"When she died she was only sixteen years old ... Ther(e) was a man who loved her without having seen her but (k)new her very well. And she he(a)rd of him also. He never could tell her that he loved her, and now she was dead. But still he thought that when he and she will live [their] next life whenever it will be that ...", she wrote.
Her mother relied on the counsel of Grigori Rasputin, a Russian peasant and wandering starets or "holy man," and credited his prayers with saving the ailing Tsarevich on numerous occasions. Anastasia and her siblings were taught to view Rasputin as "Our Friend" and to share confidences with him. In the autumn of 1907, Anastasia's aunt Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia was escorted to the nursery by the Tsar to meet Rasputin. Anastasia, her sisters and brother Alexei were all wearing their long white nightgowns. "All the children seemed to like him," Olga Alexandrovna recalled. "They were completely at ease with him." Rasputin's friendship with the imperial children was evident in some of the messages he sent to them. In February 1909, Rasputin sent the imperial children a telegram, advising them to "Love the whole of God's nature, the whole of His creation in particular this earth. The Mother of God was always occupied with flowers and needlework."
In the spring of 1910, Maria Ivanovna Vishnyakova, a royal governess, claimed that Rasputin had raped her. Vishnyakova said the Empress refused to believe her account of the assault, and insisted that "everything Rasputin does is holy." Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna was told that Vishnyakova's claim had been immediately investigated, but instead "they caught the young woman in bed with a Cossack of the Imperial Guard." Vishnyakova was kept from seeing Rasputin after she made her accusation and was eventually dismissed from her post in 1913.
Despite her Energy, Anastasia's physical health was sometimes poor. The Grand Duchess suffered from painful bunions, which affected both of her big toes. Anastasia had a weak muscle in her back and was prescribed twice-weekly massage. She hid under the bed or in a cupboard to put off the massage. Anastasia's older sister, Maria, reportedly hemorrhaged in December 1914 during an operation to remove her tonsils, according to her paternal aunt Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia, who was interviewed later in her life. The Doctor performing the operation was so unnerved that he had to be ordered to continue by Maria's mother. Olga Alexandrovna said she believed all four of her nieces bled more than was normal and believed they were carriers of the hemophilia gene, like their mother.
In his memoirs, A. A. Mordvinov reported that the four grand duchesses appeared "cold and visibly terribly upset" by Rasputin's death, and sat "huddled up closely together" on a sofa in one of their bedrooms on the night they received the news. Mordvinov recalled that the young women were in a gloomy mood and seemed to sense the political upheaval that was about to be unleashed. Rasputin was buried with an icon signed on its reverse by Anastasia, her mother and her sisters. She attended his funeral on 21 December 1916, and her family planned to build a church over the site of Rasputin's grave. After they were killed by the Bolsheviks, it was discovered Anastasia and her sisters were all wearing amulets bearing Rasputin's picture and a prayer.
After the Bolshevik revolution in October 1917, Russia quickly disintegrated into civil war. Negotiations for the release of the Romanovs between their Bolshevik (commonly referred to as 'Reds') captors and their extended family, many of whom were prominent members of the royal houses of Europe, stalled. As the Whites (anti-Bolshevik forces, although not necessarily supportive of the Tsar) advanced toward Yekaterinburg, the Reds were in a precarious situation. The Reds knew Yekaterinburg would fall to the better manned and equipped White Army. When the Whites reached Yekaterinburg, the imperial family had simply disappeared. The most widely accepted account was that the family had been murdered. This was due to an investigation by White Army investigator Nicholas Sokolov, who came to the conclusion based on items that had belonged to the family being found thrown down a mine shaft at Ganina Yama.
DNA testing by multiple international laboratories such as the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory and Innsbruck Medical University confirmed that the remains belong to the Tsarevich Alexei and to one of his sisters, proving conclusively that all family members, including Anastasia, died in 1918. The parents and all five children are now accounted for, and each has his or her own unique DNA profile. However, as reported in one of the studies:
Other lesser known claimants were Nadezhda Ivanovna Vasilyeva and Eugenia Smith. Two young women claiming to be Anastasia and her sister Maria were taken in by a priest in the Ural Mountains in 1919 where they lived as nuns until their deaths in 1964. They were buried under the names Anastasia and Maria Nikolaevna.
Anastasia's supposed escape and possible survival was one of the most popular historical mysteries of the 20th century, provoking many books and films. At least ten women claimed to be her, offering varying stories as to how she had survived. Anna Anderson, the best known Anastasia impostor, first surfaced publicly between 1920 and 1922. She contended that she had feigned death among the bodies of her family and servants, and was able to make her escape with the help of a compassionate guard who noticed she was still breathing and took sympathy upon her. Her legal battle for recognition from 1938 to 1970 continued a lifelong controversy and was the longest running case ever heard by the German courts, where it was officially filed. The final decision of the court was that Anderson had not provided sufficient proof to claim the identity of the grand Duchess.
The purported survival of Anastasia has been the subject of both cinema and made-for-television films. The earliest, made in 1928, was called Clothes Make the Woman. The story followed a woman who turns up to play the part of a rescued Anastasia for a Hollywood film, and ends up being recognized by the Russian soldier who originally rescued her from her would-be assassins.
Anderson died in 1984 and her body was cremated. DNA tests were conducted in 1994 on a tissue sample from Anderson located in a hospital and the blood of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a great-nephew of Empress Alexandra. According to Dr Gill who conducted the tests, "If you accept that these samples came from Anna Anderson, then Anna Anderson could not be related to Tsar Nicholas or Tsarina Alexandra." Anderson's mitochondrial DNA was a match with a great-nephew of Franziska Schanzkowska, a missing Polish factory worker. Some supporters of Anderson's claim acknowledged that the DNA tests proving she could not have been the Grand Duchess had "won the day".
The "Yurovsky Note", an account of the event filed by Yurovsky to his Bolshevik superiors following the killings, was found in 1989 and detailed in Edvard Radzinsky's 1992 book, The Last Tsar. According to the note, on the night of the deaths the family was awakened and told to dress. They were told they were being moved to a new location to ensure their safety in anticipation of the violence that might ensue when the White Army reached Yekaterinburg. Once dressed, the family and the small circle of servants who had remained with them were herded into a small room in the house's sub-basement and told to wait. Alexandra and Alexei sat in chairs provided by guards at the Empress's request. After several minutes, the guards entered the room, led by Yurovsky, who quickly informed the Tsar and his family that they were to be executed. The Tsar had time to say only "What?" and turn to his family before he was killed by several bullets to the chest (not, as is commonly stated, to the head; his skull, recovered in 1991, bears no bullet wounds). The Tsarina and her daughter Olga tried to make the sign of the cross, but were killed in the initial volley of bullets fired by the executioners. The rest of the Imperial retinue were shot in short order, with the exception of Anna Demidova, Alexandra's maid. Demidova survived the initial onslaught, but was quickly murdered against the back wall of the basement, stabbed to death while trying to defend herself with a small pillow she had carried into the sub-basement that was filled with precious gems and jewels.
In 1991, the presumed burial site of the imperial family and their servants was excavated in the woods outside Yekaterinburg. The grave had been found nearly a decade earlier, but was kept hidden by its discoverers from the Communists who were still ruling Russia at the time. The grave only held nine of the expected eleven sets of remains. DNA and skeletal analysis matched these remains to Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra, and three of the four grand duchesses (Olga, Tatiana and presumably Maria). The other remains, with unrelated DNA, correspond to the family's Doctor (Yevgeny Botkin), their valet (Alexei Trupp), their cook (Ivan Kharitonov), and Alexandra's maid (Anna Demidova). Forensic expert william R. Maples decided that the Tsarevitch Alexei and Anastasia's bodies were missing from the family's grave. Russian Scientists contested this conclusion, however, claiming it was the body of Maria that was missing. The Russians identified the body as that of Anastasia by using a computer program to compare photos of the youngest grand Duchess with the skulls of the victims from the mass grave. They estimated the height and width of the skulls where pieces of bone were missing. American Scientists found this method inexact.
In 2000, Anastasia and her family were canonized as passion bearers by the Russian Orthodox Church. The family had previously been canonized in 1981 by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad as holy martyrs. The bodies of Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra, and three of their daughters were finally interred in the St. Catherine Chapel at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, St Petersburg on 17 July 1998, eighty years after they were murdered.
However, on 23 August 2007, a Russian archaeologist announced the discovery of two burned, partial skeletons at a bonfire site near Yekaterinburg that appeared to match the site described in Yurovsky's memoirs. The archaeologists said the bones were from a boy who was roughly between the ages of ten and thirteen years at the time of his death and of a young woman who was roughly between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three years old. Anastasia was seventeen years and one month old at the time of the assassination, while her sister Maria was nineteen years, one month old and her brother Alexei was two weeks shy of his fourteenth birthday. Anastasia's elder sisters Olga and Tatiana were twenty-two and twenty-one years old respectively at the time of the assassination. Along with the remains of the two bodies, archaeologists found "shards of a container of sulfuric acid, nails, metal strips from a wooden box, and bullets of various caliber". The site was initially found with metal detectors and by using metal rods as probes.
Symptomatic carriers of the gene, while not hemophiliacs themselves, can have symptoms of hemophilia including a lower than normal blood clotting factor that can lead to heavy bleeding. DNA testing on the remains of the royal family proved conclusively in 2009 that Alexei suffered from Hemophilia B, a rarer form of the disease. His mother and one sister, identified alternatively as Maria or Anastasia, were carriers. Therefore, had Anastasia lived to have children of her own, they may have been afflicted by the disease as well. Alexei's hemophilia was chronic and incurable; his frequent attacks caused permanent disability.