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Malenkov - De-Stalinization

The banishing of the name of Stalin occurred within two weeks of the coming to power of his successors. Beginning about March 23, 1953, Stalin's name, which had often counted as many as 150 or 160 times on Pravda's front page began to disappear. There were, of course, exceptions to that rule and it took a little time for word to get around. After all, the Soviet is a big place and the habit of speaking of the Stalin Era, the Stalin Constitution, or the Great Construction Projects of the Stalin Era is hard to break. But within a reasonable period the Russian editors all got in line. This was probably the first and most dramatic means by which the new group sought to disassociate themselves from the old regime.

A two-week period of idolizing Stalin was followed by an apparently deliberate de-emphasis, and the progressively but still only partially eclipsed god-head was being replaced only by the impersonal concept of government and Party.

This change took several forms: (a) avoiding or minimizing the use of Stalin's name in connection with his hitherto heavily publicized contributions to communism, such as the Soviet nationalities policy and the 1936 constitution; (b) utilizing quotations from Stalin without attributing them to him; (c) avoiding or minimizing the use of his name in connection with several measures apparently intended to woo Soviet public opinion - the price reduction, the amnesty, the release of the accused doctor plotters, the Pravda answer to Eisenhower; (d) paying tribute to the Communist leadership rather than to Stalin as being responsible for victory in the Great Patriotic War (Bulganin's speech of 1 May); and (e) failing to award the annual Stalin prizes for literature and science.

Only in the early days after his death was homage paid to the dead leader. Soon a new trend, unannounced, came to the fore. This was the beginning of the process of de-Stalinization which extended over a period of several years and marked a new chapter in the history of the world Communist movement.

Alongside this blotting out of the name of Stalin there was conducted a new glorification of Lenin, who had been allowed by Stalin to sink to a rather secondary position in the iconostasy. And it was repeatedly insisted that "collective leadership" and "colleagialnost" or "collegiality" was the guiding principle of the Communist Party.

So by the middle of 1953 theoretical works and treatises had shifted over to Lenin rather than Stalin as their principal source of quotation. And Pravda even advanced the heterodoxical thought that it was possible to write articles without citing a quotation from the founding fathers in each paragraph.




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