independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Josef Stalin's daughter Lana Peters dies

Josef Stalin with his daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva

Josef Stalin's only daughter, whose defection to the West in 1967 set off an international furore and made her a best-selling author, has died of colon cancer aged 85.

County coroner Mary Turner said Lana Peters, originally known as Svetlana Alliluyeva, died on Nov. 22 in Wisconsin of colon cancer.



Peters defected from the Soviet Union in 1967 - a major embarrassment to the ruling communists. The Soviet premier denounced her as "morally unstable."



Her defection in - which she said was partly motivated by the poor treatment of her late husband, Brijesh Singh, by Soviet authorities - was a public relations coup for the US.



Her memoir, "Twenty Letters to a Friend," later that year became a best-seller.



But Peters, who left behind two children, said her identity involved more than just switching from one side to the other in the Cold War. She even moved back to the Soviet Union in the 1980s, only to return to the US more than a year later.



Upon her arrival in New York City in 1967, the 41-year-old said: "I have come here to seek the self-expression that has been denied me for so long in Russia."



She said she had come to doubt the communism she was taught growing up and believed there were not capitalists or communists, just good and bad human beings. She had also found religion and believed "it was impossible to exist without God in one's heart."



Raised by a nanny with whom she grew close after her mother's death in 1932, Alliluyeva was Stalin's only daughter. She had two brothers, Vasili and Jacob. Jacob was captured by the Nazis in 1941 and died in a concentration camp. Vasili died an alcoholic at age 40.



Alliluyeva graduated from Moscow University in 1949, worked as a teacher and translator and traveled in Moscow's literary circles before leaving the Soviet Union. She was married four times - the last time to William Wesley Peters, after she came to the US, and she took the name Lana Peters. The couple had a daughter, Olga, before divorcing in 1973.



She later married noted architect William Wesley Peters. She took the name Lana Peters and they had a daughter, Olga, but divorced in 1973. She moved back to the Soviet Union briefly in the 1980s but returned to the West.



Her father died in 1953.



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