SPEECH OF N. S. KHRUSHCHEV AT A FRIENDLY DINNER IN YEVKSINOGRAD (VARNA), 16 MAY 1962CITATION SHARE DOWNLOAD
get citationSpeaking in Bulgaria, Khrushchev discusses the cult of personality of Stalin and the great purges that occurred under Stalin's leadership. He contrasts Lenin and Stalin and the role of the communist party under each. He addresses the history and current situation of the Communist Party of Albania and the Soviet split with Albania and Yugoslavia."Speech of N. S. Khrushchev at a friendly dinner in Yevksinograd (Varna), 16 May 1962," May 16, 1962, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Published in ''Istochnik,'' (Moscow) No. 6, 2003, pp. 128-137. Translated by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/113341
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Comrades, I want to complain to you to some degree. For a long time I've been asking for the floor but evidently because I am a newborn and still not a grownup, therefore they say: wait, what are you getting into? I recognize that I'm still not a day old as I've become a new citizen. It's not that you have 8 million and I'm but one. Evidently this one is the 8 millionth. (commotion).
[Translator's note: per an endnote, Khrushchev was made an honorary citizen of the city on this date]
What to do? Therefore I treat the Komsomol with understanding. How difficult it is for the Komsomol, and even more a Pioneer, but I am still at the stage of a Pioneer in my birth.
I want to again repeat and express gratitude for everything good, the good words. And I know what they always tell a guest, so to speak, to multiply the positive and soften the negative. That's the rule. (commotion). Therefore evidently I need to select some figure in order to divide everything said into some figure and what is divided will be more or less approximate. (commotion).
Our relations are good, as I have already said at the meeting. But it was interesting when it was declared that a Party and government delegation is leaving reports that appeared in the bourgeois press that Khrushchev is going there because an unfavorable situation has developed in the relations between the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Bulgarian Communist Party and that the Bulgarian Communist Party is also like the Albanian [Party], so to speak, rising up in opposition. (commotion). Yes, yes, therefore Khrushchev is coming like a fireman. (laughter).
Well, I understand that these people are very far from understanding our psychology and our procedures. Therefore I would say and wish one thing so that, God willing, such “bad” relations as exist today with the Bulgarian Communist Party still exist tomorrow, and we indeed need nothing more with all other Parties. Yes, and I don't see what the grounds are for taking it that we would have poor relations. We're fighting together with you. We were victorious earlier but the Bulgarians have always had revolutionary fighting traditions in the Communist revolutionary movement. If you take your immortal Communist revolutionary Georgi Dimitrov, he immortalized himself and immortalized the Bulgarian people, the Bulgarian Communist Party, and the revolutionary movement in general. The trial wasn't against him, but his trial was against fascism in Germany. And the Communist Party of Bulgaria deservedly carries these traditions in its arsenal of the revolutionary struggle.
Therefore to speak of our relations is, in my opinion, to waste this time because the relations are good and I see no, so to speak, bumps and no storm clouds or anything of the kind…which would cloud our relations. We need to look ahead and think about rallying our peoples together.
If you take Albania, I don't understand now, I really don't understand what motives Albania had for taking such a position with respect to the Soviet Union. For our part, we did nothing, nothing at all. I explain it this way: You know this happens. I was brought up among miners and among peasants and therefore I knew people early. It happens, you know, when hooligans teach a little child to pronounce words that you can't say around adults. So he's walking along the street and miners give him three kopecks and he [thinks]: la, la, la, but doesn't know the meaning of the swearword, but he pronounces it correctly because he got three kopecks. The Albanians are like this child. If one is to talk about what we have done for Albania then I don't know who could do more than we could have done and have done and for this we've received spit. You'd have to be a completely unreasonable person to do this. As they say, God will punish a person before he takes away his reason. But we Russians have another saying: get the old woman off the cart, it's easier on the horse. This is a Ukrainian saying. A man is riding a horse, carrying an old woman. She quarrels with the old man and says: I'm not going on your horse, and he replies: Well, go, it's easier on the horse. The same with us. We've quarreled and nothing will happen from this. I don't want to exaggerate our role but it would also be a sin to diminish it. This was stupid. Well, the hell with them.
Once I gave an explanation that when we actually were consistently pursuing a policy of eliminating the cult of personality and its consequences, then this of course contradicted the essence of the Albanians' political line. What is the cult of personality? We were thinking of how to explain this in order that this be incomprehensible to us, but comprehensible and half incomprehensible to others. This is the cult of personality. But we essentially rose up against the gangster-like policy Stalin had employed with respect to our Party.
Some people say that Stalin did this because of the conditions that had developed. That is, what were these conditions that had developed? It is 1937, the best conditions of all times that the Soviet people had experienced after the October Revolution. We had finished the Civil War, we had carried out collectivization, we had struggled against Trotsykites, we had fought against the Grigori Evseyevich Zinovievites, we had fought against the right-wingers, and against the right-leftist Sergey Syrtsov and Lominadze bloc. We literally cleansed our own land and the Party, literally of everything, we achieved the monolithic nature of our Soviet society, we achieved a position where the Party was strong as never before. A complete victory, so to speak, a victory of the Leninist policy. And we achieved these successes under the leadership of Stalin. We all gathered around and looked at him like the greatest person after Lenin because he had led us to this, he had rallied us together, and we were rallied around him.
And suddenly the death of Sergei Kirov. Think about the death of Kirov. The murderer of Kirov at the Smolny had twice been arrested with a weapon. Twice this murderer was arrested and twice he was released, and not only released but he still made his way into the Smolny and killed Kirov. He killed him when the commissar who should have been guarding Kirov stayed a whole floor from the person he was guarding. How could this be? Moreover, when Stalin, Kliment Voroshilov, and Vyacheslav Molotov arrived in Leningrad after the murder of Kirov, they brought in the person who had been guarding Kirov for questioning. On the way they created a story that the vehicle was in an accident and the commissar was killed as a result. And now we have found the driver who was riding in this vehicle and had driven the truck. He said: when I was behind the wheel a GPU commissar was sitting next to me and he wanted to grab away the wheel and direct the vehicle into a building. I didn't let him grab away the wheel. I straightened out the vehicle and just damaged the hubcap and the fender. But at this time I heard: a noise rang out in the vehicle and they declared that this commissar had been killed. But he was killed by a blow to the face when they took him in for questioning. We wanted to find these Chekists whom they took for questioning. They were shot. And now find the ends.
Who could have done this, who needed this done, who needed to do this, who would have needed to cover their tracks? Who? That is the question now. And heads flew at the same time, thousands, tens of thousands were killed. Who was killed? They killed members of the Central Committee, they killed delegates of the 17th Party Congress, they killed Party leaders, Soviet leaders, and knocked out the command staff of the Red Army. So they killed the flower created by the Revolution, they killed the flower of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Three generations were killed. When they sent me to Ukraine I went. There was not one oblast' first secretary, there was not one oblast' executive committee chairman. All were annihilated and not just one time.
Who needed this? Members of the Politburo were shot, Stanislaw Kosior, a member of the Party since 1907, was killed; Chubar', a most honest person, a worker and metalworker, was killed; Yan Rudzutak, a worker who wrote theses when there was a struggle with the opposition and the Trotskyites, was killed. Rudzutak's theses were taken as a foundation and in these theses the Party waged a proper struggle against the workers opposition, and against the Trotskyites. Lenin signed these theses. Rudzutak was killed. Pavel Postyshev, and thousands of such people, were killed.
What was going on, why? This is why this question, you know, is on the table. Why? Because Stalin actually was that person about whom Lenin said that this person might abuse power, that he ought not be trusted with the post of First Secretary. And here is the Party, which didn't listen to Lenin but listened to Stalin, but he swore an oath that he would draw conclusions but violated his oath. You know how a dog to whom you brought meat and it cannot resist eating and shows its nature. So too did Stalin show his nature in this question.
Now we say why the Party could not do this. But the Party was powerless because, you know, as they say, there is a philosophical play on words: can God create another substance which is more powerful than God? If He could create it, then accordingly God is not all-powerful. If He cannot create it, He is not all-powerful all the same.
So it happened with the Party that the Party created a boss, created a god for itself and it lost power over this god. And this god created by the Party and the people raised his hand against the Party, against the people. Therefore we say that the Party should draw the conclusion that no one is above the Party, no one is above the people. This is the struggle against the cult of personality.
Now look what Albania is doing. Albania is copying what we had done precisely, only with greater, Asiatic brutality. In our Russian understanding, Asiatic brutality is unusual brutality. So they're doing it at a lower level because Stalin actually was a Marxist, was actually a genius and talented, but he misused this talent and directed it against the Party, against the people. One cannot compare Stalin and Enver Hoxha, or Stalin and Mehmet Shehu. And they're not acting like Stalin, but like butchers - they simply chop. Whoever speaks up, they chop off his head. Of course, they can perhaps support us. Therefore the 20th Congress chopped the roots from under this policy and therefore they reconciled themselves to it. But when they found some support from others they began to speak against us with foul language.
If one were to ask Stalin before his death - he had already erected his monuments here, there, and everywhere - he thought that he would be celebrated in Russia, in the Soviet Union for centuries. He had created everything, and Lenin had died. There was not one monument because Lenin would never permit this. But Stalin gave his own name to all the chamberpots in his lifetime. There's the difference.
Here are we, the other comrades, who were together with me in the leadership. If one is to talk about me, I am a product of the Stalin era. When Lenin died, I was studying in a workers' school [Translator's note: per the endnote, a general educational institution]. I began Party work in Stalin's time, so to speak. I was promoted in Stalin's time, Stalin promoted me: I became a member of the Politburo, I became [First] Secretary of a very large Party organization, the Ukrainian [Party organization]. In a word, I was with Stalin, I idolized Stalin, and I supported Stalin. Why did I go against Stalin? I knew Lenin less well, I never saw Lenin, I never met Lenin, but I lived with Stalin. Why do I and my other comrades now say: No, not Stalin, but Lenin? Why? As if as a sign of gratitude they say: One hand washes the other and both get dirty. Therefore it would seem that we should glorify not Lenin, but Stalin.
Lazar Kaganovich also talked about this. We were eating and drinking together. Kaganovich was a toady and a bootlicker. He said to Stalin and us: “Well, Lenin lived only six years after the Revolution, but Stalin lifted the country, etc. etc. Why do we call it Leninism? No, not Leninism, but Stalinism. We were all silent. Stalin looked at us and then to curse Kaganovich: what are you saying, how can you belittle Lenin? Lenin this, Stalin that. He had such expressions which I cannot repeat. But he looked and saw himself that we weren't speaking for or against this. He understood, he was a clever person. However the second day Kaganovich began to repeat this. Kaganovich is a coward. If Stalin had said: What are you saying? He would have immediately been under the table and the smell from there would be such that you couldn't stay at the table. But he was speaking because he believed that Stalin was cursing him and provoking him to repeat himself. That's how the situation was.
Therefore we want to create a situation in order to exalt the Party and not a person. What about the person? Lenin died. What could be greater in our era than Lenin? But, however, the Party turned out to be above Lenin in the sense that it was stronger than Lenin. Lenin died, but his ideas remained and the Party went forward.
Stalin, of course, considered himself above Lenin and all. Comrades, you know that when Stalin died what a throng there was to see Stalin one last time. One hundred and nine people were suffocated; the crowd crushed them. The militia and the troops were powerless. This means that the influence was Stalin's, so to speak.
And then he died. Now after his death we are looking into who Stalin was and what he did for the country. Lenin and Stalin are incomparable figures because Lenin is Lenin. At one time Stalin did great things, but Stalin, you know…I cannot say more right now. We have created a large commission headed by Cde. Nikolay Mikhailovich Shvernik in order to assemble all these materials. Four volumes of these materials have been written, and I still haven't had the opportunity to read them. We assembled everything there, and assembled everyone who was left alive. It is hard for us to investigate and after us it will be harder yet. We want to leave it and let others read it after us.
That's the trait, but it could be fatal. At the 17th Congress six people voted against Stalin. It was officially announced, I remember, because six people also voted against me. We received the same number of votes against. But now we've assembled those people who were in the [vote-]counting commission and they say that there weren't six, but more than 100. They didn't show them.
Of course, Stalin understood who could have voted against him. A worker, a collective farm worker, or the secretary of a Party rayon [district] committee? No, he couldn't have voted against him, he idolized Stalin. All the old Leninists voted against [Stalin]. They were looking, they were monitoring, and they felt that Stalin was going in the wrong direction. Stalin understood this, of course, and he directed the blow against them, for the heads of more than old Bolsheviks flew. The older [they were], the more the heads flew and then others came after them.
I know that you're recording what I'm saying and I ask that you release what you're recording and not exaggerate it. Hence you want me to be overly clever, but I want you to be overly clever. I see that you're recording me. We'll give you what you need but what you don't, we won't give you and you won't get it. This is no secret from the Bulgarian Communist Party. We said this at the 20th Party Congress. It was a shock for the Party. Some were also in a fever at the 22nd Congress. Hence our Party has already received immunization against this, but others still have a very weak organism. I'm not thinking about myself, but this leaks out and suddenly they begin to use it not only against us but against you, and against the Communist movement in general. Therefore it is necessary to be cautious on this question.
A large report can be made on this question and I think that such a report is necessary and possibly we'll make this report and publish it. But evidently everything that needs to be said cannot be said. Time is needed for this. Evidently, after another generation this will be researched as a historical phenomenon that occurred so that the peoples and revolutionary parties are guided and some immunization performed in order that there be no repetition of this.
But here I take the Albanian question. Look at everyone who participated in creating the Communist Party of Albania. A majority of them are in the grave. They were killed. Stalin did this. Therefore, so to speak, they are not concerned about Stalin against us [sic], they are saving their own hide because it is obvious to each of them and they see this in Albania. But they were powerless since we were powerless.
Take Beqir Balluku. He served the Italians. Mehmet Shehu studied in France. What kind of person is he? God knows. Is he a Communist or something else? And there are many such people. Therefore look, there are no organizers of the Albanian Communist Party alive any more. At the last Congress Mehmet Shehu said: Who is against us will have the floor and we'll spit in [his] ugly face. If he repeats it - a bullet in the forehead.
There's Party democracy for you, as they say, Bolshevist centralism. This is not centralism but gangsterism. How can a Party be invigorated, how can Party life be invigorated? Can any person guarantee that he is not mistaken? No. There can always be mistakes. Look what Lenin did.
When the October Revolution was over Lev Borisovich Kamenev rose against him, Grigori Evseyevich Zinoviev rose against him, and Maxim Gorky left. He left the Bolsheviks during the October Revolution. Anatoli Vasilyevich Lunacharsky warned Lenin: Artillery is shooting at the Kremlin and historical monuments are being destroyed. Lenin said: We will win and we will rebuild, we will build, but a battle is going on right now.
That's how the situation was and then Lenin brought Kamenev to his side, he brought Zinoviev, Lunacharsky, and of course took other people to his side who had vacillated. During the Civil War he appointed Trotsky as People's Commissar of Defense. Trotsky organized the opposition to him. Lenin defeated the Trotskyites but he left Trotsky as he was, as People's Commissar of Defense. Lenin had Bolshevik patience.
So when was this done? It was at the dawn of the birth of the proletarian state, a still weak state. Well, they say that Lenin was a tolerant person. No, Lenin wielded a sharp knife, a sword, and he was not afraid of lowering it on the heads of class enemies. But he did not consider them enemies, he thought that they were mistaken. He organized public debates and the entire Party participated in these debates and Lenin won these debates. If one is to speak that way, it would seem that Lenin had more conditions, so to speak, to exhibit a dictatorship, but he thought that a dictatorship should be exhibited by the working class against an enemy class, not inside the class.
But Stalin began to make short work when classes were eliminated in the Soviet Union, when there was already a monolithic society. In order to justify himself he invented the idea that the more thoroughly the Revolution was winning, the more fiercely the class enemies were resisting. But this was simply a justification for the murders that were committed.
At the most recent reception we had in the country, the musicians' reception, a young woman approached me and said: I can't leave Moscow without shaking your hand. I am the editor of a newspaper in Dagestan. I was born in 1937, the year my father was shot. I want to shake your hand and say that you have returned me to political life because until now I was the daughter of an enemy of the people but now my father has been rehabilitated and I have received the right of citizenship. I am the editor of a newspaper. This was at a reception in the Kremlin.
This is not comprehensible to people who say: it was necessary to inspire them. Not for Stalin. Stalin is no longer with us, he is dead. No, we're doing this for the living. We say for everyone: if you live and during your lifetime you want to memorialize yourself then keep in mind when you leave that people will judge you by what you've done and not what you said about yourself. Stalin wrote his own biography. We take this biography and we see how this biography was corrected in Stalin's hand. It is shameful to correct this way. “So say the people,” wrote Stalin. He wrote this about himself. This is a confusion of the great with the infamous. This is Stalin. All this was. He is a Marxist, he is a Leninist, and he was a murderer, he was capable of the greatest infamy, and he committed this infamy.
We want to clear this away, to clear it away not for ourselves, and not for me. I am already 68 years old. At such an age, you know, you don't know when you will speak, but when they speak before you, if they still speak, then they suddenly cart you away so that the air is clean. Well, I say this because life was created this way.
We are realistic people, we live on Earth and we've been around. Here's the situation with Albania. Mehmet Shehu with his own hand ordered D___, who was a Politburo Secretary, to be burned and his ashes scattered so that no one know where he was buried. Then they accused us of interfering in their affairs.
They arrested a former Politburo member, a woman who was pregnant. They condemned her to death. We wrote a letter: Why do you put her on trial? Why will you execute this pregnant woman? Czarist satraps didn't execute pregnant women.
…perhaps we new Communists are supposed to execute pregnant women. They received our telegram and executed her all the same. Then they said that the Russians were interfering in our affairs. Yes, we interfered. We now say that this was unheard of cruelty that a pregnant woman could be executed. We told them: You could have put a pregnant woman in prison, and held her there, but not execute her. The example of Alexandr Bogomolets, President of the Ukrainian Academy who died, could be cited here. He was born in prison. His mother was in prison. She was a member of Narodnaya Volya and the father was in prison. He was also a member, but nevertheless even in Czarist times they didn't kill them. They didn't kill a pregnant woman, they didn't kill the father. But he himself was President of the Academy. But we Communists don't know the sense of proportion. Rather, not Communists, but the Albanians.
During the Civil War, when General Pyotr Nikolayevich Krasnov started an uprising and led troops against Petersburg, these troops were then defeated, and Krasnov was taken prisoner, Lenin released this Czarist general on his word of honor that he would not fight against Soviet power. Krasnov went to the Don, started an uprising, fought against us, but finally saw the hopelessness of the situation and shot himself. This speaks well that the man had some conscience. Lenin fought against enemies of the working class, but he was not brutal. He was reasonable and, where it was necessary, exhibited patience. But this person exhibited brutality inside his own Party. He even killed the brother of his first wife, a Georgian, Alesha Svanidze. We simply called him Alesha. He was not an Alesha in age, of course. This Alesha was of the same age as Stalin, but Stalin called him Alesha, and we did, too. This was a cultured man. I don't know what his specialty was, but he was a professor. He spent the night at Stalin's, he chatted with him about Georgia, etc. But suddenly it turned out that Alesha wanted to kill Stalin. Stalin talked about this himself: If he wants to kill me then, you know, he spent the night at my place, and we ate with him. Beria said that he was a British spy and Stalin trusted Beria and killed Alesha. It is true, that Stalin vacillated for a long time and told what they told Alesha before his execution, that if he confessed and repented he would remain alive. They told Alesha about this before his execution and he replied this way: I am guilty of nothing, what should I ask of the Party and the government? I am an honest person. They shot him and Stalin talked of this. Then Stalin declared: Well, [he was] a villain, he's gone to the world beyond, but he didn't confess and betray the enemies. But there was nothing for him to betray. We have rehabilitated him.
I say this because not everyone understands our actions. In particular, for example, the Indians, honest people, they say - how did the Russians remove Stalin from the Mausoleum? But we said: how could we have put him next to Lenin? This issue bothers us.
There is an anecdote in Moscow about this that was told to me:
- Were you in the Mausoleum?
- Yes, I was.
- Did you see the board?
- Which one?
- This one: Stalin hid here from 1953 to 1961.
He hid in the Mausoleum. Then, when he was moved, they put him next to Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin. Kalinin met him and said:
- Iosif (he called him by his first name), what, you've come to me?
- Yes, I came, they sent me here.
- But where are you going from me?
- Wherever the Party sends me (laughter).
He spoke correctly. He recognized in the grave that the Party can send him wherever it wants, but not in life.
That's the situation. We will have to return to this and possibly more than once. The Indians say: how can you remove a dead person? But why can't a dead person be removed if it is necessary to restore truth, to restore the correct idea. But this was all yesterday.
Today our Party is united, our leadership is united, and we are on the correct path.
Before his death Stalin talked about how the situation would be in the Party, who would lead the Party? Voroshilov is a British spy. Molotov is an American spy. Yes, yes, he was convinced of this. There's no way I can establish whose spy Mikoyan is. But he is a spy, only whose, since he deals with all countries and therefore probably is a spy for all capitalist countries. That's how Stalin spoke. If Stalin had lived even a month or two more then of course neither Molotov nor Mikoyan would have remained alive. That's how the situation was in the Party.
[Stalin] drew this conclusion: Khrushchev? No, this is a worker, we need an intellectual, and he named Bulganin. We all know Bulganin. Bulganin is a good man. Comrades, I know Bulganin best of all because I was secretary of the City Committee and he was Chairman of the Moscow City Soviet. We worked together for more than a year. He is a good, honest person. But he is a bookkeeper and never was a politician. Now he has left the political stage. He got into the Politburo by chance and also left there by chance.
When opposition arose I told him on the telephone: You're a fool, the Devil's gotten into you, whom are you in touch with, why are you in touch with these scoundrels? And he replied to me: We'll look at what you're saying (he talked with a Nizhny Novgorod accent), we'll discuss it.
I told him: Count to seven, and in arithmetic seven is more than four. Everyone knows this. But in politics this arithmetic is completely useless because today seven is more than four, but tomorrow one is more than 100 because these are questions of policy and they are decided by the Party.
They met and wanted to judge me. The CC Plenum met. And they stood in front of the CC Plenum (shows how they stood) and trembled. Then Bulganin said: the Devil made me do it. To which I replied: What Devil? I was telling you not to yield to the Devil so that He didn't make you.
He is an honest man. Now he sends me congratulations on my birthday. I think that they are sincere. Our families lived together with him in a dacha; my son Sergey and his Vera grew up together and rode on my father[‘s back] because they were little then.
That's how the situation was. He was even leading the country at a time when he could not do this.
The first time I went abroad with him was to Britain. He was the head of the delegation, he was the Chairman of the Council of Ministers. The Presidium sent me as a delegation member, a fifth wheel, because my rank as a CPSU CC Secretary was in no way appropriate for the commission. Gromyko was there and knows.
We sat down and Anthony Eden sat down. We had to make a speech. Naturally, I said: Nikolay, your turn, you speak. He says: Yes, and was silent. I [said] to him again: Go ahead, speak, since we're representing our country. And here, when we're all writing and presenting a note to the members of the Politburo they tell us: Why are you talking all the time. Where's Bulganin? He was just sitting and could not say anything. I think that he had good qualities and that he spoke about this frankly. He could have given an ordinary speech, he could have congratulated me on my birthday, he could have given a good speech on the occasion of any other event, but as a politician he could become confused. I want to say here that you in Bulgaria have an honorary birthday. But until I became Chairman of the Council of Ministers I didn't know when my birthday was. We workers of the Donbass didn't have this.
VOICE. We also have this.
KHRUSHCHEV. Therefore I have no credit that I was born on a certain day. (laughter). But I won't speak against celebrating this day; you've introduced this, and God bless it.
Now the situation in our Party is such that there is not one structure, but two or three structures leading the Party and the country; the Party has been created. Our Party has matured, and the cadre have matured.
For example, Stalin said: I will die and the capitalists will strangle all of you like chickens. (commotion in the hall). What will do you without me? If a person who has lived many years without having done anything for the Party, if he thinks this way about the Party and then is asked why the devil you lived, if he didn't even create people around himself and when you die, then after you things will also not grow and prosper, how [were things] under you? Things should prosper better. If this is so, then what is such a leader worth then? This is not a boss, but a good-for-nothing.
So he died. Well then, what happened? We were considering what we had, but rumors reached me that many workers and peasants were talking about what the situation in the country would have been if Stalin had died 10 years earlier. Something entirely else, but not what [we have] now. This is true. Because if he had died earlier he would have untied the hands of the Party and the people. But we know policy and management better than he knew them. He didn't know a damned thing, if we are to talk this way.
Some Stalinists criticize us now: How can you say this about Stalin? He achieved a certain position, the economy improved. But I will say about this, that I was there, I sat there when Stalin was still alive and I heard what idiotic decisions were made. If you said a word to him, he didn't listen. More than once I said: Lord God, here's Marxism-Leninism, here are the ideas of Lenin. In spite of the fact that idiotic decisions were made, the country is growing and growing due to ideas. Yes, yes.
What did he do with agriculture? He destroyed it. He looked at the peasant like an enemy. In spite of the fact that we had bread and our economy grew from year to year. One year our economy was below the previous year. This was 1937, when engineering, Party, and administrative cadre were completely annihilated. Our economy suddenly fell. Then Stalin forbade the publication of reports about fulfillment of the plan because they were below 1936.
But that was enough, in my opinion, to sadden us not to catch up.
Now our situation is good. We are going forward confidently. We've adopted a Program for the building of Communism, a plan we are fulfilling. We have difficulties, but we obviously do not fear mistakes. But we ought to recognize these mistakes and correct them.
At the 20th Congress, for example, I had already said this to the leaders of Bulgaria. We adopted a stupid five-year plan. It was drawn up incompetently. Disproportions were put in this five-year plan. When we had worked it for a year or two we saw that we did not have everything in order. Then I said in the Presidium when Molotov and Malenkov were there that we should gather our courage and tell the CC and the Party that we had incorrectly adopted a five-year plan and correct it, or not say this and [not] fulfill [it]. Then we will confuse the economy so that we will not untangle it in five years. We talked about lagging behind and began to develop a new five-year plan and then no longer a five-year plan, because there was little time, but a seven-year plan. And now we are realizing this seven-year plan. We are going to overfulfill the plan. Why? Because we planned with a margin [rezerv]. It is better to have a margin in the economy than live without a margin. We are holding to this. And now, I think, every economy cannot live without a margin.
We think that our international situation is very good. There are good relations between the Communist Parties. There are disconnects, and not everyone understands them correctly. But experience will correct [this].
I want to say several words about Vulko Chervenkov. When Chervenkov went to China he returned from there and began to publish article after article and distribute them; we, to be sure, were very upset because we didn't believe [them]. I am a skeptic and don't believe in any [great] leaps [forward]. There cannot be any leaps. What does a leap mean in our socialist economy? It means an incompetent drawing up of plans; when you can't draw up a plan, then you're going blindly. Then there's either a leap - or a flop. And here Com Chervenkov…in his report talked about them, but we Soviet people didn't severely criticize [it] publicly, but at a meeting. He said this: The economy of socialist countries ought to be developed like a saddle. In response to this we said that this is inherent to a capitalist economy, ups and downs. Marx noted this already, but they want to talk about it now. What is this? It means getting over the pommel [hump]. But cavalrymen know how long you can stay on a pommel if the horse starts to gallop. You'll fall off. But when you sit firmly in a saddle like you are glued to it, then you can move at high speeds. Therefore a saddle-like economy is incompetent planning in the form of ups and downs. Experience shows why experience is a cruel teacher. It never forgives, it pulls [you] by the ears regardless of what public position it's taking if you aren't going along the right path.
We were satisfied that the Bulgarian comrades understood this themselves.
We were surprised. I don't know why Cde. Chervenkov did this. What devil prompted him to a saddle-like economy, God knows, but it was very dangerous.
I can say that I talked with Mao Zedong before he began to introduce communes. I went to Beijing in 1958. He was talking about communes then. It seems that Cde. Boris Ponomarev was there.
KHRUSHCHEV. Gromyko wasn't, [but] Vasily Kuznetsov and Rodion Malinovsky were. It was a high-ranking delegation. And Mao Zedong said: We are thinking of organizing communes. And he began to tell what this will be, both village and industry. And military units will have their own communes. I said to Mao Zedong in reply: This is your affair. Lenin tried. We had communes. But Lenin introduced the NEP [New Economic Policy] after the communes. And we thought that Lenin acted correctly because there was no other way out. Therefore you can try, but we have already tried and we didn't succeed. They tried. We even sort of argued on this question then. But now they don't have communes. The name “commune” remained. Now they say this is a big [work] brigade, this is a small brigade. They took away the personal plots from the peasants and now they've given them back. The entire difference is that now the peasants don't have [any] trust. By his nature the peasant doesn't trust anyone, he believes only in practice, only in experience, but the Devil knows how he thinks. There have been many of all kinds [in power]. You say, then you leave, but we have to live, the land feeds me. And therefore the peasant approaches everything very cautiously and now after decades have passed the peasant needs to be convinced that this is correct.
Or they wanted us to support them in the problem of metallurgy when they were going to make teapots and samovars. There was such metallurgy when ferrous metallurgy arrived to replace the Bronze Age. But should we build samovars in our time, in the age of automation? What kind of cast iron, what kind of steel were they producing? The Devil himself doesn't know, because there are no such instruments; it's like witchcraft: you add so much of this, so much of another, but you then can't figure out what came out. They themselves have now demolished the samovars.
[Translator's note: I suspect “samovars” here refers to the small backyard blast furnaces that were promoted during China's Great Leap Forward period to radically increase steel production].
Now they say: we are introducing something new - senior workers ought to work in production for several months. We are sending the Minister of Foreign Affairs to a factory for three months. I said, we had this and Lenin himself dragged around a numbskull, and among the old Communists there was no one who did not work on Saturday or Sunday voluntary workdays [subbotniki i voskresniki]. I chopped coal and stoked [a furnace] myself while occupying a senior position.
But when was this? If I was going to an enterprise right now a smart director would not only not give me a lathe, but would not trust me with a good instrument. I am a worker, a fitter by profession. But so many years have passed. What would the labor productivity be? If we took our Minister of Foreign Affairs and put him at a lathe then I think that we would not see the lathe anymore and he would break it to hell. (Commotion in the hall. Laughter). What would be the advantage of this? I'm saying that we can't do this. This could possibly done when you pushed on a shovel, but productivity will be low, and all the same he possibly wouldn't break the shovel. I'm saying: You have excavators operating. Three men work at a walking excavator and do the work of 250-1000 men. Why do we need to do this? This is unproductive. I saw a picture in which Mao Zedong is taking a basket and carrying earth. But this was done for the movie theaters. We're in another age. Why would we deceive ourselves and deceive the people?
(A remark of a Bulgarian was not caught) (Laughter).
We've also been working. This is not a serious attitude.
The question of war and peace, about the paper tiger. Comrades, if American imperialism were a paper tiger we would be the happiest of all. And what the hell use then is atomic energy to us? But can one really say now that imperialism is a paper tiger? This paper tiger has very strong fangs. It has great strength. Therefore, you know, we have to expend energy so that we have resources against this paper tiger.
They say that we are supposedly cowards, that we are afraid of war, but they are not afraid of war. Only a fool is not afraid of war because he is afraid of nothing since he doesn't understand anything. He is like a little child. If you bring something hot to a small child, he grabs it, but once he has it he won't take it another time. He already knows that this hot thing burns him. We and you are not children. We know what war is. And if we are told that we are for war then what will it give us, what will it bring us?
They say that a world war needs to be launched to achieve world Communism. We talked to Mao Zedong in 1957. He developed a theory that if there is a war, if they attack you, don't respond. We have 600 million people and you have so many. We will ready so many divisions and they have so many. I told him, Cde. Mao Zedong, they're no longer counting on divisions and whoever has more divisions is the stronger. Now they say that divisions are meat. The more people, the more meat. But this is a small force. Now it's the atomic age. Whoever has atomic energy, whoever has missiles, they have power. Now, you know…if he knows who pressed the button, he need only push and this button will lead to the movement of a mechanism and war will start. Now is another time. In our age we need to think realistically, picture the situation correctly, and pursue a policy accordingly.
Some Bulgarian comrades can say, what is our attitude toward Yugoslavia? We still have differences with the Yugoslavs of an ideological nature. Differences remain and I don't know whether these differences can be overcome. I doubt it. Why? Tito is too accustomed to making himself out to be the boss and, of course, if he returns to the socialist camp he wouldn't have this position in the camp, and he would lose his position which he wants (so he thinks) to take among neutral countries. In addition, the Americans are feeding him and giving him quite a lot. This spoiled the man.
I am saying this about negative things. I would be only too happy if I were not right.
But what is positive? What is positive is that we have always been together in international questions. On the question of war and peace he takes our positions and always votes with us, Cde. Karlo Lukanov.
If Tito wants to take the position of a peacock but is with us in great and small matters, then there will be no differences between him and the socialist camp. He understands this. And then the Americans will not give him credit and will not feed him. Therefore he is with us on the main questions, but [by] how they twist him by the tail he shows that he is not joining either camp. There is no policy in our time where one can act one way and then another. There is no intermediate policy. This is not policy, this is maneuvering.
He wants to be closer to us on economic questions. He is ready for broad cooperation and to divide labor. Can this be bad for us? This is good. Yugoslavia is still a socialist country. The Albanians, it is true, say that it is a non-socialist country. But they can now also accuse us of being a non-socialist country because we are not Leninists. Leninism has gone to them; we have nothing left and it is now entirely in Albania. Meanwhile they are considered a socialist country. Whether this will be long, God only knows.
VOICE. In mood.
KHRUSHCHEV. This depends on what's bothering them.
[Translator's note: literally “what flea bites what place.” This may have been translated literally, as it got a laugh].
(Laughter in the hall). Socialism cannot be interpreted so freely. Objective criteria are needed to do this, [such as] in whose hands are the means of production. In Yugoslavia they are in the hands of the State and the people. From outward signs this is a socialist country. For example, we are courting Norway. A workers' party is in charge there. We are courting other parties that are in NATO, in the enemy camp against us. Yugoslavia is not. Yugoslavia bought IL-21 aircraft from us and other weapons.
[Translator's note: this aircraft type is an error: either it's IL-28 or MiG-21].
The Yugoslavs are asking us for the right to produce weapons. I think that if a country wants to fight against another country it won't get a weapon from it because the British and Americans could have given it this weapon. This is some indicator of how the Yugoslavs will conduct themselves.
It is true that it is hard to vouch for the Yugoslavs. This is a shaken, edgy country. Tito spoke very well in his last speech. On domestic questions he criticized the policy of his Party very correctly, pointing out the correct ways to overcome these difficulties. Possibly there is even some inclination that the man wants to correct the situation. In any event, if we talk with Kennedy and want to agree with him on some questions, then why should we treat Yugoslavs so boorishly? I don't see the necessity or the reasons for this.
Now, if the Albanians are critical - Khrushchev spoke in Bulgaria and said this. But the Albanians, supposedly our friends, now slander us most of all. Yugoslavia doesn't speak against us, and this is our enemy. What's the difference between Albania and Yugoslavia? The difference is that the Albanians conduct themselves more contemptibly than the Yugoslavs. I was then among you at a Party Congress and then spoke after 1956, after Tito's speech. I called Tito's role by its own name, the role of a traitor. When I was in New York he came to me at a reception and said: Maybe we'll reconcile. I told him: Cde. Tito, we cannot forget your speech, we remember it, and I personally cannot forget this speech in Pula. This was a shameful, treasonous speech. We know Tito's price. But, in any event, what do we lose from this? Right now we're such a rock that if it hits us, it'll hardly shake us, but it might break up on us. And we need to exhibit understanding and not boast of our greatness and our power, but [rather] we need to do everything in order that we help put the people who are mistaken on the right path, and help them look into this. There is no other solution.
Imagine this: we are the socialist camp. We've split with Albania, initially with Yugoslavia, then with China. It's true, we aren't saying, but everyone knows that we have no great love for them. Hence if we now determine subjectively what the socialist countries are, what countries aren't, then there will be no socialist camp as a result. Obviously the future will force [us] to think a great deal. But I won't develop this matter right now. There is still time and the Parties will find responses to this. I'm saying this because it is just, it is correct, it is in the interests of our Party, our policy, and in the interests of building socialism. Right now Yugoslavia is drawing closer to us. But how will things be with Albania? We would be happy if there were good relations with Albania but Gomulka spoke well about this when Enver Hoxha spoke against us and concentrated vile expressions against me. Dolores Ibarrurri spoke more harshly, declaring that only Trotskyites said such vile things against the Soviet Union as Enver Hoxha said. Wladyslaw Gomulka himself said: insofar as it is possible, this can be compared to a man giving bread to his dog and the dog snaps at his hand. The Soviet Union has done everything for Albania, but it has acted this way.
(A remark of a Bulgarian was not caught).
KHRUSHCHEV. What could we have gotten from Albania? What can Albania give us? It can give us only scorpions and probably Armenia and Central Asia have more scorpions, if one is to joke. These are incomparable degrees. We treated Albania like brothers. We helped and they accepted boldly. When we gave them much they said that we were giving them little. What were we to do? I think that a good deed does not disappear, and it does not disappear for Albania. Time will pass, whether a long time or a short time, but the Albanians, I'm not talking about the leaders of Albania, but about the Albanians, they remember good deeds as the Russian saying goes: a stick does not disappear behind a dog; when you hit it, it will remember and snap at [your] leg. I think that the Albanians will also remember, if not Enver Hoxha, then the Albanian people.
I am saying all this negatively. But this is life, there's no getting around it. We have difficulties now in agriculture and we created them ourselves because after 1953 we raised the production of meat, wheat, and milk. Never had our country grown in these types of products. But what had we done? We raised the wages for low-paid workers and we raised pensions. Pensions were such that it was impossible for an old man to live on this pension. We carried out other measures. But what does it mean to raise pensions? This is billions. And we give these billions to just such a category of workers and the aged who had no chance of getting milk, meat, and butter earlier. They've now returned this money to us through the stores. Therefore we increased the production of meat, but there began to be less of it in the stores. A person is not a statistic. He says: I need a half kilogram of meat. But he comes to the store and they tell him no. He draws the conclusion: It means that the situation has become worse than it was. I say that this is a temporary phenomenon and we have now taken organizational measures, we have developed certain measures and evidently on 1 June this will become known. I'm keeping this secret from the Bulgarians but we have already made these decisions.
Hence we need to look the future in the eye and we will not only overcome these difficulties in agriculture but we will have an abundance; we should have and will have. Things are good with us in industry and are good in the Party. We consider the international situation excellent because our forces are good and large. Our science is progressing in both peaceful and military respects.
I want to thank you. What a talkative child was born among you (laughter), but what to do?
I propose a toast to our fraternal friendship, which exists, to the best that exists between us and Bulgaria. I don't know what could be better. Of course, people are used to saying, when it is good, give us better. But I am not rejecting better. I am in favor of what is. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I am joking, of course.
Hence our relations are good, and in this is not only a service to our Party, but this is a legacy from Czarist times because in Czarist times the Russians lived well with the Bulgarians, Greeks, and Serbs. I remember my childhood, when I lived in a mine. Serbs, Bulgarians, and Greeks – they were considered our brothers then. True, it was another basis then. It was a basis of a religious nature, etc. But now, in addition to the legacy that we got from Czarism, now this is strengthened by our common revolutionary struggle to build a new Communist society. This is a firmer, a stronger basis and now we are pleased with Bulgaria and Bulgarian policy. I think that Bulgaria also does not resent us. I know the sentiments of the Bulgarians, especially now when I am a citizen of the city of Varna. Therefore, if you pursue a policy incorrectly I will criticize you not from the standpoint of the Soviet Union, but from the standpoint of the city of Varna. (applause).
To your health, dear friends, to your successes, but your successes are our common successes. To Com…, to Cde. Anton Yugov, to the leaders of my Party to whose organization I belong, to the organization of Varna!
Transcribed from a film.