Svetlana Iosifovna Stalina was born in February 1926, the only daughter of Russia’s communist dictator, Joseph Stalin. Her mother was Stalin’s second wife Nadezhda Alliluyeva, and Svetlana was their first child. Svetlana had a half-brother, Yakov, from Stalin’s first marriage, and a younger brother Vasiliy.
Svetlana had a highly troubled life. Her woes started at an early age when her mother died in 1932. Svetlana was just six years old, and the circumstances of her mother’s death were murky. Officially, she died from a burst appendix, but there was widespread speculation that Stalin may have ordered her death or even killed her himself. Others believed Stalin had driven her to suicide.
Stalin, of course, was one of history’s most ruthless rulers. All of his potential rivals were killed or sent to brutal prison camps in Siberia. Even those who escaped the Soviet Union were not safe from the long arm of Stalin’s secret police led by the pitiless Lavrentiy Beria, pictured here with Svetlana on his knee.