Page 3817

3817 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

Presently the door opened, and Jurofski,

chairman of the commission, and armed Red

Guards entered the apartment. With a

loud laugh Jurofski said to the Czar, "I see

you are already prepared." "Yes," said the

Czar, "I am ready." "Our visit does not

concern you alone," said Jurofski. "We shall

exterminate your wife and your whole brood

also."

On orders from Jurofski the Red Guards

surrounded the family and drove them from

the room. The Czar went first with his son,

who had fallen in a swoon, in his arms. The

ex-monarch was deadly pale and swayed

but quickly recovered himself. The Czarina

and the beautiful young Grand Duchesses

followed, the former praying softly all the

way. The Baroness Bookovegen, who had

come into the room, wept convulsively and

had to be dragged to the cellar which had

been selected as the place of execution.

Several other persons in the Czar's household were also taken thither.

The Red Guards feared to use their rifles

lest the bullets would rebound from the

cellar walls, so they shot down the condemned persons with revolvers, one after

the other. The Czarina was shot first, then

the Grand Duchesses, and last of all the

Czar. The mangled bodies were then placed

on a motor-truck and taken, the same night,

to a deserted mine shaft outside the city,

where they were burned and the ashes

covered with dirt.

Thus perished the last of the Czars. His

fate and that of his family was as tragic as

any to be found in all history, and their

murder was utterly unjustifiable. As a

private individual, the Czar was in many

respects a good man, much better than

almost any of his predecessors. That there

was tyranny and oppression under his rule

is beyond question, but the inheritance of

past generations was more to blame than he.

At times, he displayed a desire for progress,

and, as we have seen, it was he who called

the first Hague Peace Conference. It was

the irony of fate that he and those dear to

him should have perished in the aftermath

of a great war which would have never

taken place had his plan been carried out.

At the time of the revolution which

dethroned him, an effort was made by his

enemies to convince the world that the

Czar was a traitor to the Allied cause. This

was untrue. There were persons of influence in Russia who were traitors, but the

Czar was not. At the crisis of the revolution, one of his generals said to him that the

only thing that could save the monarchy

would be to open the Vistula Gate to the

Germans. "I will never do that," said the

Czar decisively, and it was not done. Up

to the end, he hoped that victory would

crown the Allied arms, and, in view of his

loyalty to the cause, he deserved better of

the Allied world than some writers would

have us suppose.

The Czar fell partly because the day for

autocrats was past, but largely because he

lacked decision of character and had not the

ruthless force which a successful autocrat

must possess. As in the case of Louis XVI

of France, with whom he is in some respects

comparable, his very virtues tended to his

undoing.

It had been the hope of the Central Powers

that their other enemies, influenced by Russian events, would also enter peace negotiations. On December 25, 1917, at the first

conference at Brest-Litovsk, Count Czernin,

Foreign Minister of Austria-Hungary, acted