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“Secretary, summon Minister of the Interior Ivan Durnovo. Give him the message that the Tsar needs to see him. Tell him it is a matter of the utmost importance.”
“Yes, Your Imperial Majesty.”, the young man said as he turned around, leaving his typewriter behind.
He had hired a private secretary to lighten the workload. While waiting, Stalin/Nicholas decided to continue with his work. Right now he was busy setting up a Ministry of State Planning which would build up and modernize Russia. He was also writing down a list of people that were to be liquidated immediately and creating drafts of laws to break the power of the landed aristocracy, which was systematically trying to block his reforms. He had come into conflict with them already, even though he had been Tsar for only one month or so. There was a knock on the door.
“Come in.”, Stalin/Nicholas said.
“You requested my presence. Why this audience?”, the minister asked.
“I have brought you here because the Okhrana resorts under your authority. I have a list I wanted to show you, Ivan.”, he said, emphasizing that last. Ivan took the note that the Tsar had laid down on his desk and started to read what were apparently names of people, some of which he recognized as those people were either in jail or being monitored. The following names had been written down on a piece of paper in a rather difficult to read handwriting:
He stopped reading as the list continued with around another two dozen names or so.
“These are names. What do I have to do with these people?”, Durnovo asked.
“They are all to be quietly disposed of as soon as possible.”, Stalin/Nicholas replied coldly.
“Excuse me, Your Imperial Majesty?”, he inquired.
“They are to be killed.”, Stalin/Nicholas spat. He made no attempt to hide it or soften it words like ‘terminate’, ‘eliminate’ or ‘liquidate’. Stalin/Nicholas was a tough guy and knew what he wanted and what needed to be done. These people had been comrades in the revolution, but were now enemies and he had decided to pre-emptively decapitate the revolution by killing all prominent Bolshevik and Menshevik leaders of the present and the future. Only his own self was not on the list. Stalin/Nicholas knew he was existing in parallel to himself and he was still pondering about what to do with his younger self.
“Uhm, yes, Your Imperial Majesty.”, Durnovo said and he turned around to get to work. The Tsar seemed different from what he once was. He used to be a gentle person. Durnovo would be tempted to call him weak, if he wasn’t a friend of the Tsar. He would soon find out that the Tsar did not have friends.
In the afternoon Stalin/Nicholas had played nice to Alix. He had taken her out for a walk across the palace grounds, which proved to be quite extensive with gardens everywhere. The palace grounds even encompassed a small forest which was home to a herd of deer. In the evening they had gone to the opera house. All of this was intent to get Alix in the mood. He had been paying more attention to her as he didn’t want her to commit suicide. Tonight he would produce an heir. He watched her undress and approached her.
“Nicky, I am not dressed.”, she said, slightly uncomfortable.
“I know.”, he replied with his gruff voice. “I love you.” He said nothing else and kissed her and she, she let herself be carried away by the spur of the moment. He would produce a strong heir to the throne.
9 months later
Stalin/Nicholas had been in a meeting when a servant told him the news. Stalin/Nicholas rushed for his armoured coach and ordered the horse driver to head for the Winter Palace immediately. His child had been born, he had an heir to the throne. “My dynasty is secure and will rule forever.”, Stalin/Nicholas thought. He rushed up the stairs and into the room where birth attendants were attending to his exhausted wife.
“Show me my son.”, he said.
“Yes, Your Imperial Majesty.”, one of the nurses said. His mother was there too as was traditional, while he had not attended the birth of his son.
“How do you know it’s a boy?”, she inquired, curiously. Her son never really had a strong intuition for this sort of thing.
“I just know, mama.”, he replied curtly.
“Here you go, Your Majesty, a wonderful baby boy.”
“There he is.”, he said as one of the birth attendants came in with the baby. He took the boy into his arms and looked at him. The baby looked back at him curiously and pulled his beard. Stalin/Nicholas smiled and was happy for the first time since he had been here.
“Excuse me, Your Majesty?”, one of the servants said, “Do you have a name for the boy?”
“His name will be Joseph.”
This was the first meeting of the new Ministers Council of which Sergei Witte had been appointed as chairman. He had also been appointed to the newly created positions of Prime Minister and Minister of Economy. Today they would debate the passing of a new law which His Imperial Majesty had set up among other things and it was controversial to say the least. Later, he wanted to see Sergei in private with the State Planning Committee, which resorted under him as Minister of Economy. Sergei had noticed how Tsar Nicholas II, as he was now known, had clashed with several of his ministers and government officials. They were all nobles and Stalin/Nicholas had sacked all of them. Only a few months ago, an act had been passed to triple the budget for the Okhrana. Stalin/Nicholas intended for it to reach NKVD levels soon. Already his agents were embedded everywhere, even in the government. Sergei noticed how people were becoming paranoid and stopped trusting each other. One by one ministers entered. All of them were new faces and total unknowns to Sergei. Stalin/Nicholas had sacked almost his entire cabinet two years ago. By now he had married Alix, which had been the last time that the ‘old guard’ had been assembled in one room; a church that is. The Tsar entered the room and everyone stood up out of respect for Tsar Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias. Tsar Joseph I would probably have been more correct though. “Welcome, all, today”, Sergei said, “to this plenary session of the State Council.” He paused and the new assembled ministers didn’t ask a single question.
“Today we are here to discuss the passing of the new Agriculture Law, the Rights of the People Bill and the Tax Law that our beloved Tsar has created.”
Immediately a clamour erupted from the few old aristocrats that Stalin/Nicholas had tolerated.
“Silence!”, Stalin/Nicholas shouted at the few dissenters which he would soon eliminate. ‘Clearly these old fools do not learn quickly. They will learn that I do not tolerate dissent the hard way.’, he thought. The Agriculture Law encompassed a land redistribution, which favoured the poorer peasants over the landowning aristocracy and lower taxes for peasants. In the stead of those taxes came a new tax for large landowners. Everyone who owned more than 375 acres or about 150 hectares was charged with a tax based off the productivity and annual earnings of the products of that land per hectare for the owner. To further stimulate productivity of the peasants and medium sized farm companies, farming subsidies were given to conduct research into and introducing more efficient farming methods, such as the use of machines. The landowning elite, mostly the nobility, vehemently resisted and Stalin/Nicholas knew. They, however, dared not act in the face of the now almighty Okhrana, the Tsar’s secret police and personal assassination squad. Several dissenters had already disappeared, they were either dead or in a Siberian labour camp. Over the past few years Stalin/Nicholas had filled the ranks of the Okhrana with his own people, slowly to not raise suspicion from the nobility, which controlled it. Very slowly the government and the Okhrana had been filled up with people loyal to him in a slow and steady five year process and now he was almighty and the nobility powerless. The Tax Law was Stalin/Nicholas’ attempt to even out the disproportionate taxes in Russia which kept the poor poor and the rich rich. The aristocracy again was very much against the reform. The Bill of Rights was simply a summary of the rights, such as a minimum wage. This would later be part of the constitution. Of course, the Okhrana got extra-judicial powers and the Tsar himself would frequently violate what was theoretically the most democratic constitution in the world. As Stalin/Nicholas expected, there was no dissent and the laws were all unanimously passed. Nicholas waited and watched as the other ministers left the room. He beckoned Sergei to follow him as they went into a different room.
“Take a look at this, Sergei.”, the Tsar said and a small smile played around his lips.
“What is this?”, Sergei asked as he looked at the document he had been handed.
“That is our economic plan to make Russia strong again.”, Stalin/Nicholas said proudly.
Sergei put on his reading glasses to take a closer look.
“If I’m seeing this correctly, this plan calls for nationalization of key industries and creating the circumstances to attract foreign capital such as lower taxes for the industrial bourgeoisie and fourteen to eighteen hour work days.”, Sergei said.
So far it all seemed logical to him, although eighteen hour work days were long. Sergei would have settled for eleven or twelve. He scanned the document further downward.
“But these production rates are impossible to achieve without deaths or exhaustion of our means. By God! This Five Year Plan calls for a doubling of the production of pig iron, coal and steel and the tripling of the production of iron ore, not to mention the increases in production of weapons and heavy machinery. I can’t do this in five years.”, Sergei retorted.
“Yes you can. You have my full trust in this matter and you may use whatever means necessary, no permission needed. Make it work.”, Stalin/Nicholas said with a small smile.
“We are half a century behind on the west. Either we do it or we will be crushed.”, Stalin/Nicholas finished as he turned around. And so a gruelling five years of expansion of the military-industrial complex began.
→ Forward to Chapter 4.