Continuing with Evgeny Krutikov’s first piece about Beria, from December of last year. We now turn to Beria’s Foreign Policy to get an idea what might have been, had Beria won the Survivor Challenge after Stalin’s death. Instead of being handed his torch and banished from the island (not to mention shot in the back of the head by Khrushchev’s goons).
Apparently Beria was working on a plan to re-unify Germany; unfortunately nobody has ever been able to find the written version of this plan. All that we know of it comes from some jottings and the reminiscences of Beria’s enemies. Including Khrushchev himself. Even a figure like Anastas Mikoyan, who was technically “neutral” during the power struggle, cannot be trusted; people like him devoted volumes in their memoirs to justifying their own role in history and cleaning up inconvenient facts.
Mikoyan, by the way, technically won the Survivor Game. This crafty Armenian survived through late Lenin, Stalin, Beria, Khrushchev and Brezhnev. An Old Bolshevik but somehow evaded Stalin’s purges of the Old Bolsheviks; always took Stalin’s side against the others; kept his post on the Central Committee and even Politburo long past his shelf date. Stalin was the kind of boss you never want to have: He was not loyal even to those who were most devoted to him; just about anybody who ever worked for him, ultimately would have to face the day when the Old Man would turn on him. And so it came to pass: At the 19th Party Congress (October 1952), Stalin launched a vicious attack against Mikoyan. But the old Silverback Alpha Male was not the terror he used to be, to his subordinates: Mikoyan survived, and Stalin was the one who shuffled off his coil. Mikoyan promptly took Khrushchev’s side against Beria and subsequently led the “de-Stalinization” ideological campaign.
And here is where we get into some Krutikov family history: Reporter Evgeny’s grandfather, Alexei Dmitrievich Krutikov, was suddenly promoted, in 1948, by Stalin, from his humble post as First Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade, to Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR! In other words, Krutikov grand-père was lifted from obscurity to just about Stalin’s right-hand man; and almost on an equal with Beria himself. The former Favorite, Mikoyan, passed over for the post that he wanted, was upset and humiliated. Stalin cut him off, no longer sought his advice. It is not known what Mikoyan had done to deserve this trip to the dog-house; but nobody ever said that Kremlin Office Politics was a game for the weak-hearted. Especially under a master conniver like Stalin! The only hint Stalin would give was that he “foresaw” that it would have been a mistake to promote Mikoyan. How about a mistake to not promote him, Comrade Soon-to-be-Dead?!
Our friend Krutikov speculates that Stalin was starting another round of shuffling the deck. His aim this time was to clean out the ethnic Mafias and seed the upper cadres with more Great Russians; hence Krutikov The Elder. Stalin also sought to weaken the Party and evolve the State over to a more technocratic, administrative type, with bland non-ideological functionaries in the key posts. [Which was actually kind of typical of Stalin from the beginning. Always wary of ideologues, first he destroyed the Party that Lenin had built; and then destroyed the Party that he himself had built!]
As for Krutikov the Elder, he survived both Stalin’s promotion and Mikoyan’s jealousy: his Russian wiki reports that he died a natural death in Moscow in 1962. But not without a personal crisis and shock towards the end of his life.
Born in 1901, in Vologda, to a peasant family, Alexei Dmitrievich worked in the forestry industry, before graduating from the Pedagogical Institute in Leningrad, in 1932. Worked in many positions, studied at many schools, joined the Party, worked his way up the ranks in the government, pretty much all the way up, as we have seen.
Then: A family tragedy. Alexei’s son Felix (our Krutikov’s papa, or possibly uncle?) was arrested in 1954. Felix had worked in the Soviet trade mission in Paris, got turned, apparently, and spied for the French. He was exposed and arrested. Alexei was subsequently expelled from the Communist Party USSR (in connection with his son’s treason); but happily, in 1960, reinstated. Then died two years later, probably from the stress of this family crisis.
Next: Returning to the issue of Beria, Krutikov the Younger delves into the issue of ALT-Histories and other fruitless speculations.
[to be continued]