When Kerensky had seized power in Russia during the Revolution of February 1917, he had interned the tsar, the tsarina and their five children in the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo. He had tried to send the prisoners to England, but King George V, first cousin of Nicholas II and first cousin of the Empress, had refused and so his government could only follow his refusal.

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Kerensky could however not keep those prisoners so close to the inflamed capital. Hence he sent them to the small Oural city of Tobolsk, but they did not leave destitute. They were granted an entire train for their luggage. They were able to bring a large quantity of personal effect and, notably, three crystal jars in which they hid an unbelievable quantity of jewels, those called “ everyday jewels” which would have been the pride of any museum or treasury of the world, that is to say hundreds of pieces embedded with diamonds and gemstones.

In Tobolsk, they were not particularly mistreated. They resided in the governor’s palace and had been permitted to receive local religious figures. Thus they came to befriend monks, nuns of the city’s convents.

Then came the October Revolution, things changed. The imperial family was exiled from Tobolsk to Yekaterinburg, where their tragic death awaited them. A first contingent was dispatched to Yekaterinburg. There, conditions where much harder, the treatment much more brutal, and the guardians much more ruthless. Those who arrived were able to warn those still in Tobolsk of this dramatic change and advised them to hide their jewels. Those still in Tobolsk summoned the monks, nuns, and entrusted each with the three jars filled to the brim with priceless gems. A very short time after, they were brought to Yekaterinburg and reunited with their family for the worst.

Monks and nuns carefully buried the treasure that had been bestowed upon them. The Bolshevik authorities, however, learned god knows how of the existence of one of these jars and the name of the monks which had hidden it. They arrested him, tortured him, and the monk confessed. The jar was unburied, the jewels taken out and duly photographed. Fabulous treasure. And then the whole matter was forgotten, the two other jars are still buried in Tobolsk. Since no one talked, no one has discovered them!