Sat Feb 25th, 2006 at 09:18:16 AM EST
Fifty years ago today, during a private session of the XX Congress of the Communist Party of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, General Secretary Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev gave a famous address that was to be the worst kept secret of the 1950s.
In the address, he gave a frank accounting of the crimes of his predecessor Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, also known as Koba Stalin. This event literally changed the world, as Stalin's quasi-religious cult was immediately suppressed, the politburo was distablized, and a thaw in the viciously harsh Soviet culture was permitted.
Stalin was ultimately responsible for between 10 to over 50 million deaths, not including those who perished in World War II, which began in Europe thanks to a conspiricy with Hitler in 1939.
After a humilitating adventure in Cuba in 1962, Khruschev was overthrown in a coup two years later.
Called by some "the first dissident" he died in government-enforced obscurity in 1971. What he did half a century ago is one of history's great acts of repentance.