Tsar Nicholas to Tsaritsa Alexandra letters top

April 1916


Telegram. Stavka. 1 April, 1916.

Hearty thanks for dear letters. From 10 in the morning till the evening I have been at the sitting. Am terribly weary. A delightful spring-like day. I embrace you closely.

NICKY.


Telegram. Stavka. 2 April, 1916.

I thank you all heartily for this evening's greetings, as well as for the dear letter and the ikon. Wonderful weather. I embrace you closely. Good-night.

NICKY.


Telegram. Stavka. 3 April. 1916

I am very grateful for dear letters, flowers and book.

Lovely warm weather. I hope that you are feeling better.

I have received Vyshinsky, who will visit you before his departure...


NOTES: VYSHINSKY: Major-General E. E. Vyshinsky, formerly commanded the 13th Life Grenadier Erivan Regiment, afterwards Assistant Quartermaster-General on the staff of the Grand Duke Nicholas in the Caucasus.


Stavka, 3 April, 1916.

MY BELOVED,

I thank you tenderly for your dear letters; now that I no longer see any troops they are my sole consolation. Many thanks also for the little ikon - I have fastened it to my chain. Now I shall at least wear something from you! Here are three flowers which I found on my walk yesterday.

Again I have no time for writing. I am continually besieged by crowds of people who wish to see me and make endless reports. I hope I shall be left in peace during Holy Week.

Thank you for sending me the new book. My dear, I love you greatly, even more than ever; I long for you so much, especially at the present time!

I must finish now. May God bless you and the children I kiss you and them tenderly.

Eternally, my dear Wify, your old hubby

The ukase is splendid.

NICKY.


Stavka. 4 April, 1916.

BELOVED WIFY

I thank you tenderly for your letter and for all that you write in it; for the dear words of love which console and calm me so much in my loneliness. Of course I go to church every morning and evening. 0. Shavelsky takes the service so well; exactly an hour. Alexeiev and many others of the Staff go to Communion on Thursday. I am sorry that I cannot go to Communion together with them, but I do not want to change my confessor! I forgot to choose and bring here Easter cards and eggs to send to you and the children! For the others, I have a sufficient quantity of china eggs.

It rained this morning, and as I had to read and sign much before Easter I did not go for a drive in the car, but just walked for a little in the garaden, and am now writing to you. The view from there is truly magnificent - the river has become an enormous lake, with a whole lot of houses in the middle. The current here is very strong. Yesterday the Admiral ordered two sailors to try to row in one of the boats, and they could with difficulty row up the river! It is a pity, as I intended to try myself, although I have not yet given up the idea.

There is a lull in the military operations at present, but in the Caucasus, along the shores of the Black Sea, our troops pursue the Turks, and I hope that Trapezound (Trebizond) will soon be ours. The fleet helps a great deal in these land operations. I have forgotten to mention my recent conversation with Misha at Kamenetz-Podolsk. He asked to be recalled in June and to be appointed to the Stavka. Then I began to preach to him about our father, about the sense of duty, example to others, and so on. When I had finished, and we had said good-bye to each other, he again asked me coldly and quite calmly not to forget his request, as if I had not spoken at all. I was furious!

But I must finish now. May God bless you and the children I I kiss you all tenderly, and remain

Your faithful hubby

NICKY.

My dear, I love you so deeply and ardently!


Telegram.

Stavka. 4 April, 1916.

I am very grateful for dear letters and two telegrams. Delightful weather, rather cool. In thought we are constantly together. I am amusing myself with a little puzzle, as I have been reading a lot. I embrace you, kiss you.

NICKY.


Stavka. 5 April, 1916.

MY OWN DARLING SUNNY,

Thanks be to God, our valiant troops, working with our Black Sea Fleet, have occupied Trapezound! I received this information from N. when I was already sitting in the car ready to drive out. Such a success, and in such a week ! After that, I drove as far as the weir, and went up the river in a beautiful large motor launch with comfortable cabins. The current is very strong, but we made good progress none the less, and reached the places where Alexey had often played last autumn. It is practically impossible to recognise the locality : so completely is everything flooded. The morning was lovely, but, of course, as soon as I was on the river a thunderstorm burst out; it rained in torrents and became colder. But I was very pleased to have been on the river and to have seen the two fine sailors from the "Razvedchik" and the "Dozorny" by the weir with our dear dvoika (dinghy).

The courier is leaving, and I must make haste and finish this scribble. To-morrow you are going to confession. I beg you, my. dear, to forgive me if I have hurt you in any way. I shall think of you particularly to-morrow and on Thursday morning; I always think of you, but at such times particularly. May God bless you and the children! I kiss you and them tenderly. I long for you all terribly.

Eternally your hubby

NICKY.

Give A. my greetings.


NOTES: The capture of Trapezound (Trebizond) was of some importance. The Grand Duke was also pressing the enemy to the west of Erzerum.


Telegram.

Stavka. 5 April, 1916.

Hearty thanks for dear letter. I am very happy, now that Trapezound has been taken. I hope that you are not feeling worse after your fall. Good Lord! what carelessness! I kiss you tenderly.

NICKY.


Stavka. 6 April, 1916.

MY PRECIOUS SUNNY,

Many thanks for dear letter, in which you tell me of Dmitry's visit. I fad altogether to understand how people can say - and particularly Voeikov to A. - that I am coming home for three days. Now, in Holy Week, or later? I have not yet made any plans, and have therefore not spoken a word to anyone. Yes; I am thinking of appointing Alex. Adjutant-General. Old Freder. is quite hale and hearty, only he occasionally forgets in a conversation what has been said to him before; I hear - at least with half an ear - what goes on at the other end of the table sometimes most amusing misunderstandings! He rode perfectly at both reviews.

You wish my adjutants (A.D.C.s) to be on orderly duty with me - I quite agree with you, but you know there are not many of them left. Some of them have been promoted, others it would be undesirable to have here. A list of them is always under my eyes. Do you know who ought to get the Erivantzi? Silaiev! Vyshinsky gave me this good idea; he thinks that he is just the right man. V. has found out about the ugly incidents which have been taking place in the regiment - the intrigues of the senior officers (native born), especially against S. - but now that is all over, and they will be removed. Yesterday I questioned S. about it for the first time, and he confirmed every word of the former commander. Then I told him of the impending appointment, which made him very happy.

I do not feel so lonely now, as I have much work to do, and when I am at leisure I refresh myself with a good book. I have just had your dear letter No. 475 brought to memany thanks for it and for the Easter postcards. I do not feel in the mood for going to confession to Shav., because I am afraid that instead of bringing peace and calm to my soul it might bring the contrary I Spiritually I feel wen. I shall think particularly earnestly of you to-morrow morning. How boring that A. has a bad arm I I hope that it will soon be better. Kiss him tenderly for me. May God bless you, my Sunny, my only, my all! I kiss you and the girls tenderly. May the receiving of the Holy Sacrament bring you Peace and comfort!

Eternally, my dear, Your

NICKY.


NOTES: Silaiev refused the command of the regiment, on the grounds of ill health. - " Native-born "Georgian.," A." here refers to Alexis.


Telegram. Stavka. 6 April, 1916.

Many thanks for letter and postcards. I hope that your arm and his are better. Lovely weather. Had a very pleasant sail up the river - a desperate fight with the current. In thought we are together. I embrace you closely and bless you.

NICKY.


MY DARLING,

Stavka. 7 April, 1916.

I am writing only a few lines, because I have no time again, owing to the Ministers having sent me mountains of papers - presumably (so that I might deal with them) before Easter. I have made a note on the petition of the wounded Jew from America, "to be granted universal domicile in Russia," and have sent it on to Sturmer.

Tender thanks for your dear letter and for the little eggs. I hope that Baby's arm will not hurt for long. This morning I thought a great deal about you in our little church. It is very quiet and peaceful here; many Staff officers with their families came to Communion. On the days when I cannot go out for walks the sun shines invariably, whereas when I drive or row the sky becomes overcast, so that I cannot get sunburnt I

To-morrow is the 8th; my prayers and thoughts will be with you, my girl, my own Sunny. At that time I fought for you, even against yourself!!!

Like the little Boy Blue, only more stubbornly.

May God bless you and the children! I kiss you and them fondly.

Eternally your

NICKY.

The album which I am sending to Alexey is from the English military photographer.


NOTES: "Universal (unrestricted) domicile in Russia." The domicile of Jews was restricted to certain towns and areas, except by a special permit from the police.

"At that time I fought for you," refers to the time of the Tsar's courtship, when he persuaded his future wife (then Princess Alexandra of Hesse-Darmstadt) to become a member of the Orthodox Church.


Telegram.

Stavka. 7 April, 1916.

Thank you and Tatiana heartily for dear letters. I am very pleased with the eggs which you have sent. Misha - the ass - has sent a telegram with the notification of his second daughter's engagement to Georgie Bat. I shall reply for both of us. Good-night. I embrace you tenderly.

NICKY.


NOTES: "The eggs" - Easter eggs.

GEORGIE BAT.: Prince George of Battenberg, now the Marquis of Milford Haven, and at that time a midshipman in tile Royal Navy. He was engaged to Nadejda, the second daughter of the Grand Duke Michael, whom he subsequently married.


8 April, 1916.

Christ has risen!

I send you, my darling, my precious Sunny, my sincerest, loving Paschal greetings.

It is still harder to be separated at such a time!

May God bless you in all your undertakings!

I love you tenderly and cover your dear face and hands with passionate kisses.

Always your

NICKY.


NOTES: "Christ has risen! " The traditional Russian greeting on Easter morning - "Christos voskres!" - to which the person thus greeted replied, "Voiestino voskres!" ("Verily He has risen!"). The Tsar sends the greeting on Good Friday, in order to be sure that it may arrive in time for Easter.


Telegram.

Stavka. 8 April, 1916.

I thank you heartily for telegram and letter. In thought I am inseparably with you. Warm, rainy weather. I am going to church now. Tell Ella I think that the work is very well done. I kiss you tenderly.

NICKY.


Stavka. 8 April, 1916.

MY DEAR BELOVED,

I must begin my letter to-day with reminiscences of what happened 22 years ago! As far as I remember, there was a concert in Coburg that evening and a Bavarian band was playing; poor Uncle Alfred was rather exhausted by the dinner, and constantly dropped his stick with a clatter. Do you remember? Last year, too, we were not together on this day - it was just before the journey to Galicia!!

It is indeed hard to be separated in Holy Week and at Easter. Of course I have not missed a single service. Today, on both occasions, Alexeiev, Nilov, Ivanov and I carried the Plashchanitza. All our Cossacks, and crowds of soldiers stood round the church along the route of the procession of the Cross. It rained all day long, and I hardly went out, seeing that the church service was to begin at 2.30.

Rostchakovsky suddenly appeared this evening at dinner; I shall receive him to-morrow evening. He has grown older, and reminded me in some way of Pimenov and Beskrovny. He has become much calmer. I told him that you would be glad to see him on his way back.

You have asked me several times in your telegrams what to say to Ella? I simply looked through the inscriptions on the pictures, and had not the least idea what I was supposed to say, so I wrote that I thought the work splendidly done! But what work I meant I do not know myself. Ha! ha!

My beloved, I want you very much... Now it is time to go to bed. Good-night, my dear, beloved darling, sleep well - pleasant dreams - but not of Catholic priests!

9 April.

I am finishing this letter after lunch. Have only just received your dear letter, with the book-marker out of the tiny eggs, for which I thank you tenderly.

I shall hang the little ikon and the egg opposite the place where I stand. There were lots of people in the church to-day, and children, who were taken to Communion. These latter stared at me and bowed many times, bumping against each other! Now I must finish. May God bless you, my treasure, and may He send you a happy and peaceful Easter!

I kiss you and the children fondly.

Your loving and devoted hubby

NICKY.


NOTES: "What happened 22 years ago" - at the time of the Tsar's betrothal at Coburg. "Uncle Alfred," Duke Alfred of Coburg.

Plashchanitza: a winding-sheet, representing that in which Christ was wrapped, carried in the Good Friday ceremonies.


Telegram. Stavka. 10 April, 1916.

Verily He has risen! In thought I greet all of you on Easter Day. I thank you once more for my Easter presents. A very fine midnight service ended at a quarter to two, after which all the higher ranks broke their fast at my house. I kiss you tenderly.

NICKY.


"Verily He has risen!" The answer to Easter greeting, sent by telegram. Breaking the fast (Rasgovliatsia) concluded the seven weeks'fast of Lent by the eating of food which had been blessed in the church.


Stavka. 10 April, 1916.

MY DEAR SUNNY,

I thank you once more for all the pretty things which you sent me for Easter - they made my two rooms look homely and have brightened them up.

Think of it! I can get away on Tuesday and be at home on Wednesday. This will be a great joy and happiness to me. To-day the weather is beautiful, without a single little cloud; the birds sing merrily and the bells are chiming.

At 10-30 I exchanged Easier greetings with the whole of my household, the Escort, the Staff and the priests. Everything passed off smoothly, but, for the first time in my life, I had to distribute the eggs myself! Tomorrow, some time during the day, it is the turn of the Cossacks and the soldiers. This will take place in the open air, outside the town, near the barracks.

On my way back I shall bold an inspection of the Guards. Yes, Silaiev has been promoted - but this always comes too late - I mean to say, the appointment.

The foreigners came to offer their congratulations as well, and each received an egg.

I prefer those eggs with initials only to the former sort; moreover, they are easier to prepare.

I have only just returned from a delightful trip on the river; it made me feel supple in all my limbs. This time I rowed in the dvoika (dinghy) from the "Standart."

It is 5 o'clock already; I must go to vespers. May God bless you, my angel, my dear girl, darling Wify! I kiss you all tenderly.

Eternally your hubby

NICKY.


NOTES: "Easter greetings." The ceremonies of Easter were observed with great joy and piety by all Russians. "Christosovatsia," or Easter greetings, in which all took part, included three kissesone on each cheek and one on the lips. Eggs were presented to friends and relatives, and these were specially prized if they had been taken to church and blessed before the presentation. The eggs given and received by persons of high rank or of wealth were often of immense value, made of gold encrusted with jewels. and containing elaborate trifles worth many thousands of pounds. "Standart" - The Royal yacht.


Telegram.

Stavka. 10 April, 1916.

I thank you heartily for dear letter and his sketch, which I like very much. Wonderful weather. I hope that you are not tired. I have had a delightful row on the river...


NOTES: "His sketch" - a portrait of Alexey by the artist I. B. Striedlov.


Telegram.

Stavka. 11 April, 1916.

I thank you heartily for dear letters. To-day I exchanged Easter greetings with nearly 900 soldiers. Beautiful warm weather. I shall try to bring her with me. George M. has come back from the front. I kiss you tenderly.

NICKY.


Telegram.

Malaia Vishera. 24 April. 1916.

It is hot and dreary in the carriage. In thought I am with you. I am reading. Embrace all closely.

NICKY.


Telegram. Stavka. 25 April, zq16.

Have arrived safely. Everything is covered with delicious verdure, it smells so good. I have finished a delightful book with tears in my eyes. I long for you greatly. I kiss you tenderly.

NICKY.


Stavka. 25 April 1916.

MY BELOVED,

It was terribly hard to part and again leave you and the children. I ran into my coupé, as I felt that, otherwise, I should not be able to keep back my tears ! Your dear letter has calmed me, and I reread it a great many times.

When we were passing the Alexandrovsky Station I looked out of the window and saw a hospital train overcrowded with, the unhappy wounded, doctors and sisters. At first it was terribly hot in our carriages - 23 deg. -; towards the evening it became bearable, and to-day the temperature is ideal, as it rained the whole morning and has become cooler.

I read with avidity that delightful book, "The Rosary," and enjoyed it. Unfortunately I have finished it already. But I have some Russian books left.

I gave Voeik. orders to work out a plan for oar joint tour in the South. I shall speak of it more fully to Alex. I noticed with pleasure that he looks well and has become sunburnt.

The tent is being put up in the garden. The trees and bushes are turning green, the chestnuts will burst into bud in a day or two - everything shimmers and smells good!

The river has gone down to its normal level. I hope to be able to row a little to-morrow.

Igor is behaving well, and seems to be on splendid terms with everybody. I have just received your second telegram.

I am very glad that N. P. and Rodion. dined with you. Their presence has such an invigorating effect particularly now!

Now it is time for me to go to bed. So good-night, my dear Wify, sleep well, pleasant dreams I

26 April.

A lovely morning; I got up early and walked for half an hour in the garden, then had breakfast and went to Alex. As usual, the first report was very lengthy.

I must finish, as it is time to go rowing on the river.

God guard you and the children, my darling Sunny! I kiss you and them tenderly.

Eternally your hubby

NICKY.


NOTES: "The Rosary," a story by Florence Barclay, at one time a "best seller" of an ultra-sentimental type.

IGOR: Prince Igor Constantinovitch, captain in the Ismailovsky Guard Regiment. Murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918


Telegram.

Stavka. 26 April, 1916.

Many thanks for letter and telegram. Lovely weather. Had a row in the dinghy. Boy Blue loves and misses you. I kiss you tenderly.

NICKY.


Stavka. 26 April, 1916.

MY DEAR SUNNY,

Tenderly, tenderly do I thank you for your dear letter. If you only knew what joy they bring me, and how excited I become when I see them on my table! The one I received to-day begins with the words "Boy Blue." I was so touched by that! It will be delightful if you bring that book with you!

The weather is beautiful to-day, and I enjoyed my trip down the river. We went in three dinghies; Igor, Feodorov and Dm. Sher. followed in a large motor launch. The first of them cannot row-he says that after a few strokes he begins to cough and spit blood! For the same reason he cannot walk quickly - poor boy I And he is only 22 years old.

We rowed half-way back as well, under the burning sun, but then changed over into the motor launch. Here Feodorov began to test our pulses for fun-after strenuous rowing against the current Valia's was 82, mine 92, Voeik.'s 114 and Kira's 128. Upon that, we began to chaff him about his abstention from meat, and told him that it seemed to do him little good, at any rate to his heart I Ten minutes later Feod. again took our pulses - Valia's and mine were normal, but in the case of the other two it was still beating fast. If you come here on a fine day you must go for one of these trips with all the children-you would greatly enjoy the fresh air after the heat in the train!

George has arrived from Moscow; he saw Ella, who sent me a very pretty ikon of the Holy Mother of Vladimir, which she had just visited. Try to see mother. It seems that she is leaving on Saturday. Give her my love.

Ah! this morning, when washing by the open window, I saw two little dogs between the trees opposite, chasing each other... Is not this a truly spring-like scene? - and I made up my mind to tell you about it. I saw that the sentinels were equally amused by the sight.

27 April.

It has become very much fresher; it rained heavily in the morning. I am sending you two itineraries to choose from - I naturally prefer the one which will bring you here sooner and quicker. May God guard you, beloved! I kiss you tenderly and warmly.

Your old

NICKY.


NOTES: KIRA: Colonel K. A. Narishkin, A.D.C.s. to the Tsar. - "The Holy Mother of Vladimir"-see note to letter of 23rd May.


Telegram.

Stavka. 27 April, 1916.

The comet of the 8th Loubensky Hussar Regiment is alive and well, and is present here in person. It is colder to-day and drizzling with rain. I embrace you closely.

NICKY.


Stavka. 27 April, 1916.

MY BELOVED WIFY,

I thank you tenderly for your dear letter with the enclosed letters from Olga and Alexey. The Little One begins thus: "I count the days - why, you know yourself." Very charming! It rained all the morning, and suddenly became cold - only 10 - after the heat of the previous days.

The French Ministers have arrived, with several officers -they had a prolonged conference with Alexeiev, Belaiev, Sergey and others; then they had dinner, at which meal they were both my neighbours; in this way I avoided the necessity of talking to each separately.

I think your idea, which you write about, of raising another large internal loan, a very good one please speak about it to Sturmer, and even to Bark. I am sure that the latter will be extremely flattered and touched, and at the same time he will be able to show you how it is done, and wherein lie the difficulties, if there are any.

Before my departure I gave the Ministers orders to work out a comprehensive plan for many years ahead for the construction of new railways, so that this new money loan would just help to bring it into. practice.

I have just received the following telegram: "La centenaire met aux pieds des Vos Maj. sa profonde reconnaissance, sa fidelite a un passe toujours present. - Leonille Wittgenstein."

Very prettily expressed, I think.

I enclose Olga's letter, which please return to me. Poor girl! it is only natural that she should suffer she hid her feelings for so long that she had to give them vent at last. She aspires to real personal happiness, which she has never had.

28 April.

Thank heaven, a lovely warm day! It was very cold during the night, only 4, so that I was even compelled to shut the window! I thank you and Tatiana for your dear letters.

I hope that your face will not trouble you much. God guard you, my darling Wify! I kiss you and the children tenderly, and thank them all for their letters.

Eternally your hubby

NICKY.

I have not been able to fix the date for my departure to the Guards, for several reasons, which I shall explain.


NOTES: "The French Ministers" - Viviani and Albert Thomas. They had been presented to the Tsar about a week previously at Tsarskoe Selo by M. Paléologue. BARK: P. L. Bark, the Minister of Finance. LEONILLE WITTGENSTEIN: Princess Leonille Ivanovna Sayn-Wittgenstein (née Princess Bariatinskaia), born in 1816. - Olga: The Tsar's sister.


Telegram.

Stavka. 29 April, 1916.

I am very grateful for dear letters and telegram. Have received one from her. Bright weather. I kiss all tenderly.

NICKY.


Stavka. 29 April, 1916.

My own,

Yesterday I was very busy, and could not, as usual, begin writing to you before going to bed.

I sent Boris a written reprimand for his behaviour to his Chief of Staff - Bogaievsky.

In the course of the day I watched the experiments carried out with burning spirits of wine and kerosine, which were being projected to a given distance! After that I enjoyed with the others a row on the river in our three dinghies. In the mornings and evenings it is always clear here, but towards midday the sky becomes overcast which annoys me, as I want to get sunburnt, and not to be like all, or, at any rate, most of the Staff officers!

Your dear letter No. 486 has arrived - I thank you heartily. I am glad that you have decided to come here at 2 o'clock. I shall order Voeikov to work out the itinerary of our journey. The general outline of it is as follows: we leave Mogilev on the 7th, and on the 9th stop for a few hours in Vinnitza. Then we make for Kishniev, where the new division is quartered, and back to Odessa, where I shall inspect the Siberian troops - probably on the 11th. Thence to Sevastopol, for as many days as you wish. On the way back we can go together as far as Koursk, and part there, to go simultaneously to Ts. Selo and here! Probably the 17th or 18th of May!

Now, my darling Sunny, I must finish. God preserve you and the children! I kiss you and them tenderly. I long for you madly.

Eternally your hubby

NICKY.

I thank you very much for the charming blue flowers.


Stavka. 30 April, 1916.

MY BELOVED WIFY,

I thank you fondly for your dear letter. I am again very busy, and must receive a lot of people. These receptions take away much of my free time, which I usually employ in reading the newspapers and writing letters. At present I do not look through any newspapers or illustrated journals and do not play dominoes any more in the evenings. Indeed, only three of those who played dominoes are left here now. I am very disappointed that I did not succeed in seeing the Guards, but I could not possibly get away, as an incessant correspondence was being carried on between Alexeiev and Everth concerning future plans, which affect the Guards as well. Because of this, Besobrazov had to be sent for. I shall explain the reason on your arrival here.

Poor S.'s imprisonment troubles me very much. Khvostov (justice) warned me that this would probably have to take place by order of the senator in whose. hands the case is. I told him that, in my opinion, it was unjust and unnecessary; he replied that it was done in order to prevent S. from escaping from Russia, and that somebody was already spreading rumours to that effect, so as to stir up public opinion! In any case, it is disgusting.

Now I must finish this letter, my beloved. God keep you and the children!

I kiss you passionately and the children with (fatherly) tenderness.

Eternally your hubby Boy Blue

NICKY.


NOTES: "An incessant correspondence between Alexeiev and Everth." According to von Falkenhayn, the Russian attacks of March and April were "bloody sacrifices rather than attacks." "There was no doubt," he says (P. 241), "that these attacks by the Russians were simply carried out under pressure from the Western allies and for the sake of helping them." "Poor S.'s imprisonment." The imprisonment of Soukhomlinov, regarded by the Tsar as a grave injustice.

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