assassination of alexander ii


March 13th 1881: Alexander II assassinated

On this day in 1881, the Russian Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in St. Petersburg aged 62. He had ascended to the Russian throne in 1855 after the death of his father Tsar Nicholas I during the Crimean War.  Decades before the Bolshevik communist revolution would successfully overthrow the Russian monarchy under Alexander’s grandson Nicholas II, there was already a significant anti-tsarist movement in Russia. While Alexander had initiated some liberal and modernising reforms - including the abolition of serfdom in 1861 and the expansion of the nation’s railroads - he had brutally repressed political dissidents. In 1879, a group called the People’s Will was organised and began their attempts to violently overthrow the Tsar. After waging a prolonged campaign in which they assassinated government officials and made attempts on the Tsar’s life, the movement was finally successful in killing Alexander in 1881. The Tsar was killed in St. Petersburg after two bombs were thrown at his carriage by Nikolai Rysakov and Ignacy Hryniewiecki, who were members of the People’s Will. He was succeeded by his son Tsar Alexander III, who punished the people and group behind his father’s assassination. In 1883, work began on the Church of the Savior on Blood, which was built on the spot of Alexander’s assassination and dedicated to his memory.

“Amid the smoke and snowy fog, I heard His Majesty’s weak voice cry, ‘Help!’ Gathering what strength I had, I jumped up and rushed to the emperor. His Majesty was half-lying, half-sitting, leaning on his right arm. Thinking he was merely wounded heavily, I tried to lift him but the czar’s legs were shattered, and the blood poured out of them“
- Police chief Dvorzhitsky’s account of the assassination

“Bakunin embodies, but in a manner spectacular in a different way, the very same contradictions. He died on the eve of the terrorist epic, in 1876. Moreover, he rejected in advance individual outrages and denounced ‘the Brutuses of the period.’ He had a certain respect for them, however, since he reproached Herzen for having openly criticized Karakosov for his abortive attempt to assassinate Alexander II in 1866. This feeling of respect had its reasons. Bakunin influenced the course of events in the same manner as Belinsky and the nihilists and directed them into the channel of individual revolt. But he contributed something more: a germ of political cynicism, which will congeal, with Nechayev, into a doctrine and will drive the revolutionary movement to extremes.”
- Albert Camus, on Bakunin in 'The Rebel.’


March 13, 1881 – Assassination of Tsar Alexander II

For Nicholas, the most dramatic proof of Pobedonostsev’s teachings against the dangers of liberalism was the brutal assassination of his grandfather, Alexander II, the most liberal of Russia’s nineteenth-century tsars. For his historic freeing the serfs, Alexander II was known as the “Tsar-Liberator”, yet his murder became preeminent objective of Russian revolutionaries. The assassins went to extraordinary lenghts. Once, near Moscos, they purchased a building near the railway track and tunneled a gallery from the building under the track, where they planted a huge mine. The Tsar was saved when his train left Moscow in a different direction. 

Six other attempts were made, and on March 13, 1881 - ironically, only a few hours after the Tsar had approved the establishment of a national representative body to advise on legislation - the assassins succeeded. As his carriage rolled through the streets of St. Petersburg, a bomb, thrown from the sidewalk, sailed under it. The explosion shattered the vehicle and wounded his horses, his equerries and one of his Cossac escorts, but the Tsar himself was unhurt. Stepping from the splintered carriage, Alexander II spoke to the wounded men and even asked about the bomb thrower, who had been arrested. Just then a second assassin ran up, shouting, “It is too early to thank God,” and threw a second bomb directly between the Tsars’s feet. In the sheet of flame and metal Alexander II’s legs were torn away, his stomach ripped open, his face mutilated. Still alive and conscious, he whispered “To the palace, to die there.” What remained of him was picked up and carried into the Winter Palace, leaving a trail of thick drops of black blood up the marble stairs. Unconscious, he was laid on the couch. One after another, the horrified members of the Imperial family corwded into the room. Nicholas aged thirteen, wearing a blue sailor suit, came in deathly pale and watched from the end of the bed.  The Emperor is dead.

{Nicholas and Alexandra by Massie} .

anonymous asked:

Did you learn stuff from Mr. Russia? He looks like he could teach you a lesson or two about how to rule something.

[Tsar Alexander II was a more liberal man and had introduced many reforms during his reign, inculding the emancipation of the serfs in Russia. In the latter half of the 19th century, Russia’s industry was expanding and the country was becoming more and more important in the world’s economy as it industrialized. - however, Alexander II was assassinated in 1881 as there was a lot of dissatisfaction within certain groups in the country.
Industrialization didn’t reach far yet and the workplace conditions were awful; there were movements that condemned the westernization and industralization and called for a return to the old rural days.  

Alexander III, who succeeded Alexander II after his death, was highly reactionary.]


What does the word Christmas (Рождество) mean for Russians? It’s one of the major holidays of the year, and it’s one of the holidays during the period of the New Year holidays (Новогодние праздники) in Russia. How did it happen, that we call these two-week holidays “New Year holidays”, but not “Christmas Holidays”? 

Let’s remember Russia a hundred years ago. It was standing on the verge of revolution, but on December 4, 1916, it was still a monarchy. Monarchy in Russia was deeply connected with the Church, because for Russians the King, or the Tsar (Царь) was given his power by the God. And faith was an important part of the Russian life, because when you believe in God, because as long as you believe in God, you believe in the legitimacy of your Tsar. Alexander III and Nikolay II (Александр Третий и Николай Второй), the last two Russian Tsars tried to bound the people around family values and Christianity even more than before, because of the rivals in the country (in 1881 Alexander II was assassinated by anarchists). As you probably know, it didn’t work out, and The Russian Revolution of 1917 (Революция тысяча дявятьсот семнадцатого года) started anyway, and the whole royal family was murdered. You understand, those communists didn’t believe in God, because if they did, they wouldn’t kill anyone at all, especially the Tsar, who was considered the closest figure to God. So the communists, obviously, forbade these beliefs at all, I mean, they forbade to be Christian. And what’s about Christmas? Christmas is the main holiday of the year, and it’s traditions go far beyond the celebration of God’s birth. They didn’t want people to lose the tradition, but they also didn’t want to celebrate a religious holiday. And they found a solution. Only in 1935 they decided to celebrate The New Year (Новый Год) instead of Christmas because these two holidays are the closest. And it was the same Christmas tree (рождественская ёлка), the same Christmas toys (рождественские игрушки), though now they became a New-Year tree (новогодняя ёлка) and New-Year toys (новогодние игрушки). 
A communist republic is all about communities. People should be together, they should be united, equal in everything. And every office, every factory, every school and kindergarten had a New-Year party that was very typical. Adults set a table with some food and Champagne, music and dances; kids had a theatrical performance, when they had to stop the evil forces from ruining The New Year by singing songs and dancing together, and there always came “Santa Clause” (Дед Мороз/Father Frost) with his granddaughter Snegurochka (Снегурочка), and the holiday was saved. Father Frost gave everyone a box of sweet treats and kids could happily go home.

All these traditions still exist, and I also had it in my kindergarten and in the first years of school. And when I grew older I participated in the organisation of such events. Older kids also have concerts where they can sing or dance, or read a poem or anything else related to the topic of The New Year or Christmas. 
All these parties usually occur in the last week before December 31. December 31 is a day of preparation. The families cook the whole day, clean the house, wait for the guests to come in the evening. They all sit together, drink, talk, watch some New-Year show and wait for the midnight. On midnight the President/General Secretary (the title of the leader of the country in communist countries) always gives a three-minute talk about the things happened this year and how the next year is going to be better, then everyone drinks and starts to party. They can go outside to watch fireworks, teenagers usually go to their friends, old people usually go to bed right after midnight. The New Year night is the night of the partying.
On January 1 everything is closed because people sleep. [If you are confused and don’t understand, whether I’m speaking about USSR or Russia right now, I’m speaking about both. It didn’t change since then.] And the next ten days are the days of doing nothing for atheists and the beginning of Christmas holidays for religious people.
It’s stupid to deny, that people still believed in God in USSR, because Lenin just couldn’t tell them to stop. And Christmas became an unofficial holiday, but it still existed. Russian orthodox church follows the Julian calendar and not the Gregorian, as Catholics and Protestands do, and it means that all the religious holidays are celebrated 13 years later than in the Western world. And it means that Russian Chistmas goes after the New Year and is celebrated on January 7. My mother, who is very religious, usually goes to church on Christmas Eve (в канун Рождества) and watches the service, that can last 4-5 hours (and you are not allowed to sit).

It means, that there’s a week between the New Year and Christmas, and it automatically becomes a week of caroling, which is actually very rear now. I think it exists only in very authentic communities, villages and among very faithful people. People go to houses and sing songs and offer to taste some special Christmas porige and always get something to eat in return. In period between Christmas and Babtising (Крещение),

when people can wash away their sins, there is one more tradition of Christmastide or Yuletide (Святки). This period was believed a good time for telling fortune, and people, especially women enjoy playing magic and trying to tell their future. This is an odd mixture of Christian and pegan traditions describe Russia very well, I think. True Christians say that telling fortune is a sin, but common people don’t really care about sins, they just want to have fun, so our Christmas traditions contain lots of pegan traditions as well.

In 1991, when USSR no longer existed, Christmas became an official holiday as well. Now we have an offical New Year holidays from December 31 till January 10, that include Christmas. We have official Christmas servises and they are supported by politicians again

because we returned to that rethoric of family values and spirituality, that existed in pre-revolutionary Russia, with Church being an important part of our lives. But as you understand, 1991 was only 25 years ago, and most of the population grew up in Soviet tradition of New Year being the secular Christmas, or the major holiday, and Christmas as a holiday for orthodox Christians. Russian Catholics and Russian Protertans celebrate Christmas on December 25, though it’s not a holiday in Russia, and you still have to go to work and can’t avoid your duties. According to statistics, which is very unreliable, as we all know, 75% Russians claim themselves orthodox, and 75% of these people celebrate orthodox holidays. But I can assure you, that lots of people who say they are orthodox, don’t even believe in God. And being orthodox for them is just a part of being Russian, and it’s just a part of their identity.