Birthday: February 28, 1926
Died At Age: 85
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Lana Peters
Born in: Moscow, Russia
Famous as: Joseph Stalin's Daughter
Spouse/Ex-: Grigory Morozov (m. 1945–1947), William Wesley Peters (m. 1970–1973), Yuri Zhdanov (m. 1949–1952)
children: Joseph Alliluyev, Olga Peters, Yekaterina Zhdanova
Died on: November 22, 2011
City: Moscow, Russia
Svetlana Alliluyeva, also known as Lana Peters, was the only daughter and the favourite child of the Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. She was born to his second wife Nedezhda Alliluyeva in Moscow. Shortly after her birth, her father’s reign began who went on to become the Premier of the Soviet Union for many decades. Svetlana was a free soul, loved and pampered by her father, who, to the rest of the world was known as fierce and dangerous, accused of several mass murders and acts usually associated with dictatorship. Several biographies explain the turbulent life she had lived. She was never at peace with her life, had several affairs and got married many times all her life in order to find the inner stability, which she didn’t. She openly condemned her father’s point of views and actions, and burned away her Russian passport taking the US citizenship and said about her father that ‘he was a spiritual and moral monster’. After leading a very complicated and controversial life, Svetlana died on 22nd November 2011 at the age of 85, due to the complications arising from Colon Cancer.
Childhood & Early Life
Born in Moscow, Russia, Soviet Union, to Joseph Stalin and his second wife Nadezhda Alliluyeva on February 28, 1926, Svetlana missed her parents for her entire childhood. As it was a norm with the high ranking Russian families, she rarely saw her parents and was mostly looked after by a nanny. The feelings of loneliness would creep up on her, eventually taking a permanent stay in her consciousness for an entire lifetime. During her childhood, she was unaware of people’s perception of her father.
She loved her father, like any daughter would do, and Stalin too loved her. He would shower her with gifts whenever they met and she struggled to find some time with her father alone, but he being the ruler of an entire Soviet Union, wasn’t able to. Her mother, on the other hand, was facing demons of her own. Stalin did love her as she was his only daughter and took care of all her needs and met her whenever he found the time. For the rest of the world, he might have been one of the cruellest men, but for his lonely daughter, he was just a father whom she missed dearly.
When Svetlana was six years old, her mother committed suicide. Many theories made rounds regarding her death and some even said that Stalin himself killed her, but Svetlana was told that she had died of appendix complications.
Her mother was suffering from serious depression, and had clashed several times with Stalin in public, so her death was shown as result of a suicide. In August 1942, the British leader Winston Churchill visited Russia and met Svetlana. He found her a thing of beauty, and a pretty young girl.
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Adulthood & Relationships
Svetlana Alliluyeva was emotionally destroyed by the death of her mother and as she approached adulthood, her relationship with her father turned bitter by each passing day. At the age of 17, she fell in love with a filmmaker Aleksei Kapler who was more than double her age. When Stalin came to know of the affair, he was raged and disapproved Svetlana’s desire of marrying him. Stalin then imprisoned the filmmaker and Svetlana could do nothing but accept her fate and now she finally realized the fact that her father was not a ‘very nice man’.
She couldn’t hate her father for long, and being an innocent teenager, she thought it was for the best. Somehow, she found another love when a Moscow University’s student Grigory Morozov fell in love with Svetlana and proposed her. She loved him too and seeing her conviction, the father, although disapproved the match, said yes to the marriage and Svetlana married her man at the age of 17. After two years of being together, the couple got a divorce, although they remained friends for a long time after that.
This was a great opportunity for Stalin to get her married to a man of his choice, and he arranged her marriage with Yuri Zhdanov, who happened to be the son of the right hand man of Stalin. They got married in 1949 and Svetlana gave birth to a daughter, before she filed for a divorce.
She was a largely unstable woman, much like her mother. She wasn’t able to find herself loving a man with stability and utter conviction and while being married, she had romantic affairs with many men.
She later married her cousin Ivan Svanidze in 1962 and divorced him a year later. Her last marriage with William Wesley Peters too ended in a divorce after 3 years in 1973.
However, one of her love affairs which gathered a lot of coverage was with an Indian communist political leader Brajesh Singh. She met him in 1963 in Moscow and fell in love immediately, but somehow, they weren’t allowed to marry. Despite that, they lived together whenever Brajesh visited Russia, and when he died of an illness in 1966, Svetlana visited India, and stayed at his home in Kalakankar.
She was so much influenced by the man that despite being an atheist for a large chunk of her life until then, she converted to Hinduism. In a later interview, remembering Brajesh, Svetlana said that she always loved and respected him as a husband, and assumed them as married, even though they officially were not. Somehow, it took her quite a lot of time to get over the demise of Brajesh, as she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but she handled herself quite well and thereafter she went on to live in the United States.
An Unstable Life
America wasn’t exactly good friends with the USSR during the 1960s and when Svetlana filed for a US citizenship; it caused a stir in her home country and she had to return to the USSR in 1984 after living in the USA for almost 15 years. Life in Russia didn’t suit her and she left once again in 1986. Most of the Russian high rankers didn’t approve that but she didn’t care, as she was hell bent on living a life which she wanted, not what everyone expected her to lead.
She kept hopping back to the US, then the UK, then Russia then US again for the most of her later life, eventually getting a UK citizenship in the 90s.
She was also known to disapprove of her father’s methods and famously called him a ‘moral and spiritual monster’. She eventually went on to live a life full of uncertain happenings. She wrote several books, sold them well, made millions of dollars, only to lose them again, kept having romantic affairs with men, in an attempt to fill her psychological hole, but to no avail. She was a troubled woman, only taken care of by her daughter Olga, who accompanied her on most of her trips.
Later Life & Death
Svetlana was known as an accomplished writer and she published some widely successful books such as ‘Twenty Letters to a Friend’, ‘Only One Year’ and ‘Faraway Music’. Her writings were filled with autobiographical elements and gave a glimpse of the dark life that she had lived, despite being the daughter of one of the most powerful men in the world at one point.
Although her mental health wasn’t very good, she lived a long physically healthy life and spent last two years of life in Wisconsin, when she found out about the Colon Cancer.
Svetlana dragged her last breathe on November 22, 2011 at the age of 85, in the Richland Centre, Wisconsin, and finally achieved eternal rest after a life of extreme chaos.
Rosemary Sullivan recorded her life in a biographical account and mentioned that ‘she was a very brave woman who could never escape her father’s sins.’