Khrushchev: Government

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  • Khrushchev: Government
    • Early reforms and the power struggle
      • Beria
        • Reduced the power of the secret police
          • To make him not look like he was going to use terror to seize power
        • 1953: Khrushchev and Malenkov arrange his arrest and execution
          • Accused of being a British spy
          • The secret police was brought under Party control
      • Malenkov
        • Khrushchev increased Party power over the state to ensure he overpowered Malenkov
        • Khrushchev used his roll as First Secretary of the Central Committee to bring in members loyal to him
          • 1956: He had replaced nearly half of the Central Committee with his old associates from the Ukraine and Moscow
        • Power was decentralised to the republics to weaken state bureaucracy further
          • Weakened Malenkov
      • Party membership
        • Increased from 6.9 million (1954) to 11 million (1964)
          • Made it seem more democratic
      • Fixed terms introduced for senior communists
        • Made sure that they were replaced regularly
        • Reduced the personal power that people could collect
          • 1961: Two thirds of regional party secretaries had been replaced
    • The Secret Speech (February, 1956)
      • Criticised Stalin
        • The personality cult
        • Blunders during the war
          • E.g. Purging the Red Army just before WWII
        • Stalin's responsibility for the Great Terror
        • Stalin's personal dictatorship
        • Revealed Lenin's criticisms of Stalin in his Testament
      • Aims
        • To blame Stalin for all atrocities to maintain support for Communism
        • To gain the freedom to institute his own changes and reforms
        • To remove blame for the purges from himself
    • Attempt to overthrow Khrushchev (1957)
      • Stalinists in the Party argued that his reforms had destabilized the Soviet government
        • Responsible for recent anti-Soviet revolts in Poland and Hungary
      • June, 1957: A majority in the Presidium, led by Malenkov, voted to replace him
        • Khrushchev argues that it could only be decided by the Central Committee
          • Where he had a majority
      • Khrushchev survived and fired his opponents
      • Impact
        • Demonstrated that senior Communists would no longer use political terror against each other
          • Would instead use popular support
        • Recognised that the power of the Party leader depended on the support of the Central Committee
          • Collective leadership
    • De-Stalinisation and ending terror
      • 1958: New criminal code
        • Evidence, witnesses, and confessions were now essential to convict someone
        • Prisoners could now receive and sent mail
      • KGB
        • New organisation of the secret police
        • They lost control over the gulags which they used for slave labour in mining and construction projects
        • They were brought under Party control
        • 1960: 2 million political prisoners were released
        • Far fewer people were arrested or executed than under Stalin
      • Terror
        • Khrushchev ended the use of political terror against Party officials
          • His enemies were fired but not imprisoned or executed
        • Khrushchev could retire with a pension instead of being tried or executed
      • Power
        • Khrushchev ended Stalin's system of personal rule
          • The crisis of 1957 showed that he was subject to the support of the Central Committee
        • Khrushchev's overthrow in 1964 demonstrated how far the Party's power was independent of the leader
      • Stalin
        • Many statues of Stalin were removed
        • Cities like Stalino and Stalingrad were changed back to their old names (Donetsk and Volgograd)
        • There were no official celebrations of Stalin's birthday
        • Stalin's quotes and ideas were no longer shown as equal to Lenin's or Marx's
        • Stalin was accused of Kirov's murder
        • Stalin's body was removed from Red Square
        • Previously considered dissident works were allowed to be published
          • E.g. Alexander Solzhenitsyn
    • Later government reforms
      • 1961: Rule 25
        • Limited the time in office for Party members
      • 1962: Party division
        • Split into agricultural and industrial departments
          • Reduced the power of Party officials
          • Boosted economic growths
    • Limitations of de-Stalinisation
      • The secret police was reorganised but not disbanded or reformed
      • The gulags were not closed and 750,000 remained imprisoned
      • Reintroduction of the death penalty for serious economic crimes
      • Punishment for corruption and criticism of the Party
      • Khrushchev's reforms did nothing to alter the fundamental foundations of the one party state and the central economic planning of Lenin and Stalin
      • He was still prepared to use violence against protesters
        • Use of repression against reform movements and uprising in the satellite states
          • E.g. Hungary and Poland (1956)
    • Khrushchev's fall from power (1964)
      • Why?
        • He was criticised for mishandling the economy and foreign policy
        • His political reforms had created discontent within the Party
          • Many officials had been demoted, lost their jobs, or had to move away from Moscow
      • The plotters against Khrushchev had the backing of the Central Committee
      • Khrushchev "retired due to ill-health" and was given a pension and other luxuries

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