CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

Saturday, August 24, 2013

RUSSIA AND THE US IN THE EARLY YEARS TO NOW


RUSSIA AND THE US IN THE EARLY YEARS TO NOW
The photographs of Russian chemist and photographer, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, show Russia on the eve of World War I and the coming of the revolution. From 1909-1912 and again in 1915, Prokudin-Gorskii travelled across the Russian Empire, documenting life, landscapes and the work of Russain people. His images were to be a photographic survey of the time. He travelled in a special train car transformed into a dark room to process his special process of creating color images, a technology that was in its infancy in the early 1900′s. Prokudin-Gorskii left Russia in 1918, after the Russian Revolution had destroyed the Empire he spent years documenting. To learn more about the Prokudin-Gorskii, the process he used to create the color photographs, and see his collection, you can visit the Library of Congress, who purchased his glass negatives in 1948 after his death in 1944.
Dynasty of decadence: Behind the Romanov's glittering facade lay an epic saga of depravity and unspeakable cruelty. From its initial creation until the 1905 Revolution, the Russian Empire was controlled by its emperor as an absolute monarch, under the system of tsarist autocracy. Note the similarities between the Russia of old and the new  leaders of the US, the constitution, and its enlightened citizenry.
  Captured: Russia in Color    
 

The peasants of St Petersburg: Fascinating pictures from the 1800s capture the gritty world of Russia before the Revolution

These remarkable pictures show the lives of Russian peasants living in the 1800s. Taken by Edinburgh-born artist William Carrick he was born on New Year's Eve in 1827 and months later was taken to Russia where he grew up.
 
William Carrick took a picture of this abacus seller in his St Petersburg studio in Russia. The Edinburgh-born photographer took some of the most remarkable pictures of Imperial Russia
William Carrick took a picture of this abacus seller in his St Petersburg studio in Russia. The Edinburgh-born photographer took some of the most remarkable pictures of Imperial Russia
Carrick was born on New Year's Eve in 1827 and later moved to Russia with his family. He returned to Edinburgh where he took up photography and later opened a studio in St Petersburgh
Carrick was born on New Year's Eve in 1827 and later moved to Russia with his family. He returned to Edinburgh where he took up photography and later opened a studio in St Petersburgh
A Russian woman does her washing and was one of the many people who was photographed by Carrick
A Russian woman does her washing and was one of the many people who was photographed by Carrick
A vendor with his vegetables poses for Carrick and his assistant McGregor during the 1800s
A vendor with his vegetables poses for Carrick and his assistant McGregor during the 1800s
During one of his visits to Edinburgh, he took photography lessons and met John McGregor who returned with him to St Petersburg.
In 1859 he opened one of the first photographic studios and McGregor worked with him as an assistant.
Together the pair travelled rural Russia capturing the lives of peasants living and working in Russia. Carrick did this to boost his income and keep his studio afloat. The pictures satisfied the curiosity of tourists and the public who found Russia's peasants fascinating. The pictures, which are dated from the 1860s to the 1870s, include the lives of those working in the busy streets of St Petersburg, from street vendors to musicians and chimney sweeps. Another set of pictures records the life and labour of Russian peasants in the Volga Region of Simbirsk. They are seen at work in the fields and at rest and many happily posed for the camera. This would have been the first time many of them had seen one. Carrick often spent months travelling with his assistant and was known for his compassionate nature. McGregor died in 1872 and Carrick continued to take photographs until he died of pneumonia in 1878.
Carrick and his assistant travelled to rural parts of Russia where they also captured the lives of peasants
Carrick and his assistant travelled to rural parts of Russia where they also captured the lives of peasants
A woman serves tea while posing for portrait for Carrick. The photographer took pictures of people to satisfy the curiosity of tourists who were intrigued with Russian life
A woman serves tea while posing for portrait for Carrick. The photographer took pictures of people to satisfy the curiosity of tourists who were intrigued with Russian life
A chimney sweep poses for Carrick and McGregor. Carrick had established himself as professional photographer shortly after opening his studio in St Petersburg
A chimney sweep poses for Carrick and McGregor. Carrick had established himself as professional photographer shortly after opening his studio in St Petersburg
Carrick and McGregor also travelled to rural parts of Russia where they took pictures of peasants who worked in the fields
Carrick and McGregor also travelled to rural parts of Russia where they took pictures of peasants who worked in the fields
Carrick often spent months travelling and was known for showing many of the people he pictured compassion
Carrick often spent months travelling and was known for showing many of the people he pictured compassion
A young woman poses for Carrick. He was a passionate photographer known for his compassionate nature
A young woman poses for Carrick. He was a passionate photographer known for his compassionate nature
Carricks pictures included pictures of streets sellers, musicians and vendors on the streets of St Petersburg
Carricks pictures included pictures of streets sellers, musicians and vendors on the streets of St Petersburg
A woman and a young girl pose outside their home during one of Carrick's many trips in rural Russia
A woman and a young girl pose outside their home during one of Carrick's many trips in rural Russia
A group of male field workers pose for a picture for Carrick. This would have been the first time many of them had seen a camera
A group of male field workers pose for a picture for Carrick. This would have been the first time many of them had seen a camera
Carrick took hundreds of pictures of street vendors and peasants to help boost business at his St Petersburg studio
Carrick took hundreds of pictures of street vendors and peasants to help boost business at his St Petersburg studio
A man with his horse and carriage on the streets of Russia. Carrick's collection of images are some of the most impressive pictures of Imperial Russia
A man with his horse and carriage on the streets of Russia. Carrick's collection of images are some of the most impressive pictures of Imperial Russia
McGregor died in 1872 and Carrick continued to work until he died of pneumonia in 1878
McGregor died in 1872 and Carrick continued to work until he died of pneumonia in 1878
 

After the Revolution of 1905, Russia developed a new type of government which became difficult to categorize. In the Almanach de Gotha for 1910, Russia was described as "a constitutional monarchy under an autocratic tsar." This contradiction in terms demonstrated the difficulty of precisely defining the system, essentially transitional and meanwhile sui generis, established in

the Russian Empire after October 1905. Before this date, the fundamental laws of Russia described the power of the emperor as "autocratic and unlimited." After October 1905, while the imperial style was still "Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias";the fundamental laws were remodeled by removing the term "unlimited." While the emperor retained many of his old prerogatives, including an absolute veto over all legislation, he equally agreed to the establishment of an elected parliament, without whose consent no laws were to be enacted in Russia.
Not that the regime in Russia had become in any true sense constitutional, far less parliamentary; but the "unlimited autocracy" had given place to a "self-limited autocracy." Whether this autocracy was to be permanently limited by the new changes, or only at the continuing discretion of the autocrat, became a subject of heated controversy between conflicting parties in the state. Provisionally, then, the Russian governmental system may perhaps be best defined as "a limited monarchy under an autocratic emperor."



The Winter Palace was the official royal court of the monarchy from 1732 to 1917. Today, it forms part of the complex of buildings housing the Hermitage Museum.


The Catherine Palace, located at Tsarskoe Selo, was the summer residence of the imperial family. It is named after Empress Catherine I, who reigned from 1725 to 1727.
Peter the Great changed his title from Tsar in 1721, when he was declared Emperor of all Russia. While later rulers kept this title, the ruler of Russia was commonly known as Tsar or Tsaritsa until the fall of the Empire during the February Revolution of 1917. Prior to the issuance of the October Manifesto, the emperor ruled as an absolute monarch, subject to only two limitations on his authority (both of which were intended to protect the existing system): the emperor and his consort must both belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, and he must obey the laws of succession (Pauline Laws) established by Paul I. Beyond this, the power of the Russian Autocrat was virtually limitless.
On October 17, 1905, the situation changed: the emperor voluntarily limited his legislative power by decreeing that no measure was to become law without the consent of the Imperial Duma, a freely elected national assembly established by the Organic Law issued on April 28, 1906. However, the emperor retained the right to disband the newly-established Duma, and he exercised this right more than once. He also retained an absolute veto over all legislation, and only he could initiate any changes to the Organic Law itself. His ministers were responsible solely to him, and not to the Duma or any other authority, which could question but not remove them. Thus, while the emperor's power was limited in scope after April 28, 1906, it still remained formidable.



Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, reigning from 1894 to 1917. The monarchy ended with the murder of the Romanov family by Bolsheviks in 1918.
State Council of Imperial Russia
Under Russia's revised Fundamental Law of February 20, 1906, the Council of the Empire was associated with the Duma as a legislative Upper House; from this time the legislative power was exercised normally by the emperor only in concert with the two chambers.[8] The Council of the Empire, or Imperial Council, as reconstituted for this purpose, consisted of 196 members, of whom 98 were nominated by the emperor, while 98 were elective. The ministers, also nominated, were ex officio members. Of the elected members, 3 were returned by the "black" clergy (the monks), 3 by the "white" clergy (seculars), 18 by the corporations of nobles, 6 by the academy of sciences and the universities, 6 by the chambers of commerce, 6 by the industrial councils, 34 by the governments having zemstvos, 16 by those having no zemstvos, and 6 by Poland. As a legislative body the powers of the Council were coordinate with those of the Duma; in practice, however, it has seldom if ever initiated legislation.
State Duma of the Russian Empire
The Duma of the Empire or Imperial Duma (Gosudarstvennaya Duma), which formed the Lower House of the Russian parliament, consisted (since the ukaz of June 2, 1907) of 442 members, elected by an exceedingly complicated process. The membership was manipulated as to secure an overwhelming majority of the wealthy (especially the landed classes) and also for the representatives of the Russian peoples at the expense of the subject nations. Each province of the empire, except Central Asia, returned a certain number of members; added to these were those returned by several large cities. The members of the Duma were chosen by electoral colleges and these, in their turn, were elected in assemblies of the three classes: landed proprietors, citizens and peasants. In these assemblies the wealthiest proprietors sat in person while the lesser proprietors were represented by delegates. The urban population was divided into two categories according to taxable wealth, and elected delegates directly to the college of the Governorates.
The peasants were represented by delegates selected by the regional subdivisions called volosts. Workmen were treated in special manner with every industrial concern employing fifty hands or over electing one or more delegates to the electoral college.
In the college itself the voting for the Duma was by secret ballot and a simple majority carried the day. Since the majority consisted of conservative elements (the landowners and urban delegates), the progressives had little chance of representation at all save for the curious provision that one member at least in each government was to be chosen from each of the five classes represented in the college. That the Duma had any radical elements was mainly due to the peculiar franchise enjoyed by the seven largest towns — Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Odessa, Riga and the Polish cities of Warsaw and Łódź. These elected their delegates to the Duma directly, and though their votes were divided (on the basis of taxable property) in such a way as to give the advantage to wealth, each returned the same number of delegates.
The Romanov dynasty lasted 300 years: the lives of its tsars and emperors and empresses is a bejewelled but bloodsplattered chronicle of assassinations, adulteries, tortures, secret marriages, coups, reckless rises and brutal falls.
It is peopled by heroic, brilliant statesmen, soldiers and reformers  -  as well as nymphomaniacs, martinets, murderers, blunderers, monsters, megalomaniacs and lunatics.
But throughout, Russia's tsars projected their country's greatness in the majestic flamboyance of their clothes, a never-ending parade of ermine, gold and diamonds.
Nicholas II
The last Tsar: Nicholas II and the empress of Russia, Alexandra Fedorovna in 1903
A new exhibition of their sumptuous ceremonial uniforms at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London shows for the first time the true extent with which they embraced magnificence  -  and how they employed the finest dressmakers, tailors, embroiderers and jewellers in Russia so they could demonstrate their glory through the theatre of dress and jewels.
The Russians always took such displays to new realms of excess.
British envoys visiting the Russian court in the 18th century were staggered by the number of diamonds even male courtiers were wearing all over their clothes and hats.
The costumes of staff were as opulent as those of members of the royal families in other countries. Even their stockings were embroidered with gold.
Why were the tsars so taken with high court fashion?
The easy answer is that they could afford to be, owning millions of tax-paying slaves called serfs. But also because, as leaders of a brash new power, they resented and envied the superiority of older established powers like Britain and France.
So they dressed up in order to parade their glory and legitimacy before their own restless empire and an often disdainful world.
Tsar Nicholas II
Tsar Nicholas II with his wife Tsarina Alexandra (standing on the right), the Tsaravitch (2nd from right) and his four daughters
Under the Romanovs between 1613 and 1917, Russia was an empire of oppressed nations dominated by one family and a tiny Russian nobility.
Its system was a paranoid, hereditary autocracy which was 'tempered by assassination' as one commentator puts it.
The single Imperial family holding it all together used fashion and pomp to show their might, as well as the army and police to oppress opposition.
It did not matter that the vast wealth on display had been created on the backs of serfs who were sold, starved, beaten and raped.
It did not matter either that, on many occasions, the flamboyance of the court scarcely concealed the brutality beneath its glittering surface.
The important thing was to convey the image of power, empire and stability... as well as defiance towards foreign courts.
Glory and magnificence is certainly one way to display stability and grandeur  -  but it can also be a sign of ludicrous weakness.
By the time of the last Tsar Nicholas II, who succeeded in 1894, the punctilious, rigid hierarchy of uniforms, titles and ranks was the clearest indication of a sclerotic, isolated and inept regime on its last legs, incapable of reforming or saving itself.
The more outrageous, the more gilded and bemedalled the costumes, the more fragile the empire beneath them.
Perhaps that is why the most lavish garments in the exhibition belonged to Nicholas.
The fur-trimmed mantles worn by members of the family for his coronation are wildly extravagant. His mother's was more than 20ft long and took seven chamberlains to carry.
Nicholas and his wife's identical mantles were no less grand, using 2,691 ermine skins in total.
Tsar Nicholas II
Alexei Nikitin, chief of the group of scientists in Yekaterinburg, examined exhumed bones of last Russian Tzar Nicolas II, his wife and other members of his family
As for his fancy dress cloak made from layers of fur-lined silks woven with gold and decorated with pearls the size of marbles, diamonds, rubies, silver brocade and gold buttons, it was so heavily encrusted with jewels that it was given to the armory for safekeeping after Nicholas wore it for a ball in 1903.
Little more than ten years later, the last Tsar was dead, executed by the Bolsheviks.
It was Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century who was the first of the Grand Dukes of Muscovy to be titled 'Tsar'  -  or Caesar  -  but the beginning of the Romanov dynasty in 1613 came after Russia had been beset by civil war, a period known as the Time of Troubles.
Russian national dress in those dark days consisted of kaftans and long, furlined robes with relics and portraits of saints hanging off them.
To Western eyes, it was backward and bizarrely exotic even 100 years later.
In her book, Dress In 18th Century Europe, Aileen Ribeiro talks of heavily rouged Russian women who dyed their teeth black and polished them until they gleamed like lacquer.
The first hint of change came in 1682  -  with the secession of Peter the Great, one of the greatest political leaders of all history, a man who was as much a monster as he was a hero.
The achievements of this astonishing titan were colossal: he modernised Russia with German and Dutch engineering and fashion, created a Baltic Fleet, founded St Petersburg and defeated the invading Swedish king.
Yet Peter's modernising did not make him a liberal: he was also a brutal tyrant.
When the Muscovite Streltsy Regiment of musketeers mutinied, Peter returned from his European tour and personally took part in the torture, dismemberment and beheading of hundreds of these musketeers in a scene that resembled a grisly charnel house.
When he thought a former mistress of his, Anna Mons, was being unfaithful, she was arrested and died in terrible conditions.
Worse, when her brother was suspected of flirting with Peter's wife, he was beheaded.
Peter the Great
Peter the Great: 'This half-genius, half-brute died in 1725'
His head was then sent to the Empress before being preserved in a bottle of alcohol: it remains today in Peter's fascinating but gruesome Museum of Oddities in St Petersburg.
Peter the Great was so all-powerful that he emphasised his absoluteness by pretending to be an ordinary sailor in his new navy.
A giant well over 6ft tall, he reserved the right to dress in the uniform of a lowly soldier or sailor, but this in itself was a display of power almost as grand as his glorious coronation robes.
(Incidentally, Stalin, who worshipped Peter the Great, also prided himself on dressing in a plain tunic while commanding the greatest empire on earth.)
In 1721, Peter had himself crowned Emperor and henceforth the Romanovs used that as their main title. This half-genius, half-brute died in 1725 as Russia's greatest ever ruler, but his reckless cruelty had also left his empire in the unstable hands of a succession of women and children.
When his eldest son fled Russia, Peter hunted him down, tricked him home and then tortured him to death, leaving his new empire without an adult heir.
The Romanovs boasted Empresses whose magnificence, extravagance and love lives were legendary.
The love of Peter's life was a courtesan whom he stole from his favourite henchman.
Peter crowned her Empress and she succeeded him as Catherine I, even though she was a peasant-moll without a trace of royalty who had been bought and sold by men for their own pleasures.
Her short reign was just the start of the so-called of Age of Petticoats  -  when a series of women became absolute autocrats of all the Russias.
The last two who ruled as empresses in their own rights were among the greatest  -  and most scandalous  -  of all the Romanovs.
Empress Alexandra Feodorovna
Bejewelled beauty Alexandra Feodorovna
Peter and Catherine's daughter, Elizaveta  -  who was famously blonde, buxom and longlegged  -  ruled for 20 stable years when Russia emerged as a European power.
Yet she was wildly extravagant and vain: she believed that her legs were better displayed in male clothing so she famously held transvestite balls in which everyone had to dress as the opposite sex so the Empress would look good.
Her female courtiers hated this, of course, and so did the men.
She was also utterly ruthless  -  when one of her courtiers' ladies was involved in a conspiracy against her, Elizaveta had her tongue ripped out and she was deported to Siberia.
Empress Elizaveta was also the most promiscuous female ruler of modern times.
She had countless lovers: they varied from Russian princes and Swiss doctors to guardsmen, choirboys and peasant lads who took her fancy.
On her death, she was succeeded by a pimply youth named Peter III, whose wife was a minor German princess known to history as Catherine the Great.
She had no claim whatsoever to the throne, but Empress Elizaveta married her to Peter.
In the brutal Russian court, stranded in a miserable cruel and loveless marriage, the clever, blue-eyed Catherine did not manage to become pregnant for years.
The Empress Elizaveta, who had arranged the match, became worried.
So Catherine was encouraged by her to start an adulterous affair with a courtier. She got pregnant and gave birth to a son, Paul.
Since the entire Romanov dynasty down to Nicholas II was descended from him, it is entirely possible that the Romanovs were not Romanovs at all.
With the help of her Guards officers, Catherine overthrew her feeble husband and seized power in 1762.
When she rode into St Petersburg to launch her coup, she was met en route by her French hairdresser, Michel, who did her hair on the way to the revolution.
As she emerged out of the Winter Palace, she dressed up in a male Guards officer's uniform, again showing she was just an ordinary Russian soldier-patriot in one sense.
One Guards officer noticed she was missing a swordknot on her sword so he galloped up and gave her his own: this young man was Gregory Potemkin, who became the love of her life, secret husband and partner in government.
Their love letters remain the most romantic and sexually explicit correspondence of any head of state in history.
Catherine and the brilliant Prince Potemkin were the most humane and decent rulers of Russia  -  yet they had one big fault: extravagance.
On the big occasions, there was no one more splendid than these two: once when he was trying to seduce a girl, Potemkin served diamonds instead of pudding at a dinner party.
There was a dark side to Catherine, too. When she overthrew her unfortunate husband, he was duly murdered, but secretly.
Catherine, with Potemkin, expanded the Russian empire, annexed the Crimea and much of Poland, created a Black Sea navy and brought Peter the Great's project of making Russia a true Great Power to fruition.
She reigned for 30 years and on her death in 1796, she was succeeded by her embittered, insane and tyrannical son, Emperor Paul I.
Paul was one of the worst of the Romanovs. He was so obsessed with his father's murder that he dug up the body to have him reburied with full honours, making his mother  -  the murderer  -  walk behind the coffin as chief mourner.
He regularly ordered people to be beaten, tortured or imprisoned and reintroduced the medieval rule that all subjects should abase themselves as his carriage passed by.
photo

WWI Riga Eastern Front

New bridge, ice drift and small steam boats on the River Daugava in Riga
Before long he was loathed and, in the end, his courtiers who crept into the palace, chased him up a chimney in his nightshirt, then smashed him in the head with a solid gold inkstand and took turns strangling him.
His son and heir, Alexander I, personified the glamour and triumph of the Romanov dynasty: he was first defeated then charmed by Napoleon. But when the French Emperor invaded Russia in 1812, Alexander rallied and fought Napoleon all the way to Paris.
Alexander bestrode Europe: when President Roosevelt's envoy congratulated Stalin in 1945 on taking Berlin, Stalin retorted: 'Yes, but Alexander made it to Paris!'
But afterwards came Alexander's cold and very Germanic brother Nicholas I. By now the Romanov family was as much German as Russian and court life was as frosty, stratified, organised and monitored as any Germanic court with its graded uniforms and formal dances.
He created the first modern secret police, run out of his own office and he monitored every part of Russian life.
The Emperor boasted he was a soldier who slept on an iron cot (and Stalin cited this as his own inspiration for his sleeping arrangements.)
All the fizzy exuberance, hedonistic flamboyance and creative energy of the 18th century was now crushed in a Prussian-style police state known as the Prison of Peoples. Meanwhile, the Tsar's arrogant demands towards the Ottoman Empire led to the Crimean War.
photo
There was one last great Romanov Emperor. Nicholas's son, Alexander II, was everything his father wasn't: he ended the Crimean War and then bravely in 1861 liberated the millions of Russian serfs who were no more than slaves, the property of their noble masters who could beat, rape and sell them and often did.
He was for a while adored by the peasants as the 'Tsar-Liberator' but his early years of almost ending autocracy unleashed such expectations that in the end everyone was disappointed.
Alexander was pursued by terrorists who launched repeated attempts to kill him, until he was a fugitive in his own empire  -  he responded by expanding the secret police and repression.
Eventually, on a carriage ride through St Petersburg, terrorists tossed bombs under his carriage in 1881, killing the last great Emperor.
His oafish son, Alexander III, was interested in neither reform, culture or women and died young, leaving the throne in 1894 to Nicholas, who married Princess Alexandra of Hesse, Queen Victoria's granddaughter.
It has been fashionable to paint Nicholas and Alexandra as a saintly and loving couple of martyrs who lived a blameless, bourgeois life.
They certainly loved each other and suffered greatly because their son and heir, the Tsarevich Alexei, was so often in agony and danger due to his haemophilia, indeed threatening the future of the dynasty.
The murder of the couple and their children by Lenin's Bolsheviks in 1918 was certainly a dreadful crime.
Nonetheless, as rulers, they were foolish, stubborn, anti-Semitic and self-indulgent: when thousands of peasants died, trampled underfoot as crowds panicked before their coronation, they insisted on continuing with the ball. After the 1905 revolution, Nicholas organised anti- Jewish pogroms in which thousands of women and children perished.
photo

Russian soldiers hit by shell splinters

15.10.1915 zwei gefallene Soldaten der Russischen Armee bei Groß Ekau. Nähe Mitau/Jelgava heute Lettland, Lecavas
laut Beschreibung durch Granaten im Unterstand getötet
The New York Times already reported about an Russian operation on October 3th 1915:
RUSSIANS GAIN ON VILNA FRONT; Germans Forced to Fall Back Over Wider Area
...
The Germans attacks have continued in the region of Groß Ekau, but have been unsuccessful.
query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=990DE5DA133FE233A...

On the Riga front, September passed quietly, with
the German lines occupying approximately the line
from Schlock on the Gulf, of Riga to Mitau, thence along
the river Ekau to the Mitau-Krutzbiu-g Railroad, which
it followed to a point opposite Frederichstat, whence it
ran to a point on the Dwina River about half way be-
tween Riga and Dunaberg, and opposite Jacobstat.
On October 14th the Germans began to develop a general
offensive, and on the morning of that day crossed the
river Ekau near the village of Grunwald, about 15 miles
to the east of Mitau, near the railroad, and a two days'
battle followed for the railroad station of Garrosen and
that of Gross Ekau to the west and east of Grunwald
respectively. The line of this battle finally extended
as far as Neugut, considerably to the east of Gross Ekau.
At Gross Ekau on October 16th the Germans drove the
Russians back a considerable distance and also gained
groimd near Neugut. Hard fighting followed for several
days, and by the 20th of October the Germans managed
to break through the Russian line extending from the
Dwina River to Neugut and to advance as far as Borko-
witz on the river Dwina, a place distant about 14 miles
southeast from Riga. The Germans followed up this
advantage by advancing northeasterly from Grunwald,
and, after forcing their way across the river Missa, which
rims nearly parallel to the Mitau-Krutzburg railroad
a few miles to the north of it, forced the passage of this

By the time he entered World War I, Nicholas was despised. The war was a debacle made worse by the tsar trying to command his own armies, while leaving the neurotic, idiotic Alexandra to run the country through Rasputin, a debauched peasant mystic whose drunken gropings of his lady followers were notorious.
When the dynasty ended in March 1917, the Romanovs were not overthrown by terrorists or revolutionaries but by hungry people.
Three hundred years of extravagance and autocratic rule ended more with a whimper than a roar.
The murder on Lenin's orders of the entire Imperial family was the moment it became clear that the days of magnificence would never return.
• Sashenka, by Simon Sebag Montefiore, tells the story of a Russian girl from the tsars to today.
Subjects of the Russian Empire were segregated into sosloviyes, or social estates (classes) such as nobility (dvoryanstvo), clergy, merchants, cossacks and peasants. Native people of the Caucasus, non-ethnic Russian areas such as Tartarstan, Bashkirstan, Siberia and Central Asia were officially registered as a category called inorodtsy (non-Slavic, literally: "people of another origin").
A majority of the people, 81.6%, belonged to the peasant order, the others were: nobility, 0.6%; clergy, 0.1%; the burghers and merchants, 9.3%; and military, 6.1%. More than 88 million of the Russians were peasants. A part of them were formerly serfs (10,447,149 males in 1858) – the remainder being " state peasants " (9,194,891 males in 1858, exclusive of the Archangel Governorate) and " domain peasants " (842,740 males the same year).
[edit] Serfdom
Main articles: Russian serfdom and Emancipation reform of 1861
The serfdom which had developed in Russia in the 16th century, and became enshrined by law in 1649, was abolished in 1861.[n 6]
The household servants or dependents attached to the personal service were merely set free, while the landed peasants received their houses and orchards, and allotments of arable land. These allotments were given over to the rural commune (mir), which was made responsible for the payment of taxes for the allotments. For these allotments the peasants had to pay a fixed rent which could be fulfilled by personal labour. The allotments could be redeemed by peasants with the help of the Crown, and then they were freed from all obligations to the landlord. The Crown paid the landlord and the peasants had to repay the Crown, for forty-nine years at 6% interest. The financial redemption to the landlord was not calculated on the value of the allotments, but was considered as a compensation for the loss of the compulsory labour of the serfs. Many proprietors contrived to curtail the allotments which the peasants had occupied under serfdom, and frequently deprived them of precisely the parts of which they were most in need: pasture lands around their houses. The result was to compel the peasants to rent land from their former masters.
[edit] Peasants


Peasants in Russia. Photograph taken by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky in 1909
After the Emancipation reform one quarter of peasants have received allotments of only 2.9 acres (12,000 m2) per male, and one-half less than 8.5 to 11.4 acres – the normal size of the allotment necessary to the subsistence of a family under the three-fields system being estimated at 28 to 42 acres (170,000 m2). Land must thus of necessity be rented from the landlords at fabulous prices. The aggregate value of the redemption and land taxes often reaches 185 to 275% of the normal rental value of the allotments, not to speak of taxes for recruiting purposes, the church, roads, local administration and so on, chiefly levied from the peasants. The arrears increase every year; one-fifth of the inhabitants have left their houses; cattle are disappearing. Every year more than half the adult males (in some districts three-fourths of the men and one-third of the women) quit their homes and wander throughout Russia in search of labor. In the governments of the Black Earth Area the state of matters is hardly better. Many peasants took the "gratuitous allotments," whose amount was about one-eighth of the normal allotments.
The average allotment in Kherson was only 0.90-acre (3,600 m2), and for allotments from 2.9 to 5.8 acres (23,000 m2) the peasants pay 5 to 10 rubles of redemption tax. The state peasants were better off, but still they were emigrating in masses. It was only in the steppe governments that the situation was more hopeful. In Little Russia, where the allotments were personal (the mir existing only among state peasants), the state of affairs does not differ for the better, on account of the high redemption taxes. In the West provinces, where the land was valued cheaper and the allotments somewhat increased after the Polish insurrection, the general situation was better. Finally, in the Baltic provinces nearly all the land belonged to the German landlords, who either farmed the land themselves, with hired laborers, or let it in small farms. Only one quarter of the peasants were farmers, the remainder were mere laborers.
[edit] Landowners
The situation of the former serf-proprietors was also unsatisfactory. Accustomed to the use of compulsory labor, they have failed to adapt to the new conditions. The millions of rubles of redemption money received from the crown have been spent without any real or lasting agricultural improvements having been effected. The forests have been sold, and only those landlords are prospering who exact rack-rents for the land without which the peasants could not live upon their allotments. During the years 1861 to 1892 the land owned by the nobles decreased 30%, or from 210,000,000 to 150,000,000 acres (610,000 km2); during the following four years an additional 2,119,500 acres (8,577 km2) were sold; and since then the sales have gone on at an accelerated rate, until in 1903 alone close upon 2,000,000 acres (8,000 km2) passed out of their hands. On the other hand, since 1861, and more especially since 1882, when the Peasant Land Bank was founded for making advances to peasants who were desirous of purchasing land, the former serfs, or rather their descendants, have between 1883 and 1904 bought about 19,500,000 acres (78,900 km2) from their former masters. There has been an increase of wealth among the few, but along with this a general impoverishment of the mass of the people, and the peculiar institution of the mir, framed on the principle of community of ownership and occupation of the land, was not conducive to the growth of individual effort. In November 1906, however, the emperor Nicholas II promulgated a provisional ukaz permitting the peasants to become freeholders of allotments made at the time of emancipation, all redemption dues being remitted. This measure, which was endorsed by the third Duma in an act passed on the December 21, 1908, is calculated to have far-reaching and profound effects on the rural economy of Russia. Thirteen years previously the government had endeavored to secure greater fixity and permanence of tenure by providing that at least twelve years must elapse between every two redistributions of the land belonging to a mir amongst those entitled to share in it. The ukaz of November 1906 had provided that the various strips of land held by each peasant should be merged into a single holding; the Duma, however, on the advice of the government, left this to the future, as an ideal that could only gradually be realized.
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Zerstörte Kirche

Olai, nördlich von Jelgava an einer Bahnlinie, on the way to Riga
 

Stalin's British heroes: The discovery of a forgotten medal reveals the extraordinary courage of the RAF aces who fought for the Soviet Union

The Messerschmitt was screaming towards him on a head-to-head collision course, but it was Flight-Lieutenant Micky Rook who got his shot in first. He held his nerve, pressed the firing button of his Hurricane fighter plane and the German Me109 exploded in mid-air, disintegrating before his eyes. Another hard-won 'kill' for the RAF in the early years of World War II.
Yet this was no part of the famous Few's dogfight over Kent. The waters beneath Rook's plane were not the English Channel but the icy Barents Sea off Murmansk on the northern edge of the Soviet Union, deep inside the Arctic Circle.
Rook was part of 151 Wing, a little-known RAF group who fought against the Germans alongside the pilots of the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, for four vital months in the winter of 1941. Code-named Force Benedict, its mission has been largely forgotten for nearly seven decades  -  until the chance discovery earlier this year of a medal awarded to the splendidly named Wing Commander Henry Neville Gynes Ramsbottom-Isherwood, who led 151 Wing.
Group Captain H N G Ramsbottom-Isherwood was one of only four non-Russins awarded the Order of Lenin
Group Captain H N G Ramsbottom-Isherwood was one of only four non-Russins awarded the Order of Lenin
The red and gold Order of Lenin, resplendent with hammer and sickle and a platinum portrait of the Russian revolutionary leader, is one of the rarest ever won by a British serviceman. It had lain untouched at the back of a cupboard in Sussex for years.
At a Sotheby's auction next month it is expected to attract bids as high as £30,000.
The story behind the medal is an extraordinary one. Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Germany had a non-aggression pact  -  until Hitler tore it up and huge numbers of German forces invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.
The Russians had been caught on the hop, largely because Stalin himself had ignored many warnings about such an invasion, and now they desperately needed weapons and supplies to stem the Nazi advance.
Stalin urged Winston Churchill, Britain's wartime leader, to send him Spitfires, the RAF's latest and fastest fighter planes. Churchill refused.
Britain was still struggling to keep the Germans at bay across the Channel and needed its best aircraft for that fight. But to show willing to his new ally, he dispatched Hurricanes  -  40 of them to begin with, hundreds later.
As trainers and technicians went the men of 151 Wing, made up of two squadrons, Nos 81 and 134. They were officially under the command of Admiral Nikolai Kuznetsov, head of the Soviet Navy and Naval Air Service, and their orders were to undertake 'the defence of the naval base of Murmansk and co-operation with the Soviet Forces in the Murmansk areas'.
In practice, their job was to get the Hurricanes flying, train the Russians in their use, hand them over and return to Britain. But since they were within easy range of air bases in Germany's ally Finland, they would also go into action, escorting Russian bombers to these targets and shooting down as many German aircraft as they could.
Pilots of 81 Sqn at the shelter. On the left is the indicator board showing that Hurricanes R, P, K, and F, are armed and ready for use
Pilots of 81 Sqn at the shelter. On the left is the indicator board showing that Hurricanes R, P, K, and F, are armed and ready for use
Speed was crucial. The ruthlessness and intensity of Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union, sent the Red Army reeling. It was essential to get the planes to Russia and flying as soon as possible  -  and before the winter snows began.
The first batch sailed from Liverpool on August 12 in a convoy headed for the port of Archangel, on Russia's White Sea.
Aboard the SS Llanstephen Castle were 16 Hurricanes in crates, with all the spares and kit they would need to get them in the air. The flotilla of ships, codenamed Dervish, was the first of the PQ convoys that later become notorious because so many of their ships were sunk by Nazi U-boats on that run through near-freezing seas to northern Russia.
The second batch, of 24 Hurricanes and their crews, were put on board HMS Argus, an escort carrier converted from a World War I Italian merchant ship.
She sailed from Greenock on August 19. When the Argus reached Murmansk Sound, the Hurricanes were to fly off from its deck and go directly to a remote and windswept airfield at Vaenga, 15 miles north-west of Murmansk on the Kola peninsula that borders Finland.
All 39 were to rendezvous there at a brutally exposed base whose rutted grass strip was open to the bitter winds and snows of the Russian winter. In all, around 550 RAF air and ground crew made this their home for the next four months, a very short time to get their mission completed in temperatures that would go down to -15C, with daylight that varied from 23 hours at the start to three at the end, and rain, mist, snow and ice.
They achieved miracles. Just six days after the Llanstephen Castle docked at Archangel on August 30, three Hurricanes took off for flight testing. Nine days after arrival all 15 were flying, to the delight of the pilots and the Russians. They flew up to Murmansk and the first operational patrols began.
Heading the operation was Wing Commander Ramsbottom-Isherwood, who, despite the overwhelming old-world Englishness of his name, was from New Zealand.
Short, wiry and tough-minded, he was a career RAF flyer in his mid-30s. He was probably the most experienced pilot in the Wing and had been awarded an Air Force Cross for his hazardous duties flight-testing Spitfires, Hurricanes, Typhoons and Beaufighters.
Here was a not-to-be-missed chance for these Battle of Britain veterans to take on the Luftwaffe again in a different theatre of operations
Here was a not-to-be-missed chance for these Battle of Britain veterans to take on the Luftwaffe again in a different theatre of operations
Described as having a mouth like a steel trap he was, as one of his men said, not to be trifled with, although he did have a sense of humour and was known to enjoy a party. Once, in Murmansk, his absence at breakfast was noted after a particularly lively Anglo-Soviet celebration the previous night.
His pilots  -  many of whom had flown in the Battle of Britain of the previous year  -  were young and keen as mustard, although a bit surprised to find themselves 170 miles north of the Arctic Circle when they had initially believed they were going to the desert, a subterfuge designed to keep the mission secret before they set off.
Among them were Micky Rook and his cousin, the moustachioed Squadron Leader Tony Rook, both dashing six-footers. There was also one very short man, Flt Lt Jack Ross, who was a formidable flyer, having already shot down five German aircraft. He supervised much of the Russian pilots' flight training.
Vaenga, their base, was on a sandy silver birch-covered plateau a few miles from Murmansk Sound. It lacked concrete runways and tarmacked roads and there were no hangars  -  the aircraft were scattered in wooden pens screened by branches.
But living conditions were good. The men had brick barracks with solid windows and plenty of wood-fired heating.
On the very first day, the Russian hosts produced a welcoming breakfast that included champagne and brandy  -  delights that were not, however, to be repeated.
The only complaints came from younger officers who found the daily menu of smoked salmon, caviar and cold ham a poor substitute for the bacon and eggs and sausages they were used to. The youngest occasionally complained: 'Oh, hell, here's that smoked salmon again.'
But they saw their job as more than just assembling Hurricanes for the Russians and training them in their use. Here was a not-to-be-missed chance for these Battle of Britain veterans to take on the Luftwaffe again in a different theatre of operations.
Joseph Stalin: The RAF fought the Germans alongside the Soviet dictator's pilots in the winter of 1941
Joseph Stalin: The RAF fought the Germans alongside the Soviet dictator's pilots in the winter of 1941
On September 12, six patrols and escorts went out and 151 Wing had its first skirmishes with enemy planes. Three of the enemy were shot down, but at a price  -  the loss of sergeant pilot N. Smith, the Murmansk mission's only combat fatality.
His aircraft was hit behind the cockpit. Unable to bail out because the cockpit rail was damaged, it is thought he attempted a crash-landing on rugged ground and was killed.
Others flirted with death, as Flight-Lieutenant Rook did when he took on that Messerschmitt, one of six flying in formation. At 7,000ft over Finland, he had become separated from the rest of his patrol and, at first, thought the six planes he spotted ahead of him were his own men. He sidled up alongside them before realising his mistake.
They turned on him. He blasted the first one out of the sky and then dived for home at Vaenga with the other five enemy fighters on his tail. They chased him down to mast height over Murmansk Sound before he shook them off.
As he said later, having landed after one of the stiffest dogfights of his life, he sat sweating in his cockpit for a good five minutes before he could lever himself out. The Germans, he said, 'must have thought I was either bloody brave or bloody foolish'.
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POW Eastern Front WWI

Russian POWs, left a German soldier on a horse
In all, Wing 151 carried out 365 sorties during its stay at Vaenga, claiming 11 Messerschmitt fighters and three Ju88 bombers shot down  -  a very creditable tally, considering how short the mission was. On October 13, the handover of the Hurricanes to the Air Force of the Soviet Northern Fleet started.
On October 26 the first Luftwaffe aircraft was destroyed by an ex-151 Wing Hurricane flown by a Russian pilot. Force Benedict's job was done. It was time to go home.
But before leaving, the Wing organised a farewell party for their hosts. The whisky, gin and port proved too much for the Russians, despite their liking for copious amounts of vodka.
On November 16, an advance party left for Archangel to sail back to Britain.
A fortnight later, Wing-Commander Ramsbottom-Isherwood, Squadron Leaders Rook and AG Miller and Flt Sgt Haw were awarded the Order of Lenin, the only four British servicemen so honoured in the whole of World War II.
In the list of Russian honours, the only one higher is the Order of Victory, and only one of those was awarded to a Brit  -  Viscount Montgomery.
On a fine spring day in late March 1942, the four were invited to the Soviet embassy in Kensington where Ivan Maisky, the ambassador, presented them with the medals.
The importance of the event for Anglo-Soviet relations was shown by the presence of Clementine Churchill, representing the Prime Minister Winston Churchill; Sir Archibald Sinclair, Britain's Air Secretary; Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal, the Chief of Air Staff; and Air Marshal Sir William Sholto Douglas, head of fighter command.
Ramsbottom-Isherwood was also awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for his Russian exploits. He later flew in the Far East and survived the war, rising to the rank of group captain. Afterwards, he became commanding officer at Martlesham Heath RAF base in Suffolk.
On April 24, 1950, he took off in a Meteor jet fighter, then just coming into service, for a test flight. Over Kent, he ran into blinding snowstorms and icy conditions.
He flew over West Malling at 200ft and headed for RAF Manston. At 10.45 the aircraft dived into the ground four miles east of Tonbridge and disintegrated, killing him outright.
Extreme icing was the likeliest cause of the accident. At only 44, the man who had led Force Benedict through the wintry skies of Northern Russia had died in conditions similar to those he and his men had encountered and overcome in distant Murmansk.
His medal, along with his other awards, stayed with his family. His wife remarried and went to America. She is now dead. His only child, India, just 10 when her father died, had little interest in medals. Eventually she settled in Rottingdean, on the East Sussex coast. She is now frail and in her late 60s.
In February she moved to Somerset to be looked after by friends.
While her house was being cleared, a plastic bag containing her father's long-forgotten medals was found at the back of a cupboard.
In it were his AFC and DFC 37 -  and that rare and elusive Order of Lenin. From that find has emerged a rarely remembered story of World War II bravery and the odd, forgotten campaign fought by the men of 151 Wing in a remote, cold corner of the Soviet Union.

 

Tanks in the streets of Moscow as Russia prepares to put on a show of military might for Victory Day parade

Tanks and other heavy artillery rolled through the streets of Moscow last night as rehearsals for the Victory Day parade got under way.
Soviet T-34 tanks and strategic ballistic missiles were on show ahead of the 65th anniversary of Allied Forces victory over the Hitler coalition in World War II on May 9.
The celebrations will also see British troops marching with Russian soldiers in Moscow’s Red Square for the first time ever.
A procession of Russian heavy weapons drive along Tverskaya street in Moscow, Russia, last night, during the rehearsal of the victory day parade
A procession of Russian heavy weapons drive along Tverskaya street in Moscow, Russia, last night, during the rehearsal of the victory day parade
The celebrations aredevoted to the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in World War II
The celebrations are devoted to the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in World War II
The upcoming event has already been touched by controversy however, over the city’s plans to display a portrait of Soviet dictator and World War II ally Josef Stalin in the square for the parade.
If realised, the plans would break a major taboo in Russia.
For many, Stalin remains the butcher who sent hundreds of thousands of Communist Party men to their deaths in political purges.
He also callously condemned millions of peasants to die during man-made famines in the early Thirties.
The event has attracted controversy over the decision to display Stalin's portrait in Red Square
The event has attracted controversy over the decision to display Stalin's portrait in Red Square
But for most modern Russians, Stalin is also the victor of World War II and the greatest hero of the Soviet century.
As the Soviet Union was brought to her knees in 1991, Stalin remained a symbol of Russian power.
Former Russian president and current prime minister Vladimir Putin has recently appeared to be making efforts to cleanse Stalin's image as part of a resurgence of national pride.
However, even for Mr Putin, open celebration of the dictator's achievements are still met with caution.
A couple take snaps of the tanks rumbling down the streets of Moscow
A couple take snaps of the tanks rumbling down the streets of Moscow
Human rights activists and allies of Mr Putin have attacked the plans by the city of Moscow to display portraits of Stalin in the Red Square during the May 9 celebrations.
The British embassy said in a recent statement that the parade will include a Royal Air Force band and a detachment of Welsh Guards.
The U.S. Embassy confirmed that its soldiers will take part in the parade. French soldiers are also to march.
For most of the 20th century, Russia was squared off against Britain and the U.S. The Cold War defined international relations in the aftermath of WW2 - and, some argue, even during the war.
British, French and U.S. troops will march alongside the Russian military during the celebrations
British, French and U.S. troops will march alongside the Russian military during the celebrations
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, however, and the break-up of the Soviet Union just years later, Russia and the West have settled into an uneasy truce.
Victory Day is Russia's most important secular holiday. The military parade will be Russia’s largest ever, culminating in a flyover of 140 planes and helicopters.
Last year’s parade featured 9,000 servicemen, S-400 missiles and only half as many aircraft.
Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said Poland - which spent much of the Cold War fighting for survival under the threat of Russian imperialism - is also considering joining the celebrations.
Office workers have a bird's eye view of the procession as it makes its way down Tverskaya Street
Office workers have a bird's eye view of the procession as it makes its way down Tverskaya Street
Up to 20 million Russians are believed to have died as a result of Stalin's rule.
He was first denounced by the man to succeed him, Nikita Khrushchev, who committed the unthinkable by demolishing Stalin's reputation in what became known as the 'Secret Speech' of 1956.
From that point on, the Soviet leadership struggled to maintain the power that Stalin had wielded in the Communist world, without resorting to the murderous purges so favoured by the dictator.
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Historic: Our view of what British troops may look like marching through Moscow's Red Square to celebrate the 65th anniversary of VE day this May
 

The coldest war: Russia and U.S. face off over Arctic resources

Enlarge Russia's attempts to threaten its Arctic neighbours at the top of the world could lead to armed conflict, some experts warn
Russia's attempts to threaten its Arctic neighbours at the top of the world could lead to armed conflict, some experts warn

As the oil wells run dry, the planet's last great energy reserves lie miles beneath the North Pole. And as the U.S. and Russia race to grab them at any cost, the stage is set for a devastating new cold war

The year is 2020, and, from the Middle East to Nigeria, the world is convulsed by a series of conflicts over dwindling energy supplies. The last untapped reserves of oil and gas lie in the most extreme environment on the planet - the North Pole - where an estimated bonanza of 100 billion barrels are buried deep beneath the Arctic seabed.
The ownership of this hostile no-man's-land is contested by Russia, Denmark, Norway, the U.S and Canada. And, in an increasingly desperate battle for resources, each begins to back up its claim with force.
Soon, the iceberg-strewn waters of the Arctic are patrolled by fleets of warships, jostling for position in a game of brinkmanship. Russia's Northern Fleet, headed by the colossal but ageing guided missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy (Peter The Great), and the U.S. Second Fleet, sailing out of Norfolk, Virginia, are armed with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles - and controlled by leaders who are increasingly willing to use them.
For now, such a scenario is pure fiction. But it may not be for long. Only recently, respected British think-tank Jane's Review warned that a polar war could be a reality within 12 years. And the Russians are already taking the race for the North Pole's oil wealth deadly seriously.
Indeed, the Kremlin will spend tens of millions upgrading Russia's Northern Fleet over the next eight years. And its Atomic Energy Agency has already begun building a fleet of floating nuclear power stations to power undersea drilling for the Arctic's vast oil and gas reserves. A prototype is under construction at the SevMash shipyard in Severodvinsk.
The prospect of an undersea Klondike near the North Pole, powered by floating nuclear plants, has environmentalists deeply worried - not least because Russia has such a dismal record on nuclear safety and the disposal of radioactive waste.
Enlarge http://www.dur.ac.uk/ibru/resources/arctic
International Boundaries Research Unit, Durham University
The new generation power stations will be engineered to the highest safety standards, says Russia, with two 35-megawatt reactors on a giant ship-like platform which will store its own nuclear waste.
But even if there is no spillage of radiation, the plants are likely to speed up the warming of Arctic waters and contribute to the disappearance of the polar ice cap.
And there are other, even more chilling dangers in the race for the North Pole's resources - the prospect of war on the top of the world.
A battle for the North Pole would be the coldest war of all. Fought in a frozen wasteland, where nuclear submarines already prowl beneath the polar cap - and occasionally break through it - a conflict in the Arctic would involve an arsenal of Cold War-era hardware.
Since late 2007, Russian Bear and Blackjack tactical bombers have been flying perilously close to Canadian territory. Tensions reached a new level in 2008, when Canada declared a go-slow on issuing visas to Russian nationals in protest at the airspace violations.
Enlarge
A Russian mini submarine is lowered from the research vessel Akademik Fyodorov moments before performing a dive in the Arctic Ocean on a quest to claim the region's oil-and-mineral wealth
Soviet and U.S Cold Warriors spent decades fantasising about how to militarise the Arctic. Joseph Stalin sent millions of gulag prisoners to their deaths building an insane railway between the Arctic towns of Salekhard and Igarka. Leonid Brezhnev built fleets of monster, nuclear-powered icebreakers in an attempt to keep a passage around northern Siberia open year-round.
Today, Russia, Canada and the U.S. keep isolated military posts dotted across the Arctic Circle, supplied by helicopters and, in Russia's case, manned by shifts of shivering conscripts in tall felt boots and sheepskin coats.
But above all, any confrontation over the Arctic would be a naval one, with Russia's Northern Fleet, based at Murmansk, confronting the U.S. Second Fleet.
Fully two-thirds of Russia's naval power is allocated to its Northern Fleet. The fleet also boasts Russia's newly-revamped nuclear missile submarines.
The fleet is also armed with new, sea-launched Bulava intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles, which are designed to evade U.S. missile defence shields and destroy entire cities.
Clearly, Moscow sees the north as its most vulnerable, and easily expanded, frontier and seems willing to stake its claim with devastating force.
Enlarge arctic
The Rossiya nuclear icebreaker navigates back from the North Pole after providing support to a mini submarines' mission to the floor of the Arctic Ocean two years ago
Enlarge
An operator of a Russian mini-submarine plants a titanium capsule with the Russian flag during a record dive in the Arctic Ocean under the ice at the North Pole
War over the North Pole was, until Russia's invasion of Georgia in August, an unlikely scenario. Now, though, as Russia becomes ever more aggressive (President Medvedev has just signed off on the latest round of a massive upgrade of the country's armed forces), it has come a step closer to the realms of the possible.
The Kremlin has made it clear that it has set its sights on domination of the last great wilderness on Earth.
At stake is the massive mineral wealth hidden deep under the Arctic seabed - much of it made more accessible as the ice cap retreats.
Vladimir Putin, Russia's Prime Minister, long vowed to build an 'energy empire' and dreamed of reversing the collapse of Russian power after the fall of the Soviet Union, an event he once called 'the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century'.
And now Putin's hand-picked successor, President Dmitry Medvedev, has set his sights on the Arctic, a chunk of territory with massive mineral wealth.
In a startling attempt to re-draw the map of the world, Moscow has signalled its intentions to annex a huge swathe of the continental shelf, which runs from Northern Siberia, to include the entire North Pole.
Medvedev set out his assertive strategy to expand Russia's borders northward at a meeting of Russia's national security council in the Kremlin almost immediately after coming to power last year.
'Our biggest task is to turn the Arctic into Russia's resource base for the 21st century,' he told his top security lieutenants.
The top of the world currently lies under international waters, supervised by a United Nations Commission. The five countries with Arctic coastlines - Russia, Canada, the U.S, Denmark (which owns Greenland) and Norway - control only a 200-mile economic zone extending north from their northern coasts. Beyond that, it is a no-man's-land.
Enlarge Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev controls a formidable arsenal of nuclear weapons, along with Russia's powerful Northern Fleet
Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev controls a formidable arsenal of nuclear weapons, along with Russia's powerful Northern Fleet
But under UN rules, an Arctic country's zone can be extended if it can prove that the undersea territory it wants to claim is geologically part of its own continental shelf - in other words, a natural extension of its own territory.
Using this loophole, Russia has mounted a massive scientific and diplomatic effort to redraw the polar map.
The Russians made what they claimed was their first major scientific breakthrough in the summer of 2007. The Rossiya nuclear ice-breaker, carrying 50 scientists and tons of seismic equipment, nosed through the ice of the polar region, taking sonic and magnetic photographs of the seabed.
After a freezing 45 days at sea, the Russians announced that they had discovered that an underwater ridge directly links Russia's Arctic coast to the North Pole.
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Funeral of a Russian pilot WWI

The Lomonosov Ridge, named after the 18th-century founder of Moscow University, is an impressive piece of real estate - according to Moscow's claim, it guarantees Russia's rights over a polar territory half the size of Western Europe, which just happens to contain ten billion tons of oil and natural gas deposits. Countries have fought devastating wars over much less.
To push the point home, the Kremlin decided that a Russian submarine would plant a national flag on the bottom of the sea at the North Pole.
The expedition, led by the bearded Artur Chilingarov, a celebrated Russian polar explorer, set out aboard the giant ice-breaker Akademik Fedorov carrying two MIR deep submergence vehicles.
Enlarge A U.S. Air Force F-15 (left) intercepts a Russian 'Bear' Tu-95 bomber which provocatively flew close to the west coast of Alaska
A U.S. Air Force F-15 (left) intercepts a Russian Tu-95 bomber which flew provocatively close to Alaska's west coast in September 2006
Accompanied by a businessman, an Australian adventurer and a Swedish pharmaceuticals millionaire, Chilingarov descended to a depth of 4,261m below the polar ice.
And then, on the seabed at the geographic North Pole, the submersible dropped a three-foot Russian flag made of Siberian titanium. It also left another flag encased in a time capsule - the banner of the pro-Putin United Russia party.
Unsurprisingly, the televised flag-planting sparked angry reactions from Russia's Arctic neighbours.
'This isn't the 15th century,' stormed former Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay. 'You can't go around the world and just plant flags and say: "We're claiming this territory."' The U.S also protested.
But the point was made: Russia was deadly serious about its claim to the North Pole - and had the hardware, scientific clout and steely political will to push it through.
It's impossible to build a permanent base at the North Pole simply because there's no land, and the giant chunks of sea ice jostle and drift in the Arctic.
Nonetheless, the Russians have made an attempt. On a 16 sq km island of ice near the North Pole, the 'North Pole-35' ice station was established soon after Chilingarov's expedition.
Three hundred tons of equipment, prefabricated buildings and food were offloaded on to snowmobiles, along with 22 scientists, who raised the Russian flag over their snowbound station.
For the past year, the inhabitants of this real-life Ice Station Zebra have been the closest human inhabitants to the North Pole - until the station was abandoned early in the summer as the ice drifted rather too close to Canada's Fram Strait.
But the North Pole isn't the resurgent Russian empire's only prize. Moscow is also believed to be readying a claim to an 18,000 sq mile piece of the Bering Sea, which separates Alaska from Russia's far east.
Known as Chukotka, the region's governor until July was Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich.
A U.S.-Soviet Maritime Boundary Agreement awarded the undersea territory to the U.S. in 1990.
The agreement, signed by Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, was designed as a post-Cold War gesture of reconciliation - and was bitterly opposed by Soviet hard-liners.
Now, the complaints of these hardliners have become Kremlin policy, as the Russian media denounce the agreement as a treasonous act by Shevardnadze, who later became the pro-Nato President of Georgia.
Indeed, many members of the Kremlin-controlled parliament are demanding that the agreement be reviewed, setting the scene for a diplomatic storm between Russia and the U.S.
Russia is also stepping up the military pressure in its push for Arctic riches. The Kremlin has increased the number of patrol flights over the Arctic by Tu-95 strategic bombers - known as Bears. These gigantic warplanes are designed to carry nuclear payloads.
Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay was angry over the provocative flights, which swing close to Canadian airspace.
'We're obviously very concerned about much of what Russia has been doing lately,' MacKay said as he launched Operation Nanook, an Arctic military exercise designed to assert Canada's sovereignty over its own huge Northern Territories.
'When we see a Russian Bear approaching Canadian air space, we meet them with an F-18. We remind them that this is Canadian sovereign airspace, and they turn back.'
And so with tension escalating, many believe the Arctic could be the scene of the next Russia-Nato clash.
So far, Russia's sabre rattling is just that - rattling. What's more, their chances of laying claim to the Arctic's riches are legally ambiguous.
According to a study by Southampton's National Oceanography Centre's Law of the Sea Group, Denmark (which owns Greenland, the closest landmass to the North Pole) and Canada also have claims to the no-man's-land.
'Denmark could be given the North Pole,' said Helge Sander, the country's science minister. 'The preliminary investigations done so far are very promising.'
But her optimism may be misplaced. With billions of barrels of oil and a former superpower's hurt pride at stake, it looks like the battle for the North Pole is ever more likely to be fought not by teams of lawyers, but the old-fashioned way, with a clash of Cold War hardware.
Graphic briefing notes to be found at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/ibru/resources/arctic
 

U.S.-Russia friendship portrayed in black and white terms as 10 silent Hollywood films 'lost' by Americans are returned

The Russian government has handed back to America 10 silent-era films which were made almost a hundred years ago and believed lost.
The Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library generously donated the movies, all made between 1919 and 1925 during the early Hollywood years, to the Library of Congress.
And aside from this instalment of 10 digital copies, there are many more on their way - in all 194 early American films will eventually be repatriated.
Rare: The 1924 film The Arab, directed by Rex Ingram is among the 'lost' films handed back to America by Russia
Rare: The 1924 film The Arab, directed by Rex Ingram and starring Ramon Novarro and Alice Terry was among the 10 'lost' films handed back to America by Russia in October
Hand over: Vladimir Kozhin (right), the Russian president's chief of staff, presents the copies of U.S. silent films to Librarian of Congress James Billington
Hand over: Vladimir Kozhin (right), the Russian president's chief of staff, presents the copies of U.S. silent films to Librarian of Congress James Billington
Over 80 per cent of U.S. films made in the silent era - between 1894 and 1929 - are no longer in circulation, simply because the Americans were not diligent with their storage and preservation, and the silver nitrate stock, which they were recorded on to, disintegrated.
However, from 1913 and 1941 some 1,300 U.S. movies were circulated in Russia.
Though some of the film's topics were not always appreciated by the Russians, they proved much more competent in archiving the films and maintaining their state - many were digitally preserved by Gosfilmofond.
When the first batch of films was handed over at the end of last year - thanks to a Russian-American working group on library co-operation - Pat Loughney, chief of the Library of Congress facility, was over the moon.
'This is like finding a lost Picasso. It's that important,' he told America Gov. in October.
While the titles, including Valley Of The Giants and You're Fired from 1919, may draw a blank from the most knowledgeable movie buffs, the films were produced by, and feature, some of the biggest names at the time.
The work of top directors Cecil B. DeMille and Sam Wood has been repatriated and actors such as Mary Pickford and Sessue Hayakawa star.
'We knew going back to the '60s and '70s that [the Russians] had American films, but no action was taken,' Loughney told the Washington Post.
'These are important films by significant directors and actors. They are great discoveries.'
While the Russians will keep the original reels, the digital versions are proving a big hit with the experts - and filmgoers may have an opportunity to view the rare films themselves at the campus's theatre.
Found: The 1922 crime drama Kick In was among the early U.S. films restored by Russian film archivists and presented to the Library of Congress
Found: The 1922 crime drama Kick In was among the early U.S. films restored by Russian film archivists and presented to the Library of Congress
Housed: The rare films will be kept at the Library of Congress and the Russians will send the next batch over soon
Housed: The rare films will be kept at the Library of Congress and the Russians will send the next batch over soon - almost 200 will be handed over in all
'The library is committed to reclaiming America's cinematic patrimony,' Librarian of Congress, James Billington, said to the Post.
He also thanked the Russians for 'making this cultural recovery effort possible'.
Loughney added: 'There are potentially hundreds of films out there. We hear rumors of things in China.'
SPECIAL TEN: THE FILMS PRESENTED TO THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
The Arab (Metro, 1924). Director: Rex Ingram. Cast: Ramon Novarro, Alice Terry
Kick In (Famous Players, 1922). Director: George Fitzmaurice. Cast: Betty Compson, Bert Lytell, May McAvoy
The Conquest of Canaan (Famous Players, 1921). Director: Roy William Neill. Cast: Thomas Meighan, Doris Kenyon
The Eternal Struggle (Metro Pictures, Louis B. Mayer, 1923) Director: Reginald Barker. Cast: Renée Adorée, Earle Williams, Barbara La Marr, Wallace Beery, Pat O’Malley
You’re Fired (Famous Players, 1919). Director: James Cruze. Cast: Wallace Reid, Wanda Hawley
Keep Smiling (Monty Banks, 1925) Directors: Albert Austin, Gilbert Pratt. Cast: Monty Banks, Glen Cavender
The Call of the Canyon (Famous Players, 1923). Director: Victor Fleming. Cast: Richard Dix, Lois Wilson, Ricardo Cortez, Marjorie Daw
Canyon of the Fools (R-C Pictures, 1923). Director: Val Paul. Cast: Harry Carey, Marguerite Clayton
Circus Days (First National, 1923). Director: Edward F. Cline. Cast: Jackie Coogan, Barbara Tennant, Russell Simpson, Claire McDowell
Valley of the Giants (Famous Players, 1919). Director: James Cruze. Cast: Wallace Reid, Grace Darmond

PETER HITCHENS: In the Soviet suburbs of Hell and the blasted avenues of Mogadishu, I saw what our society could become

 
Windows were filthy as a matter of course in Soviet Russia. During the years I worked there, I never saw a clean one.
Rats, on the other hand, were commonplace and played merrily among the rubbish bins of apartment blocks and in the entrances of railway termini.
While most citizens struggled to survive in this suburb of Hell, however, a secret elite enjoyed great privileges: special living spaces, special hospitals, special schools, special lanes along which the Politburo's limousines roared at 90mph.
Peter Hitchens in Moscow
Dark vision: Peter Hitchens in Moscow
This society, promoted by its leaders as an egalitarian utopia, was in truth one of the most unequal on Earth.
I saw only the very end of it. Others have described the Soviet Paradise at the midnight of its dark power which was probably when it worked best. If you are going to have a command economy, then it will function most effectively if there is plenty of fear.
By the time I arrived in the Soviet capital in the summer of 1990 there was a shortage of fear  -  to match the shortages of shoes, furniture, petrol, cigarettes and beer.
The eventual opening of secret police files in the former East Germany revealed that tens of thousands of citizens had spied on friends and neighbours.
It confirmed the impression I had in Moscow that the Communist state had made a serious effort to replace and supplant such forces as conscience and self-control.
Soviet power had taken on the responsibilities of God, but its commandments were very different. In fact, Soviet Communism used the same language, treasured the same hopes and appealed to the same constituency as Western atheism does today.
Soviet power was the opposite of faith in God. It was faith in the greatness of humanity and in the perfectibility of human society. The atheists cannot honestly disown it.
Soviet life, I learned, was incredibly harsh and often dangerous. Birth itself was an authoritarian ordeal, with newborns snatched from their mothers by scowling nurses in tall chefs' hats, then tightly wrapped like loaves and denied breast or bottle until the set time came around.
You could spot a maternity hospital by the strings hanging from the windows, bearing pathetic messages from wives to husbands.
Once the baby was home, married life quickly included the state as third parent, since salaries were carefully set so that it took two wages to pay for the basics of life. Children were placed very early in slovenly nurseries.
Several features of life in Moscow made a big impact on me, accustomed as I was to the culture and good manners of a rich and stable Protestant Christian society. One was pointed out to me by a visiting exile whose grandparents had fled in the days of Lenin.
He had been brought up in America speaking pure, middle-class Russian; literary and elegant, which sounded, as he said, 'like bells'.
He told me how shocked he was to encounter the coarse, ugly, slang-infested and bureaucratic tongue now spoken in Moscow, even by educated professional people, and seen in its newspapers and on public noticeboards.
The collapse of manners could be seen when a trolleybus swung into the roadside to pick up passengers. If you were well bundled up it was reasonably easy to withstand the ruthless pushing, elbowing and fury which erupted every time the creaking, steamed-up vehicle stopped and flapped its doors open.
I came to the conclusion, and nothing has since shifted it, that enormous and intrusive totalitarian state power is an enemy of civility, consideration and even of enlightened self-interest.
I also concluded that a society which was de-Christianised would also face such problems, because I have seen public discourtesy and incivility spreading rapidly in Britain.
Somali militiamen parade their military hardware in Mogadishu
Social collapse: Somali militiamen parade their military hardware in Mogadishu
This decline struck me very hard when I returned in 1995 after nearly five years in Russia and the United States, and the rapid vanishing of Christianity, as the last generation of believers ages and disappears, seems to me to be a major part of it.
I do not think I would have been half so shocked by the squalor and rudeness of 1990 Moscow if I had not come from a country where Christian forbearance was still well established. If I had then been able to see the London of 2010, I would have been equally shocked.
But my experience of the harshness, stink and desperation in the Soviet Empire were a prelude to much worse desolation.
It was December 1992. I was sitting on a cargo of food in a Russian transport plane on its way from Kenya to the Somali capital, Mogadishu. The supplies were bound for a big international news agency, and my photographer colleague John Downing and I had hitched a ride.
By this time Mogadishu was no longer a functioning capital: no commercial airports, no law, no police, no streetlights, no electricity, no normal phones, no embassies.
What I saw in the next few days has no specifically Christian religious message. The people of Mogadishu are Muslims, whose country has been cursed by repeated interference from global superpowers more interested in its strategic position than its society. It showed me a vision of how fragile our civilisations are.
At this point in my life I had already returned to Christianity, but I saw no connection, at the time, between faith and the shape of society. The atheist Soviet Union, where desecration and heroic survival were all around me, began to alter that. Mogadishu accelerated the process.
I thought I saw, in its blasted avenues, its terror and its lives ruled by the gun, a possible prophecy of where my own society was headed  -  though for different reasons. I still think this.
I need only to close my eyes and I am there again. The plane banks over the Indian Ocean and sinks rapidly towards the ground. There is the usual confused roar and bumping as we touch down.

I fell asleep that night on bare concrete, after 36 hours of travel and panic, to the sound of gunfire and screams

The doors open on to a beautiful, golden late afternoon, with sunset not far off. We clamber out, me in my polished black shoes and blue city suit: I have come here at short notice from an assignment in Jerusalem.
Boys of 13 or 14 crowd round, all with beautiful high-boned Somali faces, asking: 'You want bodyguard?' One, plainly a leader, has an AK-47 with a pale-blue plastic stock.
A man from the news agency has arrived to meet his load. 'Do we want a bodyguard?' I ask him.
'Oh, sure,' he says. 'If you don't have guards you'll be dead and naked by morning.' I notice, at this point, that the sun is dipping rapidly towards the Western horizon.
John and I hire two of the boys, using the international sign language of dollar bills.
One of our protectors has a battered car, and the news agency man says we should be able to find somewhere-to stay in town. He waves goodbye. I have the impression he is astonished that we should have come here so unprepared.
We cram ourselves into the car, lurch and jolt past the ruined arrivals terminal and into the city. There are wide avenues made of mud. There seem to be no trees, no shop fronts, no windows.
There is a famine, and children not much younger than my bodyguards are dying in stinking huts and tents not far from me.
There is still light, but it will not be for long. We call at various 'hotels', which are white-painted concrete, but appallingly bleak and dingy. They are full or boarded up or commandeered by unfriendly militias.
We turn into a major avenue and are confronted by one of the most fearsome things I have ever seen.
Drawn up in-line ahead, stretching for perhaps half a mile in the melancholy light of the setting sun, are dozens of pick-up trucks. All have heavy machine guns mounted on them, behind which are hunched men dressed like nightmare rock musicians with spectacularly tangled hair and hard, frightening faces.
These are the lawless militias of Mogadishu, and they are leaving town because the US Marines are coming to rescue Somalia from famine and anarchy. Luckily, they are too busy or preoccupied, or perhaps have chewed too much khat (the local intoxicating herb) even to notice us.
Still we have nowhere to sleep, no shelter for the night. Our child guards are bickering. They plainly have no advice or ideas. We drive, for lack of anything else to do, down street after street.
Were it not for John's reassuring presence, I should by now be gibbering with fear. I am numb and desperate, and unable to see how we are going to survive the night. There is no way out.
Night in Mogadishu, in which we will be at the mercy of anyone who cares to threaten us, is fast approaching. And then it happens, our miracle.
John sees, disappearing round a corner, a familiar back. We chase after it. He calls out, a face turns. It is an old friend from Sarajevo. Thanks to this unbelievable coincidence we are found places in a compound with a German TV crew.
I fell asleep that night on bare concrete, after 36 hours of travel and panic, to the sound of gunfire and screams, presumably from the people who had not found safety.
In the next few days we saw the dying, who are so familiar from TV that it is shockingly without impact, although the stench which comes with famine, and which TV does not transmit, is not so familiar.
But above all we saw the city, run by clans in a barbaric, prehistoric way: the roads had dissolved to mud and rubble, the pavements had crumbled, the buildings were all damaged or defaced.
Most people were armed, with the unarmed giving way to the lightly armed and the lightly armed giving way to the heavily armed.
Later, back in London, I was shown old pictures of Mogadishu as it had been a few years before. Where I had seen mud, gangs and wreckage, there were Italian-style pavement cafes, well-dressed, prosperous people passing by and, of course, modern shops and civilised-looking hotels.
This was the familiar world that I was used to, and in a short time it had become the miserable urban desert in which I had rightly feared for my life.
Together with the experience of Soviet society, it convinced me that my own civilisation was infinitely precious and utterly vulnerable, and that I was obliged to try to protect it.
When you have seen a place from which the whole apparatus of trust, civility and peace has been stripped, you are conscious as never before of the value of these things. And more curious than before about their origins, not in wealth or power but in the mind of Man and in the better angels of his nature. this amazing century.
The 1900s
Picture courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This decade opened the century with some amazing feats like the first flight by the Wright brothers, Henry Ford's first Model-T, and Einstein's Theory of Relativity. It also had hardships like the Boxer Rebellion and the San Francisco Earthquake. The 1900s also saw the introduction of the first silent movie and teddy bear. Plus, don't miss out in discovering more about the mysterious explosion in Siberia. Learn more about the this "humdinger" decade through the 1900-1909 timeline.
The 1910s
Picture courtesy the Photos of the Great War Archive.
This decade was unfortunately dominated by the first "total war" -- World War I. It also saw other huge changes during the Russian Revolution and the beginning of Prohibition. Tragedy struck when a fire rampaged through Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, the "unsinkable" Titanic hit an iceberg. and the Spanish flu killed millions around the world. On a more positive note, people in the 1910s got their first taste of an Oreo cookie and could fill out their first crossword. Take a "gander" at this decade through the 1910-1919 timeline.
The 1920s
Picture courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [LC-USZ62-30776 DLC]
The Roaring '20s were a time of speakeasies, short skirts, the Charleston dance, and jazz music. The 1920s also showed great strides in Women's Suffrage and archaeology hit the mainstream with the discovery of King Tut's Tomb. There were an amazing number of cultural firsts in the 1920s, including the first talking film, Babe Ruth hitting his home-run record, and the first Mickey Mouse cartoon. Learn more about this "nifty" decade through the 1920-1929 timeline.
The 1930s
Picture part of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Collection, courtesy of the National Archives.
The Great Depression hit the world hard in the 1930s. The Nazis took advantage of this situation and were able to come to power in Germany, establish their first concentration camp, and begin a systematic persecution of Jews in Europe. Other news in the 1930s included the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, a wild and murderous crime spree by Bonnie and Clyde, and the imprisonment of Al Capone for income tax evasion. Learn more about this "snazzy" decade through the 1930-1939 timeline.
The 1940s
Picture part of the Estelle Bechoefer Collection, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives.
World War II was already underway by the time the 1940s began and it was definitely the big event of the first half of the decade. Plus, the Nazis established death camps in their effort to murder millions of Jews during the Holocaust. When World War II ended, the Cold War began. The 1940s also witnessed the assassination of Gandhi and the beginning of Apartheid. So you should, "you know," learn more about this decade through the 1940-1949 timeline.
The 1950s

 

 

New York City at Mulberry Street around the year 1900. (Wikimedia Commons)
McKinley campaign poster
Running for re-election, McKinley spoke of the prosperity that had come to the United States during his four years in office.

Life at the Turn of the Century

At the turn of the century, three in five in the United States lived in a town having a population of less that 2,500. The United States of America was still more rural than urban, but it was already a world leader in industry, the U.S. benefiting from both a great abundance in natural resources and an economy organized by giant corporations.
The United States led the world in the production of iron and steel, and it led Britain in manufacturing, the U.S. having 23.6 percent of the world's total against Britain's 18.5 percent [note].  The United States produced half the world's cotton, corn and oil and a third of its coal and gold. The United States was also experiencing growth in agriculture, with the self-sufficient diversified farm giving way to specialized commercial agriculture. And the unfavorable balance of trade that had plagued the United States since its independence had been reversed.
Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, p. 202. Kennedy lists his source for these figures as  International Industrialization Levels from 1750 to 1980, by Bairoch,  pp. 294, 302.
In rural areas, many people were poor. In inner cities, over-worked factory workers lived in crowded and unsanitary tenements. But, in general, at the beginning of the century people in the U.S. were able to buy more than they had in previous decades. More farm products were available in the cities, and therefore these products were cheaper. With the rise of industry had come an increase in the variety and abundance of goods. There were department stores and mail-order catalogs. Shopping by telephone had begun. Electricity was reaching more people in the cities, the electric light having the advantage of being without soot or the need to ventilate -- while a few feared it, blaming it for fires, explosions and electrocutions, and some claimed that it caused freckles. There were electric trolley cars on which to ride to work or to stores or on Sunday outings. A Brooklyn baseball team acquired the name Dodgers from the ability of its fans to dodge trolley cars.
Middle and upper class Anglo-Americans were feeling brash and optimistic. Despite centuries of Calvinist preaching about the depravity of man, they were cheerful. And among the cheerful in 1900 was the Republican president, William McKinley. He was running for re-election, and he boasted of the pride and prosperity that had come to the United States during his four years in office.
  • After gaining political rights in the United States and much of Europe in the first part of the century, and with the advent of new birth control techniques, women became more independent throughout the century.
  • Rising nationalism and increasing national awareness were among the many causes of World War I (1914–1918), the first of two wars to involve many major world powers including Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Russia/USSR, the United States and the British Empire. World War I led to the creation of many new countries, especially in Eastern Europe. At the time it was said by many to be the "war to end war".


Warfare in the early 20th Century (1914–1918)
Clockwise from top:
front line Trenches, a British Mark I Tank crossing a trench, the Royal Navy battleship HMS Irresistible sinking after striking a mine at the battle of the Dardanelles, a Vickers machine gun crew with gas masks, and German Albatros D.III biplanes.

  • Civil wars occurred in many nations. A violent civil war broke out in Spain in 1936 when General Francisco Franco rebelled against the Second Spanish Republic. Many consider this war as a testing battleground for World War II, as the fascist armies bombed some Spanish territories.
  • The economic and political aftermath of World War I and the Great Depression in the 1930s led to the rise of fascism and nazism in Europe, and subsequently to World War II (1939–1945). This war also involved Asia and the Pacific, in the form of Japanese aggression against China and the United States. Civilians also suffered greatly in World War II, due to the aerial bombing of cities on both sides, and the German genocide of the Jews and others, known as the Holocaust. In 1945, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed with nuclear weapons.
  • During World War I, in Russia the Bolshevik putsch took over the Russian Revolution of 1917, precipitating the founding of the Soviet Union and the rise of communism. After the Soviet Union's involvement in World War II, communism became a major force in global politics, notably in Eastern Europe, China, Indochina and Cuba, where communist parties gained near-absolute power. This led to the Cold War and proxy wars with the West, including wars in Korea (1950–1953) and Vietnam (1957–1975).

    1912
  • The Soviet authorities caused the deaths of millions of their own citizens in order to eliminate domestic opposition.[2] More than 18 million people passed through the Gulag, with a further 6 million being exiled to remote areas of the Soviet Union.[3]
  • The civil rights movement in the United States and the movement against apartheid in South Africa challenged racial segregation in those countries.
  • The two world wars led to efforts to increase international cooperation, notably through the founding of the League of Nations after World War I, and its successor, the United Nations, after World War II.
  • Nationalist movements in the sub continent led to the independence of India and Pakistan.
  • Gandhi's non-violence and civil disobedience influenced many political movements around the world, including the African American civil rights movement in USA, and freedom movements in South Africa and Burma.
  • The creation of Israel, a Jewish state in the Middle East, by the British Mandate of Palestine fueled many regional conflicts. These were also influenced by the vast oil fields in many of the other countries of the mostly Arab region.
  • The end of colonialism led to the independence of many African and Asian countries. During the Cold War, many of these aligned with the United States, the USSR, or China for defense.
  • After a long period of civil wars and conflicts with European powers, China's last imperial dynasty ended in 1912. The resulting republic was replaced, after yet another civil war, by a communist People's Republic in 1949. At the end of the century, though still ruled by a communist party, China's economic system had transformed almost completely to capitalism.
  • The Great Chinese Famine was a direct cause of the death of tens of millions of Chinese peasants between 1959 and 1962. It is thought to be the largest famine in human history.[4]
  • The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, culminating in the deaths of hundreds of civilian protestors, were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing,China. Led mainly by students and intellectuals, the protests occurred in a year that saw the collapse of a number of communist governments around the world.
  • The revolutions of 1989 released Eastern and Central Europe from Soviet supremacy. Soon thereafter, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia dissolved, the latter violently over several years, into successor states, many rife with ethnic nationalism. East Germany and West Germany were reunified in 1990.
  • European integration began in earnest in the 1950s, and eventually led to the European Union, a political and economic union that comprised 15 countries at the end of the century.

[edit] Culture and entertainment
  • As the century began, Paris was the artistic capital of the world, where both French and foreign writers, composers and visual artists gathered.
  • Movies, music and the media had a major influence on fashion and trends in all aspects of life. As many movies and much music originate from the United States, American culture spread rapidly over the world.
  • 1953 saw the glamorous coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, an extremely iconic and revered figure of the 20th century.
  • Visual culture became more dominant not only in movies but in comics and television as well. During the century a new skilled understanding of narrativist imagery was developed.
  • Computer games and internet surfing became new and popular form of entertainment during the last 25 years of the century.
  • In literature, science fiction, fantasy (with well developed, rich in detail fictional worlds), alternative history fiction gained unprecedented popularity. Detective fiction gained unprecedented popularity between the two world wars.
  • Blues and jazz music became popularized during the 1910s and 1920s in the United States. Blues went on to influence rock and roll in the 1950s, which only increased in popularity with the British Invasion of the mid-to-late '60s. Rock soon branched into many different genres, including heavy metal, punk rock, and alternative rock and became the dominant genre of popular music. This was challenged with the rise of hip hop in the 1980s and 1990s. Other genres such as house, techno, reggae, and soul all developed during the latter half of the 20th century and went through various periods of popularity.
  • Modern Dance is born in America as a 'rebellion' against centuries-old European ballet. Dancers and choreographers such as Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, Martha Graham, Jose Limon, Doris Humphrey, Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor re-define movement, struggling to bring it back to its 'natural' roots and along with Jazz, create a solely American art form.


I and the Village by Marc Chagall, a modern painter.
  • In classical music, composition branched out into many completely new domains, including dodecaphony, aleatoric (chance) music, and minimalism.
  • Synthesizers began to be employed widely in music and crossed over into the mainstream with new wave music in the 1980s. Electronic instruments have been widely deployed in all manners of popular music and has led to the development of such genres as house, synthpop, electronic dance music, and industrial.
  • The art world experienced the development of new styles and explorations such as expressionism, Dadaism, cubism, de stijl, abstract expressionism and surrealism.
  • The modern art movement revolutionized art and culture and set the stage for both Modernism and its counterpart postmodern art as well as other contemporary art practices.
  • Art Noveau began as the most advanced architecture and design but went unfashionable after World War I. The style was very dynamic and highly inventive, however the depression of the Great War made it difficult to keep up such a high standard.
  • In Europe, modern architecture departed radically from the excess decoration of the Victorian era. Streamlined forms inspired by machines became more commonplace, enabled by developments in building materials and technologies. Before World War II, many European architects moved to the United States, where modern architecture continued to develop.
  • The automobile vastly increased the mobility of people in the Western countries in the early to mid-century, and in many other places by the end of the century. City design throughout most of the West became focused on transport via car.
  • The popularity of sport increased considerably—both as an activity for all, and as entertainment, particularly on television. Several dictators in the 20th century supported organised sport.
City folks were enjoying more leisure. The middleclass had annual vacations, and many of them looked forward to going to a resort during the summer. On weekends they went to orchestral concerts in a park or city center. They went to vaudeville shows, to amusement parks or to a local baseball game. During the summer a family might go fishing or boating. Family picnics were also popular, as were community socials.
Much in entertainment was home made. Very few people had a phonograph, but there was an abundance of store bought sheet music. And in place of the phonograph, girls of a family played musical instruments. Families frequently gathered around a piano, organ, or pianola for sing-alongs. The most popular song in 1902 was "In the Good Ol' Summertime," which that year sold a million copies in sheet music, a song that evoked in many city people a nostalgia for the rural towns where they had strolled through shady lanes. Another popular song was "By the Light of the Silvery Moon." Soon to follow were songs such as "Sweet Adeline," "Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider," and "In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree." People in middleclass families played lawn games such as croquet or lawn tennis. Young girls, along with their mothers, spent leisure hours doing needle crafts and reading religious novels. Some among the middleclass read westerns such as The Virginian, or they read sentimental sagas, or The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Some read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or The Red Badge of Courage, and some read from among Horatio Alger's 135 novels. And people conversed more than they would decades later.
Men courted women in the parlor or on the front porch of the young woman's home, sometimes singing songs, playing their banjo or guitar, or they went strolling to the village green. As yet, women did not go driving off in automobiles. The automobile, "or horseless carriage," was just beginning to make its appearance in the United States, disturbing the city traffic of horse drawn wagons and bicycles. In San Francisco and Cincinnati a speed limit was established at eight miles an hour. Debates in bars and at dinner tables arose over whether the horseless carriage or the horse was better transportation. Animal power, it was argued, was better on mud-slick roads. With automobiles, some said, city streets would have less horse manure and smell.
At the turn of the century, more women were finding work outside of their homes -- the result of enlarged office bureaucracies and the coming of the typewriter. Women had become a third of the nation's clerical workers. Women were also filling positions as telephone operators. And teaching, once a male preserve, was now eighty-six percent women -- but still managed by male principals and
 

Morality, Feminism and Class

At the turn of the century, three quarters of the states forbade married women to have property in their own name. In these states a woman's property became her husband's upon marriage. In a third of the states, a woman's earnings belonged to her husband. And in all states except Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Idaho, women were not allowed to vote. Frontiers were less conservative on the woman's suffrage issue than the older, metropolitan areas -- similar to Australia being ahead of England on this issue. Women active in the suffrage movement were described as neurotic, as suffering from an urge to imitate men, as hysterical or as homosexuals. It was argued that with their big sleeves, women would be able to hide numerous ballots and vote more than once.
Widespread among Americans was a desire for self-improvement -- a constant force though the twentieth century. Since 1890 the number of students attending high school had been rising an average of around thirty percent a year, and high schools were increasing in number at an average of nineteen percent a year. The number of college graduates was also increasing: from a mere one percent of the population in the 1870s and on its way to eight percent by the 1920s.
A part of the striving for self-improvement was religion. Many Americans gave credit to Christianity for the nation's prosperity, and they saw their own material successes as God's reward for their virtue, industry and thrift. While church attendance was declining in some of the more technologically advanced European societies, in the United States the number of churches being built increased and church memberships were growing. It was common among middleclass parents to try to put the fear of God into their children, and God and morality reached the children in the schools through the McGuffey Readers, with titles such as "Respect for the Sabbath Rewarded" and "The Bible the Best of Classics." These books suggested that to succeed one had to be sober, frugal and energetic, and they suggested that prolonged poverty was a sign of God's disapproval.
Suburban Middleclass and Urban Ethnics
People whose lives improved economically moved to the suburbs, bringing a decline in religious devotion in the urban centers. The urban centers were peopled more by immigrants who worked twelve or more hours a day. They were less inclined than the middleclass to accept the claim that God had ordained the order of things, and they were unimpressed by the piety of those with more wealth than they -- people they saw as greedy, soft and with too much leisure. Middleclass suburbanites were inclined to look upon the inner-city immigrants as more morally challenged than they, but the inner-city workers had less time than the affluent for any of the deadly sins -- except envy.
What little leisure inner-city men had away from home was likely spent having a beer in a local saloon -- frowned upon by the middleclass, who did most of their drinking with their dinners at home or at clubs. In some inner cities, saloons were community centers where workers picked up their mail, left messages, had access to a telephone or learned what work was available. The saloons provided water troughs for horses and a free newspaper, and the saloon often cashed a check or lent money. Some sold cigars, cigarettes, headache powders and bonbons nicknamed wife pacifiers. In the immigrant sections of working-class  Chicago, saloons outnumbered grocery, meat or dry-goods stores. Fraternal organizations met at saloons. And, in some saloons, union meetings, ward and precinct politics and even weddings were conducted.
Feminine Virtue
At the turn of the century, to appear morally decent a woman had to wear dresses that went to the ankles, even when playing tennis. A short skirt was one that exposed the shoes. Women who wished respect remained virgins until marriage, while the common age for marriage among the middleclass was around 22. Men and women of blue-collar families found it more difficult to scrape together enough money to leave their parents, and it was common for them to wait until their early thirties before marrying.
A well-known fighter for morality at the turn of the century was Anthony Comstock, who opposed all forms of contraception. Because of Comstock's influence, it became illegal for people to discuss birth control, including a doctor with a patient. It became illegal for a library to have a book on contraception. Comstock drove the word pregnant from books, and he campaigned against the works of Margaret Sanger. Sanger was twenty-one at the turn of the century, a nurse in New York who began advocating birth control, which was available to the affluent but not to the poor, and Sanger was arrested for sending birth control literature through the mail.
Billy Sunday, Carrie Nation and Biblical Debate
By the turn of the century, many Christian scholars were analyzing the Bible in great detail. Some of them were siding with what was known as Higher Criticism. Evolution had become an issue -- a view that rivaled the theory that everything had been created at once just a few thousand years before. Geology -- the Grand Canyon, for example -- had given people the perspective of an earth old enough for increments of gradual transformations in genetics. Some Christian theologians accepted the theory of evolution as God's way of doing things while some others who considered themselves common sense Christians remained convinced that the Bible was absolutely accurate word by word.
A vociferous debate was taking place among Christians, with some Christians denouncing those who no longer believed in taking the scriptures literally. Among the denouncers was Billy Sunday -- born William Ashley. He had been a farm boy from Iowa and a hard drinking, woman-chasing outfielder for the Chicago White Stockings. He was the country boy awed and tempted by the big city called Babylon, and he continued to describe himself as brawling with the devil. "Hitting the sawdust trail" with his revival specialists and huge choir, he liked to preach the gospel wearing a good suit and expensive shoes. He preached with emotion and a rapidity of words, mixing wisecracking, slang and baseball terms, attacking rum, prostitutes, card playing and gambling. He railed against science, Galileo, Plato, Darwin, intellectuals in general and the modern world. He admitted that he knew nothing about theology, but he felt qualified to denounce Christians who no longer believed in heaven and hell. He was quick to proclaim his patriotism, and he announced that immigrants complaining about working conditions should "go back to the land where they were kenneled."
Churches, meanwhile, were expressing their passion for humanitarianism. Males, they believed, were inclined to have more moral defects than females and to be in greater need of improvement through religious instruction. There were fallen women to save, but men, the more aggressive of the sexes, had to be saved from drunkenness, from straying from God's word and from seducing innocent women. Churchmen, meanwhile, were joining educators, social scientists and writers in fretting over what was called the youth problem. Concern over boys turning bad through idleness was motivating the trend toward the passage of compulsory education laws.
Churches might maintain a house for the homeless, send flowers to a local hospital or support missionaries in Africa. One evangelical crusader was Carrie Nation, doing what she called the work of the Lord. With Billy Sunday she fought for prohibiting the drinking of alcohol. She and five hundred of her followers invaded taverns, breaking bottles of liquor, mirrors and wooden kegs of beer. One of Carrie Nation's motives was to stop men from beating their wives, done mainly when they were drinking. For many women the prohibition movement was their only hope against such beatings, except for choosing the economic hardship that went with walking out on their marriage.
Despite all the efforts at morality, unwanted pregnancies were numerous, and abortions were common -- the Michigan Board of Health in 1898 estimated that one third of all pregnancies were artificially terminated. Abortions were inexpensive: ten dollars being the standard rate in New York and Boston. Divorces were also on the rise. By 1915, the United States would have the highest divorce rate in the world, with one in seven marriages ending in divorce. In Los Angeles the rate was one in five, and in wicked San Francisco one in four. The United States was experiencing the results of a sense of freedom greater than many other nations.
 
At the turn of the century, the average workweek was twelve hours a day and six days a week. Coal miners were suffering and dying in appallingly large numbers from both accidents and effects of the environment in which they worked. Poor and immigrant children often worked alongside their parents, kids as young as seven or eight working twelve hours a day -- for low wages that poor families needed mainly for food.
By 1900 half the states had some sort of restrictions on child labor, such as a law that children work no more than ten hours a day. But only about ten states made a serious effort to enforce such laws. For factory owners, children were a cheap supply of labor, and employers preferred children for many jobs because their fingers were quick and nimble and because the children's small size enabled them to tend machines in cramped spaces. By 1900, 1.7 million kids under sixteen were employed in cotton mills in New England and in the South, and children were still working in West Virginia's coal mines. The view prevailed among some devout Christians that all this was good for the children in that idle hands were the devil's tools. Some others claimed that children should be in school rather than working, and they were criticized for being unrealistic and utopian.
A lot of child labor was on farms, including tenant farming, where sharecroppers were turning as much as half of their crops over to the owners of the property they worked. The debts of tenant farmers often matched or exceeded the income from their share of the crops they grew. They were paying higher prices for the goods they were buying at country stores, usually on credit, and they were often cheated. Their houses were run down, some with a view of the stars through the roof or the land under the floor boards. It was widely believed that it was the responsibility of these people to raise themselves up through hard work. And a few did and became examples referred to in arguing its possibility.
At the turn of the century in the United States there was no income tax, and no social security, unemployment insurance or public housing for the aged or disabled. Families were obliged to take care of their aged and their handicapped, and grandmothers baby-sat the children of their sons and daughters.
Also at the turn of the century, many people in rural areas had to haul their water, and so did some in the cities, where water was obtained from barrels filled by water-hauling tank wagons. Some tenement dwellers received their water from a tap in the hallway, or outside in the courtyard.
As for the comforts of central heating, only a few families among the middle and upper classes had this convenience. In the winters most of the rest of the nation stayed together around their stove, and people used iron ingots, ceramic bricks and soapstones as bed warmers. Without electricity, many in rural areas in the west used cow manure, "grassoline," for fuel. And in rural areas, families were still being impacted by drought, soil erosion, plagues of grasshoppers, floods and boll weevils.
At the turn of the century, typhus was prevalent, and tuberculosis was rampant. Statistics claimed that the United States had 194 cases of tuberculosis for every 100,000 persons, the disease appearing mostly in areas that were crowded and lacking hygiene, such as tenement buildings that lacked indoor bathrooms and where refuse was allowed to pile up in streets and pollute drinking water. Syphilis was also widespread at the turn of the century. Mental institutions were filled with patients whose illnesses were late-state syphilitic infections, syphilis in its late stage attacking the brain.
Infant deaths and the deaths of women giving birth were high compared to later in the century. Most births took place in a woman's home, but hospital deliveries were on the rise, where better equipment was available for emergencies. In hospitals anesthetics were used in place of the more painful natural childbirth, while resistance remained among Christians who quoted scripture that "in pain though shalt bear children."
 
At the turn of the century, science and medicine were benefiting from the increase in communications between scientists of the world, and science was bringing a better understanding of diseases and greater prevention. It had recently been discovered that beriberi was caused by dietary deficiency, and it was learned that a proper diet was a defense against disease in general. In the area of preventative medicine -- as old as Hypocrites -- a New York woman, Lillian Wald, acting alone, convinced the city of New York to hire nurses for its public schools for health maintenance and health education, and this kind of nursing began spreading across the nation. And by 1900, water supplies were being tested periodically to guard against water-borne infections.
Government funding of medical research was almost non-existent, and most medical research was being funded by wealthy philanthropists, such as John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil, who established the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research and donated millions of dollars for research on tuberculosis. The one area of research financed by tax dollars was the U.S. Army's work against yellow fever and malaria. The connection between malaria and mosquitoes had been recently discovered, and a program by the army was able to control malaria and yellow fever in Havana and in Central America along the world's most notorious "fever coast" -- enough to allow the stationing of American troops there with only minor incidents of these diseases.
Many of those living in misery were optimistic enough to fight to improve their lives. By the turn of the century, blacks had reduced their illiteracy to 44.5 percent, down from forced illiteracy during slavery and the 95 percent illiteracy rate at the end of the Civil War. Among those who were optimistic was Booker T. Washington. Washington was a former slave who had worked in a coal mine, struggled in his spare time to acquire an education and had graduated in 1875 from an agricultural institute in Virginia. He worked as a teacher and founded the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He advocated blacks advancing themselves through hard work. Another who was hopeful was W.E.B. du Bois, half-black, half-white, who had graduated from Harvard in 1895 and in 1900 founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He had grown up around whites and, unlike Booker T. Washington, he advocated integration.
White immigrant labor also fought for improvements -- against the belief among businessmen that wages should be determined by the market place. Employers believed that they should be free to pay their workers as little as possible -- in other words, according to market forces. There was no minimum wage law, nor laws that prevented poor working conditions. And with the cost of labor determined partly by the supply of workers, employers had been skewing down the market price for labor by importing large numbers of immigrants. Labor wished to organize to control against their wages being bid down. They wished to force an improvement in working conditions. And the labor movement had succeeded in establishing itself in many industries.
The union movement in the form of trade unions was as old as the nation, and at the turn of the century it was dominated by about one hundred craft unions -- crafts such as printing, carpentry and shoemaking. The trade union movement was led by the American Federation of Labor, whose leader at the turn of the century was Samuel Gompers. Gompers favored collective bargaining and cooperating with the industrialists. He opposed the failed attempts of the past to form one great union of all workers, the skilled and unskilled, and to form a labor party. He was opposed to the notion of class struggle and to what he saw as the utopianism of some intellectuals who associated themselves with the labor movement.
To the left of Gompers were the socialists. Foremost among them was Eugene Debs, who had risen from treasurer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and had organized the American Railway union. Debs believed that industrial unions were better than trade unions at meeting the power of the industrialists. He favored a unified socialist movement of working whites -- both native born and immigrants. He advocated government intervention in the economic life of the nation in order to promote social justice. He was for a shortened workweek, unemployment relief and abolishing child labor. He favored voting reform, including women's suffrage, giving people more influence through referendums, and more proportional representation. Debs believed that big business and labor had opposing interests that could never be resolved. His socialism derived from a belief in doing right for working people and replacing the existing system of private ownership of the means of production with public ownership. He urged people to join the labor movement to better themselves economically and to join the Socialist Party to give political power to the working class.
Among the optimistic were the enthusiastic readers of a book entitled Looking Backward, a book by Edward Bellamy first published in 1888 and translated into twenty languages. Between 1890 and 1891 across the U.S., one hundred and sixty-five "Bellamy Clubs" had formed. These clubs were devoted to the discussion and propagation of the aims expressed in Looking Backward. After Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben-Hur, Looking Backward was the most popular book at the turn of the century. The Bellamy dream was that finance, industry and commerce would no longer be conducted by "irresponsible" corporations. Rather than government regulation of industry -- laws to prevent corporations from stealing, conning people and damaging public assets -- Bellamy foresaw the economy governed by a single syndicate for the common interest of "the people." The story of his book takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, and the book describes Boston in the year 2000 as a city with many parks and fountains and everyone devoted to group values.



Capitalism, Politics and Progress

Some socialists attacked the capitalists for practicing "wage-slavery" and for exploiting children. Some socialists saw capitalists as inherently immoral and capitalism as something to be done away with rather than modified through law. Many capitalists, on the other hand, were devout Christians and saw themselves as highly moral. They were mostly Protestants, belonging to a tradition that respected frugality and enterprise.
However moral or immoral the capitalists, values were changing. A hundred years before, many Christians and entrepreneurs had seen slavery as moral, and that was changing. Slavery was now illegal, and capitalism was destined to change with the values of the times -- values expressed in laws that regulated the behavior of members of society including capitalists.
Slavery, moreover, did not fit well with modern industrial manufacturing. Slaves had to be fed and housed, and they had to be supervised with more care and force than free persons working for wages. Easier than all this was just paying people a wage and letting them go home after work to make their own meals. Slavery remained suitable for capitalists only with  prison labor. And when a government would permit this, it would occur -- as in Germany during World War II. This was in keeping with the existing values of the times -- the prisoners widely believed to be deserving of their fate. The hope was that values of a society as a whole would improve.
The McKinley Presidency and Imperialism
In a relatively bloodless war in 1898, the United States defeated Spain -- a war fought mainly in Cuba and at Manila Bay in the Philippines. That year, Guam was transferred from Spanish control to a U.S. possession. The Philippines declared itself an independent republic and the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution annexing the Hawaiian Islands. The following year, the island of Guam was transferred from Spain's control to the United States, and the rest of the Mariana Islands were transferred to the Germans. The British, Germans and Japanese were interested in the Philippine Islands and were watching what the United States would do there. Some Americans urged that the American flag in the Philippines not be hauled down, and they called for annexation. Some Church leaders saw annexation as an opportunity to evangelize, and they spoke of America's moral duty to its "little brown brothers." Some in the U.S. believed in taking up the "white man's burden," spreading America's superior culture including the blessings of Christianity to backward peoples of the world. Some believed that America should take its rightful place in a world of colonial powers. Some businessmen who had viewed the war unenthusiastically at the outset began talking of a great enterprise for American trade with the Far East.
The President of the United States, William McKinley, came down on the side of rule over the entire Philippine archipelago, not wishing any rival power to control any of the Philippine islands. Choosing to stay in the Philippines without approval from the Filipinos brought war between the U.S. and Filipino patriots, led by the declared President of the Philippines, Emilio Aguinaldo. Across the United States the cry of "support our troops!" was heard, while others, Mark Twain, the industrialist Andrew Carnegie, and the Democratic Party's candidate for president in 1900, William Jennings Bryan, among others, spoke against the McKinley administration's effort to conquer the Philippines. And an American general leading troops in the Philippines complained about the loyalty of some at home, saying that if he were shot it might as well be from the rear.
The Elections of 1900
The war in the Philippines was debated in the race for the U.S. presidency. William Jennings Bryan began by making imperialism his major issue. It was Bryan's second run as the Democrat Party's nominee -- at the age of forty. Bryan was influenced by evangelical Protestantism. He was from Nebraska and had rural values. He was suspicious of the industrialized eastern part of the United States. Never having been a mayor of a major city he had little understanding of big-city problems. As a rural man, he was little interested in the concerns of industrial workers or organized labor. But some considered him a great orator, while one of his critics described him as jellified sentimentality.
Bryan was not a pacifist. He had supported the war against Spain, but he remained adamantly opposed to the U.S. taking control of the Philippines. Imperialism, he argued, was motivated by those seeking money, by those seeking to spread their religion and by those who argued that once we were in there was no getting out. He declared that America's involvement in the Philippines violated American traditions of self-determination. "No nation," he said," can long endure half republic and half empire." And he warned that imperialism abroad would lead to despotism at home.
Running for re-election, the Republican candidate, William McKinley, gave little attention to the Philippines as an issue. McKinley came across as a kind and warmhearted man. He was for continuing protective tariffs and reciprocal agreements on trade with other nations, and he spoke of reforming the civil service and building a canal through a narrow point somewhere in Central America.
McKinley's running mate was the highly energetic and sometimes over-emotional Theodore Roosevelt, a military hero from the war against Spain and the recent governor of New York. Roosevelt campaigned with enthusiasm in the West, and he fired the enthusiasm that common Americans had for their nation's military efforts in foreign affairs.
Finding audiences in the western states unresponsive to his attacks on imperialism, Bryan turned his speeches against economic monopolies -- commonly known as "the trusts."  He called for using the powers of the Interstate Commerce Commission against these monopolies. He spoke against special privileges and called for the direct election of Senators in order to take power away from insiders and give more power to the public. And Bryan supported adding silver, with gold, as the standard for money -- a policy that would amount to increasing the money supply.
The public was not interested in the issue of the dollar based on silver versus gold, and Bryan and the Democrats failed to profit from the widespread dislike and fear of "the trusts." Small farmers and small business people who feared big business still saw the Republican Party as the party of reform, and they voted Republican in large numbers. McKinley received 7,219,525 votes to Bryan's 6,356,737, and McKinley won the Electoral College, and therefore re-election. The Republicans emerged with solid control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. And the voting public demonstrated once again its interest only in mainstream politics, the socialist candidate for president, Eugene Debs, receiving only about 100,000 votes.
Theodore Roosevelt and His First Reforms
Six months into his second term, McKinley was visiting the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo and was shot twice in the abdomen, by an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz -- a mill worker from Detroit who believed he was striking a blow against oppression and for working people. On the ground and bleeding, the kindly McKinley called Czolgosz a "poor, misguided fellow" and asked that he not be hurt. McKinley was rushed to the hospital, where the operation on him was bungled, and eight days later he died. His death saddened the nation and increased its hostility toward anarchism and leftists in general. And within a month, the state of New York electrocuted Czolgosz and destroyed his body with sulfuric acid.
Elevated to the presidency, Theodore Roosevelt, promised to continue McKinley's "path of peace, prosperity and honor for the country." Then two and a half months later Roosevelt appeared to be starting on a new course. This was on December 3, in his first annual message to Congress, when Roosevelt showed signs of responding to the clamor from many citizens for reforms.
A crusade for reforms was apparent among editors of newspapers. Magazines such as McClure's, Cosmopolitan, American Magazine and Colliers had begun publishing articles on abuse against workers, widespread corruption and misuse of land by big business. One writer, Lincoln Steffens, in his book The Shame of the Cities, exposed government and police corruption. And pleas for reform were pouring into President Roosevelt's office.
Some intellectuals believed that reforms were needed to forestall or abort socialism taking power in the United States. Privileged college students were hearing their instructors speak of poverty, squalor, injustice and the need of government reforms, including the beginning of some intervention in the economy -- intervention being the only way to reform an economy.
It was all a product of optimism and hope -- a belief that things could be better as opposed to those who believed that the system of things was as good as could be. Roosevelt shared in the belief in reforms. He believed in putting controls on child labor and in legislation for minorities and women. But he had to work with Congress and realized that he did not have the power to make Congress pass such legislation. So Roosevelt joined with Congress in leaving issues involving child labor and civil rights to the states.
Roosevelt was a moderate. He spoke against class hatred -- the poor denouncing the rich. He spoke in favor of strong industries, which he said benefited the nation. He addressed the issue of monopoly control over industry and crusaded against a financial combination called the Northern Securities Company, which controlled railroads in the nation's northwest. His move was followed by the Department of Justice taking North Securities to court for violations of the Sherman Act -- a law for combating monopoly and improper restraints on competition which had been passed by Congress in 1890 but ignored. The issue went to the Supreme Court, which sided with the Department of Justice, demonstrating the power of government over large corporations. The public responded by seeing Roosevelt as a hero, while some business leaders saw Roosevelt as destroying the foundation of private property and undermining the institution of private enterprise.
The next big issue was a strike by coal miners in Ohio, Illinois, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, which threatened to shut down industries that used coal as their fuel, and threatened to leave people to freeze in their homes. The strikers wanted recognition of their unions, a twenty-percent increase in pay and an eight-hour day. Roosevelt disliked radical and aggressive labor leaders, and he was opposed to the closed union shop, but he gave some support to labor -- the first president to do so. He encouraged owners of the mines and union representatives to accept arbitration by an outside party. The mine owners were indignant, but the strike ended in a compromise settlement. The miners failed to win recognition of their unions, but they received a ten percent increase in wages, an eight-hour day for engineers, firemen and pump men, and they received the right to submit future grievances to a board of conciliation.
Roosevelt was sensitive to issues about the great outdoors. In recent decades, lands had been passing out of government hands and into private ownership for mining, oil extraction and timber cutting. Roosevelt wished to protect forests, watershed and federally owned lands. In 1902, he and Congress created reforms -- the Newlands Reclamation Act -- which requisitioned money from the sale of public lands and applied this money to the construction of dams and other works to improve the supply of water to agriculture.


Teddy and the Panama Canal: 1899-1903

In the area of foreign affairs, Roosevelt jumped at the opportunity to build a canal through the Isthmus of Panama. He had stated that "to hold its own in the struggle for naval and commercial supremacy" the U.S. had to strengthen itself as a world power and it had to build a canal through Central America. In 1903, the British government gave up its rights to the joint construction of such canal with the United States, and a French company was eager to sell to the United States its right-of-way across Panama.
Panama was then a part of Colombia, and the will of the regime in power in Colombia was an obstacle to Roosevelt. Colombian politicians were bent on holding up negotiations and getting from the U.S. as much as it could in exchange for an agreement over the canal -- with Roosevelt describing Colombia's president, Marroquin, as "a villainous monkey."
Opportunity presented itself to Roosevelt in the form of people in Panama wishing to free themselves from Colombian rule. A rebellion in Panama soon followed. The rebels announced Panama's independence, and the Roosevelt administration recognized Panama within hours. In agreement with the new regime in Panama, Roosevelt sent troops there to combat any attempt by Colombia to crush the new regime. Colombia backed down and there was no violence -- with Roosevelt citing the benefits of being strong. Then the U.S. signed a treaty with Panama for the building of the canal, and work began on the canal without delay, a project that was to take eleven years to complete.

Political Reform and Change

Some people in the United States continued to blame the rich for their miseries, and commonly among people of modest means was the opinion that people who had gained great wealth had done so through greed. A leading target of these people was John D. Rockefeller. Now retired, Rockefeller had been a Sunday school teacher with ascetic tendencies, and he had risen in business by holding back from spending on himself and by being better organized and less wasteful than his competitors. But responding to the common view of Rockefeller, a "muckraking" journalist, Ida Tarbell, wrote a series of articles for McClure's magazine on Rockefeller that distorted his past.
But in the United States, optimism proved stronger than class consciousness, and Americans had good reason to be optimistic. The United States was a functioning democracy. It was stable and industrious, and real wages (wages according to what they can buy) were rising. Events would justify this optimism. Real wages would rise at an average rate across the century of 1.6 percent a year despite the Great Depression of the thirties. In the first decade of the century, fresh beef was around 13 cents a pound, equivalent to about $30 a pound relative to 1990 dollars. Soap was 5 cents a bar, equal to $11.50 in 1990 dollars. A refrigerator early in the century cost $3,000 in 1990 dollars.
In the 1904 presidential elections, Roosevelt was returned to office, running on what he called "the Square Deal." Said Roosevelt: "I shall see to it that every man has a square deal, no less and no more." In his second term, the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act became laws, and with these laws the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was created, whose task was to protect the American public by testing and approving drugs before they were allowed on the market. And in his second term, Roosevelt turned again to the issue of conservation. Lumber, oil and mining companies opposed his moves, and many western politicians feared that Roosevelt's conservationism would retard economic growth in their districts. But the Roosevelt administration went ahead and created more parks and made reserves of 17,000,000 acres of forest.
A necessary part of democracy was freedom of the press -- which, of course, includes the publication and distribution of books. And in the latter half of the first decade, a socialist, Upton Sinclair, wrote a book called The Jungle in which he exposed conditions in the meat industry, specifically in the Chicago stockyards. The book became popular, and while it was Sinclair's intention to sell socialism to the American public, what resulted was not socialism but more reform -- the passage of pure food laws. Americans were inclined toward solving one problem at a time rather than taking ideological leaps of faith.
In addition to reforms at the federal level, political reforms were taking shape in the states -- reforms that followed the example of Wisconsin. Candidates for public office were to be chosen by primaries rather than by behind-the-scene power brokers. And states were beginning to establish referendums, and to establish a short ballot, limitations on contributions to political campaigns, and to establish the direct election of senators rather than senators being chosen by state legislatures.
The Internal Combustion Engine
Adding to what might be called progress was the continuing proliferation of the "horseless carriage." In the summer of 1903, an automobile had been driven from San Francisco to New York City in sixty-three days. That year, another car, a Packard, did it in fifty-three days, and that year auto sales soared, with Oldsmobile selling around 4,000 cars. In 1904, numerous people took cross-country driving vacations. The American Automobile Association organized a tour from New York to the Exposition in St. Louis, and fifty-nine autos made the trip.
The internal combustion engine made flying possible, the Wright brothers in 1905 having flown 24.3 miles in thirty-eight minutes. Then, in 1906, a benevolent aspect of the automobile became more apparent. That year the San Francisco earthquake became a turning point in the acceptance of engine powered vehicles. During that emergency, horses were dropping from heat exhaustion while supplies from motor trucks kept hauling needed supplies. The San Francisco Chronicle claimed the automobile had proved indispensable in saving parts of the city from fire.
Toward 1910
Amid the progress, of course, was a lot of ballyhoo, noise, struggle and conflict. In 1908, the Republican candidate, William Howard Taft, was elected to succeed Roosevelt. That was the year that Isadora Duncan began dancing, and the middle classes viewing her flimsy dresses and exposed arms and legs as ridiculous and shocking. And in 1908, in Sydney Australia, an American black named Jack Johnson defeated Tommy Burns of Australia for the heavyweight boxing championship of the world -- his victory followed by some violence outside the boxing ring. In 1910, a former American champion, Jim Jeffries, came out of retirement to reclaim the title for the white race. Jack Johnson knocked him out, and a race riot ensued at ringside, followed by race riots across the United States in which nineteen persons died.
Meanwhile businesses including banks from the United States were increasing their investments in Latin America. The U.S. share of trade with Latin America was on the rise, and during the decade this created what was called "dollar diplomacy." And in the first decade of the twentieth century, the Roosevelt corollary to the Monroe Doctrine was in operation. The United States government believed that it had the right to intervene in Latin American nations to promote political stability and financial responsibility, to prevent European intervention in the area, and this was supported by a majority of U.S. citizens interested in foreign affairs. The United States was invited into the Dominican Republic to manage the collection of customs revenues, and the U.S. presence discouraged attempts by revolutionaries to overthrow the government there. In Nicaragua, the U.S. intervened with money and marines in support of conservatives who overthrew the liberal government of Jose Zelaya, who had been harassing U.S. businessmen -- the beginning of what would become a larger intervention in Nicaragua in the coming decade.

Enthusiasts mark 100th birthday of the car that got America on the road

 
Ford Motor Corporation is marking the 100th anniversary of the Model T, the low-priced car that introduced motoring to the masses, at a time when Americans are cringing at the cost of filling their gas tanks and the industry is struggling with plant closures and layoffs.
But a week-long celebration of the Model T promises to offer some nostalgic balm.
About 750 of the iconic vehicles were on display yesterday in what is being called the largest gathering of Model Ts since they left the factory.
Edsel Ford II, great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford, addressed the crowd at an opening banquet.
Model T
T time: More than 1,000 Ford Model T enthusiasts descended on Richmond, Indiana, to take part in a week-long Ford Model T 100 year anniversary celebration
The gathering transformed the Wayne County Fairgrounds into what looked like a movie set for a motion picture depicting life in the early 1900s.
Drivers created Model T traffic jams as they picked their way among barns.
Jay Klehfoth, CEO of The Model T Ford Club of America based in nearby Centerville, said owners of the Model T are like a big extended family.
"Sometimes we refer to ourselves as the similarly afflicted," Klehfoth said. "We recognize we are only temporary custodians of these rolling pieces of history."
Roger Peterson, 71, of Greeneville, Tennessee, has owned 11 Model Ts over the years.
Enlarge Model T
Start me up: A Model T owner cranks up his car
Enlarge Model T
Cheers: Edsel Ford enjoy a ride in a Ford Model T at the birthday party
"You don't own just one Model T," Peterson said. "You buy another one and another one and another one."
John Heitmann, a history professor at the University of Dayton who has taught classes on automobile history and its impact on American life, said the Model T is one of the most historically significant cars of the 20th century and maybe the single most important American car.
Henry Ford realized there was a big market for cars - and not just for the wealthy - and that people would keep buying them, Heitmann said.
"It was kind of the common car for the common person," Heitmann said.
A century later, Ford and other Detroit automakers are struggling to keep up with consumer demands. Buyers are shunning trucks and sport utility vehicles for more fuel-efficient models, and high gas prices and a sluggish economy are keeping sales low.
All major automakers but Honda Motor Co. reported steep sales declines for June. Ford's sales tumbled 27.9 percent from June 2007.
The Model T gathering in Richmond aims to be more than just an antique car show but a reminder of Ford's groundbreaking automobile.
The first production Model T Ford was assembled in Detroit on Oct. 1, 1908. With the development of the sturdy, low-priced car, Henry Ford made his company the biggest in the industry, according to the Henry Ford Museum.
In a span of 19 years, Ford would build 15 million cars with the Model T engine.
The Model T, nicknamed the "Tin Lizzie," was probably the most important vehicle in causing social change in America, Heitmann said. It helped transform the nation's cities, enabling residents to move farther away from the trolley lines and creating the first ring of suburbs, he said.
"The move out of the city began with the Model T and other vehicles, particularly after World War I," he said.
Heitmann said the Model T also was embraced by farmers and rural Americans.
"It had a very high ground clearance. It was easy to repair. It was so inexpensive that isolation on the American farm came to an end," he said.
Once rural Americans used the Model T to come to the cities to shop, crossroads stores in the country went out of business and centralized school systems replaced one-room schoolhouses, Heitmann said.
Henry Ford and the Model T also changed the face of the U.S. labor force.
Heitmann said Ford raised wages to attract and keep workers at his factories and employed immigrants and minorities.
"That was really important in kind of creating a class of well-to-do workers," he said.
The popularity of the Model T also found its way into poems, songs and movies.

 

TIMELINE: The African-American civil rights movement from the slave market to the White House

When Barack Obama was born in 1961 it was inconceivable that America would one day have a black president. Generations of African-Americans before him carved out lives as slaves, with no hope of emancipation.
Through the decades small steps towards equal rights were made by pioneering figures such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, a black woman who refused to give up her seat on a bus in Alabama.
This timeline highlights key events in the African-American civil rights movement from the 1600s to November 5, 2008, when Obama was elected to be America's first black president.
1619
Shackles
Shackles used on slaves in East Africa
A Dutch ship brings 20 Africans to the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia, where they are bartered for foodstuffs in the first slave auction in the American colonies.
Most Africans come originally as indentured servants - as many European pioneers do - and work until they have paid for their passage and bought their freedom. But within a few decades, they arrive as slaves, with no hope of emancipation.
1641
Massachusetts is the first colony to recognise slavery as legal. Twenty years later, a Virginia court declares that a child born to a slave is also a slave.
1776
'We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal'.
So say the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence, which establishes the United States following the American War of Independence.
Slavery, however, continues unaffected.
Thomas Jefferson, who drafted the declaration, has nearly 200 himself.
He believes that blacks are still God's creatures, but are different from whites in that they are unable to differentiate between love and lust and feel grief only fleetingly.
George Washington, the first president, has 316 slaves on his plantation in Virginia.
Thomas Jefferson
George Washington
Former U.S. presidents Thomas Jefferson and George Washington (right) had more than 500 slaves between them
1794
Founding of first national antislavery organisation. The U.S then bans the importing of slaves, though not the use (and abuse) of them.
The trade itself goes underground. Over the next half-century, 250,000 black slaves are slipped into the U.S.
1820
Growing demands for emancipation in the northern states are countered by efforts to expand slavery by the South. Positions begin to entrench between those states that allow slavery and those that don't.
slaves.jpg
The northern states want to free slaves, while the southern states want to expand slavery
1837
Abolitionists in the North establish secret escape routes for fugitives from the South. The American Anti-Slavery Society, founded in Philadelphia, has 250,000 members.
1857
A slave named Dred Scott petitions for his freedom.
But the Supreme Court says no one of African descent can have any rights of citizenship.
Dred Scott
Dred Scott sued unsuccessfully for his freedom from slavery in the famous Dred Scott v Sandford case
1859
Abolitionist John Brown conducts a raid at Harper's Ferry, Virginia to free and arm slaves.
He is captured and executed but becomes a martyr for the cause and is immortalised in the hymn John Brown's body.
1861
Outbreak of the bitter and bloody Civil War, as 11 southern slaving states secede from the Union over the issue of slavery, and form the Confederacy.
1863
President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, abolishing slavery in the rebel southern states. Black troops are also allowed to enlist in special regiments in the Union army.
Two hundred thousand join up, most of them newly-escaped or freed slaves - and more than 20,000 are killed in combat.
Abraham Lincoln abolishes slavery in the southern states
Abraham Lincoln abolishes slavery in the southern states
1865
The Union is victorious and slavery is abolished in all states under the 13th Amendment to the U.S constitution.
Before his assassination, Lincoln talks publicly about giving black men the vote. His successor, Andrew Johnson, vetoes this. In the defeated South, ex-Confederates form the racist Ku Klux Klan.
KU KLUX KLAN
Members of the Ku Klux Klan salute during a rally
1870
By now, Johnson's veto has been overturned and the 15th Amendment guarantees that a citizen's right to vote cannot be denied because of 'race, colour, or previous condition of servitude [slavery]'.
Joseph Rainey of South Carolina becomes the first black Congressman.
1875
Congress passes the Civil Rights Act, giving all Americans access to restaurants, theatres and public transport, and the right to serve on a jury.
However, the law is not enforced and later the Supreme Court declares it unconstitutional. In many areas, segregation becomes the norm.
1881
Tennessee votes to segregate black and whites on trains. Over the next two decades, other southern states follow suit.
Soon, every state in the former Confederacy has legalised segregation, enshrining white supremacy in political and public life.
1909
Matthew Henson, an African-American explorer, becomes the first person ever to stand on the North Pole, planting the U.S flag.
1931
Nine young, black males, aged 13 to 21, riding in an open freight car through rural Alabama are jailed and put on trial after being accused of raping two white women.
The 'Scottsboro Boys' are swiftly found guilty and sentenced to death. The Supreme Court overturns their convictions, but they are retried by white juries and found guilty again.
1936
Jesse Owens arrives in Berlin to compete for the U.S in the Summer Olympics. Adolf Hitler wants to show the world a resurgent Nazi Germany, but it is Owen's four gold medals that is remembered.
Jesse Owens
Jesse Owens on his way to winning one of his four gold medals
1955
Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, for a white passenger. It sparks a bus boycott, ending in the outlawing of segregation on city buses.
Parks becomes an international icon of resistance - as does the pastor of local Baptist church, Martin Luther King Jnr.
Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks after she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama
1957
National Guardsmen block the enrolment of nine black students at a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, sparking a nationwide crisis.
They start school three weeks later under military protection. Meanwhile, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is established with Martin Luther King as president declaring non-violent mass action as its civil rights strategy.
1961
Barack Obama is born in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Barack Obama
A baby Barack Obama plays in the water at a beach in Honolulu
1963
King delivers his famous 'I Have a Dream' speech to more than 250,000 protesters at Washington, D.C.'s Lincoln Memorial.
1965
A routine traffic stop escalates into a battle between police and passers-by near the Watts Housing project in Los Angeles.
Ensuing six-day riot shocks the nation, leaving 34 dead. It happens despite President Lyndon Johnson's announcement of a 'war on poverty' and an 'abundance of liberty for all'.
1967
Civil rights lawyer Thurgood Marshall becomes the first black Supreme Court Justice.
The first black person is also appointed to a cabinet position when Robert Weaver is placed in charge of housing and urban development.
Nevertheless, a full century after the Civil War, the idea of a black man becoming president is still inconceivable.
1968
Assassination of Martin Luther King is a massive blow to the civil rights movement.
It demonstrates how fractured American society is and how far it still has to go to meet the claim in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal.
Martin Luther King
U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr waves to supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC
1971
Captain Samuel L. Gravely is promoted to become the first African-American rear admiral in the U.S Navy.
The Vietnam war will put a disproportionate number of young blacks in harm's way on the front line, but it will also provide them with opportunities for advancement.
1989
General Colin L Powell is named chair of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff - the most important military post in the country.
Colin Powell
Colin Powell was the only African-American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff
1992
Race riots erupt in Los Angeles after a jury acquits four white police officers for the videotaped beating of Rodney King.
The verdict triggers a three-day uprising in Los Angeles that results in more than 50 deaths and 8,000 arrests. King pleads on television to the local communities, 'People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?'
LA riots
A Los Angeles Police officer holds a shotgun on two looting suspects during race riots triggered when a jury acquitted of four white police officers accused in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King
2000
President-Elect George W. Bush announces the appointment of several African-Americans to his cabinet.
Powell will serve as Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice as foreign policy adviser, and Dr Roderick Paige as Secretary of Education.
2008
Barack Obama makes history when he becomes America's first black president.
Barack Obama
Barack Obama makes history

FDR voted most successful U.S. president, while George W. Bush is in the bottom ten

World War Two leader Franklin D Roosevelt has been judged the most successful U.S. president, according to a survey of UK academics.
But more recent White House residents have failed to live up to their predecessors, according to the poll. Former Democrat Bill Clinton could only manage 19th place in a league of 40 men who have held the highest office since 1789, while his immediate successor, George W. Bush, came 31st, putting him in the bottom ten.
Current incumbent Barak Obama, along with presidents William Henry Harrison and James Garfield, who both died shortly after taking office, were not included in the survey.
Number One: Franklin D. Roosevelt faced two crises as U.S. president - the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War Two
Number One: Franklin D. Roosevelt faced two crises as U.S. president - the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War Two
Runner-up was Civil War president Abraham Lincoln, while America's first president, George Washington, came in third.
Other notable rankings include Ronald Reagan, who was eighth, and John F. Kennedy, who was 15th.
Abraham Lincoln
George Washington
Highly regarded: Abraham Lincoln (left) and George Washington came second and third in the poll
According to the BBC,  47 British academics specializing in American history and politics took part in the survey.
They were asked to rate the performance of every president from 1789 to 2009 in five categories - vision/agenda-setting, domestic leadership, foreign policy leadership, moral authority and the positive historical significance of their legacy.
President Reagan
John F Kennedy
The great communicators: Ronald Reagan (left) helped bring about the end of the Cold War, but UK academics believe John Kennedy, while able to deliver great speeches, failed to deliver on his promises
The result highlights differences in the way UK academics and their U.S. counterparts asses each presidency.
Lincoln invariably tops U.S. polls because of his leadership during the Civil War and his legacy of abolishing slavery, while Washington is normally placed second because of his significance in establishing the authority of the presidency. Roosevelt is normally relegated to third place.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton
US President George W. Bush
Questionable: The legacy of Bill Clinton (left) is now being questioned while George W. Bush has never achieved strong ratings since leaving office
HAVE we ever gone to war under a leader we like or trust less? Once we've attacked Iraq, we're obliged to support President George W.  Bush.
Even those who support an assault on Saddam Hussein don't have much to say in Bush's favour. He's seen as arrogant, ignorant and xenophobic. The son of America's 41st president, George H.W. Bush, he was sold by daddy's old handlers to the American people using modern marketing techniques. His hung election was rigged, decided by lawyers rather than the electorate.
This occupant of the most powerful office in the world can't articulate his own thoughts and he often makes a mess of repeating those written out for him.
Yet he is not a modest man. He has a pop idol's craving for public adulation. His public meetings are arranged in front of adoring supporters.
He's always seen waving to cheering crowds. This is to put across the idea that he's a popular guy.
Over the weekend it was reported that he'd agreed to address the European Union on one condition: that they promise in advance to give him a standing ovation. Surely that would be difficult to arrange?
The other fact stressed about born-again Bush, a recovering alcoholic, is that he's very religious. He invites colleagues and visitors to pray with him daily.
Bush ends all public utterances with 'God bless America', seemingly confident that he has God's support in all his presidential endeavours.
Has he read what America's 16th (and greatest) president, Abraham Lincoln, had to say about this practice?
Referring in his Second Inaugural Address to the Union and the Confederate leaders in the Civil War, Lincoln said: 'Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other.
'It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged.' War is a solemn undertaking. We need to feel those taking us into it are proper, rounded, sensible human beings who are not driven by private demons and grudges, or a need for revenge. The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington claimed 3,000 lives but no one is suggesting Iraq had anything to do with it.
argument of Messrs Bush and Blair is that Saddam Hussein might provide the means of launching another such attack if he's not removed from power.
Many of us might have accepted this need had it not come from George W.
Bush.
For many, he magnifies what we like least about America: its 'do as we say, not as we do' conceit. The distinguished British historian Simon Schama, writing for The New Yorker on anti-Americanism, says: 'Serving the United Nations with notice of redundancy, should its policies not replicate those of the United States and the United Kingdom, might turn out to be shortsighted, since in Europe, even in countries which have aligned themselves with America, there is almost no support for a war without UN sanction.' Mr Schama quotes approvingly Frances Trollope, an Englishwoman who wrote a best-selling book called Domestic Manners Of The Americans in the mid-19th century.
She deplored 'the hard, dry, stubborn persuasion that they are the first and the best of the human race, that nothing is to be learnt, but what they are able to teach, and that nothing is worth having, which they do not possess'.
Not all Americans are like this. Only the worst of them. Unfortunately, Bush appears to be one of the worst of them.
TONY BLAIR likes to say he's going against the grain by supporting America but the opposite is the case. UK leaders always back the U.S.
Labour premier Harold Wilson was portrayed by Private Eye kissing President Lyndon Johnson's bottom during the anti-Vietnam War protests.
Going against Bush would have been uncharted waters.
Gooding riddance . As I said at the beginning
Dynasty of decadence: Behind the Romanov's glittering facade lay an epic saga of depravity and unspeakable cruelty.

Note the similarities between the Russia of old and the Neocon leaders of the US, the usurped constitution, and its brainwashed/enlightened citizenry.
 
And both Kennedy and Bill Clinton appear to be more highly regarded by their countrymen than in the UK. British scholars seemingly faulted JFK for the gap between his rhetoric and his substantive achievements as president, while Bill Clinton's economic legacy looks less impressive today in the wake of the current economic climate.
Roosevelt, in contrast, brought the U.S. through the Great Depression and showed great leadership during World War Two.
 
 
 
 























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































View of the monastery from Svetlitsa Island, Saint Nil Stolbenskii Monastery, Lake Seliger; 1910 .

Revolution and Counter-Revolution as tools to achieve hegemony



The Protocols
What most people in the world, even Russians, consider the Russian Revolution was, in reality, a counter-revolution at the hands of Bolshevik Zionists and the Rothschild bankers – that same ‘imaginary conspiracy’ outlined in the Protocols of The Learned Elders of Zion.
Why do you think anyone who mentions the Protocols is slammed silent, almost as though they were Holocaust deniers, oh yes, we may well have just touched another one.
Now we go into an aside, you know, the American Articles of Confederation and that Revolutionary government, set up by the real founding fathers was knocked off in similar fashion when Rothschild agent Alexander Hamilton and fledgling American organised crime cobbled together the monstrous Constitution that finally crashed and burned the American public only a few short weeks ago.
Historian Charles A. Beard outlines this process in his Economic Interpretation of The Constitution published by Colombia University Press in 1935.
We might mention myriad other occasions when this Zionist ploy has been successfully carried out – the Glorious Restoration of 1688 that destroyed the British Royal line, placed a Dutch army officer on the throne and enslaved Britain under a “financial cabal” hegemony that continues to the current day.
We had the Congress of Vienna in 1822 that reordered Europe or in more recent times, the very many CIA-sponsored coups from Chile to Iran, the NATO destruction of Serbia in the 90s and most recently, the Maidan coup in Ukraine that installed a Neo-Nazi anti-Russian regime in Kiev.

Great humanitarian or virulent anti-Semite?
How many are aware that Poland was overthrown and replaced with a military dictatorship not unlike the one that attacked Germany in September 1939? Oh, that version of history, the Ford/Rockefeller rewrite. Did Egypt invade Israel in 1967? Former ITV correspondent and VT staffer, Alan Hart was there.
We should also remember the occasions when they have failed such as in Germany in 1919 when the Communist revolution lead by Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht and their Bolshevik gang was defeated by the Freikorps or the similar events in Hungary the same year where the Royalist forces of Admiral Horthy, with Romanian assistance were able to defeat the Communist takeover of Bela Kun and his murderous ‘Lenin’s Boys’.
Now that we have outlined the methodology, let us go on and see how they did it to the Russian people in 1917.
A group of Lenin Boys in their trademark leathers, they subjected Hungary to a murderous 133 days of ‘Red Terror’
The Russian Revolution of 1917 is an event that is grossly misunderstood by most people, not just outside Russia, but inside Russia too. The Revolution took place in February 1917, when the Russian army finally broke after suffering millions of casualties and joined forces with the workers who were starving due to the privations of three years of war.
The Tsar resigned, a provisional government under Kerensky was formed that was largely both socialist and liberal, at this time the Bolsheviks were a tiny, powerless group, one of many. Kerensky’s government was never popular and crippled by infighting, but worst of all, for the Russian people, it refused to end the war with Germany and Austro-Hungary.
The Russian Army could finally take no more, and after one last offensive ordered by Kerensky, ended the same way almost all the others had – with no gains and immense numbers of dead Russians, the army broke, shot many of its officers and started to head back home, leaving the trenches abandoned.
Which brings us to October 1917 and the situation on the streets of the Russian cities is akin to a powder keg as mutinous soldiery, striking workers and political agitators of all colours mingled and grumbled. On one key point however, they were all in agreement – the war must come to an end.

The unprecedented scale of the slaughter of WW1 brought the Russian Empire to revolution
Now the conspiracy is set in motion, not in Russia, but thousands of miles away in New York and Berlin. The part that everyone knows is that Max Warburg (father of Paul Warburg, creator of the Rothschild owned Federal Reserve Banking system in the US), the head of the Kaiser’s intelligence services and also the head of Kuhn, Loeb & Company, the largest German bank, hatched the devious scheme to pluck Lenin from his Swiss exile and transport him via sealed train to St Petersburg, tasked with becoming the frontman for the Bolshevik coup d’état.
However, the crucial part that most are largely unaware of is that another Zionist agent, a far more dangerous one, had already been dispatched from the US to Russia to be the real leader and organiser of the new order to be imposed on post-revolution Russia.
I am referring of course, to the Marxist revolutionary Lev Bronstein, better known as Leon Trotsky. The history books all record that Trotsky returned to St Petersburg and during the summer of 1917 organised and planned the Bolshevik coup that seized power in November of that year. Stalin summarised Trotsky’s role in a November 1918 article for Pravda:
“All practical work in connection with the organization of the uprising was done under the immediate direction of Comrade Trotsky, the President of the Petrograd Soviet. It can be stated with certainty that the Party is indebted primarily and principally to Comrade Trotsky for the rapid going over of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the efficient manner in which the work of the Military Revolutionary Committee was organized.”
What is not included in the mainstream histories is that Trotsky did not arrive in Russia alone, he brought with him a large amount of gold, financing for the revolution provided by Wall St under the guidance of Paul Warburg, son of Max.
Along with Trotsky and the Wall St. finance were 100 Jewish emigrees who, like Trotsky, had emigrated from the Russian Empire after the failed 1905 revolution and were now returning to carry out a new coup aimed at seizing control of the Russian Empire.
The Bolshevik Revolution is one of the most mythologised moments in recent history, most of the ‘facts’ about it are mere fabrications; rather than being a popular uprising of the people, as seen in the films of Eisenstein, it was a simple coup d’état launched by a group of Talmudic Bolsheviks who were as cunning and murderous as they were scant in number.
When one thinks of the ‘October Revolution’ the images that spring to mind are most often those of the workers, peasants and soldiers of the Red Guard storming the gates of the Winter Palace, seizing the seat of government at the point of the bayonet after a hard fought battle.
It may be stunning filmmaking but pure propaganda with no basis in reality. This is little more than the precursor of the historical narrative that Hollywood has long since hijacked.
In reality, the Winter Palace had been securely defended by 2000 loyal troops – loyal guardsmen, young officers, cadets and a women’s battalion. However, by the time of the Bolshevik coup, most of those defenders had left, driven out by the desperation of starvation having received no food or supplies for days. The Reds took the Palace with barely a shot fired, all that was left defending the place were the remnants of the women’s battalion.
The same story applies throughout St Petersburg – it fell to the Bolshevik coup almost without a fight. Trotsky then had to defend the city from loyal cossacks that tried to overturn the coup, in this he succeeded. Now, while Lenin made the stirring speeches, the evil mind of Trotsky carried out the Zionist scheme to totally destroy the Russian Empire and replace it with a police state enslaved under a Marxist totalitarian regime.
First a peace treaty was signed with Germany, taking Russian out of the Great War and fulfilling Lenin’s prime task given to him by Max Warburg. Then a terrible 5 year civil war was fought where Trotsky led the Bolshevik Red Army in a murderous campaign against loyalist Whites, ‘Black’ anarchists and nascent nationalist movements in Poland and Ukraine.
By 1922, hundreds of thousands of combatants had become casualties and the Russian nation was exhausted. Drought, famine and disease added millions of deaths to the untold millions of Cossacks, tsarists and others declared ‘enemies of the people’ who were slaughtered at the hands of Trotsky’s murderers. The Bolshevik takeover of Russia was one of the most bloody and massive genocides in history, perhaps only rivalled by the campaigns of Genghis Khan.
The Romanov dynasty lasted 300 years: the lives of its tsars and emperors and empresses is a bejewelled but bloodsplattered chronicle of assassinations, adulteries, tortures, secret marriages, coups, reckless rises and brutal falls.
It is peopled by heroic, brilliant statesmen, soldiers and reformers  -  as well as nymphomaniacs, martinets, murderers, blunderers, monsters, megalomaniacs and lunatics.
But throughout, Russia's tsars projected their country's greatness in the majestic flamboyance of their clothes, a never-ending parade of ermine, gold and diamonds.
Nicholas II
The last Tsar: Nicholas II and the empress of Russia, Alexandra Fedorovna in 1903
A new exhibition of their sumptuous ceremonial uniforms at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London shows for the first time the true extent with which they embraced magnificence  -  and how they employed the finest dressmakers, tailors, embroiderers and jewellers in Russia so they could demonstrate their glory through the theatre of dress and jewels.


The Russians always took such displays to new realms of excess.
British envoys visiting the Russian court in the 18th century were staggered by the number of diamonds even male courtiers were wearing all over their clothes and hats.
The costumes of staff were as opulent as those of members of the royal families in other countries. Even their stockings were embroidered with gold.
Why were the tsars so taken with high court fashion?
The easy answer is that they could afford to be, owning millions of tax-paying slaves called serfs. But also because, as leaders of a brash new power, they resented and envied the superiority of older established powers like Britain and France.
So they dressed up in order to parade their glory and legitimacy before their own restless empire and an often disdainful world.
Tsar Nicholas II
Tsar Nicholas II with his wife Tsarina Alexandra (standing on the right), the Tsaravitch (2nd from right) and his four daughters
Under the Romanovs between 1613 and 1917, Russia was an empire of oppressed nations dominated by one family and a tiny Russian nobility.
Its system was a paranoid, hereditary autocracy which was 'tempered by assassination' as one commentator puts it.
The single Imperial family holding it all together used fashion and pomp to show their might, as well as the army and police to oppress opposition.
It did not matter that the vast wealth on display had been created on the backs of serfs who were sold, starved, beaten and raped.
It did not matter either that, on many occasions, the flamboyance of the court scarcely concealed the brutality beneath its glittering surface.
The important thing was to convey the image of power, empire and stability... as well as defiance towards foreign courts.
Glory and magnificence is certainly one way to display stability and grandeur  -  but it can also be a sign of ludicrous weakness.
By the time of the last Tsar Nicholas II, who succeeded in 1894, the punctilious, rigid hierarchy of uniforms, titles and ranks was the clearest indication of a sclerotic, isolated and inept regime on its last legs, incapable of reforming or saving itself.
The more outrageous, the more gilded and bemedalled the costumes, the more fragile the empire beneath them.


Perhaps that is why the most lavish garments in the exhibition belonged to Nicholas.
The fur-trimmed mantles worn by members of the family for his coronation are wildly extravagant. His mother's was more than 20ft long and took seven chamberlains to carry.
Nicholas and his wife's identical mantles were no less grand, using 2,691 ermine skins in total.
Tsar Nicholas II
Alexei Nikitin, chief of the group of scientists in Yekaterinburg, examined exhumed bones of last Russian Tzar Nicolas II, his wife and other members of his family
As for his fancy dress cloak made from layers of fur-lined silks woven with gold and decorated with pearls the size of marbles, diamonds, rubies, silver brocade and gold buttons, it was so heavily encrusted with jewels that it was given to the armory for safekeeping after Nicholas wore it for a ball in 1903.
Little more than ten years later, the last Tsar was dead, executed by the Bolsheviks.
It was Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century who was the first of the Grand Dukes of Muscovy to be titled 'Tsar'  -  or Caesar  -  but the beginning of the Romanov dynasty in 1613 came after Russia had been beset by civil war, a period known as the Time of Troubles.
Russian national dress in those dark days consisted of kaftans and long, furlined robes with relics and portraits of saints hanging off them.
To Western eyes, it was backward and bizarrely exotic even 100 years later.
In her book, Dress In 18th Century Europe, Aileen Ribeiro talks of heavily rouged Russian women who dyed their teeth black and polished them until they gleamed like lacquer.
The first hint of change came in 1682  -  with the secession of Peter the Great, one of the greatest political leaders of all history, a man who was as much a monster as he was a hero.
The achievements of this astonishing titan were colossal: he modernised Russia with German and Dutch engineering and fashion, created a Baltic Fleet, founded St Petersburg and defeated the invading Swedish king.
Yet Peter's modernising did not make him a liberal: he was also a brutal tyrant.
When the Muscovite Streltsy Regiment of musketeers mutinied, Peter returned from his European tour and personally took part in the torture, dismemberment and beheading of hundreds of these musketeers in a scene that resembled a grisly charnel house.
When he thought a former mistress of his, Anna Mons, was being unfaithful, she was arrested and died in terrible conditions.
Worse, when her brother was suspected of flirting with Peter's wife, he was beheaded.
Peter the Great
Peter the Great: 'This half-genius, half-brute died in 1725'
His head was then sent to the Empress before being preserved in a bottle of alcohol: it remains today in Peter's fascinating but gruesome Museum of Oddities in St Petersburg.
Peter the Great was so all-powerful that he emphasised his absoluteness by pretending to be an ordinary sailor in his new navy.
A giant well over 6ft tall, he reserved the right to dress in the uniform of a lowly soldier or sailor, but this in itself was a display of power almost as grand as his glorious coronation robes.
(Incidentally, Stalin, who worshipped Peter the Great, also prided himself on dressing in a plain tunic while commanding the greatest empire on earth.)
In 1721, Peter had himself crowned Emperor and henceforth the Romanovs used that as their main title. This half-genius, half-brute died in 1725 as Russia's greatest ever ruler, but his reckless cruelty had also left his empire in the unstable hands of a succession of women and children.
When his eldest son fled Russia, Peter hunted him down, tricked him home and then tortured him to death, leaving his new empire without an adult heir.
The Romanovs boasted Empresses whose magnificence, extravagance and love lives were legendary.
The love of Peter's life was a courtesan whom he stole from his favourite henchman.
Peter crowned her Empress and she succeeded him as Catherine I, even though she was a peasant-moll without a trace of royalty who had been bought and sold by men for their own pleasures.
Her short reign was just the start of the so-called of Age of Petticoats  -  when a series of women became absolute autocrats of all the Russias.
The last two who ruled as empresses in their own rights were among the greatest  -  and most scandalous  -  of all the Romanovs.
Empress Alexandra Feodorovna
Bejewelled beauty Alexandra Feodorovna
Peter and Catherine's daughter, Elizaveta  -  who was famously blonde, buxom and longlegged  -  ruled for 20 stable years when Russia emerged as a European power.
Yet she was wildly extravagant and vain: she believed that her legs were better displayed in male clothing so she famously held transvestite balls in which everyone had to dress as the opposite sex so the Empress would look good.
Her female courtiers hated this, of course, and so did the men.
She was also utterly ruthless  -  when one of her courtiers' ladies was involved in a conspiracy against her, Elizaveta had her tongue ripped out and she was deported to Siberia.
Empress Elizaveta was also the most promiscuous female ruler of modern times.
She had countless lovers: they varied from Russian princes and Swiss doctors to guardsmen, choirboys and peasant lads who took her fancy.
On her death, she was succeeded by a pimply youth named Peter III, whose wife was a minor German princess known to history as Catherine the Great.
She had no claim whatsoever to the throne, but Empress Elizaveta married her to Peter.
In the brutal Russian court, stranded in a miserable cruel and loveless marriage, the clever, blue-eyed Catherine did not manage to become pregnant for years.
The Empress Elizaveta, who had arranged the match, became worried.
So Catherine was encouraged by her to start an adulterous affair with a courtier. She got pregnant and gave birth to a son, Paul.
Since the entire Romanov dynasty down to Nicholas II was descended from him, it is entirely possible that the Romanovs were not Romanovs at all.
With the help of her Guards officers, Catherine overthrew her feeble husband and seized power in 1762.
When she rode into St Petersburg to launch her coup, she was met en route by her French hairdresser, Michel, who did her hair on the way to the revolution.
As she emerged out of the Winter Palace, she dressed up in a male Guards officer's uniform, again showing she was just an ordinary Russian soldier-patriot in one sense.
One Guards officer noticed she was missing a swordknot on her sword so he galloped up and gave her his own: this young man was Gregory Potemkin, who became the love of her life, secret husband and partner in government.
Their love letters remain the most romantic and sexually explicit correspondence of any head of state in history.
Catherine and the brilliant Prince Potemkin were the most humane and decent rulers of Russia  -  yet they had one big fault: extravagance.
On the big occasions, there was no one more splendid than these two: once when he was trying to seduce a girl, Potemkin served diamonds instead of pudding at a dinner party.
There was a dark side to Catherine, too. When she overthrew her unfortunate husband, he was duly murdered, but secretly.
Catherine, with Potemkin, expanded the Russian empire, annexed the Crimea and much of Poland, created a Black Sea navy and brought Peter the Great's project of making Russia a true Great Power to fruition.
She reigned for 30 years and on her death in 1796, she was succeeded by her embittered, insane and tyrannical son, Emperor Paul I.
Paul was one of the worst of the Romanovs. He was so obsessed with his father's murder that he dug up the body to have him reburied with full honours, making his mother  -  the murderer  -  walk behind the coffin as chief mourner.
He regularly ordered people to be beaten, tortured or imprisoned and reintroduced the medieval rule that all subjects should abase themselves as his carriage passed by.
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WWI Riga Eastern Front

New bridge, ice drift and small steam boats on the River Daugava in Riga
Before long he was loathed and, in the end, his courtiers who crept into the palace, chased him up a chimney in his nightshirt, then smashed him in the head with a solid gold inkstand and took turns strangling him.
His son and heir, Alexander I, personified the glamour and triumph of the Romanov dynasty: he was first defeated then charmed by Napoleon. But when the French Emperor invaded Russia in 1812, Alexander rallied and fought Napoleon all the way to Paris.
Alexander bestrode Europe: when President Roosevelt's envoy congratulated Stalin in 1945 on taking Berlin, Stalin retorted: 'Yes, but Alexander made it to Paris!'
But afterwards came Alexander's cold and very Germanic brother Nicholas I. By now the Romanov family was as much German as Russian and court life was as frosty, stratified, organised and monitored as any Germanic court with its graded uniforms and formal dances.


He created the first modern secret police, run out of his own office and he monitored every part of Russian life.
The Emperor boasted he was a soldier who slept on an iron cot (and Stalin cited this as his own inspiration for his sleeping arrangements.)


All the fizzy exuberance, hedonistic flamboyance and creative energy of the 18th century was now crushed in a Prussian-style police state known as the Prison of Peoples. Meanwhile, the Tsar's arrogant demands towards the Ottoman Empire led to the Crimean War.
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There was one last great Romanov Emperor. Nicholas's son, Alexander II, was everything his father wasn't: he ended the Crimean War and then bravely in 1861 liberated the millions of Russian serfs who were no more than slaves, the property of their noble masters who could beat, rape and sell them and often did.
He was for a while adored by the peasants as the 'Tsar-Liberator' but his early years of almost ending autocracy unleashed such expectations that in the end everyone was disappointed.
Alexander was pursued by terrorists who launched repeated attempts to kill him, until he was a fugitive in his own empire  -  he responded by expanding the secret police and repression.
Eventually, on a carriage ride through St Petersburg, terrorists tossed bombs under his carriage in 1881, killing the last great Emperor.
His oafish son, Alexander III, was interested in neither reform, culture or women and died young, leaving the throne in 1894 to Nicholas, who married Princess Alexandra of Hesse, Queen Victoria's granddaughter.
It has been fashionable to paint Nicholas and Alexandra as a saintly and loving couple of martyrs who lived a blameless, bourgeois life.
They certainly loved each other and suffered greatly because their son and heir, the Tsarevich Alexei, was so often in agony and danger due to his haemophilia, indeed threatening the future of the dynasty.
The murder of the couple and their children by Lenin's Bolsheviks in 1918 was certainly a dreadful crime.
Nonetheless, as rulers, they were foolish, stubborn, anti-Semitic and self-indulgent: when thousands of peasants died, trampled underfoot as crowds panicked before their coronation, they insisted on continuing with the ball. After the 1905 revolution, Nicholas organised anti- Jewish pogroms in which thousands of women and children perished.
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Russian soldiers hit by shell splinters


Doomed: Nicholas, Alexandra and their children
Doomed: Nicholas, Alexandra and their children
Those of us watching The Hollow Crown - the BBC’s magnificent production of Shakespeare’s history plays - may find we can easily apply the many haunting insights on the nature of monarchy to Russia’s tragic last Tsar: ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.’
The story of the Romanovs is familiar history - and yet contains all the drama of great fictional tragedy, too. Thinking of the pitiful, doomed imperial family, imprisoned by revolutionaries at Ekaterinburg, I wonder if Tsar Nicholas II ever considered the social conditions which led to the downfall of his dynasty, thinking, like King Lear, ‘O, I have taken too little care of this.’
Might history have veered in a different direction if Nicholas had acknowledged that urgent change was needed in Russia, instead of doing everything just as his father had done? If the autocrat had nodded in the direction of the people and their urgent needs and not dismissed their aspirations as ‘senseless’? But central to this new biography of Nicholas and Alexandra is another imponderable. Might Nicholas II have evolved into a better ruler had he not been so strangely - and weakly - besotted with his neurotic, withdrawn and increasingly unstable wife?
Evil influence: Grigory Rasputin, the 'mad monk'
Evil influence: Grigory Rasputin, the 'mad monk'
The subtitle to Virginia Rounding’s new double biography is The Passion Of The Last Tsar And Tsarina, and she explains that the word ‘passion’ implies suffering (‘the passion of Christ’) as well as love. It’s a telling point. Her focus is the love story of a couple whose physical passion for each other lasted throughout their marriage, who found it hard to communicate when face to face, yet who adored each other to the exclusion of all others, including their own children. She advised him unwisely, he listened; the couple gazed at each other rather than at the turmoil within the land they loved so much. The passion play unfolds with all the inevitability of a Greek tragedy, their great love leading to the suffering in the blood-spattered cellar. Nicholas ascended to the throne of Russia in 1894, when he was 26. He was totally unprepared, and wept pathetically to his cousin: ‘What am I going to do . . . I am not prepared to be a Tsar. I have never wanted to become one. I know nothing of the business of ruling. I have no idea of even how to talk to ministers.’
As a young teenager, Nicky witnessed the last moments of his grandfather, Tsar Alexander II, who died after his leg was blown off by an assassin’s bomb.
His family knew the fear of assassination all too well and Nicholas himself was to experience attempts on his life - the first just before his 23rd birthday. No wonder the young man would have preferred to go on singing songs and drinking vodka with his fellow officers, rather than accept the burden of the imperial throne. He was already in love with the shy German princess who was Queen Victoria’s granddaughter. They’d first met when Alix was 12. No arranged marriage for them, but mutual infatuation which triumphed over her reluctance to embrace Russian Orthodoxy, as well as her natural unsuitability for the public pomp of the Tsarina’s role. Alex inherited aloofness and stubbornness from her grandmother, who encouraged her in her indifference to public opinion. The Queen also fed Alex’s natural inclination towards what the modern reader can’t help but see as pathological hypochondria.
Revolution: Soldiers join the uprising in 1917
Revolution: Soldiers join the uprising in 1917
From the engagement on, she tended to be incapacitated by mysterious ailments (some real) and it was normal for her to be confined to her room, only communicating with her children (one floor below) by telephone and notes. She would also use her health as a form of blackmail, writing to her daughter Maria: ‘Then loving your old Mama who is ill does not make life bright for you poor children.’ She was 38 at the time.
When, after four daughters, the longed-for son and heir Alexei was born, they discovered he had inherited haemophilia (uncontrolled bleeding) which had a tendency to afflict the male descendants of Queen Victoria.
Biographers of the Tsarina have suggested that her obsessive concern for her vulnerable son exacerbated Alix’s natural tendency to reclusiveness. No doubt it did, but from the beginning, the Russian people had rejected her and she - a passionate believer in absolute rule - had little interest in their good opinion.
So the terrible story unfolds - with a cast of characters who, though well-known, are still fascinating. The evil monk Rasputin gains control of the Tsarina as the Tsar goes along with whatever she suggests, many of the most damaging notions coming from the highly suspect ‘holy man’.
During World War I, Alix is viewed as a German spy, but the hapless Nicky still insists of taking command of the military, leaving his reviled wife to act as regent in his absence. It is disastrous. Starvation stalks Russia, while she appoints and dismisses ministers, and writes hectoring letters telling him to remember he is the absolute ruler.
Not all the Grand Dukes in the empire can do anything to change the fact that ‘Wifey’ is hastening the dynasty towards its bloody end. Which came in the small hours of the morning of July 17, 1918. The Tsar and his wife, with their children Olga, 22, Tatiana, 21, Maria, 19, Anastasia, 17, and Alexei, nearly 14, were herded into a cellar with their devoted servants and their doctor. The Tsar was shot first, followed by his wife. The girls were finally stabbed many times and Alexei finished off with two shots to the head. The servants, the doctor and Alexei’s pet spaniel also lay dead. The dog’s name was Joy.
The merciless savagery which ended their lives would continue for years, with millions slaughtered across Russia. As for the Royal family, their bodies were hurled into a pit, then retrieved and burnt. Their remains were only discovered and identified in the late Seventies, and buried (80 years to the day after the murders) in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in St Petersburg.
 
As the light faded, a train halted in the siding near the remote railway station of Lyubinskaya on the Trans-Siberian railway line.
tsar and family
Gunned down: The Tsar and Tsaritsa with their five children who were executed by the Bolsheviks. It was the evening of April 29, 1918, and there was nothing outwardly remarkable about these first-class railway carriages, except the presence of a heavily armed guard outside their doors. Inside sat a family whose faces have been immortalized through history book pictures. Four pale girls, in white lace, their hair tied back with satin ribbons. A sickly little boy in a sailor suit. This was the moment of truth for the Romanovs, the Russian Imperial Family deposed by the Soviet revolution. Now, they were making their final journey. The young and beautiful Grand Duchesses, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, sat beside their mother, the haughty Tsaritsa Alexandra, granddaughter of Queen Victoria.
The young Tsarevich Alexey lent on his father, the former Tsar Of All The Russias, Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov. The engine started, and the train took a decisive turn.
The lingering hope inside Special Train No. 8 evaporated. The train was lumbering not towards a trial in Moscow or foreign exile, as they had believed, but to the bleak Urals.
The Romanovs were being taken to Ekaterinburg, the historic hub of Russia's old penal system.
There they would face a firing squad just 78 days later  -  and exactly 90 years ago this week.
To coincide with that anniversary, their last wretched days have been chronicled in an explosive new book.
Using previously overlooked documents and witness accounts, it tells the story of the family's final moments in unprecedented detail.
So just how did these most aristocratic of aristocrats fall so decisively from glory?
A man of limited political vision and ability, Nicholas was an unlikely king. Even in stature, at 5ft 7in, he was lacking.
Fatally, he turned a blind eye to social unrest. He left his deeply unpopular wife, Alexandra, in effective political control.
She was increasingly spellbound by Grigory Rasputin, the charismatic 'holy man' she believed could save her haemophiliac son Alexey from bleeding to death.
Faced with escalating political turmoil, Nicholas believed he had no option but to abdicate 'for the good of Russia' in 1917.
He did so also because he believed it would guarantee the safety of his beloved family.
Again, in this he proved calamitously naive. The family were initially placed under house arrest and then transferred to a small rural town, Tobolsk, where they retained a substantial entourage of 39 courtiers and servants.
They brought many of their Imperial Palace treasures with them, including leather-bound volumes of photographs and vintage wines from the court cellars.
Eventually, the new revolutionary high command decreed that such privilege could not be allowed in the emerging communist state.
Instead, a house in Ekaterinburg was secretly prepared. It would be a far cry from the sumptuous winter and summer palaces, banqueting halls and glorious gardens the Imperial Family had previously enjoyed. Ominously,
it would be referred to by a Bolshevik euphemism, dom osobogo znachenie -  The House Of Special Purpose.
Stepping off the train in Ekaterinburg after a bone-rattling five-day journey, an exhausted Nicholas and his wife were received into the hands of local soviets, along with their doctor, maid, valet and footman. As their car drew up to The House Of Special Purpose, they looked their last on the outside world. It was Passion Week, and the Easter bells of the Orthodox Church rang out across the city.  As the gates to his new prison slammed shut, the Tsar was curtly told: 'Citizen Nicholas Romanov, you may enter.'  From now on, there would be no more acknowledgement of Romanov status and titles, much to the Tsaritsa's disgust.  Gradually, the Imperial Family settled in to their new lodgings, a private house which, though hardly a palace, was nonetheless regarded as one of the most modern in the city, as it possessed a flushing toilet.  Hidden behind a high wooden fence, its windows blacked out, it was now a gloomy prison. The Romanovs were confined to a suite of five rooms.
Spirited and bored, the Romanov girls, aged between 17 and 22, ignored warnings not to peek out of an unsecured top-floor window, until a sentry fired a warning shot at Anastasia's head.
The young princesses' clothes were becoming increasingly threadbare  -  there were no more white dresses and pretty hats like they used to wear every summer at their palace in the Crimea, a seaside paradise where the air was thick with the scent of roses and honeysuckle.  Lively and vivacious, they still beguiled their guards, however, with one saying they could not have looked prettier 'even if they had been covered in gold and diamonds'. The family were allowed to keep their bed linen, bearing personalised monograms and the Imperial crest, as well as fine porcelain dinner plates bearing the name Nicholas II.
Alexandra had also brought supplies of her favourite English eau de cologne by Brocard, as well as cold cream and lavender salts.
These were not the only potions on which the Tsaritsa was reliant. Plagued by migraines, heart palpitations, insomnia and sciatica, she was hopelessly addicted to a whole range of drugs.
She had long ago admitted to being 'saturated' with Veronal, a barbiturate. She also took morphine and cocaine for menstrual pain.  It has been speculated that the Tsar, too, was cushioned from reality by narcotics. It was said that his childlike indifference to losing the throne was the result of smoking a mixture of hashish and the psychoactive herb henbane, administered by a Tibetan doctor, recommended by Rasputin, to counter stress and insomnia.
Life in The House Of Special Purpose was severely restrictive. They were not allowed visitors, nor to go outside except during a proscribed hour.  And they were to talk no language other than Russian 54 -  the Tsaritsa liked to speak to her children in English.  However, she refused point blank to obey an edict to ring a bell every time she went to use the bathroom. Daily life had become a matter of endurance. The family had one consuming obsession, however: Alexey's fragile health.  Since April, the 13-year-old had been suffering from a recurring haemorrhage in his knee, causing him agonising pain.  Doctors had already cautioned that Alexey would not reach 16 because of his debilitating illness, but he seemed now at death's door.
The family was exhausted by a relentless round of all-night sessions at his beside. Eventually, the splint was taken off his leg, and he could be carried out to the garden, but he would never walk again.
By early July, the daily ritual of life at the House had taken on a numbing predictability. The family rose at eight in the morning, and breakfasted on tea and black bread. The days were filled with endless games of cards, patience and the French game bezique, which was a family favourite, while Alexey played with his model ship and tin soldiers.  The family dogs, Ortino, Joy and Jemmy, provided a much-needed diversion.
During their hour in the small garden, the girls and their father would walk the 40 paces back and forth, eager to make the most of their exercise time.  It was a sorry picture: the man who had once ruled 8.5 million square miles of empire, now master of a single room of his own and a small, scrappy garden.  The evenings were filled with a meagre supper, prayers and Bible readings, more games, and embroidery and sewing 55 -  the women spent long, furtive hours concealing gemstones and pearls into the linings of their dresses, to fund the life in exile of which they dreamed. On July 4, there was an abrupt change in the House. The authorities were concerned that a rescue attempt was being plotted by royalists, and the guards were changed.
There was another reason for this, and for the Tsar and Tsaritsa, it was a shocking one.
On June 27, Maria, the most flirtatious and attractive of the Grand Duchesses, had been discovered, during an inspection by commanders, in a compromising situation with guard Ivan Skorokhodov.
He had smuggled in a cake for her 19th birthday, and their friendship had developed quickly in the boredom of the house.
Skorokhodov was sent to the city's prison, while Maria, an elegant young woman with light brown hair and mischievous blue eyes  -  was reprimanded by her family.
Tragically, in their final weeks together, her eldest sister, Olga, and her mother froze her out, refusing to speak to her as punishment for disgracing them.
Outside, civil war raged. The ranks of the White Army, which opposed the Bolsheviks, had been swelled by Czech deserters from the Austro-Hungarian army.
They were rapidly gaining ground on Ekaterinburg. Food in the city was rationed, and typhus and cholera had taken grip.
The mood grew increasingly ugly  -  45 members of the local Orthodox diocese were murdered, their eyes gouged out, tongues and ears hacked off and their mangled bodies thrown in the river.
But inside the House Of Special Purpose, an air of unreality reigned. It was getting hotter and hotter, and the inhabitants of the building had now settled into a state of restless boredom.
The atmosphere was increasingly claustrophobic.  The Tsar and Tsaritsa continued to write their diaries every evening, although there were no grand banquets, affairs of state, or court gossip to relate.
Only their joy when the frail Alexey had been well enough to take a bath. 'Very hot, went early to bed as awfully tired and heart ached more,' wrote Alexandra on Thursday, July 4, 1918.
A guard described the Tsar's 'melancholy' aspect, of outward calm and dignity, that crumpled when he though he was unobserved.
He would watch his children play, his soft blue eyes full of tears. For her part, the Tsaritsa was a broken woman. Gone were her delicate features and lovely golden hair.
The family had learnt to be stoical, but their awful fate loomed. In America, the Washington Post published rumours that they had already been executed.
In Britain, George V had withdrawn his earlier offer of asylum for the family, and three days' before the execution was blithely attending a cricket match at Lord's
In fact, the Romanovs' fate at this point hung in the balance. Bolshevik leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was aware that their demise would anger the Kaiser, because of the Romanov's links with the German royal family.
But his advisers were telling him that Ekaterinburg could soon fall to the Czechs, and the Imperial Family could prove a rallying point against communism.
The deeply religious Tsaritsa wrote to a friend that she and her family were: 'Readying ourselves in our thoughts for admission to the Kingdom of Heaven.'
At the House Of Special Purpose, the guard book recorded as it had for many days: 'Vse obychno' -  ' Everything is the same'. But ominous preparations were in hand to ' liquidate' the Romanovs and to keep the matter a state secret.
A nearby mineshaft had been identified as a suitable burial place, and a doctor had been ordered to procure 400lb of sulphuric acid to destroy the bodies.
Tuesday, July 16 began uneventfully for the Romanovs, but their guards were putting into place the last plans for their execution, assembling an armoury of guns in order to carry out their task, and ordering 50 eggs from local nuns to help give them strength for the task ahead.
On one occasion, a laundrywoman witnessed 17-year-old Ansastasia sticking out her tongue at the head of the hit squad, Yakov Yurovsky.
And while there is no indication that the children were aware of their impending fate, two of the guards got cold feet and said they would not shoot the girls. They were sent away.
At 3pm, the family walked around the strip of unkempt garden for the last time. After evening prayers, they went to bed. In the early hours of the following day, they were wakened and told that the White Army was approaching and might launch an artillery attack on the house.
They were to go downstairs for their own safety. The Tsar got up immediately, the women put on their camisoles sewn full of jewels and pearls, as they had rehearsed for a rescue attempt or sudden flight. Soon they emerged, 'all neat and tidy' as one guard observed. At 2.15am on July 17, they were led down to the basement. The Tsar was heard to turn and say to his daughters reassuringly: 'Well, we're going to get out of this place'  -  proof, some say, that he was a true martyr who was fully aware of the horror ahead.
Anastasia carried her sister Tatiana's little Pekinese, Jemmy, down the stairs. They were ushered into a storeroom, lit by a single naked bulb. The windows had been nailed shut. True to form, Alexandra complained that there were no chairs. Next, the family and their servants were lined up as for a last, sinister official photograph. Then they were left alone for half an hour, as their assassins downed shots of vodka. Re-entering the room, a guard read out a statement sentencing the family to death. The faces before him registered blank incomprehension. The family crossed themselves, and a man walked towards the Tsar and shot him at point-blank range in the chest. Other guards fired, as his body crumpled to the floor. Half drunk, the guards shot clumsily, hitting the Tsaritsa in the left side of her skull. Next to her, poor lame Alexey, too crippled to move, sat transfixed with terror, his ashen face splattered with his father's blood.
The moans and whimpers from the floor testified to a botched job. But it was the children who suffered most.
None of the Romanov girls died a quick or painless death. Maria was felled by a bullet in the thigh, and lay bleeding until repeated stabbing in the torso snuffed out her life.
Her sisters were eventually finished off with an 8in bayonet, Olga having been shot in the jaw, and Tatiana in the back of the head as she tried to escape.
What should have been a quick, clean execution had turned into an orgy of killing, with only the thick clouds of gunpowder smoke obscuring the full horror of it. Last of the women to die was Anastasia. A drunken guard lunged at her like an animal, attempting to pierce her chest with his bayonet. Eventually, the head of the hit squad, Yakov Yurovsky, took his gun to her head.
Alexey alone was still alive, the young heir to the throne. He was wearing an undergarment sewn with jewels, which acted as a flak jacket. Yurovsky fired his Colt into the boy's head, and he slumped against his father. It had taken a frenzied 20 minutes to kill the Romanovs and their servants. In the panicked moments that followed, Yurovsky's men staggered from the room, choking and coughing. Shaking and disoriented, one of them vomited as he emerged into the cool night air. Meanwhile, upstairs, in the House Of Special Purpose, Alexey's King Charles spaniel, Joy, barked, his ears pricked, waiting for his young master to return.  
Finally, in 2000, they were canonized as ‘new martyrs’ - and today people pray before glittering icons showing the mournful faces of the Romanovs, whose own fervent prayers went unanswered.

The revolution will be colorised: Remarkable images of the 1917 Russian uprising taken by a young Yale graduate are discovered 95 years later

Hundreds of historic photographs documenting a young Yale graduate's travel to Russia during the start of the Russian Revolution have been discovered a near century later by his granddaughter after tucked away in his California home.
Opening an old metal chest after her grandfather's passing, more than 500 hand-painted glass slides have been found capturing a remarkable 1917 excursion that put him face-to-face with heavy-coated soldiers, machine guns, bunkers and gas masks.
Seen today fully restored after a near century of darkness, the slides were purchased in 2012 by Southern California camera and photo collector Anton Orlov after experiencing the extraordinary find first hand.
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Everyday life: A train is seen sometime in either late 1917 or early 1918 in Russia as photographed by John Wells Rahill, a then-recent Yale graduate and pastor
Everyday life: A train is seen sometime in either late 1917 or early 1918 in Russia as photographed by John Wells Rahill, a then-recent Yale graduate and pastor
Soldiers of Russia: In one of more than 500 glass slides discovered from the early 1900s, a Russian machine gunner poses alongside another soldier while holding his weapon before a snow-covered bunker
Soldiers of Russia: In one of more than 500 glass slides discovered from the early 1900s, a Russian machine gunner poses alongside another soldier while holding his weapon before a snow-covered bunker
Band: A group of Cossack soldiers pose for Mr Rahill's Kodak camera's lens
Band: A group of Cossack soldiers pose for Mr Rahill's Kodak camera's lens
'...I was asked to come by a Northern California home to help translate and identify some mystery images,’ he writes on hisphotography blog of his first discovery of the photos in 2005.
‘I love old photos, so I was eager to help. All I knew when I was on my way up there was that they were from Russia and really old,' he recalled.
Opening up a number of wooden storage boxes presented before him, he was amazed by the hundreds of delicate glass slides, each containing tiny people, homes, villages and obvious signs of war. He purchased them all several years later, setting out to fully restore all that he could. Inquiring of the photographer to the granddaughter, Mr Orlov was taken back in time to the fall of 1917 when John Wells Rahill, a recent Yale graduate and pastor, set out from the U.S. for Russia.
Inspired by news of the first Russian revolution, a historic monument he wanted to experience and capture for himself, he grabbed his Kodak camera and joined the YMCA’s War Works Division, helping armies on both sides where he could.
Moscow: The Pskov Kremlin is seen photographed, while its colour later hand painted like the rest of the hundreds of glass Magic Lantern slides
Moscow: The Pskov Kremlin is seen photographed, while its colour later hand painted like the rest of the hundreds of glass Magic Lantern slides
Shooting: A group of Russian soldiers are seen shooting at what is only described with the photograph's notes as a suspicious house
Shooting: A group of Russian soldiers are seen shooting at what is only described with the photograph's notes as a suspicious house
Modern life: Men are seen warmly dressed outside a train station, a few perhaps curiously watching the camera
Modern life: Men are seen warmly dressed outside a train station, a few perhaps curiously watching the camera
In the process he captured the people's everyday life, from the market place, to the bustling streets, to his own people working alongside him at the YMCA.
He even found time to travel to China and Japan after purchasing a number of photographs of the area taken before he viewed them himself - vowing to similarly capture them on his camera.
After his return to the U.S. in the spring of 1918, he converted many of his best pictures to Magic Lantern Slides as a means to share his experience with others.
He gave lectures on his experience with the YMCA while also working as a pastor, but by the 1920s, those who had worked in Russia during the First World War found themselves harmfully labelled as 'socialist sympathizers' in the U.S.
Front lines: Soldiers on the front lines are seen in a bunker while wearing gas masks over their face
Front lines: Soldiers on the front lines are seen in a bunker while wearing gas masks over their face
Market: Russian women are photographed posing with strings of onions they hope to sell in a marketplace
Market: Russian women are photographed posing with strings of onions they hope to sell in a marketplace
Mission: One of the so-called Soldiers House Mr Rahill helped create in Valk is pictured with all of its men standing proudly outside
Mission: One of the so-called Soldiers House Mr Rahill helped create in Valk is pictured with all of its men standing proudly outside
The photographer himself: Mr Rahill is seen here in this photo taken in Russia where he stands among three village children
The photographer himself: Mr Rahill is seen here in this photo taken in Russia where he stands among three village children
It’s believed result led to his pictures placed in his home's storage, locked away until his granddaughter's startling discovery.
'Those photos also have been unseen by the world because in mid 1920s they were put into a basement for storage and were only discovered 85 years later,’ Mr Orlov, who’s originally from Russia himself said.
After a gruelling and expensive process of preserving all 500-plus photos, Mr Orlov is now hoping to recreate Mr Rahill’s journey himself come 2017.
As an avid collector, photographer and developer who has transformed an old school bus into a traveling photo studio and darkroom, Mr Orlov’s so-called Photo Palace Bus - aiming ‘propagation of knowledge related to historic photographic techniques through cross-country art exhibits, lectures and demonstrations’ - is helping to showcase the hundreds of images.
Helpers: These are just some of the YMCA members who joined Mr Rahill's efforts in Russia
Helpers: These are just some of the YMCA members who joined Mr Rahill's efforts in Russia during the revolution
Workplace: Photographed in Russia is the inside of one of the YMCA Soldiers Club interiors by Mr Rahill
Workplace: Photographed in Russia is the inside of one of the YMCA Soldiers Club interiors by Mr Rahill
Damage: A badly damaged building in Russia is seen on a street corner where people are captured otherwise going about their daily lives
Damage: A badly damaged building in Russia is seen on a street corner where people are captured otherwise going about their daily lives
It comes in addition to a second collection of WWI photos he recently discovered only just this year in a camera hidden in a Los Angeles antique store that documents parts of war-torn France.
If he is able to complete his financial goal, accepting donations and selling copies of his work, his Russian journey will take place exactly 100 years after Mr Rahill’s.
'I hope beyond hope that I can find a private or corporate sponsor to fund the re-photographing journey in the near future,' he tells the MailOnline.
'I'm really hopeful that the Russian set will finally get the attention it so rightly deserves. Also, me being from Russia and not having been back there since I moved to U.S. in ‘94, I am very much looking forward to the re-photographing trip,’ he says.
Moving East: An Asian man is photographed carrying two water barrels on street
Moving East: An Asian man is photographed carrying two water barrels on street
Great Wall: Four YMCA members stand before the mighty Great Wall of China
Great Wall: Four YMCA members stand before the mighty Great Wall of China
Children: Two boys are photographed partially hiding inside a large urn
Children: Two boys are photographed partially hiding inside a large urn


Migrant farmstead in the settlement of Nadezhdinsk with a group of peasants, Golodnaia Steppe; between 1905 and 1915 Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii Collection (Library of Congress).

All at sea with the Russian royal family


Revolution and Counter-Revolution as tools to achieve hegemony




The Protocols

What most people in the world, even Russians, consider the Russian Revolution was, in reality, a counter-revolution at the hands of Bolshevik Zionists and the Rothschild bankers – that same ‘imaginary conspiracy’ outlined in the Protocols of The Learned Elders of Zion.
Why do you think anyone who mentions the Protocols is slammed silent, almost as though they were Holocaust deniers, oh yes, we may well have just touched another one.
Now we go into an aside, you know, the American Articles of Confederation and that Revolutionary government, set up by the real founding fathers was knocked off in similar fashion when Rothschild agent Alexander Hamilton and fledgling American organised crime cobbled together the monstrous Constitution that finally crashed and burned the American public only a few short weeks ago.
Historian Charles A. Beard outlines this process in his Economic Interpretation of The Constitution published by Colombia University Press in 1935.
We might mention myriad other occasions when this Zionist ploy has been successfully carried out – the Glorious Restoration of 1688 that destroyed the British Royal line, placed a Dutch army officer on the throne and enslaved Britain under a “financial cabal” hegemony that continues to the current day.
We had the Congress of Vienna in 1822 that reordered Europe or in more recent times, the very many CIA-sponsored coups from Chile to Iran, the NATO destruction of Serbia in the 90s and most recently, the Maidan coup in Ukraine that installed a Neo-Nazi anti-Russian regime in Kiev.

Great humanitarian or virulent anti-Semite?
How many are aware that Poland was overthrown and replaced with a military dictatorship not unlike the one that attacked Germany in September 1939? Oh, that version of history, the Ford/Rockefeller rewrite. Did Egypt invade Israel in 1967? Former ITV correspondent and VT staffer, Alan Hart was there.
We should also remember the occasions when they have failed such as in Germany in 1919 when the Communist revolution lead by Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht and their Bolshevik gang was defeated by the Freikorps or the similar events in Hungary the same year where the Royalist forces of Admiral Horthy, with Romanian assistance were able to defeat the Communist takeover of Bela Kun and his murderous ‘Lenin’s Boys’.
Now that we have outlined the methodology, let us go on and see how they did it to the Russian people in 1917.

A group of Lenin Boys in their trademark leathers, they subjected Hungary to a murderous 133 days of ‘Red Terror’
The Russian Revolution of 1917 is an event that is grossly misunderstood by most people, not just outside Russia, but inside Russia too. The Revolution took place in February 1917, when the Russian army finally broke after suffering millions of casualties and joined forces with the workers who were starving due to the privations of three years of war.
The Tsar resigned, a provisional government under Kerensky was formed that was largely both socialist and liberal, at this time the Bolsheviks were a tiny, powerless group, one of many. Kerensky’s government was never popular and crippled by infighting, but worst of all, for the Russian people, it refused to end the war with Germany and Austro-Hungary.
The Russian Army could finally take no more, and after one last offensive ordered by Kerensky, ended the same way almost all the others had – with no gains and immense numbers of dead Russians, the army broke, shot many of its officers and started to head back home, leaving the trenches abandoned.
Which brings us to October 1917 and the situation on the streets of the Russian cities is akin to a powder keg as mutinous soldiery, striking workers and political agitators of all colours mingled and grumbled. On one key point however, they were all in agreement – the war must come to an end.

The unprecedented scale of the slaughter of WW1 brought the Russian Empire to revolution
Now the conspiracy is set in motion, not in Russia, but thousands of miles away in New York and Berlin. The part that everyone knows is that Max Warburg (father of Paul Warburg, creator of the Rothschild owned Federal Reserve Banking system in the US), the head of the Kaiser’s intelligence services and also the head of Kuhn, Loeb & Company, the largest German bank, hatched the devious scheme to pluck Lenin from his Swiss exile and transport him via sealed train to St Petersburg, tasked with becoming the frontman for the Bolshevik coup d’état.
However, the crucial part that most are largely unaware of is that another Zionist agent, a far more dangerous one, had already been dispatched from the US to Russia to be the real leader and organiser of the new order to be imposed on post-revolution Russia.
I am referring of course, to the Marxist revolutionary Lev Bronstein, better known as Leon Trotsky. The history books all record that Trotsky returned to St Petersburg and during the summer of 1917 organised and planned the Bolshevik coup that seized power in November of that year. Stalin summarised Trotsky’s role in a November 1918 article for Pravda:
“All practical work in connection with the organization of the uprising was done under the immediate direction of Comrade Trotsky, the President of the Petrograd Soviet. It can be stated with certainty that the Party is indebted primarily and principally to Comrade Trotsky for the rapid going over of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the efficient manner in which the work of the Military Revolutionary Committee was organized.”
What is not included in the mainstream histories is that Trotsky did not arrive in Russia alone, he brought with him a large amount of gold, financing for the revolution provided by Wall St under the guidance of Paul Warburg, son of Max.
Along with Trotsky and the Wall St. finance were 100 Jewish emigrees who, like Trotsky, had emigrated from the Russian Empire after the failed 1905 revolution and were now returning to carry out a new coup aimed at seizing control of the Russian Empire.
The Bolshevik Revolution is one of the most mythologised moments in recent history, most of the ‘facts’ about it are mere fabrications; rather than being a popular uprising of the people, as seen in the films of Eisenstein, it was a simple coup d’état launched by a group of Talmudic Bolsheviks who were as cunning and murderous as they were scant in number.
When one thinks of the ‘October Revolution’ the images that spring to mind are most often those of the workers, peasants and soldiers of the Red Guard storming the gates of the Winter Palace, seizing the seat of government at the point of the bayonet after a hard fought battle.
It may be stunning filmmaking but pure propaganda with no basis in reality. This is little more than the precursor of the historical narrative that Hollywood has long since hijacked.
In reality, the Winter Palace had been securely defended by 2000 loyal troops – loyal guardsmen, young officers, cadets and a women’s battalion. However, by the time of the Bolshevik coup, most of those defenders had left, driven out by the desperation of starvation having received no food or supplies for days. The Reds took the Palace with barely a shot fired, all that was left defending the place were the remnants of the women’s battalion.
The same story applies throughout St Petersburg – it fell to the Bolshevik coup almost without a fight. Trotsky then had to defend the city from loyal cossacks that tried to overturn the coup, in this he succeeded. Now, while Lenin made the stirring speeches, the evil mind of Trotsky carried out the Zionist scheme to totally destroy the Russian Empire and replace it with a police state enslaved under a Marxist totalitarian regime.
First a peace treaty was signed with Germany, taking Russian out of the Great War and fulfilling Lenin’s prime task given to him by Max Warburg. Then a terrible 5 year civil war was fought where Trotsky led the Bolshevik Red Army in a murderous campaign against loyalist Whites, ‘Black’ anarchists and nascent nationalist movements in Poland and Ukraine.
By 1922, hundreds of thousands of combatants had become casualties and the Russian nation was exhausted. Drought, famine and disease added millions of deaths to the untold millions of Cossacks, tsarists and others declared ‘enemies of the people’ who were slaughtered at the hands of Trotsky’s murderers. The Bolshevik takeover of Russia was one of the most bloody and massive genocides in history, perhaps only rivalled by the campaigns of Genghis Khan.
_________

Stalin and the overthrow of the Old Bolsheviks

THE RUSSIAN COURT AT SEA: THE VOYAGE OF HMS MARLBOROUGH, APRIL 1919 BY FRANCES WELCH

The last Czar of Russia, Nicholas II, with his family: In 1919 HMS Marlborough was dispatched to the Crimea to rescue the surviving Romanov family
The last Czar of Russia, Nicholas II, with his family: In 1919 HMS Marlborough was dispatched to the Crimea to rescue the surviving Romanov family
All books about the fall of the Romanovs leave one with an uneasy doubt that we have ever heard the full story.
It was complicated for decades by doubts about the murder of the Tsar and his family, the supposedly missing remains, the unanswered questions about whether George V did or did not attempt or even want to rescue them.
This addendum to the story concentrates entirely on the rescue mission that was sent on the King’s initiative to evacuate the Tsar’s mother, the dowager Empress Marie and her entourage, from the Crimea.
It was carried out in the nick of time before the Bolsheviks reached Yalta, where the surviving Romanovs were confined to their summer estates. It was entirely successful. In April, 1919, HMS Marlborough carried off the Empress and 17 members of her family at the head of a small fleet of vessels rescuing White Russian refugees who had swarmed to the port.
An intimate diary of the voyage to Malta has been constructed by Frances Welch from the diaries and memoirs both of the passengers and the crew, especially the Marlborough’s first lieutenant, Francis Pridham, who found himself in the anxious position of purser to the crews. His was the worry of finding suitable cabins for a quarrelsome set of relatives acutely conscious of status and protocol - by no means a united family.
Besides soothing their temperaments, sorting out their luggage and overseeing their menus, he found time to keep a diary of events, the prime source for this close-up of this weird, quirky family party, thrown together by events they still did not comprehend. Dark but tantalising photographs give us glimpses of them.
By the end of the short voyage one does feel a certain sympathy for them, tempered by an impatience that such an inadequate family happened to exercise supreme power over an empire.
The leading characters on the voyage were first and foremost the dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna, mother of the Tsar. She was an awkward customer for two reasons: she refused to believe that her son and his family were dead, and strongly objected to leaving Russia under the impression that the revolution could soon be over and she would be going back to St Petersburg.
At that time, 1918, it was still possible for her to believe this. The execution of the Tsar, but not of his family, had been tersely announced. But rumours abounded of their secret removal to a hiding place - possibly a Siberian monastery. Meanwhile the uncertain grip of the Bolsheviks on the country was hotly disputed by White Russian armies in civil war.
George V, as we now know, changed his mind about the original invitation to the abdicated Tsar to come to Britain.
He feared it would cause unrest - the Russian revolution had many sympathisers. Unfairly he later laid the blame on the Prime Minister, Lloyd George. But this time he had no choice.
His Danish mother, Queen Alexandra, was the Empress Marie’s sister. She wanted her rescued without delay. Eventually the King sent instructions through the admiralty that the Empress and her family ‘should be embarked whatever their personal desires’.
The Empress still refused to go except on a promise that the ships would also evacuate loyal subjects in the Crimea, of whom there were hundreds seeking to escape.
Rasputin: The murdered Russian monk whose influence on the Tsarina helped to bring down the Tsar's court
They included the Grand Duke Nicholas on the neighbouring estate, with whom the Empress was in a long-standing feud. She was very small but stately in an English toque.
The Grand Duke was immensely tall - 6ft 4in - and wore an astrakhan hat that made him even taller. He had been commander-in-chief of the huge Russian Army until Rasputin’s influence persuaded the Tsar that he should take over command himself.
The Tsar was only 5ft 4in and spent long periods standing on his toes. The Empress knew how unsuitable he was for the task. She hated Rasputin, like everyone else except the hysterical Tsarina.
As it happened one of their fellow passengers now was Rasputin’s murderer, Prince Felix Youssoupov. He dressed as an Edwardian gentleman in an English cap. His family had been Russia’s largest landowners - they used to visit their 17 estates in their private train. Now he carried a long tube with him which he said contained two rolled-up Rembrandt portraits that he had saved from his walls.
In the evenings he entertained the company by singing gypsy songs to his guitar, which he did rather well.
The other leading member of the cast was the Grand Duchess Xenia, daughter of the Empress, with five of her sons about her. Although a grandmother at 44, she looked very young. Estranged from her husband, who was in Paris, she led a complicated love life. One of her lovers, the Empress’s equerry, was among the company.
Lieutenant Pridham admired her greatly, ‘an extremely charming and capable woman, worth half a dozen of their men’. She also spoke the best English and helped him settle the cabin problems successfully.
The 72-year-old Empress much impressed him too: ‘Although small, her bearing was so majestic that when she entered all eyes were riveted - a superb picture of stately grace.’
Despite her stateliness, in private she was a chain smoker. If a servant came in she would hide the cigarette behind her like a guilty schoolgirl, oblivious that the smoke continued to rise behind her.
Her rescue voyage, until now a footnote to history, was well worth exploring and Frances Welch has thoroughly unearthed its fascinating details. If coming new to the Romanovs and their complicated family relationships, the reader will need frequent recourse to the list of characters given at the outset (20-strong, all of them Princes or Grand Dukes). Out of these she brings into focus the Empress as a brave patriotic woman, however stubborn and difficult, who engages our sympathy.
After so much virtual imprisonment at home, she enjoyed the Marlborough and the hospitality of the Navy so much that when they reached Malta she didn’t want to disembark. She sent a telegram to the King asking for it to take her onto England. Unfortunately, said the King, it was wanted elsewhere.
Marie reached Portsmouth on another ship where her sister Alix was waiting. The King greeted her at Victoria Station and she went to stay with Alix at Marlborough House - but not for long. They got on each other’s nerves and Marie went home to Denmark for the rest of her life. She died in 1928, possibly still firm in her belief that her son was living, for it was long before his bones were discovered.
 

The Romanovs. From left to right: OlgaMariaNicholas IIAlexandraAnastasiaAlexei, and Tatiana. Pictured at Livadia Palace in 1913







The Romanovs were being held by the Red Army in Yekaterinburg. As the civil war continued and the White Army (a loose alliance of anti-communist forces) was threatening to capture the city, the fear was that the Romanovs would fall into White hands. This was unacceptable to the Bolsheviks for two reasons: first, the tsar or any of his family members could provide a beacon to rally support to the White cause; second, the tsar, or any of his family members if the tsar were dead, would be considered the legitimate ruler of Russia by the other European nations. This would have meant the ability to negotiate for greater foreign intervention on behalf of the Whites. (Soon after the family was executed, the city did in fact fall to the White Army.)
On 16 July 1918 forces of the Czech legion were closing on Yekaterinburg, not realizing that Russia's royal family was being held under house arrest there. The Bolsheviks, believing that the Czechs were on a mission to rescue the Russian royals, panicked and executed their wards. The real reason for the Czechs being in Yekaterinburg was to protect the Trans-Siberian Railway, of which they had total control. Circumstance played a large part in the execution of the Russian royal family.[7]

Execution

File:Otmaincaptivity1917.jpg
Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia in captivity at Tsarskoe Selo in the spring of 1917. One of the last known photographs of Tsar Nicholas II's daughters.
Other sources indicated that the great wealth of the Russian Czars was entrusted to the Rothschilds, $35 million with the Rothschild's Bank of England, and $80 million in the Rothschild's Paris bank. Czar Nicolas and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks on order of the Rothschilds, who managed the Czar's money.  The Rothschilds financed the Russian Revolution which confiscated vast portions of the Orthodox Church's wealth. They have been able to prevent (due to their power) the legitimate heirs of the Czars fortune to withdraw a penny of the millions deposited in a vcesariety of their banks. The Mountbattens, who are related to the Rothschilds, led the court battles to prevent the claimants from withdrawing any of the fortune. In other words, the money they invested in the Russian Revolution, was not only paid back directly by the Bolshevists in millions of dollar of gold, but by grabbing the huge deposits of the Czars' wealth, the Rothschilds gained what is now worth over $50 Billions.
The telegram giving the order to execute the prisoners on behalf of the Supreme Soviet in Moscow was signed by Yakov Sverdlov. Around midnight, Yakov Yurovsky, the commandant of The House of Special Purpose, ordered the Romanovs' physician, Dr. Eugene Botkin, to awaken the sleeping family and ask them to put on their clothes, under the pretext that the family would be moved to a safe location due to impending chaos in Yekaterinburg.[1] The Romanovs were then ordered into a 6×5 meter semi-basement room. Nicholas asked if Yurovsky could bring three chairs, on which Alexei, his father and his mother sat.
The prisoners were told to wait in the cellar room while the truck that would transport them was being brought to the House. A few minutes later, an execution squad of secret police was brought in and Yurovsky read aloud the order given him by the Ural Executive Committee:

Nikolai Aleksandrovich, in view of the fact that your relatives are continuing their attack on Soviet Russia, the Ural Executive Committee has decided to execute you...[1]
Nicholas, facing his family, turned and said "What?"[1] Yurovsky quickly repeated the order and the weapons were raised. The Empress and Grand Duchess Olga, according to a guard's reminiscence, had tried to cross themselves, but failed amid the shooting. Yurovsky reportedly raised his gun at Nicholas and fired; Nicholas fell dead instantly. The other executioners then began shooting until all the intended victims had fallen. Several more shots were fired and the doors opened to scatter the smoke.[1] There were some survivors, so P.Z. Yermakov stabbed them with bayonets because the shouts could be heard outside.[1] The last to die were Anastasia, Tatiana, Olga, and Maria, who were carrying several pounds (over 1.3 kilograms) of diamonds within their clothing, thus protecting them to an extent.[8] However, they were speared with bayonets as well. Olga sustained a gunshot wound to the head. Anastasia and Maria were said to have crouched up against a wall covering their heads in terror until Maria was shot down, and Anastasia was finished off with the bayonets. Yurovsky himself killed Tatiana and Alexei. Tatiana died from a single bullet through the back of her head.[9] Alexei received two bullets to the head, right behind the ear.[10] Anna Demidova, Alexandra's maid, survived the initial onslaught but was quickly stabbed to death against the back wall while trying to defend herself with a small pillow she had carried that was filled with precious gems and jewels.

They ate cats, sawdust, wallpaper paste...even their own babies. Leningrad's agony as the Nazis tried to starve it into submission, LENINGRAD: TRAGEDY OF A CITY UNDER SIEGE 1941-44 BY ANNA

The fallen: Only one passer-by seems to notice these victims of the siege lying dead in the street
The fallen: Only one passer-by seems to notice these victims of the siege lying dead in the street
During the days I was reading this book I ate comparitively little. It quelled the appetite. Starvation on such a scale makes one feel almost guilty for having enough and to spare.
The German siege of Leningrad lasted 900 days from September, 1941 to January, 1944. During that time 800,000 people, nearly a third of the population at the siege’s beginning, starved to death. Roughly one in three. Many of them in the streets.
Terrible times: Citizens of Leningrad after the German bombing in the winter of 1941
Terrible times: Citizens of Leningrad after the German bombing in the winter of 1941
Twenty years later I visited Leningrad. They took me to see the front line - a canyon gashed out of the landscape lined with shattered ruins of houses - as if a giant excavator had taken a mouthful of the city. Because we were still in the city, that was the shock. The Germans got that close.
The Leningraders still bore the signs. Here were so many old and shrivelled faces. Often you saw the flash of steel teeth. Dentists’ amalgam had run out early. The city’s stunning architecture (after all, it was, and now again is, St Petersburg) looked sadly worn except for certain restored cathedrals and palaces.
Few people outside realised what the siege was like. For years afterwards Stalin kept it dark. Deaths were underestimated. Its party leaders were purged. There were to be no other heroes of the war besides himself.
After the Khrushchev thaw, a new legend was propagated of a Leningrad whose heroic citizens unflinchingly disregarded the bombs and shells and starved quietly as willing sacrifices to defend the cradle of the Revolution.
Then, with the collapse of communism, archives began to open with their police records and siege diaries. This book seeks to tell objectively what really happened. It is a stark shocking tale. Two arresting quotations will give you an idea:
Writer Dmitri Likhachev looks back: ‘In time of famine people revealed themselves stripped of all trumpery. Some turned out marvellous, incomparable heroes. Others - scoundrels, villains, murderers, cannibals. There were no half measures.’
Note this timetable, kept in a pocket book by Tanya Savicheva: ‘28 December 1941 - Zhenya died. 25 January 1942 - Granny died. 17 March - Lyoka died. 13 April - Uncle Vasya died. 10 May - Uncle Lyosha died. 13 May at 7.30am - Mama died. The Savichevs are dead, everyone is dead. Only Tanya is left.’ Tanya was 12.
We don’t know what happened to her but we do know about Irina Bogdanova, who was eight and was left alone in the family flat when her mother, aunt and grandmother died one by one from dysentery in February, 1942.
Counter-attack: Soviet troops fight back during the siege of Leningrad
Counter-attack: Soviet troops fight back during the siege of Leningrad
She was found ten days later and handed in to an orphanage where she woke up to realise that the girl sharing her bed was dead. The days Irina spent along with her dead family were a total blank.
The toll of that first winter is staggering. Leningrad was totally unprepared for siege - as Russia was for the German attack. It took only 12 weeks for the German and Finnish armies to cut off the city. In that time the evacuation of civilians and obtaining of food supplies were hugely bungled.
Andrei Zhdanov, the city’s Communist Party chief, actually telephoned Stalin to tell him that their warehouses were full - in order that he should look prepared. So several relief food trains were diverted elsewhere.
Over a million children and dependants were still in the city when the ring closed. In all there were 3.3 million mouths to feed.
Quite soon the bread ration had to be halved. By mid-November manual workers received 250 grams a day, the rest only half of that. But the bread had been adulterated with pine shavings. So people were existing (or failing to) on 400, even 300 calories.
Pet owners swapped cats in order to avoid eating their own. There wasn’t a dog to be seen. Only the zoo preserved its star attractions, like ‘Beauty’ the hippopotamus, with special rations of hay.
People searched desperately for substitute food. Cottonseed cake (usually burned in ships’ boilers), ‘macaroni’ made from flax seed for cattle, ‘meat jelly’ produced from boiling bones and calf skins, ‘yeast soup’ from fermented sawdust, joiners’ glue boiled and jellified, toothpaste, cough mixture and cold cream - anything that contained calories. They even licked the dried paste off the wallpaper.
The Black Market flourished openly on street stalls with ever rising prices. A fur coat fetched fewer and fewer kilograms of flour. Meanwhile the Party chiefs and their friends and connections, continued to look well fed to general resentment.
The first news that people had died from starvation met with incredulity: ‘Not the one I know? In broad daylight? With a Masters Degree?’
But before long people were concealing deaths in the family, hiding the bodies so that the deceased’s ration card could be used until it expired. Husbands and fathers helped to feed their families posthumously.
It was a very severe winter - temperatures of minus 35 degrees. Trams froze in their tracks. Buildings burned for days - fire services ceased to function. Factories closed, hospitals were overwhelmed, cemeteries could not keep pace. Bodies, shrouded but uncoffined, were dragged through the streets on sleds. At one cemetery gate a corpse propped upright with a cigarette in its mouth extended a frozen arm and finger as a sign post to the newest mass graves.
Commemoration: A Russian guard of honour marches at a ceremony for the 61st anniversary of the end of the siege
Commemoration: A Russian guard of honour marches at a ceremony for the 61st anniversary of the end of the siege
Of course there was a crime wave, mainly of adolescent muggers thieving food and ration cards. One 18-year-old killed his two younger brothers for their cards. Another murdered his granny with an axe and boiled her liver. A 17-year-old stole a corpse from a cemetery and put it through a mincer.
Rumours of cannibalism abounded. Amputated limbs disappeared from hospital theatres. Police records released years later showed that 2,000 people were arrested for cannibalism; 586 of them were executed for murdering their victims. Most people arrested however were women. Mothers smothered very young children to feed their older ones.
The spring of 1942 brought a thaw and with it edible dandelions and nettles. The population, now much reduced, set about raising vegetables.
The burst pipes in the Hermitage Museum flooded the priceless porcelain collections in the cellars. The rescuers were rewarded with tours of the empty frames of the masterpieces which had been evacuated in time. Those left behind were guarded by a corps of volunteer elderly ladies.
Although there were to be two more siege winters, it was never as bad again. In January 1943 the siege ring was broken and a narrow corridor allowed a railway to be laid from unoccupied Russia. By the time it was liberated, Leningrad’s population was down to 600,000. Three quarters of them were women.
What can one make of it all? First, that Hitler’s order to raze the city to the ground by bombardment proved futile - as did his vision of a conquered Russia as a home for Germans, while the Russians were banished to live like animals in Siberia.
Second, that far fewer lives need have been lost if the Communist regime had done its job of evacuating and provisioning the city with a glimmer of foresight and efficiency.
Third, that as in the concentration camps, those who gave up died, while those who kept up the struggle survived. They include the writers, almost all of them women, whose diaries and finely written reflections make up the most moving pages of this appalling but necessary book. Anna Reid calls it, convincingly, ‘the deadliest blockade of a city in history’.
 

Cathedral of Our Lady of Smolensk Новоде́вичий монасты́рь, Богоро́дице-Смоле́нский монасты́рь

Among Dmitriev's subjects was General Voitsekhovsky, who fought for the White army against the Bolshevik reds during the Russian Civil War of 1917-23
Military commissioner Orlov in 1928
Among Dmitriev's subjects was General Voitsekhovsky (left), who fought for the White army against the Bolshevik reds during the Russian Civil War of 1917-23;  right, military commissioner Orlov in 1928

Moscow's Red Guards View On Black
Members of the Red Guards in Moscow, following the outbreak of the BolshevikRevolution

Cruiser Aurora The cruiser Aurora fired a blank round from one of its guns as the signal for the storming of the Winter Palace in St Petersburg during the Russian Revolution.

At the convent After the Revolution, the convent was shut and converted into a museum for the emancipation of women. It has now returned to its original use.


The Russian Revolution 1905 الثورة الروسية

View On Black
Workers marching through the streets of St. Petersburg, during the 1905 Russian Revolution. The central banner reads 'Proletarians of All Countries Unite'

May Day Petrograd Rallies 1917


Bolsheviks بلاشفة

View On Black
Distribution of newspapers on the first day of the session of the soviets in Moscow, following the outbreak of the RussianRevolution 1917

Victory Park Hand to hand combat at Kursk





Born into immense wealth, the four daughters of Tsar Nicholas II grew up largely hidden from public view and little was known about them – until now. Author Helen Rappaport reveals how, just when they were able to start engaging with the wider world, events in Russia overtook them
From left: Grand Duchesses Maria, Tatiana, Anastasia and Olga in 1914
From left: Grand Duchesses Maria, Tatiana, Anastasia and Olga in 1914
It is now almost 50 years since Robert K Massie’s acclaimed biography Nicholas and Alexandra first brought the story of Russia’s last Imperial Family to a wider audience in the West. In the wake of its huge success, a wealth of glossy coffee-table books have perpetuated the haunting image of the five innocent children who died with their parents in a savage bloodbath on the night of 16-17 July 1918.
It is impossible to resist the allure of those touching and now iconic images of the tsar’s four lovely daughters – Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia – in their pretty white lace dresses, and their young brother Alexey. They seem to represent not just the lost world of old tsarist Russia but also the ruthless and arbitrary brutality of the revolution that destroyed them.
The faces are familiar, but until now very little was known about the four Romanov sisters beyond the chocolate-box image of them produced for public consumption by the tsarist publicity machine. The many charming and informal pictures that the sisters took of each other during their childhood show something of the happy and unpretentious personalities behind the public image, but in truth, the Romanov princesses have never been considered anything more than the pretty set-dressing to the much bigger and more dramatic story of their parents and their tragic haemophiliac brother Alexey. For they were born into a Russia where sons were essential for the survival of the dynasty and daughters were deemed of little consequence.
Tsar Nicholas II of Russia with the Imperial Family, 1913
Tsar Nicholas II of Russia with the Imperial Family, 1913
In November 1894, when Princess Alix of Hesse (Alexandra Feodorovna) married the new tsar, Nicholas II, gossips around the world were agog. She may have landed the biggest dynastic catch and the richest man in the world, but as far as the Russian public was concerned, Alexandra’s primary duty as Empress was to produce a son and heir.
Instead, the birth of four daughters in quick succession, although a private joy to their doting parents, was a bitter public disappointment that increased with every girl born: Olga in 1895, Tatiana in 1897, Maria in 1899 and Anastasia in 1901. The continuing lack of a son brought the Russian throne to the brink of a succession crisis and provoked much superstitious talk among the peasantry of a curse on the Romanovs.
The Tsar and Tsarina with their five children dressed in sailing outfits
The Tsar and Tsarina with their five children dressed in sailing outfits
The Tsar shares a cigarette with Anastasia
The Tsar shares a cigarette with Anastasia
Little attention was paid to the four charming and vivacious young princesses who were growing up at the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo outside St Petersburg. Indeed, during the 1900s the political climate in Russia became so volatile, and the assassination threats against Nicholas II so worrying, that the Imperial Family was increasingly secluded from public view and the press was gagged from saying anything about their domestic life.
'The birth of four daughters in quick succession was a public disappointment'
At home the sisters grew up like any other happy, normal girls, prone to the same fights and squabbles and hair pulling (Anastasia in particular being fond of the latter). They might have been cosseted with extravagant gifts from royal relatives and eminent statesmen, but their mother – in the tradition of her own mother Alice and her much-loved grandmother Queen Victoria – imposed a rigorous English regime of frugality, hand-me-down clothes, iron bedsteads, plain nursery food and cold baths.
The girls were educated in the necessary social graces and spoke French, Russian (among themselves) and English (with their parents), but they were never spoilt. All four enchanted visitors: they were pert, friendly, inquisitive and clearly devoted to each other.
The Tsarina in her boudoir with Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia
The Tsarina in her boudoir with Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia
The Tsar with three of the Grand Duchesses on a tennis court
The Tsar with three of the Grand Duchesses on a tennis court
Ordinary Russians, however, were lucky to catch glimpses of the Romanov princesses during carriage rides around St Petersburg or at increasingly rare official engagements; abroad, the Romanovs were not seen as a family until a brief visit to Cowes on the Isle of Wight in 1909.
A steady stream of carefully selected official photographs did nothing to convey the individuality of the Imperial daughters, serving instead to perpetuate an endearing but bland image of them as dutiful, docile and uncontroversial. Such a homogeneous view was further compounded by Alexandra herself, who referred to her daughters, even into adulthood, as ‘the big pair’ – Olga and Tatiana – and ‘the little pair’ – Maria and Anastasia. The girls followed suit, often referring to themselves collectively in letters as OTMA, their first-name initials.
Olga, the eldest, was a dreamer and a romantic who loved music and poetry and was prone to melancholy. She struggled with her temper as she grew older, partly because, as the eldest, she had the responsibility of setting an example to her younger siblings. She wore her heart on her sleeve and was the most emotionally vulnerable of all the sisters.
Tatiana was her polar opposite: brisk and highly self-controlled, she was a natural-born organiser, prompting her sisters to nickname her ‘The Governess’. Having inherited her mother’s intense reserve, she was often seen as haughty and detached by those who did not know her. But without doubt she was the most beautiful, stylish – and enigmatic – Romanov daughter.
The Grand Duchesses, Alexey and their father in exile in Tobolsk, 1917
The Grand Duchesses, Alexey and their father in exile in Tobolsk, 1917
The Grand Duchesses with their father and brother on the royal yacht Standard in 1911
The Grand Duchesses with their father and brother on the royal yacht Standard in 1911
In contrast, the third sister, Maria, had a wonderful warmth and openness; everyone remarked on her great, plaintive blue eyes. She had an earthy, Russian quality that was demonstrated in her great love for children and she would have made a devoted mother. But with such a naturally docile and submissive nature, she suffered at times at the hands of her manipulative and domineering younger sister Anastasia.
The now much-mythologised fourth Romanov daughter was the wild child of the family, a force of nature who constantly entertained and demanded attention. Quirky, inattentive and a hopeless scholar, she was also instinctive and intuitive and it was impossible to ignore her seductive personality.
The arrival in 1904 of their brother Alexey – ‘The Hope of Russia’ – and with it the discovery soon after his birth that he had inherited haemophilia – passed down the female line from Queen Victoria to his mother – had immediately cast a long shadow over the sisters’ lives and only served to further accentuate their subsidiary role.
The Tsar and his family shortly before his forced abdication in March 1917
The Tsar and his family shortly before his forced abdication in March 1917
Though still young, the four sisters became their brother’s devoted carers, watching over him and trying their best to protect him from harm. They learned to content themselves with each other’s company and they never complained. But unremitting anxiety about Alexey’s health and the numerous crises he suffered when he fell or injured himself came just at the point when the girls were developing a curiosity about the world around them and were longing to rush out and explore it. Life instead closed in on them and those four beguiling personalities were increasingly shut away from view.
From 1907, when Alexey suffered his first serious haemophilia attack, instead of enjoying the company of young people of their own age, the girls’ lives were dominated by the presence of Grigory Rasputin, the man whom Nicholas and Alexandra looked upon as a spiritual adviser and healer and trusted as the only person who could protect their precious son from harm.
'Throughout the bitter winter they helped to keep their fading brother alive'
Yet despite all the constraints placed on them by public and press curiosity, by the time they had entered their teens, the four Romanov sisters were undoubtedly the most talked-about princesses in Europe. When the Romanov tercentenary was celebrated in 1913, Olga and Tatiana were clearly blossoming, and were at last seen on the public stage at a series of official engagements. The foreign press was awash with gossip about the men they might marry.
From the moment she turned 16 in 1911, every possible princely candidate was discussed for Olga, with Carol of Romania, Boris of Bulgaria, Alexander of Serbia and Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich of Russia all posited as suitable bridegrooms. And until her death in 1901, Queen Victoria nursed the hope of a marriage between her granddaughter Olga and her grandson, the future Edward VIII. How different British history might have been with a Queen Olga and no Wallis Simpson.
But nothing came of a string of suggested matches – particularly that of Olga with Prince Carol of Romania. Both sets of royal parents tried hard to bring the two young people together in the summer of 1914, but Olga did not like Carol and his roving eye would not have guaranteed a happy match for her.
Anastasia with shaven head after contracting measles
Anastasia with shaven head after contracting measles
In any event, Olga adamantly refused to marry a foreign prince and leave Russia. When it came down to it, Nicholas and Alexandra, who had married for love and wished the same for their daughters, would not force her into a marriage of dynastic expediency any more than they would her sisters, who were united in their desire to stay in Russia.
Wistfully, Olga admitted that all she wanted to do was get married, have children and live in obscurity in the countryside, far away from the official world of the Russian court. But the outbreak of war in August 1914 put paid to all talk of marriage.
Instead, war threw Olga and her sister Tatiana into the path of a succession of handsome, wounded army officers when they began training as Red Cross nurses to work in the military hospital set up by their mother at Tsarskoe Selo. War, of all things, finally opened up something of the world outside for all four princesses.
Maria and Anastasia worked as hospital visitors, regularly interrogating the wounded about the ‘outside life’ that they longed to be part of. All the girls supported wartime charities and soon their hospital work became the focus of their daily lives. Olga and Tatiana both demonstrated great dedication in their nursing; but while the strain of her responsibilities and the disappointments of falling for men she knew could never marry eventually led to physical and nervous collapse for Olga, Tatiana proved to be an exceptionally gifted and courageous nurse who – had history been different – might have been a pioneer of women’s nursing.
Olga nursing a soldier in 1915
Olga nursing a soldier in 1915
In early 1917, with Nicholas away at the front hundreds of miles away, events in Russia moved inexorably towards chaos. When the revolution broke out in Petrograd in March, the metaphorical cage that until then had protected the four sisters at Tsarskoe Selo became a very frightening one.
Nicholas was stopped en route to rejoin the family and forced to abdicate. Alexandra and her children were placed under house arrest at the Alexander Palace; the four pretty girls of the storybook Romanov fantasy were now confined to the gardens in plain skirts and blouses and woolly hats.
In June, they were deprived of their most beautiful asset – their hair – when all four, having contracted measles in February, had to have their heads shaved. But they remained extraordinarily forbearing. They dug the gardens and helped chop wood and grow vegetables; they darned their clothes and adapted to a different kind of life, under constant and intimidating surveillance.
They had always found solace in each other’s company and wished only for one thing: that they could all stay together as a family, somewhere in exile. When, on 1 August 1917, Alexander Kerensky’s Provisional Government put the Romanovs on a train to Tobolsk in Western Siberia, the sisters, as always, made the most of their terrible situation.
Olga and Alexey in captivity at Tobolsk
Olga and Alexey in captivity at Tobolsk
Throughout the bitter Siberian winter of 1917-18, they bolstered their mother’s rapidly failing health and helped to keep their fading brother alive. Their hopes remained buoyant until the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia in November 1917 and six months later sent them from Tobolsk to an even more constrained life as prisoners of the hardline Ural Regional Soviet at Ekaterinburg.
On the night of 16-17 July 1918, the Romanov family were awakened and told they were being evacuated. Instead, they were led into the cellar of the house where they were being held, and executed. The circumstances of the savage murder almost immediately sparked a plethora of rumours about miraculous escape, bringing with it a trail of false claimants.
But thanks to rigorous DNA testing of their remains, there is now no doubt that the entire family died that terrible night in Ekaterinburg, leaving us with an indelible memory of those tragic sisters – of four gentle, laughing girls – and the haunting pathos of their unfulfilled lives.
This intimate collection of photos capture Russia's imperial Romanov family like you've never seen them before.
Huddled together on a day out at the beach or around the beds of soldiers wounded in the Great War, the pictures were taken shortly before their 300-year dynasty came to a tragic and abrupt end.
Within a year of the album's latest photos, the Russian revolution swept across the country, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated and he and his family were exiled, before being murdered on Lenin's orders.
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Family outing: Tsar Nicholas poses with his four daughters  (L-R) Maria, Anastasia, Olga and Tatiana
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Family outing: Tsar Nicholas poses with his four daughters  (L-R) Maria, Anastasia, Olga and Tatiana
In one image, Tsar Nicholas II and his daughters Anastasia, Maria, Olga and Tatiana look solemnly into the camera, the Emperor stood proudly in full military uniform.
Another shows Maria, Olga and Tatiana paddling in shallow water at the beach - their younger brother Alexei, who would have been around 14 at the time, stood in front of his sisters.
Many of these rare pictures, taken between 1915 and 1916, were shot by head of the family and Russia's last tsar himself, Nicholas II.
An insatiable photographer, the tsar took great care of his pictures, filing them carefully in numerous albums.
Day at the beach: (L-R) Maria and Olga and Tatiana Romanov pose at the beach with their brother Alexei
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Day at the beach: (L-R) Maria and Olga and Tatiana Romanov pose at the beach with their brother Alexei

Father and daughter: Tsar Nicholas II and his daughter Anastasia (R), wearing false teeth. He passed down his love for photography to Maria, his third daughter, who was responsible for colouring most of the pictures. Several of the images show the family dutifully attending wounded soldiers near the front line - but as the war raged on, civil unrest mounted around the country. As the government failed to produce supplies, mounting hardship created massive riots and rebellions and by early 1917, Russia was on the verge of total collapse. On 23 February 1917 in Petrograd, a combination of very severe cold weather and acute food shortages caused people to start to break shop windows to get bread and other necessaries.
Visiting soldiers: The Emperor and Anastasia and Maria visit wounded troops during the Great War
Visiting soldiers: The Emperor and Anastasia and Maria visit wounded troops during the Great War
Happy times: Within a year of the album's latest photos, the Russian revolution swept across the country, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated and he and his family were exiled, before being murdered on Lenin's orders
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Happy times: Within a year of the album's latest photos, the Russian revolution swept across the country, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated and he and his family were exiled, before being murdered on Lenin's orders
In the streets, red banners appeared and the crowds chanted: 'Down with the German woman! !Down with the war! Down with the Tsar!'
Order broke down and members of the Soviet Party demanded that Nicholas abdicate.
Faced with this demand, which was echoed by his generals, deprived of loyal troops, with his family firmly in the hands of the Provisional Government and fearful of unleashing civil war and opening the way for German conquest, Nicholas had little choice but to submit.
After his abdication on March 2, 1917, Nicholas II and his family were exiled to Tobolsk, where they initially lived in considerable comfort.
Nicholas passed down his love for photography to Maria, his third daughter, who was responsible for colouring most of the pictures
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Nicholas passed down his love for photography to Maria, his third daughter, who was responsible for colouring most of the pictures
Many of the unique photos were taken by Tsar Nicholas himself, who was an insatiable photographer
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Many of the unique photos were taken by Tsar Nicholas himself, who was an insatiable photographer


But following the Bolshevik revolution in October 1917, their living conditions worsened. In 1918 the Imperial family was imprisoned. As the White Russian troops approached the Urals, threatening to reach and free the Romanovs, the Imperial family met their fate. On the eve of July 16, 1918, the Tsar, his German-born wife Alexandra and their five children, were roused from their beds and escorted to the basement of Ipatiev House, where they had been imprisoned.
Toll of the war: Tsar Nicholas II and daughters Anastasia and Maria Romanov visit wounded soldiers in the Great War
 
Toll of the war: Tsar Nicholas II and daughters Anastasia and Maria Romanov visit wounded soldiers in the Great War. There they were callously murdered along with three servants and their doctor. The horrific story of the Romanovs' execution spawned the long-running myth that one of the children had survived and was living in secret somewhere in Russia. Hundreds of claims were made that either Anastasia or Alexei had somehow escaped the Bolshevisks' death squad.
The horrific story of the Romanovs' execution spawned the long-running myth that one of the children had survived and was living in secret somewhere in Russia 
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The horrific story of the Romanovs' execution spawned the long-running myth that one of the children had survived and was living in secret somewhere in Russia
(L-R) Maria, Olga and Tatiana Romanov, the daughters of Tsar's Nicholas II pictured just one or two years before they were exiled and later shot on orders of Lenin
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(L-R) Maria, Olga and Tatiana Romanov, the daughters of Tsar's Nicholas II pictured just one or two years before they were exiled and later shot on orders of Lenin
Since her death, women posing as the Russian princess Anastasia have repeatedly come forward, among them Anna Anderson who first appeared in Berlin in 1920, two years after the Russian royals were executed.
Anderson, who also went by the names Tschaikovsky and Manahan, later moved to the USA and was portrayed for decades as the escaped daughter of the last Romanov emperor.
But in 1991, when the remains of the Russian royals were unearthed, DNA testing proved that the bodies were indeed those of the Tsar, Tsarina and their children.
Olga Romanov is pictured lying in bed in this photo taken not long before she was murdered along with the rest of her family
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Olga Romanov is pictured lying in bed in this photo taken not long before she was murdered along with the rest of her family
Olga Romanov, (R) seen on the beach during the Great War, died with her sisters when Bolshevik fighters carried out orders to execute the royal family
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Olga Romanov, (R) seen on the beach during the Great War, died with her sisters when Bolshevik fighters carried out orders to execute the royal family
THE END OF A DYNASTY: THE LAST MOMENTS OF THE ROMANOVS REVEALED
After Tsar Nicholas abdicated on 15th March 1917, he and his family were moved from house to house as the revolution and ensuing civil war raged around them. By May 1918, they had been installed at the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg which was under Bolshevik control.
The house was owned by Yakov Yurovsky, a dedicated Marxist and Bolshevik with close links to the Cheka - the secret police force run by the revolutionaries. At around 2.15am on the morning of the 17th July 1918, Yurovsky and a squad of Bolsheviks burst into the bedrooms of the Russian royals and ordered them into the cellar.
Minutes later, the soldiers, each armed with a revolver and led by Yurovsky, followed them into the room. According to Yurovsky, he ordered them to stand. Characteristically, the Tsarina did so 'with a flash of anger'. 'Your relations have tried to save you,' he is believed to have said next. 'They have failed and we must now shoot you.' The Tsar rose from his chair and only had time to utter 'What...?' before he was shot several times in the chest. The Tsarina died next, killed by a single bullet fired by commissar Peter Ermakov that entered her head just above the left ear, followed by her haemophilliac son Alexei, who was just 13-years-old when he died. The last to perish were Anastasia and her sisters, saved, initially by the valuable diamonds hidden in their bodices. The girls were then bayoneted by the Bolshevik fighters before being finished off with a shot to the head.










































Vladimir Putin, the 58-year-old former president and current prime minister of Russia, has cultivated a swashbuckling public image over the past several years. He has piloted firefighting planes, darted whales, driven race cars, and taken a submersible 1,400 meters (4,600 ft) below the surface of Lake Baikal. Putin was forced to step down from the presidency in 2008 due to a constitutional limit on more than two consecutive terms. However, he remains the most influential figure in Russian politics, and has a strong hand in the "tandem rule" he shares with current president Dmitri Medvedev. The next presidential election takes place in March of 2012, and indications are that both Medvedev and Putin are planning to run, though neither has officially announced his candidacy. Gathered here are some of the more interesting photos taken of Vladimir Putin during his tenure as Russia's prime minister over the past few years.
A picture released on March 6, 2010 shows Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin taking a horseback ride in the Karatash area, near the town of Abakan, during his working trip to the Republic of Khakassia, on February 25, 2010. (Alexei Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images) 

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wears a helmet and the uniform of the Renault Formula One team before driving a F1 race car on a special track in Leningrad region outside St. Petersburg, on November 7, 2010. (Alexei Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images) # 

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Vladimir Putin test drives a Renault Formula One team car at a racing track near Leningrad, on November 7, 2010.(Reuters/Ria Novosti/Alexei Nikolsky) # 

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Vladimir Putin holds a five-year-old tiger's head as scientists put a collar with a satellite tracker on the animal in the academy of sciences Ussuri reserve in Russia's Far East, on August 31, 2008. (Reuters/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Alexei Druzhinin) # 

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds a judo training session at the Top Athletic School during his working visit to St Petersburg, on December 18, 2009 (Alexei Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images) # 

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Vladimir Putin prepares to dive during a visit to an archeological excavation of an ancient Greek port on the Taman Peninsula, about 1150 kilometers (720 miles) south of Moscow, Russia, on Wednesday, August 10, 2011. Ancient Greek colonies were located on the peninsula and served as trading posts with the steppes of what is now southern Russia and Ukraine.(AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin) # 

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On August 10, 2011, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin carries two pieces of archaeological trophies he discovered during diving near an archeological excavation of an ancient Greek port on the Taman Peninsula. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin) # 

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This picture taken on September 19, 2009 shows Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin looking at a leopard as he visits the National Park in Sochi. (Alexei Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images) # 

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Yana Lapikova, a new personal photographer of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, taking pictures during an official event in Moscow, on June 16, 2011. The Russian government sought on June 17 to douse a frenzy of Internet comment after it hired Lapikova, an attractive former model and "Miss Moscow" finalist, as personal photographer to Putin. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images) # 

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on a boat on Lake Ladoga, as he visits the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery on Valaam island, northern Russia, on August 14, 2011. During the visit to Valaam he took part in the Sunday service in the upper church of the Transfiguration Cathedral. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin) # 

Vladimir Putin participates in an arm-wrestling contest during a visit at a summer camp run by the Nashi youth group at Lake Seliger in the central Tver region, on August 1, 2011. Thousands of young activists from 84 regions of Russia gathered in the camp for the annual forum in Russia. (Alexei Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images) # 

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attempts to bend a frying pan with his bare hands during his visit to the summer camp of the pro-Kremlin youth group "Nashi" at lake Seliger, some 400km (248miles) north of Moscow, on August 1, 2011.(Reuters/Yana Lapikova/RIA Novosti) # 

Vladimir Putin drives a snowmobile at Russia's ski resort Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi in southern Russia, on January 3, 2010.(Reuters/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Dmitry Astakhov) # 

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, wearing headphones, sits in the cockpit of a firefighting plane in Ryazan region August 10, 2010. The plane later dropped water on a blaze southeast of Moscow, state media reported.(Reuters/Ria Novosti/Alexei Nikolsky) # 

Vladimir Putin hugs a Bulgarian shepherd dog, after receiving it as a present from Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boiko Borisov in Sofia, on November 13, 2010. (Reuters/Oleg Popov) # 

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rides with motorcycle enthusiasts during his visit to a bike festival in the southern Russian city of Novorossiisk, on August 29, 2011. Putin kicked off an election campaign on Monday revving up his three-wheeled Harley Davidson at the head of a bikers motorcade. (Reuters/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti) # 

Vladimir Putin talks to a member of the "Lena-2010" Russian-German scientific expedition on Samoilovsky Island in Far Eastern Federal District, on August 23, 2010. Putin traveled beyond the Arctic Circle on Monday to look into evidence on climate change after a record heatwave devastated central Russia this summer. (Reuters/Ria Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin) # 

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin looks at a bear while visiting the South Kamchatka Federal Sanctuary at Russia's Pacific Kamchatka peninsula, on August 24, 2010. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin) # 

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rides a horse in southern Siberia's Tuva region, on August 3, 2009.(Reuters/RIA Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin) # 

Vladimir Putin swims in a lake in southern Siberia's Tuva region, on August 3, 2009. (Reuters/RIA Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin) # 

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signs autographs for kids outside Khabarovsk, on August 27, 2010 during a visit in the region.(Alexei Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images) # 

Vladimir Putin aims at a whale with a crossbow, to take a piece of its skin for analysis on the Olga Bay, some 240 kilometers north-east of Nakhodka, on August 25, 2010. (Alexei Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images) # 

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attaches a satellite tracking tag to a Beluga whale named Dasha during his visit to Chkalov island, some 700 kms northeast of the city of Khabarovsk, on July 31, 2009. (Alexei Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images) # 

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin plays piano during a charity concert in Saint Petersburg, on December 10, 2010.(Alexei Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images) # 

Vladimir Putin feeds a young moose at the national park "Losiny Ostrov" in northeast Moscow, on June 5, 2010.(Reuters/RIA Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin) # 

In this Monday, August 29, 2011 photo, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin talks to leader of Nochniye Volki (the Night Wolves) biker group, Alexander Zaldostanov -- also known as Khirurg (the Surgeon) -- at a bikers' festival in the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, Russia. (AP photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin) # 

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin steers a boat near a bear on the shoreline, at the South Kamchatka Sanctuary outside Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Far East of Russia, on August 24, 2010. (Alexei Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images) # 

Vladimir Putin walks through brush in southern Siberia's Tuva region, rifle in hand, on August 15, 2007.(Reuters/RIA Novosti/KREMLIN) # 

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sits inside a T-90AM tank during his visit an exhibition in the Urals town of Nizhny Tagil, on September 9, 2011. (Reuters/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Pool) # 

Vladimir Putin strikes iron as he visits "Talsy" Architecture and Ethnography Museum in the Irkutsk Region of eastern Siberia on August 1, 2009. (Alexei Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images) # 

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin takes part in a training session for young ice hockey players before the start of the "Golden Puck" youth tournament finals in Moscow, on April 15, 2011. (Reuters/Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti) # 

Vladimir Putin takes part in an expedition to Ubsunur Hollow Biosphere Preserve to inspect the snow leopard's habitat in Tyva Republic in the Siberian Federal District, on October 29, 2010. (Reuters/Ria Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin) # 

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A video grab shows Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin looking through the porthole of the "Mir-2" mini-submersible in Lake Baikal, on August 1, 2009. Putin dove into the depths of the lake aboard the mini-submersible on Saturday, descending 1,400 meters (4,600 ft) below the surface of the world's deepest lake to inspect valuable gas crystals. (Reuters/RIA Novosti/Kremlin) # 

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin adjusts his sunglasses as he watches an air show during MAKS-2011, the International Aviation and Space Show, in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, on August 17, 2011.
Getting by: A woman plays her accordion along Arbat Street in Moscow, a popular pedestrian thoroughfare, as several men stand nearby watching her
Getting by: A woman plays her accordion along Arbat Street in Moscow, a popular pedestrian thoroughfare, as several men stand nearby watching her.

A young girl plays her violin for a crowd on Moscow's Arbat Street with her dog lounging in the violin caseAn accordionist performs on Arbat Street, a popular pedestrian thoroughfare

 
A young girl plays her violin for a crowd with her dog lounging in the violin case (left) and an accordionist (right) performs on Arbat Street in Moscow













































































A pair of weather-beaten woodsmen stare at a camera as they lean against a log pile in the bitter cold; in another image, a general resplendent in his military regalia strikes a pose.
These remarkable photos, from the late 19th and early 20th century, form part of a collection showing the many faces of Russia.
As well as depicting everyday scenes of city life - such as gatherings at marketplaces, and tramps in 1897 - they also focus on the political upheaval of the time, the rise of the Bolsheviks and the Russian Revolution.
There is even a shot of the nation's first car from the late 1890s - which looks more like a carriage than an automobile.
The pictures were taken by Maxim P Dmitriev - one of the founders of the photojournalism genre - who was a member of the Russian Photographic Society.
Woodsmen from late 19th century Russia, as photographed by Maxim P Dmitriev, one of the founders of the photojournalism genre
Woodsmen from late 19th century Russia, as photographed by Maxim P Dmitriev, one of the founders of the photojournalism genre
People gather at a marketplace in 1897. Dmitriev travelled the length of the Volga river to take his photographs
People gather at a marketplace in 1897. Dmitriev travelled the length of the Volga river to take his photographs
Oznobishin, a merchant caught on camera by Dmitriev, who observed society at all levels
Oznobishin, a merchant caught on camera by Dmitriev, who observed society at all levels
Tramps in 1897 in Nizhniy Novgorod, now Russia's fifth largest city
Tramps in 1897 in Nizhniy Novgorod, now Russia's fifth largest city
He travelled to cities along the Volga river and received numerous awards in  Paris, Amsterdam, Chicago and New York for his pioneering work.
Among his subjects was General Voitsekhovsky, who fought for the White army against the Bolshevik reds during the Russian Civil War of 1917-23.
Another shows a group of Old Believers deep in prayer.
Taken in 1897, they were members of a fundamentalist Russian orthodox sect which had been persecuted since the days of Peter the Great in the early 18th century.
When the Bolsheviks swept into power, many Old Believer communities fled to Siberia to escape religious persecution.
Life for them would become even worse during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s when Christianity and other religions were outlawed.
Russia's first car, seen here in 1897, had rubber tyres on wooden wheels, and had a top speed of 13mph
Russia's first car, seen here in 1897, had rubber tyres on wooden wheels, and had a top speed of 13mph
Children share a bowl of food in Bolshoi Murashkin in the early 1900s
Children share a bowl of food in Bolshoi Murashkin in the early 1900s
Huge crowds gather at Romodanovsky railway station
Huge crowds gather at Romodanovsky railway station
Policemen of Nizhniy Novgorod, which was the trade capital of the Russian Empire by the mid-19th century
Policemen of Nizhniy Novgorod, which was the trade capital of the Russian Empire by the mid-19th century
The early car pictured, which had rubber tyres on wooden wheels, was designed by E. Yakovlev and P. Freze and was presented at the Nizhniy Novgorod Industry and Art Exhibition.
It had a maximum speed of 13mph and carried enough fuel to run for ten hours. Although it was intended for mass production, it never quite took off - possibly because the public was not ready for such an innovation.
Other photographs shot in Nizhniy - which was the trade capital of the Russian Empire by the mid-19th century - include its police force and an extremely crowded railway station.
Maxim Petrovich Dmitriev was born in 1858 into a family of house servants.
As a boy, he moved to Moscow where he found work as a labourer. In 1873, he became a photographer's apprentice
Four years later, he was able to retouch work at his mentor's studio in Nizhniy Novgorod, at a time it was becoming a major industrial hub.
A meeting in Blagoveschenskya Square in 1917, at the start of the Russian Revolution
A meeting in Blagoveschenskya Square in 1917, at the start of the Russian Revolution
Kerzhensky Old Believers monastery. Taken in 1897, they were members of a fundamentalist Russian orthodox sect which had been persecuted since the days of Peter the Great
Kerzhensky Old Believers monastery in 1897. They were members of a fundamentalist Russian orthodox sect which had been persecuted since the days of Peter the Great in the early 18th century
He honed his skills into the 1880s, observing society at all levels, under the guidance of renowned Russian photographer Karelin.
By the 1890s, he opened a studio where he created the album The Year Of Poor Crops of 1891-1892, which was published in 1893.
This inspired other photographers and similar works began to appear in magazines and newspapers - leading to the concept of Russian 'photo-reporting'.
Other work by him at this time included The Peasants Receive The Charity Bread - increasing public awareness of such issues, which in turn influenced government policy.
After the revolution of 1917, the Soviets kept an eye on Dmitriev as he was the owner of a studio that employed a workforce.
He died in obscurity in Nizhniy in 1948.
Dmitriev received numerous awards in Paris, Amsterdam, Chicago and New York for his pioneering work
Dmitriev received numerous awards in Paris, Amsterdam, Chicago and New York for his pioneering work
Old Believers in prayer in 1897. When the Bolsheviks swept into power, many Old Believer communities fled to Siberia to escape religious persecution
Old Believers in prayer in 1897. When the Bolsheviks swept into power, many Old Believer communities fled to Siberia to escape religious persecution
A group of priests pose for Dmitriev
A group of priests pose for Dmitriev

World War One battle which saw Germany inflict critical defeat on Tsarist Russian

  • Battle made national hero out of German commander Paul von Hindenburg, after his forces overcame Russians
  • Some 200 history enthusiasts gathered today on hilly area in Szkotowo, northern Poland, to reconstruct battle
  • Engagement between Russian Second Army and German Eighth Army took place in early days of First World War
  • Russians had more than 50,000 killed and 92,000 taken prisoner, but the Germans only suffered 13,000 casualties



It was the fight that made a national hero out of German commander Paul von Hindenburg, after his forces crushingly overcame the Russians.
Now, 100 years on from the crucial Battle of Tannenberg, some 200 history enthusiasts gathered today on a hilly area in Poland for its reconstruction.
The critical engagement between the invading Russian Second Army and the German Eighth Army took place in the early days of the First World War.
Historic: Members of a military club participate in the reenactment of The Battle of Tannenberg on the battlefield at Szkotowo in northern Poland
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Historic: Members of a military club participate in the reenactment of The Battle of Tannenberg on the battlefield at Szkotowo in northern Poland
Fighting: Actors dressed as German and Russian soldiers take part in the reenactment ahead of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War
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Fighting: Actors dressed as German and Russian soldiers take part in the reenactment ahead of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War
Engagement: The battle was fought by the Russian Second Army against the German Eighth Army between August 26 and 30, 1914
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Engagement: The battle was fought by the Russian Second Army against the German Eighth Army between August 26 and 30, 1914
Location: The reenactment was held on the site of the original battle, which in 1914 was in eastern Prussia, but which now lies in Szkotowo, Poland
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Location: The reenactment was held on the site of the original battle, which in 1914 was in eastern Prussia, but which now lies in Szkotowo, Poland
Hats off: The reenactment took place just one day before the 100th anniversary of the start of the war, although the original battle took place in August 1914
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Hats off: The reenactment took place just one day before the 100th anniversary of the start of the war, although the original battle took place in August 1914
Problem: The lack of effective communication between the two Russian armies - separated by the Masurian Lakes - greatly contributed to their downfall
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Problem: The lack of effective communication between the two Russian armies - separated by the Masurian Lakes - greatly contributed to their downfall
The reenactment was held on the site of the original battle, which in 1914 was in eastern Prussia, but which now lies in Szkotowo, northern Poland.
It took place just one day before the 100th anniversary of the start of the war, although the battle itself took place from August 26 to 30, 1914.
That month, two Russian armies had invaded German East Prussia. The first was under Paul von Rennenkampf and the second Aleksandr Samsonov. Rennenkampf’s army defeated eight divisions of the German Eighth Army at Gumbinnen on August 20 - but did not make contact with Samsonov.
Then, German commanders Erich Ludendorff and Hindenburg launched a huge attack against Samsonov’s isolated army at Tannenberg on August 26.
The lack of effective communication between the two Russian armies - separated by the Masurian Lakes - greatly contributed to their downfall.
Surrender: History enthusiasts from across Europe gathered in northern Poland to reconstruct the Battle of Tannenberg
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Surrender: History enthusiasts from across Europe gathered in northern Poland to reconstruct the Battle of Tannenberg
Tactics: The Germans intercepted wireless messages from both Samsonov and Rennenkampf, and surprised the former's army with a strong attack
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Tactics: The Germans intercepted wireless messages from both Samsonov and Rennenkampf, and surprised the former's army with a strong attack
Riding: Samsonov lost half of his army during the first few days of the conflict and shot himself on August 30. By the end the Germans had taken 92,000 prisoners
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Riding: Samsonov lost half of his army during the first few days of the conflict and shot himself on August 30. By the end the Germans had taken 92,000 prisoners
Numbers: The Russians had had more than 50,000 killed, while the Germans only suffered a total of 13,000 casualties.
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Numbers: The Russians had had more than 50,000 killed, while the Germans only suffered a total of 13,000 casualties.
Dressed up: Actors dressed as Russian soldiers perform an attack, as another actor dressed as an orthodox priest, left, prays, during the reenactment
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Dressed up: Actors dressed as Russian soldiers perform an attack, as another actor dressed as an orthodox priest, left, prays, during the reenactment
Important moment: Tannenberg was a significant defeat for the Russians, who had lost almost an entire army along with 400 guns and other weapons
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Important moment: Tannenberg was a significant defeat for the Russians, who had lost almost an entire army along with 400 guns and other weapons
Helping hand: The battle made a national hero out of German commander Paul von Hindenburg, after his forces crushingly overcame the Russians
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Helping hand: The battle made a national hero out of German commander Paul von Hindenburg, after his forces crushingly overcame the Russians
The Germans intercepted wireless messages from both Samsonov and Rennenkampf, and surprised the former’s army with a strong attack.
Samsonov lost half of his army over the next few days and shot himself on August 30. By the end the Germans had taken 92,000 prisoners.
Meanwhile the Russians had had more than 50,000 killed, while the Germans only suffered a total of 13,000 casualties.
One of the next fights that took place was the Battle of the Marne, which saw British and French troops defeat Germans advancing towards Paris.
However, Tannenberg was a significant defeat for the Russians, who had lost almost an entire army along with 400 guns and other weapons.
The battle also saw Hindenburg first come under the national spotlight, before the highly-decorated field marshal became Germany's president in 1925.
Onwards: Russian soldiers charge at Tannenberg, during a First World War battle that they would eventually lose
Onwards: Russian soldiers charge at Tannenberg, during a First World War battle that they would eventually lose
Over the top: A memorial was later constructed on the site to honour the German soldiers who died during the 1914 battle. Here, Cossacks are pictured on the attack
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Over the top: A memorial was later constructed on the site to honour the German soldiers who died during the 1914 battle. Here, Cossacks are pictured on the attack
Looking out: German commanders Paul von Hindenburg (left) and Erich Ludendorff (second right) launched a huge attack against Samsonov's isolated army
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Looking out: German commanders Paul von Hindenburg (left) and Erich Ludendorff (second right) launched a huge attack against Samsonov's isolated army
Archive photograph: Russian soldiers drop their weapons and surrender at the Battle of Tannenberg in 1914
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Archive photograph: Russian soldiers drop their weapons and surrender at the Battle of Tannenberg in 1914
Following the fighting: German General Hermann von Francois surveys the destruction on the scene of the Battle of Tannenberg
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Following the fighting: German General Hermann von Francois surveys the destruction on the scene of the Battle of Tannenberg
Destruction: Buildings lay in ruins following fighting during the Battle of Tannenberg in 1914
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Destruction: Buildings lay in ruins following fighting during the Battle of Tannenberg in 1914
Loot after the battle: The Second Russian army was beaten destructively by the Eighth German Army under Hindenburg
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Loot after the battle: The Second Russian army was beaten destructively by the Eighth German Army under Hindenburg
Directions: This map shows what happened up to and including the battle, with Rennenkampf's army defeating the Germans at Gumbinnen on August 20
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Directions: This map shows what happened up to and including the battle, with Rennenkampf's army defeating the Germans at Gumbinnen on August 20
Mapped out: The Battle of Tannenberg happened on ground in what is now the village of Szkotowo in northern Poland
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Mapped out: The Battle of Tannenberg happened on ground in what is now the village of Szkotowo in northern Poland
The victory also brought renown for Ludendorff, and saw him made quartermaster general when Hindenburg was appointed chief of staff in 1916.
The fight is also sometimes known as the second Battle of Tannenberg, with the first taking place in 1410 when the Poles defeated the Teutonic Knights.
A memorial was constructed on the site under the direction of Hindenburg in 1927 to honour the German soldiers who died during the 1914 battle.
When Hindenburg died in 1934, his coffin was placed there and Adolf Hitler ordered the monument to be redesigned and renamed.
However, as the Russians approached in 1945, German troops removed Hindenburg's remains. The site was then demolished by the Polish in 1950.









Color America
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At Beecher Street School. Southington, Connecticut, May 1942. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Fenno Jacobs. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Color America
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Street corner. Dillon, Montana, August 1942. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Russell Lee. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
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Shepherd with his horse and dog on Gravelly Range Madison County, Montana, August 1942. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Russell Lee. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Color America
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Servicing an A-20 bomber. Langley Field, Virginia, July 1942. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Alfred T. Palmer. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
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Marine glider at Page Field. Parris Island, South Carolina, May 1942. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Alfred T. Palmer. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Color America
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M-4 tank crews of the United States. Fort Knox, Kentucky, June 1942. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Alfred T. Palmer. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Color America
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Welder making boilers for a ship, Combustion Engineering Company. Chattanooga, Tennessee, June 1942. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Alfred T. Palmer. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Color America
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Construction work at the TVA's Douglas Dam. Tennessee, June 1942. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Alfred T. Palmer. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Color America
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Assembling B-25 bombers at North American Aviation. Kansas City, Kansas, October 1942. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Alfred T. Palmer. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Now:

CHART: U.S. Military Spending Vs. The World


The increase in 2010 is almost entirely down to the United States, which accounted for $19.6 billion of the $20.6 billion real-terms increase.  Excluding the U.S., the total in the ‘rest of the world’ barely changed in 2010, increasing by a statistically insignificant 0.1 per cent.
Greg Scoblete summarizes the rest of the world:
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has a new report out highlighting global military expenditures.  As the above chart indicates, the U.S. retains a healthy lead.
Regionally, defense spending in Europe has fallen 2.8 percent while spending in South America has risen by 5.8 percent and in Africa by 5.2 percent. Brazil drove a lot of the South American growth. Asia rose only a modest 1.4 percent, which the Institute said was slower than previous years. Overall, global military expenditures ticked up slightly at 1.3 percent, the slowest growth rate since 2001.












 
Twenty years ago, on December 25, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as president of the Soviet Union, declaring the office extinct and dissolving the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), a massive communist empire that had existed since 1922. The USSR had been in a long economic stagnation when Gorbachev came to power in 1985. In order to bring about change, he introduced several reforms, including perestroika (economic restructuring) and glasnost (openness). Glasnost opened the floodgates of protest and many republics made moves toward independence, threatening the continued existence of the USSR. In August of 1991, a group of Communist Party hardliners frustrated by the separatist movement attempted to stage a coup. They quickly failed due to a massive show of civil resistance -- but the already-faltering government was destabilized even further by the attempt. By December of 1991, 16 Soviet republics had declared their independence, and Gorbachev handed over power to Russian president Boris Yeltsin, ending the USSR. Collected here are photos from those tumultuous months 20 years ago. Bonus: Memories of photojournalist Alain-Pierre Hovasse, first-hand witness to these events, are collected
A woman reaches into her bag, which rests on a fallen Soviet hammer-and-sickle on a Moscow street in 1991. December 25, 2011 will mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman reaches into her bag, which rests on a fallen Soviet hammer-and-sickle on a Moscow street in 1991. December 25, 2011 will mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)
 
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Lithuanians carry Lithuanian flags in the center of Vilnius on January 10, 1990, during demonstration asking for the country's independence. In early 1990, Sajudis-Reform Movement of Lithuania backed candidates won the elections to the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet. On March 11, 1990, the Supreme Soviet proclaimed the re-establishment of Lithuanian independence. The Baltic republics were in forefront of the struggle for independence and Lithuania was the first of the Soviet republics to declare independence. (Vitaly Armand/AFP/Getty Images) #
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Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, center, in animated conversation with residents of Vilnius, Lithuania, on Thursday, January 11, 1990. Gorbachev was in the Lithuanian capital to press for reversal of the local communist party's decision to split from Moscow and to slow the republic's drive for complete independence. (AP Photo/Victor Yurchenko) #
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A crowd blocks the passage of Soviet tanks on a road near Ganja, formerly Kirovabad, in Soviet Azerbaijan, on January 22, 1990. Troops sent into the area last week to quell ethnic violence met both armed and peaceful resistance. (AP Photo) #
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People buy teacups in the Vilnius downtown shop on Friday, April 27, 1990. Despite an economic blockade of Lithuania by Soviet forces, shops in Vilnius are well supplied with food and other goods as Lithuania entered the 10th day of a blockade. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic) #
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Residents face a cordon of Soviet Interior Ministry troops in front of the local Communist Party Headquarters in the Tajikistan capital of Dushanbe, on February 15, 1990. Soviet authorities declared a state of emergency in the city, following ethnic rioting. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti) #
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Two Soviet paratroopers inspect weapons confiscated from a local militia organization in Kaunas, Lithuania on Sunday, March 26, 1990. Soviet President Gorbachev ordered all Lithuanians to surrender their firearms to Soviet authorities. (AP Photo/Vadimir Vyatkin/Novisti) #
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Soviet mothers who lost their sons in the Red Army are held back by State militia as they hold photographs of their loved ones in Red Square, on Monday, December 24, 1990. A group of about 200 Soviet parents who have all lost sons through ethnic violence and accidents within the Soviet armed services demonstrated outside the Kremlin. 6,000 Soviet service men were killed during 1990. (AP Photo/Martin Cleaver) #
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About 100,000 demonstrators march on the Kremlin in Moscow on January 20, 1991. Many called for the resignation of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev protesting against the Soviet army crackdown against the nationalist Lithuanian authorities. Lithuania had been the first Baltic Republic to proclaim its independence in March 1990. (Vitaly Armand/AFP/Getty Images) #
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Soviet soldiers patrol an emptied Red Square in Moscow, on March 27, 1991, after the area had been blocked off in anticipation of a pro-Yeltsin rally. (AFP/EPA/Alain-Pierre Hovasse) #
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Anti-Soviet political graffiti filled an entire wall in Vilnius on January 17, 1991. The wall surrounding the Lithuanian parliament was erected to defend against a possible raid by Soviet troops. Many Soviet army deserters pinned their draft cards to a defaced poster of President Mikhail Gorbachev. (AP Photo/Liu Heung Shing) #
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In this photo taken on January 13, 1991, a Lithuanian demonstrator runs in front of a Soviet Red Army tank during an assault on the Lithuanian Radio and Television station in Vilnius. Soviet troops opened fire on unarmed civilians in Vilnius, killing 13 people and injuring 100 others. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images) #
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An armed Lithuanian volunteer guard wakes up as his fellow compatriot slept in Vilnius, Lithuania, on January 23, 1991. Hundreds of gunmen held vigil in the heavily fortified Lithuanian parliament while Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev urged all Baltic republics to prevent further violence. (AP Photo/Liu Heung Shing) #
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Pall-bearers carry a flag-draped casket during a funeral procession through Vilnius, on January 16, 1991, for 10 of the 13 people killed when Soviet troops stormed the Lithuanian broadcast center the previous weekend. Hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians jammed the procession route to mourn their national heroes. (AP Photo) #
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Hundreds of thousands of protesters pack Moscow's Manezh Square next to the Kremlin, on March 10, 1991, demanding that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and his fellow Communists give up power. The crowd, estimated at 500,000, was the biggest anti-government demonstration in the 73 years of since the Communists took power, and came a week before the nationwide referendum on Gorbachev's union treaty. (AP Photo/Dominique Mollard) #
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A few weeks before the Coup, Mikhail Gorbachev stands surrounded by his so-called friends, all of them soon to be leaders of the August Coup against him. Vice President Gennady Yanayev, second from right, became the most visible of the Coup leaders. Here, they are lighting the flame at the tomb of the unknown soldier outside the Kremlin wall in May of 1991. (AFP/EPA/Alain-Pierre Hovasse) #
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Soviet Army tanks parked near Spassky Gate, an entrance to the Kremlin and Basil's Cathedral in Moscow's Red Square after a coup toppled Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev on August 19, 1991. Tanks rolled through Moscow towards the Russian White House, where Boris Yeltsin, leader of the Soviet-era Russian republic at the time, gathered his supporters after denouncing the coup. (Dima Tanin/AFP/Getty Images) #
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The leaders of the August Coup: from left, Soviet Interior Minister Boris Pugo, Soviet Vice President Gennady Yanayev, and Oleg Baklanov, the first Vice-President of the Soviet Defence Council. These men were members of the self-styled "committee for the state of emergency" which headed the coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Here, they gave a press conference on August 19, 1991 in Moscow. (Vitaly Armand/AFP/Getty Images) #
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A crowd gathers around a personnel carrier as some people climb aboard the vehicle and try to block its advance near Red Square in downtown Moscow, on August 19, 1991. Military vehicles were on the streets of Moscow following the announcement that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was replaced by Gennady I. Yanayev in a coup attempt by hard-line Communists. (AP Photo/Boris Yurchenko) #
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Supporters of Russian president Yeltsin roll a large metal pipe to use as a barricade near the Russian federation building in Moscow, on August 19, 1991, following a military coup attempt by Soviet hardliners. (Anatoly Sapronyenkov/AFP/Getty Images) #
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Russian President Boris Yeltsin (left) stands on top of an armored vehicle parked in front of the Russian Federation building as supporters hold a Russian federation flag on August 19, 1991, during a coup attempt. Yeltsin addressed a crowd of supporters calling for a general strike. (Diane-Lu Hovasse/AFP/Getty Images) #
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A picture shows Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev speaking in a video message taped on August 19, 1991, the second day of his captivity. Gorbachev said there had been an unconstitutional coup and that he was completely well. Photo taken on August 25, 1991. (NBC TV/AFP/Getty Images) #
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A pro-democracy demonstrator fights with a Soviet soldier on top of a tank parked in front of the Russian Federation building on August 19, 1991, after a coup toppled Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. The same day, thousands in Moscow, Leningrad, and other cities answered Russian Republic President Boris Yeltsin's call to raise barricades against tanks and troops. (Dima Tanin/AFP/Getty Images) #
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A defiant Russian President Boris Yeltsin (left) raises a fist to his supporters from the Russian Federation building in Moscow on August 19, 1991, calling on them to hold a general strike and to resist the pro-communist coup against Soviet President Gorbachev. (Dima Tanin/AFP/Getty Images) #
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Over 50,000 people ignore a declared state of emergency and gather in front of the Russian parliament building in order to support Boris Yeltsin, on August 20, 1991. (Vitaly Armand/AFP/Getty Images) #
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A pro-democracy demonstrator argues with a Soviet soldier late on August 20, 1991, as a tank blocked access to the center of Moscow. (Andre Durand/AFP/Getty Images) #
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Residents play music and talk to soldiers in front of the Russian White House in central Moscow early on August 20, 1991. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images) #
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People stand on a barricade in front the Russian White House in Moscow on August 21, 1991. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images) #
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A soldier waves a Russian flag from the top of his tank as armored units leave their positions in Moscow following the collapse of the military coup against president Gorbachev on August 21, 1991. Coup leaders fled the capital and president Gorbachev was rumored to be returning soon. (Willy Slingerland/AFP/Getty Images) #
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Part of a large crowd, outside the Russian Parliament building in Moscow, celebrates the news that the hardline Communist coup has failed, on August 22, 1991. (AP Photo) #
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Celebrations in Moscow after the failure of the coup attempt, and remembrances of those killed in the violence, in August of 1991. (AFP/EPA/Alain-Pierre Hovasse) #
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A crowd watches the statue of KGB founder Dzerzhinsky being toppled in Lubyanskaya Square in Moscow, on August 22, 1991. (Anatoly Sapronenkov/AFP/Getty Images) #
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President Mikhail Gorbachev, in the Soviet Parliament right after his return from being under house arrest during the August, 1991 coup. (AFP/EPA/Alain-Pierre Hovasse) #
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People follow a funeral procession for the victims of the coup in front of Russian White House in Moscow on August 24, 1991, after the coup attempt failed. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images) #
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A group of Boris Yeltsin supporters rip apart one of the barricades surrounding the Russian federation building in Moscow, on August 25, 1991, following a coup attempt a few days before that eventually failed. (Alain-Pierre Hovasse/AFP/Getty Images) #
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A Baku resident uses an axe to hack apart a placard showing a portrait of Russian Bolshevik revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin, on September 21, 1991. Azerbaijan was proclaimed a Soviet Socialist Republic by Soviet Union in 1920. The Azeri National Council voted for its declaration of independence in 1991. (Anatoly Sapronenkov/AFP/Getty Images) #
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A member of the KGB (right) who requested anonymity hands over his weapon to a Lithuanian official before leaving the KGB headquarters in Vilnius after Lithuanian government decided to drop the Soviet secret service organization, on August 31, 1991. (Stephan Bentura/AFP/Getty Images) #
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Soviet rock fans attend a concert in Moscow on September 28, 1991. Half a million people jammed an airfield to see the Monsters of Rock concert featuring AC/DC, Pantera and Metallica at the Soviet Union's biggest Western rock concert, touted as a gift to Russian youth for their resistance to last month's coup. (AP Photo/Massimo Alabresi) #
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A young Lithuanian girl sits on the toppled statue of Russian Bolshevik revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin in Vilnius after the monument was removed from the center of the Lithuanian capital, on September 1, 1991. (Gerard Fouet/AFP/Getty Images) #
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A jubilant Chechen secessionist with clenched fists opens his arms to the crowd during a rally in Grozny, on November 14, 1991, to celebrate the pullout of Soviet troops from the Muslim enclave in Southern Russia. (AP Photo) #
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Citizens of the Ukraine vote on a referendum for independence from the Soviet Union at the Ukraine Embassy in Moscow, on December 1, 1991. (AP Photo/Boris Yurchenko) #
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The Musichick family watches Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's resignation speech on Soviet television in their downtown Moscow apartment, on December 25, 1991. Gorbachev, whose reforms gave Soviet citizens freedom but ultimately led to the destruction of his nation resigned on as President of a Communist empire that no longer exists. (AP Photo/Sergei Kharpukhin) #
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For one of the last times, the Soviet flag flies over the Kremlin at Red Square in Moscow, on Saturday night, December 21, 1991. The flag was replaced by the Russian flag on New Year's. (AP Photo/Gene Berman) #

“My friend Alain-Pierre Hovasse is a photojournalist who was based in Moscow in August of 1991, and was a firsthand witness to many of the historic events - six of the photos above were taken by him. I asked if he'd be interested in sharing some observations from that time, happily he agreed and has shared his memories here:”


“In 1991, I was hired away from Reuters in London to be Chief Photographer for the Agence France Presse and the European Press Agency in Moscow. It was perestroika (restructuring) under Gorbachev's tenure in the USSR; changes had been taking place since the collapse of the Berlin Wall and other Soviet satellites in 1989, and AFP had until then no permanent photographer in Moscow.
Two weeks after I arrived, the biggest spontaneous political gathering since the Revolution took place near Red Square. These were pro-Yeltsin people, a few months before the very first democratic elections took place in the history of Russia and the USSR elected him president of the Russian Federation and put him on a collision course with Gorbachev. It wasn't always easy knowing what to cover and how, and my only assistant was a really bad KGB-apppointed photo stringer whose only claim to fame was to be the illegitimate grandchild of Lenin's French mistress! There was a great team of AFP reporters at the time, however, and little by little I began to hire local photographers and train them from scratch as events unfolded.
Sending photos back to Paris had to be done through the only international phone line our office was allowed to have, and since the correspondents used it as well, there was always a certain amount of delay. For assignments outside of Moscow, photographers simply had to fly back the same day with their film.
Although there was plenty going on, mostly the political movement took place out of sight, and I did a lot of features to show how Moscovites lived and the rapid changes taking place. Moscow was relatively quiet that summer. Most correspondents were away on holiday and on Monday morning, August 17, I woke up to the BBC World Service announcing a Coup against Gorbachev and a certain mobilization of troops. I sprang out of bed, grabbed my cameras and started driving around town looking for activity, of which there was very little. Finally, around 9 in the morning, a line of armed personnel carriers parked on a quiet street. Then a line of tanks crossed a bridge across from the Russian Parliament, and crowds started to gather. It was a photographer's dream and as my apartment was right next door to the Parliament, I had front row seats to the events. I took a lot of photos, and knowing that Paris would be anxious for some early photos, I raced off to the office to file them.
My wife had been standing outside our apartment when she saw Yeltsin emerge from the building and climb on top of one of the tanks. Her snapshot of the event became one of the iconic images of the coup, showing the courage of the Russian leader refusing to surrender to the aging and inept Soviet cabal supposedly in charge.
The next few days were a blur, as hundreds of people gathered around the Parliament amid rumours of counter-coups, army and air attacks, and so on. It was all quite tense and I had by then flown my pregnant wife back to London. No one knew what would take place. The tank commanders, initially placed to protect the coup itself, had quickly changed their allegiance to Yeltsin and so "protected" the White House. The leaders of the coup, all so-called "friends" of Gorbachev, were inept and disorganized and the whole thing fell apart quickly. Yeltsin's appearance on the tank, and his general pugnacious nature, really shifted a lot of popular opinion to him.
A few days later as the coup collapsed, Gorbachev came back but really miscalculated the significance of the event, and Yeltsin took advantage of his growing popular support to consolidate his power. I took hundreds of photos at the Russian Parliament nearby and the Soviet parliament across town in the Kremlin. We really had a notion that life here was changing dramatically, almost every day. Being a child of the Cold War, I remember feeling
elated and privileged to be there at that time, to witness the apparent demise of this repressive political regime. 
Before the coup, Yeltsin's photographer, Dima would come by once in a while to sell me photos. On the day of the Coup however, I had an idea of putting him on exclusive contract with me, something he readily accepted since TASS, his agency, tended to bury all Yeltsin photos. But it was obvious that Yeltsin's star was rising fast, and having open access to him would be a good thing! 
From the coup onwards, the job was 24/7 and my crew grew to around a dozen very able local stringers. It was such a big story. We covered everything and Paris was very, very happy. I was in the Kremlin the day Gorbachev dissolved the Communist Party, which was pretty momentous. The Soviet Union was falling apart, with conflicts and protests in the Ukraine, Georgia, Abkhazia, and many other places. We covered as much as we could and by the fall and winter of that year, food was in short supply. The ruble was nearly worthless. The major concern from the world's major powers was over control of the huge Soviet nuclear arsenal, and I sat countless times in Gorbachev's private office while various world leaders and their representatives came to offer help and get reassurances. 
On Dec 25, Gorbachev signed the decree finally dissolving the USSR, and I watched as he read his speech in the Kremlin. This was a key moment, of course, but Gorbachev's relations with Yeltsin had gotten worse, and he failed to announce a peaceful transfer of power to Yeltsin, which was the moment we had all been waiting for. Yelstin was nowhere to be found, but as I stepped out of the Kremlin, I saw that the Russian flag had replaced the Soviet flag over the Kremlin. One of my stringers had caught the moment of transfer earlier that night, which won us a double page in Time magazine. 
Later that night, Yeltsin's photographer called around midnight to offer me photos of Yeltsin sitting with General Shaposhnikov, the new head of the Russian Armed Forces (he had prevented an air attack on the Russian White House during the August Coup, and had been well rewarded) along with a couple of KGB experts being shown the famous briefcase which controlled the nuclear arsenal. This was a huge scoop and the two photos were played worldwide.”













































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