In the remote village of Qadian, India in the year 1905, a humble man was blessed with true visions and given knowledge of the unseen as God spoke to him.
At that time when this prophecy was made, few could have believed such misfortune would fall upon humanity let alone the Tsar – the ruler of the largest and one of the most powerful nations of that time. However, this prophecy proved to be true, manifesting in the First World War and the miserable end of Tsar and his family.
Tsar – agony and distress
Travelling back in time and reaching the end of 19th century, we can explore the extraordinary lives, the agony and trauma and tragic deaths of the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II and his family.
The exhibition in the Science Museum, London is set up from 21 September 2018 to 24 March 2019 to reveal the turbulent backdrop of social upheaval and war between 1900 and 1918.
Facts have been disclosed about the rare blood disorder of the Tsar’s son Tsarevich Alexei, mental health of Tsarina and the fear and anxiety of the Tsar to uncover the science behind one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century; all this in The Last Tsar, Blood and Revolution exhibition.
Today, some of the striking buildings in Russia are in the city of Saint Petersburg located on the Baltic Sea. It was the imperial capital for two centuries and established by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703 CE, who named it after his patron Saint Peter, so it was called Saint Petersburg instead of Nyen, which was its previous name.
The city’s first building was the Peter and Paul Fortress. In 1712, Peter the Great moved the capital from Moscow to Saint Petersburg and wanted to make it a defensive city for Russia. Until today, it has had a sinister history and never served its defensive purpose.
Another significant building is Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral, the burial place of all tsars from Peter I to Alexander III (but not Peter II). However, the remains of the last tsar, Nicholas II and his family and entourage were re-buried here in the side chapel of Saint Catherine on 17 July 1998, the 80th anniversary of their death.
Today the icon of the city is the tall tower of the fortress seen across the Neva River. An important city worth mentioning is Yekaterinburg that lies east of the Ural Mountains. It was given this name by Tsar Peter the Great after his wife Yekaterina, who became Catherine I after Peter’s death.
Today the significance of this city is that following the Oct Revolution the family of the deposed last Tsar Nicholas II were sent to internal exile in Yekaterinburg where they were imprisoned in the Ipatiev House. The city is known for the golden-domed “Church on the Blood”, built in the early 21st century on the site of the 1918 Romanov executions. The nearby Regional Local Lore Museum includes the “Hall of the Romanovs” where the personal items of the last Tsar and his family are kept.
The Russian Imperial family called Romanov started their rule in 1613 and continued until 1917. Peter the Great (1672-1725) brought autocracy into Russia and played a major role in bringing his country into a state system. Russia became the largest country in the world, stretching from the Baltic sea to the Pacific Ocean. He founded the city of Saint Petersburg and made it a capital, thus opening a window into Europe. Later an autocracy and orthodoxy developed in the Imperial rule and there was no question of democracy, constitution and the parliamentary system at the end of 19th century during the time of Alexander III (1881-1894) who was succeeded by his son Nicholas II (1894-1917). But the Industrial Revolution was gaining power to exert a significant influence in Russia that ultimately brought an end to the Imperial rule. Such a tragic and brutal end of the last Tsar was beyond imagination.
An autocratic ruler
In 1894, 26-year-old Romanov Nicholas II ascended to the Russian throne. He was married to Alexandra, a German lady and Queen Victoria’s granddaughter. It was a loving family with four healthy daughters. In his diary, Nicholas wrote:
“No more separation. At last, united for life and when this life [ends], we [shall] meet in the other world to remain together for all eternity.”
But the first ten years of their reign were marked by great pressure to provide a son and a heir. A person like Nicholas II who was not only emperor but had a number of titles – including By the Grace of God Emperor Nicholas II, Autocrat of all Russians (on one silver ruble coin), Tsar (an archaic Slavic title), Great Authority and Power – was greatly upset and disturbed without a son.
As for Tsarina, she was under great stress to give the nation a male heir – the future supreme ruler of Russia. With the birth of each daughter, her stress and anxiety increased. Her husband Tsar Nicholas II was worried and sought treatment from experts. Her anxiety was treated with gentle medications and spas prescribed by physician Eugene Botkin (1865-1918). As time passed, Tsarina lost trust in professional medication and found comfort in faith and spiritual healing. Rumours suggested she suffered from nervous problems.
Under the Russian autocratic system, health care was provided by the church, private charities and local government. Although care was inconsistent, many hospitals and asylums adopted progressive principles that abolished restraining pressure from those with mental illnesses. But that was not the case for political prisoners.
As the socialist Marxist policies grew, a number of women were imprisoned, and many struggled in solitary confinement and against abusive male guards. Those who showed signs of anxiety were labelled hysterical and many were driven to suicide.
In the Science Museum, London exhibition is displayed the case of a 26-year-old student Maria Ventrova (1870-1897) who was detained in complete isolation at the Trubetskoy Baston Prison where you never hear any sound. Maria set herself alight with kerosene from a lamp and died from burns four days later.
This was not an isolated case. There was an “epidemic of suicide” and “revolutionary psychosis”. There were political factors as causes of mental health. But the psychological problem of Tsarina was due to great pressure from the state to have a heir for the empire. A professional medicine could not have produced a male, so spiritual healers flooded the Imperial court.
Heir for the monarchy
Tsar Nicholas II struggled to find any “spiritual” and “mystic” healer for Alexandra Tsarina to bring her out of mental stress and save his own monarchy.
In 1902, Monsieur Philippe, a so-called “miracle worker”, promised her a son, but the result was Tsarina’s “Phantom pregnancy”. It was declared that her mental state was due to some “divine powers” on “blessed souls”.
In 1904, Alexandra was blessed with Tsarevich Alexei, long awaited son and heir to Imperial Russia. But sadly, this happy jubilation turned to horror. Alexei contracted a rare blood disease called haemophilia where blood clotting is very difficult. Tsarina Alexandra was horrified as she knew it was a “royal disease” in the family of her grandmother Queen Victoria and knew that her uncle, brother and nephew had died of this disease. The news threatened to destabalise Russia. Knowledge of Alexei’s condition was kept as a state secret. The Tsar family was plunged into great fear anxiety and distress. In Nicholas II’s diary (that is displayed in the Science Museum exhibition) the birth and first bleeding episode of Alexei has been written.
Agony and fear of Tsar
The news of Alexei’s haemophilia threatened to destabilise Russia and fear gripped the Tsar and his family. Knowledge of Alexei’s condition was to be guarded as a state secret. In Russia, any disability was perceived as a divine punishment. The future tsar, who would serve as head of the church and country, should not have any disability. So, the haemophilia of Alexei was concealed from the court and public and his photos were carefully displayed. In public, he was carried by his father or safely on a royal carriage. There was never an official statement about Alexei’s condition. But when the Tsar was on holiday in Spala (present Poland) Alexei experienced a near fatal haemorrhage during a boat accident and his condition was published in 1912.
In the Science Museum, London a picture of the Tsar with the royal doctor Eugene Botkin on board the Imperial yacht is on display and the date mentioned is 1908.
Finding comfort in the closeness and safety of their family, the Tsar and Tsarina left the capital and withdrew greatly from their court life and made a comfortable home at their countryside residence. The public life of the family was secluded. Protected from the vast country they ruled, the Romanovs were gradually losing touch with it.
Alexei experienced painful haemorrhages and professional help was of little use. The agony and distress of the Tsar took him to find natural and spiritual healers who flooded the palace. The last and most notorious was Grigori Rasputin.
His power and influence on the Tsar mystified the nation. Curiosity and suspicion led to outrage as the nation was not familiar with Alexei’s condition. Rasputin considered himself a “natural healer” and was regularly visiting the Imperial family. His ability to settle Alexei’s bleeding secured his friendship with the Tsar and Tsarina. He was very unpopular at court and with public. His presence gathered rumours and damaged the Imperial family.
Another “fake” healer was a Tibetan doctor Pyotor Badmaeu (1851-1920) running a successful clinic at Saint Petersburg selling herbal medicines and alchemical remedies of Tibetan Shamons and became a regular visitor to treat Alexei’s haemophilia.
The agony and suffering, anxiety and distress of the Tsar was mentioned by Maurice Paleologue, French Ambassador to Russia in his diary which is displayed in the Science Museum, London:
“During recent months, [the] Emperor suffered from nervous maladies which betray themselves in unhealthy excitement, anxiety, loss of appetite, depression and insomnia. The Emperor would not rest until he had that quack Badmaeu.” (Diary of Maurice Paleologue, 6 November 1916)
Political turmoil for the Tsar
Nicholas II had absolute power over his country and its subjects – politically, legally and spiritually.
The Tsar’s power was regarded as sacred, universal and complete. He believed in the concept of autocracy as the foundation stone of Russian society and upheld their divine and incontestable right to rule. But this model of governing proved to be unfit in a rapidly changing and modernising society. A chain of events occurred in the social, economic and political structure of Russia that led to the tragic, yet brutal, end of the Romanovs.
Socialist organisations were gaining momentum from the end of the 19th century and many public figures, government officials and members of the royal family were murdered. In 1881, Tsar Alexander II was killed by a suicide bomber. The Church of the Savior on Blood is the spot where this attack happened in Saint Petersburg.
In January 1905, trouble in Russia had greatly upset the Tsar when 120,000 socialists, mainly workers, marched in the streets to hand over a petition to him. The soldiers fired at them and nearly 100 people died and several hundred were wounded. The activities of the revolutionists created chaos and unrest in the country and the Tsar was greatly disturbed to read about strikes in schools and factories, murder of policemen and soldiers, riots, disorder and mutiny.
He wrote to his mother:
“We are in the midst of a revolution with an administrative apparatus entirely disorganized and in this lies the main danger”. (Marvin Lyons, Nicholas II, The Last Tsar )
Under these circumstances, the Tsar realised that the country was at the verge of a cataclysmic revolution because he had no option but to take a number of steps towards constitutional liberal direction. The emperor and autocrat of Russia was forced to sign the establishment of the Imperial Duma (an elected assembly) which could not function properly because the First World War developed badly for Russia. There was no reason for Russia to involve in the war, but leaders, diplomats and 19th century alliances created a climate of large scale conflict.
Brutal end of the Tsar and his family
On 30July 1914, Nicholas II of Russia took control of the army and ordered a general mobilisation of the army, which was not fully prepared. There were heavy losses. In the Battle of Tannenberg, the entire Russian army was annihilated. The Tsar lost loyal officers who could have protected the dynasty when combined forces of Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire counter attacked.
Although the Tsar was the commander of the army, he was a weak and incompetent leader. Historians speculate that some of his decisions led to military defeats and deaths of millions of people. Blood flowed unendingly, the ranks became thinner and thinner and the number of graves multiplied. Defeat at the front caused disorder at home. There were shortages of food and fuel. People suffered and starved.
In December 1916, the Tsar was cut off from public opinion. He was at the front while control of the capital was left with his wife Alexandra. The influence of Rasputin and Alexandra’s German background deteriorated the situation. People were very angry with Nicholas why he failed to remove Rasputin whose influence was destructive. Alexandra was even accused of harbouring treacherous sympathies towards Germany. Rasputin was murdered by a group of nobles.
On 2 March 1917, Nicholas II chose to abdicate and named his cousin Grand Duke Michael as the next Emperor of all the Russians. He issued a statement:
“In the days of a great struggle against a foreign enemy who has been endeavouring for three years to enslave our country, it pleased God to send Russia a further painful trial … In these decisive days in the life of Russia, we thought it our duty of conscience to facilitate our people the closest union possible and a consolidation of all national forces for speedy victory. In agreement with the Imperial Duma (electoral body) we have thought it well to renounce the throne of the Russian Empire and to lay down the supreme power. As we do not wish to part from our beloved son, we transmit the succession to our brother Grand Duke Michael … We call on our faithful sons of the fatherland to fulfil their sacred duty to the fatherland … May the Lord God help Russia.”
This statement was suppressed by the provincial government. The diary displayed in the Science Museum, London shows, “All around are treachery, cowardice and deceit”. (Diary of Nicholas II on the day of abdication, 2 March 1917)
Captivity, imprisonment and cold-blooded murder
Nicholas desperately wanted to go into exile in the United Kingdom following his abdication, but the Labour Party and the Liberals raised objections. Even France declined to offer asylum to the Tsar family.
On 22 March 1917, the Romanov family and their loyal servants were imprisoned in Alexander palace before they were moved to Tobolsk where they stayed in captivity between August 1917 and April 1918. They were shifted to many other places such as Mose, Omsk, Tiumen, Perm and Chelyabinsk.
In April 1918, Nicholas, Alexandra and Maria were moved to Yekaterinburg. Alexei was too ill to accompany his parents and stayed with 3 other sisters at Tobolsk until May 1918. They were then imprisoned in Ipatiev House – “The House of Special Purpose”.
The Bolsheviks had taken power in October 1917 and the Romanov’s destiny was to be decided. If alive, the Tsar would be a threat to the new power of the Soviets, speculated the leaders of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks) who split apart from the Menshevik faction of the Second Party Congress in 1903.
The Marxist leader Lenin (in 1917) joined the Bolshevik Party to overthrow the Provincial Government. Thus, this Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 became the political power of Russia in December 1917 and planned a complete end to the Russian monarchy.
16 July 1918 saw the Tsar family under Bolshevik custody at the Ipatiev House.
On 25 July 1918, the House was empty when anti-Bolshevik forces recaptured the city. Where were the Romanovs? Who killed them? Where were their bodies taken? Were all of them murdered? The questions remained unanswered and speculations prevailed. After Ekaterinburg was recaptured from Bolsheviks, an official enquiry into the disappearance of Romanovs was launched by Ural Provincial Government.
Evidence was collected at the house and burial site and photos were taken by many investigators until Nikolai Sokolov (1882-1924) was given the task to complete the final report. The Soviet leadership confirmed the murder in 1926.
The investigation took a century, but the report of Sokolov was the only reliable document until the fall of Soviet Union in 1991. Nikolai Sokolov wrote The Murder of the Tsar Family that was published in 1925, one year after his death.
The details of the execution of the Tsar family (the Romanovs) could well have remained in shadow forever had it not been for the investigation work carried out by Sokolov whose papers later formed the basis for a further probe by the Russian and British authorities after the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991.
He wrote that the murder of the Tsar family took place on 17 July 1918 in the Ipatiev House where the family was kept since 30 April. All those close to the family were also killed, notably Eugene Botkin, Anna Deimdora, Alexei Trupp and Ivan Kharitonov. They were shot, bayoneted and clubbed under the instructions of Lenin and orders of Ural Regional Soviet Union.
The Tsar family lived in the basement from 30 April in very poor conditions and under psychological pressure and humiliating circumstances. After the brutal killings, their belongings were looted. Pyotor Voykor was to dispose of the dead bodies that were taken to the village of Ganina Yama where there was an abandoned mine. They took 750 litres of gasoline and 180 kilograms of acid (sulfuric acid) to dispose of 65 bodies so that “the world would not know what we did with them” said Pytor who was made ambassador to Poland in 1924, and was assassinated by a Russian in 1924.
It is said that two others who were directly involved in the murder of the family were attacked and killed by peasants in the immediate months after the gruesome massacre.
In July 1991, the bodies of five family members were discovered (Tsar, Tsarina and three daughters).
After forensic examination and DNA identification, the remains were laid to rest in Saint Catherine Chapel of Peter and Paul Cathedral Saint Petersburg.
The remaining two bodies of Tsarevich Alexei and one of his sister were discovered in 2007. In 2010, the Russian court ordered to re-open an investigation into the murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his family.
President Boris Yeltsin described the killings as one of the most shameful pages in Russian history, reported the Associated Press on 18 July 1998.
What happened to the Tsar and his family was a great tragedy, however what Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas had prophesised was nothing short of miraculous and prophetic in accuracy.
Hazrat Ahmadas predicted the agony and miserable plight of the Tsar during the time of great tribulation and catastrophe. This fulfilment confirmed the truth of the Promised Messiahas.
Here is part of the poem that bears the prophecy pertaining to the Tsar given in his book Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Part 5:
يك بيك اِك زلزلہ سے سخت جنبش كهائيں گے
كيا بشر اور كيا شجر اور كيا حجر اور كيا بحار
“All of a sudden, with a severe earthquake, all will be shaken up – Be they humans, tree, mountains, or seas.”
اِك جهپك ميں يہ زميں ہو جائے گى زير و زبر
نالياں خوں كى چليں گى جيسے آب رود بار
“In the twinkling of an eye, the earth will be turned upside down; Streams of blood shall flow like the flowing of a channel.”
ہوش اُڑ جائيں گے انساں كے پرندوں كے حواس
بهوليں گے نغموں كو اپنے سب كبوتر اور ہزار
“Men and animals will go out of their minds; All pigeons and nightingales will forget their songs.”
ہر مسافر پر وه ساعت سخت ہے اور وه گهڑى
راه كو بهوليں گے ہو كر مست و بيخود راہوار
“That hour will bear heavily upon every traveller, and those who are on a journey will lose their way in a fit of forgetfulness.”
مضمحل ہو جائيں گے اس خوف سے سب جن و انس
زار بهى ہو گا تو ہوگا اس گهڑى با حالِ زار
“Men, high and low, will be consumed with fear; And the Tsar himself will, at that hour, be in a pitiable state.”
About the “severe earthquake” mentioned in the first couplet, the Promised Messiahas explains in a footnote:
“I still cannot say with certainty if it will, in fact, be an earthquake. It may not be an ordinary earthquake but some other dire calamity evoking the spectacle of Doomsday, the like of which would not have been witnessed by this age, and which would bring about great destruction of life and property. However, if no such extraordinary Sign appears and people do not openly reform themselves, then I shall prove to be a liar.” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya Part V, p. 217)
We do confirm with absolute justice and honesty that whatever the Promised Messiahas prophesied was a fact and a testament to his truth.