Skip to content

Post-Stalin Succession Struggle

 his is a collection of primary source documents that discuss the aftermath of Stalin’s death in 1953. Comprised of letters and speech transcripts, these documents mostly come from Russian archives and span 1944 to 1962. Many documents are related to or by Khrushchev, and many deal with the power struggle that arose between him and the "Ruling Troika" of Lavrentii Beria, Georgii Malenkov, and Molotov. See also the Nikita Khrushchev Collection and Stalin and the Cold War. (Image, mourners in Rostock, Bundesarchiv Bild 183-18686-0001)

Popular Documents

February 25, 1956

Khrushchev's Secret Speech, 'On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences,' Delivered at the Twentieth Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

In a secret speech before a closed plenum of the 20th Congress of the CPSU, Khrushchev denounced Stalin’s cult of the personality. In addition, he revealed that Stalin had rounded up thousands of people and sent them into a huge system of political work camps (Gulags). This revelation was met with astonishment by many present for the speech, but helped to break the power that Stalin still held over the country.

March 20, 1956

Speech by Comrade Khrushchev at the 6th PUWP CC Plenum, Warsaw

Speech by Comrade Khrushchev at the 6th PUWP CC Plenum, 20 March 1956, Warsaw explaining the changes since the death of Stalin and criticizing Stalin

October 2, 1944

Letter from Boris Merkulov (USSR People’s Commissar for State Security) to Lavrenty Beria (USSR People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs)

Letter from Merkulov to Beria regarding the KGB’s efforts to obtain information about the creation of the atomic bomb and specifically about the related problems with uranium

July 1, 1953

Letter from Lavrentiy Beria to Georgii Malenkov Reflecting on the Events of Spring 1953 (Excerpt)

Letter from Beria to Malenkov discussing the events which took place in East Germany in the spring of 1953. Beria also discusses his actions after Stalin's death, asking for the forgiveness of the CPSU CC Politburo.

May 16, 1962

Speech of N. S. Khrushchev at a friendly dinner in Yevksinograd (Varna), 16 May 1962

Speaking 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.