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The massacre of the Romanov family: did Anastasia escape the firing squad?

Goran Blazeski

Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia until his abdication in March 1917 after 23 years in power. The Romanov family ruled Russia for more than 300 years.

The Russian economy collapsed in 1917 mostly because of the country’s involvement in the Great War. People started to break shop windows in order to get bread. The morale of the troops that were supposed to defend the regime was very low and they sided mostly with the population at large.

One of the last photographs taken of Nicholas II, showing him at Tsarskoye Selo after his abdication in March 1917

One of the last photographs taken of Nicholas II, showing him at Tsarskoye Selo after his abdication in March 1917

The Bolshevik revolution, led by Lenin, had created a Red Army that would put end to a 300-year-old Romanov dynasty. The problem for Lenin was that to many people, Nicholas was still the legitimate ruler of Russia. If Nicholas escaped, then his followers would have had a figurehead to lead them against Lenin.

After his abdication in March 1917, Nicholas and his family were put under house arrest and kept just outside of St. Petersburg. As the civil war developed, the whole family was sent to Tolbolsk in Siberia and from here to Ekaterinburg in the Urals.

The Romanovs. From left to right: Olga, Maria, Nicholas II, Alexandra, Anastasia, Alexei, and Tatiana. Pictured at Livadia Palace in 1913.

The Romanovs. From left to right: Olga, Maria, Nicholas II, Alexandra, Anastasia, Alexei, and Tatiana. Pictured at Livadia Palace in 1913.

In the summer of 1918, the decision was taken by the Bolsheviks to kill Nicholas and his family. The instruments of death were provided, the grave was ready, the executioners were resolved, and the victims were asleep in their beds. It was Tuesday night, July 16, 1918. Nicholas, Alexandra, Olga, Maria, Anastasia, Alexei, Tatiana, and their four servants were ordered to dress quickly and go down to the cellar of the house in which they were being held. They were arranged in two rows and gunned down by a dozen armed man.

Rumors were quickly spread that the youngest daughter, Anastasia somehow managed to survive.

Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna in captivity at Tobolsk in the spring of 1918

Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna in captivity at Tobolsk in the spring of 1918

In newspaper “Pravda” was said: “Nicholas Romanov has been executed. His family has been evacuated to a safe location.” This was all that the public was supposed to know until 1991. This lead to rumors that the family had survived.

In September 1918, many people claimed that they saw Alexandra and the four princesses at a house in Perm. And a doctor in Perm claimed that he treated one of the princesses.

From left to right: Grand Duchesses Maria, Olga, Anastasia and Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia in captivity at Tsarskoe Selo in the spring of 1917. One of the last known photographs of Tsar Nicholas II's daughters.

From left to right: Grand Duchesses Maria, Olga, Anastasia and Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia in captivity at Tsarskoe Selo in the spring of 1917. One of the last known photographs of Tsar Nicholas II’s daughters.

However, in 1991 the remains of Nicholas, Alexandra and three of their children were excavated in a forest near Yekaterinburg and two years later after DNA tests were made they were positively identified.

In 1998, the remains of Nicholas, his wife Alexandra and three of their daughters were reinterred in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg beside their royal ancestors.

Two bodies of the family were missing, so this lead to the escape theory. This lead to at least 5 imposters claiming that they were the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanov.

Grand Duchesses Tatiana and Anastasia and the dog Ortino in captivity at Tsarskoe Selo in the spring of 1917

Grand Duchesses Tatiana and Anastasia and the dog Ortino in captivity at Tsarskoe Selo in the spring of 1917

In 2007, Russian archeologists discovered 2 bodies in another grave that was close to the burial site where Romanov family was found. The human remains that were found were of a boy who was about 10 to 13 years old and a girl who was about 18 to 23 years old. At the time of her death, Anastasia would have been 17.

After DNA tests were made in 2008 it was claimed that the bodies matched that of Anastasia and Alexei.