Is It True Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev Denounced Stalin After His Death?


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Yes. Stalin died in 1953 but it was not until the 20th Congress of the Communist party of the Soviet Union was held in Moscow in 1956, that the new Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, was prepared to speak out against him.

He denounced Stalin's cult of personality, his torture and murder of those with whom he disagreed, and his invention of the concept of 'Enemy of the People,' the ultimate stigma which could be applied to a Soviet citizen. Many delegates present at the conference were said to have been shocked by the speech. News of it caused ripples throughout the Warsaw pact countries and is said to have played a precipitating role in the emergence of reformist movements in Poland and Hungary. Eventually, the prepared text of the speech (which did not correspond exactly to Khrushchev's words because of spontaneous changes he made while delivering it), 26,000 words in total, was obtained in the West and published in the New York Times and the Observer.

A story, perhaps apocryphal, has it that, when Khrushchev had finished his denunciation of Stalin, a voice from the audience was heard asking 'Why didn't you say all this while he was alive?' In a fury, Khrushchev replied 'Who said that?' No answer came. A red-faced Khrushchev pounded his fist upon the podium and again demanded 'Who said that?' Silence reigned. Khruschev paused, then smiled and said 'Now you know.'

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