In the early 1950s, Stalin, now a man in his 70s, granted his subordinates in the Politburo more powers than ever before. Stalin's health was failing along with what was left of his sanity. Stalin became less and less involved in the day-to-day running of the Soviet Union, but maintained his hostility toward anyone he considered a potential enemy or threat.
The name of the ruling Soviet party was changed from the All Union Communist Party to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1952. Originally the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, the party was named the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) from March 1918 to December 1925, then the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik) from December 1925 to October 1952. After the August 1991 Moscow coup, Russian president Boris N. Yeltsin banned the party in Russia and ordered its property turned over to the government.
In January, 1953, Stalin ordered the arrest of many Moscow doctors, mostly Jews, charging them with medical assassinations of several high ranking Soviet officials. This Doctor's Plot brought back chilling memories of the purges of the 1930's as many speculated that Stalin was gearing up for another purge aimed at persons such as Molotov and secret police chief Lavrenti Feria. What might have been another blood letting was avoided by Stalin's sudden, and mysterious, death on March 5, 1953, at the age of 73.
After his death and the end of his reign of terror, Stalin's name and regime were widely criticized by the Soviet authorities and people. He is remembered as a terrorist against his own people. Supporters of Stalin believe he saved his country from certain European domination; that the lives lost and/or ruined were necessary casualties for the greater good of the nation.
During his quarter-century of dictatorial control, Stalin had overseen dramatic development in the Soviet Union. The nation rose from a behind-the-times agricultural society to a strong industrial state. The literacy rate was, and still is, roughly 99 percent. While such achievements are certainly impressive, it is how Stalin accomplished them that is deplorable. Death and oppression were the hallmarks of his regime. Stalin's successors were left with task of figuring out how to manage the unwieldy giant that was the Soviet Union, the abject fear and distrust of the West and their tenuous relationship with China without using Stalin's tactics of terror.
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