On the other side of the world, Josef Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union who formed the Eastern bloc, was directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of executions and arguably to blame for millions who died of starvation.
Closer to home, a related, well-kept secret was in Madison, Wisconsin, about 150 miles northwest of Chicago.
Filmed in 2007, "Svetlana About Svetlana" is an independent film by first-time director Lana Parshina, who diligently and stubbornly tracked down Alliluyeva.
The film explores Alliluyeva's history. She married twice (or three times, according to some reports,) and had an intimate relationship with an Indian politician before being granted political asylum in the U.S. in 1967, where she denounced her father's regime and the Soviet government.
Alliluyeva published two memoirs and married William Peters, chief apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright. She then changed her name to Lana Peters.
The Peters' marriage eventually dissolved, but not before they had a daughter, Olga. Lana and Olga returned to the Soviet Union in 1984, but they only stayed there a couple years. After moving a few more times, Peters eventually settled in Madison, Wisconsin.
Peters initially refused to talk to film maker Parshina. She has dodged the media and the public eye for several years. But after several of Parshina's attempts and hours of conversation, Peters eventually trusted Parshina enough to allow her an interview.
"People say, 'Stalin's daughter, Stalin's daughter', meaning I'm supposed to walk around with a rifle and shoot the Americans. Or they say, 'no, she came here. She is an American citizen," Peters said, reports the AP. "No, I'm neither one. I'm somewhere in between. That 'somewhere in between' they can't understand."
This brief but insightful look into the life of Svetlana will be screened April 18 at the Wisconsin Film Festival in Madison.
But don't expect to find Lana Peters there. Or in Madison in general.
According to Parshina and others, Peters moved on after the interview. She moved out of the retirement home apartment and changed her phone number.
Her whereabouts are once again unknown.
Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.