Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Stalin's Granddaughter Dies Of Cancer in City Hospital

Galina Dzhugashvili, a granddaughter of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, has died at age 69, hospital officials said Tuesday.

She died Monday evening at Moscow's Burdenko military hospital after a struggle with cancer, acting hospital chief Vladimir Nekrasov said.

Dzhugashvili's father Yakov -- Stalin's eldest son -- was a Soviet senior lieutenant who historians say died at the Nazis' Sachsenhausen camp in 1943 after Stalin declined to swap him for a captured German general. The circumstances of his death were unclear, with conflicting contentions that he committed suicide or was murdered.

In 2003 in Moscow, a U.S. Defense Department official presented Dzhugashvili with documents that a U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said indicated her father was shot trying to escape.

But in an interview at the time, Dzhugashvili argued that her father was never taken prisoner by the Germans -- a sensitive issue because Stalin treated Soviet soldiers who surrendered or were taken prisoner as traitors.

In 2003, she said Yakov Dzhugashvili died in battle in 1941. She asserted that photographs and letters indicating that he was at the prison camp were falsified as part of a Nazi plot to discredit Stalin.

Her mother, Yulia Meltzer, was a ballerina.

During the interview in her Kitai-Gorod neighborhood apartment -- a gift from Stalin -- she spoke fondly of her grandfather and recalled how when he took her in his arms as a child, his mustache would tickle her cheeks.

She added that these memories made it hard for her to be objective about Stalin, and that she thought many of the attacks against him were unfair.

Stalin, whose original surname was Dzhugashvili, ruled the Soviet Union with an iron fist until his death in 1953. Tens of millions of people were executed or deported to prison camps under his rule.

MT, AP