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1956 1.4: The People Are Revolting!

When Diplomacy Fails Podcast

23-01-2024 • 32 minutos

1956 Episode 1.4 examines the immediate storm caused by Khrushchev’s denunciations of Stalin in late February.


Above all, the greatest ingredient in this storm was that of confusion. Soviet officials didn’t know what to tell the assembled crowds, and schoolteachers didn’t know what to tell their pupils. How far exactly could they go in the condemnation of Stalin? This wasn’t made clear, nor was it made clear exactly what Khrushchev hoped to gain. He seemed to vacillate between wanting people to know about the speech and covering up its contents.


In Georgia, as we’ll see, the criticism of their favourite Soviet son caused demonstrations and rioting of an anti-Moscow nature, as the impression had been gained that these new Soviet bureaucrats were attempting to tarnish the name of Stalin for their own ends. Putting down these demonstrations were bloody and costly, and their eruption seemed to catch Khrushchev off guard. Indeed, the British and Americans were already learning of the secret speech by the middle of March, and began to ask their own questions about its contents – was this what Khrushchev wanted? We examine this question by looking at what other historians thought of Khrushchev’s move, and we prepare ourselves well for the most serious eruption of all in the Soviet bloc – in Poland...

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