Anastasia Romanov (technically Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova), youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, was executed by Soviet soldiers on 17 July 1918 and buried in a hidden mass grave. Her body wasn’t found for many years, leading many to question what happened to Anastasia Romanov. There was persistent speculation that she had somehow escaped, and this led many people to claim to be her over the coming years.
There have been at least five impostors who have claimed to be Anastasia – Anna Anderson, Eugenia Smith, Eleonora Kruger, Natalya Bilikhodze and Nadezhda Vasilyeva. The most famous of these is Anna Anderson, whose claim to be Anastasia captured the public imagination in Europe and America. Several books, films, musicals and even a ballet were created to tell her story.
At various times, other impostors also claimed to be her sisters, Maria, Olga and Tatiana, as well as her brother Alexei, but again, none captured the imagination as well as Anna Anderson in her claim to be Anastasia Romanov.
The Romanovs grave was finally discovered in 1979, by an amateur Soviet archeologist, but even then, her death and whether it contained Anastasia’s body, could not be confirmed. Anastasia had been executed with her family and servants, and it was thought that there should be eleven bodies in the grave – however, there were only nine. One of the bodies identified as Anastasia was re-buried in 1998, but it wasn’t until the discovery of two additional bodies in 2007 and later DNA testing that it was conclusively proved that Anastasia had died in 1918.