Six hundred year old reign of the Czars came to an end on March 14, 1917 when the last monarch Nicholas II was forced to renounce his throne. The country had been devastated by World War I and the Russians held the Czar responsible. To pacify the populace Nicholas II gave powers to Duma or the elected parliament. He continued to support the troops on the war front, but the people wanted him down. So Duma became the new ruling body of Russia. Nicholas Romanov or Czar Nicholas II along with his family including his wife Alexandra, four daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia and only son Alexis were kept under house arrest in Tsarskoye Selo Palace. Soon the radical Bolshevik Movement started and the Romanovs were moved to a secured location in Siberia to protect them from Bolsheviks outrage.
Then in 1917 the Duma government was overthrown by the Bolsheviks and the royal family was moved to Ekaterinberg located on the Eastern slopes of the Ural Mountains by the new government. Though Duma government was courteous to the Romanovs, that was not the case with the Bolsheviks. They kept Czar Nicholas II and his family alive to use them later on as a bargaining chip. In July 1918 the counter revolutionary forces entered Ekaterinburg. They entered the Ipatiev House (where the Romanovs had been kept) and found the house completely empty. On looking into the basement area of the house they found blood splashed all across. Soon the Bolsheviks announced that Nicholas II and his family had been executed by a firing squad for their foul crimes at the Ipatiev House on July 16, 1918 midnight. Not only the Czar family but their servants, attendants and physician (eleven in all) had been executed.
Bolsheviks further informed that the execution had been carried out under the supervision of Jakob Yurovski. Small squad of men performed the execution. Romanov family members along with physician Dr. Eugene Botkin and three other servants were awakened in the middle of the night and led to the basement where they were shot without any prior warning. All the eleven bodies were stabbed and crushed with rifle butts to make sure they were dead. The bodies were then carried for fourteen miles to the Four Brothers Mine, where they were soaked with gasoline, burned and then they were dumped into the swamp along with their possessions. Though such detailed descriptions were given by the Bolsheviks but none of the bodies were displayed. Displaying the bodies would strengthen their movement and give new enthusiasm to their cadres yet it was not done. This led to a rise of mystery.
Many believed that the Bolsheviks never killed the family of Romanovs, only the three servants and Dr. Botkin were executed and the rest of the members were smuggled secretly to Poland or Germany. Such doubts have been raised as Russian government was tied by a peace treaty with Germany. Some even believe that though the Czar, his wife, physician and servants were killed but the children went unharmed. Announcement regarding the execution was just a ploy to dishearten the counter revolutionary forces. When a memorial service for Czar Nicholas II and his family was held in London king George V did not attend it. This sparked the mystery even further as the English king had great relations with the Czar and maybe he knew where Nicholas II and his family were kept hidden.
Soon rumours started flying a woman named Anna Anderson who was settled in the mental asylum in Berlin claimed to be Duchess Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Nicholas II. But DNA tests conducted after her death confirmed that she was not the descendant of Romanov family. Another person Colonel Michael Goleniewski who was a Polish officer working with United States claimed that he was Grand Duke Alexis, the youngest son of the Romanovs. The guest book in his wedding was signed by Olga and Tatiana (two other daughters of Nicholas II). But his claims were blown away as Alexis suffered from haemophilia which is a rare genetic disorder and Alexis had no such symptoms.
Recent studies have revealed that the bodies of Romanovs were buried in the mine by Yurovski and his men. But later on Yurovski felt that this was an easy place for the corpses to be found. So they were burnt and dumped into the swamp. Two bodies of the youngest son and daughter was missing. According to the official documents they were burnt to ashes. But many site this as an excuse for cover-up that helped them live on. Nine skulls were recovered from the swamp and their DNA matched with the missing servants, Dr. Botkin and the Romanovs. Two bodies were missing and have never been found. May be some officer smuggled tow young Romanovs outside Russia. As Alexis was suffering from haemophilia he could not have lived long, but Anastasia could be the sole survivor in the massacre that changed Russia’s history.