The Last Days of the Romanovs | National Geographic in Russia

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National Geographic takes you inside the last days of the Romanov Dynasty.

[MUSIC PLAYING] OLGA KULIKOVSKY-ROMANOFF: I think it's a big tragedy, big tragedy for the country and for the world.

SERGEY GORDEEV: For 300 years the Romanovs ruled Russia as tsars-- loved, feared, revered, respected. But all too often, those who fly highest fall furthest. World War I brought Russia to revolution. In 1917, Tsar Nicholas ii was overthrown. Lenin's Bolsheviks seized control, and for 78 days Nicholas, his wife Alexandra, and their five children-- Alexei, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia were imprisoned here in what used to be Nikolai Ipatiev's house-- now the Church on the Blood in Yekaterinburg.

On July 17, 1918 the royal family members and their staff were awoken and told they were being transferred. They were escorted down here, to what used to be the basement of the Ipatiev house. The firing squad entered, and 20 minutes later the 300 year reign of the Romanov Dynasty was over.

OLGA KULIKOVSKY-ROMANOFF: Russia had died. On that moment when he was killed, Russia had died, too.


SERGEY GORDEEV: Years later, after the fall of communism, the church was built to commemorate them as holy martyrs. But after the crime, the Bolsheviks did everything possible to erase the Romanovs from history. After the execution, the Romanov family was brought here to Ganina Yama, and dumped in this old iron mine. The Bolsheviks poured acid over the bodies and burnt them continuously for two days and three nights, trying to get rid of every last remnant of the tsar's power.


SERGEY GORDEEV: There is no simple way to look at the rule of the Romanovs. And many here feel that what followed was even worse. But now, from the ashes of Russia's past comes the promise of Russia's future.