Anastasia The Lost Grand Duchess Still Grabs Us
It’s the kick off of Blogging A-Z yeah! It’s a few minutes past midnight-officially April 1st.
The Last Russian Imperial Family. One of the most enduring mysteries of the 20th Century. Following the turbulence of the Russian Revolution Tsar Nicholas II abdicated. Following house arrest, after a lengthy imprisonment in Siberia, sometime during the night of July the 17/18, 1918, the family was ushered into a dark cellar to await their fate: death by firing squad. And as the Bolshevik guard who took part in the carnage boasted, “The world will never know what we did with them.” We didn’t until the remains were found in a remote forest, near an abandoned mine shaft in the 1990’s.
They were an appealing family in so many ways; the four sisters, The Big Pair, The Little Pair went by a variation of their first names when signing autographs-OTMA for Olga, Tatiana, Marie and Anastasia. But it was the youngest Anastasia who was destined to grab hold of history.
In the 1920’s a woman was pulled out of a canal in Germany claiming to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia-she was vague, didn’t want to talk about it and had an uncanny memory or certain details only the real Anastasia could know. Her supporters pushed her claim but still her grandmother the Dowager Empress of Russia refused to receive her. This woman was the infamous Anna Anderson.
In the late 1980’s, I became absolutely mesmerized by the story of Anna Anderson when I read Peter Kurth’s book that was adapted into a mini-series. That show ignited my love of Russian History. I read everything I could get my hands on. I felt like I knew each member of the Imperial Family. I wanted so badly to solve the mystery.
Though I wanted to believe, fantastic as it was, this young girl survived a hail of bullets and bayonets by hardened revolutionaries. So I compared photos of the real Anastasia to Anna Anderson. No one changes that much. I saw NO resemblance whatsoever to the Romanov women or the Grand Duchess Anastasia. I knew I should see a glimmer, a shred. I looked at my own photos through the years, and I saw a lot of changes as a young woman from a child. But I saw something that made me see I was the same person, and I’ve read the German court cases, seen the plaster casts of Anderson’s ears and feet. People saw what they wanted to see. She was a fraud. Ten years before the DNA evidence unmasked her as a Polish factory worker. I knew through my study of Russian History that one sees pretenders over and over that this was nothing new; Tsar Peter III, Pugachev and a host of others. People have also popped up through the years pretending to be the other sisters, there was a Grand Duchess Olga of Lake Como who recognized a false Grand Duchess Marie.
One thing we know, the real Grand Duchess Anastasia who loved to pull gags on people and was a quick study, will continue to capture our imagination long into the future.