Pravda from 6th. March 1953.
This is the issue in which the official declaration of Stalin’s death is published. It established the standard format for such occasions. The headline article is called ‘Address’. To the right of the masthead is the declaration:
On the 5th. March at 9:50 in the evening, after a serious illness the President of the Council of Ministers of the Union of SSR and Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Iosef Vissarionovich Stalin, died.
Below the portrait are the medical conslusions, signed by a group of doubtless terrified doctors. During the last months of Stalin’s life, the ‘doctors affair’ was in full swing and about to suck more physicians into the torture chambers and GULAG. The affair, also known in the west as the ‘doctors plot’ was a figment of Stalin’s paranoic imagination. He had 9 of the leading Kremlin doctors accused of killing and trying to kill leading government figures. The persecution of the doctors, which was widening into an anti-Jewish campaign, ended almost as soon as Stalin died. The ‘confessions’ the doctors made were now exposed as having been extracted under torture. The whole case was later dismissed as having been ‘made up’. This admission was of little help to the 2 doctors who did not survive the ‘investigation’.
Such was the general state of national paranoia at the time, there are 2 medical reports on page 1:
- Bulletin on the state of health of I. V. Stalin at 16:00 on the 5th March 1953
- Medical Conclusions on the illness and death of I. V. Stalin
The president of the funeral committee is named as N. S. Khrushchev, who eventually rose to the position of General Secretary.