Peter Ermakov

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Ermakov standing on the hidden grave of the Tsar and his family.

Pyotr Ermakov (Russian: Пётр Захарович Ермаков (Pyotr Zakharovich Yermakov) (13 December [O.S. 1 December] 1884 – 22 May 1952) was a Russian Bolshevik, notable as having been among those responsible for the execution of the deposed Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, their children, and their retinue.

Life and career[edit]

Ermakov was born and raised in and around the Verkh-Isetskiy workhouse in Yekaterinburg, graduating from the local Parish school, working thereafter as a metal craftsman. Between 1909 and 1912, Ermakov is listed as having been living in Vologodskaya Province. By the outbreak of the First World War, Ermakov had returned to Yekaterinburg, and, by 1917, and with revolutionary sentiment in the air, he became a member of the combat guard of the Verkh-Isetskiy plant - participating in the protection of clandestine meetings, the expropriation of private property, and the murder of loyalist provocateurs.

By the spring-time of 1918, the former imperial family had been transported to Yekaterinburg as a result of anti-revolutionary forces forcing the outskirts of Tobolsk - where the family had originally been sent following the Tsar's abdication. By the summer-time of 1918, with anti-revolutionary whites now edging closer to the outskirts of Yekaterinburg the local Urals soviet were instructed by Yakov Sverdlov, with the assent of Vladimir Lenin, by means of a telegram, to execute their captives. Feeling that those guards who had previously been guarding the family had by now become too familiar, it was decided to replace them with zealous Bolsheviks - among whose number was Pyotr Ermakov - in order that the job be completed without fail. According to historians Greg King and Penny Wilson, Ermakov played a leading role in the executions, and is considered to have been the right hand of chief executioner Yakov Yurovsky. Ermakov was very intoxicated on the night of the murders. According to the account by King and Wilson, Ermarkov was the most bloodthirsty of the executioners. According to various reports, he was among the many men who shot at the former Tsar, who was already dead by the time firing began. His next target was Empress Alexandra, who was unable to finish the sign of the cross before she was shot dead. After momentarily stopping the firing due to the large amounts of rifle smoke, the executioners were ordered to finish off the Tsar's children and remaining servant Anna Demidova. Ermarkov is reported to have delivered the killing blow to Grand Duchess Olga and severely wounded Grand Duchesses Maria and Anastasia.

According to an account by Peter Voikov, who was commissar of supplies for the Ural Soviet, during the execution Ermakov yelled out that the maid, Demidova, and the youngest daughter, Anastasia, were still alive. One of the Cheka Latvians drove a bayonet through Anastasia's face.[1] Yurovsky described how Ermakov tried to kill the Grand Duchesses with his bayonet. Later, he tells how Ermakov's men tried to plunder the jewels found in the clothing.[2]

Ermakov later participated in the Russian Civil War, thereafter finding work in law enforcement in Omsk, Yekaterinburg, and Chelyabinsk. By 1927, Ermakov was employed as inspector for the prisons of the Urals region. By 1934, Ermakov was drawing his pension.

In 1935, Ermakov gave an interview to the American journalist Richard Halliburton, describing the burning and destruction of the bodies of the Imperial family and their servants.[3] It was later discovered that the story he gave had been entirely fabricated and then spoon-fed to the naïve Halliburton in order to conceal the actual events.

Ermakov died in Sverdlovsk in 1952.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Victor Alexandrov, "The End of the Romanovs", p. 232
  2. ^ Steinberg and Krustalev, "Fall of the Romanovs",p.361
  3. ^ The Scientific Expedition to Account for the Romanov Children