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1956 1.5: Broken Springs

When Diplomacy Fails Podcast

25-01-2024 • 27 minutos

1956 Episode 1.5 examines the implications for the Soviet people, as Khrushchev’s speech is disseminated through the sprawling empire.


The questions which many citizens had were to be restricted and constrained by the specific parameters set down by the Soviet authorities. In short, as we’ll see in this episode, there was a fine line between debate and dissent. Pravda liked to distinguish between dissent and debate by presenting discussion of the secret speech in the spirit of party-mindedness, rather than a cynical or wholly critical perspective. As always, it was a matter for Khrushchev to determine the difference between debate and dissent, as he attempted to deal with the mess his speech had created.


We look at the example of the response given in Moscow’s Thermal Technical University, where three technicians gave their views and planned in grandly ambitious, optimistic ways, only to discover when they returned to work on Monday that their words and phrases had gone too far. Nobody could deny the central truths that they spoke, but everyone remained too afraid to actively challenge the post-Stalin order. This background of the social implications of the secret speech are important if we are to fully grasp what occurred in Poland – the first and most troubling dissenter in the Soviet camp...

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