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socialism” for the Soviet empire in the past and the future. He made it clear that Stalin's reaction against Tito was not a costly mistake, as Khrushchev maintained, but an absolutely rational preemptive measure against the growing threat of nationalist deviations in the communist camp, led by the Soviet Union. “Nationalist vacillations took place in other communist parties. For instance, in Poland-Gomulko (sic), then the First Secretary of the Polish United Workers Party. It is easy for all of us to understand how dangerous and negative such a nationalist deviation (uklon) can be, if it contaminated the leadership of the Polish United Workers Party. As we know, the Polish population is one and a half times as large as Yugoslavia's population. One should keep in mind other countries as well."-9
Ultimately the most effective weapon of Khrushchev against Molotov proved to be neither ideological, nor political theses, but something else. First, he made revelations of Molotov's “errors” in the past and thereby demystified his aura as a world statesman. If Stalin's aura had to be damaged in the process, so much the better. At one point, irked by the cold logic of Molotov's presentation on the dangers of Yugoslav-style national-communism, Khrushchev burst out:
However, the following arguments followed in defense
These arguments should not be accepted.
Khrushchev: Viacheslav Mikhailovich, if you, as minister of foreign affairs, analyzed a whole series of our steps, (you would see that) we mobilized people against us. We started the Korean War. And what does this mean? Everyone knows this. (Anastas] Mikoian. Aside from our people, in our country. Khrushchev. Here, Viacheslav Mikhailovich, this must be borne in mind; everything must be understood, everything analyzed, (and) only then can one come to the correct conclusion. We started the war. Now we cannot in any way disentangle ourselves. For two years there has been no war. Who needed the war?... 10
Only eight months later, in February 1956 Khrushchev attacked Stalin for his mistakes and crimes, but then he spared Molotov. (Ed. note: For Khrushchev's second secret speech given in Warsaw in March 1956, see below in this Bulletin section.) De-Stalinization was a turning point in the history of international communism and the Soviet Union itself. Yet, plenums did not play any noticeable role in this revolutionary development. Khrushchev chose a larger forum, the party congress, to deliver his speech against Stalin. Growing reaction to Khrushchev's political radicalism and growing ambitions reflected itself, for a time, in heated discussions within the CC Presidium which, with the exception of the debates on the 1956 Polish and Hungarian crises, are still hidden from historians' eyes. [Ed. Note: For “Malin notes” on 1956 Presidium meetings regarding Poland and Hungary, see CWIHP Bulletin 8-9 (Winter 96-97)]
Khrushchev's rivals correctly feared that his combination of populist style, control over the KGB, military support from Marshal Georgii Zhukov, and the pivotal position as head of the party machinery would soon reduce all adversaries. Materials from the June 1957 plenum published in the Russian journal Istoricheskii archiv (Historical Archive] in 1993-94, offer a remarkable insight into the final stage of the post-Stalin power struggle and reveal the nature of Khrushchev's victory. 12 The opposition, particularly Molotov blamed Khrushchev for destroying the “collective leadership" and monopolizing decisionmaking on all issues, from economy to diplomacy. Molotov attempted to direct Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin against its author by warning about a new cult of personality and wondering out loud where the radical deStalinization could lead. 13 Molotov disparaged Khrushchev's new doctrine that an agreement between the two nuclear powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, could be a solid foundation for an international détente. 14 He stated his belief that a next world war could be “postponed and prevented,” even while there still existed war-spawning “imperialism.” Besides, said
This exchange appeared in the final version of the stenographic report distributed among the party elite, but the passage about “who started the Korean War" disappeared. Presumably, somebody reminded Khrushchev of the complications this revelation might cause for relations with North Korea and the People's Republic of China.
In another exchange, Khrushchev, in the heat of debate, blurted out what was beginning to dawn on him regarding the role of Stalin in Soviet foreign policy. In April 1955 during his visit to Yugoslavia, Khrushchev still professed to believe that the Soviet-Yugoslav split had been caused by the machinations of the “Beria-Abakumov gang.” The transcript of the plenum discussion reveals what really was on the mind of the Soviet leadership.
Molotov: In a discussion of this issue in the CC Presidium, some doubt was expressed in relation to the awkwardness and incorrectness of the given explanation.
Molotov, “this formula of com. Khrushchev ignores all other socialist countries, besides the USSR. However, one should not ignore the People's Republic of China, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and other communist coun
Khrushchev on a number of occasions to make drastic, if only momentary, detours from his preferred policies. One was during the Hungarian crisis on 19-30 October 1956, when Khrushchev had to cave in, at first, to Beijing's insistence that Soviet troops should be withdrawn from Hungary and the practice of great power chauvinism" with regard to Eastern Europe in general should be renounced in words, if not in deeds. Molotov reminded the plenum of another episode, when Khrushchev had to
In one instance Molotov was right on the mark: radical de-Stalinization and the new doctrine of "peaceful coexistence" did annoy the Chinese leadership and the pressure from within the communist camp forced
Eisenhower, “Open Skies” and Khrushchev's Global “Peace Offensive” : New Evidence from the 6th
Polish Party Plenum (20 March 1956)
(Ed. Note: Although Khrushchev's speech to the 6th Plenum of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party was, in largest part, devoted to Stalin, the First Secretary of the CC CPSU also found time to discuss the international situation in a frank manner with the Polish comrades. A longer excerpt regarding Stalin is elsewhere in this section. One can only speculate about the relationship between Eisenhower's request to “Ask Zhukov” and the role of "Open Skies” in Zhukov's dismissal 19 months later. On this, see next page.]
"Concerning the propositions of Mr. (US President Dwight D.) Eisenhower and “open skies,” among us I tell you, that we tell the Americans that this proposition deserves some attention. But [strictly) among us, I tell you, it deserves attention so that it can be thrown into the garbage. What does it mean to fly? What do you think-nothing else better to do......this is nonsense. Its only advantage is to avoid concrete propositions about the reduction of arms. They gave us nonsense and they are trying to confuse us.
I'm not letting you in on a secret. I said it to Eisenhower as soon as he finished his presentation, when we met at the buffet which he organized for the meeting. We had a glass of cognac and he asks me: “So?" And I told him: “In my opinion, your proposition is no good.” “Why?” “Because it does nothing good. All you are proposing is nonsense.” He replied: "Well, maybe the military judge it differently. Let's ask Marshal (and Minister of Defense Georgii] Zhukov. What will he say?" And I said: “Ask Zhukov, let him judge. If such things were done during the war, right before the attack......Comrade [Marshal Konstantin] Rokossowski.....then you have to know where......during the war and for sometime since.....then we already cannot imagine, because the enemy can always re-group his troops or use camouflage and then totally confuse us. But, what do you think, if we want to show you a factory then we can show you some kind of dummy; different lighting and you'll photograph it all, and what will you get? It will be an empty place. But, we can do it, and you can do it, so why should we do such nonsense. Someone can ask, then why did we write that this proposition deserves attention? Because this capitalist language is such that you cannot just say, to hell with it. You have to say that this problem demands deep investigation, and will be discussed......follow the rule, and it was written like this......
I think we have very good prospects on this matter [dealing with the capitalists] and we will, with pleasure, conduct the discussion with (Nikolai] Bulganin in London, with [British Prime Minister Anthony] Eden, and other friends. We are placing great hopes on the arrival of [French President Guy) Mollet and [Foreign Minister Christian] Pineau, and the delegation from the (French) Socialist Party, which shows that we have achieved so many contacts.
Of course, comrades, I have to tell you that we correctly understand our position and our responsibility. We have to smartly lead this policy and move toward disarmament. But, we should never cross the line, which would endanger the survival of our conquests. We have to do everything to strengthen defense, to strengthen the army. Without these things, nobody will talk to us. They are not hiding the fact that they have the hydrogen bomb, nuclear arms, and jet-propulsion technology. They know that we have all these things, and therefore, they have to talk to us, fight with us; but not be afraid......this is a game, in which nobody will be a winner. If Lenin would arise he would have been pleased to see his cause become so strong, that the capitalistic world admits being unable to the war against the socialist countries.
Comrades, this is the power of Marxist-Leninist teaching. We did not work for nothing; not for nothing used the strength of this form of government. Therefore, we must continue working. We must work, work, work to reduce the troops and increase defense, Comrade Rokossowski. It is difficult to agree with marshals on this matter, they're rather hot-tempered.
Right now, we have to work on the demoralization of their camp. The demoralization of NATO, the Baghdad pact, SEATO. I think we have a great opportunity to carry it out. And the stop of Comrade [Anastas] Mikojan stirred up everybody, his trip to Karachi. Yesterday morning, he flew out to Pakistan.”
(Source: AAN (Archiwum Akt Nowych, Archive of Modern Records), PZPR 2631 Materialy do stosunkow partyjnych polskoradzieckich z lat 1956-1958, “Przemowienie tow. Chruszczowa na VI Plenum K.C.,” k. 14-87 Translated from Russian by L.W. Gluchowski.)
praise Stalin in the presence of Zhou Enlai, during a visit the General Staff Marshal Vasilii Sokolovskii said that: of the Chinese delegation to Moscow in January 1957, but “after Zhou Enlai left, we stopped (praising Stalin)."16 Sokolovskii: Zhukov insisted (in 1955-57] on granting Finally, Molotov could not contain his disdain for
“open skies” for Americans to fly over our territory, over Khrushchev's homespun style of diplomacy, particularly our country, i.e. to create a situation that would give his use of inappropriate words and what he called lack of Americans certain superiority in intelligence. I must say "dignified behavior" in meeting foreigners. As an ex
that the Americans do not know our coordinates (of our ample, Molotov mentioned that Khrushchev spent a whole military objects). Maps do not reflect the truth (ne night with Finnish President Urkho Kekkonen in a Finnish skhodiatsia). They cannot bomb our cities with precisauna, naturally without a jacket and a tie! 17
sion. This is absolutely definitive and absolutely clear. Anastas Mikoian gave the most consistent rebuff to The General Staff opposed [Zhukov's proposal), the opposition. He recalled the recent series of crises in insisting that this should not be done. Nevertheless, Poland, Hungary and Egypt and concluded that both the Zhukov confused (Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei] unity of the Soviet leadership and Khrushchev's bold
Gromyko and together with Gromyko sent to the CC initiatives contributed to their successful resolutions. In a proposals so that Americans could fly over our territory most revealing insight into a little known dimension of and make aerial reconnaissance.” Soviet Cold War policies, Mikoian gave a detailed account Khrushchev: I should correct. Gromyko did not sign of the discussions in the Presidium about trade and
(this proposal). Zhukov signed it alone. Gromyko economic relations with East bloc countries as well as with opposed it. neutral Austria and Finland. He blamed Molotov,
Sokolovskii: I know very well that, at the suggestion of Malenkov, and Kaganovich for a narrow, purely budgetary, Nikita Sergeevich, the Presidium rejected [zabrakoval] approach to the issue of foreign policy. Khrushchev, on this proposal of com. Zhukov.”:20 the contrary, regarded foreign trade and subsidies to these countries as a vital necessity, dictated by Soviet security The importance of the plenum discussions for Cold interests. “We believe we must create an economic base War studies should not be underestimated. Not only do for our influence on Austria, to strengthen its neutral they recreate almost in flesh and blood the atmosphere status, so that West Germany would not have a seconomic inside the Soviet ruling elite, but they demonstrate the and trade] monopoly in Austria." And as to the Soviet impact of power struggle on Soviet Cold War behavior. bloc, “if we leave East Germany and Czechoslovakia The outcome of this struggle defined the boundaries for without (purchase) orders, then the entire socialist camp decision-making and debates. Once denounced at a will begin to collapse.”:18
plenum, any initiative, be it the one of Beria and Malenkov Yet support of the majority of the plenum for
on "construction of socialism" in East Germany, or Khrushchev was not dependent on considerations of “high Zhukov's on “open skies” became a taboo, at least for a policy" and the strategies of the Cold War. Rather most of considerable period of time. The very notion of “state delegates wanted to get rid of the oligarchs and the sense interests” changed as did the names of the Kremlin of fear, stress and subservience that had been prevalent for powerholders. A speech by Andrei Gromyko in July 1955 so many years. Career considerations mattered as well: illustrates this point.21 The influence of plenums as an members of the CC, particularly the Secretaries were not important tool in power struggles also led to the reinforcemuch younger than the oligarchs and had waited too long ment of the ideological underpinnings of Soviet foreign to switch from the junior league to the top league. One of policy after Stalin's death. While rejecting the dogmatism them complained that Molotov "still considers us as of Molotov and denouncing his and Stalin's foreign policy wearing short pants.”19 These complaints, repeated, errors, plenums, in general, helped to preserve the “ideoloamong many, by CC Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, reflected gized” climate in debating international affairs and the drive that in 1964 propelled the younger group of military security. Through plenums, as well as through the Stalin's appointees to power.
permanent party apparat permeating all state structures, The 28-29 October 1957 plenum that discussed the ideology survived—not as a set of guidelines for action, “Zhukov affair” crowned Khrushchev’s ascent to power. but as a normative set of assumptions that weighed on the The plenum transcripts do not shed much light on the minds of Soviet statesmen during the Cold War. For murky details of this affair, but indicate that there were historians, particularly for those with "realist" perspecenough“grave" (at least in the immediate post-Stalinist tives, plenums present a problem that is difficult to atmosphere pregnant with power struggle) reasons for ignore—how to factor the “politics" of the Kremlin, Khrushchev to suspect that the minister of defense Georgii together with the relationships inside the communist camp, Zhukov together with the head of the GRU Shtemenko most crucially the Sino-Soviet and Soviet-Yugoslav were plotting against him. Of greater relevance for Cold relationship, into the explanatory schemes of the Cold War. War historians, the plenum gives some valuable insights into the thinking and discussions at the highest level of the Soviet political-military leadership. For instance, head of
Vladislav Zubok is a senior fellow at the National Security
Materialy fevral’sko-martovskogo plenuma TsK VKP(b) 1937 g. [Materials of the February-March CC VKP(b) Plenum of 1937), Voprosy istorii, Moscow, 1995, no. 2-8, 10-12. 2
See the plenum files in TsKhSD, fond 2, op. 1, dd. 21-22; for substantive recollections on Stalin's speech there (not in the records of the plenum) see Konstantin Simonov, "Glazami cheloveka moego pokoleniia. Razmishleniia o I.V. Staline” [Through the eyes of a man of my generation. Reflections on I.V. Stalin), Znamia, 1988, no. 4, pp. 96-99; Aleksandr Shepilov in Neizvestnaia Rossiia: XX vek (Unknown Russia; the twentieth century] (Moscow: Istoricheskoe nasledie, 1992), vol. 1, p. 275. 3
Sergei Khrushchev, Nikita Khrushchev: krizisy i raketi (Moscow, Novosti, 1994), p. 320. 4
D.M. Sickle, The Beria Affair. The Secret Transcripts of the Meetings Signalling the End of Stalinism, translated from Russian by Jean Farrow (New York, Nova Science Publishers, Inc, 1992). A researcher Svetlana Savranskaya cross-checked the original transcripts and the published text at the request of the Cold War International History Project and found no major cuts and changes. 5
See the speech of A. Mikoian on 11 July 1955, TsKhSD, fond 2, op. 1, d. 174, 1. 99. 6
His speech on 12 July 1955, TsKhSD, fond 2, op. 1, d. 176, 11. 141-142.
Khrushchev's speech at the CC CPSU Plenum, 9 July 1955, TsKhSD, fond 2, op. 1, d. 172, 1. 87. 8
TsKhSD, fond 2, op. 1, d. 172, 11. 88, 100-101. 9
Molotov's speech at the CC CPSU Plenum, 9 July 1955, TsKhSD, fond 2, op. 1, d. 173, 1. 3. 10 TsKhSD, fond 2, op. 1, d. 173, 1. 40. 11
TsKhSD, fond 2, op. 1, d. 173, 1. 4. 12 "Posledniaia ‘antipartiinaia' gruppa. Stenograficheskii otchet ijunskogo (1957) plenuma TsK KPSS” [The last “antiparty” group. Stenographic report of the June 1957 Plenum of CC CPSU), Istoricheskii arkhiv, no. 3, 4, 5, 6 (1993) and 1, 2 (1994). This huge document still fails to attract serious attention from historians and Soviet studies experts, although it has already been published in Chinese in full. 13
Istoricheskii arkhiv, 3 (1993), pp. 74-75. 14
Istoricheskii arkhiv, 4 (1993), p. 4. 15
Istoricheskii arkhiv, 4 (1993), p. 6. 16
Istoricheskii arkhiv, 4 (1993), p. 12.
Istoricheskii arkhiv, 4 (1993), p. 7.
Istoricheskii arkhiv, 3 (1993), p. 79.
TsKhSD, f. 4, op. 1, d. 271, 1. 33. 21
"I must declare with all the determination of which I am capable that the position of Molotov in this question (on Yugoslavia) is erroneous, profoundly mistaken and does not correspond to the interests of our state...Comrades, in conclusion I must declare with all determination that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs only then will become a communist (partiiniim] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, when it follows the line of the Central Commitee of our party.” Gromyko's speech at the July 1955 Plenum, TsKhSD, f. 2, op. 1, d. 176, 1. 202.
New Sources and Evidence on Destalinization and the 20th
[Ed. Note: Although the Cold War International History Project specializes in the publication of newly-declassified documents, a prerequisite to this activity is knowledge regarding which key materials are likely to emerge from the vault in the near future. Among the best predictors (though far from guaranteed) are citations in the published work of Russian scholars with privileged access. In this respect, as well as for its innate historical value, the appearance of V. P. Naumov's article “Towards a history of N.S. Khrushchev's Secret Report (on 25 February 1956] to the 20th Congress of the CPSU” in Novaia i noveishaia istoriia 4 (1996) and its subsequent reprint in German was of exceptional importance.
Although Naumov made use of many new sources, three stand out both for their significance in the context of his article, but also for their potential as resources for scholars working on many aspects of Cold War history. The first is the dictated memoirs of longtime Politburo/Presidium member A. I. Mikoian covering his activities from the 1920s until the ouster of Khrushchev in October 1964. Prior to its transfer to the archives, this folder had been read by only four men : Iu. V. Andropov, M. A. Suslov, K. U. Chernenko and V. A. Pribytkov (Chernenko's top assistant). As featured in CWIHP Bulletin 8-9's treatment of the 1956 crisis, with translation and introduction by Mark Kramer, the “Malin notes” offer remarkable “fly-on-the-wall” vision of Presidium decision-making. V. N. Malin, the head of the CC CPSU General Department under Khrushchev, kept notes on the discussions at which he was present, often with verbatim excerpts.2 Finally, the original draft of N. S. Khrushchev's secret speech to the 20th Party Congress is a marvelous supplement to the "second secret speech" (See below in this Bulletin section) presented by Khrushchev in Poland a month later.3
Below are a few excerpts from Naumov's article.)
Concluding the [1 February 1956 Presidium] discussion, Khrushchev said, we must decide this in the interests of the party. "Stalin," he stressed, “[was) devoted to socialism, but he did everything by barbaric means. He destroyed the party. He was not a Marxist. (Ed. Note: Khrushchev changed his mind on this 180 degrees as can be seen in the “second secret speech,” excerpted below in this Bulletin.] He wiped out all that is sacred in man. He subordinated everything to his own caprices.”
“At the Congress, (we) should not speak of the terror," Khrushchev continued. “It is necessary to clarify the (party) line of giving Stalin his own place (otvesti Stalin svoe mesto].” He called for “strengthening the attack on the personality cult.»4 On 9 Febuary 1956 the CC Presidium heard the report of the Pospelov Commission (on Stalin's crimes]. Mikoian remem
Continued on page
Plenum Transcripts, 1955-1957
[Ed. Note: Thanks to Benjamin Aldrich-Moodie, Leo Gluchowski and Vladislav Zubok for expert translation from
Russian. Khrushchev's impromptu remarks are always a special challenge.]
Central Committee Plenum of the CPSU
Morning, 31 January 1955
Khrushchev: ... Comrades, now the issue of Germany of which we spoke [in July 1953]. We then calculated, comrade Malenkov, we debated about Beriia and Germany, but, I should say here bluntly, if it comes down to this, that comrade Malenkov had been entirely together with Beriia on this issue. Voroshilov was not (a supporter of Beriia on the German issue], because this issue was discussed not at the CC Presidium, but at the Presidium of the Council of Ministers.2 All the members of the CC Presidium, who were members of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers, were against [the proposal to abrogate "the construction of socialism in the GDR"], except for Beriia and Malenkov. And all argued, comrades. It was a big fight [bol'shaia draka). But what was actually Malenkov's stand? Sometimes a person can get things wrong, can let himself slip in a big issue and this should not always be held against him. But what did Malenkov do when he saw that everyone was against (Beriia's proposal] and not only that they voted against it, but argued against it? He continued to fight for this proposal, along with Beriia.
Bulganin later calls me, I do not remember, it was a day or two afterwards, and asks: So, have they called you?3 I respond: No, they have not. And they have already called me, he says. First the one, then the other called and warned: if you behave like this and if you read Molotov's lips—since it was about Molotov's proposal [that Beriia and Malenkov opposed], well, you would not remain the minister [of Defense) for long. That was the gist (of that conversation). This is a fact, although I do not know who of the two of them called first. He [Bulganin) asks me—have they called you? I said: they will not call me. Indeed, they did not call. They believed I would come over to their side.
After the session (of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers) there was a talk that if Molotov speaks this way [i.e. stubbornly fights against Beriia's proposal on the GDR-trans.), then he should be relegated to be minister of culture. I then said: comrade Malenkov, if there were a proposal to remove Molotov, I would consider this as an attempt to overthrow the collective) leadership and to smash the leadership of the Presidium.
This is the fact how far [the power struggle) reached. It was no good at all. [Kuda zhe eto goditsia?]
Now, comrades, I will speak on [Malenkov’s] speech [on 8 August 1953].4 We all read it, and I read it, too. It is cheap stuff [deshovka). Malenkov told us later: you read it [before he presented it-trans.). Yes, we read it. I read it, too. Am I responsible for this speech? Yes, I am, but the author should be a bit more responsible. It is one thing, when you read the speech and it sounds to you sort of fine and even attractive. But the author, who composes it—he is more responsible, since he thinks it (and its implications through. So, when we later looked at it again and read it, it became clear to us what that speech was driving at. It was designed to buy personal popularity. It was not a leader's speech. It was a truly opportunistic speech. Perhaps comrade (I.F.) Tevosian remembers, when the commission (probably of the Presidium of Council of Ministers or the CC Presidium—trans.] discussed (the production of] "shirpotreb” (consumer goods of great demand—trans.), Malenkov then said: I will not let anybody disrupt this decision. Then I said in passing: Of course, "shirpotreb” is necessary, but we must develop metal and coal industries. Did I
say Tevosian: That is correct. Khrushchev: That's how it was...
Now, about the speech [i.e.) with regard to the destruction of civilization (on 12 March 1954). He [Malenkov) says again, why, you looked at it [in advance.16 He managed to confuse several comrades, because his speech was quoted abroad and our comrades considered it was the line of the Central Committee to a certain extent since Malenkov spoke this way. And we must protect our authority, which is a great authority for brotherly communist parties. That assumption was theoretically incorrect and it did not work to the benefit of our party.
Com. [Semen D.] Ignat'ev is present here. In another two weeks or so, Beriia would have probably locked him up, because everything was ready by the moment he was removed.? [Nevertheless] I believe that he [Ignat'ev] was correctly removed from the post of Minister of State Security. He is anybody but the minister of State Security. Do not take offense at me, com. Ignat’ev. You should not have accepted the ministerial post; you are not qualified for it.
Kaganovich: He did not want to accept it.
Khrushchev: He did not want it, but he was offered the post. 8
I'll speak directly-I do not doubt the integrity of com. Malenkov, but I doubt very much his abilities in