Our Year of the Last Romanovs series continues with the transfer to Yekaterinburg.
It was 1917, and Tsar Nicholas II was no longer on the throne. After being under house arrest, the family, who had been put on soldier’s rations, was moved from Tobolsk to the city of Yekaterinburg (also called Ekaterinburg) the following year after the Bolsheviks had taken over. The city east of the Ural Mountains residing on the border of Europe and Asia would be their final destination.
The Russian Imperial Family’s transfer took place on 30 April 1918 (O.S 13 May). Members of the family that were forced into transfer were the Tsar and his wife, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna along with their daughter: Grand Duchess Maria (b. 1899). Nicholas and Alexandra’s son, Tsarevich Alexei could not be moved at the same time as his family as he was too ill from a fall which resulted in haemorrhaging of the groin. He and his sisters, Grand Duchess Olga (b. 1895), Grand Duchess Tatiana (b. 1897), and Grand Duchess Anastasia (b. 1901) arrived in Yekaterinburg a few weeks later. The Imperial Family also had members of their staff (doctor, cook, valet and chambermaid) imprisoned with them.
Vasili Yakovlev was tasked with the moving of the family; however, upon seeing Alexei’s state, he knew that the child could not be moved. So, a visible shook Yakovlev reported back to Moscow to say that not all in the family could go to Yekaterinburg. Moscow ordered that the Tsar be taken alone. Yakovlev told the family during breakfast that he had been instructed to move them all, but Alexei’s state meant that only the Tsar would be transferred. According to The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candance Fleming, the Tsar said, “I refuse to go.”
Yakovlev said he would have to take him by force but that he could take anyone with him when they left the next morning at four am. The Empress was livid and screamed at Yakovlev for wanting to take him from his family, calling it “cruel.” She was torn between going with her husband, who she feared would “do something stupid” or staying with her ill son. She finally elected to go with the Tsar as three of Alexei’s older sisters would remain with him.
In Yekaterinburg, they were imprisoned in the two storey home of military engineer Nikolay Nikolayevich Ipatiev called the Ipatiev House. Ipatiev would be dubbed the “house with a special purpose” – that purpose, of course, was to execute the Russian Imperial Family.
They would only live on the upper floor of the fortified Ipatiev House for roughly two and a half months (78 days) before they were executed on 17 July 1918 (O.S 30 July). The house would eventually be demolished in 1977 on the orders of Boris Yeltsin (who would go on to be the first President of the Russian Federation from 1991-1999).