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pursuing the policy] line: he lacks character and backbone [pletesh), even now you prevaricate (krutish). [kharaktera i khrebt ne khvataet).
Malenkov: Where exactly? I used to say to other comrades, in particular to
Molotov: You did not make the distinction between comrade Molotov: now (in April-May 1953] Churchill is communism and capitalism. so terribly eager to have a (summit) meeting and I, by
Malenkov: Had we dug deeper, then this question golly, am afraid that if he comes [to Moscow) to speak would have been discussed in this way. face to face with Malenkov, then Malenkov would get
Khrushchev: That was how the question was disfrightened and surrender. I do not ask comrade Malenkov cussed: so what, we had spilt our blood and now we to prove the opposite, since this cannot be confirmed or should retreat to the (Polish] borders. If we withdraw proved like a mathematical formula. However, I see that if behind the Polish borders, then the enemy would say: If a person gets confused, if he tries to ingratiate himself, sit they are leaving, then one must chase them to the devil [k means] he lacks character.
chortovoi materi). You took the position of This is a serious matter, and I look at it in a straight- capitulationism, and now you are afraid to admit it... forward way. The leadership of such a great party, of such Pervukhin: (to Malenkov] You have explained a great country, growth and further development (of nothing about why it happened this way on the German everything) that has been accumulated by our party, all this question. will depend, comrades, again on who will stand at the head Malenkov: I misunderstood this question from a of the leadership.
tactical viewpoint. ... You can see for yourselves what is the situation
Bulganin: Fuzzy... The discussion was about liquidattoday, how skillfully the Americans stewed the porridge ing the GDR and turning it over to Western Germany. [zavarili kashu) in Taiwan, 10 how they sent (publisher
Malenkov: We spoke then about conducting a Randolph] Hearst and (other) messengers [to Moscow). political campaign on the question of German reunification What for? To deafen us, to test if we have guts, if we are and I believed that one should not have set the task of the nervous or not. This is being done to test us.
development of socialism in the Democratic Germany.
I viewed this question at that time from a tactical side.
a I fully understand that defending this view essentially is politically harmful, politically dangerous, incorrect. And I did not adopt such a position. The decision that was passed at that time at the suggestion of comrade Molotov I consider to be the correct one.
Bulganin: At that time you thought it was incorrect.
Malenkov: In the course of discussion I considered it to be incorrect.
Bulganin: You then said: For how long will we feed ourselves with the cud from Molotov's mouth, why do you read Molotov's lips.
Malenkov: You must have confused my words with Beriia's.
Khrushchev: You simply lack courage even now to admit it, and Bulganin told me about (your words] exactly at that time.
Malenkov: Today I admit that I essentially took a wrong position on the German question.
Khrushchev: At that time you and Berija believed you could get away with anything.
Molotov: You should summon your courage and speak more frankly Even now you beat around the bush
Molotov: Comrades, we have heard the draft resolution proposed by the Central Committee's Presidium for approval of the Plenum and we have heard two speeches of comrade Malenkov on this issue. I think that there is a very big difference between them, and to put it simply, both the first and the second speeches of comrade Malenkov are fraudulent. Fakes!
Both the first and the second speeches are not truthful, not quite honest. This is a shortcoming to which I would like to draw your attention. But we must look at this issue fundamentally. Comrades, we are discussing, in essence, a political issue. We should draw lessons from it, to learn certain things for the future.
What is the main fault of comrade Malenkov? It seems (and it is written in the decision of the Presidium of the Central Committee that is proposed for your consideration and approval) that the main errors of comrade Malenkov are the following. First: absence of principles in policy-making. Second, carelessness in the realm of theory. This is not simply a mistake, comrades, not simply a drawback: a communist cannot be unprincipled, a leading figure cannot be careless on the questions of theory. It will not do, comrades. I can admit everything: blindness, blindness. But no, it is not blindness, it is the lack of principles. No, it was not blindness, when comrade Malenkov was in cahoots, was inseparable for a decade with that scoundrel Beriia. It was not blindness, comrades, but the absence of political principles, and for that he received the post of Chairman of the Council of Ministers [from Berija-trans.). He did not stay in cahoots (with Berija) for free; it was not all that simple an enterprise: Lavrentii and Georgii. Lavrentii and Georgii drank
together, drove in a car together, traveled from dacha to dacha, etc. No, comrades, we should admit that we are dealing with a very profound phenomenon that exists not only inside the CC, but exists even lower: in regional committees, in district committees, but here it took a very dangerous turn, comrades. The absence of principles in party life, particularly for the leader of the whole party, the whole state—this is a dangerous affair. And that comrade Malenkov overlooked criminal tendencies in Beriia's activities—this was not a coincidence, not merely blindness. Regarding this blindness we all share the blame, here are all the members of the Presidium—we all were a little bit blind, even too much, since we took Berija until Stalin's death (I am speaking for myself) for an honest communist, even though a careerist, even though a crook, who would frame you up behind your back [okhulki na ruku ne dast]. As a careerist, he would not stop at any machinations, but on the surface, he seemed an honest person. I must say that on the day of Beriia's arrest, when we sat at the Presidium, and Beriia sat in the CC Presidium, here in the Kremlin, I gave a speech: here is a
I turn-coat (pererozhdenets), but comrade Khrushchev turned out to be more correct and said that Beriia was not a turn-coat, but he was not a communist and had never been, which is more correct.
(Voice from the audience: That is right).
I was convinced myself. This is a more correct, sensible, truthful assessment. He was not a communist, he was a scoundrel, rogue to the core, who insinuated his way into our party, a smart fellow, a good organizer, but he made it to the top, ingratiated himself with comrade Stalin so that his role was very dangerous, not to mention that it was mean and depraved. Yet I must say that I did not take part in the talks between Malenkov and Beriia, and they were in communication every day, between them two, and they must have spoken about certain subjects which would make comrade Malenkov blush, but we do not ask him to speak about them.
What happened, comrades? Comrade Stalin's death. We stand at the bed of the sick, dying man. An exchange of opinions would be appropriate, but nobody talks to us. Here are the two (who talk to each other—trans.) Malenkov and Beriia. We sit on the second floor: me, Khrushchev, Bulganin, Voroshilov, Kaganovich, and these two are up there. They bring down the prepared, wellformulated proposals, an announcement of the CC, draft decisions of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, the composition of the government, the head of the government, of the Ministry (of Security], such and such ministeries should be merged, etc. All that was presented to us by Beriia and Malenkov. And they were not people of some special tone. We do not need a special tone, but we need the truth, principles, integrity in policy.
So this shortcoming has reached so far that he [Malenkov] did not stand out. He worked as a CC secretary for decades and happened to become Chairman of the Council of Ministries, and we should admit now,
before all the people—we made a mistake, we are removing [him) from the post of Chairman of the Council of Ministers. This is what lack of principles can lead to, but it will not make a home for itself in our party. The party will sort it out and will take measures.
The second shortcoming of comrade Malenkov is carelessness on issues of theory. Comrades, for the leading cadres of the party this is inadmissible. One can not simply say about Marxism—this is wrong, let's turn it upside down; or this is Leninism and this is not; this does not fit; communism or capitalism-let me try communism. What kind of a party leader are you if you do not know on the elementary level which way you are going-towards communism or capitalism—and have to choose. What kind of party secretary are you then? Can such a man be a secretary of a slow-level party) cell? I believe not. In the regional committee, in the district committee there is no place for such a man, not to mention the Central Committee...
Another issue is about the destruction of civilization. This (was a very dangerous theoretical error. Comrade Malenkov remarked: “I overlooked it." We also fear responsibility for what he said in the speech. But what is this actually about? That allegedly if there were a third world war, atomic war, the conclusion is only one—the death of civilization, the death of mankind. [The French physicist), Joliot Curie, wrote some goddamn gibberish: "the destruction of humankind.” When we looked (at his pronouncement-trans.) we did not even know if we should publish it or not. Joliot Curie said, they published it there (abroad). We reflected on it and finally published it with all that gibberish, because we did not want to put Joliot Curie in an uncomfortable situation. But not only Joliot Curie commits such errors. Read the newspaper “For stable peace, for people's democracy.” Comrade Mitin, a CC editor is present here. In the issue dated 21 January of this year the newspaper “For stable peace, for people's democracy” published a speech of comrade [Palmiro] Togliatti [leader of the Italian communist party-trans.) and again (he repeats) the same gibberish, that the war would be the end of civilization. We confused even such outstanding leaders of communism as Togliatti. We have no better than him. This speech (of Malenkov] was politically incorrect, and even today it plays a demoralizing role, although almost a year has passed. We took measures to correct [Malenkov's statement, but nevertheless] comrade Togliatti got himself confused.
That this statement) is theoretically illiterate is apparent communists simply should not exist in this world for any other reason than overthrowing capitalism. We have the Communist Manifesto that Marx had written more than 100 years ago. He wrote that the crash of capitalism was nearing and that communism would triumph. And if we, with the countries of people's democracy and with such a powerful mechanism as the Soviet Union and the Communist Party, if we talk our
selves into admitting that some kind of war allegedly would lead to the end of capitalism and the end of civilization, it means that we do not have our head on our shoulders, but on the totally opposite part of the body (laughter). Therefore, no science, no political considerations can justify (such a statement of Malenkov). It merely proves how harmful is carelessness in the questions of theory and the lack of principles in politics.
(Source: TsKhSD, f. 2, op. 1, d. 127. Translated by Vladislav Zubok.]
industries' production of consumer goods at the expense of
I.F. Tevosian was a minister of “black” metallurgy and first deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. He made his career as one of Stalin's favored “captains” of “industrialization.” Khrushchev in this episode poses as a defender of the interests of heavy industry against Malenkov. 6
This discussion of yet another “political error" by Malenkov reveals, incidentally, the negligence of the "collective leadership" to peruse carefully routine speeches delivered by all members of the top Soviet leadership who, by the Constitution, had to run for elections for the Supreme Soviet-nominally the highest power of the land. Malenkov said that “a new world war...with modern weapons means the end of world civilization.” On the background of Malenkov's remarkable initiative, see David Holloway, Stalin and the Bomb (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995), pp. 337-339; Zubok and Pleshakov,
pp. 166-167. 7
The sentence is unclear in the Russian original, but Khrushchev talks here about Beriia's attempt to make Ignat’ev, minister of the MVD or Internal Security a scape goat for the Kremlin doctors' affair in 1952. In his proposal to the Council of Ministers on 3 April 1953 to free the arrested doctors and close the affair, Beriia specifically blamed Ignat’ev and the leadership of the "old" MVD. Later, when he was arrested, this gesture came to be regarded as a clever ruse to earn popularity in the country and to restore Beriia's personal control over the secret police machinery. For the text of Beriia's proposal and the comments, see G.Kostyrchenko, V plenu u Krasnogo Faraona,
Khrushchev is probably referring to the discussion of Beriia's role in the debate on the future of Soviet policy in Germany at the July 1953 Plenum (see the publication in Izvestiia TsK KPSS, no. 1-2, (1991)]. In the following paragraph Khrushchev criticizes Malenkov's position on the construction of socialism in the GDR” during the meeting of the Soviet leadership on 28 May 1953, when Lavrentii Beriia and Viacheslav Molotov presented two rival proposals. Beriia suggested renouncing the goal of constructing socialism altogether and, according to some sources, even contemplated a neutral, democratic, bourgeois Germany. The rest of the leadership, however, opposed this proposal and agreed with Molotov who only suggested rejecting the course of “forced” construction of socialism that had been earlier sanctioned by Joseph Stalin for the GDR communist leadership. The debate resulted in the behind-the-scenes negotiations that led to the “New Course” proposals of the Soviet leadership. The following excerpts from Khrushchev's speech at the plenum highlight Malenkov's role in the debate. Khrushchev, clearly for the purpose of undermining Malenkov's authority, “reveals” that he had been supportive of Beriia's proposal. On historians' debate about the significance of this episode see: Vladislav Zubok and Constantine Pleshakov, Inside the Kremlin's Cold War. From Stalin to Khrushchev (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996), pp. 160-162; James Richter, “Reexamining Soviet Policy Towards Germany in 1953,” EuropeAsia Studies, vol. 45, no. 4 (1993), pp. 671—691. On Berija contemplating a “neutral reunified" Germany, see Pavel Sudoplatov et al., Special Tasks. pp. 363-364. 2
Khrushchev makes an important distinction between the two bodies that ruled the Soviet Union after Stalin's death. Malenkov as a chairman of the Council of Ministers presided over the meeting of May 28, while Khrushchev was there only by invitation as a Secretary of the CC. Voroshilov who did not get any important government job in the post-Stalin setup was not apparently invited to the meeting, although he was a member of the CC Presidium (Politburo). Khrushchev's statement generally corroborates the view that immediately after Stalin's death Beriia and Malenkov sought to continue Stalin's tradition in putting the state government above the party “collective” decision-making body. 3
“They” meaning Beriia and Malenkov. On the details of these behind-the-scenes negotiations and threats, see “Memuary Nikiti Sergeevicha Khrushcheva," Voprosy Istorii, no. 2-3 (1992), pp. 93-94; Feliks Chuev, Sto sorok besed s Molotovym, (Moscow: Terra, 1990), pp. 332-335. 4
In this speech Malenkov proposed substantial measures to improve living standards of Soviet people, particularly the collectivized peasantry, by reducing taxes, increasing the size of private plots of land for peasants' households. He also proposed, for the first time since 1928, to increase investments into "light"
Both Khrushchev and Kaganovich confirm that it was Stalin who hand-picked Ignat’ev after he removed and arrested his much stronger predecessors, Beriia and Abakumov. See Gennadi Kostyrchenko, V plenu u krasnogo faraona; Politicheskiie presledovaniia evreev v SSSR v poslednee stalinskoe desiatiletie. Dokumental'noe issledovanie. (Moscow: Mezhdunarodnie otnosheniia, 1994), pp. 289-357 or the English-language version Out of the Red Shadows: Anti-Semitism in Stalin's Russia (Prometheus Books, 1995). 9
In April-May 1953 Churchill, before he was incapacitated by a stroke, advocated an early summit of Western powers with Stalin's successors without a definite agenda. 10
This paragraph contains Khrushchev’s reference to the “Taiwan crisis" unleashed by the PRC's leadership in September 1954 with bombardment of Quemoy and Matsu, two offshore islands occupied by the Nationalist troops. The crisis ended on 23 April 1955. American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst came to Moscow and talked to Khrushchev in 1955. 11
This admission is the first "hard" evidence that Malenkov, along with Beriia, was the principal architect of the Soviet "peace initiatives of the Spring of 1953. Although Malenkov adhered here to the infamous party tradition of “self-criticism,” in this case he must have told the truth—he denied other "sins,” but there was simply no reason for him to frame himself on such a serious issue. For more extensive comment on the significance of Malenkov's statement here, see Vladislav Zubok, “'Unacceptably Rude and Blatant on the German Question': The Succession Struggle after Stalin's Death, Beriia and the debate on the GDR in Moscow in April-May 1953," presented at a conference “Das Krisenjahr 1953 und der Kalte Krieg in Europa,” Potsdam, 10-12 November 1996.
N.A. Bulganin Address to the Plenum of the CC CPSU
9 July 1955
Bulganin. (Ed. note: Bulganin begins his speech by laying out the 31 May 1954 Presidium resolution on the turn towards friendly relations with Yugoslavia. He then summarizes the positive reactions of key socialist leaders consulted, including Ulbricht, Mao Zedong and others.) As for military potential, we lost the strongest country in Europe. Not one state in Europe has an army like Yugoslavia's, which today has 42 divisions. The Yugoslav army has modern equipment, including artillery, tanks, air power, even jets supplied for free by the Americans.
By its geographical position, Yugoslavia occupies a very important and very vulnerable place for the Soviet Union. If you look at a map, you will see that Yugoslavia has driven a wedge deep into the east. And now imagine future military events. Let's assume that we had to rush our military forces toward the west. In such a case, we would have 40-50 divisions of the Yugoslav army on our left flank.
Khrushchev. Plus American ones.
Bulganin. We would be so pinned down that we would have to send a covering force of at least 70-80 divisions there.
Mikoian. And not on plains, but in the mountains.
Khrushchev. With the Turks, for instance. Such a possibility is not ruled out, either.
Bulganin. Yes, such a possibility is not ruled out... Then on our right flank we would have the Yugoslav army with a contingent of 50, and perhaps more, divisions.
Yugoslavia controls the Adriatic Sea, which is connected with the Mediterranean Sea, one of the very important, decisive lines of communication of the AngloAmerican military forces, since the Americans and English receive vital strategic raw materials and other sorts of supplies through the Suez canal and across the Mediterranean. Controlling the Adriatic, Yugoslavia threatens the Mediterranean.
It must be remembered how significant this state is.
And, finally, comrades, there are the people and the cadres. The Yugoslavs are superb fighters, superb people, who like us.
Khrushchev. It would be well if com. Molotov looked at these cadres, and saw what sort of people they are, what sort of life path they have traveled...
[Ed. note: Khrushchev and Bulganin then begin to sing the praises of Yugoslav comrades in counterpoint, remembering shared service in the Spanish Civil War, earlier meetings in the USSR, etc.. Discussion then turned to the origins of the split and the withdrawal of Soviet military advisers from Yugoslavia.]
Bulganin. The (Soviet] military and civilian advisers who were told to leave were perplexed. What was going on? They believed that there would be a military confrontation, even war, and some wept.
Khrushchev. Tito told us that when the military advisers left Yugoslavia, some of them wept.
Bulganin. Here, then, comrades, is the reason. There was no mention of internationalism at all. There was pride and ambition. This is how the rupture began. Com. Molotov was there then; he should know. At the same time (as the withdrawal of advisers) there came a communication from Albania that Tito had decided to move a division into Albania, without having asked Stalin about it. That poured even more oil on the fire. And, finally, the third reason is the one about which com. Molotov spoke, although entirely incorrectly. He correctly depicted the fact, but gave the issue his own evaluation. That is in relation to Trieste. On Trieste, I will say
that com. Molotov's position was incorrect both then and recently. [Ed. note: For more on Yugoslav-Albanian relations and the Trieste issue, see the Yugoslavia section of this Bulletin.]
Khrushchev. Both the beginning and the end were incorrect.
Bulganin. The beginning was incorrect and the end was especially incorrect. Tito wanted to get Trieste.
Khrushchev. And at that time we wanted Yugoslavia to get Trieste.
Bulganin. But what's wrong here? God grant that he get two Triestes (Dai bog, chtoby dva Triesta poluchil), but we objected to it then.
In 1954 there was also a scandal regarding Trieste. In October 1954, under pressure from the Americans and the English, Yugoslavia and Italy agreed on a division of the Trieste zone. The agreement did not wholly satisfy the Yugoslavs, but all the same Tito decided to agree to what they proposed. It would seem that we should have then, at the beginning and in 1954, supported the Yugoslavs and said that we were “for” (it). But our MID (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) decided to protest and to submit the issue to the UN; it was said that they were violating the interests of the Soviet Union as an allied power and were undermining our prestige, because they didn't ask us.
In the Presidium it was decided that the MID's point of view was incorrect.
Khrushchev. That was the period when no one was any longer recognizing our allied rights in relation to Trieste.
Bulganin. We did not support MID's proposals, but proposed that we write that the Soviet Union agreed to support the Yugoslavs, for which our Yugoslav comrades thanked us when we were there.
That is how the rupture began. There were no facts to the effect that the Yugoslavs were creeping away from a Marxist-Leninist position, from internationalism, and were taking a nationalist path. There was nothing of the sort. Simply ambition, pride, and only afterwards the letters which you know about were written to the Yugoslavs. Com. Molotov wrote at Stalin's dictation. We all helped however we could.
Khrushchev. And the main material for this de
scended from the ceiling [bralsia s potolka), that is, was thought up.
Bulganin. Yes, the material was a fabrication. It was then that they made fabrications about Marxism-Leninism and nationalism. Let's speak plainly. After all, it was so. I understand that com. Molotov will say that Bulganin is simplifying. I am not simplifying; I am saying how it was. That is how the disagreements with Yugoslavia began, as a result of which we lost the friendship of this country.
Com. Molotov spoke here about 1945, about Trieste. The disagreements started, he said, not in 1948, but back in 1945.
From 1945 to 1948, we lived like great friends with Tito; both during the war and afterward, we had very good relations. Tito visited Moscow. You introduced him to me, com. Molotov; incidentally, together we drove with him to [visit] Stalin. We lived like friends. What sort of conflict did we have with Tito in 1945? There was no conflict. Everything happened in 1948.
I already talked about Albania, and now I will talk about the Balkan federation. Comrade Molotov spoke about how the idea arose, but he forgets that there were witnesses: myself, Mikoian, Malenkov and other members of the Presidium, Kaganovich, Voroshilov; Khrushchev at that time was not there; he was in the Ukraine.
Khrushchev. Yes, I was not there; at that time I was in the Ukraine.
Bulganin. Now com. Molotov is ascribing the Balkan federation to Tito. [Ed. Note: For more on this, see the article by Gibianskii in this Bulletin.) But the issue was first raised by Stalin in a conversation with Dimitrovwhat if, he said, you united the Balkans, created a federation[?]
Khrushchev. There, in Yugoslavia, they almost built an office building for the federation's institutions, but did not finish it.
Bulganin. You would be supported, said Stalin to Dimitrov; try talking with Tito. Dimitrov went home, visited Tito, spoke with him, and then it [i.e. the federation) got underway [poshlo).
Khrushchev. And now he is being accused of straying from Leninism for that.
Bulganin. I state that with all responsibility. Let the other members of the Presidium confirm where the idea came from. Now com. Molotov is foisting the idea on com. Tito.
Malenkov. That's right.
Khrushchev. How is that! They directed such actions by com. Tito against Leninism.
Bulganin. That is how the matter stood. Now I want to speak about Yalta.1 We were not there. Coms. Stalin and Molotov were there. Was Voroshilov there or not?
Voroshilov. I was not.
Bulganin. How did they divide Yugoslavia between England and the Soviet Union and how did Tito find out about it? This is a major embarrassment. Com. Khrushchev spoke about this in his report, [and] I will not
dwell on it. A tactical conversation (takticheskii razgovor] with Churchill took place, but it came into the open.
2 Khruschchev. Tito should have been informed in time.
Bulganin. Yes, Tito should have been informed. Churchill divulged the fact in his memoirs, which were recently published.
Khrushchev. The Yugoslav leaders found out from Churchill and not from us what we should have told them
Bulganin. I want to return somewhat to the beginning, when a letter of 31 May 1954 on the Yugoslav issue was written by the CC Presidium. At first we ordered the MID to write the letter. To write a draft and present it to us. Unfortunately, I do not have the text of the letter; com Suslov has it. If only you knew what sort of letter it was! Com. Zorin wrote it on the order of com. Molotov. I do not know whether he reported on it to Molotov or not. Com. Molotov was then in Geneva. Zorin came to the Presidium and said that he had acquainted com. Molotov [with it) and that he had agreed. In the letter it talked about the necessity of doing a survey on our relations with fascist Yugoslavia. In the letter it was called fascist Yugoslavia, and its leaders, fascists...
On the issue of disarmament, com. Molotov took an incorrect position on the decrease of military forces by a third.
Khrushchev. And even committed a distortion of a CC decision.
Bulganin. Afterwards, the CC Presidium adopted a decision to the effect that our position had to be changed on the issue of cutting armaments. I will speak in greater detail of this. The Soviet proposal on the issue of disarmament, which was being looked into and discussed in different committees of the United Nations, stipulated a reduction in arms and armed forces of the five great powers by one third. The Westerners insisted on a reduction of armed forces to a definite level, because one third, let us say, of five million is one thing, and one third of one million is another. If we cut one third and France cuts one third, that would be different things. From this point of view our position was out of date (ustarela).
Khrushchev. That position is unwise.
Bulganin. But for several years we have been chewing (zhuem) the same thing over: one third, one third. Com. Gromyko sat on the subcommittee in London for a month and kept reporting that the most ideal thing was cutting by a third. Stupidity!
Khrushchev. Besides himself, he didn't convince
Bulganin. In March 1955, the CC Presidium recognized the position of the MID on that issue to be incorrect [nepravil'noi) and adopted a resolution to reject that thesis. We said that we should agree with the Westerners as to levels. A directive went to London in fulfillment of our decision. And all of a sudden we read Malik's telegram from London, that he is continuing his line on one third. What was going on? It turns out that in the telegram