Malenkov - XIXth Communist Party Congress
In 1952 Stalin decided, after a lapse of 13 years, to convene a party congress; his goal was to replace the leading group of old Communists by persons more devoted to him and more obedient. Before the congress opened Stalin wrote his "Economic Problems of Socialism," in which he confirmed his and his party's adherence to all the old tenets of bolshevism: the "inevitable" coming war between the "imperialists"; the program of the total abolition of collective farms in favor of a state economy ; the abolition of money and markets; etc.
"Some comrades affirm that, in consequence of the development of international conditions after the second world war, wars among capitalist countries have ceased to be inevitable. . . . The question is, what guarantee is "there that Germany and Japan will not again rise to their feet, that they will not try to wrest themselves from American bondage and to live their own independent lives? I think there are no such guarantees. But it follows from this that the inevitability of wars among the capitalist countries remains. It is said that Lenin's thesis that imperialism inevitably gives birth to wars should be considered obsolete since powerful peoples' forces have now grown up which are taking a stand in defense of peace, against a new world war. This is not correct. . . . In order to eliminate the inevitability of wars, imperialism must be destroyed."
The Nineteenth Communist Party Congress took place in October 1952. For the first time, Stalin was replaced as leading reporter by Georgi Malenkov, a secretary of the Central Committee. Malenkov had grown in prominence and was rumored to be the anointed one, the tsar who would eventually be given the scepter by Stalin.
The report of the Central Committee to the Party Congress [the otchetnll doklad] was probably the single most authoritative official statement of Soviet policy available to the non-Communist world. Given at the beginning of each Congress by the party leader, or as at the XIXth Party Congress in 1952 by the heir apparent, Georgi Malenkov, it is the keynote address but a good deal more. It is a combination of State of the Union address and Papal Encyclical. Divided into three parts - the Soviet Union, the international situation, and the Party - it reviews the events since the last Congress concerning each area, analyses, trends, and influences in each area. Each section is concluded by an enumeration of tasks to be accomplished. As it is given by the leadership, it is meant as a directive rather than a persuasion or suggestion.
Georgi Malenkov, reporting to the Nineteenth Congress of the Communist party, indicated that the highly successful grain harvest of that year had yielded 8 billion poods. Malenkov's statement in 1952 before the Nineteenth party congress that the yield of grain had amounted to 8,000,000,000 poods was nothing else but eyewash, a deception of the party and the people, an attempt to hide the great failures in agriculture, the control of which was entrusted to Malenkov.
Six years later he was accused of having lied. It must be openly stated that by 1953 the situation in our agriculture was very difficult. This was the result of serious shortcomings in the management of the kolkhozes and sovkhozes, as well as some distortions in the Leninist policy of Kohl building. In those years [1948 to 1953] the gross harvest and storage of grain did not increase.
At the 19th party congress in October 1952, Malenkov in his report on the activities of the Central Committee, spoke with extreme optimism about the state of Soviet husbandry. In the period July 1945 to July 1952 the total number of head of cattle increased many millions (Malenkov cited many figures). The new Five-Year Plan provides for "further increase of husbandry". Actually the number of head of cattle per thousand inhabitants amounted to rather less.
Civil defense received a big boost during this period when, in October 1952, the 19th Party Congress decided to develop an all-out defense of the Soviet Union. The XIXth Party Congress, meeting in 1952, called for "all out" defense measures, to include civil defense. In 1953, an antiaircraft general, Nicola F. Grit chin, was made DOSAAF chairman, indicating the growing importance of this group in relation to the military, and air defense in particular.
Malenkov in a paragraph of his report to the 19th Party Congress had referred to "the enemies of the Soviet State who are working persistently to wriggle their agents Into our country" and bad warned against "the remnants of bourgeois ideology and relics of private property, mentality and morality" still prevalent in the Party's ranks. But there had been no real effort after the Congress to prepare the people for the doctors' plot or the heightened vigilance campaign set off by its announcement.
In connection with his statements regarding "capitalist encirclement" and the existence of "hostile elements" in the USSR, Malenkov in his speech at the Congress had also mentioned the purges of the 1930s. The purge of "all kinds of enemies of Marxism-Leninism, Trotsky-Bukharinite degenerates, against capitulators and traitors who endeavored to lead the party off the correct path and to split the unity of its ranks" said Malenkov made it possible for the USSR to be sure there were were no internal traitors when the Germans attacked it.
On 15 January Izvestia ran a lead article entitled, "Increase Political Vigilance," which did not mention the Doctors Plot but appeared to associate Malenkov with the general idea of it. The article presented an unusual example of quoting from Malenkov in as great a length as from Stalin. This pattern was to be followed throughout the reminder of the vigilance campaign. Malenkov was to be the only Soviet leader other than Stalin cited in the vigilance literature, although these citations were usually with reference to his speech at the Party Congress.
Since both Stalin and Malenkov were employed as oracles of the "vigilance campaign" in the days following the "doctors plot" announcement, and since Malenkov had been linked in Soviet propaganda with the hard line on "class-warfare" (he had been quoted by Ulbricht to this effect in a December speech), it is most probable that both were closely connected with its origins. In retrospect the theme would seem particularly adapted to the picture of an aged Stalin verging on senility, mistrustful of his doctors and darkly suspicious of a new administration in Washington.
At the XIXth Party Congress (October 1952), the Politburo was replaced by the Presidium of the Central Committee, a larger body consisting of 26 full members and 11 associate members. Before the Congress, there had existed a twelve-member Politburo of Party leaders. It at least had the virtue of being a compact and recognized body of leaders. Now in place of this well-known group there was substituted an amorphous Presidium with twenty-five full members and eleven alternates, so big a body that it obviously could play no role in government. But an excellent screen behind which to confuse the leadership picture.
Stalin played the same trick with the Party Secretariat, which had always been a tight little group and which was, in fact, the device which he himself had utilized for his climb to power. In recent years, in so far as Stalin ever let any strings out of his fingers, the Secretariat had been run on a day-to-day basis by Malenkov.
XIXth Party Congress was intended to mark the beginning of a far reaching reform of the political system. But because of his death, history occurred differently.
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