Many know that Josef Stalin had one, much adored child – a daughter. But what of his daughter’s children, if any? The Daily Mail recently tracked down Stalin’s granddaughter in all of her “action tough girl”, bleached blonde, and tattooed glory:
[T]he woman slowly exhaling smoke from her thick painted red lips, with a gun casually slung over her shoulder, had the kind of privileged public school upbringing most can only dream of.
For this is evil dictator Josef Stalin’s unconventional granddaughter – the youngest child of his much-adored daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva.
Exactly what the Soviet despot would have thought of Chrese Evans – described by her loving mother as being ‘American as apple pie’ – is anyone’s guess.
Chrese – who was born Olga, but chose to change her name – is the youngest of her mother’s three children, the only child from Svetlana’s third marriage to American architect William Wesley Peters.
Now 44, her life is a world away from the one her grandfather would have more than likely envisaged for her.
Chrese has chosen to spend her days in Portland, Oregon, a million miles away from the private apartments in the Krelmin where her mother, raised in the lap of luxury, would meet Winston Churchill as a young girl.
In the picture of her with the gun over her shoulder – a toy – she is posed as Tank Girl, a 1980s British comic strip character.
The British-educated Chrese, who is reported to have owned a small antique shop in Portland, Oregon, posted the pictures on her social media account.
She proudly boasts about her tattoos, writing of one example of her body art: ‘This one took a few years but it was completed in 2007.’
Of another, on her fingers, she said: ‘Tim Jordan nailed the 1800’s savings bond font in my touch up on Friday, right in time for the photo shoot for the upcoming tattoo book. Thanks love!’
Chrese is the youngest of her mother’s three children – the only child from Svetlana’s third marriage, to American architect William Wesley Peters.
Her mother, who died from colon cancer five years ago aged 85, wed Peters after arriving in America having fled the country where she had lived a life of untold privilege as a Soviet princess in a state where everyone was supposed to be equal.
The union did not last more than three years, but by all accounts Svetlana – who had renamed herself Lana Peters – was a good mother to her daughter.
In a 2011 interview with the Daily Mail, she said: ‘My mother’s whole life has been about living this [her association with Stalin] down and trying to lead a new life of her own.’
‘Of course, she abhors what Stalin did.
‘But there was a period when so many people held her responsible for his actions that she actually started to think maybe it was true. It’s so unjust.’
Evans was also quoted as saying that despite an itinerant childhood in Britain and the States – not to mention a failed attempt to return to the USSR in 1984 after Svetlana denounced the West – she grew up as a ‘kind of normal kid’.
The stay in Russia only lasted three years after the moody Svetlana fell out with her relatives – although it seems to have left its mark.
‘My favourite Russian New Year wish to all of you: May you never forget what is worth remembering, nor remember what is best forgotten. *gulp Vodka here*’
She also posted a picture of homemade Russian soup.
‘Borscht from scratch. Love making it, feels like Mom was right next to me,’ she wrote.
But Evans, who was educated at the Friends’ School, Saffron Walden, Essex, a Quaker independent school, moved back to America as an adult. where she worked at a Portland fashion boutique as a student which had seen her study tax law and accounting.
She had the option to work for the US government’s Internal Revenue Service, or to start her own business.
‘One had the prospect of excitement, the other one was cool,’ said Chrese in a previous interview.
Last year she told PBS in America that her mother had shielded her from being constantly confronted with her grandfather’s bloody reign of terror.
‘It wasn’t a part of my past at all, until I was a young teenager, because she kept me very, very sheltered from it,’ said Evans.
‘She always called me American as apple pie.
‘She wanted me – she always wanted to protect me from the hardships that she had had to go through.
‘We had a very special relationship, once I had become probably a young teenager.
‘Sometimes, I was doing the parenting. Sometimes, she was.
‘We were a little bit more of an equal partnership, sort of a super duo.’
Asked what part of her mother is most in her, she said: ‘She had incredible faith.
‘And I didn’t really develop that sense of faith until actually after she passed away and that sense of her being with me.
‘I have a sense of accomplishment that I didn’t have before that I know that she left with me.
‘She was always proud of me, when I hadn’t even really accomplished anything, the unconditional love, which I haven’t felt from anybody else, ever, because she was my mother, and that warmth of a friendship, which I probably will look for, for the rest of my life in other people.
‘But I know that it’s possible.’
At one point in her fugitive life, her mother Svetlana had retreated to a convent in Warwickshire, and later subsisted on the dole in the Cornish town of Helston.
Just as she discarded her father’s Communist faith she also lost her religion.
‘I’ve had too much of it. I don’t need the church any more,’ she said.
Svetlana’s mother Nadezhda Alliluyeva had committed suicide in 1932, when Svetlana was just six, evidently after sinking into depression over Stalin’s womanising.
Her death devastated Stalin and his daughter was the apple of his eye.
‘You know, my father loved me,’ she said as an old woman. ‘And he always wanted me to be with him.’
In 1942 he introduced her to visiting fellow war leader Winston Churchill in Stalin’s private apartments in the Kremlin.
The British premier said she was ‘a handsome red-haired girl, who kissed her father dutifully’.
Churchill recorded that Stalin ‘looked at me with a twinkle in his eye as if, so I thought, to convey ‘You see, even we Bolsheviks have a family life’.’
But Svetlana said years later: ‘There was a lot of tragedy in my family.’
She added: ‘I don’t forgive anybody anything. If he could kill so many people, I could never forgive him.’
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