Stalin's Rivalry With Malenkov: Article Analysis

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In the aftermath of Joseph Stalin’s death in March of 1953, the Soviet Union had to consider how it would move forward as a nation without the leadership of such a strong individual who was not only trusted by the founder of the nation, Vladimir Lenin, but had led them to victory during World War 2. Stalin was an incredibly capable, but controlling, leader in the Soviet Union and while the masses revered him as a living God the Secret Speech made by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev at the 20th Congress took aim at the “cult of personality” that Stalin created and demanded some type of social, political and economic reform. Author Elena Zubkova in her article “The Rivalry with Malenkov” argues that Soviet society wanted to reform directly after…show more content…
(Zubok, 2018) After World War 2 though soldiers returned home from abroad with fantastic stories and trinkets from foreign places which resulted in ‘cracks’ in the Iron Curtain as the West began to have a cultural influence on the Soviet Union as more individuals traveled abroad beyond the USSR borders. After Stalin died though Zubkova explains that Khrushchev began to “fundamentally altered the priorities of Soviet foreign policy by advocating a series of initiatives aimed at reducing international tension and developing a dialogue with Western countries” which was the complete opposite of Stalin’s isolationist policies. (Zubkova, 2000) Regardless, William Taubman in his article “The Khrushchev period, 1953–1964,” exclaims that a prime obstacle to change after Stalin’s death “was the Stalinist image of the outside world because if the capitalist states were irredeemably hostile then the USSR could hardly afford the luxury of reform”. (Taubman, 2006) In order to change this mindset Khrushchev and Malenkov advocated for competition with the West rather than hostility since they believed that capitalism would ultimately fail and socialism would rise to take its place, even if the countries did end up going to war. Another major consequence of Stalin’s death was a major…show more content…
Almost immediately the Soviet government had to respond to signs of rebellion as in the spring of 1953 when Beria, with Malenkov’s support, “attempted to get the policy of building socialism in East Germany reexamined which lead to the June 1953 uprising in East Berlin and not only displayed the inability of the East German leaders to solve their internal problems with dispatch but also revealed the miscalculation of Soviet leadership.” (Zubkova, 2000) As Khrushchev took power three years later many in the Soviet Union were shocked when he began to de-Stalinize the country and unintentionally “caused an veritable revolution in people’s attitudes throughout the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.”(Hosking, 1993) Many countries began to act out, including riots in Poland and the Hungarian Revolution that was suppressed in 1956, due to their resentfulness of the Soviet Union’s interference in their countries and what they perceived as a moment of weakness in Soviet leadership after the Secret Speech. Taubman argues that while there were many reforms the Soviet Union Khrushchev’s response to these uprisings demonstrated that the “formula for holding together the Soviet bloc was to tolerate a modicum of diversity and domestic autonomy, to emphasize
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