You’ve probably seen the cartoon Anastasia (which is not a Disney contrary to what many think), and which depicts the flight of the Grand Duchess whose family is murdered by the Bolsheviks during the revolution. We then follow her, tracked down by the evil Rasputin, until she reunites with her grandmother. In the animated film, a whole bunch of things do not correspond to reality. It’s normal, it’s a cartoon. But today, we are going to talk about the real mysteries around Anastasia Nikolaïevna, the real one, the one who inspired the film.
1. It is not known whether or not she was murdered on the night of July 16-17, 1918
Already, let’s recall the context: in 1918, the Romanov family had been in power for 300 years. Tsar Nicholas II, father of Anastasia, was the last emperor of Russia, and he was assassinated with his family on the night of July 16-17, 1918 by Bolshevik revolutionaries. In the official version of the story, Anastasia was also killed that night. But no one is really sure. Big mystery. But we will come back to this later, because we still have to talk a bit about the context.
2. Rasputin wasn’t really a wizard, but not far off
Rasputin is not a nobleman. He’s a guy who claims to be a healer and a prophet. A somewhat mystical character who knows how to speak well and charm others. In 1907, he arrived at the court of Nicolas II claiming to be able to treat his son Alexis, who was hemophiliac and, at that time, in bad shape. Everyone is a little dubious, but, oddly, Alexis seems to be doing better after Rasputin takes care of him. Nicholas II and his wife, Empress Alexandra, therefore decided to keep him at court. From there, the other nobles will be disgusted to see that Rasputin, the weird healer, is so close to the imperial couple. And they will plot (those little bastards).
3. Maybe Rasputin really had mystical gifts.
The strangest thing about Rasputin is not that he managed to cure a kid. Maybe he had a good medical background after all. No, the weirdest thing is what happened just before he died. He was assassinated in 1916 by order of some high-ranking members of the imperial court, probably for political reasons, and certainly because he was too close to the Tsar. But just before his death, which he had predicted, Rasputin also predicted an imminent civil war and the death of the imperial family. It all happened in less than two years. Suddenly, people wonder if Rasputin was not really a prophet as he claimed. Afterwards, he was surely just good at politics, and he knew that the revolution was going to start soon. It is also possible.
4. Anastasia may have been left for dead despite having survived
According to the official story, the imperial family, after being placed under house arrest in the Ipatiev villa in Yekaterinburg, was murdered on the night of July 16-17, in the basement of the house. All the members would have taken a bullet in the heart before being finished off with bayonets. Still according to the official version, during the transport of the bodies, Anastasia would have regained consciousness before one of the soldiers finished her off with a butt (nice). But some believe that the soldier would not have actually noticed that the Grand Duchess was still alive, and that she could have fled. Honestly, with a bullet in the heart, it seems unlikely, but…
5. Anastasia’s jewelry would have protected her
It is said that what could have saved Anastasia was the jewels sewn inside her dress. They could have prevented the bullet from reaching his heart. That’s what would have allowed her to regain consciousness during her transport to the place where she was to be buried, and that would explain how she could have escaped. Frankly, it’s pretty twisted, but if that’s what really happened, it’s that she had her ass lined with noodles the princess.
6. A soldier claims that a body was missing
According to the sources, there is talk of the testimony of a soldier who claimed to have buried only six bodies instead of the seven he was supposed to take care of. Inevitably, if we start to put the elements end to end, there is reason to ask questions. But basing a theory on the testimony of a single soldier who probably had to act in haste and under the influence of emotion is still a little weak.
7. In 1920, a woman claimed to be Anastasia Nikolaevna
Only two years after the assassination, a woman, Anna Anderson, is fished out of the waters of a Berlin canal. She attempted to commit suicide. She claims to be Grand Duchess Anastasia. Anna Anderson recounts the night of the murder of “her family” in great detail and explains that she survived by hiding behind the body of her sister Tatiana, before being helped by a soldier who would later become her lover. It’s disturbing, and it would explain a lot of things. But to verify her identity, members of the imperial family come to see her. The children of Doctor Botkine, the family doctor who was also murdered the same evening in July, recognize Anastasia. A cousin of the Grand Duchess also recognizes her. This is VERY disturbing. But aside from that, two of her aunts do not recognize her, and Anastasia’s grandmother, the mother of Nicholas II, also claims that Anna Anderson is not her granddaughter. Other family members will make the same observation. In addition, the young woman does not even speak Russian, the mother tongue of the Grand Duchess, nor French, her second language. Disappointment, then.
8. But really, wasn’t it Anastasia?
Even if members of the imperial family did not recognize her, it turns out that Anna Anderson has something to do with doubt. She knew other details of Romanov life that only the Romanovs and their relatives could know. Some tried to trick her into giving her false information about her family, and she corrected them well every time. Others noticed that she spoke Russian and French well, and that she served tea in English, like the Tsar’s children. She also had marks on her body that could resemble the bayonet thrusts received by Anastasia. It’s still crazy isn’t it? We will finally learn, after investigation, that Anna Anderson was actually called Franziska Schanzkowska, that she was Polish, and that she suffered from memory problems after being injured in an explosion. It will be confirmed by DNA tests carried out in 1994. After her death, she was still buried under the name of Anastasia, just to put the doubt to rest until the end.
9. Other women tried to pretend they were Anastasia
Each time, they were unmasked quite quickly (much faster than Anna Anderson who animated the debates for decades), and we very quickly understood that they were simply trying to get their hands on the legacy of the Romanovs. For once, that’s pretty much what happens in the cartoon. When there is money to be made, there are always people ready to act like bastards. It was the moral moment of the top.
10. Today, the case is more or less closed
In 1990, the remains of the murdered family were found, but not all well identified, despite testing. Two were missing, and it was unclear whether among those two were Anastasia or her sister Maria. Eventually, in 2007, the remains of two other family members were found further afield, completing the account. It still took almost 80 years to conclude this case, and there are still people today who think that the young Anastasia still managed to escape. Wouldn’t that deserve a little series?