The death of the Romanovs

The Romanov family was murdered at Ekaterinburg on July 17th, 1918. After his abdication in March 1917, Nicholas and his family had been put under house arrest and kept just outside of St. Petersburg. As the civil war developed, the whole family was sent to Tolbolsk in Siberia and from here to Ekaterinburg in the Urals.


The Romanovs had given Lenin a major problem. To many, Nicholas was still the legitimate ruler of Russia. While he was alive, people would rally to his cause. The simple fact was that many in the White corner were fighting to restore Nicholas the throne. The tsar, appointed by God, had many loyal followers. If Nicholas escaped, then his followers would have had someone at their head to lead them – against Lenin.

In the summer of the 1918, Ekaterinburg was threatened by the advancing Whites. The decision was taken by the Bolsheviks to kill Nicholas and his family. On the night of July 17th, the family was awoken and told that there was trouble in Ekaterinburg. They were told that they would be safer in the basement of the house they were staying in. The whole family, the family doctor (Botkin) and three servants went to the basement. A group of twelve Red Army soldiers appeared in the basement and shot those there. The legend has it that the princesses had to be finished off with bayonets as they had stuffed jewels in their blouses which had deflected the bullets.

Many rumours quickly spread with regards to the murders.

one was that the youngest daughter, Anastasia somehow managed to survive.

another was that not all the family were murdered in the basement and that some, primarily the children and Alexandra, were removed from the house and shot elsewhere.

another was that the first judge appointed by the Bolsheviks to investigate the murders, Judge Sergeyev, was removed from the investigation as he was going to go public about what had happened. Sergeyev was certainly removed from the investigation in 1919 and died in mysterious circumstances shortly afterwards.

It suited the Whites to put out stories about how cruel the Reds were and it may well be that the Whites themselves were responsible for the many rumours that persisted after the murders.

A second investigative judge, Sokolov, reported that the bodies were removed from the basement and taken to the ‘Four Brothers’ mine near to Ekaterinburg. Here they were thrown done a mine shaft and left. Grenades were thrown in the mine shaft in an attempt to make it collapse.

Such was the fear of the Cheka that the story of the Romanovs deaths was never challenged and the same remained true under Stalin. However, in September 1918, a number of people claimed to have seen Alexandra and the four princesses at a house in Perm – this followed the rumour that a heavily guarded train left Ekaterinburg immediately after July 17th, with the four princesses and their mother on board. Also a doctor in Perm claimed to have treated one of the princesses after she had fallen ill in September 1918. The actual details of what happened to the Romanovs on July 17th will never be known and this has led to continual speculation as to what exactly did happen.