The death of Beria

Mar 2012
1,571
City of Angels
#1
Does anyone else have any thoughts on this? Had Khrushchev not lead a coup against then First Deputy Lavrentiy Beria with the military boys the world and the Soviet Union could have been a different place, maybe? It’s said Beria wanted to accept the Marshall plan.

What are the circumstances around the second most powerful man in Stalin’s USSR’s death? Would he have eventually succeeded Stalin and did he actually have a role in Stalin’s death which he supposedly admitted to? Did he really boast about Stalin’s death, crying at his bedside then delighting in the background?
 
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Aug 2012
1,554
#2
He is a peculiar figure, as the prevailing consensus seems to be that after Stalin's death he wanted to somewhat liberalise the USSR and relax Stalinist-era persecution. Yet at the same time, he was an embodiment of that terror, a serial rapist and pederast who aided the same regime he sought to reform.
Given his previous character, I have always assumed that his displays of magnanimity were less out of genuine compassion, and more a means of survival. As Stalin's chief hangman, Beria knew he would shoulder an enormous amount of the blame after his death, so what better way to deflect that blame then by enacting softer policies and depicting himself as a more humane ruler? The anecdote you mentioned, about Beria mocking Stalin on his deathbed, might have been a calculated act of political theatre, to further distance himself from everything he had done under the Stalin regime.
 
Mar 2016
946
Australia
#3
Yet at the same time, he was an embodiment of that terror, a serial rapist and pederast who aided the same regime he sought to reform.
I'm not defending his character - his complicity in Stalin's multiple purges and reigns of terror over the years is very well documented and beyond doubt - but it's important to keep in mind that a lot of what we "know" about Beria's supposed monstrous behaviour in regards to rape and pedophilia/hebophilia comes from the extremely biased writings of the very men that overthrow him and had him executed, so you have to take what they say with a grain of salt. It would be like taking the word of the Roman senators that assassinated Julius Caesar at face value - sure, there is perhaps some elements of truth, but much of it is likely highly exaggerated or outright fictional, since it is in their interest to portray the man they overthrow as being as awful as possible.
 
May 2019
9
Saint-Petersburg, Russia
#4
As far as I know, Beria was just one of the range of high nomenclature. And all of this Stalin's nomenclature's hands were full of blood. All what they wanted (Beria, Khruchev, Malenkov and etc) is to stay in the top of the regime, because in USSR there's a simple formula: top of government - near to economic advantages. That's the reason he thought about change totalitarian Stalin's regime to more softer, but not democratic, only authoritarian one. Whether he didn't, the USSR's peoples, who is exhausted of last decades totalitarianism, would bring him (and all high nomenclature) down. For all kinds and purposes, it wasn't his own "know-how" for that period. For be assured about it, you can take a look at Khruchev's governance: there were rehabilitation and destalinisation processes - everything that Beria started to do at 1953.
There's another question: why did Beria start this actions. I have thoughts about it: he was, like it's been already said, the 2nd person at the government and, moreover, he was the chief of NKVD. This is the cause he was strikingly informed about people's thoughts and theirs condition.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,985
#5
Was it how the public felt about Stalin or how the leadership felt? The leaders had lost most of their friends and colleagues to the purges and did not want that to continue the terror. Beria was in position to know what the sentiment was and was positioning himself with the new consensus. He knew he had no chance assuming a top place or probably even of surviving if he advocated continuing Stalin's policies.
 
Sep 2012
8,924
India
#7
The people at the top of the 'Nomenklatura ' were more interested in holding on to 'Power ' rather than getting few scraps / morsels of economic benefits by way of access to special shops or other such privileges. The Soviet Union in 1953 was a backward country in so far as consumer goods were concerned, whether you were at the top of the heap or not did not matter.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,985
#8
Many people in the Soviet Union and the world were relieved when Beria was executed. However, he became head of the secret police after the main purges of the Party and military. It isn't certain what would have happened if he had become the leader or stayed part of the leadership. The other leaders may have been afraid of him, and afraid he would have many of them killed as Stalin had done to the leadership.