A monument to Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich (1860-1919), the youngest son of Emperor Alexander II, was established this week in the Bulgarian city of Pavel-Banya.
The opening of the monument was timed to coincide with the day – 29th June – when the Bulgarian Orthodox Church celebrates the day of the holy apostles Peter and Paul. “As our teachers and parents raised us to respect the memory of the heroes, so we must give the children the behests of our glorious past. There is no future for the people who do not remember and do not respect their history, “- said Deputy Prime Minister Iliyana Yotova at the opening ceremony of the monument.
The bronze monument by sculptor Tamer Khalil is 2.4 m in height, and weighs 360 kg. It is installed on a 2-meter granite pedestal in the city park. The Grand Duke is depicted in uniform, holding in his hand the decree on the creation of the city of Pavel-Banya.
At the age of 16, Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich entered the Russian Army, serving as a general in the Cavalry and adjutant general to his brother Emperor Alexander III, and a Knight of the Order of St. Andrew. He participated in the Russian-Turkish War of 1877-1878. With the outbreak of World War I, he was appointed in command of the first corps of the Imperial Guard.
During the last days of the Tsarist period, he was one of the few members of the Romanov family who remained close to Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna. It fell upon Grand Duke Paul to inform Alexandra of Nicholas II’s abdication.
After the Bolsheviks seized power, they and determined to round up the last Grand Dukes remaining on Russia soil, they arrested Grand Duke Paul on 13 August [O.S. 31 July] 1918. On 29th January 1919, he was transferred to the Peter and Paul Fortress, where his cousins - the Grand Dukes Dmitry Konstantinovich, Nikolai Mikhailovich and Georgy Mikhailovich were already imprisoned. All four were shot early the following morning as hostages “in response to the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in Germany.”
According to eyewitnesses, the Grand Dukes were taken to an area behind the Mint, where a common grave had been dug near the fortress wall opposite the Peter and Paul Cathedral. The prisoners were forced to stand at the edge of the grave, whereupon the Bolshevik guards opened fire on them. The fusillade of shots sent them reeling into the trench, joining thirteen other bodies in the mass grave. A moment before the shots, Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich said: “Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”
In 1981, Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) as a holy martyr. And later in 1999, he was rehabilitated by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 30 June 2018