Historians claim to have solved one of the mysteries of Soviet history – the death of Josef Stalin's elder son Yakov.
Declassified archives say he was killed in late 1943 by a Nazi guard in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp after refusing to obey orders.
The documents say that Yakov was captured in July 1941 while commanding a tank battery. During April to June 1942, he was kept in a concentration camp in Hommelsburg; in March 1943, he was sent to Sachsenhausen.
“He was very independent and reserved there, openly demonstrating his contempt for the camp’s administration,” historian Mikhail Zuev told RIA-Novosti.
Yakov was killed while walking around the camp. The guard asked him to return to the house, but the man only went closer to the fence and shouted to the guard, “Shoot!” The guard shot him in the head.
Until now, there have been numerous competing accounts of how Yakov died – including that he killed himself. He indeed once tried to commit suicide before the war, when his marriage to a 16-year-old girl was not approved by his father.
“Yasha behaved like a hooligan and racketeer,” Stalin wrote. “I don’t want any contact with him anymore.”
Another version of events is that Yakov Dzhugashvili (Stalin’s original family name) was actually killed in action on July 16, 1945. Supporters of this theory point to the fact that Germany has failed to make a documentary about Stalin’s captive son or to produce any audio record of his interrogation, presenting the world with merely a couple of photos. This, they say, is unlike the traditional practice of the German propaganda machine, and it is quite possible that the photos were expertly forged.
Some say, however, that German military command suggested Josef Stalin could get his son back in exchange for Field-Marshal Friedrich Paulus, captured after the battle of Stalingrad.
“I will not exchange a soldier for a field marshal,” Stalin reportedly replied.