Author Topic: Anastasia and Loneliness - excerpt from "La fausse Anastasia"  (Read 835 times)

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Offline slhouette

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So I wrote a little about this in the thread under Imperial Family called "The Imperial children 'sad,sheltered' life?," but I'll expand here. So it's not as highly quoted as Pierre Gilliard's Thirteen Years, but Gilliard actually did write another memoir with a co-author Konstantin Savich: "La Fausse Anastasie: Histoire D'une Prétendue Grande-Duchesse de Russie." This was a book dedicated to debunking the Anna Anderson controversy with a variety of evidence, including Gilliard's own perspective meeting Anderson.

The vast majority of the book's content focuses on, well, the false Anastasia; however, the introductory chapter includes a bit of Gilliard talking about Anastasia's character as he knew her. The title of this thread references loneliness because there's a specific piece of text that challenges the suggestion that the Grand Duchesses had perfectly fine social lives and were not isolated, deprived, etc. (I'm writing an essay about this now, so you can imagine I was extremely excited to happen upon this text!!)

The text was originally in French but has been translated into English and is available as an Amazon eBook. However, I recommend not buying it; the translator, Edgar Lucidi, writes his own introductory statement to the translation and is not just ahistorical - he uses the book to argue against Anna Anderson, in order to support his own Anastasia pretender - but also makes numerous antisemitic remarks pertaining to the execution of the tsarist family. Besides, aside from the information I'm about to post, the majority of the content can be found in Anna Anderson books such as Peter Kurth's.

Anyways, here is an excerpt of Gilliard's text. I bolded the part referring to Anastasia and loneliness:

Offline slhouette

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Re: Anastasia and Loneliness - excerpt from "La fausse Anastasia"
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2020, 08:57:48 PM »
"I am in the study hall at Tsarskoye-Selo, and I have just finished a lesson with Olga; being alone, I am awaiting the arrival of my second student, Tatiana. The door opens and I see a small girl coming toward me with a big picture book which she lays down with difficulty on the table in front of me, then gives me her hand and tells me in Russian: “I also want to learn French.” Without waiting for my response, she climbs up a chair, sits on her knees, opens her book and placing her tiny index finger on the enormous elephant, asks me: “What is that called in French?” Then it is the turn of the lion, the tiger, etc.; in brief, all the animals of Noah’s Ark, both the blemished and unblemished, marched before my eyes. I join in her game, amused by the imperturbable gravity that she brings to this first lesson, but the door opens again to make way for Tatiana. The little girl, whose finger was fixed on the boa constrictor, abruptly closed her album and jumped to her feet. She extends her small hand to me and tells me in a low voice: “I shall return tomorrow,” as she leaves with her album pressed against her breast.

It was thus that I made the acquaintance of Anastasia, who was then 4½, but needless to say, the lesson was not continued on the following day.

During the months that followed, I saw Anastasia more and more often. When she saw me alone, she would run up to me and recount all the salient events of her life in a language of imagery that was full of sweet and tender Russian sounds. Sometimes she asked my permission to attend one of my lessons for a few minutes. At such times she preferred to sit on the rug and observe a religious silence, for she knew that at the first prank she would be excluded from this study room that then seemed to her to be a forbidden paradise. But this virtuous tendency did not long resist the diabolical temptation to make an exploratory voyage on the table and, most often, the adventure was terminated by a shameful expulsion, accompanied by many tears.

The years passed and in 1910, Anastasia became my student. She was then 8½ and I have rarely met in a girl of that age the desire to learn to such a degree. She had a remarkable auditory memory and made astonishing progress. She easily learned both prose and verse and since she had an excellent pronunciation, she spoke French with perfection. Unfortunately, grammar was never her forte, even in Russian, and it was a real disaster when we came to the agreement of participles. She felt for this unpleasant rule the instinctive terror of a foal forced to leap over a barrier that seems too high for him; I had led her patiently to the obstacle, but she always swerved at the last moment.

In the Autumn of 1913, I was made tutor of the Tsarevich, and so I came to live in the palace. At the same time, I remarked that the great scholastic zeal that Anastasia had was diminishing from month to month, and she was becoming very lazy. My colleagues and I were disheartened because up to that time she had given us great satisfaction. I tried in vain to combat against the extreme nonchalance that she exhibited in class, a nonchalance that bitterly interfered with our lessons and which served no useful purpose; in brief, she remained a lazy student to the end. This, however, did not hinder us from maintaining the best rapport and, as I had known her since she was little, I was always closer to her than to her sisters. Her age gave her an advantage over her younger brother, and she was very involved in life more than her years, just like me. With or without my permission, she used to run through my work study; sometimes, with her cheeks on fire, she appeared all vibrant with indignation and would relate in her comical French all the little events of her life; sometimes it was a great happiness that she wanted to share quickly and which she could not keep to herself an instant longer.

Above all, that which characterized Anastasia was her great natural simplicity. As an infant she had been very mischievous; and being able to quickly assess the foibles of people, she could imitate them with an irresistible comical talent, which she lost as she grew older."

Offline slhouette

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Re: Anastasia and Loneliness - excerpt from "La fausse Anastasia"
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2020, 08:58:54 PM »
"I never observed the least trace of sentimentality in her nor the least trace of melancholic reverie, which afflicted so many young girls at that time. She was the life and soul of the house, and the most morose people would laugh as she approached, for it was impossible to resist her unforeseen witticisms and her perpetual skits. She was very noisy, and sometimes insupportably so. With her, every impression and sensation was expressed immediately, as she was pure life in action. Even at sixteen, she had kept the joyful allure of a wild colt that intoxicated her tutors. In her games, projects, fulfillment of desires, and in everything she did she brought the same fire and ardor—except, alas, in her schoolwork, which, as I have said before, was the cause of numerous scenes. When I told her to grow up, her eyes became immediately black with hate, but her anger left as quickly as it had come, and 15 minutes later all was forgotten as a joyful smile brightened the cheeks that still bore traces of her dried tears. She never bore one a grudge for what she felt was a deserving punishment, but every injustice hurt her deeply and roused her to the depths of her soul. One could easily love this child, despite her faults, possibly because of certain inherent aspects and because she emitted irresistible charm, made up of freshness, enjoyment of life, ingenuousness and simplicity.

But for a few moments I would like to transport you into her little world of Tsarskoye-Selo and point out that which we knew of her. The following is a letter that she wrote to my wife on 4 August 1915, in which she described a chronicle of palatial events:

'Now photos have been taken which I’m sending to you; and to your mother I’m sending photos of you about to take a sip of tea. Here, it’s been raining all the time, it’s horrible! It’s cold and windy with the most hideous possible weather. Yesterday and today I went to Dr. Kostritzki, the dentist, but he didn’t really hurt me much and yet . . . Today I only had one lesson because Mr. Gilliard had to go to town; naturally, I was elated. On Sunday, we went to the baptism of Catherine, the baby daughter of Prince Ioann Constantinovich; she howled from beginning to end; it was horrible. Father and our old Aunt Olga, the Queen of Greece, were the godparents. Yesterday, sweet and dear Aunt Olga [Grand Duchess Olga, the sister of Nicholas II] came to see us, but not for very long, only for three to six hours; she told us many interesting things; she is very sunburned and a little thin. Tatiana Andreevna came not to us but to Streina; Aunt Olga told us that she is very tired. There, I’ve told you all the news. Ah, yes, yesterday Mr. Gilliard and Vladimir Nicolaievich [Dr. Derevenko] showed us some very good interesting luminous slide projections. Lots of hugs and kisses, greetings to your mother, and Best Wishes. Love you, Anastasia'
At the time of this letter of 4 August 1915, Anastasia was 14 years old. What is there more simple and natural than this letter, which distinguishes her from all other young girls, and how can one even suspect in reading it that she is the daughter of the Emperor!

It’s that Anastasia had no one who could recall this conventional type of a Romanesque princess. She was a young girl, sound and in good health, who wanted to enjoy life fully and who had but one regret, that being born a grand duchess she was deprived of that liberty which she envied in simple mortals. It was she herself who, at 11 years of age, pleaded with her mother to place her into an institute where she could have a lot of friends and who, two years later, compelled her to let her devote herself to the theater, a vocation for which she felt an irresistible inclination. "

Offline slhouette

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Re: Anastasia and Loneliness - excerpt from "La fausse Anastasia"
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2020, 08:59:31 PM »
"I have said that I had never observed the least tendency to sentimentality in Anastasia, but she was very attached to people whom she loved, and although she often showed them her affection in a somewhat abrupt fashion, she could also be very endearing at these times. She whom she loved the most in the world besides her parents, brother and sisters was the Grand Duchess Olga, to whom she referred as dear sweet Aunt Olga in her letter. These sentiments were shared by the other grand duchesses who also had a particular predilection for the youngest sister of their father whom they almost saw as a big sister.

Each of her visits to the palace was a feast day; as soon as they saw her, they ran to meet her, surround her and almost smother her with their caresses; but I believe that, of all the four, it was Anastasia who loved her the best, and this love was further reinforced by the feeling she had of being a little more preferred than the others. Is not the loving nature of this young girl of 14 also revealed by all the exquisite tenderness that she showed in the letter that she wrote?

For Anastasia, my wife was a special person, in that being of strong character, she had redressed the wrongs and restored peace in this small world of hers, and to whom ever since infancy, had come to seek protection every time she had considered herself wronged by her elders. She was so happy about this boundless love that she had inspired that she wanted my wife, who was so dear to her, to participate in her life and share her joys and sorrows; then, overcoming her laziness, she quickly took up her pen . . .

The imperial family led a very secluded life, and the Grand Duchesses saw little of their parents; and only the children of the Grand Duke Alexander came frequently to the palace, particularly Princess Irina Alexandrovna who was their only intimate friend. They also had a very real affection for Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovitch and his sister, the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna who had lived for some years in the grand palace of Tsarskoye-Selo, as well as for their two cousins from Pavlovsk, Princesses Tatiana and Vera Constantinovna; nevertheless, in the last few years, the visits to Tsarskoye-Selo became fewer and fewer.

This isolation had the effect of bringing the Grand Duchesses very close to their immediate entourage and to their professors; at least to those who had known them as infants and with those whom they had maintained an exquisite intimate rapport. Miss Schneider was the language teacher of the Empress, to whom she had given her first lessons in Russian while she was but the fiancée of the Tsarevich; and had also played a pre-eminent role in the life of the children. She was a Russian from the Baltic provinces who was fiercely devoted, and as she had a good heart, everyone in the palace loved her.

Among the maids of honor of the Empress, I will cite Princess Obolensky (who served until 1914), Baroness Buxhoeveden, and Countess Hendrikov, all of whom were deeply loved by the children.

Of all the Grand Duchesses, Anastasia was the closest to her professors, namely, her Russian teacher, the elderly P. V. Petrov, whom she dearly loved and on whose knees she loved to climb while she was but a baby; Mr. Conrad, the music teacher (our senior member); and Mr. Gibbes.

My other colleagues were Fr. Vassiliev, Mr. Kleinenberg, Mr.Ivanov and Mr. Tsitovitch who taught religion, German, history and the natural sciences; all these four later entered into our little world of Tsarskoye-Selo.3 During the Revolution, when the Imperial Family was exiled to Siberia and transferred to Tobolsk, Anastasia was already a young girl of 16. She had become quite robust, and was so much in despair that she would have given everything in the world to lose weight and return to her former slender self. For all that, however, she had not lost her mirth and spirit. At Tobolsk, she was, as she had always been at Tsarskoye-Selo, the life of the house. Her sallies made us forget all worries at the time; she had kept her charming joy of life and freshness, and in doing so, she had become the ray of sunlight in our Siberian exile. That is the story of one whom we have known as an infant, little child and young girl, who then had to perish at 17, a victim of the most frightful crime that history has ever known."

Offline slhouette

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Re: Anastasia and Loneliness - excerpt from "La fausse Anastasia"
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2020, 12:02:41 AM »
My takeaway from this passage - specifically related to the question of if OTMA were lonely, felt confined, etc - is that there's a ton we really don't know about OTMA's feeling towards their lifestyle. Their personal correspondences and diaries are written in the style of reporting news/writing down the daily facts/etc - there's lots of statements of having fun playing with officers/their father/etc, that paints a picture of basically endless happiness; but, feeling happy when having fun can coexist with stormier emotions. Their Aunt Olga Alexandrovna writes: "I know there were many things that troubled [Anastasia], she hated the Cossack escort always accompanying their outings and so on, but none of it marred her gaiety." (This is from the Ian Vorres book.) So "gaiety" coexists with many things troubling her; in this case, the extreme security the Imperial Family lived under. This connects with Gilliard stating Anastasia "wanted to enjoy life fully and who had but one regret, that being born a grand duchess she was deprived of that liberty which she envied in simple mortals."

Unfortunately, Gilliard doesn't elaborate on the 1911 and 1913 incidents stated above. However, just the fact that Anastasia asked her mother to put her in public schooling, specifically to have friends, is extremely significant to me. It screams loneliness/confinement. We pretty much know Alexandra's answer was No. I wonder how she responded to her daughter. Did she bring up Anastasia being a GD? Alexandra has done so in the past: in a note to Maria, from context appearing to be about a crush, she pulls the GD card: "I know he likes you as a little sister, and would like to help you not to care too much, because he knows you, a little Grand Duchess, must not care for him so..." (This is from A Lifelong Passion, I don't have the page # written down unfortunately.)

So basically: one has to question the sunshine and roses view of the GD's domestic life. Anastasia was obviously dealing with some heavy stuff - did the other girls go through anything similar? I'm gonna keep digging and see what I find.