Monday, June 25, 2012

The Romanovs

I knew that our train trip would give me plenty of time to read, so entering into Russia I delved into Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert Massie, a fabulous recommendation from my mom.  It couldn’t have been a better book -- it mentioned the building of the Trans-Siberian as well as several of the towns that we were passing through.  The book centers around Ekaterinburg, which is infamous for the killing of the last Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, and all of their children.    

The Church of Spilled Blood on the site of the Ipatiev House where the Tsar and his family were killed

We planned an excursion to the Ganina Yama Monastery, which was built on the site where the bodies of the imperial family were taken the night of the murder.  Out of fear that locals knew where the bodies had been taken, the Bolsheviks moved the bodies to another location four miles away on the day following the murders.  Only clothing, jewelry, and a few ashes were found at the first, and only known, burial site.  It wasn't until the late 1980's that an announcement was made that skeletons had been found at the second burial site.  The delay in finding the bodies led to many conspiracy theories, including several people claiming to be the royals.  Our guide at the monastery was a conspiracy theorist herself, believing that the site of the monastery was just a hoax from the government and that the family had escaped.  Her comment that “you must always question who is benefiting from something the government is telling you” didn’t make me question the death of the family, but it did give me insight into one young person’s distrust of the Russian government. 

The first burial site of the imperial family at the Ganina Yama Monastery

Hearing about the conspiracy theories prompted me to read a second book on our next leg of the train, The Romanovs: The Final Chapter, also written by Massie.  SPOILER ALERT!! This follow-up book was written after new evidence came out in the 80’s and 90’s – the bodies of five of the seven imperial family members had been found and positively identified in a second grave.  The other two bodies are thought to have been burned.  Massie also considers the claims of several of the people claiming to be members of the imperial family.  In the end, he refutes the claims of the most convincing of the claimants using DNA evidence and closes the chapter on doubts surrounding the deaths of the Romanov family.

A picture of the imperial family on a tree at the Ganina Yama Monastery


No comments:

Post a Comment