Memory of Stalin
A chemistry professor and member of the Russian Academy of Science. He married Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana, in spring 1949 when she was 23, and he 29. They divorced five years after Stalin’s death.
It is true that Stalin was a modest person. Everyone knows that after his death he did not leave any property, only a little money. I recall that after the second world war I was on holiday with Stalin in the Caucasus on the Ritsa lake. We were having breakfast and somebody brought over the Pravda newspaper with a report from a Soviet correspondent at one of the international congresses. Stalin asked: “What are they writing there? Is it again, ‘Long live the great leader of the peoples of the world, Comrade Stalin’?” He screwed up the newspaper and threw it in the bushes. This was his real attitude to the cult of personality.
But at the same time he could be a proud man. I also remember how I was once sitting at the same table with Stalin, Laventi Beria [Stalin’s secret police chief], Stalin’s son Vasili, and Svetlana. Another guest proposed a toast with his win glass to Vasili Stalin. Vasili stood up and bowed. Stalin immediately said: “There is no need to bow to anyone. This is what the ancients taught us”.
Stalin explained in 1931 that Russia was “50 – 100 years behind the most advanced countries” and “had to catch up in 10 years”, or be “smashed”. Under his leadership a generation of scientists and engineers were created. I will always remember that, just before the war, I was studying chemistry and Stalin [with whom my father worked in the Central Committee], suddenly called. He told me: “I have heard you are doing a lot of political work in the university. Politics is a dirty business,” he said. “We need chemists”. Then he hung up.