable boots? Would my
wounded left leg hold up? In spite of all the care I had received,
it continued to pain. The ground we walked on was rough. It was hard
to keep my feet from sliding around in my boots. It was dark when we
reached the village. Several dogs barked and ran out in the street,
and then turned back to their houses. Here and there in the windows
flickered an occasional candle or a kerosene lamp. All was quiet in
the streets as if the villagers had turned in for the night. We kept
walking until we reached a small dimly-lighted house. My companion gave
two short knocks on the window and a tall lean man with a cane came to
the door. He held the door open for us and said, “I have been expecting
you for the last two nights.” I extended my hand to him. He held it in
both of his hands, kissed it, and looked into my eyes, without a word.
A tear rolled down his cheek. He stood in silence ... overcome with
emotion, then said; “My dear, you must be tired and hungry after such a
trying trip.” His voice and words were touching and more friendly and
warm than I had heard in several months. He drew me to a chair at a
table and when I was seated the two men sat on either side of me.



XXXII ALEXANDER


“Did you have any trouble getting here?” my host asked.

“Very little,” answered my companion. “We used a few matches--only
three are left--to set fire to some hay in order to drive away two
wolves. Matches are scarce these days.”

“Do you want some?” asked my host, handing him some loose ones.

“Thanks,” said my companion, “It is very pleasant here, but I must not
stay long.”

“Marushka,” called our host, “tea, please.”

Immediately thinly sliced ham with cheese and bread were placed on the
table, also a small samovar. My host was surprised when I refused the
meat (a great luxury it was) but since Ekaterinburg I had not been
able to stand the sight of it, remembering the shortage. I felt guilty
taking sugar in my tea, but my host insisted and I took a lump but did
not stir the tea in anticipation of a second glass. It was refreshing
to us all.

As we finished, my companion said to me, “You are indebted to this
gentleman, not to me. He saved your life.”

As if to end such embarrassing conversation, my host stood up and
handed my companion an old, thick envelope, brown from age. The
envelope was so thick that I thought it must have contained paper money
and perhaps some jewelry. My companion lifted the flap and glanced
inside it as our host said, “Take some bread and cheese to your
friend. He must be hungry.”

“Are you really leaving?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said, “my part is done.”

I did not know what he meant, but I did feel confidence in my host.
Meantime I thanked the man for everything he and the others had done
to help me. I began, “There is nothing I can offer you, but my deep,
deep gratitude and appreciation. In the name of my family and myself, I
thank you for what you have risked for me.”

He bowed and was gone. Each good-bye was less of Russia. That part of
my rescue in the little room beneath the house was over.

The man had said that I owed my life to my host. What part had the
latter played? I did have a sense of security with him. He seemed like
one of my own people. I felt I could talk to him freely and find out
who he was.

“Is this your house?” I ventured.

“Yes and no,” he said. “The cottage belongs to a former estate.
Marushka’s husband worked on this farm but now he is missing in the
war. The woods and fields you crossed were also part of the estate. One
section used to belong to a family who were relatives of the Giers of
the Ukraine.”

“Was there not a governor by that name?” I asked. “I remembered meeting
him and his daughter.”

“The very same,” my host agreed, and I felt a common bond with him.

Just then Marushka came in and announced everything was ready for me. I
thanked my host and followed her.

The house contained two rooms besides the kitchen. The host slept in
the room in which we had tea. Marushka and I occupied the other room.
I slept on a cot, Marushka on a narrow wooden bed next to the wall.
On a stand stood a basin, a pitcher with water, soap and towel, and a
lantern. I discovered this house, like many others, did not have inside
conveniences.

Next morning outside the window I saw a vegetable garden. A small dog
completed the friendliness of the house. He would sniff around every
time I bathed the wound on my leg. When I shed a tear, as I washed, he
would look at me soulfully as if to sympathize. He licked my hands. I
was drawn to him right away and could not entertain the thought that I
might have to leave him some day. He followed me everywhere in the day
time and slept by my cot at night, as if to protect me from danger. You
might have thought he had always belonged to me.

In the morning my host said, “We will not hurry. You need the rest and
time for your wound to heal better. We will remain here a week or so.”

I was glad to hear this for he had already made me feel so comfortable
in mind and body that I was glad to wait. He seemed to want to talk.
After weeks of silence it was a treat to converse.

He said his name was Alexander, that he was an officer during the war.
He had received the St. George’s Cross for his distinguished service
in the Russian Army. He had also been decorated with the medal of St.
Vladimir, 3rd class, usually given to commandants of large units. He
knew my Father’s mother, and on one occasion had met us children at
G.H.Q. when he had come to see Father.

During the war he was wounded in the abdomen and was nursed at the
hospital in Kiev or Rovno where he had met my Aunt Olga. One evening he
talked of my Father, saying His Majesty was kind, really too kind. He
was so patient and understanding through his banishment. Only Christ
could understand his suffering. Their Majesties suffered a long time.
He bent his head and tears rolled down his cheeks. “It is all finished
for all of us and for Russia.”

I remembered my Father’s tears on that final night of July 16th-17th
after his talk with Yurovsky.

My host and I wept together. I breathed a prayer of gratitude to God
for such a sympathetic and good friend. We had many talks together,
but we did not touch on the subject so delicate to both of us. For the
present neither of us felt equal to it. I wanted to hear of my rescue,
yet again I did not, because of my family. He avoided the subject,
fearing the effect the truth might have on me. We did talk of my life
beneath the house. I told him of the excellent care the woman had given
me, and said I was frightened by the various questions the men asked me.

“They questioned you?”, he said. “What about?”

“About my family, the imprisonment,” I answered. He was surprised at
this news.

“Do you think they knew who you were?”

“Yes.” I said, “They never came out with it, but, judging from their
questions, I suspected they had guessed.”

“Then we must leave immediately,” he said. “There will be trouble.”

He seemed agitated and called Marushka to get things ready. It was the
third evening I had been with my host. Now we must cut short the week
of delay we had both looked forward to.

On the fourth day, long before dawn, my host and I took to the road.
It was early September, by the Russian calendar. I became aware of the
date from a calendar hung in Marushka’s room. She used the previous
year’s calendar, having changed the dates on it. Marushka, weeping as
she did so often because of the loss of her husband, saw us to the
door. We said a quick good-bye, and the little dog stood puzzled. It
was hard to shut the door in the face of my little friend.

We were off. I carried nothing. My host carried a small canvas bag
containing some food and a salve for his wound. We walked without
event, and by late morning we were near a small town. My companion was
quiet. At times he did not seem sure which road we should take. We
rested about an hour; then suddenly he said, “I know now where we are.
I see the church steeple over there.” He began to tell me that he was
familiar with this part of the country. After walking several more
hours, we came upon the ruin of a factory. We sat on the fallen bricks
and ate our lunch. We had bread, hard-boiled eggs and a bottle of sour
milk, and we purchased some apples.

For the first time, I knew approximately where we were. Passing the
ancient city of Ufa, high up on the banks at the junction of the Ufa
and Belaya Rivers, we had a beautiful view. We could see the vast stone
quarries and stone cutting mills spread before our eyes. There were
many chimneys, a witness to the size of Russian industries. But no
smoke came out of them.

Part of Ufa was inhabited by Bashkirs, but now there were very many
foreigners who were purchasing grain from the government, exchanging
precious stones and platinum for the food sold or given them by the
Bolshevik leaders, while the Russian people were not able to purchase
their own products.

Here we stayed well into the afternoon, when my host surprised me by
saying, “We are lucky that the train is leaving on this day. We will
take the train from Ufa.”

We remembered that the depot was on the other side of the town, but
when we reached it, we found no train there. We were told that the
train had stopped farther down the track. We followed the track for a
distance until we found the train standing. There were many peasants
but the foreigners with their loot were boarding it first; some of
the peasants even got up on the roofs of the cars. We finally managed
to get into the doorway, but had to stand up all night. There were
facilities on the train, but the rest rooms were packed with people.

We were afraid to get off the train for fear of not being able to get
back on again. Our next stop was a small town named Bugulma. Here we
changed to another train to go on to Simbirsk (since renamed Ulianov,
after that heinous Tsederbaum-Ulianov-Lenin). We saw the Volga River
at one of its most beautiful spots, the picturesque city of Simbirsk
lying high on the bank, its many church steeples spread out before
us. Suddenly I remembered what Miss Rita Khitrovo, former lady in
waiting, had said of her ancestors, who had founded Simbirsk, and how
we had hoped to make a trip to this historic city when the war was
over. Palisades had been constructed here by the Boyar Khitrovo in the
seventeenth century to defend the city from the Tartars.

Every Russian knew the song “Stenka Razin” about the famous Volga River
robber, and that the many legends about him originated here. We saw
the monument dedicated to the Russian historian, Karamzin. At Nicholas
Garden, Alexander pointed out to me the Club of the Noblesse.

Seeing all this I felt a great pain in my chest. We passed the Convent
of the Redeemer. I begged Alexander to let me enter it, since no one
would know my identity. Alexander refused to listen to me, saying that
many priests and nuns had already been driven out of convents, and many
had been killed. It was no time to remain in Russia. It was dangerous;
it might betray our whereabouts. So I had to be content with a prayer
every time we passed a church. The sight of those holy sanctuaries
lifted my spirits and calmed my nerves.

Alexander seemed to know this city, for without hesitation we walked
some distance from the station to a wooden gate leading to a small
house. He knocked on the door and an attractive lady of some forty
years opened the door. Her name was Alexandra. They were happy to see
each other.

“You look tired,” were her words of greetings.

“I am,” he said, “my side is troubling me.”

“You need a rest, I will have tea ready in a minute.” She invited us to
sit down.

“Nikolai will be back any minute; he will bring some bread,” she said.
“Usually the bread line is quite long and one must start very early in
the morning.”

I was not prepared to find such a lovely lady in this house. I wondered
who she was and what her relationship to my host could be. She was
very aristocratic looking. Soon Nikolai, dressed shabbily in civilian
clothes, like Alexander, arrived with a loaf of bread tucked under his
arm. I could see he was a warm friend of Alexander. He was delighted to
see us and said he had rather expected us. He and Alexander chatted at
length while we drank our tea.

As we finished, he turned suddenly to Alexander and asked, “How did you
ever happen to go to E.K. (that is, Ekaterinburg)?”

Alexander answering at length: “I wanted to join Admiral Kolchak’s
army but was arrested and put in prison for a time. While there, I
had a fresh attack and they let me out of prison. Instead of going
to a hospital, I went to Ekaterinburg. There I met a priest by the
name of Father Storozhev whom I visited several times. He informed
me of the desperate condition at the Ipatiev House. It seemed he had
been summoned to conduct a service there and was alarmed about the
consequences. He suggested I contact a man by the name of Voykov, who
was in charge of hiring the guards and other workers. I applied as a
worker, but did not get the job.

“One day I went to the guard house next to the Ipatiev House where
I became friendly with the guards through a guard whom I had met
previously and with whom I later played chess. I returned to the guard
house several times. Some of the guards were jolly but rough; most of
the outside guards were Russians, former convicts. They did not object
to my presence. They remained guarding the house to the last. The
inside guards, I was told, were replaced by foreigners two weeks before
the tragedy.”

Alexander was right; they were foreigners, mostly ex-prisoners of war.

It was as if Alexander were taking the opportunity to tell Nikolai, in
front of me, what had happened. He felt that I ought to know.

“I saw Father Storozhev a few days before the night of July 16-17th,”
he continued. “I went to the guard house again, after dark, because the
priest had given me a feeling of danger. I did not tell him where I was
going nor did I see him again. When I came upon the guards with whom I
played chess, I saw most of them had been drinking heavily.

“They asked me to drink a toast to Comrade Yurovsky; he sent the liquor
in appreciation for their services. I refused to take anything pointing
to my wound. ‘Never mind, tovarishch,’ one of the guards said. ‘More
will be left for us. You are sick and only good for the dogs.’ They
seemed to be drowning something in drink. I am sure they were not aware
of the forthcoming murder. I began to feel uneasy and feared there was
real danger. I was afraid to leave the place. I wished I had four or
five armed men with me. After dinner it was announced that no one would
be allowed to leave or enter the place. They looked at me and said
jokingly, ‘We have a new prisoner.’

“Some of the guards left drunk for their various posts. With several
other guards I entered the courtyard. I heard a truck drive up to the
house about eleven P.M. I offered the truck driver to help him back up
the truck. He accepted my offer. It flashed through my mind that this
truck might be for the purpose of secretly taking the family away.
After a while the driver fell asleep, giving me the opportunity to get
into the back of the truck. I lay down flat in the back of the truck.
Imagine the shock when I felt warm, twitching objects thrown next to
me. I knew then what had actually happened.”

At this point Alexander burst into tears. I ran out of the room. I had
been hoping he would say that some of my family were still alive, but
he denied it with his tears.

Only twice was the subject again brought up, once by Alexander and
later by Nikolai who told me the rest of Alexander’s heroic rescue.
From fear, Alexander remained in the truck, horror stricken and unable
to move, realizing his dangerous position. He had no choice but to lie
there quietly next to still warm and twitching bodies. If discovered,
he too would have been shot. That night most of the guards were drunk.
The truck moved rapidly out of the courtyard through the streets and
then slowly over the bumpy country roads, the wheels sliding out of
one deep rut into another. Suddenly Alexander heard a moan among the
bodies. As the truck turned at the bend of the road, he picked up
two bodies and tossed them into the bushes. The guards on horseback
being far behind, Alexander jumped into a ditch and lay among the
bushes until he knew they had passed. Returning to the bodies, he
quickly examined them. One appeared to be lifeless. He wrapped the
live one with his coat and carried it a long way to the first house
he could find. It was the house with the dugout underneath. Alexander
took notice of the location, which was in the vicinity of Uktus and
Mramorskaya. The long walk with the heavy burden caused his wound to
rupture, and infection set in on the side of his abdomen. He was ill
and soaked in blood, not knowing what to do. He took a chance in asking
unknown strangers to care for me, offering them a generous reward.
If these people had known from the beginning who I was, they would
probably have refused to care for me for fear of being discovered. One
of these men kept Alexander informed of my condition. This explained
why our journey from our little hiding place to Alexander’s cottage was
so dangerous. I told Alexander and Nikolai about having some valuables
sewn in my clothes. They said that that was perhaps another reason
why my clothes had been burned and why they cared for me the way they
did. They were well paid. Alexander also paid them through the brown
envelope. How much was in it, I did not ask. He did say that I was
fully clothed when he delivered me to the house and that my clothes
were soaked in blood, probably from that of the others as well as my
own.

When I left the dugout, I carried with me only the blood-stained
handkerchief, the piece of blue glass, and my soul. If any one is still
alive from among those who were with us in Tobolsk, he would recognize
the handkerchief as the one seen in Tobolsk.

Alexander said nothing about leaving Simbirsk. I took it for granted
that we would be moving on, but was grateful for the respite in which
to get hold of myself. All I had heard had unnerved me. I suspected
Alexander needed a rest for our strenuous trip ahead. On the evening of
our third day a truck drove up. Alexander and I said good-bye to Mlle.
Alexandra and were on our way again.

Alexander sat on the front seat with Nikolai, and I sat in the back
on the straw-covered floor of the truck. We drove through the night
with only the customary stops in wooded spots for rest and to change
drivers, Alexander seemed unusually thoughtful; he was continually
trying to spare Nikolai and me all he could. He made attempts at light
conversation.

“We missed the hottest month of the year; it is usually in July, and
January is the coldest,” he said.

I learned the truck belonged to a factory in Kursk, where Nikolai was
employed by the new government in some industrial capacity, and the
truck was to be delivered there. We continued our journey in the truck
until late in the afternoon, when we stopped in a wooded spot with
tall poplars, birches, walnut and elm trees which grew profusely in
this area near Penza. We rested a while and then proceeded toward the
city, an old historical site. We made some purchases of food here,
although the prices were prohibitive. Alexander noticed a woman selling
shawls. He approached her and asked for the price. It was so high that
he glanced at me disappointedly--he knew I was cold as I had no coat.
The woman came close to me and stared into my eyes. I was frightened.
She said she would take only one-fourth of the price she had first
asked. She selected the best one and placed it on my shoulders. When we
left, I turned back for a glance at her; she was making a cross in our
direction. Alexander hurried away, as I limped along next to him. At
the time the cruel murder of the Imperial family was already known in
Russia. Here we met people of many races, Tartars, Buriats, Kirghiz and
others.

We passed a lovely square with beautiful trees where the Lermontov
monument stood. Descending, we passed Sadovaya Avenue. It reminded me
of the Sadovaya in Tsarskoe Selo. The canal, the pond, the orangeries,
the Chinese Village, the Siberian blue bridge and the palace all came
to my thoughts.

The truck rolled on. Nikolai glanced at me. I knew he felt sorry for
me. Both men watched me tenderly giving every kindness to make up for
the loss I had had some weeks ago. I was appreciative of all their
attentions and hoped to cause them no unnecessary trouble.

When we passed Tambov, Alexander said he had some friends in Voronezh;
perhaps we could get a little rest there. We arrived in Voronezh in the
afternoon and stopped in front of the Convent of St. Mitrophanes. With
my companions’ consent, I walked into the convent and asked if I might
rest there for a few hours, while Alexander and Nikolai went to see
their friends and a doctor. Here the kind nuns washed my clothes and
prepared a hot bath for me, washed my hair, and dressed the sores on my
leg which looked infected.

In about three hours, when I was ready to leave, they packed some food
for us, all they could spare. While I prayed with the nuns, I was
seized by a most extraordinary feeling. Three times I felt a breeze
flying over my shoulders. My lips froze, I turned around and sensed
nothing. In my mind I saw my family in the church in Tsarskoe Selo,
entering through the small side door the Feodorovsky Sobor where we
prayed with our beloved escort. The choir in the Feodorovsky Sobor
with its beautiful voices sang throughout with such perfection that
one wished it would never come to an end. I also saw my loved ones in
Tobolsk in the winter church. Coming back to present surroundings, I
realized that I stood alone among a few humble women. There was only
a murmur of voices within these sacred walls. I thanked God for the
kindness I had received in this convent. My heart found peace and I
felt refreshed. I often wondered if they knew who their guest was.

As I came out of the convent, I was horrified to see Alexander
approaching, his face pale, grief-stricken and excited. He said, “There
is no use going to the Crimea. I have just heard from responsible
sources that your Grandmother, both aunts, their husbands, and all
their children have been killed. We also learned from a relative
that Vostorgov (a high clergyman in Moscow), together with a great
many others, were assassinated last month. Among them were the young
Ministers Maklakov and Khvostov, who had replaced the old Minister
Goremykin, Minister of the Interior.”

That Khvostov’s wife, Anastasia, had been shot in Moscow, I had learned
previously. I could not cry but shook as if in a state of fever. All
this distressing news pointed out our own danger. I had hoped that in a
week I would be in the Crimea with my relatives.

We heard, too, what had happened in Sevastopol. The revolutionists
had killed and tied stones to the feet of the young cadets and thrown
them into the Black Sea. Their disappearance was a mystery until a
young woman on her way to market saw some bodies and reported them.
She was turned away from the scene and was not allowed to enter the
street where the bodies were seen. Later a diver went down and came up
screaming. “They are alive and walking on the bottom of the sea,” he
claimed. He had lost his mind. A second diver discovered the bodies
were upright; heavy stones were tied to their feet and the waving
motion of water made them look as if they were walking.

Only fate helped me to listen with fortitude to this heartrending news
about my relatives. Later I learned that the report about them was not
true.

Alexander had also heard that late one night in June, 1918, Uncle Misha
and his English secretary, Nicholas Johnson (who thought his presence
might help the Grand Duke), were taken away into the woods near Perm,
and mysteriously disappeared. Unfortunately they had been executed, as
I learned much later.

Father was right, the taste of blood begets an epidemic.

Having heard all this about the Crimea, we knew that going there was
out of the question, so we did not, as originally planned, go through
Tula, which, I was told, seemed like our best route. We went instead
to Kursk where Nikolai delivered the truck. While he was delivering it,
we purchased some food. The price of bread was not so exorbitant, but
we paid outrageous prices for the other products. Now we were headed
for the Rumanian border.

When we first started this trip we passed mountainous fir-clad
country--with many ravines. Now the country was much flatter and
dotted with many granaries. We walked through forests and cut through
the muddy wheat fields. We rested, then walked some more. We slept in
farmers’ sheds on straw, glad of any place to keep dry, as it rained
almost every day. We crossed railroad tracks, we saw rusty freight
cars full of sacks of wheat. All were moldy, and the wheat was growing
through the burlap sacks while the people were starving, forbidden to
take this grain. Later on, when we ran out of food, Alexander bought
some wheat from a farmer and both men ate a little of it. I would have
eaten some, too, if I could have chewed it. The grain swelled inside
of them and both men were uncomfortable, drinking water whenever they
could. We heard that many had died who had eaten raw wheat.

We were not far from Kremenchug (on the east bank of the Dnieper)
where, according to a letter we had received in Tobolsk, Lili Dehn was
living. I would have liked to join her. Fighting was going on in the
area. We continued our westward trek.

Many citizens in order to disguise their identity lived in charred
railway cars. The walls were patched with canvas, the only protection
against cold and heat. Many children were born on these cars, and
died there as a result of exposure and lack of food. No one claimed
the bodies of the dead which were buried in shallow graves near the
railroad tracks. Many grain elevators were filled with charred corpses.
The foreigners seemed well-fed and well-dressed; they received all the
best attention. This was the “liberty” that Kerensky--and later the
Bolsheviks--had championed, polluting the minds of the people.

As we continued on our way Nikolai and I noticed that Alexander was
lagging behind. Nikolai stopped to examine him and found a pus spot on
his shirt, just below his waistline on the left side. His wound was
infected again. Fortunately, he had an effective salve with him which
they applied and then bandaged the wound. We hoped that it would tide
him over until we could get to a doctor. We gathered some leaves and
made a bed for him. I put my shawl over him as he stretched out on the
wet leaves. Nikolai and I sat beside him, hoping he would be able to
reach the next village. I would have given my right arm and eye to save
this good friend.

We were surprised to learn from the crackling noise of branches that
there were other people in these woods. The footsteps came closer and
suddenly two men walked up to us. They seemed to be afraid of us. When
they saw us they started to go back in the same direction they came
from.

“Come and join us,” said Nikolai in a friendly tone of voice.

“Is anything the matter?”, asked one of the men in a language we
recognized as Serbian.

“Our friend’s wound has opened and is infected,” said Nikolai, “and we
do not know what to do.”

The Serbian, in broken Russian, suggested that, when night came, we
take our patient to the nearest house. He volunteered to look for and
find a house. While we waited for his return, we talked with the other
man and found that he was a Croatian. The two of them had not been able
to get on the train in Kursk and had started to walk to the border.
Both had been officers in the last war. One fought on our side, the
other fought on the enemy’s side. Now they were on their way to their
respective homes.

The Serbian returned in about an hour. He had located a house not too
far away. At dusk the Serbian and Nikolai helped Alexander to his feet
and supported him all the way to the house.

It was a thatched-roof, white-washed house in which a young woman about
thirty-five years old lived with her four children. The little boy,
five years old, with his blond curly hair and big gray eyes reminded
me very much of Alexei at that age. I was drawn to him at first sight,
especially when he looked at our invalid and asked, “Is the father
ill?” His own father had been wounded in the war and they hoped he
would get home soon. He imagined that his father had been ill the same
way.

Small as the house was, we all spent the night there. We two women
slept in one room with all the children, the men in the other room.
By morning our invalid felt much better. We lingered all day to make
sure that he was capable of continuing the trip. The woman was most
generous. She shared with us her scanty food. To avoid the heat of
the day the Serbian and the Croatian planned to start on their way
in the early evening. When Alexander heard about their leaving, he
insisted that Nikolai and I go with them. We protested, but he said
his temperature was normal and the little mother promised to give
him the best of care. He assured us everything would be easier if we
obeyed him. Finally we were convinced and reluctantly left him with the
promise that as soon as we were over the border, Nikolai would come
back for him.



XXXIII ESCAPE


Now when an opportunity presented itself, it must not be rejected. The
four of us struck out on foot about ten in the evening. I cried all
night, recognizing that we had left our dear friend to die when he
needed us most. We walked all night until the next noon, through wheat
fields, hoping to find some peasant home where we could get some food.
We had had our last meal just before we left the peasant woman. On the
way we had no breakfast or lunch, and not enough money for train fare,
nor did Nikolai and I have documents to permit our crossing of the
border.

It became unbearably hot. A good farmer provided us with food and
shelter for the night. We slept till the following morning, then
started out again. The farmer’s news was most alarming. He said that
the war was continuing. Socialism was spreading to Austria and Germany.
Crimes were increasing daily. Criminals were even crossing the border
to Russian territory to commit their killings and robbings.

A third prisoner, who had been in the Austrian army, was the last to
join us. He had a supply of food which he shared with us. As we came
closer to the border, the number of refugees increased, and there was
more apprehension. Nikolai expressed fears that we might be turned away
from the border, or might even be put into prison. I was prepared for
any eventuality. One thing I was sure of: I would never let anyone know
who I was.

We finally emerged from that gruesome forest. We crossed a small stream
where we drank some water and filled our bottle. As we continued our
journey, the Serbian officer began to question me. He asked me so many
questions, I was afraid he was suspicious. Nikolai, too, became anxious
about these conversations. He said he would go ahead and walk with the
Serbian to find out what was in his mind; in the meantime I walked with
the Croatian and the former Austrian soldier. Finally Nikolai returned,
satisfied and said, “He knows the facts, but will not betray us, I am
sure.” The Serbian was a loyal friend, offering considerable protection
to me all the way. When we were near the border, he scouted ahead to
see what could be done to make the crossing successfully. Nikolai
made an arrangement with the Austrian soldier as to where, in case of
separation, he could find us.

We were in constant sight of many refugees in rags, the children
undernourished, thin and ill. We heard that the German armies were
still in Kiev. We saw troop trains going by. Many people were on the
way to the border, wearing garments partly military, partly civilian.
People were being arrested because they had no passports. Our latest
companion was helpful in directing us to the border. He had fought on
the Austrian front and was himself on his way to Bukovina. Now we were
five, approaching dangerous territory. Two had been prisoners of war
and had the necessary documents for crossing the line. The Serbian had
his papers. It was suggested that I pose as the wife of one of them for
the purpose of entering Rumania. The Serbian would not do; the Croatian
would be better. He had been on the German side. Nikolai would be my
brother.

At this time we were tired and hungry. We had not eaten in the past
twenty-four hours. We located another peasant who furnished us with
food but was not able to give us lodging.

Nikolai spotted a haystack. I climbed on top and covered myself with
hay. The four men slept at the base of it. I was sound asleep when I
was suddenly awakened by a terrific clap of thunder. The rain began to
pour. The lightning was frightening. The men called to me to come down.
By the time I slid down to the bottom, my clothes were soaking wet. All
five of us dug our way into the hay and remained there huddled, warm
and steamy until we fell asleep. It must have rained for hours, coming
down in sheets. When we were ready to walk again, the fields were a
mass of mud and water. My ankle bothered me considerably. Poor Nikolai
carried me over the mudholes, up to his knees in water. Many times we
were glad that our invalid friend was not with us; he could never have
survived the strenuous trip. Every time I stepped, mud oozed out of my
boots and my leg hurt. On top of all the trouble I was seized with a
terrible itch all over my body, adding a great deal of discomfort to
the usual fatigue. Squirming around in my loose-fitting garments did
not relieve the itch. Now something new had to be endured. All this
may have been due to some poisonous weed in the hay. I was miserable
and hungry, having had no food all day. It was decided that in case of
separation at the border, Nikolai would follow with Alexander in four
or five weeks, and that he could find me through the Austrian soldier.

I had given Nikolai endless messages to give to Alexander. I wanted
Alexander to know how grateful I was and how close I felt toward him,
for saving my life. It was hard to say good-bye to Nikolai since he
was the last link with my beloved Russia. I wanted to throw my arms
around him and say a prayer of thankfulness for all the sacrifices
he and Alexander had made for me. I felt sure in my heart that the
separation was to come soon. He warned me not to cry in case his escape
should fail, but to walk away as if I were following my husband. As
we continued through the muddy fields, we found some tiny potatoes,
which the rains had washed to the surface. We rubbed off the soil and
ate them raw. At dusk we were practically at the border. The Ukraine
was still occupied by Germany. It was our luck; one month later the
uprising was in full swing in Germany.

My face was swollen and covered with small red pimples.

The Serbian had just returned from a scouting search when suddenly we
heard the command, “Halt. Where are you going?”

“We are going to a doctor,” answered Nikolai.

“All of you? And for what?” said the guard.

“Look at the lady for our answer,” said Nikolai.

“It looks like cholera. Who are you?” asked the guard.

“Her brother,” said Nikolai, and the Croatian assured the guard that
he was my husband. Three of them, the Serbian, the Croatian, and the
Austrian soldier produced their papers.

Facing Nikolai, the guard persisted, “Where are you from?”

“The village over there,” answered Nikolai, pointing back. “There are
whole families ill, all needing medical care. When we obtain some drugs
we will return to the village. We must locate a doctor soon.”

“What doctor?” asked the guard.

“There used to be a doctor over the bridge,” said the Serbian, pointing
straight ahead.

“But you cannot go that way. It is under German occupation. Do you
really know a doctor?”

“We’ll surely find one.” Nikolai retorted.

“But you absolutely cannot cross here,” said the guard pointing to
Nikolai.

“How far are you going?” the guard turned to the Croatian. “How soon
will you be back?” he inquired. “You are all right, but where are your
wife’s papers?”

“Does she need papers to see a doctor?”

The questions were answered, but no one heard or cared what they
were--we were all but drowned in the terrific rain.

“All right, go on.” said the guard at last with a gesture of
hopelessness, “but be back in one hour.” He turned to Nikolai saying,
“Not you!”

So only four of us crossed the bridge. The flimsy, temporary structure
shook as we did so. We glanced into the waters below but saw nothing
in the darkness. All nature was angry.

I had made a cross in the air as Nikolai and we others parted in the
dark. Only his shadow was running away, in order to escape the guard. I
prayed to God that He might spare him and that Alexander, Nikolai, and
I would meet again.

Now we were to face a new hazard. As we approached the demarcation
line several soldiers approached us, asking where we were going. The
two former prisoners of war spoke German and presented to the guards
their papers. They were in order. Turning to me, the Croatian said that
I was his wife. The Serbian, too, showed his papers. After hours of
conversation and questionings and waiting, an officer arrived to say
that everything was in order. I was to be permitted to enter Bukovina.

Now I was having my last look toward my troubled country, leaving it to
the darkness of night.

When this long journey had started I had had no real wish to leave
my country. I was ill in body and soul. I needed rest and quiet. My
resistance was low. I wished for security. Willy-nilly, I went along
with my early companions, then with Alexander and Nikolai, and lately
with my new acquaintances.

With quivering lips, I had now left behind me the land I loved so much,
and, somewhere in the wilderness, the remains of my beloved family.
There were, also, Alexander and Nikolai. With deep feeling I had left
all the tragedies behind.

God wanted it that way--to lay their swords and their lives at the
altar of their country. May He grant them rest in Heaven. Father
departed with his family very young, but in true Christian faith and
fidelity to Russia. Now free from the cruel human lies, injustices and
misunderstandings, he left the world not in pomp and glory, but in
greater glory. He died for his country and his people whom he loved
best.

With these thoughts in my mind I left behind the land of my heritage
forever.



XXXIV REFUGE


The rain came down in torrents and washed my tears from my sunken
cheeks. Now I was alone with strangers. As we walked away from the
border, we were drenched, hungry, and tired, with no prospect of a
place to sleep. We spied a faint light ahead and hurried toward it.
The man of the house would not accept Russian paper money. At that
point the Austrian soldier produced some of his money, which he had
been saving, and bargained with the proprietor for us to stay briefly,
hoping that I would feel better quickly. I consulted the woman whom
we also saw about my itching. She suggested pouring sour milk over a
bed sheet and rolling me in it. This she did so completely that only
my eyes and mouth were left uncovered. The only unaffected parts of my
body were the palms of my hands and soles of my feet. This treatment
brought great comfort and relief. My leg was better, though still
swollen.

I was ready to resume my travel. The woman provided us with sufficient
food to last for several days’ journey. She also gave me some rags
with which I wrapped my feet so that they would not slide around in
my boots. We passed many wheat fields and woods of tall oak trees;
many had been uprooted and were lying dead, leaving big holes in the
ground which were now filled with water and mud. The trenches were
uncovered and deserted and the rain made rivers of them. The war had
turned this area into a battleground. We could see pieces of clothing,
brass artillery shell cases, chains, pieces of iron and other odds and
ends of metal buried in the trunks of trees--mute testimony to the
destructive power of artillery. Tragedy was all around us. Rains had
washed away the traces of blood shed here during the past four years.
Suddenly I spied a geranium plant in the midst of the holocaust. Here
and there were pieces of blankets and abandoned, rusty canteens.

Unexpectedly, here something gave away under my feet, uncovering
some leaves. I screamed. It was a pair of feet--the flesh was all
gone, just bones. They fell apart under the impact of my weight. The
others responding to my scream came over and removed the leaves from
the sunken body of a Russian soldier. His uniform was so rotted and
stained, it was impossible to tell that he was an officer, but a rusty
watch was still wrapped around his wrist bone. The woods showed all
kinds of tragedies.

Father knew this battlefield as he himself had been shelled several
times while inspecting the troops. For this he and Alexei received
their St. George decorations. Father had had his to the last day. He
knew the devotion and bravery of his men, those heroes who sacrificed
everything. In the end they, too, paid with their lives, making room
for Lenin and Trotsky.

The day before the war in 1914, I dreamed that woods like these I had
just crossed were in flames, the fire was red and went high up to the
sky. I heard the crackling of the trees. I knew then that the war was
unavoidable, especially when in the evening for the first time Father
appeared late for dinner. Now I recalled my dream as I saw this place
of suffering. In distress I left the touching scene.

The men carried me through the deep mudholes, taking turns. I worried
that I was too heavy. Actually I weighed only forty kilograms, not
quite ninety pounds. The latest companion to join us, the Austrian
soldier, had been stationed in these parts with the Austrian army and
knew well the nearby villages. Moreover, he himself came from this part
of the country. He volunteered to be our guide. A day or two later, in
the afternoon, we came to a stretch of woods where we saw some women
picking yellow mushrooms.

A young woman among them already had her baskets full. We spoke to the
young woman who said she was going home, part way to the nearby village.

We joined her. The men carried her baskets. The odor of these mushrooms
brought back gnawing memories. Toward the end of the day, we reached
the village. The Austrian soldier knew this village, having relatives
here. Through him we were able to be taken care of for the night. He
went into the house while we waited outside. An elderly woman came out
and in a Slavic language I understood, said, “Come in, my child, I hear
you have an injured foot. I know you are hungry. I will have supper
ready for you in a minute.” She seemed so clean and kind and motherly,
I was drawn to her immediately. We followed her into the house and
there we met her daughters who also welcomed us.

I sat on a low stool shivering, while one of the girls took off my
muddy boots and the other brought pails of water from outdoors which
they poured into a large kettle on the wood-burning stove. My muddy
stockings were stuck to my feet. Warm water was poured over them to
take off the worst of the plastered mud. The mother took a sharp
knife and scraped some salt into a fresh pail of warm water to serve
as disinfectant. By the time we finished with my foot, the supper
was ready. It consisted of warm mamaliga--a yellow mush made out of
maize--with warm milk poured over it. It was a new dish to me, but
nothing ever tasted better.

The mother examined my wound. While she washed it a tear dropped on my
ankle. Our eyes met. “I think it will be all right, I do not see any
infection.”

The warm milk soon stopped the chattering of my teeth. The good girls
had already made up a bed for me: a small wooden bed with linen sheets
spread over a narrow mattress. They had hardly left the room when I
was fast asleep. The girls shared the same room with me, but I was not
aware of them. When I woke up the next day, the girls told me that the
men had been waiting for me since eleven in the morning.

“What time is it now?” I asked.

“Four in the afternoon,” they laughed. “Several times the men came in
and looked to see if you were asleep or dead, and were reassured.”

Evidently I felt safe at last. The girls told me excitedly that the
men had slept in the barn and later had helped their mother clean the
stable. The Germans had left her one horse and one cow, confiscating
all the rest of the livestock before the Russian invasion, fearing that
the Russians would take it.

When I started to dress, to my surprise I could not find my wet
travelling clothes. Instead of my clothes I found a new outfit:
everything from a cotton dress to a pair of shoes. This humble family
had presented me with Sunday clothes belonging to their youngest
daughter, six months my junior.

I located the men in the garden eating half-dried plums still on the
trees. They were relaxed, free and happy after getting me safely across
the border.

I, too, was relaxed and free.

At long last I had found a peaceful refuge with this unknown but
friendly family which had taken me into its midst and made me a welcome
member.

It was October 24th, 1918 ... for me a new day ... and the beginning of
a new life.



INDEX


  Abalak Monastery, 207, 229, 231

  Ai-Todor, 50, 177, 239

  Alapaevsk, 110

  Alexander I Pavlovich, Emperor, 48, 49, 79

  Alexander II Nicholaevich, Emperor, 22, 23, 61, 96, 160, 206

  Alexander III Alexandrovich, Emperor, 21, 48, 75, 95, 121, 122, 128,
        138, 140, 144, 162, 178, 194, 204, 205, 208, 244, 245, 301

  Alexander Mikhailovich, Grand Duke, 126, 127, 135, 138, 369

  Alexander (the rescuer) 358, 360, 363-372, 375, 377

  Alexander Palace, Tsarskoe Selo, 23, 24, 47, 144, 165

  Alexander Park, Tsarskoe Selo, 117, 160

  Alexander Station, Tsarskoe Selo, 96, 200

  Alexandra, Queen of Great Britain (subsequently Dowager Queen), _née_
        Princess of Denmark, 18, 29, 31-33, 36, 37

  Alexandra, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (previously Hereditary
        Princess), _née_ Princess of Great Britain, 77

  Alexandra Feodorovna, Empress, _née_ Princess Alix of
        Hesse-Darmstadt, 3-9, 12-20, 23, 24, 26-28, 30-40, 43-51,
        53-64, 66-69, 71, 72, 75-78, 80, 81, 83, 84, 86-92, 95-124,
        126-162, 164, 165, 173, 176-78, 181, 183-87, 189, 190, 195-97,
        199, 201-03, 206-08, 211, 213, 214, 217-20, 225-36, 240-44,
        248-52, 254-56, 259, 260, 265, 269-77, 279-81, 283, 284, 287,
        288, 291-94, 297, 298, 300-03, 305, 307-12, 314, 316, 317, 324,
        325, 327-29, 331, 332, 334, 338, 340, 341, 343, 344, 360

  Alexandra Georgievna, Grand Duchess (Paul Alexandrovich), _née_
        Princess of Greece, 136

  Alexandra, 363, 367

  Alexandria Cottage, Peterhof, 25, 62, 80, 84, 134

  Alexandrovka, 160

  Alexei I Mikhailovich, Tsar, 70, 206

  Alexei Alexandrovich, Grand Duke, 6

  Alexei Nicholaevich, Grand Duke and Tsesarevich, 5-11, 13, 15-17, 19,
        23, 26-29, 31-35, 38-40, 42, 45, 50, 51, 54-61, 63-66, 77, 79,
        84-86, 89, 98-102, 106, 109-11, 114, 116, 119, 121-26, 128-30,
        136, 137, 140-43, 148, 149, 155, 157, 161, 162, 165, 167, 168,
        174, 180, 183, 184, 187, 188, 190, 192, 194, 196, 203, 208,
        212, 214, 215, 217, 219, 222, 226, 228, 232, 233, 239, 242,
        243, 246, 248, 249, 251, 252, 254-57, 259, 265-71, 276-78, 281,
        283, 284, 286-88, 301, 303, 305, 307, 308, 310-12, 314, 316,
        317, 338, 341, 372, 379

  Alexeiev, General, 101, 113, 152, 154, 163, 166, 192

  Alfonso XIII, King of Spain, 77

  Alfonso, Infante of Spain, 77

  Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Prince of Great Britain, Duke
        of Edinburgh, 76

  Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse-Darmstadt, _née_ Princess of Great
        Britain, 75, 185

  Alice, Princess (Andrew) of Greece, _née_ Princess of Battenberg, 37

  American, the, 18

  Anastasia Nicholaevna, Grand Duchess, esp., 3, 4, 14, 16, 30, 41, 64,
        67, 156, 345

  Anastasia Nicholaevna, Grand Duchess (Nicholai Nicholaevich),
        previously Princess (George Maximilianovich) Romanovsky,
        Duchess of Leuchtenberg, _née_ Princess Petrovich Niegosh of
        Montenegro, 134

  Andrei Alexandrovich, Prince of Russia, 19, 132, 230, 369

  Andrew, Prince of Greece, 37

  Andrew Vladimirovich, Grand Duke, 138

  Anglo-Russian Hospital, Nevsky Prospect, St. Petersburg, 159

  Anichkov Palace, St. Petersburg, 92

  Annunciation, Church of the, Tobolsk, 229

  Apraxin, Count P.N., 157

  Archayerevsky woods, Mogilev, 129

  Artasalev (?), 201

  Assumption, Cathedral of the, Kremlin, Moscow, 85

  Augusta Victoria, German Empress, _née_ Princess of
        Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderborg-Augustenburg, 37-39

  Austria-Hungary, 81-84, 146, 147, 199, 235, 301, 313, 373, 374, 379

  Austrian, the, 374-76, 378-80

  Avdiev, Commissar, 275


  Bagration-Mukhransky, Prince Konstantin Alexandrovich, 110

  Baltic Sea, 9, 29, 51, 76, 144

  Bariatinsky, Prince, 206

  Bariatinsky, Prince “Toly”, 232

  Bariatinsky, Princess Maria, 20, 49

  Bark, Peter, 159, 195

  Bashkirs, 362

  Battenberg, George, Prince of (subsequently Earl of Medina, then 2nd
        Marquess of Milford Haven), 35

  Battenberg, Louis, Prince of (subsequently 1st Marquess of Milford
        Haven), 109

  Battenberg, Louis, Prince of (subsequently Lord Louis Mountbatten,
        now 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma), 35

  Baumgarten, Miss, 45

  Bazhenovo, 205, 267

  Beatrice, Princess (Henry) of Battenberg, _née_ Princess of Great
        Britain, 31, 32

  Beatrice, Infanta (Alfonso) of Spain, _née_ Princess of Great
        Britain, 77

  Belaya River, 362

  Beloborodov, Commissar, 304, 312

  Beloselsky, Prince, 206

  Beloselsky-Belozersky, Prince, 33

  Belovezh, Grodno, 54

  Belyayev, Father, 185

  Belyayev, General, 143

  Benckendorff, Count Alexander Konstantinovich, 29

  Benckendorff, Count Peter Konstantinovich, 32, 68, 128, 134, 147,
        150, 157-59, 161, 168, 179, 184, 194, 195, 197, 200, 246, 247,
        254, 281, 301

  Bendery, 83, 300

  Benson and Hedges, Ltd., 299

  Berezina River, 54

  Berlin, 36, 192, 247

  Bernaul, 237

  Bismarck, Prince Otto von, 156

  Bittner, Mlle., 216-18, 255

  Black Sea, 9, 43, 76, 369

  “Blessing of the Waters”, 21, 22, 231, 232

  Bolin, 134, 190, 302

  Bolsheviks, 8, 34, 114, 117, 161, 207, 222-24, 236, 237, 243, 244,
        247, 312, 362, 370

  Boris III, King of the Bulgars (previously Crown Prince of Bulgaria),
        43

  Boris I Feodorovich, Tsar, 85, 206, 231

  Boris Vladimirovich, Grand Duke, 114, 138, 163

  Borodino, 54

  Botkin, Dr. Eugene Sergeevich, 33, 40, 41, 57, 61, 149, 151, 161,
        167, 187, 196, 201, 203, 207, 211, 220, 233, 242, 249, 252,
        254, 259, 260, 269, 270, 272, 273, 275, 276, 279-81, 283, 284,
        286-88, 291, 296, 303, 306, 307, 309, 312, 314-17, 341

  Botkin, Gleb Evgenievich, 41, 220, 259, 260, 275, 276

  Botkina, Tatiana Evgenievna, 41, 220, 259, 260, 275, 276

  Brasova, Countess (subsequently Princess) Nathalia Sergeevna, _née_
        Sheremetievsky, 157

  Bratianu, Ion, 78

  Brest-Litovsk Treaty, 248, 294, 295

  Bronstein, _see_ Trotsky

  Bronstein (Trotsky’s brother), 128, 245

  Brussilov, General, 101, 113

  Buchanan, Sir George W., 23, 84, 156, 158, 159

  Buchanan, Lady Georgina, 98, 158, 159

  Bugulma, 362

  Bukovina, 374, 377

  Bulgarians, 63, 300

  Buriats, 367

  Butsova, Olga E., 20, 33, 44, 148

  Buxhoeveden, Baroness Sophia Karlovna, 45, 71, 72, 161, 187, 211,
        229, 265-67, 269, 270

  Byzantine, 46, 62, 208, 300


  Carol I, King of Rumania, 76, 82

  Carol II, King of Rumania (previously Hereditary Prince, then Crown
        Prince), 76, 77

  Caspian Infantry, the 148th, 87

  Catherine II Alexeevna, the Great, Empress, 24, 66, 108, 205, 257

  Catherine Palace, Tsarskoe Selo, 24, 104, 192, 220

  Caucasus, 55, 127, 149, 154, 244

  Cheka, the, 304

  Chelyabinsk, 205, 235

  Chemodurov, Terenty, 211, 232, 249, 252, 270, 273

  Cherbourg, 33, 35

  Chernovitsy, Bukovina, 103

  “Children’s Island”, Tsarskoe Selo, 23, 183, 184

  Christian IX, King of Denmark, 6, 28

  Christiania, (Oslo), 29

  Christmas, 39, 61, 97, 130-33, 222, 227, 229-31

  Clements, Miss, 45

  Constantine Constantinovich, Grand Duke, 109, 110, 119, 186

  Constantine Constantinovich, Prince of Russia, 110, 137, 312

  Constantsa, 76

  Copenhagen, 28, 30

  Cossacks, 8, 17, 22, 66, 80, 81, 129, 133, 200

  Cowes, Isle of Wight, 31-33, 35, 37

  Crimea, The, 14, 40, 43, 44, 46-51, 63, 76, 92, 109, 113, 114, 116,
        127, 130, 135, 164, 177, 178, 194, 208, 214, 219, 220, 233,
        239, 287, 300, 368, 369

  Croatian, the, 371, 372, 374, 376, 377

  Cyril Vladimirovich, Grand Duke, 77, 114, 138, 155-57, 163


  Danilov, General, 20

  Darmstadt, 35

  Dartmouth, 33

  Dehn, Captain Charles, 26, 148, 149

  Dehn, Mme. Charles (“Lili”), 26, 148, 161, 176, 370

  Dehn, “Titi”, 27, 148

  Demidov, Prince, 205

  Demidova, Anna, 211, 214, 249, 252, 259, 273, 274, 279, 307, 315-17

  Dendeniev, 129

  Denmark, 14, 27, 29, 30, 54, 71, 78

  Derevenko, Dr., 8, 33, 57, 66, 128, 148, 211, 218, 219, 243, 248,
        257, 259, 265, 268-71

  Derevenko, Nikolai, 218, 219, 243

  Derevenko, “Dina”, 8-10, 15, 17, 32, 39, 99, 149

  Dieterichs, General, 113

  Dimitri Alexandrovich, Prince of Russia, 19, 230, 369

  Dimitri Constantinovich, Grand

  Duke, 128, 137

  Dimitri Ivanovich, Tsesarevich, 206, 231

  Dimitri Pavlovich, Grand Duke, 75, 115, 135-37, 139

  Dmitriev, Alexei, 265

  Dnieper River, 126, 256, 370

  Dobrovolsky, General, 157

  Dolgorukov, Prince, 206

  Dolgorukov, Prince Vasily, 50, 70, 71, 127, 128, 152, 153, 163, 164,
        168, 179, 184, 188, 195, 203, 205, 211, 231, 232, 236, 244-47,
        249, 252, 253, 272-74, 282, 341

  Dreifuss, Dr., 57, 128

  Drenteln, Captain, 27, 33, 129, 164, 168

  Dubensky, General, 113, 128, 168

  Dudendorff, 131

  Duma, Imperial, 93, 95, 111, 121, 135, 138, 152, 155, 158, 162, 166,
        167, 199

  Dumbadze, General, 49

  Dundakova, Princess, 148

  Dyulber, 239


  Easter, 50, 97, 98, 134, 184-86, 256

  Edward VII, King of Great Britain, 6, 29, 31-33, 36, 37

  Edward VIII, King of Great Britain (previously Prince Edward David of
        Wales, then Prince of Wales, now Duke of Windsor), 29, 33

  Ekaterinburg, 6, 8, 41, 62, 67, 70, 71, 90, 114, 143, 146, 180, 204,
        205, 211, 224, 227-29, 233, 235-37, 239, 241, 242, 250, 257,
        259, 260, 265, 267, 268, 270, 273-76, 281, 288, 294, 304, 309,
        312, 315, 332, 333, 340, 341, 346, 353, 358, 364

  Eleonor, Grand Duchess of Hesse-Darmstadt, _née_ Princess of
        Solms-Hohensolms-Lich, 35, 38

  Elizabeth, Queen of Rumania (subsequently Dowager Queen), _née_
        Princess of Wied, 76

  Elizabeth Alexeevna, Empress, _née_ Princess of Baden, 49

  Elizabeth Feodorovna, Grand Duchess (Serge Alexandrovich), _née_
        Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt, 19, 20, 39, 50, 75, 92, 93, 107,
        110, 114, 115, 119, 120, 135, 137, 139, 146, 147, 197, 265,
        309, 312

  Elizabeth Mavrikievna, Grand Duchess (Constantine Constantinovich),
        _née_ Princess of Saxe-Altenburg, 109, 110

  England, 31-33, 62, 71, 87, 109, 115, 123, 146, 151, 156, 159, 173,
        179, 191, 195

  English Hospital, St Petersburg, 98, 158, 221

  Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt, 6, 35, 76, 77, 109, 115,
        141, 144, 146, 147, 151, 156, 158, 283

  Ersberg, Elizabeth, 211, 265, 267, 269

  Erzerum, 111

  Evpatoria, 114

  Ewers, General, 154


  Fabergé, Carl Gustavovich, 97, 98, 187

  Fallières, Clément-Armand, 33, 34, 80

  Fedorov, Dr., 57, 99, 122, 128, 165, 168

  Feodor Alexandrovich, Prince of Russia, 19, 230, 369

  Feodorovsky Sobor, Tsarskoe Selo, 6, 11, 23, 98, 125, 133, 368

  Ferdinand I, King of Rumania (previously Crown Prince), 76

  Finland, 25, 27, 30, 53, 116, 150, 151, 329

  Fourth Siberian Army Corps, Tomsk, 237

  France, 148, 197-99

  Francis Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria-Este, 79, 82

  Francis Joseph I, Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, 81, 82, 147,
        278

  Fredensborg Palace, 28, 29

  Frederick III, German Emperor, 36-38

  Frederick Augustus III, King of Saxony, 80

  Fredericks, Countess Emma Vladimirovna, 45, 158, 292

  Fredericks, Count V.B., 33, 45, 102, 127, 152, 158, 168, 180, 185

  Fredericks, Countess (V.B.), 158

  French Navy, 33

  French Revolution, 198

  Friedberg, 35


  Gatchina Palace, 143, 144, 155, 168, 245

  General Headquarters (Stavka), Mogilev, 85, 95-97, 99-101, 106, 108,
        113, 120, 122, 123, 126, 127, 130, 136, 141, 143, 154, 155,
        162, 163, 167, 183, 192, 246, 256, 360

  George I, King of the Hellenes, 30, 119

  George V, King of Great Britain (previously Prince of Wales), 29, 31,
        33, 36, 37, 131, 159

  George, Prince of Greece, 292, 293

  George Mikhailovich, Grand Duke, 137, 312

  Germany, 30, 32, 38, 39, 53, 54, 62, 82-84, 87, 104-06, 109, 110,
        112, 115, 120, 140, 141, 146-48, 154, 159, 180, 188, 199, 220,
        222, 235, 243-46, 250, 273, 295, 296, 300, 301, 311, 312, 343,
        373-77, 381

  Gibbs, Sidney, 211, 214, 245, 246, 265

  Giers, Governor, 359

  Gilliard, Pierre, 8, 56, 75, 99, 162, 177, 187, 199, 203, 211, 212,
        217, 232, 236, 237, 243, 246, 248, 249, 252, 254, 255, 260,
        265-67, 269, 276

  Girardi, Colonel, 159

  Godunov family, 70, 85, 206, 231

  Goldstein, Arnold, 215

  Golitsyn, Prince, 162

  Goloshchekin, Commissar, 268, 274, 291, 299, 304, 308, 309, 312, 313

  Goremykin, Ivan L., 369

  Goriev (Goldmann), 223

  Governor’s House, Tobolsk, 72

  Grabbe, Count, 164, 168

  Great Britain, 31, 109

  Greece, 62

  Greek Orthodox religion, 63, 92, 97, 199, 300

  Grey, Lady Sybil, 98

  Gribushchin, 162

  Grodno, 54

  Grodno Hussars, 39

  Grooten, General von, 143, 157, 159

  Guchkov, 115, 127, 155, 158, 162, 243

  Gustavus V, King of Sweden, 30

  Gustavus VI Adolphus, King of Sweden (previously Crown Prince), 31


  Hague, The, 82, 146

  “Hampshire”, 136

  Hanbury-Williams, General Sir John, 23, 101, 111, 112, 114, 129, 130,
        136, 246

  Heath, Charles, 21

  Hendrikova, Countess Anastasia V., 149, 187, 203, 211, 217, 245, 246,
        250, 265, 267, 269

  Henry, Prince of Prussia, 6, 31, 36, 56

  Hermogen, Bishop, 229

  Hesse, General, 19

  Hesse-Darmstadt, 106

  Hindenburg, General, 140, 141

  Hohenberg, Sophie, Duchess of, _née_ Countess Chotek, 79, 82

  Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Ernest, Prince of (previously Hereditary Prince
        of), 77

  “Hohenzollern”, 54

  Holy Sanctuaries, Red Square, Moscow, 254

  Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, 165

  Holy Trinity, Cathedral of the, Ipatiev Monastery, Kostroma, 69, 70

  Horse Guards, 22

  Horwath, Commissar, 304

  Hungarians, 299, 304

  Hussars, 22, 36, 81

  Hvidore Villa, near Klampenborg, 28


  Ignatiev, Count, 205

  Igor Constantinovich, Prince of Russia, 75, 110, 114, 128, 132, 137,
        312

  Iliana (or Irina), 342

  Image of the Holy Virgin, Abalak Monastery, 207, 208, 229

  Imperial Family, 19, 23, 54, 68, 80, 89, 104, 107, 116, 131, 136,
        138, 144, 145, 155, 161, 179, 185, 205, 224, 229, 236, 242-44,
        257, 294, 301, 308, 344, 355, 367

  Imperial Guard, 179

  Imperial Theater, St. Petersburg, 46

  Imperial Yacht Club, St. Petersburg, 138

  International Arbitration Court, The Hague, 82

  Ipatiev House, Ekaterinburg, 70, 268, 274, 278, 288, 364

  Ipatiev Monastery, Kostroma, 69, 70

  Irene, Princess (Henry) of Prussia, _née_ Princess of
        Hesse-Darmstadt, 6, 31, 32, 36, 37, 56, 57, 64

  Irina Alexandrovna, Princess of Russia, Princess (Felix Felixovich)
        Youssoupoff, 19, 135, 137, 230, 369

  Irtysh River, 207, 272

  Ivan IV Vasilievich, the Terrible, Tsar, 189, 206, 231

  Ivan Constantinovich, Prince of Russia, 110, 137, 312

  Ivanov, 211

  Ivanov, General, 101, 113, 154, 194, 232

  Ivanovsky Nunnery, Tobolsk, 230

  Izvolsky, Alexander Petrovich, 33, 54


  Jagernsfeld, 31

  Japan, 224, 242, 292, 309

  Japan, Emperor of, 224, 292

  Japan, Empress of, 224

  Japan, two Princes of, 224

  Japanese Navy, 5, 6

  Japanese Red Cross, 224

  Jemmy, 196, 227, 309, 310, 316

  Jews, 21, 105, 274, 300, 301, 304

  Johnson, Nicholas, 194, 369

  Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, 197

  Joy, 180

  Jubilee of Romanov Dynasty Tercentenary, 66, 68, 71, 308


  “K”, Mr., 275

  Kalenin, 162

  Kalmuks, 207, 215, 218, 223

  Kamenev (Rosenfeld), 68, 189, 223, 243, 244, 293

  Karamzin, 363

  Karlsruhe, 35

  Kaulbach, 197

  Kazaks, 207

  Kazan, Cathedral of Our Lady of, St. Petersburg, 66, 95

  Keller, General Count, 113, 163

  Kerensky, Alexander Feodorovich, 115, 158, 162, 168, 173-76, 178,
        179, 182, 183, 187, 188, 191-95, 198-203, 215, 216, 220-22,
        224, 231, 243, 253, 281, 329, 370

  Khabalov, General, 155

  Kharaks, 50

  Kharitonov, Ivan, 211, 213, 265, 269, 275-77, 279, 280, 282, 284,
        307, 315

  Khitrovo, Boyar, 363

  Khitrovo, Liuba, 221

  Khitrovo, Rita, 216, 221, 363

  Khvostov, 369

  Khvostova, Anastasia, 369

  Kiakhta, 205

  Kiel, 31

  Kiev, 43, 85, 91, 126-28, 131, 360, 374

  Kirghiz, 207, 367

  Kirpichnikov, 269

  Kishinev, 79

  Kitchener, Lord, 136

  Kobylinsky, Colonel Eugene, 173, 179, 180, 193, 203, 207, 208,
        213-16, 218, 221, 224, 228-31, 233, 236, 237, 249, 250, 252,
        255, 258, 259, 292

  Kolchak, Admiral, 114, 364

  Konrad, Mr., 18, 78, 187

  Koreiz, 239

  “Kormilets”, 206

  Kornilov, 212

  Kornilov, General, 113, 173, 179, 188, 192

  Kornilov House, Tobolsk, 212

  Korovichenko, Colonel, 173, 174, 177, 179, 188

  Kostritsky, Dr., 220, 235

  Kostroma, 69, 70

  Kotsebue, Captain Count, 188

  Koulikovsky, Colonel Nicholai Alexandrovich, 91, 127, 369

  Kozmin, Commissar, 201

  Krasnoe Selo, 80

  Krasnov, 47

  Kremenchug, 370

  Kremlin, Moscow, 70, 85, 93, 235, 254, 313

  Krestovaya Gora, 41

  Kronstadt, 26, 71

  “Krugom”, 215

  Krymov, General, 153

  Kursk, 137, 367, 370, 371

  Kushelev, 201


  Lancers, 81

  Latvians, 299, 313

  Lechitsky, General, 113

  Lenin, Nikolai (Vladimir Ilyich Ulianov, previously Tsederbaum or
        Tsederblum) 68, 128, 189, 199, 223, 224, 242-45, 253, 293, 300,
        302, 308, 312, 313, 362, 379

  Lermontov monument, Penza, 367

  Liberty’s of London, 18

  Life Guards, 155

  Linevich, Captain, 159

  Lisa, 241

  Liteiny Arsenal, St. Petersburg, 148

  Litovsky Regiment, 154

  Livadia, Yalta, 40-42, 44, 46, 48, 50, 62, 75, 96, 134, 238

  Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt, 35

  Louis XVI, King of France, 198, 199

  Louise, Queen of Denmark, _née_ Princess of Hesse-Cassel, 28

  Ludendorff, General, 107, 140, 141, 235, 246, 293, 312

  Lutheran Church, Tobolsk, 208

  Lvov, Prince George Evgenievich, 157, 158, 192

  Lyons, 6, 197


  Makarov, Commissar, 173, 180, 203, 207, 208, 211-13, 216, 218

  Maklakov, A. A., 369

  Mannheim, 35

  Marat, 199

  Marie, Queen of Rumania (subsequently Dowager Queen, previously Crown
        Princess), _née_ Princess of Great Britain, 76-78

  Marie Alexandrovna, Empress, _née_ Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt, 77

  Marie Alexandrovna, Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (subsequently
        Dowager Duchess),
  Princess (Alfred) of Great Britain, Duchess of Edinburgh, _née_ Grand
        Duchess of Russia, 77

  “Marie-Anastasia Workshop”, 102

  Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, _née_ Archduchess of Austria, 6,
        197, 198

  Marie Feodorovna, Dowager Empress, _née_ Princess Marie Dagmar of
        Denmark, 6, 13, 14, 27-30, 35, 39, 48, 54, 66-68, 75, 81, 85,
        87, 91-93, 95, 104, 109, 126-28, 131, 152, 163, 178, 193, 194,
        220, 221, 230, 239, 240, 245, 331, 360, 368

  Marie Nicholaevna, Grand Duchess, 3-5, 7, 10-13, 15-18, 26, 32, 34,
        35, 40, 41, 51, 57, 64, 65, 67, 80, 87, 89, 90, 103, 108, 135,
        137, 143, 149-51, 156, 157, 161, 164, 174, 187, 193, 194, 196,
        198, 208, 216, 227, 229, 241, 248, 250-52, 254-59, 269, 270,
        272, 273, 275, 276, 293, 299, 308, 312, 341

  Marie Pavlovna (“the younger”), Grand Duchess, subsequently Princess
        (William) of Sweden, Duchess of Södermanland, then Princess
        (Serge Mikhailovich) Putiatin, 135

  Marie Pavlovna (“the elder”), Grand Duchess (Vladimir Alexandrovich),
        _née_ Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, 138, 155-57

  Marie Thérèse, Princess (Louis Antoine) of France, Duchess of
        Angoulême, _née_ Princess of France, 6, 197, 198

  Markov, 292

  “Marseilles”, 33

  Martha and Mary, Convent of, Moscow, 93

  Martov (Tsederbaum, Tsederblum?), 223

  Marushka, 358, 359, 361

  Mary, Queen of Great Britain (subsequently Dowager Queen, previously
        Princess of Wales), _née_ Princess of Teck, 29, 33, 36

  Massandra, 42, 49

  Mebus (or Nebus), 303, 304

  Medviedev, 299

  Meller-Zakomelsky, Baroness, 205

  Metropolitan’s residence, Tobolsk, 230

  Michael I Feodorovich, Tsar, 69, 70

  Michael Alexandrovich, Grand Duke, 70, 137, 143, 155, 157, 165, 167,
        168, 193, 194, 205, 312, 369

  Mieshkovsky (Hollender), 223

  Mikhailov, Moscow, 347

  “Mikhailov, Moskva” (label), 347

  Mikhovsky (Goldenberg), 223

  Mirabeau, 199

  Mirbach, Count von, 235, 254, 273, 274, 293, 312

  Mogilev, 20, 96, 99, 102, 113-15, 122, 128-30, 133, 134, 140, 152,
        154, 162, 163, 225, 256

  Moltke, General von, 246

  Monomakh, 70

  Mordvinov, Colonel, 127, 164, 165, 168

  Moscow, 19, 20, 50, 61, 67, 68, 71, 84, 85, 92, 115, 119, 235, 245,
        254, 257, 273-75, 292-96, 301, 302, 311-13, 347, 369

  Mossolov, General A. A., 168

  Mountbatten, _see_ Battenberg

  Mramorskaya, 353, 366

  Mstislavsky, 178, 179

  Muraviev-Amursky, Count, 205

  Murmansk, 179, 188


  Nagorny, Klementy, 8, 10, 99, 122, 211, 219, 232, 243, 255, 256, 259,
        260, 265, 267-69, 276, 281, 284, 286, 291

  “Naimichka” (The Maid), 256

  Nakhichevan, General the Khan, 163

  Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, 54, 192, 222

  Narishkin, Cyril, 164, 168

  Narishkina, Mme. Elizabeth A., 43, 45, 51, 93, 102, 104, 115, 118,
        151, 164, 176, 309

  Narodny Dom, St. Petersburg, 46

  “Nerukotvorenny Spas”, 315

  Neva River, 21, 95, 135, 223

  Nevsky Prospect, St. Petersburg, 159

  Nicholai Mikhailovich, Grand Duke, 137, 312

  Nicholai Nicholaevich, Grand Duke, 95, 127, 134, 137, 153, 154, 157

  Nicholas I Pavlovich, Emperor, 25, 135, 167

  Nicholas II Alexandrovich, Emperor, 3, 5-14, 19-23, 25-28, 30, 31,
        33, 35, 36, 38-40, 42-49, 52-58, 60-62, 66, 67, 69, 70, 75,
        78-88, 90-109, 111-31, 133-38, 140-42, 145-49, 152-57, 159-69,
        173-80, 182-202, 204-08, 211-14, 216-26, 228, 229, 231, 232,
        234-40, 242-54, 256, 257, 259, 267, 269-88, 291-303, 305-17,
        325, 327-29, 338, 341, 343, 344, 351, 355, 360, 369, 377, 379

  Nicholas Concert Hall, Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, 84

  Nicholas Garden, Simbirsk, 363

  Nicholas Institute for Girls, Reval, 54

  Nicholas Palace, Moscow, 71

  Nicholas railway, 96

  Nikita Alexandrovich, Prince of Russia, 19, 230, 369

  Nikitsky Botanical Garden, near Livadia, 47

  Nikolai (friend of rescuer), 363-68, 370-77

  Nikolsky, 216, 219-220, 233, 236, 243

  Nilov, Captain, 113, 127, 128, 152, 153, 168, 183

  Nina Georgievna, Princess of Russia, subsequently Princess (Paul
        Alexandrovich) Chavchavadze, 50

  _Niva_, 120

  Nizhni Novgorod, 68

  North Sea, 51, 76, 136

  Norway, 29

  Novgorod, 132


  Ob River, 237

  “Obiednitsa”, 306

  “Obiednya”, 306

  Obolensky, Princess Elizabeth N., 33, 71, 148

  Odense, Bay of, 27

  Odessa, 79

  Okhrana, 43

  Oleg Constantinovich, Prince of Russia, 110

  Olga Alexandrovna, Grand Duchess, Duchess (Peter Alexandrovich) of
        Oldenburg, then Mme. Nicholai Alexandrovich Koulikovsky, 29,
        78, 85, 90, 91, 95, 126, 127, 177, 194, 220, 230, 235, 240,
        245, 360, 369

  Olga Constantinovna, Queen of the Hellenes (subsequently Dowager
        Queen), _née_ Grand Duchess of Russia, 30, 119, 186

  Olga Nicholaevna, Grand Duchess, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 19,
        26, 32, 34, 35, 51, 57, 60, 64, 65, 67, 76-78, 86-92, 98,
        100-03, 111, 114, 123, 124, 127, 130, 133-35, 137, 140, 143,
        145, 151, 156, 174, 190, 197, 217, 227-29, 236, 240, 247, 248,
        254, 256, 267, 268, 270, 271, 282, 287, 289, 307, 309, 311,
        312, 314, 329

  Omsk, 235

  Oranienburg Forest, near Berlin, 36

  Orbeliani, Princess Sonia I., 116, 130

  Oreanda Chapel, Oreanda, Crimea, 208

  Orlov, Prince, 154

  Orlova-Davydova, Countess, 221

  Osborne House, Isle of Wight, 32, 33

  Oslo (Christiania), 29

  Ostrogorsky, Dr., 57

  “Otsu mark” or “Otsu scar”, 292, 293, 317


  Palei, Prince Vladimir Pavlovich, Count of Hohenfelsen, 137, 312

  Palei, Princess Olga Valerianovna, Countess of Hohenfelsen,
        previously Mme. Erich von Pistohlkors, _née_ Karnovich, 136

  Palm Sunday, 185, 273

  Pankratov, Commissar, 216, 219, 221, 233, 236

  Paul I Petrovich, Emperor, 140, 144

  Paul Alexandrovich, Grand Duke, 136-38, 150, 155, 161, 312

  Pavlovsk, 13

  Pavlovsky Regiment, 81

  Pelts, Governor of Mogilev, 127

  Penza, 367

  Pergolovo Forest, near Tsarskoe Selo, 160

  Perm, 107, 204, 205, 246, 369

  Persia, Shah of, 190

  Persia, 61, 95, 134, 137, 160, 161, 294

  Peter I Alexeevich, the Great, Emperor, 25, 54, 117, 253

  Peter Alexandrovich, Duke of Oldenburg, 91

  Peter Nicholaevich, Grand Duke, 239

  Peterhof Palace, 3, 25, 26, 53, 80, 131

  Petrov, Peter Vasilievich, 75

  Petrovsky, 221

  Petrovsky, Shura, 221

  Pilsudski, General, 235, 242, 302

  Plevitskaya, Mme., 51, 69, 89

  Pobedonostsev, Konstantin, 20

  Poincaré, Raymond, 80

  Pokrovskoe, 207

  Poland, 54, 60, 85

  “Polar Star”, 27, 291

  Polish Army, 69

  Polupanov, 129

  Port Arthur, 5

  Potsdam, 36, 37

  Pravosudovich, 220

  Preobrazhensky Regiment, 27, 81, 164, 300

  _Prosphora_, 306, 314

  Provisional Government, 145, 149, 150, 158-60, 163, 165, 166, 168,
        174, 180, 191, 193, 221, 222

  Prussia, 106

  Pskov, 162, 163, 165

  Purishkevich, 135

  Putiatin, Prince, 157, 159


  Radziwill, Princess, 156

  _Ramona_, 18

  Rasputin, Grigory Efimovich, 19, 20, 44, 58, 59, 102, 109, 112, 116,
        118-20, 122-24, 127, 130, 135-37, 139, 140, 160, 199, 207, 227,
        241, 272, 292, 343

  Rasputina, Matriona Grigorievna (subsequently Mme. Solovieva), 135,
        227, 241, 242, 292

  Red Square, Moscow, 253

  Redeemer, Convent of the, Simbirsk, 363

  Resin, General, 113, 159

  Reval, 29, 30, 54

  Rickel, General, 129

  Riepin, 17

  Rodionov, Commissar, 257, 258, 260, 265, 266, 272

  Rodzianko M. V., 138, 143, 154, 155, 159, 192

  Roman Catholic religion, 301

  Romanov, Feodor Nikitich (Patriarch Philaret), 69

  Romanov dynasty, 20, 66, 69, 70, 78, 138, 140, 194, 206, 244, 308,
        312, 315

  Romanov Institute of Physical Therapy, Sevastopol, 114

  Romanovsky, Prince George Maximilianovich, Duke of Leuchtenberg, 134,
        164

  Roosevelt, Theodore, 93

  “Rossia”, 206, 260, 265

  Rostislav Alexandrovich, Prince of

  Russia, 19, 230, 369

  Rostovtsev, Count J. N., 195

  Rovno, 360

  Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, 33

  Royal Yacht Club, Cowes, Isle of Wight, 32, 37

  Rumania, 63, 76, 79, 370, 374

  Russian Army, 130, 141, 235, 243, 360

  Russian Navy, 5, 27

  Russian Orthodox religion, 157, 165, 208

  Russian Red Cross, 98, 103-05, 135, 146

  Russian Revolution, 109, 198, 300

  Russo-Japanese War, 23, 43, 44, 80, 92, 105, 128

  Ruzsky, General, 113, 152-56, 162, 163, 165, 168, 175, 183, 199, 243


  Sablin, 164

  Sadovaya Avenue, Penza, 367

  Sadovaya Avenue, Tsarskoe Selo, 367

  St. Alexius, 60

  St. Andrew, Order of, 66

  St. Catherine, Order of, 66, 159

  St. Feodor, 69

  St. George, the Great Martyr, 166

  St. George Cross, 130, 232, 360

  St. George decorations, 232, 379

  St. Job, 70

  St. John, 280

  St. Mitrophanes, Convent of, Voronezh, 368

  St. Nicholas, 113

  St. Petersburg (subsequently Petrograd, now Leningrad), 5, 19, 21,
        23, 43, 46, 49, 61, 66, 67, 71, 81, 84, 90, 92, 98, 104, 106,
        108, 111, 118, 119, 134, 135, 137-39, 141, 143, 147, 148, 152,
        154, 155, 157, 158, 162, 163, 167, 168, 178, 184, 190, 212,
        214, 220, 221, 253, 292, 302

  St. Tatiana, 232

  St. Vladimir, 360

  Sts. Peter and Paul, Cathedral of, St. Petersburg, 46, 49, 95

  Sts. Peter and Paul, Fortress of, St. Petersburg, 5

  Sandringham, Norfolk, 131

  Sarajevo, 79, 82

  Sazonov, S. D., 84, 147

  Schleswig-Holstein, 54

  Schneider, Ekaterina, 107, 174, 187, 197, 203, 211, 245, 246, 250,
        258, 265, 267, 269

  Serbia, 63, 80-83, 146

  Serbian, the, 371, 372, 374, 376, 377

  Serge Alexandrovich, Grand Duke, 75, 92, 93, 137, 142

  Serge Mikhailovich, Grand Duke, 114, 137, 312

  Sergievo, 85

  Sevastopol, 48, 114, 369

  Shcheglov, 120

  Sheremetiev, 206

  Sheremetiev, Count, 119, 128, 129

  Sheremetieva, Countess, 91

  Shevchenko, Taras, 256

  Shulgin, 155, 158, 162, 243

  Siberia, 49, 72, 105, 108, 135, 160, 187, 202, 204-06, 216, 230, 237,
        242, 251, 329, 350

  “Sibiriak”, 206

  Sidniev, Ivan, 211, 249, 273, 281, 284, 286, 291, 308

  Sidniev, Leonid, 211, 265, 269, 275, 277, 284, 286, 287, 307, 308

  Sigismund, Prince of Prussia, 56

  Simbirsk (now Ulianov), 223, 362, 363, 366

  Sinai, 61

  Sixth Army Corps, 54

  Slavs, 54, 84, 294

  Soldiers’ Committee, Tobolsk, 215, 229, 230, 234

  Soloviev, 227, 228, 241, 242, 292

  Spala, 53, 54, 56, 60, 190

  “Standard”, 8, 9, 21, 26, 27, 30, 31, 33, 51, 53, 76, 164, 183

  Stenbock-Fermor, Countess, 205

  “Stenka Razin”, 363

  Stockholm, 30

  Stolypin, Peter Arkadevich, 43

  Storozhev, Father, 306, 307, 364

  Stroganov, Count, 205

  Sukhanov (Himmer), 189, 223

  Sukhomlinov V. A., 146, 292

  Susanin, 69

  Sverdlov, Commissar, Jacob, 274, 299, 308, 312, 313

  Svoboda Street, Tobolsk, 211

  Sweden, 32, 147, 309

  Switzerland, 246


  Taganrog, 49

  Tambov, 368

  Taneev, Alexander Sergeevich, 44, 150, 151

  Taneeva, Mme., _née_ Tolstaya, 44, 150, 151

  Tartars, 47, 70, 363, 367

  Tatiana Nicholaevna, Grand Duchess, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 17, 26,
        32, 34, 35, 51, 57, 65, 67, 69, 80, 86, 88-90, 92, 98, 100,
        101, 111, 123, 135, 137, 143, 156, 174, 177, 187, 190, 197,
        226-28, 232, 240, 248, 249, 252, 254, 256, 258, 266, 268, 271,
        287, 312, 314, 316, 317, 329-31, 333

  Tatishchev, General Count Ilia, 82, 115, 195, 197, 203, 205, 211,
        221, 222, 227, 231, 232, 236, 237, 245, 246, 248, 249, 253,
        255-57, 259, 265, 267, 269, 270, 304

  Tatishcheva, Irene, 240

  Tauride Palace, St. Petersburg, 93, 111, 155

  Tchaikovsky, 78, 283

  Tegleva, Alexandra (subsequently Mme. Pierre Gilliard), 211, 255,
        258, 260, 265, 269

  Terijoki, Gulf of Finland, 116, 150, 151

  _Thirteen Years at the Russian Court_, by Pierre Gilliard, 199

  Thyra, Crown Princess of Hanover, Princess (Ernest Augustus) of Great
        Britain, Duchess of Cumberland, _née_ Princess of Denmark, 29

  Tiflis, Georgia, 154

  Tischendorff, 61

  Tiumen, 205, 206, 235, 255, 257, 266, 268, 272

  Tobol River, 207, 231, 265

  Tobolsk, 34, 62, 71, 72, 78, 90, 92, 107, 179, 184, 193, 196, 206-08,
        213-16, 219-21, 224, 227-31, 239, 242, 245, 248-50, 260, 267,
        269, 270, 272-75, 279, 286, 288, 291-93, 304, 309, 315, 325,
        329, 332, 340, 341, 366, 368, 370

  Tolstoys, 19, 184

  Tomsk, 49, 204, 235, 237, 238

  Tomsk Monastery, 238

  Tomsk, University of, 204

  Trans-Siberian railway, 238

  Trans-Baikal, 205

  Troitsko-Sergievskaya Lavra, 85

  Troitsky Bridge, Neva River, St. Petersburg, 95, 142

  Trotsky (Leon D. Bronstein) 68, 128, 189, 199, 223, 242-45, 274, 300,
        303, 308, 312, 313, 379

  Trup, 211, 265, 269, 275, 279, 280, 284, 307, 317

  Tsarskoe Selo, 6, 10, 13, 20, 23-25, 34, 38, 40, 41, 43, 44, 47, 49,
        61, 62, 66, 71, 72, 80, 84, 86, 104, 114, 116, 119, 122, 126,
        130, 134-36, 139, 141, 143, 144, 149, 150, 156, 159-61, 164,
        168, 169, 175, 184, 186, 187, 189, 200, 202, 208, 212-14, 217,
        218, 220, 221, 224, 227, 228, 234, 237, 241, 260, 274, 281,
        283, 292, 293, 332, 335, 338, 367, 368

  Tsarskaya Pristan, 48, 114

  Tsederbaum (Tsederblum?) family, 223

  Tula, 369

  Tulyatskaya Street, Tobolsk, 208

  Tula River, 207

  Tutcheva, Mlle., 19, 20, 33

  Tutelberg, Miss, 211, 214, 265


  Ufa, 309, 362

  Ufa River, 362

  Uglich, 230

  Uglich, Bell of, Tobolsk, 230

  Uhlan Guards, 132, 188

  Ukraine, The, 104, 147, 222, 256, 300, 359, 375

  Uktus, 353, 366

  Ulianov, Alexander Ilyich, 128, 245

  Ulianov, Vladimir Ilyich (_see_ Lenin, Nikolai)

  Ulianov family, 223

  Ural Mountains, 22, 204


  Vanka, 15, 16

  Vasilchikova, Princess Maria, 106, 146, 147, 153

  Vasili Alexandrovich, Prince of Russia, 19, 230, 369

  Vassiliev, Father (at Tsarskoe Selo), 58, 60, 98, 116, 117, 125, 160,
        185

  Vassiliev, Father (at Tobolsk), 229, 231, 288

  Vatrik, Dr., 301

  Vershchinin, 168, 203

  Viazemsky, Admiral Prince, 27

  Viborg Infantry, 53, 160

  Victoria, Princess (Louis) of Battenberg (subsequently Marchioness,
        later Dowager Marchioness, of Milford Haven), _née_ Princess of
        Hesse-Darmstadt, 6, 35, 109, 159

  Victoria, Dowager German Empress, _née_ Princess of Great Britain,
        36, 37, 53

  Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, 5, 54, 75, 77, 83, 103, 120, 145,
        151, 156, 185, 190, 214, 305

  Victoria, Queen of Sweden, _née_ Princess of Baden, 30

  Victoria Feodorovna, Grand Duchess (Cyril Vladimirovich), (previously
        Grand Duchess of Hesse-Darmstadt), _née_ Princess Victoria
        Melita of Great Britain, 76, 77, 151, 156

  “Victoria and Albert”, 29, 31

  Vigée-Lebrun, Mme., 197

  Vishniakova, Maria, 19

  Vladimir Alexandrovich, Grand Duke, 156

  Vladimir (town), 68

  Vladivostok, 204, 224

  Volga River, 69, 221, 362, 363

  Volinsky Regiment, 154

  Volkonsky, Prince, 119, 222

  Volkov, Alexei, 211, 259, 265

  Volynsky, 206

  Voronezh, 368

  Vorontsov-Dashkov, Count, 205

  Vorontsova-Dashkova, Countess, 51

  Vostorgov, 369

  Voyeykov, General, 44, 128, 143, 163, 168

  Voykov, 143, 242, 260, 270, 280, 292, 302, 303, 308, 312, 364

  Vyrubov, 44, 151

  Vyrubova, Anna Alexandrovna, _née_ Taneeva, 44, 45, 109, 112, 114-16,
        122, 124, 130-32, 134, 135, 150, 151, 160, 174, 176, 196, 220,
        227-29, 241, 242, 292, 293, 304, 343


  Wagner, Richard, 34, 78

  Warsaw, 56, 103

  Wight, Isle of, 31

  Wilhelm I, German Emperor, 37

  Wilhelm II, German Emperor, 6, 30, 31, 36-39, 53, 54, 82, 83, 92,
        100, 101, 105, 107, 112, 115, 118-20, 141, 147, 156, 188, 198,
        246, 247, 311, 312, 329

  Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, 22, 23, 66-68, 84, 92, 160, 222

  Witte, Count S. Yu., 43, 92, 93

  Wolfsgarten, near Darmstadt, 35

  World War I, 48, 54, 156


  Xenia Alexandrovna, Grand Duchess (Alexander Mikhailovich), _née_
        Grand Duchess of Russia, 19, 95, 127, 135, 177, 178, 194, 214,
        220, 221, 230, 235, 239, 240, 369

  Xenia Georgievna, Princess of Russia, subsequently Mrs. William
        Bateman Leeds, Jr., now Mrs. Herman H. Jud, 50

  Yakovlev, 245, 248, 252, 273, 293, 294

  Yalta, 40, 41, 48, 51, 75

  Yanin, General, 113

  Yaroshinsky, 90, 228, 241, 242, 292, 293

  Yaroslavl, 68

  Yermak, 230

  Youssoupoff, Prince Felix Felixovich, 135, 137, 154, 232

  Youssoupoff family, 50, 51, 239

  Yuriev-Zakharin, Ivan Nikitich, 206

  Yuriev-Zakharin, Vasili Nikitich, 206

  Yurovsky, 233, 242, 270, 274-76, 279, 281-84, 288, 291-93, 297-300,
        303-10, 312-14, 316, 317, 327, 329, 360, 365

  Yurovsky, Rabbi, 276


  Zagorsky (Krachmann), 223

  Zamoyski, Count Adam, 157

  Zaslovsky, 237-39, 241, 268

  Zhukovsky, 23

  Znamenie, Our Lady of (Znamensky Sobor), Tsarskoe Selo, 23, 88, 117,
        177, 178

  Zinoviev (Apfelbaum), 68, 189, 199, 223, 243, 244, 312



 ABOUT THE AUTHOR


 [Illustration]

 The Grand Duchess Anastasia Nicholaevna was born in Peterhof, Russia,
 in 1901. A member of a close-knit family, the Grand Duchess was
 educated--as were her three sisters and her brother, the Tsesarevich
 Alexei--by private tutors, Russian, English and Swiss.

 She accompanied her Family on several trips abroad and on numerous
 trips within the country, including extensive travel in 1913--a year
 widely celebrated in Russia as the Three Hundredth Anniversary of the
 ascension to the throne of the first Romanov, Michael Feodorovich.

 After the escape of the Grand Duchess Anastasia from Russia--the
 point at which the present volume ends--she lived for short periods
 in Rumania and Yugoslavia and for many years in the United States,
 principally in Illinois and Wisconsin. She is now an American citizen
 and is currently living in New York City.

 A future volume, on which she is working, will deal with her life and
 experiences in the post-escape years.

 A lover of animals, the Grand Duchess is now completing a short book
 entitled _My Friends: the Dogs_, all of the royalties from which will
 be contributed to animal shelters and organizations devoted to the
 health and well-being of dogs.

 The Grand Duchess Anastasia is creating a foundation which will
 establish and maintain a museum devoted to Russian culture and
 containing a chapel in memory of her Family. A substantial portion
 of her royalties from her autobiography will be turned over to the
 foundation and to a very small number of charitable and philanthropic
 organizations which she has, for the most part, already definitively
 selected.



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Transcriber’s Note


Minor printer’s errors were corrected by the transcriber. As far as
possible, however, the original spelling and punctuation have been
retained.

There is a signature on the image of “THE EMPEROR NICHOLAS II”, and
one on that of “THE TSESAREVICH ALEXEI--MOGILEV--1916”, following page
204. Both were illegible, and therefore could not be preserved.

In this txt file, text in _italics_ is indicated with underscores.



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