2017-11-29 / Features

The Russian Revolution Still Echoes 100 Years Later In Queens

By Jason D. Antos

The Last of the Tsars by Robert ServiceThe Last of the Tsars by Robert ServiceThis month marks the centennial of the Russian Revolution. One of the greatest events of the 20th Century, the revolution overthrew Russia’s monarchy, the Romanovs, who had been the perennial power in Russia for 305 years.

In the time span of just six months, Czar Nicholas Romanov II and his Queen, the German born Alexandra had been overthrown by the country’s provincial government in response to the peasants striking rioting in the streets with the aid of the military, who turned against the Czar, fresh from the front line trenches of World War I. 

They would eventually be deported from the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to Ekaterinburg, a suburb in Siberia. It was here in the summer of 1918 that Nicholas and Alexandra and their children including fourteen-year-old Alexi, the heir to the throne, were murdered in the basement of the home of a noted scientist, Ipatiev, whose house was commandeered by the new government. It was the first time in world history that a revolution had been fought to over thrown a monarchy and replace it not with democracy but with an entirely new system of government known as Communism.    

Lead by Vladimir Lenin, the new government and way of life was literally constructed from the ground up on a day-by-day basis and would take almost five years to be fully realized. Russian would remain under this regime for 70 more years and the world was never the same with the “Iron Curtain” of Russia’s Soviet Union influencing revolutions, world relations and the balance of world power. The 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution is the subject of a new book by prolific author of Russian history, Robert Service, with his latest book The Last of the Tsars.  

The book covers the Romanov family, their ordeal through revolution and the family’s fate at the hands of a firing squad in Siberia. Featuring many never before published images of the family in their final days, The Last of the Tsars, published by Pegasus books is a fascinating epic of a dynasty in decline and the transition of an old way of life soon to be transformed into something that had never before existed on the world stage.

The tragic end to the Romanovs echoed shockwaves through the world. The family was related to the King of England (he was his first cousin).

The slaughter of the royal family was an unpredicted event, a barbaric scene out of the Dark Ages, enacted now at the end of the second decade of the Twentieth Century.

The majority of the family were killed by the Bolsheviks as they were know including Czar Nicholas’s brother, Alexandra’s sister and even their heirs with members being shot or stabbed to death and in some cases thrown into wells while they were still alive.

Only a few members of the royal family made it out of Russia alive and settled mainly elsewhere in Europe. With such titles as grand duke or duchess, they lived in France and England and even Greece. One branch of the intricate family tree settled in New York City and the first time their name drew headlines was of an event which occurred right here in Beechhurst in Whitestone.

The New York Times reported that on July 23, 1931 in Beechhurst, Prince Vasili Alexandrovitch Romanoff, youngest son of Grand Duke Alexander Michailovitch of Russia, the son of a Grand Duke and nephew of the late Czar Nicholas II, married Princess Natalie Galitzine. The princess came with her parents as refugees from Moscow and grew up to be a famous playwright and screenwriter during the early years of American cinema.

In Robert K. Massie's book, The Romanovs: The Final Chapter, the author talks of an odd incident in which a Polish army Colonel who defected to the United States claimed to be Alexi, the heir to the Romanov throne and son of Czar Nicholas the II. The colonel, Michael Goleniewski, was put on a U.S. Government pension of $500 a month and was also given a two-bedroom apartment in Kew Gardens as reward for defecting and for the secrets which he provided the CIA. The man insisted on his true identity being that of the lost Czareavich (heir to the throne). In reality, the young Czar to be was killed with his family in the Siberian town of Ekaterinburg. Col. Goleniewski was one of many imposters to claim that they were family members of the late Romanov family. Goleniewski lived in the Kew Gardens apartment until his death in 1993.

For more on The Last of the Tsars by Robert Service click on the link provided below.


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