Khrushchev & 20th Congress of Communist Party, Stalin’s Cult of Personality
09 June, 2011
Khrushchev & 20th Congress of Communist Party, Stalin’s Cult of Personality

In 1956, the 20th congress of the communist party was held. Comrade Khrushchev made a statement in front of the presidium (politburo) members about his desire to deliver a several-hour report concerning Stalin’s cult of personality. Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.

GJ – What had happened after Beria’s liquidation?

SM – Beria’s liquidation took place in the end of June of in 1955. In September, Nikita Khrushchev managed to gain more advantageous political position than others as he was the chief organizer

of the plot against Beria. Khrushchev became the first secretary of the central committee of the communist party of the Soviet Union. Malenkov found himself at the helm of the Soviet government. The period of dual power began at that time in the country. Soon Khrushchev fired Malenkov and appointed Bulganin in his stead. He introduced other changes in the Kremlin personnel. He could not get rid of Malenkov completely and kept him in the capacity of the politburo member for a while. As a result of those changes Khrushchev became the sole ruler of the Soviet Union, but as it became known later, Zhukov was one of his staunchest supporters. That’s why he succeeded Bulganin in the capacity of minister of defense.

GJ – So Zhukov had surfaced once again, hadn’t he?

SM – He did indeed! His help to Khrushchev was paramount in Beria’s liquidation. The rehabilitation process in favor of those who were repressed in 1953 lasted up until 1956. There is only one conclusion that could be drawn from of all that – the rehabilitation had to take place. As far as Khrushchev was concerned he was badly infected with Beria’s ambitions. He wanted to look good in the eyes of the West. In 1956, the 20th congress of the communist party was held. Comrade Khrushchev made a statement in front of the presidium (politburo) members about his desire to deliver a several-hour report concerning Stalin’s cult of personality.

GJ – More exactly?

SM – Khrushchev wanted to put the entire blame on Stalin’s shoulders for repressions and every failed measure taken by him. Many of the presidium members refused to share Khrushchev’s ideas and the topic of the prepared report, but their sense of fright was even more powerful than their desire to defend Stalin.

GJ – And why was that?

SM – They were simply scared that none of them would be reelected to the central committee of the communist party in case Khrushchev delivered that report indeed because they were certain that the report would cause havoc. I think this was mainly the reason of not letting Khrushchev deliver the report from A to Z.

GJ – Isn’t it very well known fact that the main topic of the 20th congress of the communist party of the Soviet Union was Stalin’s cult of personality and its aim was to disparage it?

SM – Khrushchev had maintained the right to deliver the report to the 20th congress after the elections (elections to the central committee were normally part of congresses) were finished, and he wanted to deliver it at the time of other voluntary reports by other participants. This request was not rejected, and Khrushchev delivered his report on Stalin’s cult of personality the last day of the congress which also was Stalin’s birthday. As they say, tens of participants in the 20th congress had coronary attacks and hemorrhages, and the medics were pulling the fainted people out of the hall. The reaction to Khrushchev’s report was outrageous. Later, the report was delivered to the meetings of local party organizations all over the Soviet Union, but it was not published in the newspapers for a long time to come. In Georgia, all was known the next day...

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