Roosevelt Wanted to Buy Livadia Palace in Final Days of World War II Topic: Livadia
FDR arriving at Livadia Palace in February 1945
This article is an abridged version of the original published by the TASS News Agency on 22 April 2017
On April 22, 2017, a bust of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States commonly known as FDR, will be unveiled in Yalta, on a street named in his honor.
Back in the 1960s, one of Yalta’s oldest streets was named after Franklin D. Roosevelt. The city authorities decided to commemorate the 32nd US president’s participation in the 1945 Yalta Conference of the “Big Three” leaders of the anti-Hitler coalition.
Roosevelt impressed by Crimea
The conference was held in the Palace of Livadia, where the largest group of the US delegation was housed. The reason for the decision to accommodate the American delegation in the Livadia Palace was because of the physical condition of the US leader who had been bound to a wheelchair after contracting polio in 1921.
The palace left a great impression on the American leader. In fact, according to a transcript of a conversation with Stalin in February 1945, Roosevelt said that he felt very well in Livadia and stated that when he would no longer president, he would like to ask the Soviet government to sell Livadia to him. He noted that he was fond of breeding trees and would plant lots of them in the hills around the palace’s vicinity.
“Roosevelt’s personal apartment was located on the ground floor and he could move around by himself, quite easily. It should be noted however that a slight lapse in security was permitted as the delegation and its leader were accommodated where the sessions were being held. Though the frontline was far away, security measures during the conference were unprecedentedly tight,” says Dmitry Blintsov, a research fellow at the Livadia Palace museum’s exhibition department.
The Livadia Palace and its picturesque park impressed the US leader so much that he asked Stalin, in earnest or not, to sell it to him. The transcript of Roosevelt’s personal meeting with Stalin of February 4, 1945 puts it as follows:
“Roosevelt says he feels very well in Livadia. When he is no longer president, he would like to ask the Soviet government to sell Livadia to him. He is fond of gardening. He would plant lots of trees in the hills around Livadia.”
Roosevelt arrived in Yalta accompanied by his daughter Anna. Winston Churchill’s daughter, Sarah, and one of the daughters of US Ambassador to Russia Averell Harriman, Kathleen, were also there. “I think their daughters provided psychological support to their fathers after the long and heated political debates so far away from their homes,” the historian suggests.
Nevertheless, despite the positive impressions from Livadia, upon returning home Roosevelt said that he had been shocked to see the devastation that the German Nazi forces had inflicted on Crimea.
“During my stay in Yalta, I saw the kind of reckless, senseless fury, the terrible destruction that comes out of German militarism… And even the humblest of the homes of Yalta were not spared… I had read about Warsaw and Lidice and Rotterdam and Coventry—but I saw Sevastopol and Yalta! And I know that there is not room enough on earth for both German militarism and Christian decency”
Franklin D. Roosevelt's address to Congress, 1945
Churchill, FDR and Stalin pose for photos in the Italian Courtyard of Livadia Palace, February 1945
Authentic Venetian glass
Little has survived from that time in the Livadia Palace. You can hardly find any authentic furniture, tableware or other items used by the Big Three back then. Even the interiors of some rooms are no longer as they used to be.
After Stalin’s death, the palace was used as a health resort.
The first-ever exhibition was organized here in 1974, ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Yalta Conference and a visit to the USSR by the 37th President of the US, Richard Nixon. “But it was not until 1993 that the Palace of Livadia was granted its museum status,” Blintsov says.
The historian shows us around one of the rooms, boasting about the authentic interior of the Yalta Conference period. It is the Waiting Room, which was given its name before the Bolshevik Revolution as it was here that guests used to wait to be received by the Russian Royal family.
“These dark walnut panels and the wooden ceiling, the Venetian glass chandelier, the fireplace, the chairs and the table – all of these things were here during the Yalta Conference. The room was turned into Roosevelt’s study. He met with Stalin here twice. It was here that the issue of the USSR’s entry into the war against Japan was discussed,” the historian explains.
The Director of Livadia Palace Larissa Dekusheva, has announced that a new monument to Emperor Alexander III will be installed in the park at Livadia. The monument is a joint project between the palace museum and the Russian Artists' Union.
The monument will be installed on the site where the Small (Maly) Palace once stood. After World War II the Small Palace was almost destroyed, however, the Soviet authorities decided not to restore the historic wooden palace. Instead, a sports field was built on the site, which included tennis courts, a stage and a dance floor.
Livadia served as a favourite holiday destination for Alexander III and his family. They lived in the Small (Maly) Palace, built in 1861 by the famous Russian architect (of Swiss descent) Ippolit Antonovich Monighetti (1819–1878). It was here, that Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna celebrated their 25th anniversary in 1891.
The Small (Maly) Palace at Livadia was built in 1861. It was here, that Emperor Alexander III died in 1894
During his short 13-year reign, Alexander III took a great interest in the development of Yalta, making large donations for the construction of schools, colleges, health centers, and public buildings. He was responsible for the modernizing the port at Yalta, and for the construction of the promenade along the city’s seafront. It was on his initiative that the Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral was built. Alexander III significantly improved the city infrastructure, creating a resort for members of the Russian Imperial family and the nobility, as well as the creation of the world famous Massandra wine industry.
Emperor Alexander III died in the Small Palace at Livadia, on 1 November [O.S. 20 October] 1894, at the age of forty-nine.
A new exhibition dedicated to the children of Emperor Nicholas II has opened at the Livadia Palace-Museum, with the support of the Cultural Heritage Revival Foundation and Historical Research Center.
The exhibit opened on 1st July in the former home of Count Vladimir Borisovich Frederiks (1838 – 1927), who served as Imperial Household Minister between 1897 and 1917 under Nicholas II. Frederiks former Crimean residence is adjacent to the Livadia Palace.
Three new exhibition halls feature hundreds of photographs from the private albums Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and her close friend and maid of honour Anna Vyrubova, as well as other unique and rare photos from private collections. These Photographic materials, reveal the harmony of the relationship of the royal family, and the simple aristocratic life in the imperial residences at Tsarskoye Selo, Peterhof and Livadia.
These photographs depict the children in the various stages of their lives: childhood, youth and young adults. Each of them worked hard during their short lives for the good of their beloved motherland. Photographs of the children are set against the background of the palaces and parks, enjoying fun and games, pilgrimages, participation in military parades, church services, playing with toys and dolls, as well as images in their classrooms and bedrooms. The exhibit is further complemented with a collection of watercolours painted by the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and their brother Alexei.
Part of the exhibition is devoted to the education of Heir to the Throne Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, or, as he was known in the family, Sunbeam.
The photo exhibition Children of the Emperor Nicholas II runs until 30th December 2016. Admission is 100 rubles.
This year’s White Flower Day festival was held on April 26th in the park of Livadia Palace, situated near Yalta in the Crimea. The funds collected are used to help families with seriously ill children with disabilities. This years festival was held with the support of the Administration of the city of Yalta and the Foundation of St. Basil the Great, and organizers: the parishers of the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross - which served as house church of the Romanov family in Livadia - and the Livadia Palace and Park Museum-Reserve.
This year's festival marks the 10th anniversary since its revival at Livadia in 2005. Traditionally, it is held on the second Sunday after Easter - Day of the Holy Myrrh-bearers. The program of celebrations for this year’s charity fair include a liturgy held at the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Livadia, headed by the ruling bishop, Metropolitan of Simferopol and Crimea Lazar; a concert with the participation of children and youth groups; the performance of the State Symphony Orchestra and the Crimean Philharmonic Chamber Choir "Tavrichesky Blagovest", as well as tours of the Livadia Palace-Museum and classes for children. Stalls were set up selling homemade cakes, children's crafts, and souvenirs, the proceeds going to help those in need. Local businesses also offered products from shops, while Yalta cafes and restaurants offered meals.
The White Flower Day festival was initiated in Russia in 1911 under the patronage of Emperor Nicholas II, as a means to bring people together to help those in need. All those making charitable contributions were given a small bouquet of white flowers. The money collected at the time went to help fight tuberculosis and assist those afflicted with the disease. Other means of raising funds for the White Flower Day festival including charity bazaars, buffets, organized concerts and other events. Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, along with her children, the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and the Tsesarevich Alexei took an active part in the events, raising large sums for the cause.
For more information on the White Flower Day festival at Livadia, please refer to the following link:
Crimean Prosecutor Delivers 80 Photos of Nicholas II to Livadia Exhibit Topic: Livadia
Natalya Poklonskaya, the Prosecutor of the Republic of Crimea delivers 80 photos of Emperor Nicholas II to Livadia Palace
Natalya Poklonskaya, the Prosecutor of the Republic of Crimea visited Livadia Palace on October 23rd, to hand over photos of the last Russian emperor to the museum.
Poklonskaya handed over more than 80 photos of Nicholas II, some of them unique, to the museum of Livadia Palace, the summer retreat of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. The photos were given to her by a priest from the Assumption Monastery of the Caves in Crimea.
“We have to make certain conclusions from what we’ve lived through, learn historical lessons,” Poklonskaya told TASS.
“Nicholas II sacrificed himself, his family and what he had for Russia. We should remember and show this achievement so that young people love, value and protect their homeland,” she added.
The photos will be presented at the interactive exhibition ‘The Romanovs: My Story’, which has been touring the Crimea since August. The exhibition marks 400 years since the royal dynasty was founded. The Romanovs ruled Russia from the 17th century to the revolution which saw Nicholas II abdicate in 1917.
Poklonskaya also visited the music room of the tsar’s family. She sat at the antique white piano, where the wife of Nicolas II and his daughters loved to play their favourite pieces.
Crimea’s prosecutor then showed that she doesn’t only solve crimes and is engaged in government work. She played a number of classical music compositions on the antique instrument, among them was Masquerade, a waltz by famous Soviet Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian.
Natalia Poklonskaya was awarded the Imperial Order of Saint Anastasia by the
Head of the Russian Imperial House, HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna. Moscow, July 20th, 2014
On July 20th, 2014, Natalia Poklonskaya was awarded the Imperial Order of Saint Anastasia by the Head of the Russian Imperial House, HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna during the latter’s official visit to Moscow.
Livadia Palace Opens Imperial Lift and Solarium to Visitors Topic: Livadia
Entrance to the 100-year-old Imperial lift at Livadia Palace
For the first time since before the 1917 Revolution, visitors to Livadia Palace can now visit the rooftop (solarium) of the palace in the recently restored 100-year-old lift. It was here that Tsar Nicholas II and his family would come to relax and take in spectacular views of Yalta and the Black Sea.
The lift was produced by Carl Flor in Germany and installed in 1911 and was one of the first lifts on the southern coast of Crimea. It was installed by the palace architect Nikolai Krasnov, in order to facilitate the movement of the Tsarevich Alexei, who suffered from haemophilia, and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, who suffered from sciatica. The lift allowed them both to reach the upper floors of the palace, including the solarium.
The Empress particularly enjoyed this part of the palace where she loved to spend time with her family. The roof offered her a sanctuary, where she could rest, while enjoying the warm, sunny days that the Crimea offered. The solarium was decorated with her favourite plants and flowers.
After the revolution, the elevator was seldom used and fell into disrepair. Perhaps its lack of use during the Soviet years is what actually saved the Imperial lift? When workers set to work on restoring the lift in 2010, they noted its mechanism was still fully functional, and surprisingly, inside the cabin, too, was well preserved in its original form.
The lift was restored and opened to the public in April 2013. Inside is a small, but cozy cabin, paneled with mahogany, and a small stool, with room enough for only three people. The glass doors close silently and slowly and the two-storey climb to the solarium is absolutely quiet, no rattle and roar.
During my visit to Livadia Palace in 2000, I was invited to visit the solarium, however, it was only reachable at the time by stairs. It was a rare treat to say the very least, and I have many photographs of the roof top of the palace and the magnificent panoramic views this sanctuary offers. I can truly appreciate why the Empress loved this spot so much.
Consecration of Memorial Chapel to Holy Royal Martyrs at Livadia Topic: Livadia
The Memorial Chapel to the Holy Royal Martyrs is located at the entrance to Livadia Palace
The consecration of the Memorial Chapel to the Holy Royal Martyrs at Livadia took place on September 22nd. The chapel was constructed in honour of Tsar Nicholas II and his family, and to mark the 150th anniversary of the construction of the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross at Livadia Palace. In attendance were the Head of the Russian Imperial House, HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna and her son, Grand Duke George Mikhailovich, who were on an official visit to the Crimea.
The seven-meter chapel is located at the entrance to the palace-museum. Inside the tiny chapel is a beautiful icon made of mosaic tiles depicting Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, their son Tsesarevich Alexis, and their four daughters, the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia standing in front of the Livadia Palace.
OTMA's Bookcase Returned to Livadia Topic: Livadia
The wall panels and bookcase in the grand duchesses classroom were made from the same oak tree. Photo credit: Old Yalta
The Livadia Palace Museum has acquired a unique new exhibit - the original bookcase from the classroom of the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II. [OTMA was an acronym used by the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia.]
After the Bolsheviks nationalized the Imperial residences, Livadia Palace was opened as the world's first sanatorium for peasants. Much of the furniture, paintings and objects of everyday life were distributed to other museums in Russia, while others were sold through thrift shops in Yalta. In 2000, I hosted a group tour to the Crimea in which Marina Zemlyanichenko was a featured guide and speaker. Ms Zemlyanichenko was the former curator of the Livadia Palace, and author of numerous books and articles about the Romanovs at Livadia and the Crimea. She told me that a number of pieces of furniture, including rare Persian rugs were moved to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg where they remain in storage to this day.
During the postwar period it became a guest house for members of the Soviet government. In 1953 the building was handed over to the Council of Trade Unions, and used to treat cardiology patients. In 1974, the palace became the History and Art Exhibition Centre. It was not until 20 years later, in 1993, that the Ministry of Culture of the Autonomous Region of the Crimea decided to open the Livadia Palace Museum.
During the ensuing years great efforts were made to track down furniture, art and other items that were once housed in the former Imperial residence. Sadly, the fate of most of them is unknown, so each new find is considered a great success. Recently, however, the opportunity to purchase an authentic piece of furniture from the former Livadia Palace came about. In addition to belonging to the Imperial Palace, it is interesting to note that this particular piece of furniture in the "modern style", was not only fashionable at the turn of the century, but also characteristic of the decoration of the Livadia Palace itself.
The bookcase, like other pieces of furniture in the grand duchesses classroom was made by the Austrian furniture company Jacob & Josef Kohn. In the late 19th-early 20th century Jacob & Josef Kohn had firmly established themselves in Russia. They created about a thousand pieces of furniture for the Russian Imperial family, and aristocratic homes in Tsarist Russia. They were one of the first to adopt the style of Art Nouveau and thus involved in the development of new products and designers.
Due to the wide popularity of the modern style in Russia, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna invited the Petersburg Company factory to participate in furnishing the interiors of Livadia Palace. In January 1910, the palace’s architect Nikolai Krasnov, granted a contract to the firm on a number of interior design living spaces, in particular, the grand duchesses bedrooms, their living room and classrooms. The classroom of the grand duchesses, created in the modern style, the furniture (including the bookcase) were all created from the same oak tree. Today, the bookcase has been beautifully restored and returned to its historic location in the former grand duchesses classroom at Livadia Palace. The grand duchesses rooms, which are located on the first floor of the palace are today part of a permanent exhibition dedicated to the Romanovs at Livadia.
Poster announcing this years White Flower Day at Livadia
Livadia Palace, situated near Yalta in the Crimea was the setting for the White Flower Day on Sunday, May 19th. The tradition of this charitable sale originated in the early twentieth century by the last Empress of Russia, Alexandra Feodorona.
Beginning in 1911, the whole community took part including members of the Imperial family and the nobility who were vacationing at their palaces in the region, and the local townsfolk. They flocked in numbers to contribute to the good deeds by buying bouquets of white daisies, paying what they could whether it was a few kopecks or hundreds of rubles. Each donation helped alleviate the suffering of those in need. The grand duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and their little brother Alexis eagerly assisted their mother at the open stalls.
The noble cause was reinstituted in 2005, and has since been held annually on the second Sunday after Easter. The event is held at the Church of the Exaltation at Livadia Palace. Money collected in this year's auction will be spent on new equipment and the training of nurses at a new retirement home to be opened in the territory of the Yalta City Hospital, as well as helping the poor and sick to fight tuberculosis.
The symbol of this holiday is the white daisy, which today is distributed to all who make a donation. The people of Yalta took an active interest in the event, including the local women who donated their baked goods, handicrafts and flowers, while local school children donated their drawings, and handicrafts made of white flowers.
White Flower Day at the Martha Mary Convent in Moscow. Photo credit: Pravmir.ru
White Flower Day is held in a growing number of cities across Russia, including Moscow, St. Petersburg and Ekaterinburg.