Yakov Dzhugashvili

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Yakov Dzhugashvili
იაკობ ჯუღაშვილი (in Georgian)
Яков Джугашвили (in Russian)
Yakov Dzhugashvili.jpg
Iakob Iosebis dze Jugashvili

(1907-03-18)18 March 1907
Died14 April 1943(1943-04-14) (aged 36)
Cause of deathGunshot wound
Resting placeUnknown
Other namesPatsana, Yasha
Spouse(s)Yulia Meltzer
ChildrenYevgeny Dzhugashvili
Galina Dzhugashvili
Parent(s)Joseph Stalin
Kato Svanidze
RelativesKonstantin Kuzakov (half-brother)
Vasily Dzhugashvili (half-brother)
Svetlana Alliluyeva (half-sister)

Yakov Iosifovich Jugashvili (Georgian: იაკობ იოსების ძე ჯუღაშვილი, Iakob Iosebis dze Jugashvili, Russian: Я́ков Ио́сифович Джугашви́ли; 18 March 1907 – 14 April 1943) was the eldest of Joseph Stalin's four children, the son of Stalin's first wife, Kato Svanidze. His younger half-siblings were Svetlana Alliluyeva and Vasily Dzhugashvili. He served in the Red Army during the Second World War, and was captured, or surrendered,[1] in the initial stages of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. While there has been dispute over the circumstances of his death, historians believe that he died in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

Early life[edit]

Dzhugashvili was born in the village of Baji, Kutais Governorate, then part of Imperial Russia, and was baptised in the local church. His mother died of typhus when he was less than a year old. Until the age of 14, Dzhugashvili was raised by his aunts and grandmother in Tiflis. In 1921, Dzhugashvili's uncle Alexander Svanidze urged him to leave for Moscow to acquire a higher education. Dzhugashvili spoke only Georgian, so, after his arrival in Moscow, he commenced with learning the Russian language, aiming to apply for university studies.

Dzhugashvili and his father, Stalin, never got along. Allegedly once Stalin referred to Dzhugashvili as a "mere cobbler". Their tense relationship was exacerbated when Dzhugashvili and his Jewish[citation needed] fiancée, Zoya Gunina, attempted to inform Stalin of their engagement. According to Dzhugashvili's stepmother Nadezhda Alliluyeva, she saw a young woman running away from the family's Moscow dacha in tears. When Alliluyeva entered the house, she saw a despairing Dzhugashvili, who immediately retreated to his bedroom. It was revealed that when Dzhugashvili and Gunina told Stalin of their engagement, he became enraged.[citation needed] Stalin's rage caused Gunina's flight from the dacha, and Dzhugashvili to attempt suicide in his room via firearm. He missed his heart and hit his lung instead; while his stepmother Alliluyeva tended to his wound and called the doctor, his father is quoted as saying, "He can't even shoot straight".[2]

Marriage and family[edit]

Dzhugashvili married Yulia Meltzer, a well-known Jewish dancer from Odessa. After meeting Yulia at a reception, Dzhugashvili fought with her second husband, an NKVD officer called Nikolai Bessarab,[3] and arranged for her divorce. Bessarab was later arrested by the NKVD and executed. Dzhugashvili then became her third husband. He was survived by two children: a daughter born in 1938 by Yulia: Galina, who died in 2007,[4] and a son born in 1936: Yevgeni, who died in 2016, and gave many interviews about his grandfather.

German propaganda 1941. "Do not shed your blood for Stalin! He has already fled to Samara! His own son has surrendered! If Stalin's son has saved himself, then you are not obliged to sacrifice yourself either!"

Second World War[edit]

Dzhugashvili served as an artillery officer in the Red Army and was captured on 16 July 1941[5] in the early stages of the German invasion of USSR at the Battle of Smolensk. The Germans later offered to exchange Dzhugashvili for Friedrich Paulus, the German Field Marshal captured by the Soviets after the Battle of Stalingrad, but Stalin turned the offer down, allegedly saying, "I will not exchange a Field Marshal for a lieutenant."[6] According to Nikolai Tolstoy, there was another proposal as well, with Hitler wanting to exchange Dzhugashvili for Hitler's nephew Leo Raubal; but this was not accepted either.[7] While Soviet propaganda always asserted that Dzhugashvili was captured,[citation needed] Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, wrote in her memoirs that her father believed his son had deliberately surrendered to the Germans after being encouraged to do so by his wife. Stalin, she wrote, had Yulia imprisoned and interrogated as a result. In February 2013 Der Spiegel printed evidence that it interpreted as indicating that Dzhugashvili surrendered. A letter written by his brigade commissar to the Red Army’s political director, quoted by Der Spiegel, states that after Dzhugashvili's battery had been bombed by the Germans, he and another soldier named Popuride initially put on civilian clothing and escaped, but then at some point Dzhugashvili stayed behind, saying that he wanted to stay and rest.[1]

Until recently, it was not clear when and how Dzhugashvili died. According to the official German account, he died by running into an electric fence in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was being held. Some have contended that Dzhugashvili committed suicide at the camp,[8] while others have suggested that he was murdered.[9] Currently, declassified files show that Dzhugashvili was shot by a guard for refusing to obey orders.[10] While Dzhugashvili was walking around the camp he was ordered back to the barracks under the threat of being shot. Dzhugashvili refused and shouted, "Shoot!" The guard shot him in the head. Stalin saw this as a more honourable death, and his attitude towards his son softened slightly.[11]

After the war, British officers in charge of captured German archives came upon the papers depicting Dzhugashvili’s death at Sachsenhausen. The German records indicated that he was shot while attempting to flee after an argument with British fellow prisoners. The British Foreign Office briefly considered presenting these papers to Stalin at the Potsdam Conference as a gesture of condolence. They scrapped the idea because neither the British nor the Americans had informed the Soviets that they had captured key German archives, and sharing those papers with Stalin would have prompted the Soviets to inquire about the source of these records.[12]


  1. ^ a b The Independent, 18 February 2013
  2. ^ Allilueva, Svetlana (1967). 20 Letters to a Friend. London: Hutchinson. p. 111. ISBN 0-09-085310-5.
  3. ^ Юдифь Исааковна Мельцер
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ Elliott, Mark R. (1982). Pawns of Yalta: Soviet refugees and America's role in their repatriation. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. p. 185. ISBN 0-252-00897-9.
  6. ^ Rappaport, Helen. Joseph Stalin: A biographical companion. Biographical Companions. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-57607-084-0.
  7. ^ Tolstoy, Nikolai (1978). The secret betrayal. New York: Scribner. p. 296. ISBN 0-684-15635-0. See also Bailey, Ronald Albert (1981). Prisoners of war. Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books. p. 123. ISBN 0-8094-3391-5.
  8. ^ Revealed: how Stalin's brutal massacre at Katyn shamed his PoW son into suicide, The Sunday Telegraph, July 30, 2000.
  9. ^ Douglas, Martin. Lana Peters, Stalin’s Daughter, Dies at 85, New York Times, November 28, 2011. Retrieved November 29, 2011. "One of her brothers, Yakov, was captured by the Germans, who offered to exchange him for a German general. Stalin refused, and Yakov was killed."
  10. ^ Stalin’s son was executed in Nazi camp – archives Archived 13 July 2012 at Archive.today, RT, May 12, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2012.
  11. ^ Beevor, Antony (2012). The Second World War. Great Britain: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
  12. ^ Eckert, Astrid M., The Struggle for the Files. The Western Allies and the Return of German Archives after the Second World War (New York, Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 47-48. ISBN 978-0521880183

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