slice of life

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2006, 12:00am

Josef Stalin died at the age of 73 of a brain haemorrhage. The Russian public gathered in Red Square in the thousands for a pilgrimage past the open coffin of the dead premier as it lay in the great Hall of Columns in Moscow's Trade Union House.

Floodlights shone on the coffin as the mourners, who had waited outside in a line 16 abreast and 16km long, passed by slowly in pairs.

Amid scenes of solemn splendour, Stalin was laid to rest in Moscow's Red Square, where Russia's supreme ruler for more than a quarter of a century joined his predecessor, Vladimir I Lenin, in the depths of a massive mausoleum of red granite and marble.

Georgi Malenkov, new ruler of Russia's 200 million people, delivered the funeral oration.

Before him in complete silence stood troops of the Moscow garrison in columns 10-deep and massed delegations of Soviet citizens holding aloft black and red-bordered portraits of Stalin and red banners draped in mourning crepe.

With Malenkov stood other Communist leaders, including Chou En-lai, China's prime minister.

Three days before Stalin's funeral, Malenkov, 51, stepped into the shoes of his dead master, who had ruled Russia since 1924.

The round-faced party chief, known as 'the man with the card-index brain', took over supreme power by succeeding Stalin as chairman of the Council of Ministers (premier).

Vyacheslav Molotov, mentioned as a possible successor to Stalin, became foreign minister.

The high-browed, balding secret police chief Lavrenti Beria was appointed minister of internal affairs - a new post combining the ministries of internal affairs and security.

Malenkov already had control of the vast party machine created by Stalin to rule the country.

He was the senior ranking secretary of the party's Central Committee.

Pravda, the Soviet Communist Party organ, said before Stalin died that no change was contemplated in the policies he charted.

The paper said the Soviet people would fulfil the recommendations made by Stalin in his last theoretical work - The Economic Problem of Socialism in the USSR - published shortly after the Party Congress five months earlier.

Pravda said the recommendations would be accomplished 'under the leadership of our party'.

British newspapers speculated on the momentous changes that might follow Stalin's death. The Times described Stalin as 'one of the great leaders of history' and said: 'A new chapter, great with consequence, opens for Russia and the world.'

One man was killed and two others wounded in a gun battle in Macau between the police and a gang in a house.

More than 30 people were arrested and a quantity of arms was seized.

The people in the house refused to surrender and opened fire at the police. All three casualties were in the house.

The parents of 10 teenaged girls at Donaldson's School for the Deaf in Edinburgh, were summoned to the school by telegram because the girls would not submit to the regulation 'straight-across' haircut.

The pupils had just returned from holiday, many with home perms, and told the matron they would rather be 'strapped' for disobedience than have their curls cut off.

The case followed that of a pupil who was suspended because she secretly wrote to her parents and was reported to the Association of Parents of the Deaf.

A 60-year-old man obtained a divorce in Chicago because his bride of four days went to buy a bottle of milk and never returned. The date she left - July 8, 1912.

Rugger: In pouring rain and on a waterlogged pitch at Sookunpoo, the 1st Bn Fiji Regiment XV drew with a Hong Kong Selection XV.

The game ended with each side scoring three points, which consisted of Fiji (one penalty) and Hong Kong (one unconverted try).