On April 21, 1967, Svetlana Alliluyeva, the daughter of Joseph Stalin, bounded down the stairs of a Swissair plane at Kennedy Airport. She was forty-one years old and wore an elegant white double-breasted blazer… Svetlana immediately became the Cold War’s most famous defector. She was the only living child of Stalin, who had died in 1953, and she had been known as “the little princess of the Kremlin.” Until a few months earlier, she had never left the Soviet Union. But, at Kennedy, she talked of the freedom and opportunity that she expected to find in America. She was coquettish and funny. She spoke fluent English.
Now, though, Svetlana wanted me to think about her mother’s politics. Nadya was an early feminist who should never have married Stalin. The act that deﬁned her for history—her suicide—should be regarded as an act of political courage, not of maternal abdication:
'They were such different creatures—but there could be other solutions other than suicide. Yet at this time—1920-ies, early 1930-ies, suicide was very much “en vogue,” so to say, to express opposition to what was going in Russia.'”