When on the wrong side of a losing battle, most people try to get to bow out gracefully or secretly get the heck out of there. In the case of the Russian Revolution, both of these options were chosen. As World War I raged, internal conflicts were stirring in the great empire of Russia. Tension had been rising in this country for more than a decade, and little provocation was needed before it all spilled over the top. The people were getting increasingly uncomfortable with their autocratic ruler, Tsar Nicholas II. Reforms were very slowly made, laws issued, and a Duma elected.
At the fourth meeting of the Duma, one of 448 seats was held by Alexander Kerensky, who led the government that forced the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II. This same government was overthrown by the Lenin-led Bolsheviks just 9 months later. The Russians were restless with uncertainty and misrule. Many escaped in secret, like Princess Vera Constantinovna who fled to Sweden with her mother and her brother George. Many others weren’t so lucky. When considering the fall of the Russian empire and the hurried and frantic migration that it caused, there are so many viewpoints and controversial events to bear in mind, many of which had great effect on the outcome.
There were many contributing factors to the epic fall of the Russian empire. These included many harsh winters, a country crippled by the war, restless citizens, ruthless soldiers and selfish politicians. Even before the World War I, Russia was on a down-hill slide. Russia as a whole was becoming increasingly discontented with their leadership and political situation.
One man, Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky (4 May 1881 – 11 June 1970) was a Russian lawyer and revolutionist. He was a key political figure in the Russian Revolution of 1917. After what was called the ‘February Revolution’ of 1917, he joined the newly formed Russian Provisional Government, first as Minister of Justice, then as Minister of War, and after July as the government’s second Minister-Chairman. As a leader of the moderate-socialist Trudovik section of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, he was also vice-chairman of the powerful Petrograd Soviet section. On 7 November, his government was overthrown by the Lenin-led Bolsheviks in the October Revolution. He spent the remainder of his life in exile.
Princess Vera Constantinovna of Russia, (24 April 1906 – 11 January 2001) was the youngest child of Grand Duke Konstantine Konstantinovich of Russia and his wife, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Mavrikievna. A great-granddaughter of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, she was born in the Russian Empire and was a childhood playmate of the younger children of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia. She lost much of her family during World War I and the Russian Revolution. At age twelve, she escaped revolutionary Russia, fleeing with her mother and brother George to Sweden. She spent the rest of her long life in exile, first in Western Europe and from the 1950s in the United States.
The second last emperor of Russia, Tsar Nicholas II, is remembered mainly for his weak leadership and his execution. Despite this poor commemoration, there is a lot to learn about this leader who died in such a tragic way. Nicholas II (18 May 1868 – 17 July 1918), known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer in the Russian Orthodox Church, was the second last true Emperor of Russia, ruling from 1 November 1894 until his forced abdication on 15 March 1917. His reign saw the epic fall of the Russian Empire from one of the foremost great powers of the world to economic and military collapse. He was given the nickname Nicholas the Bloody after what was called Bloody Sunday, and his perceived responsibility for the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905).
Soviet historians have portrayed Nicholas as a weak and incompetent leader who’s incompetent and sometimes misinformed decisions led to military defeats and the deaths of millions of his subjects. He had five children, four girls then a boy. The boy Tsarevich Alexei was heir to the throne. Unfortunately he had an inherited disease called Haemophilia B, which prevents the blood from clotting properly. This disease resulted in many near-death incidents. After Tsar Nicholas was forced to abdicate the throne, he tried to leave it to his son. He was then told that his son would not live long enough to be crowned emperor. He then tried to leave it to his brother, Grand Duke Michael.
After he was crowned many Russians swore allegiance to their new emperor, but some remained indifferent to him. Due to this, he then refused to take the throne until the people of Russia were allowed to vote whether they wanted to continue the monarchy or change to a republic. It was nationally decided that the country should not be a monarchy. This brought the harsh end to a three-century Romanov reign. After his abdication, the Tsar and his family were imprisoned in the Ipatiev House, a far cry from the luxury they had been used to. Around 2.am whatever morning after being incarcerated in the Ipatiev house from so many months, they were roused from their beds to hurry to the basement to supposedly protect them from quickly advancing anti-Bolshevik troops.
This was just a cover to get them down there, as not long after they were settled down, Bolshevik troops shot and bayonetted the whole former Russian Imperial family as well as four family friends who had voluntarily been imprisoned with them. This act of murder was done ‘in the interest of the Russian people’ and was praised at the time. Men fought over who had shot the first bullet that killed the former Tsar. The migration that was caused by the epic fall of the Russian Empire was a sudden flood of people desperate to escape a catastrophic collapse of a country.