The Kremlin Princess: Lana Peters, Stalin’s American Daughter

Svetlana Iosifovna Stalina, the most famous defector of the cold war, was born in luxury, in the Kremlin and led an extraordinary, tumultuous life. She died destitute at a care home in Wisconsin.

In this episode we tell the incredible story of Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, born Stalina and later known as Lana Peters. If you like our content, please become a patron to receive our two exclusive premium episodes each month, as well as our public episodes ad-free.

Born on February 28, 1926, in Moscow, Svetlana was Stalin’s favorite child and The Princess in The Kremlin. Her mother Nadezhda was a secretary for Lenin and played an important role in Stalin’s rise to power. She committed suicide when Svetlana was just 6 years old. Her brother Vasily was 11 and her half brother Yakov was 25. Artyom, her adopted brother and the only one of her siblings who reached old age, was already a young man.

Svetlana had a lonely childhood, very few friends and was interested in literature and poetry. She was the only one that could influence Joseph Stalin. During the Great Purge, she managed to save the lives of many people just by pleading with her father to commute their sentences. She was 10 years old at the time.

As a 16 yo teenager, she fell in love with filmmaker Aleksei Kapler, who was 20 years older. Stalin sends him to the Gulag because he was Jewish. Joseph Stalin himself married Nadezhda when she was just 16 years old and he was 39.

Svetlana rebelled and married another Jewish man, but their union was short lived. Her first son Josef was born. Her second marriage disintegrates just as fast, but now Svetlana had a daughter too, Yekaterina.

During WW2, Her brother Yakov was captured by the Nazis and Stalin refused to exchange him for Field Marshall Friedrich Paulus. Yakov commits suicide by throwing himself on an electrified fence.

Vasili dies of alcoholism induced cirrhosis at just 41.

After Stalin’s death, Svetlana, now a single mother of two, fell in love with Indian translator Kunwar Brajesh Singh. When he dies, she traveled to Delhi to pour his ashes in the Ganges. In Delhi, Svetlana walked into the US Embassy and defected, bringing her first manuscript– 20 Letters to A Friend – to America. She publishes it and earns almost $1M.

Most of her money was spent by William Wesley Peters, the world famous architect and vice president of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation after their marriage and years living together at the Taliesin Fellowship. Her marriage to Peters ended, but they had a daughter together, Olga. She now goes by the name of  Chrese Evans and lives in Portland Oregon. 1

In 1978, Svetlana, now Lana Peters became a US citizen. 2

Her older daughter, Yekaterina, is a volcanologist in Kamchatka Penninsula in Siberia. Her firstborn son Iosef, a cardiologist, died in Russia in 2008. She was never able to see them again after she fled from Russia.

On November 22, 2011, Svetlana died of colon cancer, at the Richland center, a care home in Wisconsin. 3

Episode #Dubimeter: 20

1. Nicholas Thompson. My Friend, Stalin's Daughter. The New Yorker. March 2014. 

2. Steven V. Roberts. Stalin's Dauhter Confirms Marriaje to Architect. The New York Times. April 1970. 

3. Get.factual youtube channel. Stalin's Daughter - Escaping the Shadow. Youtube. July 2022. 

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