On February 17, 1920, a young woman was pulled from the Berlin canal after a suicide attempt. She was committed to a mental institution in Berlin. At first She refused to give her name, so she became known as Fraulein Unbekannt (German for ‘Miss Unknown’). Later She gave her name as Anna Anderson, and later, incredibly, claimed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia–supposedly murdered–alongside her parents, three sisters, and brother. With this claim, Anna captured the attention of the world.
I am writing about her for my Introduction to Literature class. The assignment is to assess the effects of a historical event. In their book The Resurrection of the Romanovs, Greg King and Penny Wilson observe that Anna’s claim brought hope to war torn Russia, and the rest of the world, that the Bolsheviks had not been able to destroy the Imperial family completely (Romanovs 3)
• Introducing the Grand Duchess Anastasia, and Anna Anderson Manahan
I. Romanov remains found in 1979
II. DNA Testing in 1997 identified them as the Romanovs (Coble 2009).
III. Russian Orthodox Church and some members of the Romanov family dispute the DNA results (Coble 2009): the very people whom, you would think, would most want to lay the family to rest
IV. Why Anna was so convincing
V. Conclusion: Anna will live on in legend, because people want to believe her
DNA evidence showed that Anna could not have been a Romanov, but there are still too many unanswered questions:
• Did Anna really believe she was Anastasia—was it self-delusion that made her so convincing—was she able to deceive so many people because she had first deceived herself?
• Why did they release Anna from the asylum if they thought she was mentally ill?
• Anastasia was stabbed in the face by a bayonet (Alexandrov 232). Could this have caused brain damage—and therefore mental illness—later?
• A Bolshevik officer, during the burial of the bodies, said Anastasia’s head–clearly discernible because of the bayonet wound–was missing from the pile (Alexandrov 233). Is this more proof that she escaped, being helped by a soldier, as tradition says?
• There are many conflicting accounts of the details of the executions
• The Russian scientists and American scientists disagreed on the identity of one of the bodies: the Russian scientists claimed it was Anastasia, but the American scientists claim it was her sister, Marie (Massie, 66).
• The scientists were forbidden by the Kremlin to photograph the remains; therefore the tests were not properly documented (Massie, 46)
• Some information about the executions was concealed (Alexandrov 242).
• Czar Nicholas was deposed in 1917
• Nine skeletons were found in May 1979 in woods outside Yekatinburg, Russia, suspected to be the Romanovs, but the finders swore each other to secrecy until the fall of Communism in the 1990s (Rogaeva 2008, and Massie 35).
Alexandrov, Victor. The End of the Romanovs. 1966. Print. Pub. Hutchinson & Co. Ltd.
“Genomic identification in the historical case of the Nicholas II royal family.”
Evgeny I. Rogaeva et. al. Web. November 14, 2008. Accessed September 28, 2011.
King, Greg; Wilson, Penny. The Resurrection of the Romanovs. 2011. Print.
Pub. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, N.J.
Massie, Robert. The Romanovs the Final Chapter. 1995. Print. Pub. Random House Inc. New York.
“Mystery Solved: The Identification of the Two Missing Romanov Children Using DNA Analysis.”
Michael D. Coble et. al. January 28, 2009. Accessed September 28, 2011. Web.