Matching family tree profiles for Svetlana Alilujeva (Lana Peters)
<private> Ždanova (Жданова)child
<private> Evans (Peters)child
About Svetlana Alilujeva (Lana Peters)
Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva (Russian: Светлана Иосифовна Аллилуева), later known as Lana Peters, born February 28, 1926, died November 22, 2011
Lana Peters was the youngest child and only daughter of Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and Nadezhda Alliluyeva, Stalin's second wife. In 1967, she caused an international furor when she defected and became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
Josef Stalin's daughter lived an unusual and peripatetic life - defecting during the Cold War, living in numerous countries, writing a bestselling memoir - and when she succumbed to cancer last week at the age of 85, she died in relative obscurity in southwestern Wisconsin.
Svetlana Alliluyeva, who was known as Lana Peters since 1970, died of colon cancer Nov. 22, Richland County Coroner Mary Turner said.
She first came to Wisconsin in 1970 and though she traveled often, she returned to Wisconsin and lived here off and on after becoming a U.S. citizen, moving from Spring Green to Richland Center a few years ago.
Peters ended up in Wisconsin through the intervention of Frank Lloyd Wright's widow. Olgivanna Wright wrote her letters following her 1967 defection from the U.S.S.R., inviting her to visit Taliesin in Wisconsin and Taliesin West in Arizona.
She was married four times, the last to William Wesley Peters, Wright's chief apprentice. The couple married in 1970 - after knowing each other only 20 days - and lived with Olgivanna Wright at Taliesin West. Peters, known as Wes, had been married to Olgivanna Wright's daughter, also named Svetlana, who died in a car crash in 1946.
The couple divorced in 1973, with Lana Peters gaining custody of their young daughter, Olga, who now lives in Portland, Ore.
Peters gave a rare interview to the Wisconsin State Journal last year after a documentary about her life was released. The film was shown at the Wisconsin Film Festival.
In the interview she said she no longer thought about her famous father, the brutal Soviet dictator responsible for the deaths of millions before he died in 1953. As a teenager, she was devastated when her father sent a man she loved to a labor camp. She was upset when she wanted to study literature at a Soviet university but her father insisted she study history.
"He was a very simple man. Very rude. Very cruel," Peters told the Wisconsin State Journal. "There was nothing in him that was complicated. He was very simple with us. He loved me and he wanted me to be with him and become an educated Marxist."
Born in 1926, Alliluyeva was the only daughter of Stalin, whose purges of political enemies and forced starvation led to the deaths of millions of Soviets. In the early 1940s she drew his wrath when she fell in love with a Jewish filmmaker. An anti-Semite, Stalin sent the man to Siberia for 10 years. She married a different man in 1944, had a son, got divorced, married again in 1949, had a daughter and got divorced.
Then in 1963 she met an Indian man and fell in love again. The Soviet government refused to let her marry the man, and when he became seriously ill, refused to let her take him to India. After his death, Soviet authorities eventually allowed her to take his ashes to his home country.
While she was in India, Alliluyeva stunned the world when she walked into the American embassy in New Delhi and asked for asylum. A few weeks later, in April 1967, she flew to New York.
Her defection was embarrassing to the U.S.S.R., and the Soviet press attacked her character, describing her as a sick woman. It was big news in the United States at a time when America was fighting communism in Vietnam and the Cold War was particularly frosty. Her adult son and daughter remained behind in the Soviet Union.
"I fully expected to return to Russia within one month's time. However, during my stay in India I decided I could not return to Moscow," she said when she arrived in New York. "It was my own decision, based on my own feelings and experiences, without anyone's advice or help or instruction."
She brought with her a manuscript, which she had sent to India with the help of friends because she feared it would be confiscated. She completed her memoir "Twenty Letters to A Friend" later in 1967. The bestseller gave an intimate look into the life of Stalin, graphically describing his executions of friends and family.
"I switched camps from the Marxists to the capitalists," she recalled in a 2007 interview for the documentary "Svetlana About Svetlana." But she said her identity was far more complex than that and never completely understood.
Alliluyeva wrote three more books, including "Only One Year," an autobiography published in 1969.
Her father's legacy appeared to haunt her throughout her life. She denounced his brutal policies but often said other Communist Party leaders shared the blame.
After living in Britain for two years, Alliluyeva returned to the Soviet Union with her American-born daughter Olga in 1984 at age 58, saying she wanted to be reunited with the son and daughter she left behind. Her Soviet citizenship was restored, and she denounced her time in the U.S. and Britain, saying she never really had freedom.
But more than a year later, she asked for and was given permission to leave after feuding with relatives. She returned to the U.S. and vowed never to go back to Russia.
Her son died in 2008 and her Russian daughter is now a scientist in Siberia. Her American daughter, who changed her name to Chrese Evans, said in an email that her mother died at a Richland Center nursing home surrounded by loved ones, but she declined to comment further.
Last year Peters told the Wisconsin State Journal that she enjoyed living in Richland Center, spending her days sewing, reading nonfiction books, talking to her daughter by phone and listening to public radio. She also said she knew that she would never be able to shake her family history.
"Wherever I go," she said in the Wisconsin State Journal interview, "here, or Switzerland, or India, or wherever. Australia. Some island. I always will be a political prisoner of my father's name."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
By Meg Jones of the Journal Sentinel