20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

The 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was held during the period 14–25 February 1956. It is known especially for First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev's "Secret Speech", which denounced the personality cult and dictatorship of Joseph Stalin.[1]

Delegates at this Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union were given no advance warning of what to expect. Indeed, proceedings were opened by First Secretary Khruschev's call for all to stand in memory of the Communist leaders who had died since the previous Congress, in which he mentioned Stalin in the same breath as Klement Gottwald. Hints of a new direction only came out gradually over the next ten days, which had the effect of leaving those present highly perplexed. The Polish communist leader Bolesław Bierut died in Moscow under mysterious circumstances shortly after attending the 20th Congress.

The congress elected the 20th Central Committee.

Secret speech

On 25 February, the very last day of the Congress, it was announced that an unscheduled session had been called for the Soviet delegates. First Secretary Khrushchev's morning speech began with vague references to the harmful consequences of elevating a single individual so high that he took on the "supernatural characteristics akin to those of a god." Khrushchev went on to say that such a mistake had been made about Stalin. He himself had been guilty of what was, in essence, a distortion of the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism.

The attention of the audience was then drawn to Lenin's Testament, copies of which had been distributed, criticising Stalin's "rudeness". Further accusations, and hints of accusations, followed, including the suggestion that the murder of Sergey Kirov in 1934, the event that sparked the Great Terror, could be included in the list of Stalin's crimes. While denouncing Stalin, Khrushchev carefully praised the Communist Party, which had the strength to withstand all the negative effects of imaginary crimes and false accusations. The Party, in other words, had been a victim of Stalin, not an accessory to his crimes. He finished by calling on the Party to eradicate the cult of personality and return to "the revolutionary fight for the transformation of society."

The speech shocked delegates to the Congress, as it flew in the face of years of Soviet propaganda, which had claimed that Stalin was a wise, peaceful, and fair leader. After long deliberations, in a month the speech was reported to the general public, but the full text was published only in 1989. Not everyone was ready to accept Khrushchev's new line. Albanian Communist leader Enver Hoxha, for instance, strongly condemned Khrushchev as revisionist.[2] The speech was also seen as a catalyst for 1956 uprisings in Poland and Hungary, and was seen as a "major stimulus" to the Sino–Soviet split.[3]

See also


  1. ^ "Happy Anniversary, Nikita Khrushchev". Washington Post. 22 February 2006. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
  2. ^ Reject the Revisionist Theses of the XX Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Anti-Marxist Stand of Krushchev's Group! Uphold Marxism-Leninism!
  3. ^ Leslie Holmes (27 August 2009). Communism: A Very Short Introduction. OUP Oxford. pp. 57–60. ISBN 978-0-19-157915-8.

External links

1956 in the Soviet Union

The following lists events that happened during 1956 in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

20th Congress

The 20th Congress may refer to:

20th United States Congress, the national legislature of the United States of America from March 4, 1827, to March 3, 1829

20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the meeting of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union held from February 14 to February 26, 1956

Alexandru Moghioroș

Alexandru Moghioroș (Hungarian: Mogyorós Sándor; 23 October 1911 – 1 October 1969) was a Romanian communist activist and politician.

Moghioroș was born into an ethnic Hungarian family. A worker who joined the Romanian Communist Party (PCR; later PMR) when it was banned, he was tried by the authorities of the Kingdom of Romania at Craiova alongside Ana Pauker and spent time in prison at Jilava, Doftana and Caransebeș. While in prison, he grew close to future leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, becoming part of a nucleus that would later be at the party's forefront. When Gheorghiu-Dej began, by 1950, to move to consolidate his undisputed leadership of the party, he named the trusted Moghioroș to stand guard over and watch for chauvinism in the activities of Vasile Luca, another high-ranking ethnic Hungarian targeted for purging. He sat on the party's central committee (1945–1968), its political bureau (1948–1965) and its political executive committee or CPEx (1965–1968). He was deputy prime minister during 1954 and from 1957 to 1965. As the central committee's secretary for organizational matters during the 1950s, he was one of the architects of the Pauker-Vasile Luca group's fall in May–June 1952. He was the de facto overseer of cadre policy and was involved in the collectivization process.In mid-1950, Moghioroș replaced Pauker to become party supervisor of the Agriculture Ministry's agrarian section. A year earlier, at a politburo discussion, he was the only member who did not grant even token acknowledgment to the idea that collectivization should happen gradually or cautiously, condemning the "opportunist-conciliatory line" as "non-Leninist, because we can't build socialism without collective farms". Once in charge, he sharply criticized Pauker's more lenient approach, holding nightly meetings with officials to decide on new collective farms and ordering a scaled-down plan for the spring be accelerated during the summer of 1950. Around 1957, Moghioroș decided that Romania did not have more cattle because the best hay was fed to horses. Consequently, he ordered a horse slaughter that claimed some 800,000 animals, which had disastrous consequences in agriculture. At the time, horses were still the predominant means of rural transport, and tractors could not be used on farms with clay soil because they became stuck. In addition, by closing the stables at Mangalia, Făgăraș, Bonțida and Rușețu, he sharply reduced the country's variety of horse breeds.In 1956, following the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, some within the PMR, notably Miron Constantinescu and Iosif Chișinevschi, called for a change in direction that would have threatened Gheorghiu-Dej's position. At the time, Moghioroș was among the latter's main allies, along with Gheorghe Apostol, Emil Bodnăraș and Petre Borilă. Constantinescu approached Moghioroș in an attempt to enlist him on his side, which prompted Moghioroș to go to Gheorghiu-Dej immediately and inform him that an "antiparty platform" had arisen. As with Borilă, Gheorghiu-Dej's successor Nicolae Ceaușescu removed Moghioroș from the party's top body, the permanent presidium, under the pretext of his disease.His wife Stela (born Esther Radoșovețkaia) was also a longtime party activist and represented the PMR on the editorial board of the Cominform journal For a Lasting Peace, for Popular Democracy.

Baba Bujha Singh

Baba Bujha Singh (Punjabi: ਬਾਬਾ ਬੂਝਾ ਸਿੰਘ) (died July 28, 1970) was an Indian revolutionary leader. He was an activist of the Ghadar Party and later became a key leader of the Lal Communist Party. Singh later became a symbol of the Naxalite movement in Punjab.He was one of the leading organizers of the Ghadar Party in Argentina. Baba Bujha Singh returned to India via Moscow.Baba Bujha Singh would later join the Communist Party of India. Within the Communist Party, he was a prominent figure in the dissident faction that eventually formed the Lal Communist Party in 1948. After the Lal Communist Party was dissolved and largely amalgamated back into the Communist Party of India, Baba Bujha Singh became passive and did not involve himself in party politics.Baba Bujha Singh deplored the positions adopted by the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union held in 1956, labelling the congress as 'anti-communist'. He argued that the 1956 congress would eventually lead to the disintegration of the Soviet Union.He resumed political activism in the wake of the 1967 Naxalbari uprising. Baba Bujha Singh began contacting leftwing dissidents inside the Communist Party of India (Marxist), urging them to rebel against the leadership of the party.Baba Bujha Singh was arrested on July 28, 1970 and killed in a fake police encounter near Phillaur.

Batumi Stalin Museum

Batumi Stalin Museum was a museum in Batumi, Georgia. It commemorated Joseph Stalin, who was active in socialist agitation among Batumi's refinery workers during 1901–1902. It closed in 2013, after suffering low visitation.

Central Committee elected by the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

The 20th Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was elected by the 20th Congress, and was in session from 1956 until 1961. It elected, at its 1st Plenary Session, the 20th Presidium, the 20th Secretariat and the 20th Party Control Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

China–Albania Friendship Association

The China–Albania Friendship Association was an organization based in China, with the aim of strengthening relations between the People's Republic of China and the People's Republic of Albania. The two states had a common position of denouncing 'revisionism' in the Soviet Union after the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. As of 1961, Chiang Nan-Hsiang was the president of the Association.

Cult of personality

A cult of personality arises when a country's regime – or, more rarely, an individual – uses the techniques of mass media, propaganda, the big lie, spectacle, the arts, patriotism, and government-organized demonstrations and rallies to create an idealized, heroic, and worshipful image of a leader, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. A cult of personality is similar to apotheosis, except that it is established by modern social engineering techniques, usually by the state or the party in one-party states and dominant-party states. It is often seen in totalitarian or authoritarian countries.

The term came to prominence in 1956, in Nikita Khrushchev's secret speech On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences, given on the final day of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In the speech, Khrushchev, who was the First Secretary of the Communist Party – in effect, the leader of the country – criticized the lionization and idealization of Joseph Stalin, and, by implication, his Communist contemporary Mao Zedong, as being contrary to Marxist doctrine. The speech was later made public and was part of the "de-Stalinization" process the Soviet Union went through.

George Matthews (journalist)

George Matthews (24 January 1917 – 29 March 2005) was a British communist activist and newspaper editor.

Born to a wealthy family in Bedfordshire, Matthews was educated at Bedford Modern School, studied agriculture at the University of Reading and joined the Labour Party. In 1938, he secretly joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), while retaining his Labour Party membership. From 1939 to 1940, he served as vice president of the National Union of Students, and was also the Labour Party's prospective parliamentary candidate for Mid Bedfordshire.In 1940, Matthews left the Labour Party, and during the war he was active in the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers. In 1943, he was appointed to the CPGB's Executive Committee, and in 1949, he became the party's Assistant General Secretary. He attended the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956, and was acting editor of the party's Daily Worker newspaper during the Soviet invasion of Hungary. In 1947, he became the paper's Assistant Editor, moving to become Editor in 1949. In 1966, he gained agreement to rename the paper as the Morning Star.Matthews stood down as editor in 1974, swapped jobs with Tony Chater and took charge of the CPGB's press and publicity. After five years in the post, he retired, but continued to supervise the party's archives, and strongly backed party leader Gordon McLennan, working on many of his speeches. When the party dissolved in 1991, he joined Democratic Left.

List of places named after Joseph Stalin

During Joseph Stalin's rule (1922–1953), many places, mostly cities, in the Soviet Union and other communist countries were named or renamed in honour of him as part of the cult of personality surrounding him. Most of these places had their names changed back to the original ones shortly after the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956, or after the beginning of destalinisation in 1961.

In some countries, including those in the West, there are streets, squares, etc. named after Stalingrad (and hence indirectly after Stalin), in honour of the courage shown by the defenders at the battle of Stalingrad against Nazi Germany. These names have not been changed back, since they refer to the battle of Stalingrad rather than the city itself.

Moni Guha

Moni Guha (Bengali: মনি গুহা; 29 September 1914, Madaripur – 7 April 2009, Kolkata) was an Indian communist.

Natolin faction

Natolin faction was a faction within the leadership of the communist Polish United Workers' Party (Polish: PZPR). Formed around 1956, shortly after the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, it was named after the place where its meetings took place, in a government villa in Natolin. The main opposition to the Natolines was the so-called Puławian faction, primarily party members of Jewish origin.Natolinians were against the post-Stalinist liberalization programs (the "thaw") and they proclaimed simple nationalist and antisemitic slogans as part of a strategy to gain power. The most well known members included Franciszek Jóźwiak, Wiktor Kłosiewicz, Zenon Nowak, Aleksander Zawadzki, Kazimierz Mijal, Władysław Dworakowski, Hilary Chełchowski. After the 8th Plenum of Central Committee of PZPR in October 1956 the faction suffered a major setback as the First Secretary of the Party, Wladysław Gomulka, chose to back (and in return, be supported by) the Pulawians. Both the Natoline and the Pulawian factions disappeared towards the end of the 1950s.

On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences

"On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences" (Russian: «О культе личности и его последствиях», «O kul'te lichnosti i yego posledstviyakh») was a report by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, made to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on 25 February 1956. Khrushchev's speech was sharply critical of the reign of the deceased General Secretary and Premier Joseph Stalin, particularly with respect to the purges which had especially marked the last years of the 1930s. Khrushchev charged Stalin with having fostered a leadership cult of personality despite ostensibly maintaining support for the ideals of communism.

The speech was shocking in its day. There are reports that the audience reacted with applause and laughter at several points. There are also reports that some of those present suffered heart attacks, and others later committed suicide. The ensuing confusion among many Soviet citizens, bred on the panegyrics and permanent praise of the "genius" of Stalin, was especially apparent in Georgia, Stalin's homeland, where the days of protests and rioting ended with the Soviet army crackdown on 9 March 1956. In the West, the speech politically devastated the organised left; the Communist Party USA alone lost more than 30,000 members within weeks of its publication.The speech was a major cause of the Sino-Soviet split, in which China (under Chairman Mao Zedong) and Albania (under First Secretary Enver Hoxha) condemned Khrushchev as a revisionist. In response, they formed the anti-revisionist movement, criticizing the post-Stalin leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union for allegedly deviating from the path of Lenin and Stalin.The speech was a milestone in the "Khrushchev Thaw". As a whole, the speech was an attempt to draw the Soviet Communist Party closer to Leninism and away from Stalinism. However, it possibly served Khrushchev's ulterior motives to legitimize and consolidate his control of the Soviet Union's Communist Party and Government, after political struggles with Georgy Malenkov and firm Stalin loyalists such as Vyacheslav Molotov, who were involved to varying degrees in the purges. The Khrushchev report was known as the "Secret Speech" because it was delivered at an unpublicized closed session of Communist Party delegates, with guests and members of the press excluded. The text of the Khrushchev report was widely discussed in party cells in early March, often with the participation of non-party members; however, the official Russian text was openly published only in 1989 during the glasnost campaign of the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Paul Baender

Paul Baender, also known in Spanish as Pablo Baender (30 November 1906 – 18 December 1985), was a German–Bolivian chess player and functionary.

Born in Rosdzin, now part of Katowice, Upper Silesia, he moved to Görlitz in 1921. When Nazis came to power in 1933, Baender, being a Jew, fled to Prague, Czechoslovakia. In November 1937, he emigrated to La Paz, Bolivia. Baender played for Bolivia in the 8th Chess Olympiad at Buenos Aires 1939.After World War II, he came back to Germany (Soviet occupation zone) in 1947. He became a communist politician (Staatssekretär in 1950-1952) in German Democratic Republic, and also the President of the GDR Chess Federation (Präsident des Deutschen Schachbunds) until 1953. Baender was arrested on 15 December 1952 during a stalinist purge with antisemitic ressentiments. After Nikita Khrushchev's secret speech to the delegates to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in Moscow, he was freed in 1956. Baender died in 1985 in Berlin.

Samik Bandyopadhyay

Samik Bandyopadhyay (Bengali: শমীক বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়; born 1940) is a Kolkata-based critic of Indian art, theatre and film.

His father Sunit Kumar Banerjee did his Ph.D. on Elizabethan lyrics under Sir H. J. C. Grierson, the famous discoverer of the metaphysical poets, at University of Edinburgh in the 1930s, and subsequently became a professor of English literature. If his scholarship inspired the younger Samik to study English literature, his political consciousness inspired Subrata, the eldest of his sons, to joining Communist Party.

Bandyopadhyay entered college in 1955, graduated from the University of Calcutta in 1961, and subsequently earned a Master of Arts degree in English literature. He started working as a lecturer Rabindra Bharati University in 1966. In 1973, he joined the Oxford University Press as an editor and worked there till 1982. He resigned and never sought an employment because no job was lucrative enough for buying the books he wanted to read. He took up tutoring English literature for his profession, which enriched his reading as well as brushed his critical edge. He continued book editing, however, with Seagull Books, till 1988, and then with Thema Publishing.

Bandyopadhyay joined the Communist Party of India after the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, -i.e., with full knowledge of the Soviet discovery of the truth about Stalinist era, when many of Indian Marxists were leaving the Communist Party out of the disgust that ensued. Later on, he also witnessed incorporation of Gramscian thought in Indian Marxism. In 1993, his book Antonio Gramsci Nirbachita Rachansamagra was published in Calcutta.

Socialist-leaning countries

In the political terminology of the former Soviet Union, the socialist-leaning countries (Russian: Страны социалистической ориентации, translit. Strany sotsialisticheskoy oriyentatsii, lit. 'countries of socialist orientation') were the post-colonial Third World countries which the Soviet Union recognized as adhering to the ideas of socialism in the Marxist–Leninist understanding. As a result, these countries received significant economic and military support. In Soviet press, these states were also called "countries on the path of the construction of socialism" (Russian: страны, идущие по пути строительства социализма, translit. strany, idushchiye po puti stroitel'stva sotsializma) and countries on the path of the socialist development" (Russian: страны, стоящие на пути социалиcтического развития, translit. strany, stoyashchiye na puti sotsialicticheskogo razvitiya). All these terms meant to draw a distinction from the true socialist states (in Marxist–Leninist understanding).The use of the term was partly a result of a reassessment of national liberation movements in the Third World following World War II, widespread decolonization and the emergence of the Non-Aligned Movement as well as Nikita Khrushchev's Secret Speech to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the "de-Stalinization" of Soviet Marxism. The discussion of anti-colonial struggle at the Second Congress of the Comintern in 1920 had been formulated in terms of a debate between those for an alliance with the anti-imperialist national bourgeoisie (initially advocated by Vladimir Lenin) and those for a pure class line of socialist, anti-feudal as well as anti-imperialist struggle (such as M. N. Roy). The revolutions of the post-war decolonization era (excepting those led by explicitly proletarian forces, such as the Vietnamese Revolution), e.g. the rise of Nasserism, were initially seen by many communists as a new form of bourgeois nationalism and there were often sharp conflicts between nationalists and communists. However, the adoption of “leftist” economic programs (such as nationalization and/or land reform) by many of these movements and governments as well as the international alliances between the revolutionary nationalists and the Soviet Union obliged communists to reassess their nature. These movements were now seen as neither classical bourgeois nationalists nor socialist per se, but rather offering the possibility of "non-capitalist development" as a path of "transition to socialism".At various times, these states included Algeria, Angola, Central African Republic, Mozambique, Egypt, India, Libya, Ethiopia, South Yemen and many others. As a major embarrassment to the Soviets, emperor and alleged cannibal Jean-Bédel Bokassa of what had been (and later again became) the Central African Republic had at one time had declared his adherence to "scientific socialism" in order to secure the free Soviet economic assistance.In Soviet political science, "socialist orientation" was defined to be an initial period of the development in countries which rejected capitalism, but did not yet have the prerequisites for the socialist revolution or development. Along these lines, a more cautious synonym was used, namely "countries on the path of non-capitalist development". A 1986 Soviet reference book on Africa claimed that about one third of African states followed this path.In some countries designated "socialist-leaning" by the Soviet Union such as India, this formulation was sharply criticized by emerging Maoist or Chinese-leaning groups, such as the Communist Party of India (Marxist), who considered the doctrine class collaborationist as part of the larger Sino-Soviet split and the Maoist struggle against so-called Soviet revisionism.

Stalin's poetry

Before he became a Bolshevik revolutionary and the leader of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin was a promising poet.

Stalin's residences

Over time Joseph Stalin resided in various places.

Stalin's house, Gori, birthplace

Tiflis Spiritual Seminary

Kureika house,Siberia, where Stalin spent his final exile in 1914-1916.

Stalin's apartment in Moscow Kremlin

Stalin Monument (Budapest)

The Stalin Monument in Budapest, Hungary was completed in December 1951 as a "gift to Joseph Stalin from the Hungarian People on his seventieth birthday". It was torn down on October 23, 1956 by enraged anti-Soviet crowds during Hungary's October Revolution.

Party leadership
Departments of the
Central Committee
Republican branches
See also
and politics
Crimes, repressions,
and controversies
Criticism and
Stalin's residences

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