16/17th July 1918 - Murder of the last Imperial family
Yakov Yurovski: On the 16th in the morning I dispatched the little cook, the boy Sednev, under the pretext that there would be a meeting with his uncle who had come to Sverdlovsk. It caused anxiety among the prisoners. Botkin, the usual intermediary, and then one of the daughters asked about Sednev - where, why and for how long he had been taken away - because Alexei missed him. Having received an explanation, they went away apparently calmed down. I prepared 12 revolvers and designated who would shoot whom. Comrade Filipp [Goloshchyokin] told me that a truck would arrive at midnight; the people coming would say a password; we would let them pass and hand over the corpses to them to carry away and bury. At about 11 o’clock at night on July 16 I assembled the men again, handed out the revolvers and announced that soon we had to begin liquidating the prisoners. I told Pavel Medvedev he had to check the guard outside and inside thoroughly. He and the guard commander had to keep constant watch over the area around the house and in the house where the external guard was stationed and to maintain communications with me. I also told him that at the last moment, when everything was ready for the execution, he had tell the guards and the others in the detachment not to worry about any shots they might hear from the house, and not to leave the premises. If there were any unusual amount of unrest, he was to notify me through the established line of communication.
Pavel Medvedev: In the evening of 16 July, between seven and eight p.m., when the time or my duty ‘had just begun; Commandant Yurovsky, ordered me to take all the Nagan revolvers from the guards and to bring them to him. I took twelve revolvers from the sentries as well as from some other of the guards and brought them to the commandant’s office. Yurovsky said to me, ‘We must shoot them all tonight; so notify the guards not to be alarmed if they hear shots.’ I understood, therefore, that Yurovsky had it in his mind to shoot the whole of the Tsar’s family, as well as the doctor and the servants who lived with them, but I did not ask him where or by whom the decision had been made…At about ten o’clock in the evening in accordance with Yurovsky’s order I informed the guards not to be alarmed if they should hear firing. About midnight Yurovsky woke up the Tsar’s family. I do not know if he told them the reason they had been awakened and where they were to be taken, but I positively affirm that it was Yurovsky who entered the room occupied by the Tsar’s family. In about an hour the whole of the family, the doctor, the maid and the waiters got up, washed and dressed themselves.
Yurovski: The truck did not arrive until half past one. The extra wait caused some anxiety - waiting in general, and the short night especially. Only when the truck had arrived (or after telephone calls that it was on the way) did I go to wake the prisoners. Botkin slept in the room nearest to the entrance. He came out and asked me what the matter was. I told him to wake everybody, because there was unrest in the town and it was dangerous for them to remain on the top floor. I said I would move them to another place. Gathering everybody consumed a lot of time, about 40 minutes. When the family had dressed, I led them to the room in the basement that had been designated earlier. It must be said here that when Comrade Nikulin and I thought up our plan, we did not consider beforehand that, one, the windows would let out noise; two, the victims would be standing next to a brick wall; and finally, three (It was impossible to foresee this), the firing would occur in an uncoordinated way. That should not have happened. Each man had one person to shoot and so everything should have been all right. The causes of the disorganized firing became clear later. Although I told [the victims] through Botkin that they did not have to take anything with them they collected various small things - pillows, bags and so on and, it seems to me, a small dog.
Victor Netrebin: Comrade Yurovsky went to the prisoners’ rooms and woke them; they dressed and came downstairs on the pretext of not being safe upstairs because of shooting in the streets. We waited downstairs in a room. Right before this, our commander and one or two of the Letts refused to shoot the girls and were relieved of duty. When I took my revolver my position suddenly became clear and, like my comrades, I was extremely nervous at having to carry out the execution. Here we waited, guns in hand, for Yurovsky to come get us. I peered out as they passed. The Tsar came first, carrying his boy. Nicholas was calm, silent. His wife, very thin, followed, her gray hair disheveled from being woken so suddenly. Catching sight of us, she gave us a look as if expecting we would bow as she passed. Olga, arrogant as her mother and all skin and bones, led her sisters, who smiled naturally at us in their usual, cheerful manner. Next came the servants, and Vyrubova [sic] passed us with pillows in her hands. The family of Citizen Romanov went into the room and arranged itself across the wall then we entered. Nicholas stood in front of Alexei. As I looked over my comrades’ shoulders, I saw Alexei, sickly looking and waxy, watching with wide, curious eyes as he followed our movements. I suddenly thought how very short his sad life had been, and I silently prayed we would all be good shots.
Medvedev: Just before Yurovsky went to awaken the family, two members of the Extraordinary Commission arrived at Ipatiev’s house. Shortly after one o’clock a.m., the Tsar, the Tsaritsa, their four daughters, the maid, the doctor, the cook and the waiters left their rooms. The Tsar carried the heir in his arms. The Emperor and the heir were dressed in gimnasterkas [soldiers’ shirts] and wore caps. The Empress, her daughters and the others followed him. Yurovsky, his assistant and the two above-mentioned members of the Extraordinary Commission accompanied them. I was also present. During my presence none of the Tsar’s family asked any questions. They did not weep or cry. Having descended the stairs to the first floor, we went out into the court, and from there to the second door (counting from the gate) we entered the ground floor of the house. When the room (which adjoins the store room with a sealed door) was reached, Yurovsky ordered chairs to be brought, and his assistant brought three chairs. One chair was given to the Emperor, one to the Empress, and the third to the heir.
Yurovski: Having gone down to the room (At the entrance to the room, on the right there was a very wide window), I ordered them to stand along the wall. Obviously, at that moment they did not imagine what awaited them. Alexandra Feodrovna said “There are not even chairs here.” Nicholas was carrying Alexei. He stood in the room with him in his arms. Then I ordered a couple of chairs. On one of them, to the right of the entrance, almost in the corner, Alexandra Feodrovna sat down. The daughters and Demidova stood next to her, to the left of the entrance. Beside them Alexei was seated in the armchair. Behind him Dr. Botkin, the cook and the others stood. Nicholas stood opposite Alexei. At the same time I ordered the men to go down and to be ready in their places when the command was given. Nicholas had put Alexei on the chair and stood in such a way, that he shielded him. Alexei sat in the left corner from the entrance, and so far as I can remember, I said to Nicholas approximately this: His royal and close relatives inside the country and abroad were trying to save him, but the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies resolved to shoot them. He asked “What?” and turned toward Alexei. At that moment I shot him and killed him outright. He did not get time to face us to get an answer. At that moment disorganized, not orderly firing began. The room was small, but everybody could come in and carry out the shooting according to the set order. But many shot through the doorway. Bullets began to ricochet because the wall was brick. Moreover, the firing intensified when the victims shouts arose. I managed to stop the firing but with great difficulty. A bullet, fired by somebody in the back, hummed near my head and grazed either the palm or finger (I do not remember) of somebody. When the firing stopped, it turned out that the daughters, Alexandra Feodrovna and, it seems, Demidova and Alexei too, were alive. I think they had fallen from fear or maybe intentionally, and so they were alive. Then we proceeded to finish the shooting. (Previously I had suggested shooting at the heart to avoid a lot of blood). Alexei remained sitting petrified. I killed him. They shot the daughters but did not kill them. Then Yermakov resorted to a bayonet, but that did not work either. Finally they killed them by shooting them in the head.
Netrebin: The shooting was complete chaos. Vyrubova [sic] tried to protect herself with the pillows. After the first shots, I saw Alexei frozen in his chair, and his ashen face was covered with his father’s blood as he sat there, unmoving in terror. One of the younger daughters died when she was shot in the back. Comrade Ermakov finished off a daughter by stabbing her in the chest over and over, and I remember Comrade Yurovsky shooting Tatiana in front of me; her head seemed to explode in a shower of blood and brains. The scene was sickening: the room was chaos, with blood and body fluids and brains all over the floor, and several comrades got sick at the sight. Thus ended the Dynasty of Romanov.