Ipatiev House

Ipatiev House (Russian: Дом Ипатьева) was a merchant's house in Yekaterinburg where the former Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, his family and members of his household were executed following the Bolshevik Revolution. Coincidentally, its name is identical with that of the Ipatiev Monastery in Kostroma, from where the Romanovs came to the throne.

History

In the 1880s, Ivan Redikortsev, an official involved in the mining industry, commissioned a two-story house to be built on the slope of a prominent hill. The length of the facade was 31 metres. In 1898, the mansion passed to Sharaviev, a gold dealer of tainted reputation. Ten years later, the house was acquired by Nikolai Nikolayevich Ipatiev, a military engineer, who turned the ground floor into his office. It seems to have been on the basis of information supplied by Pyotr Voikov that Ipatiev was summoned to the office of the Ural Soviet at the end of April 1918 and ordered to vacate what was soon to be called "The House of Special Purpose."

Imperial family

The Romanov family moved in on 30 April and spent 78 days at the house. The Emperor, his wife, their four daughters, their son, their Court Physician/Doctor Yevgeny Botkin, chambermaid Anna Demidova, Cook Ivan Kharitonov, and Valet Alexei Trupp, were shot there by a squad of Bolshevik secret police under the Cheka chief Yakov Yurovsky, on July 16/July 17, 1918. Kitchen-boy Leonid Sednev was called out of the house hours earlier and thus spared from execution.

The execution squad comprised four Russian Bolsheviks and seven soldiers. These soldiers were Hungarians, prisoners-of-war who didn't speak Russian. As Communists they had joined the 1st Kamyshov Rifle Regiment of the Red Army. They were chosen because the local Cheka feared that Russian soldiers would not shoot at the Tsar and his family, particularly at his daughters. Ironically, the soldiers were blindfolded as well as the condemned, leading to an inefficient and tremendously messy execution process. One of them was called Imre Nagy. Some claim that he was the same Imre Nagy who later became Prime Minister of Hungary and was executed after the crushing of the anti-Soviet revolution of 1956 by the Red Army. This theory is supported by several Russian historians, but it is generally dismissed by Hungarian experts. Although Imre Nagy was living in Siberia in 1918, the name is very common among Hungarians.

Demolition

As early as 1923, the photographs of the fenced house were disseminated in the Soviet press under the label of "the last palace of the last Tsar". In 1927, the house was designated a branch of the Ural Revolution Museum. It then became an Agricultural School before taking on new life in 1938 as Anti-Religious Museum. During this period it was customary for party apparatchiks to arrive in large tour groups, posing before the bullet-damaged wall of the cellar in which the Tsar and his family had been killed. In 1946 it was taken over by the local Communist Party. In 1974 it was formally listed as a Historical-Revolutionary Monument. But, to the embarrassment of the government, it was steadily becoming a place of pilgrimage for those who wished to honour the memory of the imperial family.

In 1977, as the sixtieth anniversary of the Russian Revolution approached, the Politburo decided to take action, declaring that the house was not of 'sufficient historical significance', and ordering its demolition. The task was passed to Boris Yeltsin, Chair of the local party, who had the house demolished in July 1977. He later wrote in his memoirs, published in 1990, that "sooner or later we will be ashamed of this piece of barbarism.". But, despite this action, the pilgrims kept coming, often in secret and at night, leaving tokens of remembrance on the vacant site. After the fall of the Soviet state the Church on the Blood was built on the site, now a major place of pilgrimage.

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