Was George V indirectly to blame for the murder of his Romanov cousins?
Did he fear his own English crown would be jeopardized if he gave asylum to the Russian Tsar?
There is evidence that the English royals were worried. They had good reason to be. The costs of the Great War were so much more than anyone had imagined. Scarcely a single family had been spared, and the end still was not in sight. In a show of loyalty, the family renounced their German titles. Their surname was changed from the Germanic-sounding Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor.
And now the dilemma came. The horizon upon which Russia lay was darkening, and the signs were ominous for George V’s cousin, Nicholas.
The King of England and the Tsar of Russia were first cousins, who looked like twins. They were the same age, they had grown up together. And now as the revolution raged in Russia, the Bolsheviks circled Nicholas and his family like buzzards, waiting.
It seemed an easy choice. But… George had no foresight into how the war would end. The German victories in the early days of the war were shocking and many believed England would be defeated, eventually. And, with revolution brewing on the Continent and increasingly in his own kingdom, the English King hesitated.
Casualties from the German war were appalling and it was hardly a secret that the Empress Alexandra was a German. And her presence might call additional attention to another problematic cousin of the King’s: Kaiser Wilhelm. Wouldn’t it aggravate matters to give the Romanovs asylum in his own kingdom?
Did George decide not to offer his cousin asylum? Or did he just continue to hesitate? However it happened, no offer was made and the window of opportunity closed. The Romanovs were soon beyond George’s help.
The Empress Alexandra was devastated by Rasputin’s death. He was the only man alive who could save Alexei and now he was gone.
It is unknown whether she considered the implications of a man known to be favored by her being murdered despite her protection. But looking back, it was another sign that the people were increasingly dismissive of the imperial Romanovs.
Nicholas had no military experience and the war was not going well. At the front, men starved; at home, women and children went hungry. The Romanovs, however, seemed oblivious. It is more likely that the tsar’s gestures that were meant to give courage were misplaced or misinterpreted by a struggling people. The pretty grand duchesses, the impressive uniforms, the picturesque photographs looked as though they were part of a different war than the one being fought by the Russian army.
The National Institute of Hypnotism once declared Josef Stalin to be one of six people who possessed the most hypnotic eyes in the world, noting their sinister brutality.
Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili was about 34 when he began using the name Stalin, which translates roughly to Man of Steel. A bit grandiose, perhaps, for a man who was just 5’4, and – at that time – a fairly slender fellow.
This series of mugshots begins in 1901, when Stalin was a handsome, ex-seminary student, and documents his changing features in the subsequent years. By the time of the Russian Revolution, Josef Stalin looked to be, and was, a hardened Bolshevik, much respected by Vladimir Lenin for his merciless brutality.