In 1906, Tsar Nicholas had deposited approximately 20 million dollars in a bank in Berlin. When it was presumed that all the members of the Tsar’s immediate family were dead, the District court in Berlin decided to award the money to “seven collateral Romanov heirs” (King and Wilson 220).
However, the “Mendelssohn Bank [in Berlin], presumably hoping to prevent distribution, contacted Anderson’s lawyer, Edward Fallows, suggesting that he protest any payments based on his client’s claimed identity. As an American, Fallows could not pursue the matter, but two German lawyers, Paul Leverkuhn and Kurt Vermehren, took Anderson’s case and lodged a petition to halt distribution with the Central District Court in Berlin. The arguments and appeals that followed set in motion Anderson’s mammoth, thirty-seven year legal battle to prove that she was Anastasia” (King and Wilson 220).
The Central District Court ruled in favor of the seven heirs, and rejected several appeals from Anderson’s lawyers (King and Wilson 221). World War II brought a halt to the proceedings, but after the war, Anderson’s lawyers changed tactics. They brought a lawsuit against two of the heirs, Barbara, Duchess of Mecklenburg, and Ernst Ludwig, Duke of Prussia (King and Wilson 221). In March 1957, the court “shifted the burden of proof to the claimant” (King and Wilson 220), which meant that she had to prove she was Anastasia in order to win her case.
During the trial, numerous photographs of Anastasia and Anna Anderson were compared, and their handwriting samples and fingerprints were compared. Witnesses for both sides of the case were brought in, including French journalist Dominique Auclères, who had interviewed Anna Anderson. Auclères claimed that Anderson had spoken French during the interview. This was significant because Anastasia spoke French, and Anna’s knowledge of this language convinced Auclères that Anna was Anastasia (King and Wilson 224).
But there were also witnesses who testified that she was not Anastasia, such as Serge Kostritsky, who had been the dentist of the Imperial family, after examining two plaster casts that had been made of Anna’s teeth and jaws, declared “These two plaster casts, in the placement of the teeth and in the shape of the jaws, bear no resemblance whatever to the placement of the teeth or the shape of the jaws of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaievna” [Nikolaievna means ‘daughter of Nicholas] (King and Wilson 228).
On February 17, 1970, the court ruled that Anna Anderson had not provided sufficient proof that she was Anastasia, but neither had her opponents provided sufficient proof that she was an imposter. The case was dismissed, yet the story was far from over.