It looks like whether we like it or not the story is Russia, has been Russia since November 8th, and will continue to be Russia until President Trump no longer inhabits the White House. That will be eight exciting, (though exhausting, thanks to the media), years hence, God willing.
It would be nice to know a little bit about this crazy place, other than what the MSM lies to us about. Do these professional ‘media’ Trump-haters even know where Russia is, except within visual distance of Sarah Palin’s house? Do these corrupt individuals understand why the Russians so hate us, as they claim the Russians do? Do they know anything about the extraordinary nation of Russia, of the remarkable Russian people and their equally remarkable history?
Of course they don’t. And they don’t care.
The inestimable Winston Churchill once called Russia “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” and that about says it all. This stunningly perplex nation, immense and inexplicable, a unique mixture of East and West in its geography, in its historical progression, in its byzantine politics, in its mélange of nationalities and cultures, and in its continued development, makes it impossible to figure out what it’s doing and where it’s going, even studying it’s complicated, and in many ways, heartbreaking, history.
The historical event that changed Russia forever, that remains truly heartbreaking 99 years ago, was the brutal and bloody murder of the family of Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra and their five beautiful children. If there is anything that demonstrates more clearly the complete soullessness of the Bolsheviks who captured the nation of Russia in 1917 and held this tragic nation captive until, basically, 1989, it is this one vicious and devastating act.
Nicholay Alexandrovich Romanov, born in St. Petersburg in 1868, was the son of Tsar Alexander III of Russia and Maria Feodorovna, formerly Dagmar of Denmark, who ruled Russia from 1881 to 1894. Their first-born son, Nicholas, was primarily of German and Danish descent, with his last ethnically Russian ancestor being the Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna who was the daughter of Peter the Great and who lived in the very beginning of the 18th Century.
It was said during Nicholas’ adulthood that he was a near twin of his cousin, King George V of England, and photographs of the two together in the early part of the 20th Century attest to this almost eerie resemblance. Needless to say, Nicholas was related to numerous monarchs in Europe, including the King and Queen of Denmark, the King of Greece, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, and the King and Queen of Norway, among others. The Tsar was close to many of his cousins; in fact, it was at a wedding of one of his cousins, a granddaughter of England’s Queen Victoria, in 1884, when the future Tsar was 16, that he met a charming 12 year old, Princess Alix, who was sister to the bride, and with whom he eventually fell in love and married in 1890. The marriage went forward despite the initial objections of Alix’s grandmother, England’s Queen Victoria, who expressed these objections not because she did not like her granddaughter’s suitor, but because she personally disliked Russia.
It was said that Her Majesty withdrew her objections only when she saw that Tsar Alexander’s health was deteriorating.
Nicholas was a handsome and charming young man, and while a young Tsarevich, behaved as a young royal of his age should: he took a Grand Tour, (which came to an end when he was the victim of an assassination attempt), he had affairs with well-known ballerinas, and he attended international functions to represent the family of the Russian Tsar.
The one thing that was tragically not done re: the future of the next Tsar was to prepare him for his future role as the ruler of all the Russias. It was thought that this was due to his father being only in his 40’s during Nicholas’ youth, and everyone thought that many years would pass before Nicholas needed to take the throne, therefore there was time to pass on to him things he needed to know to rule Russia. Alexander’s “assumptions about living a long life and having years to prepare Nicholas for becoming Tsar would be proven wrong, (as) Alexander III was suffering from ill health, and died at the age of 49 in 1894.” His 26 year old son was consecrated as Tsar Nicholas II on the day after his father’s death, and the following statement by the Tsar soon after taking the reins of power demonstrates how the young monarch planned to rule all the Russias:
“It has come to my knowledge that during the last months there have been heard in some assemblies of the zemstvos (elected councils) the voices of those who have indulged in a senseless dream that the zemstvos be called upon to participate in the government of the country. I want everyone to know that I will devote all my strength to maintain, for the good of the whole nation, the principle of absolute autocracy, as firmly and as strongly as did my late lamented father.”
While Nicholas continued in the tradition of the autocratic rule of his father domestically, internationally Nicholas began his reign by strengthening the all-important Franco Russian Alliance, and “pursuing a policy of general European pacification, which eventually resulted in the Tsar’s being nominated for the 1901 Nobel Peace Prize, in the company of the famous Russian diplomat, Friedrich Martens.”
A later development in Russia’s international involvements was the result of Russian expansion into the Far East, which “conflicted with Japan’s territorial ambitions,” and thus war broke out between the two nations in 1904. This did not go well for Russia, as the Japanese ended up in nearly annihilating the Russian Baltic Fleet. Though the Japanese proved dominant throughout the entirety of this conflict, Nicholas continued to believe in, and expected “a final victory (for the Russians), maintaining an image of the racial inferiority and military weakness of the Japanese.” Nicholas was finally forced to sue for peace in 1905, and with American mediation, the war was ended, not to Russian satisfaction, by “the signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth.”
Domestically, things also started out badly for Nicholas II in Russia, and went from bad to worse; his reign seemed fraught the first day he was Russia’s ruler. The day after his coronation was the day of celebration for the beginning of his rule, and tragically the day started with 2000 being killed in a stampede to get to the tables of food and drink that had been set out for the celebrants. It was not seen as an auspicious beginning for the new Tsar.
Then, early in 1905, a group of Russian workers who had organized a peaceful march to the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to present to the Tsar a workers’ petition demanding certain aspects of much needed political change, were, as they were singing the imperial anthem, God Save the Tsar, fired upon by soldiers of the Russian army. Several hundred people were killed and/or wounded in the shocking melee. Though not having given personal orders to fire on the crowd, Nicholas was blamed and condemned worldwide as a “blood stained creature and a common murderer.”
Revolution was in the air, and to try and stave it off, the Tsar acceded to certain reforms in government, among them the calling of the State Duma, a Parliament-like structure “initially thought to be an advisory organ” to the Tsar. Conflict between the Tsar and the newly formed legislative body started immediately, with the Duma calling for “universal suffrage, radical land reform, the release of all political prisoners and the dismissal of ministers appointed by the Tsar in favour of ministers acceptable to the Duma.” The radical ideas expressed by the Duma took hold so quickly, and became so radical, that by 1906 “many wished to push through legislation that would abolish private property ownership.”
Ironically, one of the major complaints Nicholas had about this period in his Tsarship was that often whatever was done or said in the legislative body came “out in the next day’s papers (inaccurately) which are avidly read by everyone.”
While other difficulties were rearing their ugly heads in this vast and seemingly ungovernable land, (among them the outbreak of World War I), it was truly devastating that at this same time, the tragic and terrible problems of the Tsar’s family were beginning to impact his rule. Nicholas and Alexandra, theirs being a true love match, had had five beautiful children together, 4 daughters and a son. It was found that the Tsarevich had inherited what was known as “the Royal disease,” hemophilia, which had no cure and all too often caused the royal victim to bleed to death.
A way to help the young princeling was found, however, and it was, apropos to the consistently tragic history of Russia, through the sinister magic of an illiterate Siberian peasant monk by the name of Grigori Rasputin. With all the chaos in the nation, the Russian people were beginning to lose faith in their Tsar, to whom they had always been devoted, and had referred to as “Papa,” and the destructive, (to everyone involved except the Tsarevich), interference of the mad monk Rasputin in the lives of Russia’s royal family was one step too far. Soon, the populace was turning on the government, “declaring that the Empress should be shut up in a convent, the Tsar deposed and Rasputin hanged.” The dynasty at this point was truly tottering, though the Tsar and his family and closest advisors were too removed from the Russian people to see it. As so often happens in these kinds of situation, it was when there was no longer any food for the people of Russia that the collapse of the 3-century old Romanov dynasty finally arrived.
The accompanying, strange, demise of the mad monk was uniquely Russian, and is another story altogether.
Enter the Soviets, who had been laying in wait for such chaos to be unleashed. With their cooperation, the Duma formed a provisional government, and the demand was made for Nicholas to abdicate. “Faced with this demand, which was echoed by his generals, deprived of loyal troops, with his family firmly in the hands of the Provisional Government and fearful of unleashing civil war and opening the way for German conquest, Nicholas had little choice but to submit.”
It is to our eternal shame that the United States of America was the “first foreign government to recognize the Provisional government.” Remember who was President at that time – the truly evil Woodrow Wilson.
From then on in Russia, it was just a matter of time until the Bolsheviks decided that the continued existence of the Romanov family was too threatening to be allowed to continue, and they were eventually imprisoned in a small house in the town of Yekaterinburg, in the spring of 1918, which was called by the Soviets “the house of special purpose.” Unbeknownst to the family, a firing squad of seven Communist soldiers and three local Bolsheviks had been assembled, and this unlovely group executed the last of the ruling family of the Romanov dynasty on the morning of July 17, 1918. Those of the family who survived the initial volley of bullets, were later clubbed and bayoneted, and then each member of this group, the majority of whom were children, were shot at close range in their heads.
The Communists then did what they always do, and lied about the assassinations, claiming that outside forces had murdered the Tsar and his family. It was not until 1979, when the bodies of certain members of the royal family were discovered by an amateur archaeologist, that the tragic end of the Romanov family became known worldwide.
Unlike what the left in America would have us believe, the history of Russia is an endlessly fascinating one, and seemingly an endlessly tragic one. What is clear right now is that while the left is in charge, whether of our government, our culture, or our media, the President and the people of the United States of America will be prevented from having any positive relationship with 21st century Russia, despite the desire of our two national leaders to develop one.
Susan Smith brings an international perspective to her writing by having lived primarily in western Europe, mainly in Paris, France, and the U.S., primarily in Washington, D.C. She authored a weekly column for Human Events on politics with historical aspects. She also served as the Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Children, Family, Drugs and Alcoholism, and Special Assistant to the first Ambassador of Afghanistan following the initial fall of the Taliban. Ms. Smith is a graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University and Georgetown University, as well as the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris, France, where she obtained her French language certification. Ms. Smith now makes her home in McLean, Va.