Nikita Khrushcev

Nikita Khrushchev rose to power after the death of Stalin. He was a leader who desperately worked for reform yet his reforms hardly ever accomplished their goals. He was a man who praised Stalin while he was alive but when Stalin died Khrushchev was the first to publicly denounce him. Khrushchev came to power in 1953 and stayed in power until 1964, when he was forced to resign.
Stalin died without naming an heir, and none of his associates had the power to immediately claim supreme leadership. The deceased dictator?s colleagues initially tried to rule jointly through collective leadership, with Malenkov holding the top positions of prime minister and general secretary. Lavrenti Beria took over Ministry of Interior and also became the first deputy prime minister. Molotov became foreign minister and, like Beria, a first deputy prime minister. These three formed the uneasy triumvirate. (Modern Enc.. and Kort)
To prevent Malenkov from gaining to much power, he was stripped of his duties as First Secretary. These duties in turn were handed to Nikita Khrushchev, a longtime party boss of the Ukraine and the first secretary of the party?s Moscow organization, who was not seen as a serious candidate for supreme power. (Kort) Khrushchev had two advantages over his associates, the right to appoint his trusted followers to key positions and the right to demote those he distrusted. To succeed Khrushchev had to remove his two principal rivals. He removed Beria quickly with the help of other colleagues who feared Beria. On April 4, 1953 Beria was forced to admit that his men had fabricated the "Doctors plot" that resulted in the arrest and death of several
physicians. Beria himself was secretly arrested on June 26. He was denounced as an "enemy of the people" and was charged with a number of crimes including that of careerist and traitor. He confessed, was tried without being present or represented, found guilty and executed.
After the elimination of Beria, the succession struggle became more subtle. The rivalry between Malenkov and Khrushchev surfaced publicly through Malenkov?s support for increased production of consumer goods, while Khrushchev stood for the development of heavy industry. On January 1955 Khrushchev called Malenkov?s commitment to consumer goods a new form of anti-Leninist "right deviation". (Modern Enc..) Two weeks later Malenkov was forced to resign as Chairman of the Council of Ministers and publicly acknowledge his shortcomings. Malenkov?s post was then given to Bulganin who had little influence. Khrushchev had become the most important figure within the collective leadership. (A Country Study)
At the Twentieth Party Congress, held February 1956, Khrushchev further advanced his position within the party by denouncing Stalin?s crimes in a "secret speech". Khrushchev revealed that Stalin had arbitrarily liquidated thousands of party members and military leaders and had established a cult of personality. With this speech Khrushchev not only distanced himself from Stalin, and Stalin?s close associates, Molotov and Malenkov, but also abjured the dictator?s policy of terror. As a result of the
de-Stalinization campaign launched by the speech, the release of political prisoners, which had begun in 1953, was stepped up and some of Stalin?s victims were posthumously rehabilitated. Khrushchev later intensified his campaign against Stalin at the Twenty-Second Party Congress in 1961, winning approval to remove Stalin?s body from the Lenin Mausoleum. De-Stalinization encouraged many in artistic and intellectual circles to speak out against the abuses of the former regime. Although Khrushchev?s tolerance of creative works wavered during his years of leadership, the new cultural period, known as the "thaw", represented a clear break with the repression of the arts under Stalin.
After the Twentieth Party Congress, Khrushchev continued to expand his influence, although he faced opposition. Khrushchev?s rivals in the Presidium, hastened by potentially threatening economic reforms and the de-Stalinization campaign, united to vote him out of office in June 1957. However, Khrushchev demanded that the question be put to the Central Committee, where he had strong support. The Central Committee overturned the Presidium?s decision and expelled Khrushchev?s opponents, whom Khrushchev called the "anti-party group". (Tompson) Unlike Stalin, Khrushchev did not order the imprisonment or execution of his rivals but instead placed them in minor
offices.
In the following months, Khrushchev moved to further consolidate his power. He removed Zhukov from the office of defense minister. Khrushchev became prime minister in March 1958 when Bulganin resigned, thus formally confirming his predominant position in the state as well as the party.
Throughout his years