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1956 1.3: A Not So Secret Speech

When Diplomacy Fails Podcast

18-01-2024 • 31 minutos

Episode 1.3 opens with the scene which greeted Khrushchev as he performed that incendiary speech over 24-25th of February 1956. It was a pivotal day in the history of the Soviet Union, and after we unwrap its major aspects, we then tackle the key questions – how had this speech come to be, and how had Khrushchev managed to convince his peers that it was necessary?


These questions require answers if we’re to understand and appreciate the world which housed the secret speech, so I hope you’ll tune in here and have a listen to an incredible period of history, when Josef Stalin – the father of peoples and the sun of the universe, was exposed as the monster that he was, by the very people who had followed his lead and helped him craft the system that dominated much of the continent.


What followed the secret speech then were other questions – how would Khrushchev et al manage to reconcile their involvement in Stalin’s crimes with this new course, and how would they manage to critique Stalin’s role in creating the Soviet system without also delegitimising it at the same time? Would the speech be seen as a welcome admission of wrongdoing, or an invitation to push for more freedom? From this speech in spring 1956 would spring even more troubles, which Khrushchev could never have imagined.


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