De-Stalinization refers to the process of eliminating the cult of personality
Cult of personality
A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships...

, Stalinist
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

 political system and the Gulag labour-camp system
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

 created by Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 leader Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

. Stalin was succeeded by a collective leadership
Collective leadership
Collective leadership or Collectivity of leadership , was considered an ideal form of governance in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics...

 after his death in March 1953. The central Soviet strongmen at the time were Lavrentiy Beria
Lavrentiy Beria
Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria was a Georgian Soviet politician and state security administrator, chief of the Soviet security and secret police apparatus under Joseph Stalin during World War II, and Deputy Premier in the postwar years ....

, head of the Ministry of the Interior; Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 (CPSU); and Georgi Malenkov, Premier of the Soviet Union
Premier of the Soviet Union
The office of Premier of the Soviet Union was synonymous with head of government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics . Twelve individuals have been premier...


End of forced labor

De-Stalinization spelled an end to the role of large-scale forced labor
Labor camp
A labor camp is a simplified detention facility where inmates are forced to engage in penal labor. Labor camps have many common aspects with slavery and with prisons...

 in the economy. The process of freeing Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

 prisoners was started by Beria, but he was soon removed from power. Khrushchev then emerged as the most powerful Soviet politician.

At a speech On the Personality Cult and its Consequences
On the Personality Cult and its Consequences
On the Personality Cult and its Consequences was a report, critical of Joseph Stalin, made to the Twentieth Party Congress on February 25, 1956 by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. It is more commonly known as the Secret Speech or the Khrushchev Report...

to the closed session of the Twentieth Party Congress of the CPSU, February 25, 1956, Khrushchev shocked his listeners by denouncing Stalin's dictatorial rule and cult of personality. He also attacked the crimes committed by associates of Lavrentiy Beria.

Improved prison conditions

Khrushchev's drive to expunge Stalin's influence from the public sphere continued through the late 1950s. His efforts were marked by the removal of Stalin's name from cities, landmarks, and facilities which had been named or renamed after him. Krushchev also attempted to lessen the harshness of the Gulag labor system, by allowing prisoners to send letters home to their families, and by allowing family members to mail clothes to loved-ones in the camps; which was not allowed during Stalin's time. Even though Krushchev and others with reformist ideals wanted to lessen the scale of the Gulag, Stalin had ingrained it so heavily into the Soviet system that it was virtually impossible to get rid of it. Thus the gulag prevailed throughout the remainder of Soviet history, even up to the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.

Re-location of Stalin's body

Given momentum by these public renamings, the process of de-Stalinization peaked in 1961 during the 22nd Congress of the CPSU. Two climactic acts of de-Stalinization marked the meetings: first, on October 31, 1961, Stalin's body was moved from Lenin's Mausoleum
Lenin's Mausoleum
Lenin's Mausoleum also known as Lenin's Tomb, situated in Red Square in the center of Moscow, is the mausoleum that serves as the current resting place of Vladimir Lenin. His embalmed body has been on public display there since shortly after his death in 1924...

 in Red Square
Red Square
Red Square is a city square in Moscow, Russia. The square separates the Kremlin, the former royal citadel and currently the official residence of the President of Russia, from a historic merchant quarter known as Kitai-gorod...

 to a location near the Kremlin wall; second, on November 11, 1961, the "hero city" Stalingrad was renamed to Volgograd
Volgograd , formerly called Tsaritsyn and Stalingrad is an important industrial city and the administrative center of Volgograd Oblast, Russia. It is long, north to south, situated on the western bank of the Volga River...


Re-naming of places

As part of the de-Stalinization push, many other places bearing Stalin's name were either renamed or reverted to their former names. These included even capital cities of the Soviet republics and territories: in 1961, Stalinabad, capital of the Tajik SSR, was renamed "Dushanbe
-Economy:Coal, lead, and arsenic are mined nearby in the cities of Nurek and Kulob allowing for the industrialization of Dushanbe. The Nurek Dam, the world's highest as of 2008, generates 95% of Tajikistan's electricity, and another dam, the Roghun Dam, is planned on the Vakhsh River...

," and Staliniri, capital of the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast
South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast
The South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast was an autonomous oblast of the Soviet Union created within the Georgian SSR on April 20, 1922. Its autonomy was revoked on December 10, 1990 by the Supreme Soviet of the Georgian SSR, leading to the First South Ossetian War...

, was renamed "Tskhinvali
Tskhinvali , is the capital of South Ossetia, a disputed region which has been recognised as an independent Republic by Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru, and is regarded by Georgia and the rest of the world as part of the Shida Kartli region within Georgian sovereign territory.It is located...


See also

  • Anti-Stalinist left
    Anti-Stalinist left
    The anti-Stalinist left is an element of left-wing politics that is critical of Joseph Stalin's policies and the political system that developed in the Soviet Union under his rule...

  • History of the Soviet Union (1953–1964): De-Stalinisation and the Khrushchev era
  • Kureika
    Kureika is a village just south of the Arctic Circle near Turukhansk in Krasnoyarsk Krai where Joseph Stalin spent his final exile 1914-1917 before the October Revolution....

  • Khrushchev Thaw
    Khrushchev Thaw
    The Khrushchev Thaw refers to the period from the mid 1950s to the early 1960s, when repression and censorship in the Soviet Union were partially reversed and millions of Soviet political prisoners were released from Gulag labor camps, due to Nikita Khrushchev's policies of de-Stalinization and...

  • List of places named after Joseph Stalin
  • Rehabilitation (Soviet)
    Rehabilitation (Soviet)
    Rehabilitation in the context of the former Soviet Union, and the Post-Soviet states, was the restoration of a person who was criminally prosecuted without due basis, to the state of acquittal...

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