MEMORIES OF ALEXEI VOLKOV
Personal Valet to
Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna
1910 - 1918
Preface by H.I.H. Marie, Grand Duchess of Russia
Translated from the Russian to French by E. Semenov
Payot, Paris, 1928
Translated from French to English by Robert Moshein (2004)
Translation note of R. Moshein. I have tried to maintain the original tone and "feel" of the original French text as much as possible. I have not attempted to "modernize" the language, so that the reader may get the sense of time and place Volkov used. Also, Volkov spoke no English, and there are several mistakes in the original French about his visit to England. I have left them exactly as found in the original text in order to preserve the original exactly in translation. - R.M.
The name of Volkov evokes in me a flood of distant memories. He had been for many years the loyal servant and was devoted to my father, Grand Duke Paul, and following remained to the family of the Emperor Nicholas II. Volkov, witness to the good days, offered most willingly to participate in the harshness of the exile of the Imperial Family and alone was by chance spared certain death. The devotion of this man has not ceased despite everything.
- Grand Duchess Marie of Russia, Paris, 1928.
Translator's Note by E. Semenov:
Alexei Andreievich Volkov is one of four "escapees" of the tragedies at Ekaterinburg, Alpaievsk and Perm, whee the Imperial Family, Grand Dukes and their entourages were savagely assassinated. He himself gives his biography in his "Memories" of the Imperial Court. We will therefore not stop for it here. We state simply that, despite the film-like character, a tragic film, pathetic as well, of his recount, which, at moments, one reads with intense emotion, this simple recount, which should not be called a summary, is the most interesting, adding details and precision to the most authentic of documents already published about the tragedies at Ekaterinburg, Alapaievsk and Perm, by P. Gilliard, N. Sokolov, S. Smirnov and others. These new tracts, intimate of the characters and the lives of the principal personages of the tragedy have come to life and speak for themselves as well as to the heart and spirit of the speaker, giving at the same time new material for future historians of this extraordinary epoch, unique in the history of humanity.
As for Volkov himself, it shall suffice for the presenter to cite several lines, which P. Gilliard dedicated to the immediate entourage of the Imperial Family during their captivity: "All, from the general to the simple seaman, they did not hesitate to make the sacrifice of their lives to march courageously toward death." Volkov, the servant to the Court, simple peasant by birth, "had not a word to say to save himself. He would not forswear his Emperor! Such a word he would never say." The unity of the career and life of Volkov, has always been conducted fully with honor and courage, as in the extent of the Elegy of P. Gilliard (v.p. 256 of the book "The Tragic Destiny of Nicholas II", Payot, Paris.) - Semenov, 1928.
Introduction by Alexei Volkov
I spent thirty-five years in the service of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich (younger brother of Emperor Alexander III) and Tsar Nicholas II.
I was witness to the life of nobles of this world and especially to their hidden lives, thanks to the etiquette of the Court, hidden from indiscrete external eyes.
With me, or in my presence, these august persons had no need to take the attitudes or conventional masks of wordliness. In front of me appeared only "human beings" with their joys and their sadness, with the qualities and their faults.
I saw the pleasant existence of the Imperial House at the time of the power and the glory of Russia and the grandeur which emanated from the Russian Tsar and his family.
It was my fate given me to share with the Imperial Family the privations and misfortunes of exile. It was also only fate that delivered me from the violent death which the Imperial Family suffered.
Casting, at present, a look to the past, I am satisfied to never be reproached for having abandoned the Imperial Family during the days of their misfortune, after having served during happier days. The knowledge that I did what I had to do, gives rest to my soul.
I should be happy if my memories may contribute to re-establish the veritable figure of the Emperor Nicholas II and to rebuild - from the slander and meanness - the memory of his wife and those innocent children.
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