Twilight of the Red Tsar

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Napoleon IV, Nov 1, 2015.

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  1. Threadmarks: The Alpha and the Omega

    Napoleon IV Don't Make Me Run, I'm Full of Chocolate Gone Fishin'

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    The Alpha and the Omega-March 1st, 1953
    At first glance the man sleeping in the Kuntsevo Dacha was a wholly unimpressive figure. He was fairly short (something that surprised those who met him), with a pockmarked face, a visible paunch, and a withered left arm. But the minute he walked into a room it was clear that Joseph Stalin was a powerful leader. His courtiers hung onto his every word like God himself was speaking. Their fear was palpable, for at any moment Stalin could not only kill you and your entire family, but scrub you from the pages of history. At the moment however there were no courtiers fawning over him, no lists of the damned to be signed, just an old man sleeping off a night of revelry. The silence was broken when he awoke. Tremendous pain radiated across Stalin's entire body, like dozens of knives stabbing every part of him. As Stalin tried to rise his legs refused to budge. For the first time in a long while Stalin felt fear. He screamed, struggling to get every word out, “Get a doctor!”

    It was 10:00 in the morning and Georgy Malenkov was dealing with a mountain of paperwork. Ever since Stalin had withdrawn from much of the business of managing the Communist Party Malenkov's responsibilities had increased tenfold. As he was reviewing a request from the party branch in Sverdlovsk the phone rang. On the other end was Peter Lozgachev, the Deputy Commandant of Kuntsevo. Lozgachev spoke so rapidly that Malenkov couldn't tell what he was saying. “Slow down!” Malenkov ordered. Lozgachev caught his breath and said “Comrade Stalin has suffered a stroke. Please come down.” Malenkov asked “Is he okay?” but by then Lozgachev had hung up. About 15 minutes later Malenkov arrived at Kuntsevo, where he saw his ally Lavrentiy Beria. Beria was white as a sheet, pacing nervously, and occasionally muttering to himself. “What's the word on Stalin?” Malenkov asked. Beria gave him a long, hard look and said “He's with the doctors, and they're trying everything they can to fix him up. He was apparently conscious and able to talk, which they say is a good sign.” The doctors routinely updated Stalin's magnates on his condition, which seemed to be improving. Every time the doctors described an improvement in Stalin's condition Beria grew whiter, something Malenkov hadn't thought was possible. Finally around 5 in the evening a doctor walked over and said “Comrade Stalin's condition has stabilized. We're going to keep him under observation, but for now it appears that he will live.” “However,” and here the doctor became visibly upset, “It's unlikely that he will ever walk again.” The magnates looked at each other, joy and fear crossing their faces (except for Beria, who made no attempt to hide his dismay). There was only one question on everyone's minds: what would Stalin do next?
     
  2. LeX Well-Known Member

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    I guess this TL assumes that Beria was indeed behind Stalin's death IOTL. Let's see where you take this.
     
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  3. guinazacity Banned

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    wow fuck.


    this is not good.
     
  4. Napoleon IV Don't Make Me Run, I'm Full of Chocolate Gone Fishin'

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    I'm leaving it somewhat ambiguous. Based on Beria's reaction IOTL (undisguised joy) I'm assuming that if Stalin had survived his reaction would be undisguised fear and dismay. Whether that's because Beria was trying to kill Stalin, or because Beria knows that if Stalin lives he'll end up like Yezhov is up to the reader and their interpretation of Stalin's IOTL death.
    You can say that again.
     
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  5. Milites قزلباش‎

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    Either Stalin goes vegetable and is used as a puppet by the magnates or Beria goes the way of the Dodo - my money's on the latter though :D
     
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  6. lukedalton Well-Known Member

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    Let's see, more years of Stalin rule for the URSS? It will not be good for anyone involved.

    Let's go with the Doctor Plot and start some new little purge. In the end the communist block will be even more screwed up than OTL
     
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  7. Threadmarks: Blind As Young Kittens

    Napoleon IV Don't Make Me Run, I'm Full of Chocolate Gone Fishin'

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    "Blind as Young Kittens"

    Excerpt from The Second Terror by Robert Conquest
    Responsibility for the terror that gripped the Soviet Union in the 1950s ultimately rests on Stalin's shoulders, but he was far from alone. Indeed the Doctors' Plot, as the case that kicked off the terror came to be known, was started by MGB agent Mikhail Ryumin. This odious dwarf was one of the most brutal men to work in that monstrous organization. A large part of his day was spent in Sukhanovo Prison savagely beating prisoners in his office, which was covered in Persian rugs to absorb the blood his gruesome activities splattered around. In 1951 Ryumin came to his superior, MGB head Viktor Abakumov, with an incredible tale. He accused Professor Yakov Etinger of murdering several of Stalin's henchmen, most notably Andrei Zhdanov. Abakumov refused to believe him, and Etinger was so horribly tortured that he died shortly thereafter. Blamed for this death Ryumin was forced out of the MGB, at which point he went to Stalin and detailed the plot. Stalin sided with Ryumin and the tables were turned, with Abakumov being the one who was arrested. A few months later Ryumin's plot became the focus of national attention when Dr. Lydia Timashuk's letter to General Vlasik (head of Stalin's personal security) was unearthed. Timashuk confirmed that there was a conspiracy of doctors attempting to kill off the Soviet leadership. Ryumin and new MGB man Semyon Ignatyev moved quickly, arresting Zhdanov's doctors and dozens of Jewish doctors (however Ryumin was later removed by Stalin, who found his version of the plot unsuitable, and replaced with Sergo Goglidze). The Jewish doctors were arrested to please Stalin, whose anti-Semitic campaign soon reached a fever pitch.

    Taken from the Transcript of the Trial of the Doctor-Saboteurs
    Gregory Safonov: Mr. Vovsi can you confirm your membership in the American-Zionist spy organization known as the Joint?[1]

    Miron Vovsi: I can confirm it.

    Safonov: Can you describe your activities in this organization?

    Vovsi: Our goal was to kill the leaders of the USSR, with Comrade Stalin being our primary target. In July of 1948 we were presented with a great opportunity when Comrade Zhdanov entered our care for persistent heart troubles. On August 1st Professor Etinger, Doctor Vinogradov, and I met with representatives of the CIA and MI6, who paid us handsomely for our treachery. We proceeded to conceal Comrade Zhdanov's myocardial infection, instead apply harmful medicines and treatments. Our plot bore fruit on August 31st, when Comrade Zhdanov met his untimely end. We held a great celebration that night, raising toast after toast of Kedem wine to the ill health of our country's leaders.

    Safonov questioned Vovsi some more, then moved on to Vladimir Vinogradov, Stalin's personal physician. Vinogradov was asked about his plans to kill Stalin:

    Safonov: Is it true that you planned on assassinating Comrade Stalin?

    Vinogradov: That is correct. I observed that Comrade Stalin was suffering from several risk factors for a stroke, but I concealed this diagnosis from him and in fact put him on a regimen which was designed to increase risk. The hope was that Comrade Stalin would soon suffer a stroke, at which point we could kill him with incorrect medical treatments. Thankfully I was arrested before this infernal plot could be carried out.

    The next day Safonov questioned Yakov Rapoport.

    Safonov: Do you know of any other members of this infernal conspiracy?

    Rapoport: I do not personally know of any other members, but this is just proof of the power of American intelligence. They ensured that we were divided into cells, so that if any of us were caught the vast majority of the plotters could remain at large. And then we must consider how deep Zionism's tentacles have dug themselves into the Soviet body politic. Given these facts there are no doubt many more plotters out there, hoping to crush the Soviet people under the jackboot of capitalist imperialism.

    Excerpt from The Great Pogrom by Simon Sebag-Montefiore​
    In Russia Easter has historically been a dangerous time for the Jewish people, with anti-Semitic violence reaching its height around that holiday. There are two myths behind this: that the Jews killed Jesus and the Blood Libel. For a millennium anti-Semites have whispered that the Jews would kill Christian children and use their blood to make the matzo for Passover, which often coincides with Easter. As a result on Easter mobs would attack Jews and their property to “avenge” Christ and lynch Jews they accused of committing the blood libel, often with the support of the Russian state. Easter 1953 resurrected this wretched tradition. For on that day (April 5th) the twenty[2] doctors accused of being “doctor-saboteurs” were executed. Upon hearing the news a crowd gathered in Red Square, chanting slogans like “Thank you Comrade Stalin for protecting us” and “Death to the American-Zionist agents” (there were even sporadic cries of “Kill the Yids”). Stalin, by this point paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair, was unable to go and greet the crowds, so he sent Nikita Khrushchev instead. “Today we send a message to the imperialist powers and their Zionist allies,” Khrushchev declared, “We have shown that we will not stop until we have ripped out their insidious spy organizations root and branch. I ask my fellow Soviet citizens to be eternally vigilant, for the Zionists are clever and ruthlessly deceptive.” The message of the speech was clear: Stalin's war on the Jews had begun.

    Across the Soviet Union the authorities began hunting for Jews. Despite their relative assimilation into Soviet society finding Jews wasn't that hard. Under the propiska system everyone residing in and around a city had to register for an internal passport, which listed information including name, date of birth, and, most crucially, ethnicity. MGB agents were assigned to shift through piles of these documents, with those of Jewish citizens being placed in special envelopes. The names and addresses on the passports were then typed up on massive arrest lists. Ordinary citizens joined in, denouncing their neighbors, coworkers, even in-laws as Zionist agents. While many did this because of antisemitism others did it for simple survival. In August Stalin began a wider purge of the Party and Soviet society with the Trial of the Fourteen. As the terror of the '30s roared back to life denouncing Jews was an easy way of proving one's loyalty[3].

    It is difficult to describe the terror that gripped the Jews. Shortly before his arrest and execution in July 1955 the famed writer Ilya Ehrenberg told a friend “Imagine spending every waking moment wondering if you are going to be arrested. Imagine wondering if ever person on the street who looks at your or walks towards you is an MGB agent preparing to drag you to Lubyanka. Imagine laying in bed every night listening for the sounds of a Black Maria [a prison van] or the footsteps of an MGB man. Imagine that even in your dreams you see yourself being dragged into the torture cellars. That is the Hell I live in.” Each Jew became an island, isolate from everybody else in the world. Gentile friends avoided them, Gentile spouses divorced (and often denounced) them, and shops and restaurants refused to serve them. Many Jews were also removed from their jobs. The case of Rahil Kaplan is typical. In mid-November 1953 Kaplan, a teacher in Leningrad, was called into the administrator's office. Kaplan was then informed that due to her “links with Zionists” she was being removed (two weeks later she was arrested). The Jews were even isolated from each other. Going to a synagogue or one of the few remaining Jewish cultural centers was too dangerous, and one could never be sure if a friend today wouldn't be denouncing one in the torture chambers tomorrow.

    The numbers for 1953 alone are staggering. 500,000 people, about a quarter of the Soviet Jewish population, were arrested by the end of the year. In many cities, particularly those that had been in the center of the Holocaust, the Jewish population was completely eliminated. Even in large cities like Moscow nearly 1 in 5 Jews had been seized. And this was only the beginning.

    [1] The Joint is short for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a New York City based humanitarian organization. Although it had links to the Zionist movement the allegations of spying were little more than Stalin's paranoia talking.

    [2] Hundreds of doctors were arrested, but in the end only 20 were put on trial.

    [3] It also gave the regime deniability about the anti-Semitic nature of the purges. Jews were disproportionately were purged en masse and the propaganda campaign was extremely anti-Semitic the fact that so many Gentiles were also being arrested allowed the regime to claim they were "just" launching another purge. Given the lack of information people at the time would have had about the inner workings of the USSR these claims would be incredibly difficult for contemporaries to counter.
     
  8. Unknown Member

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    To say this will make the Red Scare worse is an understatement.

    Israel is even more likely to be pro-US ITTL...
     
  9. Napoleon IV Don't Make Me Run, I'm Full of Chocolate Gone Fishin'

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    Definitely. Stalin's foreign policy is also going to make it much worse. Unlike his successors (who were fans of peaceful coexistence) Stalin believed that the Capitalist and Communist powers were destined to fight each other to the death. Between the mass purge/ethnic cleansing, a more aggressive foreign policy, and the fact that Stalin's mental faculties are degrading the 1950s are not going to be a fun decade.
     
  10. Amakan Well-Known Member

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    First page and I am already hooked.

    Depending on where it goes from hereon. I assume that once the Soviet Union falls (or amusing that it does) it will be ranked at roughly the same level as Nazi Germany?
     
  11. guinazacity Banned

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    Holy shit, he went through with the doctor's plot.
     
  12. Napoleon IV Don't Make Me Run, I'm Full of Chocolate Gone Fishin'

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    Thanks for the compliment.

    Considering that Stalin is seen as Hitler-lite IOTL if the Soviet Union falls his war on the Jews will almost certainly push him over the edge.
     
  13. Lost Freeway Western Propaganda F***er Banned

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    So you're saying the Soviet Union might collapse during Stalin's lifetime.:eek:
     
  14. Brosip Broz Tito Banned

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    With Stalin coming down on the Jews hard, there's gonna be serious effects on the Suez Crisis if it goes down as OTL. Not to mention no Thaw, Virgin Lands, no housing reforms, no Anti-Party Coup, the butterflies are gonna be crazy.

    The global Left won't see the outreach Khrushchev gave to them, things will be more fractured; also the neutrals are more likely to look westward.

    Not to mention if there's the rumored second Great Purge, the Soviet leadership could see the rise of some obscure characters and be scantly recognizable. But I look forward to where you go with these things, consider me hooked and subbed. :)
     
  15. BBadolato Fifth Picturewraith

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    Question is what does this do to the Sino-Soviet split, Stalin living might keep it delayed, but the question is who is gonna succeed Stalin and will the previous Soviet actions in China still be a sour point with Mao?
     
  16. Cregan Well-Known Member

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    How long can any state, no matter how powerful, suffer such a constant cycle of mindless, debilitating, self-destructive, paranoid, vicious, bloodthirsty Stalinist purges? How long before the USSR is a hollowed out shell that collapses in on itself with this latest round of self-inflicted, self-sabotaging mass murder? Especially after the total devastation of WW2. "Wreckers" indeed.
     
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  17. guinazacity Banned

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    so, the USSR is going full lesser mao?
     
  18. lukedalton Well-Known Member

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    Well on the 'plus side' (if we want call it in this manner), compared to other purges, this is not the worst and by this stage even Stalin know that he need to keep someone competent in case things go pearshaped (for this reason Zhukov was just exiled and not eliminated).
    Say that, Stalin economic policy has never been good, the purges will do a lot of damage at the economic and technical infrastructure of the nation.
    Yugoslavia will be in a bad position, with Stalin still in charge the situation between Moscow and Belgrade will remain tense and Tito will probably try to approach the west.

    Speaking of foreign politics, well while Stalin usually is a cautious man, the combination of crisis, more aggressive (at least in appeareance) politics and his health condition will not make things more safe.
    THe problem is that in the end Stalin will go and the system will reset to things more akin to OTL Krushev era as nobody want to repeat that era...and in that moment the pressure in the satellites states will be even worse than OTL
     
  19. Napoleon IV Don't Make Me Run, I'm Full of Chocolate Gone Fishin'

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    Thanks for the compliment. Basically the Soviet 1950s as we know them will be completely different.
    There's also the fact that Stalin and Mao's relationship was difficult. Mao respected Stalin, but he also despised the fact that Stalin treated him like a little brother, and made him pay through the nose for assistance. Meanwhile Stalin was afraid of Mao, because Mao wasn't a compliant little puppet (it's the same reason Stalin hated Tito). Depending on how things go we could see anything from a later Sino-Soviet split to a Mao-Stalin split.
    That is the million dollar question. The other big question is what happens when the master dies and the protégés take over? IOTL Stalin's successors weren't up to the job, and ITTL even more competent people are going to be dead.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
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  20. MagicalPhantom345 Well-Known Member

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    Affects on

    With the way things are going for the Jews in this Soviet Union, the West will become more
    sympathetic to the state of Israel. Which could possibly lead to Israel getting opening support
    from the West in their future conflicts against their neighboring Arab states.
     
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