1956 and the Communist Party

Margot Heinemann


I have been asked to give some personal impressions of the immediate impact of the 20th Congress on the British Communist Party and its long-term effects. I shall make no attempt therefore to describe the whole sequence of events in 1956-57, but concentrate on what happened in and to the Party itself. I should explain that I took part in the discussion and upheaval as a rank-and-file branch member. Although I had earlier done various responsible jobs I had for domestic reasons retired from all these three years before. Thus I was not part of any discussion at higher levels, and can't speak with the authority that would imply. What I have to say must therefore be taken as a personal and in some respects limited view.

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