03/01/2013 14 CAPITULO 14


26/12/2012 13 CAPITULO 13


25/11/2012 12 CAPITULO 12


01/11/2012 11 CAPITULO 11



China - Capítulo 11
09/10/2012 10 CAPITULO 10


Second Part

01/10/2012 9 CAPITULO 9


First Part

12/09/2012 8 CAPITULO 8

The Pascal Jenny

Los Pascal Jenny
01/09/2012 7 CAPITULO 7

The Romanov

death and resurrection of the last Tsar

26/07/2012 5 CAPITULO 5

Stalin's gift to peron

15/07/2012 4 CAPITULO 4

The Baltics

08/07/2012 6 CAPITULO 6


Vague fragments of a diary

03/07/2012 3 CAPITULO 3

Without Prejudice

Three versions of Poland

21/06/2012 2 CAPITULO 2

Becoming Berlin

Becoming Berlín
14/06/2012 1 CAPITULO 1

Occupy Frankfurt

Expreso a Oriente - Occupy Frankfurt



Capítulo #7. The Romanov


The Bolshevik execution squad orders the Romanov to go into a basement room under the pretext to photograph them before the family was moved to a safe location.  Everybody goes down, even the cook, a doctor, an assistant, a maid and the child´s dog. The lady complains that they don´t have where to sit. The man asks twice what was happening. Commander, Yakov Yurovsky, comes into the room followed by his officers and read the execution orders. Then everything is shooting and bayonets stabs. Nicholas II, the last Russian Tsar and his entire family have just been killed.

The Bolshevik execution squad orders the Romanov to go into a basement room under the pretext to photograph them before the family was moved to a safe location.  Everybody goes down, even the cook, a doctor, an assistant, a maid and the child´s dog. The lady complains that they don´t have where to sit. The man asks twice what was happening. Commander, Yakov Yurovsky, comes into the room followed by his officers and read the execution orders. Then everything is shooting and bayonets stabs. Nicholas II, the last Russian Tsar and his entire family have just been killed.

Exactly ninety-four years later, under a sweltering heat, I walk with Hipólito and Joaquin around the city of Yekaterinburg, and now we are just in front of the place where the Soviets not only wanted to end the Romanov dynasty, but the link between the monarchy and the sacred to establish an atheistic regime. During the Soviet period, the building housed was a local museum of atheism.  But now at this place stands the Church on Blood.  Pilgrims from all countries of the world come here to pray, cry, smile, shout and sing. Everyone remembers the family. The family killed, like saints. Actually, the Orthodox Church declared them martyrs. Unwittingly, at the entrance to Siberia, we attended the most important celebration of the lineage which ruled Russia for over 304 years.

1918 and the socialist revolution is a reality in the land where the Tsars ruled at will for almost 600 years. The Bolsheviks deposed Nicholas II with the February Revolution and he was arrested along with the rest of his family. After a while trying to find asylum in England and France, without success, the Crowned Executioner Tsar -as he was called- and his family were confined to the house of a Yekaterinburg engineer named Ipatiev Nikolay.

The rumor that a pro-Czarist-Czechoslovak League are coming to the Urals capital in order to liberate Nicolas and restore the system accelerates the decision of the Central Soviet: Yakov Sverdlov, his chairman, meets with Lenin in Moscow and both plan the massacre in Yekaterinburg (ironically, six years later and until the end of the USSR, the city was called Sverdlovsk by the Bolshevik leader, who died a year later, by a flu epidemic).

Around midnight of the 16th, twelve armed men, Cheka police murderers, come to the place where the Tsar and his family are under arrest. According to the account of one of the executors, two of them refuse to fire on women. Each is assigned to a victim. Yurovsky, under the command of the execution squad, reserves the right to shoot the Tsar.

The killing, which was to be stealthy and not leave traces (the walls of the room were made of a material that would avoid the bullets bounce, which also had to get right to the heart to prevent bloodshed), demands more powder than thought. Some of the victims were riddled by the edge of bayonets. Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra, his son Alexis, his four daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, Dr. Botkin, the cook Tikhomirov, the assistant Anna Trupp and the maid are murdered. The Chronicles (including this one), condemn the dog to anonymity.

Once naked, bodies are taken in a truck to bury them in a mine on the outskirts of the city. In the middle of the night, the car breaks down and killers must improvise. Sverdlov orders to take the bodies down. First they decide to burn them. But they give up the idea for the fear of being discovered. Forced by the situation, and with the firm intention of not leaving traces, bodies are burned with sulfuric acid so they cannot be recognized. Finally, they bury them in the road.

The Ural Soviet issues a statement the next day: “The Presidium of the Divisional Committee, fulfilling the will of the people, has decided that the former Tsar Nicholas Romanov, guilty before the people of countless bloody crimes, be shot.” A newspaper reports that the murder was performed with “no bourgeois formalities but in line with our new democratic principles.” What a democracy!

Years pass and, despite the untidiness, the remains of the family become a sordid and undecipherable riddle.

The cold night of the history gives way to an evening of contemporary unbearable heat. The Church dome can be seen from all the city. Right there, where the last vestiges of czarist Russia have ended, a celebration is about to begin. The first things you see are the scarves on hundreds of ladies heads. White, fuchsia, beige, orange, embroidery, dotted, flowered. Scarves everywhere. Gentlemen with veteran beards. Youth with extravagant shirts. Men dressed in war cry like children. “They are Cossacks, the most warlike race of all Russia,” a girl who came from Moscow to attend the celebration, explains me. “In the time of the Red Terror we could not profess our faith. They destroyed almost all our churches. So today we celebrate this freedom”, said another voice under a scarf.

Almost all have neck tied laminated images. They remind me the press credentials, but instead of a medium name they are portraits of saints. They are giant stamps. Devotees religiously accredited.


Crosses confuse me. They are also everywhere, but they are not the ones I know. They have two more crosses in the vertical ends, like three crosses in one, but the one in the bottom crosses obliquely. People also crosses themselves in a different way: they join fingers harder, rub their forehead, then they take the same right hand down almost to their stomach, then bounce up to the top of the right shoulder (not to the chest, as in the sign of the Christian cross), then to the left shoulder and end bending down taking their fingers up to the floor in an almost athletic elasticity show. In Russia, crossing oneself is truly a religious act.

Other ladies, with much more years than teeth, kneel in the grass and ignoring their ages look, hypnotized, the ceremony that it´s just to start in front of the Church. Huge images show the family of the last Tsar dressed in robes as if they had lived for thousands of years, and with a halo over their heads.

The altar is situated in front of the church, escorted by a staircase dressed in a red carpet, and a camera records the ceremony on a postcard much more from Hollywood than from a lost city in the way to Siberia. The huge screen, built on a truck, invites thousands of devotees to see what happens there, behind the scarves and Cossacks.

It´s getting dark, and priests in violet, red and gold costumes, who have already exceeded the sweat of the afternoon, begin to mix among people. There is already a multitude aware of the general silence, only invaded by the voice of the chief priest, who reads with difficulty a psalm, while another priest, in a black bonnet, assists him with a microphone that mediates the ceremony. Thousands of people came from all over Russia to remember a tsar that religion and the history books do not agree to judge.

Nicholas II, according to history, could not pull the strings of a nation of 23 million square kilometers. He ascended the throne after the early death of his father, recognizing that he was not ready for the task that fell luckily or misfortunately on him. Manipulated by his cousin, William II, Emperor of Germany, by his wife, the Tsarina Alexandra (hated by the entire Russian people for being German) and by Rasputin, a mystic trying to cure his hemophiliac son and, as it is said , had an affair with the Tsarina, the last tsar of Russia did not take the best decisions. He provoke the loss of 70 percent of its navy in the war with Japan In 1905; he exasperated the working classes one Bloody Sunday of that same year by killing 92 people trying to calm a protest at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, and was again persuaded to mobilize his troops in the First World War, supporting the ultimately defeated Germany.

But ladies in scarves do not seem to have read that story. The just talk about the “red terror” and line up to kiss an image of the tsar, who is carefully cleaned by a parishioner each time pilgrims seal their lips on it. The family was canonized in 1981 by the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia, where the Soviet Union that killed Nicholas II still ruled and did not want to know nothing regarding gods or miracles. And in 2000, by the same Church but within the boundless Russian Federation. The reasons are still being discussed today: “Resignation and docility against the martyrdom”, the clergy justified. “They were an exemplary family for the entire Russian society,” a priest tries to explain me, in English as unenviable as its argument.

But it matters little. Now everyone runs behind a caravan that goes to the place where the bodies were buried in the woods of Koptiakí. The procession provokes runs and screaming. Ladies push each other to leap on the icons of the holy family carried by the Cossacks on their shoulders. Those who did not have the blessing of touching them look distrustfully. In a few minutes, the Church and the adjoining park remain empties.

After a whole adoration day, the celebration ends. Finding the bodies of Nicholas II family, however, took nearly 90 years. In 1979, after finding a secret report drafted by Yurovsky himself, about 1,000 skeletal remains were found outside Yekaterinburg. But as the Soviet Union was still in power, a geologist (Alexander Avdonin) and a filmmaker (Gely Ryabov), responsible for the findings, should need to keep the secret and re-bury the skeletons.

Ten years later, the discovery was made public, and in 1991, Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first president after the former USSR, curiously Yekaterinburg native, authorized the investigation which determined that there were a total of nine bodies, some of whom belonged to the aristocracy as they had dental fillings made from gold, platinum and porcelain.

The mystery was about to be unfold, but confirmation was still lacking. Confirmation that came with the DNA sample taken to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, direct relationship with the Tsarina Alexandra. And in 1994, after the exhumation of the remains of Nicholas’s brother, Jorge, the last Tsar of Russia identity was verified.

However, two bodies were still missing, the Tsarevich Alexis and one of the daughters. Only in 2007, a group of fans discovered human remains at about 65 meters from the pit where Nicholas had been buried. After genetic testing, the riddle was solved: Alexis and the remaining daughter, Anastasia or Maria.

The Soviets atheistic doctrine not only murdered the last tsar and his family, but it destroyed 43,000 of the nearly 50,000 churches in Russia. Neither Lenin nor Sverdlov imagined that 94 years later, nearly 90 percent of the Russian population would be Orthodox and would love the Romanov, controversial martyrs. The books say that Nicholas was a smoker and a drinker. In Yekaterinburg, however, it is the Church who tells stories.


TextoGastón Bourdieu
VideoExpreso a Oriente


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