I alone led the family downstairs. Nikolai was carrying Alexei in his arms. The rest, some with pillows in their hands, some with other items, we came down to the lower level to a special room previously prepared. Alexandra Fedorovna asked for a chair, Nikolai asked for a chair for Alexei.
I ordered that the chairs be brought. Alexandra Fedorovna sat down. Alexei as well. I suggested that everyone stand up. Everyone stood up, taking up the entire wall and one of the side walls. The room was very small. Nikolai stood with his back to me. I announced: the Executive Committee of Soviet Workers, Peasants and Soldier Deputies of the Urals carried [a decision] to shoot them. Nikolai turned around and asked (sic). I repeated the order and commanded “Shoot”. I shot first and killed Nikolai to drop (sic). The firing went on for a very long time, and despite my hopes that the wooden wall would not cause a ricochet, the bullets bounced off it. I was not able to stop this shooting for a long time, which took on a disorderly character. But when I finally was able to stop it, I realized that many were still alive.
For instance, Dr Botkin lay propped up on the elbow of his right arm, as if in a relaxed pose, a revolver shot finished him off, Alexei, Tatiana, Anastasia and Olga were still alive too. Also alive was Demidova. Com. Ermakov wanted to finish the job with a bayonet. However, this was not possible. The reason for this became clear later (the daughters had diamond armor [sewn] into their under bodices). I was forced to shoot each one in turn. Most unfortunately, the valuables brought down with the executed attracted the attention of some of the red guard who were present, who decided to steal them. I proposed that the transfer of the corpses be stopped and asked Com. Medvedev to watch in the truck that no valuables were touched. On the spot, I [personally] decided to gather everything that was there.
I positioned Nikulin to watch the road when they would load the corpses, and also left another below to watch those who were still there. After the loading the, I called in all the participants and demanded that they immediately return everything they had taken, otherwise threatened punishment. One by one they began to return what they happened to have. Turned out there were two [or] three weak-willed men. Despite the fact that I had the inclination to commission the remaining work to com.[rade] Ermakov, I was worried that he would not be able to perform this job in the proper way, [and] decided to go myself. I left Nikulin [behind]. Ordered not to remove the [guard] watch, so that nothing changed outwardly.
At 3:00 or 3:30 in the morning on 17 July, we headed in the direction of Verkh-Isetsky factory. Passing the yard of the factory, I asked Ermakov if he brought instruments in case we had to dig a pit. Ermakov told me that they had prepared a mineshaft and therefore no instruments will be needed, but most likely one of the lads grabbed something. Departing three versts from the Verkh-Isetsky factory we stumbled upon an entire camp of droshky and mounted riders. I asked Ermakov, “What does this mean?”. He told me, “These are all our lads who came to help us”. Why did you need such a mass of people, why did you need the droshky? He told me. I thought that all these people would be needed. And since I did not know his plan, I continued to follow in the truck. More than once we got stuck in the mud. At one spot we got stuck between two trees and stopped. Further there was the swamp. Could not go further in the truck. The workers, among whom were non-members of ISPOLKOM of the Verkh-Isetsky factory, expressed their displeasure that the corpses were brought, not the living, whom they wanted to torment to satisfy themselves … When [we] started to unload the droshky, it appeared very and (sic) very difficult (did not think to bring wagons). With great difficulty we had to pile the corpses into the droshky in order to go further. The promised mineshaft was not there. Where the mineshaft was, no one knew. When they started to unload the corpses from the truck, the lads again started to ransack [their] pockets. Here it was found that something was sewn in [their] belongings, and here I decided that before I bury them, I will burn these belongings. I threatened the lads so that they do not take part in this matter and continue the unloading. The mounted riders went to look for the mineshaft of which they spoke. Riding for some time, they did not find any mineshaft, returned with nothing. It already started to lighten. Peasants were going out to work. Nothing more was left but to move in an unfamiliar direction. Ermakov was adamant that he knew of another mineshaft, somewhere further, and we headed in that direction. About 16 versts from Verkh-Isetsk and about 1½ or 2 versts from Koptyaki village, we stopped. The lads drove into the forest and returned saying that [they] found the mineshaft. We turned into the forest. The mineshaft turned out to be very shallow. Some kind of abandoned old remains (sic). Unharnessed the horses. Built a fire. Placed a strike-force (sic) from the riders around the forest. Chased away the peasants [who] were nearby. Surrounded the area with mounted riders. I started to undress the corpses. Undressing one of the daughters, I found a corset which had something tightly sewn [in it]. I ripped it and found precious stones. Masses of people, in this situation were completely undesirable. The precious stones caused involuntary shouts, exclamations. Not knowing these lads well, I said, “Lads, these are trifles, some kind of plain rocks”. I stopped the work and decided to let everyone go, except a few more or less known to me and reliable, as well as a few mounted riders. I kept five men for myself and three riders, the remainder I let go. Besides my people, there were also 25 persons who Ermakov had prepared. I set about anew to unseal the precious stones. The precious stones were found to be with Tatiana, Olga and Anastasia. Here the special position Maria held in the family was confirmed, on [Maria] there were no precious stones. On Alexandra Fedorovna there were long strings of pearls and a huge coiled golden ring, or rather a hoop, about a half a pound. How or who wore this thing seemed strange to me. All these valuables I pulled out here from skillfully prepared brassieres and corsets. There was no less than half a pood [18 pounds or 16 kilograms] of precious stones. Among them were diamonds and other precious stones. All items (dresses and so on) were burned right there in the fire. On all their necks small pillows were worn, into which were sewn the prayers and teachings of Grishka Rasputin. On the spot where the clothes were burned, we found precious stones which [were] probably sewn into separate places and in dress folds.
However, after the red army men arrived later, [one] brought me a fairly large diamond weighing about 8 carats, and said, take the rock, I found it where the corpses were burned.
By the order of the Ural Regional ISPOLKOM, I took these jewels to Perm, and handed [them] over to Com. Trifonov. Later, Com. Trifonov along with Com. Filippov (Goloshekin) and Com. Novoselov “committed these items to the soil of the Ural proletariat”, [was] how Com. Smigla expressed it, in one of the small houses, temporarily occupied especially for this [purpose] in Alapaevsk factory. In 1919, after taking-over of the Urals, these items were dug up and brought to Moscow.
The place for Nikolai’s eternal rest was quite unfortunate. But there was nothing left to do, but to temporarily lower them down into this mineshaft so that on the next day, or later the same day, [we could] undertake something else. We lowered the corpses into the mineshaft. In the mineshaft there was no more than one - one and a half arshins [one arshin = 2.3 feet or 0.7 meter] of water. I left the guard. Arranged the mounted guard. I personally went to town in order to report to the Soviet that the matter could be left the way it was. At the Soviet saw comrades Safarov and Beloborodov. Reported [to them] what was done. Pointed out the impossibility of leaving them in that mineshaft. Told them that it was necessary to find another spot, [and] during the night exhume and bury them in another place. Com. Beloborodov and Safarov did not give me an answer at that time. Later, com. Filipp recommended one comrade who was supposed to destroy the corpses by some other method. I went to Chutzkaev, who was at the time the president of the Ekaterinburg City Soviet, in order to find out if he knew of any deep mineshafts nearer to Ekaterinburg. Com. Chutzkaev said that at 9 versts, on the Moskovsky highway, there were deep mineshafts. I decided that these mineshafts would be the better [place]. I took the automobile and set off. From Chutzkaev I set off to the Extraordinary Committee office where I caught up with Filipp again, and other comrades. Here [we] decided nevertheless to burn them. But since no one was familiar with this matter, [we] did not know how or what to do. Nonetheless still decided to burn them. I went to the Head of the Department of Supplies of the Ural National Economy, com. Voikov, and ordered three barrels of kerosene and three containers of sulfuric acid. Then, on horseback, [I] set off with com. Pavlushin to see how the matter stood at the place and where best to organize this. We went there [in] late evening. On the way, my horse fell and badly pressed down on my leg, I could not stand up. [After] lying for a few minutes [I] climbed on another [horse] and shuffled on somehow. We arrived at the place. I proposed that we bury them in different spots: first along the clay road – and hence traces [could be] easily covered, and secondly in the swamp. On that we with com. Pavlushin decided. Some set on fire, some to be buried. We returned to ISKOLPOM. I asked com. Pavlushin to ride off for this and that in connection with this. Pavlushin rode off, during this time I was (sic) with com. Voikov [to find out] about the kerosene and sulfuric acid, which was not easy to get. Shovels were needed, which the head of Supplies did not have, but the yard keeper had a few shovels in the yard, which we took. Pavlushin was not back still. Waited for some time, [then] I went to the Extraordinary Committee. Turned out that Pavlushin was lying in bed. Next to him was a doctor. He fell off his horse and broke his leg, and could barely ride. Meanwhile, all the work related to the burnings was his responsibility, as a person who has, how can one say, some experience in more or less complicated procedures. But it was necessary to ‘perform’ [Translator’s comment: Yurovsky used the word prodelat’ or “trick” instead of prodelivat’] this, that this matter was not easy. I, using the position of comrade commissar of Justice of the Ural District, made out an order for the prison to bring me some horses and wagons without drivers. The wagons arrived at 12:30 at night. Receiving all the necessities, seating com. Pavlushin into the droshky, we set off. Around 4 [in the morning] we reached the place and started to unload the corpses. Koptyaki Village was located only 2 versts from where our mineshaft was. [We] needed to make this place safe. I sent persons into the village to say that they were prohibited from leaving the village, because an intelligence operation was taking place here now, possibly shooting will begin, and possibility of victims. Positioning the mounted riders, we continued our work. Exhuming the corpses was not an easy matter. By morning we were able to extract the corpses. We drove them closer to the road, and I decided to bury Nikolai and Alexei. We dug a rather deep pit. This was near 9 in the morning. Someone noticed that a peasant was riding over. Ermakov was here. This peasant turned out to be Ermakov’s acquaintance, Ermakov assured [us] that the peasant saw nothing, and he let him go. Many orders were given out, that under no circumstances was anyone who broke through forcefully [was] to be released alive. I checked if the peasant saw what happened here and it turned out that he undoubtedly could see and understand, [and] would gossip that something was happening here. I decided to take the corpses deeper into the forest, and once again headed to town, and decided to have a spare place, just in case. Not without difficulty I found an automobile, drove to Moskovsky highway, to those mineshafts which Chutzkaev spoke about the night before.
About 1 ½ - 2 versts from the mineshafts, the automobile broke down. During the course of an hour or half hour (sic) the automobile was not able to be repaired. I decided to set off on foot to look at these mineshafts. At these mineshafts there were a few guards with their families. The mineshafts were rather deep, and I decided that this would be the very best place to bury Nikolai and his family – where no one would find them. Returning to the automobile, I saw that it was in the same position. Going to the city on foot would be impossible. I decided to stop the first horse or car I could get. At this time, a pair of horses [horsemen] drove (sic) by. I stopped them, "Well, friends, where are you going, I need your horses". "But permit us it's comrade Yurovsky". "Yes, comrade Yurovsky, and who are you." "Acquaintances". "Well here's how it is, fellows. It is essential for me to travel into town, but the car has broken down." "Yes we are in a hurry". "Well, a car will take you in, fellows". They agreed. On these horses I arrived into Ekaterinburg. Had to search for an automobile. The matter was not easy. But, my comrades were without rations for two days now. Had to bring them food at least. I went to the motor depot of the District Military Commissariat. There I found almost no one. There was no spare car. However, one young fellow, who evidently sensed or guessed, said, "Do you need a car (sic) truck, and so on. Good, I will give you one. But here is the thing. We only have Stogov's [car], it's very lightweight". "Fine, give [me] Stogov's, be it Stogov’s, what's the difference". General Stogov was the Chief of Military Communications: later he was executed for collaborating with the White guard. A truck with rations was sent out. Then sent a second truck. Commissioned that all corpses be loaded onto the wagons, and where it was possible to pass through freely so that it was possible to re-load [them] into the trucks, so that the people could eat, and so forth. Later I took off in the truck and in the lightweight car on one road, and on the other I sent out comrades in order to track which way would be most convenient to drive back, since I decided to transport the corpses in automobiles. I ordered to prepare rocks, ropes, so that by tying the rocks to the bodies [we could] lower [them] into the mineshafts. Crossing the railroad line, in about 2 versts I met up with the moving caravan with the corpses. At around 9-9 ½ o’clock in the evening, we crossed the railroad line where we decided to re-load onto the trucks. They assured me that the road here was good. However, there was a swamp on the way. For that reason we brought cross ties in order to spread over this place. Spread them down. Drove over successfully. In about ten paces from this place we got stuck again. Wasted no less than an hour. Got the truck out. Moved farther. Got stuck again. Wasted [time] until 4 in the morning. Nothing was accomplished. The time was late. One of the lightweight trucks with the other comrades and Com. Pavlushin also got stuck somewhere in the same. These people wasted a third day. Exhausted. Without sleep. Began to get agitated: Any minute we expected the Czechoslovaks to seize Ekaterinburg. Had to find another way.
I decided to make use of the swamp. And burn some of the corpses. Unharnessed the horses. Unloaded the corpses. Opened the barrels. Placed one corpse to test how it would burn. The corpse charred relatively quickly, then I ordered to start burning Alexei. At this time [they were] digging a pit. The pit was dug in the swamp where the cross ties were layered. Dug a pit about 2 ½ arshins deep, three arshins square. It was just before morning. Burning the rest of the corpses was not possible because again the peasants began to come out for work, and for that reason we had to bury the corpses in the pit. Laying the corpses in the pit, doused them with sulfuric acid, with this ended the funeral for Nikolai and his family and all the rest. Laid the cross ties on top. Leveled it. Drove over it. Firm.
Near the spot where the corpses were burned, we dug a pit right there, laid the bones in there, lit the fire anew. And swept the traces.
After this difficult job by the third night, i.e. on the morning of 19 July ending the job, I addressed the comrades with the instructions about the importance of this job, and the necessity of complete secrecy until it becomes officially known. We headed to town. On the next day, on the orders of the Executive Committee I departed for Moscow with a report to the President of the All-Russian's Central Executive Committee, comrade Y.M. Sverdlov.
The initial burial spot, as pointed out earlier, was 16 versts from Ekaterinburg, and 2 versts from Koptyaki, the latter place is located approximately 8-8 ½ versts from Ekaterinburg, and 1 ½ versts approximately from the railroad line.
Above, two photos of Yakov Yurovsky.
Hit the back button on your browser to return to the previous page.