After Stalin’s death on March 5th, 1953, it began to become clear to some members of the party hierarchy and the general atmosphere in politics had started to relax after many years of distress, upset and sheer confusion. In the early morning hours of February 25, Khrushchev delivered what became known as the "Secret Speech" to a closed session of the Congress limited to Soviet delegates. In only four hours, it could be deemed that Nikita Kruschev had demolished Stalin's reputation.

Khrushchev told the delegates; “We have to consider seriously and analyze correctly [the crimes of the Stalin era] in order that we may preclude any possibility of a repetition in any form whatever of what took place during the life of Stalin, who absolutely did not tolerate collegiality in leadership and in work, and who practiced brutal violence, not only toward everything which opposed him, but also toward that which seemed to his capricious and despotic character, contrary to his concepts."

Stalin acted not through persuasion, explanation, and patient cooperation with people, but by imposing his concepts and demanding absolute submission to his opinion. Whoever opposed this concept or tried to prove hi viewpoint, and the correctness of his position, was doomed to removal from the leading collective and to subsequent moral and physical annihilation.

In his speech, Khrushchev described Stalin as a "flawed leader" and a "despot" who had acted like a pathological criminal. Such accusations, coming less than three years after Stalin's death, caused a sensation. Many old party members felt he had gone too far, while others were clearly relieved and at ease. It is widely now though that the speech was never intended to remain secret; copies of it were sent to party officials and to foreign communist parties, amongst other political parties also.