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Anastasia and I


Foreword In November 1992, a book titled Anastasia and I appeared in Finland’s bookstores. According to its publisher, Art House, the author of this memoir was simply “Aleksei.” In the book, Aleksei, heir to the Imperial Russian throne, relates the story of his life, which ended in the late nineteen-forties in a mental institution near Narva. According to the book, Anastasia and Aleksei, Czar Nikolai II’s youngest children, managed to escape when the Czar and the rest of his family were executed. They married, had a son, and led a bourgeois life in Moscow. Aleksei became a skilled photographer and recorded with his camera, among other things, the notorious show trials of the Thirties. In World War II, he accompanied Ilya Ehrenburg as a front-line photographer. After the end of the war, the Soviet union was seized by madness. Crazed accusations were leveled at Aleksei, who managed to preserve his peace of mind by declaring himself insane. ALEKSEI: “Now I had to seek treatment, because treatment was the best proof of insanity. I told them who I was.” Boris, Anastasia’s and Aleksei’s son, received his father’s manuscript in the mail, from the hospital in which his father had died. If his parents really were the Czar’s two youngest children, Boris would be the heir to the Russian throne–and his own first cousin. Or was his permanently hospitalized father just a madman? According to Art House, the publishers, this sensational manuscript reached Finland from the archives of the KGB. Paavo Haavikko has dramatized the original manuscript. He is the owner of Art House, and Finland’s literary journalists have discovered stylistic parallels between Aleksei’s and Haavikko’s work. On July thirteenth, 1991, the remains of nine people were brought to the morgue of the hospital in the town of Sverdlovsk, now once again known as Iekaterinburg. The day before, these remains had been exhumed near the village of Koptshak, from a grave presumed to contain the bodies of Russia’s last Czar and his family, who were executed in July, 1918. The skeletons of Aleksei, the fourteen-year-old heir to the throne, and one woman were not found in that grave. (Katariina Lahti) Note on back cover of original edition What we call history, says Paavo Haavikko, is merely realized coincidence, and even its alternatives depend on coincidence. Anastasia and I, the fantastic tale of Anastasia and Aleksei, the last Czar’s children, is a story of conflict between love and growth, permanence and impermanence. A story about loyalty in the midst of madness; a mirror image of the soul of our century.



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