First posted in
The story we are about to tell brings new meaning to the phrase "Mystery of the Century." It is a Russian tale of a power struggle.. of murder and cover-up.
It spans the entire length of the
20th century, from the reign of the last Sovereign
Our question is: Who
~Alia, Mikki & Lishka~
It is a subject that has always fascinated us. It brought us together. This story has nearly everything: love, marriage, children, happiness, an abdication, inprisonment, unhappiness, murder, cover up, and plenty of questions...
What it lacks, however, is answers. Why were only 9 bodies found and not all 11? Who is missing from the grave? Who of the Grand Duchesses were actually in the grave? Are the forensic scientists sure about their conclusions? Why don't the Russian and American scientists agree with each other? Will the Tsesarevich and his sister ever be found?
No one has been able to give us a definitive answer, and curiosity finally drove us to search inside of ourselves.
So, in hopes to perhaps shed more light on the mystery, Alia, Mikki, and I have been discussing our own views on the Imperial Remains with added the touch of our personal opinions on their identities. When our conclusions matched neither the American's nor the Russian's.. more questions arose. We are by no means experts in forensic science, and are only going off what can be remembered from biology, physiology, and forensics classes in school, as well as any additional info we can get from the library or other local resources. Curiosity can sometimes be the best drive...
The content of this site is highly
circumstantial, but hopefully produces enough of an interest to take
another good look at the mystery which is far from over. Please be
warned: some of the content is highly graphic, proceed at your own
In the summer of 1918, Ekaterinburg held within its Siberian city limits a dying breed. They had once been Sovereigns of the biggest Empire the world had ever seen, but were now held prisoners. Their name, Romanov, once upon a time commanded the highest respect. The mere mention brought forth images of beauty, power, and splendor. But no longer. The fallen Empire now echoed feelings of hatred in its ruins. Resentment for the Imperial Regime ran so deep that it even sealed the death sentence of children whose only crime was to be born.
Though it was a dismal time, today we hold on to the illusion that maybe those children kept up their faith. There was the hope, no matter how slight, that one day God would see them through the trial of inprisonment.
Sadly it was not to be...
The laughter that once rippled down palace corridors was replaced by a deafening silence. The smiles that once adorned the faces of five bright children faded. When hope glimmered on the horizon... the end came.
Their murders go down as one of the most cruel, violent acts in recent history.
During the night of 16-17 July, 11 bodies were wrapped up in bloody sheets, hauled out of the cellar room of an old house, and were put onto the back of a waiting truck.
They were covered by tarpaulin. The gates opened, and the truck started out on its journey of less than 15 miles to an abandoned mine field named Four Bros'.
The truck got stuck in the mud, however, and overheated. A woman sleeping in a nearby railway booth was roused by the truck driver asking for water to cool off his engine, and planks so that the truck might get over the marsh. With only a couple of hours until dawn, time was racing against the murderers.
Their objective: to dispose of the
bodies so that no one could ever find them.
Only a few more miles towards their destination the truck was stopped again, but this time by a group of about 25 Ural Soviet workers gathered to assist in the disposal of the bodies. They were arranged by Ermakov, one of the principle assassins. Some were aback horses, others were in carts, all were drunk.
Some of the bodies were transferred to carts, and it was then that the special corsets made by three of the four Grand Duchesses were discovered. The drunken crowd was fascinated, and immediately began rifling through the victims' belongings.. pocketing what they could.
The commandant Yurovsky, already annoyed at the delay of the truck, snapped at them - threatening them with a firing squad if the Imperial possessions were not left alone. They had to find this mine shaft, and quickly. Morning was constantly creeping closer. The carts continued to be loaded with the victims, but a few of the carts were falling apart so some of the bodies remained on the truck.
In preparing the demise of the Romanovs, Ermakov was the one who was in charge of finding a suitable burial location. The Four Bros' Mines seemed perfect, however that night Ermakov was too drunk to remember the location. A scout, named Vaganov, was sent ahead, trying to rediscover the burial site.
The rest of the group guarding the bodies trudged forward, and only a mile from the mine field the truck broke down again. Makeshift stretchers were created to transport the bodies. 200 paces forward, finally they arrived at the chosen burial location. It was then morning.
Working against the rising sun Yurovsky ordered the bodies laid out and stripped. Guards were posted all around the area to ensure secrecy. They started pulling the bodies out. When they undressed one of the girls everyone got a closer look at those special corsets. They were actually two corsets sewn into each other. In between them laid several pounds of tiny cut jewels carefully hand-sewn into linen.
Yurovsky decided it was time to dismiss those who were not necessary, and merely kept with him a few sentries and five men from his detachment, those who he most trusted. The jewels from inside the corsets were set aside, as was anything else found of value. Yurovsky noted that the girls were wearing an amulet bearing Rasputin's portrait around their necks.
Two small bonfires were started, where the rest of the victims' belongings, their clothes and any other identifiable objects, were burnt beyond recognition. The naked bodies were then lowered into the mine. A few hand grenades were tossed in to seal off the entrance, and at about 10a Yurovsky went to report to the Ural Executive Committee.
Those who were sent back to town early went immediately bragging about their involvement with the burial of the Romanovs. The Ekaterinburg Bazaar buzzed with the details of how the bodies were hidden. A new burial location had to be figured out, and Yurovsky's attention was called to another mine field along the Moscow Highway. He immediately went to check out the location, and found three deep mines filled with water.
When Yurovsky finally got back to Ekaterinburg it was late in the evening of 17 July. He gathered barrels of kerosene and sulfuric acid and loaded them onto a truck. A few hours later, accompanied by members of the Cheka, he set back out with his detachment to the original burial location. The mine shaft was lit with torches. Vaganov was the unlucky fellow who climbed down the shaft to the bodies, immersed himself to the chest in icy water, and tied a rope around the bodies in order to haul them back up. They were put back in the carts and were headed toward the deeper mines.
Retrieving the bodies from the mine took all day, it was then reaching evening once again. The bodies were transferred to a truck, however things did not get easier. The truck got stuck in the mud several times, and finally at around 4:30a it was rendered unmovable.
They were out of time, the Whites were closing in on Ekaterinburg. There were two choices left, they could bury or burn their victims. Either way it had to be done on the spot.
"Officially," both was decided. Yurovsky's story is as follows:
Since we weren't going to get as
far as the mines, all we could do was either bury them or burn them.
... One comrade, whose last name the commandant has forgotten, promised
to take the latter upon himself, but he left without keeping his promise.
We wanted to burn A. [Alexei] and A.F. [Alexandra Feodorovna], but
by mistake instead of her they burned the lady-in-waiting and Alexei.
They buried the remains right there under the fire and then scattered
the fires in order to cover up completely any trace of digging. Meanwhile
a common grave was dug for the rest. At about seven in the morning
a pit two and a half arshins [six feet] deep and three and a half
arshins [eight feet] square was ready. The bodies were put in the
hole and the faces and all the bodies generally doused with sulfuric
acid, both so they couldn't be recognized and to prevent any stink
from them rotting. We scattered it with dirt and lime, put boards
on top, and rode over it several times - no trace of the hole remained.
The secret was kept - the Whites did not find this burial site.