MysteriYES

A comedy mystery podcast in which two friends discuss a weekly mystery.

Anastasia Romanov

Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova, Grand Duchess of Russia

  • Born June 18, 1901 in Petersburg, Russia

  • Youngest daughter of Tsar Nikolai II and Tsarina Alexandra, the last Tsars of the Imperial age in Russia.

  • The Romanov Dynasty ruled Russia ruled for 300 years, from 1613 to 1917.

  • Nikolai had been in power since 1894 and had shortly thereafter married Alix of Hesse, who was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England.

  • Nikolai is considered to have been a weak, incompetent leader whose poor decisions ended up costing Russia greatly and led to one of the most monumental events of the 20th century ( the Bolshevik revolution and the rise of the Soviet Union).

  • When Anastasia was born, she only had three older sisters: Olga, Tatiana, and Maria.

  • Her family was super pissed when she was born because she didn’t have a penis and you weren’t allowed to rule in Russia unless you had a penis.

  • Later her younger brother and the Imperial heir, Alexei, would be born. He did have a penis, but he was a hemophiliac so his health was constantly in a precarious state and it was highly likely that he wouldn’t survive to see his own coronation.

  • Childhood

    • She was a lively, energetic, and naughty child who used to trip the servants, prank her tutors, climb trees and refuse to come down, hide rocks in snowballs, cheat at games, etc.

    • Like many people from royal families, she struggled with poor health.

    • By all accounts, she appeared to have a positive and innocent relationship with Grigori Rasputin, who was a counselor to her mother, the Tsarina. However rumors swirled that Rasputin was inappropriately involved with Anastasia, her mother, and her three sisters.

  • World War I--broke out in 1914, when she was 13 years old

    • World War I was devastating for the Romanovs, who were already on shaky ground with the Russian people for a variety of reasons that are too complicated to go into here.

    • Food became scarce, soldiers were becoming war-weary, the war was incredibly costly, and they were losing battles in devastating fashion.

    • The price of food skyrocketed became millions of men were taken away from farm work.

    • Rasputin convinced the Tsarina to go to the front lines during the war, putting her in charge with Rasputin whispering in her ear, which made people even more upset because the public hated Rasputin.

    • People became restless and began calling for social reforms and the downfall of the tsar.

  • Revolution and house arrest

    • Things got nuts as people rioted in the streets and the military shot at them, but then huge numbers of people from the military turned against the Tsar and joined the revolution.

    • In February 1917, a provisional government was set up to try to restore order and Anastasia and her family were placed under house arrest in the palace.

    • The provisional government demanded that Nikolai abdicate.

      • Because he basically had no support, his family was in danger back in Russia while he was on the front lines, and civil war would spell certain doom for Russia in World War I, Nikolai abdicated on March 15, 1917, thus ending 300 years of Romanov rule.

  • Captivity

    • The provisional government evacuated the Romanov family to Tobolsk in the Ural Mountains to be safe from advancing Bolshevik (Communist) troops until the spring of 1918 when the plan was for them to be sent to Japan.

    • While in Tobolsk, Anastasia and her sisters sewed jewels into their clothing to hide them from their captors and put on hilarious plays for those being held in captivity with them.

    • Before they could be sent to Japan, in October 1917, the Bolsheviks seized power from the provisional government and on April 30 1918, the Romanov parents and their daughter Maria were moved by the Bolsheviks to the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg.

      • Anastasia stayed in Tobolsk until May, because her brother Alexei was hemophilic and too sick to travel. Eventually, though, they joined their parents in Yekaterinburg.

    • The family experienced strict isolation while at Ipatiev House, including having to ring a bell any time they wanted to leave their rooms to use the bathroom but the toilets didn’t work.

      • Windows were whitewashed over.

      • They wore clothes of peasants.

    • During this time, the Bolsheviks (or the Red Army) were engaged in civil war with anti-Bolshevik forces known as the White Army.

    • In the summer of 1918, White Army forces were advancing toward Yekaterinburg. The Red Army feared that if the Imperial family fell into the hands of the  White Army, they would lose a very important advantage.

    • In late June/early July, Soviet officials agreed that the Romanov family should be executed, but that it should be done secretly.

    • On July 16, Red Army forces were retreating in that region, and the executions could not be delayed any longer.

      • A man named Yurovsky, who was in charge of the family’s imprisonment, set in motion his plan for the family’s execution.

  • Execution

    • That night, around midnight, Yurovsky ordered the family’s physician to awaken the sleeping Romanovs and have them get dressed, telling them that they were being moved to another, safer location as the White Army was about to arrive in Yekaterinburg.

      • The Romanovs and four of their servants were brought to a 20 feet by 16 feet basement room and a squad of secret police entered.

      • Yurovsky read this order written aloud:

        • Nikolai Alexandrovich, in view of the fact that your relatives are continuing their attack on Soviet Russia, the Ural Executive Committee has decided to execute you.

      • Nikolai cried out, “What?!” and then as he turned to his family, the police fired on him, and then on the remaining members of the Romanov family and their attendants.

      • The shooting was so chaotic that the room became filled with so much dust and smoke that no one could see anything or hear any orders.

      • When the dust settled, it was found that all of the Imperial children were still alive and only one had even been injured, as the bullets ricocheted off the jewels that had been sewn into their clothing.

      • The police then began to fire on the children again, and any who were still alive were bayoneted and beaten to death with the butts of their rifles.

      • The bodies were then loaded into a Fiat truck, covered in acid, and disposed of secretly in an undisclosed location.

    • On July 19 and the in the few days following, the news was announced throughout Russia that Niklaoi was dead, and that his family had been sent somewhere safe.

  • Mystery!

    • When the White Army took the city on July 25, it seemed as though the Imperial Family had simply disappeared, so the Sokolov Commission was created by the White Army to investigate what happened to the Romanovs.

    • Because of the chaos of revolution, the disinformation campaigns run by the Soviet government, and the lack of any bodies, there was some speculation that perhaps some of the Romanovs survived and escaped with the assistance of Soviet guards.

    • Romanov impersonators began popping up all over the world, claiming that they had escaped that fateful night.

      • The most famous case was that of Anna Anderson, who first surfaced between 1920 and 1922.

      • She claimed that she had faked her death among the dead bodies in the basement, and then was helped to escape by a guard who noticed that she was still breathing.

      • Her legal case lasted in German courts from 1938 to 1970 before it was decided that she had no proof that she was Anastasia.

      • Anderson died in 1984, and in 1994 her DNA tests showed that she was not biologically related to the Tsar.

      • Two other young women claimed to be Anastasia and her sister Maria, who were taken in by a priest in the Ural Mountains in 1919 until their deaths in 1964.

    • The claims that Anastasia survived were further spurred on by reports of Bolshevik soldiers and secret police raiding trains and houses in search of Anastasia Romanov.

    • Some historians have stated that it would have been possibly for some sympathetic guards to help a survivor escape, as the bodies were left largely unattended in the time after the massacre and before the disposal.

    • In the vacuum created by a lack of information and evidence, cinema filled in the gaps with embellished accounts of Anastasia’s survival

    • In 1979, the remains of most of the family were uncovered by amateurs, but they kept this a secret until the Communist government fell.

      • In July 1991, the bodies were exhumed and, using DNA, were identified as the Tsar, the Tsarina, and three of the Imperial daughters--but the bodies of Alexei and one other daughter were suspiciously missing.

      • This revived speculation that Anastasia had survived, as well as perhaps Alexei (though how long he could have survived is doubtful)

      • However, the bodies of Alexei and the missing daughter were found in 2007, thus confirming that Anastasia did not survive.

    • The mystery still lives on in some form, as recently the Russian Orthodox Church has suggested that the scientific study on the remains may have been mistaken, and that the remains may not actually be those of the Romanovs.