MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE



next up previous contents index
Next: Khrushchev's intrigues against Up: Khrushchev's coup d'état Previous: Beria's intrigues

Stalin's death

A few months before Stalin's death, the entire security system that protected him was dismantled. Alexandr Proskrebychev,  his personal secretary, who had assisted him since 1928 with remarkable efficiency, was fired and placed under house arrest. He had allegedly redirected secret documents. Lieutenant-Colonel Nikolay Vlasik,  Chief of Stalin's personal security for the previous 25 years, was arrested on December 16, 1952 and died several weeks later in prison.

.

P. Deriabin,  Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars (1984), p. 321; cited in Bland,  op. cit. , p. 24.

Major-General Petr Kosynkin,  Vice-Commander of the Kremlin Guard, responsible for Stalin's security, died of a `heart attack' on February 17, 1953. Deriabin  wrote:

`(This) process of stripping Stalin of all his personal security (was) a studied and very ably handled business'.

.

Deriabin,  op. cit. , p. 209; cited in Bland,  op. cit. , p. 27.

Only Beria  was capable of preparing such a plot.

On March 1, at 23:00, Stalin's guards found him on the floor in his room, unconscious. They reached the members of the Politburo by telephone. Khrushchev  claimed that he also arrived, and that each went back home.

.

Deriabin,  op. cit. , p. 300.

No-one called a doctor. Twelve hours after his attack, Stalin received first aid. He died on March 5. Lewis  and Whitehead  write:

`Some historians see evidence of premeditated murder. Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov  sees the cause in Stalin's visible preparation of a purge to rival those of the thirties'.

.

J. Lewis  and P. Whitehead,  Stalin: A Time for Judgment (London, 1990), p. 279; cited in Bland,  op. cit. , p. 34.

Immediately after Stalin's death, a meeting of the presidium was convened. Beria  proposed that Malenkov  be President of the Council of Ministers and Malenkov  proposed that Beria  be named Vice-President and Minister of Internal Affairs and State Security.

.

Khrushchev,  Khrushchev  Remembers, op. cit. , p. 324.

During the following months, Beria  dominated the political scene. `We were going through a very dangerous period', wrote Khrushchev. 

.

Ibid. , p. 331.

Once installed as head of Security, Beria  had Proskrebychev,  Stalin's secretary, arrested; then Ryumin,  who had led the inquiry into Zhdanov's  suspicious death. Ignatiev,  Ryumin's  boss, was denounced for his rôle in the same affair. On April 3, the doctors accused of having killed Zhdanov  were liberated. The Zionist author Wittlin  claimed that by rehabilitating the Jewish doctors, Beria  wanted to `denigrate ... Stalin's aggressive foreign policy against the West, the United States and Great Britain primarily'.

.

Wittlin,  op. cit. , p. 388.

Still in April, Beria  organized a counter-coup in his native region, Georgia. Once again he placed his men at the top of the Party and the State. Dekanozov,  later shot along with Beria,  became Minister of State Security, replacing Rukhadze,  arrested as `enemy of the people'.

.

Bland,  op. cit. , p. 46.



next up previous contents index
Next: Khrushchev's intrigues against Up: Khrushchev's coup d'état Previous: Beria's intrigues



Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995