Mind Games: Front Anastasia

Nikolay and Alexandra passionately wanted to produce an heir after three wonderful, but still girls. However, Maria, Olga and Tatiana had a new sister. Anastasia was a very joyful, creative, agile and naughty child, she adored pranks and often got "on the nuts" for tricks. Gifted and clever by nature, she was sometimes restless and lazy, but few could truly be angry with a kind and cheerful laughter. In contrast to the refined Olga and Maria, Anastasia differed in the “sbiten” figure, and in the last months of the 17th anniversary, according to her mother, she became completely fat. The little princess inherited the shape of her face from her father, from her mother she got a good bust and thin waist, while at the same time, with separate features she reminded her grandmother, Maria Feodorovna.

Princess Anastasia knitting

On the night of July 16-17, 1918, Anastasia, together with her sisters, brother and parents, were shot in the basement of the Ipatiev House. According to the official version, the remains of Anastasia were interred in 1998, but not all researchers were convinced that they belonged to her. An attempt to identify the remains of members of the royal family and their servants was carried out until the 2000s, scientists had doubts about fragments of several skeletons.

Long could not prove that the remains found belong to Anastasia

As for the witnesses to the execution, members of the firing squad, in particular, the Chekist Yakov Yurovsky, claimed that absolutely all members of the royal family were killed that night. There were, however, those who claimed the opposite: according to a certain man who lived in front of the Ipatiev house, the younger princess managed to escape and hide in the neighborhood. But for the birth of a legend, such evidence was not at all obligatory: after all, any faith does not need proof.

For the first time about a girl who later identified herself as Anastasia, it became known in February of 1920, or, more precisely, on the 17th, when a Berlin policeman removed a certain person from Bendler Bridge who threatened to jump into the water. Later, the unknown, who did not find any documents and identification marks, was taken to the police station, where she said she decided to take a desperate step after a cold reception in the palace, where she went in search of relatives, namely, Aunt Irene, Alexandra Feodorovna’s sisters. The girl made an impression of a city madman, and therefore it was decided to send her to the hospital. There she was diagnosed with exhaustion and a tendency to attacks of melancholia, and therefore, for security reasons, she was placed in a psychiatric clinic in Daldorf for treatment.

Snapshot Anderson on Detention

A little later, in March of 1920, the family of a certain Polish girl, Francis Shankovskaya, announced the disappearance of a girl. It is this name, as most researchers believe, that the mysterious unknown bore, trying to jump off the bridge on that February night of 1918. She was born in 1896 in Posen, a Prussian city on the border with Poland, which at that time was part of the Russian Empire. Her family was engaged in farming, but the young Francis showed true aristocratic habits. And although the family did not differ in wealth, the girl tried to impress the person of aristocratic blood, kept aloof and avoided manual labor. Her niece Valtrud Shankovskaya later recalled that her aunt was the cleverest child in the family and dreamed of escaping from a small town, becoming an actress and getting a chance for a different life.

The person posing as Anastasia was distinguished by inappropriate behavior.

In 1914, she left her father's house and went to Berlin, where she worked as a waitress, found a fiancé, but did not have time to get married, because her chosen one was called. Upon learning of the death of a young man, Francis, who was working at a military factory at that time, accidentally or deliberately dropped a grenade from her hands, which killed the foreman and wounded Anna herself with fragments, leaving her scars on her body. After that, the girl was declared insane and was sent to a psychiatric hospital, but she did not fully recover her health: Francis suffered from pain, swallowed pills and almost could not work. Her further fate was unknown to her relatives, since in February 1920 the girl disappeared.

At the same time, an unknown, taken from a bridge in Berlin, was in the clinic, where she was diagnosed with a mental illness of a depressive nature. She refused to identify herself in any way, was closed and did not make contact. The only thing that the doctors managed to find out was that the patient had a strong oriental accent, from which it was suggested that the unknown was from Prussia or Poland. According to the recollections of the nurses and nurses, the girl probably understood Russian as well, but did not speak Russian. She spent a year and a half in Daldorf.

Anna Anderson in a sanatorium

It is not known exactly at which moment Anna fell ill with the fantasy that she was the heir to the Romanovs. Supposedly, this happened by the grace of her roommate Maria Poitert, who claimed that she had previously sewed dresses to the maid of honor of the Russian Imperial Court. She also noticed the resemblance between Anderson and the daughters of Nicholas II, when she saw a picture in the newspaper entitled “Is one of the royal daughters alive?”. Later, Poitert sought out Shvabe, the former captain of the Imperial Cuirassier Regiment, and persuaded him to visit the Anderson clinic for identification. Shvabe then showed a photo of the girl to the widowed empress Maria Feodorovna, who did not see any similarity with her granddaughters. However, Shvabe himself, being in doubt, attracted Alexandra Feodorovna’s old friend, Zinaida Tolstoy, who, visiting the patient in the hospital, was convinced that this was one of the princesses, probably Tatiana. Subsequently, Tolstaya begged the sisters of Nicholas II to recognize the girl’s identity and help her in any way, but received a sharp refusal.

Empress Dowager flatly refused to recognize Anna's granddaughter

Nevertheless, the legend was voiced and widely publicized in émigré circles. Since then, a string of visitors, among whom there were many persons of aristocratic blood, stretched to a visionary patient, each of them tried to get to the truth. Among them was Baroness Iza Buksgevden, who saw the royal family one of the last. She assured that, despite some external resemblance of individual features of the patient with Princess Tatiana, she most definitely was neither, nor Anastasia, nor any of the other daughters of Nicholas. The emigrant environment, interested in the Anastasia case, split in two: some considered it a miracle princess who had survived and offered all kinds of assistance, others declared a real war to her, wanting to bring the impostor to clean water.

Among the high-ranking supporters of Anna-Anastasia were in different years and members of the imperial family itself, in particular, Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich, grandson of Alexander II, who said that before him, no doubt, Anastasia, and Ksenia Georgievna, great-great-granddaughter of Nicholas I. But they both subsequently refused to help Anna, and partly her unbearable character, noted by many contemporaries, was to blame for this.

Empress Dowager Maria Feodorovna in Denmark

The most clear vision of the situation was formulated by Dmitry, Duke of Leuchtenberg, grandson of Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna (daughter of Nicholas I), who substantiated why Anna could not be Anastasia. He noted that she does not speak Russian at all, but she speaks German perfectly, while Anastasia did not know this language at all. Secondly, the impostor did not know the Orthodox rites and behaved like a Catholic in a church. He further noted that all supporters of Anna somehow had mercenary intentions and were interested in recognizing the girl princess. He also cited the testimony of the doctor of the Kostrizsky’s yard, a dentist who had taken molds of the impostor’s jaw and admitted that the dental drawing was not similar to the one that Anastasia had.

Lzheanastasiya did not speak Russian and did not know the Orthodox rites

Olga Alexandrovna, the sister of Nicholas, took part in the fate of Anna, who for some time corresponded with the girl, presented a gift and even visited her personally, but completely lost faith in her hopes.

In 1928, Anna moved to the United States, where she was under the auspices of several wealthy individuals, but her inadequate behavior and seizures again lead the girl to the asylum, her condition worsens. However, patrons for Anderson are still there after her release from the clinic. In 1932, she returned to Berlin again, and in 1938 she was confronted with the Shantskovskys' family. Some recognize her as a relative, others in doubt, but in conclusion none of them signed a confession that the girl he represented was Francis. Probably one of the reasons was that the authorities of the Third Reich threatened to imprison Froel’s for fraud, if they recognized her as an impostor.

Anna Anderson in his youth and old age

In the same year, 1938, the official “Anna Anderson vs. Romanovs process” began in Berlin: the woman claimed the inheritance of the Romanovs' house, of which about 100 thousand dollars remained in foreign assets at that time. In this case, Anderson was assisted by Gleb Botkin, the son of the last court medical physician, who was shot on the same night as the royal family. The opponents of the theory of Anna-Anastasia were convinced that a conspiracy had been formed around the woman, and its participants were only trying to seize the means of the Romanovs through her, they declared Botkin a rogue who fed the sick woman with bikes and used her for his own selfish purposes. There were several trials; in total, the proceedings dragged on for almost 40 years and ended in 1977. The result did not satisfy any of the parties: the court found insufficient evidence for Anderson’s possible claims to the inheritance, that is, did not recognize the princess in her, but did not confirm that the woman was not really Anastasia Romanova.

The trial of Anderson v. Romanovs lasted almost 40 years

Ultimately, the situation remained unclear. Opponents of the theory of Anna-Anastasia argued that all the knowledge of the impostor about the royal family and the details of her life that she allegedly remembered were inspired by sympathizers around her. On the other hand, the noise that arose around the personality of a woman, and the presence of high-ranking supporters who recognized the princess at different times, only fueled the faith of those who hoped for a miracle or simply wanted to enrich themselves in this story.

After the death of Anderson, who died in the United States in 1984, scientists were able to conduct a DNA examination. The tissue samples of the woman were compared with the DNA of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, relative of Alexandra Feodorovna’s grandmother. It was his DNA that earlier confirmed the authenticity of the remains found in the Porosenkovy log in 1991 near Ekaterinburg. The result of the examination showed that Anderson was not a relative of the late Empress. At the same time, her DNA coincided with a sample taken from Karl Maucher, the great-nephew of Francis Shankovskaya. Thus, it was not until the end of the 20th century that an end to the investigation of this convoluted story was established, with the help of science, that Anderson was in fact Franziska Shantskovskaya.

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