Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform
Part Two
Grover Furr
"Famous People of the Land of Soviets"
By Vasilii Efanov
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During the War

     1. Toward the end of the Second World War Stalin and his supporters on the Politburo made one more attempt to get the Bolshevik Party out of direct control over the Soviet government. Here is how Yuri Zhukov describes this incident:

In January 1944 . . . for the first time during the war there was a joint convocation of both the [Central Committee] Plenum and a session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Molotov and Malenkov prepared a draft of a Central Committee decree according to which the Party would be legally distanced from power. It would retain only agitation and propaganda; no one would deprive it of these normal party matters, and participation in the selection of cadres, which was also completely natural. But it simply forbade the Party from interfering in economics and the working of the organs of the state. Stalin read the draft, changed six words in it, and wrote "Agreed" on it. What happened next remains a mystery.  . . .

. . . This was a new attempt to lead the Party into the State stable, retaining for it only those functions it really fulfilled during the war. The draft has five signatures: Molotov, Malenkov, Stalin, Khrushchev, Andreev. There was no stenographic record, and we can only guess how others voted. Alas, even the all-powerful State Committee for Defense, with all four members in the Politburo of the Central Committee, could not shatter the old order of things. This proves yet one more time that Stalin never had the power that both anti-Stalinists and Stalinists attribute to him. (Zhukov, Kul'tovaia; emphasis added)1

     2. We do not know how this "distancing" of the Party from economics and the state was to have been effected. Presumably, though, some other method of staffing the state organs would have been envisaged. Would this have meant a return to elections as specified in the 1936 Constitution?

     3. Whatever the answers to these questions, it seems likely that the Central Committee, made up largely of Party First Secretaries, once again rebuffed the Stalin leadership's plans for fundamental change in the Soviet system. In his "Secret Speech" Khrushchev denied that any such Plenum had taken place at all! Since most of the C.C. members in the audience had to have known this was a lie, it may be that the purpose of this lie was to tacitly signal them that this dangerous move against their power was now formally "buried."

 After the War

The 1947 Draft of the Party Program

The Nineteenth Party Congress

Lavrentii Beria

Beria's Moves towards Democratic Reform

Deaths of Stalin and Beria . . . and Others?

Conclusions and Future Research