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The Anastasia Story

  • Mar. 8th, 2014 at 10:00 AM

She’s everyone’s favorite Romanov. In fact, she’s usually the only Romanov people know by name. If you’ve been reading the other posts in this blog tour, you already know that the animated Anastasia movie is basically all lies. Why?

Because she’s the one who supposedly escaped and survived the executions.

Before I go on, I have to tell you something— this blog post is going to get kind of dark. So, to help, I’m going to put some photos of kittens here and there. If things are getting too dark for you, look at the kittens, okay?

Okay. Here we go.

Who was Anastasia?
Anastasia was the youngest of the Romanov sisters— her brother, Alexei, was the youngest over all. She was a pretty delightful and mischievous kid— one of the family doctors said she “held the record for punishable deeds in the family”. She played outdoors, liked acting, and was especially close to the other younger sister, Maria, who she shared a room with. When she grew older, she would visit the Red Cross hospital and play checkers with wounded soldiers and occasionally write poetry. Simply put, she was pretty cool. I think you would have liked her.

(Anastasia and her siblings)

What happened to her?
The entire Romanov family was executed in Ekaterinberg by a group of Reds who’d had them under various forms of house arrest for over a year. The execution was brutal— I won’t go into detail, but know that I cried over it several times while researching TSARINA. Actually, if I think about it too hard, I still cry over it.

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 2.22.02 AM

Why do so many people think she survived the execution?
When the bodies of the Romanov family were excavated in 1991, they’d been exposed to the elements so long they were skeletonized. Through DNA and skeletal analysis, they were able to sort out who the Tsar and Tsarina were, as well as the handful of servants that had been executed with them. They also were able to identify Olga and Tatiana, the oldest two Romanov sisters, and then a third skeleton, which they believed to be Maria.

And then they were out of skeletons. Anastasia and Alexei weren’t there.

Actually, it could have been Maria and Alexei that were missing— the Russian scientists said that Anastasia was that third found skeleton, and it was Maria who was unaccounted for, while the American scientists working the case said it the third found skeleton was Maria and Anastasia was the missing daughter. Maria and Anastasia were similar in size and, obviously, would have the same mitochondria DNA since they had the same parents, so it was impossible to tell for sure. For the sake of this post, let’s assume Anastasia was the missing daughter.

So, doesn’t that mean it’s possible she and Alexei survived?
It never was particularly likely, seeing as how the soldiers who were there that night insisted that everyone was killed. I mean, why kill the servants and the dogs (seriously— they killed the family’s dogs) if you’re just going to let a legitimate heir to the throne survive?
But, the whole matter was put to bed in 2007, when two final skeletons were found in the forest near Ekaterinberg. These skeletons were in really bad shape. While the other skeletons had been burned and buried, these had been cut up, smashed, and appeared to have acid damage. The theory is that the Reds didn’t want anyone to know that the royal family was dead— at least not right away— so they wanted to do a really, really good job of hiding the bodies. Because Anastasia and Alexei were the smallest…

(you’re going to need a kitten for this)

…the Reds used their bodies to test out various disposal techniques— like dissolving them in acid, burning them, throwing them down a well, etc. When that didn’t work, they decided it was easiest to just bury the rest of the family and leave Anastasia and Alexei’s bodies elsewhere. They were hoping that anyone who found the bodies would assume these were just regular-old-graves, since the number of bodies wouldn’t match the number of missing Romanovs.

I heard some lady says she’s the real Anastasia.
Yeah, that lady is lying. Or maybe she’s just confused. I don’t know. Over the years, dozens of people have claimed to be Anastasia. Some have even claimed to be Maria, Tatiana, or Olga, and a few men have insisted that they’re Alexei. I would love it if that were true, but it’s not. DNA proves that the entire Romanov family is accounted for, now. Even if we can’t be totally sure whether it was Maria or Anastasia temporarily lost with Alexei, we now have seven bodies to match with seven family members.

Where is Anastasia now?
Before Anastasia and Alexei’s bodies were found, Russia held a state funeral for the other Romanovs, and interred them in the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. You can see video from the funeral services here:

When Anastasia and Alexei were found, their bodies were interred alongside the rest of their family. They’re all together now in the St. Catherine chapel of the Cathedral.

Here is something that I think you should remember though: The most interesting thing about Anastasia isn’t the theory that she might have survived. The most interesting thing about Anastasia is that, really, she wasn’t that interesting. She was just like you, or me, or any other teenager. She happened to be royalty, sure, but she also loved her siblings, was a bad speller, ate too much chocolate, and had a purple bedroom with butterflies on the walls.

So, instead of remembering what didn’t happen— her escape— maybe we can remember the things that did happen, and the Romanov family as they really were: People.

People with kittens, in fact:

Mirrored from JacksonPearce.com.


( Comment )
Chasty Kay wrote:
Mar. 10th, 2014 10:26 am (UTC)
Would love to see you write a story on this. I have all ways been curious about this story.
ext_788206 wrote:
Mar. 10th, 2014 01:43 pm (UTC)
I've always loved and been fascinated with the tragic story of the Romanovs. I *will* say this about the latter controversy surrounding Anna Anderson and her claim to be Anastasia: While the 'official' story is set in stone and accepted as fact, the actuality is less clear.

I was born and raised in Charlottesville and I saw Anna often when I was a small child. She was a wonderfully strange little woman who drove all over the place with a pack of dogs hanging out of her station wagon, all of whom adored her and followed her everywhere. After she died, the mystery as to whether she was, or wasn't the true Anastasia persisted. I know that there have been repeated DNA tests done by independent laboratories on the remains found in 2007 and they, for all intents and purposes, have been proven to be the missing Romanov children. But there is just enough of a conspiracy theorist in me to believe that there is more to it than what has been issued to the public. The remaining family of the Romanovs DO have a lot to gain by officially denying Anna Anderson's claim (namely, any remaining money belonging to the family) and while the DNA sample provided by Martha Jefferson (a very good hospital) was supposedly Anna's, there was a lot of issue surrounding it. At first they reported that all of her samples had been accidentally disposed of, then they reported that the samples had been contaminated. Only after all that did they 'discover' a last remaining sample that was then sent for testing. In addition, the fact that Anna died, and was cremated on the same day as her death, created quite a stir. It is a highly irregular occurrence. In fact, in 45 years as a funeral director, my father has never seen that happen. Not besides the Anna Anderson case. So it makes one wonder why there was such a rush to cremate her remains (which eliminates the chance for DNA testing) I'm not saying she WAS Anastasia, I'm not saying that all the 'facts' are lies. I'm just saying that for me, the mystery is still alive.
watchmebe wrote:
Mar. 10th, 2014 02:42 pm (UTC)
Hm, I think those are good points, but fall though because:

-The remaining Romanovs really don't have anything to lose. All the money that belonged to the Imperial family was seized by the Reds ages ago. The remaining Romanovs, in fact, are pretty normal people (I don't want to say NONE of them are wealthy, because I don't know for certain, but they certainly aren't traveling in circles with royal family members from other countries). In fact, I'd think discovering one of the Romanov children would put them in a position to gain quite a bit of money in publicity alone.
-It's simply too dangerous to leave an heir to the throne alive. They already had the royal family captive; why kill all but one? Leaving anyone alive leaves the Whites room to recapture that person and put her on the throne, even if she's merely a puppet.
The only reason that might-- might-- make sense is if they were leaving one alive in order to marry her into a political alliance (like, they were going to get her to marry Lenin/someone close to him and join both facets of the revolution). I can't see that happening, frankly, but if that was the plan, they'd surely have chosen Olga or Maria, who were older, prettier, and more realistically of marriageable age.
-And anyhow, finally-- I don't know that it comes down to Anna Anderson's DNA so much as it comes down to the found remains. Those remains have been tested by multiple labs, more than once, and there's just not any way around it, so far as I'm concerned. That said, Anna's DNA matched-- with 99% accuracy-- that of a boy whose missing great-aunt was a Polish factory worker. Anna is almost certainly that woman (there's lots of nice info on it here: http://www.freewebs.com/anna-anderson/).

Even though I like a good conspiracy theory, and would LOVE to know one of the Romanovs made it out, I do think it's problematic for people to capitalize on a massive, horrible tragedy. That said, I've seen interviews with Anna, and I get the impression that she truly believe her own lie (wouldn't be the first time people have!). I know, though, that if it were my family, I would be bothered by people giving any credit to a total stranger-- especially when my brother and sister were lost in a Siberian forest for almost 100 years!

I think, though, the conspiracy lives because it's just so hard to accept that level of brutality, especially against children.

Edited at 2014-03-10 02:50 pm (UTC)
blythe025 wrote:
May. 13th, 2014 02:14 am (UTC)
I've always been fascinated by this piece of history, but I never looked into it. That you for sharing the info.
( Comment )

Oh, hi!

My name is Jackson Pearce-- I'm the author of retold fairytales (SISTERS RED, SWEETLY, FATHOMLESS, COLD SPELL), funny contemporary stories (PURITY), tales of wishes come true (AS YOU WISH), and middle grade adventures (THE DOUBLECROSS, coming July 2015, and PIP BARTLETT'S GUIDE TO MAGICAL CREATURES, coming May 2015).

This is NOT my main blog page-- this is a syndicated livejournal account. Please check out my main blog/site at www.jacksonpearce.com!
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