Anyone who has studied the monarchical history of Russia will probably recognize the acronym of OTMA. Only the A part of OTMA really gets any attention so I thought I would focus on the OTM. For any who have no idea what I’m talking about, OTMA is the initials of the last Grand Duchesses of the Romanov lineage; Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia. The acronym was self-created and used by the sisters to refer to themselves. The youngest Grand Duchess fascinated the world with rumors that she may have escaped the brutal execution of her entire family. While many people have speculated about the life of the potential surviving Romanov after the Russian Revolution, far less have been interested in the lives of her sisters before.
The girls were the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria (1 of 42 grandchildren). Alexandra is quite an interesting character in history, especially with her connections to Rasputin, but I’ll leave her for a future post.
The Romanov story ends in tragedy with the royal family subjected to captivity and assassination using bayonets by the Bolsehviks in 1918. Anastasia was not the only one thought to have lived through the assassination attempt and for years afterwards there were fake Romanovs appearing. In 2000 the members of the royal family were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church.
By all accounts Olga, the eldest daughter, was very bright and compassionate, but also had a fierce temper. Often forced to provide a behavioural example to her younger siblings, she was usually the one chastised when the others misbehaved. Olga died when she was 22, so there wasn’t a lot of time for her to make her way in the world, especially being so sheltered as the daughter of the Tsar. She did manage a little though, using her fortune to provide charity for others and served as a nurse in World War I with her next eldest sister, Tatiana. Though Olga never married, she did have a romantic attachment to several soldiers while she waited for
her marriage to be decided by her parents.
Tatiana is apparently the most famous, as well as the most beautiful, of the sisters during their lifetime. She was considered to be diplomatic, dedicated and a favourite of her mother. Tatiana did extensive work with the Red Cross in addition to serving as a nurse in the War. She was due to be married to a Serbian prince prior to the outbreak of the War and during her time serving she also had romances with soldiers.
Maria died at 19 and was not able to follow the same path as her elder sisters. Instead she used her fortune to assist hospitals and visited wounded soldiers during the War. Growing up she was considered to be pretty and a bit of a flirt, but otherwise quite well behaved. By some accounts her good nature often led to her being taken advantage of by her sisters. While in captivity she was charming and made friends with many of the guards prior to their circumstances becoming more dire and restrictive. It is even reported that she had a relationship with one of the guards who was subsequently removed from his post.
The girls of OTMA were not able to truly make a mark on the world, but have been the subject of fascination for almost 100 years. They lived sheltered childhoods, but like many, they were exposed to an entirely new existence when World War I occurred. Also like many others, they lost their lives in the wake of the changing world.
I would invite you to learn more about the less famous people in history. Famous ones of course the easiest to start with, but I always love to look at who surrounds them, who their family and friends were and the stories that those people have as well.
Thanks for stopping by!