Galina Dzhugashvili

Stalin's granddaughter


Galina Yakovlevna Dzhugashvili, translator: born Moscow 1939; married (one son); died Moscow 27 August 2007.

Galina Dzhugashvili was the granddaughter of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (né Dzhugashvili), and a survivor in a family many of whose members were imprisoned or poisoned, or who committed suicide. Her father, Lt Yakov Dzhugashvili, was the bullied and unloved eldest son of Stalin by his marriage to Yekaterina Svanidze. Galina's mother was Julia Meltser, a well-known Jewish beauty and cabaret dancer from Odessa who was married to her second husband, Nikolai Bessarab, when she met Yakov at one of Stalin's receptions. He became infatuated with her: there was a fight at the reception and shortly afterwards Yakov organised Julia's divorce from Bessarab and married her as his third wife. Bessarab was later arrested by the NKVD, Stalin's secret police, and executed. Stalin, who often humiliated his son – to the point where Yakov once even tried to commit suicide – was against all his marriages .

Galina (known as Galya) saw her father for the last time when she was three years old. He was taken prisoner by the Germans three weeks after the beginning of war in the Soviet Union in 1941 and was kept at Sachsenhausen concentration camp. After Stalin refused the exchange of his son for Field Marshal Friedrich von Paulus (commander of the 6th Army at Stalingrad) – "we do not exchange marshals for soldiers" – offered by the German High Command, Yakov Dzhugashvili, according to one account, threw himself on the barbed-wire fence or, according to another version, was shot by a guard when he came close to the fence. He died on 14 April 1943.

Galya told me she believed that Stalin had tried to save her father; that there had been three attempts to free him from the camp which failed. Twice, she said, a group of Chekist operatives tried to break in to the camp and one attempt was made by Communist operatives from Spain who lived in exile in Moscow after the Spanish Civil War.

Stalin regarded Russian prisoners of war as traitors. He had been furious when he was told that his son was a POW in Germany. Julia was arrested shortly afterwards and spent nearly two years in the Lubianka, the notorious Moscow Cheka prison. She had been in Germany before the war for medical reasons and was accused of maintaining connections with some of those she had met there and probably influencing her husband. "This was a lie", Galya said. She also told me that her mother was released from prison by Stalin's security officer, General Nikolai Vlasik. But there were rumours that Julia had become Vlasik's mistress.

Galya Dzhugashvili, when I met her for the first time in 1990, was a stunning beauty, an elegant and intelligent woman. She worked all her life as a French translator and was married to an Algerian Communist living in exile in Moscow. I once asked her whether she was afraid of Stalin. "Of course we were afraid of him," she said, "but behind his toughness, Stalin was like everybody else; he had his weaknesses. Sometimes he visited me and Svetlana, his daughter, at a dacha where one time we lived together - Stalin had five dachas - and he used to say: "You look very much like your father" so he loved us children, otherwise he wouldn't say such words."

During perestroika Galya and her husband lived in poverty, as the institute where she worked as a translator was closed. They only survived thanks to the foreign currency her husband received from Algiers. Their son, Selim, was born severely handicapped.

For many years she was busy with a memoir trying to prove that her father did not surrender to the Germans, and that he had behaved honourably. Recently her book "Mystery of Stalin's Family: my grandfather and my father" appeared under the name Galina Yakovlevna Dzhugashvili-Stalin, and it was claimed she "had disclosed Stalin's many secrets". The name "Stalin" was added no doubt by the publishers.

Jeanne Vronskaya

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Trainer / IT Trainer

£30 to £32k : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Trainer / IT Trainer to join an a...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a world leader ...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Technical Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an int...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'