Tsar Nicholas to Tsaritsa Alexandra letters top

APRIL 1915

Telegram. Louga. 4 April, 1915

Hearty thanks for dear letter. I have changed the beginning of my programme; am first going to the Stavka and then to the two other places which I wrote down in your pocket-book. Am feeling splendid. I kiss all tenderly.


Telegram. Stavka. 5 April, 1915.

Hearty thanks for sweet letter with violets, and for the telegram. All is well. I shall stay here several days. I shall explain my plans in my letter. Kiss you tenderly.


Stavka. 5 April, 1915.


I thank you from the depth of my old loving heart for your two charming letters, the telegram and the flowers. I was so touched by them I I was feeling so sad and downhearted, leaving you not quite well, and remained in that state until I fell asleep.

On my way here, Voeikov informed me that it would be better to turn off from Vilna, as German aeroplanes were dropping bombs on the railway lines and the trains going through Bielostok, and that General Alexeiev was not in Sedletz I That is why we arrived here this morning at 9 o'clock. I bad a long conversation with N.; then the usual Report, and [afterwards went] to church. He suggested [advised] that I should go as soon as possible to Przemysl and Lvov, as later it would be necessary to take certain measures in Galicia. Bobrinsky told me the same thing several days ago. I shall be accompanied by N., as it will be my first visit to the conquered area. Naturally, this visit will be of very short duration, [as] both local railway lines are blocked up with trains. After that I shall see Ivanov and Alexeiev and continue my journey to the South. I cannot yet ascertain the date, bat of course I shall inform you in good time.

It is quite interesting to spend a few days in this manner, and in some ways passes the bounds of the ordinary. Petiusha and Petia are here, and are both well. Old Fredericks has just had his talk with N. At dinner I shall be able to judge by the expression of their faces how this conversation has passed off. I had a good walk with my people; the wind blew bard, but the sun gave considerable warmth. The snow which had fallen during the night had thawed, the birds sang merrily in the wood, and my Life-Guard Cossacks were practising with their machine-guns, making a terrible noise. I went up to them on my way home and watched them.

Well, my love, I must finish. The courier is leaving now - at 6.30

Tenderly and most affectionately do I kiss you, my darling Wify, and the children, and remain

Unchangeably your devoted hubby,


God bless you!

NOTES: ALEXEIEV: General M. V. Alexeiev, at that time Commander-in-Chief of the Northwest Front, became, later, Chief of Staff to the Tsar, and the virtual director of the Russian campaign. He was fifty-seven in 1914. The first ten years of his military career were spent in an infantry regiment at Mogilev. In 1877-78 he saw active service on the Danube. He became a professor at the Military Academy, and served on the Quartermaster-General's branch at Army Headquarters. In the Manchurian War of 1904-5 he was Quartermaster-General of the 3rd Army. From 1908 to 1912 he was Chief of Staff of the Kiev Military District, and he then commanded the 13th Corps. At the beginning of the war he was Ivanov's Chief of Staff. He was a spruce, energetic little man, with an affable yet firm personality. John Pollock, who saw him at the Stavka, describes him as "a Russian of the Russians, with the wide face and large brow of the good peasant stock from which he has sprung." He was undoubtedly a valuable Chief of Staff, and if he lacked brilliance he possessed the great qualities of honesty and resolution. In the matter of work he spared neither himself nor his subordinates. He died in the winter of 1917.

BOBRINSKY: Count G. A. Bobrinsky, Adjutant-General, was appointed Governor-General of Galicia on the first occupation of that province.

Telegram. Stavka. 6 April, 1915.

Warm thanks for dear letter and telegram; thank Marie also. There is no special news. I saw Engalychev. The weather is much better and warmer. Fond kisses.


Stavka. 6 April, 1915.


Countless loving thanks for your sweet letter, which has arrived this morning. Yes, it is curious setting off at 2 o'clock by the Warsaw line, one arrives here at 9 o'clock in the morning; whereas, leaving at 10 o'clock in the morning one gets here only at about 12 by the Vindavo-Rybinsk railway; it is a bad line and the trains move slowly on it.

Yesterday, after lengthy discussions, it was decided that we should start from the Stavka on Wednesday evening and arrive at the old frontier station of Brody on Thursday morning. Thence, N., I and some of our suite will drive in cars to Lvov, and the rest with Fredericks will go by train. In this way we shall follow the route which was taken in August by our Third Army, and shall see the battlefields, spend the night in Lvov and in the morning proceed via Sambor, where Broussilov is, to Przemysl. - Here we shall spend the night and return by the same route. Between those two places I shall perhaps manage to get in touch with the Third Caucasian Corps, who are concentrating in the reserve.

Think what a delight it would be if I should really succeed in doing so! All these changes will add only one extra day to the whole of my journey, so I hope that my Wify will not be very cross with me.

I was glad to see dear Olga. To-day the weather is really delightfully warm. We had a fairly long walk in the fields and got into an evil-smelling swamp. Some amusing scenes occurred here, especially when Grabbe, having tucked tip his skirts, tried with all his might to pull himself out of the deep mud. You can imagine in what a charming condition we returned I Well, my love, my little bird, I must finish; it is time to dispatch the courier. We are all going to the cinematograph.

Ever, beloved mine,

Your hubby


NOTES: Brody, a small town formerly on the frontier between Austria-Hungary and Poland, but now in Poland, forty miles from the Ukrainian border. Lvov is more usually known in this country as Lemberg.

Telegram. Stavka. 7 April 1915.

Thank you tenderly for dear letter, Olga and Alexey as well. The weather is divine. I was very busy in the morning. Drove in a car to our wood; wonderful air. I hope that you are better. Tender embraces.


Stavka. 7 April, 1915.


I thank you heartily for your dear letter and am returning you the Countess's letter. I do not think that any difficulties will arise about that question; a little goodwill on our side and the thing will be done, and we shall have one annoyance the less in our lives. Of course I shall discuss it with the old man.

To-day I had a very busy morning-after the reports I receive Grunwald, who has come from Vilna, where be inspected all the hospitals, and later on I saw Engalychev, as well as our Vielopolsky, looking like a king who has lost his kingdom. They all had lunch. N. received the Belgian Mission and entertained them in his train. Darling mine, I do not agree with you that N. ought to remain here during my visit to Galicia. On the contrary, precisely because I am going in war-time to a conquered province, the Commander-in-Chief ought to accompany me. It is he who accompanies me; not I who am in his suite.

As I wrote to you yesterday, I hope to see the 2nd Caucasian Corps near Sambor, and get in touch with the 8th Army of Broussilov. Unless one counts last year's visit to the Caucasus, I have so far not had the opportunity of being near troops, and especially those troops which have been victorious since the very beginning of the war!

To-day we drove in a car along our well-known, charming road, and went further into the delightful wood. It was quite hot, and we found some flowers - here is one of them! - To-morrow is the anniversary of our betrothal; how many joyful recollections! God bless you, my treasure, and the children! Thank Olga and Alexey for their letters. I kiss you all affectionately, and remain

Ever your old hubby


Give A. my greetings

The Countess: Countess Hohenfelsen, morganatic wife of the Grand Duke Paul, and later given the title of Princess Paley. In her letter she asked for the title of Princess, and referred to various family matters. GRUNWALD: General A. A. von Grunwald, Chief Equerry. VIELOPOLSKY: Count Vielopolsky was Master of the Imperial Preserves in Poland.

Telegram. Stavka. 8 April, 1915

Warm thanks for letter, telegram and flowers. In prayers and thought I am more than ever with you. A delightful warm day! I hope you are feeling better. I kiss you and the children fondly.


Stavka. 8 April, 1915.


My warm and loving thanks for your dear letter, full of tender words, and for both telegrams. I too have you in my thoughts on this our 21st anniversary! I wish you health (or well-being) and all that a deeply loving heart can desire, and thank you on my knees for all your love, affection, friendship and patience, which you have shown me during these long years of our married life! To-day's weather reminds me of that day in Coburg - how sad it is that we are not together! Nobody knew that it was the day of our betrothal - it is strange, how soon people forget - besides, it means nothing to them.

Krivoshein has arrived, Who, in my Presence, gave N. his could opinions on various suggestions about measures which be adopted in regard to the reward of officers and In w 0 are leaving the army at the end of the war; those whro have distinguished themselves, those who have been crippled, and all wounded in general. Excellent suggestions, which I shall impart to you at home. Of course I have forgotten all the names they mentioned to me.

To-day I had no time to write to you before the courier's departure, as I was in a hurry with my usual papers. I am sending this letter to-morrow from the border station of Brody. I am afraid I shall not have time to write from Galicia, but I shall write later, from the South.

Before the evening I drove along the old road to the town of Slonin in the province of Grodno. It was extraordinarily warm and pleasant; and the smell of the pine forest - one feels enervated and softened!

I am sending you Ella's telegram to be deciphered - I cannot understand what she wants.

Brody, 9 April.

Here I am, on what was once Austrian soil. Wonderful hot weather. I heard the reports in N.'s train, which is standing alongside of mine, and after lunch I am going to Lvov by car. God bless you, my precious Sunny! I kiss you and the children tenderly.

Always your hubby


NOTES: "That day in Coburg" - in 1894. It was the anniversary of the Tsar's betrothal. Three years later, a prisoner at Tobolsk, he noted the same anniversary in his diary.

KRIVOSHEIN: A. V. Krivoshein, the Minister of Agriculture.

Telegram. Brody. 9 April, 1915.

Have arrived at 10 o'clock; the weather is lovely. Am leaving for Lvov at 1 o'clock. I have sent a letter from here. Embrace you closely.


Telegram. Lvov. 9 April, 1915.

Thanks for news. Am deeply impressed; an interesting route; a great number of soldier's' graves. I had a touching reception here. Saw Ksenia [Xenia] and Olga in her hospital. Summer-like weather. Tenderkisses.


NOTES: KSENIA: Ksenia or Xenia, the Tsar's elder sister, married the Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovitch.

Telegram. Telegraph Office 152. 10 April, 1915.

Have arrived safely in Khyrov via Sambor. Saw the wonderful Caucasian Corps. The district is delightful. The weather is summer-like. Have received very deep and joyful impressions. I embrace you tenderly.


Telegram. Telegraph Office 152. 11 April, 1915.

Last night I received the ikon, letter and photograph. I am very grateful. Am going to look over the fortifications (or defences]. After lunch back to Lvov, and thence in the evening to Brody. The weather is splendid. Everything is bursting into bud...

Telegram. Brody. 12 April, 1915.

Arrived here already last night; have found two letters. Many thanks. I am leaving now for the South; am carrying away the happiest impressions...


Imperial Train. Proshourov. 12 April, 1915


First of all, my warmest thanks for your two letters and the ikon of St. Simeon the Holy, and for Baby's photograph, which I have, alas I dropped out of the box and broken the glass. That happened in Przemysl. Well - how difficult it is to describe rapidly all that I have seen, or, more correctly, lived through, in the last three days!

On the 9th of April I arrived in Brody, after having crossed the old frontier. N. was already there with his Staff. When the reports were over I finished my last letter and papers, had lunch and went out in a motor with N. It was hot and windy. The dust we raised covered us like a white shroud. You cannot imagine what we looked like I We stopped twice and got out of the car to look at our positions and those of the Austrians at the time of the first great battles in August of last year; there are a great number of crosses on the common (the word in the Russian text is "fraternal") graves and on the single ones. It is amazing what long marches the army then made every day, in addition to fighting! About half-past five we cleaned up a little - Bobrinsky met us on the hill and we drove straight to Lvov. It is a very handsome town, slightly resembling Warsaw, a great number of gardens and monuments, full of troops and Russians I The first thing I did was to go to an enormous riding school, which has been converted into our church, and can hold io,ooo people; here, in the guard of bonour, I saw both my sisters. Then I went to Olga's hospital; there are not many wounded there now; saw Tam. Andr. - and other acquaintances from Rovno, doctors, sisters, and so forth - and just before the sun set drove up to the Governor-General's palace. A squadron of my Life-Guard Cossacks was drawn up in front. Bobrinsky led me to his rooms, ugly and uncomfortable, rather like a big railway station, in the same style, without doors, if you do not count the doors into the bedroom. You may be interested to know that I slept in old Franz Joseph's bed.

10 April, I left Lvov by rail, in Austrian carriages, and arrived at Sambor at 31 o'clock in the afternoon; there I was met by Broussilov and, to my great astonishment, by a guard of honour of my splendid Rifles of the 16th Odessa Regiment. The company was commanded by my friend the Sergeant-Major, as all the officers were wounded and the captain killed. While they were passing, the band played the march which we liked so much at Livadia, and I could not hold back my tears. I went to Broussilov's house; he presented the whole of his Staff to me, and then we had lunch. Later, I returned to my train, and arrived at Khyrov, situated picturesquely in the mountains, at 4 o'clock. Here, on a large field, were drawn up all the troops of the 3rd Caucasian Corps. What magnificent regiments they are I Among them were my Shirvantzi and Alexeiev's Saliantzi. I recognised only one officer and one ensign. They had arrived there only a day or two before from Osovetz, and were very pleased at getting into a warmer climate and being able to see the mountains. I went down three long lines on a ploughed field, and nearly fell several times, because the ground was very uneven, and I had to think of Dmitry. As we had very little time left, I passed along [the remainder of] the troops in a car, thanking them for their faithful service. I and N. were frightfully shaken up. I returned to the train quite hoarse, but I am very pleased and happy at having seen them. An hour later we arrived in Przemysl.

It is a small town, with narrow streets and dull grey houses, filled with troops and Oreriberg Cossacks. N. and I stayed, with several gentlemen [of the suite], in a fairly clean house, the owner of which had fled before the fall of the fortress. The little place is surrounded by mountains and looks very picturesque. We dined in the garrison mess, where everything has remained untouched. Slept badly.

II April. I got up early and went with the whole of our any to look over the defences.. They are most interesting, colossal works - terribly fortified. Not an inch [vershok] of ground remained undefended. Charming views open out from the forts; they are completely covered with grass and fresh flowers. I am sending you a flower which I dug up with Grabbe's dagger. At 12 o'clock I returned to the town, lunched at the mess, and drove by another route to Lvov, via Radymno and Yavorov, again past the fields of the September battles. The weather was beautiful the whole time.

Ksenia and Olga came to me before dinner. I left Lvov at 9.30 by rail and arrived in Brody at 12.30 at night. Here I changed over to our train. To-day I got up late, heard the usual reports and left N. at 2 o'clock. Forgive me for this short and dry account, but I have no time for more. God bless you, my beloved Sunny, and the children. I kiss you all fondly.

Ever your oid hubby


Telegram. Przemysl 13 April, 1915

Thanks for telegram. Am glad that your health is better. I am now going to Kamenetz-Podolsk to inspect the Trans-Amur Borderers. The weather is excellent. To-morrow Odessa. Tender embraces.


Telegram. Gmerinka. 13 April, 1915.

Thanks for telegram. I saw the splendid Trans-Amur Borderers and your Crimeans. They are in beautiful condition. They asked me to give their greetings to their Chief. I was very glad to come across them here by chance...

Telegram. Rasdoinaia. 14 April, 1915.

Warmest thanks for letter. To-day I saw our fine fellows [our beauties] in Odessa at a grand inspection. Visited two hospitals. Lovely summer-like weather. Kyrill is going to two other places. Tender kisses.


Telegram. Nicolaiev. 15 April, 1915.

Sincere thanks for the news. Saw our new ships and went over magnificent docks. After lunch I shall continue the visiting of other shipbuilding and ammunition factories. It is extremely interesting. Cold, windy weather. At 6 I am leaving for dear Sevastopol...

Telegram. Sevastopol. 17 April, 1915.

Best thanks for dear letter and telegram. This morning I heard of a sad disaster connected with an explosion. The weather to-day is beautiful, but not hot. Drove round the ships and went on board some of them. Visited the hospital ship. Now I am going to inspect my plastouni on the platform in front of the train. To-morrow all the others are to be inspected...

Sevastopol. 17 April, 1915.


I thank you with all my heart for your dear letters, which have brought me such joy and consolation in what is, when all is said, my solitude. Although this time, no matter where I went, I was surrounded by members of the family in Galicia, at Odessa and here. This will probably be my last letter. My trip to Kamenetz-Podolsk has given me immense pleasure. The town is very pretty, and I have simply lost my head over the Trans-Amur men and your delightful Crimeans. The first, who have only recently arrived - from Kharbin, look magnificent. They are well equipped and smart, like Guard regiments. The Tartars have rcsted, and all smiled broadly as I was passing along them. I was not surprised that they had few officers.

The following day Odessa was full of enthusiasm. Perfect order was observed in the streets. Our splendid fellows of the Gvard. Equip. were more impressive than ever beforethe whole lot of them are magnificent men. I had to address a few warm words to them, and to reward about twenty men with decorations. By the side of them stood the new Caucasian Regiment, which I had not seen in Kars - the 9th Caucasian Rifle Regiment; at that time they were fighting the Turks, and lost approximately 6oo men and 14 officers. But now their numbers are made up again. In addition to them, the 53rd and 54th Don Regiments were at the inspection. The 53rd was at the Stavka last year. The next day it suddenly became intensely cold in Nicolaievo. It would take too long to describe all that I saw there - it was wonderfully interesting, and fine to see what our nation is capable of - how it approaches matters in a serious spirit: three dreadnoughts, four cruisers, nine destroyers, and a vast number of large submarines. engines, turbines and shells (shrapnels] without number.

I was so pleased yesterday to find the fleet here. After dinner I played about on the quay with my 6th Battalion of Plaskuni, and to-morrow I am arranging to inspect them all in their camp.

I like this place. God bless you, my precious Wify, and the children. I kiss you lovingly.

Ever your hubby


Telegram. Sevastopol. 18 April, 1915.

Warmest thanks for dear letter and telegram. I have just returned from an inspection of all the ii battalions of the plastouni. An interesting, beautitul sight, and unique of its kind. I have appointed Alexey Chief of the 3rd Batt. Be kind enough to telegraph to them in his name...

Telegram. Sevastopol. 18 April, 1915.

Thirteen thousand ikons have arrived. I intend to drive by car beyond the Baidars. Tender embraces.


Telegram. Likhachevo South. 19 April, 1915.

Sincerest thanks for letter No. 301. I thank also all the children. Divine weather. Yesterday I went half-way to Yalta; saw the big landslide. It is much cooler there. The old man is well, sends his thanks. We stopped in Borki. I embrace you tenderly. How is her leg?


NOTES: It may be noted that. on this day, von Mackensen broke through the Russian front on the middle Dounayetz. In the course of the next few days the secoud and third Russian lines were taken, and the Russian armies were withdrawn northwards over the Carpathians - This withdrawal, according to Falkenhayn (p. go), degenerated into a rout on a front more than 200 miles wide. But here again. as at the time of the Masurian battles, the Tsar makes no comment on the disastrous course of events. It is inconceivable that he was not informed.

Sajnoe. 19 April, 1915.


These photographs were taken in Sevastopol, when I was playing about with my plastouni. You will return them to me, will you not? when I come back. The heat in the train is terrible - 22 degrees.

I love you immensely and kiss you.

Your Nicky.

Telegram. Orel. 20 April, 1915.

Warm thanks for dear letter. I have spent a very interesting and full day at the Briansky factory. In the morning it was terribly hot; now, after a thunderstorm and rain, the temperature has fallen to 6 degrees. To-morrow morning I shall see Ella. I kiss you affectionately.


Telegram. Tver. 21, April. 1915.

Sincerest thanks for last letter. Saw Ella for ten minutes. I am now going into the town until evening. Cold, chilly weather. So glad to be home to-morrow. Fond kisses.


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