ON THIS DAY 1934: Rasputin’s Power of Mesmerism

Archive front page: Evening News 01 Mar 1934. Photo: Library Archive front page: Evening News 01 Mar 1934. Photo: Library

Saturday, March 1, 2014
8:00 AM

As part of a new daily online series we look back on what was making the news on this day in Norfolk. Today, we look at the Eastern Evening News front page of February 8, 1934.

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Dramatic story by Russian Prince

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Replies to Sir WM. Jowitt in libel action

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The libel action brought by Princess Irina Alexandrovna Youssoupoff, a niece - and cousin - of the late Czar, against Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, LTD. was continued today before Mr Justice Avory and a special jury in the King’s Bench Division.

Prince Youssoupoff, the plaintiff’s husband, who had previously described the part he played in the assassination of Rasputin, was further cross-examined.

The action concerns a film called ‘Rasputin, The Mad Monk.’ in which a princess named Natasha is portrayed as Rasputin’s lover.

Princess Youssoupoff, who said she had never met Rasputin, maintained that Natasha was meant to portray herself, and that she

been libelled by the film. Her case was incidents in the film concerning Natasha were to similar to some of the facts of her own life that people would draw the conclusion that she was the Princess tn the film. Defendants, from whom the Princess also sought an injunction to restrain them from showing the film, denied that Natasha was Princess Youssoupoff.

Sir Patrick Hastings appeared for the Princess and Sir William Jowitt for the film company.

Mesmerised by Rasputin

Today there was a dramatic re-opening of the case, Prince Youssoupoff describing an ocasion when Rasputin memerised him. He said he had reminded the monk of the promise to cure hi of his complaint.

Sir William Jowitt - He took you into his study, told you to lie on the couch, and began to stroke your chest, neck and head? - Yes he did.

And then he began to make passes over your face? - Yes.

Did you find there was a very powerful mesmeric influnce over you? - Yes.

And you found yourself unable to call out or move? - Practically.

Prince Youssoupoff agreed that after that hypnotic seance he frequently went to Rasputin, but he assrted that the treatment did him no good.

There was further dramatic evidence when Sir William Jowitt, referring to the actual plan for killing Rasputin, quoted from Prince Youssoupoff’s book.

Poisoned cakes

Sir William read this passage “I drew from the cupboard a box containing poison and took from the table a plate of cakes. There were six, three were chocolate and were with almond icing. Dr Lazovert, putting on rubber gloves, took a great deal of cyanide of potassium and having removed the upper layers from the chocolate cakes sprinkled them with a strong dose of the poison. We followed the movement with strained attention. A tense silence resigned. All that remained was to shake some of the crystals in the wine glasses.”

Prince Youssoupoff said that was a true account of what happened. Afterwards they went they went to fetch Rasputin. He agreed that in his book he had written that Rasputin asked for some tea,

Sir William read from the book: “ I poured him out a cup and pushed a plate of biscuits, which were not poisoned, I cannot explain.”

“I think the explaination is no difficult”, said Sir William. “It is that the nervous strain was such that you hardly knew what you did?” The Prince - It is quite natural. I am not a professional murderer.

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