Generalissimo Joseph Stalin was madly in love with his first wife, Kato and was so heartbroken when she died, that his comrades took his weapon away fearing he might shoot himself.
Stalin loved her so dearly that he even agreed to a church wedding, though he was an atheist. The two were married in the romantic flickering of candlelight late on the night of July 15 1906. Later however, his wife learned that she had “married a man whose real wife and mistress was the revolution”.
But, Stalin nevertheless loved Kato dearly, always referring her as someone who “was very sweet and beautiful and always “melted” his heart.
According to declassified material from Georgian and Russian archives, when in November 22, 1907, Kato died in Stalin’s arms after only 16 months of marriage, Stalin closed Kato’s eyes himself. Stunned, he managed to stand beside his wife’s body with the family for a photograph, but then collapsed.
Stalin sobbed that “he couldn’t manage to make her happy”. He was in such despair that his friends were worried about leaving him with his Mauser; the Times quoted the archival material as saying.
“I was so overcome with grief that my comrades took my gun away from me. I realised how many things in life I hadn’t appreciated. While my wife was alive, there were times I didn’t return home at night. I told her when I left not to worry about me but when I got home, she'd be sitting there. She’d wait up all night,” the archive quoted Stalin as telling a girlfriend.
“Nobody could believe Soso was so wounded. The funeral was held at the church where they had married. Stalin, pale and tearful, spoke to Josef Iremashvili, another childhood friend. “This creature,” he said, gesturing at the open coffin, “softened my heart of stone. She died and with her died my last warm feelings for humanity,” said Giorgi Elisabedashvili, a childhood friend of Stalin and a Bolshevik.
According to Josef Iremashvili, another childhood friend, at the funeral, Stalin his placed his hand over his heart and lamented: “It’s all so desolate here, so indescribably desolate”.
Also at the burial, his self-control cracked. Stalin threw himself into the grave with the coffin. But after being hauled out, when he noticed Okhrana (the tsarist secret police) agents sidling into the graveyard, he vaulted over the fence, and disappeared from his wife’s funeral.