Author Topic: What if Anastasia survived . . . ?  (Read 8159 times)

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Offline Tsarfan

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What if Anastasia survived . . . ?
« on: July 03, 2006, 09:01:14 AM »
This is not a thread for discussing whether Anna Anderson (or anyone else) was really Anastasia.  Rather, it is meant for a discussion about whether it would have made any real difference in the course of later events if she (or any of the children) did survive.
 
If I look at the fates of people who were incontestably close relatives of the last tsar, they fared rather poorly as a lot.  Other than the Dowager Empress, most of them went their separate ways and forged whatever lives they could.  Of those who did not trade on their names to marry heirs and heiresses, Xenia had perhaps the best of it, living in a grace-and-favor house on the charity of the British Royal family, who paraded around in jewels once owned by the Romanovs.  Marie Pavlovna the Younger had to work for a living, retrieving material from storerooms where she stumbled upon extra bolts of fabrics that once graced her family's apartments at the Catherine Palace.  One Grand Duke (whose name escapes me) was reported to be a chauffeur in Paris.  And Olga Alexandrovna, the last and closest surviving relative of the last tsar, died in poverty over a barbershop, cared for by neither friend nor family.
 
The Romanovs as a ruling clan were not highly regarded -- inside or outside of Russia -- in the years immediately preceding and following the revolution.  Most of the wealthy people who took an interest in their fates viewed it as an opportunity to pick off the spoils of imperial wealth -- Marjorie Post, Armand Hammer, Malcolm Forbes, even Queen Mary.  Other than to a few snobs who were desperate to acquire a royal pedigree (even a deposed one), the Romanovs were mostly curiosities on the world scene, relished as much for the collapse of their fortunes as for anything else.
 
By those standards, Anna Anderson's fate of having an eccentric but affluent professor jump to her bark right up to the end was really not too bad.  In fact, I can find nothing in the treatment accorded other members of the tsar's family to indicate she could have expected any better.
 
If she wanted international attention, she got more than either Xenia or Olga.  If she wanted physical and financial security, she got more than Olga and many others.  If she wanted to be recognized as who she said she was, she fared well enough in having some people recognize her, given the difficult case she presented to her supporters.

If it had been incontestably proven that Anna Anderson was Anastasia, what difference would it have made to the course of subsequent history?

Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: What if Anastasia survived . . . ?
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2006, 12:49:02 PM »
If the children and Alix had survived --- I am assuming that Nicholas II would not have been allowed to live after the Bolsheviks seized power --- I can't see that it would have made much of a difference. Alexei's longterm survival was questionable, although I suppose that if he had lived long enough to marry and father a boy (a la Waldemar of Prussia or Leopold of England), the succession would be unquestioned. But the girls present the same problems that Olga and Xenia Alexandrovna did (as surviving daughters of Alexander III). No chance for inheritance, either for them or their children.

For example, more people in Germany wanted the Hohenzollerns back after WWI than Russians probably cared to return to an imperial system. But even if there had been a majority of monarchists in Russia, they were killed by the Soviets during the 20s and 30s (as the monarchist movement was derailed in Germany by the Nazis; poor Auwi, plaintively hoping that his ship would come in under Hitler). Is there another successful monarchic restoration aside from Spain? And Juan Carlos had to play ball with Franco --- I can't see a self-respecting member of the Romanov dynasty doing the same thing with the Soviets. It may be yet that the Orthodox Church will foster a return to some kind of constitutional monarchy, but I doubt it.

In the end, a survivor might have been important only to the members of the family, and the allure of the Romaovs would have been a bit diminished by this. The Hohenzollerns survived, and aside from folk like us who haunt boards like this, how many people know the name of the current pretender to the imperial throne of Germany? Oddly enough, the possibility of Anastasia's survival probably kept the Romanov Dynasty on the front burner for most of the 20th century.

I think it is the romance and tragedy of the survivor story that keeps people interested, not the political significance.
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Offline Ortino

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Re: What if Anastasia survived . . . ?
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2006, 06:24:27 PM »
Quote
(a la Waldemar of Prussia or Leopold of England)

I'm surprised you mentioned Waldemar as none of Vicky's children had hemophilia. Waldemar died of diphtheria. It is possible I suppose that Alexei could still have died from common childhood illnesses, but I don't think it was likely in his case.

As much I regret it, death was probably the only real political solution in this case. I believe that they were too great a political pawn to just be allowed to settle somewhere and live out the rest of their lives. Even the survival of Alexei would be a major political question, for he would once again be heir to the Russian throne and thereby a powerfully encouraging symbol for the Whites. As Tsarfan mentioned, the Romanovs were not a highly regarded ruling family and it is probable that other monarchs would have faced upheavals in their own countries if they had granted them asylum, even in Germany, where Kaiser Wilhelm wanted them to live. Frankly, if they survived, I believe that they would have had no choice but to remain in Russia, moved around to keep them out of the hands of the Whites and the account of their whereabouts kept highly obscured.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Ortino »

David_Pritchard

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Re: What if Anastasia survived . . . ?
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2006, 06:47:25 PM »
Quote
For example, more people in Germany wanted the Hohenzollerns back after WWI than Russians probably cared to return to an imperial system. But even if there had been a majority of monarchists in Russia, they were killed by the Soviets during the 20s and 30s (as the monarchist movement was derailed in Germany by the Nazis; poor Auwi, plaintively hoping that his ship would come in under Hitler).

Hitler did want Kaiser Wilhelm to return to Germany from the Netherlands but of course not in any capacity that would detract from his own power. Hermann Göring visited Haus Doorn with Hitler's offer and was thrown out by the infuriated emperor who had no interest in being used as Nazi propaganda.

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Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: What if Anastasia survived . . . ?
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2006, 10:26:17 PM »
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(a la Waldemar of Prussia or Leopold of England)

I'm surprised you mentioned Waldemar as none of Vicky's children had hemophilia. Waldemar died of diphtheria. It is possible I suppose that Alexei could still have died from common childhood illnesses, but I don't think it was likely in his case.

As much I regret it, death was probably the only real political solution in this case. I believe that they were too great a political pawn to just be allowed to settle somewhere and live out the rest of their lives. Even the survival of Alexei would be a major political question, for he would once again be heir to the Russian throne and thereby a powerfully encouraging symbol for the Whites. As Tsarfan mentioned, the Romanovs were not a highly regarded ruling family and it is probable that other monarchs would have faced upheavals in their own countries if they had granted them asylum, even in Germany, where Kaiser Wilhelm wanted them to live. Frankly, if they survived, I believe that they would have had no choice but to remain in Russia, moved around to keep them out of the hands of the Whites and the account of their whereabouts kept highly obscured.


I actually meant Waldemar of Prussia, son of Prince Henry and Irene, Alix's sister. I think he survived until his mid-50s, although always in precarious health.

And I think that all of them save Nicholas --- and possibly Alexei --- would have been safe from Soviet assassins. Assuming that they escaped from the hands of the Bolsheviks in the first place, were any of the other Romanov survivors assassinated?

I have always found it difficult to believe that Anna Andersen AS Anastasia was a perceived threat, since she died of old age. That's just a sidebar, since Andersen isn't the thread topic, but I think it is indicative of how much danger one of OTMA would have been in, i.e. none.
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Offline Ortino

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Re: What if Anastasia survived . . . ?
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2006, 12:49:43 AM »
Ah, that's makes much more sense. I've just finished reading a biography on Vicky so her Waldemar was my first response. Both were of Prussia, adding to my confusion. Yes, he survived until his mid-50's.

I haven't heard of anyone being pursued and murdered outside of Russia, but I imagine that it wouldn't have been terribly difficult for Cheka agents to seek them out. I don't think it was necessary for the Russian government to do so after murdering the Tsar, his family, and Michael, the most immediate rulers to the Russian throne. Also, assassinating Romanov family members on foreign soil would have caused a stir and perhaps discredited the Russian government, a destructive move towards acceptance by Europe.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2009, 08:09:48 AM by Alixz »

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: What if Anastasia survived . . . ?
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2006, 05:50:45 AM »
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I haven't heard of anyone being pursued and murdered outside of Russia, but I imagine that it wouldn't have been terribly difficult for Cheka agents to seek them out. I don't think it was necessary for the Russian government to do so after murdering the Tsar, his family, and Michael, the most immediate rulers to the Russian throne. Also, assassinating Romanov family members on foreign soil would have caused a stir and perhaps discredited the Russian government, a destructive move towards acceptance by Europe.

The Soviets were quite capable of carrying out assassinations on foreign soil if they perceived someone to be a threat.  Remember Trotsky.  The fact that the emigrated Romanovs were left alone is, I think, the ultimate indicator of how politically irrelevant they were thought to be.

We tend today to look at the pre-Cold War Soviets through the lens of Stalin and what became widely known of him after his death.  In the years immediately after the Bolshevik revolution -- when Romanov rule was an immediate memory -- the soviets carried the better reputation throughout Europe.  Supportive movements burgeoned throughout western Europe and the U.S., in stark contrast to the complete absence of any notable sympathy for a Romanov restoration.  (The British film Another Country provides an insightful portrayal of the conflicts between the old and new world orders as perceived at the time, at least by the intelligentsia of western Europe.)

Even if there had been a serious movement toward restoration, there would have been a need for a strong and adroit personality to re-establish monarchical rule over the dire situation in Russia.  Nothing about Anna Anderson presented the prospect of such a person.  As for the other children one might imagine to have survived . . . they were barely known to most of their own relatives.  On what basis would one have made a bet that one or the other of them could have carried the burden of a Romanov restoration?

Anna Anderson was a media curiosity all her life who was passed from pillar to post even among her supporters.  Had she been incontestably proven to be Anastasia, her fate would have been little different.  A royal pretender is a toy that bores all but a few people rather quickly but one that is very expensive to keep shiny.

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: What if Anastasia survived . . . ?
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2006, 10:15:10 PM »
Actually, there was a period where, in the US, the Bolsheviks were getting a lot of bad press. I've been collecting magazines from this period lately and as I've been researching them, there are a lot of articles about the evils of Bolshevism and Bolshevism's victims. I was surprised as I thought the Soviets enjoyed pretty uniform favorable press at this period. The US tour that Ducky undertook in the early 1920s garnered a lot of press attention, though I don't remember how it played out financially. I think this was when she made a lot of US contacts amongst those with wealth, like Henry Ford, who saw that perhaps backing the Romanov claimant, Kyril, could prove handy in the long run. There's some more about this tour in Who Financed Hitler but I haven't read it in a long time.

As for if Anastasia survived, I wonder if it would've worsened the succession question? Would the lure of a descendant of NII, even a female one, have splintered the movement? It was shown by the support given to Nikolasha that people were willing to go outside the direct succession--would this have extended to a female?
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: What if Anastasia survived . . . ?
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2006, 03:58:11 AM »
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Actually, there was a period where, in the US, the Bolsheviks were getting a lot of bad press. I've been collecting magazines from this period lately and as I've been researching them, there are a lot of articles about the evils of Bolshevism and Bolshevism's victims. I was surprised as I thought the Soviets enjoyed pretty uniform favorable press at this period.

That's true and is a more balanced picture than I implied.  During the 1920's and early 1930's, there was a burgeoning of interest in both western Europe and the U.S. in socialism as the answer -- or part of the answer -- to the problems unbridled capitalism was thought to have created.  But that very explosion of interest in socialism produced a conservative reaction that had its own numerous and influential proponents.  While it was an era of tent cities on the Washington Mall that were feared to be a crucible of socialist revolution, it was also the era in which the Ku Klux Klan peaked both in membership and political capital.

But I think the larger point is that, while there were upswells of support for various answers to the world's growing problems, support for a Romanov restoration never took serious hold anywhere but among a few extremists.  Henry Ford, for instance, emerged in this period as a rabid anti-semite who became viewed by many as a political crackpot.  In fact, he followed in the steps of the tsar's interior ministry in financing vitriolic anti-semitic propaganda.

Had Anastasia been proven to have survived, it might have worsened the succession question . . . but that was a real question only among relatively few people.  I think the appeal of Nikolasha to this group was his political maturity and experience -- neither of which Anastasia would have had.

Promoting Anastasia would have meant that bloodlines -- and bloodlines alone -- were the ultimate arbiter of who should govern Russia.  And I think that everyone in the monarchist movement understood that a successful restoration required far more than just a birth certificate.  Even the Whites during the civil war were far from united on the question of whether there should be a restoration at all, much less who should sit on a restored throne.  No one seemed to think that Russians would rally around the nearest relative of the dead tsar merely because he or she was the nearest relative.  The only chance of a restoration taking hold would have had to include the promise that the new ruler could avoid the mistakes of the old one.

And no one who met Anna Anderson -- including those who believed her to be Anastasia -- could have harbored any hope that they were looking at an astute and mature political player capable of taking a fractious nation in hand.  She would have been a real prospect only for those who were looking for a puppet to place on a throne.

Offline AGRBear

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Re: What if Anastasia survived . . . ?
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2006, 02:34:19 PM »
There was a huge interest in keeping the Bolsheviks off balance from 1917 to the late 1920s.  Some of the major reasons were political and oil.

Remember, the British, the Americans and other countries had already landed troops in Russia to fight the Bolsheviks.

Britian had sent in agents to assasinate Lenin...

Stalin wanted the power and was causing internal bleeding with the power structure.

Trotsky was too busy with the war and  then with the stuff needed for ending the war with Germany...

Europe was  exhausted and bleeding and WWI was needing an ending.... plus recovery time....

Most Russians just wanted to go home and live in peace.  

If in this mix, up poped a very alive daughter of Nicholas II,  GD Anstasia, who was 18 years old,  could she have made a change for the future of Russia?

I think the Russians would have used her as the symbol of hope for a new Russia.  And, a lot of Russians would have circled their wagons around her.  But would that have been enough?   Maybe, in those months of July 1918 to July 1919, it might have.  The window of opportunity was very small by this time.   AND,  she would have had to have shown a strong character equal to that of her grandfather Alex. III.  She would have needed to have realized that she needed certain backers among the military leaders.  She would have needed to have understood what her father and grandfather had failed to understand,  Russia did not need another monarchy.  

Russians would have needed to realize that Lenin had set himself up as another Czar.

All of this would have taken a huge bank account.  Far more than what the Germans had supplied Lenin.

There were many Americans, like Ford,  willingly to make a huge profit on a Civil War.  And,  without a Tsarina Anastasia, a Civil War did occur.

How many of you can name the men who were not Romanovs whom Britian and other countires were backing in hopes to place into the power of the head of the new Russian govt. in 1918, 1919, and early 1920s?

Not a great deal of information about these times is known because it's often skimmed over my historians in their conclusion of "Old Russia" or their introduction to the "Communist Russia".

This question would make a great base for a novel along with those on the shelf about what life would have been like if Hitler had won the war or if  Queen Elisbeth would have died of small pox and Mary Queen of Scots would have ruled Grt. Britian...

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