It seemed as if all of them guessed their fate, but not one of them uttered a single sound.

July 17, 1918: The Romanovs are killed.

After a turbulent and much-hated twenty-three year-long reign, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated the throne and passed the title of tsar to his brother, who acknowledged the authority of the Provisional Government. This too was overthrown in the 1917 October Revolution by Bolsheviks who installed their own government, bringing to an end the Russia of old and the 300-year-old Romanov dynasty. Meanwhile, the former tsar and his family - including his wife Alexandra, four daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, and son Alexei - were relocated to Tobolsk, and then to Yekaterinburg, located in the Ural Mountains.

The remnants of the imperial family were held in the Ipatiev House - “the House of Special Purpose” - as both civil war and world war raged around them. By the summer of 1918, White Army forces were on the move and, to the dismay of the Bolsheviks, approaching Yekaterinburg, Though they were unaware of the family’s imprisonment there, losing the Romanovs to anti-Bolshevik forces who could potentially use the deposed tsar as a rallying point posed too great a risk, and so the decision to execute them was quickly made under the authority of Vladimir Lenin himself, and transmitted by telegraph, to be carried out by Yakov Yurovsky and a force of ten soldiers and local Bolsheviks.

There is no universally agreed upon account of the exact manner of their execution, but, according to the chief executioner’s version of the events, the family was awakened at 2:00 AM and brought to the basement of the Ipatiev House, supposedly for their own safety. Yurovsky read aloud to the family their execution orders, to their confusion, and then commenced the shooting. Those who did not die in the initial onslaught of bullets were stabbed to death with bayonets or shot in the head. Those killed alongside the Romanovs included a court physician, a maid, footman, and cook. DNA analysis has since confirmed the deaths of all the Romanovs, but rumors surrounding the possible survival of Grand Duchess Anastasia, the youngest Romanov daughter, persisted into the late 20th century. 

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