De-Stalinization refers to the process of eliminating the cult of personality, Stalinist political system and the Gulag labour-camp system created by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Stalin was succeeded by a collective leadership after his death in March 1953. The central Soviet strongmen at the time were Lavrentiy Beria, head of the Ministry of the Interior; Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU); and Georgi Malenkov, Premier of the Soviet Union.



End of forced labor

De-Stalinization spelled an end to the role of large-scale forced labor in the economy. The process of freeing Gulag prisoners was started by Beria, but he was soon removed from power. Khrushchev then emerged as the most powerful Soviet politician.

At a speech On the Personality Cult and its Consequences to the closed session of the Twentieth Party Congress of the CPSU, February 25, 1956, Khrushchev shocked his listeners by denouncing Stalin's dictatorial rule and cult of personality. He also attacked the crimes committed by associates of Lavrentiy Beria.

Improved prison conditions

Khrushchev's drive to expunge Stalin's influence from the public sphere continued through the late 1950s. His efforts were marked by the removal of Stalin's name from cities, landmarks, and facilities which had been named or renamed after him. Krushchev also attempted to lessen the harshness of the Gulag labor system, by allowing prisoners to send letters home to their families, and by allowing family members to mail clothes to loved-ones in the camps; which was not allowed during Stalin's time. Even though Krushchev and others with reformist ideals wanted to lessen the scale of the Gulag, Stalin had ingrained it so heavily into the Soviet system that it was virtually impossible to get rid of it. Thus the gulag prevailed throughout the remainder of Soviet history, even up to the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.

Re-location of Stalin's body

Given momentum by these public renamings, the process of de-Stalinization peaked in 1961 during the 22nd Congress of the CPSU. Two climactic acts of de-Stalinization marked the meetings: first, on October 31, 1961, Stalin's body was moved from Lenin's Mausoleum in Red Square to a location near the Kremlin wall;[1] second, on November 11, 1961, the "hero city" Stalingrad was renamed to Volgograd.[2]

Re-naming of places

As part of the de-Stalinization push, many other places bearing Stalin's name were either renamed or reverted to their former names. These included even capital cities of the Soviet republics and territories: in 1961, Stalinabad, capital of the Tajik SSR, was renamed "Dushanbe," and Staliniri, capital of the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast, was renamed "Tskhinvali."[3][4]

See also


  1. ^ CNN Interactive - Almanac - October 31. CNN. "(October 31) 1961, Russia's de-Stalinization program reached a climax when his body was removed from the mausoleum in Red Square and re-buried." 
  2. ^ Reuters (1961-11-11). "Stalingrad Name Changed". The New York Times. "MOSCOW, Saturday, Nov. 11 (Reuters) -- The "Hero City" of Stalingrad has been renamed Volgograd, the Soviet Communist party newspaper Pravda reported today." 
  3. ^ Gwillim Law. "Regions of Tajikistan". Administrative Divisions of Countries ("Statoids"). Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
  4. ^ Gwillim Law. "Regions of Georgia". Administrative Divisions of Countries ("Statoids"). Retrieved 21 November 2010. 

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