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Interactive Timeline of the First World War
Execution of Tsar Nicholas II - The First World War - July 1918
Following the Bolshevik seizure of power in October/ November 1917 civil war erupted in Russia as the Bolsheviks fought to gain total control of the country. Their opponents had a number of aims, some of which were in conflict with other groups fighting the Bolsheviks, but in most cases they were fighting for a return to one of the previous forms of government: be that the Provisional Government or Tsarism.
The Bolsheviks had captured and imprisoned the former Tsar, Nicholas II, and his immediate family shortly after the revolution. The Tsar was a natural focal point for the Bolsheviks opponents to look towards as a leader. So long as he was alive the Bolsheviks would be susceptible to plans to oust their government and restore the monarchy. They were also acutely aware of the threat posed to their regime from the Western Powers. The Tsar was related to the royal families of Britain, Germany and Austria amongst others. Once fighting on the Western Front was over they would, perhaps, send troops to liberate the imprisoned Tsar with the intention of returning him to his throne.
With this fear in mind the Bolshevik leaders made the decision to execute the Russian Royal family. They were being held in a city called Ekaterinburg, close to the Ural mountains. The accepted version of their fate, there are several interpretations and question marks about what really happened, is that the family were taken into the cellar of Ipatiev house, their home in Ekaterinburg. Here they were lined up, as if to have a photograph taken. Instead a dozen armed guards entered the room and shot the family.
Popular myths surround the fate of the family, there have been numerous people claiming to be Romanov's, most famously, the Princess Anastasia. Recent DNA testing on remains believed to be those of the Russian Royal Family, of members of Royal Families who are closely related (the Duke of Edinburgh for example) and of claimants show that the family did indeed perish at the hands of the Bolsheviks in July 1918. Questions can still be raised as to the whereabouts of some remains though.
This information is included within the First World War Timeline as it can be seen as a direct result of the Russian Empires involvement in the First World War. The fact that war continued within Russia is also significant, as is the timing of the execution of the Russian Royal Family. In the longer term the rise of the Bolsheviks and their subsequent victory in the Russian Civil War is a consequence of the war and a major factor in World and European politics over the following 80 years.
Other Schoolshistory.org.uk resources about the First World War
An overview of the First World War - Poetry of the First World War - Teachers resources relating to the First World War - Online Lessons about the First World War - Recommended websites - Interactive Timeline of the First World War