Ketevan "Kato" Svanidze (Georgian: ეკატერინა სვიმონის ასული სვანიძე, Ketevan Svimonis asuli Svanidze; Russian: Екатери́на Семёновна Свани́дзе, Yekaterina Semyonovna Svanidze; 2 April 1885 – 5 December 1907) was the first wife of Joseph Stalin and the mother of his eldest son, Yakov. Svanidze and Stalin were married for just 18 months before she died of an illness in 1907. Her death sent Stalin into a deep grief, and he reportedly said "with her died my last warm feelings for humanity." Years later, several of her family members were executed during Stalin's purges.
1 Early life 2 Early life in Tiflis 3 Marriage to Stalin 4 Illness and death 5 Family 6 Notes 7 References 8 Bibliography 9 External links
Kato was born in the small mountain village of Baji, Kutais
Stalin in 1902
Kato Svanidze, c. 1905
Further information: Early life of Joseph Stalin
In the first years of the 20th century, Stalin (born Ioseb
Jughashvili, nicknamed "Soso") ran with a revolutionary gang in
Georgia, responsible for various criminal activities including
robberies, kidnappings and running an underground newspaper.
Kato Svanidze, date unknown.
Svanidze was approximately one month pregnant at the time, though it
is not confirmed if she knew of this; Stephen Kotkin, in his biography
Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878–1928, however, writes
that Svanidze informed Stalin she was pregnant and this was the reason
for the hurried wedding.
Stalin (known as "Soso" to his Georgian friends) and Kato were very
much in love.
"I was amazed how Soso, who was so severe in his work and to his
comrades, could be so tender, affectionate and attentive to his wife,"
noted Monaselidze, who along with his wife wrote detailed memoirs in
Stalin later told his youngest child, daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva,
that his first wife was "very sweet and beautiful, she melted my
The couple did not register the marriage with the state and Svanidze
kept her maiden name. A few months later authorities made the
Funeral of Kato Svanidze, with family and husband Stalin (right)
Stalin in 1911
In August 1907, Stalin left for Germany to attend the Second
International Socialist Congress in Stuttgart. Kato became sick,
suffering in the summer heat. "Soso would go early in the morning and
return late at night while Kato sat at home with a tiny baby terrified
that he would be arrested," Monaselidze wrote. "Bad diet, little
sleep, the heat and stress weakened her and she fell ill. Surrounded
by strangers, she had no friends around her. Soso was so busy he
forgot his family!"
Kato's family heard of her illness and wrote her and Stalin, begging
him to bring her back to recuperate in the familiar climate in
Georgia. Stalin delayed until October, when it became obvious she was
getting worse. On the 13-hour trip back to Tiflis, she apparently
drank infected water and contracted typhus. Though some historians
have attributed her illness to tuberculosis, her family recalled the
symptoms of typhus rash and dysentery. She died in Stalin's arms 5
December [O.S. 22 November] 1907.
Her cousin Mariam Svanidze, still alive at 109 in 2005, told historian
Simon Sebag Montefiore
a Mikheil (and Mikheili) is the Georgian equivalent of Michael
(Mikhail in Russian).
Simon Sebag Montefiore
^ Sebag Montefiore 2007, p. 294
^ Nikolai Zenkovich (2005). Самые секретные
родственники [The Most Secret families]. p. 368.
^ Сванидзе Александр Семенович 1886–1941)
[Svanidze Alexander Semyonovich (1886–1941)]. Sakharov Center.
Retrieved 2 February 2015.
^ Gely Kleymenov. О личной жизни Иосифа
Сталина [Personal Life of Joseph Stalin]. Retrieved 8 February
^ Kotkin (2014), p. 36
^ a b Sebag Montefiore 2007, p. 287
^ Kotkin (2014), p. 321
^ a b Kotkin (2014), p. 269
^ Sebag Montefiore 2007, p. 288
^ Sebag Montefiore 2007, pp. 314–316
^ a b Sebag Montefiore 2007, p. 321
^ a b Sebag Montefiore 2007, p. 323
^ Sebag Montefiore (2007), p. 712
^ a b Kotkin (2014), p. 270
^ Sebag Montefiore 2007, pp. 324
^ Sebag Montefiore 2007, pp. 322
^ Alexander V. Ostrovsky (2002). Кто стоял за спиной
Сталина? [Who Stood Behind Stalin?]. p. 17.
^ Sebag Montefiore 2007, p. 326
^ a b c Sebag Montefiore 2007, p. 327
^ Sebag Montefiore 2007, p. 29
^ Sebag Montefiore 2007, p. 341
^ Sebag Montefiore 2007, p. 382
^ Sebag Montefiore 2007, pp. 384–385.
^ Sebag Montefiore 2007, p. 385–386.
^ Sebag Montefiore 2007, pp. 387–389
^ Sebag Montefiore 2007, p. 389
^ a b Sebag Montefiore 2007, p. 686
^ Miklós Kun (2003). Stalin: An Unknown Portrait. Central European
University Press. p. 417. ISBN 978-963-9241-19-0.
Sebag Montefiore, Simon (2007). Young Stalin (ePub ed.). Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-85068-7. Kotkin, Stephen (2014). Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878–1928 (ePub ed.). Penguin Press. ISBN 978-1-59420-379-4.
(in Russian) Екатерина Сванидзе: Судьба
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