The Last Czars: How Princess Anastasia could have survived murder of Russian royals

The Last Czars is streaming on Netflix now and the sixth episode of the docudrama series details the execution of the Romanov family. On July 17, 1918, the Romanov family was assassinated by Bolshevik guards at the House of Special Purpose in Yekaterinburg. As no remains were uncovered immediately, rumours began to circulate that one of the Tsar’s daughters had survived.

The myth that Princess Anastasia may have survived the brutal execution of her family stemmed from the fact that no remains of the Romanovs were uncovered until the 1990s.

Adding to the assumption they had survived was written proof that Germany had asked the Bolshevik government for German-born Empress Alexandra and her children to be kept safe.

Germany and Russia had signed the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty which ended Russian’s involvement in World War One.

As a result, the Bolsheviks did not reveal that Alexandra and her children had been executed in fear of retaliation from Germany.

Rumours began to spread that a Bolshevik guard had taken pity on her and helped her escape.

When a woman in 1920 turned up in Berlin, claiming to be Princess Anastasia, this also fuelled speculation that Anastasia may have survived.


Several women claimed to be Anastasia, the best-known imposter being Anna Anderson (Indre Patkauskaite).

Anderson (born Franziska Schanzkowska) was institutionalised in a psychiatric hospital after she attempted to take her own life in Berlin in 1920.

Despite a 1927 private investigation funded by the real Anastasia’s uncle Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse, which identified Anderson as Franziska Schanzkowska, Anderson’s claims continued to receive media attention.

From 1938 until 1970, Anderson battled for legal recognition from the German government as being the real Anastasia but her claims failed due to lack of proof.

Anderson passed away in 1984 and DNA testing in 1994 later proved that she had no relations to the Romanov dynasty.


Did Princess Anastasia have a chance of escaping?

The children of Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra were the last ones to die in the House of Special Purpose.

The chief executioner was Bolshevik officer Yakov Yurovsky, gave a detailed account of the execution of the Russian Royal Family on July 18, 1917.

Yurovsky, alongside six others, fired indiscriminately at the Russian Royal Family and three members of their staff.

The Tsar’s daughters, Anastasia, Tatiana, Olga, and Maria survived the first round of bullets as they were wearing over 1.3kg of diamonds and gems under their clothes.

The girls were wearing their jewellery as Nicholas and Alexandra genuinely believed they were being moved across Europe and they needed their wealth to secure their safe passage and safety.

The makeshift corsets embedded with jewels protected them from the bullets and stabbings.


In the end, the children died of stab wounds from bayonets and head injuries after being shot at close range.

In his account, Yurovsky spoke of how the girls stood against the wall protecting their heads as they were fired at.

Even when the dead bodies were being carried out on stretchers, apparently one of the girls was still alive and was shot in the head.

Scientific testing has since proved that the four remains found near Yekaterinburg in the 1990s are the imperial family.

Two other bodies were found in 2007 and were confirmed to be Alexei and one of his sisters, confirming that the entire Romanov family were executed on July 17, 1918.

The Last Czars is streaming on Netflix now

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