Cult of Not Stalin

Stalin, both famous and infamous in his own ways, met his end in 1953 but not before creating a cult in the Soviet people in his light (Source). Stalin used force, propaganda, and even famine in order to keep created a god-like persona for himself in the helm of communism and the Soviets. A land littered with statues memorializing Stalin and a people who believe Stalin to be a godsend to bring about the country they needed was about to be hit by what scholars call de-stalinization. The leaders who took his place were initially Beria, Kruschev, and Malenkov, all of which who had some major disagreements with Stalin (Source). Beria would be the first to go when Kruschev and Malenkov disagreed with some of the policies Beria wanted to rid of. Conspiring together they had him imprisoned and executed in secret near the end of 1953, one could say in a similar form to someone who had died less than a year before this occurred (Source). One down, one to go. Now it was just Kruschev and Malenkov, but sadly Kruschev politically outmaneuvered Malenkov through alliances which lead to Malenkov’s resignation (Source). Kruschev was now the leader of the Soviet Union and able to begin implementing his own policies which varied in the amount they aligned with Stalin’s own ideas.

The primary areas Kruschev sought to repeal from Stalin’s old regime were the old ideals Stalin based himself upon, such as the idea of his cult and wrongful imprisonment. Despite the irony here when Kruschev took power by executing a man under the precepts of being an enemy of the state, Kruschev at least wanted to appear as de-stalinizing the state. Tearing down the monuments of Stalin, renaming Stalingrad, releasing some of the prisoners that Stalin imprisoned, all things that Kruschev did to remind people that Stalin was not the leader. Literally de-stalinizing the Soviet Union while carrying many of Stalin’s legacy forward in terms of policy.

Kruschev’s first large endeavor was the Virgin Lands Campaign which brought together many races and ethnicity together which were deported from their homes leading to great friction between the workers (Source). While this agricultural plan had some temporary success it did eventual lead to some agricultural problems when the soil began to break down (Source). Other than having similar economic goals to Stalin Kruschev also carried out similar political strategies just in a slightly less extreme manner. One of the purges that Kruschev brought about was in regards to Poland and Hungary when some dissidents spoke of democratizing before being sent to the Gulags (1). At least in another purge Kruschev used against army officers who were not in line with Kruschev he varied with Stalin when instead of executing them, fired them and destroyed their chances of living a simple life.(1) While many consider this time an era of de-stalinization due to ideals, this was more an era of de-stalinization by literally removing Stalin from his monumental podium.

Other Sources:

(1) Edwards, Lee, and Elizabeth Edwards Spalding. A Brief History of the Cold War. Regnery Publishing, 2016.