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Yakov Dzhugashvili
Яков Джугашвили (Russian)
იაკობ ჯუღაშვილი (Vietnamese)
File:Yakov Dzhugashvili.jpg
Born Yakov Iosifovich Dzhugashvili
(1907-03-18)March 18, 1907
Tbilisi, Georgia, Russian Empire
Died April 14, 1943(1943-04-14) (aged 36)
Sachsenhausen concentration camp, Oranienburg, Nazi Germany
Cause of death Shot in the head;[1] other sources, Suicide.[2]
Place of burial Unknown
Nationality Soviet
Other names Yasha
Occupation Cobbler, Soldier
Title Lieutenant
Spouse(s) Yulia Meltzer
Children Yevgeny Dzhugashvili
Galina Dzhugashvili
Parents Joseph Stalin and Ekaterina Svanidze
Relatives Svetlana Alliluyeva, Vasily Dzhugashvili

Yakov Iosifovich Dzhugashvili (Georgian language: იაკობ ჯუღაშვილი, Iakob Dzhugashvili , Russian: Я́ков Ио́сифович Джугашви́ли) (18 March 1907 – 14 April 1943) was one of Joseph Stalin's three children (along with Svetlana Alliluyeva and Vasily Dzhugashvili). Yakov was the son of Stalin's first wife, Ekaterina Svanidze. He served in the Red Army during the Second World War, and was captured, or surrendered,[2] in the initial stages of the German invasion of the USSR. While there has been dispute over the circumstances of his death, historians currently believe that he was killed in a German camp.

Early life

Yakov was born in the village of Borji (near Kutaisi) in Georgia, then part of Imperial Russia. Until the age of fourteen, Yakov was raised by his aunt in Tbilisi. In 1921, Yakov’s uncle Alexander Svanidze urged him to leave for Moscow to acquire a higher education. Yakov only spoke Georgian and after his arrival in Moscow he commenced with learning the Russian language, aiming to apply for University studies.

Yakov and his father Stalin never got along. Allegedly once Stalin referred to Yakov as a "mere cobbler." Later according to Yakov's stepmother Nadezhda Alliluyeva she saw a young girl running away from their Moscow dacha in tears. When she entered she saw a despairing Yakov looking near faint in the room. He ran immediately to his bedroom. It turned out that the girl was Yakov's Jewish fiancée, and when they told Stalin of their engagement he became enraged.[citation needed]

While Stalin and his wife were arguing about this a shot was heard from Yakov's room. Yakov had shot himself, but survived. While she tended to his wounds and sent for a doctor all his father said was, "He can't even shoot straight."[3]

Marriage and family

Dzhugashvili married Yulia Meltzer, a well-known Jewish dancer from Odessa. After meeting Yulia at a reception, Yakov fought with her second husband, NKVD officer Nikolai Bessarab,[4] and arranged her divorce. Yakov became her third husband and was survived by two children. His son, Yevgeni, gave many interviews about his grandfather. He also had a daughter, Galina, who died in 2007.[5]

German propaganda 1941. "Do not shed your blood for Stalin! He has already fled to Samara! His own son has surrendered! If Stalin's son has saved himself, then you are not obliged to sacrifice yourself either!"

Second World War

Dzhugashvili served as an artillery officer in the Red Army and was captured on 16 July 1941[6] in the early stages of the German invasion of USSR at the Battle of Smolensk. The Germans later offered to exchange Yakov for Friedrich Paulus, the German Field Marshal captured by the Soviets after the Battle of Stalingrad, but Stalin turned the offer down, allegedly saying, "I will not trade a Marshal for a Lieutenant."[7] According to some sources, there was another proposition as well, that Hitler wanted to exchange Yakov for his nephew Leo Raubal; this proposition was not accepted either.[8] While Soviet propaganda always asserted that Dzuhgashvili was captured[citation needed], Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, wrote in her memoirs that her father believed his son deliberately surrendered to the Germans after being encouraged to do so by his wife. Stalin, she wrote, had Yulia imprisoned and interrogated as a result. In February 2013 Der Spiegel printed evidence that it interpreted as indicating that Yakov surrendered. A letter written by Dzhugashvili's brigade commissar to the Red Army’s political director, quoted by Spiegel, states that after Dzhugashvili's battery had been bombed by the Germans, he and another soldier initially put on civilian clothing and escaped, but then at some point Dzhugashvili stayed behind, saying that he wanted to stay and rest.[2]

Until recently, it was not clear when and how he died. According to the official German account, Dzhugashvili died by running into an electric fence in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was being held. Some have contended that Yakov committed suicide at the camp,[9] while others have suggested that he was murdered.[10] Currently, declassified files show that Dzhugashvili was shot by a guard for refusing to obey orders.[1] While Dzhugashvili was walking around the camp he was ordered back to the barracks under the threat of being shot. Dzhugashvili refused and shouted, "Shoot!" The guard shot him in the head. Either way, this was seen by Stalin as a more honourable death, and Stalin's attitude towards his son softened slightly.[11]

After the war, British officers in charge of captured German archives came upon the papers depicting Dzhugashvili’s death at Sachsenhausen. The British Foreign Office considered briefly to present these papers to Stalin at the Potsdam Conference as a gesture of condolence. They scrapped the idea because neither the British nor the Americans had informed the Soviets about the fact that they had captured key German archives. Sharing those papers with Stalin would have prompted the Soviets to inquire about the source of these records.[12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Stalin’s son was executed in Nazi camp – archives, RT, May 12, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Independent, 18 February 2013
  3. Hartston, William (2007). Encyclopedia of Useless Information. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks. p. 350. ISBN 978-1-4022-0828-7. 
  4. Юдифь Исааковна Мельцер
  5. [1][dead link]
  6. Elliott, Mark R. (1982). Pawns of Yalta: Soviet refugees and America's role in their repatriation. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. pp. 185. ISBN 0-252-00897-9. 
  7. Rappaport, Helen. Joseph Stalin: A biographical companion. Biographical Companions. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-57607-084-0. 
  8. Tolstoy, Nikolai (1978). The secret betrayal. New York: Scribner. p. 296. ISBN 0-684-15635-0.  See also Bailey, Ronald Albert (1981). Prisoners of war. Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books. p. 123. ISBN 0-8094-3391-5. 
  9. E.g., Revealed: how Stalin's brutal massacre at Katyn shamed his PoW son into suicide, Telegraph, July 30, 2000.
  10. Douglas, Martin. Lana Peters, Stalin’s Daughter, Dies at 85, New York Times, November 28, 2011. Retrieved November 29, 2011. "One of her brothers, Yakov, was captured by the Germans, who offered to exchange him for a German general. Stalin refused, and Yakov was killed."
  11. Beevor, Antony (2012). The Second World War. Great Britain: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. 
  12. Eckert, Astrid M., The Struggle for the Files. The Western Allies and the Return of German Archives after the Second World War (New York, Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 47-48. ISBN 978-0521880183

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