In his classic work The Demons, Dostoevsky foresaw that Russia was entering an eschatological age. He wrote: “Communism will conquer one day, irrespective of whether the Communists are right or wrong. But this triumph will stand very far from the Kingdom of Heaven.”1
The leaders of that sanguinary and bloodthirsty era, which did come about as Dostoevsky foresaw, indeed founded a kingdom of evil and terror in absolute contrast to the Heavenly Kingdom. Their atheistic and anti-Christian kingdom saw in the person of the Tsar and his family not any possible claimants to the throne, but the epitome of the Russian Orthodox state, the living symbol of the Orthodox Faith and the main defender of Orthodoxy on a worldwide basis. This is what they aimed to destroy and eliminate. This was proved by the rivers of blood of the martyrs of the Faith they shed in their unleashing of a persecution against the Orthodox Church, boasting of Diocletian dimensions.
The Imperial family was not executed, they were murdered. But in reality, for us Orthodox it was not even a mere murder: it was a martyrdom. The Royal Martyrs accepted their sufferings in the most spiritual way, setting themselves willingly in the martyric path of Christ our Lord. As the English tutor of the imperial children, Sydney Gibbes, said, “They knew it was the end”, even from the time they were still held in Tobolsk. If there was any chance for them to avoid that end, they did not pursue it. They surrendered their lives without reluctance to death; a death that was carried out in a most violent way, with incredible cruelty, by the persecutors of the Orthodox Faith who sought to found their newly-built kingdom on the blood of the supreme advocate and custodian of that Faith.
The following is an excerpt from our forthcoming book The Romanov Royal Martyrs: What Silence Could Not Conceal. The excerpt is from the beginning of the chapter entitled, “Eternal Present Continuous”. The full chapter relates the events of the martyrdom in pellucid detail. Its title aims to highlight the immortal dimension of the family’s sacrifice, an element that is also symbolically presented through the use of the present continuous tense throughout the chapter.
Yurovsky stands outside the double door of the salon. The time is 1:30 am. He knocks on the door. Doctor Eugene Botkin is surprised, awakens and comes out:
“What is happening?” he asks with bewilderment.
“The situation in the city is bad. The family’s stay here on the first floor is insecure. You must all come down to the basement until we take you to another safer location. Please, wake the rest immediately and tell them to get ready. They do not need to take anything with them for now.”
Botkin goes inside to awaken the rest and Yurovsky returns to his office. A few minutes later, Lyukhanov’s truck is heard approaching. It is the only vehicle which moves outside at this hour. Passing into the open entrance of the fence, the truck enters into the yard of the house. Yurovsky gives final instructions to his men for their assignment. The hour approaches 2:00 am and Medvedev makes the round to inform the guards of the events which would follow.
A little after 2:00 am the prisoners are ready and leaving their rooms. None of them seems uneasy. None of them speaks. Nicholas emerges first carrying Alexis on his chest. Both of them are wearing military tunics and peaked caps on their heads. Alexandra follows, and the girls, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia. They are all wearing long dresses and blouses without jackets or hats. They are holding cushions, purses and other small items. After the girls follows Anna Demidova also holding a cushion or two. Finally Doctor Botkin, Alexei Trupp and Ivan Kharitonov emerge.
Yurovsky with Nikulin and two other guards lead the prisoners toward the stairs which are on the other end of the floor. From there they descend to the ground floor, emerge into the yard and pass three or four meters. Yurovsky opens a double door making a sign to the prisoners to pass on again into the house. Then they descend a few steps and pass into some hallway which leads again back to the other end of the house where “that” room was located, under the girls’ bedroom. Adjoining, inside a second room are the men of the assassination squad.
At the south end of the corridor, Yurovsky opens another double door. This is now the last door which will open to the family in this life, it is the door to “that” room…
In December 2018, using excerpts from the Russian film Искупительная жертва (Redemptive sacrifice), the Monastery of Mesa Potamos has published a two-part video with a recreation of the martyrdom of the royal Martyrs and the tragic procedure of the disposal of their bodies. This is what the monastery wrote to mark the occasion:
“This December marks the last month of the 1918-2018 Romanov Centennial. We are now paying our last homage to the murder of the Imperial Family on this historical anniversary, by producing a video in two parts with the depiction of their martyrdom. The content of the videos is definitely not pleasant to watch. No, it is very sad, tragic, and frightening, but… it is the truth. It is for this tragic but most spiritually glorious martyrdom that the Orthodox Church has glorified them as Saints. Now, the Royal Martyrs pray for us to God by His throne.”