De-Stalinization


     Although many of his ideas did not bring the expected results, Nikita Khrushchev
policies of de-Stalinization were politically wise. He went against many of

Stalin’s tyrannical policies and gave the people a much greater sense of
freedom. In the process known as "de-Stalinization", legal procedures were
restored, some greater degree of meaningful public controversy was permitted,
forced labor camps were closed and the secret police tactics of Stalin’s era
were erased. Stalin’s method of personal rule was replaced by group rule and
more orderly processes of government, the terror apparatus was largely
dismantled, the economy was notably modernized and foreign policy was conducted
with much greater diplomatic initiative and flexibility. There was free
political discussion, a standard forty-hour work week where people were free to
change jobs, better government planning on production, and eased travel
restrictions over the "Iron Curtain". In the process of de-Stalinization the
cities that were once named in honor of Stalin were given new names or returned
to their old names1. The statues and pictures of Stalin were destroyed and
letters were sent to families of those who were killed in battle, which
criticized Stalin’s weak leadership during the time of the war. Stalin’s
grave was vandalized during this process, and Khrushchev gained approval from
the West. These policies were used to erase the past and ease the minds of those
who suffered under the dictator2. Khrushchev worked to denounce his former
leaders doings and clean up the image of the nation on a worldwide scale.

Khrushchev worked hard to be agreeable with the majority of people he ruled. He
sought to contrast his own present policies with the extremities of Stalinism,
and therefore restore public confidence in the Soviet system.3 Perhaps the most
notable example of de-Stalinization was where Khrushchev denounced Stalin and
criticized the dictator along with those who agreed with his views. These views
which murdered so many Russian Citizens. At the 20th All-Union Party Congress
(1956) where Khrushchev delivered a "secret" report on "The Personality

Cult and Its Consequences," bitterly denouncing the rule, policies, and
personality of Stalin.4 The speech was supposedly kept a secret so that the

Capitalist media would not receive word of it and gain an edge over the

Communists if they knew of the problems occurring within the party. Khrushchev
accused Stalin of being responsible for mass murders and deportations, the

German invasion during World War II (1939-1945), and the USSR's break with

Yugoslavia. During this period the public was given a say in the government,
even though an extremely minor one, and the judicial system eased it's
aggressiveness allowing a defendant a better chance of defending themselves.

This was called The Associates Credit Card ServicesThe Associates Credit Card

Services thaw, which meant the relaxation of police terror, the release of
hundreds of thousands from labor camps, and the relaxation of censorship. A new
policy of economy was brought in known as "New Course". Khrushchev concerned
himself with bettering the troubles of the individual, attempting to increase
the supply of food and making goods such as home appliances, making automobiles
somewhat available, and providing more housing. A new policy of efficiency and
quality control was brought in. Leadership was somewhat decentralized to allow
common managers and directors more power to run their production units. It
helped to balance the agriculture and increase food production so there were
less food shortages. Machine and Tractor Stations (MTSs) were set up in the
countryside with skilled mechanics employed to provide and service agricultural
machinery. The districts were allowed to decide on what crops to plant and when,
rather than being directed from the center. Quotas for compulsory sale to the
state were eased. Thousands of young people and Party workers were dispatched as
labor and supervisory personnel to do the job. Also Khrushchev initiated the

Virgin Lands Program in 1953, introducing intensive irrigation to increase
arable land and thus raise food production bringing into cultivation 32 million
acres of previously uncultivated land in Kazakhstan and southwestern Siberia.

85,000,000 additional acres of land were under cultivation by 1956.. All these
measures were identified with Khrushchev, who evidently took over agricultural
policy from Malenkov in September 1953. In January 1955 Khrushchev demanded that
around seventy million acres be planted in corn for fodder in order to increase
livestock production. The resulting cornfields, on flat and hilly country, in
cold and warm regions, earned him the nickname of kukuruzchik (''the corn
enthusiast''). Soil erosion and unpredictable weather wiped out whole harvests,
and by the mid-1960s sandstorms became a serious problem. Despite everything,
the project of expanding agriculture into the virgin lands succeeded, and to
this day form a major part of the region’s grain sources. In 1954, the virgin
lands provided 37 million tons of the country’s 85 million tons of grain. In

1956, 63m of a total of 125m tons; in 1962, 56m of a total of 140m; in 1963, 38m
of 108m; in 1964, 66m of 152m. Khrushchev wanted a "peaceful
coexistence" between the US and the Soviet Union, and met with the American
leadership on several occasions. He cancelled a summit meeting in Paris when an

American plane was shot down while spying on the Soviet Union. It helped the
war-battered nation avoid further war with the West. Most importantly, he
proclaimed the necessity of coexistence with the west and declared that a
nuclear war would mean he end of both capitalism and socialism. In relations
with the west, Khrushchev’s tenure was marked by sudden shifts and a series of
high stakes crises such as the U2 affair, the building of the Berlin Wall and
the Cuban Missile Crisis. Through it all he consistently maintained the need for"peaceful coexistence" in the nuclear age.5 He toured the United States in

1959 and met with President Eisenhower at Camp David, thus helping to ameliorate
the international tensions created by his threat to sign a separate peace with

East Germany. Thousands of settlers were brought in from European Russia7. The

Geneva Summit of 1955 among Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United

States, and the Camp David Summit of 1959 between Eisenhower and Khrushchev
raised hopes of a more cooperative spirit between East and West. Khrushchev
explained the doctrine of ‘peaceful co-existence’ to a reception at the

Albanian Embassy in April 1957, in this way: ‘In our relations with the
capitalist countries we steadfastly adhere to Lenin’s principle of peaceful
coexistence. ... ‘We shall never take up arms to force the ideas of communism
upon anybody. We do not need to do that, for the ideas of communism express the
vital interests of the popular masses. Our ideas, the ideas of communism have
such great vitality that no weapon can destroy them, that not even the nuclear
weapon can hold up the development of these progressive ideas. Our ideas will
capture the minds of mankind. The attempts of the imperialist to arrest the
spread of the ideas of communism by force of arms are doomed to failure. ..."8

Or, as Khrushchev explained the policy to the Supreme Soviet on 31 October 1959:
‘The Soviet Union and all the socialist countries have opened up for humanity
the road for a socialist development without war on the basis of peaceful
collaboration. The conflict between the two systems must and can be resolved by
peaceful means ... Coexistence is something real, flowing from the existing
world situation of human society ... Several well-known personalities, and in
the first place President Eisenhower, want to find ways of reinforcing peace’9

Under his direction the soviets made great advances in the science, particularly
in nuclear energy and space exploration. During the Khrushchev period there was
an all-out program to increase the production of energy.10 Between 1954 and

1965, electrical power generation grew from 150m Mw to 507m Mw, oil from 53m
tons to 347m tons, coal from 347m tons to 578m tons.11 At the same time, steel
production was increased from 41m tons to 91m tons. There was also a sharp turn
to the development of science and technology. Soviet science had almost died in
the early 1930s as a result of Stalin’s policy of dictation of the ‘line’
in science, which had wiped out whole branches of science, and left others in
the realm of pseudo-science. In the interval, the bare minimum of scientific
research required for military purposes had been carried out in the labor
camps.12 Very significant resources were now provided to science, including
fundamental research. Living standards improved markedly during Khrushchev’s
period. More and more people were able to receive tertiary education, although
this was generally available either after working for a number of years, or at
night school. More freedom of movement between jobs was allowed.13 Pensions were
increased, with a qualifying age of 65 for men, 60 for women, but available for
men with 25 years seniority in their job, 20 years for women, substantially
better than in the West. Additional pension rights were granted to bureaucrats,
police and scientific researchers.14 The length of the working week was reduced
by two hours and maternity leave extended from 70 to 112 days. Between 1953 and

1964 the area of housing space was doubled, although it still remained in very
short supply, and less on average than the minimum prescribed by US prison
regulations at the time. The minimum wage was doubled, although social service
professionals remained among the lowest paid.15 From the excitement of the

Khrushchev era, with his remonstrations at the UN, demagogic speeches, the
confrontations, the spectacular achievements in space, the huge new
hydroelectric schemes, the colonization of the virgin lands and decentralization
of planning, Stalinism moved into the dull grayness of decline16. Although

Khrushchev was peacefully removed from office by a ‘triumvirate’ in October

1964 and many of his plans failed, his initial goal was reached. That night he
returned home and exclaimed, "Well, that’s it. I’m retired now. Perhaps
the most important thing I did was just this – that they were able to get rid
of me simply by voting, whereas Stalin would have had them all arrested".