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time to introduce (show to the Presidium) this issue before his return. The minister arrived; he examined the proposal. Deputy minister V.S. Semenov who is present here and I tried to convince com. Molotov that the draft should be brought to the CC as had been pre-approved in the Presidium. Am I speaking correctly, com. Semenov?
Gromyko. We said: it is a correct decision and should be introduced in this form in particular. Com. Molotov says: no, by introducing such a draft, we will extend a hand to [West German Chancellor Konrad) Adenauer and entreat him. He cancelled this decision and introduced his own proposal. Of course, the Presidium altered the whole thing and affirmed its decision.
Molotov. An open letter is one thing, and a non-open letter is another. The difference here is not an essential one, but one of form.
Gromyko. Not only on this issue, although it in particular was a very important issue.
Voice. We were talking about the content.
Gromyko. We were talking about making a direct proposal on normalization to put Adenauer in a difficult position and not to drag out the matter as before.
On disarmament. I am not going to repeat what has been said before it is a complex problem. But here as well the main decisions were, as a rule, taken by the First Secretary of the CC.
The virgin lands were spoken about here. I want to emphasize this matter from another angle. If it hadn't been for the virgin lands—and it is well known on whose insistence the relevant decision was made this year we not only would have been on hunger rations (na golodnom paike), but we could not have sold grain to our friends. We would have been obliged to market our gold abroad, in the context of our very tight foreign-trade balance. We could not have sold bread to the Poles, the Hungarians, or the Albanians. I am not even talking about the fact that we could not have sold [bread) to Egypt.
I do not want to repeat myself on the theme of how significant that would have been, but I do want to emphasize one fact: if we had not given (dali) the people's democratic countries bread, then...
Mikoian. If we had not sold (prodali] it (to them).
Gromyko. If we had not sold them bread, those countries would have been obliged to turn to someone else; there is only one someone else—the Americans. And they will not only sell bread, but will sell with the simultaneous attachment of one-sided conditions.
The negotiations which have recently taken place between the Poles and the Americans on some issues, including on the issue of selling so-called agricultural surpluses to Poland, have shown that the Americans seize anything they can with their teeth in order to attach the conditions they need.
After all, in Egypt, if it had not been for our arms and our grain...
Mikoian. And oil plus (our) purchases of cotton,
then, although it cannot be said definitely; in such matters you cannot make categorical assertions; but there is a good likelihood that Egypt would have been brought to its knees.
I want to touch on another issue as well. It would be good if com. Molotov mentally went out into the middle of the hall and looked at himself speaking from this tribune. He would see what a pathetic picture it is. It was also a pathetic picture when he tried to denigrate the visits of our leading officials, above all, of course, com. Khrushchev, to other countries with serious missions, as a result of which the foreign-policy influence of our state, the Soviet Union, has been increased in several countries and several world regions.
I must say that I simply bow before the huge work of great state importance which was done during these trips by com. Khrushchev. As is well known, com. Bulganin travelled with him, but com. Khrushchev was always the soul of the matter.
Voices. Correct. (Applause).
Gromyko. This applies to the visit to India. I was among the accompanying persons. It applies to the trip to Yugoslavia, to Afghanistan, to Burma, to England, to Finland, and to the meeting of the leaders of the four powers' summit in Geneva in 1955. And I think that com. Molotov resorted to fairly dirty methods on purpose in his effort to denigrate (Khrushchev), since com. Molotov did not and could not have any other arguments worthy of attention.
Gromyko. In Finland during the last visit there was a pack of foreign correspondents from Finnish, French, American, and English newspapers that were very hostile to us. But not one of the correspondents nor any one of
newspapers which were most hostile to the Soviet Union dared to bring any facts that would cast a shadow on the behavior of com. Khrushchev and com. Bulganin during their last trip.
What sort of conclusion follows from this? The conclusion is as follows: the ethics of the bourgeois newspapers which were most hostile to us turned out to be more elevated than the ethics by which Molotov now lets himself be guided at the CC Plenum.
Voices. Correct. (Applause.)
Gromyko. Com. Molotov also dredged up com. Khrushchev's interview. I want to inform the Central Committee (about something). I consider that it has the right and should know this fact. Com. Khrushchev did not propose himself, did not ask for this interview. The proposal that com. Khrushchev agree to give an interview was made by the MID, by me. It was discussed in the CC Presidium. At the beginning I had the following impression: com. Khrushchev did not have a very fixed opinion as to whether he should or should not give an interview. I spoke "for," and the members of the Presidium approved our proposal, and the decision was taken.
By its content the interview given was good and
If com. Molotov had drawn conclusions from the criticism at the plenum, would she really have dared to act in that way?
Molotov. You must say the facts, and not what someone said.
Shelepin. And I'm telling facts. I myself was there and am not adding a word.
correct. I must say that not many of the Soviet Union's foreign policy actions have stirred up a hornet's nest in the USA as did that interview. In vain, Molotov tried to depict the matter as if there were some new doubtful positions which do not follow from our party line and were not approved by the CC Presidium. There is nothing of the sort. There are no such positions. The only positions there are those which follow and are wholly founded on the resolutions of the 20th congress of the CPSU, on the resolutions of the CC Presidium and of the party CC itself. There is one new thing in the interview. What is new? It is the fresh, original form of the presentation of our views with an exposition of Soviet foreign policy. But that itself is valuable. What was needed was exactly a lively, intelligible form of presentation, of exposition of the views and issues of our foreign policy. That was needed; it contributed to the interview's huge effect.
In the course of our work we read official and unofficial communications, which in particular relate to an assessment of this interview, and with all confidence I can state that it was assessed in precisely that way...
Ed. Note: P.S. Zhemchuzhina's Jewishness, her friendship with Golda Meir, and her sister in Palestine/Israel brought a charge of treason, when the campaign against “rootless cosmopolitans” was loosed. She had been exiled in 1949 by a direct vote of the Politburo, Molotov abstaining. According to Roy Medvedev: “The day of Stalin's funeral, 9 March, was also Molotov's birthday. As they were leaving the mausoleum, Khrushchev and Malenkov wished him a happy birthday, despite the occasion, and asked what he would like as a present. "Give me back Polina,' he replied coldly, and moved on.” Two years later, Mikunis bumped into Molotov in the privileged Kremlin Hospital at Kuntsevo (where Stalin had one of his dachas). “I went up to him and asked, “How could you, a member of the Politburo, let them arrest your wife?' He gave me a cold look and asked me who I thought I was. I replied, 'I am the General Secretary of the Israeli Communist Party, and that's why I'm asking you."" (Quotes from Roy Medvedev, All Stalin's Men. (New York, 1985), pp. 98-99, 102-3.)
(Source: Istoricheskii arkhiv 3-6(1993) and 1-2 (1994) Translated by Benjamin Aldrich-Moodie
(Source: Istoricheskii arkhiv 3-6(1993) and 1-2 (1994) Translated by Benjamin Aldrich-Moodie)
26 June 1957
Evening, 28 June 1957
Ustinov. I am convinced that this anti-party grouping had a platform on the issues of agriculture and foreign policy. Remember the plenum (in July 1955), when the issue of Yugoslavia was discussed. At that time I thought: why object to the establishment of friendly relations with any country, and in particular with Yugoslavia, which has a highly important strategic significance? It would seem, on the contrary, that we must win it at any cost. The Americans are throwing around colossal amounts of money in order to make the territory available for their bases. Com. Khrushchev made a reasonable proposal. Remember what he said: we must attract Yugoslavia to our side and try to isolate it (Yugoslavia) from the capitalists...
Shelepin. Since the steam bath was talked about, I want to bring up the following fact. There was a discussion in the plenum about com. Molotov’s wife and he was warned: “Take charge of her; bring her into line (Vos 'mi ee v ruki, navedi poriadok)," - but he evidently did not draw conclusions from that.) At one point I was sent together with com. N.M. Pegov to accompany (North Vietnamese leader] com. Ho Chi Minh to a pioneer camp. We arrive there and suddenly see a woman who tells us that she is from a children's home under Molotov's wife, and that she had come in order to take com. Ho Chi Minh and drive him to the children's home. We told her that com. Ho Chi Minh was not going there. In reply to this, she stated: no, he will go, since Polina Semenovna (Zhemchuzhina) said that he would go.
Suslov (chairing). Com. Kuznetsov has the floor.
Kuznetsov. ... How is it possible not to note—even our enemies recognize this—that since 1953, the Soviet Union has enjoyed huge successes in the area of foreign policy, while in 1953, the country was essentially on the brink of war? Friendly ties have been established and are being strengthened with many states on the basis of a struggle to consolidate peace. The international authority of the Soviet Union as the leading state in the struggle for peace and security, as the friend of all peoples who are fighting against the imperialists for their national independence and freedom, has grown immeasurably...
The steps taken by the Soviet Union in the Egyptian issue and on the whole throughout the Near and Middle East are exemplars of the realization of Leninist policy in international affairs.
What was the situation in the United Nations prior to 5 November of last year, as the English, French, and Israeli imperialists unleashed war on Egypt at the end of October.
Day and night the General Assembly meets; the (UN) Security Council meets and adopts many resolutions, but no concrete steps are taken against the aggressors. With
for the first time, we celebrated the First of May without introducing a resolution on strengthening shipments of goods to the cities. Because everything that was stipulated in the plan is being supplied. This is the first time that has happened. And they try to depict that as a deviation! Oh, you... What makes you happy, if our successes distress you so?
the assent of the USA, the English and French imperialists had conducted things so as to deflect public opinion and make quick work of Egypt.
The delegations of Egypt and other Arab countries in the UN were in a very anxious state; help could only come from the Soviet Union. And the Soviet Union did not let them down. When on 5 November they found out in the UN about the letters sent by the Soviet government on 5 November to England, France, the USA and Israel, there was an effect that could not have been produced by the explosion of several hydrogen bombs. On 7 (November), military actions were halted, and after that the withdrawal of the aggressors from Egypt began.
Even the bourgeois diplomats, who of course are embittered against the USSR, said in conversations with us that from the point of view of diplomacy it was a step that was hard to overestimate. At the same time they noted with obvious envy that the Soviet Union, without a single shot, without any actual involvement, forced two imperialist plunderers—England and France—to cease military activities and withdraw their troops from Egypt.
Besides this, these actions by the Soviet government helped us to acquire many new friends and to strengthen ties with old ones.
I want to draw your attention to the fact that com. Molotov talks a lot about using contradictions in the capitalist camp. It is well known that before 1953, the Soviet Union in its position on many international issues pushed the USA, England, and France together. [People) simply stopped believing that cover) there, the USA, England, and France have serious differences on many problems...
Remember what sad results this policy led to, to the disruption of friendly relations with Turkey and Iran, our neighbors. It was literally a stupidity (glupost'). In our incorrect policy in relation to Turkey we helped American imperialism. The Turks used to receive Voroshilov like a brother; they named a square after Voroshilov. But when the Second World War ended, we wrote a note to Turkey [saying that we were tearing up the friendship treaty. Why? Because you are not giving up the Dardanelles. Listen, only a drunkard could write such a thing. After all, no country would give up the Dardanelles voluntarily.
The issue of Iran. What did we do in Iran? We put our troops there and started to boss them around (stali tam khoziainichat'). And when the smell of gunpowder was in the air and we had either to fight or to leave, Stalin said, we must leave before it's too late, and we left. We poisoned the Persians' mood. When the Iranian shah visited us, he said that they could not forget what we wanted to do. I do not remember who was the minister of foreign affairs then, but in any case, Molotov was one of Stalin's main advisers on issues of international politics.
Gromyko. Molotov was minister then.
Khrushchev. But you fully agreed with it. With our short-sighted policies we drove Turkey and Iran into the embraces of the USA and England, into the Baghdad pact.
Take the war with Finland. It was costly to us, and as a result of it we were disentangling ourselves for a long time. And the war in Korea, which exacerbated the international situation to the utmost.
There was a period in which, as a result of a series of incorrect foreign-policy steps, our relations with the people's democratic countries started to worsen.
After Stalin's death, Molotov once again became head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He kept trying to conduct his same policy, which could not but lead to the isolation of the Soviet Union and to the loss of many foreign-policy positions. How did Molotov enter the MID? Beriia and Malenkov decided that. What guided them? I think that it is not accidental; everything was thought out. Essentially, the international policies of Stalin were Molotov's policies. Although it must be said that Stalin was much wiser and more flexible in his conduct of basic foreign policy than Molotov. The CC was forced to remove Molotov from leadership over foreign issues...
Molotov's policy could not but lead to a worsening of relations between states; it would have helped the imperialists unite their forces against the USSR. It is an
Khrushchev. ...we stopped buying butter abroad. When Malenkov was Chairman of the Council of Ministers in 1953-1954, we threw away a lot of gold in order to buy butter (maslo), herring, fabric, and other products and goods. How much gold did we spend then, com. Malenkov—200-250 tons?
Voice: If not more.
Khrushchev. Can one really resolve state issues in such a way? We will give away all of the gold, and there will be no more butter. They must be resolved in another way.
I want to say the following. Everyone knows that we must help (by treaty) the German Democratic Republic (GDR), since it is our socialist stronghold, our front line (perednii krai) in the struggle with the capitalist world. Politics has its logic. If the Germans in the GDR live worse than in the Federal Republic of Germany, then communists there will not be supported. For that reason, we must sell the GDR the necessary agricultural products. And we are doing this. Now we received a telegram in which the Germans are asking us to withhold shipments of butter and meat to them, since more has been prepared there than foreseen by the plan. That is a gratifying development.
adventurist policy. And he still has the gall to cite Vladimir Il’ich Lenin, teaching us Leninist foreign policy. He is an empty dogmatist (nachetchik) detached from (real] life...
What is the position of the Soviet Union now in the international arena? On all the core issues of international politics, including issues such as the problem of disarmament and the banning of atomic and hydrogen weapons, the initiative is in the Soviet Union's hands. With our peace-loving policy we have put the imperialist states on the defensive.
Khrushchev. A little while ago when we were in Finland, I criticized Bulganin for his incorrect statements. We came to a peasant's farm, went out onto a hillock; the farmer is showing us his lands, and everything is going well. Suddenly Bulganin says: here is an excellent observation point (laughter in the hall). I almost gasped (chut'ne akhnul). Listen to what you're saying, I say. And he answers me: you are a civilian, and I am a military man. Well, what sort of military man are you! You should think before speaking. There is a saying: in the house of a hanged man you don't talk about rope.
Just imagine what it must have been for the Finns to hear such words. We fought against Finland, and then restored good relations; we came to visit as guests, they met us in a cordial manner, and it turns out that we have come to pick out command points. Is that friendship? It is obvious that that offends, insults them. The minister of foreign affairs and other Finnish officials were with us, and I don't know how they took that statement...
In my rejoinder I already spoke about the worrying case when Shepilov, as editor of Pravda, committed an outright forgery, having published a falsified photograph depicting Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Malenkov in the interests of servility toward Malenkov. In reality, there was no such photograph. There was a group photograph in which many persons were photographed. But Shepilov removed all of these people from the photograph and left only three people, wishing by this to aggrandize Malenkov and serve him. For that the Central Committee gave Shepilov a stern reprimand.... [Ed. Note: The Stalin-MaoMalenkov faked photo and copy of original from which it was made can be found facing p. 128 in Martin Ebon, Malenkov: Stalin's Successor (McGraw Hill: NY, 1953).]
(Source: Istoricheskii arkhiv 3-6(1993) and 1-2(1994) Translated by Benjamin Aldrich-Moodie)
• longer plenum excerpts
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Khrushchev. Molotov said that allegedly we are not using the contradictions between the imperialist states in the interests of strengthening the countries of the socialist camp. But that is a slander. Remember our government's appeal to the United States with a proposal to speak out jointly against the aggression of England, France, and Israel in Egypt. Was that really not an example of our active policy of unmasking the imperialists? Having proposed joint action against England, France, and Israel to Eisenhower in order to avoid war in Egypt, comrades, we tore the veil (pokryvalo] off the aggressors. We also got a big trump for exposing the USA's policy. Before this, the Egyptians said that the Soviet Union was leaving them to the whims of fate, that only the USA was defending them in the Security Council. And suddenly we propose joint action. The Egyptian people rejoiced and thanked the Soviet Union.
Or remember our letters to Guy Mollet, Eden, and Ben Gurion. In those countries, one could determine the meaning of those letters even by the smell of the air (laughter in the hall), because within 24 hours the war was halted. And they tell us about an inability to use contradictions. Is that really not using contradictions?
Voice: At that moment Eden came down with a fever.
Khrushchev. Some wits at one of the receptions said: Eden came down with an inflammation of the (urethral] canal... The Suez canal, because at that moment he resigned and lay down in bed. (Laughter in the hall).
The foreign-policy steps of our party's CC during the Anglo-Franco-Israeli aggression and the counter-revolutionary putsch in Hungary averted the danger of the outbreak of a new world war.
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“This Is Not A Politburo, But A Madhouse"!
The Post-Stalin Succession Struggle,
Soviet Deutschlandpolitik and the SED: New Evidence from Russian, German, and Hungarian Archives
ince the opening of the former Communist bloc archives it has become evident that the crisis in East
Germany in the spring and summer of 1953 was one of the key moments in the history of the Cold War. The East German Communist regime was much closer to the brink of collapse, the popular revolt much more widespread and prolonged, the resentment of SED leader Walter Ulbricht by the East German population much more intense than many in the West had come to believe. 2 The uprising also had profound, long-term effects on the internal and international development of the GDR. By renouncing the industrial norm increase that had sparked the demonstrations and riots, regime and labor had found an uneasy, implicit compromise that production could rise only as long as norms remained low and wages high compromise that posed a severe restraint for Ulbricht when, in the early 1960s, he sought to reform the GDR economy through his “New Economic System.”3 Moreover, instead of allowing for greater political liberalization, as the Soviet-decreed New Course had envisioned at least to a certain degree, the eventual triumph of the hardliners headed by Ulbricht resulted in a dramatic expansion of the apparatus of repression and in the encrustation of an essentially Stalinist system in the ensuing months.
4 Even more surprising, important and controversial are the international repercussions of the crisis. How did it intersect with the power struggle that was taking place in the Kremlin in the weeks following Stalin's death on 5 March 1953? Recently, this question has received impetus by the publication of new materials on the activities of KGB chief and Minister of the Interior, Lavrentii Berija. A number of formerly secret internal party documents and memoirs seem to suggest that Beriia was ready to abandon socialism in the GDR, in fact to give up the very existence of the East German regime, which had been set up with Soviet support in the Soviet occupation zone in Germany in October 1949.5 Did Beriia's alleged plan — the reunification of Germany as a democratic and neutral country — represent a missed opportunity for an early end to Germany's division and perhaps the Cold War? Some historians have questioned the new evidence and the existence of a serious policy alternative, arguing that the disagreement on German policy among the Soviet leadership was “not as serious as it looked.”:6
1953 also looms large as a defining moment in Soviet
East German relations as Ulbricht seemed to have used the uprising to turn weakness into strength. On the height of the crisis in East Berlin, for reasons that are not yet entirely clear, the Soviet leadership committed itself to the political survival of Ulbricht and his East German state. Unlike his fellow Stalinist leader, Hungary's Matyas Rakosi, who was quickly demoted when he embraced the New Course less enthusiastically than expected, Ulbricht, equally unenthusiastic and stubborn and with one foot over the brink -somehow managed to regain support in Moscow. The commitment to his survival would in due course become costly for the Soviets who were faced with Ulbricht's ever increasing, ever more aggressive demands for economic and political support.
Curiously, the 1953 East German uprising also turned out to be crucially significant for Western, in particular American, policy. The uprising did not only undermine British premier Winston Churchill's grand scheme for a East-West deal on Germany and help West German chancellor Konrad Adenauer win a sweeping victory at the federal elections later that fall. The uprising also jolted
7 the U.S. administration, first into believing that the dawn of “liberation" had arrived, and then, after a US-sponsored food-aid-program evoked much more of a response among East Berliners and East Germans than the Americans had expected, into reassessing the feasibility of a “rollback"
Perhaps the most fascinating meaning of 1953 lies in the impact of these events on the mindset of the SED and Soviet leaders. Much like the discourse among dissidents and the population at large, in which 1953 became an almost mythological, though ambiguous, point of reference, the crisis became deeply embedded in the collective memory of a generation of East German leaders and a powerful symbol within the discourse" among East bloc leaders. 1953 came to stand for a hardline repressive resolution of internal unrest and the ultima ratio of Soviet military intervention, and as such was central Ulbricht's (and later Erich Honecker's) hardline approach to crises in Eastern Europe in 1956, 1968 and 1980/81. “This is our experience from the year 1953," Honecker reminded Polish party chief Stanislaw Kania and his colleagues during the December 1980 East bloc summit at the height of the Polish crisis, urging a crackdown on the oppositional “Solidarity” movement and holding out the possibil