After Stalin


The Yugoslav revisionists preached the withering away of the state in socialism, denied the fundamental Marxist-Leninist thesis about the need for the existence of the dictatorship of the proletariat during the whole period of the transition from capitalism to communism.

Sentimentality, liberalism, the tendency to seek numbers in order to give the impression that the ranks of the party are increasing with new members, are harmful and have grave consequences. Such admissions without strictly applying the Marxist-Leninist norms not only do not hinder the influence and pressure of the bourgeoisie from attacking the party from outside but allow the party to be infiltrated by various elements which divide and liquidate it.

Such vigorous revolutionary action ensures two important objectives: on the one ”hand, it tempers the party itself in action together with the masses and raises its authority and influence, and on the other hand, it creates possibilities for the party to see the most politically and ideologically sound and advanced elements of the working class in action, those who will be the best and the most resolute militants of the party in the future. From these elements, the Marxist-Leninist parties secure the new blood for their ranks, and not from a few discontented intellectual elements, or some unemployed workers who demand justice, who are revolted, but are not so stable and do not accept the iron discipline of a Marxist-Leninist proletarian party.
Hoxha, Enver. Eurocommunism is Anti-communism. Toronto: Norman Bethune Institute, 1980.


Another, sadder example. A while after Stalin’s death, I was in Molotov’s study and he told me about Stalin’s last moments.
‘The members of the Politburo went to see Stalin, having heard he was not well. In fact, he was very ill. One day during his illness, we were standing by his bedside: Malenkov, Khrushchev, myself and other members of the Politburo. Stalin kept falling into semi-consciousness, then coming around again, but he was unable to say anything.’
‘At one moment,’ Molotov went on, ‘he suddenly came to himself, and half opened his eyes. Seeing a familiar faces, he then pointed slowly at the wall. We looked where he was pointing. On the wall there was a photograph with a simple subject: a little girl feeding a lamb with milk through a horn. With the same slow movement of his finger, Stalin then pointed to himself. It was his last act. He closed his eyes never to open them again. Those present took it as a typical example of Stalin’s wit–the dying man was comparing himself with a lamb.’
Gromyko, Andrei. Memoirs. New York: Doubleday, c1989. p. 103

We did everything we could to raise Stalin to his feet. We saw he was unconscious and therefore completely oblivious of his condition. But then, while the doctors were taking a urine sample, I noticed he tried to cover himself. He must have felt the discomfort. Once, during the day, he actually returned to consciousness. Even though he still couldn’t speak, his face started to move. They had been spoon-feeding him soup and sweet tea. He raised his left hand and started to point to something on the wall. His lips formed something like a smile. I realized what he was trying to say and called for attention. I explained why he was pointing with his hand. There was a picture hanging on the wall, a clipping from the magazine Ogonyok. It was a reproduction of a painting by some artist of a little girl feeding a lamb from a horn. At that moment Stalin was being spoon-fed and was trying to say, “I’m in the same position as that lamb which the girl is feeding from the horn. You’re doing the same for me with a spoon.”
Then he began to shake hands with us one by one. I gave him my hand, and he shook it with his left hand because his right wouldn’t move. By these handshakes he conveyed his feelings.
No sooner had Stalin fallen ill than Beria started going around spewing hatred against him and mocking him. It was simply unbearable to listen to Beria. But, interestingly enough, as soon as Stalin showed these signs of consciousness on his face and made us think he might recover, Beria threw himself on his knees, seized Stalin’s hand, and started kissing it. When Stalin lost consciousness again and closed his eyes, Beria stood up and spat. This was the real Beria–treacherous even toward Stalin, whom he supposedly admired and even worshipped yet whom he was now spitting on.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 318

During his [Stalin] last days I had in some sense fallen out of favor…. I had seen Stalin for five weeks before he died. He was absolutely healthy. They called for me when he was taken ill. When I arrived at the dacha some Politburo members were there. Of non-Politburo members, only Mikoyan and myself, as I recall, had been called. Beria was clearly in command.
Stalin was lying on the sofa. His eyes were closed. Now and then he would make an effort to open them and say something, but he couldn’t fully regain consciousness. Whenever Stalin tried to say something, Beria ran up to him and kissed his hand.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 236

CHUEV: Was Stalin poisoned?
MOLOTOV: Possibly. But who is there to prove it now?… But all hell broke out the moment he died.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 237

CHUEV: Beria himself was said to have killed him.
MOLOTOV: Why Beria? It could have been done by a security officer or a doctor. As he was dying, there were moments when he regained consciousness. At other times he was writhing in pain. There were various episodes. Sometimes he seemed about to come to. At those moments Beria would stay close to Stalin. Oh! He was always ready…
One cannot exclude the possibility that he had a hand in Stalin’s death. Judging by what he said to me and I sensed…. While on the rostrum of the Mausoleum with him on May 1st, 1953, he did drop hints…. Apparently he wanted to evoke my sympathy. He said, “I did him in!”–as if this had benefited me. Of course he wanted to ingratiate himself with me: “I saved all of you!” Khrushchev would scarcely have had a hand in it. He might have been suspicious of what had gone on. Or possibly… All of them had been close by. Malenkov knows more, much more, much more.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 237

Instead of the customary deep silence, everyone was bustling and running around. When someone finally told me that my father had had a stroke in the night and was unconscious, I even felt a little relieved. I had thought he was already dead. They’d found him at three in the morning, in the room I was standing in, right there, lying on a rug by the sofa. They decided to carry him to the next room, to the sofa he usually slept on. That’s where he was now. The doctors were in there, too.
…Doctors I didn’t know, who were seeing him for the first time–Academician Vinogradov, who’d looked after my father for many years, was now in jail–were making a tremendous fuss, applying leeches to his neck and the back of his head, making cardiograms and taking X-rays of his lungs. A nurse kept giving him injections and a doctor jotted it all down into notebook.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 6

They all felt that something portentous, something almost of majesty, was going on in this room and they conducted themselves accordingly.
There was only one person who was behaving in a way that was very nearly obscene. That was Beria. He was extremely agitated. His face, repulsive enough at the best of times, now was twisted by his passions–by ambition, cruelty, cunning, and a lust for power and more power still. He was trying so hard at this moment of crisis to strike exactly the right balance, to be cunning, yet not too cunning. It was written all over him. He went up to the bed and spent a long time gazing into the dying man’s face. From time to time my father opened his eyes but was apparently unconscious or in a state of semiconsciousness. Beria stared fixedly at those clouded eyes, anxious even now to convince my father that he was the most loyal and devoted of them all, as he had always tried with every ounce of his strength to appear to be. Unfortunately, he had succeeded for too long.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 7

During the final minutes, as the end was approaching, Beria suddenly caught sight of me and ordered: “Take Svetlana away!” Those who were standing nearby stared, but no one moved. Afterward he darted into the hallway ahead of anybody else. The silence of the room where everyone was gathered around the deathbed was shattered by the sound of his loud voice, the ring of triumph unconcealed, as he shouted, “Khrustalyov! My car!”
He was a magnificent modern specimen of the artful courtier, the embodiment of Oriental perfidy, flattering, and hypocrisy who had succeeded in confounding even my father, a man whom it was ordinarily difficult to deceive…. But I haven’t the slightest doubt that Beria used his cunning to trick my father into many other things and laughed up his sleeve about it afterwards. All the other leaders knew it.
Now all the ugliness inside him came into the open–he couldn’t hold back. I was by no means the only one to see it. But they were all terrified of him. They knew that the moment my father died no one in all of Russia would have greater power in his grasp.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 8

…I loved my father more tenderly than I ever had before…. Yet even the grandchildren who never saw him loved him–and love him still.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 9

For the last 12 hours the lack of oxygen was acute. His face altered and became dark. His lips turned black and the features grew unrecognizable. The last hours were nothing but a slow strangulation. The death agony was horrible. He literally choked to death as we watched. At what seemed like the very last moment he suddenly opened his eyes and cast a glance over everyone in the room. It was a terrible glance, insane, or perhaps angry and full of the fear of death and the unfamiliar faces of the doctors bent over him. The glance swept over everyone in a second. Then something incomprehensible and awesome happened that to this day I can’t forget and don’t understand. He suddenly lifted his left hand as though he were pointing to something above and bringing down a curse on us all.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 10

…The members of the government then rushed for the door.
All of them except the utterly degenerate Beria spent those days in great agitation, trying to help yet at the same time fearful of what the future might bring. Many of them shed genuine tears. I saw Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Malenkov, Bulganin, and Khrushchev in tears.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 11

My father’s servants and bodyguards came to say goodbye. They felt genuine grief and emotion. Cooks, chauffeurs, watchmen, gardeners, and the women who had waited on the table, all came quietly in. They went up to the bed silently and wept. They wiped their tears away as children do, with their hands and sleeves and kerchiefs. Many were sobbing. The nurse, who was also in tears, gave them drops of valerian….
Valechka, as she was called, who had been my father’s housekeeper for 18 years, came in to say goodbye. She dropped heavily to her knees, put her head on my father’s chest and wailed at the top of her voice as the women in villages do. She went on for a long time and nobody tried to stop her.
All these men and women who were servants of my father loved him. In little things he wasn’t hard to please. On the contrary, he was courteous, unassuming, and direct with those who waited on him…. Men, women, everyone, started crying all over again. . No one was making a show of loyalty or grief…. He never scolded anyone except the top men, the generals and commandants of his bodyguard. The servants had neither bullying nor harshness to complain of. They often asked him for help, in fact, and no one was ever refused.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 12

…Like everyone who worked for my father she’ll [Valechka] be convinced to her dying day that no better man ever walked the earth.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 13

No one in this room looked on him as a God or a Superman, a genius or a demon. They loved and respected him for the most ordinary human qualities, those qualities of which servants are the best judges of all.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 14


One shouldn’t say unkind things about the dead, so I won’t say anything about Shcherbakov except that he was an upper-echelon Party worker for many years and chief of the political directorate of the Red Army during the war.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 203

The minutes of a July 12, 1984, Politburo session revealed a truly nauseating spectacle: the leaders of the party still defending Stalin against Khrushchev’s revisionism. At the meeting, the members listened to a report on how Molotov, Stalin’s Foreign Minister, was “overwhelmed with joy” at the Politburo’s decision to restore him to the Party ranks. Molotov had been expelled during Khrushchev’s “thaw.”
“And let me tell you,” says Marshall Dmitri Ustinov, the head of the armed forces. “If it hadn’t been for Khrushchev, they never would have been expelled and there never would have been these outrageous actions regarding Stalin…. Not a single one of our enemies has inflicted so much misfortune on us as Khrushchev did regarding his policies and his attitude toward Stalin.”
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 518


Voznesensky dared to cross Beria’s path, and before Beria finished with him, Voznesensky was just a shadow of his former self.
I remember that more than once during this period Stalin asked Malenkov and Beria, “Isn’t it a waste not letting Voznesensky work while we’re deciding what to do with him?”
“Yes,” they would answer, “let’s think it over.”
Some time would pass and Stalin would bring up the subject again: “Maybe we should put Voznesensky in charge of the State Bank. He’s an economist, a real financial wizard.”
No one objected, but nothing happened. Voznesensky was still left hanging.
Stalin obviously felt a certain residual respect for Voznesensky.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 251

Apparently even after these arrests, Stalin felt a certain amount of goodwill toward Shakhurin and Novikov. He used to turn to Beria and Malenkov during dinner and ask, “Say, are Shakhurin and Novikov still in jail?”
“Don’t you think it might be all right to release them?” But Stalin was asking the question to himself. He was just thinking out loud. No one would say anything, and the matter would be left up in the air until sometime later when he’d bring it up again. Once he even went so far as to say, “You should give serious thought to releasing Shakhurin and Novikov. What good are they doing us in jail? They can still work.” He always directed these remarks to Malenkov and Beria because they were in charge of the case against Shakhurin and Novikov.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 253

Beria had many faults and betrayed many hopes, nevertheless it was a blow for me when in 1953 he was suddenly arrested and shot.
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 267

Beria was absolutely insolent. He tried to find the smallest insignificant detail of perceived slight, in order to try and get you fired or arrested… this was in order to make Stalin either nervous or upset. This came to such a state of outright provocation that once while Stalin was away from the Dacha, Beria with his personal entourage started to snoop in the offices of Stalin, rummaging through his papers and documents. After one such “snooping search,” Stalin’s transistor radio went missing. Needless to say, it was Stalin’s own bodyguards who were suspected and blamed. The offices were turned upside-down. Time passed and no transistor was found. Then, the Guard Kuzin who was shoveling snow, came across the transistor. Who else could do something of this caliber? Only Beria and his clique, of well-masked and hidden enemies of Stalin and the Soviet Union!
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 66


My own anxiety was growing. Stalin was at an age which put the rest of us in a difficult position. Far from looking forward to Stalin’s death, I actually feared it. I was afraid of the consequences. What would happen to the country? Even though I already had my doubts about the campaign against the enemies of the people, I still had confidence in Stalin. I figured that perhaps there had been some excesses, but basically everything had been handled properly. Not only did I not condemn Stalin, I exalted him for being unafraid to purge the Party and thereby to unify it.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 314


Tito has always been a good Communist and a man of principal….
It was very profitable for the capitalist countries then, and it’s still profitable for them today, to use tempting trade agreements to try and coax the fraternal countries away from the Socialist camp one by one.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 382

Yugoslavia always took care not to affiliate itself with one block or another…. The Yugoslavs refused to join the Warsaw Pact because they had a special commercial relationship with the West.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 383

Beria offered assurances to Czechoslovakia that the USSR would not continue to interfere in Czech internal affairs, and he wrote a personal letter to Marshal Tito apologizing for the manner in which Stalin had treated him. The MGB officer who would carry the letter to Tito showed it to me. The final sentence said, “Let us cast the past aside and look ahead to the resumption of diplomatic relations between our two nations.”
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 148


Every working-class should be able to choose its own course of development on the basis of local historical and economic circumstances–on the one vital condition, of course, that the means of production and the banks belong to the people, and that the state is run by the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 391

…Molotov claimed that Khrushchev and Brezhnev, intimidated by U.S. atomic weapons, had cravenly abandoned the goal of international communism for that of “peaceful coexistence” with imperialism.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 331


Right up until his death Stalin used to tell us, “You’ll see; when I’m gone the imperialistic powers will wring your necks like chickens.” We never tried to reassure him that we would be able to manage. We knew it wouldn’t do any good. Besides, we had doubts of our own about Stalin’s foreign policy. He overemphasized the importance of military might, for one thing, and consequently put too much faith in our armed forces.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 392

In Khrushchev’s 1956 speech he stated, “Shortly after the doctors were arrested we members of the Politburo received protocols with the doctors’ confessions of guilt. After distributing these protocols Stalin told us, “You are blind like young kittens; what will happen without me? The country will perish because you do not know how to recognize enemies.”
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 601

On the subject of the relations between the Soviet Union and the capitalist world, Stalin took every chance to instill in us the idea that we were mere kittens, calves to be led around by the rest of the world. “The West will wrap you around its finger,” he would warn us. Stalin never expressed any confidence that we were worthy of representing our socialist nation, or defending its interest in the international arena.
Schecter, Jerrold. Trans & Ed. Khrushchev Remembers: the Glasnost Tapes. Boston: Little, Brown, c1990, p. 79

You shouldn’t forget that all during Stalin’s life, right up to the day he died, he kept telling us we’d never be able to stand up to the forces of imperialism, that the first time we came into contact with the outside world our enemies would smash us to pieces; we would get confused and be unable to defend our land. In his words, we would become “agents” of some kind.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 424

Stalin then invited us to supper, but in the hallway we stopped before a map of the world on which the Soviet Union was colored in red, which made it conspicuous and bigger than it would otherwise seem. Stalin waived his hand over the Soviet Union and, referring to what he had been saying just previously against the British and the Americans, he exclaimed, “They will never accept the idea that so great a space should be red, never, never!”
Djilas, Milovan. Conversations with Stalin. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962, p. 74

Some of the more perceptive delegates to whom I [Volkogonov] have spoken sensed that Stalin was thinking about his legacy, and this is borne out by the long speech he made at the plenum that was elected at the 19th Congress. Malevolently and in an accusing tone, he expressed doubt that his comrades would follow the agreed course, and wondered whether they would not capitulate before the country’s domestic difficulties, as well as the imperialists’ threats. Would they show the courage and firmness needed to withstand the new tests?
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 569

Stalin gave the orders on how the investigation should proceed:… By early January confessions had been obtained. Stalin passed them round the leadership saying, ‘You are blind like kittens; what will happen without me? The country will perish because you do not know how to recognize enemies.’
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 309

Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 620

Koba laughed. “You’re the same old joker, Carl Bernardovitch. I know I’m surrounded by a crowd of imbeciles
Alexandrov, Victor. The Tukhachevsky Affair. London: Macdonald, 1963, p. 22

Khrushchev, like several other political figures, recalled in his memoirs that at the end of his life Stalin began to wonder what would happen to all his work after he had gone. At the midnight dinner table he often asked his cronies how they would get on without him, and just as often would say: ‘They’ll crush you like kittens.’
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 169

He felt the end approaching and sensed he would be followed by a vacuum, as indeed he was.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 171

As, today, when we behold the morons and scum who have proliferated on the ruins of the Soviet empire and now govern it, I’m sometimes gripped by a doubt. Perhaps I am wrong to condemn Stalin? Perhaps he knew these people perfectly well and was right to consider that they understood nothing….
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 149


For centuries people have been droning, “Lord, have mercy upon us; Lord, help us and protect us.” And have all the prayers helped? Of course not. But people are set in their ways and continue to believe in God despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 471


Ho Chi Minh really was one of communism’s “saints.”
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 481


I believe that if Kennedy had lived, relations between the Soviet Union and United States would be much better than they are. Why do I say that? Because Kennedy would have never let his country get bogged down in Vietnam.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 505


The main thing that I noticed about the capitalist West when I was in New York, which Gorky once called the City of the Yellow Devil, is that it’s not the man that counts but the dollar. Everyone thinks of how to make money, how to get more dollars. Profits, the quest for capital, and not people are the center of attention there.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 513


Molotov refused to publish an anodyne, sanitized version of his memoirs tailored to fit the current line, of the sort Gromyko & Mikoyan had published.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. xi


Molotov in his last days proved to be a prophet. He predicted the triumph of the Bukharinist “right” in the USSR, which turned out to be an apt description of Gorbachev.
Only 700 of the more than 5000 typewritten pages of this diary went into this book.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993. p. xx


MOLOTOV: There was only a thin layer of party leadership in the 1920s, and there were always fissures in this thin layer–now right-wingers, then nationalists, then workers’ opposition…. How Lenin managed to bear this is amazing. Lenin died, but they all lived on, and Stalin had to pass through very tough times. Khrushchev is proof of that. He turned out to be a right-winger, though he was pretending to be for Stalin, for Lenin…. Only when Stalin’s power weakened did the conspirator in him surface….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 27

No, Khrushchev wasn’t such a dullard. He was culturally deprived.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 187

Khrushchov reminded me of a livestock dealer. A small-time livestock dealer. A man of little culture, certainly. A regular livestock trader, a man who deals in cattle.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 347

Khrushchev? A person like him could have switched sides in a flash.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 272

CHUEV: Then Khrushchev distorted your words?
MOLOTOV: Definitely. He was never dependable. He was a man without scruples. Slapdash. Very primitive.
CHUEV: Kaganovich told me nearly the same story.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 287

…Khrushchev, Mikoyan, rightists, they sat on the Politburo where they pretended to be Stalin’s greatest champions.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 317

…But as a matter of fact, Mikoyan is a Rykovist, a rightist, and a Khrushchevite. I see no great difference between Khrushchev and Rykov. And I have never supported Khrushchev.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 319

What Beria proposed would never have come up for discussion in Stalin’s time. Stalin made a public statement when the GDR was created, that this was a new stage in the development of Germany, and that there could be no doubts about this. Stalin was the sort of man to sacrifice everything for the sake of socialism. He would never have abandoned the conquest of socialism.
I objected that there could not be a peaceful Germany unless it took the road to socialism. Therefore all talk about a “peaceful Germany” implied a bourgeois Germany, period.
I consider Khrushchev a rightist, and Beria was even further right. We had the evidence. Both of them were rightists. Mikoyan too.
…Being a rightist, Khrushchev was rotten through and through. Beria was even more of a rightist and even more rotten.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 336-337

He (Beria) was unprincipled. He was not even a communist. I consider him a parasite on the party.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 339

I regard Beria as an agent of imperialism. Agent does not mean spy. He had to have some support–either in the working class or in imperialism. He had no support among the people, and he enjoyed no prestige. Even had he succeeded in seizing power, he would not have lasted long.
…a big scum.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 340

He was a good organizer, a good administrator–and a born security operative, of course. But quite without principles.
I had a sharp clash with Beria the first week after Stalin’s death. It is quite possible that I was not the one to meet either his or Khrushchev’s requirements. Their policies would not have differed greatly.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 341

…he (Beria) was, in any event, a dangerous character.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 343

CHUEV: Beria is called a diehard enemy of Soviet power.
MOLOTOV: I don’t know whether he was a diehard or some other kind of enemy, but I do know he was an enemy.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 343

CHUEV: Was Khrushchev adept in matters of theory?
MOLOTOV: No. He was extremely weak in that regard. We were all “practicals,” all practitioners. Before the Revolution we read all the books and newspapers, now we read nothing.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 348

The trouble, I say, is that in the present situation it is impossible to offer a definition of socialism. There is no complete clarity on this question. One can only depict distinct stages, fundamental phases.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 349

CHUEV: Why did Khrushchev come out against Stalin so drastically?
MOLOTOV: Because he pursued a different policy. He is a rightist…. The rightist and the Trotskyist extremes come together. The main threat in the 1930s came from the rightists rather than from the Trotskyists. They had close ties with the village. Their social base was the kulak class. That’s where Khrushchev had his roots….
Deep down Khrushchev was an enemy of Stalin. On the surface Stalin was the be-all and end-all, but deep down it was another matter…. His bitterness toward Stalin stemmed from the fact that Khrushchev’s eldest son got himself shot. Driven by such bitterness, Khrushchev would balk at nothing to besmirch the name Stalin.
CHUEV: Nikita disowned his son, didn’t he?
MOLOTOV: Yes. His son was something of a traitor, which also reflects on Khrushchev. A good political leader with a son like that?…
Stalin didn’t want to pardon Khrushchev’s son. And Khrushchev personally hated Stalin. Of course, that added to his animosity, but that was not the main thing about him. He was not a revolutionary. He didn’t join the party until 1918–some militant! Ordinary workers had joined the party earlier. Some leader of our party he turned out to be! It was absurd, absurd.
Khrushchev opposed Stalin and Leninist policy…. The rightists wanted to block us from pressing for the liquidation of the kulaks; they were champions of a pro-kulak policy…. We saw this in Khrushchev and spoke about it,…
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 351-352

…Initially the three of us were labeled “the antiparty group”–Malenkov, Kaganovich, Molotov–then they also added Shepilov who had joined us. And after a while they included Bulganin and Voroshilov.
…The “antiparty” group had to be removed, and four of us were expelled.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 355

He [Khrushchev] had no serious interest in ideology.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 356

…Stalin’s supporters would hew to the party line, but Khrushchev was always clever enough to adapt to that line. He was quite a capable man. You can’t say he had been merely a lucky fellow. He could very well have become a Bukharinite, but he moved in the opposite direction. He sensed it would be more secure that way. Khrushchev in essence was a Bukharinite, but under Stalin he was not a Bukharinite.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 360

Khrushchev was for Soviet power but against the Revolution. This is his distinguishing feature: he was against everything revolutionary…. to him, of course, collectivization–which in our country was carried out by Stalinist methods–was impermissible. Yes, impermissible. But no alternative was proposed.
He is against collectivization. He is without a doubt a Bukharinite.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 362

…He was never seriously interested in or thought about the meaning of Leninism or of Marxism…. Khrushchev wanted to rehabilitate everyone, but everyone.
Khrushchev and Mikoyan posed as arch-Stalinists, but deep down they were not.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 363

He [Khrushchev] was a half-educated man, alien to the party. Alien, absolutely alien. He couldn’t stay at the top for long. You see, his former supporters finally got rid of him and had him quietly buried at Novodevichy cemetery. Now they all behave as if they had had nothing to do with him.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 364

You can’t say he [Khrushchev] was unintelligent; he was very shrewd…. Since Khrushchev himself was not a communist, how could he judge whether Stalin was a communist?
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 365

Khrushchev knew as much about matters of theory as a shoemaker. He was a real foe of Marxism-Leninism, a real enemy of communist revolution, a covert, cunning, skillfully camouflaged enemy…. The thing is that he reflected the spirit of the overwhelming majority.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 366

…But Khrushchevism is the bourgeois spirit.
I told Khrushchev this straight to his face,… We have very many “Khrushchevs” in our country; indeed, they are the overwhelming majority…. It would have been so easy to kick him out. But we are surrounded by little “Khrushchev’s,” and they keep mum….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 391

Molotov and Kaganovich could not prevent the reform projects of Malenkov, Beria, and Khrushchev. Malenkov wanted to increase payments to collective farms so as to boost agricultural production; he also favored giving priority to light-industrial investment. Khrushchev wished to plough up virgin lands in the USSR and end the decades-old uncertainty about supplies of bread. Malenkov and Beria were committed to making overtures to the USA for peaceful coexistence: they feared that the Cold War might turn into a disaster for humanity. Beria desired a rapprochement with Yugoslavia; he also aimed to withdraw privileges for Russians in the USSR and to widen the limits of cultural self-expression. Malenkov, Beria, and Khrushchev supported the release of political convicts from the labor camps. Quietly they restrained the official media from delivering the customary grandiose eulogies to Stalin.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 591


With Brezhnev, in my opinion, the direction is fundamentally weak. Everything is staked on peaceful coexistence. Of course we need peaceful coexistence, but you have to remember that is not guaranteed us.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 67


CHUEV: Party workers don’t have such experience nowadays.
MOLOTOV: No they don’t. They would prefer to argue about how much production has increased, or the productivity of collective farmers. This too is important and interesting, but it is not polemics, not fighting with the opposition.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 76


Nationalism is causing him to howl in pain, yet he himself is a nationalist, and that is his main defect as a communist. He is a nationalist; that is, he is infected with the bourgeois spirit. He is now cursing and criticizing his own people for nationalism. This means that the Yugoslav multinational state is breaking up along national lines. It is composed of Serbs, Croatians, Slovenes, and so forth.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 83


EDITOR: Molotov wonders with good reason whether Stalin really died a natural death. Shortly before Beria was liquidated by his fearful colleagues, he took credit for Stalin’s death. He confided to Molotov that he had “saved them all,” implying that he had killed Stalin or at least seen to it that the stricken Stalin did not receive adequate and timely medical attention.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 161

…He [Beria] was a talented organizer but a cruel, merciless man.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 177

Beria strained might and main to grab leading positions. Among the reactionary elements he was the activist. That’s why he strove to clear the way for a return of private property. Anything else lay outside his field of vision. He did not avow socialism. He thought he was leading us forward, but in fact he was pulling us back, back to the worst.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 232

Some people believe that Beria killed Stalin. I believe this possibility cannot be excluded…. Beria was treacherous and unreliable. He could have done the deed just to save his own skin…. I too am of the opinion that Stalin did not die a natural death. He wasn’t seriously ill. He was working steadily… And he remained very spry.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 326

There is undocumented testimony that Beria intended to usurp power as Stalin grew older. Stalin may have known this, as their relations grew noticeably cooler in the last year and a half of his life. Among the many witnesses who have told me about this, most interesting was the testimony of M. S. Vlasik, wife of Lt. Gen. Vlasik, former chief of the Main Administration of the Ministry of State Security (the KGB). For more than 25 years, Vlasik had been Stalin’s chief of personal security: he knew much and was trusted by the boss. Beria hated him, but Stalin would not allow him to be touched. A few months before Stalin died, however, Beria managed to compromise Vlasik, as well as Poskrebyshev, and to have them removed from Stalin’s entourage. Vlasik was arrested and given 10 years’ prison and exile. When he returned after Stalin’s death, he said he was totally convinced that Beria had ‘helped’ Stalin to die after first removing his physicians.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 333

Stalin began to decline more rapidly after his 70th birthday. His blood pressure was continually high, but he did not want doctors, he did not trust them. He still listened half-heartedly to Academician Vinogradov, but gradually Beria convinced him that ‘the old man [Vinogradov], was suspect’ and tried to foist other doctors on to him. Stalin, however, would have no one new. When he heard that Vinogradov had been arrested, he cursed ominously but did nothing about it. He now finally stopped smoking, but continued his unhealthy life-style in all other respects, rising late and working into the night…. he would not entrust himself to doctors.
…His old belief in Georgian longevity was shaken by a series of dizzy spells which knocked him off balance.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 529

Beria would not call the doctors and instead turned on the servants: ‘Why did you panic? Can’t you see Comrade Stalin is sound asleep? All of you get out and leave our leader in peace, I shall deal with you in due course!’
Malenkov gave Beria some half-hearted support. According to Rybin, there seemed to be no intention at all of getting medical help for Stalin, who must have had the stroke some six to eight hours before. Everyone seemed to be following a scenario that best suited Beria.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 572

Beria did not hide his look of triumph. All the other members of the Politburo, including Malenkov, were afraid of this monster. The death of one tyrant promised a new orgy of bloodletting by his successor. Exhausted by all his exertions, and now sure that Stalin had crossed the dividing line between life and death, Beria dashed away to the Kremlin for some hours, leaving the other leaders at Stalin’s deathbed. I have already outlined the version of Beria, as first deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers, now forcing the great political game that he had long planned. His hasty departure for the Kremlin was possibly connected with his effort to remove from Stalin’s safe documents which might contain instructions about how to deal with him, a last will that might not be so easy to contest, made while Stalin was in full control of his faculties.
He returned to the dacha in a mood of self-confidence and proceeded to dictate to his crestfallen colleagues that they must prepare a government statement to the effect that Stalin was ill and also publish a bulletin on the state of his health.
Meanwhile the last act of the drama was being played out. Stalin’s son, Vasili, kept coming in and shouting in a drunken voice, ‘They’ve killed my father, the bastards!’… Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Khrushchev and some others were weeping openly.
…On her knees, her head on his chest and wailing like a peasant, was Istomina, Stalin’s housekeeper who for some 20 years had looked after him, accompanied him on all his trips to the south and even on two of the three international wartime conferences.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 573-574

Stalin could not be permitted to live, I believe, due to the risk that he would attempt a countercoup. The Politburo, therefore, overthrew Stalin in February 1953 to avert a purge. Stalin’s timely death was the solution– Beria’s, Malenkov’s, and possibly others’–to the problem of disposing of the deposed Stalin. Discounting the information from official Soviet sources, I conclude that Beria was responsible for the death of Stalin, Malenkov was his accomplice, and Khrushchev & Bulganin were accessories after the fact.
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 131

Melodramatic accounts of Stalin’s death, of which there is no shortage, claim that Stalin was murdered. It is most likely that the denial of medical care made not the slightest difference. But Beria clearly thought it had: ” I did him in!” he later boasted to Molotov and Kaganovich. “I saved you all!”
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 641

So the staff rang through to Malenkov to alert the politburo of what had happened [to Stalin], but they could do nothing without Beria. Beria could not be found, he was out carousing with women. After finally being tracked down he marched in drunk at around 3 a.m. Looking triumphant, according to the assembled group, he glanced at the comatose Stalin and summarily dismissed their fears telling them to leave him to sleep in peace. He forbade anyone to use the telephone, ordered the politburo to reconvene in the morning, and went away. He returned at 9 a.m., again with members of the politburo, to take another look.
Stalin had lain untreated for over 24 hours; it was 10 hours since he had been found. Beria now ordered doctors to be summoned from the Academy of Medical Sciences, choosing intellectuals rather than practitioners presumably since the latter were mostly behind bars, but possibly also for his own reasons. The doctors nervously applied leeches to the back of Stalin’s neck and head, took cardiograms, X-rayed his lungs and administered a series of injections. Meanwhile Beria dashed off to the Kremlin and spent some time in Stalin’s study, his inner sanctuary, presumably removing from the safe documents that only she would have known about, which in his own interests should not be found. Instructions as to the political succession were never found, nor was a personal diary of Stalin’s, a black exercise book in which the leader recorded his personal thoughts and plans….
Svetlana by this time had been summoned and stood immobilized amidst the frantic scene beside her father’s bed. She is convinced that there was more to Stalin’s stroke than met the eye.
“Beria finally plotted to murder my father. I don’t know how he plotted it, and there is a lot of folklore about it. But they withdrew medical help for at least 12 hours; the whole politburo, Beria among them, arrived at the scene instead of the doctors. He was the one who had said hours earlier, “Nothing has happened. You are panicking. The man is sleeping.” And then turned around and walked away.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 248

“Beria certainly was very happy when my father died; he had always worked towards that. He had removed my father’s whole entourage, starting with Vlasik, who had been there 30 years. The doctor was arrested, the personal secretary was arrested, so something had been brewing there. I hate folklore and making guesses, but something was up.”
“One of the guards attended the autopsy, Vlasik’s successor, a man named Krustalyov. They could not permit a post-mortem to go ahead unsupervised because by this time nobody trusted anybody. He sat there, and it made such an impression on him that afterwards he collapsed completely and drank heavily, and of course he was fired. He said that what hit him was when they opened the head, and he saw the brain. One of the medics said, “This is obviously a very fine brain, quite out of the ordinary.” Krustalyov never got over it.”
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 252-253

The question as to whether those close to him plotted Stalin’s death remains unanswered, although Svetlana is convinced of Beria’s complicity, and by implication of others’ too.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 255


Did the Mensheviks have more theoreticians?
The Mensheviks were nothing but theoreticians….
Voroshilov was weak as a theoretician. Like Kalinin, he leaned a little to the right…. Twenty years have gone by since Stalin died. And who has remained loyal to Stalin throughout? Kaganovich and myself. I know of no one else.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 228

The Jews did not like Kaganovich. They would rather have had a more intellectual Jew in the Politburo. Even today Kaganovich is such an ardent supporter of Stalin that no one would dare to say anything derogatory about Stalin in his presence. Among all of us he was a 200 percent Stalinist.
He felt I didn’t praise Stalin well enough….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 229

As we review these events, it becomes clear that Khrushchev was not, as he represented himself in his 1956 denunciation of Stalin, a moralist horrified by transgressions against a socialist ideal but the leader in a political struggle for power within the Party between the Khrushchev & Molotov groupings, and this conflict had been going at least since Stalin’s death. In 1956, therefore, when Khrushchev denounced Stalin, he did so as the leader of an anti–Stalin faction in the Party. The policies of this faction soon appeared. They were those of liberal, anti-socialist “reforms.” Molotov, an old Bolshevik who had worked under tsarist terror, had a long record of devotion to the working class and to socialism. He had supported Stalin’s plans for socialist industrialization, and had for many years at Party Congresses, along with Kaganovich, made the main reports on this subject. The “everything new” that Molotov opposed were Khrushchev’s “reforms.”
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 123

“I [Kaganovich] loved Stalin, and he was something worth loving–he was a great Marxist…. We should be proud of him, every Communist should be proud of him…. We have uncrowned Stalin and without realizing it we have uncrowned 30 years of our own work.”
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York: Free Press, 1994, p. 317


Khrushchev was absolutely a reactionary sort of person. He merely hitched himself to the Communist party. He certainly didn’t believe in any kind of communism.
Bulganin didn’t really represent anything. He never took a firm stand either for or against anything. He drifted along with the wind, wherever it blew.
Beria, to my mind, was not one of us. He crept into the party with ulterior motives. Malenkov was a capable functionary. …I don’t think Malenkov was very interested in issues of theory and problems of communism.
Khrushchev was somewhat interested in these questions, though in a retrograde sense, in order to find out when and how things could be reversed.
…Khrushchev wasn’t interested in ideas. He couldn’t tell one from the other.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 232-234

A man [Mikoyan] of very few principles, unrestrained and easily influenced by others…. He began to be closely associated with Khrushchev after Stalin’s death. That relationship had not existed before. It only developed in Khrushchev’s later years. Khrushchev’s best friends had been Malenkov and Beria.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 365

CHUEV: They say that Mikoyan suggested to Khrushchev that Stalin be toppled.
MOLOTOV: I don’t rule that out. Khrushchov’s champions could only by proud of him. The true communists wouldn’t be among that crowd…. That Mikoyan himself was rotten through and through.
Mikoyan played a vile role. He was a chameleon. He kept adapting himself to the point of embarrassment. Stalin was not overly fond of him either…. He negotiated good deals, worked perseveringly–he was a very industrious person.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 366


CHUEV: Avtorkhanov writes that “…the only one who was candid in his relations with Stalin was Molotov.”
MOLOTOV: Indeed, of the three who spoke at the funeral, I was the only one who spoke from a heart….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 235


CHUEV: I don’t believe Khrushchev grieved over Stalin’s death.
MOLOTOV: No, he was extremely spiteful toward Stalin, and more so toward Beria. At times Stalin would express scorn for Beria. He wanted to have him removed. Whom did he trust? It’s hard to say. No one, I would say. Khrushchev? There’s no way he would have trusted that one. Bulganin was not the right sort. I don’t think one can say that Malenkov was close to Stalin either.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 235


CHUEV: It is also said that Stalin and Molotov considered only themselves to be true Leninists.
MOLOTOV: There was no alternative. Had we not regarded ourselves as Leninists, and had we not attacked those who wavered, we could have been weakened.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 260


…Beria stopped keeping me informed during Stalin’s last years. I was on the sidelines then. Under Khrushchev I was entirely in the dark about some events.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 292


In remarks printed in Pravda, Gus Hall, chairman of the Communist Party of the USA, correctly judged the measures we initiated in Czechoslovakia during the events there. He said the Soviet Union, with other countries, acted correctly by intervening in Czechoslovak affairs, notwithstanding the fact that the Communist Party of Italy was opposed, the French party was opposed, the British party and others were opposed. Although he lived in America, he was nevertheless faithful to the truth when he said the action was absolutely necessary.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 299


Beria… advanced the following argument: “Why should socialism be built in the GDR? Let it just be a peaceful country. That is sufficient for our purposes…. The sort of country it will become is unimportant.”
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 334

MOLOTOV: A stable Germany was good enough for him…. I was in favor of not forcing a socialist policy, while Beria favored not supporting socialism at all.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 335

MOLOTOV: It became quite clear that Beria did not hold Communist positions. In this situation we felt that in Beria we were dealing with someone who had nothing in common with our Party, a person of the bourgeois camp, the enemy of the Soviet Union.
The capitulating essence of Beria’s proposals regarding the German question is obvious. He virtually demanded capitulation before the so-called “Western” bourgeois states. He insisted that we reject the course to strengthen the people’s democratic order in the GDR, which would lead to socialism. He insisted on untying the hands of German imperialism, not only in West Germany but in East Germany….
You see how what Beria had previously concealed in his political persona was now exposed. Also, what we previously saw only vaguely in Beria, we now began to see clearly. We now clearly saw that here was someone alien to us, a man from the anti-Soviet camp.
It was not so easy to expose Beria. He artfully disguised himself, and for many years–concealing his true face–he sat in the leadership center.
Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 29


The development of the virgin lands began prematurely. It was unquestionably an absurd undertaking….
Khrushchev was so carried away with his idea [the Virgin lands program] that he was like a runaway roan! An idea alone solves nothing conclusively; it may be helpful, but only to a limited extent. You have to make the right calculations, weigh alternatives, consult experts, sound out the people. You can’t just shout, get going! get a move on! He bit off more than he could chew–about 40 to 45 million hectares of virgin lands to be opened up. This was unmanageable, absurd, and unnecessary.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 346-347

Khrushchev, this disgusting, loud-mouthed individual, concealed his wiles and maneuvers under a torrent of empty words.
The cult of Khrushchev was being built up by the tricksters, the liberals, the careerists, the lick-spittles and the flatterers… His [Stalin’s] place and authority was usurped by that charlatan, clown, and blackmailer.
Hoxha, Enver. The Artful Albanian. London: Chatto & Windus, 1986, p. 161

Soviet help in the economic sphere was also considerable. Khrushchev’s pro-active policy cost the Soviet Union many billions of dollars, but he regarded it as an investment to strengthen Soviet influence in the region at the expense of the West. His revolutionary diplomacy did not always produce the desired result, however. The report presented on Oct. 14, 1964, to the Central Committee plenum that ousted him pointed out that in the ten years he had been in power, the USSR had undertaken some 6000 projects. Beneficiaries included Egypt, Iraq, Indonesia, India, and Ethiopia, to name but a few.. Projects in Guinea alone included an airport, a cannery and sawmill, a power station, a refrigeration plant, a hospital, a hotel, a polytechnic, geological surveys and various research projects. Yet when Khrushchev’s ‘friend’ Sekou Toure requested the withdrawal of Soviet personnel from Guinea, even the use of the airport they had built at Conakry, as a stopover en route to Cuba, was prohibited to them. In Jakarta the USSR had built a stadium for 100,000 spectators, in Rangoon a hotel, an atomic research center in Ghana, a sports complex in Mali–the list is interminable. All these costly ventures only became a bone of contention when the leadership wanted to get rid of Khrushchev.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 228


Molotov was a schematist and a conservative; he was a total ignoramus about farming, but that didn’t stop him from objecting that the Virgin Lands campaign was premature and too expensive.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 135


Stalin’s mistake was that he had not trained anyone to fill his position. Khrushchev took over, not by chance. Of course he was not the right man for the top office. But we had no unity in our group, and we had no program. We merely agreed to have him removed, but at the same time we were totally unprepared to assume power.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 347

Speaking of Khrushchev, Stalin is to blame, as I and all of us are to blame, for failing to see that it was not merely a matter of Khrushchev, a typical anti-Leninist, but of a trend, that of playing up to public opinion.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 364


Everyone knew that Khrushchev was going to deliver that [anti-Stalin] report at the 20th Party Congress. The report had not been discussed in the Central Committee, but we knew the essence of it…. When Khrushchev delivered his speech at the 20th Congress I was already sidelined…. To speak out would have been unexpected at that time, and no one would have supported us. No one.
CHUEV: Was Khrushchev’s report discussed in the Politburo?
MOLOTOV: It was. The majority supported it without reservation.
…Given the atmosphere in the party at the time, if we, or even I, had presented our views, we would have been easily expelled.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 349-351


Khrushchev got by because we had many Khrushchevites.
In 1957 Khrushchev was relieved of his duties for three days. This happened at one of the Politburo sessions. This, of course, had to be announced. He was chairing Politburo sessions; he was merely relieved of the chairmanship. Nothing more occurred then. He wasn’t removed from his job, and he couldn’t be removed. The Central Committee plenum would decide this. How else could he have been removed?
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 353

At the 20th Party Congress a Presidium [the name adopted in 1952 for the old Politburo] consisting of 11 members had been elected. Later, in 1957, we decided to remove Khrushchev. At the Politburo he chaired its sessions; we decided to replace him with Bulganin [chairman of the Council of Ministers]. The point was that starting with Lenin–and it was always so–the chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars [from 1946, Council of Ministers] always chaired sessions of the Politburo. This was a Leninist tradition…. Khrushchev was the first to break with this Leninist tradition…. He was not chairman of the Council of Ministers, nevertheless he chaired Politburo sessions…. Now we had Bulganin chair.
CHUEV: Did Khrushchev remain silent?
MOLOTOV: No way! He screamed, he was furious…. But we had already reached an agreement. We were seven out of 11, and his supporters were but three, including Mikoyan. We had no program to advance. Our only goal was to remove Khrushchev and have him appointed minister of agriculture….
Zhukov is a great military man but a poor politician. He played a decisive role in elevating Khrushchev to a pedestal in 1957. But Zhukov himself cursed him soon afterward….
We failed to have him removed as first secretary; we just didn’t manage it. They convened a plenary session of the Central Committee, and the plenum sided with them–the game was over!
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 354

CHUEV: As soon as you relieved Khrushchev of his chair functions, why didn’t you appeal to party organizations, to the people?
MOLOTOV: The party organizations were not in our hands.
CHUEV: Anyway, you failed to take advantage of that moment.
MOLOTOV: Indeed, I wasn’t able to take advantage of it. We had another disadvantage–we were not prepared to put forward a counterprogram of our own. But Khrushchev did exactly that: “Life under Stalin was hard; from now on it is going to be better.” People bought it. The overwhelming majority voted against me. A good many people bore me a grudge…. The workers also bought the line: “You will have it easier now, and there will be no more rushing ahead.”
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 357


…I was not expelled from the party because of the repressions but rather because we spoke out against Khrushchev and wanted to have him relieved of his duties. When the repressions were condemned at the 20th Congress, I was not only not expelled from the party but was even elected to its Politburo!
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 357


IVANOVICH, SHOTA: Children were shot to death in Georgia in 1956. They removed Mikoyan’s portrait and hung it in an outhouse, where his home was supposed to be. They hitched Khrushchev’s portrait to a streetcar, but they carried your portrait at the head of a marching column of protesters that demanded, “We want the Central Committee headed by Molotov!” Did it really happen like this?
MOLOTOV: Children died then, and you know which children? Those whose parents were in jail in 1937. The children that were shot to death were not allowed a decent burial. People wailed, they couldn’t understand. “Your parents perished at the hands of Stalin, but you are for him?”
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 358


Khrushchev asked former KGB chairman Semichastny to find all the documents related to his work in the Ukraine. That was done, by the way, in the heat of the anti-Stalin campaign.
Surely, measures were taken to destroy all the documents on repressions in the Ukraine that he had ever signed.
How did Khrushchev happened to be moved up to the top?… Khrushchev promised a quieter, more relaxed life at the top. Many went for this instantly…. Khrushchev promised better living conditions, and a good many people took the bait, though it was a deception.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 359

Khrushchev was a capable man, too…. And backing him with his preconceived ideas were those who would also like to live easier. They hoped that the cause initiated by Lenin and Stalin could be promoted without difficulty. That was a deception. Lenin and Stalin never said that while imperialism existed we would easily advance along the path we had chosen. There are inevitable hardships along the way. If you don’t agree with this, then go to hell or wherever you please,… Khrushchev was a sleight-of-hand artist, a good practical worker and energetic leader.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 361


CHUEV: Am I right, the slogan “peaceful coexistence” was not used under Lenin?
MOLOTOV: It was never used, and Lenin never used it. In those days it would have been naive, utterly naive, to talk about peaceful coexistence. As if we would have begged, “Please give us peace!” The imperialists would have given us no kind of peace whatever…. In my view it is a correct slogan today [4-29-82], but we must bear in mind that some people, pacifistically minded people, incorrectly interpret this slogan. The very idea draws people toward a pacifist way of thinking. Under Lenin the old program condemned such views. Pacifist ideas are pernicious.
In 1921 we made no use of the slogan. We stood for peace,… We intended to attack no one. But we were opposed to pacifism….
We are, as it were, begging for peace. But to beg for peace means exposing one’s weakness. And to show one’s weakness to the strong is politically disadvantageous and inexpedient. For Bolsheviks it is unseemly….
Stalin’s published works contain no slippery expressions such as peaceful coexistence. I don’t recall any. Absolutely none at all in Lenin.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 388-389

There can be only one long-range goal if we are to move forward: only international revolution. There is nothing, no alternative, more reliable than this.
It is our duty to preserve peace. But if we believe that without international revolution we can fight for peace and delay war, if we still believe that it’s possible to arrive at communism in this way, that is deception from a Marxist viewpoint, both self-deception and deception of the people.
We must maintain peace in every way and delay the onset of a new war, especially war against the socialist countries. But we must not get too deeply engaged in favor of the Arabs and the others when they put their national interests first.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 389-390

To wrest the working class from the clutches of capitalism is possible only with sacrifice. Anyone who wants to overthrow capitalism without sacrifice would do better to enroll in another party, the party of pacifists, idlers, babblers, and incorrigible bourgeois ideologues… In short, the working class can tear itself away from capitalism only through the greatest of sacrifices. If this is not to one’s taste, then just go on living in slavery. There is no alternative.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 393


Jaruzelski, in my opinion, has come to our rescue…. Until Jaruzelski the only pleasant surprise of that kind I had previously was Fidel Castro.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 408


The remaining Ukrainian nationalist leaders had Nazi connections only at lower levels, mainly intelligence operatives of Abwehr and the Gestapo, and in this situation they had no political value to British or French authorities once the war began. So Khrushchev’s claim in his message to Stalin that the detention of Kost-Levitsky was important in defeating Western plans to set up a Ukrainian provisional government-in-exile was nothing but misleading self-aggrandizement.
I sensed that, and when ordered to assess the importance of Kost-Levitsky’s detention in Moscow I emphasized in my report to Beria, which was then sent to Molotov, that his detention was in no way justified.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 106


On one occasion, during the summer of 1946, I was summoned to the Central Committee headquarters…together with Abakumov. There I met Khrushchev, then first secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party, in Kuznetsov’s office. Kuznetsov, secretary of the Communist Party, was very formal even though he knew me socially. He informed me that the Central Committee had agreed to the suggestion of Comrade Khrushchev to secretly liquidate the leader of the Ukrainian nationalists, Shumsky, who was reported by the Ukrainian security service to have established contacts with Ukrainian emigres.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 249

Khrushchev knew that Romzha was infiltrating both government and party administrations but didn’t know how. Fearing exposure of his ineptitude, Khrushchev initiated Romzha’s secret assassination.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 253

I sensed that my rehabilitation case would drag on because no one in power was willing to reveal in print the truths that would compromise Khrushchev’s liberalization, now being portrayed as the model for their own reforms. Decisions of the earlier leadership to eliminate political opponents like Trotsky and Shumsky, the Ukrainian nationalist, had not been brought up again for discussion in the press, nor had they been repudiated by Gorbachev and Yakovlev. They could not permit themselves to expose Khrushchev, either as an accomplice to Stalin or as an organizer of his own secret political murders. The heroic memory of the Twentieth Party Congress, in which Khrushchev exposed Stalin’s crimes, would have been stained. The delegates at the Congress and the members of the Central Committee knew about his and their participation in Stalin’s crimes. Thus, if my case were brought into the daylight, the entire party leadership under Khrushchev would be exposed as having used Beria and the men who worked under him as scapegoats for themselves. Gorbachev’s leadership would then be held responsible for concealing the guilt of the mentors who had brought them to power.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 427

[Moscow Soviet Chairman, Vasili Pronin, who was chairman from April 1939 to 1945 says], Khrushchev sanctioned repressions against mainly good communists and Soviet workers. Under him, all the 23 Moscow party secretaries were arrested, some without Stalin even being aware. All secretaries of districts, provinces, territories, such as Katselebogen, Margolin, even his own staff were arrested. While Khrushchev was still in the Ukraine in 1938, he demanded the cleansing and arrest of all functionaries in Moscow.

QUESTION: Are you saying that the so-called repressions [in Moscow] were in most part the work and responsibility of Khrushchev?

ANSWER: I would say in the largest measure. After 1938, when Shcherbakov came to head the the Moscow party organization, none of the Moscow City comrades were repressed or let go off the job. I remember a meeting of the Politburo in July of 1940: There was a question brought up my Khrushchev and his friends about taking Shcherbakov from his position–because of some question as to his competence. Also, he was accused of not taking enough action to get rid of “enemies” in the organization. Stalin was instrumental in saving Shcherbakov. In my presence, after Shcherbakov came to head the Moscow Party organization, he was instrumental in getting rid of the commander of the NKVD from the party for fabricating accusations against party functionaries and their arrest. They were all saved by the intervention of Stalin and Shcherbakov.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 24-25


The arrangements for every delegation attending Stalin’s funeral were equally mismanaged. These were stupid, minor inconveniences, but tragically, hundreds of mourners were killed in the crush of unregulated crowds.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 340

The ancient custom of embalming and mummifying against which Krupskaya had so vehemently protested in her day and on which Stalin had so insisted, also seemed perfectly natural. The center of Moscow was packed with mourning crowds, in some places so dense that there were a number of fatalities.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 576

At Stalin’s funeral, the crowds were such that many were crushed to death. Sakharov describes the scene: ‘People roamed the streets, distraught and confused, with general music in the background. I too got carried away.’
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 314

Only a non-Soviet would have missed the reference: in the days after Stalin’s death, the crowd outside the Hall of Columns was so dense and emotional that hundreds of people were crushed to death–a fitting tribute.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 288

But the reaction to Stalin’s death in March 1953, when popular grief took a widely hysterical form, indicates that respect and even affection for him was substantial. He incarnated pride in military victory. He stood for industrial might and cultural progress.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 545

Crowds gathered. Muscovites raced to catch a glimpse of the dictator’s remains before the funeral. Trains and buses from distant provinces were packed with passengers avid to see Stalin lying in state. By Metro and bus everyone came to the capital’s centre and then walked up on foot to the cobbled square with somber eagerness. On 8 March the human mass became too large for the police to control. Far too many people were converging from all directions. Panic ensued as many tried to turn back. The result was disastrous. Thousands of individuals were trampled and badly injured, and the number of people who suffered fatal asphyxiation went into the hundreds.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 588

The militia were unable to control the press of people, who stampeded, and many of them including women and children were trampled to death….
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 255

Harrison Salisbury, who had been a correspondent in Russia for almost 9 years, wrote that the crush of people, young and old, men and women and some children, was something that he had never seen there before, ‘a spontaneous crowd’. To attempt to curb the influx from the rest of the country, the authorities had to suspend incoming rail services, and the last trains that did arrive had people clinging in ice and snow to the roofs of the carriages. Despite the best efforts of police and troops, and the use of parked trucks to contain the crowd, the press of mourners crushed to death some of their number.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 309


…Everyone close to us hated him [Beria],… Everyone in the family loathed him and felt a premonition of fear, especially my mother, who, as my father himself told me, “made scenes” and insisted as early as 1929 that “that man must not be allowed to set foot in our house.”
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 19

I shall come back later to Beria, who seems to have had a diabolic link with all our family and who wiped out a good half of its members….
Had it not been for the inexplicable support of my father, whom Beria had cunningly won over, Kirov and Ordzhonikidze and all the others who knew Transcaucasia and knew about the Civil War there would have blocked his advance.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 58

Redens was arrested in 1937. That was the first blow. Soon afterward both the Svanidzes were arrested.
How could such a thing happen? How could my father [Stalin] do it? The only thing I know is that it couldn’t have been his idea. But if a skillful flatterer, like Beria, whispered slyly in his ear that “these people are against you,” that they were “compromising material” and “dangerous connections,” such as trips abroad, my father was capable of believing it.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 77

With typical cunning Beria played on my father’s bitterness and sense of loss [at my mother’s death]. Up to then he had simply been an occasional visitor to the house in Sochi and my father was on vacation there. Now that he had my father sympathy and support, however, he quickly wormed his way up to the job of First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party….
Once he was First Secretary in Georgia, it didn’t take Beria long to reach Moscow, where he began his long reign in 1938. From then on he saw my father every day. His influence on my father grew and grew and never ceased until the day of my father’s death.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 136

I speak advisedly of his influence on my father and not the other way around. Beria was more treacherous, more practiced in perfidy and cunning, more insolent and single-minded than my father. In a word, he was a stronger character. My father had his weaker sides. He was capable of self-doubt. He was cruder and more direct than Beria, and not so suspicious. He was simpler and could be led up the garden path by someone with Beria’s craftiness. Beria was aware of my father’s weaknesses. He knew the hurt pride and the inner loneliness. He was aware that my father’s spirit was, in a sense, broken. And so he poured oil on the flames and fanned them as only he knew how. He flattered my father with a shamelessness that was nothing if not Oriental. He praised him and made up to him in a way that caused old friends, accustomed to looking on my father as an equal, to wince with embarrassment.
Beria’s role was a terrible one for all our family. How my mother feared and hated him! And it was her friends…who were the first to fall, the moment Beria was able to convince my father that they were hostile to him.
…The spell cast on my father by this terrifying evil genius was extremely powerful, and it never failed to work.
…Beria’s role in the Civil War in the Caucasus was highly ambiguous. He was a borne spy and provocateur. He worked first for the Armenian nationalists and then for the Reds as power swung back and forth. Once the Reds caught him in the act of treason and had him arrested. He was imprisoned awaiting sentence when a telegram arrived from Kirov, who was chief of all operations in the Caucasus, demanding that he be shot as a traitor…. I can’t imagine, moreover, that Kirov would ever have allowed Beria’s election to the Central Committee.
But Kirov used to live in our house. He was one of us, an old colleague and a friend. My father liked him and was attached to him.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 137

He [ Ordzhonikidze] was well acquainted with Beria from his days in the Caucasus and couldn’t stand him.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Twenty Letters to a Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 139

Beria, of course, was a bloody butcher, a rapist, and a revolting person.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 351

Vlasik went on to say that, once he had been summoned by Beria for interrogation, ‘I knew I could expect nothing but death, as I was sure they had deceived the Head of government.’
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 570

And that was why he [Beria] had been unable to conceal his joy at my father’s death.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 375

“During the civil war,” Svetlana reminds us, “Beria fought first with the Reds and then with the Whites–as the situation changed so did his allegiance. At one time, fighting for the Whites, he was taken prisoner by Kirov and Ordzhonikidze who were then leading the Red Army there, and they ordered his execution. But this order was overlooked: he was a little Mr. Nobody and the army had to move on and there were other matters to consider. So they forgot to shoot him.”…
“Nobody in our family liked him [Beria], though at the beginning my father regarded him as a very good worker. Yes, he committed this sin.”…
The only thing that mattered to Beria was power, even in those early days. He was both immoral and apolitical: his only creed was that the ends justify the means….
Volodya said, “Everyone in our family knew then he was a scoundrel. Nadya spoke out against him quite openly, so did my mother, Anna Sergeyevna. He was quite obviously a villain. He wanted to isolate Stalin from his relatives, to close every possible uncontrolled channel through which reality might reach Stalin.”…
“He hated all of our family,” adds Kyra [the niece of Stalin’s wife]. Svetlana said, “he is very clever, and very manipulative. He got everything he wanted. And he was a horrible man with a horrible face. According to my [Svetlana] mother too he was horrible! She wouldn’t have him around. She was outspoken enough to tell father [Stalin] that he shouldn’t invite him to the house. Every time they went on vacation to the Black Sea Beria would visit them because Georgia was where he was stationed–he was boss of the KGB at the time. She loathed him, couldn’t stand him, couldn’t sit near him. She called him a ‘dirty old man’ and without doubt he noticed her antipathy. There were quarrels over him with father; he would arrive and my mother would scream at Father, “Don’t let him come here! Don’t let him in!”
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 102-104

Svetlana says, “Children have instincts about people like this. There was something unpleasant about him [Beria]. The others–Molotov, Voroshilov, Kaganovich–had a certain dignity, they talked to my father as equals, calling him Joseph, and ti, the familiar form of ‘you”. Beria could not handle these older statesmen who remembered and loved Nadya, and who had been close to the family for a long time. They never flattered my father. Beria was always flattering him. Father would say something, and Beria would immediately say, “Oh yes, you are so right, absolutely true, how true!” in an obsequious way. None of the others, even if they did agree with him, were flapping their wings like this and being ‘yes men’. He was a creep.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 158


…we weren’t surprised when he [Stalin] demoted Kuznetsov. I later insisted we review Stalin’s decision about Kuznetsov. We restored him to his rank as a full admiral, and returned him to active service either as commissar or as Bulganin’s deputy in charge of the navy.
[Footnote: Kuznetsov had been People’s commissar (minister) of the navy and commander-in-chief of the USSR naval forces, during World War II. After the war he was First Deputy Minister of Defense as well as commander-in-chief of the navy until Stalin demoted him to the command of the Pacific fleet in 1947. Kuznetsov was reinstated as minister of the Navy by Stalin in 1951, not by Khrushchev after Stalin’s death.]
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 18

Khrushchev stated that about this time Stalin thought the end had come. He exclaimed: “All Lenin created, we have lost forever!” After this outburst he did nothing “for a long time”; and he returned to active leadership only after a Politburo deputation pleaded with him to resume command. But Khrushchev’s allegations are not supported by others who were at his side. In fact, Stalin had never been more in command than during these critical days when all seemed lost.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 325

Nor do I take all of Khrushchev’s ‘revelations’ at their face value: I do not accept, in particular, his assertion that Stalin’s role in the Second World War is virtually insignificant. This allegation was obviously meant to boost Khrushchev himself at Stalin’s expense; and it does not accord with the testimonies of many reliable eyewitnesses, of Western statesmen, and generals who had no reason to exaggerate Stalin’s role, and of Soviet generals who have recently written on this subject in a sober and critical vein.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. viii

There is a legend that Stalin suffered a nervous collapse on hearing of the German invasion and hid himself away to wring his hands in a drunken stupor, wailing “All that Lenin created we have lost forever!” This story was fostered by Khrushchev in 1956, as part of his campaign to shatter the icon of Stalin, which was still casting its huge shadow across party and people. But Khrushchev was far from Moscow at the time of “Barbarossa,” in Kiev. Those who were in the Kremlin, such as Colonel-General (later Marshal) Voronov, commander of Soviet anti-aircraft defenses, tell a different story, recalling that Stalin was working furiously in his office during the days following the invasion, though he seemed nervy and low-spirited and attended command meetings only erratically.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 643

The statement that Stalin let himself collapse in confusion during the first days of the war is rubbish. Both my mother and the head of the Party in Moscow, Shcherbakov, told me what happened in those crucial days. Once the German attack had been confirmed, Stalin, far from collapsing, set himself to receive the military and other leaders. My father spent three-quarters of his time with Stalin, when not busy performing tasks entrusted to him by Stalin.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 69

Khrushchev, who was not in the room, claimed that Nikolaev had said he had done it on assignment from the Party….
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 149


After Stalin’s death, Beria demonstrated his “generosity” by letting out a lot of criminals. He wanted to show off his “liberalism.” However, in actual fact, this action of his was directed against the people because these criminals who got out of jail went right back to their old trades– thieving and murdering.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 118


I realize that by publicly advocating material incentives I’m opening myself up to those know-it-alls who will say our people should be motivated not by money but by ideological considerations. That’s nonsense. I’m old enough to know from experience that the majority of collective-farm administrators who are paid a flat salary won’t take any chances for the sake of improving production. Stalin refused to knowledge that fact, and so did some of the people who were in the leadership at the same time I was. The main thing in the struggle for socialism is the productivity of labor. For socialism to be victorious, a country must get the most out of every worker. And when I say “get the most,” I don’t mean by force.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 127


Some people might say that the division of regional administrations into industrial and agricultural boards is crude and inefficient. I say it’s better than the petty tyranny which comes from [centralized] administration.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 152


They’d fill our ears with a lot of Mao Tse-tung’s gibberish.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 165


However, Stalin’s decision to set Poland’s eastern frontier along the Curzon Line created a problem because he failed to take into account the national interests of both the Ukrainians and the Byelorussians. The Ukrainians were particularly unhappy. Only a few years before, in 1939, the eastern and western territories of the Ukraine had been united by the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. For the first time in their history the Ukrainian people had found themselves joined in one state, a Soviet state. Triumphant celebrations had taken place in Kiev and Moscow. Our country had attained its maximum territorial gains and simultaneously satisfied the aspirations of the Ukrainian people. Now, after the war, Stalin decided to concede some of the Western Ukraine back to Poland.
Take the town of Kholm for example. Under the terms of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact it had become part of the Ukraine. Now, along with other regions, Kholm was to be part of Poland again. The population of these areas was overwhelmingly Ukrainian, and suddenly hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians were to be placed under Polish jurisdiction.
Stalin made major concessions to the Poles, creating great difficulties for our State and for me personally. I’m thinking particularly of the way he played favorites with the new Polish leadership and helped Poland at the expense of the Soviet Union….
So there we were, aiding the Poles economically at great cost to ourselves and restoring to them territories in the Ukraine. Yet, believe it or not, I later met some Polish comrades who were still dissatisfied with the borders Stalin had given them in the wake of Hitler’s retreat. They thought their border with the Soviet Union should be even farther to the east.
Once Stalin made up his mind to adjust Poland’s eastern border back to the Curzon Line, he decided to let any Ukrainians who wished to do so move from the new frontier regions of Poland across the border into the Soviet Ukraine. Likewise, the Polish population of the Soviet Ukraine was given the option of moving to Poland. The same measures were taken with respect to the Poles and Byelorussians living on either side of the frontier around Brest. Stalin ordered me, as the representative of the Ukraine, and Ponomarenko, who was Secretary of the Central Committee of the Byelorussian Communist Party, to contact the Polish provisional government and work out a scheme for an exchange of populations.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 178-180


In fact, it was more complicated than that. After the liberation of Lvov people had brought the exhibit out of storage and put it on display. It was a panorama of paintings showing scenes from the 19th-century Polish revolt against Russian rule. One scene was the aftermath of a battle in which a force of Polish insurgents had defeated some Russian troops, taken the Russian general prisoner, and were leading him off into captivity. There were also other episodes from the history of the Poles’ struggle against tsarist Russia. In no time at all the exhibit was literally the object of a pilgrimage by Poles living around Lvov. The exhibit obviously struck a sensitive chord in their hearts. We didn’t like the implications of such a pilgrimage, so we took the exhibit down and put it back in storage.
Of course, you could look at the exhibit historically and say the scenes it recreated all belong to the past. But the past is always relevant to the present, and the content of the exhibit could be construed as anti-Russian. Pictures depicting battles between Poles and Russians didn’t serve our goal of establishing closer ties among our three fraternal nations: Poland, Russia, and the Ukraine. On the contrary, such an exhibit might serve to induce Poles to repeat that whole episode from their history.
With this in mind, I felt I had to warn Beirut and Osobka-Morawski about the possible consequences of moving the exhibit from Lvov to Warsaw: “Go ahead and take it if you insist, but I’m telling you if you put it on display, it will stir up the opposite of fraternal feelings between our people. It will be like a call to battle, urging your people, ‘Fight Russia! Defeat the Russians!'”
Stalin didn’t agree. He supported the Polish comrades, saying, “But this is all history, it’s over and done with. Look at us: we staged a production of the opera Ivan Susanin, which is an anti-Polish work, and it didn’t do any harm to our present-day goals.”
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 185-186


Then one day, when I was at Stalin’s he received a phone call. He listened impassively, hung up, and came back to the table where I was sitting. As was his habit, he didn’t sit down but paced around a room.
“That was Beirut calling,” he said. “They have arrested Gomulka. I’m not sure it was the right thing to do. I wonder whether they have sufficient grounds to arrest him.”
That’s exactly what began to happen in Poland, and Stalin was largely to blame. Of course Stalin had his aides, but they were just sycophants. Just as Lenin warned us in his Testament, Stalin mistrusted everyone; and he acted cold-bloodedly on his mistrust.
[Yet Khrushchev just said Stalin doubted the wisdom of arresting Gomulka]
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 207


Gomulka, of course, had never favored collective farms in the first place. As I’ve already recounted, his opposition to collectivization provided the basis for one of the charges brought against him after the war by Beirut and his colleagues. Gomulka preferred “circles,” or farmers’ co-operatives, which allowed several peasants to pool their resources to buy seed, fertilizers, and machinery; they would till their land collectively, but the land itself would remain divided into patches, each of which was the private property of an individual peasant. The surplus of what was collectively produced could then be sold through the circle. Strictly speaking, this was not a socialist form of production. Nor was it a system of cooperatives in our socialist understanding of the term. The Polish “circles” were closer to what we would call workers’ cooperatives or partnerships. They were like small companies in that the land continued to belong to the peasants. Thus the system was a throwback to the old days. However, the organization of farmlands was an internal matter for Poland, and we never took Comrade Gomulka to task for it.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 240


I say “continue” because a number of years have passed since I retired–that is, since I was forced to retire.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 266


Later there were other upsetting incidents. The Guineans asked us to build them an airfield capable of handling the heaviest planes. We willingly obliged and sent our specialists down there to build the airfield. Then along came the so-called Caribbean crisis, when military conflict threatened any moment to flare up between the USSR and the United States. Our communications with Cuba took on vital importance. Our planes needed at least one stopover on their way to Havana, but the countries where our planes usually stopped suddenly refused us landing rights.
The airfield we’d built in Guinea would have been a perfect refueling point, but the Guinean government wouldn’t let us use it. They tried to justify their refusal on the grounds that “technical conditions” weren’t right. We might well have asked, who knew more about the technical conditions–the government of Guinea or the Soviet engineers who built the airfield? The Guinea’s action seemed clearly in favor of the United States and contrary to the interests not only of the Soviet Union, but of all peoples struggling for independence. After that incident we no longer trusted Guinea’s motives.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 382-383

I’d like to say a few words about Yemen. Even before our visit to England in 1955, Crown Prince al-Badr asked us to give his country military aid and we agreed. As I’ve already mentioned the British Minister of War told me in London that a little birdie had whispered in his ear that we were selling arms to Yemen. The little birdie was right. As a result, al-Badr became confident in us, and we continued to help him over the years….
He asked us to give him economic assistance so that Yemen could build a port. The British wouldn’t let them use the harbor in Aden any more. Al-Badr said, “Can you imagine that since ships have to anchor a great distance offshore, all the cargo and passengers have to be carried ashore on the dockers’ backs?” We agreed to build a seaport for them….
After his father died, al-Badr ascended the throne. As often happens, a liberal prince became a reactionary king. He turned out to be an extremely cruel leader, a literal slave driver. After a while, the chief of the royal security guard led a palace revolt and over-threw him.
For a long time there were rumors that al-Badr had been killed and buried under the rubble of the palace, but it turned out that by some miracle he had survived. He’d put on woman’s clothing and snuck away.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 385-386


By then Roosevelt–who had always treated us with such understanding–was dead, and the United States was headed by Truman, an aggressive man and a fool. His policies reflected his stupidity and his class hatred. He was vicious and spiteful toward the Soviet Union. He had neither an ounce of statesmanship nor an iota of common sense. I can’t imagine how anyone ever considered him worthy of the Vice-Presidency, much less the Presidency. The whole world knows from the newspapers how he once slapped a journalist for criticizing his daughter’s singing. That incident alone told us something about Truman’s statesmanship, to say nothing of his suitability for so important a post as the Presidency of United States.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 402


I have always favored peaceful coexistence among countries, but Reuther favored peaceful coexistence among classes, which is a fundamental contradiction to our Marxist-Leninist teaching. Worse, it is treason to the cause of his fellow workers. I’m afraid such treason is all too common among American trade-union leaders.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 447


The events of the last few years, which have overwhelmed Eastern Europe and the USSR, have not only proved the utter bankruptcy of Khrushchevite revisionism but also exposed, if such exposure was ever required, the thoroughly counter-revolutionary nature of Trotskyism. These events have proved beyond doubt the inner affinity, notwithstanding the differences in form, of revisionism and Trotskyism. Khrushchevite revisionism, right in form and in essence, was aiming, through the Communist Party, for the same aim of restoring capitalism in the USSR and other East European countries that Trotskyism, ‘left’ in form and right in essence, had been attempting ever since the twenties through the so-called “anti-bureaucratic revolution.”

Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 68


Early in the morning of March 6, Moscow radio announced the death of Stalin. A vast crowd began filling Red Square… and by late afternoon the line of mourners was reported to stretch for 10 miles. In their thousands Russians from Moscow and distant regions filed past the bier in a slow, unending procession, taking leave of their father.

In every part of the country from Vladivostock in the east to Leningrad in the west, from Archangel in the north to Astrakhan in the south, houses and windows were draped in red flags, hung with black crepe. Even in the numerous labor camps… there were displays of grief. A nation of over 200 million people was united in the solemn quiet of morning for their leader who had guided and driven them through harsh trials and a savage war and who, they knew instinctively, had sought to serve them and Russia.

Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 464

When he [Stalin] died in March 1953 the grief of hundreds of millions, both in the Soviet Union and around the world, was quite sincere.

Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 617

I wanted to do my job so that he [Stalin] would be pleased. His smile of approval was a priceless gift. I didn’t identify the things that happened to my father with Stalin but rather with the bad people who had penetrated his inner circle. Was it not Stalin who with his article “Dizzy with Success” had tried to put the brakes on the runaway forced collectivization? He didn’t hesitate to remove or execute the people who violated “socialist law.” Yagoda, Yezhov, and other butchers paid for their lives for their hideous crimes. He was also ruthless to those who departed from or perverted Lenin’s teaching.

Millions and millions of Soviet people shared that thinking then. I was one of them who just happened to have the good and rare fortune to be near the Great Leader.

Stalin’s death hit me hard. For me he was not just the leader of our country, a faithful follower of Lenin and the alpha and omega of all we lived by before, during, and after the war. For me he was someone I had known personally, someone I had sat next to, hanging on his every word in an effort to get across to his interlocutors the tone and tenor of his every thought. When he died, I no longer felt heartbroken over the fact that he had spurned me. What was my puny pain compared to the irreparable loss for our people and for humanity as a whole!

Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 348

For three days the body lay in state at the Hall of Columns in the House of Trade Unions, three blocks from the Kremlin. On the first day hundreds died in the crush of thousands pushing forward, not knowing that admission to the hall was by ticket.

Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 137

Anatoly remembered the day Stalin died, and how everyone around, even those with parents and friends in the camps, wept as if the world were lost. “It was March 1953,” he said. “I was a Young Pioneer, and we always wore those orange scars. They gave us black ones to wear, and when the teacher started crying, we cried, too.

Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 230

The first blow fell powerfully, on March 5, 1953, with Stalin’s death. For the overwhelming majority of Russians, that was a day of emotional trauma. It is hard for Americans, who see Stalin as an evil tyrant, to understand how differently Stalin was seen at that time by his own people.

Stalin’s death was personally even more devastating for Russians than the assassination of John F. Kennedy was for many Americans a decade later. To this day, Russians can remember what they were doing when they heard Stalin had died, where they were standing, how they were feeling–as if it were yesterday. For most of them, Stalin was not the paranoid dictator of the purges, but their infallible leader, the father of their country. Stalin had industrialized country, had led them to victory in war. Millions had gone into battle shouting, “For the Motherland, for Stalin!” He was the linchpin of their universe, their compass, their czar, the ruler who held life together and gave it meaning. His death shattered their national self-confidence, leaving them feeling bereaved and abandoned, vulnerable to external enemies, uncertain of a future without him. On the day of his funeral, millions stampeded in the center of Moscow in a frenzy of anxiety and grief.

Smith, Hedrick. The New Russians (Pt. 1). New York: Random House, 1990. p. 51

“When my father died there was a tremendous outpouring of feeling from the people as he lay in state. It was all filmed by Gerasimov who had by then made a lot of documentaries and feature films. I knew him very well, and he told me, “I filmed mostly the ordinary people, not the official personnel. I am not making the official version!” That was in 1953. When I asked him, years later, what had happened to the film of the funeral, he said, “I showed it and it was banned. It was banned because it showed the truth of what happened. The later official story was that nobody cried.”

“All his marshals stood near my father’s open coffin, and Marshal Rokossovsky was weeping. He was Polish, and had been saved from prison by my father and had risen to high rank under him.” Rokossovsky had joined the Red Army in 1919 and had a brilliant career, being one of the most outstanding generals of the Second World War. He was twice awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for his part in the defense of Moscow and Stalingrad. In 1949 he was officially transferred to the Polish army. “I have never seen a man cry like this. Tears were rolling down his uniform, over his tunic and decorations. The others were weeping too, especially those who had been through the war with him. They knew that the war would probably not have been won without Stalin. When there was a need to hold everything in one pair of hands and pull everybody together to make the effort, he was there. They depended on him for that, and they had been through it all together. It was a powerful experience.”

“General Vishnevsky told me, “When I was fighting in the war, I was not afraid of anything. I was under shellfire, I was wounded, and I didn’t care. But when I saw your father in his coffin, when we all came to say goodbye in the civil farewell, and when I saw all those marshals sobbing, my knees gave out. I had to go looking for a chair and I sat down like a sack! I couldn’t stand up. It was a very strong emotion.”

Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 253

“When the funeral was over,” continues Svetlana, “there were so many wreaths in Red Square that they could not all be put on the mausoleum, but on the stone ramparts where the people came to watch.”

…On New Year’s Eve 1991 there were more flowers on Stalin’s grave than on any other in sight.

Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 255

When the news of his death reached Siberia the scenes of grief in the village on my kolkhoz surpassed anything I have ever witnessed, and I understand that this small hamlet faithfully reflected the mood that swept through the country. The people’s sorrow was sincere and crushing; they behaved as though their own beloved Father had died, the protector behind whose backs they had sheltered. I saw old peasant men and women who could not have put on an act, and had no reason to do so, looking distraught. They lamented, ‘Who will defend Russia now? The Germans will fall on us. The foreigners will attack us. Russia is lost.’ These simple people spoke of civil war, famine and chaos; they were in despair. The behavior of the children was particularly extraordinary. All the schools were closed, indeed all life had come to a halt, and out into the village street poured children from the age of six to sixteen, their eyes red from crying as though they had indeed been orphaned. Around them was a crowd of men and women, sobbing hysterically; even Party members, even the members of the local Party Committee, were weeping. At one moment the District Secretary of the Party called out, ‘Enough tears’, and for a short time the weeping stopped, but then it started up again.

Berger, Joseph. Nothing but the Truth. New York, John Day Co. 1971, p. 236

The funeral took place on the ninth. Not only the whole of Moscow came to have a last look at Stalin but people walked tens of kilometers from outlying villages into the capital. The result was a stampede; generals and other high-ranking officers linked arms, spoke to the people and ordered them to move back. In spite of this hundreds were crushed to death. Of course, we did not hear of this till long afterwards.

Berger, Joseph. Nothing but the Truth. New York, John Day Co. 1971, p. 238


MOLOTOV: It is totally obvious that he kept his plan secret, a plan aimed against building Communism in our country. He had another course–a course for Capitalism. This faint-hearted traitor, like other faint-hearted traitors whom the Party has dealt with satisfactorily, was planning nothing less than a return to Capitalism.

I must again draw your attention to Beria’s attempts to establish ties with Rankovich and with Tito, which Comrade Malenkov has already mentioned.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 30

MOLOTOV: Hence it follows that we must seriously dig into his biography, into his past, in order to fully understand his rotten, treacherous role in our country, in our Party. We have studied his biography very little. Let as now take this up more seriously.

How did it happen, that such an inveterate enemy like Beria, could get into our Party and into its leadership organs?

Without going into the deeper reasons for this type of fact, one can give a simple answer to this question: This is the result of insufficient vigilance on the part of our Central Committee, including Comrade Stalin. Beria found certain human weaknesses in Comrade Stalin, and who doesn’t have them? He skillfully exploited them, and was able to do so for many, many years.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 32

MOLOTOV: Although it was written by certain of Beria’s self-serving cronies, he didn’t hesitate to put his name on the brochure, which was destined to play its role in his progress toward a central job. Beria also used other methods for his careerist goals. The methods of a smooth operator and unforgivable careerist, when activity in work is hardly explained by ideological ideas or true faithfulness to the Party. We can’t deny his organizational abilities, which showed in organizing and implementing a number of economic measures. The Party had to use these abilities when they were used to execute necessary tasks. The Party does not refuse to use even the abilities of exposed wreckers, when it has the opportunity to do so.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 34

BULGANIN: All these facts tell us that Beria was acting on the principle of: the worst things are, the better things are for him.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 46

BAGIROV (Candidate Member of the Presidium of the Central Committee): Beria–this chameleon, this most evil enemy of our Party, our people–was so cunning and adept that I personally, having known him for some 30-plus years before his exposure by the Presidium of the Central Committee, could not see through him, could not draw out his true enemy nature. I can only explain this as my excessive gullibility, and the dullness of my Party and Communist vigilance toward this double-dealer and scoundrel. This will be a serious lesson for me, too.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 78

MALYSHEV (Member of the Central Committee): For example, I, as a minister, have worked under the leadership of several comrades–Comrade Molotov, Comrade Kaganovich, and Beria. I must say, that each time you go to report on some matter to the comrades, you go with different feelings. You go to comrade Molotov with one feeling–we know that he is a strict leader, demanding, but whenever you go to him you know that there will be no hasty decisions, adventurist decisions, if you made a big and serious mistake you will never be struck at because of his mood. Then there’s comrade Kaganovich–a sometimes hot tempered fellow, but we know that he does not bear grudges. He’ll erupt, but it quickly passes and he makes the right decision. Beria is another thing. We minister’s knew that you would enter his office a minister, but who you would be on return–you didn’t know. Perhaps a minister, or perhaps you’d land in prison. This was his method: “A knock on the head”–and you’d come out staggering. In one word, Beria’s leadership style was the crude style of a dictator, no Party spirit. And speaking of Party spirit, I worked under Beria during the war, in charge of tanks,… and I was convinced that he never had any Party spirit.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 83

MIKOYAN: From the date when Comrade Stalin fell ill, and the doctors told us he would not recover, the chief concern of each of us was to preserve the iron unity of the Party leadership collective, since Party unity had been secured during Stalin’s lifetime.

Many comrades may ask how is it that members of the Central Committee who knew Beria for many years weren’t able to recognize in their midst this foreign and dangerous person for such a long time. By the way this wasn’t such a simple matter, it wasn’t so easy to achieve. In the first place, we didn’t know all the facts. In the second place, the facts occurred at various times and, taking each one separately, they didn’t have the same significance which they take on when you see them all together. We mustn’t forget that there was a good deal of skillful work in masking these facts, in muddying up their significance and interpreting them in a totally different meaning. There were many instances of Beria’s positive work, and in the shadow of these successes the negative facts were hidden.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 107

MIKOYAN: Even before Beria’s coming to Moscow, and especially when he was in Moscow, he was able to skillfully, with every truth and every untruth, worm his way into Comrade Stalin’s trust. Even during Comrade Stalin’s life, especially in recent years when Comrade Stalin couldn’t work as he used to, when he had begun to meet with people less often, read information less often, at that time Beria skillfully got himself made Chief Information Officer to Comrade Stalin.

I must say that lately Comrade Stalin didn’t trust Beria. Beria was forced to recognize, at his last session of the Presidium of the Central Committee, that Comrade Stalin didn’t trust him,…

During the war Comrade Stalin divided the MVD and State Security. It seems to me that this, too, was done from a certain lack of trust in him, otherwise there was no point in dividing the ministry. This had to be done in order to take away his rights as a Minister. At that time they appointed him to the Council of Ministers and to the GOKO. This, too, was one of the first signs of a lack of trust. But in spite of all this, Comrade Stalin showed him a great deal of trust.

… He feigned being a buddy–first of one-person, then another–saying one thing to your face and another behind your back, he alienated the comrades — first some, then others–and stacked the deck for his purposes. We all saw this, but didn’t give it the significance which it all took on after Comrade Stalin was gone.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 109

MIKOYAN: A few days before his death the late Ordzhonikidze, in a private conversation with me said “I don’t understand why Stalin doesn’t trust me. I am completely loyal to him, I don’t want to fight with him, I want to support him, but he doesn’t trust me. Beria’s schemes play a large part in this–he gives Stalin wrong information, but Stalin trusts him.”

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 110

SHATALIN (Secretary of the Central Committee): In the light of materials we now have on Beria, it is absolutely clear that presenting the Doctor’s Affair was useful only to him and his protectors. He wanted to use this incident to make points as a humanitarian and brave initiator. What does this rogue care for the interests of the State.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 119

SARKISOV (For 18 years he worked in Beria’s security force): I also know that Beria cohabited with a certain Sophia. At Beria’s suggestion, through the Chief of the Health Department of the USSR MVD, she had an abortion. I repeat, Beria had many, many such relationships.

On Beria’s instructions, I kept a special list of women with whom he cohabited. Later, at his suggestion, I destroyed this list. However, I kept one list. In this list are the surnames and names and addresses of telephone numbers of more than 25 such women. This list is in my apartment in my jacket pocket. (The list to which Sarkisov was referring was found, it contained 39 names of women.).

One or 1 1/2 years ago, I learned for a fact that, as a result of his relationships with prostitutes, Beria contracted syphilis. He was treated by a doctor in the MVD clinic, initials U.B. I don’t remember his name.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 121

VOROSHILOV: However, the question reasonably arises, why was this subject able to freely work in Party leadership and government for so long, without being exposed sooner, why did he have such a great authority, and hold such high Party and State positions? The question is entirely legitimate.

First and foremost,… Beria is an insidious and cunning enemy, a consummate adventurist, schemer, who knows how to skillfully worm his way into the trust of a leader, who can hide his base plans for a long time and wait for the proper moment. He witnessed the daily life of the great Stalin. Together with all of us he knew that Stalin, as the result of intense work, often fell sick in recent years, obviously this circumstance to a certain extent was the basis for Beria’s vile tactics. He waited in the hope that sooner or later Stalin would be no more. As the facts have now shown, after the death of Stalin this adventurist was counting on the speedy realization of his criminal plans against the Party and the State. That’s why he was in such a hurry after the death of Stalin, or perhaps he was being hurried….

In all these characteristics of his, Beria feared Stalin, he ingratiated himself with Stalin, but skillfully, in his own way; he would whisper all manner of disgusting things, would completely confuse him. And we could tell just by Comrade Stalin’s mood, when we met either for business or other reasons, we could all feel whom Beria had been “whispering” against that day.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 143

VOROSHILOV: We were by our Stalin’s side until his last breath, and Beria immediately demonstrated his “activity”–as if to say don’t forget, I’m here.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 145

ANDREYEV (Member of the Central Committee and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet): In this sense, Beria’s plan differed from the plan of other traitors of the Soviet people, former enemies. As we now know, this plan was about:

Firstly, worming his way into the trust of Comrade Stalin, whatever the cost. This he considered a fundamental condition for his enemy activity. And so in any way he tried to worm his way into Stalin’s trust. Did he achieve this? Undoubtedly he did. Comrades here have already mentioned that Comrade Stalin had a weakness of being too trusting. This is the truth.

The second, and obviously the central, task in his plan, was to destroy the Bolshevik nucleus of our leadership…. to undermine the trust Comrade Stalin had in various leaders, to sow strife among the Party leaders and the leaders of the government.

Was he able to achieve any of this? Certainly, he was successful for a time.

Now Comrade Voroshilov spoke about Comrade Ordjonikidze. Ordjonikidze was the most honest, most noble Bolshevik, and you may be sure that he was a victim of Beria’s intrigues….

Beria divided Comrade Stalin and Ordjonikidze and Comrade Ordjonikidze’s noble heart couldn’t take it; thus Beria took out of commission one of the best leaders of the Party and friends of Comrade Stalin.

Going on. All of us Chekists and the new ones too, know what a warm key friendship there was between Comrade Stalin and Molotov. We all considered this a natural friendship, and were happy for it. But then Beria appeared in Moscow, and fundamentally changed everything, Comrade Stalin’s relationship with Comrade Molotov was ruined. Comrade Molotov began to be subjected to undeserved attacks from Comrade Stalin. This was Beria, successfully undermining the close friendship of Comrade Stalin and Comrade Molotov with his intrigues.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 154

ANDREYEV: It was only lately, in the German question, and in other questions, that we saw his bourgeois degeneracy.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 155

ANDREYEV: And Beria, of course, at times did great work, but this was work done for a disguise, and in this was the difficulty of exposing him. He created himself a halo, that, for example, during the war he was during enormous work, etc., he was blackmailing in the name of Comrade Stalin. He was difficult to expose.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 157

TEVOSYAN (Member of the Central Committee): Yesterday, we learned from the speech of Comrade Kaganovich that this scoundrel Beria protested against referring to Comrade Stalin–along with the names of Marx, Engels, Lenin–when speaking about the teachings which guide our Party. That’s how far this scoundrel went.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 159

MALENKOV: As you see, comrades, great people, too, can have weaknesses. Comrade Stalin had these weaknesses. We must say this, in order to bring up the need for collective party leadership properly, like Marxists, the need for criticism and self-criticism in all branches of the party, including, before all else, the Central Committee in the Presidium of the Central Committee.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 176

Special Judicial Session of the Supreme Court: All the accused were indisputably proven guilty of the accusations against them, through original documents, exhibits, handwritten letters of the accused, and the testimony of numerous witnesses.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 196

Another provocation… an anonymous letter from Italy stated: “Comrade Stalin, in your car there is an explosive device underneath the hood.” We looked… of course, there was no explosive. Then another letter from Italy came: “Comrade Stalin, it seems that your living expenses are extremely high… costing the Government money!”

Stalin decided after this to set up a commission, under Malenkov, to look into the finances. The commission detailed all of the expenses of running the government Dacha. Malenkov brought this to Orlov in order for him to sign. Orlov refused, because Stalin was a light eater, hardly drank, and took no liquors. A bottle of “Tsinandali” was enough to last him for two weeks. It was proven that it was Stalin’s “friends,” under the aegis of Beria, who really lived it up, charging the cost to Stalin’s budget. Vodka was the main culprit in the inflated costs charged to Stalin’s name.

Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 66

Grandma Olga and Anna used to say–which always sounded strange to me but now I don’t think it’s so strange–“Your father could be influenced very easily. He could be influenced by good people: Kirov had a wonderful influence on him. Beria had a terrible influence.”

Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 209


MOLOTOV: We can be certain that foreign capital would throw any millions and billions of rubles–merely for the chance to back any political organization opposing the Communist Party in power in the USSR. This particular political organization could have the most leftist platform and bear any sign, but in one way or another it would immediately be used by foreign capital and imperialist espionage, to crack and split the workers of the USSR, which is the dream of the imperialists. They would use this type of special organization to break up the union of workers and peasants, to undermine socialist construction in all possible ways, to create intrigues and break down the Soviet state. Why, Tito’s anti-Communist clique seized power in Yugoslavia under the guise of Communism. Why, this clique even now calls itself “Communist,” although it is already openly a lackey of the North Atlantic bloc of imperialists.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 33


… he [Beria] himself not only underestimated this theory, but simply didn’t understand it–in his speeches, both published and unpublished, you’ll find very little Marxism-Leninism. He did not know Marxism-Leninism. He had a poor theoretical foundation; the book mentioned by Comrade Molotov was written not by him, he was using it to earn points for himself.

Beria had a hostile response to statements that Stalin was a great continuer of the work of Lenin, Marx, and Engels.

Stickle, D. M., Ed. The Beria Affair. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1992, p. 74


Not everyone believed these confessions, either in the Soviet Union or in the West. But the majority believed them.

… As for Brezhnev, during his time in power he was more concerned with trying to rehabilitate–Stalin. He wished to reverse the decisions of the 20th and 22nd congresses rather than carry them through consistently.

Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 15


The widespread opinion in the West that Molotov didn’t take any initiative and acted strictly on Stalin’s instructions appears unfounded, just as the view that Litvinov pursued an “independent” policy that was discontinued when he was removed from office.
Normally, important proposals were drafted by the staff of the People’s Commissariat. A draft report would be initialed by a deputy people’s commissar who was in charge of that problem or that country, and after that it was submitted to the people’s commissar. In most cases, Molotov took the final decision. It was, of course, possible that he would secure his boss’s prior agreement either over the phone or at his dacha on the preceding day. Be that as it may, according to my observations, in many cases Molotov took full responsibility for the decisions.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 209


Deep down, Stalin no doubt despised Beria, but he could not manage without him. Beria was his inquisitor, his right-hand man and his spy. Beria, for instance, informed him that Berlin had for a long time been planning to carry out a terrorist act against the Soviet leader. According to some information received, he said, a special Messerschmitt Arado-332 was to drop a trained group of terrorists from Vlasov’s Russian Army of Liberation, while other reports suggested that the Germans were going to leave a commando group behind as they retreated. Almost every month Beria told Stalin of new measures he had taken to increase his master’s security. But Stalin needed Beria for a range of other duties. For instance, he needed to know why 140 out of 400 fighter planes, allocated for use on the Kalinin and Western fronts, had to be withdrawn from service after three or four days of action. On the other hand, he did not like it when Beria poked his nose into the affairs of Staff Headquarters and the General Staff.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 480

Behind these words [‘You’re indulging an old man; it won’t do anything for my health.’] lay yet a new fear that assailed him [Stalin] on the eve of his birthday. He had been getting up to leave for the dacha one evening, and as he rose from his desk to put on his coat, he had a dizzy spell. Orange circles swam before his eyes, but he recovered quickly. Poskrebyshev gripped him firmly by the arm with both hands and asked in some alarm, ‘Let me call the doctors, Comrade Stalin. You shouldn’t go out right away. You need a doctor.’ Stalin told him not to fuss.
The dizziness soon passed. Stalin waited a little while and drank some tea. He felt pressure at the back of his neck but would not have the doctors called in. True, he did not trust them, but he trusted Beria, who was in charge of the 4th Main Administration of the Ministry of Health, even less. He did not want it to get around that he had been unwell.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 526

Everything had tended to indicate my father’s complete trust in Beria and his dependence on him, but of this one could never be quite sure. I shall never forget how startled I had been by something my father said in 1941 during the first days of the war. I was visiting Beria’s wife at their dacha. My father had always encouraged my friendship with her. I was talked into staying the night. Next morning my father suddenly called up in a fury. Using unprintable words, he shouted, “Come back at once! I don’t trust Beria!”
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 376

In 1948 Stalin began to bring pressure to bear on Rapava, Georgia’s Minister of Internal Affairs, to provide him with a compromising dossier on my father [Beria].
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 217

When he [my father, Beria] gradually began to open my eyes to certain facts and to get me ready to understand that there was a conflict between Stalin and him, he always took care to emphasize that there was no one equal to Stalin when it came to perseverance and capacity to achieve his aims.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 290


Yepishev, who was at one time deputy Minister of State Security, told me that Stalin kept a black oilskin exercise book in which he would make occasional notes,…. All efforts to discover either the notebook or these letters have failed, and Yepishev did not reveal his source. Only Beria, Poskrebyshev and Vlasik had direct access to Stalin, and only they can have known of these notes, but Poskrebyshev and Vlasik were compromised by Beria shortly before Stalin’s death and were therefore distanced from him.
Beria must have been aware that Stalin’s attitude towards him had cooled markedly over the last year or 18 months. For his part, Stalin must also have been aware of Beria’a intentions…. Perhaps the truth will never be known, but Yepishev was convinced that Beria cleaned out the safe before the others could get to it.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 513


From Krasnoyarsk, where he [Vlasik] was in exile, he wrote in May 1955 to Voroshilov, as chairman of the Supreme Soviet. Quaintly referring to Stalin throughout as ‘the Head of government’, Vlasik described a conversation that had taken place between him and Stalin, when they were on a holiday in the south after the war:
“The Head of government expressed his dissatisfaction with Beria, saying that the work of the state security organs did not justify the protection they got. He said he had given orders to remove Beria from the job of running the MGB. He asked me what I thought of Merkulov and Kobulov, and later of Goglidze and Tsanave. I told him what I knew. When I later found out that my conversation with the Head of government had definitely become known to them, I was staggered.”
Beria had obviously been alarmed by Stalin’s attitude to him, but how did he know what his boss and Vlasik had said about him when they were alone? Had Stalin relayed their conversation, or did Beria have some means of bugging the leader himself?
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 569

Relations between Stalin and Beria deteriorated during the years 1946 through 1948. The earliest sign of Stalin’s distrust was his dismissal of Beriaites from the MGB and, on suspicion of misplaced loyalty, Georgians from the Guards Directorate. Stalin then went out of his way to slight Beria. He promoted the chiefs of bodyguard details for all Politburo members except Beria’s chief, who remained a colonel as the rest moved up in rank to general. Stalin would agree to meeting Malenkov but then cancel the appointment if Malenkov said that Beria planned to join them.
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 62

In 1948, 1949, and 1950 Stalin had gone on vacation to Sochi in southern RSFSR, some 50 miles from the border with the Georgian Republic. In 1951 he went to another resort on the Black Sea, this in Georgia. The purpose of his choosing to go to that republic at that time was to commence undermining Beria’s power with an attack on Beriaites in their stronghold.
The first report to reach Moscow that the Stalin-Beria relationship again had soured was an announcement by the Georgian Party’s Central Committee in November 1951. Muscovites read that the Party accused three senior officials of protecting unnamed criminals. At MGB headquarters we recognized all three as Beriaites, which meant to us that Beria had lost his grip on affairs in his native Georgia. The big chief [Stalin] was back in the drivers seek there and back on the warpath.
The purge of Beriaites lasted into the winter of 1952, long after Stalin had left the Georgian resort for Moscow. According to the Georgian press, it resulted in hundreds–thousands, according to MGB officers–of dismissals from jobs in the Georgian Party and government. Some of the most senior Beriaites were arrested.
When the Guards Directorate personnel accompanying Stalin once more returned to the Center from Georgia, they told me that Beria had not visited Stalin during his vacation of 1951. The nights of the two Georgians engaging in Georgian revelries had ended.
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 68-69

Is it correct to say that Comrade Stalin has turned against Beria?
My boss nodded [yes].
And is it correct to say that Comrade Stalin’s reason was the information about Beria having syphilis?
Absolutely, said [my boss] Goryshev.
Less than a year after this conversation Stalin’s hostility toward Beria was indicated on the pages of Pravda.
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 71


And whatever his basic physical and mental condition, foreigners he received only a few weeks before his death saw him as reasonably sharp and fit,…
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 301

…Stalin was thus now deprived of his long-term personal doctor (Vinogradov), his personal secretary, and his personal guard commander.
That Stalin was still capable of any sort of merriment as late as February 28 is remarkable, even though exceptional. Yet it is at any rate clear that he was in reasonably full position of his faculties almost to the last,…
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 311

My father’s health, on the whole, was strong. At 73 acute sclerosis and high blood pressure brought on a stroke, but his heart, lungs, liver were in excellent condition. He used to say that in his youth he had had tuberculosis, a poor digestion, that he had lost his teeth at an early age, that his arm, injured in his childhood, often hurt him. But in general he was in good health…. Under no circumstances could one call him a neurotic; rather, powerful self-control was part of his nature.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 359

At last came a glimmer of reason. At a meeting of the Presidium on March 1, 1953, in Stalin’s office, Kaganovich proposed that a committee be appointed to study the case of the doctors who had been arrested….
Stalin reached for the bell-button to call his guards,… but nevertheless Stalin over-balanced and fell, hitting his head on the table.
Stalin had not in fact suffered serious injury; although over 73 years of age he was in superb physical condition, a fact confirmed by the Argentine Ambassador Senor Bravo, by the Indian Ambassador Mr. Menon, and by Dr. Kichlum an Indian activist of the Peace Movement. All three, who had been with Stalin only a short time previously, had been impressed by his vigorous health.
Fishman and Hutton. The Private Life of Josif Stalin. London: W. H. Allen, 1962, p. 183

When I saw Stalin in December 1952 he looked well and had a perky air.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 247

Until the last months of his life Stalin was in good physical condition and his mind and will were intact.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 242


[Kosygin said to me] “I understand…you found the conditions difficult in the collective at the time. But we don’t intend following Khrushchev’s rotten line!”
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 36


When she [Paulina Molotov] was arrested in 1949, everybody thought that physically she would be unable to bear it. For four years even her daughter did not know where she was, and everyone considered Paulina Molotov dead. When, immediately after my father’s death, she was brought back from her exile in Kazakhstan, it was almost impossible to believe that she was still alive. But she, laughing, said that “severe conditions had improved her health.” And indeed, she looked better than before, and all her “mysterious ailments” had vanished.
There is no doubt that Paulina Molotov had been arrested with the consent–and perhaps on the explicit order–of my father, who considered that, being Jewish, she was “mixed up with Zionists and was spying on Molotov.” She knew this perfectly well but insisted on blaming her misfortunes on Beria. She told me that she had “danced with joy like a mad woman” when she heard of his arrest. No one had resisted the 20th Congress and Khrushchev’s new direction more than Kaganovich and Molotov. As for Molotov’s wife, she was even more vehement about it. Kaganovich and Molotov considered Khrushchev their personal enemy, because he had ousted them from the government and had recommended their expulsion from the Party. When Kosygin came to power, they instantly sent in a demand for reinstatement in the Party, which was refused. After that they grew incensed at the whole world and began singing praises to the “memory of the great Stalin.”
I saw Molotov after Khrushchev had been replaced by Kosygin. He looked old and wizened, living as a pensioner in a small apartment. As usual, he spoke little, only backing with yeses what others said…. Now he was yessing his wife. She, on the other hand, was full of energy and battle cries.
She had not been excluded from the Party and now attended Party meetings in a candy factory, as she had done in her youth. When I arrived, the family was gathered round the dinner table. Paulina said to me, “Your father was a genius. He destroyed the Fifth Column in our country, and when war broke out, the Party and the people were as one. Now there’s no revolutionary spirit left, only opportunism. See what the Italian Communists are doing! It’s a disgrace! They have all been scared out of their wits by this fear of war. There’s only one hope left– China. There alone the spirit of revolution still survives!”
Molotov kept nodding his head and yessing…. Paulina Molotov crumbled diced garlic into the borsch, assuring us that “Stalin always ate it this way.” Later she reviled the laundry service, complaining of having to do the wash all over again; then she inveighed against Khrushchev: she could never forgive him for expelling her husband from the Party.
Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 407-408

Almost every account quotes cases of people who remained devoted to “the Party and the Government” and attributed their arrest to error.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 318


Soviet citizens, especially of the older generation, are generally convinced that under Stalin prices decreased every year, whereas under Khrushchev and his later successors they have constantly risen. This explains the existence of a certain nostalgia for the Stalin era.
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 476


The disturbances [of 1956] in Poland did not develop into a general uprising for many reasons. One of the most significant was that in Stalin’s time the repression of the moderate elements in Poland had not taken the form of executions and massive bloody purges of the party and state apparatus.
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 538


Even two decades after 1937 and a third of a century since his “mistake,” Khrushchev himself invested this charge with such significance that he devoted a major portion of his speech to it at the June plenum of 1957…. After describing how, at the time of “the discussion, foisted [on the Party] by the Trotskyists,” he [Khrushchev] had spoken out against the violations of inner-party democracy which had been allowed in his party organization, Khrushchev added: “And so it turned out that my comments at that time, that is, during the first days of the discussion, were objectively in support of the Trotskyists, although in essence I never had acted together with the Trotskyists. I quickly understood that I had made a mistake, that my remarks might be interpreted as contributions from incorrect positions.”
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 303

QUESTION: What about Khrushchev? What are your [Moscow Soviet Chairman, Vasili Pronin, who was chairman from April 1939 to 1945] thoughts about him?
ANSWER: From 1920 onwards, Khrushchev always voted for and supported Trotsky and his platform… even voting against Lenin in his last days….
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 23-25

But for supporting Khrushchev you [Kaganovich] will be blamed.
Yes, you are right. I was the one who pushed him up as I thought him to be a capable person. But he had been a Trotskyist. I informed Stalin that he had been a Trotskyist. I told this to Stalin when Khrushchev was elected a member of the Moscow Committee. Stalin asked: ‘How is he now?’ I replied: ‘He is fighting against the Trotskyists, genuinely, actively’. Stalin then asked me to support him on behalf of the CC at the conference.
We heard of this episode differently. It seems Khrushchev had said that Kaganovich wanted to destroy his career when he was pushed for the Moscow Committee. You at the last moment reportedly pointed out to Stalin that Khrushchev had been a Trotskyist, to which Stalin replied that he already knew about it.
Really, is that so?
Yes, that is how the story is told.
I told you how it exactly happened. Khrushchev came to me during the conference in tears and asked me whether he should speak or not. I told him that I would consult Stalin. Stalin suggested that he should speak, narrate, everything, and later on I was supposed to speak and express trust in him on behalf of the CC.
THUS SPAKE KAGANOVICH by Feliks Chuyev, 1992


Every year Stalin carefully studied the report on the country’s gold reserves submitted by the Ministry of Finance, and he became convinced that the ministry was not doing its job at all well. In November 1946 he transferred responsibility for the gold and platinum industry to the MGB, or Ministry for State Security (as the NKVD became that year, when ministries replaced People’s Commissariats)…. In the year of his [Stalin] death, the state repository was holding more precious metal than at any other time in Soviet history, including 2049 tons of gold and 3261 tons of silver. Within a year of his death the reserves began inexorably to fall, and when in the early 1960s gold started to be traded for grain, they evaporated at catastrophic speed.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 145

The measures applied by Khrushchev in agriculture led to the growth of grain output, without doubt, but also to a sharp rise in consumption. The shortage became chronic, and the consequent drop in reserves was so drastic that he was finally compelled to purchase large supplies abroad. This desperate step was proof, it proof were needed, that the Soviet system of agriculture was bankrupt. The purchase of grain from abroad continued for more than 30 years, as the country literally ate up its gold reserves, which declined from 13.1 million tons in 1954 to 6.3 million in 1963.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 211

According to memoranda approved by the Politburo, in the Five-Year Plan prior to 1977, 1214 tons of gold were sold for grain. This had evidently been insufficient, for it had been supplemented by the sale of fuels, copper, zinc, magnesium, chromium ore, aluminum, cellulose, coal, industrial diamonds, cotton, cars, tractors, machinery and much, much more.
It is obvious enough from all this that the Bolshevik’s plans for agriculture had failed. Russia had been turned from a large-scale exporter of grain into a regular importer. The last 25 years during which the USSR bought grain abroad, Moscow was in effect financing the development of agriculture in other countries, instead of its own. In that time, the USSR transferred about 9000 tons of gold to Western banks. Only part of this was for grain–it was also buying meat, butter and other agricultural products. In 1977 alone, for instance, and only for “supplementary” deliveries of meat, the Politburo had to sell an additional 42 tons of gold abroad. Virtually all the gold the country produced, plus its hidden reserves, was being sold abroad to buy food….
If, as has been seen, the highest volume of pure gold reserves was reached in 1953 at 2049.8 tons, then all the gold mined after that date, between 250-300 tons annually, was sold for grain.
… the highest output of grain achieved during Stalin’s role had been 34.7 million tons, in 1952….
After 1953, less grain was produced than was consumed in 18 of the 24 years to 1977, the shortfall being covered by huge foreign purchases, at the cost of the national reserves. In 1975, for instance, 50.2 million tons were produced, while consumption amounted to 89.4 million tons.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Lenin: A New Biography. New York: Free Press, 1994, p. 339-340


He [Andropov] had learnt his ‘Hungarian lesson’, and knew that those events had begun with ‘the toleration of trouble-makers’.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 342


For instance, in 1986 he [Gorbachev] told the Politburo: ‘In Reagan at Reykjavik we were fighting not only with the class enemy, but with one who is extremely primitive, has the looks of a troglodyte and displays mental incapacity.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 449


There were times when Gorbachev had the ability to issue a firm yes or no. In March 1989, when Soviet troops had been withdrawn from Afghanistan, Shevardnadze, yielding to Najibullah’s persuasion, suddenly raised the defense of the tottering regime in Kabul as an issue. The question was whether to carry out bombing missions from Soviet territory against mujahedin in the vicinity of Jellalabad. The Defense Ministry, in the person of Marshall Yazov, gave its support to the Foreign Ministry only reluctantly. At this point Gorbachev exploded: ‘No other reply to Najibullah, except an absolute refusal to do these bombing raids!’ He ordered the appropriate telegram to be sent to Kabul at once.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 464


Gorbachev approached the end of his rule sadly and, typically, surrounded by paradox: however ecstatic the West was about him, at home he was reviled in equal measure.
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 489

In his memoirs, Lukyanov, who as Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet in 1991 had been one of the initiators of the coup, and who had known Gorbachev since their student days together in Moscow, writes that he found ‘the phenomenon of Gorbachev’s authority’ understandable: the policy of concession and compromise, which led to the ‘destruction of the Warsaw Pact’, suited the West very well. As for Gorbachev’s personal characteristics:
“His pernicious tendency to resolve everything, even matters of principal, by compromise, improvisation and vacillation, under the influence of circumstances and his personal adviser, became a sort of curse hanging over him…. He had a blithe belief that everything would somehow be all right and was permanently lagging behind events. He was certain that every presidential word would be effective of itself and he lacked the ability to listen to the opinion of others…. He was astonishingly unwilling to defend people from his own team and had a tendency to quickly get rid of anyone who had fulfilled his task and ceased to be useful to him.”
When Lukyanov was asked to define the part Gorbachev had played in the history of Russia, he was unequivocal: ‘It was the role of Herostratus… Gorbachev betrayed his Party.’
Alexander Alexander-Agentov, who had been an assistant of Gorbachev’s and was replaced by Chernyayev, echoed some of Lukyanov’s thoughts: ‘Unfortunately, Gorbachev suffers from a very serious shortcoming in a leader: he is totally unable to listen, or rather unable to listen to his interlocutor, but is wholly absorbed by what he says himself. I left Gorbachev and took my pension because he had no need of advice.’
Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 525


… in order to make it much harder to get into the Politburo by opportunists, just looking to their personal pocketbooks, he proposed a cut in pay for all members of the Government. The members of the Politburo were dismayed, but what could they do? They started to make plans against Stalin more and more by taking into their own hands practically all of the functions of the government apparatus. Who were these people in actual fact? Beria, Malenkov, Khrushchev, Kaganovich, Bulganin. When they managed to put aside Stalin and his role in government in actual practice, they started their plan in earnest. His personal bodyguards and trusted friends that were with Stalin for scores of years like Poskrebyshev and Vlasik were forced out of the Kremlin shortly after [Stalin’s death].
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 57


No one wanted to telephone Beria, since most of the personal bodyguards hated Beria.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 61

If before, Menzhinsky, Yagoda, or Yezhov did not meddle in the affairs of Stalin’s bodyguards, Beria tried through all means to compromise the loyal guards of Stalin such as Vlasik and Rumyantsev. But we stood our ground and managed not to have Beria replace us with his Georgian henchmen. This is due to Stalin’s suspicions of Beria, and I remember once the following outburst by Stalin against Beria:
I myself will take care of things, I do not need your help!
Beria always worked under cover and tried to dislodge workers loyal to Stalin. All of us knew what Beria was up to and hated him for it. He was a double-dealing conniver.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 65-66


I met Beria in September of 1937, when I was in Yerevan with Mikoyan…. Beria replaced Yezhov. It is necessary to ask how Beria arrived in Moscow. There are rumors that Stalin helped Beria to come to Moscow. Definitely not! Stalin was not that warm towards Georgians, although he himself was Georgian by nationality. Malenkov was the hidden culprit, who already wormed his way into the Central Committee CPSU.
Beria immediately replaced all the other members of his Ministry, employing only his henchmen. He trumped up charges on previous Bolsheviks like Pauker, Volovich, Dagena, Kursk, Gintsel….
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 65


That is why Molotov was clever and saw through this when he told Malenkov and Khrushchev:
You are profane and fools, you are sitting in the pocket of Beria so deep, that only your ears are wriggling above the coat pocket.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 70


It is often written that nature struck down Stalin in the fullness of his power. That is not true. I witnessed Stalin being systematically stripped of his defenses during the last months of his life: his fantastic guard force cut back; his most faithful protectors sent away, or imprisoned, or killed; his hands removed from the levers of control…and was exposing himself to murder.
… Yet the final plot against him did succeed–and it did so by dismantling, before his very eyes, that inner circle of protection.
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 115

The new winds blew stronger in February 1953, and they affected Stalin’s inner circle, his son Vasily, and others close to him.
…He was dismissed as the air commander of the Moscow District and dishonorably discharged.
Five more links in the chain of loyalists around Stalin broke during February 1953. On the 13th the Jew Mekhlis, one of the last of Stalin’s old comrades from the Revolution, died at age 64 and was buried in the Kremlin wall an honor normally reserved for higher-ranking leaders. Mekhlis had been hospitalized during his retirement for reasons of health in 1950.
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 117

Beria’s foe and Stalin’s favorite general, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Colonel General Shtemenko, also lost his job in February. The Politburo took this action at the insistence of Beria, after consultation with former Defense Minister Bulganin. Only later did Stalin learn of it. In addition, the Politburo fired Minister of Public Health Dr. Smirnov who had been serving simultaneously as Stalin’s personal physician.
Lt. Gen. Spiridonov and Major General Kosynkin had been commandant and deputy commandant, respectively, of the Kremlin Kommandatura since 1939. Of the two, General Kosynkin was on more intimate terms with Stalin. He spent less time supervising Kommandatura subordinates than standing at Stalin’s elbow and fulfilling his requests for personal services.
The obituary for Kosynkin said that he died “unexpectedly” of a heart attack, in the line of duty, on Feb. 17.
[Footnote]: On the day of Kosynkin’s death the ambassador of India met with Stalin in the Kremlin, according to accounts that later appeared in the West. Stalin is reported to have doodled pictures of wolves during the interview. Seemingly apropos of nothing, he volunteered that Russian peasants learned how to fight wolves–they killed them.
On the next Saturday I happened to see Col. Nosarev’s deputy for Kommandatura Personnel-Security as we left the main MGB headquarters building. Hailing this lieutenant colonel, I caught up with him, and we walked together for a block or two.
“Too bad about Comrade Kosynkin,” I said.
[He said] “I’m skating on thin ice when I tell you this. The only heart condition he had was that it stopped beating. Comrade Kosynkin died from being shot in the head.”… It’s making a difference in Comrade Spiridonov…. [He] says that hereafter he’ll only answer to the Politburo as a group. He won’t answer to a single individual anymore.”
[Footnote]: Beria put Spiridonov under house arrest in March 1953. Although Spiridonov was permitted to retire from the MGB that summer for reasons of health, he lived into the 1970s.
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 118

Kommandatura Kosynkin, who died in mid-February, had been a Stalin loyalist in the mold of Kremlin chief of staff Poskrebyshev. Minister Abakumov, Guards Directorate Chief Vlasik, Vlasik’s deputies, and the chief of bodyguards for Stalin–all dismissed in 1951-52. Stalin’s personal physician and the chief of the Armed Forces General Staff were both dismissed in February 1953. Also, during that 21-month period the number of Stalin’s bodyguards was cut in half, many of his personal staffers were reassigned, and the inexperienced Ignatiev took charge of the Guards Directorate. Gradually the means for protecting Stalin’s life had withered.
In the 30 years since Stalin had been named CPSU general secretary, the quality of MGB protection for his life was never worse than toward the end of February 1953. The stripping of Stalin’s personal security and his increased vulnerability were apparent.
[A summary of what was done is as follows]:
Personal chief of staff and aide in directing MGB activities: position vacant since Poskrebyshev’s removal in April 1952.
Minister of State Security: the inexperienced Ignatiev since April 1952.
Chief of the Guards Directorate: none since April 1952.
Personal bodyguards: reduced by half in mid-1952.
Chief of personal bodyguards: replaced in mid-1952 by a colonel lacking command experience in this specialty.
Personal chauffeurs and bodyguards: also replaced in mid-1952.
Personal servants at the dacha in Kuntsevo: cut back in mid-1952.
Chief of physical security at the Kremlin office and unofficial doorman: none since February 1953.
Minister of Public Health and Stalin’s personal physician: dismissed in February 1953.
Miscellaneous physical security units around Moscow: reduced in size and dispersed to other organizations in mid-1952.
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 120


“Whereas till now he [Lieutenant General Nikolay Spiridonov] answered strictly to the Big Chief [Stalin].”
“Yes, that’s right. Strictly to the Big Chief till now.”
From late January through February 1953 the indications of a drastic shift in power accumulated. They led us in the MGB to believe that in the Politburo as well as in State Security Stalin had lost the struggle with Beria….
I imagine Beria putting forward two arguments to persuade a majority of Politburo members to join him in a rebellion against Stalin. The first argument would have been this: Stalin intended the [a] purge to envelop the entire Politburo old guard–Malenkov, Khrushchev, Bulganin, Voroshilov, Mikoyan, Kaganovich, and Molotov besides Beria. After that, and following his pattern of the past, it was only a matter of time before Stalin purged some or all of the 16 new members whom he appointed in October 1952. To cancel the purge, the eight old guard members (including Beria) needed five new members for a majority of 13 votes to 12 (including Stalin’s). Assuming a democratic process at work in the Politburo, Beria won a majority over to his side, against Stalin.
Second, Politburo members needed no persuasion that Stalin should not repeat the pattern of past purges…. Beria may have argued that Stalin had lost the capability to conduct a purge because he no longer controlled the MGB–Beria did. Beria had been building influence in the MGB since the last months of 1951, and Stalin and Minister Ignatiev had not succeeded in stopping him. With nothing to fear from an MGB no longer answering to Stalin, the Politburo majority joined with Beria to terminate the purge.
Whether or not the Politburo was actually polled, it did rebel against Stalin and then faced the problem of how to dispose of him.
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 118-119

There are new declassified documents that show that it was actually Beria who was the first to speak out against the Stalin cult more forcefully and consistently than either Malenkov or Khrushchev.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 107

They [Stalin’s closest aides, Vlasik and Poskrebyshev] had been removed from the entourage at Beria’s instigation a few months before, arrested and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. In his memoirs Vlasik says he is convinced that Beria “helped” Stalin to die after first removing his physicians and the two men closer to Stalin than he was himself. He believed that Beria was plotting to usurp power.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 247

Of the Alliluyev family, Volodya [Stalin’s nephew] remains the most explicitly Stalinist. Icons of his uncle’s era manifest his dogmatic adherence to the creeds and actions of the society in which he was nurtured. He eloquently defends his family’s position, apportioning blame in no small measure to Beria, whose wish to control every channel of information “was the reason for all the misfortunes of our family. At all times, even after the arrest of members of it, the family trusted Stalin completely, they continued to have a positive attitude to him. They knew Stalin and his character very well. I have come to the conclusion that it was Stalin’s entourage who needed all the arrests.”
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 273


In the revised Party lineup, 14 of Stalin’s 16 recent appointees to the Politburo were left out. The eight old guard members who stayed on–Beria, Malenkov, Khrushchev, Bulganin, Voroshilov, Molotov, Mikoyan, and Kaganovich–made a solid majority.
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 139


Beria honored the desire of other nationality groups to have persons of their own blood heading the Party in the republics. Stalin’s practice of appointing Party secretaries of the republics and oblasts regardless of their nationality groups had aroused much resentment. Ukrainians wanted a Ukrainian at the head of the Party organization in their republic, Tadzhiks a Tadzhik in their republic, and so on.
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 147


At the same time a purge was underway in Georgia. Eight of the 11 Members of the Georgian Politburo were arrested, as were others whom Stalin had appointed to replace Beriaites during the Mingrelian Affair of 1951-52. It was yet another swing of the pendulum between the two natives of the republic [Stalin and Beria] who had risen to power in Moscow. In April the Georgian Party newspaper reported a speech calling Beria ” Georgia’s best son, the outstanding leader of the great Soviet state.”
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 148


Workers in Communist East Berlin staged demonstrations, riots, and a general strike on June 17-19, 1953, against the work quotas and compensation scheme of the East German government. Soviet tanks and troops halted the disturbance, killing 16 rioters. On the first day of the disturbances, Beria dispatched Deputy Minister Kobulov with a group of 10 MGB officers to conduct on-the-scene investigations. Only after their departure (but before Soviet tanks and troops put down the uprising) was the Politburo told of Kobulov’s mission.
With the MGB and MVD under his command, Beria came within a hair’s breath of seizing control of the country. He planned to become the new Stalin, to achieve absolute power over the Party apparatus from the Politburo down.
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 148-149


After all this time it still seems important to the Kremlin that it prove and prove again Beria’s guilt. But the case against Beria is carried one step further. Whether they are open critics or open defenders of Stalin, whether they speak as officials or as private citizens, everyone quoted in Soviet media shifts from Stalin to Beria the blame for many crimes by State Security in the postwar years.
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 172


[According to Khrushchev] Abakumov, who actually supervised the prosecution [in the Leningrad Affair] was Beria’s man; he never reported to anyone, not even to Stalin, without checking first with Beria.”
Deriabin, Peter. Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. Washington [D.C.]: Brassey’s, c1998, p. 181


[From the Military Archives of the NKVD-KGB and the Military-Historical Journal, 1989, by the editor]
Much has been written about Leonid Khrushchev, son of Nikita Khrushchev and how he met his death; or was he captured by the German Army? Was he shot down, since he was an officer in the Soviet Air Force, a fighter pilot?
There is a persistent theme by historians that point to Khrushchev’s attack on Stalin in his infamous “cult of the individual” speech at the 20th Congress of the CPSU, only because he could not forgive Stalin for not saving his son’s life when he was sentenced by a Soviet Military Tribunal.
I talked to Ivan Kuzovkov, Commander of the Unit of fighters where Leonid Khrushchev was a fighter pilot. Kuzovkov was a Major General of the Soviet Air Force and here is what he stated:
General Kuzovkov said that the son of Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid, was shot down by German artillery and became a prisoner of war. Having found this out, Nikita Khrushchev immediately asked Stalin to rescue his son from the POW camp. Stalin agreed to the exchange of prisoners, thus Leonid Khrushchev was part of this exchange.
But the KGB knew facts that were very critical of Leonid Khrushchev, because reliable information was that when Leonid Khrushchev was in the POW camp, he behaved extremely badly and was fulfilling practically the role of a “Quisling” in order to get Soviet POW’s to desert from the Red Army. He propagandized on behalf of Nazi Germany.
According to the Military Tribunal and in accordance with military laws, Leonid was tried and was sentenced to death.
Having found out about the military sentence against his son, Khrushchev pleaded with Stalin. According to the stenographic record in the files of the KGB, Stalin replied:
“The guilt of your son is indisputable and I have no jurisdiction or right to overrule the sentence as prescribed by the Military Tribunal according to laws during wartime and hostilities!”
General Kuzovkov stated that because Stalin did not intervene–or could not–this is why Khrushchev, besides other activities of his in the party, started this campaign against Stalin. General Kuzovkov showed me his personal records of the trial–all of this pointed to the guilt of Khrushchev’s son.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 185-186


It was the trial of the season. Since the rise of Gorbachev, a retired lawyer from Kharkov named Ivan Shekhovtsov had filed repeated lawsuits against various intellectuals and newspapers for “slandering Stalin.” He made a career of these suits. Sixteen so far.
I asked Shekhovtsov why he bothered. Why was he spending all his money and energy filing suits and always losing? He looked at me, not angrily, but with a sort of kindly eye. I was a foreigner and didn’t know any better.
“It is I who am restoring the historical truths,” he said. “I didn’t know anyone who was repressed. In the press now they are saying that in every house everyone at least knew someone who was repressed. In Kharkov, I investigated 150 households and not one said it was waiting for a knock on the door. These numbers you are hearing are all sensations, pure libel. During collectivization in 1929, my grandfather was kicked off his land and exiled. But people gave us clothing and food, and after six months we returned to the land. During the exile, my brother died of an inflammation of the lung, but my mother never blamed Stalin. It was the local officials! My mother is 86 and she understands this with her woman’s mind!
“From the point of practical deeds, Stalin did more than even Lenin. But that, of course, is probably a matter of longevity. I get letters all the time from people nostalgic for the life under Stalin–their joy in labor and love of the Motherland, how they lived with heads raised high and sang patriotic songs. Right now we don’t hear anyone singing. And it’s not that there is an absence of songs to sing. There is an absence of fate. You see, people forget. They need to be reminded. In the ’30s, when I was in the Young Pioneers and in Komsomol, there was unprecedented patriotism in this country. There was a willingness to sacrifice personal needs for the good of the nation. People had in mind great aims and a wonderful future, and so they endured. Stalin is with us and Stalin will come. That is the mine-set of a generation. We went into battle with his name on our lips. He took Russia, which had a wooden plough in its hands, and he left it with an atomic bomb. Such a man cannot be slandered. The young should learn their history.”
…In the courtroom, I’d gotten a dinner invitation from a woman who described herself as a “great lover of Stalin,” Kira Korniyenkova [Alekseyevna]….
But hadn’t there been mistakes? I asked Kira Alekseyevna. Did Stalin ever commit a mistake?
“Mistakes?” She said. “Yes, he made one, he died too soon.”
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 129-131, 133


“I’ve [Shekhovtsov] been told more than once that it is time to stop swearing allegiance to socialism,” he [Gorbachev was saying it now [1990]. “Why should I? Socialism is my deep conviction, and I will promote it as long as I can talk and work.”
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 149

Am I [Gorbachev] supposed to turn my back on my grandfather, who was committed to the socialist idea?…. And I cannot go against my father, who defended Kursk, forded the Dnieper River knee deep in blood, and was wounded in Czechoslovakia. When cleansing myself of Stalinism and all other filth, should I renounce my grandfather and my father in all they did?”
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 150

[Yuliya who played the Snowgirl in a play with Gorbachev said], “The truth is, he was a very good actor. There was a time when he even talked with me, and his friends…about trying for a theatrical Institute.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 156

Gorbachev’s first meaningful “rhetoric of change” in the thrust of Soviet foreign policy occurred during the 27th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, which took place Feb. 25-March 6, 1986…. March 6, 1986, then, should be marked as the beginning of the end of the Cold War.
Gates, Robert. From the Shadows. New York , New York : Simon & Schuster, c1996, p. 380

Gorbachev resumed the campaign against Stalin and all his works and a flood of documentary data was released.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge , Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 6

Gorbachev encouraged the intelligentsia to convince society that total repudiation of the Stalinist legacy was vital for the regeneration of Soviet society.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge , Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 596

Gorbachev went on to castigate Stalin as one of history’s greatest criminals.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge , Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 596


It was only in the post-Stalin era, after the violent period of collectivization and industrialization was over, that the Party-mafia structures took shape. Vladimir 0leinik, a famously honest investigator in the Russian prosecutor’s office, published excerpts from his diary in Literaturnaya Gazeta described the rapid growth in the 1960s of the trade mafia, a pyramid of corruption that began in the Communist Party Central Committee and the top ministers and went all the way down to butchers, bakers, and gravediggers, with everyone getting a piece. 0leinik wrote of how one Central Committee member filled his bank account by selling midlevel positions in the ministries for 50,000 rubles a spot.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York : Random House, c1993, p. 184


Later, when he returned to power, however, Yeltsin lived no worse than Gorbachev did. He commandeered a splendid dacha, organized a regal caravan of limousines, and made a public show of his love for that proletarian game–tennis. Yeltsin’s new double-breasted suits and silk ties were also, one supposed, not available for rubles.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York : Random House, c1993, p. 195

And as for Sobchak [Yeltsin’s mayor of Leningrad ], Nevzorov [Host of 600 Seconds an immensely popular program on Leningrad television much like 60 Minutes] said, “His sole policy is survival at any cost. If the Germans attacked Leningrad again, he’d start learning German just to stay in power.”
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York : Random House, c1993, p. 394

Sokolov [One of Yeltsin’s aides] told Michael Dobbs of the Washington Post, “When we were forming the new structures, we had to hire people from the old structures. Our supporters–the people who came to rallies and street demonstrations– didn’t know anything about how to run a country.”
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York : Random House, c1993, p. 505


The trap seemed inescapable, as inescapable as the system itself. For all the excitement in the big cities over glasnost and the new parliament, the great majority of the people in the Soviet Union felt trapped, cogs in a system that not only oppressed them, but also failed to provide a decent, minimal standard of living.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York : Random House, c1993, p. 215


Yeltsin’s memoir, Against the Grain, became an underground best-seller precisely because it hacked away at the Mystery. He revealed what the mighty talked about in private, their petty greed, their weakness. He described for all Gorbachev’s taste for luxury, his marble bathrooms and swimming pools.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York : Random House, c1993, p. 443

Gorbachev was resting in splendor. When he came to power in 1985, he built himself a magnificent place to rest, a compound in the Crimean town of Foros that cost the Soviet government and estimated $20,000,000. He and his family lived in the main house, a three-story structure with a central hall done up in marble and gilt. It was the sort of opulence you see sometimes when a sheik moves into Beverly Hills . There was a hotel for the staff and security guards, a guest house for 30 people, fruit trees, an olive grove, an indoor swimming pool, a movie theater, an elaborate security system, and an escalator to the Black Sea .
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York : Random House, c1993, p. 453

In the spring of 1992, Gorbachev toured the United States in the Forbes corporate jet, The Capitalist Tool. He saw nothing odd or ironic in this.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York : Random House, c1993, p. 501

The CIA had been enthusiastic about Gorbachev since he emerged as Andropov’s protege early in 1983. We knew a lot about him…. Years later, some of his rightist [read: Marxist] opponents would allege that he and his buddy Yakovlev had been CIA agents. They weren’t, and it’s a good thing. We could not possibly have guided him to engineer so successfully the destruction of the Soviet empire.
Gates, Robert. From the Shadows. New York , New York : Simon & Schuster, c1996, p. 327


Mlynar, a gray-haired intellectual living in Vienna when I saw him in March 1989, was a particularly thoughtful observer of Gorbachev during their university years. Mlynar, who was Czech, had made it to Moscow as one of a small group of promising young East European Communists. He lived across the hall from Gorbachev. Taking a considerable risk at a time of Stalinist Cold War paranoia about spies and outside influences of any kind, Gorbachev formed a close friendship with Mlynar. They were often in the same classes and small study groups, and they spent hours talking together, comparing experiences. Mlynar, who would eventually become one of the leaders of the Prague spring of 1968, was struck by Gorbachev’s intellectual curiosity and openness.
Smith, Hedrick. The New Russians (Pt. 1). New York: Random House, 1990. p. 46


Khrushchev, still feeling threatened by the Stalinist wing of the Party, played to Gorbachev and his generation as the hope of the future. In a highly symbolic gesture, the delegates–Gorbachev included–joined Khrushchev in a new act of de-Stalinization. They voted to remove Stalin’s body from its honored place beside Lenin’s in the mausoleum on Red Square.
Smith, Hedrick. The New Russians (Pt. 1). New York: Random House, 1990. p. 59


But as the Politburo met through the night of March 10, 1985, Gorbachev’s prospects were touch and go. He had exposed his own beliefs more and more, dropping the double life he had carried on within the Party for so many years. Now, on the threshold of power, he faced the final obstacle. He was almost blocked by the aging, conservative Moscow Party leader Victor Grishin, whom Chernenko had tried to anoint before his death.
Smith, Hedrick. The New Russians (Pt. 1). New York: Random House, 1990. p. 76


Ligachev, then a strong supporter of Gorbachev, has reported that the Politburo was closely divided on the critical choice, and passed “very anxious hours” that could have come out with very different people on top. I have been told by well-connected Party officials that Gorbachev’s circle anticipated the close division as they watched Chernenko sink into a coma in the final days of his life and that Chernenko’s vital life-support systems were pulled at a time when three Politburo conservatives were far from Moscow and unable to vote on the new leader. Shcherbitsky, the Ukrainian Party leader, was in San Francisco; Vorotnikov, future head of the Russian republic, was in Yugoslavia; and Kunyayev, the Kazakh Party leader, was in his capital of Alma-Ata, several hours away from Moscow by plane. Whether or not it is true that Chernenko’s life support was removed at a politically propitious time, the fact that Shcherbitsky, Kunyayev, and Vorotnikov did not reach Moscow until March 11–after the Politburo had made its selection–unquestionably helped Gorbachev. By virtually all reckonings, at least two of them, if not all three, would have voted against him. Shatrov, the playwright, has reported that the eight Politburo members voting that fateful night were evenly split until the deadlock was broken by threats from KGB chief Victor Chebrikov to expose corruption in Grishin’s family. At the Central Committee meeting held to confirm the Politburo vote, the scales were tipped by former Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko’s stunning endorsement of Gorbachev as a skilled leader of the Politburo, nearly brilliant in foreign policy. Significantly, Gromyko did not review Gorbachev’s record in agriculture, which was far from brilliant; in fact, Gorbachev had not been a good economic manager. But Gromyko praised his political finesse and hailed Gorbachev as a tough partisan, despite his nice smile–” a man with iron teeth.”
Smith, Hedrick. The New Russians (Pt. 1). New York: Random House, 1990. p. 77


But it was apparent from the beginning that Gorbachev didn’t know what he was doing in economic matters or in dealing with the nationalities, and he never would. In addressing these realities, the CIA accurately described current developments and correctly forecast his failures.
Gates, Robert. From the Shadows. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, c1996, p. 345

On July 13, 1990, I sent President Bush a memorandum urging a change in the U.S. approach. I said that, at home, Gorbachev “is increasingly viewed unfavorably by the public at large–as indecisive, a “chatterbox,” a leader who offers no way out of the present sorry state to which he has brought the USSR…. His effort to meld state socialism and “regulated” markets—and the incoherent mishmash of reform measures all have produced economic catastrophe. And, there is no indication that, in fact, he has the faintest idea of a way out.”
Gates, Robert. From the Shadows. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, c1996, p. 495


At home, Gorbachev would begin seriously in 1986 and 1987 to confront the three challenges–economic, political, and ethnic, that he would face throughout his time in power. In all three, unknowingly and inadvertently, he would take actions that hastened the destruction of the Soviet Union.
Gates, Robert. From the Shadows. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, c1996, p. 382

But what even the optimists in the West did not fully grasp at the end of 1987 was that, unintentionally and inadvertently, Gorbachev’s “reforms” were sowing the seeds of destruction of the Soviet Union.
Gates, Robert. From the Shadows. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, c1996, p. 388

And so, as Gorbachev in 1986 and 1887 began to dismantle the house that Stalin built, he unconsciously accelerated the demise of the entire system.
Gates, Robert. From the Shadows. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, c1996, p. 389

Gorbachev would now use his authority as General Secretary of the Communist Party to dramatically weaken its role and power in governing the Soviet Union–to take it out of day-to-day management of the country altogether. If he could not change the party, he would hobble it and then leave it behind.
Gates, Robert. From the Shadows. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, c1996, p. 438

As Henry Kissinger would observe about Gorbachev’s course during an Agency briefing in the fall of 1989, “If you were setting out to destroy the Soviet Union, would you do it any differently?”
Gates, Robert. From the Shadows. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, c1996, p. 448

However severe the hardship of the peoples of the former Soviet Union today, they owe Gorbachev a great debt, for he destroyed the Soviet state….
Gates, Robert. From the Shadows. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, c1996, p. 555


It is apparent from the speech at the Twentieth Congress as well as from later speeches that the young Khrushchev’s passionate devotion to Stalin had long since given way to carefully concealed emotions of hostility and fear. Stalin repeatedly mocked the simple-minded “Nikita,” frequently in a humiliating and insulting manner. “Nikita, dance for us!” demanded Stalin during one of his usual soirees when the news came that Kiev had been taken. Khrushchev described how Stalin would sometimes summon him to the southern dacha near Sukhumi, or to some other place, make him wait in the reception room for several hours, and then, casually walking past him, would ask in a surly tone: “What are you doing here? Go back.” Evidently this long-suppressed hatred of Stalin erupted at the first opportunity, when Khrushchev found himself at the summit of power.
Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 166

… for Khrushchev–personal bitterness and indignation were certainly a part of the motivation for his speech at the 20th Congress.
Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 168


But I saw no way whatsoever of checking the stories against actual events. No record of proceedings at meetings of the Bureau of the Presidium were kept at that time [in 1953].
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 563


By the end of 1986, the General Secretary telephoned the exiled academician Sakharov, offering him full freedom. In the context of Soviet reality, this was a clarion call for an end to the repression of dissidents and a harbinger of the coming campaign for democratization (not democracy) in the Soviet Union. And the main victim of his campaign was to be Stalin.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. xii


Let us be fair: neither Khrushchev nor Brezhnev ever learned enough Marxism to be able to write it.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 463


[Footnote]:… Mandelstam, who had it [Stalin’s alleged belief that an actor was a disguised traitor] from Ehrenburg, who in turn claims to have gotten it from Khrushchev. The last two, it is fair to add, were not above telling fibs.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 673


After Stalin, increasingly incompetent figures came to power in the Soviet Union, sometimes entirely by chance. Although the economic and military strength of the USSR continued to grow, it was largely inertia that preserved political unity, based on the strength of the early foundations. Not a single ruler of the USSR after Stalin’s death contributed anything of substance to these foundations. [RIGHT ON]
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 8

Without Stalin and his rule, the USSR would have remained a brittle state with a fading grip on its society.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 601

“All that we see today, all of this mess, has nothing to do with the revolution,” declared Volodya. “The crux of the matter is that we have abandoned those initial principles on which the revolution was based. And it was Khrushchev who started this abandonment. Brezhnev continued the process, and it was put to an end by Gorbachev. Now we are reaping the mess of it.”
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 287


No Party congresses were held in the immediate post-war years, and plenums of the Central Committee took place only rarely. All routine business was mainly dealt with by the government. Therefore it was the prospective head of government rather than Party leader who was regarded to be the potential successor. There were virtually no appropriate candidates for the Party leadership. The position demanded a person who was educated, well-versed in Marxism and ideologically adept–it could not be someone who was merely an experienced apparatchik, and there was no such person to be found among Stalin’s Politburo colleagues.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 58


Khrushchev himself hardly ever wrote letters, articles, or reports. After he dictated a draft to a stenographer, numerous aides would then edit the text. Khrushchev’s Russian was that of an uneducated man. He came from a poor peasant family and only went to a village school for about two years. Although he could read, he was unable to write grammatically, which explains why no handwritten documents were found after his death in 1971.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 94

Stalin regarded this dynamic cannonball of a man as a semi-literate peasant. “Khrushchev’s as ignorant as the Negus of Ethiopia,” he told Malenkov.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 600


Molotov, with his Jewish wife, was no longer regarded as a danger by the pretenders. In any case, he was not possessed by the same thirst for power as the others. He was the only one of them who sincerely wept for Stalin when he died. He took his setbacks calmly and always had the air of not worrying about them.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 188

Malenkov, my father, and Molotov delivered their funeral orations standing on the mausoleum. I listened attentively. I detected no emotion in my father’s address. Molotov alone visibly felt sincere sorrow.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 249


On the 5th of March, Stalin suddenly paled and his breathing became shallower with longer intervals. The pulse was fast and faint. He started to wiggle his head. There were spasms in his left arm and leg. At midday, Stalin vomited blood. The latest research has uncovered a first draft of the doctors’ medical notes, which reveal that his stomach was hemorrhaging, a detail deleted from the final report. Perhaps it was cut because it might suggest poisoning.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 646

December 21 was the 126th birthday of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Historian and publicist Nikolay Dobryukha says the Kremlin archives contain documented evidence proving that Stalin was poisoned.

The discovered documents absolutely disprove all affirmations saying that Stalin died of cerebral hemorrhage caused by his poor health. These documents are the records of Stalin’s medical examination within the period of over 30 years. These documents also demonstrate that Stalin was not at all apprehensive of medical examinations and was not afraid of receiving treatment of doctors as it was rumored. It was also said that for fear to visit doctors Stalin often resorted to self-medication. In fact, highly-qualified doctors were called for in case of Stalin’s slightest indisposition and had close medical examination of the high-ranking client all day round.

Records made in September 1947 state that Joseph Stalin had initial stage hypertension, also chronic articular rheumatism and overfatigue. Doctor Kirillov made a record of Stalin’s blood pressure 145 per 85 which was excellent for his age of 67 at that time.

At the age of 70, Stalin’s blood pressure made up 140 per 80 and the pulse made up 74 beats per minute before taking bath. After the bath, blood pressure dropped to 138 per 75 and the pulse made up 68 per minute. The Soviet leader did not complain of bad sleep, had regular bowel movements and was fine in general. The medical records show Stalin had the blood pressure of 140 per 80 and the pulse 70 beats per minute at the age of 72. At that, the latter measuring was made when Stalin had flu and fever. It is unlikely that younger and healthier people can register similar showing. And this is astonishing that no other medical record mentions of the initial stage hypertension of Stalin.

It was not true when some people stated that “Stalin was seriously ill, especially after the dramatic stress he endured during WWII”. These talks appeared as soon as bulletins about Stalin’s health were published for the first time on March 4, 1953. These official bulletins stated that on the night of March 2 Joseph Stalin had cerebral hemorrhage caused by his hypertension and atherosclerosis.

The false statements were encouraged by Lavrentiy Beria and his protege’s Malenkov and Khrushchev as soon as they became leaders of the country.

The discovered documents reveal that the Soviet leader got poisoned within February 28 March 1, 1953, between the Saturday night and Monday, the period when majority of doctors cannot be reached for because of their day off. That was done on purpose to give the poison enough time to take effect.

But it is not also ruled out that conspirators first immediately poisoned Stalin and only after that his double fell victim of the poison as well. In fact, Beria did not expect the poisoning would be so protracted and that is why he felt incredibly nervous. On March 4, newspapers controlled by Beria reported that “Stalin had cerebral hemorrhage staying in his Moscow apartment on the night of March 2” which was not true because Stalin died at the out-of-town residence. Why did Beria need to report the leader died in his Moscow apartment? Probably he spread misinformation to use Stalin’s look-alike: maybe Stalin died immediately after poisoning staying in the out-of-town residence and his double “fell ill” in an instant in the Kremlin and then on the night of March 2 was moved to the out-of-town residence to substitute the already dead Lord. In a word, Beria’s plan turned out to be not quite smooth. To be on the safe side, when it was publicly announced Stalin was dead Beria still arrested the head of a laboratory making poisons for secret killings.

Many people knew that Beria was going to wage war against Stalin. His son Sergo said that father highly likely schemed something against Stalin with the help of his supporters in law enforcement structures and with his own intelligence structure that was not controlled by any of the governmental structures.

Stalin’s bodyguards say that the leader got poisoned immediately after he drank mineral water. Indeed, Stalin was found dead lying near a table on which a bottle with mineral water and a glass stood. The poison took effect instantaneously. Some sources state that Stalin fell down dead and others insist he fell down unconscious.

Study of the archives revealed that on November 8, 1953 the Kremlin sanitary department wanted to hand “medicaments and three empty mineral water battles” over to the Stalin Museum. But for some reason, the department handed just two empty bottles to the Museum on November 9. What is the secret of the third lost bottle?

The journal kept by doctors treating Stalin brings to nothing the memoirs and researches of Stalin’s last illness and death. As seen from the records in the journal the doctors obviously understood that Stalin was poisoned. This is proved by prescriptions they made: ice application to the head; sweet tea with lemon; catharsis with sulfur-acid magnesia and so on.

When doctors examined Stalin at 7 a.m. March 2 they found the patient lying on his back on a sofa with the head turned to the left and the eyes closed. The hyperemia of face was moderate; the breathing was not upset. The pulse made up 78 beats per minute, the heart sounds were rather muffled. The blood pressure made up 190 per 110. The stomach was soft and the liver protruded 3-4 cm from under the rib edge. Stalin was unconscious; his condition was grave.

Doctor Lukomsky discovered that Stalin’s right arm and leg were paralyzed. From time to time his left leg and arm moved a little. The medical records suggest that doctors did their best to treat the leader for poisoning and for its consequences, blood supply disturbance and insult, at the same time. But none of them pronounced that was poisoning.

It was on March 3 when Stalin’s doctors registered that condition of the patient grew even worse and heart activity got weaker. Next day, March 4, the condition of the patient grew extremely grave because of frequent respiratory standstills. Suddenly, the skin on the face, legs and arms became blue which is quite typical of poisoning with some poisons. When a human organism is poisoned with aniline, nitrobenzene and others hemoglobin turns into methemoglobin having dark color. It is not ruled out that Stalin was poisoned with a mixture of different poisons.

On the night of March 5, doctors got results of Stalin’s blood and urine tests which indicated the patient suffered from poisoning. But the doctors were afraid to tell Beria about poisoning as they feared he would blame any of them for the poisoning. Stalin’s liver was still enlarged, another factor typical of poisoning.

Early in the morning March 5, Stalin had bloody vomit as a result of which the pulse declined and the blood pressure dropped. The doctors were at a loss how to explain what was happening to the patient. All day long Stalin had bloody vomit and was in collapse several times.

In the evening on March 5, Stalin was wet through with perspiration, the pulse was thready and cyanosis intensified. The doctors gave the patient carbogene several times but the condition did not improve. At 9:40 p.m. Stalin had artificial ventilation but in vain. His death was registered at 9:50 p.m.

Many of documented evidence left by doctors, including premortal examination of Stalin, disagree with recollections of other eyewitnesses. For instance, Stalin’s daughter Svetlana said she could not recognize the father as his illness changed him beyond recognition. Was it possible that Beria’s people substituted Stalin with his double and even his relatives could not recognize him?

One of the documents pertaining to Stalin’s death discovered in the Kremlin archives seems to be particularly mysterious. The document says that nurse Moiseyeva gave Stalin an injection of calcium gluconate at 8:45 p.m. Never before that over the whole period of illness was Stalin given such an injection. At 9:48 p.m., the nurse affixed her signature to a document revealing she gave Stalin an injection of 20-percent camphor oil. Finally, the woman made an injection of adrenalin to Stalin for the first time over the whole course of treatment and made an official record of the fact. Soon after that the Soviet leader died. This coincidence probable gave rise to rumors that a Jewish woman trained by Beria dispatched Stalin to the next world by giving him a special injection.

When contemporary doctors studied medical records of Stalin’s illness and last hours of life they stated adrenaline injections were forbidden for patients registering the same symptoms that Stalin had.

But it is a fact that soon after Stalin’s brothers-in-arms distributed authority at a special plenary session in the Kremlin, they came to the out-of-town residence where Stalin was still staying alive and gave him the fatal injection.
Dobryukha, Nikolay [Historian and publicist]. “Secret Documents Reveal Stalin Was Poisoned,” Pravda, December 29, 2005.

Neither [Khrushchev and Svetlana] wishes to argue that Stalin was murdered, yet the impact of their memoirs, along with the falsity of the official bulletin, suggests that the suspicion is reasonable.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 304

Such speculation cannot settle the matter, which probably never can be settled. If murder it was, the prime suspect as master plotter is Beria, who had good motive not to reveal his secret to anyone but a few executioners, who probably became ‘suicides’ soon after the event.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 307


The veracity of Khrushchev’s account is further undermined by the fact that a standing order existed in the Kremlin Guard that if any Kremlin official showed signs of illness, doctors were to be called immediately by the guards themselves. There was no need to go through Malenkov, Beria, or Khrushchev to obtain medical assistance for Stalin. Either the guards had been instructed to deviate from the standing order by members of the Politburo, or their call for help was countermanded. In either case, complicity at the highest level of Soviet government appears to have ensured that Stalin would die.
Naumov and Brent. Stalin’s Last Crime. New York: HarperCollins, c2003, p. 317

The stated time of the doctors’ arrival at Stalin’s bedside, in “The History of the Illness of Stalin,” provides the first documentary confirmation that while Rybin’s account may be inaccurate, Khrushchev’s account is false.
Naumov and Brent. Stalin’s Last Crime. New York: HarperCollins, c2003, p. 319

Khrushchev’s account is made more questionable by the fact that the doctors did not find a high alcohol level in any of their numerous analyses made of Stalin’s urine or blood. Nothing supports Khrushchev’s statement that Stalin was “pretty drunk” by the time their dinner broke up. Nothing confirms Khrushchev’s story that before he died, Stalin pointed to a picture of a “little girl” feeding a lamb from a horn in order to show appreciation to his colleagues who were caring for him. “Then he began to shake hands with us one by one. I gave him my hand, and he shook it with his left hand because his right wouldn’t move. By these handshakes he conveyed his feelings.” Touching but not true.
Naumov and Brent. Stalin’s Last Crime. New York: HarperCollins, c2003, p. 320

The fact that no two accounts of his [Stalin] death correspond and that much of the final medical report was never disclosed may be the result of faulty memories and the inveterate conspiratorial nature of the Soviet government.
Naumov and Brent. Stalin’s Last Crime. New York: HarperCollins, c2003, p. 322


For whatever reason, it was hours before doctors were summoned to care for Stalin. The precise time of their advance is in dispute. In any case it is clear that presidium members were not quick to arrange for such assistance. This gave rise to the suspicion that they deliberately let Stalin’s condition deteriorate.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 584

Although an autopsy was carried out, the report has never been found. This would be more than enough to induce suspicions. Furthermore, the 10 doctors to cared for him at the end composed a history of his illness. Yet it was not completed until July (and has only recently become available). Its plausible conclusion was that Stalin died of natural causes. But the delay in composition was odd, as was the loss of the autopsy document: perhaps something important was being covered up.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 587


Sanctioned by the Party Central Committee on 5 Mar 1953, they [his successors] commandeered his book collection and distributed most of it anonymously to various public libraries. Only a few hundred books were left with the Institute of Marxism-Leninism. Many of his letters and telegrams were incinerated and most drafts of his articles and books disappeared. The last edition of his collected works was suspended incomplete.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 592


It is ironical in view of the presentation of Khrushchev internationally as a votary of ‘democracy’ and ‘collective leadership’ that on issue after issue he flouted the norms of democratic party functioning. It was this which persuaded the majority of the party Presidium to seek the removal of Khrushchev from the party leadership in June 1957. This elucidates the hitherto puzzling fact that Khrushchev incurred the ire of both the left-wing of the leadership of the party Presidium, Molotov and Kaganovich, who were holding back the process of liberalization, as well as the prominent rightists such as Malenkov who, in the company of Beria and Khrushchev, had embarked on ‘the thaw’ immediately after the death of Stalin….
The Presidium meeting discussed the question of Khrushchev under the chairmanship of Bulganin for four days. Unbeknown to the Presidium, the highest organ of the CPSU, Khrushchev surreptitiously called members of the party Central Committee to Moscow…. It is apparent that a virtual coup d’Etat involving the military and state security organs had taken place against the Presidium of the CPSU.

Comrade Mao publicly praised and supported Khrushchev; in fact, he approved the condemnation of the “anti-party group of Molotov”, etc., and advocated complete unity with the Khrushchev group.

The communiquE issued after the Plenum of the Central committee of the PLA of Fourth of July, 1957, stated that, after hearing the report of Hoxha on the resolution of the Central Committee CPSU of June 29, 1957 on the anti-party group, the plenum “unanimously denounced the anti-party and factional activity of this group.”

It was the speech of Hoxha at the 1960 meeting of the Communist parties in Moscow, which confronted Soviet revisionism directly for the first time.

Kaganovich says:

The functioning of the party should have improved after the 20th Congress, but unfortunately this did not happen….
For some time now Khrushchev had become quite active on the issues of foreign policy. This was very good. I had myself advised him–since Lenin’s time not even a single question on foreign policy was decided without the Politburo, and Stalin would always submit all the issues regarding foreign policy to the Politburo, and would deal with them himself. Therefore he [Khrushchev], as the First Secretary of the Central Committee had to follow the rule. In the beginning Khrushchev also adhered to this arrangement, but later started to act willfully. Demonstrating that he had ‘mastered the techniques,’ as an unsurpassed ‘expert’ of diplomacy, Khrushchev began to insert his modifications in almost all the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or simply reject it, especially after Molotov was removed from the post of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
There was one question on which the Presidium did not support Molotov. It was the question regarding Yugoslavia. Molotov was holding back reestablishment of relations with Yugoslavia, including along government lines. The Presidium of the CC took the decision to reestablish state relations with existing differences on Party and ideological lines. Khrushchev, violating the directives of the CC, actually went much further than the Party line.
In general Khrushchev went ‘berserk’ and started to give interviews to foreigners without any preliminary understanding with the Presidium, i.e., in violation of the established arrangement. Suddenly, the Presidium comes to know that Khrushchev has spoken on television on foreign affairs without having mentioned anything to anyone prior to it.. This was a serious violation of all fundamental norms of supervision of foreign affairs by the Party. The Politburo had never given such a privilege to speak in public without its prior scrutiny even to highly erudite diplomats, and here we knew the incompetence, the ‘elegance’ of his art of oratory, and we were concerned that he may swerve astray.

The majority of the members of the Presidium of the CC, who for some time showed tolerance in the name of the unity of the Party and the CC, in the end understood, that it is impossible to further tolerate such political mistakes in this kind of functioning of their leadership, that Khrushchev is incompetent and is hardly suitable for the role of the First Secretary of the CC, that sooner or later the party and the CC would be forced to dismiss him. Therefore, the sooner, the better.

And then in one of the meetings of the Presidium in the second half of June 1957 the dissatisfaction of the members of the Presidium of the CC exploded into the open.

And then Khrushchev stood up and started chastising one member of the Presidium after another. He got so carried away that even Mikoyan, who was adept at ‘fast manoeuvring’, had to pacify Khrushchev. At this point of time the members of the Presidium stood up and declared that it is impossible to work in this way – and let us first discuss Khrushchev’s behaviour.
A proposal was made that the chairmanship of this meeting be given to Bulganin. It was accepted by the majority in the Presidium, and certainly, without any prior conspiracy.
After Bulganin took up the place of the chairman, Malenkov was the first to address the house. ‘You know comrades’, Malenkov said, ‘that we supported Khrushchev. I and comrade Bulganin proposed to elect Khrushchev as the First Secretary of the CC. But now I can see that I made a mistake. He has shown his inability to head the CC. He is committing mistake after mistake in his work, he has become arrogant, his attitude towards the members of the CC has become intolerable, especially after the XX Congress. He is displacing the state apparatus and directly issues orders superseding the Council of Ministers. This is not Party supervision over the Soviet organs. We should take a decision to relieve Khrushchev from his responsibility as the First Secretary of the CC’.
This is a very short description of the speech by Malenkov as of other comrades too.
It was Comrade Voroshilov who spoke after Malenkov. He said that he willingly voted for electing Khrushchev as the First Secretary of the CC and also extended his full support in the course of daily work, but he started to make mistakes. ‘I have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to relieve Khrushchev of the responsibilities of the First Secretary of the CC. Comrades, it has become impossible to work with him’. He described how and when Khrushchev had shouted at him, acted brashly and even rudely. ‘We cannot anymore tolerate all this. Let us decide’ – he concluded.
Kaganovich spoke after Voroshilov. ‘The issue under consideration is difficult and painful. I wasn’t among those who proposed the name of Khrushchev for the First Secretary of the CC, because I know him for a long time with all his positive and negative characteristics. But I voted for the proposal, as I considered that responsibility obliges the leader to grow in the process of work. I knew Khrushchev as a modest person and a tenacious learner, who grew and came to be an able leader at the Republican, provincial and the Union level as a secretary of the CC in the collective Secretariat of the CC.
‘After his election as the First Secretary he demonstrated for some time his positive characteristics, and then his negative characteristics began to surface more and more – both in the resolution of party tasks and in relation to people. I, as the other comrades too, spoke about his good work and pointed out his mistakes on the issues of planning of the national economy where Khrushchev’s subjective and voluntarist approach was most prominent, as well as on issues of party and state leadership and supervision. Therefore, I support the proposal to relieve comrade Khrushchev of the responsibilities of the First Secretary of the CC. This, certainly, does not mean that he would not be a part of the leadership of the party. I think that Khrushchev would take his lesson and raise the level of his activities to a new height.’
But there is another side to the behaviour of Khrushchev which must be criticised. Khrushchev, as it is now established was forging a fraction of his own in the Secretariat of the CC. He was systematically discrediting the Presidium and its members, criticised them not only in the Presidium itself which is absolutely unacceptable and unnecessary but also in the Secretariat of the CC, directing his attacks against the Presidium which was the highest organ of the Party between the Plenums of the CC. These activities of Khrushchev actually harm the unity, for the sake of which the Presidium had until now tolerated the antics of Khrushchev. This needs to be reported at the Plenum of the CC which needs to be convened. I would add one mere important, according to me, fact. At one of the meetings of the Presidium Khrushchev said ‘The case of Zinoviev, Kamenev and other Trotskyites needs to be dealt with’. At which I remarked ‘let anyone else’s cow moo, but yours must be silent.’ Khrushchev exploded and began to shout ‘What are you hinting at. I am fed up of all this. At that time in the Presidium I did not clarify what I was hinting at, but I would explain now. Khrushchev was a Trotskyite during 1923-1924. In 1925 he reviewed his views and confessed his sins. In the year 1925 itself I got acquainted with him in Donbass and I saw in him a genuine Leninist – a follower of the line of the CC of the CPSU(b). His role first as the secretary of the CC of the Ukraine and then as the secretary of the CC of the CPSU in charge of the cadres played a prominent role in furthering his political career. I valued him as a capable worker of the party who had come out of the ranks of the workers. I did so because I thought that the party and the CC does not prevent people, who have made mistakes in the past but have overcome them, to grow.
I informed Stalin about this, when at the Moscow conference Khrushchev was elected to the post of the secretary. Along with Khrushchev I met Stalin, and he (Stalin – ed.) suggested that Khrushchev speak about himself at the conference, and Kaganovich would confirm that the CC knows about it and trusts Khrushchev. This is how it happened. Certainly, the mistakes of the past are forgiven and not cited incessantly.
The remarks made to Khrushchev at that time implied that he was a recidivist, and we were reminding him of old sins so that such relapses were not repeated.
Molotov spoke after Kaganovich. ‘However hard Khrushchev tried to provoke me’, Molotov said, ‘I did not give in to any aggravation of our relationship. But it appears that it is not possible to tolerate it any more. Khrushchev has not only aggravated personal relations but also the relations within the Presidium as a whole in decision-making on crucial state and party matters.’ Comrade Molotov talked in detail on the issue of reorganisation of management, considering it to be incorrect, and also talked about the erroneous view that he was against the (development of – ed.) the virgin lands. It was incorrect. What is true is that he objected to an unrestrained increase immediately to 20-30 million hectares, that it was better to concentrate in the beginning on 10-20 million, make appropriate arrangements in order to develop properly and obtain high returns. Comrade Molotov also refuted the allegations that he was putting obstacles in the policy of peace, and that, evidently, this fallacy was needed for justifying the necessary steps in the sphere of foreign policy. His stand on Yugoslavia was related not to issues of foreign policy, but to the anti- party and anti-Soviet actions of the Yugoslavs, for which we criticised and continue to criticise them. ‘It is impossible to work with Khrushchev as the First Secretary,’ said Molotov, ‘I am for relieving Khrushchev of the responsibilities of the First Secretary of the CC.’
Bulganin spoke after Molotov. He began speaking by giving an account of the improper methods of supervision of the functioning of the state organs, including the Council of Ministers and about the unfriendly attitude towards him personally. He spoke about the mistakes in a number decisions. ‘I,’ concluded Bulganin, ‘fully agree with the proposal to relieve Khrushchev.’
Comrades Pervukhin and Saburov also spoke. Both of them declared that earlier they had good relations with Khrushchev, as Khrushchev with them. ‘But now we see that Khrushchev has become arrogant and makes it difficult for us to work. Khrushchev should be removed.’
Comrade Mikoyan, true to his tactics of manoeuvering, said that it is a fact that there are shortcomings in the way Khrushchev works, but they can be rectified, and therefore, he considers that it is not necessary to remove Khrushchev. Khrushchev spoke after us. He refuted some of the accusations, but without being arrogant, almost, so to say, in embarrassment. Some of the complaints he accepted to be true and, indeed, that there was improper behaviour towards the colleagues on his part, there were incorrect decisions made, but I promise the Presidium that I will rectify these mistakes.
The secretaries of the CC – Brezhnev, Suslov, Furtseva and Pospelov – spoke in favour of Khrushchev. While admitting that there are shortcomings, they said that they would rectify these.
Shepilov was the only one amongst all the secretaries of the CC who spoke differently. He honestly, truthfully and convincingly described the unacceptable atmosphere of fault-finding with and discrediting the Presidium that has been generated by Khrushchev in the Secretariat of the CC. Khrushchev would especially denigrate Voroshilov ‘as a weary and conservatively outdated’ leader. (At the same time Khrushchev hypocritically showed superficial respect and devotion for Voroshilov.) Shepilov spoke about a range of wrong decisions of the Secretariat that were taken without the knowledge of the Presidium of the CC. Practically Khrushchev had converted the Secretariat of the CC into an organ functioning independently of the Presidium of the CC.
The Presidium met for four days. Bulganin conducted the meetings in the most democratic way, he did not put any limits on the time required by the speakers allowing even the secretaries of the CC to speak a second time.
In the meanwhile the Khrushchevite Secretariat, secretly without the knowledge of the presidium summoned the members of the CC to Moscow, having sent dozens of airplanes through the GPU and the Ministry of Defence which fetched the members to Moscow. And this was done without any decision of the Presidium and even without waiting for the Presidium to come to any decision on the issue under discussion. This was an unquestionable act of factionalism, clever and in the Trotskyite traditions.
The majority of the Presidium did not consist of simpletons or bad organisers. If they had taken to the path of factional struggle, something which they were accused of later, they could have got organized or to put it simply, removed Khrushchev. But we were criticising Khrushchev as a party member, and strictly observed all the party norms with the aims of maintaining party unity.
But Khrushchev acted as a factionalist. Towards the end of the meeting of the Presidium of the CC a delegation with Konev at its head, on behalf of those assembled in the Sverdlov Hall, came and announced that the members of the Plenum of the CC are asking the Presidium to report to the Plenum about the issue being discussed in the Presidium. Some of the members of the Presidium reacted angrily to this act of calling the members of the CC to Moscow without the permission of the Presidium of the CC, an act of usurpation on the part of the Secretariat of the CC and, obviously, Khrushchev himself.
Comrade Saburov who had earlier worshipped Khrushchev remarked angrily: ‘I considered you Comrade Khrushchev, to be an honest person. Now I see that I was mistaken. You are a very dishonest person, who, using factionalist means, behind the back of the Presidium, has organised this assembly in the Sverdlov Hall’.
After a short break the Presidium of the CC decided to discontinue the meeting of the Presidium and to go and meet the members of the CC in the hall, despite the fact that they had blatantly violated the party norms, as a demonstration of their (Presidium’s – ed.) respect for the members of the CC who are waiting for them in the Sverdlov Hall.
Throwing away the mask of embarrassment, an emboldened Khrushchev accompanied by Zhukov and Serov marched into the Hall.
One may well imagine the internal psychological condition of the members of the Plenum of the CC who were brought to Moscow in such an extraordinary way. Even before the Plenum proceedings had started the members of the CC were obviously informed about the meeting of the Plenum started, instead of the report on the meeting of the Presidium of the CC, which the members of the CC were expecting, they were treated to the ‘dish’ of ‘On the anti-Party group of Malenkov, Kaganovich and Molotov’.
Instead of the issue ‘the unsatisfactory leadership of the First Secretary of the CC, Khrushchev’, one completely opposite to this and a totally imaginary one ‘On the anti-Party group of Malenkov, Kaganovich and Molotov’ was put on the agenda.
The report on the Presidium of the CC and the issue under discussion in this meeting of the Presidium was for all practical purposes not made but a great many political accusations were made against an imaginary anti-Party group of Malenkov, Kaganovich and Molotov and their accomplice Shepilov, Candidate to the Presidium of the CC.
Feeling the absurdity of the situation – declaring the entire Presidium guilty of factionalism, the Khrushchevite accusers took to the cunning falsehood of ‘the group of three’ Malenkov, Kaganovich and Molotov, naming them from amongst the seven members of the Presidium who spoke against Khrushchev, denounced him and demanded his removal (from amongst the rest of the four – Voroshilov, Bulganin, Pervukhin and Saburov – the first three were reelected to the Presidium of the CC).
In this manner, having pointed out three persons – Malenkov, Kaganovich and Molotov, an attempt was made to conceal that OUT OF NINE MEMBERS OF THE PRESIDIUM ONLY TWO; MIKOYAN AND KHRUSHCHEV HIMSELF WERE IN FAVOUR OF KEEPING KHRUSHCHEV AS THE FIRST SECRETARY and the majority comprising seven members favoured removing Khrushchev for poor implementation of the political line of the CC of the Party in practice.
Later the ‘victors’ invented a new argument that, in view of the arithmetical majority, this group wanted to change the composition of the leading organs of the Party and alter the policies of the Party. But, firstly, it is absurd to talk about an arithmetical majority – what other majority can there possibly be while deciding one or the other issue? It is true that the majority in the Presidium of the CC favoured removal of Khrushchev, but is it that the composition of the leading organs of the Party consists only of Khrushchev alone? Is it not true that the entire Presidium is also a leading organ of the party between successive Plenums of the CC? Therefore it is ridiculous to talk and write that the Presidium wanted to replace the leading organs of the party, that is to replace its own self.
The result is known: the proposed draft of the resolution was accepted, that was published in Pravda. ‘On the anti-Party group of Malenkov G.M. Kaganovich L.M. and Molotov V.M.’
In the resolution adopted it said that ‘this group by anti-party and factionalist methods wanted to achieve replacement…’ Is it possible to call the majority of the Presidium a faction? There are no facts given about factionalist methods, there were none; there were no groups, no special meetings of any groups neither before nor after the official meeting of the Presidium and there was no conspiracy. Had there been any faction, we are not all that bad organisers to have landed in such a situation, so that Khrushchev and his faction could have thus fooled us – the majority of the Presidium. It was actually Khrushchev and his accomplices who in an organised manner acted as a faction, having called secretly the members of the CC, without the knowledge of the Presidium of the CC. And we were not a faction but the majority, that defended the unity of the CC. We met and discussed and proved our points and strove to come to a decision without the factional cunningness used by Khrushchev and his sly advisors.
One can say that after all Khrushchev is a shrewd person. Yes, but this is Trotskyite and anti-party shrewdness. However, realising that by identifying only three members of the Presidium and then expelling them from the CC and its Presidium and sticking on them the factionalist and anti-party label is not convincing for the Party. The new Khrushchevite leadership, even before it was elected, composed the draft of the resolution of the Plenum of the CC full of falsehoods and political allegations against the so-called anti-Party group of Malenkov, Kaganovich and Molotov.
The draft was full of accusations which are not even worth being refuted, because they are all imaginary…
Kaganovich, Lazar. Intro. By Vijay Singh. “Recollective Notes of Kaganovich,” 1996.


“In regard to a number of special products of industry,” Khrushchev said, “among other things, we must do as Hitler did. At that time Germany was alone and he produced all those things. We must study this experience and we, too, must set up joint enterprises for special products, for example, weapons.”

We could not believe our ears! Could it be true that the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union wanted to learn from the experience of Hitler and even recommended it to others?! But this is what things were coming to.

Hoxha, Enver. The Artful Albanian. London: Chatto & Windus, 1986, p. 165

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