Free Essay

To What Extent Was Khruschev Successful in the Destalinisation Policy

In: Historical Events

Submitted By melissavundla1
Words 785
Pages 4
How successful was Khrushchev’s policy of destalinization

Destalinization was a political reform launched by Soviet Communist Party First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev at the 20th Party Congress, otherwise known as the secret speech. The main components of the reforms were changing or removing prominent institutions that had helped Stalin remain in power; the Stalinist political system, political party members that had supported him (beginning with the arrest and subsequent execution of political rival Lavrentiy Beria) and the removal of the Gulag labour camp system.
Khrushchev was desperate to present himself as a reformer, completely breaking away from the reliance of ‘fear into submission’ tactics of the Stalinist era, by presenting himself as a ‘man of the people’. He wished to lessen the gap between the soviet leadership and the people, whilst undermining his predecessors’ dictatorship rule. It has been argued that his attempt to end the use of terror both in political and public life and the reintegration of those who had fallen victim to said terror, was one of the successes of the destalinization policy. This included the released of five million prisoners from labour camps. A total of eight million prisoners had been released by the end of 1956.
Shortly after, in 1961, Khrushchev initiated a campaign to rename cities that previously honoured Stalin; Stalingrad was renamed Volgograd. Stalin’s persona was publicly attacked; most importantly in destroying his image, was the removal of his body from the Red Square in 1961. The new soviet leader also made an attempt at initiating foreign relations, however short-lived; thousands of German prisoners of war held in detention camps were released in 1955 for instance. The country was also made more welcoming of foreign visitors and censorship rules were loosened.
Economically, Khrushchev attempted to increase productivity and consumerism, in contrast to the strict centralization policy that Stalin had enforced. Initializing in 1957, Khrushchev loosened the tight economic control the government had over the economy and transferred power from Moscow to 105 localized centres. However, the emphasis on high productivity subsequently led to a decrease in the quality of produce being manufactured.
Khrushchev praised himself on his agricultural background and thus it became one of this main focuses when he came into power. Stalin had previously enforced a regime of collectivization. The most prominent policy that was introduced was the Virgin Lands scheme. The scheme was a huge operation designed to open up a vast tract land for grain cultivation. The campaign bore the stamp of Nikita Khrushchev and his efforts to rekindle popular identification with and participation in state economic initiatives. As such, it led to strains within the party leadership, particularly after the failed harvest of 1955. His efforts were continuously thwarted by this widespread crop failure and a negative response to his reforms.

Additionally, Khrushchev worked to raise living standards, although not always successfully. He also reduced the influence and power of the secret police in the Soviet Union. A success of the destalinization policy was the launch of the Soviet Union onto the world stage through its inauguration into the space age. In 1957 the satellite Sputnik was launched into space and two years later, a soviet rocket landed on the moon. Later, in 1961 Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space.
Khrushchev attempted to reform the political party and government by cutting down bureaucracy and fear. However, he received limited success in all areas due to the nature of Russia and the government at the time. He also introduced the Non-party Bloc to give the Soviet Union a more popular image. Khrushchev also created a more liberated party that could discuss what it wanted without fear of repercussions; for example, deliberations could be conducted in private. However, it has been argued that Khrushchev was less effective as a leader than Stalin and failed to successfully meet his objectives. Although seeking to build foreign relations, his efforts to denounce Stalin shattered the relationship with China and Eastern Europe; and tensions grew increasingly hostile between the USSR and the USA following the Cuban Missile crisis.
In conclusion, although Khrushchev made efforts to reform the Soviet Union through his policy of Stalinisation, it can be debated as to what extent he succeeded in his efforts. For example, although he made investments into agriculture, he was criticized for not focusing on seemingly more rewarding areas such as the military and space explorations. In terms of agriculture, although some improvement had been made, Khrushchev attempted to experiment with other grains such as maize, thus encountering a problem as many areas such as Kazakhstan had unsuitable soil. By 1963, the USSR had to import 20 million tonnes of grain from the USA and Australia.

Similar Documents