The “Thaw”, 1956 and the Return to ‘Normalcy’ (Confrontation)
October 22, 2013
PART ONE: 1956
Key Words Notes
• We will find out today and see exactly what caused that
failure. That thaw that was happening, what caused it to
• REVIEW: last class we left off with Geneva. We finished
with conferences, which failed to reduce the tension or
Trouble in Paradise: February
to make some sort of agreement. Nothing happened.
1955 However both parties went home in a very good mood.
- Khrushchev gives a They thought some things were dealt with.
speech to the xx party - The Americans had actually demonstrated that they
Congress. were willing to compromise. Somehow the
- He tells them about the Americans were thinking that modus vi// that
evil deeds of Stalin.
compromise was near.
- Reveals that Lenin himself - However 1956 came to dispel the entire work of
had said that Stalin would 1955. All the good gestures by one another came to
not make a good an end.
communist leader. • Things came to en primary because of two things:
- This is referred to as
Khrushchev’s ‘secret - Trouble in workers paradise; it is a euphemism
that obviously relates to the communist bloc.
speech’ a. Unexpectedly Khrushev was dealt with a harsh
- Khrushchev was warned blow in the shape of two revolutions, which pretty
ageist giving the speech much undermined his entire position at home.
as it would have a great However, how did these revolutions come about?
deal of political fallout,
however Khrushchev did What caused them?
b. In many ways it was Khrushchev himself. It was
not listen. his political approach both to the domestic
developments and to communism at home and
c. REVIEW: Khrushchev rejected Stalin's ideas.
i. He also pointed a finger at Stalin and the
soviet foreign policy in the late 40s and
early 50s as contributing to the existing
ii. Basically came up with the idea of
peaceful coexistence. If the communist
party accept this idea of peaceful
coexistence than surely that is the problem
iii. Therefore he wanted the idea of peaceful
existence, but he met with resistance at
home. He had opponents at home. Molotov
iv. There was bitter opposition by hardliner
Stalinist unwilling to acknowledge Khrushev
as being in the grand position.
v. Therefore there was tangible opposition at home.
- To continue with peaceful coexistence and ensure
his own position Khrushev needed to give another
blow to these hardliner communists. Eventually
convince his own entourage to deliver that blow in
late February 1966.
- The xx party congress goes through the previous
achievements of the state and discuses in general
terms future plans and usually communist hold a
conference where foreign parties are invited to
attend as observers.
- Khrushev thought what better situation than to
deliver a blow to the Stalinist and to his proponents.
What he wanted to do was actually destroy Stalinism
as a whole. He also wanted to expose the crimes
that Stalin committed throughout his reign starting
in the late 1920s, particularly in the mid 1930s and
then going through the Second World War and 1947.
By denouncing Stalin and revealing his cruel nature,
his character and short comings or the first time
revealing the existence of a toxic document issued
by none other than Lenin himself-the founder of the
Soviet communist party.
a. Lenin thought Stalin was incapable of holding
such a crucial position- as the party sectarian and
actually pointing a finger in the early 1920s that
Stalin was not only a vulgar individual, but also
b. That report by Lenin was kept secret throughout
Stalin’s time and now Khrushchev was revealing
- Khrushchev pointed out the mistakes that Stalin had
committed. Khrushchev publicized the signed letters
ordering the execution of thousands of loyal
communist members. Eliminating even the imagined
opponents of Stalin. You did not have to do anything.
It was god enough for you to look at him the wrong
way and he would ask you why you’re eyes were so
shifty? Knowing Stalin that was enough to give him a
reason to suspect you and order an arrest for you.
- The minute that happened the secret police would
beat you into pulp and force a confession out of you
that you DID want to do something. Most people
would sign their confession by the thousands just to
- Khrushchev delivered that speech, which was
Khrushchev ‘secret speech’ at that end of that
speech the silence that rang around that room was
incredible. 3000 delegates sat stunned. No one every thought that Stalin was capable of such things. Stalin
was always considered a demi-god and now to reveal
is cruel character as crazy. The mistakes Stalin had
committed that resulted din million of deaths. It was
a stunning revelation.
- For 10 mins no one dared to speak or raised their
hand. Khrushchev thought it was necessary to
eliminate the total personality that was established
by Stalin. It was also necessary to allow him to
continue peaceful coexistence with the west and of
Khrushchev rallied against course to allow him uncontested control over the
his opponents, the hard lined communist party- no opposition, especially from the
Stalinist. Thousands of prisoners hardliners, who still though Khrushchev was making
were released. a mistake by approaching the Americans and
negotiation with them.
- When Khrushchev asked at the need of his speech if
anyone had a question a single man raised his hand
at the back of the room and inquired why
Khrushchev had not done anything if he had known
about Stalin’s crimes and such. Khrushchev asked
what the guys name was and no one answered.
Khrushchev then proceeded to say that is exactly the
spot he was in 1936-1938. He too was scared
the secret speech had two shitless.
backlash: - It was a tremendous revelation and shocked the
- Poland’s destalinzation party. It was supposed to be kept secret. Even then
- Hungarian revolution the delegates were to return to their own countries
they where not to reveal anything. However, within
two weeks the entire report was out.
Poland’s destalinization: • More importantly Khrushchev rallied for against his
- Poland had its own Stalin- opponents was hundred and thousands of prisoners
Beirut were released. The worse aspect of the Stalinization
- When Beirut died in 1956 was eliminated. By large the foreign policy was decided
by one individual because it was under Stalin. It did
Poland wasn’t sure who
would replace him, a have serious consequences, and more importantly
similar leader or a Khrushchev had been warned about them. He had been
reformed. warned to not deliver a speech against Stalin because
- After living conditions you can never know the consequences outside of Soviet
worsened under would be. After soviet policy, history and communist
parties had always thought of Stalin as a hero. You
communism the polish
people sought a reformer. don’t know what the consequences of this speech would
- The chose Gomulka, who be in thus places. You do not know how the satellite
had previously been sates would see soviet led communism if you actually
thrown into prison for his exposed the crimes of the greatest leader. Nevertheless
reformist ways. he was Khrushchev went ahead and by the summer
consequences were already showing up.
pulled out of prison and
promoted to the head of • The first backlash happened in Poland. Poland’s
the communist party. Destalinzation
- Since this was done - Polish people and Russians never saw eye to eye and without the consultation were not friends with one another. Communism had
of the Soviets Khrushchev been imposed there. The Polish people had fought
came to visit the polish. against it, however it was still imposed.
- The Polish decision to - If that was true that Stalin acted as a dictator so was
promote Gomulka was a it Poland. Poland had its own Stalin and that was
serious blow to the soviet Beirut. He acted the same way Stalin did in Russia.
order. esp since the polish In 1956 Bruit died.
had removed all soviet - The question for Poland became who would replace
influence from within. him? Would it be a Stalinist? A hardliner or would it
- Gomulka traveled to be a reformer-someone who wanted more rights for
Poland and stationed the Polish.
troops - In the summer of 1966 workers started asking for
- Gomulka and Khrushchev better wages and better standard of living. After all,
were able to hash things they argued, communism was for the better of the
out. working class. How could it be that under capitalism
- Gomulka said that the the polish had better standard of living than they
Polish only wanted had under communism.
freedom and a freer hand - Because of these riots in the summer of 1956 the
to decide their own Polish communist party decided to chose a reformer
domestic affairs. –Gomulka.
- They would still remain in a. he was pulled out of jail. Hard lined Stalinist had
the Warsaw pact and still seen him as a threat so they had jailed him in the
act as a buffer zone to the early 1950s.
Soviets. b. he was promoted to the head position of the
- This compromise satisfied Polish communist party.
Khrushchev and he went c. However, that was done without the consultation
back to Moscow and sent of the Soviet Union/ Khrushchev/Soviet
the troops stationed in Communist party.
Poland back to their d. This is a serious challenge to the pecking order,
barracks. who makes a decision like that?
e. More importantly the Polish went a step further
and removed all the Soviet advisors and the
secret police from the military. It is important to
keep in mind that these were not advisors rather
supervisors. The Polish wanted intendances and
wanted to remove soviet influence. These were
dramatic developments. How could the Soviets
influence without its own people being there. This
was a serious challenge.
f. Khrushchev travelled to Poland and confronted
i. there was for a moment a possibility for an
open war between the Polish and the
Russian troops stationed there.
ii. Khrushchev had ordered the mobilization of
a division to come to Warsaw. There would
have been a soviet and Poland war.
iii. However, at the last minute the order was
taken back and when Khrushchev and Gomulka met face to face all soviet
concerns were addressed.
iv. The satisfactory answer that Gomulka gave
to Khrushchev was what eliminated the
soviet polish war.
October 1956 Hungary v. Gomulka promised Khrushchev that Poland
- living conditions in would remain part of the Warsaw pact and
Hungary were worsening. that Poland would remain a member of the
- Stalinist hardliners eastern communist bloc and still proved the
implemented policies buffer zone for the Soviet Union and Poland
similar to the ones Stalin would support the Soviet Union in all
had implemented in international affairs.
Russia. vi. All that the Polish were asking was
- Force labor and decline of freedom/a freer hand to decide in domestic
living were typical. affairs.
- Seeing the example of the vii. That was an acceptable comprise for
Polish people they also Khrushchev. After all in his secret speech he
sought a few demands had offered greater freedom to every single
from the Soviets: communist party. So all Gomulka wanted
a. multi-party political was a manifestation of promise.
system viii. Khrushchev allowed Gomulka to be the
b. allow Hungary to pull secretary of his party and a freer hand in
out from the Warsaw domestic affair.
pact. g. The conditions in Russia were different than the
c. Declare neutrality. conditions in Poland. Reorganization was all that
- Hungarians wanted a was needed. The minute that was done al
reformist as their PM – problems were solved in Poland- there were no
Imre Nagy wars, no battles and no conflicts.
- November 1 Khrushchev h. The Russians moved out along with their troops
pulled the forces out of and Gomulka had a free hand. Polish crisis was
Budapest and consider resolved..
the demands of the - s
Hungarians. However they • However it did demonstrate a number of problems for
were too much. the soviet. That there was a great deal of unsatisfaction
- Letting Hungary go would within the eastern bloc. More importantly if Poland had
create a corridor through issues with their own Stalinist then most likely every
Austria for the Western single other eastern bloc had the same.
powers to invade Russia. • Sure enough, barely did the Polish crisis go away, a new
crisis emerged in early October 1956 in Hungary for
very much the same reason. The standard of living
declined throughout the 1950s. Stalinist hardliners
implemented the same brutal policies at home that
Stalin did. 1000 were arrested on false charges and
were thrown into jail. There was forced labor and the
standard of livening of the workers declined. They were
living in bad conditions then they were living in those
when they were living under capitalist conditions. Given
that, and having seen the polish succession the
Hungarians rose up on the 23 of October with mass demonstration throughout the city in Budapest.
- they demanded improvement in their domestic
- Demanding a better political system. they went a
step ahead of the Polish. They wanted a multi-party
political system, which the Polish had never raised.
So from the very beginning you can see very
differences between the Polish and the Hungarian
Egypt: - The Hungarian army fell apart and the working class
- if you allow two powerful almost in mass supported the rebels. They too
countries to take Egypt wanted to get rid of their Stalinists and wanted a
then it would be a blow to reformist Prime Minister, which happened to be imre
communism nagy. They too wanted a better deal from the
- this would be proof that soviets.
communism cannot - 1 of November Khrushchev agreed to pull the soviet
defend its own state. forces out of Budapest, and considered their
demands. The Hungarians wanted far more than the
meanwhile in Hungary there Polish. What really scuttled the possibility for a
was an uprising. This paired compromise and what ensured that the soviet union
with the situation in Egypt made would come back in force and crush the rebellion
were two further demands that the Hungarians
things very difficult for the
- Soviets go to war against a. to have a multi party political system. whereby
the rebels in Hungary any other party, and anyone would be allowed to
November 4th run for power.
- Wipe out the rebels and b. To allow Hungary to pull out from the Warsaw
pact, and declare neutrality.
apprehend the PM and
execute him. - These were unacceptable terms. These actually
- This clearly illustrated pretty much compromised the existence of the
that the soviets were not Warsaw pact as a whole, as a military alliance.
capable of living Because Hungary being out of it could have created
peacefully. a corridor through Austria, through Hungary the
western Powers, or nato or whoever could have
attacked soviet Union. Bypassing the buffering
The Soviets might have been zones: East Germany, Poland and nailing the soviets
punished by the Americans, right away. Therefore one would easily see that it
however the American allies was unacceptable for the Hungarians to make those
were doing something similar demands.
- Unlike the Polish there were no way that these issues
could be settled by compromised.
• In addition, just as these demands came on, in the
Middle East Britain, France and Israel launched a an
attack against Egypt. Which happened to be a client
state of Soviets. When you put these two things
together you can clearly see that Khrushchev was
backed into a corner and could not negotiate.
- as he reasoned, if you allow the British and French to
take Egypt and no one thought that Egypt would be successful in defending itself against these two high
end western states, it would be a blow to
- It would prove that communism is unable to defend
their own states. If they could take Egypt, it would be
only a matter of time before they take Hungary as
• Therefore the Hungarian uprising and demands had to
be answered quickly. And that was a massive
• Come November 4 the soviet troops, even though they
had promised to pull out of Hungary and return to
Soviet a mass besiege would come about. After a week
of bloody fight they defeated the rebels, apprehended
the prime minster and all those who sought political
changes and latter found them guilty and executed
• By doing so the entire affair, the peaceful co-existence
was gone. The Soviet Union proved itself not to be that
Suez Crisis: friendly state. not a state open to negotiations, rather
- Pan-Arabism. Nassar acted exactly as they were painted by the capitalist
hardliners. Who feared communism as a brutal
wanted to become the dictatorship.
spokesperson of the Arab • The international community would have come down on
world and wanted to the Soviet Union so hard that most likely Khrushchev
liberate middle east from
its colonial aggressors would not have escaped. However that was not the
- Wanted to fight three deal. Just as the soviet union crushed the Hungarians
revolution a new crisis emerged in the middle east that
powers: pretty much brought down the status o the western
a. France in north Africa powers, particularly of the united states. They were
b. British in the middle unable to citizen the United States because the closest
c. Israel- wanted revenge allies of the united sates were doing exactly the Soviets
- To achieve this he needed were doing in Hungary. Only they were doing it in the
energy and power and • Suez Crisis.
money and he would do - by this point in Egypt you have a new leadership
this through building a
dam lead by Nasser.
a. Approached - Who took over in a who took over in early 1950s. he
Czechoslovakia for decided to become the spokes person of the Arab
world. the represent pan-Arabism and make Egypt
economic and military the focal point of the movement. To liberate Middle
deal East from its colonial aggressors.
b. Appeahced the US for
similar deal (Americans - His main target was France, Britain and Israel. To
promise financial aid) succeed with pan-Arabism and above all to make
- When the Soviets saw Egypt the leading voice in Arab nationalism , Nasser
had three objectives:
that it can mobilize Egypt a. defeat the French in North Africa. To push them
and deliver a blow to out of there colonial states. By so doing he would
western powers it provided Egypt with guns demonstrate that Egypt state and the most
- When the British saw this effective.
they also offered the b. To defeat the British. Therefore take or gain a full
Egypt a deal. They gave control over his own state. after all the British wee
the Egyptians contol over still there. They left India and Asia because their
the Suez canal as long as empire fell apart there, however in the Middle
they, the Egyptians, East you still have births presence. You still have
allow international 80,000 British troops in the Middle East. so you
trade to travel freely have to get rid of them.
through the Suez c. Destroy newly created Israel. As it turned out
Canal, including Israel Israel was much more powerful and organized
shipping. than the Arab states. It had defeated and won the
- When the Americans war in 1948, and still took more territory. This had
heard that the Czechs to be avenged.
were providing the - These were the objectives of Nasser. However how
Egptians with guns they does he achieve them when Egypt is still a backward
scraped the financial aid. state and empty still did not have an efficient
- As a reponse Nassar military and was still economically a backward state.
retalited by natioanzling - Nasser decided to play the United States against eh
the Suez Canal-breaking soviet union and extract from both as much as he
the promise to the British. could. Sure enough initially he was successful.
- The British thought that if a. In the summer of 1955 he approached the
they allowed this then satellite of the soviet union-Czechoslovakia for an
they would have their economic and military deal.
interitonal reupation b. Likewise, he apprehends the United State for a
would be tarnished. military and economic deal.
Furthermore, their c. Again, it was all to make Egypt modern. In order
presence in the middle to do that he needed energy, he needed self-
east would vanish. And sufficient. So he started building up a major dam.
they ouwld not be d. For that the Americans promised a substantial
rendered a ‘great power’ financial aid. However when it came to the
any longer. military deal, especially the weapons delivery
- This they created part, of course the Americans could never supply
the weapons to Egypt because they knew what he
wanted to do with them. He wanted to use them
against Israel. Thus no military deal or exchange
could occur. that is exactly what bothered Nasser.
e. He went back to Soviet Union and argued that he
needed weapons. It was at this moment in the
summer of 1955 the soviet union decide that the
Israel could be a place where they could stri