There are several Russian cellar stories, but none so famous as the one called “Mass Murder in the Cellar”. There, in Ekaterinburg on July 17, 1918, in the subterranean bowels of the Ipatiev House, the Russian imperial family seemed to disappear from the face of the earth. Multiple theories have appeared. These theories helped form the living labyrinth of the Tsar. In the 1990s, this living labyrinth was almost paved over by a parking lot of disputed DNA evidence. Even today, persons with only superficial understanding sometimes chime in with outdated information about the Romanov DNA evidence. (But see the latest doubts being raised about the Romanov “DNA evidence” in the Ersjdamoo’s Blog entry of October 14, 2014: Startling New Anastasia Evidence.)
We have met Aaron Simanovitsch in the October 11, 2014 Ersjdamoo’s Blog entry. Aaron Simanovitsch was a Russian Jew and secretary to Grigori Rasputin, Russian staretz (wandering holy man). Simanovitsch headed an underground network dedicated to assisting persecuted Russian Jews. He had immense wealth and vast connections.
Soon after the initial February 1917 Russian revolution, Aaron Simanovitsch met with Kaiser Wilhelm II in Berlin. The Kaiser’s staff were concocting elaborate rescue plans for the abdicated Tsar Nicholas II and his family. One of the plans involved the making of seven plastic look-alike dummies, each to resemble one of the seven members of the Russian imperial family. At the time of Simanovitsch’s meeting with the Kaiser, the Russian royal family was under house arrest at Tsarskoye Selo (The Tsar’s Village), near St. Petersburg.
Rather than all the complicated schemes being considered, Simanovitsch suggested a simpler solution for rescuing the Romanovs: Why not insert a secret section into the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, then being negotiated, in which the safety of the Tsar and his family would be guaranteed?
The Kaiser was pleased with the uncomplicated ingenuity of Simanovitsch’s idea. The secret section was added to the treaty and it was finally signed by Germany and Russia on March 3, 1918. By that time the Russian imperial family had been moved to Tobolsk, historic capital of Siberia.
Later though, after things began to go badly for the German forces in World War I, the Bolsheviks, by then in power, decided they could just ignore the safety guaranty in the secret section of the Brest-Litovsk treaty. The fate of the Tsar and his family looked increasingly perilous.
Around this time, Charles James Fox, a polyglot Yankee, entered the picture as a special agent of Britain’s King George V. To his amazement, at a time when Britain was still at war with Germany, Fox was told to travel to Berlin and meet with Kaiser Wilhelm II. Also in attendance at the meeting in Berlin was Aaron Simanovitsch. Russia’s Tsar Nicholas, his wife, Alexandra, and Kaiser Wilhelm were all first cousins of King George V. Beneath the surface, the Kaiser and King George were desperate to rescue the Russian royal family. “You must help save them,” the Kaiser demanded. “You can use the seven look-alike mannequins if you want.”
Simanovitsch and Fox departed for Siberia. The plastic Romanov look-alikes were sent, via a circuitous route, from Dresden, where they had been stored.
The arrested and guarded Romanovs were moved from Tobolsk to Ekaterinburg, about 300 miles southwest, at the end of April 1918. In Ekaterinburg, secret agent Charles James Fox infiltrated the Bolshevik regiment as a Captain. Meanwhile, Aaron Simanovitsch bribed the regiment commander with 300,000 gold rubles and a promise of safe passage out of Russia. “But how will I get out?” asked the commander. “Easy,” replied Simanovitsch, “You can ride out with the royal family.”
Bribes of 50,000 rubles each were paid to the junior officers of the Bolshevik regiment.
The Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, where the Romanovs were being held, had a house guard of eleven men. Among these eleven men was their captain… Charles James Fox. Eight of the other ten house guards were controlled by Aaron Simanovitsch. That left two guards who would spell trouble for any escape attempt. And here is where what really happened in the cellar truly unfolds.
Captain Fox, the disguised secret agent, invited the two troublesome guards down to a wine cellar in the Ipatiev House for some refreshment. Fox selected a specially marked wine bottle containing deadly poison. All three of the men gave a toast and drank — except for Fox, who spit out the contents and said the wine was “a bad year.” Within minutes, the two troublesome guards lay dead.
With the two guards dead and the others controlled by Simanovitsch, it was now time for a convoy of three trucks to pull up in front of the Ipatiev House. Inside one of the trucks were the seven look-alike mannequins. Inside the house, special agent Fox went upstairs to where the Romanovs were waiting. They were by now disguised and had forged identity papers. The Tsar and his family, along with their baggage, entered the trucks. The seven look-alike mannequins were carried into the house and placed in various upper floor rooms. A pail of blood had been obtained from the local coroner. This was carried down to the cellar. The two corpses of the poisoned guards were taken upstairs to the porch. The three truck convoy carrying the Russian imperial family drove off.
About an hour after the escape from the Ipatiev House, shots were fired and the pail of blood was dumped on the cellar floor. It was designed to seem like “mass murder in the cellar.”
Elsewhere, at about this time, at the Four Brothers mine shaft, Aaron Simanovitsch “presided over an eerie bonfire.” Some belongings of the royal family were thrown down the mine shaft, including someone’s false teeth and a dead dog. After the bonfire had died down, sulphuric acid was poured on, and then some jewels were tossed into the sizzling puddle.
(Source: The Conspirator Who Saved the Romanovs, by Gary Null. New York: Pinnacle Books, 1973)