Czar Nicholas II Executed 100 Years Ago, Ushering in Communist Brutality. [VIDEO]

Czar Nicholas II Executed 100 Years Ago, Ushering in Communist Brutality. [VIDEO]

Czar Nicholas II Executed 100 Years Ago, Ushering in Communist Brutality. [VIDEO]

One of my favorite movies is David Lean’s Dr. Zhivago (1965), which tells a story of how the 1917 Russian Revolution destroyed a family. There’s a scene from that film which really stands out for me. It’s when Gromeko, the family patriarch, learns of the assassination of Czar Nicholas II and his family:

Gromeko: [Aghast while reading newspaper] They’ve shot the Czar. And all his family.

[crumples newspaper]

Gromeko: Oh, that’s a savage deed. What’s it for?

Zhivago: It’s to show there’s no going back. 

Now that may have been fiction, but the statement was true. After the death of Nicholas, there would be no hope of overturning the 1917 revolution for 75 years.

But now, 100 years after the Czar’s assassination, many people are looking back, including thousands of religious Russians who honored the czar and his family at the Church on the Blood, which was built at the site of the execution.

Czar Nicholas II was nobody’s idea of a strong leader; years before he ascended to the Romanov throne, Nicholas’s own mother said he lacked the character to rule. His mother was correct — Nicholas was a weak leader, better suited to life as a country gentleman than being the emporer of a vast nation.

Eventually massive discontent in Russia led to Nicholas abdicating the throne in March, 1917. Then, in the bloody revolution which followed, the 300-year-old Romanov dynasty ended with the massacre of the Czar and his family.

Bolsheviks had been keeping the family captive in a house in Yekaterinburg, a town in the Ural Mountains, for two months. But in the wee hours of July 17, 1918, guards woke the family. Get dressed, they ordered, you’re moving. So they followed orders and gathered in a cellar, awaiting a trip that never happened.

Instead, twelve armed men entered the room, shooting point blank at their victims, but it took about 20 minutes for the drunken assassins to slaughter the family. They beat survivors with their rifle butts. They bayoneted the three youngest children. Afterwards, the assassins abused and disfigured the bodies with acid and grenades, and dumped their victims in a mineshaft. Later, Bolsheviks buried them in unmarked graves, which were kept secret by the Soviets until 1991. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the graves were reopened, and DNA confirmed the identities.

The Bolsheviks killed this handful of people who weren’t even threats to the revolution. After all, Nicholas, autocratic yet weak, was no longer ruling. Moreover, it seems he was a man who loved his wife and family more than power, and would’ve been content to live out his days in quiet exile.

But the Romanov executions also set a tone for Communists for the next hundred years. Stalin, Mao, Castro, Che, and the Kims all learned that this is how to keep power. Maintain command at the point of a gun, even if innocents die. They are expendable, after all. As a columnist from The Atlantic wrote in 1928, “When a Bolshevik draws his sword in class warfare, he throws away the scabbard.”

Starvation in the Ukraine, Tiannemen Square, and the prison camps of North Korea are all descendants of the last Czar’s execution. Socialists, the cousins to communists, are furthering that legacy in places like Venezuela and now, Nicaragua.

Certainly massacres happened before the executions of Nicholas and his family. Sadly, they’ll still happen as long as people exist. It seems to be a part of the human condition.

But this was the watershed moment when Communism adopted savagery as its default mode. And it launched the modern world’s longest-lasting system of bloody oppression.

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

2 Comments
  • GWB says:

    Yes, that moment was when it went from a crazy revolution to a full-on new tyranny.
    Communism (and its cousin, fascism) have spilled more blood than probably all the other tyrants of history, with the possible exception of the central American natives (Aztecs, etc.).

  • Skid Marx says:

    The last few minutes of Enemy At the Gates has one of the most epic breakdowns of communism ever on film.
    I won’t spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it but in the film the great Russian sniper Vasily Zeitzev is wrapping his Sniperkrieg battle with a German colonel who leads their elite sniper school when his political commissar buddy makes a great personal sacrifice to reveal the colonel’s position.
    Right before that scene the political commissar officer breaks it down about equality under communism and it should be required viewing for the safe space generation.

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