Russia History Romanov Stanislav Mishkevich

Stanislav Mishkevich

Following the murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his family in Ekaterinburg on the night of 16/17 July 1918, a woman in Berlin claimed to be the tsar’s youngest daughter, Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna. This article is not an attempt to prove or disprove the claims of the woman, who was later known as Anna Anderson and died in the United States in 1984. The aim of this article is to draw together all that is known about the man who, she claimed, rescued her from Ekaterinburg. This man was a Pole, likely called Stanislav Mishkevich (Stanisław Miśkiewicz), whom she gave the alias of Alexander Chaikovski.

On 19 July 1925, Mrs. Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann, a sculptress and children’s writer from Riga who now lived in Berlin, was approached by a local philanthropist called Dr. Karl Sonnenschein. The doctor asked her to call upon him as he wanted to consult with her about an invalid Russian lady. This woman had been resident for the last six months in the house of a German police inspector, Franz Grünberg, but was now seriously ill.

A month earlier, on 19 June 1925, Inspector Grünberg had written the following account of the Russian lady living at his house: “On 17th February, 1920, a young girl was rescued from the Landwehr Canal, into which she had thrown herself with the intention of committing suicide; she was then taken to the Elizabeth Hospital in the Lützowstrasse. As she would answer no questions, she was transferred as a presumably mental case to the mental institution at Dalldorf (Wittenau), where she remained for about two years without giving any information whatsoever in regard to herself.

“In the same ward in the institution, there was a certain Mrs. P. (first admitted in 1922), at present 54 years of age, an apparently educated person, who seems at an earlier period to have lived with high-class families in Russia. It has not been possible to obtain any further particulars about this woman owing to the difficulty in securing official information from the Russian authorities. This Mrs. P. discovered in the mysterious ?Unknown Lady’ a resemblance to the youngest daughter, Anastasia, of the murdered Tsar, and, after her discharge from the institution, communicated her discovery to the former Russian officer, Mr. von S. The latter in his turn informed other Russian émigrés in Berlin, including a German-Russian, Baron von K., who had formerly been a provincial official of some kind in Russian Poland, and who took charge of the ‘Unknown Lady.’ In so doing, he was not influenced merely by charitable motives, but certainly also by more selfish intentions inasmuch as, in the event of the restoration of the Russian monarchy, he hoped to benefit by having befriended Miss Anny and obtained recognition for her. However, he paid very little attention to the serious state of Anny’s health, and introduced swarms of Russians into the house for the purpose of having her identified (in which he was to some extent successful), and this became so objectionable to the ‘Unknown Lady’ that she sought refuge with another family.

“The secret was communicated to me by another Government official, who had in the meantime been transferred from Berlin to the police district of Breslau, and I decided to have Anny moved in August, 1922, to our country estate at Neuhoff-Teltow, as it was imperative that she should live in the country. Her nerves had been completely shattered by her two years’ residence at Dalldorf. Moreover, she was suffering from the effects of a blow on the head from the butt of a rifle, to which reference will be made later, with the result that she became mentally afflicted. She also suffers from inherited weakness.

“She gave me the following information about her origin:

“She most definitely asserts that she is Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the Tsar. The Tsar and Tzaritsa, with their eldest [sic] daughter, Maria, were the first of the Royal Family to be removed from Tobolsk to Ekaterinburg. Owing to the illness of the heir apparent, Alexei, he, with his sisters Olga, Tatiana, and Anastasia, followed later.

“Anastasia gives the following account of the night of the murder, which only differs from the description given by the Swiss language master Gilliard in that, according to her story, only a brief interval occurred between the removal of the Royal Family from the first storey to the cellars, and the murder. According to her, Gilliard was not in a position to give an exact description of what took place, because he was not an eye-witness of the murder. The account given by Anastasia describes how, on the night of the murder, the Jew, Abraham Yurovski (who had consistently treated the Royal Family in a most brutal manner), rushed with the assassins into the room occupied by the terrified family. After that, she can only remember that Yurovski himself shot her father, the Tsar, through the temple, after which the other Bolsheviks began a general fusillade and butchery. As she fell she could only see the carpet in the room, of which she gives a detailed and accurate description; she then swooned. She eventually regained consciousness, after a period of several weeks, in a peasant’s cart, and was told the following by her companions: The Bolsheviks had forced a Roman Catholic Pole (whom she knew under the name of Chaikovski), who, with his parents and brothers and sisters, was working a small farm near Ekaterinburg, to join the guard. After the massacre, he discovered slight signs of life in Anastasia, and profited by the general confusion to cover her with a blanket, and fled with her to his farm. For fear of the Bolsheviks, he took flight with his parents, brothers, and sisters, and reached the Rumanian frontier, travelling by night in his farm-cart. Anastasia’s wounds (her skull had been fractured by a blow with the butt of a rifle, and she had also received a bayonet wound in the hand) were only dressed with cold water. The Rumanian frontier was secretly crossed, and the family obtained quarters in Bucharest, although, owing to the disorder of her mental faculties, Anastasia cannot give even a vague description of the place. After her recovery, she married Chaikovski out of gratitude. No proper civil ceremony appears to have taken place, nor can she name the church in which she was married. She gave the name of Anastasia Romanov: a child had already been born, which she states was baptized in the name of Alexei.

“Shortly afterwards her husband was shot by the Bolsheviks. She maintained the whole family by selling the pearls and brilliants which she, like the other Princesses, had sewn into her clothing. She states that the clothing which she wore on the night of the murder and the underlinen marked with her initials are still in the possession of the Chaikovski family at Bucharest, and would appear to furnish important evidence in support of her claims.

“After the murder of her husband, she travelled with the latter’s brother in February, 1920, to Berlin by way of the so-called ‘Green Frontier,’ in order to visit her mother’s sister, Princess Henry, at Hemmelmark in Schleswig. Anastasia, however, cannot recall the name of the hotel at which they both stayed. Wholly overcome by despair, she made an attempt at suicide...”

Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann took the lady claiming to be Anastasia into her care. She slowly won the confidence of the woman and compiled an account of her journey from Ekaterinburg to Berlin. She was convinced that “Chaikovski” was an assumed name used by Anastasia’s rescuer and his brother during the dangerous flight through Russia, which was then in a state of turmoil. This is her account of the story in the woman’s own words:

“...In that terrible night we were all suddenly awakened. We four girls were sleeping in one room, our parents in another with our brother. We were told to get up quickly and dress ourselves, because there was trouble in the town, and there might be some shooting. We were, therefore, to be taken to the ground-floor. I believe I put on a costume and a blouse; I did not, however, put on the coat of the costume, in the buttons of which were sown my diamonds; neither did my sisters, if I remember rightly; it was summer and we were only going down below. I remember I put on a pair of light shoes – slippers they were. My sister Olga was the calmest of us all. Papa carried our brother; Mamma was half-fainting with fright; I really believe that, half-senseless as she was, she experienced less than any of us the awful terror of it all...

“I can only remember that I suddenly saw that they were shooting at us; that in the middle stood Yurovski in the act of shooting at Papa... I can remember that I was standing beside my sister Olga, and sought shelter behind her shoulder. Then I remember nothing more, except that I had a feeling as if everything was going round, that overhead was a blue sky with golden stars twinkling and scintillating. Then I knew nothing more...

“When I recovered consciousness, I was lying on a heap of straw in a wagon. I did not know who the people were that I could hear talking. I only felt that, as the wagon jolted, my head ached terribly, that it was swathed in damp cloths, and that my hair was matted with blood. In order to bring me round, my whole body had been rubbed with vinegar and onions.”

“I cannot say that I was conscious, for I know nothing except that I was dangerously ill; I could think of nothing, and the only thing that I longed for was that this terrible jolting, which threatened to shake my head from my shoulders, might cease...

“Do you know what a Russian peasant wagon is? ... No, you don’t know. To know that you must have lain in one with a fractured skull...

“At times, I could not bear this jolting, and I had to cry out in pain and despair, and then the people lifted me out, carried me for long distances...

“How long was I travelling in this manner? ... That I don’t know. Weeks perhaps, months perhaps... We came through such lonely districts; we had to rest in forests, and we travelled on many roads. The whole time I was stupefied by the pains in my head, one hand was crushed and covered with blood, my face and mouth pained me.

“I remember that among the straw in the wagon there were a number of bottles which were always full of fresh water; this was for my head. There were times, when we had travelled for too long a period over unfrequented roads, that we had no water, and our provisions ran out. Soft, black bread was placed in my mouth so that I should not starve. I believe these people often gave me their last piece of bread and went hungry themselves.

“My head was bathed with cold water, and since that time I have always thought that neither medicine nor a surgeon’s skill could help me. I think that these simple Russian peasants often know better than the doctors how to treat wounds.

“I also remember that at times I was lifted out of the wagon, and for days at a time I was able to obtain some rest from the jolting of the wagon in some strange peasant hut.

“Previously, in Tobolsk, our jewels had been sewn up in our clothing. They consisted of unset stones and my rope of pearls, which, without being unstrung, had been sewn along a seam. The last time I had this string of pearls in my hand was in Bucharest before it was sold by Chaikovski. If I had not had these with me, we could not have come through alive. With them Chaikovski paid for the new wagons we had to buy to replace those which, owing to the bad state of the roads, were unable to proceed farther. Often we had to purchase another horse. There were four people with me, two men and two women. The women often sat with me in the wagon in which I was lying. The men told me their name was Chaikovski; the women also had this name. Later, in Bucharest, when I was somewhat better and for the first time had asked after my people, one of the two men, Alexander Chaikovski, related to me what had happened... that he had been in the house when the horrible crime had been committed, and that he had seen that I was still alive; he had felt sorry for me and had quickly thrown a covering over me, and, at great risk, had carried me away.

“I cannot recall, however, having seen this Chaikovski among the soldiers of the guard during the time we were at Ekaterinburg. The soldiers were constantly being changed. During the latter part of the time, there were many Letts in the guard. These were the most evil and barbarous men I have ever seen.

“Alexander Chaikovski was of medium height, his hair was brown, his face shapely and well defined, with a narrow nose and a small moustache. His whole face seemed as if it had been chiselled out of stone – immovable and stern. He looked as if he could never laugh. He spoke to me always in Russian, but among themselves they spoke Polish, and I could never understand what they said to each other. They were merely simple peasants. The older woman was about forty; she was called Maria, and, presumably, was the mother of the other three. This woman also had a well-cut face and dark hair. The name of the younger woman was Veronica; she was very peasant-like in appearance and had a broad, red face. Both women were always very good to me, and did everything they could to keep me alive.

“The other man was called Sergei. I find it rather difficult to describe him; he, like Alexander Chaikovski, was between twenty and thirty years of age, and was also of medium height and very good-natured.

“When I was sufficiently myself to be able to open my eyes and see the people who were with me, I did not get the impression that they were soldiers, since they were dressed as peasants, and not one of them wore a soldier’s cap. The women also looked like other peasant women, and had cloths wrapped round their heads.

“Later, however, in Rumania, all four dressed themselves in a much better manner; they discarded their cloths, and the two Chaikovskis always wore good suits. Alexander Chaikovski was so well developed that in his new clothes he did not look at all like a common soldier, but more like an officer.

“I am to-day seized with a terrible fear when I look back, and think how, sick and unwashed as I was, with a wretched feeling that something terrible was happening, I was forced for weeks to travel through forests and over roads like a gipsy, continually in fear of being discovered.

“We often remained in forests while the men went out to look for lodgings. The Chaikovskis told me they wished to take me to Rumania, that we should be safe there, and that a relation of theirs, a gardener, would give us shelter. We were in several towns in Rumania. I was still too ill to travel far, so that I often stayed in strange rooms among strange people. When Chaikovski told me in Bucharest what had happened to my parents and my brothers and sisters, I was so upset that I became ill. It was a bad form of nervous fever, and I must have been ill for a very long time.

“I can only remember that the two women wrapped me in sheets on which snow had been spread, in order to reduce the fever.”

Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann writes: “The two soldiers who saved her told her their name was Chaikovski. The journey to Rumania took weeks. After her arrival, she was ill the whole time. She chiefly suffered from frightful pain from the wound in her head. She later developed a nervous fever. While she was still ill, she was compelled to bear a child by one of the brothers, Alexander Chaikovski. When she was well enough to get up, she insisted on his marrying her, and the ceremony took place in a Catholic church in Bucharest. She cannot, however, remember whether the priest gave her a ring; nor whether Chaikovski received one as part of the ceremony. She explains this by assuming that it is not customary to exchange rings in the Catholic Church. She was married in a black dress and a hat with a black veil.

“She further does not know how the child was baptized, nor in what surname it was registered. She had never troubled about it, but only refused to allow it to be given the name of Romanov. Soon after the wedding, Chaikovski was shot in the street. She knows nothing beyond this: she never heard any details of the murder, and can only imagine that the Bolsheviks did away with him in revenge for rescuing her. She saw his corpse, and at the funeral drove to the ceremony with the two women who belonged to the Chaikovski family. Early in 1920, she was so far recovered that she decided to go to Germany to see her godmother, Princess Irene of Prussia.

“I asked her why, when she was in Rumania, she had not sought the help of Queen Marie, her aunt. ?How could I,’ she replied. ?At first I was very ill; then, when I began to get better, I was horrified to find that I was going to have a child. Could I present myself in this shameful state to the Queen of Rumania?’

“The journey to Germany was terribly exhausting. She was accompanied by Alexander Chaikovski’s brother. The first part of their journey was accomplished by train; but she had to sit for days at a time in the bedrooms of small hotels, while Chaikovski made inquiries regarding ways of crossing the frontier on foot. She frequently collapsed from excitement and exhaustion during these marches. At last, they were again able to take the train. She travelled in a first class carriage, and Chaikovski was careful not to travel in the same compartment. He was always close at hand to protect her, and spared himself no trouble to make the journey as comfortable as possible for her. She constantly asserted that he had always treated her with the utmost respect, and that he and his family had always been kind to her.

“She also remembered Alexander Chaikovski without bitterness or hatred, although he had brought this shame upon her. ?A peasant,’ she said, referring to him, ?is a man of a different nature from ours. Often he does not know what he is doing. I do not wish to judge him too harshly, nor think of him with bitterness. He saved me, and afterwards lost his life by reason of me.’

“They arrived in Berlin. She still remembers that Chaikovski inquired in the train about an hotel; but, as he could only speak Russian, he found it difficult to make himself understood. Finally, he obtained the address of an hotel, which they reached after a short drive. They got out in front of the hotel and booked two rooms. Hers opened on to the corridor, some little distance from Chaikovski’s room. She remembers all this; but cannot recall the name of the hotel. The journey had quite exhausted her, for she had been travelling for weeks with her companion.

“She spent her first night in Berlin, walking up and down her room, restless, frightened, desperate. She realized how lonely she was. She had lost everything. Moreover, she was terribly afraid of the future, and dreaded to confess to her Aunt Irene that she had had a child. Hardly aware of what she was doing in her misery, and not knowing where to turn for help, she left her room during the night. She suddenly found herself by the water, out of which she was later rescued. She could not realize that she was still alive. She only came to her senses when they began to resuscitate her.

“She was taken to the Elizabeth Hospital, where she refused to give her name. She would not speak, for she feared to be handed over to the Soviet Government. Nor would she give her name when she was subsequently removed to the mental institution. She remained silent for two and a half years (only once, under the promise of the strictest secrecy, she confided her story to Sister Thea Malinovski, now Mrs. Dr. Chemnitz). She was dreadfully worried by the questions of the doctors and nurses. Once a man came, probably a police officer, who interrogated her in a merciless manner in order to ascertain her name. Still she kept silence, fearing the Bolsheviks.”

The woman told Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann: “Ever since my journey through Russia in the farm-cart, I have never been able to free myself from the fear of being recognized and handed over to the Soviet Government. All the time in Rumania I lived in dread of this, and only left my room twice, for the wedding and funeral, and this fear still haunts me.”

This is backed up by Dr. Lothar Nobel, the house doctor at the Mommsen Sanatorium in Berlin, where the sick woman was transferred in July 1925. Dr Nobel wrote at the end of March 1926: “Possibly the reason for her avoidance of Russian was because she was forbidden to speak it during her flight, and also because of her fear of being discovered.”

Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann spent a whole year nursing the invalid, day and night. During this period, she wrote down all her utterances and then published these notes, hoping that witnesses would then come forward to substantiate her compiled material. Her assumption proved correct: “Among the innumerable communications I received were letters from persons who had been in Ekaterinburg at the time of the murder of the Tsar and his family. They confirmed the fact that one of the daughters had been saved, and that notices had been placarded all over the town offering a reward for the discovery of the vanished Grand Duchess and the deserters who had aided her in her flight. I shall let these witnesses speak for themselves.”

Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann received a number of letters from Siberian witnesses. When reproducing her correspondence, she indicated names and often places by their initials only “in order to spare the witnesses unpleasantness”.

A letter dated 6 March 1927 from “A. H.” in Oberlangenbielau in Silesia informs: “My attention having been drawn to your interesting publications and notes on the subject of the alleged Grand Duchess Anastasia, the daughter of the Tsar, I am sending you some information which may perhaps be of importance in your further work of investigation, and may serve as a guide in many points.

“I was taken as a prisoner to Russia in July, 1916. At first I was in hospital at Kiev and then went to Kashira as an exchange medical attendant in an ambulance camp, where I remained until January, 1918. After the second Revolution, I made an attempt to get home in company with eight fellow-countrymen. We travelled by train in 1918 by Briansk to Novosybkov, with the idea of reaching the German or Austrian troops on foot from there by way of Gomel. Shortly before Gomel, we were captured by Russian, that is, Bolshevik, reconnoitring patrols, and brought back to Klintsy-Unecha, where we were kept in prison for several days until our identity was established. Then it was proposed that we should take service at good pay as doctors and surgeons in the Red Army, then a party section. I and one of my friends were appointed to a hospital train, the others were distributed over the various Otriads as army surgeons. We remained on this section of the Front until the end of April, when the German and Austrian troops entered Gomel and Novosybkov. We were then ordered to the Siberian Front with the hospital train, and reached Ekaterinburg on 17th May, 1918. We established ourselves in the goods station, where we received the sick and wounded and passed them on in the transport trains.

“An International Battalion and some Letts were also stationed at Ekaterinburg, and from them we learned almost all that had happened both in town and country. The duties of the International Battalion and the Letts included the guarding of the Imperial Family in their internment up to the beginning of July, 1918.

“At the outset of their internment in Ekaterinburg, the Imperial Family had been permitted to pass many hours in the open air, which resulted in the following incidents, which in the end hastened the murder.

“Two of the daughters, probably Olga and Tatiana, apparently often spoke to the guards and held lengthy conversations with them. Flirtations even developed. In the course of an inspection, the sentry was found with one of the Grand Duchesses, whereupon a drastic investigation was ordered and carried out. The Imperial Family was forbidden to leave the house, except with specified high Soviet commandants. In the course of the investigations, very incriminating material seems to have been discovered, showing that the Imperial Family had received letters through the medium of individual guards from citizens of the town, and that plans for their escape were being plotted. After that, the Imperial Family were prohibited even from standing at the windows, because the Grand Duchesses had again and again tried to come to an understanding and keep in touch with the guard by words and signs. Many citizens accused of espionage and aiding in the plans for the escape of the Romanovs were shot. The International Battalion and the Letts were sent to the Front, and the guarding of the Imperial Family was taken over by officers of the Cheka. The founding of the Cheka belongs to this period; it consisted chiefly of sailors. Things became worse and worse; the best of the citizens were shot (always at night), many of them being involved in the plot of escape only by means of false accusations. Tension increased, everybody expected a change in the position; these were terrible days.

“We learned of the murder of the Imperial Family from sick sailors who had been brought in a few days after it occurred. It was said that the discovery of weapons during a domiciliary visit was the cause of the death sentence. It was further rumoured that two of the Grand Duchesses had disappeared in some unexplained manner. A whole series of proclamations and orders was issued relating to the harbouring of strange persons. An order was also issued concerning deserters from the Army, in which order the death penalty was reintroduced. An announcement “to the population and the Army” stated that, in the course of the execution of the sentence passed on the Romanov family by the Ekaterinburg Soviet, various persons had hampered the work of the executioners and had fled with female members of the Romanov family, taking valuables with them. The deserters were mentioned by name, and the order went on as follows: ?Into the midst of us, the pillars of the Soviets, Tsarist counter-revolutionaries have crept, which is a proof that a counter-revolutionary movement, already far advanced, is in train, of which the Imperial Family was at the head.’ Unfortunately, I did not note the names of the deserters, as I never imagined at that time that this might one day perhaps be important for a victim of this tragic occurrence. One thing, however, is certain, that one or more members of the Imperial Family are in existence, for the murderous crew was aware that one or the other of their victims had escaped them. The search for them was carried on zealously, and roused terrible fury. Many persons were imprisoned on the charge of having sheltered the fugitives and shot after a summary trial. Houses were searched everywhere, and also the hospitals, especially the women’s wards, which were placed permanently under strict supervision. The Soviet excesses became worse and worse, the atmosphere more and more charged with tension, partly on account of the terrible happenings in the town, and partly on account of the continued failures on the Front, the approach of the White Army and the Czechoslovaks from Ufa and Tobolsk and the alleged discoveries of the plots for the escape of the Romanovs. Further events up to 24th July were indescribable. Shootings went on all the time; no one was sure whether he would be alive to-morrow, the Soviets saw counter-revolutionaries and participants in the plot of escape in everybody who was not a soldier. On 24th July we finally departed from the hell of Ekaterinburg.

“Have you not made an attempt to get some enlightenment from the Soviet authorities? The orders and proclamations issued by the Ekaterinburg Soviet to the citizens and the Army between 17th and 25th July, 1918, would be particularly significant. The incidents I have mentioned would be bound to be cleared up in this way. The authorities would be bound to acknowledge that soldiers of the Red Army had assisted in the disappearance of individual members of the former ruling house. Try to get into touch with the Soviet Legation in Berlin. I believe that they might be interested in clearing up the affair, and would assist in trying to discover whether the member of the Imperial Family who escaped is alive, and whether she is living. It would be good policy for the Soviets to prove to the world that they wish to make reparation to the survivor of the Ekaterinburg crime.

“P.S. I would like to add that the International Battalion had no interest whatever in the murder of the Imperial Family, and were apparently on the side of the Romanovs, as already mentioned in the foregoing letter. The soldiers on duty behaved properly towards the Romanovs, and probably it was just fate that they assisted in the efforts to escape. It is no concern of mine to defend the Internationalists or to break a lance for the Germans. I myself belong to Vienna. But truth is truth.

“Our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bobrik, pronounced this view: so long as the Internationals are here, things will be all right, but what will happen later? A member of the Ekaterinburg Soviet who had business with us said to Dr. Bobrik: ‘Our people should not be used for such work; they’ll either let them go, or one day they’ll do the whole family in.’”

A year later, on 5 March 1928, the witness “A. H.” wrote a second letter to Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann in which he complies with her request for more information:

“I, or rather we, arrived with the ambulance in Ekaterinburg on 14th May, 1918. We established ourselves in the goods station, the name of which I have forgotten, about six or eight versts from the town. We often came into town. We remained in Ekaterinburg until 24th July, 1918.

“The posters were displayed on all public buildings, columns, and similar places, and consisted of orders to the Army and proclamations addressed to the populace. Large numbers were also distributed.

“I repeat the contents again. In the course of the execution of the sentence passed on the Romanov family by the Ekaterinburg Soviet, various persons had hampered the work of the executioners, and had fled with female members of the Romanov family, taking valuables with them. The deserters were mentioned by name. But in spite of all the efforts of memory I have made, I cannot recall the names of the deserters.

“The search was carried on in the whole town and the surrounding country. Special attention was devoted to the hospitals to discover whether wounded were still being treated there. Every dressing done and all medical attention given had to be notified, and reports sent in daily. My letter of last year gave you an exact description of the period and the events at the time of the murder of the Imperial Family. Unfortunately, I know no one in Germany who was in Ekaterinburg with me; my friends were Fischer and Jelliccek, who died of typhus in Astrakhan in October, 1918. Most of those in Ekaterinburg were Letts, Hungarians, Czechoslovaks, and a few Austrian-Germans – these took part in guarding the Imperial Family; I saw very little of them, and they left Ekaterinburg at the beginning of July. I would advise you to advertise in Budapest, Prague, Reichenberg, and Vienna, asking persons who were in Ekaterinburg at the time to communicate with you. Try Livonia and Courland too. The Chief Medical Officer was a Courlander, and had been at the University of Dorpat. Dr. Bobrik came from Kovno.”

A letter from someone with the initials “F. J.”, sent from Breslau and dated 22 March 1927, contained the following information:

“I was employed by Mr. von Przyluski, a large estate owner, in Starkoviets, as a farm and land steward, where I had also the supervision of Russian prisoners of war. One of these prisoners was a well-educated man, with whom I used frequently to talk in Polish. The conversation sometimes turned on the Russian Royal Family.

“In the year 1918, he one day read to me a letter from his parents in Russia. This letter stated that the youngest daughter of the Tsar had been rescued and had probably fled to Germany.

“A Mr. Rusznovski also lived on this estate. He was of noble blood, and unfortunately died in 1920. This Mr. Rusznovski told me that he was in touch with Russian families of the highest social position, from whom he had received the news that Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the Tsar, had escaped and fled to Rumania.

“I am prepared at any time to declare on oath that what I have stated is true.”

On 12 March 1927, the Allgemeine Zeitung of Königsberg published the account of a local merchant, K. W., who had been a prisoner of war in Siberia at the time of the murder of the Tsar.

“Thanks to his special training, the gentleman in question had made a special position for himself. He was not only a kind of camp elder, but also made journeys to other prison camps to look after the supply of clothing, provisions, etc. But it was to his great musical gifts that he chiefly owed his great freedom of movement. Mr. K. W., according to his own account, was allowed to move with complete freedom in the society of the little town in which the camp was situated; he was even permitted to go on concert-tours in the district with a Russian woman musician. The little town, Sysva by name, was on the Perm-Ekaterinburg line. It contained the great Shuvalov works (sheet rolling mills, etc.), which made the little town with its factory-suburb Sysvenski-Savod an industrial centre with a very lively social life. Mr. K. W. states that, shortly after the event took place, at the end of July or the beginning of August, the news of the murder of the Imperial Family reached Sysvenski-Savod, and that it was again and again asserted, always with obstinate certainty in Russian circles in the town, that one of the Grand Duchesses, Anastasia or Tatiana, had been rescued in the general confusion by a Russian soldier. One version declared that the rescue had been possible because the Grand Duchess in question had fainted, the other maintained that the girl had seemed to be dead. The same story was repeated to Mr. K. W. on a concert-tour he made about the same time to the town of Tagil, which is nearer Ekaterinburg. Later, Mr. K. W. had an opportunity of seeing the railway carriage with the murderers of the Imperial Family. In their retreat, a so-called ‘international regiment,’ in which there were many German prisoners who from poverty or other reasons had become Red guardsmen, halted for a short time in the station at Kalino. One of these Red guardsmen told our authority, pointing to a first or second class carriage which was included in the transport train otherwise composed only of cattle trucks, that the murderers of the Tsar were in that carriage.”

The newspaper added the following extract from a letter written by Mr. L., a tax inspector belonging to Bartenstein, which confirmed and supplemented the report of Mr. K. W. of Königsberg: “At the time of the murder of the Tsar, I was interned in the war prison camp at Kansk-Enniseiski. We of course learned of the murder from the Russian Press; but, though this is not important, my memory gives Tobolsk as the scene of the crime. Shortly afterwards there was a rumour in the town of Kansk and also in the camp to the effect that one of the Tsar’s daughters had been saved, and was escaping to the Far East with a Russian soldier. The Russian Press also discussed it, as I could establish by questioning the gentlemen who regularly read the papers aloud.”

Indirect evidence of the flight from Siberia comes in the form of a conversation between Count Kuno von Hardenberg (former marshal of the court of Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse, Anastasia's uncle) and Miss Amy Smith (a friend of Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann and the granddaughter of a mayor of Hamburg) in Darmstadt in the summer of 1925. Count Hardenberg related that a German prisoner of war, a barber, had sought him out in order to report the following to him. During his flight to Germany, he had met a peasant’s wagon in the region of Ekaterinburg, and for a time had accompanied the persons with it. Hidden in the straw of the wagon were lying two wounded Grand Duchesses (Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann believed that he might have mistaken one of the peasant women for another daughter of the Tsar).

Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann also collected second-hand accounts supplied by various Red Guards. On 12 April 1928, Professor Ludwig Berg signed the following statement in Berlin: “Piatakov, the commissar of the department which received the order to shoot the Imperial Family in Ekaterinburg, told a Russian Bolshevik after the murder that one corpse was missing when the dead bodies were placed in the lorry to be taken away and burned.”

On 20 May 1928, Olga Vissor of Hildegardstraße in Berlin wrote: “In September, 1920, I was compelled to enter the service of the 13th Red Army. I was employed in the finance section. One of my fellow-workers was a young Esthonian. I prefer not to give his name, as he is still living in Russia, and I might perhaps cause unpleasantness for him. There was much talk in Russia at that time about the death of the Royal Family. The young man in question told me the following story. He was stationed in Ekaterinburg at the time of the murders. Immediately after the murders, a rumour arose that one of the Tsar’s daughters had escaped. There was great excitement in the town. Posters were distributed all over the town and the neighbouring districts announcing the escape of one of the Tsar’s daughters and offering a reward for her recovery.”

On 13 March 1927, the Hanover Anzeiger published the following statement made by a former Red guardsman: “Since I have for some time been reading with interest in the Hanover Anzeiger the articles on the ‘riddle of Anastasia,’ I recall a conversation which I had in the spring of 1920 with a Russian who had been one of the guards of the Imperial Family in Ekaterinburg up to the night of the murder.

“I was a prisoner of war in Siberia for six years , and, during that time, as I mostly came in touch only with Russians, I gained a good knowledge of the Russian language. I had done so well in my workshop that, under the Bolshevik Government, I became the manager of a small State undertaking near the town of Kansk.

“In this capacity I made the acquaintance, in the beginning of 1920, of a Russian, Sergei Mikhailovich Komarov by name. We soon became friendly. Komarov had been seriously wounded on the Siberian railway during the pursuit of the defeated Kolchak army, and on his recovery, being a shoemaker by trade, he was entrusted with the temporary management of the State shoemaking workshop in Kansk. He was a convinced communist, and his programme included equality and fraternity; but he condemned political murders. He often told me of his war and revolutionary experiences, so that I soon knew all about them. But he would not talk of the murder of the Tsar, of which I had so far heard no details. One day when I visited him, he was terribly depressed, and, in answer to repeated questions, he told me that he had received a letter from home in which his sister reproached him for having taken part in the murder of the Royal Family. Then he told me the whole story.

“As a soldier of the Red Army, he had, in the summer of 1918, been a member of the squad charged with guarding the Tsar and his family in Ekaterinburg. Certain members of the guard had secretly shown the Imperial Family little kindnesses, and had also permitted alleviations in their condition which were strictly forbidden. Long before the murder, mutterings were heard to the effect that the Imperial Family should be shot; these had always made him shudder inwardly. The pretext for the murder was found when the White Army was approaching Ekaterinburg. He had not taken part in the actual murders; he had cleared out beforehand; but he had to assist afterwards in clearing away the dead bodies, which task lasted till daylight. The discovery was then made that, although the whole Imperial Family had been murdered, one corpse, that of one of the daughters, had completely disappeared. (He mentioned the name, but I, feeling no particular interest on the point, have forgotten it.) Investigations were also made; but, up to the time of the withdrawal of the Red troops from Ekaterinburg, no one had discovered what had happened to the corpse.

“Komarov took the view that one of the guards, who perhaps had a special interest in one of the Tsar’s daughters, had taken the corpse aside and secretly buried it. No other persons could have entered the room where the murders were committed, but after the murder there was both time and opportunity to remove a dead body. In other particulars, he gave the usual account of the deed, which he strongly condemned.

Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann believed that it was a matter of great importance to make investigations in Rumania, in order to test the woman’s story of her stay there and, if possible, find witnesses. As all her own time was taken up in looking after the invalid, she twice employed agents to make investigations in Rumania and this is her story of what they found:

“The only information given by the invalid was as follows. The two soldiers who had saved her were members of the company of Red guardsmen who had guarded the Imperial Family in Ekaterinburg. These two men, whom she described as of medium height, with dark brown hair and of good appearance in the middle twenties, were brothers. They called themselves to her by their surname of Chaikovski. One of the brothers told her that as the corpses were being removed from the Ipatiev house he had dragged her off the heap of dead bodies, because she had made a movement, and was not dead. He wrapped her up in a rug and carried her away secretly. According to this man, he possessed a little farm or a house in the neighbourhood of Ekaterinburg. In order to avoid the pursuit of the Bolsheviks, who were searching for a Grand Duchess who had vanished, he had hidden her under straw in a cart and fled with his brother and two women relatives.

“In addition, I knew that the invalid, in 1922, told a Mrs. Tolstoi the name of the street in Bucharest where she had lived under the protection of these two soldiers. It was called the ‘Holy Voievoda.’

“Further, the invalid had told me that her real rescuer, the elder Chaikovski, had been shot in the street in Bucharest at the end of 1919, soon after she had married him. For she had given birth to a boy in the autumn of 1919. She described the circumstances as follows.

“When she began to recover from the severe nervous fever which followed their flight, her rescuer took his reward from her in spite of her wretchedness. But she had not allowed him to live with her as a husband. When at last she began to feel stronger after the birth of the child, she wished to be married, so that her child at least should not be illegitimate. The soldier Chaikovski for a long time refused to marry her; but at last he yielded to her urgent desire. He married her in a Catholic church. When I asked her about the form of the marriage, whether the priest who married them had exchanged the wedding rings and whether she had signed a marriage certificate, she replied: ‘No, that is probably not the custom in the Catholic Church.’ The marriage she described as follows. She had sat on a bench in the church, and a service had been conducted. She had worn a black silk dress and a black hat with a thick black veil. After the service, Chaikovski said to her that she had now had her wish and was married to him.

“This description of the wedding had awakened in me justifiable doubts whether it was really a marriage. I had the impression that they had dangled the hope of marriage before her to keep her quiet. Perhaps he was already married to one of the women who accompanied them on the journey.

“The Queen of Rumania, who, in the most praiseworthy manner, had shown great interest in the affair, ordered police headquarters at Bucharest to put all its officers and records at my disposal. This was done. I owe a special debt of gratitude to the Chief of Police at Bucharest, Mr. Vladimirescu, who placed a motor-car at our disposal, gave access to all the police records, and commissioned an official to give my investigator all possible assistance.

“The investigations showed that the name of Chaikovski was not to be found in any record, register of arrivals, or church register. The only persons of this name were an old lady belonging to the family of the famous composer, and living in a ladies’ home at Jassy, and a Colonel Chaikovski, who had been arrested along with his wife in connection with a big espionage case in Bucharest in 1925, but had nothing to do with the Anastasia affair. His wife had thrown herself out of a window. Nor had the Institut médical légal, in which post-mortems are held on all persons who die an unnatural death in Bucharest, any record of the name of Chaikovski. These facts go to prove the correctness of the supposition that Chaikovski was only an assumed name. Naturally, these investigations did not remain a secret. An article in a Bucharest paper resulted in a letter from a witness in the provinces who had important information to give. This witness was given a hearing, and the Rumanian police made the following minutes of the proceedings, which I had translated from Rumanian into French by a sworn interpreter. The most important point in the record, in addition to the confirmation of the rescue, is that witness A. maintains that the rescuer’s name was not Chaikovski. The name was different; but he could not remember precisely what it was. But he was certain that the Christian name was Stanislav. Unfortunately, I did not receive the report of the investigation into the murder of the Imperial Family carried out at General Kolchak’s orders by the examining magistrate Sokolov until this book was just going to press. It contains, inter alia, several lists of names of the Red guardsmen who were entrusted with the guarding of the Imperial Family. Among the two hundred or so names that are given I hoped to find two brothers, one of whom was called Stanislav. How surprised I was to find, on looking carefully through the names of the section of the Red guard on duty in the upper storey of the Ipatiev house, a Stanislav Mishkevich, and next to him his brother Nikolai. He is the only Stanislav in the whole book. To the name of the brother Nikolai Mishkevich is attached a note, ‘sailor from Petersburg.’ The rest of the Red guardsmen seem all to have been ex-workers in a factory belonging to Slokazov in Ekaterinburg. It is highly probable that it was the name of the rescuer of the Grand Duchess Anastasia that I found in this list. As a worker in a local factory, this Stanislav would have been settled there and probably have possessed a house and also a horse, so that the escape was made possible.

“The description of the appearance of this Stanislav as given by witness A. in the minutes tallies closely with the invalid’s description of the so-called Chaikovski. Not only was the carefully concealed surname, but also the correct Christian name of her rescuer unknown to her.

“My investigations were also directed towards finding the street, ‘Holy Voievoda.’ As this street was not known to the police official nor shown on the map of Bucharest, it could not at first be discovered. It was not till later that by chance we tracked down a little crooked lane in the oldest part of Bucharest which bore the name ‘Sventa Voievoci’ (sventa = holy). At that time I had not yet studied the Sokolov record, and had to rely on the name Chaikovski. Naturally, this name was not known in the street. But whether Stanislav Mishkevich was really registered in Bucharest under the name of Mishkevich has still to be discovered. But it must not be assumed that he, knowing that he was in danger from the Bolsheviks, would have given this name, which was known to the Bolsheviks, to the police in Bucharest.

“In the third place, I tried to find traces of the child which the invalid had left in Bucharest in charge of the two women who lived with the soldiers. In these investigations, I had the following clues. In the spring of 1925, a man appeared in Berlin, a Russian soldier by appearance, the description of whom would have answered the invalid’s description of the brother of the so-called Chaikovski. He not only asked for the invalid at the Dalldorf Institute, but traced her further, and paid a visit to Miss Peuthert, whose name had been mentioned to him at Dalldorf. At Miss Peuthert’s he caught sight of a photograph of the invalid, went up to it, looked at it and burst into tears. He explained to Miss Peuthert that he knew the sick woman very well; she was the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia, and he had brought her from Bucharest to Berlin, where she had vanished.

“After the visit, he made further searches; he sought out the Russian emigrants whose names Miss Peuthert had given him, and also visited the police commissioner who had taken charge of the invalid. In the house of the police commissioner, he learned that the invalid was not in Berlin, but on the commissioner’s estate in the neighbourhood. After this, all trace of this man is lost. I found only one thing, a note in his writing on the back of the photograph of the invalid at Miss Peuthert’s. But nothing can be gathered from this note beyond perhaps the corroboration that the invalid’s name is Anastasia Nikolaevna, for the note apparently runs as follows: Anastasia Nikolaevna, and underneath, Alexandrov, and Alexeev Shorov, Petrograd. I tried to trace this name, but it must also be an assumed one, for I had no success in finding it.

“The man said that the child which the invalid had left in Bucharest had been taken to an orphanage at Galatz. Of course, I tried to trace the child in the two orphanages in Galatz, but without result. In one of them were only the orphans of Rumanian soldiers of school age, so that this one was excluded, and in the other only foundlings and children of unknown name. I was guided in my investigations by a distinguishing mark by which the child could be recognized. What this mark was I am unable to state for certain reasons. But, as I have already said, the child could not be found.

“My second investigation – in May 1927 – resulted as follows. The Bucharest police found a witness who stated that he had, on 5th December, 1918, helped to take the wounded Grand Duchess Anastasia over the Dniester. From there she went to Orgeevka, and from there was taken to Bucharest by Kishinev. He had later received by messenger 5,000 lei for his services from the Grand Duchess Anastasia. After this document, which I include, had been handed over to us by the Rumanian police, I hoped to get further information from this witness, and sent my agent to Jassy where he lived. I have now to record a remarkable fact. In Bucharest, and everywhere where there was a possibility of hearing witnesses, it turned out that a Russian called Vleskov, who had come from Berlin with money and letters, had worked on the witnesses so that they either refused to make any statements or told inconsistent stories. They could tell a lot, but they dared not... The same thing happened with the Jassy witness. He had voluntarily signed the earlier statement, and now he refused to supplement it, and even tried to give misleading information. But, in any case, the information given by this witness up to that point was confirmed by the letter about the sale of the pearls written by one Chokolov to the Grand Duke. The Grand Duke had meantime learned that this Chokolov was a trustworthy person.”

Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann’s inquiries resulted in a number of signed affidavits, shedding new light on the personality of Stanislav Mishkevich. The following declaration was drawn up by the Headquarters of the Police and General Security Central Brigades in 1926:

“I, the undersigned C. C. A., belonging to the town of C., District J, and resident in that town in Gh. D.-street, No. –, depose as follows:–

“From 1917 to April 1918, I was in Russia, where I worked for the Ministry for War Industries as well as for the French military technical mission, for whom I made various journeys to Arkhangel, Petrograd, Riga, Kharkov, Moscow, Simferopol, Sevastopol, Vologda, Ekaterinburg, Kiev, and Odessa, where I made the acquaintance of a large number of Russian officers of the Tsarist army.

“On my return to Rumania, I was still in need of surgical treatment; I betook myself soon after, on 27th November, 1918, to the Filantropia Hospital, which I left again later. One day, as I was sitting on a seat in Victoria Square near the hospital, I was hailed by a Pole, a good friend of mine, whom I had got to know in Russia, where he had served in the Bolshevik army. I knew him as Stanislav. He was of middle height, with dark brown hair, and had a scar on his left eye.

“In Russia, he had been accustomed to address me as ‘Pan,’ as I did him. But I knew that his name was Stanislav, although I did not know his family name.

“After we had chatted for some time, he asked me whether there were any Bolsheviks in Rumania. I answered him that there were none, nor would there be any. As he knew that in Russia I had belonged to the party of the ?Cadets,’ he said that he had something to tell me which was, and must remain, secret. He made me give my word that I would keep the secret, and told me that, if I did not, I would be killed and my family ruined.

“When I had given my word, he began to tell me how he, Stanislav, had with him a seriously injured person whom he wanted to bring to Bucharest, to put in a hospital. It must not, however, be a military hospital.

“Thereupon, I recommended to him Dr. Gerotta’s Sanatorium, which however would be very dear. He answered that that did not matter; he had sufficient money; but the secret must be kept. I answered that if no crime or fraud was involved, he could set his mind at rest, as people in Rumania enjoyed considerable freedom.

“Then he said, ?But if the injured person – is a woman, would I be able to bring her in as a man?’ I said that this would be impossible; whereupon, with tears in his eyes, my friend Stanislav told me the truth:

“?I have in my care a woman from the family of the Tsar, whom Yurovski, the big, rough metal-worker, killed. Yurovski only killed the Tsar, the Tsaritsa, and one daughter. Of the other members of the Tsar’s family who were put to death by the soldiers of the guard, I rescued one of the daughters, and I now want to bring her here with a comrade from a village near Odessa, in the direction of Nikolaev, where I have left her. I wish to save her from the Bolsheviks, who would kill me also, if they knew what I had done.’

“Then I asked him how he had managed to rescue her. He replied that Yurovski, the big, rough Bolshevik, had killed the Tsar, the Tsaritsa, and one of the daughters; he had put the bodies on a ?Packard’ motor van, and had burned them in a wood near the place of the murder, so that Kolchak’s troops, which were approaching Ekaterinburg, should not find them. Of the remaining members of the Tsar’s family, he had saved one daughter, and had brought her in a little cart to the region of Nikolaev-Odessa. She was wounded in the head and the face by a blow from the butt end of a rifle.

“Here we parted, without his having made a decision. I expected that he would write to me at the address I had given him at C.; but I received no news.

“Later, I read in a newspaper of the capital that a Miss von Sp., at the Hôtel Splendid, had come to Bucharest on behalf of the Grand Duchess Anastasia, whom my friend Stanislav had saved. I wrote to this lady that I could give her certain information on the question. This information is the same as that set down here, written and signed by my hand.

“P.S. When we met Stanislav on the Viktoria Platz it was November, 1918. He was very neatly dressed, had a cloak of khaki material with cloth buttons, shoes, and a bowler hat.”

On 4 May 1927, Lieutenant-General A. W. Héroua signed the following memorandum in the Secretariat of the Criminal and Police Department of the Rumanian Ministry of the Interior in Bucharest:

“In an Armenian church in the town of Jassy is employed an Armenian, by name Sarscho Gregorian, who fled from Russia in the year 1919. The above-named person declares that on 5th December, 1918, on the way from Russia to Rumania, he crossed the River Dniester. But, before he crossed the Dniester, he was at a monastery near the Rumanian frontier. At this monastery there was also the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, who, on the night of the murder at Ekaterinburg, was rescued by a soldier of the Red guard. This soldier belonged to the watch of the house Ipatiev, in which the Imperial Family was interned. During the stay in this monastery, in which the fugitive was waiting for a favourable moment to cross the Dniester, the Bolshevist army one night approached, and everyone was forced to flee. The Armenian Sarscho Gregorian, with his wife and three children, crossed the Dniester, as did the Grand Duchess Anastasia, at a point called Resina. From that point, they went to Orgeiev. On the further bank they met a Russian Army officer. who appeared to be a colonel, who took all the fugitives in his car and brought them further on the way to Orgeiev. From Orgeiev, the Grand Duchess was taken to Bucharest. When Sarscho Gregorian was in Kishinev, and to be explicit, on 6th May, 1919, he received through a messenger from Bucharest 5,000 lei from the Grand Duchess Anastasia in token of his help during the flight described above.

“When Anastasia left Kishinev, she sent Sarscho Gregorian a wooden cross and an ikon, and asked him not to have his children baptized until she returned, as she would like to stand sponsor to them. And to the present day the Armenian’s children are still unbaptized, as he is waiting for the return of the Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Another vital piece of evidence became known as the “Pearl Letter”. Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann read Nikolai Sokolov’s report for the White government into the murder of the imperial family and noted: “Both Mrs. Sanotti, the chambermaid, and Tegleva, the nurse, state in the Sokolov record that two of the Tsar’s daughters wore lined under-bodices into which they had sewed a large number of unset stones, mainly diamonds, emeralds, and amethysts, and that the Grand Duchess Anastasia wore the under-bodice in which were sewn the precious stones belonging to the Tsaritsa, in addition to a pearl necklace with one big sapphire and diamonds. The Grand Duchess Tatiana had in her under-bodice the precious stones belonging to the young Grand Duchesses.”

While staying in the Mommsen Sanatorium in Berlin and looking at a pre-revolutionary photograph of the Tsar’s daughters, the woman had told Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann: “My string of pearls is the shortest of all in the photograph; that was because we girls had a number of pearls added to our necklaces every year as a present on our name-day, and so the older we grew the longer our necklaces became. It is the same necklace as was sewn into our clothes when we were in Siberia and which Chaikovski sold in Bucharest... He told me afterwards that he had obtained very little for it.”

Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann continued: “As early as 1925, I informed the Danish Ambassador in Berlin, Mr. Zahle, that the invalid, when telling me of her escape, told me that probably the escape would never have been successful if she had not had valuables with her; these precious stones made it possible, during the flight through Siberia to Rumania, which lasted many months, to exchange the tired horses for fresh ones; several times, too, the terrible roads made it necessary to buy a new carriage. Also, their livelihood in Bucharest was provided for by the sale of these stones. When His Excellency asked the invalid whether she knew how many pounds of precious stones she carried on her person, saying that they must have weighed at least two pounds, she answered with a smile: ?Certainly not as much as two pounds, that would have been too heavy for me; but there were many emeralds among them, and the pearl necklace I had in my hand for the last time in Rumania before the soldier Chaikovski took it away to sell.’

“In the summer of 1927, a gentleman who had been in Rumania in 1919 came to the Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich. On being requested, he wrote to Lieutenant-General A. W. Héroua about a pearl necklace which an unknown young man had offered for sale in Kishinev at that time. The pearl necklace appears to have been sewed into a white-linen bag which was turning yellow. When the invalid was asked for further details about this pearl necklace, she said that the pearl necklace was very beautiful, the pearls were pure yellow, and were sewed into white linen. It is certainly possible that these were two different pearl necklaces; but it seems highly probable from the description that the young man must have been the so-called Chaikovski who offered the Grand Duchess Anastasia’s pearl necklace for sale.”

The gentleman in question was Mr S. M. Chokolov from Teleshevo. On 20 July 1927, he wrote the aforementioned letter to Lieutenant-General A. W. Héroua, which also makes it possible to follow the fugitives’ path from Russia, across the Rumanian frontier on 5 December 1918 to Kishinev or the neighbourhood (with a long stay there), and on to Bucharest. The original letter was written in Russian and copied by Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich, who made the acquaintance of the writer and considered him a trustworthy source:

“Please forgive my silence, but your inquiry did not reach me at the farm, and I wished my reply to be based on nothing less than all the necessary evidence, so that no error should creep in. Besides, in this affair every ill accurate piece of evidence may lead on a false trail.

“I fear that the fact of the sale of a string of pearls has no connection at all with the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna; but I will report the incident briefly, as far as I remember it.

“When I happened to visit the jeweller’s shop of Atatskaia at Kishinev, I saw that she had a string of pearls, which someone had commissioned her to sell. The jeweller offered them to me; but I refused them. Nevertheless, she sent the owner of the string of pearls to my house (No. 15, Sadovaia). The person who represented himself to me as the owner was a young man of from twenty-five to twenty-eight years, elegantly dressed, clean-shaven, with a small moustache, and hair combed straight back. Unfortunately none of us remembers his surname, but he was not called Chaikovski. He said that he had come from Russia, bringing away with him nothing but this string of pearls, and was going on to Bucharest. He wished to sell the string of pearls.

“I advised him to sell the string in Bucharest, where it would fetch a higher price. He explained, however, that he was afraid to take it with him as his papers were not absolutely in order. He was afraid that he would be apprehended and arrested, and that, if so, the string would be stolen from him. He produced a string of pearls of medium size; the pearls were well matched and of a decided yellowish tinge. The string was about an arshin long (about ¾ metre), and held about one hundred pearls. It was sewn into white material, in a bunched-up fashion, so that it could be worn round the waist. As we ourselves were on the way to Bucharest, he asked me to take the string there for him, which I agreed to do. A few days later, apparently at the beginning of May, 1919, we went to Bucharest, where I handed the string over to him, having gone to his hotel for the purpose.

“I remember, further, that I met him a few days later in Bucharest, when he told me that he had sold the string for something between 80,000 and 90,000 lei.”

Professor Dr. Karl Bohnhoeffer visited the woman for about three weeks and signed the following statement in Berlin on 16 March 1926: “Concerning the last experiences of the Tsar’s family, she relates that her father was shot first. She remembers a number of men coming, and a shining starry sky. What happened next she does not know. With regard to the journey to Berlin, she says that she travelled by rail, but got out with her companion before they reached the frontier, and crossed the frontier on foot. They had to inquire the way over the frontier, and she was often completely exhausted. They had sold jewellery to provide money for the journey. The remainder of her jewellery she had left with her protectors in Rumania, to provide something for her child there, too. She had only been a few days here in Berlin before she tried to commit suicide, and was brought to the hospital... she had been very desperate then and had tried to take her life; that she made no attempt to ask for her companion to come to the hospital she explains by her indifference and her distress.”

Dr Theodor Eitel of the Stillachhaus Nursing Home in Oberstdorf in the Bavarian Alps wrote a medical report based on observations of the woman over a period of six months: “Regarding the murder of her family and the period immediately following her escape, the patient says practically nothing. In reply to my inquiry about her flight from Russia, she gives me a Berlin daily paper containing a long article dealing with it and remarks that some part of it is correct; but much of it is false . She herself cannot talk of it at present. She always speaks with extreme gratitude of her rescuer, Mr. Chaikovski. Regarding Bucharest itself, to which town she was brought, she mentions practically nothing. When, in the winter of 1919–20 it became unsafe for her to stop there, she fled on foot across the border into Germany, presumably under particularly difficult circumstances and in terrible weather, and after having, some few months previously, given birth to a child. Having reached Germany, she contemplated proceeding to her relatives. Utterly exhausted and in despair, she states that she tried to commit suicide in February 1920. She describes this action as her greatest ?folly,’ and as being responsible for all the subsequent confusion and assumption that she was mentally deranged.”

Finally, reading the unabbreviated Russian edition of the Sokolov Report, Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann noted an account on page 206 of “a hearing at which Sokolov, the examining magistrate, showed the children’s nurses, Tegleva (now Mrs. Gilliard) and Ersberg, three little enamel ikons which were found with the rest of the remains in the forest where the bodies of the Imperial Family were destroyed. Both stated that the ikon of Saint Nikolai belonged to the Grand Duchess Olga and that the one of Saints Guri, Aviva, and Samon, and the one of the Saviour, belonged to two other daughters. A fourth, which should have been there, as there were four daughters, was missing.

“In 1925, Mrs. Gilliard told me that both the Grand Duchess Olga and the Grand Duchess Anastasia wore pictures of Saint Nikolai on a chain round their necks. That is to say, it was the ikon belonging to the Grand Duchess Anastasia which was missing. I know from the invalid’s statements that she still possessed the ikon, which she wore round her neck, after she was rescued.”

While the Sokolov Report does not mention the rescue of one of the Tsar’s daughters, Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann suggests that “the rescue as a fact, in view of its extraordinary secrecy, could have been known to scarcely any of those who took part in the murders. Moreover, the participators, as Bolsheviks, had left the town in flight.” She goes on to observe that “careful reading of the evidence of the witnesses recorded by Sokolov strongly suggests that they merely answered in a brief form questions put to them, and no one asked about the Grand Duchess Anastasia.”

Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann draws attention to one particularly striking circumstance: “Two witnesses state that the only one of the Imperial children with whom they had anything to do at the time of the murder was the Grand Duchess Anastasia. One of these witnesses was called Yakimov. His evidence may be found on page 227 of the Sokolov record. Yakimov says that when the dead bodies were being removed the Grand Duchess Anastasia ?gave a wild shriek,’ whereupon she was knocked down with the butt end of a rifle.

“Before the appearance of the Sokolov report, an account of the preliminary investigation into the murder of the Tsar was published, which contains the depositions of several witnesses. Their evidence is signed by Starinkevich, the Minister for Justice, and N. Nikiforov, the Director of the Second Department, who had worked under the orders of the Kolchak Army. In this publication, a witness called Gorshkov makes the same statement as Yakimov.

“In view of the material which lies before me, and the reports of witnesses who were in Ekaterinburg at the time of the murder and who confirm the fact of the escape of one of the Grand Duchesses, this must be regarded as possible. It must not be forgotten that the removal of the corpses was carried out in the greatest haste and that Yurovski, the leader of the murderers, wanted to bury the corpses in the forest before sunrise. There is the further fact that a very large number of persons, almost the whole guard posted in and round the house, were ordered to the room in which the murders were committed immediately after the murder (Sokolov), some of them being sent to the upper floor to fetch bed linen and two rolls of military cloth. The dead bodies were wrapped up, and the military cloth was spread over the bottom of the motor lorry so that no blood should fall on the road. About ten Red Guards, taken apparently from those who had been stationed in the house, were ordered to clean up the room, which was swimming in blood, and to wipe down the walls with wet cloths. It appears from the Sokolov record that at least thirty more people were ordered down to the room while the dead bodies were still in it. It is possible that Stanislav and Nikolai Mishkevich, mentioned in Sokolov and supposed by me to be the so-called brothers of Mrs. Chaikovski, belonged to the Red Guards told off to salvage the dead bodies and wash out the floor. I include the reports of eye-witnesses who affirm that one of the daughters, expressly stated to be the youngest, the Grand Duchess Anastasia, may have escaped in the general confusion.”

As we have seen, the Sokolov Report contained a list of names of the inner guard at the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, where the imperial family was imprisoned until their murder on the night of 16/17 July 1918. The inner guard was composed of workers from a local brewery owned by the Zlokazov brothers and included “Nikolai Mishkevich, sailor, from Petrograd; Stanislav Mishkevich, his brother.” The surname Mishkevich (Miśkiewicz) is indeed of Polish (or White Russian) origin.

Unfortunately, nothing else is known of either Stanislav or Nikolai Mishkevich before their time of service at the Ipatiev House in 1918. If you have any local, personal, family or genealogical information about any of the two brothers, we would very much like to hear from you. You can contact the website by writing by email to info@rusartnet.com.

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