Debunking Rasputin History Activity

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for Communism and the Russian Revolution

Communism and the Russian Revolution - Debunking Rasputin


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Activity Overview

Grigori Rasputin called himself a “holy man”. He managed to gain access to Czar Nicholas II and Czarina Alexandra by being able to manage their son Prince Alexis’s hemophilia. His presence also contributed to the downfall of the Romanov Dynasty. Much has been written about the alleged magical powers of Rasputin. Students will take as critical look at these claims of mystical powers.

Students will challenge four of the mystical qualities of Rasputin. The legendary qualities and stories attributed to Rasputin are in the first column of the storyboard. The second column of the storyboard will be student-created. Each cell should show student research into a logical explanation for Rasputin’s alleged “mystical powers”.

Research Links:

The Legend of Rasputin Rasputin Debunked?
Rasputin could ease Prince Alexis' hemophilia. Was Rasputin using hypnosis?
Czar Nicholas' son had severe hemophilia. Rasputin was able to ease the Prince's suffering when he had an attack. The University of Maryland Medical Center conducted a study on the effectiveness of hypnosis on hemophilia. Researchers found it was an effective way to slow bleeding.
Poison had no effect on Rasputin. Did the assassins provide the antidote with the poison?
The decision was made to kill Rasputin. One of the alleged assassins, Prince Yusupov, invited Rasputin to his palace for an evening of drinking. Yusupov poisoned the wine and cakes with potassium cyanide - but they had no effect on Rasputin. The antidote for potassium cyanide is glucose. Poisoning sweet wine and pastries may have made the poison ineffective.
Bullets had no effect on Rasputin. Was Rasputin killed with a single bullet?
The five assassins shot Rasputin several times - once in the torso from point blank range. He survived multiple shots before being fatally shot. Autopsies show that Rasputin was the victim of a gunshot wound to the head - the assassins did not disclose this. Some say his wounds were added posthumously to make the assassins seem heroic.
Rasputin could not be drowned. Was Rasputin dead before he ever hit the water?
The assassins bound up Rasputin's dead body and threw him into the frozen Malaya Nevka river. When his body was found the next day, evidence showed that Rasputin struggled in the water and was still alive after poisoning and multiple gunshots. Autopsies showed that Rasputin had no water in his lungs. This indicates that he never struggled in the water.

Extended Activity

After students create storyboard cells that present reasonable explanations for Rasputin's mystical attributes, they could be asked to provide their own explanations for what happened on the night Rasputin was killed in a storyboard. Prompts for this activity could include: motives, timelines, identity of the assassins, etc.

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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a T Chart comparing and contrasting the Legend and Reality of Rasputin

  1. Use the template provided by your teacher
  2. In one column, note the legends associated with Rasputin's work and death
  3. In the other column, describe the realities behind these legends
  4. Illustrate each cell with appropriate scenes, characters, and items
  5. Save and submit your storyboard
Title/Description T-Chart


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