On November 22nd, 2011, at retirement home in Richland city, USA, Lana Peters, the only daughter of Soviet Dictator Joseph Stalin, died from cancer …..
Born as Svetlana Allilueva (she was given this last name after Stalin wife’s maiden surname) on the 22nd of February, 1926 in Leningrad (now St Petersburg), Svetlana was Stalin’s favorite and the only daughter from his second marriage to Nadezda Allilueva (she was a typist in Lenin’s office, but Stalin met her much earlier).. In 1933 the Stalins had four children, Vasily (11 years old) a diminutive, stubborn, and nervous boy. At the age of 20 he became a truculent, name-dropping, violent lout who swore in front of women, expected to be treated as a prince and yet was tragically inept and unhappy. He was terrified of Stalin whom he respected as “Christ for the Christians”. Later Vasily took part in the WWII as a military pilot and at last became the youngest general in Soviet Army. After Stalin’s death he was blamed in anti-Soviet views and sentenced to spend 8 years in a prison. He died from alcohol poisoning in 1962 in the city of Kazan.
Then there was Yakov, twenty five, son of Stalin’s first marriage, who joined his father in 1921, having been brought up in Georgia, a shy, dark boy with handsome eyes. Stalin found Yakov irritatingly slow. He took part in WWII as a captain of Artillery. The most wide spread official version of his death is that he was captured by the Germans during WWII, being in the rank the captain of Soviet Army. When knowing whose son he was the Germans offered him collaboration but he refused, then they informed Stalin himself and offered to exchange his son for German General Paulus, but Stalin’s answer (very famous!) was that he “.. would never exchange a private to a General.” After that Yakov perished in the Zaxenhousen concentration camp (another version is that he was killed in combat and when his documents were found in the pockets of the dead body Germans decided to use their lucky chance by making false pictures and video of Yakov. They even invented an interview with him, having declared Stalin’s son was ready to take their side).
Besides Yakov, Vasily, and Svetlana there was Artyom: Stalin adopted him when his father, a famous revolutionary, was killed in 1921 and his mother was ill this was one of the few attractive traditions of Bolshevism: the adoption of children of fallen heroes and ordinary orphans). Svetlana was seven years old in 1933 and was a freckly red-haired girl. Stalin said she precisely resembled his mother, always the highest praise from him – but really she was like him: intelligent, stubborn and determined. Stalin spoke warmly of her in his letters to her: “My little sparrow, my joy…” Svetlana, in her turn, was remembering that “…I was his pet. After mother’s death he tried to be closer. He was very affectionate, he kissed me, admired me, fed me from his plate, selecting the best slices for me”, wrote Svetlana in her memoirs. As a little girl she often declared: “Providing Daddy loves me, I don’t care if the whole world hates me! If daddy told me “fly to the moon, I‘d do it!” Later at school Svetlana was treated like a Tsarena (Tsar’s daughter, princess) by cringing teachers. A schoolgirl there recalled how her desk gleamed like a mirror, the only one polished. Whenever a childs parents were arrested (as a result of Stalin’s purges), their children were removed mysteriously from Svetlana’s class so the Tsarena did not rub shoulders with the kin of the enemy.
At the age of 16 she fell in love with a 40 year old famous Jewish screenwriter Alexei Kapler, a suave and mesmerizing raconteur and Casanova, though married. “To me”, Svetlana said, “Kapler was the cleverest, kindest, most wonderful person on earth…” Stalin overreacted: Kapler was arrested, blamed in international espionage and sentenced to 5 years in Vorkuta, Siberia. Soon Svetlana forgot him starting new romances. She was married twice to Soviet officials with a child from each marriage.
She later finished the very prestigious Moscow University and became a translator of English language. After Stalin’s death Svetlana Allilueva defected from Russia to the USA and returned to Russia and then left again, married an American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s chief apprentice William Wesley Peters, by whom she had a daughter; lived in Harvard and Cambridge, made and lost a fortune: it said she received $2,5 million for her beautifully written memoirs, “20 letters to a friend“; finally found herself without means in sheltered housing in Bristol and finished her days in the American Midwest.
Having embraced liberalism and rejected Stalinism, she has displayed both her father’s intelligence and his paranoia. She leaves her children Joseph Morozov and Katya Zhdanova. To get to know more about Stalin’s private life and personality take our private tour in St Petersburg at the Museum of Political History.