#1917LIVE: Detained Russian tsar & his family moved to Siberia
Nicholas Romanov, his wife Alexandra and five children were placed under guard in the Alexander palace in Tsarskoye Selo on March 22, 1917 after the February Revolution deposed the centuries-old Russian monarchy.
They were only allowed to spend time outside on a small plot of land, forbidden to move further out into the spacious former Imperial gardens by soldiers on constant duty.
Once enjoying the sacred status of the Autocrat of All the Russias, now the former monarch was kept prisoner with his family under the guard of soldiers who had once pledged allegiance to the tsar.
Nicholas was permitted small pleasures: he enjoyed chopping wood during his time outside.
Inside, the guards moved freely about the palace, often acting in a disrespectful manner, sitting and smoking on sick Alexandra’s bedside, using obscene language in front of the girls.
The officers and soldiers who were by the imperial family during reign were mostly all gone at war: the Russian Empire lost nearly 2 million troops during World War I.
Chairman of the Russian Provisional Government Alexander Kerensky and Foreign Minister Pavel Milyukov made several attempts to seek asylum for the Imperial Family in reigning houses of Europe to which both Nicholas and Alexandra (Queen Victoria’s granddaughter) were related: but everyone refused, including the British Empire – the family’s greatest hope for survival.
The destination of Siberia was chosen for safety rather than severity of conditions. At first Kerensky promised the family ‘Livadia’, their Crimea palace, but the roads south were too dangerous so eventually he settled on Tobolsk – a Siberian town so remote, that the revolutionary fervor had not yet reached it.
And so a week-long journey in a train disguised as the Japanese Red Cross mission had begun.