A crane demolishing the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, September 1977
This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2017
Today, marks the 40th anniversary of the demolition of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg. An unremarkable house (typical of pre-revolutionary Ekaterinburg), in 1918 became a tragic symbol of 20th century Russian history.
The event was marked on 19th September, with the opening of the exhibition Ipatiev House: From Destruction to Repentance, which opened at the Tsar Spiritual and Enlightenment Center in Ekaterinburg.
Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye Kirill led the opening ceremony, noting that the “destruction of the Ipatiev House became a symbol of the destruction of all Russian history.”
The exhibition presents more than 120 exhibits - including items retrieved from the Ipatiev House before its destruction, archival materials, and photographs dating from the early 20th century to 1977. The exhibition is a joint project of the Tsar Spiritual and Enlightenment Center, the State Archives of the Sverdlovsk Region, the Documentation Center for Social Organizations of the Sverdlovsk Region, the MomArt Foundation, and the private collection of Vitaly Shitov.
In 1974 the Ipatiev House was formally listed as a Historical-Revolutionary Monument. But, to the embarrassment of the government, it was steadily becoming a place of pilgrimage for those who wished to honour the memory of the imperial family. Orthodox Christians and monarchists would come - in growing numbers each year - on the night of 16/17 July to light candles and say prayers. Agents of the State Security Commission reported to authorites their sympathies as "painful interest" and qualified as "anti-Soviet demonstrations".
The proposal to demolish the house was made in 1975 by KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov. A secret resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU of 4 August, ordered the demolition of the Ipatiev House, due to the fact that it was "attracting the attention of the foreign press". Andropov's proposal was adopted unanimously. The decision of the Politburo "On the demolition of the Ipatiev House in Sverdlovsk" was signed by Second Secretary Mikhail Suslov , since Brezhnev was on vacation in the Crimea.
It was not until two years later, however, that the Politburo in Moscow ordered its destruction. The task was passed to Boris Yeltsin, the first secretary of the Sverdlovsk Regional Committee of the CPSU. Demolition of building began on 22 September, 1977, and took two days to complete. Yeltsin later wrote in his memoirs, published in 1990, that "sooner or later we will be ashamed of this piece of barbarism."
The exhibition Ipatiev House: From Destruction to Repentance, runs until 19th November, 2017 in the Tsar Spiritual and Enlightenment Center, situated in the Patriarchal Compound of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg.
The photos below show some of the 120 items on display at the exhibit, many of them retrieved
from the Ipatiev House, before its destruction in September 1977. © Ekaterinburg Diocese
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Vitaly Vasilievich Shitov
One of the honoured guests at the opening ceremony was Vitaly Vasilievich Shitov, author of the pictorial history The Ipatiev House: Chronicle in Documents and Photographs 1877-1977. This Russian language title is the most comprehensive study on the history of the Ipatiev House, featuring 720 pages, with 1032 photographs and documents. Published in 2013, only 500 copies were published.
Shitov is a well-known Urals historian, photojournalist, and graduate of the Faculty of Journalism of the Ulyanovsk State University.
Vitaly Shitov was the only journalist and photographer who managed to capture the historic demolition of the Ipatiev House, using a hidden camera. His exclusive photo report about the demolition of the Ipatiev House was published only in 1990 during perestroika. It was a sensation! After the "discovery" of the archives, Shitov began a study in detail about the tragedy, one that would span many years.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 September, 2017