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Study questions on Ronald Grigor Suny, The Soviet Experiment:  Russia, the USSR, and the Successor States (New York:  Oxford University Press, 1998)  

Week 12

Chapter 17, From Autocracy to Oligarchy, pages 387-403.

(The "Big Questions" are in italics)

Who were the members of the triumvirate that held power right after Stalin's death? 

In what sense did the Stalinist terror end after Stalin's death?

Why did the USSR intervene in East Germany in June 1953?

Which was more powerful in spring 1953, the party or the government?

Why did Khrushchev and Malenkov have Beria removed, and what ended up happening to Beria? 

According to Suny, why was the fall of Beria so significant?  What changed?   What did not change?

What was Malenkov's 1953 "New Course" program? 

What was Khrushchev's "Virgin Lands" program (begun in 1954)?  Was it initially effective?  What about in the long run? 

When and how did Khrushchev force Malenkov to resign as Prime Minister (he was then replaced by Bulganin)? 

In what ways did Khrushchev's path to power resemble Stalin's path to power? In what ways was it different?

What were the main points of Khrushchev's 1956 "Secret Speech" to the 20th party congress?  What was the reason for making this speech? 

What does Suny tell us about Khrushchev's background and personality?

Does Suny think that Soviet foreign policy was based on a position of strength?   Explain.

Why did the USSR's leadership feel "vulnerable" to the US in the mid-1950s?

Did  Khrushchev consider war against the capitalist countries inevitable?

Is it fair to say that Khrushchev was trying to achieve military parity with the US at the lowest possible cost?  Explain.

What was the idea behind the policy of "peaceful coexistence"?

When did the Cold War first thaw?  And when and why did that thaw end?

How and why did Khrushchev's policies lead to crisis in Georgia, Poland, and Hungary in 1956-57?

When and why did the USSR intervene in Poland?  In Hungary?

How did  Khrushchev's rivals try to use unrest in the Soviet Bloc against him in December 1956?

What was the main idea behind Khrushchev's 1957 Sovnarkhozy reforms?

Who belonged to the so-called "Anti-Party Group"?

How did Khrushchev use the Army and the Central Committee against the Anti-Party Group, and what was done to them? 

How did  Khrushchev reward Zhukov for his help against the Anti-Party Group?

At what point did Khrushchev consolidate power over both the party and the state?

How had the realities of power changed in the USSR between 1953 and 1958?