Stalinism for All Seasons: Romanian Communists and the Secret Speech

The Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union opened 60 years ago, on February 14, 1956, with the proposal to hold a minute of silence in memory of the militants who had passed away since the previous conclave (October 1952). They were listed alphabetically, Iosif Visssarionovich Stalin was not singled out in any special way. This was a signal that the “collective leadership” had decided to continue the politics of symbolic de-Stalinization. Yet no one could have anticipated the bombshell that was to explode during the nght of February 25 to 26.at the very end of the Congress, whenparty first secretary Nikita Khrushchev delivered the Secret Speech (“On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences”) to a shocked audience.

Historian Stefan Bosomitu, the author of an outstanding biography of Miron Constantinescu, publishes now a photo with members of the Romanian Workers’ Party delegation. The head was the unrepentant Stalinist boss Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej. He does not appear in picture. At the left, probably, the interpreter (the photo is from a dinner, Dej and the other participants do not appear). Next to him, Iosif Chisinevschi, chief ideologue and responsible with secret police affairs during the worst Stalinist atrocities, the Romanian equivalent of Poland’s Jakub Berman. Next to him, Miron Constantinescu, deputy prime minster, head of the Planning Committee, a Marxist sociologist who would try to “draw the lessons” of the Secret Speech and apply them in Romania. Chisinevschi supported him. They were both purged in June 1957 uner charges of “right witng” deviation and unprincipled factionalism. At right, Petre Borila, another Politburo member, political officer druing the Spanish Civil War, Comintern veteran and Gheorghiu-Dej’s faithful supporter.

Iosif Chişinevschi, Miron Constantinescu, Petre Borilă Sursă foto: Arhivele Naţionale ale României

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