Tuesday, September 15, 2020

My Grandfather Let Anastasia Escape


My maternal grandparents were from Ukraine. Probably Odessa, but I’ve also been told Kiev. They left that part of the world during the Revolution. My grandfather had been in the Bolshevik army, one of very few Jews, they always said. This is the story my grandfather told me one Thanksgiving – I was probably 12 or 13 – about why they left:

As an army soldier, probably in his late teens or early twenties, he had been assigned to the unit responsible for guarding the palace after Czar Nicholas and his family were captured. My grandfather in particular had some responsibility for guarding Nicholas’ youngest daughter, Anastasia.


At some point, she asked him to get her a drink because she was very thirsty. He knew he shouldn’t, but he felt bad that she should be thirsty.


When he went to fetch her a drink, he accidentally left the door unlatched and she escaped. This would make him the person responsible for the fact that for most of the 20th century, there were nearly a dozen women all claiming to be Anastasia.


Fearing for his life, as he explained it, both because he had let her go and he was a Jew, he headed for the woods, firing at the soldiers chasing him. Somewhere in this, he managed to grab my grandmother and head for the mountains.


They walked through the mountains for some period of time. During this trek, my grandmother gave birth to her first son, my Uncle ___. There’s another story in here that my grandfather used to tell – half in English, half in Yiddish – about how my grandmother kept my uncle swaddled close to her bosom. But they had so many clothes on and were traveling so hard that somewhere along the way, he popped out and they didn’t realize it.


They had to go back down the mountain to find him. Anyway, somehow they managed to get to a coast – I’m not sure where – and board a boat bound, I believe, for Canada. At a stop in Belgium, my Aunt ____ was born. After coming through Canada, they settled in Brighton Beach, NY, a haven for immigrants from Odessa.


Informant was a Jewish American female in her early thirties from the American South

"To Chew Someone Down" Bieganski Interview #1

"Poles are Inherently Comic Janitors" Bieganski Interview # 2

"My Father Began to Conceal His Jewish Origins" Bieganski Interview # 3

They Worked Like Moles Their Whole Lives Bieganski Interview # 4

"She Never, and I Mean Never, Threw Anything Away" Bieganski Interview # 5

"They Always Kept One Token Jew" Bieganski Interview # 6

"White Privilege? I Laugh" Bieganski Interview # 7

"Stalin Died and I Was Set Free" #8

"The Jew is Clever. The Pole is Obnoxious, Loud, and Stupid." #9

No comments:

Post a Comment

Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
These themes include the false and damaging stereotype of Poles as brutes who are uniquely hateful and responsible for atrocity, and this stereotype's use in distorting WW II history and all accounts of atrocity.
This blog welcomes comments from readers that address those themes. Off-topic and anti-Semitic posts are likely to be deleted.
Your comment is more likely to be posted if:
Your comment includes a real first and last name.
Your comment uses Standard English spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Your comment uses I-statements rather than You-statements.
Your comment states a position based on facts, rather than on ad hominem material.
Your comment includes readily verifiable factual material, rather than speculation that veers wildly away from established facts.
T'he full meaning of your comment is clear to the comment moderator the first time he or she glances over it.
You comment is less likely to be posted if:
You do not include a first and last name.
Your comment is not in Standard English, with enough errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar to make the comment's meaning difficult to discern.
Your comment includes ad hominem statements, or You-statements.
You have previously posted, or attempted to post, in an inappropriate manner.
You keep repeating the same things over and over and over again.