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Apr/May 2012 Fiction

The Anastasia Caper

by Bruce Graham


Prefatory Statement

I had never intended to release to the public the story contained in this record, set out by my father in 1957. The tale was, in my view, not going to help resolve the three generation old conflict over the assertions that the woman known as Anna Anderson, and then called Fraulein Tschaikovsky, was the Russian Imperial Grand Duchess Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the last Czar, and generally believed to have been murdered in 1918.

Scientific findings which establish almost beyond dispute that Anna Anderson was not the Grand Duchess Anastasia caused me to reconsider my silence. The following is the record of my father's memorandum, published only for the purpose of making it available to the world for whatever worth it may have, and in light of my serious illness. I do not want the facts to be lost to history. I was not involved in the events described, being born years afterward. But I verify the story to have been prepared by my father, and kept by me since then in a pristine state.

           —Albert Grundberg, Ravensburg, September, 2009

 

The Anastasia Caper

I was a beginning private investigator when word got around of somebody's holding this person out as the heir to the Russian throne. And what a stir it caused.

These days, when royalty of all kinds is derided as some sort of triviality, it's hard to remember, even imagine, what those times were like. The Great War (World War One) had resulted in the overthrow of three great European monarchies, each of which was a real ruling dynasty, not what we're used to in England and Sweden, and Japan since the end of World War Two. The crowned heads, as they were called, actually made decisions, gave orders, determined policies. When they fell, the pipsqueak politicians and tinpot tyrants that took their places really had to work at replacing them, and have never done it with any style.

The German Kaiser and the Habsburg Emperor and their families were gone, and nobody was going to return them to their thrones. They'd caused the Great War, so said the western Allies, and they'd been tossed out, and they'd stay out, and good riddance. They'd been replaced by democratic, nonassertive governments that the western Allies wanted, that would not threaten the peace again, which meant that Britain and France could anticipate doing it their way with the connivance of the United States. Even in Germany and the fragments of the former Austria Hungary, sentiment was generally in favor of their departures.

The former Russian monarchy, however, was a different thing entirely. The Czar abdicated in March, 1917, in the face of popular disorders and the strains of the War, and was replaced by a slightly left of center provisional government. The new regime was overthrown eight months later by a Bolshevik gang committed to a full blown Marxist state under its dictatorship.

Even today communist ideology is largely beyond the understanding of even educated people. In those days very few people grasped what the Bolsheviks and their communist allies elsewhere were really up to. But among those who followed the news and made the decisions, the Bolsheviks were known as vicious cutthroats who'd stolen the former Russian Empire and installed a far more brutal and total tyranny than what existed under the Romanovs, as a prelude for doing likewise elsewhere.

News of the murder of the Czar confirmed this opinion and earned enduring enmity for the Reds.

The Czarist government had, after all, been loyal to the western Allies, with the same stubborn stupidity with which it had failed to prepare for the cataclysm. Whether or not the Romanovs deserved to be restored on the throne, their fate beyond deposition was viewed as undeserved, and contrasted with the treatment toward the Hohenzollerns and Habsburgs, who were allowed to live out their lives in undisturbed tranquility, if not aristocratic splendor. Western leaders and popular opinion alike agreed that the Czar and his family deserved no worse than the former German and Austro Hungarian ruling houses, and perhaps a lot better.

The appearance on the scene in Berlin in 1920 of a young lady who might be a member of the Romanov family aroused almost universal fascination... and sympathy.

I was a new private detective and was called into the case by the Hugenburg interests. I have no way of knowing whether the chief was involved; I reported to an underling, an unctuous little vole named Diehl. He showed me the file on this alleged Anastasia and assigned me to follow the case and ferret out every story I could. He claimed that he didn't care whether her story was true, that he wanted news, and this looked like it would be news for years.

I'll not attempt to summarize the controversy that dragged on through the ensuing decades. I made quite a few hundred good marks following the story for Hugenburg, and peddling occasional "behind the news" stories. My sponsors were willing to spread bribes around, always being careful that everyone knew they—and I—didn't care if the story helped or hurt the cause of the possible Anastasia, as long as it was news and could be claimed to be true.

Matters reached their climax, for me, in 1926. Dugovich—that's the only name by which I knew him—found me in the lobby of the Kronprinz Hotel, in Konigsburg. This edifice was past its prime when I'd first visited in 1924, and was demolished in the waning days of peace 15 years later, in expectation of being replaced, which it never was. The public rooms were scattered with worn couches and chairs, the floors covered with frayed and worn carpet, the old style paintings on the musty walls telling of long past fortunes, the air stale with the odor of old tobacco.

When I picked up my mail and was still at the desk, I heard my name called. I glanced about. The man waved a hand. "Over here." He was slumped in one of four wing-back chairs grouped about a column, a slender, emaciated looking man, appearing to be about forty, in well-worn pre-war style suit, slightly frayed shirt with wing collar, and a wrinkled tie bearing several random stains. On his lap rested a once fine but now a bit worn hat. His shoes were dull in the afternoon light. In my business one did not hesitate to converse with strangers. Information was what I wanted, and any discussion had the potential to yield information. I ambled to his side. "Here I am."

"You are on the track of Anastasia stories?" His accent was not German, but not definable.

"Isn't everyone?"

"Will you buy me a drink, for a story?"

I stuffed my few pieces of mail in a jacket pocket. "Yes, I'll go for that."

The man rose, slowly, affecting discomfort.

"Your legs belie your face."

The man nodded and turned toward the bar. For the first time I noticed the cane, a genuine weight-supporting item, not for show, in his left hand. He limped three-legged ahead of me, hat in hand, through the entryway and into the gloom and hubbub of the bar. He led the way to one of several empty tables, sank into a chair, leaned his cane somehow against himself and dropped his hat off to one side on the table. He seemed to relax while I crisply took my seat and rested my hat next to his. A waiter came and went while we stared at each other.

"Your stories do not take sides," said the man.

"The better to feed the mystery. What is your accent?"

"Balkans, by way of Russia and Poland."

The waiter returned with our drinks and departed. The man lifted his glass in my direction. I clinked my glass with his. "To truth."

"To facts."

We drank. I put down my glass. "Well?"

He told me his name.

"Should it mean anything to me?"

"No. I'm obscure enough to the world. But my former masters may make an effort to track me down. Que sera sera."

"We may assume that your bona fides are good. What next?"

"Ten thousand marks for the true story."

I didn't demonstrate any reaction. "I haven't paid more than eight hundred."

"That's not what Pressman said."

"His was a split royalty with an Italian magazine. From me he received six hundred."

"But my story is the true story."

I extended my hands, palms facing each other. "But how do we know?"

"No matter, for now. My price is ten thousand."

"Ten times too steep."

"For the authoritative story?"

I scratched the back of my head. "I think so. You see, the genuine story may put me out of business. I've been making almost a living out of this for five years, and it could go on for another ten years. I come up with the authoritative version and I'm out of business."

"True, but if I sell the tale to someone else it would finish your fun anyway, and you get nothing for it. This way, I sell the story to you, and you can do what you want, publish only part, sell the whole thing, cover it up, whatever you like."

I chuckled. "I pay you, you still tell your yarn to someone else, and shut me down."

"You buy paperwork for the ten thousand that proves the story. Without the paperwork the story's no good."

"What paperwork?" He reached into his jacket and drew out a battered brown envelope, a centimeter or more fat, which he cast onto the table, then took a sip from his glass.

I reached out and picked up the envelope. I opened the unfastened flap and reached inside. The man clasped my hand in an iron grip. "One paper."

"Yes, surely." I reached into the envelope and drew out one piece of paper: weathered by age, not decades, but certainly years; folded, once from top to bottom, twice from side to side; wrinkled, but not indicating a crumpling effort to throw away; small rips in two places. The man removed his hand and took back the envelope. The document was in cyrillic writing, with which I was conversant. A list of names down the left side: Nicholas, Alexandra, Alexis, Olga, Tatiana, Marie, Anastasia, Botkin, Trupp, Demidova, Kharitonov. To the right of each, except for Anastasia, was the letter "L" in the same ink as the name, without further comment. The name Anastasia was circled, in ink different from that of the name, followed by the phrase, "Hold at Apatiev," in the same different ink and a different hand from that of the name. Further to the right, in still a third type of ink and writing, was "Ekaterinburg > Moscow, departure, early morning."

"By chance," said Dugavich, "you have selected a key document. Should I explain its meaning?"

"Better, explain who wrote it."

"The list and note after ten of the names is Yurovsky, the travel statement, Goloschekin, and the third remark I can't identify."

"What is Apatiev?"

"The house where the Romanovs were held."

I silently rued the tight fistedness of my employers. The detective in me wanted to recklessly pay the man and get on with the investigation. But Diehl's grudging scrutiny of my requested outlays forced me to inject the attitude of a Levantine rug merchant into my discussions. I set the paper in my lap and picked up my glass. "Anyone could have..."

The man suddenly reached out and pulled the paper away. "You must not spill anything on it." He folded and returned the document to the envelope.

"Anyone could have put that list and statements together. And who are Yurovsky and Goloschekin?"

"Yurovsky was immediately in charge of the project. Goloschekin was with the Ural Soviet that ordered the end to the Czar and family, and close to Sverdlov, Lenin's associate."

"But again, anyone could have made up this list."

"Did you notice anything peculiar about it?"

I thought for a few moments. "No."

"Alexis comes ahead of his sisters."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"Most people today would put his name after his sisters. He was the youngest. Democracy at work."

"He was first in line for the throne, although the youngest child. But a clever fraud would have known that."

"You noticed the mark on the paper?"

"No."

Dugavich drew the paper from the envelope. He held the paper toward a light. "Do not touch, your hands are wet." I leaned forward and scanned the document. There it was, subtly done, toward the top, a crest of some sort.

"The insignia of the Karapan family, of Perm and Ekaterinburg, producers of paper products until the Revolution. This is private stock, with the family crest, assumed at some time by an aspiring patriarch of the clan."

"What does that prove?"

"The Ural Soviet confiscated the properties of the resident members who were liquidated in the spring of 1918, carried away everything of value, used the paper and ink until the new regime could afford to supply its own material. If this is a fabrication, the fraud had access to the stationary of the Ural Soviet."

I leaned back and finished my drink. "All right, one of your documents is from the supply of the Ural Soviet in 1918, written in cyrillic by a Russian with knowledge of aristocratic protocol and bearing further remarks implying survival of Anastasia, by persons believed to be highly placed regional Bolsheviks. A far cry from proving anything. And now that it might be important, what are your credentials, anyway?"

"Have you given any thought to why the Bolsheviks would want to keep Anastasia alive?"

"According to Frauline Tschaikovsky's story..."

"Forget her story, it's a pack of lies. If Anastasia is alive, it is because the Reds want her alive. Do you remember the international situation then?"

"I reported for military service that summer."

The man raised his empty glass. I signaled the waiter, who took my order for two of the same and departed.

"I do have a few years on you," said the man. "Dugavich, a vague name, for one who grew up under the Habsburgs, served as a courier with the Bolsheviks, became a minion for the Ural Soviet, was custodian of their records, barely got out of Ekaterinburg after the Romanovs' massacre and ahead of the Whites, finally decided to keep going, swapped my identity papers for those of a dead man I found, and eventually made his way through the Caucuses to Turkey."

I snickered, part of my rug merchant routine. "A likely story for which to expect ten thousand marks."

"You don't remember, you probably never knew. The Reds had made a humiliating peace with Germany, and Russia was at their mercy. If fighting resumed, the Germans could have taken Moscow within a few weeks. The anti-Bolsheviks were on the offensive in Siberia and the south, and the British and Americans and Japanese were helping the Whites. Beginning in March, four months before the Romanovs' massacre, Germany launched the great offensive in the west, and until August the issue was in doubt. The German armies removed from the Russian front were thought by general consensus to make their forces in France strong enough to defeat the western Allies."

"It rings a bell."

"In case you didn't know, generations of nordic women had been brood mares for the Romanov stud farm. Nicholas' wife, Alexandra, was of the German aristocracy, in fact, sister to the Kaiser's wife. Nicholas' mother was of Danish royalty, his grandmother was of the German nobility, his great grandmother and great great grandmother were German, and his great great great grandmother was Catherine the Great, a German. Catherine's husband was one half each Russian and German, but certainly not the father of the last Czar's great great grandfather, Paul, the only Czar of that name; the privilege of having sired what for the last six generations has been called the Romanov dynasty was a Russian peasant army officer, whose name momentarily escapes me. On the assumption of this—pardon the vulgar pun—Russian injection into the Imperial line, the children of Nicholas and Alexandra were 3.125 percent Russian, 25 percent Danish and 71.875 percent German."

"Their features seemed to have little Russian cast."

"The German house of cards crashed suddenly that autumn, but in the summer was generally thought unshaken. The Bolsheviks' decision to exterminate the Romanovs was to avoid their liberation by the Whites, and impress their supporters with their determination to fight to the end. But they were afraid to antagonize the Germans. They assumed that the death of the Czar wouldn't ruffle the Kaiser's feathers, Nicholas being a cousin of King George of England."

"So was the Kaiser."

"Yes," said Dugavich. "Wilhelm was cousin to King George, George's father being brother to the Kaiser's mother. But there was no love lost between them. King George and the Czar were close, and the Bolsheviks would have suspected that it would give the Kaiser malicious joy that the English king would be hurt in this way."

Our drinks arrived. The man took a robust swallow. "But the Kaiser's word was law, and if he decided to avenge himself on the Reds for the murder of his or his wife's relatives, there wasn't much the Bolsheviks believed that they could do to stop him, especially since news from the western front gave them no hope that the Allies would be able to hold out long. If the western front collapsed, Germany would have a free hand in the east. It was important for the death of the Czar to be announced, but to obscure the situation of the rest of the family."

"Yes, the Bolsheviks were in zugzwang."

"I took you for a chessplayer. They were in potential zugzwang, but the Whites were in actual, at least partial, zugzwang also. The anti-Bolshevik forces were not cooperating. Between Denikin, Kolchak, Wrangel, and others, there was no agreement on how Russia would be governed once the Reds were overthrown, and they were confident that victory was within their grasp. Reconciliation between the groups would have been easier with the Czar irreversibly gone, but the monarchists wanted a remnant of the royal family alive for the purpose of restoration. On the other hand, the monarchists were content for the other groups to believe that the Czar's entire family was done away with, for the non-monarchists to believe that restoration of the Romanovs was not in prospect. It was in the monarchists' interest to confirm neither the extermination of all of the Romanovs, nor the survival of any."

As a private detective, even a young one, I had encountered the deviousness and subtle chicanery of the underworld and demimonde. But this man's insights on the Byzantine thought processes at the higher levels of power politics was a revelation. On the other hand, were his speculations only imaginings? My head began to swim.

"Are you still with me?"

"Yes."

"And it was important to the Bolshevik movement that the Czar be killed, for the same reason as Cortez burning the ships when he landed in Mexico."

"According to the one paper you've shown me, everyone was killed, except for Anastasia."

"Yes, just turned 17, the youngest daughter, presumably the most pliable. If word got out about the family being slaughtered, she could be used as a hostage, a bribe for complaisance, a bargaining chip."

"And this Tschaikovsky woman?"

"She is a fraud."

"But you've proven that Anastasia lives."

"Anastasia is at a remote dacha between Moscow and Kharkov, under close guard, and completely isolated from word about, or communication with, the outside world. This Tschaikovsky person is a deception engineered by the Bolsheviks to dupe, disorganize, and decoy the Russian emigre community. She aspired to be an actress, was an emotional wreck after an accident, either was or became demented. By means with which I am not acquainted, she was persuaded to play the part of Anastasia. For very little investment the Reds have sowed dissension, disarray, and discord among the anti-Bolsheviks. If it's discovered she's an imposter, their faith will be shaken; if she's acknowledged as Anastasia, the emigres will be broken into competing factions. In the meantime emigre attention is diverted from overthrowing the Bolsheviks to this internal squabble. Any way that it turns out, the Reds gain."

I smiled. "For this fairy tale you want ten thousand marks?"

The man's face flushed. He stared at me for several moments, then slowly raised and drained his glass. He grasped his cane, rose, and stared at me. His voice quavered. "You have until the morning after tomorrow. I leave then, and will deal elsewhere. And, no, not ten thousand marks. Fifteen thousand marks, including five for the insult." He picked up his hat, spun and hobbled his way out of the bar.

My rug merchant attitude had worsened my position with Dugavich, if that was his name. But I needed to give it a try. I called Diehl that same afternoon and proposed a payment of 20 thousand marks to an informant for papers, one of which seemed a genuine Bolshevik record.

Diehl's irate and profane response told me that they probably would pay ten. I asked for authority to pay 18 and said that I'd try to bargain my source down. Diehl replied that they'd pay five, if I was confident the items would generate real news. I insisted on ten, and argued that only that as a starting point would have any chance of success. He said that he'd call me back the following day.

That evening I found Dugavich lounging, paper in hand, in the hotel lobby. "I apologize for my attitude earlier."

He did not look at me. "The extra five thousand will be sufficient apology."

"I expect to have authority tomorrow, for eight thousand. You can't expect my principal half a continent away to pay twice that for a pig in a poke."

"Of course I do. It's worth a 100 thousand marks to someone. And you can tell him that it was your coarseness that cost them the extra money. You must have asked him to pay 15 thousand, otherwise you'd be talking about authority for five thousand, unless you're lying about the extent of authority you're expecting. I suggest you stop the Machiavellian shenanigans. It's costing you an extra five thousand already. Just pay by the morning after tomorrow and get your big story or kiss it goodbye." The man flipped the paper's pages as if reading.

I didn't wait to hear from Diehl, but called him.

"I don't have authority yet."

"Forget authority, get me 15 thousand marks, by tomorrow night, or the best deal on this will be gone."

"Do you think it's worth it?"

"Yes."

"I'll recommend it."

I tracked down the man in the restaurant the following noontime. He kept eating as if I wasn't there. "I expect the money by tomorrow morning."

He didn't look up. "All of it?"

"Yes. But I need to verify that there's anything else worthwhile, I can't justify paying on what I've seen."

He ingested food for several moments. Then, "Fair enough. I have photographs." Dugavich pawed inside his coat and put three photographs on the table. He grasped a slicing knife in his left hand, point toward the pictures. "You may leaf through them, but if you try to pick them up I'll skewer your hand, and the price will go up by ten thousand marks."

The top photograph was of the torso and face of a lovely girl, in summer outfit, on each side an arm and partial face of a soldier, a rifle's shoulder strap visible on one side. The girl's hair was unkempt, face unadorned with makeup, features strained, tear streaks plain on her cheeks. The girl was holding a Perm newspaper at arm's length, the date visible, July 21, 1918. The headline on the newspaper proclaimed: NICHOLAS ROMANOV EXECUTED IN EKATERINBURG, BY ORDER OF URAL SOVIET.

I moved that picture aside and beheld a photograph of the same girl, stretched on her side on what could have been a settee or couch, torso and legs covered by a blanket, head on a cushion, eyes closed, western Europeanesque features in repose. Across the blanket lay a Nijni Novgorod newspaper, bearing the barely discernible date of July 24, 1918, whose headline declared: PEACE PREDICTED FOLLOWING DEMISE OF FORMER CZAR.

The third photograph was torn from a newspaper: four young ladies in simple dress, without jewelry, hair and cosmetics in place, demurely posed against a background of leafy trees, the face of the smallest girl circled. Her resemblance to the young woman in the other two pictures was apparent. A caption to the photograph stated: "The former Grand Duchesses, on the 16th birthday of the youngest, Anastasia, at the family's place of retirement." I drew my hands away.

"You've seen enough photographs of Anastasia to know that this is she."

My mouth was dry. "Yes," I croaked.

"Good. I will be checking out by ten tomorrow."

"But how did you get these pictures?"

"The two posed photographs were taken by a member of the Ural Soviet accompanying Anastasia to her place of confinement, to verify her survival and identity, in much the same way I am doing with you. They are only two of dozens. He had the foresight to keep these. Further details on this, and on the planning and manner of the Tschaikovsky deception, are in my file which you are purchasing. By the way, this fraud claiming to be Anastasia, her real name is Schanzkowska, first name I'm not sure, from Polish peasant family. She's been emotionally unstable. She was involved in a grenade accident in the munitions factory where she worked."

The man finished his meal as I continued to study the photographs, then repossessed the pictures. I accompanied him to the lobby of the hotel.

"I'll look forward to seeing you in the morning," he said. "Here, you with the money."

That evening the funds arrived, followed by a telephone call from Diehl. I promised a report when the transaction was completed.

I arrived in the lobby before eight o'clock the next day, to a hubbub and several police officers about. I inquired of a clerk as to the excitement.

"You haven't heard?" he asked. "Mr. Dugavich fell from his room window early this morning."

"Is he..." I hesitated to finish the sentence.

"Horrible, simply horrible, he was... I can't describe it. Four floors."

I approached an officer who seemed to be in charge of matters. "Mr. Dugavich and I discussed a transaction last evening, involving some papers. I'm wondering how I could continue the subject with his family?"

"What kind of papers?"

"They were in an envelope..." I held out my hands. "Perhaps two centimeters thick."

The man led me to a valise and a small handbag being looked through by two other officers. I identified myself. The lead officer pointed to the luggage. "You may see."

I pawed through the luggage twice. The bags had no space for secret hiding places. "Is this all?"

"Neatly packaged for his departure."

"Strange conduct for someone about to commit suicide."

"Oh, it wasn't suicide."

"Accident, then."

"Homicide. We have the man in custody. He admitted to confronting Mr. Dugavich about money owed, and they fought. It appears that Mr. Dugavich was either murdered or injured in the struggle and fell through the window attempting to escape the assailant."

"And you're sure there's nothing more?"

The officer held out a wallet. "Only his identification items. You may ask about inspecting them at headquarters."

I surrendered to the inevitable and went away, my mind's eye visualizing an envelope thrown from the hotel's fourth floor to an accomplice below, followed within a few minutes by the senseless or dead Dugavich.

Two days later the newspaper court report told of Jan Kinicki, a Pole, being arraigned in the homicide of Stefan Dugavich, late of Crakow, at the Kronprinz Hotel.

Several months later, while again in Konigsberg, I looked up the police record on Jan Kinicki. He had been convicted on his guilty plea to a charge of contributing by criminal conduct to the mischance death of Stefan Dugavich, and had been sentenced to three years incarceration.

To my shock, a few weeks afterward it was reported in the press that the supposed Anastasia was, in reality, Franziska Schanzkowska, of Polish peasant origins, who had suffered trauma while working in a munitions factory. By that time I had been dropped by Diehl from following the case, on the grounds that I had apparently lost my touch in tracking down leads. Diehl was candid, that his superiors had lost faith in me when first I sought payment of an unprecedented amount with the promise of startling disclosures, and then reneged. In actuality, he did me a favor, since I was able to devote my time to more than the chase of what even my employers felt was a will o the wisp.

The Hugenberg newspapers became more concerned with promoting Hugenberg's political activities, while public interest waned in the Romanovs in general and the continuing controversy over whether the reputed Anastasia was only a Polish peasant or some other impostor.

I joined forces with two other detective firms. With some perspicacity we went into corporate security, first in the east, and then, when war seemed imminent, in the Rhineland. When the conflict ended we continued operations in the Western Zones.

In 1940 occurred the assassination of Leon Trotsky, in Mexico City. At the time the one-time closest associate of Lenin and former chief of the Soviet armed forces that had saved the Bolshevik movement 20 years earlier, and who had been ousted by Stalin in a power struggle, was apparently writing an expose of the Russian dictator, which might have contained unwelcome revelations. The deed was carried out by Ramon Mercader, an agent of the Soviet secret police, who accepted conviction and imprisonment as his contribution to Stalin's plan for the world revolution. I could hardly miss the parallels between those events and my experience of 14 years earlier.

My last involvement, if it can be described as that, with the Anastasia case, was my reading, in common with millions of other Germans, the following item from the Russian front, dated August 28, 1941:

A most peculiar discovery was made this past week, near Yelets, about midway between Moscow and Kharkov. The area had been quickly overrun by our forces, surprising the meagre contingent of defending Russians, all of whom either fled or were killed, in a skirmish of no significance. A dacha of the usual Russian type was captured without a fight. The place was encompassed by twin sets of wires, one of old vintage, and one modern and electrified, enclosing about three square kilometers. Guardhouses, with searchlights of a very old type, and locations for guard dogs, were at each corner of the site. Within the compound was a barracks, with facilities for equipment and accommodations for thirty soldiers, from what was left behind, apparently of the secret police, commanded by a colonel.

The site was deserted and undamaged and was first suspected to be a residence for a highly placed official, perhaps Stalin himself. It was quickly determined, however, that the dacha was the home of at least one female civilian, according to furniture, clothing and miscellaneous items. The clothing was inconsistent with, and of much finer quality and design, than the garb of Russian women, even the better classes in the cities, but much of it of very old style. Except for the barracks there was no indication of male habitation. And the dacha was devoid of means of communication to the outside, which would have been unthinkable for a residence, or even place of temporary rendezvous, of Stalin, or of any communist higher up, expected to be at Stalin's whim at all hours. Within a day, however, a grisly discovery was made in a corner of the grounds: a fresh grave, incompletely covered, containing the not-yet decomposed body of a woman about 40, easily discerned to be of Aryan origins, not displaying the coarseness so common among Russians. The body was clothed in handsome garments, similar to those in the dacha. Neither her hands, nor other physical characteristic, gave any sign of her having engaged in physical labor. Due to the recent lull in fighting, a medical examination of the corpse was conducted. The cause of death was found to be a gunshot in the back of the head.

No intact records were found at the site. In a corner of the compound was discovered evidence of a hasty attempt to burn documents and pictures. A partially destroyed, framed photograph of the late Russian Imperial family was among the rubbish, along with scorched remnants of a journal, in Russian, very little remaining but apparently beginning in the summer of 1918, and continuing until only a few days before capture of the place.

At this late date I have no anticipation that any evidence will appear to establish the truth. Anna Anderson, once known as Fraulein Tschaikovsky, believed by some to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia, identified by others as Franziska Schanzkowska, lives in obscurity in the United States. All persons who might give evidence seem to have been gathered to their ancestors, and every archive, record, photograph which exists and which might aid in determining the truth seems to have been exhaustively studied. I tell the facts of the case, as they took place.

           —Paul Grundberg, Neustadt, September, 1957

 

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