Turmoil in Russia – The Assassination of Rasputin I THE GREAT WAR Week 127

Turmoil in Russia – The Assassination of Rasputin I THE GREAT WAR Week 127


It’s Christmas and most of the fronts have
gone quiet as winter has set in. Not all of them, though, and there are still
actions both major and minor throughout Europe, but a major political bombshell is dropped
this week in Russia, as Rasputin is assassinated. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week the Battle of Verdun, raging since
February, came to an end. In Romania, the Central Powers were gearing
up to attack the Russo-Romanian forces once again. The British captured El Amish, an important
supply point, on the Palestine Front, the Germans took Russian positions near Kovel,
and the turmoil in Greece continued, with the Allies demanding control of the post,
the telegraph, and the railways. Both Verdun and the Somme were over. The Western Front was quiet. Here’s what went on during quiet: let’s
look at December 28th. Between the Aisne and Oise rivers near Quennevieres,
French artillery pounded German positions during the day. The Germans were forced to evacuate their
trenches. On the left bank of the Meuse, the Germans
bombed the French positions between the Meuse and Avocourt all day long. The Germans also made several grenade attacks
in this sector, but they were unsuccessful. That night British troops made a successful
raid against German trenches east of Le Sars. Also that night the Germans attacked NW of
Verdun on a three-kilometer front between Hill 304 and Dead Man’s Hill. French machine guns and infantry stopped the
Germans but the accounts from Berlin say that they penetrated to the 2nd and 3rd French
lines, taking 222 prisoners, 4 of them officers, and seven machine guns. Berlin also says the French were unable to
retake the trenches. “The closing days of the year were not marked
by any important military operations on either side. Though no great attacks were attempted, the
old business of trench warfare being resumed, the opposing forces continued to harass and
destroy each other at every opportunity… This period of “peace” was really one
of ceaseless activity… To prevent the building of defenses, or smash
them when built, to concentrate gunfire on communication trenches so as to render them
impassable, to destroy reliefs coming in or going out, to carry death to the foe in ditches
and dugouts – in short to injure him in any way that human ingenuity and military science
could devise- such were the tactics employed by belligerents during the days and nights
when in official language there was “nothing to report”.” There was much to report on another German
front, though, in Romania. General Erich von Falkenhayn’s men attacked
the Russians at Rimnicu Sarat, but to his surprise, they did not retreat. Instead they offered spirited defense and
the attack bogged down. Also, on Falkenhayn’s right, the Danube
Army under s August von Mackensen did not advance, so the Russians could take units
from opposite them and throw them at Falkenhayn. Falkenhayn, of course, asked Mackensen to
please attack, but he refused, thinking that if he did so he’d expose his own flank to
the enemy. Finally, on the 24th, the Germans broke the
Russian trenches on the far west flank, and there was a lot of hand-to-hand bayonet fighting,
but still, after two days of battle with not much to show for it, Falkenhayn thought he’d
lost the battle. The night of the 24th he sent his reserves
in, and on Christmas Day Mackensen finally began to move, though he didn’t make much
headway because his artillery hadn’t damaged the enemy trenches. On the 26th, the reserves stormed the Russian
lines at 1 PM, and took the second and third trench lines. On the afternoon of the 27th, the German reserves
entered Ramnicu Sarat and the Russians retreated along the whole line. Over the six day battle the Germans took 10,000
Russian prisoners and 58 machine guns. And speaking of Russians, there was big news
in Russia itself this week. Now, there were enormous political machinations
in Russia in 1916. Boris Stürmer had been Prime Minister for
much of it. Here’s what the Story of the Great War has
to say about him, “Stürmer, where his predecessors had been merely incompetent, now set about
consciously to make a separate peace with Germany, and this object he hardly took the
trouble to hide. Through censorship he suppressed the loyal
press and encouraged a number of papers which openly denounced Russia’s allies and demanded
a separate peace with the Kaiser… so openly that it was known all over Russia, even among
the peasants, that a separate peace was being prepared.” Stürmer suppressed democratic organizations,
had Sergei Sazanov – who admired the British and French – removed as Minister of Foreign
Affairs, and personally replaced him. Yep, he held both offices simultaneously. He was ALSO the Minister of the Interior. During his tenure there he was responsible
for food shortages in the cities. He even encouraged a group of financiers to
take control of food supplies, thereby making a huge profit himself at the expense of his
people. And now we introduce Alexander Protopopov,
who became Stürmer’s Minister of the Interior in September. Protopopov and Rasputin were tight, as were
Stürmer and Rasputin, and it was Rasputin’s influence at court that got Protopopov his
position. Rasputin by this time had enormous power over
the court of the Tsar and Tsarina, and we’re kind of re-introducing Protopopov since we
mentioned him last month as having been in Stockholm informally meeting with Germans
to talk about a separate peace. (story) “Of a deep significance… was the
appointment of Alexander D. Protopopov as Minister of the Interior. This was the man who was finally to kick aside
the last wedge shoring up the tottering walls of the Russian autocracy… It was undoubtedly he who conceived the idea
of staging a revolution in Russia, of creating or precipitating a premature uprising, as
had been done in 1905, but for a different purpose.” The purpose was to create such internal disorder
in Russia that the government would have a pretext for making a separate peace with Germany. You could use the revolutionaries to cause
the disorder, make the peace while everyone was occupied with the uprising, then bring
home the troops and easily put down the revolution with the millions of trained soldiers you’d
just brought home. Simple, right? So placards began appearing in factories calling
for demonstrations and strikes. Actual police agents went undercover into
industrial plants and preached revolution. Protopopov was deliberately breaking the machinery
of a nation to facilitate a Russian defeat. The Duma, which hadn’t met since February,
opened November 14th, and it was the last hope of the people. Stürmer was sacked after it was proved that
he had received bribes from food speculators, for his policies of “stupidity or treason”,
and though Alexander Trepov became the new Prime Minister, in actuality it was now a
battle between the Duma and the Russian people on one side, and Protopopov on the other. But his forces included Rasputin, the Tsarina,
and- unconsciously- the Tsar. “Protopopov now began persecuting the members
and leaders of the social forces… he endeavored to have Paul Milukov (leader of the Constitutional
Democrats) assassinated but the assassin revealed the plot… he gathered together former members
of the Black Hundreds and recruited them into the police force and trained them in machine
gun practice. And finally he renewed the energy with which
he had begun to organize revolutionary disorders among the workers.” But this week a spanner was thrown into Protopopov’s
works. On the evening hours of December 30th- yes,
one day in the future, but some sources say it was the 29th. Anyhow, a group of men drove up to Prince
Felix Yusupov’s house. Among them were Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovitch
and former Interior Minister Alexei Khvostov. They entered the house. A policeman nearby heard shots fired but didn’t
dare to pursue inquiries because of the rank of the house’s owner. The next day a hole was found in the ice of
the Neva River. Further search revealed the body of Rasputin. Now, there are a lot more details about this
killing and we’ll cover them in a special bio episode about Rasputin. Anyhow, the Tsarina was hysterical and Protopopov
fainted when he heard the news. Rasputin was buried with pomp usually reserved
for the royal family, with both the Tsar and Protopopov as pallbearers. The people of Russia treated this as if it
were a great military victory and celebrated. The details of the assassination were printed
in the papers, including the names of the men involved, and they went unprosecuted,
mostly because of rank, but still. And that’s where we stand as the week comes
to an end. Russians retreating in Romania, day to day
actions continuing unabated on the Western Front, the British capturing Magdhaba in the
Sinai, defeating a Turkish force of 3,000, and on December 27th, Joseph Joffre, whose
calm and sangfroid had very much saved France in the early days of the war, was “promoted”
to Marshal of France and shuffled out of the way to relative obscurity. And it was Christmas. But of course there would be no Christmas
truce this year. Not on any of the fronts. And Rasputin was assassinated. And this was a blow to Protopopov and the
conspiracy to intentionally destabilize Russia from within in order to betray its allies
and make peace with Germany. Rasputin had wielded great power. Would the separate peace conspiracy die with
Rasputin? We shall see in 1917. If you want to watch our christmas special
from last year, you can check out the story of the SMS Emden right here. Our Patreon supporter of the week is Diego
Bianco. Help us on Patreon or visit our amazon store
to spend all that christmas money you got from aunt Ruth. See you next year.

100 thoughts on “Turmoil in Russia – The Assassination of Rasputin I THE GREAT WAR Week 127

  1. Indy more comments
    Margarita nelpa's book The Murder of Rasputin A Conspiracy that brought down the Russian Empire has a detailed account of Rasputins murder and his funneral it was a small one and Nicholas II did not carry the coffin ect. Protopopov had met with rasputin shortly before he was murdered but did not warn him not to go out with Yussopov. Protopopov knew about the plot to kill Rasputin along with many others.

  2. Sorry just watched your British infantry video, @The Great War sorry jumping to WW2 here, You guys there ever hear of a soldier Called Blair "Paddy" Mayne? Hes from a town very close to mine. You want a "Perfect" soldier, I think he would be close as you can get.

  3. Hey Great War Crew love the show. I was wondering will you be doing any who did what in world war one episode on any American soldiers like George Patton or Douglas Macarther?

  4. I have a question for Out of the Trenches! First off, wonderful show and I want to thank everyone involved! As for my question, is there any real, non-staged or scripted combat footage or photos from the war? I know taking pictures in general was difficult back then, but maybe something was caught at some point?

  5. Hey Indy and The Great War team, I have a question.. Even though trench warfare was slow and almost stagnant on the western front, troops were still sent over the top to attack enemy positions. This usually resulted in many deaths and didn't always guarantee a gain in territory, so why did commanders continue to use this strategy?

  6. You are doing a great job on this channel. I'm so impressed that I think your channel should be a part of school material available for the history lessons.

  7. Indy, in your opinion, what could Germany and it's allies have done to win the war, or what battles could've won the war for the Central Power had they gone differently? I hope this question isn't stupid, I'm just curious.

  8. Intentionally increasing the tensions so that the soldiers returning can fight them is the worst idea ever! Just make sure they are always calm and happy. Even if you can't appease them all, it is a lot better than wasting time and more resources fighting a civil war.

  9. I have a question… why are the number of machine guns reported in the losses of a battle? Do they share calibers and ammunition across sides so as to be turned on the opposition? I get the idea of Killed, Wounded, and prisoners, but have machine guns become such an irreplaceable resource that they now rank with human losses? Love the Show.

  10. dear indy and team
    thanks for al the hours of amazing knowledge my question is: did soldiers of new zealand perform the haka before a battle
    greetings from the netherlands
    – bart klaassen

  11. Dear Indy and crew love the show and watch every episode as soon as they appear but I was wondering about the filed medicine on the frontlines and the differences between different nations medical practices because I recently heard a story of my great grandfather sergeant major Angus MacLean of the Cameron highlanders having bone fragments fired into his leg when a nearby grenade blew up much of the nearby soldiers a British doctor wanted to remove his leg but then a Belgian doctor stopped him and offered a quick procedure that allowed his leg to heal completely within a year and he went on to join the British SBS and fight in Berlin in ww2 I was wondering wether these kind of events where common with or not

  12. I can't wait for an episode about the Kaiserschlacht, the german great offensive in the spring of 1918, where they shot 3 millions of artillery shells from 10.000 weapons in only 5 hours! and after that, followed several attacks of the german elite sturmtruppers into the enemy lines, in which they forced the british to retreat to the city of Amiens. The Germans real objective was the railway junction of Amiens. If they captured that city, they would win the war.

  13. A general query: During an essay assignment comparing the impact of WW2 to that of WW1 in Canada's identity and culture, I came across bits of information regarding Ukrainians interned in Canada and monitored similarly to how the Japanese were during WW2. This was allegedly due to suspicions that they would be sympathetic to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I mention this because I hadn't heard of it, my history teachers didn't know about it, and primary sources were difficult to find. It's unfortunate that such things are so easily lost to history.
    So I was wondering if there shall be a special(or several) on interned civilians in the belligerent nations.

  14. I like the Rasputin card @ 8:56, complete with skulls, infernal snakes and female angels stripped to their stockings. I'm surprised it hasn't been an album cover already.

  15. Happy New Year Indy and crew, I have a question for out of the trenches. How did the consumption of resources affect the lives of civilians and what cut backs did they have to make? Keep up the good work

  16. Why would you attack if you weren't 100% certain that your fellow generals would attack as well? Did Mackensen actually give his word to falkenhayn that he would advance? Or was it just assumed he would. It if was the former and he choose not to advance, wouldn't that be considered treason or something?

  17. Finally all caught up! took me two months but I'm finally here lol Got "The Great War" by Peter Hart for christmas, and have some of the other books you guys suggested on the way. Thank you for this amazing show, keep up the impeccable work!

  18. Have you ever done a video of the 1916 easter rising that happened in Dublin Ireland? It's very interesting and technically it was a part of the war since the rebels were allied to Germany.

  19. Were the actions by Protopopov, Stumer etc. actually designed to destabilize Russia and force a separate peace or just the actions of incompetents that may have caused these effects or a carefully planned effort to force a separate peace. I say it was incompetence. Protopopov was ultimately a creature of the empress and Rasputin. Rasputin was a creature of the empress. To say that the empress was involved in a plot to destabilize Russia and force a separate peace is a mighty serious accusation I don't believe to be supported by the facts. The empress was a lot of things but she wasn't a traitor. The end of the Romanov dynasty included so much stupidity and incompetence that a lot of people including contemporary Russians that there was some kind of traitorous conspiracy. But to my knowledge there has never been any evidence that the empress was a traitor. I can't believe that she would get involved in anything that might harm Russia or the prosecution of the war. I believe that these people were so out of touch,so incompetent,so stupid that they thought they were doing the opposite. Protopopov actually thought that he had been chosen by God to save the monarchy.(source: "Nicholas and Alexandra" by Robert K. Maddie. I think that the role of the empress in all this mess hasn't been given enough emphasis. I'm afraid the empress was the most out of touch, the stupidest,the most incompetent you get the point. I think the empress deserves a who did what of her own. No doubt. My fingers are all broken so that's it.

  20. 6:10… i really had no idea of his starting influence…
    6:24 that level of thinking has not gone away (think of Vietnam 70's, Iraq 90's Clintons Syria 10's)

  21. Holy crap. Their own government set the stage for Lenin and Stalin to take over. Corruption kills a people and sets the stage for an even worse one.

  22. I have some more comments Indy:
    "What Yussopov actually has done is to fire the first shot of the revolution. He has showed others the way-when a demand is not granted, take the law in your own hands and shoot" Dr E Botkin family doctor to Nicholas II and family. He was right.

  23. Hi Indy and team, I was wondering. What do you plan on doing with the channel in 2018 once the war is over (as of 100 years later) ?

  24. I was stationed outside of El Arish with the MFO in 1989/90, and am now north of Kut, both of which are mentioned in this episode.

  25. This sounds a lot like a theory that the Russian Revolution was fabricated from above, while I do believe processes with worker's and soldiers themselves to be responsible for the revolution. I also believe the theory for German gold for the Bolsjewiks to be bogus. People always try to look / invent exterior causes for a revolution or their defeat. Just like the democrats nowadays try to blame Putin for the defeat of Hilary, while the primary cause was the growing impopularity of establishment politics and Hilary as the representation of that.

  26. In the book "Russian Roulette" by Giles Milton, it is suggested that the British had a hand in the murder of Rasputin. Oswald Rayner a member of Britain's Russian Bureau ( a part of what today would be MI-6) had been present at the Yusupov mansion and took part in the assassination.

  27. it's like in EUIV, where you deliberately install a revolutionary government in your nation, to get the bonuses of course.

  28. The color of your lighting is so good now. I really love what you've guys done from a production standpoint

  29. Ra Ra Rasputin, lover of the Russian queen, there was a cat that really was gone.
    Ra Ra Rasputin, Russia's greatest love machine, it was a shame how he carried on.

  30. This show is kind of like the Star Wars prequels. You can tell what’s gonna happen but you hope it can be stopped

  31. The embrace of the Bolsheviks by Russia makes a lot more sense after learning of the machinations of Protopopov and the corrupt Strumer.

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