Marc Hoover: Anna Anderson: Was she Anastasia Aleksandrovich or the best con artist in history?

Marc Hoover

Nicholas II (Nikolay Aleksandrovich) was Russia’s final emperor. His reign lasted from 1894-1917. After WWI he fell out of favor with the Russian people over food shortages and a lousy economy. Even in those days politicians took the blame for any economic downturn.

Marc Hoover

Nicholas II was forced to abdicate his throne to the Bolsheviks, who would become Russia’s Communist Party. Yakov Yurovsky, was head of the Bolshevik attachment that imprisoned the former Aleksandrovich royal family which included: Nicholas, his wife Alexandra, daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, son Alexei, and four attendants. The group of eleven was under house arrest in Yekaterinburg. Originally, the family was supposed to be sent to England. But this would never happen.

On July 17, 1918, Yurovsky and his men took the entire royal family and their assistants into the basement and swiftly executed all eleven captives in a hail of gunfire. After the assassination, the bodies were burned and buried in an undisclosed location. As far as the world knew, the former royal family was dead and buried forever.

But was it truly the end of the Aleksandrovich royal family?

In 1920, a disturbed young woman in Berlin, Germany attempted to commit suicide by jumping from a bridge. The woman was placed into a mental institution and refused to speak. For more than a year, her identity remained a mystery. In 1922, the woman said her name was Anna Anderson. She then shocked the world by claiming to be Anastasia Aleksandrovich, the sole surviving daughter of Nicholas II.

The young woman claimed she had survived the Bolshevik gunfire because she had sewn jewels into her clothing which had deflected the bullets. Anderson said she pretended to be dead. Afterward, she claimed a sympathetic soldier helped her escape.

For over six decades, Anderson claimed to be the youngest daughter of Nicholas II. She knew things only the real Anastasia could have known and also resembled her. Even relatives couldn’t tell for sure.

Could Anderson have survived death at the hands of the Bolsheviks? The incident became an international mystery. Many believed Anderson to be Anastasia while others weren’t so sure. Anderson died in 1984 in Virginia. She went to her grave claiming she was Anastasia Aleksandrovich.

Was she Anastasia Aleksandrovich? If not, who was she?

In 1991, remains of the royal family were located near Yekaterinburg.  After an exhumation and a careful DNA analysis, it was ruled that nine of the eleven victims were located. At the time, there was disagreement over which two bodies were missing. According to a journal from Yurovsky, the man who ordered the execution, he claimed two of the bodies were disposed of elsewhere.

In August 2007, a Russian archaeologist located remains of two bodies near Yekaterinburg. Finally, all eleven victims were located meaning no one had survived the July 17, 1918 massacre. DNA proved that Anna Allen was a fraud and had attempted to pull off one of the largest international con jobs.

It was discovered that Anna Allen wasn’t even this woman’s name. Her real name was Franziska Schanzkowska. She was a Polish factory worker. Even after being identified by her brother, Allen claimed she didn’t know him. He left her alone after determining that her life was better as Anastasia Aleksandrovich. Although Allen was a fraud, she fooled people for many decades. For her efforts, she received wealth, free health care, sympathy, and achieved celebrity status. Apparently, some people still believe this strange woman was Anastasia Aleksandrovich. However, DNA proved her a fraud. Even today, this infamous con artist still captures the imagination of the world.

Marc is a grandparent and longtime resident of Clermont County. Visit his author page at He also wrote Just Bite Me: A Guide to Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Walking Nightmares, which is available on