Ukrainians React to Stalin’s Death in a Way that Attracts the Attention of State Security

Source: Istorychna Pravda, “How Ukrainians Reacted to Stalin’s Death. Declassified Special Notifications of the MGB”

On Friday, 5 March 1953, the newspaper Pravda published the following sensational piece of news:

“On March 5, at 9:50 in the evening, after a serious illness, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of the SSR and the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin died.” Stalin was buried 4 days after his death, on 9 March.  During this period, the Soviet special services carefully collected information about the reactions of citizens in the Ukrainian SSR.

In Kyiv, an official mourning rally was held on Stalin Square (now European Square). The Stalin monument itself (which stood on the steps near the Philharmonic Hall) was for some reason covered by a huge portrait during a television broadcast of the event. The entire square further up to Khreshchatyk and the slope of the park was completely filled with people.

Pravda, quoting the official government announcement, read: “…Stalin’s immortal name will always live in the hearts of the Soviet people and all progressive humanity…”

For 31 years, Stalin was the top figure in the USSR. Regardless of the positions held by any other political figures, all major decisions were made by Stalin. And over these three decades, the USSR changed a lot.

Peasants were driven into collective farms. Thousands of enterprises were built in the cities. Over time, the displacement of peasants from their homes would completely change the structure of the population in the USSR.

The policy of industrialization made it possible to create one of the largest armies in the world and, together with Hitler, to start a campaign of aggression in Central Europe. Then, in 1941, Stalin would lose this army and create a new one. This army made it possible to win the Second World War.

After the war, the USSR surprised the world with its nuclear program, and again, with the successes of space exploration. Even a new architectural style appeared. Then jokesters referred to “Stalin’s empire” as the architecture of the REPRESSION era. They joked only after Stalin’s death, because to do so before was dangerous.

The post-war struggle of the communist regime with national movements in Western Ukraine and the Baltic states took the lives or freedom of almost a million people who did not want to recognize themselves as Soviet citizens.

In total, more than 12.5 million were repressed during the three Stalin decades. 7 million of them were shot or starved to death. Most of these 7 million were Ukrainians.

The scope of Stalin’s murders would encompass today’s population of the 5 largest cities of Ukraine. Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro and Donetsk would simply cease to exist. The population of modern-day Lviv is only one tenth of 7 million. Seven million is the combined population of Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Estonia, Iceland, Montenegro and Cyprus. All killed by Stalin.

And now the man himself was dead. And they couldn’t help but talk about all this. And the Ministry of State Security [MGB] could not help recording these conversations.

The following is a translation of a declassified Top Secret notification from the Ukrainian SSR Ministry of State Security [UMGB] to the Deputy Minister of USSR State Security regarding a possible gaffe or potential prank by the Ukrainian ‘Red Star’ newspaper.


HF Report



According to a report from the MGB Directorate for the Kamianets-Podilskyi Oblast, on 6 March in the Starokonstantynivskyi region newspaper ‘Chervona Zirka’ [Red Star], in the government announcement on the death of Comrade STALIN Iosif Vissarionovich, an egregious blasphemy was allowed. In the surname, the letter “T” was omitted.

The UMGB has taken measures to confiscate the print run of this paper.

An investigation is underway.

This information has been relayed to the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Comrade NAZARENKO I.L.


Other Ukrainians either displayed uncharacteristic emotions or were less than sympathetic at the thought of Stalin’s death, and they too were noticed by authorities. From additional MGB notes:

On March 6, at 8:40 p.m., a second-year cadet of the Odesa Naval School, Fedorov, after being criticized for reading a book at a mourning rally, declared “I am not a non-participant and not an enemy,” then ran into the street, threw himself under a streetcar, and was killed.

GANCHUK, a worker at Zaporizhzhia Aluminum Construction and non-party member, declared: “Let them cry, the communists, they had a good life. We really have nothing to cry about, just the fact that he built the collective farms in which our people are suffering.”

On June 6, OGORINSKAYA, a Jew and 7th grade student at Lviv school No. 50, during preparations for the mourning rally in response to the sorrow over Comrade STALIN’s untimely death expressed by student KIYASHKO, declared “Good riddance.” Outraged by this statement, a group of students from the class beat up OGORINSKAYA.

BEDERNIKOV, a physical education instructor, non-party member, and former Lieutenant Colonel in the Soviet Army residing in Odesa stated, “I thought STALIN would live at least another 20 years and would continue carrying out his dictatorial policy, a policy of vicious terror and violence never seen before in the history of the world. After LENIN’s death, he managed to get rid of all of his rivals and loyal Leninists who interfered with his efforts to seize power, physically eliminate them, and rule Russia and its public for a quarter century, exterminating millions of people. Today, a possible change in the Party’s policy is probable, and there could also be an overthrow, since there are many prominent party members and servicemen who don’t agree on many of the policy issues implemented by STALIN, and they will make use of the existing situation to seize power.”

And finally, at a mourning rally in Kherson municipal hospital No. 2, the Party organization secretary ROZENBLAT ended his speech with a cry of “Hurrah!”

Published by misterestes

Professional RU-EN translator with a love for books and movies, old and new, and a passion for translating declassified documents. Call me Doc. Nobody else does.

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