When approached with the idea of a new docudrama based on the life of aka “Evgenia Smetisko/Anastasia Romanov” subject of Anastasia Again: The Hidden Secret of the Romanovsthe representative of an international broadcast heavy weight organization purportedly said, post rejection, “Anastasia died in 1918; everyone knows that!” Breaking sacrosanct narratives of the past can be a daunting task. It requires daily attempts and certain imperviousness to rejection.
Although the Russian Orthodox Church under Patriarch Kirill has not yet made a definitive declaration on the state of the alleged remains of the Romanovs in its possession after their subsequent removal to a laboratory in 2015, much can be understood from the extreme caution the Church is exercising. This hesitation to come to a definitive explanation of whose remains are actually in the sealed glass chambers under heavy security and scientific scrutiny translates to “not yet certain!” The casual reader may spontaneously exclaim, “Wait, weren’t these remains given an imprimatur of authenticity when two more sets of fragmentary remains were found near the main grave pit 2007 six miles north of Ekaterinburg, Russia?” The simple answer, “Nyet!”
In 2015 shortly after this author told a representative of Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in Herkimer County, upstate New York State, not far from Cooperstown, that I had 2D visual face recognition evidence that the woman in their cemetery buried with the name “Evgenia Smetisko” yet with the date of birth of Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov (18 June 1901) and would go to the press when I had 3D analyses, the “Romanov Remains” in Russia were disinterred from the Peter and Paul Cathedral in Saint Petersburg. Coincidence or not, the timing was symbolic as it signaled that there was a lack of a cohesive understanding of the “Romanov Tragedy.
Using the technology of www.visualfacerecognition.com thanks to its founder Mr. Bob Schmitt of Buffalo, New York, 3D analyses only served to bolster the 2D revelations that aka Evgenia Smetisko was not lying when she claimed to be Anastasia Romanov, long dead in public understanding but quite alive outside of her Orthodox icon. Mr. Schmitt now insists,” The comparison of the faces is one of the most accurate I have seen especially considering the difference in ages. There is little doubt it’s the same person.”
A theological conundrum was evident even in 1981 when the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) canonized the entire family of Tsar Nicholas II, assuming they had all died in 1918, which made Anastasia an instant saint. However, in 1981 aka Evgenia Smetisko/Anastasia Romanov visited the ROCOR monastery in Jordanville, NY to discuss how her future donation of Romanov objects and a sizable annuity in perpetuity would be used to fund a museum of Russian History there. When a then young monk asked her companion who the little old lady was, the answer was swift and firm, “Why, that is Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov!” The quandary of how to reconcile sainthood and the miracle of survival is one which is surely part of any inner ecclesiastical discussions to which the laity is not privy.
Monastery officials confirm that aka Evgenia/Anastasia had received many Romanov objects from former tutor to the Romanov children, Charles Sydney Gibbes, who later returned to England, converted to Orthodoxy and became an Orthodox monk. Aka Evgenia/Anastasia visited him various times in the UK, and upon his death his son transferred the priceless objects to E/A most now in the museum her foundation funds in perpetuity. It is worth noting that Gibbes, intimately acquainted with the family, firmly rejected the claims of another woman who had stated she was Anastasia, namely aka Anna Anderson Manahan, later identified as Franziska Schanzkowska.
It is this pivotal challenge to Schanzkowska’s tale, one which was the impetus for the famous film with Ingrid Bergman, which must again be highlighted. Well known researcher, Marie Stravlo, authoress and commentator in various articles, news stories and documentaries about the Romanovs, will soon publish the findings of her international research group about what they propose was the true tale of the last days of the Romanovs. The take away of what is already publicly readable on the Facebook page The Russian Imperial Family Historical Society(RIFHS):what historians have believed and published about what happened in the Ipatiev House may not be exactly what happened, and, YES, Anastasia survived.
Keeping an open mind while evidence is presented can be daunting if we want to believe or are committed to a certain point of view which we do not want to challenge. While the world awaits Stravlo’s purported copious documentation, including promised DNA beyond that analysis which showed Anna Anderson to be a member of the Schanzkowska family, certain challenges appear. Who has the “new” DNA? Who is submitting it? Has it been kept viable in a manner in accord with scientific and forensic protocol? As aka Franziska Anna Anderson Manahan Schanzkowska was cremated in violation of Orthodox canon, how can investigators be sure it really originates with said Anastasia claimant? In the case of aka Evgenia Smetisko/Anastasia Romanov, the body lies intact in a Russian Orthodox grave which boasts the date of birth of the last grand duchess. (insert grave image)When a DNA test is ordered by the NYS FBI, Russian Sledcom, or requested by the Romanov Family, the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) or the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) the sample can be attained under strict protocol and immediately secured, preserved and analyzed without fear of interference, contamination or conflict of interest.
The world awaits not only Stravlo’s tantalizing conclusions about Anastasia’s parents and siblings, but also the definitive identification of the woman buried in the Holy Trinity Monastery graveyard, a 2D/3D visual face recognition match with Anastasia Romanov, even if the church must modify its iconographic representation of the Tsar and his family. Tsarizm will be on top of this story and break any new developments.
- ANASTASIA AGAIN: The Hidden Secret Of The Romanovs
- Anastasia Again: An Interview With The Author, J (Johannes) Froebel-Parker