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:
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.
of relations with Yugoslavia, which promised to pull it back from its tacit
alliance with the West towards the Cominform.
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
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
31. Some of Beria's other reforms were largely carried out,
for a million of those imprisoned for crimes against the state.
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
the authority of the "Special Commission" of the NKVD to sentence people to
death or long prison terms.
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
towards Democratic Reform