Review of Reviews

Czar Alexander’s Empty Coffin Is a Mystery to Soviet Russia

January 15 1934
Review of Reviews

Czar Alexander’s Empty Coffin Is a Mystery to Soviet Russia

January 15 1934

Czar Alexander’s Empty Coffin Is a Mystery to Soviet Russia

AN EMPTY coffin—Czar Alexander I’s—was the sensation of Leningrad, where, searching for jewels, Soviet officials broke into the imperial tombs at the citadel of Sts. Peter and Paul recently, found plenty of dead potentates, but no Alexander I. The incident is related in Literary Digest.

Is it possible that Alexander,whose official death at Taganrog in the Crimea in 1825 was attended with curious circumstances, merely absconded? Stories, now suddenly revived, say that he did. Having murdered his father, Alexander nursed a bad conscience, and was reported to have talked of abdication.

Eleven years after Alexander’s official death, according to M. Octave Aubry, a handsome old man riding a superb horse, appeared in Krasno-Umfimsk in the Perm region. He said he was Fedor Kousmitch, but would tell nothing more about himself, so he was sent to jail as a vagrant and flogged.

Then came the Grand Duke Michael, making a great row. Fedor asked only to be sent to Siberia. The request was granted, and he at first worked in a State distillery near Tomsk. “There,” said M. Aubry in

Le Figaro, “he was looked upon as a saint.”

Five years later, this Fedor appeared in a Cossack village, where he taught little children, instructed the farmers, prayed with the sick. People thought him a nobleman who had taken a vow of asceticism The Archbishop of Irkutsk came to visit him. One day, a soldier came. “That is the Czar !” he cried. “That is our father, Alexander Pavlovitch!” A pupil of Fedor’s went to Russia, saw' portraits of Alexander I, and, on her return, exclaimed: “Little father, you look just like the Emperor Alexander!” A w'oman, Madame Balakhine, told of having seen among Fedor’s papers the marriage certificate of Alexander and the Empress Elizabeth. Prince Bariatinsky asserts in “The Mystery of Alexander” that Fedor received a visit from the Empress shortly before his death, which occurred in 1864.

Was Fedor Kousmitch Alexander I? “We must not forget that some pretty stiff yarns come out of Russia,” said M. Aubry, “and yet several members of the Imperial family w'ere so nearly convinced that Nicholas II ordered the coffin opened, countermanding the order only when the Grand Duke Vladimir insisted.”