The Info List - De-Stalinization

(Russian: десталинизация, destalinizatsiya) consisted of a series of political reforms in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
after the death of long-time leader Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
in 1953, and the ascension of Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
to power.[1] The reforms consisted of changing or removing key institutions that helped Stalin hold power: the cult of personality that surrounded him, the Stalinist political system, and the Gulag
labour-camp system, all of which had been created and dominated by him. Stalin was succeeded by a collective leadership after his death in March 1953, consisting of Georgi Malenkov, Premier of the Soviet Union; Lavrentiy Beria, head of the Ministry of the Interior; and Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union


1 Terminology issues 2 "Silent de-Stalinization" 3 Khrushchev's "Secret Speech"

3.1 Motivation

4 Changes

4.1 Improved prison conditions 4.2 Re-naming of places and buildings 4.3 Destruction of monuments 4.4 Re-location of Stalin's body

5 Extent of de-Stalinization 6 See also 7 References

Terminology issues[edit] The term "de-Stalinization" is one which gained currency in both Russia
and the Western world
Western world
following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and was never used during the Khrushchev era. However, de-Stalinization efforts were set forth at this time by Nikita Khrushchev and the Government of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
under the guise of the "overcoming/exposure of the cult of personality", with a heavy criticism of Josef Stalin's "era of the cult of personality".[2] However, prior to Khrushchev's "Secret Speech" to the 20th Party Congress, no direct association between Stalin as a person and "the cult of personality" was openly made by Khrushchev or others within the party, although archival documents show that strong criticism of Stalin and his ideology featured in private discussions by Khruschchev at the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.[2] "Silent de-Stalinization"[edit] There were dangers in denouncing Stalin as he was placed on a pedestal both at home and among communists abroad.[3] In the years 1953–1955, a period of "silent de-Stalinization" took place, as the revision of Stalin's policies was done in secret, and often with no explanation. This period saw a number of non-publicised political rehabilitations,[4] (such as Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky, Politburo members Robert Eikhe and Jānis Rudzutaks, and those executed in the Leningrad Affair[5]) and the release of "Article 58ers".[4] However, due to the huge influx of prisoners returning from the camps (90,000 prisoners in 1954–55 alone), this could not continue.[4] In December 1955 Khrushchev proposed a commission to be set up in order to investigate Stalin's activities on behalf of the Presidium; this investigation found out that out of the 1,920,635 arrested for anti-Soviet activities – who were arrested on fabricated evidence in the first place and confessed under torture authorized by Stalin – 688,503 were executed.[6] Khrushchev's "Secret Speech"[edit]

O kulcie jednostki i jego następstwach, Warsaw, March 1956, first edition of the Secret Speech, published for the inner use in the PUWP.

meant an end to the role of large-scale forced labour in the economy. The process of freeing Gulag
prisoners was started by Lavrentiy Beria. He was soon removed from power (arrested on June 26, 1953; executed on December 24, 1953) and Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
then emerged as the most powerful Soviet politician.[7] While de-Stalinization was quietly underway ever since Stalin's death, the watershed event was Khrushchev's speech entitled "On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences", concerning Stalin. On 25 February 1956, he spoke to a closed session of the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, delivering an address laying out some of Stalin's crimes and the "conditions of insecurity, fear, and even desperation" created by Stalin.[1] Khrushchev thoroughly shocked his listeners by denouncing Stalin's dictatorial rule and his cult of personality as inconsistent with communist and Party ideology. Among other points, he condemned the treatment of the Old Bolsheviks, people who had supported communism before the revolution, many of whom Stalin had executed as traitors. Khrushchev also attacked the crimes committed by associates of Beria. Motivation[edit] One reasoning given for Khrushchev's speech was that he felt it as a part of his moral conscience to speak out; Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
said that Khrushchev spoke out of a "movement of the heart". This, the Communists
believed, would prevent a fatal loss of self-belief and restore unity within the Party.[8] Martin McCauley argues that Khrushchev's purpose was to "liberate Party officials from the fear of repression". Khrushchev argued that if the Party were to be an efficient mechanism, stripped from the brutal abuse of power by any individual, it could transform the Soviet Union as well as the entire world.[9] However, others have suggested that the speech was made in order to deflect blame from the Communist Party or the principles of Marxism–Leninism
and place the blame squarely on Stalin's shoulders, thus preventing a more radical debate.[8] However, the publication of this speech caused many party members to resign in protest, both abroad and within the Soviet Union.[8][5] By attacking Stalin, McCauley argues, he was undermining the credibility of Molotov, Malenkov, Kaganovich and other political opponents who had been within "Stalin's inner circle" during the 1930s than he had been. If they did not "come over to Khrushchev", they "risk[ed] being banished with Stalin" and associated with his dictatorial control.[9] Changes[edit] Improved prison conditions[edit] Khrushchev also attempted to make the Gulag
labour system less harsh, by allowing prisoners to post letters home to their families, and by allowing family members to mail clothes to loved-ones in the camps, which was not allowed during Stalin's time.[10] Furthermore, when Stalin died, the Gulag
was "radically reduced in size."[11] On October 25, 1956, a resolution of the CPSU declared that the existence of the Gulag
labour system was "inexpedient".[12] The Gulag
institution was closed by the MVD order No 020 of 25 January 1960.[13] Re-naming of places and buildings[edit] As part of the de-Stalinization push, Khrushchev endeavored to have many places bearing Stalin's name renamed or reverted to their former names, including cities, territories, landmarks, and other facilities,[14] see List of places named after Joseph Stalin. The State Anthem of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
was purged of references to Stalin. The Stalin-centric and World War II-era lines in the lyrics were effectively excised when an instrumental version replaced it. The Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Palace of Culture and Science
Palace of Culture and Science
in Warsaw, Poland was renamed in 1956. Destruction of monuments[edit]

The Statue of Stalin on Stalinallee in Berlin-Friedrichshain was removed in 1961.

The Yerevan
monument was removed in spring 1962 and replaced by Mother Armenia in 1967. Thousands of Stalin monuments have been destroyed not only in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
but in other Socialist countries. In November 1961 the large Stalin Statue on Berlin's monumental Stalinallee (promptly renamed Karl-Marx-Allee) was removed in a clandestine operation. The Monument in Budapest was destroyed in October 1956. The biggest one, the Prague monument, was taken down in November 1962. Re-location of Stalin's body[edit] Given momentum by these public renamings, the process of de-Stalinization peaked in 1961 during the 22nd Congress of the CPSU. Two climactic acts of de-Stalinization marked the meetings: first, on October 31, 1961, Stalin's body was moved from Lenin's Mausoleum
Lenin's Mausoleum
in Red Square
Red Square
to a location near the Kremlin wall;[15] second, on November 11, 1961, the "hero city" Stalingrad was renamed Volgograd.[16] Extent of de-Stalinization[edit] Contemporary historians regard the beginning of de-Stalinization as a significant turning point in the history of the Soviet Union. It began during the Khrushchev Thaw. However, it subsided during the Brezhnev period and remained so until the mid-1980s, when it accelerated once again due to policies of perestroika and glasnost under Mikhail Gorbachev. This process of de-Stalinisation has been considered highly fragile, with historian Polly Jones saying that the likelihood of "re-Stalinisation" occurring highly likely after a brief period of "thaw".[2] Anne Applebaum
Anne Applebaum
agrees, saying that "The era which came to be called the 'Thaw' was indeed an era of change, but change of a particular kind: reforms took two steps forward, and then one step—or sometimes three steps—back."[17] See also[edit]

Anti-Stalinist left History of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
(1953–1964): De-Stalinization
and the Khrushchev era Kureika (village) List of places named after Joseph Stalin Denazification Decommunization


^ a b H., Hunt, Michael. The world transformed: 1945 to the present. p. 153. ISBN 9780199371020. OCLC 907585907.  ^ a b c Polly Jones (7 April 2006). The Dilemmas of De-Stalinization: Negotiating Cultural and Social Change in the Khrushchev Era. Routledge. pp. 2–4. ISBN 978-1-134-28347-7.  ^ National Republic. 44–45. 1956. p. 9.  ^ a b c Nanci Adler (1 February 2004). The Gulag
Survivor: Beyond the Soviet System. Transaction Publishers. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-1-4128-3712-5.  ^ a b Kees Boterbloem (28 August 2013). A History of Russia
and Its Empire: From Mikhail Romanov to Vladimir Putin. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 261. ISBN 978-0-7425-6840-2.  ^ Eric G. Swedin (2010). When Angels Wept: A What-If History of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Potomac Books, Inc. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-59797-565-0.  ^ soviethistory.org ^ a b c Cavendish, Richard (2 February 2006). "Stalin Denounced by Nikita Khrushchev". History Today. 56 (2). Retrieved 11 March 2017.  ^ a b Martin McCauley (9 September 2014). The Khrushchev Era 1953-1964. Routledge. pp. 43–44. ISBN 978-1-317-88922-9.  ^ "Gulag : Soviet Prison Camps and their Legacy" (PDF). Gulaghistory.org. Retrieved 2013-10-12.  ^ "Gulag: Soviet Forced Labor Camps and the Struggle for Freedom". Gulaghistory.org. Retrieved 2013-10-12.  ^ Memorial http://www.memo.ru/history/nkvd/gulag/Articles/chapter3main.htm ^ Memorial http://www.memo.ru/history/NKVD/GULAG/r1/r1-4.htm ^ G.R.F. Bursa (1985). "Political Changes of Names of Soviet Towns". Slavonic and East European Review. 63.  ^ "CNN Interactive - Almanac - October 31". CNN. (October 31) 1961, Russia's de-Stalinisation program reached a climax when his body was removed from the mausoleum in Red Square
Red Square
and re-buried.  ^ Reuters
(1961-11-11). "Stalingrad Name Changed". The New York Times. MOSCOW, Saturday, Nov. 11 (Reuters) -- The "Hero City" of Stalingrad has been renamed Volgograd, the Soviet Communist party newspaper Pravda reported today.  ^ Applebaum, Anne (2003). "Thaw – and Release". Gulag: A History. Doubleday. ISBN 9780767900560. 

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