The Secret Speech and its Intentions

The Secret Speech was meant to sway public opinion into de-Stalinization; however, “it was an unmitigated disaster” (Jones 42). The speech was meant to slowly integrate into society, top-down, to transform the public idea of Stalin and his ‘cult’. Unfortunately, the speech dissemination was not slow, and it was met with distress, outrage, and shock. Jones writes, the speech dissemination “might have been intended to minimize disruption and controversy, but it in fact provoked frenzied speculation and frustration” (Jones 42). The way the speech was written was to invoke Leninist ideas while sharing the dark past of Stalin. I want to question why the authors wrote the speech in that way. Jones mentions that even the best speakers could get the speech wrong, claiming that different voice inflections could conjure a harsh reaction. Why did the authors of the Secret Speech write it in such a way to avoid as much confrontation as they could? In the speech, Nikita Khrushchev refers back to Lenin in many paragraphs to compare the two leaders and their ideologies. Why were Lenin’s ideals so important to mention in this speech? Lastly, the speech made its way into the public rapidly and caused anti-Stalinist reactions amongst the public. Was this what the writers of the speech were intending? Why or why not?

6 Replies to “The Secret Speech and its Intentions”

  1. Lenin’s ideals were so important to mention in the Secret Speech because Khrushchev and his supporters believed it was time to return to Leninist thought. Because Lenin was regarded in a glorified way, it was easy for the speech to compare the horrendous acts of Stalin to a different leader. There was also written sources of Lenin’s dislike for Stalin that support the whole narrative of the Secret Speech. Khrushchev wanted to encourage “optimism about the neo-Leninist future” (Jones 42).

  2. I believe the Secret Speech was written in such the way because possibly, people can interpret it in their own ways, such that that vocal inflections can change the meaning of a word or sentence. As for the minimization of confrontation, I believe the writers tried to keep the people from causing a more violent up roar as compared to the vandalism that ensued. I think Lenin’s ideals were so important to the speech because in a way it helped turn the tables back to a more peaceful time of Leninism. Such that Kate said above, and Khrushchev and his supporters were ready to go back to Leninism. Since the people loved Lenin so much, possibly involving his ideals would bring joyful thoughts to them instead of a hate and rage filled thoughts towards Stalin, because some still wanted to respect him.

  3. I feel that the Secret Speech was intended to basically be propaganda in favor of Khrushchev and Lenin’s thought over Stalin’s leadership. In looking at the language use of the speech, while it is obvious that, as stated by others before, there was not meant to be a lot of conflict, I feel like it was still supposed to start a little bit of something (Jones 42). So, the crowds would have most likely still have been riled up at this point in time, and the speech writers most likely did not want to provoke too much so as to risk some type of form of uprising. But, I think they were still intending to cause anti-Stalinist sentiments, which would have been easy considering how everyone already glorified Lenin (which was why it was important for him to be included in the speech in the first place).

  4. I believe that the authors of the Secret Speech intended to use Lenin as a comparison to a time in Russia when many people loved and supported their ruler; as opposed to Stalin who is understatedly the opposite. By injecting Lenin so much into the speech it allows Russian citizens to remember a time when Russia was far better than it was in its contemporary time. A strong leader with strong ideals is something easy for people to get behind and support- which makes Lenin a great tool for the speech. Moreover, I think that Khrushchev and his people believed that due to Lenin’s political outlook hat using him would inturn bring constructive change.

  5. I believe that Lenin’s ideas was used in the secret speech in similar fashion to how the Decemberists were remembered and used as examples for revolution. The Decemberists are used as an example for the movements that followed and as a reason for action. I believe that the mind set that Khrushchev was trying to foster in the public was similar to that of the revolutionaries after the Decemberists. The mentality that “they failed so the responsibility falls to us” applies to the public in this situation. Lenin failed but his ideas and beliefs were better than Stalins and comparing both leaders in the speech proves that. As for the vocal nuances of the speech I agree with Lauren in that I think it was intended so that the mood of the speech can be interpreted differently while the overall idea remains the same.

  6. [Posted for Kendyle, who was having trouble with the website:] I believe that the speech was intended as propaganda in favor of Lenin and his leadership compared to Stalins. I agree with Blake that a strong leadership with strong ideas would be easy to get behind. Plus with the people already liking Lenin, I can see why he is uses in the speech and when it comes to leadership that is not want Stalin wanted he wanted to demand that people give their opinion.

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