The Secret Speech

The “Secret Speech” was a very informative and interesting read. Khrushchev basically criticized every little thing Stalin did while in power. It was interesting to hear Khrushchev’s feelings on Stalin and his Cult of personality. It makes perfect sense to me why the title of today’s class is De-Stalinization: taking away everything Stalin put in place and made a mess of and Khrushchev’s speech did exactly that. I am sure a lot of people are already aware of the atrocities Stalin committed throughout his entire life, but the speech really convinced me to despise him. The basis of Stalin’s Cult of Personality was to reinvent the way Stalin was viewed into a God-Like figure and to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Lenin. It turns out though, Stalin was nothing like Lenin and if anything went against everything he stood for. While reading I kept wondering, if he was as bad as everyone said he was then how did he reach such a powerful position. It seemed to me that there were warning signs that were dismissed. My question was addressed later in the speech as Stalin first seemed to follow the ideals set in place by Lenin then started to transition into his own. “Some comrades may ask us: Where were the members of the politburo? Why did they not assert themselves against the cult of the individual in time? And why is this being done only now? First of all, members of the politburo viewed these matters in a different way at different times. Initially, many backed Stalin actively because he was one of the strongest Marxists and his logic, his strength and his will greatly influenced party work. After Lenin’s death, especially during the first years, Stalin actively fought for Leninism against the enemies of Leninist theory and against those who deviated. At that time the party had to fight those who tried to lead the country away from the correct Leninist path”(Khrushchev, 1956). Like I mentioned previously, this speech did a great job of further blackening the character of Stalin, but was it too much? I’m not trying to defend any of the actions of Stalin, but this speech was made 3 years after his death so it makes me wonder how big of an issue it was at the time.

*Fun Fact- Comrade(s) was said 16 times throughout the course of the speech!!

Jean Monnet- A Red-letter Day for European Unity

Throughout Monnet’s speech he recognizes the faults that Europe had in the past, but towards the end of his speech he begins to reassure everyone that Europe will be what it once was. He goes onto say “Let us remember that the territories in which the men who have been meeting together in this chamber first saw the light of day have for centuries been in the forefront of civilisation, that the greatest thinkers and scientists were born in these lands and that the whole world owes its development to the drive and intelligence of men who were the sons of our country”(558). From this quote it is easy to develop a sense of national pride or in other word’s European pride. To me, the sense of nationalism comes off a little strong and in a way that they are better than other countries. I suppose my question would be, how does everyone else interpret this quotation? Do you think Monnet meant this in an arrogant way defending Europe, or do you think that he was just saying this in light to reassure Europeans that they were great before, so why can’t they continue to be great?

No Time to Think- Naomi Hanna

After reading both the Nuremberg Laws and Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior, I had so many different questions. Some of them were more factual based, but I had a hard time coming up with discussion questions. One question I had from the start of reading was how the citizens were reacting to this as Anti-Semitic Legislation was being passed. My questions were quickly addressed in Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior. American College Professor Milton Mayer interviewed “ordinary people” and asked them their reactions to what was going on during this time. Throughout the response, the “ordinary person” mentioned how there was no way to know the end goal of Hitler and the Third Reich, and also brought up all of the guilt he felt for not doing anything. “Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or more accurately what you haven’t done”(191). Though this was just an account from one person during the time, I questioned how many other people agreed with his views. I suppose my question leans toward a counterfactual but, if the large majority of Germans had come together or defended the Jewish People could the outcome have been different? Even if they simply just expressed their feelings to each other, I feel like they would have found or realized they are not the only ones thinking this way. It just seemed as if they were too afraid to speak up.

The Bust of an Emperor- Naomi Hanna

After the war, the village that Count Morstin called home had changed from what he once knew. Count was questioning whether or not the village was the same place, and if he belonged there still. Count Morstin even went as far to say “he has lost his true home”(Roth, 235). Count decided that he had to move on from the place he used to call home. Even though the village is still technically the same place(physically) just with a different atmosphere, I was wondering if he was maybe being dramatic or took it to the extreme by completely leaving the village? I understand why he was upset to an extent, but it still is the same place physically.