Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia was the daughter of Czar Nicholas II, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia. Her mother was Alexandra Fyodorovna. She had three sisters and a brother, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Alexei. Anastasia was born on June 18th, 1901, and the family was part of the Romanov clan, which ruled Russia from 1613 until the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.
After the 1917 Revolution, Nicholas II and his immediate family were placed under house arrest, and moved to Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, Russia. On the night of July 16th, 1918, a squad of Bolshevik Secret Police (Cheka) herded the family and their servants into the cellar on the pretext that they were going to take pictures of them to prove to the world they were still alive. Then, the 10-man squad cold-bloodedly murdered the family and servants with firearms and bayonets. So that the family would not become martyrs, their remains were secretly buried under a parking lot 12 miles north of the city, where they remained hidden until 1991. The next day, the remaining extended family members were hunted down and executed, even those that were nuns.
The Bolsheviks failed to take into account that some of the Romanov women were actually relatives of the German Royal Bloodlines, and the Bolsheviks had just signed a Treaty with Germany. Word got back to Germany of the executions, and the government sent many telegrams to Russia demanding the safety of the German-Blooded Romanovs. Rumors of some of the family surviving were quickly circulated by the Secret Police to hide their political blunder. They told the German government that some of the family had been moved to a safer location, and the furor eventually passed. But the rumors persisted.
In 1919, two young women were taken in by a priest in the Ural Mountains. They claimed to be Anastasia, and Maria. They lived the rest of their lives out peacefully as nuns. They both died in 1964 and were buried as Anastasia and Maria Nikolevna.
Nadezhda Ivanovna Vasilyeva was arrested in 1920, in Siberia, while attempting to cross into China. While imprisoned, she wrote letters to the United Kingdom, claiming to be Anastasia. She continued to profess her Romanov blood until her death in 1971 in an insane asylum.
Another claimant, Eugenia Smith arrived in New York in 1927 with a Yugoslavian passport. She moved to Chicago, and for her entire life, claimed she was Anastasia. Supposedly, she was only unconscious in the cellar, and a ‘sympathetic’ guard, noticing she was alive, spirited her away, and after a long journey, she arrived in the U.S. She even published surprisingly detailed memoirs, that closely matched the diary of the leader of the execution team, Yakov Yurovski. She even passed an extensive Lie Detector test. To further muddy the waters, another Romanov contender showed up claiming to be her brother Alexei. He was a former Polish army officer named Michael Goleniewski. They met, and she was convinced they were brother and sister. In 1995, after the advent of DNA testing, she was asked to provide a sample for testing, but she refused. She died in 1997.
In 1920, a young woman was institutionalized in Germany, after a suicide attempt. At first, she refused to identify herself, but later used the name Tschaikovsky, then later, she said she was Anna Anderson. Then finally, she identified herself as Anastasia. Relatives and other people who had known the real Anastasia were brought in to see her, and they identified her as an imposter. But her claims persisted. In 1927, a private investigator traced her identity to a woman named Franziska Schanzkowska, a polish factory-worker with a history of mental illness. After many years of being in and out of various sanitarium she immigrated to the United States in 1968, and married a Virginia history teacher. She died in 1984, still claiming to be Anastasia. After DNA testing was perfected, a lock of her hair was obtained and tested. DNA proved she was not related to the Romanovs, but her DNA did match that of the Schanzkowska family.
After the fall of Communism in Russia, the Romanov burial site was revealed, and in 1991, forensic investigators positively identified the remains as those of the Romanovs and their servants, and the family doctor. However, two of the expected 11 bodies were not present. The investigators determined that the bodies of Alexei and Anastasia were missing. Russian scientists disagreed, saying it was Marias body that was missing. The bodies remained hidden until discovered in 2007, in a separate burial ground miles away. DNA positively identified all the remains as the Romanovs, and everyone was accounted for.
The truth of the matter is that the entire Romanov family living in Russia in 1918 was executed, and Anastasia died with her family in the cellar of Ipatiev House on July 16th, 1918.