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Romanovs murdered by the Bolsheviks, 1918-1919

June 12/13, 1918, Perm

Grand Duke Michael Aleksandrovich (Emperor Michael II)

July 16/17, 1918, Ekaterinburg

Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich (ex-Emperor Nicholas II)

Grand Duchess Alexandra Fedorov (ex-Empress Alexandra)

Grand Duke Alexis Nikolaeovich, aged 14 (ex-Tsarevich)

Grand Duchess Olga, aged 23

Grand Duchess Tatiana, aged 21

Grand Duchess Marie, aged 19

Grand Duchess Anastasia, aged 17

July 17/18, 1918, Alapaevsk

Grand Duke Serge Mikhailovich, aged 64

Grand Duchess Elizabeth (Ella), aged 54

Prince Ioann Konstantinovich, aged 32

Prince Konstantin Konstaninovich (brother), aged 27

Prince Igor Konstantinovich (brother), aged 24

Prince Vladimir Paley (son, Grand Duke Paul below), aged 21

January 19, 1919, Fortress of SS Peter & Paul

Grand Duke Paul Aleksandrovich, aged 58

Grand Duke Dimitri Konstantinovich, aged 58

Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich (Bimbo), aged 60

Grand Duke George Mikhailovich, aged 55


AT the 90th anniversary of Michael’s death in Perm, in June 2008, I went there to join in the ceremonies to mark that day, little knowing what to expect. I was both astonished and delighted at the scale of the events, and by the thousands who turned out to honour his memory. Forgotten? Clearly not in Perm, where he was murdered in 1918 but is still revered by many. It was those three days of marches, of church services, of concerts, and of an academic conference to discuss his life, which seemed its own proof that Michael was dead but not gone. And that the more Russia knows about him, the greater the hope that it can bridge that gap between the Soviet version of history, and the reality. Hence this book.

However, this would not have been possible without the long research that had gone into a prior book, of which I was co-author with my wife Rosemary, Michael & Natasha. And as then, the many people and institutions we thanked deserve thanks again.

In Russia, I remain enormously grateful to all those at the State Archive of the Russian Federation in Moscow who gave us such enormous help over many months — the director, Sergei Mironenko, the deputy director Alya Barkovets, and the historian Vladimir Khrustalev, in particular. As ever, I also remain in the debt of Dr Aschen Mikoyan, of Moscow University, whose grandfather was chairman of the Supreme Soviet, and who spent many months editing some 3,000 pages of letters and documents about Michael. I shall always remember her blurting out — ‘how could we have done this to him!’ — and I know that many other Russians now feel the same. I must also pay tribute to the unfailing ‘detective work’ of Dr Aleksandr Ushakov, who found documents that added considerably to an understanding of Michael and his times, as did Dr Sergei Romanyuk in researching documents in other Moscow archives. The staff at the Russian State Historical Archive in St Petersburg were equally helpful as were those at Gatchina Palace, as well as in the Perm archives.

In England, Richard Davies, archivist at the Leeds Russian Archives at the University of Leeds, is someone to whom I shall ever remain grateful, for his archive possesses a wealth of personal documentation on Michael, generously given to it by Natasha’s grand-daughter by her first marriage, Pauline Gray.

In the United States, there are several institutions which have invaluable source material on the period covered here, including the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and the Houghton Library, Harvard University. At Columbia University, we had Michael’s war diaries 1915-1918 translated for the first time.

In Europe, given the amount of time that Michael spent there, the trail inevitably follows in his footsteps — Paris, Vienna, Cannes, Berlin, Copenhagen, Switzerland. A great many people helped in tracing him, not least Professor Dr Ferdinand Opll at the Stadt-und Landsarchiv in Vienna, who provided more information about Michael’s marriage than the embarrassed and out-witted Okhrana managed to do afterwards in 1912. Again, each and everyone is to be thanked.

Finally, I should pay tribute to Dr Vladislav Krasnov, born in Perm, but now a senior American academic, for his enthusiasm in promoting the memory of Michael in his home city and beyond. It was he and his committee who erected a memorial plaque to Michael on the walls of the hotel in Perm from which he was abducted in June, 1918 — still now much as it was then — and since then they have taken their cause to St Petersburg and Moscow. It is to their credit. No one loved his country more than Michael. If one day his country will come to embrace him also, then his brutal death in a dark wood might prove not to be the end of his story.


MA = Michael

NS= Natasha

MA’ s diary — Michael’s diary 1915-1918

N = Nicholas II (letters) or in ‘N’s diary’

AF = Empress Alexandra

DE = Dowager Empress Marie Federovna

GAPO = State Archive Perm District

GARF = State Archive, Russian Federation, Moscow

LRA = Leeds Russian Archive, University of Leeds

PRO = Public Record Office, London

RA = Royal Archives, Windsor

Vienna SLA = Wiener Stadt-und Landsarchiv

Dates are according to Russian calendar, unless shown in italics

1. Love and Duty

1. Vassili, p 105

2. Alexander, Once a Grand Duke, p 78

3. Witte, Memoirs p 19

4. Alexander, p 80

5. Ibid p 168-9

6. Nicholas II, Journal Intime. (hereafter N’s diary) p 125

7. Vassili, p 105

8. Alexander p 161

9. Nicholas of Greece, p 181

10. Polovtsov, pp 126-7

11. Melgunov, p 229

12. Mossolov, p 95

13. Ibid

14. Grand Duke Konstantin K’s diary, February 26, 1904, cited Maylunas/Mironenko p 240

15. Dillon, p 41

16. Buxhoeveden, p 92

17. Mossolov, p 33

18. Witte, p 194

19. Ibid

20. Chavchavadze, p 107, Radziwill, Secrets, pp 44-6

21. Sullivan, p 181

22. Gelardi, pp 91-3.115

23. Chavchavadze, p 235

24. Ibid, 242

25. Radziwill, Secrets, p 60

26. Ibid, pp 69-70; Chavchavadze, p128

27. Kleinmichel, pp 66-8

28. N to DE , October 20, 1902, p 170

29. Vorres, p 115

30. Observer, London, October 7, 1906. The story also appeared in The Sunday Times, and Reynold News, London.

31. The Times, London, November 5, 1908

2. A Scandalous Exile

1. State Archive of the Moscow Region, f. 2170-8-1-64;.Vsya Moskva; Moscow Historical Archive, f.179-24-237-15