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Intro

This section covers the Khrushchev era from 1953 to 1964. We will be exploring the Khrushchev's reforms as an attempt to return the Soviet Union to the Leninist ideas of October 1917 and will be asking how far this was possible after the Stalinist period. We will be asking how reformist Khrushchev really was. Why did he make the Secret Speech denouncing Stalin's crimes? What were its consequences for the authority of the Soviet regime in Poland, Hungary and the Soviet Union? And how did the Party try to control the political questioning which it unleashed during the Thaw? We will also ask what Khrushchev did for the economic progress of the USSR. The section contains extracts of my books, photographs and videos, and a reading list. Register here to get information on accessing more materials including my responses to exam questions on these themes.


Stalin's Death

Stalin had suffered a stroke and lay unconscious for five days before he died on 5 March 1953. Read more...

Why Did People Grieve on Stalin's Death?

I do not know how to give an accurate description of the scene - or even how to put it into words. Read more...

The Struggle for Power

A collective leadership assumed control on 5 March. It marked a return to Leninist principles, but was also a reflection of divisions in the leadership. Read more...

Khrushchev

A flamboyant and impulsive character, Khrushchev was born to a peasant family in Ukraine. Read more...

Leninist Renewal

Seeking to return Leninist ideas, Khrushchev attacked bureaucracy and talked about the need for Party democracy. Read more...

Virgin Lands Campaign

Khrushchev promoted the campaign as a 'Leninist' response to the crisis of collectivized agriculture. Read more...

The Secret Speech

Khrushchev's speech did not remain secret very long. A transcript was sent to Party organizations across the Soviet Union with instructions for it to be read to Communists in workplaces. Read more...

The Impact of Khrushchev's Speech

The speech threw the Party into confusion. Read more...

Hungary 1956

News of the Polish concessions encouraged the Hungarians. During late October, huge crowds assembled in Budapest. Read more...

The Thaw

The thaw began in literature, a surrogate of politics throughout Russian history. Read more...

Economic Promises

With the relinquishing of mass terror the regime needed to find new ways to stimulate the population and 'make the revolution work.' It turned to economic promises. Read more...

The Soviet Union and the Third World

Khrushchev's Third World strategy signalled a return to the Leninist idea of separate revolutionary paths. Read more...

Photos

These images tell us about Soviet Russia in the Khrushchev Thaw... Read more...

Q & A

Here are some exam-like questions. Read more...

Podcast

A recording of a lecture/class about these themes using primary documents. Read more...

Further Reading

A list of further reading. Read more...

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