The audience was restricted: Dorothy and I, her brother, Mr. Benjamin and the Cannon couple. The room to which we were shown had all the usual accessories: a water basin, a guitar, aluminium trumpets. We turned off the lights and almost immediately the medium fell into a trance. In total darkness, we heard quiet rustling and faint knocking, then, suddenly, a savage war cry pierced the air, seemingly from under my feet, and surprised me to the point that I almost jumped into the air. Mr. Cannon told me quietly that it was the Native American spirit of the medium, which regularly announced itself in that manner. All that was followed by a childish laughter and the sound of splashing in a basin of water. I put out my hand. “Give me a handshake,” said I and a little wet hand slid into mine. I explain nothing, but I am sure I felt it and held it firmly during a couple of seconds. Then silence came back, only troubled by the noisy breathing of the medium. […] Afterwards, I heard but a faint whisper before the words reached me more clearly. To my surprise, it was in Russian.
« Do you not recognize me? »
The soft voice seemed strangely familiar, but I could not identify it.
« I followed you everywhere, she continued with a faint laugh. I am Tatiana »
The only Tatiana I had ever known was the second daughter of the Tsar Nicholas II. I could have sworn that in her voice was a tinge of triumph. “We are all present here today, she continued in perfect Russian. We send you our affection and kisses- we all heard the sound of someone blowing a kiss – and Anastasia wants you to know that the person coming to America right now is not her. You have to tell Aunt Xenia.”
Silence followed and the trumpet fell back to the ground.
Three days later, I learned that the young mysterious lady proclaiming to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia had just arrived in New York. My niece Xenia, finding that things were dragging on for too long, had her brought and immediately installed in her city of Long Island, without telling me.
I was very impatient to see this woman, and I moved heaven and earth to do so, as I had been one of the last of our family to see Anastasia during my trip to Russia in 1916, and I was certain I would not have any trouble recognizing her, if it was indeed she. However, as I was never allowed to get anywhere near Xenia’s protégée, I am not qualified to formulate an opinion. She resided many months with my niece, who blindly believed her story and showed her nothing but the greatest kindness. But the manner in which she behaved with the Grand Duchess Xenia, sister of the deceased Tsar, resulted in a quarrel with William Leeds, who threw her out of their house.
In Greece, in my family, we often discussed the case of Anastasia, which, at the time, had not been resolved. The reaction of the members of the Imperial family had contributed to the widespread belief that Mrs Anderson was the Grand Duchess. There was such violence, denial, such terror in the survivors of the dynasty that everyone thought to themselves that for them to react so strongly, she had to be the real deal. It was true that she had recognized many people of her childhood circle and that she remembered astonishing facts, but, more importantly, one of those facts was rather burdensome. She remembered that, in the midst of the First World War, she had seen at the Saint Petersburg Palace the brother of the Empress, the Grand Duke of Hesse, probably come to negotiate, or attempt to negotiate, a peace treaty. For a German sovereign, that is to say an enemy of Russia, to come on Russian territory in the midst of war, it was a heavy accusation. Hence the extremely violent reaction of the members of the dynasty.
Furthermore, it was obvious that Mrs Anderson was not alone. Behind her a group would, not manipulate her, but promote her, propel her, do her propaganda and throw an immense media campaign. At the time circulated an explication of the group’s activities. The Tsar, before the First World War, possessed an enormous bank account in London with gigantic sums. The group that promoted Anastasia knew that and told themselves that if Anastasia was recognized as the daughter of the Tsar, she would inherit this account, and so would they also profit. Hence, there was an interested lobby behind her. What the members of that group were unaware of was that Nicholas II had, at the beginning of the war, told his first cousin, the sister of my father, the Grand Duchess Maria Georgievna : “ You know Ninny, I had a big account in London, but I thought it unpatriotic to leave it abroad. So, at the beginning of the hostilities, I repatriated it here, home, in Russia. “ Obviously, the accounts had disappeared in the pockets of the Bolsheviks, but that, Mrs Anderson’s sponsors did not know.
However, the family – that is to say all the princes related to the Russian Dynasty – were convinced of two things. First, that Mrs Anderson, true or not, was convinced that she was the Grand Duchess, she was not playing, she had faith. Secondly, that the false Anastasia, Mrs Anderson, had surely known the real one. Hence the hypothesis that Mrs Anderson, which we may recall was fished out of a canal in Berlin after the war as she had tried to commit suicide and through this came to be known, had become the fake Anastasia.
Mrs Anderson was probably the daughter of a chambermaid of the last Empress. The child, who had the same age as Anastasia, perhaps played with her. Maybe the Empress gave her chambermaid Anastasia’s old cloths, old dolls of Anastasia’s for her daughter. And so, little by little, the child had persuaded herself that she was Anastasia.
Although the mystery surrounding the imperial family’s massacre has now been solved, there remain many grey zones, especially concerning those close to the imperial family that were in Yekaterinburg. We think they may have been much more than we believe today. Maybe amongst them was the Polish chambermaid of the Empress, and her little girl who, little by little, believed herself to be Anastasia.
The mystery is far from being resolved…