It Was Fifty Years Ago Today
That at the Twentieth Party Congress the General Secretary, Nikita Khrushchev [Никита Сергеевич Хрущёв], denounced Joseph Stalin
[Иосиф Виссарионвич Джугашвили].
Having been idolized by the full weight of the Party apparatus, "Uncle Joe" had achieved the position of a god in a supposedly atheistic society, and that was the primary charge leveled at him: he had created a "cult of personality" [культ личности] in a classless society.
As an insider, Khrushchev knew where the bodies were buried and how many there were. Nikita blasted the "generalissimo" for preventing an effective response to the initial invasion of the Soviet Union by the Wehrmacht, refusing to believe that Hitler was actually casting aside their non-aggression pact.
The purges and starvation in the 1930s were laid bare in the common language that Khrushchev cultivated.
The speech was given in a closed meeting and the details were released in a slow and measured matter to avoid the disruption that would be caused by finding out that the savior of Mother Russia was a brutal thug only interested in himself.
It is of interest that young people in today's Russia have a much better opinion of Stalin than their parents and grandparents. There would appear to be an effort to rehabilitate the image of the Georgian murderer. Now who would want to have people think kindly of a brutal, power-mad, autocrat?