The Case of Anna Anderson
In February 1920, two years after the execution of the Russian Imperial family by the Bolsheviks, a young woman attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge in Berlin. She was rescued, and sent her to an insane asylum where in one of the bizarre episodes in modern history, she was recognized as the tsar’s daughter, Grand Duchess Tatiana, by a fellow mental patient. She denied that she was Tatiana, but overtime she told them that she was actually his other daughter, Anastasia.
She assumed the name Anna Anderson. In attitude, Anderson certainly royal–demanding, arrogant, and prone to outbursts, she also spoke excellent English, French and German, and could fully understand Russian although she refused to speak it. She had scars on her body that matched her execution claims. However, no one in the intimate imperial circle accepted her as Grand Duchess Anastasia, including her two ‘aunts’ Olga and Irene (Princess Henri of Prussia) and notorious Felix Yusoupov, the slainer of Rasputin. Eventually, her ‘uncle’, Ernst, Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt, hired some detectives who revealed that Anna Anderson was Franziska Schanzkowska, a result proven years later by DNA testing.
The first photographic tests were done by Pierre Gilliard and his colleague Professor Marc Bischoff in February 1927 (ab0ve). Gilliard, Swiss tutor to the Romanov children photographed the Imperial Family in Tsarkoye Selo in 1916-17. The photo on the left superimposes the picture of Grand Duchess onto Anna Anderson’s face, and the right one, vice versa. The photos were clearly of two different people. Both Gilliard and Bischoff denied any similarities, but they were accused by Anderson supporters to have accepted her, then denied her because Gilliard was paid off by Ernst of Hesse. Gilliard, indeed was shortly duped, and throughout his long life, he became one of her fiercest denouncers, writing his book “La Fausse Anastasia.” (The family of another surviving employee, court doctor Eugene Botkin, on the other hand was utterly convinced of Anderson’s true royal lineage).