These were the last words heard by the Romanov family before they were brutally murdered by a group of Bolsheviks in the early morning hours of July 17, 1918.
Tsar Nicholas II and his family (Empress Alexandra, Tsarevich Aleksei, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Marie, and Anastasia)
Nicholas, his arm still around Alexis, began to rise from his chair to protect his wife and son. He had just time to say “What .. .?” before Yurovsky pointed his revolver directly at the Tsar’s head and fired. Nicholas died instantly. Alexandra had time only to raise her hand and make the sign of the cross before she too was killed by a single bullet. Olga, Tatiana and Marie, standing behind their mother, were hit and died quickly. Botkin, Kharitonov and Trupp also fell in the hail of bullets. Demidova, the maid, survived the first volley, and rather than reload, the executioners took rifles from the next room and pursued her, stabbing with bayonets. Screaming, running back and forth along the wall like a trapped animal, she tried to fend them off with the cushion. At last she fell, pierced by bayonets more than thirty times. Jimmy the spaniel was killed when his head was crushed by a rifle butt.
The room, filled with the smoke and stench of gunpowder, became suddenly quiet. Blood was running in streams from the bodies on the floor. Then there was a movement and a low groan. Alexis, lying on the floor still in the arms of the Tsar, feebly moved his hand to clutch his father’s coat. Savagely, one of the executioners kicked the Tsarevich in the head with his heavy boot. Yurovsky stepped up and fired two shots into the boy’s ear. Just at that moment, Anastasia, who had only fainted, regained consciousness and screamed. With bayonets and rifle butts, the entire band turned on her. In a moment, she too lay still. It was ended. – Robert K. Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra
If you are interested in learning more about Russia’s last Tsar, I highly recommend that you read Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie. Massie’s book was the catalyst for my interest in Russian history. In the summer of 2001 I randomly decided to take a world history class at my local community college (College of the Desert), and after sitting through a fascinating four hour lecture on the last days of the Romanovs, I ran down to Barnes & Noble to pick up a book so that I could learn more about Imperial Russia…I ended up with Nicholas and Alexandra and plowed through the book in a few days. I was hooked…enrolled in some Russian History and PoliSci classes at GW, eventually picked up a minor in Russian History, spent two summers in Russia, learned enough of the language to order blini and Baltika in a restoran, and am currently preparing to head off to the London School of Economics for graduate work in Russian Studies.
Kind of strange how one book could have such a large impact, eh?
Боже, Царя храни!
Царствуй во славу,
Во славу нам!
Царствуй на страх врагам,
Боже, Царя, Царя храни!
– “God Save the Tsar”, national anthem of Imperial Russia