Front page article from The New York Times, dated July 20, 1918
London, July 20 — Nicholas Romanoff, ex-Czar of Russia, was shot July 16, according to a Russian announcement by wireless today.
The former Empress and Alexis Romanoff, the young heir, have been sent to a place of security.
The message announces that a counter-revolutionary conspiracy was discovered, with the object of wrestling the ex-Emperor from the authority of the Soviet Council. In view of this fact the approach of Czechoclovak bands, the President of the Ural Regional Council decided to execute the former ruler, and the decision was carried out on July 16.
The central executive body of the Bolshevist Government announces that it has important documents concerning the former Emperor’s affairs, including his own diaries ad letters from the monk Rasputin, who was killed shortly before the revolution. These will be published in the near future, the message declares.
The text of the Russian wireless message reads:
“At the first session of the Central Executive Committee, elected by the fifth Congress of the Councils, a message was made public that had been received by direct wire from the Ural Regional Council concerning the shooting of the ex-Czar Nicholas Romanoff.
“Recently Yekaterinburg, the capital of the Red Urals, was seriously threatened by the approach of Czechoslovak hands and a counter-revolutionary conspiracy was discovered which had as its object the wresting of the ex-Czar from the hands of the council’s authority. In view of this fact, the President of the Ural Regional Council decided to shoot the ex-Czar, and the decision was carried out on July 16.
“The wife and the son of Nicholas Romanoff have been sent to a place of security.
“Documents concerning the conspiracy which was discovered have been forwarded to Moscow by a special messenger. It had been recently decided to bring the ex-Czar before a tribunal to be tried for his crimes against the people, and only later occurrences led to delay in adopting this course.
“The Presidency of the Central Executive Committee, having discussed the circumstances which compelled the Ural Regional Council to take its decision to shoot Nicholas Romanoff, decided as follows:
“The Russian Central Executive Committee, in the person of its President, accepts the decision of the Ural Regional Council as being regular.
“The Central Executive Committee has now at its disposal extremely important documents concerning the affairs of Nicholas Romanoff — his diaries, which he kept almost up to his last days, the diaries of his wife and his children, and his correspondence, among which are the letters of Gregory Rasputin to the Romanoff family. These materials will be examined and published in the near future.”
There have been rumors since June 24 that ex-Czar Nicholas of Russia had been assassinated. The first of these stated that he had been killed at Yekaterinburg by Red Guards. This report was denied later, but this denial was closely followed by a Geneva dispatch saying that Nicholas had been executed by the Bolsheviki after a trial at Yekaterinburg. This report seemed to be confirmed by advices to Washington from Stockholm.
The next report was what purported to be an intercepted wireless message from M. Tchicherin, the Bolshevist Foreign Minister, in which it was stated that Nicholas was dead. Still another report was to the effect that he had been bayonetted by a guard while being taken from Yekaterinburg to Perm. Of all these reports there was no direct confirmation.
There seemingly is no question that yesterday’s dispatch is authentic. It comes in the form of a Russian wireless dispatch, and as the wireless plants of Russia are under the control of the Bolsheviki, it appears that it is an official version of the death of the former Emperor.
Months following the announcement, the royal family were believed to still be alive.
How Close Did The Romanovs Come To Be Rescued?
This map shows the disposition of White Army troops in relation to where the royal family was being held prisoner, suggesting a rescue attempt may have been underway.
This article from The Sunday Times relates a secret plan to rescue the Romanovs by British intelligence…
From The Sunday Times
October 15, 2006
British spies in plot to save tsar
A NEWLY discovered diary has uncovered a plot by the British secret services to rescue the last tsar and his family from the house in Ekaterinburg where he was imprisoned by the communists and later executed.
The diary of Captain Stephen Alley, second in command of the British intelligence mission in Petrograd — now St Petersburg — shows he positioned four undercover agents ready to extract what he called “the valuables” — the deposed Tsar Nicholas II and the Russian imperial family — from the House of Special Purpose where they were held.
The diary also includes a sketch map drawn by Alley of the house and its surroundings.
It used to be believed that Britain had abandoned the tsar, his wife Alexandra — a granddaughter of Queen Victoria — and their children. But in recent years evidence has emerged that both King George V and the government of David Lloyd George were willing to rescue the family. No evidence has previously come to light, however, of the advanced stage that preparations had reached.
Alley’s diary was found accidentally by his descendants in a trunk of his papers and will be featured in Queen Victoria’s Grandchildren, a documentary to be shown on Channel 4 in December.
The diary shows that, after they had been sprung from custody, the tsar and his family were to be taken by train to Murmansk and then shipped to safety by the Royal Navy.
On May 24, 1918, Alley, who was employed by MI1 (c), part of what became MI6, wrote to the War Office in London naming the six Russian- speaking officers he wanted to carry out the rescue. He asked London for a grant of £1,000 a month (about £25,000 today) due to “increased requirements for intelligence purposes”.
Andrew Cook, the historian who has examined the papers for the documentary, believes Alley’s telegrams to London may have been intercepted, leading the Bolsheviks to reinforce defences around the tsar’s prison. “At the first hint of a rescue the whole family would have been shot,” he said.
Alley’s apparent reluctance to activate the plot led to his sacking and recall to Britain. He worked for MI5 in the second world war and died in 1969 at the age of 93.
He always kept his work secret, even from Beatrice, his wife. Anthony Summers, author of The File on the Tsar, said: “She told me that when she asked her husband what he did, he would say, ‘Sometimes I will go away for a night and sometimes for a year, and I won’t be able to tell you where I am, but I’m working for the king.’ She thought he was going for dirty weekends.