The Man of Steel Falls and The Union is Reborn

Joseph Stalin was by all accounts a brutal dictator who is responsible for millions of deaths and brought about an era of fear. His ideology of “Stalinism” was one of centralized power where the state controlled all. He purged all those who opposed him or those who he saw as a threat. He had a cult mentality and the people of the union were suppose to see him as their father and protector. Yet he dies as all men do. Who is there to fill the void? At first there wasn’t a clear answer. Stalin had terminated anyone who he viewed as a threat. Nikita Khrushchev, a populist looking to return the power back to the people of the union, would rise to the mantel and win the power struggle. He was, at first, popular among soviets. He promised to end the Stalinism period and begin an era of rebuilding the union. Ending the purges and denouncing them as barbaric,ensuring rights to those who lived in the union but weren’t Russian. Specifically Ukrainians. Khrushchev would also begin opening up the arts again and allowing for some freedom in this area. His primary concern however was agriculture, he ran on a policy that would put young Soviets to work in grain fields to end hunger. This failed however and would soon begin to tarnish his reputation. He was also responsible for increasing tensions with the United States, specifically the arms race. It was at his command that missiles be placed in Cuba. He has promised to try and deescalate the cold war but turned around and did the exact opposite. He also had internal struggle with the Communist Party. Although Stalin was a horrible leader he still had a sizeable chunk of supporters. Specifically in the Georgian area. Stalinism had industrialized the nation , built up their nations army, and allowed for unprecedented mobilization. Khrushchev sought to start decentralizing the government which just made the Stalinist even more mad. Stalinism at its core was a centralized government where the executive and his secretary’s controlled everything. Even the non Stalinist weren’t very pleased by his reforms and he started facing more struggles even among those who supported him. He later was outed from his position for his views. Khrushchev by all means wasn’t a saint, he helped Stalin stay in power anyway he was a brutal killer, he never fully liberalized the Soviet Union, and did increase tensions with the West with a horrid foreign policy. Yet he did do a lot of good. He did liberalize the arts to a certain extent, did admit the purges were a horrible thing and that Stalinism was corrupt. He sought to end the hunger crisis the Union faced which is something Stalin would of ignored. Khrushchev gave some power back to the people and insured minority groups did have a equal say in the union. Nikita Khrushchev is far from a saint but he did do a lot in a attempt to thaw out the union of the corruption that plagued it. Under his leadership the Soviet Union was able to be reborn back into its original purpose. A country for the laborers. However as history has shown all to well this is simply a fallacy and the people were always going to be exploited by those with power.

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7 thoughts on “The Man of Steel Falls and The Union is Reborn

  1. Your post touches on a lot of important issues about the challenges facing Soviet society and the Soviet leadership after Stalin’s death. What does Freeze say about Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization efforts – especially his decision to dismantle the GULAG and restore some semblance of normalcy to the way the party worked? (I’m thinking about the way Khrushchev makes his own eventual bloodless ouster possible – by taking terror out of the equation for how power struggles were resolved.) The Time Magazine cover is really fascinating — how do you read it in light of what you’re saying in the post?
    Also, next time do check out the Current Digest — lots of terrific primary materials there.


    1. Freeze, writes about how Khrushchev dismantled GULAG and placed the blame on Stalin not the party. He also painted any real achievements that Stalin “achieved” and credited the party. Khrushchev saw that the labor system wasn’t at all a corrective system like it was suppose to be. In my opinion I think a lot of his bloodless removal process is the party was tired of the scheming and killing. The Soviet government needed to look strong. The cold war was starting to get colder and they needed to show strength. Now the Times magazine cover is a bit interesting. I mean looking how he ran his” campaign” I don’t see anything wrong with it. Overall I would say he did a good amount of positive things for the Soviet Union, like opening the arts, epically considering who was in power before hand.

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  2. It’s intriguing to see how people were still very displeased Khrushchev after one of their most tyrannical leaders died. I think it is not surprising though, the country had jut been in a World War years prior and were looking for ways to make themselves stronger than ever. Stalinist and communists that were still bandwagoning the ideology of Stalin were going to try to keep control of the country. Very interesting read.


    1. Thanks for the comment! Stalin just had such a cult following that some Stalinist were just going to stay in the party and would be a unfortunate hurdle for the party.


  3. I really liked your post about the man who succeeded Joseph Stalin, the one and only Nikita Khrushchev. I think your post really captured the contrasting nature in Khrushchev’s actions in that he was a reformer, but also someone who had helped to keep Stalin in firm control of the Soviet Union.


    1. I think its important for people to realize that if you were in politics in the soviet union when Stalin was in power. You probbably did a lot of really bad things that shouldn’t be ignored.


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