Vasily Stalin

Vasily Iosifovich Stalin (Russian: Васи́лий Ио́сифович Ста́лин; né Dzhugashvili; Russian: Джугашви́ли; 21 March 1921 – 19 March 1962) was the son of Joseph Stalin by his second wife, Nadezhda Alliluyeva. Vasily's mother killed herself when he was 11-years-old, so he was mainly raised by his father, who did not care for his son much. He joined the Air Force when Nazi Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, in 1941, and while he saw limited active service rose to the rank of general. After the war he held a few command posts given to him by his father. Joseph Stalin died in 1953, and Vasily soon lost his authority, developed a severe alcohol problem, and was ultimately arrested and sentenced to prison. Despite being given clemency, he proved unable to clean up his life, and he spent the remainder of his life between imprisonment and hospitalization until he died in 1962.

Vasily Stalin
Birth nameVasily Iosifovich Dzhugashvili
Born(1921-03-21)21 March 1921
Moscow, Russian SFSR
Died19 March 1962(1962-03-19) (aged 40)
Kazan, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Allegiance Soviet Union
Service/branchSoviet Air Forces
Years of service1938–1953
RankCCCP army Rank general-lejtnant infobox.svg Lieutenant general
Unit1st Baltic Front
1st Belorussian Front
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsOrder of the Red Banner
  • Galina Burdonskaia
  • Yekaterina Semyonovna Timoshenko
  • Kapitolina Georgievna Vasil'yeva
  • Maria Ignat'yeva Nusberg

Early lifeEdit

Vasily was born on 21 March 1921, the son of Joseph Stalin and Nadezhda Alliluyeva. He had an older half-brother, Yakov Dzhugashvili (born 1907), from his father's first marriage to Kato Svanidze, and a younger sister, Svetlana, was born in 1926.[1][2] The family also took in Artyom Sergeyev, the son of Fyodor Sergeyev, a close friend of Joseph. Fyodor died four months after the birth of Artyom in an accident, so the boy was raised in the Stalin household.[3]

As his mother was interested in pursuing a professional career, a nanny, Alexandra Bychokova, was hired to look after Vasily and Svetlana.[4]

On 9 November 1932 his mother shot herself.[5] To conceal the suicide, the children were told that Alliluyeva had died of peritonitis, a complication from appendicitis. It would be 10 years before they learned the truth of their mother's death.[6] Svetlana would later write that the death of their mother had a profound impact on her brother. She noted that he started to drink alcohol at the age of 13, and in drunken episodes would curse and attack her.[7]

Starting from the death of Alliluyeva, Joseph Stalin ceased to visit his children; only the nursemaid and head of Stalin's security guards looked after Vasily and his sister. One officer, Sergei Efimov, was charged with continuously looking after the two children.[citation needed]

Military serviceEdit

Vasily started his active military service in the 16th Fighter Aviation Regiment in Moscow. Here he met Galina Burdonskaia, his future wife. They married when Vasily was 19.

He was transferred to the front in August 1941, and given the surname Ivanov in an attempt to conceal his identity. As the son of Stalin he flew in combat rarely, and when he did he was accompanied by a formation. In total Vasily took part in 29 combat missions, and is said to have shot down two enemy aircraft.[8] As the son of the Soviet leader, Vasily was hated by most of his colleagues, who felt he was an informant to his father.[9] In the spring of 1942 he was sent back to Moscow, and given a role inspecting the conditions of the air force, and mainly stayed in Moscow for the rest of the war.[8] Bored in this role, Vasily found himself in trouble after an 4 April 1943 incident where he had explosives dropped into the Moskva River, injuring himself and killing the flight engineer.[10]

As a result of the explosion, Vasily was demoted, though within a year and a half he was promoted to command an air division. He was further promoted to general, and at the age of 24 was made the youngest major-general in the Red Army. He was also awarded several decorations, including the Order of Red Banner (twice), the Order of Alexander Nevsky, and the Order of Suvarov. After the war he was transferred to Germany as part of the Soviet occupation.[11]

He was promoted to major-general in 1946, to Lieutenant-General in 1947, and to Commander of the Air Forces of the Moscow Military District in 1948.


After the war Vasily took up an interest in sports, in particular ice hockey. He helped develop a team to represent the air force, VVS Moscow, and brought in Anatoly Tarasov as the player-coach for the inaugural season in 1946–47. However Tarasov argued with Vasily over players and left team after one season for CDKA Moscow (later CSKA Moscow).[12] On 5 January 1950 a plane carrying the VVS team crashed at Sverdlovsk, killing the team.[13] Even so VVS won three straight Soviet Championship League titles from 1951 to 1953, before Vasily divested himself of the team in the wake of his father's death.[14]

Arrest and imprisonmentEdit

Joseph Stalin died on 4 March 1953. Vasily arrived shortly after the death of his father, and in a drunken rage claimed his father had been poisoned.[15] After his father's death, a long period of troubles began for Vasily. The Defense Ministry offered him to take up command of any military district, but he would only accept Moscow. This was not possible so instead Vasily was forced to retire from the military.[16] Less than two months after his father's death Vasily was arrested on 28 April 1953, because he had visited a restaurant with foreign diplomats. He was charged with denigration of the Soviet Union's leaders, anti-Soviet propaganda and criminal negligence, and sentenced to eight years in prison.[17]

Vasily asked the new Soviet leaders, Nikita Khrushchev and Georgy Malenkov, for clemency but he was considered a dangerous person, and he was judged in a behind-closed-doors trial and was not allowed legal representation. He was imprisoned in the special penitentiary of Vladimir under the name "Vasily Pavlovich Vasilyev". He was released from prison on 11 January 1960. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union issued him a pension of 300 rubles, an apartment in Moscow, and a three-month treatment vacation in Kislovodsk. He was also granted permission to wear his general's uniform and all of his military medals.


Stalin's grave in Kazan.

Vasily Stalin died on 19 March 1962, due to chronic alcoholism, two days before his 41st birthday.[18]

Vasily Stalin was partially rehabillitated in 1999, when the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court lifted charges of anti-Soviet propaganda that dated from 1953. His body was re-buried next to his fourth wife in a Moscow cemetery in 2002.


  1. ^ Sullivan 2015, p. 15
  2. ^ Kotkin 2014, p. 466
  3. ^ Kun 2003, p. 351
  4. ^ Sullivan 2015, pp. 23–24
  5. ^ Kotkin 2017, pp. 110–111
  6. ^ Sullivan 2015, p. 53
  7. ^ Sullivan 2015, p. 72
  8. ^ a b Kun 2003, p. 360
  9. ^ Kun 2003, p. 357
  10. ^ Kun 2003, p. 361
  11. ^ Kun 2003, p. 362
  12. ^ Martin 1990, p. 33
  13. ^ Martin 1990, p. 40
  14. ^ Martin 1990, p. 34
  15. ^ Sullivan 2015, p. 184
  16. ^ Alliluyeva 1967, p. 224
  17. ^ Alliluyeva 1967, p. 225
  18. ^ Alliluyeva 1967, p. 230


  • Alliluyeva, Svetlana (1967), Twenty Letters to a Friend, translated by Johnson, Priscilla, London: Hutchinson, ISBN 0-060-10099-0
  • Kotkin, Stephen (2014), Stalin, Volume 1: Paradoxes of Power, 1878–1928, New York City: Penguin Press, ISBN 978-1-59420-379-4
  • Kotkin, Stephen (2017), Stalin, Volume 2: Waiting for Hitler, 1929–1941, New York City: Penguin Press, ISBN 978-1-59420-380-0
  • Kun, Miklós (2003), Stalin: An Unknown Portrait, translated by Bodóczky, Miklós; Hideg, Rachel; Higed, János; Vörös, Miklós, Budapest: Central European University Press, ISBN 963-9241-19-9
  • Martin, Lawrence (1990), The Red Machine: The Soviet Quest to Dominate Canada's Game, Toronto: Doubleday Canada, ISBN 0-385-25272-2
  • Montefiore, Simon Sebag (2003), Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, London: Phoenix, ISBN 978-0-7538-1766-7
  • Montefiore, Simon Sebag (2007), Young Stalin, London: Phoenix, ISBN 978-0-297-85068-7
  • Richardson, Rosamond (1993), The Long Shadow: Inside Stalin's Family, London: Little, Brown and Company, ISBN 0-316-90553-4
  • Sullivan, Rosemary (2015), Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva, Toronto: HarperCollins, ISBN 978-1-44341-442-5

External linksEdit