Tsar Nicholas to Tsaritsa Alexandra letters top

August 1916

Stavka. 3 August, 1916.


I hate parting from you, and seeing the train carrying away you and the girls! When you are with me there is such peace in my soul; I want to drive away all anxiety and unpleasantness and silently to enjoy your presence, of course, when we are alone. I thank you most tenderly for coming and giving me this happiness and comfort ! Now I shall be strong and brave till your next visit. I thank you sincerely also for your dear letter, which has somewhat soothed the pain of parting!

Baby has gone to have dinner with his two little friends, and I have received Count Bobrinsky, who did not stay long, and made a good impression on me. We dined in the tent; it was rather cold and damp - I would have preferred to stay on the balcony. After saying prayers with Baby I managed to finish all my papers, which always gives me some satisfaction I-Then I went for a lovely walk along the main road, and came back by the long bridge in wonderful, moonlight. The air was very freshthat is very good for one before going to sleep.

Sleep well, dear Sunny!

4 August.

The weather is wonderful and very warm.

I hope you slept well and travelled comfortably I Baby and I felt very lonely at lunch, during our journey - in a word, the whole day till night-time. God guard you, beloved Wify, my treasure! I cover you with passionate and tender kisses. I kiss the girls fondly.

Etemally your


Stavka. 5 August, 1916.


Our usual drab life has begun. The bright "Sunny" days have gone, and I live in the dear memories of the past! Darling mine, how I love you, and how intimately accustomed I am to your constant presence! Each parting is so hard to bear, and each time I long more and more for us to be together always. But duly comes before everything; we must submit and try not to repine, although it is not easy.

After yesterday's lovely weather it rained several times during the night; to-day the weather is unsettled - impossible to say whether it will be fine or showery! But the air is very warm, and we intend to go for a drive in the car up to the place which we call "skerries."

I receive every day one or another of the Ministers, and this, together with my papers, has prevented me from seeing Botkin's brother (the sailor) and old Dudel Adlerberg.

It is time for me to finish, beloved. God guard you all!

I kiss you ardently.

Your old


NOTES: "Skerries " - thus printed in the Russian edition. DUDEL ADLERBERG: General A. A. Adlerberg, on the retired list.

Stavka. 6 August, 1916.


I thank you tenderly for your first long letter. There is again no time for writing to you at length and for answering all your questions. - Constant receptions of Ministers or others! - It turns out that Youry Troubetzkoy has arrived; I shall receive him before dinner.

It is very hot.

Give A. my warmest greetings and wish her a happy journey - I have not had a free minute to write to her. God guard you, my beloved Wify!

I send 1000 tender kisses to you and the girls. Eternally your old


NOTES: YOURY TROUBETZKOY: General Prince Y. I. Troubetzkoy, formerly the commander of the Imperial Escort, in command of the 2nd Cavalry Division during the war. - "A happy journey." Mme. Vyroubova and Mme. Lily Dehn, accompanied by Rasputin, were starting for Tobolsk, to pray before the relics of a new saint, recently canonised through the influence of Rasputin. This journey was undertaken by the wish of the Tsaritsa, who had vowed either to visit Tobolsk herself or to send thither her chosen representatives. The party, in a special saloon, followed the same route which was taken, a year later, by the Imperial Family on their way to exile and death.


Stavka. 6 August, t916.

Both thank you tenderly for dear letters. Beautiful weather. I thank you also for the congratulations on the occasion of the regimental holiday. .


Stavka. 7 August, 1916.


I thank you warmly for your dear letter, Thank A. for the copy she has sent me. - I have again no time to write, as Alek suddenly appeared this morning; I have only just received him, after lunch. Fortunately he was calm, spoke of Rhein's affairs and others, but did not grumble. I shall receive Mamantov this evening, and Makarov not until to-morrow, Monday. I shall order him to suppress this affair with Lopoukhin.

It is very hot; I am afraid a thunderstorm is gathering.

Good-bye till our next meeting! God guard you, my dear Wify!

I kiss you and the girls tenderly.

Eternally your old


NOTES: "The copy she has sent me." A copy of a letter from N. P. Sablin, making serious allegations against General Besobrazov, then commanding the special Guard Corps. It was by such letters and messages that the Tsar was swayed in making appointments and in ordering dismissals. LOPOUKHIN: V. A. Lopoukhin, Acting Secretary of State, Governor of Vologda and formerly of Toula. there is no reference elsewhere to the "affair."

Telegram. Stavka. 7 August, 1916.

Hearty thanks for dear letters. To-night I shall think of you particularly, my darling - A lovely day. I kiss you tenderly. God bless you.


Stavka. 8 August, 1916.


Many thanks for dear, short letter. I thought of you with particular tenderness last night and this morning, when you were receiving the Sacrament in our snug little crypt chapel. - It seems as though a year had passed since we went to Communion together, in those difficult days before my departure to this place I I remember so well, that when I stood opposite the large ikon of Our Saviour, up above in the large church, some inner voice seemed to persuade me to come to a definite decision and to write to Nic. immediately about my resolve, independently of what our Friend said to me.

I beg you to thank Him for sending me the two flowers. Mr. Gibbs has arrived, but much later than I expected. Baby seems glad to see him.

In the meantime, till the 15th, there is a lull on the fronts, although fighting is still going on in the Boukovina. A strong offensive is developing in the centre of our front in the Caucasus.

I quite agree that N.P. should be appointed commander of the "Standart," but I must find a good post for Zelen. One really cannot drive a good man from his post only to give it to a better, and leave the first with nothing!

I am sure that it is not what you intended!

It is raining to-day, but very warm. - God guard you, my sweet Wify, and the girls!

Ask Tatiana. to send me at once one of my silver cigar cases I

I kiss you tenderly. Eternally your old


NOTES: "Crypt chapel" - the Pestcherny Chapel in the crypt of the Feodorovsky Sobor, for which the Tsaritsa had a special fondness. "It seems as though a year had passed." A year had actually passed, so that we may suspect an error in the text probably year "should be " years." - GIBBS: the English tutor to Alexey. - "A lull on the fronts." According to the Russian official figures, 350,845 men and 7757 officers had been taken by Broussilov's armies. Falkenhayn admits Austrian losses of "far more than 200,000 men in three days" (p. 249).- "Standart" the Imperial yacht. ZELEN.: Captain R. D. Zelenetzky of the Equipage. He had commanded the cruiser "Oleg" and also the "Standart." He was assistant to the Grand Duke Kyrill, who commanded the naval detachments at the front. In accordance with the Tsaritsa's wish, he was succeeded in the command of the "Standart" by N. P. Sablin.

Stavka. 9 August, 1916.


There is no time for writing a long letter. I thank you a thousand times for your dear letter. I am very glad that you went to Communion. So far everything is quiet, only Sakharov continues his offensive. The weather is clear and cool to-day.

Mr. Gibbs has arrived and is beginning to settle down to our life here.

God protect you, my precious darling! I kiss you tenderly.

Your old


Stavka. 10 August, 19x6.


I thank you sincerely for your sweet letter. Yesterday evening I received Kyrill, who has returned from the Guards, where he spent 6 days. He saw many commanders and officers, and they all told him the same about old Besobrazov, what you already know, so that to-day I spoke to Alexeiev on the subject and told him that I wished to dismiss B. He, of course, agreed with me that it would be better to remove him and appoint a good general. We were both considering with whom to replace him - perhaps one of the brothers Dragomirov! I am so annoyed at having forgotten to ask Kir. about Zelenetzky I But he is coming back in a week's time, and I shall be able to do it then. N.P. will probably arrive here on the 12th. - I shall be frightfully glad to see him again.

Dmitry will be here soon on his way through; I want to keep him here for a few weeks, because George told me that the boy has got it into his head that he will be killed.

I am already counting the days till your arrival! Beloved, I must finish. God guard you! I cover your beloved little face with ardent kisses.

Eternally your old


P.S. It worries me how to tell Fredericks about Olga's divorce. It is very difficult to write about such things.

NOTES: Besobrazov. the Tsaritsa was exceedingly anxious to have this general removed from the command of his Guard Corps. Actually, he seems to have been a somewhat foolhardy and careless leader, and in this case her advice was possibly sound.

"Olga's divorce." Olga, the Tsar's sister, was divorcing her husband, Prince Peter of Oldenburg ("Petia"), and shortly afterwards she married Colonel V. A. Koulikovsky.


Stavka. 10 August, 1916.

Hearty thanks. I congratulate you on the 2 years anniversary of hard work in your hospital. It is clear, warm. Both kiss you tenderly.


Stavka. 11 August, 1916.


I thank you heartily for your dear letter. Of course it would be splendid if you stopped for a few hours in Smolensk-it would give such pleasure to the wounded and the populace!

Excuse the blot which I have made on the envelope, but your pen is very capricious: at times it does not write, and then suddenly shoots out a blue fountain. Here everything is quiet on the front; in the Caucasus we have captured two Turkish regiments. I am expecting N. P. to-day.

I send you this paper from Maximovitch - 1 think it will be best to have each of them for a fortnight! Do you agree? Please return the paper to me. The Japanese Prince, Kanin, is coming here in September, so that Tatishchev and Bezak will go to meet him at Vladivostok and bring him here, and George will be attached to him here.

I must finish now, my darling.

God guard you and the girls! I kiss you fondly. Eternally your old hubby


NOTES: "Each of them for a fortnight" - officers of the Gvardeisky Equipage for duty as A.D.C. KANIN: Prince Kotohito Hanin, cousin to the Mikado. BEZAK: Colonel A. N. Bezak (retired) of the Cavalry Guards, an Equerry, and formerly A.D.C. to the Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovitch.


Stavka. 11 August, 1916.

Hearty thanks. N. P. has arrived, looks very well. Lovely warm weather. Good night. I embrace you closely.


Stavka. 12 August, 1916,


I thank you warmly for your dear letter. I was very glad to see N. P. yesterday; he looks well. It is very interesting to listen to his tales-after evening tea we sat UP till 12-30 o'clock; he was describing his life and experiences there. He praises our officers and men very highly Kyrill told me that he had heard the same enthusiastic praises of the battalion from all the generals and officers.

We had, of course, expected this, but it is none the less very pleasant to hear it spoken of so eloquently. Summon Count Nirod, and explain everything to him for the old man. - The date is not settled yet. Olga wishes it to be made public only after the 15th of August. She also requests that her affairs should be talked over with the Steward of Rodzevitch - in order to avoid complications in her estate in the future.

To-day I received Colonel Tatarinov, Our military attaché in Roumania. He brought this important document, signed by them. On the 15th they will at last begin to attack the Austrians on their front.

Good-bye till we meet next, my beloved, Precious Sunny. - God keep You and the girls! I kiss you all tenderly, and remain

Eternally your old


NOTES: NIROD: Count Al. E. Nirod, a member of the Council of State. "The steward of her estate - originally in Russian: oupravil iaushchi kontorou.

Telegram. Stavka. 12 August, 1916.

Warmest thanks. Tile time is not settled, but it must be got ready very soon. This is the answer to your question. I embrace you closely.


NOTES: It must be got ready." The divorce of the Grand Duchess, and its public announcement.

Stavka. 13 August, 1916,


I thank you heartily for your dear letter. I too have nothing interesting to tell you.

Old General Pau has come back from the Caucasus - he looks well; thin, with a handsome grey beard. He leaves to-day, and hopes to have the happiness of saying good-bye to you!

For Dragomirov's post I have chosen Gen. Gourko, who commanded the 5th Army, and is acquainted with the work on a large staff, - l intend to appoint him instead of Besobrazov.

I have no time for more now, my angel. God guard you all! I kiss you passionately and tenderly, my precious child!

Eternally your old


NOTES: GOURKO: General Basil Gourko, a very able, and at times a very brilliant commander. He was fifty-three. As a young soldier he had seen active service in the Pamirs. In 1899-1900 he was military attaché to the Boers, and was captured by the English. He served with distinction in the Japanese War, and became military adviser to the Octobrist party. At the beginning of the war he commanded the 1st Cavalry Division, and he succeeded in retiring with small losses after the disaster of Tannenberg. He was then promoted to the command of the 6th Corps, and in 1916 to the 5th Army. His book, in spite of certain prejudices, is remarkably fair and reasonable, and in many respects a valuable document on the war.


Stavka. 13 August, 1916.

Many thanks. Warm, misty weather. I am very grateful to you for having ordered Benck. to deliver the message.

Both kiss you tenderly.


Stavka. 14 August, 1916.


Tender thanks for dear letter. It is so sweet of you to have told Benckendorf about Olga's affairs, because it would have been very unpleasant for me to have informed the old man of all this in writing.

I have been afraid the whole time of what Bobrinsky told you. But it is very difficult indeed to find a man capable of being at the head of the Department of Supplies. St., being now President of the Council of Ministers, has the other Ministers under him, but if one of them got the better of him the others would not then follow his lead, and even if they did follow his lead intrigues would begin, and things would not go smoothly. There is, of course, one way out - Krivoshein's idea-to make the Minister of War master of the whole situation. But I doubt whether Shouv. or even Belaiev are the right men for this. The second of these is an extremely weak man who always gives way in everything and works very slowly. He had some disagreements with S., and hence they had to part. B. has been appointed to the Council of War. I must finish now. May God guard you, my dear Wify, my own girl!

I kiss you and the dear little daughters fondly.

Eternally your old


NOTES: "What Bobrinsky told you." Bobrinsky (the Minister of Agriculture) had said that Sturmer had too much to do, and that it was difficult to work with him. Sturmer's insufficiency and arrogance were weakening his position on all sides.

Stavka. 15 August, 1916.


I thank you warmly for dear letter.

To-day is the regimental holiday of my Shirvantzy. If I am not mistaken, they are to be sent to the South as reinforcements to Sakharov and Shcherbachev. Broussilov has decided to begin his offensive on the 18th with all his armies simultaneously.

You know now that Roumania has at last declared war on Austria. This will undoubtedly help our troops in the Boukovina.

Zaionchkovsky's troops crossed the Danube yesterday, as ad been decided, and are now traversing the Dobroudja. - Part of our Black Sea Fleet has entered Constanza in order to help the Roumanians, in case German submarines should attack them.

The weather is very queer; it rains heavily, it is windy, and from time to time the sun appears.

It is time to finish now.

God guard you, my little darling Wify! I kiss you and the dear girls.

Eternally your


NOTES: The military situation in the East was now regarded as so threatening by the German Supreme Command that they decided, in spite of Allied pressure on the Somme, to transfer four divisions from the Western Front. But the great Russian offensive was already losing impetus, and it was not long before the turn of the tide. Broussilov's advance was certainly one of the most notable military achievements of the war. Nearly a million of the enemy were put out of action, and the Russians captured an enormous amount of material. Whether, after the counter-attacks of Linsingen, Bothmer and Falkenhayn, the Russians could have recovered sufficiently for a second blow, is an open question. An extremely interesting passage in this correspondence (21st to 24th September) shows how the influence of Rasputin was really the decisive factor.


Stavka. 15 August, 1916.

Warmest thanks for letter and little ikon. It is colder and clearer. In thought we are together. I embrace you closely.


Stavka. 16 August, 1916.


My heartfelt thanks for your sweet, long letter, which has given me great pleasure. I return these photographs to Tatiana.

At times, when I turn over in my mind the names of one person and another for appointments, and think how things will go, it seems to me that my head will burst I The greatest problem now is the question of supplies. If we succeed in finding suitable men, all will go well, and the factories will work at high pressure. Perhaps Schouv. will prove suitable; possibly Bel. will do as Minister of War! I shall talk it all over with Alexeiev.

I have sent my prikase to poor Besobrazov, as Gourko is already on his way to take up his post. This meeting will not be of the most pleasant for either of us!

I shall send for St. and inform you about Raiev.

You probably know from the newspapers that Germany has declared war on Roumania, and Italy on Germany. Now the question remains whether Bulgaria will follow their example.

It is time to finish, my own darling Sunny. God guard you and the dear girls!

I kiss you tenderly and remain

Eternally your old


NOTES: BEL.: General M. A. Belaiev, succeeded Schouvaiev as Minister of War.

Telegram. Stavka. 16 August, 1916.

Hearty thanks. The weather is clear. We are now going to the cinematograph. Both kiss you fondly.


Stavka. 17 August, 1916.


I thank you tenderly for your dear letter. I am sending you some of Derev.'s photographs to choose from - make a mark on those which you would like to have, and return them.

Dmitry has arrived to-day; we talked for a long time, and about many things. He asked permission to go up to town for about five days and bring his things for a permanent stay here. He is happy at the thought of seeing you all soon.

0. Shavelsky has returned from his visit to Shcherbachev's army, and is full of splendid impressions. I was glad to hear excellent accounts of Misha's doings with his 2nd Cavalry Corps. He, I mean to say Misha, asks permission to be allowed to come to stay with me for a few days.

I received Gourko yesterday; had a serious talk with him, and later the three of us conferred together with Alexeiev. Thank God, he seems just the sort of man I was in need of! He understands perfectly how to conduct himself with the Guards and so forth. Besobrazov has not arrived yet.

The weather is good on the whole, but during the day it is always dull.

Baby's little companion is also leaving to-morrow - he will miss him greatly!

Farewell till our next meeting. God guard you, my dear child! I kiss you and the dear little daughters tenderly, and remain

Eternally your old


Telegram. Stavka. 17 August, 1916.

Hearty thanks. It is a pity that you have such weather.

Here it is clear. We count the days before your arrival.

Both kiss you fondly.


Stavka. 18 August, 1916.


I thank you tenderly for sweet letter. To-day the weather is at last delightful and warm, as in summer.

Well, yesterday I received Besobrazov, had a long conversation with him, and was pleased with the manner in which he bore himself; this showed me once more what an honest and well-bred man he is! I have given him leave for two months. He intends to go through a course of treatment at the Caucasian watering-places (spas), and asks to be given any appointment in the army. I have promised him that if his health permits and if some vacancies occur in one of the Guard Corps to appoint him there! He was very good at the head of a Guard Corps, so why not give him a lower post, in which he can be useful, with his ability, in spite of having occupied a higher (position)?

Gourko, with whom I discussed this the other day, told me that it was a sensible plan-to appoint generals (of course those who have not done anything wrong (not incurred any guilt)) back to their penultimate positions; as it was, for instance, with Scheidemann or Mishchenko, and others. I quite agree with him.

Dmitry is going back to-day. I wait for you with great impatience, and intend to keep you here as long as possible.

God guard you, my beloved, my darling Sunny I I kiss you tenderly.

Your old


Stavka. 19 August, 1916


My warmest thanks for dear letters. Yes, up to now we have managed the whole time to lunch and dine in the tent in fine weather and on the balcony in wet.

You ask which Gourko has been given the new appointment? It is the little General who commanded the 1st approved of him as

Cavalry Division in Moscow. Groten Commanding Officer. Up to now he commanded the 5th Army at Dvinsk, and now Dragomirov is being appointed in his place.

Thank God, the news good - on the first day of our offensive we took 300 officers and over 15,000 Austrian and German soldiers prisoners. The Roumanians have, it seems, been successful also: for a start, they have occupied three towns not far from the frontier. How terrible, what you write about Petrovsky's wife! Poor boy!

The weather is wonderful, real summer; I hope it will last until your arrival!

Good-bye till we meet next, dear. May God guard you and all ! I kiss you very tenderly.

Eternally your old


P.S. Tell Tatiana to bring with her, also, 8 boxes of Serbian tobacco.


NOTES: GROTEN: General P. P. Groten of the Imperial Escort. He commanded the 1st Soumski Hussars, and then the Life-Guard Grenadiers.

"The news is good." The Russian troops were advancing in Volhynia, and at the same time the Roumanians were moving forward and had occupied Hermannstadt.

Stavka. 20 August, 1916.


My heartfelt thanks for dear letter. I, too, am in a great hurry, because I had to receive crowds of people after lunch.

I am mad with joy at the thought of seeing you soon.

I send you this little paper which Grabbe handed to me. I do not know in which battle these poor fellows were killed and wounded! It was quite near the Roumanian frontierat Dorna-Vatra.

Our troops had orders to attack there.

At last it has become warm!

Benckendorf has arrived and has brought me a paper from Freder. concerning Olga's divorce. It will have to be sent on to the Synod, and then everything will be in order. Now I must finish, my precious. God guard you!

This is my last letter. Your loving and impatient hubby kisses you tenderly.


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