Joseph Stalin's only daughter grew up the beloved pet of a man responsible for a decades-long campaign to arrest, torture, execute or forcibly imprison millions of Soviet citizens, including children and members of his own family. That's what we know now.
In retrospect, it wasn't so easy to see. He veiled his crimes under an ambitious agenda of expansion and a cult of personality that was bigger than the man. Stalin became Soviet power. During the 20 years of atrocities, Stalin transformed a mostly agrarian and illiterate society into an industrial and urban powerhouse with all the benefits of modern society. For many, Stalin brought prosperity and protected them from the ravages of an overzealous and heinous Hitler.
Rosemary Sullivan tells the chilling history of Stalin through the perspective of his only daughter Svetlana in Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva. It's the tale of a woman who struggled to reconcile her love for her father with the brutality of his leadership. In many ways, her story is one of survival. Unlike survivors of the Gulag who were clear victims of his destructive force, she was the privileged and protected daughter, a piece of propaganda to counter a system of immense horror.
Svetlana Alliluyeva defected from Soviet Russia to the US in 1967, more than a decade after his death and during the height of the Cold War. She left two children behind to begin a new life with powerful friends who protected and embraced her. Yet, it wasn't enough. She couldn't escape the long shadow of Stalin's legacy, a shadow that extends to Putin's Russia today.
Today, we look at Stalin's legacy then and now.
- Rosemary Sullivan - Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto and the author of 14 books including most recently, Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva
- Ramona Rayle - wife of Robert Rayle, former CIA operations officer who helped Svetlana defect to the United States. She was also a friend of Svetlana Alliluyeva
- Stephen Cohen - Professor Emeritus of Russian studies, history, and politics at New York University and Princeton University. He’s the author of several books including The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag After Stalin. He's also a frequent contributor to The Nation
Colin McEnroe & Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired on July 14, 2018.