Stalin: Family


Figure 1.--Here is Stalin with two of his children, Vassili and Svetlana about 1935 a few years after their mother's death in the midst of the Great Terror. Stalin doted on Svetlana when she was little. Vassili was afraid of him. Their mother brought up the terrible suffering in the Ukraine as a result of the famine he had engineered. They quareled and he later beat her in public. It is unclear what happened next. Most people think she shot herself. Others believe that Stalin shot her. Svetlana later reported a suicide note.

Stalin had three wives, although one was a common-law wife. He had four children. Stalin's first wife was Ekaterina Svanidze. They were married only 3 years. She died (1907). At her funeral he reportedly told intimates that any warm feelings he had for other human beings died with her because she was the only person capable of mending his heart. They had one son, Yakov Dzhugashvili. As the boy grew up, the two did not get along. He was raised by family in German and until he went to Moscow to join his father did not speak Russian. Yakov served in the Red Army durin World War II. He was captured by the Germans who offered to exchange him for a German officer. Stalin refused, reportedly saying, "I have no son named Yakov." Yakov was not popular among other POWs with whom he was held. He was placed in a camp with British officers where conditions were better than in the camps for Russian POWs. The Germans offered to excahange him for captured German officers. Stalin replied that he had no son named Yakov. Yakov and the British officers did not get on. Yakov expected the kind of preverential treatment that he was accustimed to receiving as a son of the Soviet dictator. He apparently refused to clean up after himself in the latrine, seeing that a beneath his dignity. The British officers were not happy about having to clean up after him and repeatedly brought the issue up. Yakov demanded the German camp commander intercede, but the German officer apparently considered it beneath his dignity to get involved in an issue about latrines. H e died in German captivity although the circunstances are unclear. One account says that he ran into an electric fence surronding the POW camp. [Kundera] Another accoiuntbis tha German guard shot him. It is widely believed, however, his death was a suiside. Stalin had a commin-law wife Lida, during his exile in norther Siberia. This was never mentioned during his reign as Soviet ductator. Alexander Solzhenitsyn mentioned a son being born (1918). Russian Independent Television NTV discovered a previously unknown grandson living in Novokuznetsk--Yuri Davydov. His father had told him about his granfather, but because of the de-Stalinization campaign was advised to keep quiet. Stalin's third wife was Nadezhda Alliluyeva. Nadezhda told him of the Ukranian famine which of course he not only already knew about, but had caused (1932). The result was a fight between the two. A few days later there was a public scene of brutality. Afterwards Nadezhda shot herself. [Conquest] Stevlana years after reported that she had left a suicide note which was 'partly personal, partly political'. Publically it was reported that she died of an illness, but other theories claim that Stalin himself killed her. Stalin repotedly said at her funeral "She died an enemy." They had two children: a son, Vassili, and a daughter, Svetlana (figure 1). Vassili made a career in the Red Air Force. He died an alcoholic (1962). Stalin doted on Svetlana when she was young, but as she entered her teens problems developed. She defected from the Soviet Union (1967).

Ekaterina Svanidze (1905-07)

Stalin's first wife was Ekaterina Svanidze. They were married only 3 years. She died (1907). At her funeral he reportedly told intimates that any warm feelings he had for other human beings died with her because she was the only person capable of mending his heart. They had one son, Yakov Dzhugashvili. As the boy grew up, the two did not get along. He was raised by family in Georgia and until he went to Moscow to join his father did not speak Russian (1921). he fell in love with Yulia Meltzer, a populr Jewish dancer from Odessa. Stalin was not pleased amd argued wih his wife. Whilethy were arguing about this, Yakov shot himself, but survived. His stp-mother tended to his wounds and sent for a doctor. His fathr' only comment was, "He can't even shoot straight". [Allilueva, p. 111.] Yakov served in the Red Army during World War II. He was captured by the Germans in not fully understood circumtnces. Thh Getmans offered to exchange him for a Foeld Marshal Paulis who surrendered at Stalingrad. (Hitler probbly wanted to court mrtil him.) Stalin refused, reportedly saying, "I do not exchnge a leiutennt for a field marshall." He allo said, "I have no son named Yakov." Yakov was not popular among other POWs with whom he was held. He was placed in a camp with British officers where conditions were better than in the camps for Russian POWs. The Germans offered to excahange him for captured German officers. Stalin replied that he had no son named Yakov. Yakov and the British officers did not get on. Yakov expected the kind of preverential treatment that he was accustimed to receiving as a son of the Soviet dictator. He apparently refused to clean up after himself in the latrine, seeing that a beneath his dignity. The British officers were not happy about having to clean up after him and repeatedly brought the issue up. Yakov demanded the German camp commander intercede, but the German officer apparently considered it beneath his dignity to get involved in an issue about latrines. H e died in German captivity although the circunstances are unclear. One account says that he ran into an electric fence surronding the POW camp. [Kundera] Another accoiunt is tha German guard shot him, perhaps as he was runnking away from the British officers he had antagonized. It is widely believed, however, that his death was a suiside.

Lida

Stalin had a commin-law wife Lida, during his exile in norther Siberia. This was never mentioned during his reign as Soviet dictator. Alexander Solzhenitsyn mentioned a son being born (1918). Russian Independent Television NTV discovered a previously unknown grandson living in Novokuznetsk--Yuri Davydov. His father had told him about his grandfather, but because of the de-Stalinization campaign was advised to keep quiet.

Nadezhda Alliluyeva

Stalin's third wife was Nadezhda Alliluyeva. Nadezhda told him of the Ukranian famine which he of course not only already knew about, but had caused (1932). The result was a fight between the two. A few days later there was a public scene of brutality. Afterwards Nadezhda shot herself. [Conquest] Stevlana years after reported that she had left a suicide note which was 'partly personal, partly political'. Publically it was reported that she died of an illness, but other theories claim that Stalin himself killed her. Stalin repotedly said at her funeral, 'She died an enemy'. They had two children: a son, Vassili, and a daughter, Svetlana (figure 1). Svetlana was the only one of his children toward which Stalin showed any affection. Khrushchev later describd it as sort of the love of a cat has for a mouse. Vassili made a career in the Red Air Force. He died an alcoholic (1962). Stalin doted on Svetlana when she was young, but as she entered her teens problems developed. They did not end with her father's death. She defecting from the Soviet Union (1967).

Sources

Allilueva, Svetlana.20 Letters to a Friend (London: Hutchinson, 1967).

Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations.

Kundera, Milan. The Unbearable Lightness of Being (English translation--Harper & Row, 1984).






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Created: 4:36 AM 5/21/2012
Last updated: 11:35 PM 10/24/2015