What truly happened to Russian Imperial Princess Anastasia?
|A night in February 1917 forever changed the fate of a family and a country, creating a legend in the process. It was on this night that Tsar Nicholas II and his immediate family was placed under house arrest in Tsarskoye Selo. The family was soon moved to Tobolsk, Siberia by Alexander Kerensky, a prominent member of the Provisional Committee of the State Duma, and elected vice-chairman of the Petrograd Soviet.
The Tsar's family was fairly close to each other, writing letters and notes to one another very often. This was seen in some of the dairies kept by the Imperial family that were recovered, including Nicholas II's own writings. Anastasia was the youngest daughter of the family and had a younger brother and three older sisters. The children were raised simply, sleeping on simple cots unless they took ill. Bathing was done using cold water, and the children were expected to keep their rooms tidy.
Anastasia herself was described by most as being energetic and lively, a wonderful actress, and often times the most mischievous of the Tsar's children; she was often the cause of pranks being played on those around her. Hemophilia was common in her family, and although Anastasia herself was not afflicted, her younger brother Alexei was. Anastasia did not escape medical woes, however, as she was said to have suffered from bunions on both of her feet and required twice a week massages to manage her recurring back problems. She would perform for her family theatrical skits while they were being held prisoner by the Bolshevik's.
The family of the Tsar was ultimately moved to the Ipatiev House once the Bolsheviks seized majority control of Russia. This move would prove to be the Imperial family's last. It was here that the Tsar's family was executed in July of 1918. Over the next few months, conflicting reports of missing bodies at the site of the execution, as well as sightings of the young empress Anastasia were reported. These reports varied from her being sighted within some of the many Russian prisons to standing on train platforms trying to escape the country. Also, over the course of the 20th century, various women would step forward claiming to be Anastasia.
The most notorious of these women was Anna Anderson. Anderson died in 1984, and fought through the courts from 1938 through 1970 to prove that she was in fact Anastasia. The courts ultimately found her to not be Anastasia, citing lack of proof and verification.
In 1991, excavation of the Imperial family's burial site took place near Yekaterinburg. Within the grave, investigators found only nine sets of remains, instead of the expected eleven sets of remains. DNA analysis confirmed that this was the Tsar and most of his family, as well as the remains of the family doctor, the valet, the cook, and the maid. Scientists concluded that the two sets of missing remains most likely belonged to Alexei and Anastasia, though Russian and American scientists argued on if Anastasia’s remains were the ones missing, and not those of one of her older sisters.
An account of the event written, called the "Yurovsky Note" stated that two of the bodies were cremated in a different area in order to disguise the burial place of the Tsar's family. Searches for these cremated remains failed until 2007.
On August 23,2007, a Russian archeologist discovered the remains of two partially burned skeletons that were thought to be those of a boy between 10-13 years of age (her younger brother Alexei was 13) and a young woman between 18 and 23 years of age (Anastasia was 17, and her sisters Maria 19, Tatiana 21, and Olga 22). DNA testing revealed that the remains of the boy belonged to young Alexei, and that the remains of the girl, though not positively identified as belonging to Anastasia, were found to be that of a member of the family. This meant that all family members that were being held captive on that fateful night in 1918 were indeed executed, therefore closing the book on the case of the missing Imperial princess.
"The Last Empress" by John Godl
"Alexander Palace Time Machine"; http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/index.html
"Alexandra Feodoroona: The Life and Tragedy of Alexandra Feodorovna" by Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden (book is accessible on the afore mentioned "Alexander Palace Time Machine" website).
"Thirteen Years at the Russian Court" by Pierre Gilliard (also available on the "Alexander Palace Time Machine" website)
"The Last Days of the Romanovs" by Helen Rappaport
"The Last Tsar" by Edvard Radzinsky
"DNA Confirms Remains of Czar's Children"; reported by AP and CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/30/tech/main4057567.shtml
"DNA tests may solve mystery of last czar's heirs"; by Stephanie Reitz, published on MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23944274/ns/technology_and_science-science/