NEW YORK -- Josef Stalin never forgave Eleanor Roosevelt for her refusal to allow Ambassador Andrei Gromyko to view the remains of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the former president's son says.
That is why the former first lady, who repeatedly sought to travel to the Soviet Union after her husband's death, was consistently denied a visa, Elliott Roosevelt said.
In an article for Sunday's Parade magazine titled 'Why Stalin 'Never Forgave' Eleanor Roosevelt,' Roosevelt described a meeting with Stalin in late 1946.
'When your father died, I sent my ambassador with a request that he be allowed to view the remains and report to me of what he saw,' Roosevelt quoted Stalin as telling him.
'Your mother refused,' Stalin said. 'I have never forgiven her.'
Stalin had sent Gromyko in 1945 to view FDR's remains. Stalin said he wanted Gromyko to see the body because he believed FDR was poisoned by 'the Churchill gang,' and Stalin feared there were similar plans for himself.
'They poisoned your father, and they continue to try to poison me,' Stalin said.
Roosevelt said the conversation occurred in Moscow in November 1946 while he was interviewing Stalin for Look magazine. After the interview, Roosevelt said he took up the question of a visa for his mother as a special, personal request.
In the article, Roosevelt also described seeing his father's body lying in state at the White House after FDR died in Warm Springs, Ga., on April 12, 1945.
'I looked on father's face for the last time. I would hardly have known him,' Roosevelt said. 'The cerebral hemorrhage that had caused his death also had caused extensive discoloration and distortion of his face.
'Besides it had been more than nine hours after his death before the embalmers, tardily summoned, had reached the little house in Warm Springs and performed their labors,' he continued.
'I was relieved when Anna (his sister) closed the casket. Mother's judgment to allow no viewing was entirely correct.'