NIKITA KHRUSHCHEV Note: The following two speeches are by Nikita Khrushchev, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953-1964. As the leader of the Soviet Union following the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, Khrushchev tried to change the political culture of his country throughout the 1950s. In the first speech below, known as the “Secret Speech,” Khrushchev openly criticized the policies of Stalin, the long-time ruler of the Soviet Union. In the second speech below, Khrushchev addresses the ongoing tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, arguing for a form of “peaceful co-existence” between the two nations. Assignment: Please answer the following questions after reading these speeches by Nikita Khrushchev. Your answers must be typed, spell-checked, and in complete sentences and must be at least 2-3 pages. 1) From your reading of the first speech below, explain the transformation in Soviet policy under Khrushchev’s leadership. What are his criticisms of Joseph Stalin, and why do you think he went to such great lengths to attack Stalin? What do you think he hoped to gain in doing so? 2) From your reading of the second speech below, describe Khrushchev’s vision of the role of the Soviet Union in the international arena. What does he mean by “peaceful coexistence,” and what does he believe stands in the way of such peace? Speech #1: Address to the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, February 1956 By Nikita Khrushchev Note: In this speech, Khrushchev frequently refers to Vladimir Lenin, who was the leader of the Russian Revolution in 1917 and the first leader of the Soviet Union. Lenin died in 1924 and was eventually replaced by Joseph Stalin Comrades! In the party central committee’s report at the 20th congress and in a number of speeches by delegates to the congress a lot has been said about the cult of the individual. After Stalin’s death, the central committee began explaining that it is foreign to the spirit of Marxism-Leninism to elevate one person, to transform him into a superman possessing supernatural characteristics, akin to those of a god. Such a man supposedly knows everything, sees everything, thinks for everyone, can do anything, is infallible in his behavior. Such a belief about a man, and specifically about Stalin, was cultivated among us for many years. The objective of this report is not a thorough evaluation of Stalin’s life and activity. Concerning Stalin’s merits, an entirely sufficient number of books, pamphlets and studies had already been written in his lifetime. Stalin’s role in the execution of the socialist revolution, in the civil war, and in the construction of socialism is universally known. At present, we are concerned with how the cult of Stalin has been gradually growing, the cult which became the source of a whole series of exceedingly serious perversions of party principles, of party democracy, of revolutionary legality. The central committee considers it absolutely necessary to make material pertaining to this matter available to the 20th congress. The great modesty of the genius of the revolution, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, is known. Lenin always stressed the role of the people as the creator of history. Lenin mercilessly stigmatized every manifestation of the cult of the individual. Lenin never imposed his views by force. He tried to convince. He patiently explained his opinions to others. Lenin detected in Stalin those negative characteristics which resulted later in grave consequences. Fearing the future fate of the Soviet nation, Lenin pointed out that it was necessary to consider transferring Stalin from the position of general secretary because Stalin did not have a proper attitude toward his comrades. In 1922 Vladimir Lenin wrote: “After taking over the position of general secretary, comrade Stalin accumulated immeasurable power in his hands and I am not certain whether he will be always able to use this power with the required care.” As later events have proven, Lenin’s anxiety was justified. Stalin, who absolutely did not tolerate collegiality in leadership and in work, acted not through persuasion, but by imposing his concepts and demanding absolute submission to his opinion. Stalin originated the concept “enemy of the people”. This term automatically made it unnecessary that the ideological errors of a man be proven. It made possible the use of the cruelest repression, against anyone who in any way disagreed with Stalin, against those who were only suspected of hostile intent, against those who had bad reputations. On the whole, the only proof of guilt actually used was the “confession” of the accused himself. “Confessions” were acquired through physical pressures. Innocent individuals – who in the past had defended the party line – became victims. Mass arrests and deportations of many thousands of people, execution without trial and without normal investigation created conditions of insecurity, fear and even desperation. After Lenin’s death, Stalin trampled on the principle of collective party leadership. Of the 139 members and candidates of the central committee who were elected at the 17th congress, 98 persons, 70%, were arrested and shot. It is inconceivable that a congress so composed could have elected a central committee in which a majority would prove to be enemies of the party. Delegates were active participants in the building of our socialist state; many of them suffered and fought during the pre-revolutionary years; they fought their enemies valiantly and often nervelessly looked into the face of death. How, then, can we believe that such people had joined the camps of the enemies of socialism? This was the result of the abuse of power by Stalin. On the evening of December 1 1934 on Stalin’s initiative, the secretary of the presidium signed the following directive: “1. Investigative agencies are directed to speed up the cases of those accused of acts of terror; 2. Judicial organs are directed not to hold up execution in order to consider pardon; 3. The organs of the commissariat of internal affairs are directed to execute the death sentences immediately after the passage of sentences.” This directive became the basis for mass acts of abuse. The accused were deprived of any possibility that their cases might be re-examined, even when they stated before the court that their “confessions” were secured by force. Stalin was a very distrustful man, sickly suspicious. He could look at a man and say: “Why are your eyes so shifty today?” or “Why are you turning so much today and avoiding to look me directly in the eyes?” The sickly suspicion created in him a general distrust. Everywhere and in everything he saw “enemies”, “two-facers” and “spies”. Stalin dispatched a coded telegram on January 20 1939 to the committee secretaries of provinces and regions. This telegram stated: “It is known that all bourgeois intelligence services use methods of physical influence against representatives of the socialist proletariat. The question arises as to why the socialist intelligence service should be more humanitarian against the mad agents of the bourgeoisie. The central committee considers that physical pressure should be used obligatorily against known enemies of the people.” Thus, Stalin sanctioned the most brutal violation of socialist legality, torture and oppression. The power accumulated in the hands of one person, Stalin, led to serious consequences during the great patriotic war. When we look at many of our novels, films and historicalscientific studies, the role of Stalin in the patriotic war appears to be entirely improbable. Stalin had foreseen everything. The epic victory is ascribed as being completely due to the strategic genius of Stalin. What are the facts of this matter? Stalin advanced the thesis that our nation experienced an “unexpected” attack by the Germans. But, comrades, this is completely untrue. As soon as Hitler came to power he assigned to himself the task of liquidating communism. The fascists were saying this openly. They did not hide their plans. Despite grave warnings, the necessary steps were not taken to prepare. We paid with great losses – until our generals succeeded in altering the situation. Stalin tried to inculcate the notion that the victories gained by the Soviet nation were all due to the courage, daring, and genius of Stalin and of no one else. Let us take our military films. They make us feel sick. Let us recall The Fall of Berlin. Here only Stalin acts. He issues orders in a hall in which there are many empty chairs. And where is the military command? Where is the politburo? Where is the government? What are they doing, and with what are they engaged? There is nothing about them in the film. Stalin acts for everybody, he does not reckon with anyone. He asks no one for advice. Everything is shown to the people in this false light. Why? To surround Stalin with glory – contrary to historical truth. Not Stalin, but the party as a whole, the Soviet government, our heroic army, its talented leaders and brave soldiers, the whole Soviet nation – these are the ones who assured victory in the great patriotic war. The magnificent, heroic deeds of hundreds of millions of people of the east and of the west during the fight against the threat of fascist subjugation which loomed before us will live for centuries, for millennia in the memory of thankful humanity. Comrades! The cult of the individual acquired such monstrous size chiefly because Stalin himself supported the glorification of his own person. The edition of his short biography, which was published in 1948, is an expression of the most dissolute flattery, approved and edited by Stalin personally. He marked the very places where he thought that the praise of his services was insufficient. Here are some examples characterizing Stalin’s activity, added in Stalin’s own hand, “The guiding force of the party and the state was comrade Stalin”. Thus writes Stalin himself! Then he adds: “Although he performed his tasks as leader of the people with consummate skill, Stalin never allowed his work to be marred by the slightest hint of vanity, conceit or self-adulation.” Where and when could a leader so praise himself? Comrades! The cult of the individual brought about rude violation of party democracy, sterile administration, deviations of all sorts, cover-ups of shortcomings, and varnishings of reality. Our nation bore forth many flatterers and specialists in false optimism and deceit. Comrades! So as not to repeat errors of the past, the central committee has declared itself resolutely against the cult of the individual. We consider that Stalin was extolled to excess. However, in the past Stalin undoubtedly performed great services to the party, to the working class and to the international workers’ movement. Comrades! Lenin had often stressed that modesty is an absolutely integral part of a real Bolshevik. Lenin himself was the living personification of the greatest modesty. We cannot say that we have been following this Leninist example in all respects. We must correct this. But this should be done calmly. We cannot let this matter get out of the party, especially not to the press. It is for this reason that we are considering it here at a closed congress session. We should not give ammunition to the enemy; we should not wash our dirty linen before their eyes. Comrades! We must abolish the cult of the individual once and for all. We must correct the views connected with the cult in history, philosophy and sciences, and continue systematically the work done by the party’s central committee during the last years, a work characterized by collective leadership and self-criticism. Comrades! The 20th congress of the Communist party of the Soviet Union has manifested with a new strength the unshakable unity of our party, its cohesiveness around the central committee, its resolute will to accomplish the great task of building communism. And the fact that we present in all their ramifications the basic problems of overcoming the cult of the individual is evidence of the great moral and political strength of our party. We are absolutely certain that our party, armed with the historical resolutions of the 20th congress, will lead the Soviet people along the Leninist path to new successes, to new victories. Long live the victorious banner of our party – Leninism! Speech #2: Address to the UN General Assembly, Sept. 23 1960 By Nikita Khrushchev Every intelligent individual gives some thought to what scientific progress, what this great twentieth century, is bringing mankind. Some rightly say that the world has been given new horizons, unlimited opportunities for the creation of abundant material wealth and for the ample satisfaction of human needs. With no less justification, others point to the great danger of scientific and technical achievements being used, not for these beneficial purposes, but primarily for the production of appalling means of destruction. These means of destruction are not being used at the present time. But, in the last analysis, they are produced to be used. This argument between optimists and pessimists reflects the facts of our times. The most important of these facts is the conflict between two trends or lines of policy in international relations. These two lines of policy in international relations have long been in opposition. Only ten or fifteen years ago, few could predict the outcome of the struggle between these two lines of international policy. In the year 1960, however, only the blind can fail to see how the majority of peoples are becoming more and more positively and plainly convinced of the need to maintain peace. The peoples of all countries-workers, peasants, intellectuals and the bourgeoisie, excluding a small handful of militarists and monopolists – want not war but peace, and peace alone. And if, therefore, the peoples actively, fight to tie the hands of the militarist and monopolist circles, peace can be ensured. . . . No one can dispute the fact that the Soviet Union has been unsparing in its efforts to ensure the continuation of this welcome trend in the development of international relations. But the sinister forces which profit from the maintenance of international tension are clinging tenaciously to their positions. Though only a handful of individuals are involved, they are quite powerful and exert a strong influence on the policy of their respective States. A major effort is therefore required to break their resistance. We saw a dangerous manifestation of the work of these forces last spring when the aircraft of the United States of America treacherously invaded the air space of the Soviet Union and that of other States. What is more, the United States has elevated such violations of international law into a principle of deliberate State policy. The aggressive intrusion into our country by a United States aircraft and the whole course of the United States Government’s subsequent behavior showed the peoples that they were dealing with a calculated policy on the part of the United States Government, which was trying to substitute treachery for honest negotiations between sovereign and equal States. The flights by the United States spy aircraft are also instructive in another respect. They have shown up the danger to peace presented by the network of United States bases in which dozens of States in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America are enmeshed. How, indeed, can there be any question of normal relations if the people of these neighboring countries cannot sleep peacefully, if they have to live with the threat of being subjected to an annihilating blow whenever the United States militarists take it into their heads to embark on fresh acts of provocation? United States relations with Cuba are illuminating. As you know, before the victory of the popular revolution, all branches of the Cuban economy were wholly dominated by United States monopolies which earned vast profits from exploiting the working people of Cuba and the wealth of their fertile soil. Some people in the United States occasionally like to boast that the standard of living in their country is higher than that in other countries. There is no gainsaying the fact that the standard of living in the United States is now higher than in Cuba, but why is that so? For many years the fruits of the Cuban people’s toil were enjoyed not by the Cuban people but by United States monopolies. Is it therefore surprising that in 1958, for example, the per capital income in Cuba was 6.5 times lower than in the United States? This telling fact speaks for itself. We are all witnesses to the fact that many peoples are being continually subjected to hostile acts and crude pressure by a certain group of States which seek to set at naught the legitimate interests and rights of other countries. This is why the international situation is fraught with acute conflicts, the danger of which is intensified by the mounting arms race. It is quite evident that international relations cannot continue on such a basis, as that would mean a headlong descent to the abyss. It is the sacred duty, of the United Nations to uphold the sovereign rights of States, and to press for the re-establishment of international relations on a sound legal basis and for the ending of the arms race. Unfortunately, the policy of violating the inalienable rights of peoples is still in evidence in the United Nations itself. A year has elapsed since the General Assembly adopted the resolution on general and complete disarmament. Having regard to the present pace of life, that is a comparatively long period of time and we need have no doubt that those engaged in the production of weapons and in the perfection and invention of new lethal means have not let it go to waste. Who is preventing the implementation of the General Assembly resolution on general and complete disarmament, perhaps the most important and outstanding decision in the history of the United Nations? Who is making it impossible to break the deadlock on the problem of disarmament? The facts show that the absence of any progress towards the solution of the disarmament problem is the consequence of the position taken by the United States and by certain other States linked with it through NATO. Throughout the work of the Ten-Nation Committee on Disarmament, the Western Powers refused to start working out a treaty on general and complete disarmament and in every way avoided discussion of the substance of the Soviet program of general and complete disarmament, which the General Assembly had referred to the Committee for detailed consideration. For their part, they made proposals which provided for neither general nor complete disarmament, nor any disarmament at all, but only for measures of control over armaments, i.e. control without disarmament. How ever, one cannot but see that the establishment of control without disarmament would be tantamount to setting up an international espionage system which, far from contributing to the consolidation of peace, could, on the contrary, make it easier for a potential aggressor to realize his plans which pose a threat to the peoples. That is why the Soviet Government has placed the question of disarmament before the United Nations General Assembly, a considerable majority of whose members have no interest whatever in the arms race and sincerely wish to see it brought to an end. We now provide, in particular, that all means of delivering nuclear weapons to their targets should be eliminated in the very first stage of general and complete disarmament; we have worked out detailed measures for effective international control at all stages; and we have taken into account the wish of certain Western Powers that, from the outset, there should be provision for reduction in the strength of armed forces and in conventional armaments. The Soviet Government is deeply convinced that only a radical solution of the problem of disarmament, providing for the complete prohibition of nuclear weapons together with the cessation of their manufacture and testing and the destruction of all accumulated stockpiles of these weapons, can accomplish the task of delivering mankind from the threat of nuclear war which lingers over it. This is precisely the aim which the Soviet Union is pursuing in consistently and resolutely advocating general and complete disarmament. The peoples of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Government are striving unremittingly to have the principles of peaceful coexistence firmly established in relations between States, and to ensure that these principles become the fundamental law of life for the whole of modern society. There is no communist-devised “trick” behind these principles, but simple truths dictated by life itself, such as that relations between all States should develop peacefully, without the use of force, without war and without interference in each other’s internal affairs. I am revealing no secret when I say that we have no liking for capitalism. But we do not want to impose our system on other peoples by force. Let those, then, who determine the policy of States with a different social system from ours, renounce their fruitless and dangerous attempts to dictate their will. It is time they also recognized that the choice of a particular way of life is the domestic concern of every people. Let us build up our relations having regard to actual realities. That is true peaceful coexistence. The policy of peaceful coexistence assumes a readiness to solve all outstanding issues without resort to force, by means of negotiations and reasonable compromises. We all know that during the cold war years such questions for the most part did not find a solution, and that led to the creation of dangerous foci of tension in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world. The Soviet Government hopes that the proposals it has raised for questions to be considered at the present session of the General Assembly will meet with support and understanding, since they are prompted by a sincere desire to secure a better life and tranquility on our planet. The Soviet Government is ready to do its utmost in order that colonial servitude may be destroyed here and now, that here and now the problems of disarmament may find their concrete and effective solution. It could be said that these are complicated problems and that they cannot be solved at one stroke. But these are problems posed by life itself and they must be solved before it is too late. Their solution cannot be evaded. In concluding my statement I wish to emphasize once again that the Soviet Government, guided by the interests of the Soviet people, by the interests of the citizens of a free socialist State, once again proposes to all: let us talk, let us argue, but let us settle the questions of general and complete disarmament and let us bury colonialism that is accursed of all mankind.
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