In the years following the murders several supposed Anastasias emerged, the most famous of these was Anna Anderson. In February of 1920, a woman jumped off a bridge in Berlin, she was rescued and taken to a mental asylum. The woman refused to tell the authorities her identity until eighteen months later when she declared herself the Grand Duchess Anastasia.
She explained that she had been bayoneted but survived because the weapons were blunt. A soldier saw she was still moving, rescued her, and took her to Romania. The woman claimed that she had walked to Berlin in search of her aunt, Princess Irene. Princess Irene met with the woman several times and eventually denied that she was Anastasia. It is said that later Irene admitted that the woman was similar to Anastasia. Irene's son Prince Sigismund was a childhood friend of Anastasia and sent a list of questions to the woman. Her answers convinced him that she was the real Anastasia.
The woman began calling herself Anna Anderson in the 1920s and after her release from the hospital in 1922 Anderson lived off the charity of various supporters. There were also many deniers that Anderson was the grand duchess of Nicholas II. One of Anastasia's aunts, Grand Duchess Olga and Anastasia's tutor Pierre Gilliard both denied that Anderson was Anastasia.
Supporters of Anastasia included Anastasia's cousin Princess Xenia, Gleb and Tatiana Botkin, whose father was killed with the imperial family. Some believe that Gleb Botkin and others who had intimate knowledge of the imperial family's life fed Anderson information for their own advantages.
Anastasia's uncle, Grand Duke Ernst of Hesse was determined to prove that Anderson was an imposter. He backed an investigation that suggested that Anderson was actually a Polish factory worker, Franziska Schanzkowska, who disappeared right before Anderson surfaced. Some people discredited the investigation because the woman who testified that Anderson as Schanzkowska was paid.
Anderson was dependent on the support of those who believed her story, but was often haughty and demanding of her hosts. Her regularly occurring tantrums and breakdowns made her impossible, even for her most devoted supporters, to live with. There were times that she attacked people and even ran around naked. But supporters pointed out that Anastasia would have mental problems after witnessing the execution of her family and nearly being killed herself. Anderson's detractors claimed that her psychiatric problems might have been caused by the serious head injuries suffered from a hand grenade explosion while working in a munitions factory.
In 1938 Anderson brought a suit to the German court to prove her identity and claim her inheritance. The case dragged on until 1970, when the court finally ruled that Anderson had not proved that she was Anastasia. Anderson died of pneumonia in 1984 and was cremated at her own request. DNA testing in 1994 seemed to prove that Anderson was not the daughter of Nicholas II. Comparisons with DNA samples provide by Schanzkowska's great nephew proved that it was more likely that Anderson was really Franziska Schanzkowska. The positive outcome of the Anna Anderson story has been the fact that it kept the memory of Nicholas and his family alive, which otherwise may not have been the case.
The Imperial Family Remembered
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