Military Review

August sisters of mercy

August sisters of mercy

All история humanity is the story of endless wars, so the main concern of women of all ruling homes has long been the constant care of the wounded and maimed warriors who defended or strengthened their lands and the state. All of them were brought up by their fathers, in fact, professional military men and lived among their brothers who were just preparing to become them. Thus, everything connected with military service was for these empresses, princesses and princesses the natural and necessary side of life.

In the Russian Empire there was a custom when representatives of the royal family were appointed as the chiefs of the regiments, therefore the life and life of the soldier and officer of the Russian army were well known to them, and concern for the welfare and, especially, for the health of the soldiers became an integral part of spiritual and social duty. And when the war times came, many of them were actively involved in expanding and arranging hospital work, or simply became sisters of mercy in already existing medical institutions.

In Russia, the merciful activity of the representatives of the ruling dynasties was the cohesive moral force that brought together and united the power and the people in all the trials of both peacetime and wartime. This was most clearly manifested in the early years of the Great War.

Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, one of the leaders of the Russian Red Cross and sisters of mercy communities, took an active part in organizing additional military hospitals and hospitals, front-line medical institutions and the entire infrastructure that provides rescue and healing of wounded soldiers: from operational mobile ambulance military troops to modern for that time sanitary trains, ships and automotive services. The Empress distributed donations for the needs of the war, adapted her palaces in Moscow and Petrograd to hospitals. There, in palace hospitals, she and her daughters organized courses for nurses and nurses. By the end of the year, under the tutelage of the Empress and Grand Duchess, there were already 85 military hospitals and 10 sanitary trains.

A major innovation for the medical rehabilitation of the wounded was the creation by the empress of well-appointed extensions to the palaces to accommodate the wives and mothers of hospitalized soldiers.

She arranged sanitary points in Petrograd for the manufacture of dressing material and medical packages, where women of different classes worked side by side — from the most radiant princesses, wives, sisters and daughters of the Russian army commanders to the wives and daughters of workers who had gone to the front.

All women of the imperial family ceased to go on a traditional holiday to the Crimea, whose palaces were handed over to seriously wounded soldiers and officers. It is characteristic that only in May 1916, the empress with her daughters interrupted her medical activities for several days and left Stake on the route Kiev - Vinnitsa - Odessa - Sevastopol. This was done, at the request of Emperor Nicholas II, to raise the morale of the army and the rear in the days of the Brusilov breakthrough.

Despite her incredible workload, the empress began to take a personal part in the treatment and care of wounded soldiers and officers. Moreover, Alexandra Feodorovna believed that this was the main form of her service to the front.

Understanding that for leadership and work in the field of advanced military medicine, you need to have professional knowledge, she, together with the Grand Duchess Tatiana and Olga, took special courses in military surgical nurses. Their teacher was one of the first female surgeons in Russia (and one of the first women in the world to become a professor of medicine) Vera Ignatyevna Gedroits. She had a serious front-line experience in military surgery, which she acquired during the Russo-Japanese War, where she volunteered for the Red Cross ambulance trains, where she performed 6 complex operations in just the first 56 days. After the war, on the recommendation of the court physician E.S. Botkin, the empress invited her to take the position of senior intern at the Tsarskoye Selo Palace Hospital and entrusted the leadership of the surgical and obstetric-gynecological departments. This appointment made Vera Ignatievna the second hospital official.

Gedroits was extremely demanding and tough in his career as a doctor. She followed the scientific and practical doctrine of the great Russian military surgeon Nikolai Ivanovich Pirogov: "Not operations that were hastily performed, but proper organized care for the wounded and savings treatment in the widest possible amount, should be the main objective of surgical and administrative activities in the theater of war." And she put this task at the head of the education and training of military sisters of mercy.

Arriving at the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, where her lectures for the sisters of mercy took place, she made no distinction between them.

At first, Gedroits reacted very coldly to the desire of the royal family’s women to become surgical sisters, knowing from experience how some secular ladies who, in a patriotic sense, decided to become military sisters, fainted at the sight of the terrible injuries to warriors or frowned squeamishly from the heavy smell of sweat and urine and pus.

Gedroits also had his own views on the Russian autocracy, the essence of which was that revolutionary changes in the country were inevitable.

Vera Ignatievna belonged to the ancient and noble Lithuanian princely family Gedroits, whose representatives actively participated in the Polish unrest against the Russian Empire. Her grandfather was executed during the suppression of the uprising, and her father Ignatius Ignatievich Gedroits and his uncle, deprived of his noble status, were forced to flee to Samara province, to his grandfather's friends. After 13 years after these events, the definition of the Senate came from St. Petersburg, according to which the prince’s title was returned to Ignatius Gedroyts with all his descendants. The young princess continued the family’s revolutionary activities in student circles, for which she was sent under police supervision to her father’s estate. In the future, she stopped active political activities, preferring medical.

Vera Ignatievna’s personal diary allows us to find out the truth, uncorrupted by anyone’s slander, about how professionally the women of the royal family treated their work as sisters of charity. Vera Ignatievna Gedroits will write in her diary: "I often had to travel together and, at all inspections, note the serious, thoughtful attitude of all Three to the work of mercy. It was deep, they didn’t play as sisters, as I often had to see many secular ladies, namely, they were in the best sense of the word. "

6 November 1914, in the building of the Red Cross Society, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna with the Grand Duchess Olga and Tatiana and forty-two sisters of the first wartime graduation, successfully passed the exams and received a certificate for the title of military sister of mercy. Prior to this, the empress and her daughters worked in their hospitals only as nurses. Now they have begun to fulfill new professional duties at the Tsarskoye Selo Palace Infirmary No. XXUMX and other infirmaries of Tsarskoye Selo. The royal sisters of mercy turned out to be not only obedient schoolgirls, but also calm, skillful, and hardworking assistants in dressings and operations. Therefore, they immediately began to work with Gedroits as assistants, fully complying with her main requirements for the surgical team: "... I would live with their joys, be saddened by common surgical sorrows, creating one surgical family connected by common experiences."

Their main place of work was on Gospitalnaya Street of Tsarskoye Selo, where, on the site of the poorhouse of the time of Catherine II, a stone three-story hospital was built in 1854, which still serves people as City Hospital No. XXUMX to them. ON. Semashko. Younger grand princesses Maria and Anastasia completed home courses of medical nurses and helped mothers and sisters in their hospitals. In addition, the young princesses personally took care of a hospital for officers and lower ranks named after the great princes Maria and Anastasia, located next to the Fedorovsky Cathedral in a town of five houses. Guardians have been there almost every day. They played with the convalescent wounded, or simply asked them about life and families, in order to somehow distract from the serious pain and experiences.

The famous Russian poet, Knight of St. George Nikolai Gumilev was one of those touched by the touching care of these young princesses.
In memory of this, he wrote the following lines to one of them:

Today is the day of Anastasia,

And we want through us

Love and caress of all Russia

I thank you to hear ...

And we are taking to the new seche

Full of delight,

Remembering our meetings

Among Tsarskoye Selo palace.

Warrant Officer N. Gumilyov.

Tsarskoye Selo Infirmary,

Grand Palace.

5th of June 1916

All of these hospitals, including the Grand Palace, were part of 70 medical institutions of the Tsarskoye Selo evacuation center, the main of which were located in Tsarskoye Selo, the current city of Pushkin. Tsarskoye Selo with the Catherine and Alexander Palaces, magnificent military churches and barracks of the guards regiments in its historic districts of Sofia and the Fedorovsky town was the favorite country residence of the royal family and the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Russian army, which the Emperor himself had headed from 1915.

Even before the war, Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna worked a lot to create in this residence a military medical institution for wounded soldiers arriving from the Russo-Japanese War - the Charity House for disabled soldiers, as well as for the rehabilitation of disabled people. For this medical institution, the empress specifically chose the most beautiful section of Tsarskoe Selo in a meadow near the Crimean column against the Oak grove of the Catherine Park.

Since the beginning of the 1914 war, the empress began to turn the city into the world's largest military medical hospital and rehabilitation center.
As early as 10 in August, 1914 was equipped with two comfortable palace hospitals, and at the same time sanitary trains were organized to transport the wounded from the theater of operations. In a letter to her 30 husband in October, 1915 in Alexandra Feodorovna wrote: "... Let's go to the Grand Palace, the infirmary there has been around for a year ...".

There was a war, its victims multiplied, and with them the need to expand the hospitals of the Tsarskoye Selo point. For one of them, the Empress gave her Svethelka summer residence in the city of Luga and already considered it very usual to go to the front and deliver especially seriously wounded soldiers by train, since the most advanced medical equipment was located in Tsarskoye Selo hospitals. In her city, on her initiative, medical journals began to appear, writing about the latest achievements of military medicine, and they diverged in all of the rear and front-line hospitals in Russia.

Nevertheless, the Empress considered her main business to be the official service in the Palace Infirmary as a surgical sister. From 10 in August 1916 (so as not to be confused with the Grand Palace Infirmary) he will be called Her Majesty’s own infirmary number 3, and Vera Ignatievna Gedroits will be transferred here from the position of Senior Resident at the Tsarskoye Selo Palace Hospital and will be appointed Senior Doctor and Leading Surgeon.

Empress's professional medical skills and the skills and knowledge of her daughters were urgently needed — there was a steady stream of seriously wounded people, and there were not enough experienced sisters of mercy.

From the diary of Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna: “... There was an operation under local anesthesia to Gramovich, a bullet was cut out of the chest. She handed over the instruments ... She tied up Prokosheev's 14 of the Finnish regiment, chest wound, cheek and eye wound. She then tied up Ivanov, Melik-Adamov, Taube, Malygin ... ”.

From the diary of Olga Nikolaevna: “... She tied up Porshes, Garmovich of the 64 Kazan Regiment, left knee wound, Ilyin 57 of the Novodzinsky regiment, left shoulder wound, after Mgebriev, Poboevsky ....”. In addition, the Grand Duchess, who had a wonderful ear for music, often arranged home concerts for the wounded.

Freylina Anna Vyrubova, who also passed the courses of nurses in V.I. Gedroits wrote: “I saw the Empress of Russia in the operating room of the hospital: now she kept cotton wool with ether, then she handed in sterile instruments to the surgeon. She was tireless and did her job with humility, like all those who devoted their lives to serving God. Seventeen-year-old Tatiana was almost as skillful and tireless as her mother, and complained only if, because of her youth, she was freed from the most difficult operations ... ”.

The empress and the grand princesses considered their spiritual duty to take care of the worthy repose of warriors who died and died from their wounds. To do this, near the historic Kazan cemetery of Tsarskoye Selo, the first official fraternal cemetery of the soldiers of the Russian army who fell in the First World War during the First World War was created. At her own expense, the empress builds a wooden church here. The temple will be built in two months and on October 4 1915 was consecrated in the name of the icon of the Mother of God "Soothe my sorrows." The royal family personally escorted many of the fallen heroes who were buried here on their last journey, while the empress herself constantly took care of their graves.

It must be said that secular society was ambiguous about this activity of the empress, considering it to be “indecent” for her and the great princesses. The situation on the European fronts to 1916 was very difficult for Russia. The emperor was forced to accept the post of Commander-in-Chief, and the Empress made a great sacrifice, allowing her terminally ill son to accompany Nicholas II on his trips to the front to raise his spirits among the troops. And to risk the mother was something - these are the lines from the memories of Tsesarevich I. Stepanov: “There is no ability to convey the beauty of this look, the incompetentness of this charm. “It was not of this World” - they said about Him, “not a tenant”. I believed in it then. Such children do not live. Radiant eyes, sad and yet glowing at times with some kind of amazing joy ... He entered almost at a run. The whole body is scary, yes, it is scary, swinging. He somehow threw a sick leg far to the side. Everyone tried not to pay attention to this terrible limp ... ".

It is difficult for a modern man to imagine how hard the fate of this woman-empress was, German by birth, who sincerely loved Russia and was not understood by her people.

On the one hand, during the war years she did everything in her power, worked tirelessly and without sparing herself, on the other hand, these were the years of the most harassment and slander against her and her family.

It seemed that the work of the imperial family and their loyal subjects began to bring success - here and brilliant victories on the fronts of 1916, and the rapid restoration of the defense industry, but in the rear and, most importantly, on the front, the revolutionary forces that destroyed the Russian state dominated.

One of the methods of the revolutionary struggle against the monarchy was to spread the most ridiculous rumors. Here is one of them: a certain tradesman of the mountains. Shadrinska in June 1915 asserted that they found a telephone in the Empress’s room associated with Germany, by which she informed the Germans about the disposition of Russian troops, which resulted in the occupation of Libava by the enemy ... And this rumor, widely discussed in liberal circles, repeats combat general B. .AND. Selivachev, whose corps heroically fought on the South-Western Front. He writes in his diary: “Yesterday, one sister of mercy reported that there was a rumor that the Tsar from the Tsarskoye Selo palace had a cable to talk with Berlin, through which Wilhelm learned all our secrets ... It’s scary to think that this could be true - what kind of sacrifices the people are paying for such a betrayal! ” And it is written by an educated military professional! .. Madness increasingly embraced Russia.

And now the new revolutionary power has replaced the monarchy ...

The royal family was arrested and kept in the Alexander Palace for shipment to Siberia. The Tsarskoye Selo evacuation center, like the entire military medicine of the country, also received the “transformations” described by the sister of mercy Valentina Chebotareva in her diary “At the Palace Infirmary in Tsarskoe Selo”: “... There was a rumor in the infirmary ... Today there was a rumor that nurses and soldiers decided to ask on the removal of Grekova and Ivanova. At the meeting, the sisters decided to fight. Terrible, how it all will be. " Justifying the collapse of the army and the offensive of the Germans, who did not receive due resistance at the front, the new government is trying to shift all its blame on the royal family. From the report of the investigator N.A. Sokolov about the murder of the Sovereign and his entire august family: “Mr. Kerensky was going to the residence of the Emperor, carrying in his heart a certain conviction of a judge, confident in the guilt of the Emperor and Empress of the Empress before the Motherland ... By order of Mr. Kerensky, Mr. Korovichenko made a search in the papers of the Sovereign and selected those that he considered necessary to take. By undertaking such actions, Mr. Kerensky hoped to find in the Sovereign’s papers the evidence of His and the Empress’s treason against the Motherland in the sense of wanting to make peace with Germany. ”

Not finding any evidence of the fictional state crimes of the emperor and empress, the Provisional Government exiled the royal family to Tobolsk, condemning it to a martyr's death in the future.

But even there, the future Holy Royal Passion-bearers wrote in their letters, forgetting about their own tragedy: “... Often we recall the time spent in our hospital. Probably now no one goes to the graves of Our wounded ... ".

11 November 2008, on the day of the 90 anniversary of the end of World War I, on this, one of the main, forgotten by history and people, fraternal cemetery of heroes of World War I 1914-1918, was opened a granite cross-monument. Today, at this historic military burial, the authors of the cross monument are the Charity Foundation for the perpetuation of the memory of the soldiers of the Russian army who fell in World War 1914-1918. The “Military Council” and the initiator of its organization, the Foundation for Historical Perspectives, create the Tsarskoye Selo Memorial of World War I.

On the initiative and under the direction of the Warrior Council Foundation 1 on August 2013, on the Day of Remembrance of the Russian soldiers who died in World War I, a solemn event was held at the Tsarskoye Selo Bratsk cemetery with the participation of the troops of the St. Petersburg garrison, the guard of honor, standard groups and military orchestra. The military event supported by the Government of St. Petersburg and the commander of the Western Military District, with a mourning wreath and flowers, was attended by representatives of the Historical Perspective Foundation, the leadership of the Tsarskoye Selo Museum, veterans of the Armed Forces and cadets of higher military educational institutions.
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  1. drop
    drop April 28 2014 08: 32
    I personally have an extremely negative attitude towards the royal person of the last Emperor. Because of his inaction, the country was involved in the World War, from which Russia gained nothing. And the country was destroyed. But the topic is noble and significant. Recently I published in "VO" the essay "The Singer of the Joys of Life", this is about AD Vyaltseva. This richest woman in Russia at her own expense created a sanitary train in 1904 and took out the wounded from the East. In addition, she built hospitals, hospitals at her own expense, gave scholarships to students of the faculties of exact sciences. Her feat was only repeated by our compatriots during the Great Patriotic War. I have the honor.
    1. Uncle
      Uncle April 28 2014 15: 48
      Quote: Drop
      I personally have an extremely negative attitude towards the royal person of the last Emperor.

      This is from ignorance. Take as an example the family of any modern leader whose children go to hospitals and help with operations? The children of the respected Putin in Germany, and the tsar’s children nursed the wounded soldiers. You can water him with mud as much as you like, you consider him an unworthy ruler, and God considered him a saint. Which of you is right?
    2. PSih2097
      PSih2097 April 29 2014 21: 08
      Quote: Drop
      I have the honor.

      Honor to her and PRAISED.
  2. Russlana
    Russlana April 28 2014 08: 55
    History did not know more of a Great traitor than Lenin. The meanest blow in the back of his own country.
    Keep an eye on us from heaven, The Last Imperial Family of Russia.
    Thank you for the article.
    1. Orik
      Orik April 28 2014 10: 30
      Quote: Russlana
      History did not know more of a Great traitor than Lenin. The meanest blow in the back of his own country.
      Keep an eye on us from heaven, The Last Imperial Family of Russia.
      Thank you for the article.

      How much to repeat, the elite was struck in the back by the elite generals, dignitaries, ministers, Duma deputies, and the form only completed what was done.