Crisis in the Soviet Empire
Stalin seemed to stand at the height of his power at the end of 1952. His extensive empire appeared to be secure for a long time. Tito's defection had been an unpleasant experience, but it seemed an isolated incident which could not seriously endanger Soviet domination of the satellites of East Central Europe, including East Germany. So powerful was the word of Moscow that these countries had sunk to the level of powerless colonies. Mao Tse-Tung was asking for help from his great Communist neighbour. It was no longer possible to hope for the conquest of all Korea, but the northern half was secure for the Communists. They were already sure, too, of achieving fresh successes in Indo-China. The XIXth Congress of the Soviet Communist Party in Moscow in October 1952 gave a stupendous ovation to Stalin. The delegates competed with such vigour to pour superlative praises on their leader that they revealed their bad taste, their fear and their insincerity.
Fear was more than justified. Within two months the conspiracy of the Jewish doctors was 'discovered'. They were supposed to have intrigued against the Soviet leaders. Another extensive purge was obviously being prepared. According to Khrushchev's statement (in February 1956), Stalin was ready to rid himself of a number, possibly of the majority, of his closest advisers. Their liquidation was prevented by the liquidation of Stalin himself, whether by a natural or an unnatural death we do not know. It was merely announced on March 6, 1956, that he had died after a short illness.
The Western world soon realized the insincerity of the ovations with which Stalin had been overwhelmed in Moscow