Goodbye. Don't forget me.

17 July 2018


17 July 1918
Yekaterinberg, Russia

She couldn't sleep that night. Pounding thoughts of what would happen to her and her family ate at her mind, keeping her awake, staring at the cracked, dirty ceiling of the Ipatiev house in Yekaterinberg. Tiredness had no effect on her now. She was always tired. But she barely noticed it anymore as the days passed by, one after another, blurring together in slow, repetitive succession.

She was as restless as Russia itself. 

The country was swelling with revolutionary fervor, led by visionaries like Valdimir Lenin. They had decided long ago that her father and the rest of her family didn't fit in the new Russia they were piecing together. So they had been whisked away to be hidden from the rest of the world. They had become prisoners. 

Since February, it had been one relocation after the next. She could hardly remember the old life she had once had in the palace of Tsarkoe Selo. It felt as if they had been in Yekaterinberg for a lifetime, waiting to make the next leg of their gradual journey to the wasteland of Siberia. What was to happen when they got there, she didn't know. She couldn't do anything by sit awake in her nightmare.

A single light appeared in the darkness, making its way up the stairs and illuminating the room. 

It couldn't have been past midnight. There were still several hours before they would be expected to wake up. Something was wrong.

The light of the torch was closely followed by Dr. Botkin, hesitantly shuffling into the room, his face covered in a shadow of dread. 

"You must wake up now," He insisted. There was a tremor in his voice that she had never heard before. Dr. Botkin had been the family physician for as long as she could remember. His unwavering loyalty to them had made him a captive too. He had stood by their side through everything, and even now, she couldn't look at him without a sharp pang of guilt and thankfulness. She didn't know where they would be without him.

He shook each of their shoulders in turn, rousting them to get up quickly. "The White Army is approaching. It's not safe here."  He didn't need to tell them twice. They knew all too well it was best to do as they were told without question or hesitation.

The girl stood alongside her mother and sisters. They slipped on their camisoles as quickly as they could, which wasn't an easy task. They were stiff from the family jewels they had sewn carefully between layers of fabric to hide from the guards. A small, satisfying act of rebellion to preserve the memories of their family's greatness.

The four sisters, the brother, the mother, the father made a sad procession down the creaking stairs. Dr. Botkin and their three other servants followed behind them, carrying the whimpering dogs and the few belonging they could take with them. They continued down into the basement where a herd of smirking soldiers waited for them.

A photograph. That's what they wanted. A quick shot to prove to the country and the world that they were still alive. One photograph, and they would leave, on their way to the next prison. 

The family huddled together, as they had time and time again for countless portraits. The girl's mother and little brother sat in front on old chairs, both too weak and disheartened to stand on their own. On the right, her father stood as tall and proud as he could. As if he were still Tsar and were carrying the weight of Russia on his shoulders. Finally, her sisters and herself clustered around their parents. 

She could only imagine how they must look now. Their faces were longer and thinner. Dark circles had formed under their once bright eyes from anxiousness and lack of sleep. No one would have guessed that only a short year ago they had been living in Tsarkoe Selo, being waited on by servants, traveling the world, and attending grand balls and galas. No. They were much different now. Everything had changed.

There they stood still as statues. A perfect picture. They waited. For what she didn't know. A camera, more direction, any kind of shred of hopeful news of what was happening in Russia outside of those suffocating walls of Yekaterinberg. 

She clutched at her thin, dirty skirts in front of her to stop her shaking hands. She forced her face to appear firm and brave, like her father's. She felt like a child.

Deafening silence.

"Nikolai Alexandrovich!" The commandant's voice broke through the air, speaking her father's name with authority. There was no hint of emotion in his face that could be seen in the dim light. There was only a sickly glint of pride in his dark eyes, a sense of superiority that came with having power over the man that was once the Tsar. It chilled the girl to her core.

"In view of the fact that your relatives are continuing their attack on Soviet Russia, the Ural Executive Committee has decided to execute you."
-------------------


A year ago, in the early hours of July 17, 1918, the Romanov family was rounded up and executed in their prison house in Yekaterinberg. Their story has been one that both fascinates and breaks my heart. 

This recreation of the night they were killed serves as my tribute and memorial to them. I've done a lot of research over the years into their lives and what factors caused their murders. If there are any inaccuracies, it is unintentional. 

Goodbye. Don't forget me. -- Anastasia Romanov

7 comments

  1. This story has forever fascinated me. I adore this post. Your tribute is beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've always loved reading about the Romanovs ever since I was a young child; you bring so much life and nuance in this, Hannah.

    xoxo Abigail Lennah | Story-Eyed

    ReplyDelete
  3. πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ™ŒπŸΌ Such a beautiful tribute
    Janelle
    The Ramblings of a Bookworm

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hannah
    There is a great book called Nicolas and Alexandra
    I was reading it and couldn’t put it down
    Great read
    It’s written by Russian history professor of 25 years or more from USA
    I have it
    If you want to borrow it
    Btw
    You know I am from former Soviet Union

    ReplyDelete