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Who Gets Buried at the Kremlin? Time for a Post-Revolutionary Purge

November 13, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

On November 1, 1961, Lenin’s tomb disgorged Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin’s embalmed remains. After his death in March 1953, Stalin‘s body was displayed next to that of Bolshevik founder Vladimir Ilych Lenin.

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Stalin’s death, perhaps a murder orchestrated by secret policy head Lavrentiy Beria, ended a reign marked by promiscuous and arbitrary mass murder. Stalin’s chief lieutenants, all implicated in his manifold crimes, sang his praises post-mortem. Many Soviet citizens, on the receiving end of decades of propaganda as part of an all-encompassing personality cult, were genuinely disconsolate, even hysterical.

Five days after his death from a cerebral hemorrhage or poison, his coffin was carried into the small building adjacent the Kremlin holding Lenin’s carefully preserved body. Speaking on the occasion were Beria, who carried out Stalin’s executions; Vyacheslav Molotov, the foreign minister who negotiated the infamous Hitler–Stalin pact; and Georgy Malenkov, Stalin’s henchman, who initially succeeded the dead Red Czar. In November, after careful preparation of his body, Stalin was placed next to Lenin.

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It was a singular honor for a man who competes with Mao Zedong for the title of bloodiest dictator in human history. (As architect of the Holocaust and initiator of World War II, Adolf Hitler stands alone, but the other two directly killed more people, especially their own.)

To his credit, Nikita Khrushchev, almost a liberal at that time within the Soviet Union, began a tortured process known as “destalinization.” In February 1956, he made the famous “Secret Speech,” entitled “On the Personality Cult and Its Consequences,” to the 20th Communist Party Congress, which denounced Stalin’s crimes. The text soon circulated, causing an uproar among party faithful worldwide while creating hope for an easing of the Cold War.

Left unexplored was the responsibility of those, like Khrushchev, who had served the infamous “Man of Steel,” the meaning of the surname adopted by Stalin as a revolutionary in 1912. (His birth name was Dzhugashvili.) Stalin mixed guile and finesse with brutality and treachery as he gradually …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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