Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Most Famous Impostor

A family marches down to the basement of a grand house with dread on their faces. In this basement, a man, his wife and their five children (four daughters and one son) were shot along with their servants. In case you have not guessed by now, I am referring to the execution of the Romanov family. On the 17th July 1918, Tsar Nicolas II, Tsarina Alexandra and their children: Olga Nikolaevna, Tatiana Nikolaevna, Maria Nikolaevna, Alexei Nikolaevich and Anastasia Nikolaevna were shot by communist revolutionaries.

However, almost five years after this tragic event, there was a ray of light through the clouds. A woman, under the name of Anna Anderson, revealed herself as the daughter of the Tsar- Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia. Alas, this was not actually the case, after relatively recent research and discoveries, Anna Anderson was uncovered as a fake- the most famous impostor.

Anna Anderson, born on the 16 December 1896 under the name Franziska Schanzkowska, was a mentally ill Polish factory worker. After a suicide attempt in the 1920, she was put in an asylum in Berlin where she refused to give her name. Then, during March 1922, it was claimed in the press that Anderson was the Duchess of Russia, Anastasia. Although this was contested by the majority of Anastasia’s family, Anna Anderson gained much support and spent the rest of her life moving between Germany and the USA staying in many nursing homes and asylums. She married a professor of history from Virginia, called Jack Manahan during 1968. Then, Anna Anderson stayed in the America until 1984 when she died of pneumonia.

It was only in 2007 that it was confirmed that all four daughters of Tsar Nicolas II had been shot on the 17th July 1918. While the bodies of the Tsar, Tsarina and three of the daughters were found in 1991 and had their identities certified, the bodies of Alexei and the final daughter were found in 2007 thus ruling out all possibility of Anna Anderson being the Duchess of Russia.

Thus, the trickery of Anna Anderson was discovered and finally put to rest after many decades of speculation and uncertainty.


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