Researched and Written by: Meghan Maiya, MA

Anna and Sergei

Rachmaninoff offers to pay for Anastasia’s trip to America

Gleb Botkin wrote an article in the Herald-Tribune to try to help Anastasia’s cause in America. It backfired, but there was one unexpectedly pleasant consequence, Rachmaninoff called:

One evening I was surprised by a telephone call from the famous Russian composer and pianist, Sergei Vasilyievich Rachmaninoff.

I had never known Mr. Rachmaninoff personally, but since my arrival in New York had heard a great deal about him. One of the very few Russians whom the Revolution had deprived neither of his position nor his wealth, he had become a sort of legendary figure. But while Americans are inclined to reward success with exaggerated, and often quite undeserved respect, Russians have, on the contrary, the tendency of envying, and in consequence disliking, successful men.

Also, I had never heard any Russian say a real kind word about Rachmaninoff. He was said to be fabulously rich and earning from three to four hundred thousand dollars in a single season, yet refusing to help any of his unfortunate compatriots. I had even been told that Mr. Rachmaninoff was a rabid socialist and took delight in insulting the now impoverished aristocrats and monarchs.

I suspected that like most Russian stories these denunciations of Rachmaninoff were exaggerated, but the assertion that he was a socialist was quite credible. Indeed, one of his best friends, the equally famous Chaliapin, was an avowed Bolshevik; and, in general, a vast majority of Russian artists, writers, and musicians had always been noted for their revolutionary tendencies.

I therefore greatly surprised by Mr. Rachmaninoff’s telephone call, and my surprise increased when he told me that he had been deeply stirred by my article in the Herald-Tribune and wondered whether I could come to his apartment for dinner.

Needless to say, I accepted the invitation, and it was Mr. Rachmaninoff himself who opened the door for me. “A strange sensation it was to have the door opened by the cover of the Prelude C sharp minor, suddenly come to life.”

A few minutes’ conversation sufficed to convince me that all the stories about Mr. Rachmaninoff were pure fabrications. He proved a kindly, benevolent man, very conservative in his political views, and altogether much more reminiscent of an old-time Russian bureaucrat than of the proverbial wild-eyed musical genius.

“Why have you never approached me on the case of Mrs. Tschaikovsky?” he asked me in a gently reproachful manner. “I shall be very frank with you and tell you right now that I am by no means convinced that she is actually Grand Duchess Anastasia. Hers seems to be one of those stories which are too fantastic to be believed yet require even more fantastic explanations to be disbelieved. But I am convinced that she is no deliberate imposter, and I am further convinced that you are quite sincere in your belief in her. I want to be of help.”

“Whosoever she is,” Mr. Rachmaninoff added, “there can be little doubt that she is innocent victim of some dreadful intrigue and has suffered more than it seems possible for any human being to suffer. We have to help her.”

I then began to regret that I had not approached the Rachmaninoff’s from the beginning, but as I explained to them presently, I had had not the slightest reason for doing so.

We spend the whole evening discussing the Grand Duchess’s experiences and present circumstances, and finally, Mr. Rachmaninoff said:

“I am willing to pay for Anastasia’s trip to this country right now. But as long as Xenia promises definitely to bring her over in January, I think it will be better to wait until then. Aside from anything else, if Ms. Tschaikovsky is indeed Anastasia, it will be much better for her to be brought to this country by her own cousin. One thing I can do is to get in touch with Xenia and offer her my help. That may stir her up.”

And so he did; and indeed Xenia’s attitude seemed to have changed once more and she started with the preparations for Anastasia’s journey in good earnest.

Gleb Yevgenyevich Botkin (30 July 1900 – 15 December 1969) was the youngest son of Dr. Yevgeny Botkin, the court physician who was murdered at Yekaterinburg by the Bolsheviks with Tsar Nicholas II and his family on 17 July 1918.


Anastasia arrived in New York Harbor on the Berengaria in early February 1928. There were at least 2 dozen reporters awaiting on the East Thirteenth Street pier. However, a dense fog over the bay had already held up the liner from docking for several hours and now seemed likely to delay it overnight. Gleb Botkin and the press corps boarded a Coast Guard cutter and went out themselves to welcome Anastasia to the United States. While Gleb Botkin prepared her for the ordeal, the newsmen lounged outside the door of Cabin 419 and tried to piece together what they knew of Anastasia’s story. The rumors were that she had come to New York to have the ‘bayonet scars’ removed from her face. Someone had heard that she was hoping to break into films. Everyone wondered in the meantime why her hostess, Princess Xenia, had not come down to meet the boat, but rather had left Gleb Botkin with authorization to act on her behalf. What was going on here?1

All day and into the early evening the reporters kept their vigil. One go-getter planted himself outside the ladies’ lavatory on D-Deck, taking pictures of every woman who went in and out.  He explained that even a Grand Duchess had to go to the bathroom sooner or later and was crushed to learn that Anastasia had a private toilet in her cabin. Several times in the course of the long afternoon, Gleb announced that ‘Her Imperial Highness’ absolutely would not consent to an interview. Towards evening Agnes Gallagher appeared to make a statement: ‘I am sorry, but Madame cannot and will not see anyone. Neither now nor ever, tonight, tomorrow, will she speak with anyone of the press… She will not talk, and there is no need of any of you remaining, for under no circumstances will any of you be allowed to speak with her.’  Gloomily, the reporters sailed back to Manhattan, leaving stewards to guard Anastasia’s door through the night ‘as stoutly as could a company of palace guards’.1

Nothing so equivocal as silence could stand in the way of the press and its story.  The next morning every paper in New York carried a front-page feature on Anastasia’s arrival: ‘“Lost Daughter” of Tsar Hides on Ship in Bay’; ‘Legendary “Duchess” Lands’ – the press had a holiday. ‘She comes surrounded,’ said the Herald Tribune in an editorial, ‘like the exploits of Colonel T. E. Lawrence – with the full publicity of a complete reticence… She granted no interviews, but locked herself in her cabin, preserving an impenetrable manner that divided between regal hauteur and utter indifference to openly expressed skepticism.’ But her purchases in Paris had been disappointingly ‘meagre, and of uncostly nature’, not at all the kind of thing one expected of a Grand Duchess. Only three times during the voyage, the reporters found out, had Anastasia appeared on deck. Twice she attended movie showings. No one on board had had any idea who she was.1

February 9, 1928

9 February 1928 dawned clear and bright and the Berengaria at last managed to dock. The reporters had come back in full force: more than 50 returned in the company of Charles Foley, an American friend who was also the personal manager of Serge Rachmaninoff. The reporters went mad with excitement when they discovered (or rather assumed) that the great Rachmaninoff had ‘endorsed the woman’s claim’ and helped provide the funds required to bring her over from Germany.

‘Mr. Botkin and Mr. Foley were flying about,’ wrote the correspondent for the Evening Post, ‘seeing customs officials and darting into the stateroom…And then it became apparent that this passenger was to be accorded special privileges’. Considerately, the doctor whose job it was to examine aliens on arrival had agreed to descend in person to Anastasia’s cabin with a uniformed immigration officer. She took this concession as deference, only nodding silently to Agnes Gallagher when the questions began. Within two minutes the procedure had been completed, and the doctor was able to assure the reporters outside: ‘Ya, she’s all right.’ 1

‘Sure,’ said his companion, ‘she’s jake.’ 1

By now the Berengaria had been emptied of its passengers; only Anastasia and her retinue still remained on board. Preceded by the stern Miss Gallagher, who carried one of her bags, and flanked by Gleb and Foley, she now stepped briskly from her door.

‘Here she comes!’ someone cried.1

‘Bang went the flashlights,’ wrote the Evening Journal’s man, ‘and down the narrow corridor came the party… In the very center, protected on all sides, was a small woman. Only her eyes and nose were visible.’ For a moment everybody paused to stare at Anastasia in her black fur and her brown felt hat, which she had pulled down tightly over her brow. Someone ventured later that she cut a ‘really a pathetic figure’ as she stood quivering in the middle of the hall. Then the flashes went off again and the reporters began shouting: 1

‘What kind of trip did you have?’
‘Tells us who you are!’
‘Where are you going?’
‘Are you the Grand Duchess or an imposter?’

‘For a brief moment Madame Tschaikovsky seemed to smile, timidly,’ one of the reporters observed (this is the name Anna Anderson went by at this time, Anastasia Tschaikovsky – it was provided for her to use on her passport/travel documents. She began calling herself Anna Tschaikovsky, (choosing “Anna” as a short form of “Anastasia”). ‘She lowered her fur piece, just enough so that one could catch a glimpse of her mouth. Her cheeks were very pale, and she looked frightened … Members of the party patted the young woman’s shoulder and whispered to her.” Now, as Anastasia rushed down the gangplank and along the docks to the freight elevator the reporters surged forward. ‘Keep them off!’ Foley cried. He began to swing at them wildly, knocking to the ground two or three who came too close. ‘I’m a witness! I’m a witness!’ one of the injured yelled. Next to the elevator was a circular staircase. Down it Anastasia went, practically flying off the docks to a waiting Buick sedan. ‘Show us your face!’ somebody shouted for the last time and then Anastasia and company sped off into the city. In the back seat of the Buick, Gleb handed Anastasia a bunch of wilted flowers, ‘Are you glad to be here!’ he asked. 1

I don’t know. Tell me, do you really like this country!’ 


Rachmaninoff had sent his manager, Mr. Foley to go onboard and help Mr. Botkin with any difficulties with the Immigration Authorities. At one point, Mr. Foley was summoned to help. Mr. Foley said, “By the way, do not worry about her admission. Mr. Rachmaninoff has authorized me to deposit whatever bond may be required, should any trouble arise.” He left and returned later with an Immigration Inspector. The officer took Anastasia’s papers and proceeded to question and answer for her as follows:5

“Your name is Mrs. Anastasia Tschaikovsky? Yes, it is. You came to this county as a tourist, for a six months’ stay? Yes, you did. Your papers are in order? So they are. You are a guest of Mrs. William B. Leeds (Princess Xenia) of Oyster Bay? That’s right. Admitted!”5

He stamped her certificate and she had not uttered a word!

The doctor arrived right then, and the inspector said to him, “It’s all right, Doctor. Her health is perfect. I have already admitted her” as he pushed the doctor out of the room.

“What was all this?” the Anastasia asked Botkin and Foley. “It was the questioning I have been warning Your Imperial Highness about,” Botkin laughed. “Oh that was very nice.” She said.

Botkin then asked Foley what miracle he had performed. To which he said with a happy smile, “I’ve done exactly nothing. You don’t imagine that one could bribe those men? I simply told him who the lad was. He said that he had read about her and deeply sympathized with her. The only miracle involved is that there are such extremely decent people in


Anna was taken to a Park Avenue townhouse of Annie Burr Jennings to stay. She was an elderly, wealthy daughter of a director of the original Standard Oil Trust, what had agreed to take care of Anna until Princess Xenia returned from the West Indies.  The press were told she was going to stay at Hetty Richard’s house in Lawrence, Long Island and they all camped out there for several days, pestering the maids and throwing pebbles at the windows. 1

CONTEXT: There were people all over the world (family and friends) for and against Anna’s claim. Even in the U.S. there were pro-Anna camps and nay-sayers. The press was obsessed.

Not long after her arrival in NY, Anna learned that there had been a death threat on her life. Someone, somehow, had discovered her whereabouts and had telephoned Annie Jennings to warn her of a bomb concealed on the premises. This was only the first of many hoaxes, but it sufficed to convince Anna that she had probably made a terrible mistake in coming to America. NYC had left her totally bewildered. She had never seen anything like it: the mass of concrete, the frantic activity, the grimy subways, and such typically American conveniences as the five-and-dime: ‘I had never been in such a store. It is a store in which everything can be bought for ten cents – and people eat there – you can get lunch for ten cents.’ Nor was Anna prepared for Miss Jennings’s society friends, who gripped her by the hand and nearly broke her fingers while introducing her to their wives as ‘Grand Duchess’. But, to Miss Jennings and her set, Anastasia was a social find of the first rank – this was the Metropolitan Opera crowd, horse-lovers all, philanthropists, prizewinning gardeners, and patrons of the arts – and Anastasia was obliged to meet more of these friendly Americans that she might have wished. 1

Anna spent 3 weeks or so on Park Avenue with Miss Jennings, appearing at dinners, cocktail parties, and afternoon teas while she waited impatiently for Princess Xenia’s return. IT was an exhausting experience for Anastasia, made bearable only by novelty, and when she was not greeting the curious, she remained in bed, wondering what on earth she had gotten herself into. Gleb Botkin come to see her often with his friends – sometimes Russians, sometimes Americans, always inquisitive. She could not begin to keep the names and faces straight, but she did recall the day she was introduced to Sergei Rachmaninoff who sat at her bedside and patted her hand.


Gleb Botkin’s account of Anna and Sergei’s first meeting in 1928

The Grand Duchess’s good mood, in the course of those first days in New York, led me to commit a rather bad blunder. I knew that Mr. Rachmaninoff was very eager to see Anastasia, and I, myself, was equally eager to have him see her. But being, in spite of his fame, as shy as a child, Mr. Rachmaninoff was very much afraid of calling at the house of a complete stranger — Miss Jennings. Even so, I hoped that the matter could be arranged, the more so that Anastasia had been very favorably impressed by Mr. Foley and mentioned several times how grateful she was to him for having been of such help on the day of her arrival.5

But when I asked the Grand Duchess whether she would receive Rachmaninoff himself, she became very much displeased. 5

“Why should I receive him? I do not want to receive him,” she said irritably. 5

Astonished, I began to argue that if she felt grateful to Mr. Foley, she should really feel much more grateful to Mr. Rachmaninoff, for it was at the latter’s request that Mr. Foley had met her on the boat. I also told her that Rachmaninoff would be a most valuable friend to her, and finally that he was a charming and kindly man, sincerely eager to be of help. 5

“Wow can he be such a good man?” Anastasia suddenly flared up, “when he is rich and happy and living in safety abroad, while his Emperor has perished? Where was he with all his goodness when the revolution began? Or did he not consider himself bound by his oath to serve his Emperor faithfully and die for him if necessary?” 5

It was the first time that I saw Anastasia in such a mood. She was no longer “the Little One,” but an indignant and imperious Grand Duchess. To an outsider Anastasia’s attitude towards Rachmaninoff would have appeared preposterous, but to me. It did not I myself had been brought up with the same uncompromising, essentially mystical, conception of a subject’s duty towards his Sovereign which Anastasia now stated. It was characteristic that she spoke of a Russian’s duty not towards herself, or any other member of her family, but only towards her father, the Emperor. For, indeed, it was to the Emperor, and the Emperor alone, that a subject was bound by his oath. Even the Empress and the Heir to the Throne were but subjects of the Emperor. To abandon the Emperor’s family could be regarded as despicable, but not as treasonable. To abandon the Emperor was legally treason.5

But why such outburst precisely against Rachmaninoff, I wondered. Anastasia had never known him. He had always been a free artist. His guilt towards the Emperor, if any, was so much less apparent than that of the thousands of military officers and bureaucrats who constituted the majority of Russian refugees. Yet, had not Anastasia herself talked to me in Sceon of those refugees, with such touching solicitude? 5  

It seemed to me that the answer lay in Anastasia’s own comment on Rachmaninoff as one who was “rich and happy and living in safety abroad,” Most Russians had reached the safety of foreign lands only after years of incredible suffering and misadventures. Their own escapes having been but happy accidents, one could allow them the benefit of the doubt: perhaps they had tried to do something for their Emperor, but failed, or simply had not been in a position to do anything for him. 5  

Moreover, those of them who were obviously guilty of treason had been punished severely by fate itself and now led the lives of miserable outcasts. To Anastasia, who had so evidently inherited her father’s paternalistic attitude towards the Russian people, those wretched refugees were probably like children whose disobedience had automatically inflicted upon them a punishment so great as to change the parental anger to pity and sympathy. 5  

But Rachmaninoff’s case appeared different. He had left Russia without any trouble and now was enjoying greater fame and riches than ever before. It was that latter circumstance which apparently made Anastasia so angry with him. He, in her opinion, had no excuse to offer for his failure to come to his Emperor’s aid, nor had fate punished him in any way for what she regarded as disloyalty to his Emperor. 5  

And I knew that I would never be able to explain to her that men like Rachmaninoff, even if they had to give their oath of allegiance, had done so simply in compliance with a formality which meant nothing to them; that having never been in Government they had not regarded themselves, nor had been regarded by others, as having any special duty towards their Sovereign. To Anastasia an oath was an oath, and a man — be he a chamberlain or a saxophone player — who had sworn his allegiance to the Emperor but done nothing to rescue him from his enemies was guilty of treason. 5  

Even so, I continued to argue with the Grand Duchess until she finally allowed me — without, how- ever, concealing her displeasure — to bring Mr. Rachmaninoff into her presence at a certain day and hour. 5

Delighted, I hurried to Mr. Rachmaninoff, but had to argue with him also, for much as he wanted to see the Grand Duchess, he still felt nervous about going to Miss Jennings’ house. I assured him, however, that Miss Jennings would undoubtedly be only too happy to see him, and he finally let himself become persuaded. 5  

Then everything went wrong. In the entrance hall we were met by Miss Jennings who must have forgotten Rachmaninoff’s proposed visit and, with a gesture characteristic of rich New Yorkers, pointed at him with her finger and asked: “Who is this man?’’ 5

“But, Miss Jennings, this is Mr. Rachmaninoff,” I hastened to explain. 5

But my introduction produced not the slightest effect, possibly for the reason that, thoughtlessly enough, I had pronounced the name “Rachmaninoff” in the Russian, not the American, way. 5

If only — I mused — everybody could observe the Grand Duchess as I was able to observe her. Had she been an impostor her conduct would have been exactly the opposite. She would have been only too eager to impress favorably so important a personage as Rachmaninoff, nor would she have tried to hide from him because he had never known any member of the Emperor’s immediate family and could not have judged of her identity on the basis of her appearance. At the same time, it was of the meeting with Princess Xenia that an impostor would have every reason to be afraid. But to Anastasia Rachmaninoff was a stranger and — as I have already explained — a man who in her eyes had not fulfilled his duly towards her father, the Emperor; hence she did not want to become acquainted with him. But Xenia was her cousin and she was most eager to see her. 5

“As long as you know him it’s all right,” was Miss Jennings’ only comment. 5

I hardly dared to look at poor Rachmaninoff who pressed himself to the wall as if hoping that it would give way and thus permit him to escape. But worse was to come. When I ‘announced Mr. Rachmaninoff to the Grand Duchess she looked at me angrily and said. “Very well Bring him in.” 5

And when I did bring him in, I found that in the intervening minutes Anastasia had lain down on her bed and covered herself up to her nose with blankets. 5

Mr. Rachmaninoff approached her bed, but she looked at him without uttering a word, her eyes full of tears. All three of us froze in utter embarrassment, but I think that I felt worse than anybody else, being wholly responsible for that painful scene. After a few minutes of unendurable silence Rachmaninoff tip toed out of the room. 5

I felt desperate, for I had no more hope of ever again luring Rachmaninoff into the Grand Duchess’s presence. Luckily, however, he accepted the whole incident in a most charitable spirit and there after appeared even more eager to help me than he had been before. The reason for the latter fact might have been that Anastasia’s adherents were constantly being accused of hiding her from prominent Russians, supposedly in the fear that the latter would at once know her to be an impostor. I had at least convinced Mr. Rachmaninoff that, far from hiding the Grand Duchess, I was extremely eager to have her receive the people who wanted to help her. 5

In the meantime Princess Xenia had returned from the West Indies I was of the opinion that the first meeting between Xenia and Anastasia should take place without any witnesses. Such was the isolation in which the Emperor’s family had lived, that even Princess Xenia had known Anastasia but little and, therefore, could not be expected to recognize her at first glance. I thought it very important, therefore, to enable the two cousins to have a heart to heart talk during their first meeting which could well prove decisive in its consequences. 5

Also, being certain that the Princess would recognize Anastasia in the course of her very first talk with her, I wanted to preclude the possibility of any later accusations that the Grand Duchess had been guided by somebody during that talk. But my arguments proved of no avail. Both Xenia and Anastasia felt quite nervous about that first meeting, and each in turn asked me to be present. 5

I arrived at the Jennings’ house a few minutes ahead of Xenia. In contrast with the day of Mr. Rachmaninoff’s visit, I found the Grand Duchess, while undeniably nervous, quite happy at the prospect of seeing at last her cousin. I realized at once that there was luckily not the slightest reason to fear this time that Anastasia would again retire to the sanctum of her bed and cover herself up to her nose with blankets. 5

Anna moves to Oyster Bay on Long Island with Princess Xenia

Anna moved to Oyster bay with Princess Xenia; however, it was short lived. They fought (as what happened with every one of Anastasia’s previous (and future) hosts. During her stay at Oyster Bay, Anastasia dined occasionally with Sergei Rachmaninoff and with Adele Astaire.1

In the summer of 1927, Xenia involved herself in the Anna Anderson/Anastasia Tschaikovsky affair by telephoning Gleb Botkin (son of imperial physician Eugene Botkin, who had been murdered along with the former tsar and his family in 1918) with an invitation for Anna to live as a guest at Kenwood. Xenia explains her hospitality: “I had heard that Botkin was arranging to bring ‘the invalid’ to the United States through a newspaper organization. This bothered me because I had heard so many conflicting stories. It then occurred to me that I should take her myself and avoid all this proposed publicity. For if she were indeed an impostor it would save much unpleasantness for my family, and if she were the real Anastasia it was ghastly to think that nothing was being done for her…. This solution would be simple, so it seemed to me.”7

As children, Xenia and her sister Nina had played frequently with the two youngest daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, Grand Duchesses Maria Nikolaevna and Anastasia Nikolaevna, as well as the youngest child and only boy, Tsarevich Alexei. Through her father, Xenia was Anastasia’s second cousin, once removed and through her mother they were second cousins. Both sisters possessed vivid memories of Anastasia, whom they described as “frightfully temperamental” and “wild and rough”. According to Xenia, Anastasia “cheated at games, kicked, scratched, pulled hair, and generally knew how to make herself obnoxious.” 7

Princess Nina even said, “Anastasia was madly jealous of me because I was taller than she was. As the daughter of the Emperor she thought she ought to tower over everyone.” 7

Xenia was on a cruise with her husband William in the West Indies at the time of Anna’s arrival in New York. She had arranged for Anna to stay with Annie Burr Jennings, a friend of Xenia’s who lived in a Park Avenue townhouse. Upon her return, Xenia sneaked unannounced into Annie Jennings’s crowded salon to observe Anna. After watching Anna offer her hand to Gleb Botkin, Xenia declared that she knew she was watching an equal. She stated, “It was so matter-of-course, so unforced–in no way a theatrical gesture. With it she radiated a natural grandeur and I was impressed on the spot.” 7

Xenia recognized Anna Anderson as the Grand Duchess Anastasia at once, asserting that Anna was herself at all times, never giving the slightest impression of playing a part. The two remained great friends for life even after Anna Anderson had to leave Xenia’s home after quarreling. Prince Christopher of Greece described the stay: 7

“She stayed with my niece, … who showed her the greatest kindness. Then her treatment of the Grand Duchess Xenia, sister of the last Tsar, led to a quarrel with William Leeds, who turned her out of the house.” 7

Botkin reached out to Rachmaninoff and to Miss Jennings to see if they could help the Grand Duchess personally and thus enable her to leave Oyster Bay.


Anna left Oyster Bay and was put up in Garden City

A day or two after the Grand Duchess’s departure from Oyster Bay the Richards offered to support her for a month or six weeks. Botkin was the more surprised and touched because the Richards, like Rachmaninoff, could never become quite convinced that “Mrs. Tschaikovsky” was actually Grand Duchess Anastasia. But they felt that it was impossible to keep Anastasia in the city during the August heat and offered to rent two rooms for her in the Garden City Hotel which was a quiet and comfortable place with a lovely garden and located not far from Botkin’s house in Hempstead. She checked in on August 10th, 1928. -5

The problem was, however, how to preserve the secret of Anastasia’s identity and also obtain for me the permission from the hotel’s management to visit Anastasia in her room.5

“Suppose we make her your sister,” Gus Richard suggested. “And register her under some assumed and inconspicuous name — Mrs. Anderson, let us say.”5

It seemed an excellent idea. Better still, Hetty Richard’s former governess, a delightful French woman, Mme. Schiverée by name, volunteered to stay with Anastasia during the first two or three weeks.5

Anna stayed in Garden City for nearly six months. First at the Garden City Hotel for six weeks paid for by the Richards. Then, Botkin reached out to Rachmaninoff again for help, who was abroad. He instructed his secretary to pay Anastasia’s expenses for as long a time as she might remain without any other source of income. Rachmaninoff rented Anna a small cottage in Garden City. Later that fall 1928, Miss Jennings returned from abroad and not only undertook to pay all of Anastasias expenses, but assured Botkin that she would make the Grand Duchess her only heiress.5


Anna’s Identity

Anna Anderson (16 December 1896 – 12 February 1984) was the best known of several impostors who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia.10

Other names
  • Fräulein Unbekannt
  • Anna Tschaikovsky
  • Anastasia Tschaikovsky
  • Anastasia Manahan

Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the last Tsar and Tsarina of Russia, Nicholas II and Alexandra, was murdered along with her parents and siblings on 17 July 1918 by communist revolutionaries in Yekaterinburg, Russia, but the location of her body was unknown until 2007.10

In 1920, Anderson was institutionalized in a mental hospital after a suicide attempt in Berlin. At first, she went by the name Fräulein Unbekannt (German for Miss Unknown) as she refused to reveal her identity. Later she used the name Tschaikovsky and then Anderson. 10

In March 1922, claims that Anderson was a Russian Grand Duchess first received public attention. Most members of Grand Duchess Anastasia’s family and those who had known her, including court tutor Pierre Gilliard, said Anderson was an impostor but others were convinced she was Anastasia. In 1927, a private investigation funded by the Tsarina’s brother, Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse, identified Anderson as Franziska Schanzkowska, a Polish factory worker with a history of mental illness. After a lawsuit lasting many years, the German courts ruled that Anderson had failed to prove she was Anastasia, but through media coverage, her claim gained notoriety. 10

Between 1922 and 1968, Anderson lived in Germany and the United States with various supporters and in nursing homes and sanatoria, including at least one asylum. She emigrated to the United States in 1968. Shortly before the expiration of her visa she married history professor Jack Manahan, who was later characterized as “probably Charlottesville’s best-loved eccentric”. Upon her death in 1984, Anderson’s body was cremated, and her ashes were buried in the churchyard at Castle Seeon, Germany. 10

After the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union, the locations of the bodies of the Tsar, Tsarina, and all five of their children were revealed. Multiple laboratories in different countries confirmed their identity through DNA testing. DNA tests on a lock of Anderson’s hair and surviving medical samples of her tissue showed that her DNA did not match that of the Romanov remains or that of living relatives of the Romanovs. Instead, Anderson’s mitochondrial DNA matched that of Karl Maucher, a great-nephew of Franziska Schanzkowska. Most scientists, historians and journalists who have discussed the case accept that Anderson and Schanzkowska were the same person. 10


Additional DNA testing in 1994 resulted in an article in The Washington Post, “Anastasia: The Mystery Resolved.”9


However, her identity is still a controversy to some who want to believe Anna Anderson was the Grand Duchess Anastasia. An article appeared in UK’s Daily Mail in March 2014 stating that the DNA testing was faulty. 8



  1. BOOK: Kurth, Peter (2015). Anastasia: Did She Survive? Endeavour Press Ltd. United Kingdom.
  2. Blog:
  3. IMAGE:
  5. BOOK: Botkin, Gleb (1937). The Woman Who Rose Again. Full Online Text:
  6. BOOK : Massie, Robert K. (1995). The Romanovs: The Final Chapter.  Ballantine Books. New York, NY.  Online Full Text Here:
  8. PRESS:
  9. PRESS:
  11. BOOK:  Harrison Max (2007). Rachmaninoff: Life, Works, Recordings.  Continuum Publishing. New York. NY.
  14. ARTICLE:
  15. BOOK: Norris, Geoffrey (1994). Rachmaninoff: The Master Musicians Series. Schirmer Books, New York, NY.