The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California on September 1, 1918 · 40
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The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California · 40

San Francisco, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 1, 1918
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li w w fl ft ks& ' 1 F 'f r,A cv & H M fc" J i-i $ M A ft .4. f . S J L Trial and The First Detailed Story of the Execution of Nicholas Romanoff, How Was Evidence He Condemned Without and Snot, Told '.by. Fattier John, of the Us p ensky C atne dr al ff !tv ! jri -'" ? wv : Father John, of the Usp ensky Cathedral, Moscow, Who Attended the Ex-Czar at His Execution lATHER JOHN of the Uspensky Cathedral, a well known Russian priest, has written the only eye witness statement yet received of the la6t moments and execution' of ex C2ar Nicholas.'' Twenty years ago, as a priest of the famous Uspensky Cathedral In Moscow, he took part In the coronation of the Czar. Father John was the only person not a Bolshevlkl official present at the last sacraments to the fallen monarch. This privilege he obtained because of his friendship with one, of the ministers of the Bolshevlkl government. Having witnessed the whole drama and heard the last words of the executed monarch, Father John wrote , a record for the cathedral, and sent a shorter account to his friend, a priest in New York,, by means of a diplomatic courier of an Allied country. Father John denounced openly in his cathedral the manner in which the former Czar was executed and tried, calling the Bolshevlkl regime the worst tyranny of the mob ever known in human history. This made his fur-ther stay in Moscow impossible, and he is now hiding In Siberia. By Father John, of the Uspensky Cathedral of Moscow. ON July 3, at one o'clock In "the morning, Comrade Vassily Sidor. off, the Grand Sheriff of the Bol-sheviki Red Guard, entered the darkened, room of the ex-Czar Nicholas in a small provincial town of the province of Viatka and announced in a contemptuous tone: "Mr. Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanoff, you are summoned to the court." The descendant of Peter the Great, who had held power of life and death over 200,000,000 people, was now treated with less respect than one of his poorest mouJiks. The ex-Czar, who was usually very nervous and excitable since he was separated from his family, which had been left at the monastery of Tobolsk, jumped up, glanced fearfully at the Sheriff, and stammered in a hoarse voice: "At your command, and by God's will." The former ruler of all the Russias looked haggard and pale. He had aged twenty years since his abdication and banishment. As always, since his deposl l -i'-X ' Jill-, fc 'fcfe r? V ; i l "The Red Guards carried the fainting Czar to the scaffold and bound him to a post. 'Have mercy on my wife and children! God help Russia!' were the last words of poor Nicholas." "Mr. Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanoff, you are accused of having plotted to overthrow the free government of the people of Russia now prevailing, and having made efforts to establish a rule of terror as before," ibegan the presiding Judge slowly and emphatically. "What have you to answer to such a serious accusation?" asked the stout lumber dealer in broken Russian, rubbing his hands triumphantly. The Czar looked at the judges and then at the Red Guards who filled the dark hall. He appeared bewildered and unable at first to utter a word. For a minute a dead silence prevailed in the courtroom. "Why don't you speak?" asked the sixth tion, he wore a gray Russian, military uni-c judge a former janitor to a chamberlain actors on the stage and bowed to every form without any insignia of rank, long ot? c?ar . ' , , , side, as if they were heroes and patriots. j. lie tuaigc ia a, lie. i iiao iicvci jjiullcu their seats the chairman struck the table with his fist for quiet and shouted: "Mr. Nicholas Alexandrovitch Romanoff, the tribunal of the people of the province, of Viatka has considered most carefully the accusations brought against you and found them fully substantiated by facts. Upon these facts it "has convicted you of high treason against the people and attempts at counter revolution. This court sentences you to death by shooting." The ex-Czar, who had tried to maintain his self-control up to this time, now col-lapsed, and was able to stand on his feet only with the help of the guards. As the ragged mob in the hall cheered end ap plauded the verdict, the Judges rose like boots and wide trousers. Having dressed himself with great effort, the former ruler collapsed for a moment and sank exhausted on the bed. After a . few minutes he rose and the Sheriff ordered the guards to handcuff him while on the way to the court. . I was an eyewitness of everything that occurred in the last, terrible days of our unhappy monarch. Since his departure from Tobolsk I had been permitted to attend him constantly and give him spiritual consolation, through the Influence of one of the Bolshevlkl ministers, who still retained a certain Tespect for religion. The court room was arrange in one of the halls of the municipality, which at this early hour was filled merely with the Red Guards and political leaders of the local Bolshevlkl government Formerly In the rear of this hall had hung the portrait of the Czar Nicholas and those of his predecessors. Now there hung merely a red revolutionary flag and a motto in large red letters: "Proletarians of all countries, unite!" The Bolshevik! tribunal, composed of seven members, sat solemnly behind a long table, with seven candles lighted before them. The members of this tribunal were all more or less prominent Bolshevik! leaders of the province. One of them was a fat lumber dealer, politician and publisher of the town; the second judge was a released worklngman of a Bolshevlkl factory the third was a saloonkeeper,' and so on. One -of them, comrade Filipoff, was a former student exiled to Siberia by the regime of the Czar, who had already served six years at hard labor, and was now an ardent advocate of the Bolshevlkl Government In - Viatka. The presiding judge was Comrade Kyrill, a former stable boy of the court, who had been sent to Siberia by the Czar's palace police for having insulted Rasputin, whom he took for a loafer ia the palace park. A against the people of my country, never. I've lived always, since my abdication, under your guards and and" said the former Czar and the words died In his throat. He was overcome by his emotions. The judges glanced at each other and with significant expression. The ex-Czar was evidently greatly excited and shocked at the way he" was being treated. He turned ' around as if to see if there was a seat for him. "Does any one of you, comrades, wish to act as a lawyer for Mr. Nicholas' Romanoff?" asked the fat lumber dealer, with a hypocritical tone of sentiment, as if to prove that the tribunal of.he people waf very just. The Red Guards roared, and some voices from the audience replied: "The former autocrat knows the law and can defend himself without a lawyer." 'Bravo!" yelled the others. "Mr. Romanoff, if you have nothing more to say, it is useless for "i to waste our time with you. We simply hive to decida the case and pronounce the judgment," baid the chairman, gesticulating vigorously and spitting liberally over the table onto the floor, The fifth judge, ordered an attendant to bring him a bottle of wine and some sand-' wiches, which he began to eat on the table In the courtroom. After a short, whisper-ng conversation among the judges, they ose and left while the prisoner remained itanding between four Red Guards with drawn swords. The audience was growing noisy. Voices here and there shouted, "Hang the tyrant!" "Down with the bourgeois autocrat!" The ex-Czar felt something ominous in the air, looked r round at the grinning faces of the Guard3 and shuddered. After a few minutes the juea all returned to their peats, talking and chewing or smoking cigarettes. After having taken ,In the meanwhile the Czar had regained 'his composure and stammered in a weak voice: , I "It is God's will But have mercy on my wife and children. I shall die innocent of the crime of which I am accused." He tried to speak more, but the noise of the audience drowned his last words. Almost a dead man, the former autocrat: of the world's greatest empire was carried out by the guards. A 4 He was taken in a carriage from the court to the place of execution and his car riage was followed by five other coaches, all filled with Red Guards and the judges I was permitted to enter the carriage with Nicholas, and did my best to sustain his courage, which was failing under the dreadful ordeal, and to give him the consolations of our holy religion up to. the last moment. , It was about two o'clock in the night when the drive began, and on each side . of 'him pat a Red Guard. Outside were two Cossacks on horseback. The Czar's face was like that of a corpse. The townspeople slept and had no Ida that the last act of a national tragedy was being played under their windows. The silence was strange and haunting. The carriage passed the cathedral, 'and the 'ex-Czar crossed himself and tried to smile. "Where are you taking me?" he asked the guards hoarsely. The guards looked aside arid remained pilent. Making a great effort, the ex-Czar pulled a jewelled crots, with the crown of the empire on it, from his ijeck and handed it over to the jailer, stammering: "Give this to my son! Give also my greetings to my children and t?!l them I shall meet lhem,tn the life beyond!" The Jalicf pretended to coush. appeared nneaty, but remained silent. He looked at Copirtei.i, 1918, by i?uu-' Company the cross, then at his comrade and hesitated to accept it "I see you have a wedding ring on your finger. You nust be married. You must have a family. Will you fulfil my last request?" pleaded the prisoner with all his power, x ' "Well, perhaps I will," stammered the guard, and took the cross. The strength of the prisoner was gone and he collapsed again. - The horses were growing tired, for it was a warm Summer's night. The party turned away from the main road and stopped on a hill surrounded by pine trees. The prisoner sighed. The guards opened the door and carried him out. It was still dark. A slight band of the morning dawn glimmered in the far east. The former Autocrat of Russia Btag-gered out of his carriage, supported by the " guards. For several minutes he looked blankly around like one in a hypnotic trance. The cool breeze of the Summer morning was refreshing and one of the ' functionaries offered him a drink of cold water. Several hundred feet from the carriages .were dimly visible the shadowy figure's of the Red Guards and the judges, with moving lanterns in their hands, and behind them loomed the ghastly outline of a scaffold. The silence of the grave prevailed over the place. Everything before the prisoner's eyes seemed ghastly, as he pressed his hands to his face and tried to realize what awaited him here. "What my God what will you do-here?" asked the former Czar, looking at the scaffold and speaking to the Red . Guards, in- broken sentences. The guards did not reply. There was a wooden bnch, and the prisoner, still handcuffed, sank groaning oh it. At this point there arose a discussion whether I, a priest, should be per-mitted to take the last confession of the prisoner. ' Here 1 spoke and forcibly reminded them of the Influential personage who had authorized me to accompany the Czar. I appealed to their better natures not to tor ture a helpless prisoner. At the end of fifteen minutes I was allowed to proceed with my sacred duties, although many jeers were still directed ? me. Having blessed the victim with tae holy cross, I read a prayer and administered the sacraments. The cx-Czar opened his eyes and pobbed in low voice: "Father. God bless yon! Give give mv blessing to my family my vife. What what will they do with me? O heaven!" groaned the ore? mighty auto, crat and fell back on tb benh. ;rnt ri i'aia KUhts Iiesen jl. The Grand Duchess Tatiana, Second 1 Daughter of Czar Nicholas, Whose Fate Is One of the Mysteries of the Romanoff Family. She Was Once Reported to Have Been Killed in Siberia, and Later to Have Escaped and to Be Hiding in Canada. at f A" The Prison in Viajka, Russia, Where the Dethroned Czar Was Confined Before His Mock Trial. The guards supported him and offered him a drink of water. I poured out a glass ; of the sacred communion wine and held it to the lips of the former head of our Church. He emptied the glass and felt stronger. Looking imploringly up at the pTiest he begged incoherently: "My family my, son will they be unharmed? Poor poor Sasha poor poor children! What will be the end?" The words died in his throat. The Sheriff motioned the guards to pro-ceed with the prisoner to the scaffold. The prisoner could hafcHy walk. , With the guards I helped to support him. The sacred consolations of religion gave hm strength to tstand up and gather his thoughts. I asked the Sheriff that the prisoner, be permitted to speak nts last words. On a signal from the Judges this '.as granted Having drunk a glass of water mixed with wine, the Czar then sp-oke in a trembling but audible voice: "God be my witness, I tried to do the best my country all my life I was a prisoner a prisoner as I am now" "Go on, my son!" I encouraged him, holding his hand all "Vie time. "I was betrayed cheated abused O. Lord! Did I ever ever know happiness in my life?" The Red Guards and the judgeB laughed. Voices here and there Interrupted: "How about your tyranny?" '"How about your police?" "How about your oppressions and persecution?" "What about the thousands sent to Siberia?" The ex-Czar was unable to continue. I asked the Sheriff that I be permitted to hear the last words of the prisoner alone, without constant interruption. The judges granted half an hour for this. During this time the prisoner whispered to me in broken sentences what he would have said aloud. I promised to convey his words to the people at the earliest opportunity. "I am fearful of the war after the war," he murmured. "A terrible calamity threatens the world. The struggle of the animal man against the Ideal man. Only religion can save humanity from destruction. Russia is a great volcano. I see flames of destruction and agony, but also the dawn of a new civilization." The prisoner told of all- the obstacles which prevented him doing any great good for his subjects. He expressed a belief that Russia would never be happy under a democratic, least of all under a 'socialis. flag. Only a free, intelligent monarchy would suit Russia. H3 furthermore stated that he never meant any harm to his country, but harm might have been done through the clique which surrounded him. "Rasputin's death was a great blow to me," said Czar Nicholas. "His simple, peasant nature was a relief to me in the false, hypocritical atmosphere of the court. He was a good, simple man, who understood the soul of Russia." The sheriff motioned me that the execution would proceed. I held the cross . up before the Czar's eyes. "Have mercy on my wife and children! God help Rus-sia!" were the, last words' of poor Nicholas. The Red Guards took their potion on the scaffold with their loaded rifles. Everybody stood breathless, as If looking on a great tragedy. Nicholas seemed to be nearly dead. His exertions and the brutality of hi3 treatment had overcome htm. Four guards carried and bound him to a post A motion of the hand cf the Sheriff, the rifles of twenty guards ran;; out, and Nicholas Romanoff hung down, a lifeless bundle of rags. r r

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