Twentieth Congress

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Nikita Khrushchev (1894—1971) Soviet statesman, Premier of the USSR 1958–64

Joseph Stalin (1879—1953) Soviet statesman, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR 1922–53




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(February 1956)

The Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, noted for Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin. After the first and open session of the Congress, Khrushchev, as First Secretary, made three significant doctrinal points, that peaceful co‐existence between East and West was possible, that war between them was not inevitable, and that there were “different roads to socialism” besides the Soviet route. More dramatic was the speech he delivered in the secret session when he denounced the Stalinist cult of personality and Stalin's acts of terror. The speech was carefully constructed to emphasize Stalin's treatment of the Party rather than of the country at large. A fervour of de‐Stalinization and demands for liberalization swept through Eastern Europe as well as the Soviet Union. Khrushchev's “secret” speech was an important contributory factor in prompting the uprisings in Poland and Hungary in 1956 and in the Sino‐Soviet quarrel from 1960.

Subjects: World History.

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