In July 1918, Bolshevik revolutionaries executed the last ruler of the Russian Empire, Nicholas II, along with his family. The execution of took place far from Moscow and St. Petersburg in distant Yekaterinburg in Siberia. The remains of these last Romanovs, the dynasty that had ruled Russia for centuries, were then scattered in burial sites in nearby forests. On July 17, 1998, almost exactly 80 years later, the remains of the tsar and his family were buried in a ceremony in St. Petersburg.
Students will go to the Russia's Last Tsar Web site to read personal accounts of eyewitnesses during the revolution. After answering a series of questions, students will develop a list of additional questions that they would want to ask the eyewitnesses to learn more about life during the revolution and the years immediately following the revolution.
- Students will be able to interpret eyewitness accounts of life in Russia before, during, and after the revolution.
- Students will be able to apply what they have learned by writing follow-up questions for each eyewitness.
Student Web Activity Answers
- Bolshevik party officials ordered them killed. This is clear from the article which refers to the Kremlin cover-up that existed for more than 70 years. (If the people had demanded it, the execution would have occurred publicly and in Moscow St. Petersburg, probably after a trial of some kind.
- The DNA analysis was done in Britain because its royal family are also descended from the Romanovs. A match would thus prove the tsar's identity.
- Massie says their deaths had a great impact on the outside world, helping to create a fear of communism. This fear then brought in Hitler, who was responsible for World War II. After World War II, the world was divided.
- For the Church, which was historically close to the throne, the discovery of the bones raised a controversial issue about whether the royal family were martyrs.
- an execution implies that it is official, also that it was planned and perhaps preceded by a formal trial with charges. Murder is morally wrong and implies the action of only one or a few persons. Massacre implies something that took many people to accomplish because large numbers of people were killed. It also conveys an impression of savagery, very possibly by a crowd of killers on a rampage. Only the first term suggests that the new Communist Party had a rational policy and was acting like other legitimate states.
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