When Joseph Stalin died on March 5th 1953, cold war tensions were at their worst. Meaningful diplomatic negotiations between the communist and capitalist adversaries had long since ended, and the nuclear arms race was entering a new and more dangerous phase. An atmosphere of hysteria and suspicion gripped the world’s two superpowers. In Moscow, ageing Stalin had spent his last days laying plans for murderous purges, while in Washington McCarthy continued his pursuit of communism. Soviet-American relations were further intensified with Moscow’s “hate America” campaign, just before the death of Stalin. In 1952 America had a change in leadership, the victory of the General D Eisenhower administration; this administration was more aggressive and wanted to “win the cold war”.
Nikita Khrushchev, a member of Stalin’s inner circle, eventually emerged as the new leader of the USSR. Khrushchev forged a more open path in soviet politics, both at home and abroad, and the Communist party control loosened. The process of destalinization began by Nikita Khrushchev, following the death of former dictator Stalin in March 1953, denouncing Stalin and then reforming Soviet Russia. Destalinization was characterised by slight relaxation in hostility and aggression towards the US, an era dubbed as ‘The Thaw’. This new direction was announced by Khrushchev at a speech to the Twentieth Party Congress on February 25th 1956 entitled ‘On the Personality Cult and its Consequences’, referring to the “Stalin Cult” in which he attacked Stalin, his tyrannical rule and the crimes of that era against the party. A theory developed out of the speech, the theory of peaceful coexistence. Simply put, this theory meant that the USSR and the capitalist bloc could peacefully coexist. This theory was in contrast to the idea that communism and capitalism could never coexist. This was an attempt to reduce the hostility between the two camps, particularly in light of nuclear war. The most...
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