ANNA ANDERSON: Anastasia Romanov Mystery Solved
by Tatiana Mehos
On the night of 17 February, 1920, a Polish factory worker attempted to end her dreaded life. For the next sixty four years, Anna Anderson would be one of the most talked about royal mysteries throughout the world. Fraulein Unbekannt, Frau Tchaikovsky, Anna Anderson, Mrs. Anastasia Manahan was the most well-known imposter of Russia´s Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova. For each memory of the last Imperial Family she remembered, a new flaw bloomed. For each time she refused to speak to ¨relatives,¨ questions were raised.
Who was she? Was she the Grand Duchess? Where did she come from? What about her was so intriguing? Was it that people were looking for something to believe in during bad times? Was it that she gave hope to people? The woman who attempted to end her life spent the rest of it trying to be someone else. She spent most of her life trying to forget the person left behind.
Whenever she could not ¨remember¨ something that the real grand duchess would have remembered, Anna Anderson blamed it on memory loss from the injuries acquired on 17 July, 1918. She would use the same excuse when she could not put a name to a face. She would listen to stories about the Imperial Family in an attempt to be reminded of the life she tried to convince people she had. One memory she was reminded of was the family’s visit to Riga in 1910. How did she know so much? If she wasn’t the Grand Duchess, how did she remember it so well? Her supporters would argue that she would inevitably remember a happy family memory when, in fact, she was told by someone who happened to be there and remembered it well.
How did this all begin? After two years of being in Dalldorf Asylum and being called Fraulein Unbekannt, meaning Miss Unknown, her silence on her identity finally came to an end. One night, Anna went up to a nurse with a magazine containing a picture of the Grand Duchess. Anna asked the nurse if she saw a resemblance between herself and Anastasia. Jokingly, the nurse said ¨yes¨. Unbeknownst to the nurse, this jovial response sparked a belief in Anna that she could transform herself into someone she was not. This was the beginning of what would later be known as one of the greatest royal mysteries of all time.