Posted 21 декабря 2021,, 07:54
Published 21 декабря 2021,, 07:54
Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37
Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37
The archives of the British intelligence MI6 have just been declassified in London, which described in detail how in 1917-1918. several options for the evacuation of Nicholas II, his wife and daughters from Russia were developed at once. BBC News journalists managed to look into the yellowed folders that keep the secrets of the Romanovs and their foreign relatives.
George V signed his brother's death warrant
On the night of July 17, 1918, in the Ipatiev house in Yekaterinburg, Nicholas II, his wife and five children were awakened in the middle of the night and taken to the basement. Alexandra Feodorovna and her sick son Alexei were seated on chairs, the rest of the royal family remained standing by the wall. Commandant Yakov Yurovsky, behind whom was a firing squad, read out the verdict. The Romanovs did not even have time to grasp the meaning of Yurovsky's words. "What?" - Nicholas could only utter, as his exclamation was drowned in the noise of indiscriminate firing. It was all over.
The question arises: why did the numerous relatives of the Romanovs who sat on the European thrones not begin to save Nikolai Romanov and his family? Why didn't King George V of England, a cousin of the Russian emperor, lend a helping hand to his cousin, whom he affectionately called "old Nicky"? After all, historians are convinced that he had such an opportunity. Yet he deliberately neglected her.
As the French-British magazine Marie Claire writes, the outward resemblance of the Russian emperor and the English king was noticeable to the naked eye. They were often mistaken for twin brothers and even confused with each other. Both were shy young people who preferred quiet family evenings and outdoor recreation to any noisy receptions.
Mothers Nicky and Georgie were sisters to each other - they were the daughters of King Christian of Denmark and his wife Louise. Summer holidays Georg and Nikolay often spent in the homeland of their ancestors, so that friendship between them began in childhood. Friendship is sincere and trusting, which even the persistent protests of George's grandmother, Queen Victoria of Great Britain, could not destroy.
Her Majesty has been convinced that the Russians have been a hostile force since the Crimean War. But gradually her heart thawed. In addition, Nikolai fell in love with her beloved granddaughter Alice Gessen, and their wedding contributed a lot to the improvement of relations between Russia and Europe.
Nikolai and Georg often exchanged letters in which they called each other "old Nicky" and "dear Georgie". They fought on the same side of the barricades in World War I. According to Marie Claire, when the revolution thundered in the Russian Empire, the English king was extremely worried about the fate of Nicholas.
In a letter dated March 19, 1917, Georg wrote: “The events of the past week have deeply saddened me. My thoughts are constantly with you, and I will always be your faithful and devoted friend, as you know, I was in the past".
However, at the most decisive moment, when mortal danger loomed over the head of Nicholas II and his family, the "devoted friend" turned away from his cousin.
On March 2, 1917, Nicholas II abdicated the throne. Soon the head of the Provisional Government, Kerensky, began a headache: what to do with the citizen of the Romanovs? Leaving Nicholas in Russia was risky, the monarchists were active in the country. This jeopardized all the fruits of the revolution. Therefore, the commissars seriously considered the possibility of expelling the Romanovs away from the country. For example, send to neutral Denmark or Sweden. However, the authorities in these countries chose not to interfere in Russian affairs.
Interestingly, the British government made an attempt to save Nicholas. The government, but not sweet Georgie.
On March 22, 1917, the country's cabinet of ministers officially announced that Great Britain was ready to host the royal family. However, a week later, George V began to doubt the advisability of such a bold decision. He strongly advised the head of the Foreign Office to reconsider his position on the issue of the Romanovs. In particular, the king said that it is worth "to propose to the Russian government that it should adopt some other plan regarding the future residence of their imperial majesties".
They tried to convince King George that it was not a good idea to withdraw the invitation. But he was adamant. On April 6, he addressed the Foreign Minister, saying that Britain should abandon its original decision. After all, as the cousin of Nicholas II emphasized, it was not the king, but the government that invited the royal family.
So the Romanovs lost their only real chance of salvation. Be that as it may, indirectly, George V signed the death warrant to his cousin.
But all this is the official version of why the relatives left Nikolai Romanov and his children to the mercy of fate. And here is what the archives of the British special services told.
Shave Nicholas II's beard and save his family
From the declassified MI6 documents, as journalists told BBC News, it follows that discussions on the possible evacuation of Nicholas II from Russia began almost immediately after the Tsar's abdication from the throne - on March 2, 1917. Already on March 19, British General John Hanbury-Williams met with the mother of Nicholas II, Maria Feodorovna.
The general and the dowager empress agreed that the abdicated tsar should leave Russia as soon as possible. Maria Feodorovna - born in Copenhagen and holding the title of Danish princess before marriage - advocated that her son be evacuated to Denmark. She expressed fears that in the event of a longer water passage, the ship with Nicholas II could be sunk by German submarines.
The British general assured Maria Feodorovna that he would be able to ensure the safety of the abdicated king. He even offered to personally accompany the Romanovs through the territory of Russia to the ship's ladder. Maria Fedorovna agreed. British Ambassador to Russia George Buchanan began negotiations with representatives of the Russian Provisional Government on evacuation routes.
Several obstacles remained. First, it was necessary to convince Nicholas II of the need to leave, who, judging by his diary entries, still wanted to stay and dreamed of spending the rest of his life in Crimea in some kind of honorable status. And secondly, it was necessary to figure out how to get the Romanovs out bypassing the armed detachments of the Bolsheviks.
As it turned out, some of the MI6 documents shedding light on the events of those days remain classified for the time being. But British researchers Richard Aldrich, Rory Cormack and Andrew Cook managed to piece together the details of several plans to save the Romanov family.
One of these was designed by Oliver Locker-Lampson, an officer in the Royal Navy. He was simultaneously the commander of a division of machine-gun armored vehicles and a member of the British Parliament.
In 1916, the Loker-Lampson division was transferred to Russia, where he began to act with his characteristic pressure. According to the memoirs of Lampson, in 1917 he was instructed to develop a plan for the rescue of Nicholas II.
By this time, Loker-Lampson had managed to recruit one of the servants who worked in the Alexander Palace - it was there that at the very beginning the royal family was under arrest after the abdication. The officer decided to use this agent.
According to the reconnaissance plan, on the designated day, the servant was supposed to come, shave off the beard of Nicholas II, change clothes with him and attach himself a false beard, similar to the beard of the abdicated emperor.
Romanov had to calmly leave the palace and walk to the place where the car of British intelligence officers would be waiting for him. Then he would be transplanted into an armored car, taken to Arkhangelsk under the protection of the British military and sent to London.
In the calculations of the saboteur there was one weak point: it meant the salvation of only Nicholas II himself, who had repeatedly stated on the eve that he would not leave Russia without a family. But at this stage, the main problem was different - it was necessary to get the approval of London and send a warship to Russia to evacuate the Romanovs.
Time was playing against the royal family and against the scouts. General Hanbury-Williams sent urgent telegram after telegram to Britain, but there was still no answer.
On Downing Street, meanwhile, the dispatches were read, but the government was in no hurry to make a decision. Prime Minister Lloyd George, for example, was very interested in the question of how much money Nicholas II will live in England. The First World War drained Britain's budget and the prime minister did not seem to be pleased with the prospect of additional burden on the treasury.
In addition, at that time in London there were legends about the extravagance of the Russian royal family. Especially negatively on the image of the Romanovs was influenced by stories about the adventures of Elder Grigory Rasputin.
Lloyd George's fear was also caused by the possible consequences of the Romanovs in England. At that time, the socialist movement was gaining popularity in Britain. After the dispersal of the procession of St. Petersburg workers in 1905, left-wing politicians spoke of Nicholas II only in a negative way, sometimes calling him "Nikolai the Bloody". Considering this, the arrival of the Romanovs could provoke an increase in revolutionary sentiments in Britain itself, British researchers note.
By the way, ordinary Britons were worried not only by Nicholas II himself, but also by his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, a German by birth. Having married Nicholas, the German princess converted to Orthodoxy and, as far as can be judged, imbued with love and respect for Russia. However, rumors continued to circulate in society that she secretly sympathized with Germany, almost spying in her favor.
By August 1917, the chances of saving the Romanov family had dropped significantly. The provisional government, trying to somehow ensure the safety of the abdicated tsar, sends him away from the rebellious Petersburg - to Tobolsk. This significantly complicated the task for the British military and intelligence officers. Now they had to not only take Nicholas out from under the noses of the Bolsheviks, but also overcome thousands of kilometers with him along the Russian thaw. However, the officers did not give up.
The head of the British Secret Service, Mansfield Cumming, began developing new plans to rescue the Romanovs. This time the stake was made on Norwegian businessmen and travelers.
It is known that the British turned to the polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen for help. This scientist attracted the attention of intelligence by the fact that he knew not only the main Siberian roads, but the waterways along the Yenisei, which could be very useful in the evacuation of Nikolai Romanov.
The British also brought in the merchant Jonas Leed to develop the new plans. He often traveled to Siberia, representing the interests of Norwegian companies in the wood and coal mining industries.
Very little is known about the details of the plan involving Leed and Nansen. It is only known for certain that Leed dined several times with representatives of the Secret Service, as well as with the head of intelligence of the British Navy.
Captain Stefan Ellie may have been one of the participants in this new plan to save the abdicated king. He spoke Russian fluently, as his family had lived in Russia since the 1870s. Ellie is one of the few British people who stayed to work in Russia even after the evacuation of the embassy in late 1917.
Many details of Ellie's mission remain unknown. But in 2006, his relatives found a notebook among his belongings. One of the spreads showed a hand-drawn map of the area near the Ipatiev house in Yekaterinburg, where Nicholas II was placed in the spring of 1918, and a description of this house.
According to declassified data, on May 24, 1918, Ellie reported to London about his readiness to carry out an operation, during which "seven important persons" could be taken to Murmansk. In the report, he listed the names of six people who were supposed to take part in the operation. Ellie noted that they were all fluent in Russian and could impersonate local residents. The scout also asked for £ 1,000 "due to increased operating costs." In terms of today's money, this is approximately 50 thousand pounds (66 thousand dollars or 4.9 million rubles).
Researchers agree that this plan could not have been worked out without the prior approval of the British government and King George.
Kaiser Wilhelm really wanted to save Tsarevich Alexey
From recently declassified documents, it follows that British intelligence has information that Germany was preparing a plan to take the Romanov family out of Russia. Technically, the Germans had a chance to do this, since a significant amount of their military and equipment was already in Russian territories due to participation in the First World War.
Researcher of the royal dynasties of Europe Karina Urbach, who has access to German archives, confirms that there was a plan to kidnap Nikolai Romanov from the German special services. Information about this was gradually leaking out to British intelligence officers.
Kaiser Wilhelm II fought with Russia, but at the same time he was the godfather of Tsarevich Alexei and sincerely wanted to save him. Urbach notes that after the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia, it was Germany that objectively had the best chances to take out the Romanov family.
Berlin could have done this with the help of its spies or, with much more success, through diplomatic negotiations.
Researchers believe that Germany could have raised the issue of the "extradition" of the Romanovs as one of the conditions for signing a peace treaty with the Bolsheviks.
Judging by the declassified correspondence of the British Foreign Office, on May 28, 1918, diplomats discussed for the last time whether they should raise the issue of evacuating the children of Nicholas II during negotiations with Leon Trotsky, who at that time was the chairman of the Supreme Military Council. During the discussion, they come to the conclusion that even if Trotsky agrees, the Romanovs will need to be guarded on the way to Murmansk. However, the Bolshevik guard is unreliable, and the British guard can provoke attacks on the royal family along the way.
As a result, the British are caught in a vicious circle - their intervention can only further harm those whom they are trying to save.
Historian Andrew Cook believes that telegrams with details of the evacuation plan for Nicholas II, sent by Major Ellie to London, could have been intercepted by the Bolsheviks. Perhaps this was the reason for the strengthening of the protection of the royal family in the summer of 1918. Soon Nicholas II with his wife, children and servants was shot in Yekaterinburg.