History : Jul-Aug 2018
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC HISTORY 81 They did not understand that, little by little, each escape route was closing until only one was left, the worst one: the road to Yekaterinburg. The most radicalized city in Russia, Yekater- inburg was strongly communist and fanatically anti-tsarist. “I would go anywhere at all, only not to the Urals,” Nicholas is reported to have said as the train approached his final residence. The family stayed in a large building known as the Ipatiev House, after its former owner. A high wooden palisade was constructed to cut off the outside world. They had the use of a garden for exercise. The man in charge, Avdeev, was cor- rupt (his men stole freely from the Romanovs) but not cruel. The guards were ordinary men, MICHAEL NICHOLSON/GETTY IMAGES THE “ROYAL DISEASE” HEMOPHILIA RAN in the family of the tsarina Alexandra, who inherited it from her grandmother, Britain’s Queen Victoria, and passed it on to her son, Alexei. This genetic condition impairs the blood’s ability to clot, which allows seemingly minor injuries to cause serious problems. In Alexei’s case, a small bump might trigger extreme internal bleeding and put his veins at risk of rupturing. His joints were particularly vulnerable and could become inflamed, the damaged tissue pressing on the nerves and causing intense pain. The development in 1936 of an agent that could help control bleeding came too late for Alexei, whose only hope—as his mother believed—lay in the mystical healing powers of Rasputin. ALEXEI, AGE EIGHT OR NINE, GAZES INTO THE CAMERA WHILE PLAYING WITH HIS MOTHER’S PEARL NECKLACE IN THIS 1913 IMAGE.