Joseph Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva — also known as Lana Peters — died last week in Wisconsin at the age of 85. Hers was quite a story.
She started out as Svetlana Stalina, daughter of Joseph Stalin, who ruled the Soviet Union for 29 years. And Joe Stalin was a bad man. When he wasn’t shooting them or hanging them or tossing them into prison camps, he was starving his own people to death to prove a political point. Or because he was crazy.
Svetlana was not quite seven years old when her mother, Nadya, killed herself in 1932 (she shot herself with a revolver). Although Svetlana was the apple of her father’s eye growing up, by the time she was a teenager, things were strained.
Joseph Stalin had his secret police force to keep an eye on his daughter, and she didn’t like it. The two had a falling out in 1943, followed by estrangement with occasional contact. Nikita Kruschev once said of Stalin’s attitude toward Svetlana: “He loved her, but he used to express those feelings of love in a beastly way. His was the tenderness of a cat for a mouse.”
The New York Times has a good obituary, with plenty of details of Svetlana’s turbulent life. She denounced her dad (and changed her last name to her mother’s maiden name, Alliluyeva), defected to the United States, moved to England, got sick of the West and returned to Moscow (and got citizenship), but ended up back in the U.S., in Wisconsin. She wrote three memoirs, one of which, 20 Letters To A Friend, made millions of dollars.
At one point she found herself being pushed around by the widow of Frank Lloyd Wright — Svetlana’s third husband was William Wesley Peters, a close assistant of Lloyd’s. He had also been Frank Lloyd Wright’s son-in-law, but his first wife, Wright’s adopted daughter, was killed in a car crash. Her name was also Svetlana.
And Frank Lloyd Wright’s widow’s name was Olga, and Svetlana (“Lana”) and William Peters had a daughter named… Olga. That daughter now goes by the name of Chrese (pronounced like Chris) and lives in Oregon.
Read all that about three times and it becomes clear.
Another obituary of Svetlana is here. It’s brief and was written by her daughter, Chrese (Olga).
And here’s an interesting little bit of background from Wisconsin, called “Stalin’s Daughter Lived in Wisconsin.”
Finally, here’s a little more on Stalin’s granddaughter, Chrese Evans.