The Death of Stalin and Soviet Succession

4 April 2015
An examination of power struggles after Stalin’s death.

This papers examines the power struggle in the Soviet Union between Malenkov and Khrushchev after Stalin’s death. It discusses the idea that foreign policy and not domestic policy was the key to Khrushchev’s eventual victory.

From the paper:

It was the debate over Soviet foreign policy that allowed Khrushchev to gain the upper hand and eventually take charge of the Soviet Union. After Stalin’s death in 1953, Georgii Malenkov was seemingly heir apparent to Soviet power. As Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Malenkov was head of government, as both Lenin and Stalin had been. Quickly after Stalin’s death, however, Khrushchev had moved to acquired the position of First Secretary, putting him in charge of the Party organization. At the same time in the US, the debate over containment versus a new world order was playing out between President Eisenhower and his Secretary of State John Foster Dulles.

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