View Full Version : Did Anastasia escape?
03-20-2000, 02:04 AM
For a long time, people have believed that Anastasia may have escaped the execution of the Romanov family by the Bolsheviks in 1918. A woman named Anna Anderson claimed to be Anastasia, and spent her entire life trying to prove it. Indeed, when she was first 'discovered' a lot of people who knew Anastasia thought that she was, and she could answer a lot of questions that only Anastasia should have known. The case dragged through German courts from before WWII all the way into the 1960's or 1970's. Forensic experts agreed that Anna's bone structure was the same as Anastasia's, and the scars and other distinguishing marks on her body matched Anastasia's. She even had deformities on her feet that matched Anastasia's.
In 1993, the Romanov remains were found, and Anastasia's were not in the grave. (They weren't expected to be, since the executioner claimed that her and her brother were cremated separately).
Anna Anderson died in 1984, and was cremated. But recently, a hair fiber found in one of her books and another tissue sample from an old surgery were subjected to DNA analysis, and found not to match the Romanovs (but DID match a family member of a Polish factory worker, who the opposition had always claimed was the real identity of Anna Anderson).
That seems to close the case as far as I'm concerned. Anna Anderson was the Polish factory worker. However, the other evidence is almost as compelling. For example, a leading forensic expert was given a photo of Anastasia's ear, and photos of a number of other ears in a double-blind test, and was asked if any of them matched. He picked out Anna Anderson's and established seven points of congruence (5 points being enough for a legal match for establishing identity in Germany). A handwriting expert testified that Anna's handwriting matched Anastasia's.
Anna was visited early in the 1920's by a relative, and she said something like, "I remember seeing you during the war." The man blustered and immediately stormed out claiming that the woman wasn't Anastasia, and he became the leading figure trying to expose Anna as a fraud, spending a considerable amount of his money doing so. If she was right and had seen him during the war, he would have committed treason since he was a German officer at the time and the Russians were the enemy. In the 1980's or 1990's, documents surfaced out of Russia that showed he WAS there.
So, it's an interesting story, with compelling evidence on both sides. And the body of Anastasia was never found, nor is it clear why the executioner would want to cremate her separately from her family. Even at that time, some thought that the cremation story was a coverup to hide the fact that Anastasia escaped or perhaps was kept alive for other reasons.
But... DNA evidence is very compelling, especially when it matches the person who detractors thought was Anna Anderson all along. Defenders of Anna claim the evidence was planted, but I sure hate resorting to conspiracy to explain evidence. So... Any thoughts?
03-20-2000, 01:55 PM
Franziska Schanzkowska's brother refused to sign a document saying that Anna Anderson was her.
Anna did meet extensively with people who knew Anastasia quite well, including her personal nurse, who I think came to believe that Anna was in fact Anastasia.
And she never claimed to have forgotten Russian - she said she would never speak it again because of Russian atrocities. Pretty damned convenient, I'll admit. However, she apparently could understand Russian perfectly, and would answer any questions posed to her in Russian. One possible answer for that if she were an imposter is that she was tutored in Russian, but couldn't speak it well enough or without an accent that would give away the fact that it wasn't her first language. So even though she could speak it, she wouldn't.
The interesting thing is that if she wasn't Anastasia then there must have been a conspiracy by a number of people to try and pass her off as such. She knew details of palace life that a Polish factory worker couldn't have known. She spoke three or four languages, when Franziska could only speak one, meaning that she was tutored by someone. She had scars on her body that matched Anastasia's, including a scar on her shoulder from a supposed mole removal, in the same place where Anastasia had a large mole.
Several people who knew her in the Palace were absolutely certain that Anna was Anastasia. One soldier walked through the palace and was hit by a paperball thrown by Anastasia from a balcony. When he visited Anna, he said, "What did you throw at me?" She giggled and instantly replied "A Paper Ball". He was convinced based on that that she was Anastasia. Or, he was part of the conspiracy to get Romanov money and made the story up with Anna.
She also knew the details of the execution, which house they were in, that it was in the basement, and that the girls were bayonetted after the bullets failed to penetrate their clothes because of heavy linings full of jewels. Were those kinds of details available in the 1920's? I can't imagine the Russians publicising that.
All-in-all, an interesting case. Yes, there were other people who claimed to be Anastasia, but none were anywhere near as compelling as Anna Anderson.
If she were a fraud, there are some amazing coincidences. For instance, that a fraud would have identical ears to Anastasia, to a degree of accuracy close enough to qualify as a legal match in German courts. She also had the same rare foot deformities. So unless some conspirators auditioned thousands of women to find a perfect match, they got exceedingly lucky.
03-20-2000, 02:05 PM
Regarding missing bodies, the eyewitness reports say that the killers (or patriots) went back several days later and retrieved the bodies of the Czarina and Prince Alexis which they then burned. When the grave was dug up, the Czarina was found, apparently, the bodies had bloated to such an extent that they couldn't tell the Czarina from her daughters.
There is some debate about which Princess' body is missing.
This is from Massie's book (from memory, since I loaned out Massie's book and never got it back.)
03-20-2000, 06:17 PM
Of course she didn't escape; Rasputin's albino bat gave her away as she and her grandmother were trying to catch the train. The bit about hitting her head on the track and having amnesia in a people's orphanage for ten years was just made up so the kids wouldn't get bad dreams. Also so the movie could be more than ten minutes long. :D
03-20-2000, 06:40 PM
Extremely unlikely that any of the Tsar's immediate family escaped execution.
Any one of them would have been valuable as a figurehead for counter-revolution, and Lenin, known for being utterly ruthless, wasn't about to take any chances. The Hungarian firing squad was left in no doubt as to their task, despite the rumour that one saved (and later married) a wounded Anastasia.
At least two servants (IIRC a doctor and a lady in waiting) and a dog were also killed in the Ipatiev House. Why would one Royal be allowed to live when even the hired help was executed?
IIRC, the bodies were loaded onto a truck at the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, then driven off into the country, where and attempt was made to hide them down a well, after the faces had been smashed and doused with acid in an effort to frustrate identification.
Several days (weeks?) later, jittery Bolsheviks (now there's a name for a punk band!) decided that this left too much evidence (not to mention relics), and exhumed the royal remains, once again taking them off in a truck, which eventually got stuck in gumbo. The remains were dumped into a hastily-dug pit, and incinerated. The pit was filled in, and covered over with rialway ties and dirt. The two bodies of one of the Princesses (either Anastasia or Marie) and Tsarevitch Alexis have yet to be found, or bones positively identified as theirs.
A Soviet researcher pinpointed the location of the pit using a written account by the "expedition" leader in the late 1980s, but thought it best to keep his mouth shut. After the fall of Soviet rule, the remains were disinterred, and the aforementioned DNA tests (using the Duke Of Edinburgh's decent in the female line for comparison) were made.
As regards Anna Anderson, Sam Stone said:
The interesting thing is that if she wasn't Anastasia then there must have been a conspiracy by a number of people to try and pass her off as such.
I disagree. Wishful thinking, coupled with the hatred of the Soviet regime, and the wheels-within-wheels intrigue of the White Russian enclave in Paris made fertile ground for grasping at straws. I think some people may have deliberately claimed she was the Princess to further political ends, some wanted to believe, and others did believe her, and used selective "facts" to support their belief. Many books and articles about the Russian Royal family had been printed between 1917 and the time that Anna was pulled out of that canal in Berlin.
The fervour of irrational belief surrounding the Romanovs (and remember that the Tsar and Tsarina were in great disfavour at the time of the February 1917 revolution) continues today: http://www.fr-d-serfes.org/royal/achildlessmother.htm
As far as I'm concerned, the science of DNA outweighs any photo-matching or body part comparison--it is simply the best test yet devised.
Launcher may train without warning.
03-20-2000, 11:55 PM
There may well have been hundreds of people trying to fabricate evidence that Anna Anderson was Anastasia. I've read there is at least some evidence that Lenin and Stalin liked the fact that the Anatastia controversy was occupying and dividing the Russian emigre community which might otherwise unite and direct public opposition against the Soviet regime. There was, in fact, once a thread here questioning Stalin's inexplicable refusal to produce evidence proving Anastasia's and Alexis's death. Maybe once the controversy started the Soviets decided to encourage it.
But leave aside all the other conjecture and conflicting testimony. The fact is that the DNA evidence shows that Anna Anderson both was Franziska Schanzkowska and was not Anastasia Romanov. If only all historical controversies could be so clearly resolved.
03-21-2000, 12:44 AM
The DNA evidence is, as you noted, overwhelming and incontrovertable. Anna Anderson was not Anastasia Romanov.
However, even before the DNA evidence came to light, there was sufficient evidence to discount her claims. Despite the fact that she occasionally showed knowledge of some incidents of Anastasia's life, Anna Anderson also showed huge gaps in her knowledge of her own supposed childhood. She apparently forgot her native language, for example, something which is unheard of even among the most severe cases of amnesia.
Anderson generally avoided people who had known Anastasia well. Those who "identified" her as Anastasia were usually people who had hardly known the Princess. On the other hand people who had known Franziska Schanzkowska well (including her sister) identified Anderson as her.
Incidentally, Anderson was not the only woman to claim to be the late princess. There were several others, at least one of whom, Eugenia Smith, is still apparently alive. Smith has refused to participate in DNA testing.
03-21-2000, 12:56 AM
And the missing body of Anastasia is also not a huge deal, since Prince Alexis's body was also not with the rest of the Romanov's family remains. Since they were the two youngest, it stands to reason they buried the two of them, ran out of room and buried the rest of the family in the grave that was disovered.
DON PEDRO: Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best becomes you; for, out of question, you were born in a merry hour.
BEATRICE: No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there was a star danced, and under that was I born. -Much Ado About Nothing, Act II, Sc: i
Whenever someone vanishes or dies mysteriously, there are always claimants showing up for decades thereafter.
Anastasia, her brother Alexei, the son of Louis XVI, Little Charley Ross, the Lindberg baby—all of 'em showed up and all were proved false. There's even some old woman claiming to be Amelia Earhart!
03-21-2000, 02:51 AM
Absolutely. I don't think there is any question that Anna was Fransisca. The interesting question then becomes, how did she know so much about Anastasia, and was it just coincidence that she looked so much like her or was she selected? In other words, was Anna part of a conspiracy?
03-22-2000, 12:39 AM
Maybe when Anastatsia died her soul possessed Francisca......
Not that I'd believe that, but what the hey, its a theory.
10-19-2000, 11:08 AM
You KNOW my fascination with this!
An excellent site done by a friend of mine.
Another thing: Anna Anderson was Polish. If she was Polish, she would have understood Russian, but probably could not have spoken it. Not only that, but Anastasia's two languages were Russian and English. Anderson's English was horrible. No amount of trauma in the world could've given her a German accent when speaking English. The children did indeed speak English, as their mother was a favorite granddaughter of Queen Victoria. The girls had a "Scots" accent, according to their tutors, Gilliard and Gibbs-both of whom denounced Anderson.
As did Grand Duchess Olga, the one who knew Anastasia best. If Olga had truly believed that Anderson was her beloved niece, she would've welcomed her with open arms.
Not only that, but the ear thing-I believe they used a picture of Grand Duchess MARIA to verify this.
10-19-2000, 07:27 PM
Anastasia did not escape. She was killed by the theatrical re-release of The Little Mermaid, which occurred the same week Anastasia was released, in a clear attempt by the Evil Disney Conspiracy to crush all opposing animation studios under their iron heel.
I would like make a small point regarding the DNA evidence.
The tests comparing Anna Anderson's DNA to that of HRH Prince Philip were on mitochondrial DNA, which is different from the DNA in cell nuclei.
Mitochondria are small bodies ("organelles" is the correct term, IIRC) in the cytoplasm which process chemical energy, and they have their own DNA, distinct from the DNA in the cell nucleus. A fetus' cytoplasm comes entirely from the mother; therefore mitochondria and mitochondrial DNA are passed intact from mother to child. Once in many generations, a mutation in the mitochondrial DNA is likely to occur, but for all practical purposes the mitochondrial DNA any person has is 100% identical to his/her mother's. (By back-calculating mutation rates and sampling mitochondrial DNA from a wide range of populations, scientists were able to suggest that all humans today could be descended from a common female ancestor.)
Prince Philip and the Grand Duchesses (to give them their correct titles) shared a common maternal ancestry within a few generations; thus a mitochondrial DNA comparison between Anna Anderson and Prince Philip was conducted. The DNA from these two people did not match.
This does not prove "conclusively" or "incontrovertibly" that Anna Anderson was not Anastasia Nicolaevna Romanov; to be precise, it only proves that Alexandra of Hesse-Darmstadt was not her mother. Or alternately that Prince Philip's mother was not Olga of Denmark.
IIRC, this same kind of test found a match between Anna Anderson and the family of the Polish factory worker. However, this does not prove that Anna Anderson was this Polish woman; again, to be precise it only proves that Anna Anderson and the Polish family shared a single common female ancestry -- and allowing for the slow mutation rate in mitochondrial DNA, this is true for many, many people. (This assumes, of course, that I am correct in thinking that the mitochondrial test was used on the Polish family, and I may not be.)
Mind you, I'm not saying this evidence proves that Anna was Anastasia either. But since we're throwing around words like "conclusive" and "incontrovertible", I thought we should be clear on what some of this evidence really demonstrates.
Originally posted by Guinastasia
As did Grand Duchess Olga, the one who knew Anastasia best. If Olga had truly believed that Anderson was her beloved niece, she would've welcomed her with open arms.
Guinastasia: you've written this before, so I'm guessing that for you this is the crucial point. This assumption rests on the idea that GD Olga would recognize her niece no matter what she'd been through. However, trauma can change people (internally and externally) a great deal; is it not at least possible that the trauma Anna Anderson had allegedly endured made her a rather different person?
Again, I'm not suggesting that Anna Anderson was Anastasia, just playing Devil's Advocate a little.
10-20-2000, 12:41 PM
Olga of Denmark-there WAS no Olga of Denmark! Philip's mother was Princess Alice of Battenberg, the maternal niece of the Tsarina.
His GRANDMOTHER was OLGA of GREECE, a Russian Grand Duchess.
However, as she was his PATERNAL grandmother, that didn't mean jack shit, because he would have inherited the DNA from His mother, Alice of Battenberg, who got it from HER mother, Victoria of Hesse, who got it from HER mother, Alice of Great Britain. He got it from HER mother, Queen Victoria.
And so on and so on. Philip's maternal grandmother was Princess Victoria of Battenberg, nee Hesse, later Victoria of Mountbatten after the war. Victoria's sister was Alix of Hesse-Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna.
What I meant with about Olga of Russia is that she would NOT have rejected someone who she believed was her niece because of money-which is what Anna's supporters claim. THey don't say that Olga believed Anna wasn't her niece-no, they say that Anna mentioned money in the Bank of England (a big myth that's nearly impossible to believe) and that Olga deliberately turned her back on her niece in order to inherit money. Which is a total crock.
And no, this wasn't the crucial point for me-the crucial points were:
Anna's stories of escape and the supposed evacuation of the female members of the family to Perm-proven false. In fact, many of her stories were false.
Her eye color-Anastasia's eyes were GREY. A little bit blue, but mostly grey. Anna's were blue.
The scar on her finger-which she claimed Anastasia had gotten when a carriage door was shut on it. Olga stated that it was MARIA who had the scar and it was from a train door.
The rejections of the people REALLY close to the family. Contrary to popular belief and their own assertations, Gleb and his sister, Tatiana Botkin, were NOT that close with the Imperial children, and did not see them very often.
Many of the scars and the trauma of Anna Anderson, if she was Franziska, were the result of an explosion in a shrapnel factory during the war.
10-20-2000, 02:09 PM
Man, of all the exploding factories you wouldn't want to be in, I'd think that an exploding shrapnel factory would be the worst.
10-20-2000, 02:38 PM
It may have been a munitions factory...I don't quite remember....
"Man, of all the exploding factories you wouldn't want to be in, I'd think that an exploding shrapnel factory would be the worst."
—If I used sig lines, THIS would be my new one!
10-20-2000, 07:29 PM
I read an interesting account by one of the forensic anthropologists who examined the Romanov remains (in "Dead men do tell tales," by Michael Browning, it's quite gory). His belief, based on his extensive research, was that Anastasia was burned along with Alexei. The man who burned them thought she was the maid--but Browning points out that at this point, the bodies were mostly naked, bloated and puffy, and crawling with maggots. Lovely image, no? He also mentions that burning bodies takes much longer than most people think, and that the men disposing of the bodies were running out of time.
I thought he was pretty convincing--he had all the remains identified, and explanations for each identification.
10-20-2000, 08:56 PM
As far as the bodies being burned:
As the daughter of a funeral director, I can assert that it is IMPOSSIBLE to completely burn a body, or cremate it in a primitive bon fire. Even in the crematory, I believe there is a bone grinder.
10-20-2000, 09:47 PM
Very true. The bodies were burned in a different area than the burial pit, and nothing has been dug up (yet?). Browning did in fact express a hope that they would find the cremation site and let him have a go at it.
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