An American In The Cold War, Caught In The Stalin Family's Agony

Jul 25, 2013

George Krimsky in Moscow
Credit Krimsky Family

George Krimsky had been living in Moscow for a few months when he met the grandson of an infamous dictator: Josef Stalin. Krimsky, an American correspondent with the Associated Press, quickly sensed he had a major story in front of him.

The grandson, Josef Alliluyev, told Krimsky that his mother had defected to the United States in 1967, and that he wanted to join her. In order to do that, the grandson said, he would need Krimsky’s help to send and receive letters from his mother.

In this conversation with host Dick Gordon, Krimsky tells the story of becoming entangled in a family drama that could have caused serious ripples in the Cold War-era relations of the United States and the Soviet Union. During that time, Krimsky wrote about political dissidents in Moscow, spending time with the Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, and tried to help Alliluyev, straddling the territory between the work of a humanitarian and a journalist.

"Let's just say the line was slightly smudged," Krimsky says. "I saw a really good story on the horizon. If I had a leg up on that story, it would have been a sensational scoop."

Krimsky was later accused of being a spy, a charge he vehemently denied, and was expelled from the country. He continued to report from other countries, and eventually co-founded the International Center for Journalists in Washington D.C.

Hear the conversation at The Story's website. Also in this show: the first and only women's professional baseball league came into existence during World War II; and how sound designers make sports sound exciting - even if they have to fake it.