Stalin’s daughter dies at 85, ‘a prisoner of her father’s name’
THE ONLY daughter of the brutal Soviet tyrant Josef Stalin has died at 85 from colon cancer after spending her final years in near-poverty in the United States. “You can’t regret your fate,” she once said, “although I do regret my mother didn’t marry a carpenter.”
Brought up by a nanny, Svetlana Stalina was at first protected from her father’s cruelty. He called her “little sparrow” and, as the New York Times reports, kissed and cuddled her, showered her with gifts and entertained her with American movies.
Her mother, Nadezhda Alliluyeva, died in 1932 when Svetlana was only six, having committed suicide following years of abuse by Stalin. Her brother Jacob died in a WW2 Nazi concentration camp when Stalin refused to exchange him for a German general.
When Svetlana first fell in love, she got a taste of her father’s wrath. She was only 16 and the Aleksei Kapler was a Jewish filmmaker 24 years her senior. Her father sent him to Siberia for a decade.
Stalin was long dead (in 1953), and Svetlana had two marriages behind her, when she defected from Russia to America at the height of the Cold War while on a visit to India.
It was the biggest propaganda coup for America since Rudolf Nureyev’s defection in 1961 and within a year Svetlana had produced a memoir, Twenty Letters to a Friend, which is said to have made $2.5m. As the BBC reports, she had also publicly burned her Soviet passport, denounced communism and called her father “a moral and spiritual monster”.
She was lucky to get away with it, if former members of the KGB are to be believed. They told the Washington Times in 1992 that the agency was actively considering assassinating her at the time of her defection.