Alexander Svanidze

Alexander Svanidze
ალექსანდრე სვანიძე (Georgian)
Александр Семёнович Сванидзе (Russian)
Aliosha Svanidze 1915.jpg
Svanidze in 1915
Born 1886
Died 20 August 1941(1941-08-20) (aged 54–55)
Nationality Georgian
Occupation Old Bolshevik
Known for Brother-in-law of Joseph Stalin
Spouse(s) Maria Korona
Children Ivan Svanidze
Parent(s) Svimon Svanidze
Sipora Dvali
Relatives Kato Svanidze (sister)

Alexander Semyonovich "Alyosha" Svanidze (Georgian: ალექსანდრე სვანიძე; Russian: Александр Семёнович Сванидзе) (1886 – 20 August 1941) was a Georgian Old Bolshevik and a historian. He was a personal friend of Joseph Stalin and a brother of Stalin’s first wife Kato. Nevertheless, Stalin had him arrested during the Great Purge in 1937 and he was shot in prison in 1941.


Born of a petty noble family in a small village of Baji in western Georgia, then part of the Russian Empire, Svanidze was educated at Tiflis and later at Jena where he learned German and English and engaged in historical research of ancient civilizations.

He joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1901 and worked in the Bolshevik underground until being forced by the authorities to leave independent Georgia in 1919. He worked for the Soviet foreign office in the years 1920–1921 and then served as People's Commissar for Finances of the Georgian SSR and Transcaucasian SFSR in the years 1921–1922. In 1924, he was appointed Soviet trade envoy to Germany and, upon his return to the Soviet Union, in 1935, he became Deputy Chairman of the Soviet State Bank. At the same time, Svanidze continued his scholarship; he founded the Journal of Ancient History, studied the Alarodian languages, and translated into Russian the medieval Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli.[1]

At the height of the Great Purge, Stalin ordered Svanidze’s arrest in 1937. Svanidze refused to confess to being a German spy in return, as the NKVD offered him, for his life. "Such aristocratic pride," Stalin is quoted to have said. Svanidze and his sister Mariko were executed in 1941, as the Germans advanced.[2][3] His wife Maria (née Korona; 1889–1941), a singer for the Tbilisi Opera House, was sentenced to ten years in Dolinskoye, a women's prison camp in Kazakhstan. She died of a heart attack upon being informed of the execution.[4]


  1. ^ (in Russian) Сванидзе, Александр Семенович. Retrieved on 2008-06-14.
  2. ^ Montefiore, Simon Sebag (2007), Young Stalin, pp. 311-2. McArthur & Company, ISBN 978-1-55278-646-8.
  3. ^ Rieber, Alfred J. Stalin, Man of the Borderlands Archived 2012-08-01 at The American Historical Review. December 2001, vol. 106, no. 5.
  4. ^ Alliluyeva, Svetlana (1967), Twenty Letters to a Friend, pp. 68-69.