The echos of the Ipatiev House, 100 years later
The last sitting Russian Imperial family of the House of Romanov–Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Tsarina Alexandra and their five children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei– as well as four members of their still faithful suite– were ushered to the basement of the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg on the night of 16-17 July 1918.
Told they were to be moved to a more secure location as the White Russian Army of Adm Kolchak and his allied Czech Legion were just miles to the East and coming fast, something far worse occurred and a squad of Cheka men armed with a peculiar collection of handguns from around the world soon filled the room to carry out one of the most barbaric regicides in modern history– which was appropriate for a Civil War that left more than 1.5 million dead and the old Russian Empire shattered into a dozen jagged pieces.
The head of the squad, Jacob Yurovsky, used a Colt M1911 SN 71905 from a 1914 U.S. Army contract, while his eager assistant, Peter Ermakov, used a Mauser C96 in 7.63mm.
Other guns used in the execution included two Browning semi-autos in .25ACP and .32ACP, at least one more C96, several Nagant M1895 7.65mm revolvers, and an old S&W .44 top-break. While the revolvers were standard Russian military arms and the Colt likley made it into the country in 1917 during the brief alliance between the Provisional Government in Petrograd and Washington, the Mausers and Brownings were readily available on the commercial market in Russia before the war.
Many of the guns, given relic status after the event by the Communists, are still in Russian museums today.