May 18th 1896: Khodynka Tragedy

Khodynka

Crowds surround a victim of the tragedy

 

On this day in 1896 during the festivities celebrating the coronation of new Russian Tsar Nicholas II, a mass panic on Khodynka Field in Moscow led to 1,389 deaths. A banquet was planned for the people which was highly anticipated due to rumours of free beer, pretzels and gingerbread. Thousands gathered early in the morning, but a rumour spread that there was not enough food for everyone and in the ensuing panic and crush, 1,389 were trampled to death and a further 1,300 injured.

 

nicholas6

Coronation of Tsar Nicholas II

 

The new Tsar visited the injured in hospital but still attended a ball at the French embassy in the evening which many thought showed a lack of care for his subjects (Nicholas had not wanted to go but his advisors considered it an insult to France). The incident marked the beginning of a series of events which undermined faith in Tsar Nicholas II and led to his removal from power in 1917, making him the last Tsar of Russia.

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