Question by Ben: Did Khrushchev support Stalin’s purges?
If so, then why did he lead de-stalinization?
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Answers and Views:
Answer by Dimi
To the contrary. When Stalin died Khrushchev reversed all his policies and denounced him.
Answer by Grillparzer
To an extent he had to, after all he lived through them. That was not necessarily an easy thing to do during the Stalin regime. The de-stalinization was a reaction to the excesses of the era, for example Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his book, The Gulag Archipelago describes an incident where a tailor stuck a needle in a picture of Stalin and received a ten year hard labor sentence for his “crime.” For the Soviet Union to continue to exist and modernize, some of the paranoia had to be toned down. Khrushchev tried but never really succeeded against eliminating all of it.
Answer by Spellbound
Yes Khrushchev played a key role in the purge in Ukraine, where he enthusiastically purged many of his former colleagues.
The reason for his de-Stalinisation policy is that when Stalin died in 1953 there was no clear successor to him.
The country was initially run by a triumvirate of Malenkov, Beria, and Molotov but machinations among the Politburo led to Khrushchev being elected First Secretary of the Party in September of 1953.
Khrushchev’s position was still very weak and he needed to find a way of isolating and removing his political rivals – he couldn’t use Stalin’s tactics of having them arrested by the NKVD as Beria had been in charge of that and loyalties ran deep (he and Malenkov had worked together to remove Beria, having him arrested in June 1953). What he decided to do was to present himself as a down to Earth, folksy, peasant. By doing this he sought to isolate Malenkov, a sophisticated man, but seen as a drab bureaucrat – he achieved this by beginning to reform the country, economically as well as politically. His reforms proved popular, at first, and they seemed to give communism a new direction.
He still needed to reform the party, and to ensure that the Stalinists could not come back to power. This was the reason for both the 1956 “Secret Speech” where he denounced Stalin and the terror of his regime, and for Molotov’s removal from office in 1956 – he was removed from the Presidium (the enlarged and renamed Politburo) in 1957.
Khrushchev: The Man and His Era – William Taubman
Khrushchev Remembers – Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev
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