Russian history has long been a fascination of mine. Sometime in 4th grade I read a book centered around the Romanov family and it launched an interest that has lasted to this day.
This afternoon I was going through some of the drawers in my closet and I discovered a story I started sometime in seventh grade and never completed. The story was to be called The Imperial Five, and was about the five Romanov siblings, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Aleksei.
(Some context: The Romanov siblings were the last of the Russian Royalty. After the Revolution in 1917 they were put under house arrest and later taken to Ekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains. In 1918 their family and a number of their servants were assassinated by the Bolsheviks. Actually, the centennial of their deaths was just the other day, July 16. Wow, that’s a really nerdy and depressing thing to know.)
Since ideas for good posts have been scarce as of late, I thought I’d share a
polished rewritten version of the prologue of this old story with you.
Prologue: Olga, Ekaterinburg 1917
I was born November 15, 1895 as the first of the last Romanovs. Firsts seem to be a theme in my life, for you see, I was also our nation’s first disappointment; the first child of my parents, a girl, not an heir. My Papa, Tsar Nicholas II, had only just come into power and the country was in dire need of a successor. But there wouldn’t be a successor, not for ten more years. Even then, my baby brother Aleksei would never become the tsar of all Russia. Time and illness would take that privilege from him.
It is unreasonable of me to believe that I was a disappointment to my parents, although they were the rulers of the nation my birth let down, but I often have felt myself to be one. There’s so much I didn’t do.
There was no way I could have prevented my father’s fall. It was Papa’s decision to close his eyes to the sorrows of the people. His decision to abdicate, the choice that led us to this place. It pains me to talk about my father in such a way, but I cannot hide the truth.
There was no way I could have made right the situation of our nation. And yet, this revolution sits hot on my chest, a gushing bullet wound. It is not my doing, but I feel guilt I do not understand.
The years before the Revolution swim in my memory. Summers on our ship the Standart, dances and flirtations with officers, lessons in French, Russian, and English, Anastasia’s antics, Maria’s smiles, Papa reading aloud to us, Tatiana and I’s floral wallpaper covering our bedroom, the laughter of my sisters. The bond between my sisters and I is all that remains from those days.
I push behind me the memories of Aleksei crying out in pain from a wound none of us can see. I suppress thoughts of Mama’s anguish and desperate measures to heal him, and her own illness. I shrink from the confusion and despair of Papa’s abdication and the loss of our childhood home along with all my siblings and I have ever known. I try to forget the sneers of the Bolsheviks as they led us from home. I cannot let myself go back in time, but I cannot thrive in this present.
Mama and Papa’s choices brought us here to Ekaterinburg, far, far from St. Petersburg, far from home. It is cold here, and not just in temperature.
There are days when I imagine a different course of my life, but then, I would lose so much. I feel the future slipping from my hands. My family doesn’t seem to realize how foreboding the future is.
Someone must know the truth of all that has happened to us, all that will happen to us. That is why I am writing down my story, our story, so those that I love might remember and know, for only God knows what will become of us. History is cutting us away.
In real life, Olga Romanov’s diary entries ended directly after her Father’s abdication (you can actually read her diary here), but it is interesting to imagine her impression of all that happened in her country and to her family. It is said that of all the immediate members of the Romanov family, Olga was the one who best understood the fullness of her family’s exile.
If you like this let me know! I can point you to some good books about the family. I’m a total nerd when it comes to this stuff so ask away. Would you like me to continue this story?
(Images courtesy of Pinterest. Cover image from left to right: Olga and Tatiana)