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Impact Of The Secret Speech Khrushchev

1357 words - 6 pages

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 ...view middle of the document...

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...

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