The Tsarina’s meddling in political appointments (1915-16)

The following excerpts are from the Tsarina‘s letters to Nicholas II during 1915-16. In them, she exerts pressure on the tsar to make political changes and appointments:

September 2nd 1915

“…Now the members of the Duma want to meet in Moscow to talk over everything when their work here is closed-one ought energetically to forbid it, it will only cause great troubles. If they do that one ought to say, that the Duma will then not be reopened till much later – threaten them, as they try to the ministers… Moscow will be worse than here, one must be severe. Oh, could not one hang Gutchkov?”

September 24th 1915

“Please take Khvostov in his [Shcherbatov’s] place [as Minister of the Interior]. Did you look through his book? He wants very much to see me, looks upon me as the one to save the situation whilst you are away… and wants to pour out his heart to me and tell me all his ideas. He is very energetic, fears no one and colossally devoted to you, which is the chief thing nowadays. His gaffes, one can warn him against making them, he knows the Duma people well, will not allow them to attack one, he knows how to speak. Please, Sweetheart, seriously think of him, he is not such a coward and rag as Scherbatov. The Government must be set to right and the old man needs good, devoted and energetic men to help him in his old age working; he cannot go on like this…”

[NB: Khvostov was appointed Minister of the Interior on September 26th, 1915.]

January 7th 1916

[Discussing ministerial appointments] “Levy, I don’t know, but I should still think of Sturmer, his head is plenty fresh enough… Sturmer would do for a bit and then later on if you ever want to find another you can change him… He very much values Gregory, which is a great thing.”

January 9th 1916

“Oh, how I wish you could get rid of Polivanov, which means Gutchkov in his stead if honest Beliaev is too weak.”

March 4th 1916

“Remember about Polivanov…”

March 12th 1916

“Maklakov entreats to see me, also beseeching that I should implore you quickly to get rid of Polivanov [as Minister of War], that he is simply a revolutionist under the wing of Gutchkov. Sturmer begged the same… Maklakov says quickly clear out Polivanov, any honest man is better than him.”

[NB: Polivanov was replaced by Shuvayev on March 15th, 1916]

September 9th 1916

“Please, take Protopopov as Minister of the Interior, as he is one of the Duma, it will make a great effect amongst them and shut their mouths.”

September 14th 1916

“Yesterday had Sturmer and spoke alright. I begged him quickly to change Obolensky, otherwise, we may have great disorders in the streets (on account of food) and he will at once lose his head and all are against him. God bless your new choice of Protopopov; our Friend says you have done a very wise act in naming him.”

[NB: Protopopov was appointed Minister of the Interior on September 16th]

October 30th 1916

“Forgive me for what I have done but I had to, our Friend said that it was absolutely necessary. Protopopov is in despair, he gave you that paper the other day, thought he was acting rightly until Grigory told him it was quite wrong. So I spoke to Sturmer yesterday and they both completely believe in our Friend’s wonderful God-sent wisdom… I had to take this step upon myself as Grigory says Protopopov will have all in his hands and finish up all the Unions and by that will save Russia… It will be a rotten Duma but one must not fear; if too vile, one closes it.”

Dec. 13th 1916

“He [Rasputin] entreats you to be firm, to be the Master and not always to give in to Trepov – you know much better than that man (still let him lead you) and why not our Friend who leads through God. Remember why I am disliked – shows it right to be firm and feared… We must give a strong country to Baby and dare not be weak for his sake, else he will have a yet harder reign… Russia wants to feel the whip, its their nature… tender love and then the iron hand to punish and guide.”