Tsar Nicholas to Tsaritsa Alexandra letters top

JUNE 1915

Telegram. Stavka. 11 June, 1915.

Have arrived safely. During the journey had heavy warm rain. Thanks for news. There is nothing specially bad to report. I hope you will soon feel quite strong again...

NOTES: According to Sir Bernard Pares, the Russian losses by this time were 3,800,000. He had the figures from the Russian War Offi6e, and considers them an under-statement. Mackensen was pressing forward, and two days before the dispatch of this telegram the enemy had re-occupied Lemberg. In order to make good tlzse terrible losses it was decided to call up the Reservists: see the following note.

Telegram. Stavka. 12 June, 1915.

Hearty thanks for charming letter; I also thank Olga for her letter. After a rainy night we are having dull, warm weather. I have a great deal of work to do, but shall try to write.

Stavka. 12 June, 1915.


I thank you most warmly for both your sweet letters - they have refreshed me. This time I left with such a heavy heart! I thought of all the various and difficult questions - of the change of Ministers, of the Duma, of the 2nd Category, and so on. When I arrived I found N. grave, but quite calm. He told me that he understood the seriousness of the moment, and that he had received a letter to that effect from Goremykin. I asked him whom he would recommend in Soukhomlinov's place. He answered - Polivanov.

Having looked over the list of Generals' names, I have come to the conclusion that, at the present juncture, he might prove a suitable man. He has been sent for, and arrived this afternoon. I spoke absolutely frankly with him, and told him why I had been dissatisfied with him before-A. Goutcbkov, etc. He replied that he knew it, and that already, for three years, he had been carrying the burden of my displeasure. He has lost his son during the war, and has greatly and efficiently helped Alek.

I hope, therefore, that his appointment will turn out to be successful. To-day I saw Krivoshein as well, and bad a long conversation with him. He was less nervous, and consequently more judicious. I sent for Goremykin and several of the older Ministers; to-morrow we shall discuss some of these questions and shall pass over nothing in silence. Yes, my own darling, I am beginning to feel my old heart. The first time it was in August of last year, after the Samsonov catastrophe, and again now - it feels so heavy in the left side when I breathe. But what can one do!

Alas! I must finish; they are all gathering for dinner at the big tent. God bless you, my treasure, my consolation and happiness! [Literally, "treasure, consolation and happiness mine!"] I kiss you all warmly.

Always your hubby

The weather is divine.


"The Second Category." The Second Category of the Opolchenie or Reserve, consisting of untrained men between the ages of twenty-one and forty-three. The Opolchenie had only twice been called up - in 1812 and in 1854. It was eventually decided to call up this category, and the decision was a grave one, indicating a state of desperate emergency.

GOREMYKIN: I. L. Goremykin, then over eighty years of age, an obstinate and senile reactionary, President of the Council of Ministers, and absolutely incapable of performing his duties. SOUKHOMLINOV: General Soukhomlinov, the Minister of War. He was dismissed from office on the day on which this letter was written. It is not easy to decide whether he was deliberately treacherous or merely incompetent, but it is known that the inadequate equipment of the army was mainly due to his neglect. The Tsar was fond of him, and parted from him with reluctance. He was a pleasure-loving old man, wholly indifferent to his responsibilities. He was charged with having given information to the traitor Miassoyedov, knowing him to be the enemy's agent, and with betraying secrets of State to other foreign spies. He was further indicted with criminally neglecting to supply the army with munitions, and with placing contracts for his own benefit. His sentence was penal servitude for life. After serving a term of imprisonment, he was brought before a special tribunal in 1917. Of this trial General Denikin says: "When the man who was responsible for the military catastrophe faced his judges... his personality produced a pitiful impression. The trial raised a more serious, painful question: How could this irresponsible man, with no real knowledge of military matters, and perhaps even consciously a criminal, have remained in power for six years?" POLIVANOV: General A. A. Polivanov, who succeeded Soukhomlinov, was an extremely capable organiser. Sazonov says of him: "The new Minister of War was a very intelligent man and an indefatigable worker. He had very much resented having to serve under such a chief as Soukhomlinov." GOUTCHKOV: A. I. Goutchkov, the leader of the Octobrist (moderate Liberal) party, and Vice-President of the Duma, was strongly opposed to the Rasputin clique, and therefore hated by the Tsaritsa and her advisers. He possessed a vigorous, uncompromising personality. During the South African War he saw active service with the Boers. In 1912 he fought a duel with Miassoyedov (hanged at Warsaw in March 1915 as a spy) in consequence of a newspaper article. He founded, and became the head of, the General Association of Industries, and was Minister of War in the Provisional Government of 1917. One of the most able and most honest of Russian statesmen. ALEK: Prince A. Oldenburg, the father of Prince Peter.

Telegram. Stavka. 13 June, 1915.

I thank you sincerely for your dear letter; Tatiana and Alexey as well. I have written to Marie for her birthday. The weather is splendid. The news is not so bad. This is a very busy day. I kiss you all fondly.


Telegram. Stavka. 14 June, 1915.

Warm thanks for dear letter, and best wishes for Marie's birthday. I have only just returned from church. After lunch we are having the conference of Ministers. Lovely days and cool nights.

Stavka. 15 June, 1915.


My tenderest thanks for your two sweet letters. Yesterday I had not a minute to spare to write to you, as I was busy all day long. It was Marie's birthday, and it gave me happiness to be able to go to church in the morning.

I spoke to Shavelsky about arranging, for some day or other, krestny khod [the procession of the Cross] all over Russia. He thought it a very good idea, and suggested for it the 8th of July, the day of the Mother of God of Kazan, which is celebrated everywhere. He sends you his deepest respects. In our conversation he alluded to Sabler, and said that it would be necessary to replace him. It is remarkable how everyone understands this, and wishes to see a clean, pious and well-meaning man in his place. Old Gorem., and Krivoshein and Shcherbatov have all told me the same thing, and believe that Samarin would be the best man for this post. I remember now that, about six years ago, Stolypin wished to have him in his Ministry, and spoke to him with my permission, but he declined. I have given Gorem. leave to send for him and to offer him this appointment. I am sure that you will not like this, because of his being a Muscovite, but these changes must be brought about, and it is necessary to select a man whose name is known to the whole nation and who is unanimously respected. One can work with such men in the Government, and they will all hold together [or use their force together - i.e., in harmony]-that is quite obvious.

Fortunately yesterday's conference was held in the large tent, and lasted from 2 till 5 o'clock. I was rather tired, but N. and all of them were greatly pleased. Old Gor. expressed the opinion that this conference here was more productive of results than three months of their ordinary work.

In my next letter I shall tell you some of the details of it; to-day I have no time. My paperb are neglected, and I must look through them.

Somehow I miss you particularly in these days, my Ray of Sunshine! God bless you! I kiss you and the dear children tenderly.

Unchangeably your old hubby


NOTES: SABLER: V. K. Sabler, Procurator of the Holy Synod. SHCHERBATOV: Prince N. B. Shcherbatov, Minister of the Interior. SAMARIN: A. D. Samarin, Marshal of the Nobility at Moscow. He succeeded Sabler and, according to E. H. Wilcox, he was "one of the best Procurators," but he was dismissed not long after his appointment. STOLYPIN: P. A. Stolypin, the great Liberal statesman, Minister of Internal Affairs, at one time Governor of Saratov, and then Affairs and President of the Council of Ministers. He was assassinated at Kiev on 14th September, 1911.

Telegram. Stavka. 16 June, 1915.

I thank you most warmly for your letter, also Marie and Alexey. It is very hot, but not sultry. Nothing new, but they are still pressing in some places. I kiss you all fondly.


Stavka. 16 June, 1915.


I thank you with all my heart for your sweet, long letter, in which you give me an account of your conversation with Paul. You gave perfectly correct answers on the questions of peace. That is precisely the chief point of my rescript to old Goremykin, which will be published.

With regard to Danilov, I think that the idea of his being a spy is not worth an empty eggshell. I am quite aware, too, that he is not liked, that he is even hated in the army, beginning with Ivanov and ending with the last officer. He has a terrible character, and is very harsh with his subordinates.

N. knows this, and from time to time puts him in his place; but he considers it impossible to dismiss him after 11 months of hard work - so well does this man know his duties.

Even Krivoshein spoke to me on this subject - he thinks, for instance, that N. ought to make alterations among his Staff, and choose other men in place of Yanoushkevitch and Danilov. I advised him to tell N. of it, which he didfrom his own point of view, naturally. He told me later that N. had obviously not liked his frankness.

The conference, which was held some days ago, dealt with three problems: the regime for the German and Austrian nationals who are still domiciled in Russia; the prisoners Of war; the text of the above-mentioned rescript; and finally the soldiers of the Second Category. When I told them of my wish, that the men of 1917 should be called up, all the Ministers heaved a sigh of relief. N. agreed at once. Yanoushkevitch only asked that he might be allowed to work out the preparatory measures in case of necessity.

Of course, should the war continue for another year, we shall be obliged to call up some of the younger ages of the Second Category, but now it is not required. Yussoupov, whom I sent for, was present at the conference on the first question; we cooled his ardour slightly, and gave him some clear instructions. He caused some amusing moments when he was reading his reports of the Moscow riots - he became excited, shook his fists and banged them on the table.

I hope soon to go to Beloveje by car for a whole day, and to do it quite unexpectedly. The old man and Voeikov thank you very much. Well, I must break off this letter. God bless you, my darling Wify. Fondly I kiss you and the dear children.



NOTES: YUSSOUPOV: General Prince F. F. Yussoupov, Chief of the Moscow Military District. Father of Prince Felix Yussoupov, who took an active part in the murder of Rasputin. He was obliged to relinquish his post, about this time, in consequence of anti-German pogroms in his district. The Moscow riots were the outcome of a popular demand for the removal of Soukhomlinov, Maklakov (Minister of the Interior) and Shcheglovitov (Minister of Justice). Beloveje: one of the Royal Preserves in Poland, where deer and big game were kept on a large scale.

Telegram. Stavka. 17 June, 1915

I am very grateful for letter and two telegrams. Thanks to Tatiana and Olga. It is very hot and windy. There are 22 degrees of heat in our carriages. Please do not worry, and see Goremykin, who will calm you. Fond kisses for all.


Telegram Stavka. 19 June, 1915.

My warmest thanks to you for your sweet letter, to Anastasia also. S. is coming here to-night' Fine hot weather. I hope that you are feeling strong and reassured. Tender embraces.


NOTES: S. - Samarin, who was coming for an interview in connection with his appointment to the Synod.

19 June, 1915.


I beg your pardon for sending you an empty cascara bottle, but I require some more. I am putting my candle end into it - give it to Alexey for his collection. How grateful I am to you for your dear sweet letters, for all your devotion and love for me I They give me strength. I embrace you closely, beloved mine! It is too hot to write on such a subject. I am glad that you have seen the old man. Has he reassured you?

I am sending you a minute photograph which Djounk. took here last time. I have decided to leave here on Tuesday, and with God's help we shall see each other at last.

The Guards and other units are at present being transferred to the side of Kholm and Lyublin, as the Germans are pressing us in that direction. That is why I am sitting here till the concentration [of troops] is accomplished. I am quite well again; I merely had a shooting pain in the left side at the bottom of the spine, which hurt me in my efforts to take a deep breath; it was especially painful at night, but now it has quite gone. Owing to the heat, we are going for long drives in the car, but walk very little. We have chosen new roads, and are driving about the neighbouring country with the aid of a map. Mistakes often occur, as the maps are obsolete, having been made 18 years ago; new roads have been made, new villages built, some forests have disappeared, all of which d1ters the map. Sometimes the horses with the carts which we meet begin to bolt - then we send the chauffeurs to the rescue. On Monday I hope to go to Beloveje.

It is well that you have seen Shcherbatov; try now to see Polivanov, and be frank with him. Well, it is time to dispatch the courier. God bless you, my Wify, my treasure I I kiss you and the children fondly.

Ever your hubby

Give her my greetings.


Telegram. Stavka. 20 June, 1915.

I thank you heartily for your sweet letter; also Mane and Alexey. The heat is terrific. I saw Samarin, who has accepted, but asked to postpone his appointment for a fortnight...

Telegram. Stavka. 21 June. 1915.

Countless thanks for sweet letter and telegram. I had no time to write. To-morrow I am going for the whole day to Beloveje. I think I ought to stay here for a little longer, for military considerations. I kiss you tenderly. Sleep well.


Telegram Beloveje. 22 June, 1915.

I have arrived here all right. I remember; am thinking of vou all. The forest is beautiful. I embrace you closely.


Telegram. Stavka. 23 June, 1915.

My warmest thanks for dear letter. I derived great pleasure from my trip yesterday. I am writing about it. Returned at II in the evening. The weather is wonderful. I have remembered the date of her birthday and sent a telegram...

Stavka. 23 June, 1915.


I thank you for your dear letter. Yesterday I enjoyed myself in Beloveje. It was quite strange to be there alone, without you and the children. I felt so lonely and sad, but was none the less glad to see the house and our charming rooms, to forget the present and to live through past days. But the night beiore my departure I spent anxiously. No sooner had I finished playing dominoes than N. appeared and showed me a telegram he had just received from Alexeiev, which said that the Germans had broken through our lines and were penetrating far into the rear. N. left immediately in his train, and promised to telegraph to me in the morning from Sedletz. Naturally, I could not start for Beloveje at io o'clock as I had intended. All [those] around me became greatly discouraged, except Voeikov, as they did not know the cause of N.'s sudden departure. At last, at 11-40, a telegram came, to the effect that the proriv [breach] was repaired by a strong counterattack of three of our regiments, and that the enemy was repulsed with heavy losses. So at 12 o'clock I ran off with a light heart, accompanied by the old man and all my gentlemen.

The road to Beloveje stretches for 183 versts, but it is a very good and even one. Three towns lie on the route - Slonim, Roujany and Proujany. I arrived at cur house at 3.20, and the others at intervals of five minutes, because of the frightful dust. A cold lunch was served for us in the dining-room, and then I showed the gentlemen all over our and the children's rooms. Then we drove to the zverinetz [preserve] to see some wild bison and other animals. We were lucky enough to meet a large herd of buffaloes, who looked at us quite calmly.

We drove in the forest on excellent grass paths and got on to a main road at the end of the poushcha [wood). The weather was magnificent, but this year there is such a drought that even the marshes have disappeared, and a thick dust pervades ev!n the forest; all who took part in the drive were made unrecognisable by the black dust, especially the little Admiral. The Keeper of Beloveje is new - he is called Lvov, a fat man, related to the Admiral. The old priest is dead, as well as Neverli, whom I did not know - His successor is Bark, a relation of the Minister, F who has served here for 20 years in the capacity of Foresteran energetic man, who knows the forest ana the game to perfection. On our way back, the tyres of all the cars began to burst-on my car three times-owing to the heat of the day and a mass of scattered nails. These stoppages came in very opportunely, as they gave us a chance of getting out and stretching our legs. In the evening and during the night it was beautifully fresh, and the air in the forest wonderfully aromatic.

We arrived here at 10-45, Just at the time when N.'s train was slowly moving to its place. After a talk with him I had supper with my gentlemen, and immediately after went to bed. He told me that, on the whole, the situation had not changed for the worse since yesterday, and that it would improve if the Germans ceased to press us at the same point for several days. In that case we should have to collect new (fresh) troops and try to stop them. But again there crops up this damnable question of the shortage of artillery ammunition and rifles - this puts a check on any energetic movement forward, as, after three days of hard fighting, the supply of munitions might be exhausted. Without new rifles it is impossible to make good the losses, and the army is at present only just a trifle stronger than in peace-time. It should be - and at the beginning of the war it was-three times as strong. That is the position we are in at this moment.

If there was no fighting for the duration of a month our position would be far better. Of course, I am giving this information only to you; please do not speak of it, darling.

This letter has become rather lengthy, and I have no time for more. God bless you, my beloved Sunny! Tenderly, tenderly I kiss you and the children. Be well and strong again! Ever your hubby


NOTES: With regard to the continucd shortage of rifles, it may be noted that the troops were now using, in addition to those of Russiaa minufacture, Japanese. Austrian and Mexican rifles. The order for American ritles had been held up by Soukhomlinov. There was an increasing scarcity of cartridges, and innumerable orders were issued to the army commanders laying stress on the need for economy.

Telegram. Stavka. 24 June, 1915.

I am infinitely grateful for dear letters - yours and Marie's - which came at 9, instead of in the morning. The weather is beautiful. I bathed in the little river in my favourite wood. I kiss you tenderly. Sleep well.


Telegram. Stavka. 25 June, 1915.

Thanks for sweet letter; Tatiana also. The weather is sultry to-day. I hope to return on Sunday after dinner.

The news is better. I kiss you fondly.


Telegram. Stavka. 26 June, 1915.

Thank you heartily for your dear letter, and Alexey's. At lunch we had a refreshing thunderstorm. The krestnyie khodi [processions of the Cross] are fixed for the 8th of July. Am inexpressibly happy to be going home to-morrow...

Stavka. 26 June, 1915.


My warmest thanks for your three dear letters. I could not write before, as I was busy with my beastly papers, which I get at the most inconvenient hours. This was caused by great numbers of military trains going from Vilna to Bielostok.

Yesterday I was glad to see the 5th Squadron of my hussars, which was passing through the station. The train was stopped for 15 minutes; all the men got out - and brought out the colours. I saw them settle down again and start off, gaily shouting "hurrah!" What a joyful, refreshing feeling!

The Dragoons also went through here, but your Uhlans went past by another line. I agree with you, my darling, that my chief work is the inspection of troops. I have often spoken of this to Voeikov from the practical point of view it is very difficult to organize from here.

From Beloveje it is, of course, easier. But not being here (so in the text: presumably he means "there."), I do not know what troops are where, and those which are behind the front line are constantly shifted backward and forward and are difficult to find. Travelling round in the train is now out of the question. It is like a blind alley, as the French say!

I am very grateful to you for forwarding me Victoria's letter - she always writes so clearly and positively.

During lunch to-day a thunderstorm passed over us; the downpour was heavy and lasted for an hour. It has freshened the air wonderfully, having lowered the temperature from 23 to 15 degrees.

This is my last letter to you, my dear little Birdy - I am truly happy to be returning home to my family.

I kiss you tenderly, tenderly, and the children too. I hope to arrive on Saturday at 5 o'clock in the evening. May God bless you, my beloved, darling Sunny! Always your old hubby


Telegram. Stavka. 27 June, 1915.

I thank you warmly for your dear letter with the papers; Olga and Alexey as well. I am leaving now with good impressions. The news, thanks be to God - is definitely better. I hope that you are feeling better. I kiss you tenderly.


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