The present inevitably retreats into the past. Yet past events snag public fancy and are featured in media productions. Such proved true of the young Grand Duchess Anastasia ¹ Nikolaevna Romanov (Великая Княжна Анастасия Николаевна Романова) of Russia. She was a daughter of Nicholas II, the last of the Russian Czars. Nicholas and his family were taken to be assassinated by the Bolshevik secret police.
From Fantasy to Fact
Not all the bodies were recovered. Missing were the bodies of one daughter, presumed to be Anastasia*, and the son, the Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich. Rumors circulated of Anastasia’s possible survival.
Anastasia – Where?
Claimants appeared, the most mysterious and deemed possible of these, was a woman. She eventually made Charlottesville, Virginia in the U.S., her home. This woman called herself Anna Anderson. For part of her life (during the early 1980s), Charlottesville was also my home.
I Am Involved
In fact, I occasionally saw Anna and her husband. He was a history professor. He was also an incredibly skilled genealogist. His name was Jack Manahan. I had only a passing acquaintance with Jack. There is an extensive and fascinating account of the two eccentrics published by The Hook magazine, here.
I once chatted with Jack at the book sale at the Gordon Avenue branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, in Charlottesville. He was a soft, well-spoken man who was both friendly and intelligent. The couple’s automobile was filled with all kinds of junk. It included trash, perhaps even garbage.
I was among those who wondered if Anna was Anastasia? Little did I expect the answer would be proven beyond doubt. Not only was her false identity proven, but her true identity was uncovered. Read that Hook article for the details.
* It seems the remains originally discovered include those of Anastasia. Maria’s remains were the ones actually missing. This has led to researches concerning other contenders for the truly missing Romanov. However, additional remains were discovered that seem to be the missing family members of Czar Nicholas II.
¹ pronounced an-nuh-stuh-SEE-uh
- Russiapedia: Prominent Russians: Anastasia Romanova
- Eyewitness to History: The Execution of Tsar Nicholas II, 1918