Monday, April 21, 2014

Stalin's Daughter And His Legacy In America

Today is the 47th anniversary of the date in 1967 that the black sheep daughter of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin arrived in New York and defected to the United States, a huge coup during the height of the Cold War.

I'm not entirely sure why I knew this had happened back then, because I wasn't even alive in 1967.  But I was vaguely aware of it, and so was very surprised to read THIS account of an interview with her in a recent issue of the The New Yorker magazine. (Stalin's daughter was still alive?!?) She actually died in 2011, after many illnesses.

In  later years she lived quietly in a nursing home in Wisconsin, subsisting on social security payments, apparently. There was a certain irony in that, I thought, because according to this article, when she defected in 1967, she wrote to her children, whom she'd left behind in Moscow, that, "Communism had failed as an economic system and as a moral idea."  I also thought it notable that her American-born daughter, Stalin's granddaughter, now works in Portland, Oregon selling, "antiques, vintage clothes, and scented candles."

I thought this sentence from the introduction to the article was noteworthy, too.  "The C.I.A. official who first interviewed her noted in a memo that 'our own preconceived notions of what Stalin’s daughter must be like—just didn’t let us believe that this nice, pleasant, attractive, middle-aged hausfrau could possibly be who she claimed to be.'”

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