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Concluding Word by com. N.S. KHRCSHCHEV
[12 July 1955)
Comrades. I want to read you a telegram which com. Gromyko cited in part, since this document is of interest in understanding the position of the Yugoslav leaders. It is a communication from our ambassador in Yugoslavia about a conversation with com. Tito.
On 29 June com. Tito invited the Soviet ambassador to visit him and had a lengthy conversation with him. Here is what com. Val’kov wrote about that:
“In a conversation with me on 29 June Tito told me the following:
At present, Tito said, there are many conversations among the Yugoslavs and foreign representatives, surrounding the communication published in the Yugoslav press on 28 June about his, Tito's, acceptance of an invitation to visit the Soviet Union.
I noted that at a lunch in the Egyptian mission on 28 June the Canadian ambassador, the Egyptian envoy, the Japanese envoy, and the English consul all asked me about this issue. After this Tito noted that he would be happy to visit the Soviet Union and, in keeping with the understanding with comrades Khrushchev and Bulganin, the trip would take place next year. Concerning (U.S. Secretary of State John Foster] Dulles' announcement at a 28 June press conference on the fact that the possibility of the Yugoslav president's visiting the United States of America would be reviewed favorably if the Marshal expressed a desire to visit the United States of America, Tito said that the Americans would have to wait a long time for the expression of such a desire, if indeed they ever wait long enough (to hear it)." (Laughter in the hall). Not badly put!
Voice from the audience. Not bad...
Now on Austria. This is a very important issue. I remember how Stalin, about a year before his death, said several times:
- Why don't we conclude a treaty with Austria?
But this matter kept being postponed; it was said that we would resolve it after Trieste. When the Trieste matter got cleared up, comrade Stalin again ask[ed):
- Why aren't we concluding a treaty with Austria?
After Stalin's death, somehow com. Malenkov and I began talking with com. Molotov about Austria. He told us that the Austrian issue was a very complex one which we needed very much [i.e. to keep on the agenda without resolving it), (and) that its resolution had to be delayed.
Here, at the plenum, I will frankly say that I believed Molotov's word on everything, (and) like many of us,
[ thought that he was a great and experienced diplomat. Sometimes you'd look and then reason and think:
- Damn it (chert voz'mi), maybe I am missing something! After all, that is what it means to be a diplomat-he sees, and I don't see anything (laughter in the hall). I'm telling you this in all sincerity.
Some time passed, and I still wanted to find out what
Molotov saw in the Austrian issue and (why) he was fighting to drag out its resolution, but I can't see (it).
I came to the conclusion that there was no reason for us to drag out this matter, since time was beginning to work against us. In Austria we are losing our good position by dragging out a resolution to the issue of a peace treaty with the country. I then say to com. Bulganin:
- You know what I think, Nikolai Aleksandrovich? In my opinion, the Austrian issue as Molotov understands it is reminiscent of an egg which has gone bad. Soon you will have to throw it in the garbage because everything will change and there will be no value in resolving it positively. And that is really so.
But if we had gone halfway (vyshli navstrechu) with a resolution of the Austrian issue when the events connected with the conclusion of the Paris agreement had just ripened, after all, then the issue of these agreements could have arisen in a different way.
Voice from the Presidium. Correct.
Voice from the hall. The Paris agreement wouldn't have come about.
Khrushchev. We put forward the Austrian issue in a discussion of the CC Presidium. I said to com. Molotov:
- Listen, Viacheslav Mikhailovich, you understand this issue. But some comrades and I do not understand why we should delay the conclusion of a treaty with Austria. Explain to us how you understand it. Perhaps I will begin to understand it differently; after all, we aren't fools. And when I understand, I will support you; after all, right now I don't see anything complicated in it. I see only stupidity on our side, which consists of the fact that we are dragging out the conclusion of a peace treaty with Austria for no apparent reason.
We discussed the issue and came to the conclusion that we should conclude a peace treaty with Austria, [and] make sure that Austria became a neutral state. When we came to such a decision, Molotov said:
It is good that it was decided this way. After all, I did not object to such a decision.
Comrades! We, all of the members of the Presidium, each spoke to Molotov twice, reporting to him that it was necessary to stop dragging out the Austrian issue and to resolve it. And you know how we usually resolve issues in the Presidium,---we don't speak because everything is already clear and that issue that has been brought for examination does not need additional clarification. And here, I repeat, we all spoke several times without convincing com. Molotov that it was impossible to delay any further on this matter.
Kaganovich. And (we spoke] quite sharply si dovol'no ostro).
Khrushchev. During the discussion I asksed) com.
- Tell me, please, are you for or against war?
Then what are you achieving by having our troops sit in Vienna? If you stand for war, then it would be
Perhaps in another month he will say that he approved the resolution on the Yugoslav issue as well?
Or take the issue of arms control. For a long time we took an incorrect position, proposing to cut the armed forces of all countries by one third. With such a stance on the issue (postanovka voprosa), they will send us to the devil and put forward convincing arguments as well. Who will make such an agreement? We have so many million (men) at arms (and the Americans have data on this). We say: let's disarm, cut armaments by a third. And what sort of disarmament can there be here; can they really discuss our draft? Judge for yourself: we have, for example, six million soldiers, reduced by one third—four (million) are left. They have, for instance, three million, which must also be reduced by one third. After this, what sort of correlation of forces is left after that? By making that sort of proposal, we give the imperialists trump cards to decline our proposal; we will look like opponents of disarmament. The rulers of bourgeois states under the pressure of their people also raise the issue of disarmament. In order to knock all of the trumps out of the hands of the imperialists, we decided to introduce a proposal that, on the issues of arms control, we start from the conditions of each state, taking into account the size of the territory of the country, the quantity of its population, and other conditions. Based on these conditions, we must attain arms cuts to an appropriate level. Is this decision correct? Undoubtedly, it is correct. Such a proposal permits us the possibility of taking the initiative.
We adopted a resolution of the CC Presidium on this issue and instructed com. Molotov to inform com. Malik about it, but he sent a different directive, did not fulfill the resolution of the CC Presidium, as com. Bulganin has correctly stated here. At the meeting of the CC Presidium we asked com. Molotov: why did he do so? He explained it like this: I gave correct instructions, but when they looked at the ciphered communication, it turned out that it was incorrectly written. Com. Molotov admitted that he had made an error in this matter, for which we then gave him a warning...
correct to stay in Austria. It is a beach-head (platsdarm], and only a fool would give up such a beach-head if he planned to make war now. If (you are) not for war, then we have to leave. In our country, communists do not understand you; the Austrian communists do not understand, and Austrian workers begin to see our troops as occupiers. Communists abroad also do not understand us. Why are we sitting in Austria; what are we waiting for there?
Com. Molotov was commissioned to prepare a draft. He presented the draft, but it said that if an anschluss were to be prepared of Austria with Germany, we would reserve the right to lead our troops into Austria. There was a lot of all sorts of nonsense in the draft presented by the MID.
I said to com. Molotov:
- Listen, we have to look at things realistically and concretely. Let's assume that we manage to conclude a treaty in which this is said. Imagine that they prepare an anschluss. After all, after we find out about it, everything will be ready for an anschluss—artillery will be deployed where they should be, and troops will be assembled. After all, they are not fools, and know that if there is an anschluss, we can oppose an anschluss and, probably, repulse it. So, in such a situation, would you start a war?
You have to keep in mind, after all, that the Austrians and Germans are nations (natsii] close to one another. If someone set us such conditions: to separate the Russians from the Ukrainians or Belorussians, what would we say? We would say, without pausing for thought:
- You take your proposals to God's mother [k bozh'ei materi]!
Why should we stick our noses into that matter? Remember what has already happened. After the First World War, France reserved rights for itself as to the Saar, the Ruhr, and the Rhineland zones. But Hitler came to power in Germany. He squeezed France, seizing the Saar district (and) the Ruhr (and) Rhineland zones, and what became of it? An embarrassment. The French disgraced themselves, since it became clear that France was not in a condition to defend itself. And Hitler, having gotten cocky [obnaglev], began to mobilize forces for other expansionist adventures.
I said to Molotov:
- Why should we do what you are proposing in Austria? Let us save our strength at home, and everyone will understand us correctly.
And so when we all bore down on him (navalilis'na nego), he couldn't do anything other than to say, I agree; we have to submit whatever draft you propose. After the resolution of the Austrian issue, abroad they began to write about how wise (and) what a good diplomat Molotov was, and how he so skillfully took care of the Austrian issue. I even once said to com. Bulganin: “Probably Molotov doesn't like to read such articles.” After all we know what position com. Molotov took on that issue. And then at meeting of the CC Presidium he said:
- Did I really object to the resolution of the Austrian
(Source: TsKHSD f.2, op.1, d. 176, II.282-95. Translated by Benjamin Aldrich-Moodie.)
“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."
Khrushchev's Second Secret Speech
Much has already been written about Khrushchev's secret speech to the closed session of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) on the evening of 24-25 February 1956. The secret speech, “On the cult of personality and its consequences,” ignited a flame which set the communist world afire. In one fell swoop Stalin was branded a criminal by Khrushchev.1 The international communist movement went through a period of chaos following Khrushchev’s revelations and nowhere was this more apparent than in Poland.
On 12 March 1956, the Polish United Worker' Party (PUWP) lost its own leader. Boleslaw Bierut, ill with pneumonia, had traveled to the 20th CPSU Congress but he never returned. He died of heart failure in Moscow shortly after reading the secret speech, which the Soviets provided to all the leaders of the fraternal parties on the evening of 24 February. The secret speech found its way to Poland with the delegates who returned to Warsaw.2 Bierut's death forced Khrushchev to move quickly. He travelled to Warsaw with Bierut’s body for the state funeral and remained there for a week. Khrushchev met with the Polish leadership to settle the succession question. On 20 March, the PUWP held its 6th plenum to chose a new First Secretary. Khrushchev was invited to make a speech and to participate in the proceedings. Below is an excerpt of his 73 page, largely extemporaneous, often incoherent and ungrammatical explanation to the Polish comrades of why he gave the secret speech at the 20th congress, as well as other matters.3 This speech was not included in the official protocol of the 6th plenum and remained hidden in the Polish archives until recently. It was never translated and has never been published before.
Khrushchev was an emotional speaker who tended to speak his mind. A number of episodes are noteworthy in this speech: Khrushchev said that the legacy in foreign policy left by Stalin was terrible; that Stalin was smart, but suffered from a persecution complex; that we after all coped with foreign policy despite Stalin's warnings; that we could not arrest Stalin on 22 June 1941; that we should "demoralize NATO;" that Stalin had called him a Pole.4 Moreover, Khrushchev agreed to answer questions by the Polish comrades from the floor about the secret speech and Stalin's legacy
(L.W. Gluchowski is a researcher associated with CREES at the University of Toronto and the Institute for Political Studies at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw.)
The Speech by Comrade Khrushchev
20 March 1956, Warsaw
[Head of State Council] Comrade Aleksander Zawadzki (in Polish)
Comrades, the [PUWP] Politburo has taken advantage of the occasion afforded by Comrade Khrushchev's visit with us, and has invited Comrade Khrushchev to meet with the Central Committee plenum. As a result we should treat this as the beginning of the plenum—the actual meeting will begin in the late afternoon.
I suggest, in the name of all present, that we give Comrade Khrushchev a heartfelt greeting, at this, our plenum. (Applause.) We ask that Comrade Khrushchev take advantage of this meeting, and speak to all who are gathered, from a perspective of personal experience.
I was told that you're familiar with the report presented at the closed session of the congress. You also read it. Now, comrades, I would like to talk about a very crucial question—the question of the cult of personality.
The report of the closed session (of the 20th CPSU congress) you have read. But...... [Ed. Note: Dots not enclosed in parentheses are found in the original.] with such openness we presented these questions. We didn't hide anything; we said everything. Why did we introduce this question to the party congress? We had a discussion. We exchanged opinions, if such a topic should be touched. People, for decades, thought like this. And suddenly, we'll show them that it's not that clean, how we always looked at and understood this subject, that it's dirty, this subject. We discussed it a lot, argued about it, and finally decided to present this question. This is our capital, and we have to use it. Our biggest capital is that which aids in reinforcing the ranks of our party. And capital which aides in reinforcing our authority among the masses is our main capital. After the death of Stalin, we freed tens of thousands of people from jails. We reinstated thousands of people to party membership. We reinstated our friends. I talked to one of them, who spent sixteen years with..... This is my
Comrade Khrushchev (in Russian)
My task is very difficult because I don't know which problems interest you, the Polish United Workers' Party. The questions (discussed at the 20th (CPSU) congress. All the questions of the 20th congress.
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, before you, sits 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
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.