Ah, Nadezhda Alliluyev: the youngest child of the Russian revolutionary Sergei Alliluyev. Her father had once sheltered Lenin during his toughest times in Russia. It is then not all that surprising I suppose that she herself fell in love with a revolutionary, Joseph Stalin. When Stalin visited St Petersburg, he often lodged with the Alliluyev family. It is rumoured he saved Nadezhda from drowning when she was two-years-old.
In 1917, following the death of his wife, and the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas, Stalin returned from exile to St Petersburg/ Petrograd. Though Stalin was over twenty years older than her, during the civil war in 1918 they became lovers. By 1919 they were married. While Stalin took on the role of People’s Commissar for Nationalities, Nadezhda worked as his personal assistant. They had two children together.
Nadezhda suffered from an unknown mental illness. It is thought today that it was either bipolar disorder or a borderline personality disorder as she suffered very severe mood changes. She also endured cranial sutures and even travelled to Germany to seek advice from neurologists. While it is evident she loved Stalin, it is also clear that she was deeply unhappy at times and she threatened to commit suicide a number of times. In 1929, apparently bored of being in the Kremlin, Nadezhda went to study Chemistry at University. After her friends told her terrifying stories regarding the impact of collectivisation, Stalin allegedly had them arrested.
How does a marriage with a revolutionary dictator end? Well, in this case, her threats of suicide finally came to fruition. On 9th November 1932, after publicly arguing with Stalin over collectivization and its effects on the peasantry, she then went to her bedroom and died of appendicitis. Wait, what? I said this was a suicide. Well, it turns out the official announcement at the time was that she had contracted appendicitis. But those at the house that evening were well aware that Nadezhda had shot and killed herself. Stalin had lost his first wife, Kato, to typhus in 1907, and now he had lost his second to a suicide. It is said that he was very disturbed by the event, and he kept her family around in his close circles for the following years to come.