Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Stalin, Svetlana Iosifovna (1926–)

Only daughter of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Born in Moscow on 28 February 1926, Svetlana Iosifovna Stalina (who upon her decision to defect in the 1960s began employing the surname of her mother, Nadezhda Sergeyevna Alliluyeva, who died in 1932) married Grigorii Morozov when she was eighteen. They had a son before divorcing in 1947. In 1949, she married Yari Zhdanov, son of Andrei Zhdanov, one of her father's top advisors. The couple had a daughter, but the marriage lasted less than two years.

In 1963, Alliluyeva began a romance with Indian communist Brajesh Singh, whom she met when he visited Moscow. In 1965 Singh moved to Moscow to work as a translator, but the couple was forbidden to marry. When he died in 1966, Alliluyeva insisted on returning Singh's ashes to India. She stayed in New Delhi for several months before deciding to defect, leaving her two children behind. On 6 March 1967, she went to the U.S. embassy and announced her intention to seek political asylum, an event that stunned the world and provided a propaganda bonanza for the West.

Although Westerners anticipated that Alliluyeva would provide insights into the workings of the Kremlin hierarchy, she insisted that her father had kept her shut off from his political life. In her initial meetings with Western reporters, she did strongly denounce her father's cruelties. Alliluyeva then went to the United States, where she secured citizenship. In 1970 she married architect William Wesley Peters. Taking the name Lana Peters, she gave birth to a daughter, Olga, but this marriage also ended in divorce in 1971. Alliluyeva then lived a relatively sheltered life until she moved, with her American-born daughter, to Cambridge, England, in 1982. As with fellow dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Alliluyeva was first warmly received in the West but was viewed differently when she became critical of Western society.

In 1984, Alliluyeva returned to the Soviet Union, was granted citizenship, and settled in Tbilisi, Georgia. In 1986 she returned to the United States. Alliluyeva spent time in Britain in the 1990s and now lives in retirement in Wisconsin.

Michael J. Polley


Further Reading
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: HarperCollins, 1967.; Ebon, Martin. Svetlana: The Story of Stalin's Daughter. New York: New American Library, 1967.; Schad, Martha. Stalins Tochter: Das Leben der Svetlana Allilujewa. Bergisch Gladbach, Germany: G. Lübbe, 2004.
 

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