Nikita Khrushchev and Joseph Stalin

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Sacerd Heart College Senior|
Year 11 Modern History|
Individual Essay: Nikita Khrushchev|
Jackson Hillier|


Coming into power after Stalin’s death in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev was the First Secretary of the Soviet Union until 1964. He played an imperative role in attempting to ‘de-Stalinize’ the Soviet Union and endeavoured to cool down the strong tension felt between the Eastern and Western superpowers, but often unknowingly contradicted this goal and brought the Cold War to some of its most heated and dangerous peaks. In 1956, Khrushchev delivered the ‘Secret Speech’. It was in this speech that Khrushchev attacked Stalin and announced his intention to ‘De-Stalinize’ the USSR. Khrushchev attempted to use Berlin to his power. After a failed attempt at an ultimatum, Khrushchev gave the orders to erect a wall separating East and West Berlin. Khrushchev played a vital role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, which is the closest the world has ever come to a world war. His involvement was key in both the initiation and the de-escalation of the crisis. He also presented the ‘Peaceful Co-existence’ policy, which called for a decline in hostility between capitalism and communism and promoted economic competition. It is clear that Khrushchev’s secret speech where in which he presented his ‘De-Stalinization’ policy caused the Cold War to seemingly take a turn towards a better future for the East and West. Khrushchev presented his ‘Secret Speech’ to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956, and it sent shockwaves throughout the communist world. Khrushchev completely destroyed the late communist leader, Joseph Stalin’s image by revealing his involvement in various unthinkable actions, for example exposing Stalin’s instructions given to interrogators on how to torture prisoners. “He personally issued advice on the conduct of the investigation and the method of interrogation of the arrested persons. He said that the academician Vinogradov should be put in chains, another one should be beaten.” Khrushchev also saw to the ‘De-Stalinization’ where he proceeded to eliminate the ‘cult of personality’ that Stalin had forcibly created. “Stalin acted not through persuasion, explanation, and patient cooperation with people, but by imposing his concepts and demanding absolute submission to his opinion.” The policy both returned some correspondence with the original morals of communism, and changed the image of the USSR. This would allow Khrushchev to begin lowering tensions between the East and West, as it gave the West some indication of Khrushchev’s willingness to meet some of their wishes. Khrushchev’s ‘Secret Speech’ and ‘De-Stalinization’ policy allowed for negotiations to begin with the West, and completely changed the thinking for both sides of the Cold War. Khrushchev’s ‘Secret Speech’ and ‘De-Stalinization’ policy caused a complete change in the structure the Cold War had been following. It caused those in the Soviet Union to question their late leader and allowed for an apparently better future between the East and West. In his time as leader, Khrushchev had a large amount of involvement with Berlin which by then had become a central cause of tensions between the USSR and the Allied Forces, and his decisions made a large impact on both the city and the Cold War. In November 1958, Nikita Khrushchev gave an ultimatum to the Allied Forces stating that if they did not withdraw from Berlin within 6 months and make it a demilitarized city, then Khrushchev would give control of the city to East Germany. Khrushchev saw the determination shown by the Allied Forces towards Berlin, and he used that to his power. “Berlin is the testicle of the West. When I want the West to scream, I squeeze on Berlin.” When the Allied Forces refused, and a Foreign Minister’s Conference ended in the Allied Forces making it clear that they would hold Berlin at all costs, Khrushchev provided the initiative for the...
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