Khrushchev’s Secret Speech: A Shock to Communism

In the Seventeen Moments in Soviet History page on 1956, one particular moment that although deserves recognition in its importance is just too late in some degree to actually pull together the country through words along with stopping many Western communist movements to be abandoned.   This very moment I am talking about is Khrushchev’s Secret Speech, which was given out to the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party within the Soviet Union.  The speech contained an enormous amount of criticism, denunciation of acts, and shedding light to many of the things Stalin had kept wrong and done during the entire terror of his rule.  He explains such things as how unprepared the Soviet Union was for the attack by Hitler and the Germans as being Stalin’s fault completely.  He was particularly harsh in spelling out the fact that “Stalin acts for everybody, he does reckon with anyone. He asks no one for advice.  Everything is shown to the people in this false light.”[Full Speech]  He wanted to show the Party Leaders, but not the public since this was a closed speech kept in secret only to those in the highest of political rankings, that he acknowledged the actual work that the bureaucracy along with the military leaders did in pushing the country through the horrors of the Second World War and also helping bring out more power to the Soviet Union as a country within the international community.  Stalin focused too much on himself as a leader, as what Khrushchev repeatedly calls, the individual, as a weakness in the actual Soviet system in a way to bring to show that the great leader whom many Soviets adored, actually went against many of the principles that communism consisted of without any proper checks on his power.  All these revelations, whether already known, or new to some of the party leaders, were still a shock in regards to the fact that they were admitted by the highest leader of the communist country.  It seems like an attempt to instill trust in those high leaders to prevent any overthrows, however any further examination shows that this speech backfired in actually bonding the nations leaders better and more a speech just admitting to the horrors of Stalinism with a hope or sort of promise that the new regime would not continue such trends.  Later points in history would show whether this would stay true or not…

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7 Responses to Khrushchev’s Secret Speech: A Shock to Communism

  1. Ben Wolfenstein

    Khrushchev’s speech was huge change in Soviet policy. The cult of personality that Stalin raised had Soviet officials and citizens afraid for their lives. You didn’t want to be the first one to stop clapping during one of Stalin’s speeches. This fear led to misinformation about government and economical output that the USSR would never recover from. Khrushchev’s secret speech was a chance at reform but the structure was too entrenched even after Stalin’s faults were finally brought to light. Many didn’t want to believe it was true, others didn’t trust Nikita to be different.

  2. elundquist

    It almost seems as if Khrushchev gave this speech simply to prove that his de-Stalinization policy was best for Russia. He may have hoped that by shedding light on the horrors that occurred during Stalin’s reign, he could gain support for the direction he wanted to country to follow. Unfortunately for him, it seems that some of the public and worse, many upper-level officials, did not see the speech this way. It is quite possible that they believed Khrushchev was using this as a power play to garner support for himself, and in reality he planned not to change as much as he was insinuating he would.

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