The decade of the 1950s brought fundamental challenge to a Stalinist empire which had only recently been established and was still in the process of consolidation. In this respect, while an event of enormous symbolic importance, the death on 5 March 1953 of Stalin, the architect of the Soviet Empire, was less a political watershed in Yalta Europe than at first appears. The year 1953 did not mark a neat hiatus between an era of consolidation of the Stalinist empire and an era of challenge to a post-Stalinist empire: at the time of Stalin’s death, the consolidation of the empire was still incomplete; and challenge to the empire was already under way.
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