Stalin’s Son

Stalin’s son, Jakov Djugashvili Stalin was an engineer by profession, During the Second World War, he served as a senior lieutenant and battery commander of the 14th Howitzer Regiment, attached to the 14th Tank Division and was captured on 16 July 1941 near Vitebsk by the Nazis.

On discovering that their prisoner was Stalin’s son, the Germans attempted to exploit him for propaganda purposes, but did not succeed. Refusing privileges, he asked to remain with the rank-and-file soldiers. In all the photographs of jakov, he deliberately refuses to look directly at the camera. This didn’t prevent the Germans from leafletting to Red Army soldiers “Do not shed your blood for Stalin! He has already fled to Samara! His own son has surrendered! If Stalin’s son is saving his own skin, then you are not obliged to sacrifice yourself either!”

After the battle of Stalingrad, Hitler suggested through the Swedish Red Cross that Jakov be exchanged for Field Marshal Paulus. Stalin refused, saying: “A marshal would not be exchanged for a lieutenant”. Hitler’s counter proposition to exchange Jakov for Hitler’s nephew Leo Raubal was not accepted either. (Jakov never got along with his dad, who called him a “mere cobbler.”) Djugashvili died on the electrified wire of Sachenhausen concentration camp on 14 April 1943, below. Much controversy surrounded the death. Some believe it was suicide, others a failed escape attempt. Some saw the dirty hand of the German SS behind.

After the war, in an uncharacteristic move, Stalin offered a $250,000 reward in East Germany to anyone who could provide details of how Jakov died. In 1945, U.S. and British intelligence teams found a letter by Heinrich Himmler on details of the failed escape attempt and attached was the below picture of young Stalin stretched out on the camp fence. They decided, however, to withhold the information from Stalin in order to spare him any personal pain.

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0 thoughts on “Stalin’s Son

  1. There is uncertainly that the man dead on the barbed wire is actually Yakov. All that is certain is that he died in Sachenhausen in 1943, but whether he threw himself on the barbed wire (electrified?) in a suicide attempt, or was shot in the furtive escape attempt, or was simply murdered outright by his Totenkopf-SS captors, is still unknown. Yakov’s daughter, Galina, rejects that her father surrendered near Smolensk in 1941 (to do so would have made him a traitor, indeed, her mother was imprisoned by Stalin for two years which consequence was not unknown for families of officers that did not fight to the death). Though there was no proof, there is speculation that the Germans used a look-alike Soviet POW to impersonate Yakov after they found his body on the battlefield so as to embarass Stalin. However, if such a ruse was in effect, Stalin bought into it. When the Soviet army invaded Germany in 1945, as POW camps were liberated, hope was expressed that Yakov would be rescued. Stalin told Molotov, “Yakov won’t get out of captivity. They’ll shoot him, the killers!”
    Yakov and his father were estranged his entire life. The boy was raised by his aunt (his mother died when he was one). Stalin was known to have said that other than his mother, his first wife (Yakov’s mother), Ekaterina Svanidze, was probably the only woman he’d truly loved, and that “all his humanity died with her”. Interesting psychological insight into the tortured mind of that madman. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to speculate that Stalin avoided and belittled his son because of the memory of his deceased wife.
    Yakov himself, inspite of university education as an engineer, was considered to be a failure in life and an embarassment to his father (called at times a “mere cobbler”). He used his connections to bully the then-husband of the woman (Yulia Meltzer, a then well-known Jewish dancer) to leave her, further embarassing his father. Stalin rejected the engagement, upon which Yakov attempted suicide by shooting himself in the head. However, he was so nervous that the bullet merely grazed his skull. Stalin reacted to the news of his son’s botched suicide attempt with the contemptous remark, “the little shit can’t even shoot straight”.

  2. If Stalin or his son were seen sneezing, it would be one more absolute proof they were monsters. I have listened to this since I grew up in Nazi Germany. Nothing ever really changes. We just love to claim superioriority to THEM.
    Joe Schopplein

    1. Stalin & Hitler? Who was the worst one?
      Stalin killed mostly his own people and even those close to him: His paranoia was no excuse.
      Hitler killed what he called subhumans and foreigners but also sacrificed a whole German generation in the process.Two of a kind both scum. The children of Stalin deserve pity not contempt.

      But both pall when you consider the numbers of those who died over 1350 years in the name of Muhammad and who are still dying.

      1. All of the murders of Hitler and Stalin pale in comparison to the genocide of native Americans at the hands of Europeans, at last educated count, over 100 million. Then there’s Africa and India.

      2. The many lies told about Stalin were spread by nazi propaganda, english and american secret services. New investigation has proved that Stalin was a great leader. The attempted exchange of prisoners in February 1943 between General Von Paulus and his son was not accepted. Stalin replied that he did not exchange generals for soldiers. Your futile and unsuccessful attempt to deny Stalin’s greatness is proved by the true facts and not by the repetitive lies told.

  3. My family has 21 original german ww2 photos including one of Stalin’s son Jakov being captured (similar to the one I found on your website) that we would love to have examined and/or appraised. Any suggestions?

    1. i don’t know where you live but if you live in England, you can just walk into Sotheby’s and Christie’s and ask for photo dept. From my previous experiences, the auctions houses have better service (or efficiency even) than going to a university or an academic institution.

      1. ian,

        Just now reading your response from my entry on january 15th, 2010. The 21 black/white ww2 photos are still in our posession and I would be glad to share photo-copies of them with you if you are still interested!

        John Catlin

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