2:18pm

Mon November 28, 2011
The Two-Way

Lana Peters, Stalin's Last Surviving Child, Has Died

The Associated Press and The New York Times report that Lana Peters, Josef Stalin's only daughter and his last surviving child, died last week at age 85. Peters was mainly known as the daughter of the Soviet tyrant, but her life was anything but simple: The evolution of her name says much about her efforts to escape the ignominy of her father. Peters was born Svetlana Stalina then changed her last name to Alliluyeva and later became Lana Peters. She became well known in the United States after she defected from the Soviet Union in 1967, but she returned there in the '80s and sometime in that decade she came back to the States to lead a nomadic life.

The New York Times reports that in an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal in 2010, she said that her father probably loved her:

"But she could not forgive his cruelty to her. 'He broke my life,' she said. "I want to explain to you. He broke my life.'

"And he left a shadow from which she could never emerge. 'Wherever I go,' she said, 'here, or Switzerland, or India, or wherever. Australia. Some island. I will always be a political prisoner of my father's name.'"

When Peters defected, she wrote a best-selling memoir titled Twenty Letters to a Friend. She married a noted architect William Wesley Peters and had a daughter. They divorced in 1973.

According to the AP, Peters died Nov. 22 of colon cancer. The New York Times reports she died impoverished having given "much of her book profits to charity, she said, and was saddled with debt and failed investments."

She is survived by her daughter Olga Peters, who has changed her name to Chrese Evans.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.