The Romanov Family
The fact that the two sources, A and B convey similar accounts of the
murder of the Romanov’s does not necessarily mean that they are to be
trusted as reliable sources. However it does imply that there is
likely to be some truth in the content of the sources. The two sources
agree in several ways, such as the idea that the tsar was shot in the
Ipatiev house, along with the two servants, the maid and the family
doctor, Dr Botkin. They also agree on the concept that all of the
victims killed were shot dead.
There are however, many different points and disagreements between the
sources, which suggest that they are unreliable, despite the fact that
they share similar content.
The first clue that the sources may not be trustworthy is the fact
that they are both relying on the account of the same person, Judge
Sergeyev. Source A is taken from an American newspaper report
on Sergeyev’s findings, and source B is an account of a British
reporter who heard
his theory of how the Romanov’s died. This means
that should Sergeyev be incorrect or concealing the truth, then both
sources would be useless, and so both sources are dependant on the
honesty, and accuracy of Judge Sergeyev.
Both sources use rather vague language when describing their accounts.
This means that they can lead the reader into forming incorrect
opinions, and jumping to conclusions. Firstly, both sources use the
word ‘supposed’ when telling the reader where the Romanov’s were
murdered. For example, source A says, ‘where the crime was supposed to
have been committed.’ Source B also says, ‘the house where the Tsar is
supposed to have been shot.’ This lack of certainty shows the sources
to be unreliable, as both sources seem to be relying on the unproved
theory that the Romanov’s were killed in the Ipatiev house. The
sources are also very vague about who was killed in the house. Source
B says, ‘there is no real evidence as to who or how many victims there
were. It is supposed that there were five.’ Source A also says, ‘ I do
not believe that all the people, the Tsar, his family, and those with
them were shot there.’ This shows that there was a great deal of
uncertainty, and that there is no evidence that all of the Romanov’s
The Romanov’s were killed during the communist revolution, and it was
almost certain at the time that this was the work of Bolshevik
communists. Source A is from a report in an American newspaper. This
source is likely to be biased, as the American leaders greatly opposed
and feared the spread of communism, and were involved with the Civil
war in Russia. By causing the communists to look like brutal murderers
the Americans could give them a bad image to prevent them from
becoming popular, and boost the support for the Whites in Russia. The
Americans could also deflect criticism from themselves by causing
Russia to look as bad as possible. If the American people were to read
about turmoil in Russia, with leaders being shot, then it is likely
that they would begin to feel more proud and secure in their own
country during a difficult period. Making people feel content and
secure in their own country is the most effective way of reducing the
support for extreme measures such as communist revolutions. Source B
is slightly more reliable in this respect, as the source is a high
profile report, written by a British diplomat, intended for the
government intelligence, as opposed to the public. This means that it
is less likely that the information is incorrect, however there is
still a large possibility that it is biased, as the British government
held similar views on communism to the American government.
The fact that the two sources are written in the same year (1918) as
the disappearance of the Romanov’s means that they are both primary
sources. This, combined with the fact that Judge Sergeyev, upon who’s
account the sources are based gives us reason to believe that the
sources could be slightly biased and emotional, as Sergeyev was sacked
during his investigation and replaced by judge Skolov.
Information taken from other sources also contradicts these sources,
and proves them to be unreliable. For example, Source D says that the
all the members of the Tsars family were lying on the floor, after
having been shot, whilst source A says, ‘I do not believe that all the
people were shot there.’ However, the reliability of such sources is,
in turn, questionable. Source A is also challenged by source C, which
says, 'Sergeyev, on handing the case to me, had no doubt about the
fact that the entire Romanov family
had been massacred in the Ipatiev
House’, whilst Source A, which is also Sergeyev’s account, says ‘The
Empress, the Tsar’s son, and the four other children were not shot in
that house.’ This shows that somewhere along the line, Sergeyev has
The final sentence of source B says, ‘a train left Ekaterinburg and it
is believed that the surviving members of the royal family were in
it’. This is contradicted by sources such as source D, which says that
the entire family was killed, and that, ‘the corpses were taken out to
On the other hand, there are a number of points, which suggest that
the two sources are reliable. Firstly, the fact that Judge Sergeyev
was sacked, means that it is likely that he would have been more
willing to disclose secret information which would be used in sources
A and B.
The two sources both agree in the respect that they each say that five
people were killed, ‘the Tsar, Dr Botkin, the Empress’s maid and two
servants.’ Each source also mentions the use of guns, as source A
says, ‘I believe, however, that the Tsar, the family doctor, two
servants and the maid were shot in the Ipatiev House’, whilst source B
also quotes, ‘where the Tsar is supposed to have been shot’. In
addition to this, sources C, D, E, F, G, and I all imply that the
victims were killed using guns. The fact that the Tsar was killed also
repeatedly crops up in sources C, D, E, G, I and J.
Source B says that, ‘the position of the bullets indicated that the
victims had been shot while kneeling’. This is reflected in source G,
which shows the guards shooting downwards towards the kneeling Tsar,
and in source F, which shows a large number of bullet holes in the
floor and at the bottom of the wall.
Drawing to a conclusion, there are a number of similarities which
allow us to place slightly more confidence in them, however they do,
by no means prove that the sources are Reliable. The number of
differences between the two sources, and also other sources far
outweigh the number of similarities. In addition to this, the two
sources are not entirely independent, as they are both based on the
findings of Judge Sergeyev.
Question 2. (b) How far does the account in Source C differ from those
in Sources B and A?
There are a number of ways in which the events in source C differ from
those of Sources A and B. On the other hand, there are also several
similarities between the sources.
The first similarity between the sources is the fact that sources A
and C agree that the murders took place on the downstairs floor, as
source A says, ‘the lower storey of the building’ and source C says
‘in the basement’. All three sources show that the victims were shot
to death, however source C uses more detail, and says that bayonets
were also used.
Sources A, B and C are also similar in the way that they are extremely
uncertain as to exactly who was murdered in the Ipatiev house, and how
many people. However, Sokolov gives a logical reason in source C, for
why he believes that Several people were killed, when he says,
‘Several people were murdered because one person could not change his
position so much and submit so many blows.’
Sources B and C also indicate that the murders took place around late
July. However, Source B says that the surviving members of the royal
family left Ekaterinburg by train on the 17th of July, implying that
the murders took place before this date. On the other hand, Source C
says that, ‘Between 17 and 22 July a murder occurred in the house’.
Source C also shares a key similarity with Source B, in that parts of
it were never presented to the public. This means that these sources
are likely to be more reliable an useful than sources such as Source A
which is extremely likely to be biased.
A large amount of differences between the account in source C and
those of sources A and B are also noticeable. To begin with, Source C
shows a much greater amount of intelligence about the disposal of the
bodies after the supposed murders. The source describes in reasonable
detail how they were driven to the ‘Four Brothers mine’, before being
burned in petrol and sulphuric acid. On the other hand, source B gives
an extremely vague description of what happened, which contradicts
source C, as it says, ‘no trace of them having been burned.’
Source A differs greatly to source C in the way it is written, and for
whom it is written to. Source A is taken from a public newspaper in
America, making it much more narrative, and less factual and possibly
less reliable, whereas source C is written for a book, and it is more
factual and definite. For example, source C says, ‘no doubt about the
fact that the entire Romanov family had been massacred in the Ipatiev
house, whereas source A says, ‘I do not believe that all the people
were shot there’
Source C was also written 5 years later than sources A and B. This
means that more evidence about the case could have been discovered
since Sources A and B were written, which would explain why Source C
contains far greater amounts of detail about the disposal of the
bodies. This suggests that source C is likely to be slightly more
reliable than sources A and B.
Source C also gives more detail on the actual murder. Skolov says in
Source C, ‘More than thirty shots were fired,’ whereas source A simply
says, ‘the Tsar, his family, and those with him, were shot.’
Question 3 (c). Source D must be reliable because it is an eyewitness
account. Do you agree?
The fact that source D is an eyewitness account does not necessarily
mean that it is to be taken readily as a reliable source. On the other
hand, eyewitness accounts can be more accurate than other kinds of
source, as there is less scope for the information to be twisted and
misinterpreted though information being passed on. The reliability of
the source is almost totally dependant on the nature and condition of
the witness. Source E also contains information, which the witness,
Pavel Medvedev may not have disclosed in his report. Whilst there are
points which can be used to argue that source D is reliable, there are
also points which show that it is not necessarily trustworthy.
To begin with, Source D implies that the whole family were killed,
along with the doctor and the Empresses maid, as Medvedev says, ‘The
Empress sat down by the wall, behind her stood three of her daughters.
The Emperor was in the middle, next to the heir, and behind them stood
Dr Botkin. The maid stood by the storeroom with the other daughter.’
This contrasts with Source B, written by judge Sergeyev, which says
that only five were shot, ‘The Tsar, Dr Botkin, the Empress’s maid and
two servants.’ Source A, also based on the findings of judge Sergeyev
similarly disagrees, as its says, ‘It is my belief that the Empress,
the Tsar’s son and the four other children were not shot in that
house’. This shows that the information provided by judge Sergeyev
disagrees with Source D, and therefore that source D is possibly
unreliable. However, judge Sergeyev mentioned to Sir Charles Eliot, in
source B that there was no real evidence as to who or how many victims
there were, and so it is thinkable that Source D is more accurate and
Source E says that, “Medvedev stupidly told one of the other guards
that he had ‘emptied two or three bullets into the Tsar”. However,
there is no mention of this in Source D, which even says that Medvedev
left the room while the shooting took place, before returning to find
the entire Romanov family dead. This could mean that Medvedev was
lying to the whites during his interview, and trying to conceal the
fact that he had personally shot the Tsar, in order to avoid further
Source D is one of many sources, which write about the murders being
carried out with guns, as it says, ‘see whether anyone’s there and if
the shots will be heard’. Guns are also mentioned in Sources A, B, C,
E, G, I and J. This practically confirms that Medvedev is being
truthful when he says that the Romanov’s were shot. However, it is
surprising that he does not mention the use of Bayonet’s in the
murder, as Source C says, ‘The murder was carried out using revolvers
and Bayonet’s’, and Source F shows that the floor has been ripped up a
great deal, implying the use of more than just guns. Source J also
confirms that Bayonet’s were used. This shows that Medvedev was
probably concealing certain details of the murder, in order to cover
his back slightly.
We are not told of when source D was written, however we can assume
that it was written before the Whites lost the civil war,
Source D is taken from notes of an interview performed by the Whites.
It is therefore highly likely that Medvedev, a guard present at the
time of the murder and great enemy of the whites, was tortured for the
information. In law, evidence cannot be taken from a witness if they
have been tortured. This principle can be applied to this case, as the
reliability of Medvedev’s account is extremely questionable due to the
fact that he was probably tortured.
Question 4 (d) Which of these sources is most useful to an historian
studying the deaths of the Tsar and his family?
Sources F, G and H all give visual information on the deaths of the
Romanov’s. However, it is difficult to decide which source is most
beneficial to a historian, investigating the murder of the Tsar and
his family. There are two main factors, which contribute to the
usefulness of a source. These include the reliability of the source,
and the amount of information the source provides.
Source F is a photograph, which automatically suggests that it is a
reliable source. The photograph is very likely to have been taken soon
after the crime, making it a primary source. The bullet holes, and
bayonet marks displayed by Source F are supported by many sources,
such as Source C, which says, ‘the murder was carried out using
revolvers and bayonets’. Sources A, B, D, E, G, I and J all support
source F, in the way that they say the crime was carried out using
guns, bayonets, or both. Source F is also proved more reliable, by the
fact that it shows a door in the right hand corner of the room. This
door is mentioned in other sources, such as source D, where Medvedev
says, ‘The maid stood by the storeroom door.’ Source H also support
this, as the words ‘Door to the storeroom’ are written in the top
right hand corner.
On the contrary, Source F is not to be taken too readily as reliable
and useful information, simply because it is a photograph. It is
important to bear in mind that there is always the slight possibility
that the photo is a fake, i.e. the crime scene has been re-created for
the photo, and below the source, it is written, ‘where the murders are
claimed to have taken place,’ meaning that there is no evidence to
prove that it shows the room in which the murders took place.
Additionally, whilst there is a high chance that the photo is a
genuine photo of the crime scene, it does not convey as much
information as sources G and F, for Source G in particular shows the
position of the Romanov’s, the way in which they were killed, and much
more information on the murder. However, the reliability of these
sources is questionable.
Source G is an artists impression of the Murder’s. This means that
great caution must be taken when deciding whether or not to trust what
the source is showing. The fact that it is created by an artist, means
that the artist was likely to have been trying to produce something
that’s both artistic and interesting, and this could distract the
artist from focusing on the facts. The source is also based on the
investigation carried out by the whites (Sergeyev, and Skolov), who
opposed the execution of the Tsar and his family. This means that it
is likely to be biased, and could be aiming to make the reader
sympathetic towards the Romanov’s, to increase support for the Whites.
On the other hand, there are many sources which support the content of
source G, and it is apparent that the artist has looked very closely
at the evidence before painting his work. Firstly, The painting shows
that the Tsar and his family are being shot by the guards. This is
shown to be almost definitely true, as references to guns occur in all
of the sources apart from H, and possibly F. On the other hand, there
is no evidence of bayonets being used in the picture, as mentioned in
sources C and J. Source G also shows us who the artist believed to be
in the room, and where he supposed they were situated. This however,
is a very uncertain matter, and so it is important to look carefully
at whether the artist opinion agrees with the other sources. The
painting shows the Tsar and his son being shot in the middle of the
room, in front of Dr Botkin. This is supported by source D, which
says, ‘The Emperor was in the middle, next to the heir, and behind him
stood Dr Botkin.’ The painting then shows 4 women in the corner, one
of which is dead. It is difficult to tell for sure who each one is,
however it appears as though three of the daughters are backed against
the wall near to the door, with the dead Tsarina lying in front of
them. This appears to be evidence based, as it is again supported by
Source D, which says, ‘The Empress sad down by the wall, behind her
stood three of her daughters.’ This leaves the final victim shown in
the picture, a small woman, crouched in the corner of the room.
Judging by the headscarf she is wearing, it looks as though this is
the maid, however, Source D contradicts this, as it says, ‘The maid
stood by the storeroom door with the other daughter.’ These sources do
not match in this respect, as the maid or the daughter is on the wrong
side of the room, as sources F and H show us that the storeroom door
is on the right hand side of the room. Conclusively, Source G suggests
that the whole Romanov family was killed in the Ipatiev house,
although it is possible that one daughter was missing.
Source G seems to be based mainly on the interview of Paul Medvedev,
which was carried out by the whites, and we are also told that it is
based on the investigation carried out by the whites. However, this is
unusually contradicted by sources A and B, which are taken from the
accounts of the two White supporters, Sergeyev and Sir Charles, who
tell us, ‘the Empress, the Tsar’s son and the four other children were
not shot,’ and, ‘It is supposed that there were five- the Tsar, Dr
Botkin, the Empress’s maid and two servants.’ This shows that Source G
is backed by little evidence, other than the untrustworthy account of
Paul Medvedev who was tortured.
Source H is an overhead plan of the room, showing where Judge Skolov
believed each of Romanov’s, their servants and the guards were
situated in the room. Skolov based this diagram on what he was told by
people who he had interviewed. It is quite possible that Medvedev was
one of these people, and resultantly, source H corresponds with source
D, as Medvedev says, ‘Eleven men walked into the room.’ This excludes
himself, and so from Medvedev’s account we can conclude that there
were twelve guards in the room, as shown in source H. Having said
that, it is extremely debateable as to whether the number of Romanov’s
and servants in the room is correct. Source H shows that the entire
Romanov family, along with the Doctor, the maid, and two servants were
murdered in the basement of the Ipatiev house. This is contradicted by
sources A, B and I, which all agree that the Tsarina and her son were
not murdered in the Ipatiev house. Sources A and B say that there were
only five victims, which differs greatly to source H which shows
On the whole, I believe that source G is the most useful source to a
historian studying the death of the Tsar and his family. Whilst it is
simply a painting, and therefore has lots of room for error, the
information conveyed by the picture is well supported and reasonably
accurate. Source F is an extremely reliable source, as it is a photo,
and is backed up by several sources which mention bullet holes, and
bayonets, however it gives far less information than source G. Source
H gives a reasonable amount of information; how many victims and
guards there were, where they were stood, the position of the doors,
however it is less well supported than source G and gives slightly
less information, as it does not show how the victims were murdered.
Question 5 (e), Are you surprised by Source I?
Source I is a message from the District Soviet, and is most likely to
be a telegram, as it was intended for the Bolsheviks in Petrograd.
There are several reasons why the source is surprising or
contradictory to other sources. There are also a number of points
which come up in the source, which are not surprising, and are
reflected in other sources.
Firstly, Source I makes reference to the use of bullets, when it says,
‘by shooting’. The use of guns is confirmed by all of the sources,
except for Source H and so it is very unsurprising that the District
Soviet claim to have used guns. Another point which is common amongst
most of the sources is the fact that the Tsar was killed, as sources
A, B, C, D, E, G and J all claim that the Tsar was shot. It is
therefore also unsurprising that Source I says that the Tsar was
killed, and the matter is virtually confirmed with the addition of a
Bolshevik statement. It also comes as little surprise that the Tsar
was actually killed, as the motive for committing the murder is shown
in Source E, when Medvedev’s wife says, ‘a paper was read to them that
said, ‘the revolution is dying and so shall you’’. This shows that the
Bolsheviks were becoming extremely worried as the whites had captured
Ekaterinburg, and were rapidly ceasing the revolution. In response to
this, the Bolsheviks took drastic action and decided to kill the Tsar,
along with his family, as they felt that this would boost the
revolution. There is evidence of the panic amongst the Bolsheviks, as
The District Soviet says in Source I, ‘Ekaterinburg was seriously
threatened by the danger of counter revolutionaries’. The counter
revolutionaries were the whites.
Having said all this, there are a number of surprising elements in the
source. To begin with, the date of the source is 20th July 1918. This
shows that the estimate in source C is correct, when it says, ‘between
17 and 22 July a murder occurred,’ which is relatively un alarming,
however it also shows that the Bolsheviks had acted extremely quickly
and irrationally, as the whites had only captured Ekaterinburg in May
that year, showing that the Bolsheviks were surprisingly quick to
respond so harshly, and rather recklessly.
When talking of the Tsars murder, the District Soviet say, ‘His wife
and son have been sent off to a secure place.’ This does not coincide
with what is said in Source J, where the Tsars wife was positively
identified in the shallow burial pit, using the latest scientific
technology in DNA. This shows that the District Soviet was lying in
the message sent to Petrograd. This is unusual and surprising, as the
message was intended for a senior authority amongst the Bolsheviks,
and therefore should not contain lies. However, this mystery is
explainable, as it is likely that the District Soviet, who had little
authority had disobeyed the senior Bolsheviks in Petrograd by killing
the Tsar, or his family, and had attempted to hide the fact that the
Tsars family were killed.
There is also no mention of Doctor Botkin, maid or the Tsars son in
source I. This is also surprising, as many other sources say that some
of them were also killed. For example, in Medvedev’s account from
Source D, he says, ‘The Emperor was in the middle, next to the heir,
and behind him stood Dr Botkin. The maid stood by the storeroom door
with the other daughter.’ Sources A, B, D, and G all claim that
Doctor Botkin and the Maid were murdered with the Tsar, and Sources D
an G tell us that the Tsar’s son was also murdered with him. However,
this contradiction of other sources is likely to have been the result
of the District Soviet trying to cover up the fact that they had
killed the Tsars family without permission.
The most surprising thing of all about source I is the fact that the
Bolsheviks took such drastic action in such a short period of time. On
top of this, it was also a very low authority giving the command to
take such extreme action. The consequences of killing the Tsar and his
family could have been extremely serious, which is why it is hard to
understand how the decision was made by the District Soviet, as
opposed to a major power. The execution of the Tsars family by the
Bolsheviks could have led to them losing a great deal of support, as
they would have appeared to be out of control. The support for the
whites could have also increased greatly, as the brutal murder
emphasised their cause; to remove the ruthless killers from the
Russian system, and it showed that they were the ones in control.
People around the world would have taken a very dim view of the
Bolsheviks actions, and governments would have condemned them, causing
them to be far less popular.
In addition to this, it is also reasonably surprising that the
Bolsheviks revolution was successful, after they were ‘seriously
threatened’ by the Whites. The Whites captured Ekaterinburg, and drove
the Bolsheviks into a state of panic and confusion. This confusion is
shown, as in source I, the District Soviet sends a message containing
the false information; ‘his wife and son have been sent off to a
secure place,’ to Bolsheviks in Petrograd. This shows that the
Bolsheviks had been weakened by the whites, and there was confusion
arising between the key administrative centres, making it rather
surprising that they managed to succeed. On the other hand, the
Bolsheviks had other strengths which help explain their victory, such
as the ‘Red Guards,’ the military force devoted to the Bolsheviks,
their strong and inspiring leader, Vladimir Lenin and their ability to
adapt their policies, which cause this victory to be slightly less
Finally, I find the way in which the Bolsheviks murdered the Royal
family to be slightly careless. Sources A, B, C, D, E, G and J all
show that the Tsar was shot. The Bolsheviks were trying to be
extremely discreet in the way they carried out the execution, as shown
in source C, which says, ‘the bodies were chopped into pieces and
burned with the aid of petrol and sulphuric acid’. This shows that the
Bolsheviks were trying to reduce the amount of evidence from the
murder as possible. It is for this reason that I find it unusual that
the royal family were shot, because, as we can see in source F,
shooting someone inside a room leaves a large amount of evidence of
the murder taking place. However, this is also partially explainable,
as the Bolsheviks were under a great deal of pressure from the Whites,
and so the murder was carried out extremely hastily.
In conclusion, there are a number of points which come up in source I,
which make it surprising in different ways. These include things such
as the fact that the Bolsheviks responded extremely quickly and
harshly, the way in which the District Soviet mislead their leaders in
Petrograd, and the fact that the decision to kill the Romanov’s was
made by a department of such low authority. However, there are a
number of possible explanations for these surprising points, and a
number of unsurprising elements, which cause the source to be slightly
less surprising. In all, source I is a moderately surprising, and
Question 6 (f) How far does Source J confirm what the other sources
said about what happened to the Tsar and his family?
Source J is From a British newspaper, and shows recent information on
the Romanov case, after archaeologists opened a burial pit near
Ekaterinburg in 1991. The source was proved using the latest
scientific methods of using DNA. The DNA of the Duke of Edinburgh,
whos mother was a Romanov, and the Duke of Kent, who linked back to
the Tsarina, was sampled, and Identified the Tsar, his wife and three
of their daughters. This method of proving the information means that
it is a highly reliable source, and is extremely useful to compare
with other sources. There are some ways in which some of the sources
corroborate and are confirmed by source J, and there are other some
sources which are shown to be false.
Firstly, source J shows some of the detail in source C to be correct,
which says, ‘the murder was carried out using revolvers and bayonets’.
This is confirmed by source J when it says, ‘the girls, protected by
jewels sown into their underclothes, had to be finished off by
bayonets.’ This is also reflected in the photograph in Source F, which
shows the ripped wallpaper, most probably caused by the aggressive use
Source C states that the bodies were put onto a lorry, as it says, ‘a
lorry carried the corpses’, as does source D, which says, ‘The corpses
were taken out to the lorry’. Therefore, source J confirms these to
sources in this respect, whilst disproving source B, which says, ‘A
train left Ekaterinburg, and it is believed that the surviving members
of the royal family were in it.’ Source C also goes into more detail,
and says, ‘a lorry carried the corpses to the Four Brothers mine’.
This again is confirmed by what is said in Source J, however the two
sources describe different methods of disposing the bodies after
reaching this mine. Source C says, ‘the bodies were chopped into
pieces and burned with the aid of petrol and sulphuric acid’, whereas
Source J says, ‘the mine blown up by grenades, however the mine did
not collapse, and the next day the bodies were put back on the lorry.
The lorry became bogged down in a swap and the remains were buried
right there.’ There is no mention of the bodies being chopped up, or
of them being burned, and therefore Source J partially disproves
Source J also agrees with many of the Sources, in the fact that the
victims were shot, as every source, excluding source H shows evidence
of guns being used in the murder, and source J implies of the use of
guns, as it says, ‘the girls, protected by jewels sown into their vest
had to be finished off with bayonets’. All of these sources, except
source H also show that the Tsar was shot, which is reflected in
source J, which says, ‘DNA Tests along with dental tests positively
identify Nicholas II’.
Many of the sources corroborate, and imply that a great deal of force
and firepower was required to kill the victims, such as source C which
says, ‘More than thirty shots were fired’, and Source F which gives
visual evidence of the amount of force used. Sources B and E also
imply that many shots were fired, and sources D and H, show the number
of guards, which hints the extent of the force used. The reason for
this brutality is given by source J, which says, ‘Marks on the
skeletons show that the girls, protected by jewels sown into their
underclothes, had to be finished off with bayonets’. This is an
extremely fitting explanation, and convincingly supports Source B, C,
E and F. Source J mentions five victims, which means according to the
above quote from source C, enough shots were fired for each victim to
be shot five times.
There is much confusion between all of the sources as to who exactly
was murdered in the Ipatiev house. Source J therefore contradicts some
sources in this respect, whilst supporting others. To begin with,
sources A and B say that only five people were killed, and that the
children were not shot. This is partially shown in source J, which
says, ‘two of the imperial family’s five children were missing’. This
shows that some of the children were killed, however not all, as said
in sources A and B, so this is only a partial agreement. On the other
hand, Source J does not confirm when or where the victims were
killed, so there is the slightest possibility that some of the victims
were not shot in the Ipatiev house, as said by sources A and B.
Source C is extremely vague about who was killed in the Ipatiev house,
as it simply says, ‘Several people were murdered.’ This source can be
linked with source J, which tells us, ‘Nicholas II, his wife and three
of their daughters,’ were killed, and so whilst source J does not
exactly prove Source C in this area, it does not disagree. Source J
also shows us why sources such as source B contain errors, when they
say, ‘there is no real evidence as to who or how many victims there
were’, as we are shown the lengths that the Bolsheviks went to hide
the bodies, and prevent this sort of evidence from being discovered.
This also displays the panicking behaviour of the Bolsheviks, which is
shown in source D and also source I, which says ‘Ekaterinburg was
In the notes, taken from Medvedev’s interview, it is stated that,
‘walking into the room, he saw all the members of the Tsar’s family
lying on the floor’, which shows that the entire family had been
killed. Source E, which contains the account of Medvedev’s wife, also
says, ‘they started firing, and killed them all’. These two sources
therefore do not coincide with what is said in Source J, as source J
says, ‘two of the imperial family’s five children were missing’.
In slightly more detail, Sources G shows the guards to be shooting
downwards. This is also shown in source B, which says, ‘the victims
had been shot while kneeling’ and source F which shows the bulk of the
bullet holes to be on or around the floor. Source J also implies this,
as it says the jewels in their underclothes meant that the girls had
to be finished off with bayonets. This means that the guards cannot
have been shooting into the victims heads, as jewels sewn into the
girls underclothes would not protect them from shots to the head.
Instead the guards must have been shooting downwards, towards the
bodies of their victims.
The artists impression shown in source G shows the Tsar’s son being
shot with the rest of the family. This is completely contradicted by
source J, which tells us that ‘Two of the imperial family’s five
children were missing,’ and ‘three of their daughters,’ were found.
This means that the son was not found, and so there is a disagreement
between the two sources. In contrast to this however, both sources J
and G show that only 3 of the four daughters were killed.
Finally, a plain disagreement between sources I and J is apparent, as
source I says, ‘His wife and son have been sent off to a secure
place’. This cannot be correct, as Source J says that the Tsars wife
was found in the burial pit with the Tsar. It is however possible that
the information given in Source I was deliberately false for two main
reasons. Firstly, there is a high chance that the message was a
telegram, which could have been intercepted by the whites, and
therefore by placing lies in their messages, the Bolsheviks could hope
to mislead the Whites, and cover their own backs slightly. Secondly,
it is also possible that the District Soviet had disobeyed orders from
the Bolsheviks in Petrograd, and therefore were attempting to cover up
the fact that the majority of the Romanov Family were murdered.
In conclusion, source J supports many points made in the other
sources, and helps link together sources which are rather vague in
certain areas. Particularly useful is the connection which can be made
between the amount of force displayed by sources B, C, E and F, and
the fact that the girls were protected by jewels sown into their
underclothes. On the other hand, there are also a number of different
disagreements and contradictions between source J and the other
sources, which show them to be incorrect and unreliable. In general, I
believe that the connections between source J and the other sources
far outweigh the inconsistencies.
* Source J confirms Source C which says bayonets were used.
* Source J confirms source D which says the corpses were taken out
to a lorry.
* Source J confirms all sources (except H) that the victims were
* Source B says a train left Ekaterinburg – J says a lorry to the
* Source C says bodies were chopped up and burned in acid and petrol
– J says they were put in a mine then dumped in a swamp.
* Source I says wife + son have been sent off to a secure place – J
says wife was identified in burial pit – dead.
* Source J says one son, and one daughter were missing – source
Points why reliable
Points why not reliable
* Source F is a photograph + shows door and correct wallpaper – this
is backed up in sourcesD, g and h. Shows bullet holes and bayonet
marks, which is backed up in many sources.
* Whilst source G is by an artist, he has taken into account the
* Source H has the correct number of people + takes into account
medvidev – source D.
* Source G is a painting by an artist – would want to produce
something creative and interesting.
* Source G is based on the painting carried out by the whites,
(Sergeyev and sir charles) who opposed the killing of the
Romanovs, and so could be biased and sympathetic.
* Source F is a photograph so reliable, but doesn’t give as much
info as H or G, however they are less reliable.
* Sources G and H are product of Skolov and Sir Charles – so by
* Source H very debateable as to whether there is the correct number
* Slight possibility that Source F is faked. – says, ‘photograph of
where they were claimed to have been killed’
* Source F is
* Number of people shot
* Source E – fired himself
* No mention of bayonets
* No mention of what was said (the revolution is dying… + no mention
of going outside in Source E
* Way they were shot
* Tsar was shot
* Bullets were used
* Mentioned door – shown near door in photograph
* Guard missing from H - Mevedev
* Use of bayonets mentioned
* More precise about when.
* Less precise about who + how many
* Written much later on.
* Written by Skolov and not all published unlike source A and so
more reliable than A.
* Has more intelligence about the disposal of the bodies
* Source A is much more narrative and less factual.
* Source b says survivors escorted away in a train, but source C
says a lorry carried them to a mine.
* Took place on lower floor
* Using revolvers
* Have no evidence as to how many and who were killed. – however
source C provides a logical solution
* Not all published, like source B.
Information taken from other sources also contradicts these sources,
and proves them to be unreliable. For example, source J has a
completely different version of the way in which the bodies were
disposed of to source B. Source J says, ‘the bodies were driven to a
mine and the mine blown up by grenades.’
* Both primary
* Judge1 sacked – giving away too much info – so no reason to lie.
* Sergeyev’s involved in both sources
* Report from charles eliot is to government not public so more
* Both written to other countries – could be trying to make Russia
* Could be being biased to make Russia look bad to deflect criticism
about own country?
* 2nd source – indefinite language.
* Americans trying to make communists look bad
* A year after – secondary information, so could be inaccurate or
* Contains no factual evidence – just trusting the author. Not
* Sergeyev’s involved in both – not reliable
* Source J disproves source B – buried in a mine.
In general, I believe that the number of differences outweitgh the
number of similarities