MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE | Grover Furr

Lavrentii Beria10

     28. Beria is the most calumniated figure in Soviet history. Therefore the reversal of historical judgment about Beria's career that began abruptly after the end of the Soviet Union has been even more dramatic than the scholarly re-evaluation of Stalin's role that is the main subject of these articles.

     29. Beria's "Hundred Days" -- really, 112 days, from Stalin's death on March 5 1953 to Beria's removal on June 26 -- witnessed the inception of a large number of dramatic reforms. Had the Soviet leadership permitted these reforms to fully develop, the history of the Soviet Union, the international communist movement, the Cold War -- in short, of the last half of the 20th century - would have been dramatically different.

     30. Beria's reform initiatives included at least the following, all of which merit, and some of which are now receiving, special study even while the Russian government keeps most vital primary sources about them closed even to trusted researchers:

     The reunification of Germany as a non-socialist, neutralist state, a step that would have been wildly popular among Germans, and one distinctly unwelcome to the NATO allies, including the USA.
     Normalization of relations with Yugoslavia, which promised to pull it back from its tacit alliance with the West towards the Cominform.
     A nationalities policy that opposed "russification" in the recently-annexed areas of Western Ukraine and the Baltic states, together with the goal of reaching out to some, at least, of the nationalist émigré groups. A reformed nationalities policy in other non-Russian areas including Georgia and Belorussia.
     Rehabilitations and compensation for those unjustly convicted by special judicial bodies (troikas and the NKVD "Special Commissions") during the 1930s and 1940s. Under Beria this process would have been done very differently from the way it was later carried out under Khrushchev, who "rehabilitated" many who were unquestionably guilty.

     31. Some of Beria's other reforms were largely carried out, including

     Amnesty for a million of those imprisoned for crimes against the state.
     An end to the investigation of the "Doctors' Plot;" together with admission that the accusations had been unjust and punishment of the NKVD officials involved, including the removal of Kruglov, former NKVD head, from the Central Committee altogether.11
     Curbing the authority of the "Special Commission" of the NKVD to sentence people to death or long prison terms.
     In a move not only against the Stalin "cult" but against "cults" of leaders generally, forbidding the display of portraits of leaders at holiday rallies. This was rescinded by the Party leadership shortly after Beria's removal.

 Beria's Moves towards Democratic Reform