Anonymous Letter to the Editorial Board of ‘Kommunist’ Against the Criticism of J.V. Stalin 1
[not later than 18 September 1956] 2
While reading lately the articles, in which each author according to his capacity and ability is trying to kick Stalin’s corpse, one involuntarily begins to ask the question: did the Party really make a clumsy mistake by putting Stalin in the leadership position? Is it really that Stalin’s long tenure at the helm was just a historical accident that brought us nothing but harm?
It is enough to put these questions that their absurdity becomes apparent. Such accidents in history do not happen. It has been proved that only those great personalities can take leadership positions who are most capable of accomplishing unfinished tasks.
Every event must be analysed concretely and historically.
Let us take the question: who after the death of Lenin could have headed the Central Committee? As Lenin pointed out Stalin and Trotsky were the most outstanding members of the Party. The Party trusted Stalin with the reins and this was the only correct decision. The attempts to justify Trotskyism on hindsight will not yield any result.
The logic of things is such that at that moment, to realise Lenin’s behest, a strong person loyal to the end to the ideals of Lenin was needed. Stalin was such a person.
It is also alleged that in 1937-1938 there were unjustified repressions. All this is correct. From our belfry the mistakes of the past are, obviously, clear. But everything cannot be explained away only by the personal shortcomings of one person.
I happened to read the notes of an agent of the fascist secret service. He recognises that he knew of a secret conspiracy with the aim of overthrowing the Stalinist leadership. The Hitlerites decided not to hinder the liquidation of these blackguards in the hope that this would bleed the leadership of the Soviet army white, and with Stalin they thought they can deal easily. The author recognises that the Germans miscalculated, and believes that the opposite should have been attempted. I think there is no sense in taking up the position of the enemies, not forsaking all the mistakes.
It is sad to see how persons who only yesterday fought with each other for the right to be in the first row of the vociferous chorus exalting to the heavens the work of this very Stalin are now writing mean articles from the position of rotten and unprincipled ‘objectivism’, in which the real party struggle is substituted by just a collection of facts.
One of the lecturers of the regional committee remarked that Trotsky’s portrait hangs in Tito’s room and that Khrushchev was ecstatic about it (hinting to the fact that we are now reconciling with Trotskyism). I will never accept this. I do not believe that Khrushchev betrayed the cause for which he struggled for so many years. No, from Stalin we will move forward and not backward to Trotskyism.
It must be stated plainly that simple people often perceive the criticism of Stalin as surrendering of ideological positions that we have won. After all, the name of Stalin was our banner under which so many victories were won. What is the sense in trampling this banner under our feet in the dirt now. This is simply incomprehensible.
Speaking at the XX Congress comrade Mikoyan said that this Congress was the first genuine Party Congress since after the death of Lenin. But this, not more and not less, is like asserting that all the earlier Congresses and the struggles in these Congresses for the general line of the party against the opportunists of all colours were anti-Leninist. One cannot go any further than this. Let us, in the light of all that has been said, assess not only the work of Stalin, but also such leaders as Kirov, Zhdanov, Orzhonikidze, Kuibishev, Voroshilov etc., who were also among the organisers of these Congresses and constituted the core of the organisers who defended the general line.
Should we not, at the same time, give them a short shrift too?
Accompanying note: ‘read by M. Suslov’. The document vetted by: P.N. Pospelov, A.B. Aristov, E.A. Furtseva, N.N. Belyaev.G.K.
1. The letter was sent by the editorial board of the journal ‘Kommunist’ to the CC CPSU on 18 September 1956. (F. 5. Op. 30. D. 140. L. 181.). See the following document.
2. The date on the accompanying note.
Anonymous Letter from City Gorky to the Journal ‘Kommunist’ Against the Criticism of J.V. Stalin 1
[not later than 14 November 1956] 2
I am a regular reader of your journal ‘Kommunist’ and I am surprised that a lot is written about the personality cult of J.V. Stalin. At our Molotov motor factory one often comes across dissatisfaction among the workers regarding such an attitude toward Stalin. Particularly after the events in Hungary and Poland, the workers say that if Joseph Vissarionovich was around he would not have allowed this bloodletting to happen in Hungary and would not have called back our armed forces from Budapest. This leadership of ‘traveller’ Khrushchev (as we call him) the dining partner of the spy Tito, has lost out and does not know what to do with their collective leadership. They also say that Stalin was respected by the working people, but also by our enemies. The working class was a priority for him and Khrushchev has a group of people who are already living under communism. A head of the city party committee or city executive committee receives double the salary and lives with the family in a dacha in the suburbs. Not to speak of the higher ups who have two or three personal cars for their grandfathers, grandmothers, mothers-in-law etc. while Khrushchev speaks in the Congress that these cars be taken away. Why nobody speaks that Lenin used to say that a person in leadership should get no more than a highly qualified worker. This is what Khrushchev does not speak about. During the summer I was in the Baltics in a resort and Furtseva, Secretary of the Moscow Committee was also there and was asked how much is her salary? She said 25,000 roubles. Why does she need it when as it is everything is free for her – the car, the dacha etc. And you might just remember how Stalin converted all the dachas in the Moscow suburbs into children’s nurseries.
People here also say that Khrushchev needs to smear Stalin’s name in order to create respect for his own. But I can state plainly that among the people he has none. Molotov, Kaganovich have much more. Voroshilov too has lost out because of his attitude towards Tito.
Because of such an attitude towards Stalin as evinced by Khrushchev and some others, a lot of jokes are doing the rounds and the respect and love among the people for Stalin is very high, just after that for Lenin and Kalinin. Ordzhonikidze may be even more than anybody else. They also say that Khrushchev as compared to even Molotov or Kaganovich is a nobody.
I request you to convey this to the Central Committee and since I am a technician and I do the rounds in the workshops I come to hear such opinions among the workers.
Member of the CPSU since 1924Note: ‘Archive. V. Gorbunov. 30.11.1956’.
1. This letter was sent by the editorial board of ‘Kommunist’ to the CC of the CPSU on 14th November 1956. The covering letter indicates that it was seen by L.I. Brezhnev (F. 5. Op. 30. D. 140. L. 196). The style and orthography have been retained.
2. Date on the covering letter.
Translated from the Russian by Tahir Asghar.
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