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Khrushchev's Address to the 20th Party Congress (excerpt)
Digital History ID 3634

Author:   Nikita Khrushchev
Date:1956

Annotation: Khrushchev gave this speech to the 20th Party Congress of the U.S.S.R. and argues of the horrible nature of Stalin’s control. At the time, this type of speech could have brought death to the speaker. But, his words led to further investigations and eventually the release of many prisoners years later.


Document: Quite a lot has been said about the cult of the individual and about its harmful consequences. ... The cult of the person of Stalin ... became at a certain specific stage the source of a whole series of exceedingly serious and grave perversions of party principles, of party democracy, of revolutionary legality.

Stalin absolutely did not tolerate collegiality in leadership and in work and ... practiced brutal violence, not only toward everything which opposed him, but also toward that which seemed to his capricious and despotic character contrary to his concepts.

Stalin abandoned the method of ideological struggle for that of administrative violence, mass repressions and terror. ... Arbitrary behavior by one person encouraged and permitted arbitrariness in others. Mass arrests and deportations of many thousands of people, execution without trial and without normal investigation created conditions of insecurity, fear and even desperation.

Stalin showed in a whole series of cases his intolerance, his brutality and his abuse of power. ... He often chose the path of repression and annihilation, not only against actual enemies, but also against individuals who had not committed any crimes against the party and the Soviet government. ...

Many party, Soviet and economic activists who were branded in 1937-38 as "enemies" were actually never enemies, spies, wreckers and so on, but were always honest communists; they were only so stigmatized, and often, no longer able to bear barbaric tortures, they charged themselves (at the order of the investigative judges-falsifiers) with all kinds of grave and unlikely crimes.

This was the result of the abuse of power by Stalin, who began to use mass terror against the party cadres. ... Stalin put the party and the NKVD up to the use of mass terror when the exploiting classes had been liquidated in our country and when there were no serious reasons for the use of extraordinary mass terror. The terror was directed ... against the honest workers of the party and the Soviet state. ...

Stalin was a very distrustful man, sickly suspicious. ... Everywhere and in everything he saw "enemies," "two-facers" and "spies." Possessing unlimited power, he indulged in great willfulness and choked a person morally and physically. A situation was created where one could not express one's own will. When Stalin said that one or another would be arrested, it was necessary to accept on faith that he was an "enemy of the people." What proofs were offered? The confession of the arrested. ... How is it possible that a person confesses to crimes that he had not committed? Only in one way -- because of application of physical methods of pressuring him, tortures, bringing him to a state of unconsciousness, deprivation of his judgment, taking away of his human dignity. ...

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