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The Romanovs Love, power & tragedy by AN Bokhanov
Anastasia the last grand-duchess of Russia by C Meyer
Anastasia the lost princess by JB Lovell
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Recommended LinksThe Romanov Memorial: visit the crime place
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Quick accessThe Myth Conclusion
1. The Russian revolutions of 1917
In 1917, the Russian State is right in the middle of World War I. The tsar Nicholas II, very patriotic, places great hopes upon winning this war, but the military troops do not give him satisfaction because they do not have the means to, they were badly prepared. Some circles attribute the defeats to the tsar and the regime collapses in February 1917 under the popular pressure.
Let's see how tsar Nicolas II looks like.
From February 23rd to 27th 1917, strikes and demonstrations follow one another, women and workers make claims for bread, peace and liberty, they want to bring down the autocracy. Nicholas Romanov had instituted the Douma in 1905, but entrusted it no power. As of February 25th the strike is general and the tsar is finally informed about the events at his Headquarters. His answer is short and clear, it was necessary to immediately put an end to these intolerable disorders in this difficult moment of the war against Austria and Germany, the police was to open fire on the demonstrators and those who resisted would be sent to the front. On February 27th, one realised in the barracks that the soldiers had fraternised with the crowd and refused to fire at it. They rebelled and mutinied, the officers trying to restore discipline were killed. The soldiers brought to the revolution the support of their weapons, but the rioters have neither chief nor plan. The Ministers’ Council meets and demands the institution of a temporary dictatorship under the regency of the grand-duke Michel, Nicholas’ brother, but the tsar refuses. The same day, the Soviet of Petrograd, i.e. of Saint-Petersburg, composed of workers and soldiers is formed spontaneously, its negotiation with the Douma leads to a first temporary government. It wishes to continue the war and to lead the country towards a parliamentary regime, but it is not supported by the people who demand immediate peace, land to the peasants and factories to the workers.
The Romanov dynasty's Coat of Arm.
On February 28th, the tsar returns to Tsarskoie Selo where his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, and their five children, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and the tsarevitch Alexis await him, sick and anxious. The following day the Douma decides to make Nicholas abdicate, by fair or foul means, in favour of his son under the regency of Michel, what the people and the troops were calling for. For Nicholas the autocracy goes without saying, but he is unable to defend it. On March 2nd he abdicates with calm, not in favour of his son, but in favour of his brother Michel. For nothing in the world does he want to be separated from Alexis, who is already very weak because of his haemophilia. The grand-duke Michel refuses the crown and decides to wait for the government to expresse the people’s will on the monarchical question. It is clearly decided, the people do not want it any more. Thus Michel puts an end to a dynasty which had reigned for more than three hundred years.
A lot of the bad happenings are attributed to Raspoutine.
In October, Lenin gives all the power to the Soviet of Petrograd which must organise the uprising with the Bolsheviks. On October 24th, the Red guards seize the strategic points of the capital: the principal post office, bridges, reserves of ammunition and printing works. The Bolsheviks have the power and give to the people what it demanded: land and peace.
2. Tsarskoie Selo and Tobolsk
The popular hostility towards the imperial family is undoubtedly violent at this time and this is why it is practically sequestered in Tsarskoie Selo -– to protect it from the population. Tsarskoie Selo means "the small village of the tsar". The embassy of England decides to give asylum to the ex-tsar and to his family on the request of Kerenski, but the government refuses to let Nicholas depart and his family will not go without him.
Two pictures of the family.
Doctor Botkine and his children are held in Tsarskoie Selo with the Russian imperial family as some faithful servants, like Anna Vyroubova, Alexandra’s favourite gentlewoman, and Pierre Gilliard, the tutor of the Romanov children. All are kept prisoners, except the children of Doctor Botkine; the Bolshevik guards do not leave them a second, they do not have any intimacy any more, and no freedom in their own house. They are given an end of garden to be cultivated and keep them occupied, it is all that Nicholas had always wished for himself and his family; he had never wanted to be tsar, he was not ready the day his father, Alexander III, died.
Released from censure, the press stirred up public hatred against the tsar and the tsarina. Saint-Petersburg had become the centre of the political struggles. Since April Lenin had already imposed himself in Russia. It appeared clearly that any leader could lead the crowd in any extreme project, and the temporary government concluded in July on the need to draw the Romanov outside of the capital. For security reasons, a peaceful small city of Siberia was chosen, because Tobolsk was not Bolshevik and far from the political agitation.
During several months, the imperial family lives there harshly, certainly, but in a relative sense of security. Becoming now ordinary citizens whose fate hardly worries the society, the Romanovs begin to believe in a possible delivery. They are entitled to one walk per day and the visit of a priest. Only the closest servants and gentlewomen of the family remain with them. Doctor Botkine has a daily right of access, he must watch over the health of Alexandra, but especially over Alexis who very often has crises of haemophilia because he loves to play with his sisters and is wounded in spite of their precautions.
As the Bolsheviks do not have any more power on the family of Nicholas, they decide to transfer them to Ekaterinbourg in April 1918.
3. Ekaterinbourg, the butchery
The grand-duchesses having a talk.
On April 30th, the ex-tsar Nicholas II, the ex-tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna and the ex-grand-duchess Maria Nicolaievna arrive at «the house of special destination», the Ipatiev house. Alexis being unfit to travel because of an attack of haemophilia, Alexandra had entrusted him to the reasonable and strong Tatiana, Olga and Anastasia had wanted to remain with him too. Three weeks later they are also at the Ipatiev house with Doctor Botkine. The Romanovs will never come out of there again, they will be killed as well as the Doctor and the last three servants.
A three meter-high boarding cuts them off from the external world, guards are everywhere, the family and servants are packed into three rooms. The windows were whitewashed to keep the curious from looking inside, machine-guns are installed in the attic and the garden, the Ipatiev house is a real fortress.
Nobody has the right to go to the toilets without the permission of the guards, the women must be accompanied and the guards are very glad to humiliate thus the grand-duchesses and their mother. The family is given only five minutes of walk per day and is very badly nourished. Learning that the nuns from the convent of the city succeed in obtaining permission to bring milk, eggs and meat from time to time. Only a priest comes on Sundays to celebrate the orthodox worship.
Nicholas is now fifty years old, and all the grand-duchesses celebrate their birthdays in the first half of the summer 1918, Olga turns 23 years old, Tatiana 21, Maria 19 and Anastasia 17 on June 18th. Alexis is 14 years old, he remains confined to bed all day, he is very sick and weak.
In the night from July 16th to 17th 1918, as the anti-Communist troops approached the city dangerously, the Romanovs, Doctor Botkine and the three servants are woken around two o’clock in the morning and taken to the cellar of the Ipatiev house. According to history books, it is this night that the Romanovs disappeared from the surface of the earth. They were told that they were going to be executed, and the shooting started. A detachment of the Tcheka slaughtered them all at once, and finished off those who still moved with blows of bayonets. A few days later, ten members of the family underwent the same fate.
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4. Saved, the journey
That night, Alexander Tchaikovsky, a Red soldier who was a guard of the Ipatiev house, is called to transport the corpses. He takes Anastasia and notices that her heart still beats, she had hidden behind Tatiana. He pities her and hides her behind the tsarevitch’s wheelchair in the corridor. Nobody counts the corpses piled up in the truck and when it starts, Alexander and Serge, his brother, manage to leave with the unconscious casualty and bring her to their premises in a cart of hay.
One of the last picture taken before the revolution.
The family of Alexander is Polish, his sister takes care of Anastasia and finds jewels in her corset which, they hope, will enable them to return to their country. They load their belongings onto their cart, hide Anastasia because Alexander does not want to abandon her, and get under way.
Throughout the journey, they go by the small paths, cross Ukraine then the Dniepr river, thanks to Lieutenant Hassenstein who was on night duty, and go through Nicolaiev. Anastasia is delirious, the fever does not abate and she makes the journey practically unconscious. They take refuge in a convent on the border of the Dniestr where the sisters take care of Anastasia and she awakes. But the Red guards are ready to take the monastery by storm and Anastasia crosses the Dniestr with the Tchaikovskys.
They go to Kishinev, in Romania, where Alexander rapes her, she feels soiled and the fever comes back. It is winter, Alexander’s sister and mother must pack her in a cloth and cover her with snow to lower the temperature, two hours later she is delirious again, fortunately at 17 years she is very resistant. The Tchaikovskys take her along to Bucharest and want her to write to the Queen Marie of Romania to ask for her protection, but the grand-duchess refuses. She is pregnant and Alexander weds her right before the birth of their son; this child is fruit of a rape, Anastasia hates it from the very start.
When Alexander dies in a struggle, Anastasia feels released. She abandons her son in an orphanage of Bucharest and heads with Serge in Berlin. They must make long walks in snow to avoid the border posts, they arrive to Berlin exhausted and once there, Anastasia loses sight of Serge. She does not feel strong enough to find her relatives and can only think to end her days.
5. Miss Unknown
" Yesterday evening, at 9 o’clock, a young lady of approximately twenty years old jumped in the Landwehr channel with the intention of suicide. She was saved by a police officer and accepted at the Elizabeth hospital. She had neither papers nor money on her and she refused to make any statement on herself. " Berliner police report, February 18th 1920. As she refuses to speak and to be identified, she is placed under observation at the psychiatric asylum of Dalldorf. She remains there for two years, surrounded by mental patients, even refusing to be photographed or engaged in any conversation. Retired within herself, she voluntarily withdraws from reality.
At the end of January 1922, Clara Peuthert comes out of the Dalldorf lunatic asylum and meets a tsarist officer. She announces that she believes to have recognised Tatiana in the asylum, but the nurses think that it is Anastasia. In March, after the visit of several people recognising or not Tatiana, Anastasia goes to live with the von Kleists, there she reveals her first name. The superintendent Gruenberg shelters her too, he had been interested in her before her internment already. Anastasia is hospitalised in 1925 for a tuberculous abscess and Harriet von Rathlef takes care of her. One of her friends, Amy Smith, tries to interest the grand-duke Ernst Ludwig von Hessen, Anastasia’s uncle, to the unknown patient. But the grand-duke cannot recognise her because she has just revealed a state secret : he had gone to Russia in 1916 to try to conclude a separate peace, but cannot admit it publicly, as he would be taken for a traitor.
Compare Anastasia and Anna Anderson with 15 years of difference.
Anastasia is then operated for her tumour, the tutor Gilliard does not recognise her. Prince Waldemar of Denmark asks his ambassador of Berlin, Helruf Zahle, to carry out the investigation on Anastasia; he believes in her. In 1926, the Romanov house begins a series of campaigns against Anastasia. She is placed in convalescence at Stillachhauss in the Alps, where she receives a visit from Tatiana Botkine. The doctor’s daughter is one of the last people to have seen the Romanov family in exile in Toblosk. Tatiana immediately recognises the grand-duchess and from this moment she will contact all her relatives directly or indirectly connected with the imperial family to interest them in her case. She says she has recognised her thanks to details that her father told her on the family and that, apart from her, only those massacred could know because they had never been published.
6. The excluded pretender
Tatiana meets the grand-duke Andrei Vladimirovitch in October 1926, he cannot express his opinion about it, but requests an investigation. He wants to remain neutral and not to meet the patient before having a formal proof of her identity. Harriet von Rathlef turns her memories over to the press believing to help Anastasia; but instead she gets tracked by the journalists, becomes aggressive again and risks expulsion by the police who are under the influence of the von Hessens. In 1927, the memories are published in a tabloid, the "Berliner Nachtausgabe", and Tatiana must accompany Anastasia to duke Gui-Gui von Leuchtenberg in his castle of Seeon to keep her safe. One promises her tranquillity, but the duke invites several people of the old court of Russia to identify Anastasia, and she grows withdrawn again.
The newspaper affirms that the unknown patient is only a Polish worker named Franziska Schanzkowska, and organises an interview with Doris Wingender, the former landlady of Franziska, who says she recognises her. In May 1927, Gleb Botkine, Tatiana’s brother arrives in Seeon from the United States and recognises Anastasia. She still has to attend a confrontation with the brother of Franziska, who acknowledges to have never seen this lady before and says she is to well mannered to be his sister.
Because of the obstinacy of Anastasia not to speak Russian any more – the language of those who assassinated her family – a lot of her parents will not recognise her. However she speaks Russian in her delirium and understands it very well. With all these visits, her mental equilibrium declines, she now hates the press and questions. At the end of 1927, she is confronted with Captain Felix Dassel who had known the grand-duchesses well during the war, he recognises her without any doubt. The duke Gui-Gui von Leuchtenberg puts an end to the press scandal by revealing that the editor had admitted that he was paid twenty thousand marks by the Court of Darmstadt.
At the beginning of 1928 Anastasia leaves Seeon where it was becoming dangerous for her and responds to the invitation of a cousin, Xenia Leeds, who invites her to New York. Her cabin on a luxurious steamer is booked and in February she is accommodated by Annie Jennings in Park Avenue, in the absence of Xenia who is on a cruise. Annie shows her off as a curious animal at all parties which she organises and when Xenia returns, Anastasia is glad to find the peaceful life which her cousin promised her.
7. The men's justice
August 9th 1928, the day of the tenth anniversary of Nicholas II’s death (corresponds to July 17th as in 1918 the Russian calendar had 23 days of delay on the Western calendar), Anastasia quits Xenia and, on the advice of Gleb, asserts her father’s heritage. She engages the lawyer Edward Fallows and lives in a hotel under the name of Anna Anderson to scramble the tracks of journalists, the press will call her so until the end of her life.
In October the tsarina dowager Maria Feodorovna, grandmother of Anastasia, dies. The Romanov house seize the opportunity to make a declaration where twelve members of the family declare that Anna Anderson is not Anastasia Nicolaievna, daughter of the last tsar of Russia. In answer Gleb accuses the sister of Nicholas, the grand-duchess Xenia, of lying. It is known that the Court of Darmstadt refuses to recognise Anastasia for questions of heritage. The grand-duke Andrei withdraws from this case, he does not want his name to be associated with monetary affairs.
Just a look at Edward Fallows, her lawyer.
In 1929, Anastasia does not get along very well with Gleb any more and turns towards Annie Jennings. Gleb founds the "Grandanor Corporation" formed with the first letters of "GRANd-Duchess Anastasia Nicolaievna Of Russia". In 1930 she cannot bear Fallows any more and starts to revolt against the over heavy friendship of Miss Jennings. She becomes aggressive again and strangles the parrot that Xenia had brought her back from her cruise to India. Annie cannot keep her any more and has to intern her. The German pressure succeeds in bringing Anastasia back to Germany where she is interned in Hanover in a private hospital for rich people, she is recognised sound in mind.
Anastasia re-enlists Fallows and benefits from the hospitality of the greatest families of Germany. In 1937, the Romanovs’ possessions are distributed to the heirs, she attacks the certificate of heritage. She is defended by two Masters of the German bar chosen by Fallows who dies ruined in 1939 whereas Anastasia is dismissed. The procedure of appeal is stopped by the war, she must leave the Russian zone of occupation and settle in the Black Forest where the prince of Saxe-Altenbourg buys her a hut. Anastasia is dismissed again in 1957 and her lawyers institute proceedings in recognition of identity. The High Court of Hamburg concludes that it is impossible to affirm that she is who she claims to be, but that there is no valid proof of the opposite as well.
8. The end of Anna Anderson
After a heart attack, Anastasia decides to emigrate in the United States, she arrives at Charlottesville, Virginia on July 14th 1968. There she marries John Manahan who thus gives her the American nationality and a real home. She lives surrounded by her only passion, cats.
In 1969 Gleb Botkine dies and in 1970 the verdict of the lawsuit in cassation is declared a nonsuit, i.e. not satisfying either of the two parts.
On February 12th 1984 Mrs Manahan dies, alias Anastasia Nicolaievna, grand-duchess of Russia, alias Mrs. Tchaikovskaia, alias Mrs. Anderson, the biggest mystery of the century.
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9. The truth on the butchery of the Ipatiev house
"Belsatzar ward in selbiger Nacht
It is the inscription that Sokolov found on one of the walls of the cellar of the Ipatiev house. It says : « In the same night, Balthazar was assassinated by his slaves ». This sentence of a poem from Heine, haunted for more than seventy years the memory of the Russians. They did not want to believe in the massacre described in the investigation of Sokolov and thought that the imperial family had survived : no bodies, no murder. Moreover surviving children had appeared and were asserting their share of history.
In July 1989, professor Riabov finds the remainders of the bones of the Romanovs under a road and in 1991 official searches are begun. A surprise awaits the archaeologists, there are only nine corpses, two of them are missing, those of Anastasia and Alexis.
Samples of the skeletons are sent in England to analyse the DNA. Five of the samples do form a family, one knew that it was the Romanovs thanks to the analysis of the DNA of the blood of descendants of Nicholas and Alix de Hesse. But the enigma of Anna Anderson remained. In 1993 she was dead for nine years, moreover one could not study her genetic code because she had been crematied. But she had been operated upon in 1979 and the hospital had kept a piece of her intestines. When her DNA is examined, the followers of Anastasia are disappointed, it does not correspond to that of the imperial family.
One knows now by genetic proof that Anna Anderson was really Franziska Schwanzkowska, a Polish worker. But one does not knows yet how she could be aware of the small various facts of life at the court of Russia, these details having never been published.
On February 25th 1996, the remainders of the family of the tsar should have been brought back and buried in Saint-Petersburg, they rest since their discovery within the mortuary of Ekaterinbourg. But the ceremony was cancelled and deferred to an unspecified date. The family is still holy and the Church may decide to canonise it. While waiting, the corpses do not rest in peace and it is true that Anna Anderson has a last advantage on the imperial family, her ashes rest under a tombstone marked with the name of Anastasia and which takes care of her eternal rest since 1984.
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