Late Stalinist Foreign Policy
Foreign Policy under Brezhnev

Destalinization 1956-1964

Stalin's spell lived on after his death in 1953. Only at the 20TH PARTY CONGRESS in February 1956, NIKITA KHRUSHCHEV publicly attacked Stalin, blaming him for many shortcomings of the USSR as well as for breaches of right.
The party officially blamed Stalin; all over Russia Stalin portraits and monuments were removed, the party purges ended, some political prisoners released. The European satellites followed suit. However, Maoist China and North Korea continued to revere Stalin.
Nikita Khrushchev assumed the position of head of state in 1958 and held it until 1958. In the Soviet Union there was a breeze of opening; the constant fear for one's life was removed. Khrushchev and his followers regarded themselves as reformers.
Success in the SPACE RACE - Russia launched it's first, unmanned rocket, the SPUTNIK, in 1957, ahead of the U.S., and in 1961 sent, with YURI GAGARIN, the first man into space - filled the Soviet citizens with pride. Although there was no free press and no democracy, the political offices were still decided on by the party, in backroom deals, there was visible progress and the widespread belief that the socialist system was competitive and could flourish. This competitiveness soon was proven in the fields of sports, where Soviet athletes began to harvest medals.

In 1949 the COMECON was founded, an economic federation of the states of Eastern Europe. A plan was agreed upon, according to which certain countries' industrial facilities were given virtual monopolies for certain products. Hungary, for instance, was assigned to produce trucks, no passenger cars.
This spirit of opening, of liberalization did not result in a change of foreign policy. In 1961, the USSR handed over it's administration of East Berlin to East Germany, and the BERLIN WALL was erected. In Cuba, Fidel Castro had taken over power, established a socialist state and received massive Soviet support. When Soviet missiles were to be established, US president J.F. Kennedy threatened with war (CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS, 1962). The ships carrying the missiles turned around.

Jozef Stalin, biography from Grolier, scroll down
DOCUMENTS Images from Bilddatenbank, : Sputnik I, Yuri Gagarin (1), Yuri Gagarin (2), Yuri Gagarin (3)
Time Magazine : Nikita Khrushchev, man of the year 1957
REFERENCE Chapter 21 : Khrushchev and the Summit, pp.287-307; in : John Gunther, Inside Europe Today, NY : Harper & Bros. 1961 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on June 7th 2006

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