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The secret of Eleonora Krueger – did the last Romanovs die peacefully in the Bulgarian village of Gabarevo?

Eleonora Krueger visiting Shipka with White Russian Army refugees to Bulgaria
Photo: archive

In 2017 the Russian authorities announced that the missing remains of the two youngest Romanov successors to the throne had been found. Rumor has it that Alexey and Anastasia had somehow survived the execution of Nicholas II and his family.

Residents of the village of Gabarevo, between the Balkan Range and Sredna Gora mountain, know better than that. They claim that Alexei and Anastasia Romanov fled to Bulgaria and spent the rest of their lives in Gabarevo in the heart of the Rose Valley, where they lived peacefully under false names.

Princess Anastasia Romanova and Eleonora Krueger

This theory has surfaced time and again in Bulgarian media. Retired investigator Blagoy Emanuilov published two books arguing that Tsarevich Alexei and Princess Anastasia lived in the Bulgarian village under the names Eleonora Krueger and Georges Zhudin.

Totally out of nowhere, in 1922 г. a young woman of noble demeanor appeared in Gabarevo. She identified herself as Eleonora Albertova Krueger. Soon everyone started calling her Ms. Nora.

She lived with a Russian doctor, Dr. Alexiev, who appeared a month earlier. Later. the two got married. A year after Nora’s arrival in the village came a sick young man. He settled with them under the name of Georges Zhudin.

See the report from the village of Gabarevo with testimonies of contemporaries of Eleanor Krueger. You can manually adjust the translation from the settings /bottom right/.


Miss Nora had refined manners. She spoke several languages, played the piano, and needled traditional Russian whitework and color embroidery. The elegant woman read a lot of books, she was a chain-smoker and she used opium. She taught languages and the piano to the local children. Under her right cheek on her neck she had a gunshot wound scar. She had also been wounded in the chest.

Stefana Nestorova showing a painting by Miss Nora, which she gave her for good achievements at school

Stefana Nestorova is one of the few living contemporaries of Eleonora Krueger. She remembers her hoarse muffled voice.

"She always wore a scarf around her neck because the scar was too revealing – it seemed somehow indecent to show such a thing. I think she had been shot and they took out the bullet in Turkey, where she arrived by ship. My godmother told me that at the end of her life, Ms. Nora confided to her that when she was a child, she was bathed in a gilded tub. She had a personal servant who combed her hair, dressed her and took care of her. "


In the center of the village the locals have placed a memorial plaque in honor of Dr. Alexiev and their beloved Eleonora Krueger:

"I have heard from my neighbours that she taught them to play the piano – it was contemporary secular music, quite incomprehensible for them. Now we want to use the first floor of the house where revolutionary Vasil Levski lived – Dzhananovata house – to set up a collection dedicated to Ms. Nora. We will include Ms. Nora’s room in the tourist guide of the municipality of Pavel Banya,“ says Maria Kutsarova from the local community cultural center.

Maria Kutsarova, curator of Dzhananovata house

The rumors that Nora and Georges were of royal descent started during their lifetime. In the mid-20th century, in a hospital in the town of Balchik, a Russian White Guardsman revealed his secret to witnesses on his deathbed. He said that Nicholas II personally instructed him to take the young prince and princess Anastasia out of the palace and to hide them.

After many hardships, Anastasia and Alexei boarded a ship in Odessa. But in the commotion, Anastasia was wounded by a firearm from the Red Cavalry, the White Guardsman said.

Tsarevich Alexei (left) and Georges Zhudin - a stunning resemblance

Georges Zhudin died in 1930 with symptoms similar to hemophilia, a disease from which Prince Alexei himself suffered. Georges was buried in the old cemetery in Gabarevo. Eleonora Krueger died 25 years later at the age of 55, taking her secret with her.

Now the remains of Nora and Georges are kept in a secret location by local investigator Blagoy Emanuilov. Only an independent DNA expert analysis can unravel the mystery. However, for a number of reasons, no one would assume the responsibility for that costly procedure.

See more: 

Photos: Veneta Nikolova, archive

English version: Elizabeth Radkova

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