Death and state funeral of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin, the second leader of the Soviet Union, died on 5 March 1953 at the Kuntsevo Dacha aged 74 after suffering a stroke. After four days of national mourning, Stalin was given a state funeral and then buried in Lenin's Mausoleum on 9 March. Nikita Khrushchev, Georgy Malenkov, Vyacheslav Molotov and Lavrentiy Beria were in charge of organizing the funeral.
Stalin's funeral procession on Okhotny Ryad.
|Date||9 March 1953|
|Location||Red Square, Moscow, Soviet Union|
|Participants||Nikita Khrushchev, Georgy Malenkov, Vyacheslav Molotov, Lavrentiy Beria and other Soviet and foreign dignitaries|
Illness and deathEdit
Stalin's health deteriorated towards the end of World War II. He suffered from atherosclerosis as a result of heavy smoking, a mild stroke around the time of the Victory Parade, and a severe heart attack in October 1945.
In the early morning hours of 1 March 1953, after an all-night dinner and a movie, Stalin arrived at his Kuntsevo residence and went to his bedroom to rest and he did not emerge from bed. Although his guards thought that it was strange not to see him awake at his usual time, they were strictly instructed not to bother him and left him alone the entire day. At around 10 p.m., he was discovered by Peter Lozgachev, the Deputy Commandant of Kuntsevo, who entered his bedroom to check on him and recalled the scene of Stalin lying on his back on the floor of his room beside his bed, wearing pyjama bottoms and an undershirt, his clothes soaked in stale urine. A frightened Lozgachev asked Stalin what happened to him, but all he could get out of him was unintelligible responses. Lozgachev used the bedroom telephone to frantically call a few party officials; he told them that Stalin may have had a stroke and asked them to send good doctors to the Kuntsevo residence immediately. Lavrentiy Beria was informed and arrived a few hours afterwards. The doctors arrived in the early morning of 2 March when they changed Stalin's bedclothes and tended to him. They diagnosed him with a cerebral hemorrhage (stroke) caused by hypertension (high blood pressure), with stomach hemorrhage facilitating. He was treated in his dacha with leeches, as was customary at the time. On 3 March, his double Felix Dadaev was recalled from vacation to Moscow "to be ready to stand in for Stalin if needed", but he was not used. On 4 March, Stalin's illness was covered in the media in surprising detail such as pulse, blood pressure and urinalysis; for convenience the time of his stroke was said to be 2 March and his location as Moscow. The bedridden Stalin died on 5 March, at 21:50 EET. According to his daughter Svetlana, it had been "a difficult and terrible death". An autopsy revealed that he had died of a cerebral haemorrhage and that he also suffered from severe damage to his cerebral arteries due to atherosclerosis. It is possible that Stalin was murdered: poisoning with warfarin has been suggested and Beria has been suggested as a suspect, although no firm evidence has ever appeared.
|Official Soviet documentary on Stalin's funeral|
On 6 March, the coffin with Stalin's body was put on display at the Hall of Columns in the House of the Unions, remaining there for three days. On 9 March, the body was delivered to Red Square prior to interment in Lenin's Mausoleum (where it would lie in state until 1961). Speeches were delivered by Khrushchev, Malenkov, Molotov, and Beria, after which pallbearers carried the coffin to the mausoleum. As Stalin's body was being interred, a moment of silence was observed nationwide at noon Moscow time. As the bells of the Kremlin tower chimed the hour, sirens and horns wailed nationwide along with a 21-gun salute fired from within the precincts of the Kremlin. Similar observances were also held in other Warsaw Pact countries along with China, Mongolia and North Korea. Immediately after the silence ended, a military band played the Soviet State Anthem, and following this, a military parade of the Moscow Garrison was held in Stalin's honor. In the public's efforts to pay their respects to Stalin's casket, a number of people were crushed and trampled to death. Khrushchev later provided an estimate that 109 people died in the crowd.
Foreign dignitaries in attendanceEdit
- Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej – President of the State Council and Prime Minister of Romania, First Secretary of the Romanian Workers' Party
- Bolesław Bierut – Prime Minister of Poland, Secretary General of the Polish United Workers' Party
- Konstantin Rokossovsky – Defence Minister of Poland
- Walter Ulbricht – First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the German Democratic Republic
- Dolores Ibárruri – General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain
- Otto Grotewohl – Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the German Democratic Republic
- Max Reimann – Chairman of the West German Communist Party
- Valko Chervenkov – Prime Minister of Bulgaria, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Bulgaria
- Mátyás Rákosi – General Secretary of the Hungarian Working People's Party
- Pietro Nenni – Secretary of the Italian Socialist Party
- Palmiro Togliatti – General Secretary of the Italian Communist Party
- Jacques Duclos – Interim General Secretary of the French Communist Party
- Klement Gottwald – President of Czechoslovakia, Chairman of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
- Spiro Koleka – Vice-Premier of the People's Republic of Albania
- Zhou Enlai – Premier of the People's Republic of China
- Urho Kekkonen – Prime Minister of Finland
- Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal – Prime Minister of Mongolia
- Harry Pollitt – General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain
- Johann Koplenig – Chairman of the Communist Party of Austria
- Jesus Lava – Acting Chairman of the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas-1930
Czechoslovak leader Gottwald died shortly after attending Stalin's funeral on 14 March 1953 after one of his arteries burst. Fearing the encouragement of rivals within the ranks of the Party of Labour of Albania, neither Prime Minister Enver Hoxha nor Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu risked traveling to Moscow to attend the funeral, with Hoxha instead pledging eternal allegiance to the late Soviet leader.
APCs headed to Red Square
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On 6 March, the coffin with Stalin's body was displayed at the Hall of Columns in the House of Trade Unions.
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On 9 March, Stalin's embalmed body was interred in the Lenin Mausoleum, which was called the Lenin–Stalin Mausoleum in 1953 to 1961.
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- Pearson, Owen (8 September 2006). Albania as Dictatorship and Democracy. I.B. Tauris. p. 454. ISBN 978-1-84511-105-2.