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11 Chilling Facts about the Murder of the Romanovs

The Russian Imperial Family, c1913. Image: U.S. Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons


1. The Romanovs (Emperor Nicholas II and his wife Empress Alexandra, and their children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei), together with their three servants and family physician, spent their final days at “The House of Special Purpose”,  a heavily guarded merchant building in Yekaterinburg previously owned by military engineer Nikolai Nikolayevich Ipatiev. The house was concealed from the streets by a 14-foot palisade, the windows covered with newspapers and eventually whitewashed. They only had one source of ventilation—a fortochka located in the bedroom of the grand duchesses; peeking through which was forbidden.

2. Grand Duchess Maria allegedly fell in love and planned an escape with one of their guards, Ivan Skorokhodov. The latter, however, was removed from his duty after he was caught smuggling a birthday cake inside the compound during Maria’s 19th birthday.

3. In a meeting that took place on June 291918, the Ural Regional Soviet had reached the decision to execute the emperor. The execution of the empress and the children was ordered to be kept secret to avoid political implications.

4. Midnight of July 17, the Romanovs were awakened from sleep by their physician Dr. Eugene Botkin  as per The House of Special Purpose commander’s order, and were made to believe they will be transferred to a safer location due to a chaos happening in Yekaterinburg. They were then led to a 20 ft x 16 ft basement and were told to stay in the room and wait for the truck that would transport them out of the domicile, not knowing they were about to be executed.

5. All were dead after the initial firing except for the five children. The children were then attacked with gun butts and bayonets, and when those methods still failed, every single one was shot until they expired.

Nicholas II's daughters. Image: Wikimedia Commons

6. Maria, Anastasia, and Tatiana were the last ones to die. The ladies were partially protected from the gunshots by the diamonds (collectively weighing 1.3 kilograms), which were sewn into their clothes.

7. The execution of the Romanovs lasted 20 minutes. Later investigations have revealed that a total of 70 bullets, which equates to 7 bullets per executioner, were fired during the killing.

8. The dead bodies of the Romanovs and their loyal servants were brought to the Koptyaki forest. The corpses were mutilated—doused with sulfuric acid numerous times and their faces smashed repeatedly using rifle butts with the aim of disfiguring them beyond recognition—before they were buried.

9. While pawing the dead bodies for diamonds, two of Peter Ermakov’s (chief of the disposal squad) men lifted the skirt of the dead empress and fondled her genitals. One of them was then heard saying he could already “die in piece” having touched the “royal cunt”.

10. Only Maria’s undergarments contained no jewels, believed to be an indication of her family’s waning trust after she was romantically involved with Skorokhodov, one of their guards.

11. Alexei and one of his sisters were buried in a smaller pit 15 meters away from the rest of the bodies. Theirs were burned and their charred bones shattered using spades. It was an attempt to confuse anyone who might discover the other grave, which contained the other nine corpses.

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