The Thaw

The Thaw By ll’ia Ehernburg

The death of Stalin caused a long list of struggles over power and policy. From these problems came the process of ‘De-Stalininzation’ which aimed to “dismantle the Stalinist system of repression and secrecy” (Freeze 412). Out of this De-Stalinization came a cultural thaw, named after the novel by Il’ia Ehrenburg. The book, which follows the lives of three different Soviet types was considered to be the biggest literary event of the 1954 (Geldern). The novel tested the limits of censorship in the new post Stalin society.

The name of the book comes from the changes in the characters that occurs from the winter to the spring. It can be seen as a symbol of the increased freedom the author felt after writing the book, compared to the ‘frozen’ political climate that has existed under Stalin. The name also gave way to the ‘Khrushchev Thaw’. 

Overall, the term ‘The Thaw’ was most appropriate for describing the culture shifts that occurred in 1956, 1959 and 1961, while the conservatives and liberals continued to fight over what would happen in the aftermath of Stalin’s death.

Freeze, Gregory L. Russia A History. 3rd ed. Oxford University Press, 2009. 199-233. Print.

2 thoughts on “The Thaw

  1. I had never really thought about the title and the meaning behind “The Thaw” but it certainly pertains to Russian history. Just thinking about the wintertime when it’s so cold it’s hard to even move your limbs, it’s kind of like how Stalin’s regime was so restrictive that people were not given any freedom to move around and to do as they wished. Additionally, during the winter people don’t have the ability to do as many activities due to the cold weather and snow, similar to Stalin’s control over daily activities.

  2. I also researched the ‘The Thaw’ and what it meant to Russia. I found it interesting how it had more to do with a cultural shift and I like that you highlighted that too. I also liked how you discussed the issues that still existed with the conservatives and liberals about what would happen in the aftermath of Stalin’s death.

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