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Impostors (3)

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Daughter of Tsar Nicholas II Anastasia Romanov Found Alive ?

Anna Anderson and young Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanova

In 1984, the American, Mrs. Anderson, disappeared leaving behind an enigma that has divided historians since 1920: is she or not the Grand Duchess Anastasia, daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, survivor of the Yekaterinburg massacre?

Massacre in Yekaterinburg

From February 1917, Nicholas II and his family were prisoners. From Tsarskoye Selo's residence to Tobolsk, then to Yekaterinburg, their conditions of detention deteriorate. According to the official version, they were executed on the night of July 16 to 17, 1918. The Tsar, the Tsarina, their five children, Doctor Botkin and three servants were shot at two o'clock in the morning, then finished with bayonet. The bodies were transported to a nearby wood, butchered, sprayed with acid and gasoline, and then burned. Their remains are thrown into a flooded mine shaft.

Several contradictory hypotheses

Established by Judge Sokolov, this official story contains inaccuracies and is based on conflicting accounts. According to the most credible hypothesis, the Tsar and his son were shot, while the Tsarina and her four daughters were taken to Perm. This is the conviction of Malinovsky, the "white" officer in charge of the investigation when Yekaterinburg is taken back a week after the execution. In his report, he concludes that several people were shot to fake the murder of the Imperial family. The first judge in charge of the case comes to the same conclusion: it is dismissed in favor of Sokolov, who sets up the official version. At the same time, Kirsta, head of the white counter-espionage, conducts his own investigation and finds traces of the passage of the Tsarina and her four daughters in Perm, in August and September 1918. Several testimonies evoke the flight of Anastasia, caught up in the 'after a beatings, treated by a doctor who left a statement, then escaped again on September 17.

This information is consistent with the account of a teacher from Perm who said: “The Empress and her three daughters left after September by train. This testimony gives a precious indication, reinforced by other contemporary depositions: on this date, Anastasia Romanov is no longer there.

A stranger claims to be Anastasia Romanov

On February 17, 1920, a young woman attempted to commit suicide in a Berlin canal. She was saved. Her distinguished manners strike the police, but she refuses to speak and remains prostrate. Sent to hospital, then to Dalldorf asylum, she remains apathetic and refuses to be photographed. Yet it is thanks to the photographs in a magazine that another patient recognizes her: according to her testimony, this strange young woman is none other than Anastasia Romanov, daughter of Nicholas II. The Russian nobility is moved.

In March 1922, the unknown woman was taken in by Baron Kleist. Little by little, she comes out of her prostration and explains that she is indeed Anastasia: a soldier named Tchaikovsky saved her from the Yekaterinburg massacre. The man hid her, took her to Bucharest and married her, but was later killed.

For the press, the unknown becomes Madame Tchaikowski. Relatives of the imperial family follow one another at her bedside: some recognize her, others not. Anastasia Tchaikovsky's supporters accuse the side branch of the Romanov family of not recognizing her in order to safeguard its dynastic interests.

Anastasia Anderson

In 1929, Mrs. Tchaikowski left Germany for the United States, where she adopted the name Anderson. The controversy over her identity continues, however, with both sides presenting troubling evidence and testimony in turn. Besides an indisputable physical resemblance, Anna Anderson remembers details that only Anastasia Romanov should be able to know.

Her willingness to remain hidden and her reluctance to reveal her identity pleads in her favor: this behavior is not that of ordinary impostors. Ms. Anderson's adversaries, however, point out several contradictions in her accounts. The language problem is especially against her. While Princess Anastasia Romanov spoke Russian, English, a little French and German very poorly, the stranger from Berlin only spoke perfect German at first. She understands Russian but, disturbingly, does not speak it and understands neither English nor French.

New discoveries

In 1928, the detective Martin Knopf opens an investigation by taking the problem backwards: to find the trace of the unknown woman before February 17, 1920. He consults the archives of Berlin and finds a police file which indicates the disappearance, on February 15, of a young Polish worker who goes by the name of Franziska Schanzkowska. Her handwriting resembles that of Mrs. Anderson, and she has had two stays in mental asylum.

Knopf reunites with members of the Schanzkowska family in Pomerania. He shows them the photos of Anna Anderson: they recognize Franziska. The mother tells how her daughter one day injured the middle finger of her left hand: Anna has a deep scar there. All the details Knopf collects are checked and matched, but despite the accumulation of evidence, Anderson refuses to admit the obvious.

New mysteries

While it is now certain that Anna Anderson was not a Russian Grand Duchess but a psychologically unstable Polish worker, the Anastasia mystery remains no less. Ms. Anderson has long been the center of attention, but the real enigma of Yekaterinburg remains unresolved: Did the Tsarina and her daughters escape execution, despite an official version too manipulated to be convincing? And, in this case, what happened to the five women? In 1970 another old lady died: she left a manuscript to open only ten years after her death. In this document, published in 1982 by her grandson Alexis de Durazzo, Prince of Anjou, she claims to be Grand Duchess Maria, sister of Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova, declared dead in Yekaterinburg.

The twists and turns continue ... In 1979, 9 skeletons were discovered in the Yekaterinburg region, when officially 11 people were killed ... But what happened to the other two bodies? And above all who are they ? In the year 1990, a certain Alexander Filatov introduced himself as being the son of Nicholas II ...

On July 17, 1998, the remains of the bodies were transferred to Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral in Saint Petersburg, without the mystery being elucidated ...

Anastasia of Russia victim of the Reds and the Whites?

According to the French historian Marc Ferro, Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova, her sisters and her mother escaped death in 1918. But the Bolsheviks and their adversaries would have had an interest in hiding this truth.

Why would they have escaped the massacre? The reason would be political. At that time, the Bolshevik regime was still very fragile. Its survival, in Lenin's eyes, depends on an end to the war with Germany.

However, the Tsarina is German and her daughters are related to the family of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Their execution could therefore have serious consequences. The Bolsheviks would have put them in a safe place before smuggling them to Germany. As for Anastasia, she would have run away without waiting with one of her guardians from whom she would have fallen pregnant. Having succeeded in joining her family in Berlin, she became the heiress of the Tsar. But she would have met the hostility of the Grand Duke Kirill, seeking the crown. By wanting to prove her identity, she would have revealed that the tsarina's brother came to Russia in 1916 to negotiate a separate peace between William II and Nicholas II. Her family then turns their backs on her, they even arouse a fake Anastasia to discredit her and she sinks into madness ...

So Reds and Whites would have had the same interest in denying that Anastasia survived the death of her family and was still alive. The Reds not to pass for the allies of the Germans, and to protect themselves from any restoration of the Romanovs. The Whites so as not to reveal the contacts between the Tsar's family and the Germans and especially to legitimize the side branch of the Grand Duke ...

Russian revolution

In 1917, the empire was exhausted by three years of war. In February, the people rose up and soviets (councils) were formed in the major cities of the country. Tsar Nicholas II must abdicate. The "bourgeois" parties are trying to organize a liberal republic. Head of the provisional government, Prince Lvov continued the war against Germany and failed to stem the country's economic collapse. He gave way to the moderate socialist Kerensky. The Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, seize power in October. Lenin signs a separate peace with Germany and sets up the structures of the first socialist republic. He must fight against the "white" Russians loyal to the empire and supported by the Allies.