History, traditions

Sensational diaries of Russian Empress Maria published - 28 February, 2005

Vagrius publishing house has issued a 5 thousand copies of "Empress Maria Fedorovna's Diaries, yrs. 1914-1923" presentation of which took place in the State Hermitage yesterday.

In these previously never published documents the widow of Alexander III the Peacemaker (02.26.1845 - 10.20.1894) and mother of Nicholas II depicts Russia's most tragic historical events of the 20th century: the World War, downfall of the empire, the Revolution and the Civil War, execution of Nicholas II and his family - the deaths she never accepted and believed in. Diaries were reputed as lost for a long time. In the recent years it was rumored that they were acquired by the well-known musician Mstislav Rostropovich on Sotheby's auction in 2001, but he denied those speculations. According to him, the seller is a private person. It is known that the musician has not still read the diaries himself. Maria Fedorovna had kept them in her native language - in Danish. Rostropovich didn't speak Danish and had absolutely no time for mastering translation so he passed them on to the Vagrius publishing house for publication.

'"Maria Fedorovna's Diaries" is a voluminous book," the editor-in-chief of the publishing house Alexey Kostanyan explains.  "It has more than 700 pages. There is a lot of historical, everyday-life and private material which gives us an authentic view of what was going on inside the elite strata of authority and reflects the unique coloring of a czar's family life."

According to the editor, it took almost four years to put the book together. Deciphering alone took more than two years as the diaries were written in an elegant female cursive in Danish. Furthermore, a thorough verification of all historical material has been made. Translators have made an extensive commentary and a preface that would bring a reader into the context of the given epoch. The publication is illustrated with photos.

Nee Danish princess Maria-Sophia-Frederica-Dagmar (the daughter of the Danish king Christian IX) was the bride of a successor of the throne who witnessed her handsome groom's, the grand duke Nikolay Alexandrovich, fading away. He was the one getting prepared for the reign and many a man still rack their brains over what future Russia would have if this great young man hadn't died so tragically untimely in Nice.

The Danish princess married a brother of the late groom and became the Russian empress Maria Fedorovna. Destiny prepared a heavy cross for her. Few women could survive through such a great deal of bloody dramas as this widow empress.

She returned home after the Great October Revolution. The empress died in Copenhagen in 1928 and was buried in Domkirk - the cathedral burial-vault of Danish kings and princes.

In 2001 the President of Russia Putin and Her Majesty Queen of Denmark Margaret II have come to an agreement about a transferal of the ashes of Russian Empress Maria Fedorovna from Domkirk located in the city of Roskild to Peter and Paul's Cathedral in St. Petersburg. However there are many opponents of this action on both Russian and Danish patrs.