ROMANOV FAMILY: DECLARATION OF WAR

ROMANOV FAMILY: DECLARATION OF WAR
Tsar Nicholas II on the balcony of the Winter Palace on 20 July, 1914. The declaration of the First World War.
Tsar Nicholas II on the balcony of the Winter Palace on 20 July, 1914. The declaration of the First World War.

From the 1914 diary of Nicholas II: 19th July. Saturday. In the morning heard the usual reports. After breakfast summoned Nikolasha and told him of his appointment as supreme commander until my arrival in the army. Rode to Diveyevo monastery with Alix. Took a walk with the children. At 6 1/2 went to vsenoshnaya. Upon return from there we learned that Germany had declared war on us. Dinner with: Olga A, Dimitri and Ioann. In the evening the English Ambassador Buchanan arrived with a telegram from Georgie. Wrote a response together with him for a long time. Then saw Nikolasha and Fredericks again. Had tea at 12 1/4.

23 July. Wednesday. In the morning found out the good news: Britain has declared war on Germany due to the fact that the latter had attacked France and most unceremoniously violated the neutrality of Luxembourg and Belgium. The external campaign could not start better for us. Received all morning and after breakfast until 4 o’cl. Last was the French Ambassador Palaeologue, who had arrived to officially announce the break between France and Germany. Took a walk with the children. Mordvinov had breakfast and lunch. The evening was free.   

The Last Telegram from Kaiser Wilhelm II to Tsar Nicholas II, 1 August, 1914, received 7 hours after Germany declared war on Russia. Photo credit: RGIA (State Archives St Petersburg).
The Last Telegram from Kaiser Wilhelm II to Tsar Nicholas II. Received 7 hours after Germany declared war on Russia. Image credit: RGIA (State Archives St Petersburg).

24th July. Thursday. Today, Austria finally declared war on us. Now the situation is completely defined. From 11 1/2 I had a meeting of the Council of Ministers on the Farm. Alix went to the city in the morning and returned with Victoria and Ella. Besides them we had breakfast with: Kostya and Mavra, who just returned from Germany, also like Alec had a hard time crossing the border. The entire day a warm rain was coming down. Took a walk. Victoria and Ella had dinner and then left for the city.

From the 1914 diary of Tatiana Romanov:

19 July – Saturday… Went to Vsenoshnaya. When we returned we learned that the Germans had declared War on us. Brutes! God grant that it all turns out well… Sat at home again because Papa was receiving the whole time. Dmitri said goodbye and left. The Dragoons have already come today and the Finnish as well. So sad and depressed.

20 July – Sunday.  10 o’cl. Olga, Mama and I went to Mass at the Ulan Cathedral . It was very good. [We] 5 breakfasted with Papa and Mama. At 2 o’cl. we 4 with Papa and Mama boarded the “Alexandria” and headed to St. Petersburg. A[unt] Olga was with us. On the Neva we saw our two vessels Gangut and Sevastopol. Wonderful. Saw the dear yacht. Saw N.P. on it and from there [went] to Peterhof with Pavel Aleks. [and] to the Winter Pal.[ace] There [we walked] across the street on foot. Masses of people on their knees cheering and blessing Papa and Mama. All the relatives went to the Nikolaevsky Hall which was full of military officers. There was a moleben , Batiushka was there in the middle and read Papa’s declaration of war manifesto. Then Papa said a few kind words to them, and they yelled terribly [loud]. It was wonderful. There were many of our Yakhtinsky and Guard-Equipage officers. Saw N.P. and were even able to greet him. [I] was so happy, then Papa and Mama bowed to the people on the balcony on the square. Thousands and thousands of [people] standing [there]. Then back again walking among the huge crowd. On the one side were the simple people, on the other officers. Ours were [there] too. Returned at 7 1/2. Had dinner [we] 2 with Papa and Mama. [Our] spirits [were] lifted greatly.

Above excerpts are from the book Tatiana Romanov, Daughter of the Last Tsar: Diaries and Letters, 1913–1918

Square in front of Winter Palace in St Petersburg on 20 July, 1914 - the declaration of First World War.
Square in front of Winter Palace in St Petersburg on 20 July, 1914 – the declaration of First World War.

From the memoirs of Anna Vyrubova. a Romanov family friend:

Their Majesties’ Petersburg arrival on the day of declaration of war confirmed the Tsar’s prediction that war will wake up patriotic spirit in the people. Thousands of people everywhere with national flags, and the Tsar’s portraits. The singing of the hymn “Lord save Thou people”. Not one of the residents of the capital stayed home that day. Their Majesties arrived in Petersburg via the sea. They walked from the boat to the Palace, surrounded by the people, who cheered them. We barely got through to the Palace; on the stairs, in the halls, [were] crowds of officers all over and various persons who had access to the Court. It is hard to imagine what happened when Their Majesties came out. In the Nikolaevsky Hall , after molebna, The Tsar addressed all present with a speech. At first his voice shook from nervousness, but later he started to speak confidently and with inspiration and ended with the words: “That he will not end the war until every last enemy is driven out of the Russian land”. In response there was a deafening “Hurrah”; sounds of admiration and love; the military crowded around the Tsar, waved their hats and yelled so [loudly] that it seemed that the windows in walls shook… Their Majesties slowly returned and the crowd, ignoring court etiquette, ran to them; the ladies and the soldiers kissed their hands, shoulders, Empress’s dress. She glanced at me when she passed by and I saw that her eyes were full of tears. When they came into the Malachite room, the Grand Dukes ran over to ask the Tsar to show himself on the balcony. When they saw him, the entire ocean of people on the Palace Square, all as one got down on their knees in front of him. Thousands of flags bent down, hymns were sang, prayers… Everyone was crying… Among these feelings of endless love and loyalty began the war.     

Above except is from the book The Diary of Olga Romanov: Royal Witness to the Russian Revolution

The Romanov family on Palace Square in St Petersburg at the declaration of war.
The Romanov family on Palace Square in St Petersburg at the declaration of the First World War.

 

 

 

 

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