Stalin's daughter chose exile

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MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti commentator Anatoly Korolyov.) - On February 28, Josef Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Aliluyeva, had her 80th birthday (she was born in 1926).

The only daughter of the Soviet leader left the country a long time ago and has lived in exile. Aliluyeva leads a very isolated life and information about her is scarce. Only once she allowed herself to recall the past - in the summer of the distant year of 1963, when she wrote her memoirs "Twenty Letters to a Friend" in 35 days in the Zhukovka village near Moscow.

Obviously, Svetlana Aliluyeva is endowed with literary talent, having written one of the best epistolary pieces in the past century.

The leitmotif of her life is learning the truth. The main problem is the balance between father and mother, and between power and freedom.

Svetlana was completely shut from truthful information, even the simplest one. Once her elder brother Vassily shared a big secret with her: "You know, Dad used to be a Georgian." She was six and she was unaware of what it meant to be a Georgian. Her brother explained: "Georgians wore Circassian coats and dirked everyone."

Svetlana took her mother's death as a heavy blow. But it was only many years later, during the war, that she found out that she had committed suicide. Mastering her English, Svetlana ran into an article about her father in a foreign magazine and read with horror that "Stalin's wife Nadezhda Aliluyeva committed suicide on the night of November 9, 1932." Svetlana rushed to her nurse, who confirmed this.

The wife's suicide was a shock for Stalin. Nadezhda Aliluyeva turned her suicide into an ostentatious political gesture, as protest against Stalin's efforts to usurp power and, at the same time, against his lack of manners at home. Having seized power in the party and the country, Stalin gradually started losing control at home, too. Nothing could stop his craving for power, and his wife was the first to realize what it could spell for the ideals of the proletarian revolution. In the then terminology, Nadezhda was a Trotskyite.

Incidentally, Svetlana also felt this mortifying consolidation of power in the hands of her father. She remembered forever the moment when it dawned on her that he had become the ruler of half of the world. One day, when Stalin returned home after midnight, and the maid brought him a boiled chicken on a plate, he flew into a fury - chicken again, yelled he, and threw it into the open window. The frightened girl heard the chicken go down squab on the asphalt near a guard (this happened in Stalin's apartment in the Kremlin), and she suddenly realized that it was no longer possible to contradict her father.

The beloved nurse was her only defense against the father's tyranny. The widowed Stalin did not have a clue of how to raise his daughter and her upbringing became his headache. He was haunted by the thought that she would land a prostitute. Her uncovered knees, the first signs of her womanhood were making Stalin angry, scared and perplexed. He could not just get rid of the daughter whom he loved with the animal passion of a tiger. Stalin was in constant search of a compromise.

The length of Svetlana's skirts turned into an ordeal. He would bring his shirts to a dressmaker and ask her to convert them into nightgowns for his daughter. When Svetlana sent him from a pioneer camp her photo in a skirt slightly above her knees, the general secretary of the Communist party crossed the photo with a red pencil and wrote on the other side in bold letters: "Prostitute!" He sent the picture back by plane, scaring to death the whole camp.

The father denied childhood to his daughter and considered her a small adult. Svetlana was getting fed up with such treatment, but bowed to his dictate until she learnt about her mother's suicide, as she recalls in her memoirs. For the first time ever, it occurred to her that sometimes, as an exception, her father might be a little wrong. But once sown, her doubt developed into a riot.

In effect, Stalin for the first time faced dethronement at home, long before the public exposure of his personality cult. Being a replica of his own nature, Svetlana soon got out of hand. Her first riot came when she fell for film producer Alexei Kapler, a Jew, and it took Stalin a lot of strain to curb his rage and put the scoundrel into prison instead of shooting him there and then.

The first riot was followed by the second, third, fourth... In Stalin's book, his worst apprehensions materialized - Svetlana became a prostitute. The tyrant's death cut the Gordian knot.

Having received a permission to go to India for the first time in 1963, Svetlana Aliluyeva went to her bride. Once abroad, she immediately asked for political asylum. The world was stunned by this sensation no less than by Yury Gagarin's flight into space.

More than 50 years have elapsed since then. In Georgia she was promised the moon, in Moscow she could receive red carpet treatment and apartments worth of the Communist Party Queen, but she turned it all down - Not for the world! Once again, Stalin's daughter was as tough as her father.

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