SOVIET RUSSIA. Brief history of the USSR
For several years after Stalin’s death, the party leadership could not discard the psychological burden of old dogmas and abandon the versions of "enemies of the people." Nevertheless, the "cleansing" began as early as 1953. In March, Deputy Minister of State Security Ryumin, who was considered one of the main perpetrators of those arrested in the "case of pest doctors", was arrested. It is known that Stalin became disappointed in him in the autumn of 1952 and ordered the head of the MGB S. D. Ignatiev to "remove this shibzdik" (Ryumin, like many of the people around Stalin, was not tall). On April 6, 1953, Pravda newspaper accused Ryumin of deceiving the government, placing on him political responsibility for fanning state anti-Semitism in the country, on July 7, 1954. The Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court passed the death sentence on him that was carried out on July 22.
Following this, the turn came to the former head of the MGB Abakumov, one of the initiators of the fabricated "Leningrad case". The death of Stalin and the arrest of Beria deprived him of the chances for his release from prison, where he had fallen back in 1951 by the highest decision of the leader. December 14, 1954 in Leningrad in the building of the House of Officers, where for 4 years before the trial of the "Leningrad de lu" was held, the trial of Abakumov and some of his closest assistants took place. All of them were sentenced to capital punishment.
Despite the fact that many of the direct perpetrators of the inspired processes could not be brought to justice due to their high government posts, it became impossible to hide a large number of violations of the law. In order to obtain information on this issue, it was decided to create a special commission headed by the director of the Institute of Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin, the former editor of Pravda, academician P.N.Papelova.
Without exaggeration, the 20th CPSU Congress, which opened on February 14, 1956, was the high point of the party leader N. S. Khrushchev. The First Secretary of the Central Committee made a report to the representatives of 55 communist and workers parties. He confirmed the change in the political course that emerged after Stalin’s death, both in domestic politics and in the international arena. Expanding the question of the economic strategy of the state, Khrushchev proposed giving primary attention to agriculture and housing, outlining the main directions of the sixth five-year plan. Regarding the political situation in the country, Khrushchev confined himself to mentioning Beria, whom he called the “hardened agent of imperialism”, crawled onto leading posts. In the spirit of previous years, the Trotskyists and Bukharinites, called "the most evil enemies of the people", have been branded.
In their speeches at the congress Malenkov, Kaganovich and other people who were once close to this leader spoke about the exposure of the “fascist provocative gang of Beria”. One of those who criticized the official textbook - "A Short Course in the History of the CPSU (B.)" Was A. I. Mikoyan. He noted that the chronicle of the Transcaucasian and Baku party organizations was falsified. For the first time in many years, repressed V. A. Antonov-Ovseenko and S. V. Kosior Mikoyan openly called comrades, stressing that they had never been "enemies of the people".
The central event of the congress, undoubtedly, was the famous report by N. S. Khrushchev, "On the cult of personality and its consequences," read at a closed meeting on February 25. The report was based on the materials of the commission of P. N. Pospelov. Khrushchev's speech was not shorthand, he was not discussed. On March 5, 1956, top management decided to acquaint with the edited text of the report "all the communists and Komsomol members, as well as the non-partisan activists of the workers, employees and collective farmers". It was an unprecedented action of introducing the country's population to high politics.
The report was full of details that hit the audience. Stalin was presented to the listeners not as "the father of all nations", but as a murderer and tyrant. However, the report did not have enough harmony and clarity, its conclusions were somewhat one-sided. All crimes of the 30s - early 50s. attributed exclusively to Stalin and his personal qualities, and to the victims of the cult of personality were mainly attributed to the Communists. Thus, the report bypassed the question of the responsibility of the entire Stalinist leadership for numerous repressions.
The question of overcoming the cult of Stalin was supposed to be devoted to a special plenum of the Central Committee, the opening of which was to take place in mid-1956. Marshal G.K. Zhukov planned to speak on exposing Stalinism on it. The plenary session, however, was never assembled. Officially, on the issue of overcoming the cult of personality, a decision of the Central Committee of the CPSU dated June 30, 1956 followed. Up until the XXII Party Congress, held in 1961, it was the ideological basis of the post-Stalin period, but compared to the “secret” report of Khrushchev on the XX Congress was a step back. All Stalin's crimes were characterized in him only as “some limitations of the intra-party and Soviet democracy, inevitable in the conditions of a bitter struggle against the class enemy”, and the leader himself was represented by a man who fought for the cause of socialism. The resolution stated that the development of the personality cult was greatly promoted by some of the individual qualities of Stalin, the negative character of which Lenin pointed out. At the same time, the CPSU Central Committee emphasized that the Stalinist crimes (called “serious mistakes” in the resolution) were “committed in the last period of life” of the leader. Thus, an attempt was made to sidestep the issue of mass repressions of the 1930s.
The exposure of Stalinism by Khrushchev was the impetus for the consolidation of the so-called "hard" Stalinists and some members of the leadership, dissatisfied with the strengthening of the positions of the first secretary who threatened their own position. Taking advantage of Khrushchev's visit to Finland, they prepared and convened the Presidium of the Central Committee. At a meeting on June 18, 1957, 7 of its 11 members (Bulganin, Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Molotov, Malenkov, Pervukhin and Saburov) demanded Khrushchev’s resignation. The latter referred to the principles of democratic centralism and demanded that the issue be transferred to the Central Committee - the highest authority from which the Presidium was actually formed.
Much of the updated apparatus of the Central Committee of the party, and most importantly - the army and the KGB, supported Khrushchev. Defense Minister G. K. Zhukov, who held this post from February 1955, and the KGB Chairman, I. Serov, organized the delivery of members of the Central Committee to Moscow by military aircraft. The plenum of the Central Committee, which was held on June 22-29, 1957, characterized the actions of the Stalinists as factional, and their group was called "anti-party". Malenkov, Kaganovich, Molotov and Shepilov were removed from the Central Committee and the Presidium of the Central Committee. A little later, in March 1958, N. Bulganin was removed from his post as chairman of the Council of Ministers.
The decisive role in the days of the June 1957 crisis was played by Zhukov. Khrushchev, of course, did not forget that in 1953 the wayward marshal took an active position in the matter of eliminating Beria. In addition, there was a vivid example of how the military general D. Eisenhower became the president of the United States. Instinctively feeling the threat to his position, Khrushchev initiated the resignation of Zhukovo-va. October 26, 1957 at a meeting of the Presidium of the Central Committee, he was relieved of his duties as Minister of Defense of the USSR. After 3 days, a plenary session of the Central Committee was held, at which Zhukov was removed from the Presidium of the Central Committee and the Central Committee of the CPSU. One of the main accusations against the Marshal was the “separation” of the Armed Forces from the party, their “departure” from the control of the Central Committee. The grounds for the charges were sent by the order "On the state of military discipline in the Soviet Army and Navy and measures to strengthen it", signed by Zhukov and the Chief of the General Staff V. D. Sokolovsky on May 12, 1956.
The order contained criticism of the party organs of the Armed Forces, noted unsatisfactory political and educational work with personnel, banned criticism of the commanders' activities at party and Komsomol meetings, the Central Committee was outraged that Zhukov did not introduce the order of the top party leadership, showing "not Permissible arbitrariness ". At the plenum, it was concluded that Zhukov had placed the Ministry of Defense above the Central Committee and appropriated the functions of the latter. At the same time, the Main Political Directorate of the SA and the Navy allegedly became a kind of office and became the Main Political Directorate of the Ministry of Defense. When signing the order, Zhukov proceeded from his personal experience, which showed that a significant part of the party workers did not help, and sometimes interfered with the commanders. Polit-bodies in the army were, in the words of the marshal, simple idlers, "who have lost all sense of smell, like old cats."
In October 1957, Marshal R. Ya. Malinovsky was appointed the new Minister of Defense. At the beginning of 1958, N. S. Khrushchev himself combined the posts of first secretary and head of government, pushing aside N. A. Bulganin as chairman of the Council of Ministers. This put an end to collegiality in the leadership proclaimed at the XX Party Congress.
In October 1961, at the XXII Congress of the CPSU, the exposure of Stalinism was continued. However, the question of the responsibility of the party leadership for repression was again set aside by this time. True, now the crimes committed were attributed not only to Stalin, but to a narrow circle of Stalinists, which coincided with the "anti-party group" exposed in 1957. After the congress, Stalin's body was removed from the Mausoleum. Stalingrad was renamed Volgograd, the portraits and statues of the leader were removed, which were numerous throughout the country. Khrushchev's proposal to erect a monument to the victims of Stalinist repression was lowered on the brakes and was not seriously discussed. The provision formulated in the resolution of the congress that the party told the people "the whole truth about the evil uses during the personality cult period" indicated that this question was finally closed and not subject to further discussion.
History of the Soviet Union and Russia in the 20th Century