Can Stalin Have a Successor?
Why the Dictator's Shoes Cannot Be Filled
The developments since Stalin’s death have made it abundantly clear that Malenkov’s immediate installation as Premier did not settle—as so many thought it would—the question of the “succession,” so hotly discussed at the time. The amnesty granted to prisoners of certain categories; the about-face on the Kremlin doctors; the strictures against one-man rule; the increased talk about the “rights of individuals”; the condemnation of the cult of heroes; the near-disappearance of Stalin’s name from the Soviet press; the apparent resurgence of Beria’s power coupled with the failure of Malenkov to emerge as the dominant figure in the troika which is supposed to rule Russia today—these startling events have compelled many to recognize that Stalin’s death created enormous problems for the Soviet regime which were not solved by the juggling of titles and positions in the top hierarchy.
But even more striking indications of the vast changes which the death of Stalin has brought about are to be found in the realm of foreign policy. The exchange of wounded prisoners in Korea; the sudden softening of Soviet diplomatic behavior; the release of William Oatis; the signing of the long-postponed Rumanian-Yugoslav treaty regarding control of the Danube; and the general effort at the establishment of a temporary modus vivendi with the West which has culminated in the Korean truce—this train of events has made it fairly apparent that the latest Soviet “peace offensive” was not an offensive at all, but an earnest attempt at establishing the lines in the cold war.
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