Will the Real Anastasia Please Stand Up!

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Anastasia in Court 1910 - Wikimedia Commons
Anastasia in Court 1910

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 Anastasia1 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.

Contender or Pretender? Anna Anderson - PD Wikimedia Commons
Legitimate Contender or Pretender? Anna Anderson

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.

Despite Appearances

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


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2 thoughts on “Will the Real Anastasia Please Stand Up!

  • To those family members who knew Anastasia best before 1918, Anna Anderson’s claims were a painful ordeal. The Dowager Empress Marie, grandmother of Anastasia, refused to meet with her. Although she never spoke publicly of her family’s tragedy, it is believed that she accepted reports from people she trusted that the entire family was slain in Yekaterinburg. She never posted any reward. Anastasia’s aunt and Nicholas’ sister, the Grand Duchess Olga, visited Anderson in the hospital and afterward lamented, “I was looking at a stranger.” Empress Alexandra’s brother, Louis of Hesse, financed an investigation into his purported niece that concluded Anderson’s real identity was that of a mentally unstable, Polish factory worker named Franziska Schanzkowska.

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