Eugene Botkin

Dr. Eugene Botkin

Dr. Eugene Botkin
Born (1865-03-27)27 March 1865
Tsarskoye Selo
Died 17 July 1918(1918-07-17) (aged 53)
Occupation Physician
Spouse(s) Olga Botkina (divorced 1910)
Children Gleb Botkin
Tatiana Botkina
Parent(s) Sergey Botkin

Eugene Botkin, also Yevgeny Sergeyevich Botkin (Russian: Евге́ний Серге́евич Бо́ткин; 27 March 1865 – 17 July 1918) was the court physician for Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra and, while in exile with the family, sometimes treated the haemophilia-related complications of the Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich of Russia.

Botkin went into exile with the Romanovs following the Russian Revolution of 1917 and was murdered with the family at Ekaterinburg on 17 July 1918. Like them, he was canonised as a passion-bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in 1981.

On 3 February 2016, the Bishop's Council of the Russian Orthodox Church church-wide canonised Botkin as Righteous Passion-Bearer Yevgeny the Physician.[1]

Early life and career

Botkin was the son of Sergey Botkin, who had been a court physician under Tsars Alexander II and Alexander III. Botkin himself studied medicine at the University of St. Petersburg and at the universities of Berlin and Heidelberg.[2] He was later appointed chief physician at St. Georgievsky Hospital in St. Petersburg. He served with distinction aboard the St. Georgievsky Hospital Train during the Russo-Japanese War.[2]

He was appointed court physician in 1908. Botkin married and had four children, Dimitri, Yuri, Gleb and Tatiana. His marriage broke up under the strain caused by Botkin's dedication to the Romanovs and his long hours at court. His wife, Olga, started an affair with the children's German tutor and asked for, and was granted, a divorce.[2]

Botkin was later devastated when his oldest sons, Dimitri and Yuri, were killed in action during the First World War.[2] Botkin became increasingly religious and "developed an increasing abhorrence for the flesh," according to his son Gleb.[2]

"From a very tender age, his beautiful and noble nature was complete," his brother Peter recalled later. "He was never like other children. Always sensitive, of a delicate, inner sweetness of extraordinary soul, he had a horror of any kind of struggle or fight. We other boys would fight with a fury. He would not take part in our combats, but when our pugilism took on a dangerous character he would stop the combatants at risk of injuring himself. He was very studious and conscientious in his studies. For a profession he chose medicine: to help, to succour, to soothe, to heal without end."[2]

Exile and death

Botkin felt it was his duty to accompany the Romanovs into exile, not only because of his responsibility to his patients, the Romanov family, but also to his country.[2] Botkin was considered a friend by Tsar Nicholas II, and the doctor also often spoke with Tsarina Alexandra in her native German and acted as a translator for her when she received a Russian delegation.[3]

White Russian Army investigators found this unfinished letter, written in his quarters on the night of 16 July 1918:

I am making a last attempt at writing a real letter -- at least from here -- although that qualification, I believe, is utterly superfluous. I do not think that I was fated at any time to write to anyone from anywhere. My voluntary confinement here is restricted less by time than by my earthly existence. In essence I am dead -- dead for my children -- dead for my work ... I am dead but not yet buried, or buried alive -- whichever, the consequences are nearly identical ... The day before yesterday, as I was calmly reading ... I saw a reduced vision of my son Yuri's face, but dead, in a horizontal position, his eyes closed. Yesterday, at the same reading, I suddenly heard a word that sounded like Papulya. I nearly burst into sobs. Again -- this is not a hallucination because the word was pronounced, the voice was similar, and I did not doubt for an instant that my daughter, who was supposed to be in Tobolsk, was talking to me ... I will probably never hear that voice so dear or feel that touch so dear with which my little children so spoiled me ... If faith without works is dead, then deeds can live without faith ... This vindicates my last decision ... when I unhesitatingly orphaned my own children in order to carry out my physician's duty to the end, as Abraham did not hesitate at God's demand to sacrifice his only son.[4]

The letter was interrupted when Commander Yakov Yurovsky, the head of the command at the Ipatiev House, knocked on Botkin's door. He ordered the entire Romanov party to dress and come downstairs, on the premise that there was gunfire in the town, and they were to be evacuated. In fact, the entire family and their servants (including Botkin) were murdered a short time later.[4]

Honours and awards

In Literature and Drama

Dr. Botkin features as a character in the play, Ekaterinburg about the time in captivity of the Romanovs and their retainers inside the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg.[5]

See also



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