Anderson, Anna (1902–1984)

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Anderson, Anna (1902–1984)

Impersonator of Russia's Grand Duchess Anastasia, who maintained until her death that she had survived the execution of the family of the last tsar. Name variations: mistakenly, Anastasia; allegedly, Franziska Schanzkowskia; Anna Anderson Manahan. Born in 1902; died in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1984; married John E. "Jack" Manahan (a retired university lecturer who backed her case for a decade); identity probably that of Franziska Schanzkowskia, the daughter of Polish peasants.

Two years after the murder of Russia's royal family, a one-time Polish factory worker was rescued from a suicide attempt in a Berlin canal and brought to a German mental hospital. At first, she refused to give her name. After learning of the rumor that 17-year-old Anastasia, youngest daughter of Russia's Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna , had escaped the execution of her family in July 1918, the patient began to call herself Anna Anderson and declared she was the surviving grand duchess. She would hold to this claim for the rest of her life.

The possibility was kept alive because the bodies of only three of the tsar's four daughters were ever identified among those found in the royal family's mass grave, and many Russian exiles continued to believe her. In 1970, a high court in Germany refused to acknowledge any validity to Anna Anderson's claim, and she died in 1984. In September 1994, scientists used DNA tests to compare her remains with those from the family of Anastasia and confirmed that Anderson was an impostor. Said exiled Russian prince Nicholas Romanov: "I am certain at the end of her life she believed in her own story, and in a confused way she forgot her own life. But history is brutally effective in its solutions, and brutally simple."

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Anderson, Anna (1902–1984)

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