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Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson

by Peter Kurth

I was thirteen when I first saw Anastasia, the Ingrid Bergman film based on the life of Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed to be the only surviving daughter of the Tsar of Russia. Time and research have blurred my memory of the initial experience, but I do recall my mother remarking offhandedly, "You know that's a true story, don't you? Sort of ..." At the time, I didn't know anything at all about the life and mysterious death of the last Romanovs, nor, when I began to read about it, did the question of Anna Anderson's true identity interest me nearly so much as the larger drama of Nicholas and Alexandra, the Rasputin scandal, and the bloody progress of the Bolshevik Revolution. In the first place, I knew that Mrs. Anderson was not the only claimant to the name and title of the Tsar's daughter, that there had been other "Anastasias," would-be Tsarevitches and any number of pseudo-grand duchesses ever since the brutal murder of the Tsar and his family at Ekaterinburg in 1918.

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