Rodzianko urges the Tsar not to take command (1915)

On August 25th 1915, Mikhail Rodzianko, the President of the State Duma, wrote to Nicholas II, urging the Tsar to reconsider his decision to take command of the Army:

Your Imperial Majesty,

“Supplementing my verbal report, which I had the honour to lay before you on August 24th, I make bold to beg Your Majesty again not to subject your sacred person to the dangers in which you may be placed by the consequences of your decision.

Sire! You are the symbol and the standard around which all the nationalities of Russia rally. This standard cannot and must not be dragged into the stress and storm of the ordeals that have come to us. It must shine radiantly as the torch for all the strivings of the nation and serve as the invincible bulwark of all the sons of Russia and as the promise of security for their minds, alarmed by these events.

Sire! You have no right, in the face of the nation, to allow anything to happen that might possibly cast the faintest shadow to fall upon this sacred standard.

At this dreadful hour of peril, unprecedented in the history of Russia, when the possibility arises of a heavy Teuton yoke over the Russian land, you, Sire, must be beyond and above those organs of government which shoulder the duty of immediately repulsing the enemy. You cannot act as executive: you must be judge, a benign encourager or implacable punisher.

But if you, Sire, should take over the direct command of our glorious army, you the last refuge of your people, who will then pass judgment in the event of failure or defeat? Is it not really obvious, Sire, that you will then voluntarily have surrendered your inviolable person to the judgment of the people? And that is fatal to Russia. Consider what you are laying hands on – on your own self, Sire!

Our native land is going through a painful crisis. General mistrust surrounds the present Government, which has lost confidence in itself and will power. All idea of authority has been shattered by its disorderly measures, and yet, more than ever before, there has now grown up in the country a realisation of the need for a firm, unshakable faith in oneself and in the popular strength of the Government. The minds of all the Russians have reached a state of an unprecedented strain, fearing for the fate of Russia.

The nation is impatiently longing for a power which will instil confidence and lead the country into the path of victory. Yet at such a time, Your Majesty, you decide to displace the supreme commander-in-Chief, whom the Russian people still trusts absolutely, The people will interpret Your step in no other way but as inspired by the Germans around You, who in the minds of the people are identified with our enemies and with treason to the Russian cause.

In the popular mind, the result of Your Majesty’s decision will be a realization of the hopelessness of the situation and of the chaos which has invaded the administration.

Sire! The situation will be even worse if the army, deprived of a leader enjoying its absolute confidence, loses its courage. In this event defeat is inevitable, and within the country revolution and anarchy will then break out, sweeping everything from their path.

Your Majesty! Before it is too late, revoke your decision, no matter how hard it may be for you. Retain Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaevich at the head of the army. Reassure alarmed and agitated minds by forming a government of people who enjoy your confidence and are known to the country by their public activities.

Sire, it is not yet too late! On bended knees, I beg you fervently not to delay the decision which will protect the sacred person of the Russian Tsar and the reigning dynasty.

Sire, give heed to this truthful word from the heart of Your loyal servant.”

August 25th 1915