A Thaw that would not refreeze

After the death of Stalin, the Soviet Union did not know what to do. The years of repression and cleansing left the population of Russia fearful and questioning the new leadership. There was something that came out of the death of Stalin: The age of the Thaw began.


The Thaw started in 1953. With the publication of “Il’ia Ehrenburg’s THE THAW,” a new age started in the Russian population. This time period from 1953 until 1964 was known as the Khrushchev thaw. This was a time a fewer repressions and a more liberal political life (though still very strict). These were the first steps in an effort to change the Stalinist tendencies that formed during the beginning of the Soviet Union.


With the death of Stalin arose many new anti-communist movements which began during this period. The Communist Party handled these protests with just as much force as before. The destalinist movement was leading to more political liberalization than they wanted to see. The party became actively resistant to this movement though the continued tightening down of the Soviet Union.


The irony of all of this, it that the book that sparked this thaw was largely written to “honor the tenets of Stalinist culture,” according to von Geldern. Though the book did not show Soviet culture in the same magnificent light as many other publications, it was not written to degrade the benefits of soviet society. The Soviet culture flourished through the time of the thaw. There were romantic films and music made. This thaw was irreversible.


There was another ironic thing that happened during the Thaw. The political regime did not change at all. Though the partial destalinization was a step towards a better life, many did not see it. The repressions of the intelligensia continued as well as the destruction of churches. The Thaw was just a new era that the people of Russia saw which sparked hope for a life with more freedoms. Many thought that the death of Stalin would bring more change, but the Communist Party still had their hold on the Soviet Union.

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6 thoughts on “A Thaw that would not refreeze

  1. You did a good job of emphasizing the fact that de-stalinization did not cause the institutions, that Stalin put in place, to fall. The Communist Party still had a firm grip on society. Great job in utilizing “Il’ia Ehrenburg’s THE THAW!”

  2. Great job incorporating all the issues included with de-stalinization. Like Kelly says, it is important to note that de-stalinization did not cause Stalin’s institutions to fall. It was the fact that people felt more free, even though the USSR still used harsh tactics to put down any opposition or revolutions.

  3. I like the images you used to reinforce your main points, Well chosen! The idea of backlash against the political liberalization that you mention is very important especially in light of the coup against Khrushchev in 1964, only ten or so years after he took over, and the international backlash against desalinization in China.

  4. Oops, my comment may not have made it. Sorry about that. Please check the cite to the Current Digest. It looks like the TOC for an issue of the Current Digest, but I didn’t see anything there about Ehrenburg or the Thaw.

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