Letters about the Anastasia Controversy

My little mini-article entitled: "Anastasia: The Movie and the Real Princess" has created controversy, even though I did not say anything which was new or original. The stories about what may have or supposedly did happen to Anastasia have been re-hashed endlessly for the past 80 years. There have been innumerable books written on this subject.

Nevertheless, I have been receiving letters and there have been newsgroup postings about this every day. Therefore, I have decided to compile some of what has been said in response to my article. Here are some excerpts. Since all of this has been posted on public newsgroups, there is nothing wrong with my quoting these letters here:

Date: Sun, 15 Feb 1998 16:36:03 -0800
To: Sloan@ishipress.com
Subject: Anastasia
X-Rcpt-To: sloan@ishipress.com

I very much enjoyed visiting your web site about Anastasia. I only knew bits and pieces about her story, so when I saw the movie last night, I had a lot of questions come up for me. Your web site helped to answer some of these questions. What I still am curious whether Anna was ever introduced to the Anastasia's grandmother as in the movie? Who were the friends and family members who did believe she was the real Anastasia? Why? Where there any truths to the necklace she wore in the movie? Do you have any idea what they were looking for when they did the DNA analysis? Was it the gene for hemophilia? Could there be any effect on the accuracy of the DNA test depending on who the father was? You mentioned the letters suggesting Anastasia's mother had an extramarital affair. Isn't it possible she wasn't Nicolas' daughter? Did the people doing the testing consider this possibility? Why do they think Anna actually was a Polish national, named Franziska Schanzkowska. Did they do DNA testing relative to Franziska's family line to determine a match?

I imagine you get plenty of email from curious people like myself. If you have the time to respond, I would be very appreciative. Thanks!

I really do not know the answer to some of your questions.

Anastasia's mother was German! In those times, it was customary for royal families to inter-marry. This very likely contributed to the overthrow of Czar Nicholas II, because he was fighting a war against Germany! It was suggested that he was in complicity with the enemy. He was a very bad commander. It was said that he always sent his troops into a pete bog, and they simply sank down into the bog and perished with their rifles still pointing up!

I believe that Marie was the mother of Czar Nicholas II.

I am sure that Anastasia did know her grandmother. What I said about Marie being the only one who was not killed is not entirely accurate, because there were some cousins who survived, but they were not in the direct line to inherit the rule.

The stories about the necklace and the music box were just invented for the movie.

One of then main proponents of the belief that Anna Anderson really was Anastasia was the son of the royal doctor (his name was something like Botkin). The Royal doctor was one of the nine who was executed when the family of the Czar was killed. His son personally knew the real Anastasia, and he claimed that Anna Anderson was Anastasia.

One interesting point about the gene for hemophilia is that it is transmitted through the girls but only affects the boys. That is the reason why Anastasia and her three sisters did not have the disease, but the only boy, Alexei did.

Since the gene for hemophilia is not known to have appeared in the British Royal family before Queen Victoria, it has been suggested that perhaps Queen Victoria herself was illegitimate!

I am not really an expert on any of this. I suggest that you join the newsgroup alt.talk.royalty because there are people there who are experts.

Sam Sloan

Date: Sun, 15 Feb 1998 21:01:46 -0800
From: Jeff & Lisa Davidson ( j.l.davidson@worldnet.att.net )
Reply-To: j.l.davidson@worldnet.att.net
Newsgroups: alt.talk.royalty
To: sloan@ishipress.com
Subject: Re: Anastasia: Can somebody help me answer these questions?

1. Anna Anderson never met Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (d.1928).

2. The children of Evgeny Botkin, Gleb and Tatiana, who greatly overstated their intimacy with the Romanovs, believed her. So did Princess Xenia of Russia. However, the vast majority of surviving Romanovs did not, nor did all of the actual friends of the tsar's children. The best history of Anna Anderson can be found in Peter Kurth's "Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson".

I would imagine the Botkins believed her out of their grief at the loss of the family.

3. The DNA analysis was a genetic confirmation of the female line from Queen Victoria, because Tsarina Alexandra was Victoria's granddaughter. Thus the tsar's children would have had identical mtDNA to anyone descended from Victoria R's female line. Prince Phillip has such mtDNA, and his matched Alexandra's and her 3 daughters exactly. Genetic testing on Anna Anderson proved she was not related to either Nicholas or Alexandra.

4. No, to my knowledge there is only a genetic cause for hemophilia, and no known attempt has been made to find "a hemophiliac gene" in Alexandra.

5. I hope, without insulting anyone, I can say that to suggest Alexandra had an affair with Rasputin or anyone else is pure ignorance. Her letters, diaries, and behavior all tell us she was passionately in love with her husband. Her children were fathered by her husband, as the DNA testing also showed. There would have been no purpose to look for another father (see above): ANNA ANDERSON WAS NOT RELATED TO NICHOLAS OR ALEXANDRA.

6. Anna's mtDNA matched a common maternal descendant in the Schanzkowska family.

Sam Sloan, sloan@ishipress.com, wrote:

The person who made that remark was responding to something I posted on my recently updated web page, as follows:

"Rasputin was a real person who was a mad monk in the Russian Orthodox Church. History has long debated and will continue to debate the role of Rasputin in bringing about the downfall of the Romanovs. His actual importance was derived from the fact that Czarina Alexandra believed that Rasputin held magical powers to cure or at least to treat the hemophilia which afflicted her son, Alexei. Nasty rumors of the time placed Rasputin in bed having sex with the Czarina, while her husband, Nicholas II, was out on the front lines, leading his troops during World War I.

"These rumors were based on Rasputin's known habits of debauchery, plus a packet of letters which Czarina Alexandra had written to Rasputin which were stolen from Rasputin's room by another monk named Iliodor and published in the newspapers in 1911. One of these letters from the Czarina to Rasputin said: "How soon will you be close to me again? Come quickly! I am waiting for you and tormenting myself for you."

"According to historians, the publication of these letters greatly contributed to the overthrow of the Czar in 1916, which condemned Russia to more than 70 years of Communist rule."

The letters which the Czarina wrote to Rasputin, which are published and you can look them up, are highly salacious. She talks about wanting nothing more than to be with him, to lay her head on his shoulder and so on. In addition, Rasputin was a known womanizer.

I therefore believe that it is highly likely that the Czarina did have a sexual relationship with Rasputin. The letters seem to leave no other conclusion.

Sam Sloan

My web site on this is at http://www.samsloan.com/anastasi.htm

Date: Mon, 16 Feb 1998 07:51:14 -0800
From: Jeff & Lisa Davidson ( j.l.davidson@worldnet.att.net )
Reply-To: j.l.davidson@worldnet.att.net
To: Sam Sloan ( sloan@ishipress.com )
CC: Aaron ( Dangit0@aol.com )
Subject: Re: Anastasia: Can somebody help me answer these questions?
X-Rcpt-To: sloan@ishipress.com

Dear Sam:

We will (I hope) respectfully disagree on the conclusion that Alexandra had any affairs at all. To wit:

1. Rasputin was neither mad nor a monk. He was a starets, a wandering peasant, one of many, who the upper classes considered to be closer to God than they were. So, he never took monastic vows, and in the opinion of many, certainly not mad.

2. There were RUMORS of affairs with both Alexandra and her friend Anna Virubova. So virulent were these rumors that an exam was done on the later in 1917. Its conclusion: she was a virgin! It was impossible to do a similar exam on the Tsarina, a mother of 5. However, if you read her other letters, you will discover she was very flowery in her writing, describing a similar level of "passion" for others with whom no affairs were rumored. Her letters to the Tsar were something else entirely! Some make me BLUSH! It is quite evident from them that they had a powerful love and sexual connection - and no room was left for philandering by either - for 24 years.

3. The reason for the rumors is rather simple. The Tsar and Tsarina would permit no acknowledgment that their heir had hemophilia. While the doctors would wring their hands, Rasputin, a peasant healer, could actually ease their son's suffering, allowing him to rest and heal. He did this through prayer - there was no magic about it. I actually discovered that Rasputin is part of a whole folk peasant healing tradition in Siberia - he was not unique. But, since no one knew the Tsarevich was ill, no one understood why Alexandra, Nicholas, or their children spent time with Rasputin. So they put 2 and 2 together and got 10.

4. The Tsar was aware of Rasputin's debauchery, but all reported that R was one person (a holy man) with the Imperial Family and a libertine while away from them. In this, he clearly betrayed them and himself. It is illogical to assume because Rasputin was indiscriminate in his sleeping partners that all who encountered him were also. This was the reverse in the case of Alexandra and her daughters, who were also inaccurately portrayed as his lovers.

5. While the Imperial Court is no more, many of the emotions which it encompassed remain. Parents can understand the desperation of other parents who seek help anywhere for their ill children. Passionately in love married couples can understand the depth of the love that Nicholas and Alexandra had for one another - and how it excludes others as lovers.

And victims of incorrect gossip can understand how it can destroy lives -the ugly side of our society's passion for "dirt".

Please read Nicholas and Alexandra by Massie - he deals skillfully with the issues you have raised. Unfortunately Illidor did not know the whole story - and we may never know the entire story - but rumor and innuendo are a poor way to record history, IMHO.

Lisa Davidson

Date: Mon, 16 Feb 1998 13:02:44 -0800
To: Sam Sloan ( sloan@ishipress.com )
Subject: Re: Anastasia
X-Rcpt-To: sloan@ishipress.com

I greatly appreciate your history lesson. It has been extremely fascinating. I never expected the depth to the answers you provided and am honored by your attention to detail. What I was lacking was a context for the bits and pieces of information I knew about, far too little I am afraid. Now, I have a more complete framework to understand the issues in which I was interested. No doubt, I am the perfect example of why so many uninformed people wanted to believe in Anna. There was a part of me that wanted to find something incorrect about the conclusions so a glimmer of hope could remain (heightened, I am sure, by having seen the movie Anastasia so recently - I liked their version of the story better). Having a better understanding of the full truth makes it impossible to believe anything other than Anna was not Anastasia.

I am curious about one thing. From all of the information you have gathered and assimilated, what do you believe happened to Anastasia? and why do you think rumors of her escape ever surfaced in the first place? Do you think it is just a natural inclination that we humans have to try and cling to some form of hope in the face of tragedy and grief? A denial of sorts? I guess I am rather curious, because of the insatiable need for answers so many people have regarding Amelia Earhardt, J.F.K., etc. There is always a sense of being railroaded by the officials in charge of the investigation that their findings aren't completely accept, but rather, questioned.

...anyway, thank you again for all of your wonderful information!

What I would like to know myself is: Why are there so many rumors that Anastasia escaped, but nobody has ever suggested that possibly the other three sisters or the little boy might have escaped?

I believe that Anastasia was shot with the others in the basement. There is really no way that she could have survived without being known about, unless she died of some other cause soon after that. She was undoubtedly one of the most famous people in the world. Where could she have hidden?

In 1995, I read a novel based on the theory that Anastasia and her brother escaped from St. Petersberg on a small boat across the Baltic Sea. The brother dies on the way and Anastasia spends her life in a small hamlet in the countryside in England with money secretly provided her by the her cousins, the British Royal Family.

This is just one of a thousand theories. I have been reading and hearing about Anastasia since I was a little boy. Everything I wrote is old news to me, even though many who are seeing the movie are hearing about it for the first time.

Sam Sloan

Marlene A Koenig ( 74642.2160@CompuServe.COM ) wrote:

You need to brush up on your history -- Alexandra was a German princess but so were most of the wives of the Grand Dukes - and her being German had little to do with the Revolution -- moreover, a good number of Romanovs survived -and all the ROMANOVS who survived had dynastic rights - and Grand Duke Kirill, fourth in line, before the revolution, became the heir -- incidentally, the photos in the book were based on real photos - and there is a sketch that Anastasia drew of her grandmother that appears in the animated film - this sketch was real -----

Marlene A Koenig and author of Queen Victoria's Descendants, published by Rosvall Royal Books Publisher of Royal Book News, the only newsletter for and about Royal Books

"Torkel Kvaal" ( tnkvaa@online.no ) wrote:

Actually, 35 of the 53 Romanovs living in Russia when the Emperor abdicated in March 1917 survived. They all escaped by various methods between 1917 and 1920.

In addition to these, there were also a number of quasi-Romanovs resulting from morganatic marriages of various male members of the family, and eight full-fledged Romanovs living abroad when the war broke out.

Of less known German wives of Grand Dukes, we have e.g. Grand Duchess Elizabeth Marikievna (Princess of Saxe-Altenburg), widow of G. D. Constantine Constantinovich; and Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna (Duchess of Mecklenburg), widow of the Emperors uncle G. D. Vladimir Alexandrovich.

boba@pallasweb.com wrote:


No repeatable commentator or author agrees with your conclusion. Even Soviet writers knew these rumors were untrue. For whatever anyone may throw at Alexandra she was a completely loyal wife and devoted mother. Her worst enemies agree on these points.

The tabloid papers of the time also wrote that ALL of the Grand Duchesses were intimate with Rasputin along with Anna Vyrubova. After the revolution, Anna was examined medically by a Government commission and found to be a virgin. People were dumbfounded at the results because the vast majority of the public had been convinced the tabloid stories and rumors of sexual affairs between Rasputin and Anna were absolutely true.

These letters of Illidor may be genuine, they may also be fakes. They were copies. Faked photographs of Alexandra with her daughters and Rasputin having tea also appeared in the press at the same time. These absurd pictures still show up in modern books as genuine photos!

If you make a study of most scholars say on the subject of these 'purloined' letters (for which the originals were never found) you will see that the consensus is that the flowery language is consistent with the exuberant, estatic language of the Empress and her time but had no overt sexual aspect to it. After all, Illidor also had letters supposed to come from the Grand Duchesses with similar language to Rasputin. I don't suppose you really think Rasputin and the 11 year old Anastasia were having an affair, too?

The story of Rasputin's influence on the Imperial family and their attitude toward him is extremely complex and cannot easily be characterized. It is full of many conflicting aspects and is difficult to explain when most people want simple answers.

An interesting comparison of a similar situation of Royal wives under attack by using false sexual stories are the spurious books written about Marie Antoinette in the 1780's - 1790's. These books contained the most outlandish stories (with pictures) of sexual outrages supposedly committed by the Queen with men, women and animals. They were untrue, but the public believed them and the falsely created rumors have stuck with her ever since. Even though she never said it, today 99% of the public think she said "Let them eat cake" when the poor of Paris matched on Versailles asking for bread. She never said it, but the tabloid press reported it and the expression is indelibly linked to this tragic woman. Tabloid journalism works.

There have been some interesting books written on the subject of how the traditional male-dominated patriarchal societies habitually depict powerful women as either madonnas or whores. The press (male dominated as well) in such societies reflects this outlook. Wives of men in power who stay home, take care of the kids, remain silent subservient and focus on church and kitchen are 'good'. On the other hand, women who stray - or are perceived as straying - into roles of dominating men or entering into traditional male power positions - are seen as sexually perverse, unnatural and having uncontrollable hungers or desires.

You can see this in our country today. Barbara Bush, Lady Bird and Jackie Kennedy were good; they redecorated their homes, made cookies and grew roses. Nancy Reagan, Rosalyn Carter, and Hilliary Clinton were bad; they gave advice, spoke up and expressed their opinions.

Bob Atchison

Jeff & Lisa Davidson ( j.l.davidson@worldnet.att.net ) wrote:


Bravo! I could not believe this old dirt being resurrected about Alexandra and Rasputin, and you have brilliantly framed this against contemporary views of women.


I am sure there will be more to come, so I will continue to add to this as the letters come in.

Sam Sloan

Here are links:

Contact address - please send e-mail to the following address: Sloan@ishipress.com