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acquaintance, we worked together in the Donbass. I was among party ranks, and it's only natural that the party in charge of the orgotdel (Organization Department] of receive satisfaction, that we, so to speak, the Central Stalin's regional committee, he was in charge of
Committee.....under the party......He made the report to the the......regional committee. A member of the party since party, because......the reasons......and we're saying how to 1917, joined as a young man, and spent sixteen years in cure why this could have happen...... jail, a completely honest man. Comrades, this was a
(...) member......up until the 7th congress and she was a
After reading this, you'd probably be indignant, and delegate to the 7th congress. They came, they wanted, you probably say, this is really an enemy of the people. (Voice see, not only the pants from the Red Cross, but......and he from the audience in Russian) No.) No? Comrades, would have been satisfied. But, he wants to receive moral comrades, you're saying no. I'm not upset with you. Yes, satisfaction. How can we say it to him? And we would Comrades. But, you're saying this in 1956, after my have been simply..... if we simply......our head, and said that presentation. Now, even a fool can be smart, as they say. nothing had happened. So, thousands of people came, and But, you have to make the decision when the question is people who were in the party for decades......
being discussed. Here,
your wonderful fellow-countryman, and our friend, Rokossowski. He II
spent two years in jail. (Question from the The most important thing is to educate correctly. audience:......Berezhkov) There is. Yes, there is. Here, in ...Who will decide, how can one explain the absence of my report, I was talking about Meretskov. Meretskov, I the.....congress for thirteen years. How can one explain? don't know if he sat for two years or not, but not for a long But, we have so many people who asked us this question time. But, now he's a complete invalid. He was interroduring Stalin's tenure. They were arrested. This is already gated by Rodos. This big man was interrogated by
6 an anti-Soviet person. The party should be informed at a Rodos. They had very smart techniques. The doctors' certain time, right before the party congress, but this is case. I was sick, before my trip to Warsaw. The professor, arbitrariness. The party cannot live like this. Well, we Vinogradov came, who was one of the saboteurs and had have decided to report these questions to the congress, and been in jail. And then he was freed. I ask: “So, what do said......and saying...... To state the question, and where you think, Vladimir Nikitovich, can I fly to Warsaw?” He were you, you were with Stalin. We said we've seen, and says: “You can. Breath carefully, through the nose. Don't we're saying, you judge. Let the congress judge, if it make speeches outdoors. Do not take off your hat.” A deserves trust or not. But, the party must know every- doctor says that to a person who's not yet completely well. thing. As the master, the congress must know about it and He was in jail. After jail he examined us. But, I read his decide. Therefore, we came and stated it. I would
testimony myself, that he was a German spy. It so say.....that after we had made this report, and now we're happened that this doctor, Vinogradov, attended to me, and reading this report to members of the party, then we
was at my place practically a day before his arrest. After decided to read it to Komsomol members. There are my presentation to the 19th congress, I fell ill. And I was eighteen million warm-hearted young people that were laying in bed, for three day. And he was taking care of me, brought up by us in a certain direction. If they don't know and I was already reading the protocols on his statements. everything-won't understand us......We decided......then The other doctors were saying this...... What could I do? we went ahead. We decided to have it read during
What could I do, when a doctor who works with him says: workers' meetings. Not only to party members, but to I say such-and-such, I did such-and-such things, I poinon-party members as well, so that non-party members soned this one, I strangled that one. I had the help of suchfeel that we trust them......will know. When we were
and-such. What could I say to myself. I'll go and say to told......the entire world talks, the entire diplomatic corps is Stalin that this isn't true. But, he'll say: "What are you making noise that Khrushchev did......exactly. The
doing, these people are admitting it.” In any case, I connections (i.e., intelligence communications) aren't bad. wouldn't be allowed. The investigator should have been Here he gave such a report, he talked for three hours, called, then the doctors, and questioned. But these really talked for three hours, that such questions were conditions weren't available. These conditions—this is the presented, that such questions were really presented, and cult of personality. that after that, they won......so to speak. To each
(...) other......there's such a situation among the diplomats, that Well, you have read everything in the report. This is,
, Khrushchev flew to Warsaw, Malenkov to London,
so to say, fresh news. The situation in the agricultural field Mikoian to Karachi, during a bad state in the Soviet) is difficult. Once I said to Stalin: "Comrade Stalin, we Politburo they're not going to fly all over the
have a crisis in agriculture.” He says: "What do you world......checking themselves. Because, really, let them mean, crisis?" I reply: “A crisis: no milk...... no meat, no make some noise; make some noise and then they'll be left milk. What's happening?" "This is not correct," he says, with nothing (na bobakh). But, we will only win from and immediately became defensive because of this word. this, because now we have a colossal growth of party "Stalin's age," "Stalin's leadership," and here is a solidarity around the Central Committee, and firmness crisis.....Only enemies say this word. Malenkov was
asked: “Do we procure more meat now or less?” “More.” I said: “I'm saying more too.” “More milk?” “More." "Well, the population has increased too.” Wages have risen. The purchasing ability has increased too. Then, if that's so, talk like this. We couldn't tell him these things. Well, what kind of socialism is it when a person can't drink an extra cup of milk. I, at the time of capitalism, drank as much milk as I wanted, being a miner during capitalism. And now, I have to, I should be thankful, that now, I can buy a cup of milk for my child. But, such is the situation. This means that this is our fault; we're discrediting socialism. The workers and employees, and all the people—a socialist system, capitalist system, he doesn't choose by himself. But, he chooses a system which will provide a better lifestyle for him. This system for him, the socialist system, this is a social system where the tools of production are located in the hands of society. Therefore, the society itself, in its own interests, will use these tools of production. So, you have to provide uninterrupted growth in the standard of living of the population. Stalin said that a committee should be formed to study this matter. I was nominated as the chairman of that committee. I knew what it meant. I'm not going to do anything to cause problems. I'll get nothing. I can't do anything. I know this. I say: "Comrade Stalin, why me, maybe Malenkov is better? Why did I nominate Malenkov, for that I had grounds. Malenkov was entrusted with leadership for agriculture. I said, why. I'm the secretary of the Moscow committee. I have so many things (vot tak vot) of my own to be done. Let Malenkov do it. “Let it be.” So, what can I do, you can't argue with Stalin. He says, Mikoian should be in the committee, and others, let them work. Well, I know that if I had the opportunity to solve this question, I'd give a suggestion. But, I wouldn't be allowed to solve this matter. And they would make me an enemy. Because, whatever I'd have suggested, Stalin would say that it's all harmful. Only enemies can suggest this. We spent a lot of time sitting and arguing. But, do you know, comrades, how many ass-lickers are there? There was this Kozlov, an agriculture manager, we kicked him out from the Central Committee, but this big bastard (svoloch) remained in the party. I beg your pardon for such harsh words, but he should have been expelled from the party. All the time he presented documents to the Central Committee on how everything is moving, agriculture is developing, that we have nothing, but agriculture is growing. We sat, corrected the material a little bit. I'll tell you exactly how it was. Corrected the materials, and went to Comrade Stalin: The materials are ready. Spent a lot of time, not because we couldn't figure it out, but because we didn't know how to suggest it, how to put it. Therefore, we had to disguise it so that no one would be the wiser, and there was some benefit from it. Stalin read it. So, he says, many billions should be given. Something like six or seven billion. This is child's play, only enemies look at this question from this angle. They don't understand how the peasant lives.....Stalin says. With one hen, he says, the
peasants sells and pays duties with all of one hen. How can he say that, when Stalin didn't see a live peasant for probably thirty years. Stalin's more aloof than his dachahe can't see anything from his dacha, because it's surrounded by woods, and with guards. And with fieldglasses you wouldn't see a living person, except the guard. How can he think like that? But, a man who knows the village, who sees the peasants, he can't agree with him. Instead of accepting our suggestion, Stalin says-no. I suggested my own ideas. Together, with this proposition, we looked at this question and raised the duties on peasants some 40 billion rubles. My God, here I left. I told Mikoian, the only salvation is if the peasants rebel. Because there's no other way out. Because they sell all the produce to pay duties, their duties. Already, they don't have this money. From where can they get it? And, well, we researched. And we researched. But, what's there to research. And then I saw that the situation was like this, I knew, and I said: “Comrade Stalin, this is a very big problem you gave us. It's difficult to decide by such a committee. We need more people.” He said: “What do you want?" I said: “Malenkov, Beria, Bulganin, Kaganovich"-named all the members of the Politburo, so that everybody will be involved. “What are you doing. What for?" I said: “It's a big question." "Big question? Well, include Malenkov and Beria." "Very well." At least now it's easier. I had to involve Beria, that bastard, because if he proposed what Mikoian proposed, then he would have to sign the document. You see what kind of complicated conditions existed. And then we all got together. "Well, I said, comrades, how are we going to solve this?" Well, Beria probably understood. He said this is all nonsense. Where can we get the money from? From where? Let's look for money. The matter ended with the death of Stalin. So the document was burned. But, just before the death, a document existed. But, if he had not died, I myself don't know how all this would have ended. I think that it would have ended with additional arrests. Because, Stalin told us—these are populists and SRs [Socialist Revolutionaries), meaning enemies. These were difficult conditions. If you look at it this way, Stalin died, we made way for an increase in agriculture. It means we understand. It means we can find the necessary solution. Why didn't we find it at the time, because of one person who was stopping it. And we couldn't do anything. Absolutely couldn't do anything. That's why, now, we have fuel. And that's why we're roaring like bulls: “Down with the cult of personality!" Just like the Komsomol. Why, because if we get rid of the cult, then we will always collectively find the correct solution. Stalin was telling us that the capitalist world will fool us, that we're like blind kittens. But, if Stalin came back now, we would show him what we've done after him, and how we've cleaned up the atmosphere. I think that Stalin couldn't have done it, and in ten years. And if he had lived a little bit longer, then he possibly would have started another war.
he wanted to put me on trial.” He (Stalin) told us this...... We couldn't tell him that it would have been for the best if Lenin had done it, because if you said it, you wouldn't be going home anymore. You're not children, comrades. You should understand. I have a lot of Polish friends. And [Stalin) made me a Pole. Stalin asked me: "What's
last name?” I said: “Khrushchev.” “Your last name ends like a Polish one with [one line black out in text] ski.” I said: “Who knows. I lived for a long time as Khrushchev, and now its—ski.” Comrades, I was standing near Yezhov, and Stalin said: “Yezhov said it.” Yezhov replied: "I didn't.” “How is it you didn't say it? When
“ you were drunk, you said it to Malenkov.” Malenkov passes by. Stalin says: "Did Yezhov tell you that Khrushchev’s Polish?” He says: "No." You see, they'll say, why is Khrushchev denying. First of all, I'm a Russian, I'm not denying. Second, what kind of crime is it if I had been Polish? What kind of crime? Look, comrades, when Stalin died, Beria took his post. And he was then the most influential man among us. Beria and Malenkov. He took the post of internal affairs minister, comrades. Beria. But, what kind of counter-revolution did we have in 1953? None. We have a good, friendly, lively society in the Soviet Union. What did he need it for? So that he could stand above the party. What does it mean to stand above the party? It means to raise his own cult of personality. What Stalin was, Beria would have become (Bvl Stalin, stal by Beriia). He'd have destroyed the party. The party would be like a formality, because he'd be in command. So, then, we rebelled and arrested Beria for raising his hand against the party. We told him this. We didn't arrest him like Stalin arrested Kosior. Instead, we arrested him during the meeting. All members of the Presidium were present. We told him: “We accuse you of such and such actions. You encroach on the rights of the party as shown by. We said it to him.” This, he
I did because of this and that. We then said, arrest him. When the prosecutor interrogated him, Beria said: "On what grounds do you arrest me?" He replied: "You're asking me on what grounds? The entire Presidium and Council of Ministers were there when you were arrested. Not only them, but the entire government apparatus!” [Ed. note: For Beria letters from prison to Malenkov, see the Berlin 1953 section of this Bulletin and the CWIHP website: cwihp.si.edu.]
With these words, allow me to finish my presentation. (Applause.)
Listen! When Stalin died, 109 people were killed. 109 people died because everyone moved like a mob and smothered them. This is just such a psychosis (psikhos). Some people, when they were in the hall near the casket, started crying—What are we going to do now? Comrades, common people is one thing, but how many party members and Komsomol members thought when Stalin died, what will happen after him? Is it proper? Is it appropriate to imagine a hero, and make everything dependent on him? Comrades, do we then need the party? What is it? It means not believing in human judgment, not believing in the force of democracy, not believing in collective leadership. Comrades, then let's choose a king. The monarchists
elections depend on your voters, and they adapt [to each other], but our monarch, he was given the power to rule and manage by God. Then we must agree with even such an absurdity. And now, we're trying to break this myth of power and infallibility. Some say, what would you have done during the war, if you didn't have Stalin? Defeated the Germans. Defeated them—and defeated them sooner, with less blood [lost). I'm sure of it. And maybe we could have avoided the war. Maybe, if our policy was a little smarter, maybe, we could have avoided the war. Nobody knows. That is how I and my friends in our collective see these things.
Listen, such absurdity. When Lenin died, no busts. Stalin died, there wasn't a single town or city where a monument to him was not placed. We, when he died, we couldn't imagine what to name after him, to immortalize him the day he died, because whatever we did would have been significantly worse than what he had done during his lifetime. Can this be correct? Can this be correct upbringing? There was no modesty, although he talked a lot about modesty. There were many, many shortcomings, which, unfortunately, we could not...... We ourselves suffered from it. I vacationed with him one year. I lived next (door). I told my friends and they understood it. They said that if you're still alive after this vacation, say "Thank God." Why? Because I had to dine with him every day. It means I had to be drunk every day. I beg your pardon. Am I saying it too frankly, yes? (Voices from the audience (in Russian]: You're saying the truth. Say it. Say it.) You just can't do this. We had foreigners arriving and coming over sometimes. We were ashamed when we came for dinner, because there was a battery of mortars (batareia minometov) (Ed. note: hard liquor) on the table. There's a limit to everything...... It was like this, comrades. It was. But, if one doesn't drink and eat with him, you're his enemy. You're his enemy. This kind of absurdity, why did it happen? If he was not protected by the cult of personality, he would have been kicked out, and told: Listen, dear, drinking so heavily isn't allowed. You have to work. We're responsible for the work done. He [Stalin) himself once told us in the heat of conversation: “Go on talking. Once, Lenin called me [to him) and tells me: Why, my dear (baten’ka), are you drinking so heavily? You're buying champagne by the case, getting people drunk. And
Chairman (Comrade Zawadzki in Polish]
In accordance with our mutual agreement, those among the comrades with a question, please ask them, and those among the comrades who want to express themselves-also feel free to express yourself.
Comrade Kazimierz Witaszewski [in Polish]
I want to deal with the following problem. Comrade Khrushchev spoke of Comrade Stalin as the strongest, the best type of Marxist-Leninist. On the other hand, we read
lustering cha inchen Stalic
Comrade Khrushchev's speech. And what Comrade then it's always possible. And the fact that the enemy Khrushchev said here, it's all about what Stalin did on his sends its agents is known to everybody, comrades. Its all a own, in spite of the collective, without coming to an question of intelligence, methods, and abilities. Stalin had understanding with anyone. I can't understand, how to such views, he understood it well, and tried to protect explain this, that a Marxist, the party leader, who, on the himself. And in protecting the revolution, he got to the one hand talks about what kind of person a party member point where, as they say, the artillery fired on its own ought to be a communist, modest, ought to listen to the army. voice of the masses—and, on the other hand, this same
Well, my dear friend, I can't say anything else. I party leader does not recognize the collective, the Central would be dishonorable, if after his death, everything was Committee, the Politburo, works on his own, shoots blamed on him. That wouldn't be very smart. We would people, old Bolsheviks, without cause. Here, for me, a then not have been Marxists, or we would not have question emerges, how is it possible to reconcile one with understood it and explained it correctly. Stalin in particuthe other, that Stalin was a good Marxist?
larly was a Marxist. A Marxist. We think so. The
question of his mistakes on the questions of theory, and in [Several questions follow. Then Khrushchev answers, not other instances, is not being discussed right now, comalways to the questions, but at some length.]
rades. This was a man who devoted his body and soul to
the working class. There isn't a single doubt about it. Comrade Khrushchev (in Russian]
But......always, so to speak, humans are fallible. Where would you place Stalin? Would you say he's Something unpleasant is omitted, something pleasant is not a Marxist? Stalin, who occupied such a prominent exaggerated. So this kind of lesson is not accepted as a position in the party, and possessed indisputable, colossal valid source of history. I don't want to insult our elders, I influence, and revolutionary abilities, led the party by what myself am not young, but I know that sometimes...... [about path? In the direction of building a socialist society. This events) forty to fifty years ago, everyone tells his own is a fact. Could Stalin have led in a different direction? [version] He could have. Could he have brought it to some other
...Stalin valued every revolutionary. It had to be seen. result? I think that he couldn't, because the party would We saw it. We're now talking about the negative (side of] have resisted. But, Stalin himself was a convinced
history. But, Stalin, comrades, if I could talk about the Marxist, and he was convinced that society in particular good times, [Stalin's] attention and caring. This was a must become a communist society, and he served this revolutionary. He lived life, but he had a persecution society with all his body and soul. Of this, I have no mania (maniia presledovaniia) about somebody pursuing doubt. The question of the means and of the course taken, him......And, because of it, he would never stop......He, this is a completely different question. It's difficult to even his own relatives......He shot them. Because, he combine, but it's a fact. And these facts have already thought that the brother of his first wife—a Georgian taken place. How you want to combine it, and think it woman, she died a long time ago. (From the audience: through, this depends, so to speak, on your individual Alilueva. No, Alilueva's the last wife.) Svanidze. abilities. But, it's a fact. We can't say that by using such Svanidze. Her brother. This was a friend of Stalin's. This and several methods to kill people, he killed so-and-so was already an old man. He was a Menshevik, then he many in order to destroy the socialist regime, so that he joined the party, and we often saw him with Stalin. And, could put the Soviet Union onto the capitalist rails. This evidently, Beria suggested that this Svanidze was an agent, would be stupid (glupost'). This would be a lie. This that he was an enemy, and that he had a directive to kill would be stupid. Who would believe it? No, that's wrong. Stalin. Stalin, of course, said listen, he sleeps over at my Here's the whole tragedy for Stalin was a revolutionary. place, he dines with me, he's often been with me. So, why And therefore, to affirm the new, we should fight with the is he not doing what he's supposed to? He could have old. And in this struggle, comrades, we never denied harsh poisoned me a long time ago. But, Beria tells him: “No. methods and extreme actions. We didn't deny it in the You know there are different agents. Some get the assignpast, and we don't deny it now. Therefore, on this, Stalin ment immediately. Some agents are kept near you, behave was a Marxist, and he served, and used all the methods normally, then the time comes, he gets the signal, and then available. He used them so that in this struggle to affirm he'll do it!" Stalin believed him. Svanidze was arrested. [the new], he destroyed his own people. His own people He was interrogated by all methods [i.e., torture). He was were destroyed (svoikh unichtozhal). Of course it's
sentenced to execution by shooting. Stalin lived with possible. This was in every party. There were always Svanidze for so many years; something human (remained); cases where someone was under the suspicion of being an so he still had doubts. Then, he orders Beria: When agent provocateur. Sometimes investigations and courts Svanidze is about to be shot, tell him that if he admits his were used, but it later turned out that they had been honest guilt-Stalin was already sure that Svanidze was an people. Were there cases like these? Of course there were. enemy-and asks for forgiveness, we will forgive him. And it was the same in the Polish party. It was every- We will forgive him. Before Svanidze was shot, we are where. If there's an underground, if there's a struggle, told, he was told Stalin's words, and he said: "Exactly
what am I guilty of? Why should I ask for forgiveness. I'm not a criminal. I'm a member of the party. I'm an honest person. I didn't commit any crimes before Stalin, and before the party and country. I won't ask.” And he was shot. That's what was happening. So, why did Stalin destroy (Svanidze)? He destroyed him simply so (prosto tak)......He believed he was an enemy. We have to rack our brains to explain things that are not so easy. You have to complicate this question a little bit. Only then will you understand correctly, and correctly give an explanation. This is a complicated question.
The beginning of the war and Stalin. Comrades, here, it was said that maybe we could have used it to our advantage, when he turned out to be...... This was impossible, comrades. The war began......the enemy attacks, and if we, at that time, had announced that we dismissed Stalin from the leadership. Comrades, a better present to Hitler could not be imagined......(Voice from the audience: Correct, [he] had to direct the collective.) Exactly, had to direct. Comrades, all this is being explained simply, right here at this meeting, and after Stalin's death, and you have to have in mind) the concrete conditions. The war was going on, and the name of Stalin played a big part, and suddenly we're announcing we dismissed Stalin. Comrades, that is defeat. This would mean the death of the country.
...Stalin must be criticized, and we already see how we are criticizing him. But, comrades......even if you smear a person more and more, he won't get darker than he deserves. We can smear his reputation. But, after us, there are going to be people, you know, like restorers, who in cathedrals or somewhere start restoring things that were already painted and repainted, each artist in his own way. But, a good restorer takes it, cleans everything, washes everything off, and says: “This is, in reality, the work of such and such. And everything else was merely appended.” So it is in this matter, too, comrades. Stalin, comrades, is such a figure that many historians will break their teeth trying to learn this history, and there will still be something left to learn. Stalin is Stalin. He's a very complex figure. He had a lot of good and a lot, a great lot, of bad. Now, we're trying to deal with the bad so that we can strengthen the party's correct path of action. But, Stalin will, in any case, from us, and after us, and from our grandchildren and children, receive what he deserved. He played his part and played in such a way that God left it to others, who worked with him, to know. I'm saying it directly, because it's a question of the struggle...... Stalin had his own methods. He said that in order for the working class to succeed, in order to take power, many thousands and millions of workers had to die. Maybe it was a mistake. At such a moment of revolutionary struggle, it's possible that there are mistaken victims. But, he says, history will forgive me. Is it possible? Perhaps. The whole question concerns the scale of these mistakes. A question of methods. Because his doses were incorrect, because an incorrect method of leadership was used. And
we want to avoid this. Comrades, we ourselves aren't guaranteeing that mistakes won't be made. We also can't allow; we also arrested people, and will probably make arrests in the future. I think that you'll also have to do this. But, if you now become liberals, and look at everybody and pat everybody on the back, then these enemies will bite your hands off (ruki pootkusaiut). We have such enemies and you have them. You probably have more enemies, because you're younger than we are, and we destroyed more, and you're closer to them. So, I think that even in the future mistakes are possible. I can't say, right now, that we promise that not even a single hair will fall from the head of any person. No. Comrades, this is very complicated. Comrades, the enemy is really insidious, the enemy really is, has been all the while, and we'll fight with these enemies wherever we recognize them and, maybe, where we don't recognize them. I, for example, know that when I worked in Ukraine, we destroyed not one, but many of our enemies using the hands of our enemies. We knew......these ones......we forged some documents. We would place them surreptitiously everywhere......they arrested them, tortured them, and hung them. But, you'll say that this is cruel. But, comrades, we're fighting with the enemy. Is this method with enemies allowed? I think it's allowable. Will we give it up, now? I, for example, won't refuse to use it, if it's used to destroy the enemy......If we're going to be cowardly, it means we are cowards. So there, dear comrades. (...)
(Applause. Stormy applause.)
(Source: AAN, (Archive of Modern Records) PZPR 2631 Materialy do stosunkow partyjnych polsko-radzieckich z lat 1956-1958, “Przemowienie tow. Chruszczowa na VI Plenum K.C.,” k. 14-87. Translated from the Russian and Polish by L.W. Gluchowski.)
Ed note: The full text of the speech as released by the US Department of State on 4 June 1956 (citing “a confidential source") can be found in The Anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism: A Selection of Documents edited by the Russian Institute, Columbia University. (NY, 1956). 2
For further details see Tony Kemp-Welch, “Khrushchev’s ‘Secret Speech' and Polish Politics: The Spring of 1956," EuropeAsia Studies (March 1996), pp. 181-206.
The text makes clear that Khrushchev had a copy of the 20th Congress speech in his hand as he spoke in Warsaw. 4
I would like to express my thanks to Vladislav Zubok of the National Security Archive for his helpful comments on an earlier draft translation of this speech. 5
Ed. note: No discussion had been permitted after the Moscow secret speech. On this, see Vladimir Naumov, “Zur Geschichte der Geheimrede N.S. Chrushchevs auf dem XX Parteitag der KPDSU" in Forum 1,1 (1997), p. 173. 6
Ed. note: In the Moscow secret speech of 25 February 1956, Rodos is referred to as follows: “He is a vile person, with the brain of a bird and morally completely degenerate.”