Svetlana Alliluyeva

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Svetlana Iosifovna Dzhugashvili
Joseph Stalin with daughter Svetlana, 1935.jpg
Svetlana with father Josef Stalin in 1940.
Born (1926-02-28) February 28, 1926 (age 92)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Nationality United States (naturalized)
Other names Lana Peters
Known for Daughter of Joseph Stalin
Lavrentiy Beria with Stalin (in background) and the young Svetlana Alliluyeva.

Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva (sometimes Stalina, later Lana Peters) (born February 28, 1926, Moscow, Soviet Union) (Russian: Светлана Иосифовна Аллилуева) is the youngest child and only daughter of Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and Nadezhda Alliluyeva (Stalin's second wife). A writer and naturalized United States citizen, Alliluyeva caused an international furore by defecting to the United States in 1967.[1]

Early life

Like most children of high-ranking Soviet officials, Alliluyeva was raised by a nanny and only occasionally saw her parents. Her mother Nadezhda Alliluyeva died on November 9, 1932, when Svetlana was six. Nadezhda's death was officially ruled as peritonitis resulting from a burst appendix. While there were various other theories as to the cause of her death (murder on the orders of Stalin, or that she was killed by Stalin himself), it now appears the real cause of death was suicide.[2] According to Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin was very abusive toward Alliluyeva in the later part of their marriage. In his memoirs, Khrushchev recalled an occasion when Stalin, during a drunken rage at a party, dragged a crying Alliluyeva onto a dance floor by her hair.[3]

At the age of 16, Svetlana Alliluyeva fell in love with Aleksei Kapler, a Jewish filmmaker who was 40 years old. Her father vehemently disapproved of the romance. Later, Kapler was sentenced to ten years in exile in the industrial city of Vorkuta near the Arctic Circle, and it is speculated that the real reason was this romance.


At 17, Svetlana fell in love with Grigory Morozov, a fellow student at Moscow University, who was also Jewish. Her father grudgingly allowed the couple to marry, although he made a point of never meeting the bridegroom. After the birth of a son (Joseph) in 1945, the couple divorced in 1947.

Alliluyeva's second husband was Yuri Zhdanov, son of Stalin's right-hand-man, Andrei Zhdanov, and himself a close associate of Stalin. They were married in 1949, and had a daughter, Yekaterina, in 1950, but this marriage also dissolved soon afterward.[citation needed]

Press reports (such as TIME Magazine[4]) sometimes claimed that Alliluyeva was married a third time, in 1951, to Mikhail Kaganovich, a son of Lazar Kaganovich, another Stalin crony. Alliluyeva denies this. In Only One Year (p. 382) she says Kaganovich had only one daughter, her friend, and an adopted son who was ten years younger than her. Alliluyeva reports: "he, when he grew up, married a girl student of his own age."[citation needed]

After the death of Stalin

After her father's death in 1953, Alliluyeva adopted her mother's maiden name and worked as a teacher and translator in Moscow. Her training was in United States history and she had studied English; however, she had little opportunity to speak it at this time. Alliluyeva was a Party member and, based on her parentage, remained in contact with the highest levels of the Soviet government and enjoyed the privileges of the nomenklatura. She was granted a pension with which she supported herself after she quit working to care for her children.[citation needed]

Relationship with Brajesh Singh

In 1963, while in hospital for the removal of her tonsils, she met Brajesh Singh, an Indian Communist visiting Moscow, and fell in love. Singh was mild-mannered and idealistic but gravely ill with bronchiectasis and emphysema. They continued and cemented their relationship while recuperating in Sochi, on the Black Sea. Singh returned to Moscow in 1965, to work as a translator, but they were not allowed to marry. Singh died in 1966. Alliluyeva was allowed to travel to India, to take Singh's ashes to his family to pour into the Ganges. She stayed in the family home in Kalakankar on the banks of the Ganges for two months and became immersed in local customs. In an interview on April 26, 1967, she referred to Singh as her husband, though stating that they were never allowed to marry officially.[5]

Political asylum and later life

On March 6, 1967, Alliluyeva first visited the Soviet embassy in New Delhi, and then went to the U.S. embassy and formally petitioned Ambassador Chester Bowles for political asylum. This was granted. However, because the Indian government feared the potential ill-will of the Soviet Union, it was arranged for her to leave India immediately for Rome. When the Alitalia flight arrived in Rome, Alliluyeva immediately went to Geneva. There the Swiss government arranged a tourist visa and accommodation in Switzerland for six weeks. Alliluyeva then went on to the U.S.[citation needed]

Upon her arrival in April 1967 in New York City, Alliluyeva gave a press conference denouncing her father's regime and the Soviet government. Her intention to publish her autobiographical book Twenty Letters To A Friend on the fiftieth anniversary of the October Revolution caused an uproar in the Soviet Union, and the Soviet government there threatened to release an unauthorized version. Publication in the West was therefore moved to an earlier date.[citation needed]

Alliluyeva moved to Princeton, New Jersey, and later to nearby Pennington.[6][7]

In 1970, Alliluyeva answered an invitation from Frank Lloyd Wright's widow, Olgivanna Lloyd Wright, to visit Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona. Alliluyeva described the experience in her autobiographical book Distant Music. Olgivanna believed in mysticism and had become convinced that Alliluyeva was a spiritual replacement for her own daughter Svetlana, who had married Wright's chief apprentice William Wesley Peters, and who had died in a car crash years before. Alliluyeva came to Arizona, and agreed to marry Peters within a matter of weeks. Peters was a member of the Taliesin Fellowship, a group of architects and designers who had been Wright's apprentices and acolytes, and remained dedicated to his work. Alliluyeva became part of the Fellowship community, adopted the name Lana Peters, and migrated with them back and forth between the Scottsdale studio and Taliesin near Spring Green, Wisconsin. The couple had a daughter, Olga. By her own account Alliluyeva retained respect and affection for Wes Peters, but their marriage dissolved under the pressure of Mrs. Wright's influence.[citation needed]

In 1982, she moved with her daughter to Cambridge in the United Kingdom. In 1984, she returned to the Soviet Union, where she and her daughter were granted citizenship, and settled in Tbilisi, Georgian SSR. In 1986, Alliluyeva returned to the U.S. In the 1990s she moved to Bristol, England. As of 2010, she is living in Richland Center, Wisconsin, United States.[8]

In 2008, she was the subject of a short biographical film, Svetlana about Svetlana, written and directed by Lana Parshina.[9].

See also


  • Alliluyeva, Svetlana (1967). Twenty Letters To A Friend. London: Hutchinson.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  • Alliluyeva, Svetlana (1969). Only One Year. Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-010102-4.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  • Alliluyeva, Svetlana (1984). Faraway Music. India. 


  1. ^ "Land of Opportunity", TIME May 26, 1967.
  2. ^ Montefiore, Simon Sebag (2003). Stalin, The Court of the Red Tsar. pp. 1–38, 90. ISBN 1842127268. 
  3. ^ Kruschev, Nikita Sergeevich (1990). Kruschev Remembers. p. 220. ISBN 0316472972. 
  4. ^ "Social Notes", TIME July 23, 1951.
  5. ^ ABC News Time Tunnel, re-broadcast April 26, 2008.
  6. ^ Blake, Patricia (1985-01-08). "Personalities the Saga of Stalin's "Little Sparrow"". Time. Retrieved 2008-09-10. 
  7. ^ Tucker, Bev (2006-08-02). "Pennington Piano Teacher Remembers Stalin's Daughter and Granddaughter". Town Topics. Retrieved 2008-09-10. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Parshina, Lana.  Missing or empty |title= (help)