The Myth and Legend of Anastasia - 100 Year Anniversary of the Execution of the Romanov Family

The story goes that when the young Romanov family of Imperial Russia were murdered the youngest daughter; Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov, survived and somehow escaped. Over time there has been many rumours surrounding this and there are many documentaries and movies surrounding it.

Romanov family
Romanov family

Today marks the 100th year anniversary since the massacre of Russia’s last emperor and his family; the Romanovs. Many of you may have seen the animated film Anastasia or heard the rumours of the young Russian princess’ survival but most may not know the story behind what happened to Grand Duchess Anastasia and her family.

The Massacre of the Romanov Family

In short; during the Russian Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II was held in captivity along with his wife; Tsarina Alexandra, their 4 children; Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia and Tsarevich Alexei, as well as four of their servants. At around 1 am on July 17, 1918 they were all executed by the Bolshevik party (those seeking revolution). They were taken to the basement in the middle of the night, told to line up and unknowingly faced with a firing squad.

The family and their servants had no idea they were to be killed; they were told that they had to move because they weren't safe, and with the girls all wearing undergarments that they had sewn family jewels into, they survived the initial shots. Instead, reports say that they were shot and hit with bayonets. The bodies were then transferred to be buried, where they were stripped of their clothing and mutilated to prevent identification. The bodies were placed in 2 seperate mass graves, not to be discovered for the majority of the 20th century.

In 1979 a group of amateur historians found the unmarked grave of Nicholas, Alexandra, 3 daughters (believed to be Olga, Tatiana and either Maria or Anastasia) and their servants. The remains were tested and confirmed through DNA testing as that of the last Tsar of Russia and most of his family. They were then buried in the Romanov crypt in St Petersburg.

Almost 90 years since the tragic night, in 2007, another grave was discovered with partial remains believed to be those of the remaining Romanov children; Alexei and Maria. These remains were also tested for DNA, though the Russian Orthodox Church refuses to accept the testing and have not buried the remains with the rest of the Romanov family, instead also stated that they are unsure of the results from the first testing done to the remains found in 1979.

We are All Romantics at Heart

I like to personally believe that Anastasia or Maria survived or was rescued and I think that many people have held onto that hope because we are all romantics at heart and love the idea that in such a horrid night at least one person survived. In a time that was not great for Russia, the thought of one of their Princesses to have survived would be enough.

Romanov Family
Romanov Family

Some say that due to Anastasia and Alexei still being children, the firing squad couldn't bare to kill them and instead reported that they did to not get in trouble. Others think that one of the guards from the house they were kept in became close to one of the girls and therefore, saved her. And others say she simply, survived due to her jewelled undergarments, but became unconscious and was presumed dead, until she climbed out of the back of the truck the remains were being transported in. Either way, I think the rumour will be believed by many, because none of us want to know that innocent children were killed in cold blood and their bodies burnt and dumped in the woods.

Anastasia the Animated Film and Anastasia the Musical

Of course the animated movie based on the rumour of Anastasia surviving and then being reunited with her grandmother 10 years later was a favourite of mine as a kid though with the love of history and learning of the Russian Revolution in year 12, my interest in the young royal’s life (or death) grew. I’m sure many of my fellow millennials saw the movie and loved it; singing ‘Once Upon a December’ time and time again. And we all loved to believe a young girl could survive a horrific night to soon be re-united with her grandmother.

Anastasia the musical
Anastasia the musical

Last year Anastasia came to the broadway stage and honestly I am already obsessed with the music and have very much considering flying to the US just to see it. The musical doesn’t have the whole ‘magical’ element that the animated film has and seems a little more realistic which I quite like the sound of. If you’ve seen it let me know what you thought! Can they hurry up and bring Anastasia the Musical to Aus?! I can not wait to see it!

The Myth and Legend of Anastasia

Regardless of what evidence says, and quite frankly some doesn’t seem to add up when you look at eyewitness accounts, I still like to believe that Anastasia (or Maria) survived the Russian Revolution. Of course there is no one left with first accounts of what really happened that night 100 years ago but I like the idea that a young lady can survive an event no one thought they could and start over after such tragedy. I like to think that she got away, maybe crossed the border to another country and started a new life where she fell in love, had a family and continued on. I know this may not be realistic but I’m a romantic at heart and love the idea of it.

Romanov Girls colour

What do you guys think? Do you think there’s as chance that one of the Romanov family survived that terrible night? Do you think Grand Duchess Anastasia could have escaped? Let me know, I’d love to hear your opinions!

Love always,

Paige Lillian xx

(no images are my own)

Paige WatsonComment