Execution of the Romanovs

The basement room in Ipatiev House where the Romanov royal family and their staff were executed. The holes in the walls are from investigators searching for bullets.
The basement room in Ipatiev House where the Romanov royal family and their staff were executed. The holes in the walls are from investigators searching for bullets.

Historical Context

By July 1918, Russia was engulfed in a hellish civil war which would cost millions of lives and damage a country already reeling from the devastation of World War I. Swept away in this hellfire was the old Tsarist monarchy, last headed by Nicholas II.

Nicholas had abdicated in 1917 as the Russian Revolution swept through the nation. Since then he had been a prisoner of successive governments, first the Provisional Government and then the administration run by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks.

The Romanovs were shipped from place to place, eventually coming to Yekaterinburg in April, in the Urals, an area known for its hard Communist sympathies. As the White Russian forces grew closer, Lenin and his associates ordered the murder of the family to prevent them falling into anti-communist hands.

On the night of 17/18 July 1918, Nicholas, his wife Alexandra and their children Alexei, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia as well as several of their staff were executed in the basement of Ipatiev House. Their bodies were removed, mutilated and burned before being buried in a forest.

The remains of the family were discovered in stages - all except Alexei and Anastasia in 1979, and the bodies of the remaining children in 2007. Before the discovery of their bodies, rumors spread that some had survived, particularly Anastasia who would posthumously become the most famous of the Tsar's children.

Photo Info


Photographer: Unknown
Location taken: Yekaterinburg, Soviet Union

Source: Russian Archives (via Wikimedia Commons)

Related Events

  • 1918-07-17 The Romanov royal family and several of their retainers are executed by a Bolshevik firing squad in the basement of Ipatiev House, in Yekaterinburg, Siberia

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