Before there was the Soviet Union, what folks used to call the land we now call Russia, there was another Russia. Original Russia operated under the rule of Tzars, a monarchistic family of rulers who claimed to descend from the Ceasars who once ruled Egypt. The last of those Tzars was Nicholas II, later known as Nicholas Romanov. His time as the leader of Russian came to an end in the wake of The Great War (WWI), when many Russians died, and more suffered at home under tense economic strain. In 1917, a revolution deposed Romanov’s family. A year later, the people of Russia executed Nicholas and his family. These pictures capture the family’s final days.
26. One Day at the Beach
What could pass as a photo of any family at the beach sometime in the early 20th century is actually the Romanov family. This picture, discovered amongst recovered Romanov family albums kept at Yale University’s Beinecke Library, is one of many taken by Nicholas II himself. One clue that Nicholas took the shot is that everyone but him is in it. Pictured are three of his daughters, Maria, Olga, and Tatiana along with the youngest, Alexei. The boy is about 13 in this shot. Not yet a man, as the only boy in the Romanov family, he was the heir apparent to the throne. They often called him “the baby.”
25. Playing at Wolfsgarten
The Tzar’s family had access to many royal properties, one of which was a hunting lodge Schloss Wolfsgarten. In this shot of the children, Grand Duchess Maria, Tsarevich Alexei, Georg Donatus, the Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse, and Grand Duchess Anastasia play in a toy horseless carriage at the edge of a thicket. Taken before winter in 1910, Alexei would have been about six years old in this still. His sister Anastasia was nine, and his other sister Tatiana was thirteen. These were the salad days of life.