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Impact of the Secret Speech- Khrushchev

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Gobbet 2- Khrusschev’s Secret Speech

The Source is an extract of a speech given by Nikita Khrushchev at the Twentieth Party Congress of the Soviet Union on February 25th 1956. Khrushchev served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964. Khrushchev was responsible for the partial de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union, for backing the progress of the world's early space program, and for several relatively liberal reforms in areas of domestic policy. Stalin's political heirs fought for power after his death in 1953, a struggle in which Khrushchev, after several years, emerged triumphant. In 1956, at the Twentieth Party Congress, he delivered the "Secret Speech", vilifying Stalin and ushering in a less repressive era in the USSR. The speech was delivered on the very last day of the Congress, when it was announced that an unscheduled session had been called for the Soviet delegates. Because of the obvious secrecy of the meeting, the speech would have been unknown to those outside the conference, however an Israeli Mossad agent was in secret attendance copying its contents eventually allowing Khrushchev's denouncing of Stalin to be circulated throughout Western media. Although it was not officially published in the Soviet Union until 1988. The speech itself was based on the results of a special party commission known as the Pospelov Commission which was prepared by its chairman Pyotr Pospelov, other contributors included Central Committee secretary Averky Aristov, All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions chairman Nikolai Shvernik and deputy chairman of the Party Control Committee P.D. Komarov. The speech became known as the “Secret Speech” because it was delivered at a closed session, and its actual text was printed only in 1988, although many Party members had already been informed of the speech as soon as a month after Khrushchev delivered it. In the post-Stalin era, the task facing Khrushchev and his colleagues was to bury Stalin and his excesses without putting at risk the system that Stalinist terror had built and the advantages that accrued to the Party from its monopoly of power. The final stage of this controlled reform was the break from Stalin himself. This was achieved with the delivery of the “Secret Speech” which denounced the crimes, errors and “cult” of the General Secretary. The source is from the opening of the speech and completely repudiates the idea of a personality cult and begins to disassemble the Stalin myth. While Khrushchev was not hesitant to point out the flaws in Stalinist practice in regard to the purges of the army and Party and the management of the Great Patriotic War, he was very careful to avoid any criticism of Stalin’s industrialization policy “construction of Socialism in our country” or Communist Party ideology . Khrushchev was a staunch Party man, and he lauded Leninism and Communist ideology in his speech as often as he condemned Stalin’s actions. Stalin, Khrushchev argued, was the primary victim of the deleterious effect of the cult of personality. The speech was entirely conventional in length and language it took four hours to deliver and was full of Communist rhetoric. It confined itself to describing the “perversions” of Communist doctrine of which Stalin was guilty. The dictator was accused of “ignoring the norms of party life and trampling upon the Leninist principles of collective leadership”. Additionally Khrushchev remarked that the cultivation of the cult of personality and elevation of a man with apparent “supernatural characteristics akin to those of a god” was negative and damaging to the party and had led to “serious and grave perversions of Party principles, of Party democracy, and of revolutionary legality”. In his indictment and within the source Khrushchev was careful, however to avoid attacking Stalin’s basic policies. In Fact his speech was as much a defence of these policies with many of which he had been closely associated with. The purpose of the “Secret Speech” was to persuade the party and the nation generally that a fresh start was being made. The government would now rule now not by terror and compulsion, but by calling on the initiative of the people and their co-operation. Khrushchev launched the de-Stalinization campaign for internal reasons, and in the teeth of strong opposition from Stalinists such as Molotov, Malenkov and Voroshilov. The speech achieved its purpose, at least within the Communist party of the Soviet Union. It drew a firm line under the Stalinist era, acknowledging its monstrosities and disasters while preserving the fiction that the present Communist leadership bore no responsibility. Khrushchev became secure in power and won a relatively free hand to reform the Soviet economy and liberalize the apparatus of terror. In addition to this old Stalinists such as Molotov were removed from their positions. A period of liberalization followed which was known as Khrushchev’s Thaw. This was a chain of unprecedented steps to free people from fear and dictatorship. Two climactic acts of de-Stalinization marked the process firstly, on October 31, 1961, Stalin's body was removed from its mausoleum in Red Square and reburied, and secondly, on November 11, 1961, the "hero city" Stalingrad was renamed to Volgograd. However the power struggle between liberals and conservative pro-Stalinists never stopped, and it eventually weakened the Soviet Communist Party. However the real significance of the source is the effect it had outside the Soviet Union, and the long term effect it had on the international Communist movement. Khrushchev had not expected that the full text of his speech would be published abroad. The Russian Party, the leader of world Communism, had thus exposed its weakness and invited criticism from communists and capitalists in a way Stalin would never have permitted. In Eastern Europe the impact of Khrushchev’s reported abjuration of Stalin was particularly dramatic as it seemed to suggest that Moscow would look favorably upon different “roads to socialism”. There was an expectation of Communism, which had been briefly renewed with the promise of de-Stalinization, which was however quickly extinguished by the Soviet occupation of Hungary and Poland in October 1956 as a result of the uprisings in Poznan and Budapest. The secret Speech had the effect of unleashing potential for change and stimulating expectation but the Soviet leadership found it very tricky to control it, a problem which would constantly cause the Soviet Union problems and it resulted in an international crisis which claimed the lives of over 3000 Hungarians and caused many of the Communist party members of the Western countries to turn their back on the Soviet Union. The Speech also directly caused the March 1956 demonstrations in Georgia, Stalin’s birthplace. Khrushchev's denouncement of Stalin quickly evolved into an uncontrollable mass demonstration and rioting which paralyzed the city of Tbilisi. Soon, political demands such as the change of the central government in Moscow and calls for the independence of Georgia from the Soviet Union appeared. It was in the immediate aftermath of the 1956 event that the first Georgian underground groups calling for an outright secession from the Soviet Union appeared. The “Secret Speech” also had a further effect in that it hastened deteriorating Sino-Soviet relations. In de-Stalinizing the USSR, Khrushchev was dissolving the condition that had made the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship (1950) attractive to China. Mao thought that the Soviets were retreating ideologically and militarily — from Marxism-Leninism and the global struggle to achieve global communism, and in 1961, the Chinese Communists formally denounced “The Revisionist Traitor Group of Soviet Leadership." Ultimately Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech did not fundamentally change Soviet society, although it did have wide-ranging effects. The speech was a factor in unrest in Poland and revolution in Hungary later in 1956. Forty years later, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev applauded Khrushchev for his courage in taking a huge political risk and showing himself to be "a moral man after all".

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...Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China Ezra F. Vogel REFERENCES American Rural Small-Scale Industry Delegation. Rural Small-Scale Industry in the People’s Republic of China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977. Atkinson, Richard C. “Recollection of Events Leading to the First Exchange of Students, Scholars, and Scientists between the United States and the People’s Republic of China,” 4 pp. Bachman, David. “Differing Visions of China’s Post-Mao Economy: The Ideas of Chen Yun, Deng Xiaoping, and Zhao Ziyang,” Asian Survey, 26, no. 3 (March 1986), 293-321. Bachman, David. “The Fourteenth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.” New York: Asia Society, 1992. Bachman, David. “Implementing Chinese Tax Policy.” In Lampton, ed., Policy Implementation in Post-Mao China, pp. 119-153. Backhouse, E. and J.O.P. Bland. Annals & Memoirs of the Court of Peking. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1914. Bainian chao (百年潮) (Hundred Year Tide). Monthly. Beijing: Zhongguo zhonggong dangshi xuehui, 1997 -- . Barfield, Thomas J. Perilous Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China. Cambridge: Basil Blackwell, 1989. Barman, Geneviève Barman and Nicole Dulioust. “Les années Françaises de Deng Xiaoping,” Vingtième Siècle: Revue d’histoire, no. 20 (October-December 1988), 17-34. Barman, Geneviève and Nicole Dulioust. “The Communists in the Work and Study Movement in France,” Republican China, 13, no. 2 (April 1988), 24-39. Barnett, A. Doak, with a......

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